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    Excerpts from How to Kill People

    I sat on the marble ledge of the Lincoln Center fountain and drank the glass of wine.  It was Saturday night.  I made my way east.  I walked past the lobbies of opulent hotels and restaurants.  I made eye contact with beautiful women whom I would never see again and walked past people whom I never wanted to see again.  There were people walking dogs and the dogs looked very similar to the people walking them.  I went into a store and bought some beer and then walked to Central Park.  I wandered beneath oak trees and sat down on a huge rock.  I heard people snoring around me.  They were sleeping near the rock base and were curled up beside the trunks of trees.  A homeless man stood up and stumbled toward me and I shared my beer with him.


    “Is humanity suicidal?” he asked.

    “I don’t know,” I said.

    “I think that it is.”

    “It’s definitely masochistic.”

    “We’ve lost our minds.”

    “Some of us have gone crazy,” I said. 

    “A crazy man doesn’t know he’s crazy, right?”


    “You mean right.”

    “That’s what I said.”

    “That’s not what he wrote.”

    “What who wrote?”

    He didn’t answer.  I got up and walked away.


    I left Central Park and headed south.  I thought about blowing up the banks around Rockefeller Center as I withdrew two hundred dollars from an ATM.  I needed to start counterfeiting money.  I stepped into a bar and began drinking like I was at war with my brain.  I ordered a beer and two shots of whiskey and then spoke to my brain.


    “You want a piece of me?”

    I took the first shot.

    “Take this you mother fucker.”

    I took the second shot. 


    I watched the news on the television. An act of terrorism had taken place on Capitol Hill.  At the Congressional inquiry into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, during the testimony of industry executives, a crazy man who didn’t know he was crazy was bearing explosives and ran down onto the floor of the hearing room and blew himself up, killing several congressmen and a few members of an oil giant’s board of directors.  In other news, in Port-au-Prince refugee camps, thousands of homeless Haitian earthquake victims were dying of cholera.  Cholera is a bacterial infection of the small intestine that causes severe diarrhea and vomiting which, if gone untreated, leads to dehydration and death.  In Los Mochis, a coastal city in northern Mexico, suspected gang members had murdered and dismembered a man, placing his limbs in different locations around town and stitching his skinned face to a soccer ball that the man had given to his son last year as a Christmas gift.  Christmas is the most magical time of the year.  A tiger had escaped from the zoo in Prospect Park.  Things were getting crazy.  A volcano located on the border of North Korea and China had erupted.  A super typhoon that had already killed thousands in the Philippines was heading northwest across the South China Sea toward Hong Kong.  Several thousand Australians were dead or had gone missing after a tsunami struck Melbourne.  God save the women.  Rescue efforts were underway in Pakistan to save millions of displaced flood victims.  It was inspiring to see people helping others in times of disaster.  That happens in many places.  Except here in America.  Except when it floods in New Orleans.  I thought about what Dante said:


    “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those, who in time of moral crisis, preserve their neutrality.”


    Here in America we were at war.  There was a War on Drugs, a War on Poverty, a War on Terror, a War on Words.  Going to war is a good way to get countries out of economic depressions, it is an antidepressant.  The Pentagon had declared a war on nature because it is our most dangerous and unpredictable enemy.  And there was talk of war with Iran.  The last people I want to see dead are Iranian college girls.  The television showed war propaganda of administration and military officials standing in front of teleprompters and discussing the possibility of a preemptive strike on Iran.  These men were trigger happy, their eyes were like doomsday clocks.  They were power-tripping megalomaniacs, they were the menacing warlords of high technology driving Spaceship Earth down the road to Hell.  They were crazy men that didn’t know they’d gone crazy.  The world was a powder keg and these flaming assholes kept on stepping closer to the wick.  I recalled what Einstein about war:


    “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.


    I left the bar and walked through midtown, toward the blue lights cast by the giant screens in Times Square.  I entered the belly of the beast.  Hundreds of cars and thousands of people were teeming beneath the flashing lights in awe of the fantastic digital bloom.  People were excited and entranced, as though zealous migrants who had reached the end of some epic and twisted pilgrimage, like cult members who had gathered en masse for some fabled human sacrifice.  There were contingents of tourists spilling off the sidewalks and taking pictures of the billboards and advertisements.  A pageant of materialism, a carnival of consumerism, or whatever word you want to use to describe the human characteristic of taking what we don’t need.  Hordes of people were idling aimlessly, mesmerized by the enormous looming television screens, immersed in some vile hypnosis.  Deranged inmates trapped in a massive insane asylum.  There were thousands of people desperate to buy a product, slobbering like zombies thirsting for material possession, feverishly roaming in search for something precious and vital that had gone missing long ago.  They had lost their minds. 


    I pushed my way through the walls of people whom were speaking a dozen different languages.  There were scantily clad women wielding the immense and dangerous power of sex, able to take down entire empires with their one little muscle.  I saw a screaming couple panicking in tears because their infant had gone missing, possibly stolen from their stroller.  I zipped past fat fast food fucks who were gorging on processed meat made in China.  And the people could not stop shopping.  It was like a disease.  They were addicts on the verge of overdosing.  The artificial lights cast from the windows of stores lured them in salivating like hungry ghosts and spellbound alien lunatics transfixed by the toxic glow of a full and unholy moon.  A stampede was occurring as hundreds of shoppers poured into a store, the fanatics trampling their fallen brethren, stomping upon them to death in the name of greed.  The City of Deadly Sins.  The smell of blood.  The Vampire State.  There were mobile observation towers and police security cameras in the area, scanning for suspects on terrorist watchlists and monitoring for displays of antisocial behavior by using remote sensors that measured physiological indications of malintent.  Visions of dystopia and the dreams of machines.  And the people could not stop shopping.  They did not mind the all the cameras because they were not doing anything wrong.  They were the frogs in the slowly heating pot.  I felt a strong desire to possess a rocket launcher.  I finally understood the mentality of the suicide bomber.


    The same way I’d willingly burn in Hell just to watch some of these murderous demagogues and war criminals suffer, I’d happily die in the atomic bomb blast which obliterates Times Square just to see it being wiped out.  And if a single mushroom were to be the only thing to rise from the ashes in the desolate millennia aftermath, it would still be more glamorous, intricate, and beautiful than the atrocity which exists there today.  Times Square is humanity’s sucking chest wound.  It is a terminal tumor lodged in the mind of civilization.   Like a gigantic neon parasite, it sucks the essence of life out of all the victims of materialism and hype who have gathered beneath the radioactive static to bask in the eerie light of electric suns.  It can devour human souls, and it feeds off them.  I thought of what Doc said in The Monkey Wrench Gang:


    “We are caught in the iron treads of technological juggernaut.  A mindless machine.  With a breeder reactor for a heart.”


    The relentless sirens and beeping horns.  Amidst this hectic metropolis, silence was a thing of the past, it is a thing of the future.  Just as the fragmented ruins of the Roman Empire are now being chiseled from out the density of earth which buried that civilization, men, or some other sentient life form, will one day excavate the landmarks of this nation.  They will find the adamantine corpse of New York City, the sandstone vaults of Washington D.C, the plastic and concrete tomb of Los Angeles, the glass coffin of Las Vegas.  Mausoleum America.    They will find sports stadiums and superhighways, car dealerships and amusement parks, malls and megachurches, prisons and military bases, nuclear power plants and cooling towers.  The everyday amenities and variables of life that we experience and expect – the stable economy, the functioning transportation system, the seasonal weather, the rising sun – shall one day or another end.  The world is not a constant. 


    Our days are numbered.  And I embrace the collapse of the American Empire, of any empire.  The fewer cluster bombs dropped on innocent women and children the better for humanity.  The less depleted uranium munitions exploded upon pristine ecosystems, the better for nature.  I expect that at worst, by century’s end, the descendants of patriots and traitors in this bankrupt and crumbling republic will be living like the majority of people on Earth today, in moderate poverty, in conditions tantamount to those that most humans have lived in throughout modern history.  It is the transition that is of concern.  It will not be smooth.  Yet it is never the fall that kills you.


    * * *


    I entered the crowded subway station.  Intense anxiety spread.  A woman was crying because the touch-screen of the subway ticket machine was not working properly and the machine would not accept her imperfect bills.  I descended the escalator and heard the piping of Peruvian flutes and the screaming of a man in pain.  Behavior detection officers and military police wearing camouflage and holding machine guns were patrolling the subway corridors.  A Muslim was being tazed by a solider and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Muslim.  I hurried through the labyrinth and wondered whatever happened to Posse Comitatus.  Whatever happened to Habeas Corpus?  Aegri somnia.  Where did all the conscientious objectors go?  Where did the Miranda Rights go?  Holy shit.  Whatever happened to the goddamn fucking American Dream?  I thought about what the abolitionist Wendell Phillips said:

    "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, power is ever stealing from the many to the few."

    The subway platform smelt like urine and hashish.  The tunnel walls were eroding and dark liquid dripped off the chemical stalactites protruding from the ceiling.  I looked at the train tracks and the saw the melted carcass of a rat that had been electrocuted and fried upon the third rail.  If you can’t make it in New York City, you can’t make it anywhere.  I got on the first train that arrived.   


    On board there was a family of midgets and I sat down across from them.  The little mother was reading a self-help book titled Three Ways to Bigger Breasts and Financial Success, and the dad was reading a book titled How to Kill People.  An old woman wearing a muppet costume was counting money in the shell of her muppet mask.  A monstrously obese man sat wiping the sweat off his face with a towel and he was looking at the photographs in a pornography magazine.  An automatic announcement on the intercom stated:


    “Ladies and gentlemen, be advised that all backpacks and other large containers are subject to random search by the police.”


    A black man with dreadlocks entered the car of the moving train from the car end door.  His dreads were swaying and he stopped to open a book and began reading passages from Revelation.  This is what he was saying:


    And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.  And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”


    The man stopped and asked for change.  He continued to read:


    “He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.  He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.  This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.” 


    The train stopped and the man with the dreadlocks got off and a white man with a rope stepped on.  The man tied one end of rope around the hand bars above him and with the other end of the rope he made a noose.  He stood upon a seat and slipped the noose around his neck.  I got up to talk with him.


    “Are you sure you want to do that?”



    “Because I’ve got nothing to lose.”

    “Don’t you have people that love you?  People that you love?”

    “Not anymore.  Things fall apart.  I can never get anything right.”

    “But sometimes that’s just the way it is.  Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.”

    “I’m so tired of failing, of being abused.  I work so hard and have nothing to show for myself.  No one cares about me.”

    He tightened the noose around his neck.

    “I know how it is,” I said. 

    “No you don’t. Go away,” he said. 


    I went away.  He was right, I didn’t know.  Fuck it.  To stop this man from killing himself wasn’t my responsibility.  For all I knew better things were waiting for him on the other side.  You can’t save people who don’t want to be saved.  You can’t help others until you help yourself.  I sat back down and watched him step off the seat.  He started to choke and turn red and no one on the train moved.  A drunk man got up and I thought he was going to do something about the man hanging from the noose, whose face was now blue, but the drunk just pulled down his pants and took a shit on the train.  He then pulled up his pants and stumbled over to the hanging man to rummage through his pockets.  The train stopped and I got off.  I turned around before the train pulled away and I saw the noose unravel.  The man gasped for air and the color returned to his face.  The train moved forward and the man was sobbing.


    * * *

                    The concourse of Penn Station was filled with tired and poor masses huddling in fear.  They were sleeping on the linoleum floors, beside pillars and behind sanitized newsstands racked with tabloids and celebrity magazines.   The homeless were filthy and reeking of feces and stale beer.  Some were mutated and bleeding, awkwardly splayed and in immediate need of first aid and clinical help.  Feeble bodies atrophying in a slow kill.  There were wretched alcoholics and suffocating drug addicts, war-torn veterans and third world refugees, ragged beggars and downtrodden vagabonds piled up to die at the base of the golden door that had been slammed in their faces.  Whimpering mothers with track marks on their arms and impoverished men who had fallen from grace were holding cardboard signs that said that they were just trying to get home.  I thought about what Frederick Douglass wrote:


    Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.


    I believe that that many of humanity’s problems may be solved if we could put ourselves in each others shoes, and that one can ascertain the character of a man and of a society by how they treat the least among them.  And I spared them no change.  Police were prodding them with expandable batons and telling them to get moving.  The homeless groaned and shuffled away, blinking like ghastly underworld trolls emerging from hibernation after a nuclear winter.  There was fear in their eyes and they seemed like children.  And so they once were.  The innocence massacred by darkness.  Tears dripped down their weathered faces, blood dried upon their wrinkled skin.  Over time they had been crippled by drugs and debt and guilty consciences, estranged and disowned, abused and neglected by their parents or by society or both.  They never had to end up this way.  And it is never too late to turn yourself around.


                    Upon exiting the station I saw desperate men scratching lottery tickets, superstitious women reading horoscopes, industrious negroes selling handbags.  I maneuvered under the scaffolding and away from the crowds.  The curbs and sidewalks were littered with broken glass and cigarette butts and old pieces of gum.  Shuttered and locked storefronts lined the rundown streets.  I saw vacant lots, abandoned buildings which tilted and drooped, a plastic bag caught in an updraft.  Metaphors of deterioration and isolation.  Traces of chromium and asbestos, ethanol and methamphetamines, formaldehyde and ammonia, life in arsenic.  Along these dim blocks an occasional convenience store or bar was open and you could see the lights. 


                    I heard music and entered the venue.  It was a strip bar.  I paid twenty dollars and took a seat.  On stage were black and white women dancing naked in harmony.  There was something wrong with their bodies.  One was missing a leg, one had no legs and was crawling on the floor, another was missing an arm.  They were amputees.  From the audience a black man stood up, and like some drunken witchdoctor he hooted wildly and began to make it rain.  As though not to be outdone, a drunk Hispanic man stumbled up beside the rainmaker and initiated a golden shower all over the strippers whom were struggling to collect the bills.  A bouncer grabbed the Hispanic and dragged him out back.  Seeing all this was worth more than the twenty dollars that I had paid to enter and I left. 


    A shrill cry echoed through an alley and a man sprinted down the street gripping the freshly amputated hand of someone else.  I saw chalk lines on the sidewalk and I passed a man who was pulling a suitcase from which blood dripped.  At a fire station across the street, a crying mother was leaving her newborn child in the chamber of a safe surrender site.  In an apartment unit above me, a couple was arguing in Spanish and the argument ended with the sound of a few dull slaps and a woman weeping.  I heard sewing machines hissing away in sweatshops.  I saw insomniacs talking to invisible entities, junkies freebasing crystals, mad hatters injecting mercury, kids playing with rocks and pirouetting space elephants.  There was a man ghost-riding the whip.  There were piles of bloated trash bags on the sidewalks, and in the flames of a burning mattress parasites were sizzling.  I remembered what Empson wrote:  


    Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills…
    The waste remains, the waste remains and kills


                I walked through old Hoovervilles and across African burial grounds.  Far ahead were two vertically parallel spotlights rising like gypsum pillars into the sky from Ground Zero.  Seagulls and raptors dived through the lunar beams of light and swept up moths and other iridescent prey.  The streets were cleaner here and the buildings were taller.  Hundreds of thousands of people hived within the compartmentalized units of apartment buildings towering overhead were subdued by televisions and the internet, and the exhausted many slept.  They slept like babies with down syndrome, drooling in the blue light of commercials, drowning in their sleep like men who have lost the capacity to dream.  A wayward generation of passivists raised on reality T.V and video games, locked in a monotonous cycle of work and waste, sedated beneath the starless sky.  The inhabitants of these Gotham structures were tame and docile.  They ate prescription drugs for breakfast and spent the daylight hours enslaved in fluorescent cells, forever incarcerated within the diabolical compounds of metallic skyscrapers.  Life Incorporated.  I saw men in offices shredding paper, burning the midnight oil and cooking the books.  They were organisms bereft of earth, divorced from the seas.  They were suffering from the side effects of this lethal separation with nature and had patched their wounds with pavement and silicone and computer chips.  And they wondered why they were more absent-minded and lazy, why they couldn’t draw or write or spell correctly.  They wondered why they felt empty and impatient, bitter and depressed, why they lacked motivation and self-esteem, creativity and confidence.  And we couldn’t even look each other in the eyes anymore when we talked.

     * * *

    The clinic was in
    Brooklyn.  Late Friday afternoon we got into a cab and drove across the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River toward Brownsville.  We were silent and held hands in the cab.  Red clouds rolled through the anarchy of the sky and a flock of crows drifted over the cables of the gothic bridge.  I watched the specks of crows and I watched as they stalled in mid-air and then dropped through the sky.  Hundreds of crows fell in synchronized nosedives and corkscrews and then splashed into the water below.  They were dying in unison.  And beneath the water there was something enormous and stealth and it was moving fast.  The thing was black and you could see it torpedoing through the river.  I thought it was a whale and it began to surface.  From the scuds rose the grisly superstructure of a massive aquatic machine. It was a nuclear submarine.


                    The cab entered the broken projects of Brownsville.  The sun set upon the tenements and you could see the teeth and leering eyes of the residents whom were resting on the sidewalks.  There were children playing on the streets.  I paid the cab driver and Elizabeth and I got out.  The clinic was two blocks away and we walked beneath the twilight decay and she was so scared and I could feel her fear and God was I afraid.  There was a small group of protesters across the street from the clinic.  They were yelling and holding picket signs and the photographs on some of the signs were of aborted embryos and fetuses.  The little fetuses looked like pale aliens or nocturnal amphibians lying in pools of blood.  There was an ultrasound image of baby in a uterus and the baby was smiling.  The protesters were yelling things like “say yes to life” and “abortion is murder.”  They had set up a video camera and were filming the clinic.  Elizabeth squeezed my hand and began to slow down.  We were one block away from the clinic and the protesters were standing across the street. 


    “Don’t look at them, don’t listen to them,” I said. 

                    “I can’t do this.”

                    She kept slowing down.

                    “Yes you can.  Let’s keep going.”

                    “I need to sit down.”

                    “Let’s keep going.”

                    “I can’t honey, I can’t.”

                    She began to cry.

    We sat down on the steps of a church and she wept. 

                    “I don’t want this to happen,” she said.

                    “I’m sorry.”

                    “Why is this happening?”

                    It didn’t have to happen. 

                    “Because we’re making it happen.”

    “God, I don’t want this to happen, Vince.  God, this is wrong.”

                    She kept crying.  She kept talking to God. 


    I thought about the massacre at Ben Tre.  I thought about the millions of genocide victims whom were killed in concentration camps during the twentieth century, about how every move made sense for them until the last step.  I thought about what Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago


    And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: what would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?  The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! 


                    Elizabeth was crying in my arms and the protesters kept chanting.  They said that abortion was evil.  They called it wicked.  They called it homicide.  And they were right.  She was right.  She had a human life inside of her and we were about become accomplices in the murder of our own flesh and blood.  The reality set in.  You couldn’t romanticize this.  This wasn’t some profound and beautiful piece of fiction.  This wasn’t some hills like white elephants parable.  You are not Hemingway.  You are not Faulkner.  You are not Fante.  You are nothing like those people.  You are a worthless failure lost in the land of diminishing dreams, a hypocritical lowlife whimpering in the shadows of giants.  This wasn’t the glorious climax of some heroic odyssey.  This wasn’t some crazy endeavor.  It was a petty tragedy, hyperbolic and mundane.  It was a first world problem. 


                    “This doesn’t have to happen,” I said.  

                    She was still crying. 

                    “God, please.  Let’s go Vince”

                    “Alright.  Let’s go.”

                    We backed out. 


    We got up and walked away from the clinic.  The waxing moon was on the rise and the stars did not shine through the contamination of that despondent night.  I looked down and saw the roots of trees breaking through the sidewalk and I felt like putting myself out of my own misery.  I thought about how good life will be when I’m dead and hoped that there was no such thing as reincarnation because I didn’t want to go through all this shit again.  Any feelings of affection that I had toward Elizabeth had been transformed into hatred.  She reached for my hand but I refused hers.  I tried to hail a cab. 


    “I’m can’t go through with it Vince.”

    “I know.”

    A cab was coming.

    “What if we have a child in the future?  Imagine how guilty we’d feel, that we killed its sibling.”

    “That’s not going to happen.”

    “What do you mean?”

    The cab stopped and I opened the door and she got in.  I handed the driver one hundred dollars.

    “Here’s one hundred dollars.  Take her to Battery Park City.  Get her away from me”

    The driver took the money.

    “No,” she said.

    “We’re done.”

    I slammed the door and the cab took off. 


    I walked quickly and turned through a few blocks and then sat on a bench in front of the Brooklyn Library and thought about how to get back to California.  I consulted the devil on my right shoulder and he encouraged me to abandon Elizabeth and the child.  On my left shoulder there was another devil, and he told me to kill myself.  There was an art deco sculpture of a globe in front of the library.  It was twenty feet tall and was made of spherical bands of gilded metal and looked like a gigantic perpetual motion toy.  I looked to Russia, where in the frozen Moscow dawn an icicle fell from a building and impaled a man through his head.  In a pitch black valley in southern France a woman had jumped off the Millau Viaduct and was dropping through the air in a suicidal freefall.  Under the South Pacific sun, an oil tanker had crashed against the Great Barrier Reef and millions of gallons of oil were spilling into the water.  Dusk fell upon the Chilean coast where dozens of blue whales were suffocating to death on a beautiful stretch of beach.  In the highland steppes of Patagonia, a farmer had discovered the bones of a dinosaur that was larger than the blue whale.  Security forces in Tunisia had confiscated the vegetables of a street vendor and in protest the man had set himself on fire, and as with the assassination of an archduke or the demolition of a skyscraper, that one event set off a chain reaction.  The death of the vendor sparked a revolution in Tunisia, and other acts of self-immolation were taking place across the Middle East.  It was the middle of the night in Egypt, and tens of thousands of protesters were making a statement against tyranny and slavery by dismantling the pyramids. 


                    I got up and walked toward Grand Army Plaza.  I could hear animals screeching like crying infants and from out the darkness of Prospect Park marched a hundred men carrying chickens and books and a few held torches as though fanatics on a witch hunt.  Many of the men wore big hats and had beards and were yammering as they swung the cackling chickens around their heads.


                    “What are you guys doing?” I asked.

                    “Transferring our sins to the chickens.”

                    “You think doing that’s going to absolve you of sins?”

                    “God forgives a sin.” 

                    “How do you know?” 

                    “He’s merciful.  He will save those who believe in him.”

                    “What about those that don’t believe in him?”

                    “They get what they deserve.” 

    “A lot of them don’t.”

    “God works in mysterious ways.”

    “If he can part the Red Sea to save people, then why didn’t he stop Hitler?”


                    The man began to respond but suddenly many men were screaming in terror and there was a deep growl and a roar.  Fierce panic and geysers of blood erupted, men swarmed around the victims at the edge of the park.  Several had been attacked by a tiger which ran off into the night with a chicken in its jaws.



    * * *


                    The night was pleasant.  I walked past row houses in Park Slope and went to a bar where I drank several beers and had a cup of tea.  I walked away from the shops and restaurants and wandered through lifeless neighborhoods beneath the faint glow of streetlights and the orbiting moon.  I could hear people reciting the Nicene Creed in an old stone building.  Through the warped windows of a dilapidated warehouse I saw carriages and white horses chained to the walls within.  Lurking beyond were rotting factories and hollow grain silos and decrepit satanic mills.  The street lights faded away and the stars came out as I walked through the shattered remnants of a fallen industrial kingdom.           


                    I crossed a steel bridge and saw gas bubbles surfacing in the water of the reeking Gowanus canal.  The soft current pushed opaque slicks of oil across the water like jellyfish weaving through reefs of plastic.  Enchanted mutagens and glowing toxic sludge dripped from sewage pipes and there was a pale human hand floating upon the water and the ring finger was gone.  I heard music coming from further down the canal.  I climbed down the bridge and dropped onto the ledge of the wooden embankment.  The canal was filled with rubble and shopping carts and trash and I remembered what Pogo said:


                                    “We have met the enemy and he is us.”


                    I walked toward the music.  Across the canal people were smoking in shipping containers and others were nestled in dwellings hewed out from the embankment walls.  A man was bathing in the viscous water.  Lights flickered in shacks on the banks of the canal and originating from one shack was the rhythmic percussion of drums and the vibrations of stringed instruments.  Docks decayed at the base of the embankment where dark children with damaged brains were opening cans of food with bullets and others slept, tranquilized by their own piss, lying in the warmth of their own excrement, and cats licked up their vomit.  Two children had pulled a suitcase from the water and they opened it and it was filled with body parts.  On the swampy slopes carpet baggers gathered around an oil drum fire and were roasting crows on skewers.  And from out a tin hut in which men were hacking apart a dead tiger limped a little Chinese man holding a jar.  He approached me.


                    “You look,” he said.

                    He held the jar up and turned it.  Inside was lard floating in a translucent elixir. 

                    “You buy,” he said.

                    “What is it?”

                    “It whale.”

                    “No thanks.”

                    “Five dolla.”

                    “No thanks.”

                    “Whale meat.  Whale meat good meat.”  


                    I passed families huddling in makeshift tents, destitute exiles languishing in scrapheap hovels.  A man sat covered in cooing pigeons and pigeon shit and he was speaking gibberish.  A stumbling drunk donning rags and a barbed wire crown was slurring in some cryptic gospel, floating in elation with a syringe dangling from his arm.  Crippled outcasts with grafted faces slumped like monsters alongside progeria children and paralyzed basket cases.  A colony of degenerates wasting time, waiting for the world to end.  A native man was convulsing on the ground and frothing at the mouth, grunting spasmodically like a possessed shaman.  I walked up to him.


                    “Do you need help?”

                    He didn’t respond.

                    “Do you want me to get you some water?”

                    “No.  Water is for animals.”

                    He smiled and I could almost see the circus in his head. 


                    I wanted to return to the streets but not the way I came so I moved ahead.  From dark shacks flowed whispers and murmuring voices.  A woman covered in a blanket stepped out from a shack and she was black and skeletal. 


                    “You lost baby?” she asked.

                    “No, I’m good.”

                    “You wanna have some fun?”

                    “No thanks.”

                    She stepped in front of me and I saw the sores on her face, her rotten teeth.

                    “Aw baby, I know you wanna have some fun.”

                    Her left arm was covered with the blanket and she was holding something therein.

                    “No.  I don’t want to have fun.”

                    “It won’t cost you nothing baby.”

    She stood in my way and I could see the jaundice sclera of her lurid eyes, the lice squirming in her hair.

                    “I’m good,” I said.

    She looked desperate and hopeless.  She moved closer and placed my hand on her stomach and I felt a thick scar.  Her face was melting and the thing she held under her blanket was moving.  She agonized and begged.

                    “I need some money baby.  I need some money.” 

    She pulled the blanket away and I stepped back.  She was holding a child in her arm and the mutilated child fed from her sickly breast, and her arm was desiccated in crusted scabies with cracks enveloping the vermiculated skin like dried mud. 

                    “Holy shit.”

                    “Just give me some money nigga.”


                    I gave her all of my money. 



    * * *


                    I got on a train to Manhattan and got off at City Hall.  I walked through the quietude of City Hall Park and gazed at the lofty municipal building, the stately juggernaut that had Gatling guns positioned on its ivory roof.  Bats fluttered through the air and snarling little creatures burrowed through the flower gardens.  A bronze fountain pumped arches of water into the night and small fires burned in gas lamps.  Ahead on the cobblestone path was a man sitting crosslegged.  He was greasy and dripping wet, there was a red fuel container beside him.  I got closer and recognized him as the man I had seen attempt to hang himself on the train. 


                    “There you are,” he said.

    I don’t think he recognized me and that he just said that because I was there.  I tried to walk past him.

                    “Can you do me a favor?” he asked.


                    “Can you take these here matches and light me on fire?”

    He had doused himself in gasoline which was streaming down his face and percolating through his clothes, the raw fuel flowing over the cobblestone in a thick and noxious matrix.    

                    “You want me light you on fire?”

                    “That’s right.  I’m committing suicide.”

                    “Well then, you should light yourself on fire.”

                    “I’m having trouble.  You do it.”

                    “But that wouldn’t be suicide.  It’d be me killing you.  It would be homicide.”

    “I’m asking you to help me commit suicide.” 

                    “It would be euthanasia.”

                    “Please just set me on fire brother.”

    He was holding the box of matches toward me.  I looked into his eyes.  He was bluffing, he didn’t have it in him. 

                    “I could go to prison for this,” I said. 

                    “You’ll be okay.  Just get it over with.  Come on now.”

    I looked around and saw the passing headlights of cars driving by on the streets and there were a few people walking on the sidewalk, but the park appeared empty.  I took the matches.

                    “This is a selfish thing for you to do.”

                    “I’m not leaving anyone behind.  I got nothing to lose.  Light me up, man.”

    I pulled out a match. 

    “Who’s gonna clean this mess up afterward?” I asked. 

                    “I’ve paid my taxes.”

    I lit the match and he closed his eyes.  I was ready to kill him.  I was ready to turn him into a human fireball.  The match was burning and he was breathing heavily.  I was the pyromaniac.      

    “Are you ready to burn in Hell?”  I asked.

    “This is Hell.”

    I moved the lit match closer to his body.  Maybe he wasn’t bluffing.  I snuffed out the flame with my fingers.

    “You know why this is selfish?”  I said.

    “Jesus Christ.”

    He opened his eyes. 

    “Because you’re not going down with any cause.   You’re not making a statement against poverty or oppression.  You’re not a fucking monk.  You’re wasting your death.”

    “Goddamnit man, just fucking light me up you chicken shit.  You can tell them I did this for peace or for the environment or for the fucking whales.  Quit stalling and fucking do it man.”

    “You can still help people with your life.”

    “I swear to God, you need to light me on fire before I kill you.”


    I walked away with the box of matches in my hand.  He grumbled and moaned in the background. 

    “Don’t do that man.  Don’t fucking do me like that man,” he said. 

    I kept going and heard him yelling in anger and I heard the fuel container being kicked or tossed.  He wept in sorrow and began pleading loudly. 

    “You don’t know what it’s like.  You don’t know what it’s like to be in my shoes,” he said.


                    I walked fast along the path and I heard the sudden shuffle of feet behind me.  I had let my guard down and he tackled me from behind.  We went down and my face slammed into the ground and my chin split open.  He was very heavy and his knee sunk into my spine, his fist plowed into the back of my neck.  I struggled to free myself and we were cursing at each other.  There was scorn in his voice and he said “sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better.”  He was soaked in gasoline and it was sloshing everywhere.  It seeped into my clothes and ran down my head.  He was grinding my face into the ground and hollering like a madman.  I had been grasping the box of matches and then he started to bash my hand into the ground and pry the matches from my fingers.  I was trying to get away but he was holding me down and holding me down and the gasoline kept spreading.  I could feel it on my skin and it was flowing down my face and burning my eyes.  I could see my blood pooling up on the cobblestone and he hissed in violence saying, “isn’t that what you said? Isn’t that what you fucking said?”  I couldn’t move up and we were both covered in gasoline and he was trying to light a match.  I reached out and slapped away the box of matches and it went flying.  I elbowed him in the head and then rolled out from beneath him and scrambled up to my feet.  He was heaving on the ground.  Blood was pouring from my chin and I tried to catch my breath.         


                    “I know what you’re going through,” I said.


                     He stumbled up to his feet. 

                    “You don’t know shit,” he said.

                    He began stepping toward me I and I started to back away. 

                    “Do you have a bed to sleep in at night, asshole?” he asked.

                    He began fumbling with the matches.    

    “Do you get to eat everyday, asshole? Do you have fucking bank account?  Do you have a little jar where you keep your change at home, asshole?  Have you ever tried to kill yourself, assho--“

    Fire consumed him.


    With a searing swoosh he burst into flames.  His skin burned orange and black like molten lava.  He collapsed to the ground and was squirming in a breathing pool of fire.  His face looked like a jack-o'-lantern and he was silent as he burned alive.  I turned and walked away quickly and several people came running through the park and began shrieking in horror and some ran away.  I looked back and saw the bystanders and the soft fire burning across his body which sizzled like a hot cinder glowing the night.  I recalled what Saadi wrote in The Rose Garden:

    The world, my brother! will abide with none,
    By the world's Maker let thy heart be won.
    Rely not, nor repose on this world's gain,
    For many a son like thee she has reared and slain.
    What matters, when the spirit seeks to fly,
    If on a throne or on bare earth we die?



    Excerpts from In the Ashes of the Sun 

    Inside the plane men argued with cows and hooves clattered on the steel carriage floor.  One man looked at Sane from the corners of his eyes.  Warm light seeped in through the windows as the flight swung into the radiation of the sun searing hellishly in that sad magenta sky.  The plane passed over the edge of base and bonfire smoke billowed up from the garden of the general’s headquarters where burning sheaves of paper and animal head mounts were piled in flames.  Huge suds of foam rolled in from the wasteland and Sane’s organs constricted in dread as he gazed upon the damp shore.  He scanned the sand where two boys played with the loaded rifle he had left there and they were pretending they were at war.  Further down the stretch of beach, on a small bluff, fresh graves grew upon the grass of a humble cemetery, and from out the doors of the packed chapel soldiers spilt onto the tombstone yard.  Newborn supplicants gathering to hear sermon and dying to be saved, as they believed in God and feared He was coming.  Watching from the plane window Sane spotted the teal tarp covering the equipment he used for the chapel fumigation and he wondered if other species in this world took revenge. 


    On the beach a lost child steadied a rifle in a fictional world of war and aimed the barrel at his dodging friend and they laughed.  The kid pulled the trigger and blew open the head of his friend full of imagination and there was screaming gore in red horror and manslaughter and please God no.  Sane looked away to the chapel which was brimming with worshipers and it was obliterated.  The fire smoked black and the chapel ground was a stirring bloodbath where people squirmed with wood planks lodged through their bodies and others flailed around the cemetery burning as pages from the book of life fluttered away in the wind like charred doves.  The blast was audible from the plane, and inside men squeezed toward windows to glimpse the gutted and torched chapel ruin.  Soldiers onboard erupted in commotion and the pilots radioed the base to report the explosion.   Sane knew he would not get away with this and felt spiritless and ill as he turned his blanched face toward the gleaming pink seabed locked in a sunset embrace.  The ocean was gone.


    The plane passed above a long pier rooted in the damp, vaporous shore and stray ships and destroyers roped to the pier’s mooring bollards lay tilted and lopsided on the flat sand like toys slackly noosed to gallows.  A distant lighthouse shrunk in isolation on the edge of a succulent headland slope burying into sick mangrove forests, the blend of rocks and plants weaved into the glossy sand in a quilted tessellation.  The shadow of the plane traced through a withering kelp labyrinth sprawled across the wet floor of the missing sea and the long algae stalks spread over the sand and bleached coral reef like witch braids strewn about her bone white skull.  Birds feasting on scampering crustaceans lived in bliss and pecked apart gasping fish, exposing clattering ribcages and raw meat for swarming gnats and flies to devour and nest their larva brood within.  Through the aquatic necropolis shoreside natives stepped, crushing fish bones like eggshells, hauling catch in full dragnets, and exploring the turquoise remnants of sunken ferries and doomed armadas drown centuries ago in the age of the middle passage.


    Sewage pipe effluence spilled into a growing cesspool of human waste merging with mounds of plastic in a slow current across the sand of the evaporating abyss toward extinction.  The flowing discharge overcame an expanse of glimmering jellyfish that burned a trail of gold into the manacled sun tortured on the hem of the Earth.  Wayward sea turtles crawled toward the horizon in search for water while stranded sharks and whales inhaled and exhaled gently their last breaths.  On the seafloor a helicopter landed by a submarine to rescue sailors marooned by the universal riptide. 


    Further out, a gigantic pit held surviving remnants of the ocean, and the water of the monstrous tide pool rippled bloodred.  Trapped in the volume of this doomsday soup, lashing seabeasts swam mad with fear and claustrophobia and they ripped each other to shreds.  The wailing creatures breathed in blood and there was carnage and the stench of the pit reeked like rotting reptiles.  A whale breached desperately and sprayed crimson from its blowhole and then drifted down in a melody of death.  Slipping up through a film of floating entrails and fins, a colossal tentacle whipped across the surface of the loch, snatching a panicking dolphin and dragging it crying into the frenzy below.  A starfish the size of a tank shuffled out from the edge of the pit and escaped under a bed of wet seaweed. 


    The plane flew over other saltwater lakes that broiled metallic orange like fallen pieces of the burning sky and neared an archipelago off the peninsula where little islands resembled tropical boulders in a desert of sand and reef.  Hundreds of natives had abandoned the rocks and were moving inland in a long human chain that snaked across a sandy seafloor channel between the islands.  They walked in wonder past walls of coral and men carried spears and women held their children with perpetual love and the children were not afraid.  A parched and meek nation of seafaring orphans, the column of dark refugees prowled across the trenches of a star-crossed Earth.  They the miserable vagabonds banished from their homeland, they the exile sons of Saturn. 


    Set in motion by cosmic fear and primeval instinct, the islanders trekked through soggy ocean sediment like rift valley primates crossing the threshold of enlightenment, occasionally combing the sand for shiny fragments of modern science buried amongst crumbled artifacts of the once epic dynasty from which they fell.  They ignored the decelerating plane approaching overhead.  Onboard, the lieutenant affirmed to the pilots that the migrating natives, whose exodus was not anticipated, were to be the recipients of a food drop.  He demanded the pilots eject the first round of rations immediately and said, “drop it on the goddamn heathens!”  The passengers were instructed to hold on during this act of kindness. 


    Sane gripped the seats straps over his shoulders and Violence was hastily rolling a cigarette.  The cargo hold door opened and sunlight and cold air came screaming into the cabin.  The plane began to tilt in an incline and some men were hollering in reference to the cattle whose eyes were wide with fear.  The cows, still roped together, had not been secured to anything, and as the plane leaned further up they bellowed and their hooves scuttled on the metal platform in a pattering slide downward.  The cargo boxes dropped out of the plane first, followed by the thirty-three cows that fell stiffly through the sky like wooden ornaments.  The airborne cows passed deployed parachutes attached to the cargo boxes on their way down to the desolate seabed. 




    Stalked by a crescent moon, their flight crossed below contrails in the mayday sky, over the floor of a vanished sea and toward the frozen sun.  The plane passed high above a flaccid naval minefield arrayed on the edge of the  continental shelf.   Suffocating shoals of fish filled dark vertical ridges cut along the steep and craggily slopes which prevailed as a vast cliff drying in abiding dusk.  The coast lay behind them, and the exposed seafloor was a dripping alien badland.  In shallow, remote pools of liquid filth blues whales died in breeding grounds, their carcasses to be the last meals of wretched bottom dwellers.  Sleek canyons and empty bedrock plains gave way to the drained ocean basin and the colors disappeared as the plane transcended a bottomless underworld of seething black vents and dormant volcanoes.  Sane struggled to stay awake to see these things that fell beyond the realm of wild dreams and tears ran down his face in a merciless assault by grief and pain.  He would die without her in a conscious nightmare and fulfill the destiny of a masterpiece.  The cabin of the plane was engulfed by a motorized, soothing buzz, and as he drifted to sleep Sane reminded himself that all he had to do was fix a tree. 


    some chapters later...



                  Any discussion amongst the soldiers regarding going any further was settled by the lieutenant whom ordered eleven of the men, Sane and Violence included, to accompany him inside to confront the colonel.  Leaving the bulk of the soldiers behind, the dozen men followed the ogre up the steps to the first level of the temple.  A chameleon looked on as the visitors were led through the dank pavilion where scenes from an epic myth covered the black stone walls and told the sanskrit story of a scared elixir churned by totem idols beneath the everlasting sun and moon in an ocean of milk.  The men continued down a walkway along the wall of the temple and passed through shadows cast by weathered columns blemished by the bullets of past regimes.  On the wall deteriorated carvings of god kings unleashing barbarian hordes to butcher the armies of Hell in a dark and cosmic forest and beneath Heaven in judgment sinners were immortalized in bloodcurdling eternities of misery as though in depiction of a dimension parallel to the measureless horrors that lay below like nightmares of indescribable evil in the minds of men so on Earth do demons dwell.  Dead language hieroglyphs and profile inscriptions of high echelon warriors slain by nemesis legions in china blue seas carved into the wall centuries ago by nameless orient craftsmen moldering in the dust of their own travail. 



    some other portions...


    The three planes arrived at the periphery of a boundless cloud blanket spread over the rainforest.  They flew above the rolling clouds soaked in the sunset and the men admired the glorious sky.  Soldiers speculated as to how they were expected to accomplish the vague and impromptu mission at hand and what they would find at the base.  For fifteen minutes the flights tore onward in the crisp air above the darkening cloud line.  As they approached their destination, the fighter jets split paths with the descending cargo plane.  Light faded away as the plane sank through the thick layer of brooding, grey clouds.  Men stared at droplets of acid rain skidding across the windows, and as the plane broke free beneath the dense could base, visible in all directions was the systematic destruction of the world as far as the eye could see.  Here humans sacrificed humanity and nature in the suicidal creation of a burning hell on Earth.


    On the smoldering perimeter of the terrible citadel below, machines devoured the valley forest, gouging and slashing apart screaming tropical stands in the trembling jungle, senselessly slaughtering species forever unknown.  Thick scars disfigured the warped charcoal summits and ridges of the surrounding hillsides lay scorched bare in a terrestrial nightmare.  Trucks hauled timber through the arboreal madness and over defoliated patches of withered terrain, then disposed of the wood to be severed in grinding lumber mills.  Dynamite explosions ripped open chunks of the ravaged mountain upon which roamed titanic machines and augers that bore mining passages deep into the desecrated earth.  Tracks running from out the recesses of those rich mineral caverns cut switchbacks down the mountainside and proceeded into the jaws of gigantic rock crushers projecting conveyer belts which carried the rubble to ramshackle factories on the outskirts of the infernal complex. 


    The dozens of factories quivered upon an expanse of dirt, and from smokestacks plumes of chemical pollution billowed up and swirled into the clouds and the sky was shaded green.  Hundreds of slaves plodded like beetles across the ground of the diabolical compound in heinous exploitation, their dark skeleton bodies shuffling into the factories near one end of the fortification, and into fated cattle cars on the other.  Gun towers were positioned above a concentration camp where men were digging their own graves beside a cluster of corpses stacked high in a testament to manmade mayhem and mass murder.  Smoke and ash drifted from the chimney tops of an incinerator situated by a muddy river which harbored timber barges and flowed downstream under a concrete dam and into an enormous reservoir.  Tributaries irrigated paddy fields and oil palm plantations and fed water into a seagreen moat encircling a stone temple which stood like a fortress in the center the base.


    A thousand slaves labored in the dust of an immense limestone quarry located by the airfield.  Work brigades of famished men chiseled away at the solid strata, smashing boulders with sledge hammers and loading rocks onto carts at gunpoint.  Belligerent soldiers in black uniforms whipped and beat exhausted slaves to death and kicked their battered bodies off the ledges of quarry walls.  Elephants and men were together roped to great stone slabs which they pulled up the sides of the pit in agony.  From the window of the descending plane Sane stared down upon this hades in vertigo shock and the soldiers onboard sat still in disbelief.  A portion of the airstrip was being constructed, and the landing cargo plane passed over bulldozers, steamrollers, and chain gangs breaking rocks and slaving to expand the tarmac.


    The plane touched down and a few dismal guards directed it past grounded fighter jets, bombers, and missile batteries toward corrugated tin hangers rusting beside a control tower.  When the plane stopped the soldiers inside stood up and gathered their gear as the cargo door opened.  The engine was turned off and the lieutenant designated a solider to watch Think and assigned Violence to watch Sane.  Then the men, fifty-two in all, led by the lieutenant, stepped down the plane ramp toward a unit of ten disheveled soldiers in black raiment.  Pungent tar and death and the raging clamor of the crumbling rock quarry filled the muggy air.  The soldiers in black were giants, standing above eight feet tall, heavily armed and breathing hard.  An assembly of undertakers, they wore no badges, dog tags, nor name tapes, and each possessed a crazed look in his eyes.  


    Stepping off the ramp, the lieutenant saluted to the giant soldiers. “You men have been busy,” he said.  None saluted back and the lieutenant became aggravated.   He had seen more combat than any man there and in such calculation standing amongst these killers expected respect.  He stepped as close as he could to the opposing front and center solider, an ogre of ten feet, while still being able to look him in the eyes.

    “You don’t return a salute from a senior officer?”

    The ogre wore a blank expression and breathed down into the face of the lieutenant whom knew he faced a madman.

    “Where the hell is your uniform?”

    There was no response.

    “Do you speak English?  Are you American, goddamnit?”

    The ogre smiled and said, “yes, sir.”

    Some tension dissipated.

    “Who’s in charge of this operation?”

    “Colonel Madhouse.”

    “Well I’ll be damned if he’s not the man we’re here to see.  What’s your name, soldier?”

    “He took it away from me.”  With his empty eyes the ogre was not was looking at the lieutenant anymore, but toward Think, who was the only man in sight not wearing a uniform.

    “Where’s the Colonel?” the lieutenant asked. 

    The solider looked back down at the lieutenant.  “He’s expecting you at headquarters.  All troops are to be escorted.”

    A decrepit transport truck started and pulled-up to the company.  It was covered in camouflage netting and the ogre told the men to get in.  

    The lieutenant looked at the truck, at the ugly grunts. “We’re going to walk, and the pilots stay with the plane.”

    After radio communication between the ogre and a scratchy voice from the other side, it was arranged that the giants would ride to headquarters in the truck to be followed by the company of soldiers on foot.  The pilots tended the plane and it was required that Think remain (behind) as well.  The soldiers in black boarded the bed of the truck which shifted upon their weight and slogged forward.  The company shuffled warily behind as the truck drove along the neglected airbase and Sane looked back at Think who stood by the plane with the pilots.  Each brother feared for the other.  A set of the renegade soldiers also stayed with the plane and one disclosed to Think that the visitation was dead on arrival.


                  Sane and the soldiers walked behind the truck as it jostled from the airbase onto a red dirt road amid a wide mud plain toward the temple at the core of the complex.  Over the squalid panorama that lay before them factory smoke swelled in to the dour sky and the ashes of cremated humans rose from incinerator chimneys and drifted through the air like alabaster phantoms.  Incarnate lungs inhaled the molecules of the incinerated and the atoms of the dead coalesced in the cells of the living.  The soldiers traveled away from the cacophony of the rock quarry and heard explosions in the distant mountains.  Sweeping rows of rice paddies drenched the sordid landscape and stretched from the road into the steaming mud-strewn hills.  Dark figures toiled solemnly in the paddies like silhouettes exorcised from that sodden plain to serve in a kingdom of second death, as serfs condemned to dredge hunchback through wet fields plucking rice stalks in tedium until they themselves are reaped from the earth. 


                  The ground shook and up road, pounding toward the convoy marched elephants.  The truck swerved to the roadside and the soldiers stood by to let pass this tortured herd.  The vanguard elephants pulled wagons loaded with mining supplies bound for the quarry and these deprived beasts swayed forth quavering deranged, their ears pierced by wounds and bodies scarred by heavy lashings, shapes and numbers tattooed into their skin.  The road ruptured as a mammoth dropped to its knees in a painful groan, tears pouring from its eyes.  From out the truck bed leapt the ogre wielding an electric prod and he yelled and shocked the weeping beast upright and it trudged on.  Directly following the elephants were rows of slaves that lurched in chains and misery and of the dozens of living cadavers not one looked up.  Trailing these slaves were several more elephants upon which, in mounted howdahs, sat grunts in black armor gripping bullwhips, and dragging on the dirt before them in bloodied chains at the end of the coffle sagged a few mangled and smashed corpses of men that had been stomped upon and flattened by the saddled elephants manned at the rear.  The beasts passed and the truck and soldiers moved on.  The company crossed a concrete bridge over a canal carrying reservoir water from an upstream baray and some men paused to gaze through the haze and upon the churning factories, death camps, and the temple ahead. 


                  Surrounded within a fence barricade, the factories were thrumming beside a huge pile of mountain rubble. Stone and dirt rained downed upon the mound of earth from an elevated conveyor belt.  Sentries in black oversaw a column of prisoners transferring the rubble in large baskets to warehouses.  From the road the soldiers peered beyond the lattice of fence into a warehouse at rows of slaves sloshing about and sifting through pools of brown water in search for rocks.  In an adjacent building men hammered stones apart and labored over faceting machines cutting gem.  As the troops passed along the road, they saw a guard drag a worker by his hair out the warehouse doors and throw him down at the entrance.  Wielding a knife, the guard stood above the lapidist whom squirmed as the blade stabbed into his chest and cut through his abdomen.  Blood spilled and the wincing man watched as his small intestines were pulled out from his stomach by the executioner whom then palpated and inspected the organ for precious mineral.  Finding hardstone, the guard sliced into a piece of the entangled mess and removed a ruby which he examined before pocketing and walking away. 


                  Along the road the soldiers were overtaken by several jeeps towing trailers which were mobile cages filled with scores of crestfallen prisoners that grasped the wire of the rumbling trailers like frail zoo animals and they peered at the trespassers inanely.  Their feeble bodies pasty with quarry dust, sweat and blood ran in black lines down the chalked and vapid faces of the detained such that they appeared as though in masquerade.  Visible on their foreheads were numbers and symbols that had been burnt or carved deep into their skin in the mathematics of a genocide.  There was no desperation in their expressions for these hopeless beings had resigned to die in bondage.  The last of the trailers rolled by and of the slaves captive within was a man Sane thought resembled someone he knew, and expect for this last car, all the trailers were driven right at a fork in the road toward the barbed wire gates of the concentration camp.  The end car continued down road to the temple and the truck and nervous soldiers followed across train tracks that led up to the camp.


                  As the soldiers reached the fork in the road, they looked toward the camp which was encircled by rings of fence, and dispersed amidst the barbed wire were contorted and shriveled corpses.  Gun towers stood at each of the five corners of the camp and all the ruinous buildings were similar expect for a brick incinerator near the river bank.  The chimney of the incinerator stood charred and smoking and the noxious fumes from burning flesh putrefied the air.  The soldiers hastened to evade the stench of death yet still glanced at the camp.  Beside the incinerator were heaps of livid bodies splattered in mud and night soil and assailed by swarms of flies.  There was a dirt mound near the shuddering slaves that were being forced to bury their peers alive.  Undertaker soldiers supervised the sobbing gravediggers shoveling dirt on breathing men in sin and the fearful knowledge of a shared fate.   After smothering the living in dirt, the slaves were stripped of their spades and thrown into the pit by the guards.  Gunmen shot to wound each slave resisting the cold earth tossed upon their cries and tears and memories of other realities and thou shalt not.  The minions covered their victims and stood upon that melanic golgotha like demonic crusaders avowing the triumph of death.  If God made these men in his image, then a monster he must be.   


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