rethinking the recently finished novel

I realised in the week since completing the novel that it was limiting and foolish to include males in it. So I’m going to rewrite the final chapter and remove its maleness by creating another gender, which is easier than it sounds. This means probably nothing to anyone who isn’t me and it’s theoretical in a way that’s not new but it’s how I choose to engage in these topics.

It’s actually something I think about a lot. There are so many words devoted to gender politics and all that, and I don’t engage with ideas like that, in the way they’re typically presented. And so for me to understand things, I need to make them up and write the impossible into real life, so it can fit in my head.

But, yeah, that should make it more interesting. I mean, I wrote it, so that’s all the maleness that needs to be in the novel.

I think I’m going to write an epic poem about giant monsters and love. It should be a fun companion to the giant monster novel I’m planning on writing very soon. Currently rewatching all kinds of giant monster movies/shows and calling it research to prepate.

Watched Young Adult just now and it was okay. I think the last ten or so minutes ruin everything that came before. It sort of validates the horrible person that the main character is. It’s showing you how they’re a complete wreck but then trying to justify it by saying, At least you don’t live in this stupid small town. Or, maybe it’s not saying that, but it felt like it was, and it felt really hollow.

But, yeah, tomorrow’s Chelsea’s last day in Minnesota for about a week. She’ll get to recharge in the heat of Tennessee while I languish here in the cold. But Bart and Charlie are in town, so there’s fun to be had.

If you’re wondering why I’ve posted so much this month, it’s because I decided several months ago that I wanted to reach 600 posts by the end of the year. Because I’m pretty bad at updating, I had a ways to go this month, but now I’m just a few away.

be careful, my children

Be Careful, My Children

And so the novel’s finally complete. Be Careful, My Children. Oddly enough, the first draft is almost exactly as long as I thought it would be. Got the final 5k words written just now and we’ve reached the end of a very strange journey.

I won’t post the chapter this time because then you’d have the ending, and that’s a weird piece of information to give, but I will post a short piece of that last chapter.

Before the Tree before the world before Time came to this place there was the Father. The Father found the child Goddess dreaming and He listened to Her dreamt song coursing through Him and all the everness. He lifted Her up but still she slept. Small with hair as black as the neverness and eyes vibrant and purple. Color did not yet exist like it does now but the Father saw Her eyes and fashioned color and Light. He fashioned these from the notes of the song. With His hands He grabbed the notes and swirled their essence into the everness and from them bubbled the world. The world was a sphere of Nothingness but the song promised and envisioned so much. The Father bent the song towards the world He molded and the song gave life and Light to the sphere but also Death and so we know the Goddess as the Goddess of Death and Light. Within Death there are a thousand thousands lives and within life there is but one Death continuing forever in all directions and across all dimensions but our infinitesimal Deaths are but a grain of sand on the shore of eternity. When the world was fashioned and still the song persisted the Father tied the notes around the world binding us and our world to the Dream. With this finished He watched the lives of the world come into being and He smiled. The Father watched over us and the Goddess dreamt. The more the Father watched the more He understood the sorrow of life and He saw lives blinking in and out of existence before He could name them or love them and He returned to the song and tried to bend it to better serve life on the world. But the Dream and the song are not for this world and so they cannot be made for it. The Father finally understood and when He understood he lay down upon the world and ripped open His chest. The Father killed himself to breed our world within the Nothingness of yours. From Father’s chest sprouted the Tree and the Tree became the heart of the world. It used the Father’s body to create itself and His blood became the rain forever Cycling and his bones became the Dust. Every drop of semen in His testicles became a brother and we brothers fashioned our homes from the organs and skin of the Father. And so through the Father we learnt creation and from the Goddess we learnt Death and from the two of them we learnt the Cycle. For Father returns to us every four seasons to give us life new and when we seek through the everness it is the hands of the Father guiding us through the Dream.

So, yeah, things just keep getting weirder in the novel. The language of this final chapter wasn’t what I expected it to be but I think it turned out all right.

Finished it later than planned because of Chelsea’s holiday party, which was really fun, but it meant I was hungover yesterday and lost the entire day to film.

Watched Only God Forgives, which is probably perfect but also just very bizarre. I’m not a fan of David Lynch and this was very Lynchian. I loved the silence of it all because I think film should have way less talking, and the aesthetic was so strong and perfectly executed, and everything was held back the way I like, but I guess I just didn’t actually care about most things that happened. So I suppose that’s what missed for me. It was like a perfect thing that I just didn’t care about enough. Still, though, definitely worth watching.

Also watched Robot & Frank, which is a pretty cool film about a man spiralling into dementia who befriends his robot caretaker and uses the robot to help him rob things. A pretty interesting film that’s often funny but also a moving meditation on what life is and what it means to be alive.

Now I’m in that weird post-novel space where everything’s bright and easy and lovely but also sort of opaque. The novel was meant for Broken River Books but I don’t really think it’s a good fit there. It may not be a good fit anywhere. Maybe it’s a bizarro novel, accidentally and finally. It’s on the short side, too, but I don’t know. I have several hours to reread, edit, rewrite, and assemble the novel into place.

Also, the giant monster novel sort of formed and crystallised in my head as I was writing this, which is exciting. I think that might be what I write next.

Also, getting very close to the date of a super secret surprise, which is actually the weirdest thing I ever wrote.

Anyrate, the indiegogo campaign reached and passed its halfway mark this weekend! Big thanks to everyone who contributed, but especially Matt Dodge who pushed us over the midway mark. I’ve known Matt for a very long time but we’ve only talked a handful of times, which is sort of weird. He’s a musician and he just had a new album come out.

But, yeah, still so many great rewards, including a new one from Passenger Side Books, who’s being generous enough to donate five bundles of all their chapbooks. That also comes with the anthology! So check it out and thank you, sincerely, from the bottom and top of my heart. It means the world to me how awesome my friends and even strangers have been during all of this.

falling behind but staying ahead

Just punched out another 5k words in the last couple hours, which puts me at about 35k words. I meant to finish the novel today, and I could if I didn’t have anything to do tonight. I meant to come back last night and write the 5k I just wrote so I would have today to finish the novel, but I watched a film instead.

Children Who Chase Lost Voices is a pretty cool film. Beautifully animated and it shares themes with my favorite kind of story: the Orpheus story. Though in Japan there are different characters, of whom I’ve actually written a novella about, but it also has a very Miyazaki feel. A girl stumbles into a fantastic world and beautiful and deranged things happen there. I liked it.

But so today I wrote the penultimate chapter of the novel. Tomorrow becomes a new game with different linguistic rules so maybe it’ll be good to devote an entire day to creating it. It may be anywhere from 5k words to 10k words. It’s hard to say right now since I’ve not written it yet. But I like what’s happening in the novel. I like the clash of voices and scenes and I like how there’s a definite direction, though there may not really be a definite truth.

No more writing today because I need to go to a holiday party for a company I don’t work for. I’m Chelsea’s date and so I get to eat fancy food and drink fancy alcohol with fancy people at a fancy place. A car’s picking us up and taking us back home. It should be pretty enjoyable.

Anyrate, here’s the next chapter.

We finally reach the desert. Tomorrow we begin our search for the original Tanizaki group led by Tanizaki Asuka. It’s warm tonight. We are six and we are prepared for a month two months in the desert. Once we find the original Tanizaki group, we are to return to the Institute. My name is Wong Bo and I’m leader of this recovery mission. I’m assisted by Xao Guo, O Ukseung, Isabella Rodriguez, Angelina Gutierrez, and Camila Cortes.

We’ve taken samples from the desert. It’s Guo’s hypothesis that there’s something unique about the desert itself, which may be related to the Dust and/or nanobiotics.

It’s interesting to stand on the edge of the desert. For kilometers before me there’s nothing but more desert and sand, but I stand on grass and behind me are the ruins of our world. People still live here. They farm the land but nothing grows. They raise wolves for food and protection.

It’s a stark reminder of why we’re doing this.

We begin at 0600 tomorrow.

 

The day went easily. We talk often to keep the desert out. One thing we’ve come to understand about this desert is that it swallows people and groups whole, so we’re determined to remain connected to one another. Unfortunately, there’s little for us to talk about beyond work as none of us have a previous relationship. I’m discovering why I’m the leader of this mission, however, which is an important understanding. It seems the others aren’t entirely sure what nanobiotics are.

I suppose I’m not expert either. Having never thought of it before, I now consider this a failing of the Institute and I keep these thoughts in the official log because it’s important for you all to know this. By keeping us in the dark and by separating the Institute project by project, we lose our connection to one another. It also limits our ability to communicate openly and riff off one another’s ideas.

I understand the importance of secrecy, but it seems like it carries a weight of distrust that’s detrimental to the overall goals of the Institute.

Aren’t we here to rebuild humanity and restart the world? I think a holistic viewpoint or strategy would be more useful. Of course, this is only my first assignment as a project manager, so I trust there is a great deal for me to learn. But these are my thoughts on this first night in the desert.

We’ll camp together in the same tent to hold and generate warmth.

There’s something strange about being out in the middle of nowhere at night.

 

We walk and we walk and we walk. We come to know each other, too. The Argentinians are beautiful and they handle the heat well, but the cold of the night really tears through them. Guo has become my confidant. She’s short and strong and rugged. Her arms are like barrels and her legs are like trees. She carries an aura with her that’s surprisingly appealing. Ukseung keeps to herself mostly. She’s quiet and collects a lot of samples.

The mission continues with no sign of the original Tanizaki group. Tonight we sang songs. It was the first time I had heard Chinese folksinging as well as South Russian. Guo speaks both and her parents escaped South Russia before she was born but raised her with their customs. It’s funny how nationalism persists even after the dissolution and ruin of almost every empire of the world. She takes great pride in being South Russian, though.

The same is true of the Argentinians. They consider themselves better than us. They think they hide it, but it’s quite obvious. The three of them only speak to one another unless asked a direct question. If they know Korean, they pretend not to as they’ll only respond to Spanish. They consistently mispronounce all of our names, including mine, which is about as easy as names come, regardless of language.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to bridge the gap.

 

The Argentinians were receptive to my concerns and they’ve been much more pleasant today. I think it’s a cultural thing. They’re the last true empire and I guess that fills them with pride. Perhaps they’re simply raised to be proud. There are worse traits to have.

We sang again and the Argentinians cooked us a traditional meal and then showed us how to dance in Spanish. They told us our hips were no good for it.

It was fun and their admonishments were more flirtatious than insulting. Ukseung even smiled.

 

We walked. No sign of the Tanizaki group. No sign of anything really. Last night the Argentinians had sex with one another. They believed they’re were quiet but we were definitely all awake. They weren’t exactly quiet.

Guo’s only reaction was to hold me closer but hearing other people have sex doesn’t exactly put me in the mood.

I didn’t say anything to them today because it’s not exactly against the rules. It solidifies them as a separate group, but I believe sex is good for overall moral. It doesn’t hurt it, anyway.

I’m worried about Ukseung. She retreats often inward and no longer engages voluntarily with the rest of us. Much of her time is spent staring at the collected samples. Especially the sand. Tonight I found her well out of range of camp, her head pressed against the sand. When I asked her what she was doing she told me she was listening, and refused further explanation.

I’ll keep an eye on her.

 

The Argentinians had sex again last night and when I didn’t give in to Guo’s attempts, she joined them. It was more than a little annoying, but I discovered Ukseung had left.

Searching for her, she was no longer in the campsite. I found her about half a kilometer away staring at the stars.

She told me it reminded her of a river. The stars swirled round her and wound their way across the sky like a flowing river. I told her I saw it too and she smiled. I asked her why she was out here and she told me it was because of the sex. I asked her about her sexual experiences and it turns out she’s a virgin.

I’ve found that about half the people I’ve met in my life are virgins and remain so for their life. I can’t tell if it’s an aversion to sex or simply shyness. Ukseung didn’t seem willing to discuss sex any more than what she told me. I sat with her for about an hour. Because of the cold we quickly huddled together.

She has a very slight frame but her skin was hot. A furnace burning inside her. I told her this and she leaned into me more but didn’t say anything. I think there may be an attraction growing or she’s just being kind. I’ve heard of the kindness of Koreans. They’re said to break their backs if you ask them or to cut off their hands if you say you need an extra. Not literally, of course.

We talked about the desert. She told me she felt at home here and I asked why. It was the desolation, she said. She told me how it reminded her of Seoul, which is where her parents died in the cataclysm. She said the heart is like a desert when it’s not nurtured. No matter how much love it receives, it remains cold and barren. She told me about how the openness and the sameness reminded her of life. She talked about suicide in a casual manner, which reminded me of many of the people I’ve known. I asked her if she believed in the Institute and she told me she was taken there when she was only eleven. She’s now thirty and she said she didn’t know much about life except what she learnt from Director Tanizaki. I pushed her towards the rejuvenation of the earth and she only smiled. She said she had seen so much of the earth but understood nothing of it. She told me she didn’t like people and didn’t think we deserved the earth, not after what we did to it.

Eventually we returned to the tent. The girls were asleep and I quickly fell asleep watching Ukseung play with sand.

Today was uneventful, however. There was a sandstorm so we made no progress. We stayed in the tent and had sex. Yes, I joined in this time. It was enjoyable and it’s true what they say about Argentinian women as lovers. It was an exceptional experience.

However, Ukseung disappeared during the sexual activities. Due to the sandstorm, we were unable to find her.

It’s possible she’s dead but we’re holding out until morning.

We couldn’t build a fire so we ate dry rations. They’re not very good.

 

The sandstorm continues. We made a search for Ukseung again and spent several hours hoping to find some trace of her, but the desert leaves no traces. The sandstorm’s passed now and in the morning we’ll look for Ukseung.

No one feels like having sex.

 

We found Ukseung. She’s fine except for her unwillingness to speak. When we pressed her to explain why she left she had nothing to say. She’s not spoken since we found her and she makes little eye contact. When the wind blows it catches her, though. Her face becomes serene, as if she’s listening to something beautiful. We took our camp with us and walked onward.

Still no sign of the Tanizaki group but we found others who had died out here in search of Antiguoniño. Guo called them whores and the Argentinians spoke amongst themselves.

That night Guo held me and we kissed. Her lips are softer than I remembered and her arms are very strong. The Argentinians watched Ukseung and told me she only stared at the sand and played with it or stared at the stars.

 

Another day and no sign of the Tanizaki group. No sign of anything. The desert washes all its signs away. Even our own journey. Every step we take leaves a print that’s swallowed by the desert. We talk less these days and the heat assaults us. We fight the cold with flesh on flesh, but the days are so very hot. It scorches us and the Argentinians begin turning a beautiful golden brown. Guo grows very dark as well. Ukseung covers almost every centimeter of her skin. She’s very pale and it makes her appear sickly. She has yet to say anything since we found her two days ago.

At night we stare at the stars with Ukseung. Ukseung’s expression betray something we can’t hear or see. Isabella believes she’s reading the stars. She sees us up there, she says. When I ask what she means Angelina tells me it’s an ancient Argentinian folk story about a girl who reads the sky and falls in love with a star. The star comes down to earth but they cannot be together because the star will melt her. Instead the star writes her messages in the night sky to fill her lonely heart. When the girl dies, a new star is born beside her lover and so they remain forever together, writing poetry in the sky.

It’s a beautiful story but Ukseung pays little attention to us. She plays with the sand and it seems to dance between her hands.

Tricks of the eyes and the fire.

 

Still nothing. We walk and search. The sun beats down. The night brings cold. Ukseung doesn’t speak and no one has sex. This place weighs on us and there’s no sign of the Tanizaki group or anyone else.

They may be gone. Buried under a mountain of sand or ripped to nothing by the abrasive sand blustering against our bones.

Even the food begins to taste like sand. Our eyes hurt from the sun and the sand. Our skin’s raw from the same. Ukseung no longer covers herself and she burns. Her skin’s a deep red and though we rub aloe over her, she doesn’t react. My own skin begins to burn. Need to do a better job covering myself.

 

I think about my mother. The heat’s getting to me and Ukseung’s skin stays a horrifying red. As red as the sun and lunar archipelago. She still hasn’t said anything. The Argentinians are worried about her health. We all are. Guo watches over her at night but is afraid to touch her skin. It must be painful.

I don’t know if we’ll ever find the Tanizaki group. We’ve only been out here about a week and a half but it already feels like eternity.

So little happens every day. So little changes, but, at the same time, everything changes. We may be walking in circles. We’d never know. Without cues in the landscape it’s difficult to tell. Everything is a blank slate that shifts to a new blank slate hour by hour.

Even the stars lie to us. There’s no consistency. Constellations arrive one night and disappear the next. It’s as if we’re crossing the entire globe rather than just walking through this desert.

We’ve seen no sign of the Tree either.

 

We didn’t find the Tanizaki group but Guo discovered their journal on Ukseung this morning. She still doesn’t speak and she hasn’t been alone since the sandstorm so she must’ve found it then. She won’t lead us to the bodies or where they are, so all we have is the journal.

It’s very short. Ukseung’s skin peels off in flakes of white. She pulls at it and pulls entire layers of translucent white off at once. She feeds it to Guo and Camila vomits. Guo’s changing and she only laughs as she eats Ukseung’s skin.

 

Today we set out into the desert to find Antiguoniño, the land of the niños discovered by Park Jiyun. According to her, she wandered through the desert for ten days before finding Antiguoniño so we’ve prepared cautiously for twenty days out here. Our map is taken directly from Park Jiyun’s approximations so we don’t anticipate any trouble. My names Tanizaki Asuka and I’m the project manager on this mission. I’m accompanied by Abe Tsukiko and Maya Diego. Tomorrow we enter the desert.

 

The day was uneventful and we kept to the map. The desert shows few signs of activity. The wind is calm, the heat is strong, the cold at night bites at us. We keep warm by sharing sleepingbags. I don’t know how Park Jiyun could have managed this alone. I’m glad I have companions.

 

Another day of walking with little to report. The heat burns and the sand makes walking tiresome. Every step feels like three since the ground gives beneath your feet. It’s a curious feeling, like walking through water. Maya and Tsukiko are cheerful travel companions and don’t seem to mind the desert. They keep moral high by singing and playing word games. Maya knows several languages, as does Tsukiko, and it’s a joy to simply hear them fly through languages like linguistic acrobats. Together they should be able to give us insight into the niños’ language. They’ve studied several ancient and dead languages. Everything from mandarin to french and german, and even english, swahili, and hungarian, which is apparently surprisingly similar to South Russian.

Less talented, I speak only Spanish, Korean, and Japanese. Tsukiko brought a shamisen. I didn’t understand at first, but it brings me back to mother’s home, before the Institute. It’s a relief and pleasure to have it with us. Maya’s even trying to learn.

 

Very little to report today. Still hot during the day and bitterly cold at night. We now sleep in the nude to stay warm, keeping our skin pressed together. I must admit that holding Tsukiko and Maya like that in this desolate place fills me with longing.

The wind howls but there’s something else to it. It’s a strange melody. Familiar though I’ve never heard it before. Maya and Tsukiko don’t seem to hear it, or don’t seem to hear the music in the wind. It sounds far away, as if echoed.

 

Still little to report. The melody of the wind kept me up all night and my hands studied Maya’s skin, almost unconsciously. I didn’t know I was doing it till I felt Tsukiko’s hands on my skin, squeezing my breasts and then Maya’s hands between my thighs. Both of them still slept and it’s as if the melody of the wind took us. Though we didn’t have sex, I now feel that I know them far more intimately than I’ve known anyone for several years. They don’t know what happened last night and I’m reluctant to tell them. Maya plays the shamisen while Tsukiko sings traditional ballads and my heart leaps. Then the wind blows and that echoing melody wraps round their song. When they go high, it courses below, and when they drop low, it rings above.

I fear I’m losing myself in the vast nothingness of this place.

 

The melody seeps into me. I find my thoughts drift away while Maya and Tsukiko talk and sing. I study the sand as it dances. The stars are a map and they speak to me. I see them dancing and singing. The wind sings a different song but together their songs meld and wind round me. I lose track of Tsukiko and Maya in this neverending nothingness.

The stars echo too. There are echoes everywhere. The echoes cause the sand to dance. This sand is not like other sand. This place is not like other places. We have not seen the Tree and I don’t know if the niños still exist. I believe Time’s different here. We’ve only been out here about a week but we’ve been out here for centuries, wandering.

 

Project Manager Tanizaki no longer speaks and so I’ve taken over this log. This is Maya Diego. Abe Tsukiko watches over Project Manager Tanizaki. She seems only interested in the sand and the stars. She stopped speaking to us and from reading this log, it appears she hears something we don’t. Something she calls echoes and a melody. It’s a troubling development to know what’s happened to Tanizaki. I must admit that the desert closes in on us. It grows more and more claustrophobic the worse Tanizaki’s condition becomes. We’ve missed an entire week of log entries.

Tanizaki stopped covering her skin from the heat. She turned a terrible red and then her skin peeled off and flaked away in white.

Tsukiko and I were too occupied with ourselves, regrettably, to notice the decline of Tanizaki. We’ve been out in the desert for two weeks now and still no sign of Antiguoniño. Tsukiko and I have decided to turn back but we’re not certain which way back is, or how to leave the desert.

 

Tanizaki ran away in the night and Tsukiko went to look for her this morning. I stayed here to make sure we didn’t get lost, but I fear all I’ve done is lose Tsukiko. The desert closes in and a melody beings. It’s familiar and I fear it’s the same on Tanizaki heard.

If Tsukiko doesn’t return tomorrow, I’ll go looking for her.

 

Still no Tanizaki or Tsukiko. I’ll give her till midday to return.

The coldness and darkness of night nearly broke me. I studied the stars and the lunar archipelago to keep myself together and keep the night out, but the more I stared the more I saw writing there, as if the waves of the sky were calligraphy telling me where to go and what to do. Leading me to Tanizaki, the Tree, or Tsukiko.

I’m afraid.

 

I found them and I killed Tsukiko. After two days of wandering I found her eating Tanizaki who stared still at the sky. I choked Tsukiko till she died. I don’t know how to leave or where to go. The melody courses through me and the sand dances. It dances for and because of me. I watch it swallow Tsukiko.

 

I don’t know how long I’ve been here but it feels like forever. I stopped recording the days riding away like bandits. I’ve forgotten my name and when I read through these pages I find nothing familiar or worth reading. The sand tells me a new story and sings a new song. I see an ocean spreading forever and the child at the shore carries me to the waves. She’s bringing me home. She’s bringing us all home.

Goodnight.

 

After studying the Tanizaki Report, I’m afraid we must return to save Ukseung’s life. The Argentinians believe but Guo begs for one more day. She sat with her all last night but I fear this melody or the sand is a disease and Guo’s succumbing. The Argentinians agree with me. I don’t think we could beat Guo in a fight but we may be able to if we all work together. She’s become possessive of Ukseung and is always by her side, whispering in her ear.

Tomorrow will decide a great deal.

 

The Tree. This morning we saw the Tree. A faint image kilometers away. We’re closer now. We’re maybe another day’s walk to it. Ukseung’s improving and Guo seems determined to reach the Tree. After reading the Tanizaki report, I believed it a fortunate turn of events. I feared we may become lost in the desert as the others did.

Tomorrow we’ll meet the niños. I think Ukseung’ll make it and hopefully seeing grass and plants and other people will cure her.

I’m not ashamed to say I’m afraid of her. The way she stares and plays with the sand. The way she stares at the sky and dances to something only she hears. And now Guo too. Me and the Argentinians keep our distance. I wish we weren’t but if this is a disease, it may be our only option.

 

The niños are curious creatures. Ukseung spoke to them in their language, which shocked them. She smiled at whatever they said and they took her away. Bright and pale, Ukseung looked similar to the niños.

The niños are exactly how they appeared in Park Jiyun’s photographs but there’s something significant about them. They inhabit more space than they take up. I don’t know how to explain it better than that, but it became clear to me immediately that these tiny monsters were much larger than what they appeared to be. They carry something immense within them.

They quickly took her away and Guo followed. I’ve lost track of all of them, truth be told. The Argentinians disappeared in the confusion following entering Antiguoniño. Our missions appears to have expanded beyond what the original intention was. We’ve discovered the fate of the Tanizaki group in all its gruesome and horrifying detail, but we managed to escape such a fate by finding Antiguoniño.

I’ll go back. We stood at the edge of the desert, a curtain of rain before us. The sky was bright all around and it made little sense to me how there could be a desert and thick grass right next to each other. It’s as if the rain doesn’t enter the desert but only the soil directly beneath it. When we stepped across the threshold, everything changed.

The rain washed away the immense and claustrophobic nothingness of the desert. So long were we out there that it became natural to feel that crushing anxiety. I didn’t even know it was there until it disappeared. I felt lighter. Freer. We all laughed and talked as we had the first day. The Argentinians shared kisses and even kissed me. They still avoided Guo and Ukseung.

The redness of Ukseung’s skin literally washed away. All that dead and dying burnt off skin washed off and she was left with this strange pallor. Her skin was bright, not only white. Her black eyes and hair were a shocking contrast and when she stared at me I felt empty.

She stopped looking at the sky and she smiled. She didn’t speak then but she never looked back at the desert. It was like everything, all the horrors of the desert were a distant memory. Even looking back at it, it didn’t seem so terrifying.

We walked through the rain, our spirits high, but the water weighed us down. Ukseung took off her clothes and Guo followed her example. Guo no longer spoke either. I didn’t realise that till now, but she simply stared at Ukseung, as if being led. Me and the Argentinians followed them to the end of the rain where the niños met us.

They were waiting for us, and there were thousands. There were human women among them, likely whores of Babylon, but it was a real joy to see others like us in that alien world. And then Ukseung and them spoke and we all became separated.

Now, alone, the niños all around. Several of them have tried to have sex with me but I refused. Some of the whores of Babylon mocked me but I don’t really care. I’ll sleep here, alone in the dark wondering what happened to my team.

 

A week gone and so much to tell. This place really is a paradise. I feel free. It’s why I’ve not been keeping a better log. I look through these pages and become depressed. Everything we were doing seems so insignificant beneath the boughs of the Tree. My man comes to me and he’s sweet and gentle. He caresses me but not like a woman. He’s stronger, more wild. He smells like flowers caught in the rain. He tastes like infinity.

Many of the women here prefer to be abused and humiliated but my man doesn’t do that. He doesn’t disrespect me. He adores me.

The Argentinians remain aloof and together. They join in when orgies happen but they mostly keep to themselves. At the center of the orgies are Guo and Ukseung, who have both become intimate with Angel de Paz Pizarro. Park Jiyun and the anthropologists simply study and record what they see here. It’s an interesting clash of cultures and goals.

I don’t know how to return home or to get back to the Institute. I don’t know if I want to.

Tomorrow there’s a celebration honoring Park Jiyun. We’re all very excited for her.

 

It was a secret ceremony. None of us know what happened but Park Jiyun’s gone. My man won’t tell me and none of the other men say anything about what happened. But when we say Park Jiyun’s name they bow their head, as if honoring her.

It’s very curious.

 

It’s been a month since I last wrote in here. Writing these letters becomes difficult, as if I’ve forgotten how. The Argentinians come to speak with me occasionally. They want to leave but they’re afraid. I always just tell them to find a man and let go.

They don’t want men though. It should’ve been clear to me long ago, but they’re in love. They have been since before this mission began. And here I thought none of us knew each other.

They tell me that the niños ate Park Jiyun, but that seems unlikely. We’ve never observed them performing any acts of violence or anything like that. I remind them of what happened in the desert but it feels like a nightmare that happened to someone else.

They read over the log and they remind me of our mission, but what is a mission compared to this.

I don’t even remember which name belongs to which Argentinian but they tell me that the mission was to save humanity, not to have sex with monsters. They’re being unfair and small.

 

We ate Angel de Paz Pizarro. Something happened when we did. I feel her inside me. I have become more than myself. I don’t remember when I last wrote in here. Much has changed that will never be the same. I believe I may be pregnant but I can’t tell. There are whispers that Ming Faye’s coming.

I long to see her again. I’ve heard so much about her and all the work she does.

The Dust connects us all. It dances and we sing.

I ate Angel and she is now a part of me. It was beautiful. I can see it so clearly. It’s so beautiful.

I sprouted wings along with the gods. We flew through the air copulating. It was an enormous sensation, as if my body stretched over eternity.

Time is a fabric blown by the child goddess dreaming deep in the belly of the Tree. We’re all a part of her woven dream and her song. The song that is everything.

We are Dust birthed from her purple eyes. My gods come to me and I copulate with hundreds of them, becoming pregnant over and over again but never giving birth. I give birth to myself. A new me growing always inside me.

Ming Faye comes and I’ll take back my name and tell her all the things I learnt here.

She’ll be here soon. 

woke up late

My alarm went off at 930am because I wanted to get an early jump on the writing, because I knew I was going to be busy tonight, but I must’ve hit the off button instead of the snooze because I didn’t wake up until 1130am.

Read a bit of Voices by Kyle Muntz. I’m really digging it so far, even though I’m only about thirty pages in. It feels like it’s narrated by someone who doesn’t think with language, which will be useful for me when it comes to writing part three of the novel, which is going to be an extended monologue by a man who learnt human language accidentally.

But, yeah, started writing around 1240pm, because it takes me a while to turn my brain on. It’s 3pm now, and I’ve written 5k words, which is very fast, even for me. I thought this was going to be a very difficult part of the book but it sort of just spilled out of me. There’s one more thing like this to write for part two, but then tomorrow it’s on to part three, which will be pretty different writing, in a stylistic sense.

Anyrate, here’s the next chapter, hot off the keyboard:

I’m off to Antiguoniño and there’s no telling what will happen there, so I’m leaving this behind. I’ve never seen the niños in the flesh, but if Haneul and Jiyun can do it, then so can I.

I didn’t ask to be Ming Faye, and I don’t know if I even want to be her, but this is all part of something so much larger. If I must play the part, then so be it.

I was born in Seoul to two women who collected bottles for a living. The city was on fire then. Walking the winding streets of Seoul between rusted ruins of the long gone away world I found solace in the wolves. There’s something about being a young girl in a world full of wolves. My mothers used to tell me stories about their childhoods and how the streets filled with cats and dogs of various breeds. I’ve never seen a cat, except in photographs and photographs were hard to come by in Seoul.

We lost so much. There was an aching pain in my parents’ generation. I wouldn’t understand it until later, but when they grew up Seoul was the heart of the empire. Edo was in decline then, constantly on fire and losing neighborhoods to disaster after disaster. The world didn’t want Edo anymore, but the Koreans were too proud to see the signs of the disease spreading.

But we’ll get to that. I was only a girl in Seoul and people dug through the landfills and gravesites for technologies of the past. They dug up cameras and computers and tried to connect them to Consciousness. Seoul was the network hub connecting us to Argentina. It was all we had to unite the two empires remaining but Seoul kept burning. They should’ve known it wouldn’t last.

But for the first time in a hundred years the world became analogue. My mothers told me about all the technologies there used to be. How you could grow an entire garden inside your apartment and how there were never food or water shortages. They talked about hooking straight into the Consciousness or even seeing the Womb.

But maybe to remind me of the world I lived in, they let me play outside in the burning streets. Earthquakes shook often and the buildings all over the city crumbled to pieces, and then the rains came to batter away at the remnants of what still stood. It rained for months then, but at least the fires drowned.

We lost parts of Seoul then and a lake formed where no lake used to stand. We retreated to the mountains surrounding the city. My mother was pregnant with Jiyun.

I cried for the wolves who must be drowning but my mothers told me the wolves escaped weeks ago because animals know. They simply know.

In the mountains I saw a bird for the first time. Its wings ratty and disintegrating. It was black. Every centimeter of it black and it cawed menacingly. I reached out to touch it and it came to me. It rested on my hand and I fed it seeds.

When mother saw me she chased it away but it returned to me at night when I sneaked away.

We all slept in the same room in the mountains and we shared our apartment with two other families. Dressed in rags, eating rice with spiders, boiling rainwater to keep off the toxicity.

They called it acid rain and it wasn’t safe to be outside for too long in it. I saw wolves, their pelts all matted and rotting off, their jaws swollen with tumors. And then the neighbors, their daughter always crying. Her eyes melted out of her skull and her tongue swelled to fill her whole mouth. They feared she’d choke to Death on it, but what was there to do? Cut out her tongue?

The delegates from Mexico came when the rains stopped and the fires returned. Jiyun was born the same day as Haneul but her name was something else then. Something Spanish, but not Angel. That was who she became, not who she was. The city burned and I told my mother about how the animals followed me through the city. She told me I was special and that my sister, Jiyun, would be special too.

They photographed us together. They didn’t tell me where they got the camera though I begged. They didn’t tell me what they traded but it filled me with dread.

The Lunar Archipelago changed colors. No longer orange or red or yellow or faintly green, but a violent purple, and when the sky should’ve welcomed the sun there was only blackness.

We rushed to the hills, mothers, Jiyun, and me but there was always screaming behind us. Mothers told me to take Jiyun and carry her higher into the mountains while they went to see what they could do for others. So I kept walking, Jiyun so heavy in my arms. I was only five the day the world swallowed Seoul. That was the last time I saw my parents.

When I reached as high as I could go, I turned back to the fires below. And earthquake came and sucked the fires out with a great crack, as if the world had snapped. There was no explosion or anything like that, but the sun finally peered through the blackness. It must’ve been noon or later when I could see. There was no screaming except for Jiyun. No wind blew and no insects chirped and no wolves howled. The wolves followed me back down the mountain though, plodding behind me. If I had known wolves how other people knew wolves, I would’ve been afraid that they were going to eat me, but I believe they were protecting me and Jiyun. They knew we were meant for more.

The city was gone. Seoul had disappeared. There were no more crumbling buildings. There were no buildings at all. There was only nothing. A barren wasteland. Seoul became a desert and I carried Jiyun as far as I could. Far away I heard screaming so I told the wolves to see what it was. They returned with Haneul. That’s what I called her. And that’s the name I told them when they found us.

I don’t know what they thought when they finally arrived two days later, my sister and Haneul being nursed by a wolf while a hundred snarling wolves stood between us and them.

There were other survivors of the Seoul disaster but I think none of them had the same experience as we did.

They took us away to Pyongyang and they split us up. Jiyun and Haneul were raised in the same building but I was taken further away. It took me years to find my way back and meet my sister again.

My mothers were kind but they had no interest in reuniting me with my sister. We were cutoff from the Consciousness and the Womb in Pyongyang. A lot of people blamed both of those for what happened to Seoul. They didn’t hear the earth screaming. They didn’t see the messages written by the stars above telling us to run away or return to the earth. I didn’t really understand what the stars were saying but I felt it. I felt it deep in my bones. There was a right way to live and we weren’t doing it.

As years piled on I ran away often. It caused my mothers to beat me, and because they beat me I ran away more. Other girls mocked me as they went to school. I had only one uniform and sometimes they saw me washing it under a bridge or shitting in the trees at night. I always returned to my adopted mothers in winter. I knew they wanted to get rid of me but something kept them from doing it. I think they knew that giving me to what remained of the state was the same as giving me to the streets, and I already spent too much time out there. At least they could pretend they were trying.

The wolves became my family. I even spoke to them and they spoke to me. They had no names but they had smells. They knew one another by the smells, relying less on their eyes than we do. I heard the difference in their howls, in their growls. The girls from school called me a wolffucker and any other number of such things, but they didn’t understand. How could they? We live in a world without animals. All we have are the thousands and thousands of wolves.

A world belonging to wolves. They told me old stories. Old wolf stories. They told me they came from the moon and that the moon used to be whole, but that a great black beast of a wolf bit out the chunk and spit it into the earth. From the portion that struck the earth, they were born. They emerged as the Lunar Sea became the Lunar Forest became the world. They rose from the lunar land and colonised the earth, first in the world now dead, and on in all directions, to where the world was only dying. They told me humans had gone insane when they came to earth and killed one another by the billions.

I think population estimates at that time for the world was between one and three billion, but it was difficult to imagine the world they talked about. It was a world of several billion, and they told me how the population was cut in half by the war, and then increased tenfold after the war. They said that even just a hundred years ago, there were tens of billions of people on the earth.

It’s what killed it. They said we depleted the earth so fully that the old world simply died, and now it rots, consumed by fungus.

I asked them about my sister but they didn’t know what I meant. All wolves are sisters so they told me about every human who came and went in the city.

I was fifteen before I saw Jiyun again, and she was with Haneul.

My heart skipped a beat and I wept. I thought about running to them and hugging them, kissing them, but I held myself back. I had been outside all summer, living in rivers and fields and trees. They kicked me out of school by then, despite my grades and my abilities. They said I needed a home to go to school, and my seonsaengnim tried to take me in, but all I needed were the wolves.

And then I saw them, and I knew I needed to be human. I couldn’t meet them as a wolf and expect them to love me.

I returned to that seonsaengnim and she allowed me to wash and gave me a bed but I told the wolves to keep an eye on Haneul and Jiyun because I would want to meet them soon.

Me and seonsaengnim talked about so many things. She told me I was gifted at chemistry and physics and biology, that I should go into the sciences. I needed to apply son for the science academy. I was a little old to begin, but she said she understood my homelessness, and that the academy would understand, given my abilities.

What abilities, I said.

Her jaw dropped and her eyes went wide, You don’t know, do you? Jeongji, you see the patterns. I’ve seen your notebooks that you leave behind. Those drawings you do beside your notes, they’re a synthesis of all that I’ve taught you, and so much I haven’t taught you.

They’re just drawings, seonsaengnim.

She shook her head, Jeongji, they may be only drawings to you, but they’re a map to those who know better. I can tell you’re already above me so I shared them with my colleagues at the academy and they were very impressed. They were shocked! They didn’t believe that a child could do this kind of work. But you can.

Seonsaengnim, I don’t–

Jeongji, there are so many things we don’t want to do. There are so many things we’d rather be doing that the things we must. Do you know what the academy is? They’re trying to save the world. You see it and you know it. You see the way the world is dying. It’s not simply dying, Jeongji. It’s decaying. But the academy is trying to figure out a way to revitalise it. To bring the earth back from extinction and make it grow. Really and truly grow. Imagine trees and flowers everywhere. Imagine all the many animals there could be, like there once were. Jeongji, you may not believe this, but wolves are not the only animals native to this place. We once had so many birds and insects and cats and dogs and even bears. Deer. Oh, Jeongji, the world was once such a beautiful place. Even when I was a child it still held some of that beauty, but it’s dying, and now there are only us and the wolves still fighting to survive. So you may not want to go to the academy, but the academy needs people like you. The world needs people like you.

I nodded and agreed but I was already planning my escape.

After I cleaned myself and became human again, I asked the wolves to take me to Haneul and Jiyun.

They were so beautiful. Even though Haneul wasn’t Korean, her name fit her still. I was proud I had named her and that she had become so beautiful.

I came with the wolves and Jiyun’s eyes opened wide. She hugged them before she even looked at me. Haneul saw me first but pet the wolves all the same.

For a long time we just played with the wolves. I didn’t know where or how to begin. I couldn’t just tell them what happened. I wanted to, but they were both infants when they lost everything and became separated from me. I felt them. I felt the texture of their thoughts and hearts. I saw them building before my eyes and when we finally spoke, we said very little. I had waited and searched so long and had so much to tell them.

But I thought I had more time. I thought we could share in this life we fell into. I thought that was the first of many meetings.

When the lunar archipelago shined they returned home to their mothers and I returned to seonsaengnim. She told me she was afraid I had runaway again. I didn’t know what to say so I hugged her and thanked her.

She cried for a long time after that. I felt awkward. I wanted to explain that I really was leaving and that the only reason I returned was to use her. I just needed her washroom. But she cried so much that I let her hold me and I held her back.

She kept whispering, I’m sorry.

It didn’t mean anything to me at the time.

In the morning I was gone. They came and took me. They took me from Pyongyang. They took me from Korea. They took me from Jiyun and Haneul and the wolves. They stole my name and gave me a new one. They stole my from my family and seonsaengnim just kept crying, worthlessly.

The Academy is a nightmare but also a dream. A bootcamp for science. Aiko Tanizaki, the Director, kept us busy at all hours of the day solving puzzles, learning advanced physics, biology, and chemistry. He invented new fields of study that developed naturally out of our collaboration. That was a big part of the Academy: collaboration. For the next eleven years I spent with other women like me developing the sciences of the future. We rediscovered all that we had lost since the great Western Collapse. Genetics was a viable field again, and we spliced the world together to make new models.

History was important to them. We learnt about the Fifty Year War and the Century of Madness. We learnt the history of the Wombs and the Consciousness, how all the greatest minds of a generation left earth to restart civilisation on a new planet. They told us about how we overused the planet and sewed our own destruction. We murdered the planet to keep ourselves alive and now we persist in this dead and dying world.

We learnt about the last man on earth and how he killed himself out of fear. He was the only man resistant to the disease and his fear crippled him to the point of uselessness. And we learnt why the world had become so unalterably ruined.

Male policy. The white supremacist patriarchal world we descend from had an implicitly suicidal and megalomaniac bend. All the wars throughout history lead back to european savagery, and the destruction of the planet stems from their hubris. We came to discover how they treated women and how women of the old world had no rights or say in the governance of the planet. The earth struck back against european maleness in its final efforts to save itself. Unfortunately, this led to the Western Collapse as well. What happened to Seoul happened on a large scale to europe and america and australia. The world of white people disappeared 150 years ago, and now we, the long subjected and brutalised peoples of the world have inherited this dead and dying world.

In order to save itself, the earth may have expelled too much energy, but it also gave us the tools to revitalise itself. It regrows itself, and the earth will come back to life with or without us. The difference, however, is perhaps a million years. The fungus grows and revitalises the soil, but there are still the poisoned oceans to consider and the intense air pollution still hanging over europe and america. It’s unclear what happened to africa, and we never studied it. The continent escaped destruction. I’ve seen africans before, but they’re few and far between. I believe a different disease may be occurring there. Director Tanizaki knows. Of that I’m certain. She forbade us from studying africa when we were collecting samples from around the world.

They brought us to europe and america. It’s one thing to know the history but it’s a completely different thing to see what really happened. There’s a river that separates america from the Kingdom of Mexico and it’s one of the starkest lessons you’ll ever see. On the north side of the river, there’s only blackness. A great black desert. The Waste. Nothing lives there. Nothing grows there. And then just south of the river, the desert is brown and red. A hundred kilometers south and there’s plantlife and cities. Mexico flourishes just a couple hundred kilometers from the Waste. But the Waste spreads. The river keeps it at bay, but the river is drying and soon will disappear. In a hundred years the Waste will overtake Mexico City. In a thousand years it’ll take Argentina. The old world is dead, and the world that remains is dying. The lessons we learnt from europe are what bred our newest discoveries about life. From the Waste of europe came a fungus. Great giant mushrooms so black they disappear in the night. The mushrooms sprout from the site of the Lunar Forest. We collected soil samples there and brought them home to Shanghai, where the Academny regrew the world.

What we discovered from the european fungus created nanotechnology and biomanipulation. The soil where the fungus grew wasn’t like the soil in any other part of the world. Director Tanizaki believed it was because it came from the moon. He believed that it was a colony of new lifeforms. These lifeforms could have ridden an asteroid from a billion lightyears away carrying this genetic material. He think the asteroid that broke the moon apart grabbed onto the falling piece and entered earth. At the same time as our journey through europe, researchers discovered the archives of the pre-War world. Thousands upon thousands of genomes of earth lifeforms were now at our disposal for comparison. Everything just fell into our lap at the right time. We mapped the genome of the wolves and discovered they were fundamentally different from the wolves of the archives. This was anew breed and it was very similar, on a minute scale, the organisms we discovered in the soil and in the fungi. We didn’t know what to call it so we stole an old word. Nanobiotics. And this is the nanotechnology that people attribute to me.

One of the most important discoveries we made was on our return to europe. The soil had already changed. We had no idea how long the fungi had been present so it’s hard to scale it properly, but the soil was becoming fertile again. We took more samples and experimented in the lab.

With accelerated models, it was possible to revitalise the soil in less than a generation.

It can regrow anything, but to implement it is to fundamentally change what we are as humans. We will be like the wolves who have overrun the world. Apply this nanobiotic to any organism and it will take on a new life. It gets complicated to explain, but these little creatures form a symbiotic relationship with the organisms. It seeps into the bloodstream and begins rewriting DNA but it begins all at once. These organisms are unbelievably small. By way of comparison, a blood cell is a thousand times the size of the nanobiotics. They’re essentially quantum organisms, and they’re unfixed by time and place. They behave similarly to electrons. When we collect a sample, we’re really just grabbing a bunch of matter. Within that matter there are colonies of nanobiotics but we don’t know where they are until we stop and measure them. It took us a while to figure out how to map their behavior and about a year for us to figure out how to control their behavior. We use radiowave frequencies to direct their actions. When we hit the right frequency, they go into what we call rebuild mode, and they begin working on the host organism.

We tested this with cancerous rodents. We introduced the nanobiotics into the rat. The nanobiotics must fill it up before it’s effective. They need to coat the cells of the host. Until we tell them what to do, they don’t do very much. They just exist and swirl around, playing at quantum magic within the rat. They emit strange frequencies, however, but I’ll get to that. Once the nanobiotics are ready, we hit the rebuild frequency and they go about changing the DNA. Within minutes, the rat’s cancer is gone. However, if we hit the unbuild frequency, we get a mess. Within minutes, the rat no longer exists. I don’t mean it dies. I mean it ceases to be. The nanobiotics literally unbuild it. They take it apart electron by proton by neurtron until it’s no longer there.

It destroys energy and matter.

So while nanobiotics may save the earth, they also have the ability to destroy it.

The nanobiotics also emit frequencies. We discovered this accidentally. Something kept messing with our readings until we started listening to the nanobiotics.

They call for their hosts. They’re inviting us with assonance. It’s a strange kind of frequency. It’s something that skips sonic waves but feeds sound right into your brain. It’s not so much music or sound, but a feeling of contentment. They make us feel comfortable and happy.

It was an amazing discovery but we don’t entirely understand what it means. It appears that they’ve studied us. We’re not sure what they want with us, but it appears they may be sentient. Though it’s just as likely a defensive mechanism to being trapped within the confines of the lab. Since discovering their ability or at least attempts to communicate with us, we did more samples and found that we’ve all been contaminated by it.

We also don’t know what this means, but no one in the Academy studying nanobiotics became ill again. We’ve also been quarantined for the last three years.

When Jiyun discovered the niños nearly three years ago, we immediately sent a party to take samples and discover what’s happening in Antiguoniño. As we all know, the Tanizaki group never made it there, or never made it back. It’s unclear to us what happened, but we’re very interested in knowing. We sent a second mission but if they recovered the records of the original mission, they failed to return. It’s possible they joined the whores of Babylon, but it seems unlikely.

Both groups were uncontaminated by nanobiotics.

In the last three years, we’ve tested a wide range of things. We’ve injected diseases into one another, hacked off limbs, taken gunshots, and even measured sexual experiences. There are quite a few interesting results of this.

Because of their commitment to keep us happy and content, they actually stop the pain before it happens. It’s the craziest thing, but you can watch your hand be chopped off and feel nothing. This is both amazing and frightening. It means they have much more control than many of us are comfortable with. They’re rewriting our neural networks to the point of being able to suppress pain completely. More than that, there’s very little bleeding, and this is where the quantum stuff comes in. But they react before the event happens and they know exactly where the wound will occur before it happens. There’s actually a very strange thing that happens to the removed limb seconds before it’s removed. It becomes brittle and somewhat crystallised. This means that the nanobiotics are giving it up before the pain happens. All the blood retreats to the safe part of the arm and waits for the limb to fall off. Now, once this happens, the blood coagulated and sweet smelling fungi form on the nub. The chopped off hand actually shatters on the ground. This was a very unexpected event. Somehow more unexpected than the actual regrowth. But that’s what happens. Over the next half hour, the fungi grows and rapidly transforms into a hand. We’ve tried this with a number of limbs, but have yet to see what happens when we remove the head or cut the body in half. We believe there’s a limit, but there may not be.

Much the same happens with a gunshot. The place where the bullet would travel through becomes extremely brittle, allowing the bullet to pass through you without impediment. The fungus forms, emitting sweet smells, and then the wound closes.

When we study the new limbs or new skin, we find that it’s identical to the rest of our bodies, but that our bodies are dissimilar to what they were before contamination. We’ve evolved, in just a year.

Sexual pleasure is hard to describe because it’s difficult to remember what it was like before contamination. I imagine it’s like explaining sight to the blind, but sex transforms you. You’re no longer a single body, but everything within the area. We believe this is because the nanobiotics are communicating and sharing information.

This is where rumors of telepathy come from.

It’s possible we’re communicating with one another, but it’s unconscious, at this point. It may be something that will occur given enough time and development, but the nanobiotics are most definitely communicating with one another.

But, interestingly, we’ve found that we can communicate in languages we didn’t previously know. Everyone knows Spanish and Korean, of course, but I found myself speaking with Director Tanizaki the other day, and I realised the words we were speaking weren’t in Spanish, but were Japanese, and I’ve heard her speaking South Russian to several of the researchers there.

Director Tanizaki believes this is because the nanobiotics have mapped our language centers and so they’ve learnt all our languages, and with the constant communication and interaction between them in this quantum magical net they’ve created, it’s allowed us to speak in many languages we don’t actually know.

And then we heard about Dust. It appears to be similar to our nanobiotics, but it’s difficult to judge what’s happening there without real scientific evidence. All the reports are shrouded in pseudoscience and fanaticism. It’s just as likely that there’s a psychotropic element in the niños’ environment that’s causing much of this. But many of the anecdotes lead us to believe that Dust and nanobiotics may be similar, if not the same thing.

That’s what we go to learn, and it appears that I’m taking on the role of Ming Faye.

Who is Ming Faye?

Director Tanizaki believed it was necessary for the world to have a hero.

We grew up in an age without heroes, she told me, And we need to believe in hope, as a species, if we’re ever going to survive the destruction. The world needs a hero and so we give them Ming Faye. You must be Ming Faye because you are beautiful and still young. You also carry the nanobiotics in you. They will marvel at your abilities.

And so I go now to save humanity, perhaps, by giving them hope.

But the niños have killed my family. It eats me. Their tiny horrid mouths. Their brutal pale hands. I don’t believe Jiyun or Haneul wanted to be eaten. That’s absurd.

They were murdered by the people they fell in love with.

It’s been years since I’ve been with the wolves and staring at the lunar archipelago brings so much back. I miss the days when I was free. I miss the days being a child with the wolves. I miss having a family and hope. I miss having my name.

I never wanted to be a hero and I never wanted to know all that I know, but life asks us to be more than we are. It’s our choice. I was kidnapped from my life and all that I loved, but I still had the choice to fail out. No one forced me to succeed or to experiment on myself an others. I don;t have to be Ming Faye, but I will. If only to understand what happened to Jiyun and Haneul. I deserve to know.

twelve thousand

That’s about how many words I wrote today. And I can now see the rest of the novel coming into shape. The more I write, the clearer the visions become, and I know what needs to be done. The polyphonic portion of the novel is finished. I didn’t really know the novel would have three distinct parts, but I do now. And the first part is more or less complete. I mean, I may go back and add more to it, but the feel of it exists mostly right.

Part two is going to be shorter than part one and I should hopefully be able to write all of it tomorrow.

Part three may be the shortest part, but it may be as long as part one. It’s hard to say right now but it’ll be an extended monologue that subverts the rest of the text, while also being all lies, casting shadows and doubts on every word that exists in the novel. It will also, I think, be more linguistically versatile and confrontational.

So, I’m excited to write that, though it’ll be much more of a challenge. Hopefully I can write all of part three on Saturday, and then edit, rewrite, add more on Sunday. And then edit, rewrite, subtract on Monday, and then submit before the deadline. Hopefully this works out for Broken River Books. If not, it may be a better fit for Lazy Fascist or New York Tyrant, who is apparently accepting submissions right now.

What else?

Watched The Yellow Sea, which is the follow up to the amazing The Chaser, even having the same actors, but working in opposite roles. The former protagonist is now an antagonist and vice versa. But, yeah, it was pretty great and intense. Around the midpoint, I had no idea how there was going to be another hour, and I kept waiting for it to collapse in on itself, but it just kept building and building. It’s exciting and somehow perfectly paced. It has such an interesting rhythm. I don’t think it’s as good as The Chaser, but it’s definitely worth watching.

Read Magdalena: A Fable of Immortality by Beatriz Escalante today, which was great. I bought a bunch of these novels by contemporary Latin American novelists at the Twin Cities Book Fair, and I’m very excited to finally be reading them. This was a pretty great place to start. It’s not brilliant or anything, but it’s enjoyable in all the right ways. I probably won’t have time to read a book or watch a film tomorrow, with all the writing I need to do, and with going to dinner at 730. Life gets in the way of novelling sometimes, but it’s usually worth it.

Anyrate, thought I’d share another chapter.

 

We all ate her. The others will lie to you but we all ate her. She wanted us to. The gods gave us her flesh from their own mouths and we accepted it, greedily. She told us to. Even through Death, we heard her talking. She still speaks to us.

No, I wouldn’t trade eating her for anything. It was the most profound experience of my life. I’m not endorsing cannibalism, but this was something different. It was unbelievably intimate.

When you’re with the gods, existence shifts. You can’t think of life the way you do out here. It’s different. You’re walking amongst gods! And then they wrap their arms around you and hold you down and dive inside you. When you’ve been adored by a crowd of lusting gods, you can tell me that I should change my ways or that I’m sick, but until you’ve tasted infinity, I’ll just keep pitying you and your limitations.

It’s not even that you’re feeling with all their bodies, like your skin is stretched over every inch of skin for miles. It’s that you feel the Cycle, and it pulses through you. You’re throbbing and coming and your limbs become the branches of the Tree, your bones become the earth itself, and your blood is the wind or the molten rock a thousand kilometers below our feet or the neverending rain.

And then when we ate Angel. Oh, I’m shuddering, fuck. I’m coming just thinking–

Let me catch my breath a minute. But feel me. Feel how wet I am. Fine, I’ll show you.

You see, it’s so much more than cannibalism. That’s not the right way to think about it. It’s a celebration. Angel gave up her name and her body and entered eternity. She’s now a part of the Cycle, along with Jiyun.

They both speak to us. There is no grave any longer. There is no Death. There is only the Cycle, so don’t think of the consuming of flesh as cannibalism. That’s far too grotesque and limited.

When I tasted her flesh I became a star. Eternity stretched before me as an ocean and I stood at its shore with the child goddess dreaming all of this. I saw the Dream weaving existence. I looked back into the past and followed the threads far into the future. The past, present, and future wrapped round me and I saw the lives of everyone present that day. I saw the history of the gods and their lives repeating endlessly backward. It’s why they don’t rely on any of the technology we need to survive. It’s also why they’re stealing the scientists’ equipment.

They’re trying to teach you all what it means to live.

To live is to die and to die is to live. We are nothing but Dust and Dust is all of us.

The gods don’t need answers to life’s questions because they accept what life is. We are all meant to be a part of the Cycle and history spirals in all directions on a loom at the hands of the child goddess, who dreamt all of this, and will dream it again. So search for your answers and tell me I’m sick and depraved. I have nothing to prove to you. I have nothing to say to you.

I am a servant of the gods, and soon I’ll be one of them.

progress !

The Revenge of the Scammed Indiegogo has slowed down considerably, but we’re still doing an amazing job. Next week I’m going to begin rolling out some of these rewards and hopefully attract more attention to it. I figure if we can hit the halfway point this week, we’ll be in very solid shape.

Still recovering from the loss, and the only way for me to do that is to just keep working. More work, better work, done more often. So I’m in a constant hustle to try to make up for all I lost. It’s not ideal to be climbing a mountain only to have someone push you back to where you began. But the only thing to do is give up or just start climbing again. This campaign is going to be huge in assisting me back up there, but a lot of this is still on me, to pick myself up and keep pushing.

But, yeah, loads of great rewards still available and the anthology is going to be awesome. I’ve received such amazing support from so many people. It makes me want to cry from how kind everyone is.

But I soldier on.

Already hit 5k for the day on Be Careful, My Children which puts me at about 17k total, and I should have no trouble reaching 20k tonight. I may even be able to reach it in a few hours.

Here’s a chapter, because why not?

She wasn’t born Angel de Paz Pizarro, but became her through will. She grew up in Pyonyang, an orphan like Park Jiyun. Because of her name and her clearly hispanic ethnicity, no one would have any trouble accepting a name like Angel de Paz Pizarro, no matter how audacious it is. Most people don’t know her native tongue is Korean and that she only learnt Spanish later, like everyone does. If you pay attention to the way she speaks, you’ll even notice the Korean accent.

Her given name was Kim Haneul and she grew up in the same neighborhood as Park Jiyun, if you can believe it. In the same apartment complex, even, and they were friends from a very early age. The only two people with the most expertise on the niños were also eaten by them, and raised within the same building in decaying Pyonyang, the last of the great Korean cities. Most people believe that Park Jiyun’s family was killed when Seoul became a crater and most people believe Haneul comes from Mexican diplomats also killed in the Seoul disaster.

These two have been bound together for their whole lives and no one knew. There are even rumors, absurd as they may be, that the two were telepaths, and communicated throughout their lives, even hundreds of miles away, even after Jiyun died.

There’s some evidence to that. It can hardly be coincidence that Haneul showed up at Antiguoniño only days after Jiyun left. Long before the book was published or even close to finished, Haneul was there.

I’ve been trained not to believe in fate or coincidence but there’s something to these two women and the niños, and it’s something larger than setting and time. It almost makes me believe in the quantum magic alleged. You hear the whispers, don’t you? How they’re were psychically linked, or how the Dust of the niños calls them? How the Tree is a bridge between dimensions or realities or is some secret explanation behind string theory, despite it being disproved centuries ago? How the gods of the niños have become our gods and set a series of events in motion that will lead to some future cataclysm?

If these gods always existed, why are they only relevant to us now? What does that say about godliness? Do gods only matter when you’re aware of them or when you believe in them? Are the niños gods? Are they evolved versions of us or are we evolved versions of them? Are they one of the many missing links in our evolution, or are they something separate and new entirely?

And if they are a species so separate from us, is it murder?

I mean that in a very real way. We don’t consider it murder or cannibalism when we eat rats or wolves, so why should they feel regret over the consumption of some higher or lesser being? And who’s responsible? How do you find a criminal in a population if every citizen is guilty?

You see, I just don’t see the purpose of all of this. I don’t see what’s to be done or why anything needs to be done. I think it’s clear they want nothing to do with us, and I think it should finally be clear that we should have nothing to do with them.

Do you believe the Dust calls you? Do you believe the gods have finally revealed themselves, and, after all this time, the european men really were its image and likeness?

Is it significant that Jiyun and Haneul share all these similarities?

I don’t know. I truly have no idea.

But don’t believe everything you hear about these two, and believe almost nothing you hear about the niños. Those who spend time with them become drunk on the uncanniness and those who study them see only their own projections.

We discovered a new world in this dead and dying one and we’re working tirelessly to reduce or aggrandise it, depending on who you ask. Eventually you’ll have so many blurred versions of the same stories told wrong that you won’t be able to tell the truth when you finally see it. Maybe you ought to go there and see for yourself.

Better yet, ask the niños. Let them speak for themselves.

 

coming into focus

Last night I expressed how I couldn’t see where the novel was heading. That’s an exhilarating feeling as it leads to so many surprises and it makes writing a learning experience, but, today, while I was showering, the shape of the novel began to weave together. I discovered my protagonists, which I didn’t really have. I wasn’t sure who this novel was about, or who it should be about, but I’ve discovered that the three women I named sort of haphazardly have grown into the novel. I can see their lives now and I know how to flesh this out, make it personal and whole. Before, it was a bit too abstract. A bunch of people talking about a place that I invented populated by invented people in an invented future, but now that I have a handle on these characters, it should begin to focus the writing more.

Here’s the newest chapter I just finished. Like all of my novels, the editing process is going to be largely about constructing the novel. Taking the chapters and finding their order. There’s a bit more of a linear progression here, but not much.

Anyrate, I’m very excited. Hopefully hitting 20k before I sleep.

I have food and wool socks and a new novel to read by a contemporary Mexican author and there’s another Korean crime film I’ll be watching later, so today’s going to be pretty nice.

Anyrate, next chapter:

The Deaths of Park Jiyun and Angel de Paz Pizarro share many similarities, but the dissimilarities highlight a significant difference between these two women. Few people know the full story of Park Jiyun’s Death whereas Angel de Paz Pizarro’ draws so many rumors it’s important that you hear how it actually happened.

No, I wasn’t there for either but I have the official report of both.

We’ll star with Park Jiyun.

The niños led her out to the Tree where they gathered in an enormous spiral. Veronique Velazquez stood about one hundred meters away. She described the scene as harrowing, but that’s a reflection. It’s important to recognise that this was a celebration and they believed they were honoring Park Jiyun. Few seem to understand that, even the many swarming anthropologists who help spread this nonsense that it was a malicious murder. The fact that Veronique Velazquez always affirms Park Jiyun’s smile should indicate this. Park Jiyun knew what was happening and she accepted it.

Why? Well, that’s a question that only she must know. Her and Angel de Paz Pizarro.

In ceremonial silk of black, woven from their unique spider population, she stood amidst the million or so niños. They sang and when the moment was appropriate, Park Jiyun disrobed, and the singing stopped to be replaced by an intense drumming. Upon the reveal of her flesh, the shaman approached, the drumming rising and rising, and then his voice broke through, loud and high, singing in altoniño. After a verse, Park Jiyun spread her arms and knelt before the shaman who took her face in his hands and bit into her breast, ripping away a mouthful of flesh. He turned to the many masks drumming and made a show of swallowing, the blood running down his chest as Park Jiyun remained kneeling, her breast ravaged.

At this point the shaman bit into her other breast as elders approached and began ritualistically eating her. The details become hazy here because of trauma to Veronique Velazquez’ mental state, but it’s clear that no tools were used in removing the flesh and limbs of Park Jiyun. It’s also significant that not everyone was allowed to bite into the flesh still connected to her body. Veronique Velazquez mentions how they offered her a morsel of flesh, still bleeding, and that’s where her story ends, at least in terms of the grisly details.

We know they chewed away the flesh and separated her limbs from her trunk and that they cleaned her bones, presumably with their mouths, and passed them around, adding to the percussion so necessary to this ceremony. They threw her innards through the branches, hanging as garlands, and they wore parts of her as decoration. Even covering themselves deliberately in her blood. The shaman, apparently, was literally covered in her blood.

It should be noted that there appears to be no end to the drumming. Throughout the ceremony a loud intense and fast beat persisted broken only by the shouting song of the shaman occasionally rising.

We believe they planted her heart beneath the Tree. This is significant, though we can only guess why. We believe that all the niños are buried beneath the tree when they die. There are a few reasons for this. One, there appears to be no gravesite anywhere in the city. And two, the concept of cycles, especially of seasons and plants, and their belief in eternal recurrence makes it reasonable that they would attempt to join this cycle upon dying.

In this way, they must have accepted Park Jiyun, at least at some level. She was not good enough to be buried whole beneath the Tree, but her heart, perhaps, rests there. As in all cultures, the heart represents the central aspect of the human, and it’s likely that they believe her soul, or whatever their concept of animation is, resides in the heart.

But the curious thing is that they ate her. Perhaps this is an initiation for them? A way to bring outsiders into the cycle. It’s also surprising and not understood why they planted two trees in her skull. We don’t know what kind of trees they are, but it would only make sense for them to be seeds from the Tree, as they appear to have no other trees native to them.

But why two? And why in her skull? And why did they want to give it to Veronique Velazquez?

It’s quite clear that they don’t trust the anthropologists. They may be primitive but they’re not stupid. They know who came to study them and who came to understand them. So though we may dismiss the women who fetishise the niños, they’re the only ones the niños allow into their social structures.

It’s significant that these women take part in their orgies. It’s unclear whether or not the niños have a sexual preference, but they seem to be rather bisexual. None of them, as far as I know, have baulked at having sex with a women, and we know, like us, they’re a homonormative society, albeit patriarchal.

But let’s talk about Angel de Paz Pizarro. Many more witnesses present for this, but the events happened almost identically, barring a few very significant details.

Angel de Paz Pizarro wore white, woven from moths. Why white and black? Why spiders and moths? This is a question for a later date. I don’t study their culture, except in an amateur capacity, but I’m sure someone will discover the importance of spiders and moths. The colors seem straightforward enough, representing the two colors most important to the niños. Their white skin and their black tattoos and masks. This would lead us to believe that duality is quite important to them, but it’s unclear whether they really believe in a soul or spiritual world. We call certain things their gods, such as dust, water, and the Tree, but that’s probably us pushing our prejudices upon them. They seem much more materialistic, finding their own environment and bodies sacred, to throw another of our words into their mouths.

But Angel de Paz Pizarro wore white and was led out in much the same fashion. Like Park Jiyun, this event pleased her and it’s obvious she considered herself to be validated by this experience. It’s also quite obvious that she knew what was going to happen. If anyone knew the niños, it was Angel de Paz Pizarro.

She threw off her gown and the shaman approached but the drumming stopped when he entered the clearing and rather than walk directly to her, he wandered round her in a circle and then climbed the Tree.

Angel de Paz Pizarro apparently frowned or at least her face betrayed some confusion but the shaman motioned her to follow so she did. Naked and awkwardly, she followed the shaman to the lowest branches where the climbing became easier as they became almost steps. Accounts differ on how high they went, but somewhere between twenty and one hundred meters high–and I’d guess much closer to twenty than one hundred–they stopped and faced the million gathered. The shaman’s voice came, low and sonorous and the million niños became a choir, their voices high and vibrant against the baritone of the shaman.

The shaman removed his mask.

This is extremely significant. It’s the first time we’ve known a niño to voluntarily remove his mask, and he did it in public. Of course, given the distance, no one saw his face, except Angel de Paz Pizarro. Without his mask, the shaman stopped singing but the million niños continued, their notes rising as a storm, their voices like waves battering the Tree. The shaman pulled out a handful of dust and threw it in Angel de Paz Pizarro’s face and then threw her from the Tree.

When her body his the earth, the singing stopped, and the shaman, now with his mask back in place, climbed down to her body and began eating her.

The only sound during the ceremony was the rain and the chewing of the shaman. No one else approached but after the shaman ate his fill, he passed her flesh to the others. Apparently some of Angel de Paz Pizarro’s followers even consumed her flesh that day. From there, the shaman separated her limbs and handed out her bones. He ate her brain and buried her heart beneath the Tree. They used her innards and organs and blood as decoration, like they did with Park Jiyun. Her skull also now carries two seeds, one for each eye. It’s unclear what they intend to do with the skulls and the trees but they won’t give them up to us anymore. From what we can tell, they will only tell us that they belong to another.

It’s significant that they ate her when she was dead. I don’t know why, but this difference matters. That she touched the Tree, too. That’s something unthinkable. We’ve had women living with them for over a year but none of them have ever been allowed to touch the Tree. So both of these women appear to have been given a high honor by the niños, but they’ve been given different honors, resulting in them both being the pots to new trees, as well as being buried beneath the Tree.

But that’s what we know.

hours till dawn

The novel continues to grow. Hit the goal for today but it’s late, but there are still so many hours till light, and I feel invigorated, but also on the brink of collapse.

I think it’s worth examining my own writing at this point, though. I write in this stitched together fashion out of a weakness, but also out of a need for multiplicity, of authenticity. The problem with a singular viewpoint is that it’s always inherently so skewed. I need to have that cacophony of voices, and so I create a polyphonic symphony through dissonance. Each voice competing for truth and reality, each contradicting and undermining each other, and it’s this fission and fusion that creates an authentic reality for me.

And so everything I’ve written has had this multilayered quality to it, and that’s partly because of people like Virginia Woolf and Stephen Graham Jones and Terrence Malick and Steve Erickson. I need the voices fighting one another but also working together to create this beautiful tapestry.

I talk often about how writing for me is an act of translating the visual into language. The visions surge and rush and fill me or wash over me and I type as fast as I can to keep it all together, to capture as best I can what I’m seeing. And it’s when this happens that I know I’m doing it right. Sometimes it’s not so much a vision but a voice, singing and screaming in the darkness, and I’m transcribing that horrifyingly beautiful and haunting melody.

I can get 2,000 words in an hour, just dancing on keys when things click right. It’s when I struggle to get out a hundred words that I know I’m doing it wrong, that this isn’t working.

And so I’m 12k in. Chelsea and I watched a delightful film called Butter tonight. I enjoyed it a great deal. It’s not a great film and it’s narratively sort of shotty, but it also has some really great moments.

I think about sleep and I fear it. I overslept this morning, which put me behind schedule. I’m shooting for 5k a day, and so I’m 2k ahead right now, but I probably need to hit 20k tomorrow if this is going to be possible.

The weekend’s going to be sort of full, but I should be able to get another 20k then, which should put me at my goal. Hopefully the novel resolves itself around then.

12k is a long way, but it’s also barely a beginning. It’s hard to see the shape of this novel or where it’s headed. I see circles and spirals and a thousand kilometer tree, but I don’t know where this all leads. Eventually my little pale men are going to have a part to play in this and that’s probably what will make the whole novel.

I want to discuss the way we react to what we refer to as native. How it’s fetishised, in both positive and negative ways, which, of course, is sort of always negative. And I want the natives to speak out about what it means to be discovered to them.

So, yeah, this is my gender/race novel, and it’s carried by this noirish notion that I pretend is noir. Polyphonic feminist noir.

And then there’s the science fiction and fantasy always seeping in, but hopefully you dig it, and hopefully J David Osborne digs it, since it’s sort of for him and Broken River Books.

Don’t be afraid of turning the page or writing into darkness.

more novel talk

But also my interview with Nick Antosca went up at Monkeybicycle.

Only two more for the weekly series, and next week is sort of open, which isn’t ideal, but that’s the way it is. I have a few interviews in the works, so there’s no real fear here.

Things are getting wild with the novel and I just wandered over the 9k mark. It was meant to be more noirish, but I guess this is my kind of noir. Another detectiveless detective novel with a bunch of narrators, but things are getting pretty crazy, and I’ve drifted further and further into science fiction and fantasy the more I write. And so though this is meant for Broken River Books, it may be an awful fit there, but only time will tell, and it’ll only matter if I finish this by next week. Hoping to hit 12k before I go to sleep, which is very doable. Chelsea’s coming over soon, so I won’t be doing any more work until she sleeps.

It’s exciting though and I’m sort of just letting the ideas spill out. The best part is inventing mythologies/religions to contextualise a civilisation’s culture that doesn’t exist, and so I’m dreaming up all kinds of things.

Just finished this chapter, which is either an insane ramble or a factual exploration into what it means to be one of these odd tiny men.

 

Dust. It all comes back to Dust but it’s not really dust, or at least not the way we think of it. Everyone wonders how they remained hidden so long and why they only just emerged into existence. Trust me, it has little to do with Park and everything to do with Dust.

Park only appears important because she took the pictures and because they ate her, possibly alive, and made a carnival of the grotesquerie. But Park was brought there. Summoned. I know, I know, but bear with me, because this is important. More important than anything else you’ve probably heard. Have you even talked to the childfuckers? You won’t believe it and no one wants to admit it, but they know more about the niños than anyone else. You don’t live right along with them for that long in an intimate fashion without learning some things. And these are the kind of things the Growers would love to know about.

Dust is sacred and it’s everywhere in Antiguoniño, That’s not what they call it, by the way. They call where they live Life and everything else Nothing. This is fundamental to understanding them but the anthros are more concerned with contextualising them within our world. To them our world doesn’t exist. It’s also why they probably had no problem killing Park, and why they don’t trust us. Their word for us is a slur and though it means foreigner or alien, it’s more akin to calling me a chink or you a spic. They’re not trying to pull us into the context of their reality–they’re trying to banish us. That’s something Park didn’t realise, and also what the childfuckers don’t realise. But I guarantee you, all of those women will be dead within a couple of years, maybe even just a couple of months. They may not be eaten, but it’ll be something horrifying like that. But we’re not simply other to them, we’re nothing. We’re nothing from the nothingness that surrounds their world.

To them, the world is a cycle and their lives repeat endlessly. All of this happened before and it will happen again, and their shaman tattoo their lives onto their backs when they create their masks. Spirals represent the course of life. Circles represent the course of nature and existence. The masks identify them and separate them but also bring them all as one. And all of this comes from the Dust, which is the very soil that nourishes the Tree. They are Dust and we are all Dust. The Tree exists because of Dust and Dust birthed it into the world a hundred million years ago, long before humanity ever had a notion of existing.

The Dust lives and it sings. We can’t hear it but they can but it calls us too, though we don’t know or realise. That’s why Park found it, and that’s why so many haven’t. It’s not enough to just run into the desert chasing dreams. You have to be called or you won’t arrive. We don’t know anything about the Dust except that it exists and it covers everything. Most people you talk to won’t realise the significance of this since the world we now live in is full of crumbling buildings and broken roads and there’s dust and smog and dirt everywhere, but it’s important that the Dust covers every inch of their world.

Old stories exist about the naval of the world, the cradle of humanity. I’m not saying this is that naval, but it may be the heart, the heart hidden in the wild desolation of history.

Dust is their god. The anthros believe they have a host of gods and that this create their culture, but really it’s the single god with a billion aspects covering every inch of the world. Before they create their masks and accept the Dust permanently into their skin, they have names. Every child niño has a name, but when they create their mask and accept the Dust, they give up their name. Only when they lose their name do they begin to live.

That’s another thing that separates us. Because we carry our names as badges of honor they consider us less than nothing. We are the nothing from the nothingness carrying all that is nothing with us. That’s why they’re stealing from us. It’s to mock us. They’re teaching us a lesson about possessions. We’re so obsessed and blind with what we have and own that we can’t even see them for what they are.

They’re not a solution or a utopia. They don’t belong to us and they don’t want to be a part of our nothingness.

I think the Dust, though, is something quantum mechanical. It’s like magic and it’s infused deep into every cell of their world. It gives them life and also every part of their world. Their relationship with the wolves, their relationship with their environment, their relationship with one another–it all comes down to Dust. It gives them the ability to create new life, which is how they procreate.

All of this is speculation, granted, but it makes sense if you just keep following me down this rabbit hole.

There’s an old story but there’s never any time to tell it. It has to do with the Dream that is existence and the Tree that connects all realities. But this Dust is that Dream made real. The Dream of the Dreamers shapes all of this, and all other universes that whirl round just past reality’s veneer, and there are billions of universes just on the otherside of this dimension. Imagine reality to be like a six sided die. This die is our reality and the six dimension belonging to it. But if we turn this die over, there’s another die, and another die, and an endless number of dies, each with their own dimensions to their own realities. The niños–again, this is our term and they just refer to themselves as Us–aren’t necessarily from this reality, but they’re also not necessarily from another. This tree isn’t necessarily from ours or another’s either. On every habitable planet on every reality there is a Tree like this and it connects us and binds us all together, into one knotted multiverse and the world of the niños is more of a transitional place. It’s a home between worlds, between realities. It’s why you can’t see that Tree until you’re almost running into their home world. A tree that high should be visible for kilometers and we definitely should have known about i sometime through history, especially when we ruled the skies and space. But no one saw it then because it didn’t exist then and it didn’t exist then because the Dust didn’t call us. Do you see what I’m trying to say?

This place, Paradiso, Antiguoniño, whatever you want to call it, it’s not for us and we only appear because the Dust lets us. And though the niños accept our intrusion into their reality, they do it only because the Dust wants us there. Why it wants us there–who knows? What’s important is that it’s allowing us there.

But so what do we do with this quantum magic Dust?

We do nothing! That’s the whole thing. We’re not there to possess or to change things. We’re there for some purpose greater than any one humans could dream up.

But the Dust reacts to us. It reacts to all life and it transforms it. The wolves were born from this Dust. People don’t remember but when the Moon broke and fell to earth, it created a Lunar Desert which became a Lunar Forest and from that Forest came the wolves. A new breed, but the same breed as the niño lupine. A cataclysm brought us together across universes, across realities, and it took the dissolution of all that we are to bring us to the Dust that was calling us so long. It may mean that the dust of the Moon is our future. We’re not there to steal, you see. We’re there to understand. When we finally figure it out, when the Dust gives us whatever it wants to give us or when it uses us however it wants to use us, the world of the niños will disappear and we’ll be left with our own Dust. Our Dust that came from the Moon.

I know this all sounds crazy, but just you wait. The world is changing and it’s ready to grow. It may even be what Ming and the Growers need to understand about this world. They want to make us biofreaks, but all they need to do to reunite us with earth is to figure out where our Dust is and what we can do with it.

It’s the Dream crystallised into our reality. It’s our Dream, if only we learn to grab it.

 

more writerliness

Got sidetracked more than expected today but I’m sitting on about 4,000 words and am about to jump back in. Thought I’d share some of the mythology that’s coming to life for this novel, though. So here’s another rough draft of a chapter:

The niños, on average, reach a height of about one hundred twenty centimeters. and weigh about forty kilograms. Their musculature is very dense and they have less fat reserves than we do. You’ll hear often that they’re not human, and this isn’t really correct, but it’s also not incorrect.

There’s no doubt about us both descending from primates, and possibly we were part of the same line until relatively recently. After thousands of years, things can change quite a bit, especially given their peculiar environment.

To put it simply, there’s a genetic difference, but that’s so minuscule as to be insignificant. We’ll just ballpark our genetic similarity to other humans as 99%. We share 98% with chimpanzees, and things taper off after you step out of primates, but s what we’re dealing with here is a genetic similarity between 98% and 99%. They don’t reach that 99% but it’s also disingenuous and, frankly, untrue to say that they’re more similar to chimpanzees than they are to us. A lot of this comes from fearmongering and blatant colonial attitudes exacerbated by their pale skin, the fact that they’re all genetically male, as far as we can tell, and the extreme difference in technological development, which can be explained quite easily. But, to get back to the point, our similarity is about 98.95%, plus or minus 0.1%.

They’re complex social primates, just as we are. The real difference was caused by their environment, which needs some explanation, I suppose.

It’s a highly sophisticated environment that is both strengthened and debilitated by its millennia of isolation. Their deification of rain and trees comes from their close proximity to them, and, of course, the Tree. No studies have been done, because the niños are extremely protective of the Tree. Upon seeing it, it’s quite clear that this is no ordinary tree, and that its closest relatives probably became extinct millions of years ago. I’ll say that again because it doesn’t look like it’s sinking in.

It’s closest relative more than likely became extinct millions–yes, millions–of years ago.

Why this one exists is impossible to really say without a proper sample, but the niños won’t even let us collect leaves. It’s all sacred to them and, for now, we respect this animism. But this tree, the Tree is the fulcrum of their society. The city is built in a spiral pattern around it and its roots connect each dwelling to each other. This is also significant and extremely peculiar. So they live in raised mounds, similar to the way the ancient celts lived. Large communal spaces that appear to be about ten thousand years old, which makes them the earliest human structures still standing, if you can believe that, and they’re each connected by roots to the Tree, which would put its age as at least that old, but considering the size of the mounds and the complexity of the city system, it would mean that the Tree was exceptionally large by the time they were created. I’d put the age of the tree at several millions years, given its size and the fact that there are no trees like this anywhere else in the world throughout history as we know it. But that’s pure speculation and I used exactly zero science in determining that age, so take it with a fistfull of salt.

But the Tree really connects it all together. You could say their city was not only built around the Tree, but because of it and by it. The roads, according to the niños, follows the trails of the roots and the city all rests under the canopy.

They farm a great deal. All tasks are shared and the assignment of tasks appears to shift. Much of niños society is difficult to pindown because of their masks, which wash away individuality. For the niños, it does the opposite, however. They all refer to one another as brother and they differentiate one another according to these same masks that appear so anonymous to us. It implies a deep artistic culture with many shared metaphors and myths, much of which is secret to us. Park Jiyun appears to have known more about this than anyone else, but we all know how that ended.

They’re very open within their society, but are extremely xenophobic. Part of this is probably explained by our drastic height and weight differences, and the fact that we’re all female, which leads me to another peculiarity.

We have no idea how they reproduce. When the last man died, we ensured our survival, but there’s no chance that the niños have anything remotely that complex to work with. We’ve seen them partake in enormous orgies and they’re very free with their bodies, and the bodies of others, but sex doesn’t appear to be a reproductive function. Some of us believe there are females and that they’re perhaps used like cattle, but it’s difficult to believe such tiny and kind people would have any practices so brutal.

But, then again, Park Jiyun’s innards were strung like garlands and her bones used for music, so there’s no telling what the niños are capable of, or why they do what they do.

They worship the rain, for obvious reasons. We’ve tried to describe to them what the world is like beyond their city and the desert, but they remain convinced that there is only desert and nothingness outside of Antiguoniño, which isn’t strictly incorrect. But if you live your entire life with constant rain, how would you imagine a world without it? How would you not believe you’re blessed by the gods after looking out into the vast desert surrounding them? So much of their iconography revolves around spirals, circles, trees, and rain. They’re intimately acquainted with water and plant cycles.

But so, because of their reliance on water and plants, especially trees, and because of the abundance of both, they never had a reason to develop technologies the way we did. And the rain keeps digital or electronic equipment from being especially useful. We’ve lost a lot of equipment in Antiguoniño. But it’s why some people call this Paradiso. It’s a utopic land of plenty, where everything is provided by the earth. There is no decay, only the passing of seasons, which is how they measure their lives, actually. By the end of a solar year, they consider themselves four years old. This led to a lot of confusion when they were discovered. We bought into the belief that these tiny people may be at such advanced ages while remaining so healthy and robust because of the Tree and all sorts of other signs. Most of them having to do with the notion of this being a utopia. Until the tragedy of Park Jiyun, we had never seen them engage in violence. We had, curiously, never even observed them eating meat. They husband animals similar to llamas and elk and they have wolves for pets and companions, but they don’t appear to eat any of them. They live right inside of nature, which is something I’ve sort of been pointing at here. It’s a very human notion to bend nature to our will. We create structures and superstructures, bend rivers, dig trenches to make the world more comfortable for us. But the niños live alongside it. They weave their lives into the natural system, rather than bend it to their lives. And this can be seen with their relationships with their animals and one another.

When the niños reach puberty, the brothers come together and celebrate with the creation of the mask. Each niño creates a mask of dust and mud and blood, which they wear for the rest of their lives. At the same time, they’re given a wolfpup, which they must raise. To harm the wolf is to harm the owner, though ownership here is a very different matter. Their language doesn’t have possessive pronouns, which complicates the language and understanding it. But their word for wolf is the same as their word for soul, so their relationship between wolf and niño is much different than the relationship of a pet and a master. It’s unclear how long these wolves live, but I’ve never seen an adult niño without one, regardless of age, and an elder never has a pup.

The elk are used for work and for transportation. I guess I haven’t mentioned it yet and you’ve yet to see it, but transportation is necessary, which complicates things for us, since we’re too large to ride their elk, which are unusually small. But we estimate that there are about one million niños, and that the city is about the twenty five square kilometers. It’s not super dense, but it’s much denser than you would expect for a civilisation of this nature. It’s not even preindustrial. They’re a purely agricultural and pantheistic animistic monogender–allegedly–society.

But we’ve only known of their existence for, what, three years? They exclude us from almost all rituals, ceremonies, and social customs. Veronique and Park Jiyun are the only people to have seen anything like a ritual, and, unfortunately, it proved to be quite a gruesome spectacle.

But what else. I have so many notes here and so many theories it’s hard to keep them straight. Things change every day because there’s so little data, and they give us so little. It’s a tricky balance. We’re undoubtedly influencing them by our very presence, but they’re also influencing us, and they’re the ones gaining what we know. I imagine they have far better records about us than we do about them. They’re extremely intelligent, and gifted with languages. Even though there appear to be only about one million of them, they have quite a complex linguistic system with at least three dialects, and they’ve learnt every language we’ve spoken to them, and even ones we didn’t speak to them but only shared with one another.

The other day I swear I heard a few of them telling jokes in Cantonese.

I sometimes don’t know what to think. It’s exciting, but also terrifying. As you can imagine, things have changed dramatically in the weeks since Park Jiyun died. Everyone’s on edge, including the niños. They’re much more reserved and I believe they’ve begun to steal from us. There’s no proof, of course, and since they don’t really understand ownership or possession, it may not be useful to consider it theft, but some of our equipment has disappeared.

I don’t know. Sometimes I guess I just get paranoid. To tell you the truth, it’s a relief to be away from them. They creep me out. It’s not the size, really, but their pale skin and their maleness. There’s something pitiful about them. Don’t tell anyone, but I see where all the rhetoric comes from. All that hateful stuff people are saying. It’s all so foreign, and as exciting as it is, from a scientific and anthropological viewpoint, it’s also absolutely frightening. When you’re there, you’re in their world. They have all the cards, even though we’re bigger and stronger. We have physical advantages, and I know that. I know if I got into a fight with one or even a few, I could probably get away unscathed. But when there are ten or twenty or a hundred so near at hand, it becomes suffocating.

For now all we can do is keep studying and searching and try to avoid whatever the hell Park did to anger them so much.