Content farming, mass inequality, collapse. Then, maybe something like this. A word of warning: Grant Maierhofer's unsparing vision of this future is visceral and disturbing; violence, sexual assault, and brutality reign here. -the ed
Before You Lies My Body, Tending
I didn’t want to live my days waiting for beacons or blips indicating ensuing prosperity so I slept. I noticed beginning abjection early then, waking up after several weeks and realizing where I was. I’d committed rotten crimes and wound up in rotten dwellings with other rotten souls who now floated about, twitching with stimuli for atrophy and nowhere closer to anything in today’s remnant society.
I am an ungrateful dog and I have no patience for this fucking place. We are made to eat slop and stare at screens and generate materials for people elsewhere to wear. Massive rooms someplace nearby containing duplicate machines for the collision of something and the storage of seedlings and the sustenance of humanity sometime far off when our meaty uglinesses are discovered. Somedays I’d stare at the wall and lick it for a bit of water that seemed natural. Somedays I’d cut at my skin until my body was little more than a pocked-up mumbling consciousness. Somedays I’d lure guards within and ask them to fuck after me a bit. We were left to our own devices after a time and once several realized this they’d simply left and nobody’d heard from them again. Eventually I decided this was my path. Ugly fucking rotten beings, mumbling at me and losing language.
We, placed in bedding and given shelter, encouraged to remain for some months tending to whatever wounds have begun to spread or welt from rotten air, violence and copious ugly fuckings while imprisoned and thus my body was redolent with stink and rot. A set of clothing that wouldn’t quite fit and meals were we to keep to our housing but nothing else. I saw people in waking from their bedding and didn’t nod, there’s nothing to say. They were ugly, likely pedophilic nubs of people not given choice in the matter and thus left to rot on a mass of rotting rock under conviction. I AM NOT THESE PEOPLE, I might whisper gaspingly at myself on waking up and finding something with which to trick my body back into being, my head back into thinking. I DO NOT WANT THIS PLACE AT ALL, I’d sit and say it again and again staring into a crude mirror I’d fashioned.
My right hand was slightly more swollen than the left, pulped up as it was from ill-kept organs and the like and an erstwhile tendency to drink or intake whatever drugs existed I wouldn’t have to work for. My ankles were becoming fucked and ribboned anytime I’d try to walk. I’d squeeze my right hand repeatedly into fists and watch the red slowly cut to white and eventually its paling purple. I AM AWAKE AND IN HELL, a body down the hall might offer. YOU CANNOT YOU ARE A YOU CANNOT WE ARE NOT HEATING, another might respond. This place was endlessly predictable, haunted by all the ghosts and maps of lives spent you’d—in aging—learn to note as hackneyed.
Before a tendency we had toward experimentation led to bodies cobbled together with wet imaginary meanderings and fog, ideas people had about themselves exerted onto flesh quickly became indoctrinary tools for politicians interested in subservient terms and new economies. I was perpetually a girl, made of shrunk legs and limbs and organs that remained shrunk from chemicals and let me age at my desire, slowly and fitfully so no one paid me mind. The Bodies Feud made people into ploys and signatures on bottoms of tank manifestos that would render earthwhilers doglike and sycophantic while Man reached upward. I chose never to reach upward. Many chose never to reach upward. They thus became divided between ugly putrid cities of flesh and lying and unknown outer dwellings where nobody within the city dared venture. Two mirrored and ever mirroring vats of cowardice thus bubbling up against and alongside one another while man explored the cosmos and lonely cosmonauts were set off to drift amid the sky and starline. I had a husband once, a child, a life. I collected pieces of evidence that indicated this but slowly lost them too.
We committed crimes, then. Were made to do by authorities nondescript and looming. We stole medicine to perpetuate our bodily movements and slowly became faces of a mediasoaked enemy who wanted to preach volumes against time on earth. YOU ARE SIMPLY BORED. Attorneys in paneled rooms would chant at each of us slightly rearranged in defining humanity. LOOK UP, THE HEAVENS CALL, AND YOU WOULD SATISFY YOURSELVES TO REINTERPRET FLESH IN VILE ROOMS. It was a rotten era to have a body imprinted with what you thought eyelets of the sun, poked through and laced with the reaches of humanity to make your life cohere on an earth leaking fume and liquid. We wrote bad manifestos and circulated them in boxes marked CEREAL or DOGMEAT when no one looked. We met in the alleys between our homes in a suburban sprawl of gutlessness and rubbed one another’s bodies against the bricking and picket fencing fucking and screaming and knowing that nobody watched. We became convinced of higher orders of being and prayed to witches having cut our skin with broke-down screens and netting.
On leaving home my body began to rebel against itself and so I'd taken hourly slow pulls on a canister of nicotine made to smell of one's home air. My organs were dwindling. My ankle had gone numb before and now with steps it seemed to blacken. I looked out at graywash sky and thought I might not last the week before setting up my first night's camp and catching a small, sinewy rodent on which to chew. I was born too late. I had wasted my life. I had no feeling in my ligaments. I wondered if ligaments could feel. I took a rock and heaved it up to land upon my foot, atop my ankle where the bone or ligament met the rest of the meat of me and it hurt and it swelled up on the spot in redness and I was in pain. Everyone was in pain. The world was gravelly. People seldom spoke and if they did they were always in their positions. One human being was always atop the other in terms of speaking. The other human being was always subservient and made to look foolish beneath their bootheel.
I lay back on the cold ground and thought back to a yellowy childhood memory wherein I’d sat on the floor of my mother’s kitchen and urinated to generate a small puddle out from me. My mother was wherever she was then. She did not love my father and thus was perhaps entertaining some guest whom she felt some pang of something for. She was not an evil person. I’d urinated through a small yellowy dress on the stupid floor of my mother’s pathetic kitchen and it had left me yummily until a small circle surrounded and all was well. I woke in night that night wherein I’d left home to walk and wander and attempt to flee my state as a slightly imprisoned pathetic hedonist and when I woke I felt there more urine. I looked and touched my hand to it and tasted myself a sickly sweet bit of taste and it felt good. I felt free. I did not feel good to be alive in such a state as I knew it was the best things would get and there would be no more. I pulled on my tits and gestured at the sky and slapped myself several times across the face with either hand until the night bound me up slightly more and all was water.
Our world had prioritized meat and work and thus within cities rooms were made to great efficiency and factories churned out cloned, replicated bodies to eat. Leave them and you would slowly starve. I opted. I'd had friends who'd rebelled and even sent in occasional messages from recreated carrier devices but I hadn't heard from them since before my imprisonment wherever. Nobody lasted much out past the burnt edges where disease was kept at bay. I walked into it and saw no body. I wanted the nightmare of my life to end I think and thus I walked and though my ankle swelled and my hands were meaty clops of pang I pressed on and saw my life unfolding.
After Me A Sea of Skin, Mirroring
A way into the second day of walking I came across a man and adolescent male. When they'd exhausted pleas to fuck me we decided things were safe and thus walked a bit in same direction not speaking vowing to set up good camp together. I had no full sense of where they’d come from but it didn’t matter. I’d heard stories through walls of bodies made in incestuous fire from disgust at life inside and these seemed fit. Their pleas were hardly words. They drooled and circled at first and waggled their dicks within the air and made flicking gestures with their hands. I buried my face in the mud then and opened up my mouth and sucked up as much of it as I could and when I rose to grimace out the meat of me at them they looked back unhappy and resheathed their dicks and with time some understanding was reached. I wanted to assume they were a boy and his father. I wanted them to be lovers of a kind. I wanted them to marry one another in the light and make the world something possible beyond the diseasing swelter. I had no patience. They spoke a sound I’d grown familiar with and heard myself speak it back in hawking yips and whistles as neither hoped to understand the other.
"We hadn't if we hadn't made had hope to find you made our minds up wanted to speak. We hadn't held out our hope of speaking out and held our hope. You are pretty is all are you are all is pretty and we hadn't held hopes of people. Let alone women."
"I have processed that ordeal and made OK with it in my head. You are not fundamentally evil males."
“And have you have and left you and have left? Is this the way you’ve gone and went? You’ve left and gone?”
“I am not willing to speak in those terms at present I am unable. The thing is, the thing. I feel at odds. I never felt at ease. You two, what is it?”
“We are a good and way of going out and good and being and we aren’t happy unhappy out here. I am not comfortable in my skin and comfortable am am not you cannot we shouldn’t.”
“We don’t speak more.”
The younger offered me a bit of mulled rotty apples from a jar in his pack and I put dirty fingers in to suck at what I could before he got greedy. These two were wild and mumbling and the first honest people I felt I’d seen in very many years excepting an individual I’d heard suicide in the home next to me and before he’d gone on and on about his mother. These were the sorts of relationships to establish outside I gathered.
The sky was oily, limbed occasionally in clouds and muck and highreaching etches of buildings beneath. My foot was hurting and numb and my body was coated in welt. I smelled a bit. I sat on a mound of sand having urinated nearby while the two wandered around dithering maybe about their actions and wavering and attempting to figure something out.
I watched them sleep after we'd eaten what we could from a days-dead bulbous rat the adolescent had found at the end of a small jut of tunnel. I hadn't eaten natural animal meat since I was a girl and my father thought it wise to train me out past the reach of our neighbor's eyes. Then we'd clunked the heads and crudely boiled the meats of turtles over a fire he'd constructed in a small hollow beyond contact with everything I'd previously known. Now I felt fairly sickly and pulled long draughts on a nicotine inhaler I kept for moments and fits of nausea, nerves, or ill digestion.
My intention had never been toward violence with these two. Even their expressed ugly thoughts seemed mild when compared with a fascist's billyclub upside the head when not dressed in apt cloth. Still, though, as their jowly mugs and boozer's guts bubbled under the light of moon, I felt a building distemper that eventually had me stood over them, modest rocks in either hand, breathing deeply before driving each down into the impressionable meat and cartilege of nose and eyesocket. The man was slightly stronger and so awoke, but neither could've done much if both had. I kept pushing the fisted meaty rocks until I felt to brain and finally depressed my efforts wholly into the welcoming gapes.
Nor have I ever felt much draw toward eating the bodies of those I've only recently spoken with. Cannibalism exists as a niche curiosity where I have lived, nothing more. But as their bodies steamed up in the deep grayblue of morning and the meat there seemed to breathe, I began to pull at various organs.
I spent the day in a sort of mad sleepless reverie over their bones, burning myself occasionally on bits of coal or chewing on reams of skin I'd spun out over sticks in fire like smoky sheets of taffy. I was found not long thereafter.
“You were discovered having abandoned what we’d assembled for you. You were discovered feral, ugly, not unlike the criminal we’d found years back and put to work. You were found ungrateful, of the body, a person in every sense. You were found having eaten the bodies of these. You were found having eaten the bodies of these drifters and beyond the purview of our court.
“You are not to think and feel and access anything beyond those possibilities and exigencies just in front of you. You are not an original. You contain the bodies of others and you are disgusted with yourself. We are not interested in apology or meat. We are interested in the minor amount of power your body might enact so as to entertain a room of children as they grow. This is now your purpose.”
As these things were said at me I felt myself drugged. I stared ahead and noticed that my limbs felt light. I was not surprised to find removed parts. I did feel their phantom irk and it was calming. I do not have a name to say to you and as my body dwindles further I trust I’ll lose what identity I held yet more. It isn’t complicated. A fleshbound globe of ugly suits have made what was a living plague. I grow tired. I have no patience. A man is telling me these things a prominent man a primitive man is telling me these things. I have nothing left. I look down and scrape the nub of ankle I’ve got along the white tile and gasp, THERE IS NOTHING, THERE IS NOTHING, I’M ALIVE AND THERE IS NOTHING.