Dirk Gently (Season 1)

Alright, we’re back after the holidays and an extended vacation from reviewing. It seems that the Sun has also been on holiday seeing as we haven’t seen daylight in Saintes since before the New Year… on the bright side, this weather’s been great if your New Year’s resolutions were to, say, avoid melanoma or perhaps be more generally wet. This year is shaping up to be a good one for all the French vampires and pretty trash for everyone else.

~ This image ~ I nabbed off of Itunes. Thanks, ghost of Steve Jobs.

 

Moving on. All this ~ not-being-outside~ has given me some time to catch up on my Netflix queue, and after pounding back episode after episode in rapid succession, I’m ready to review season one of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, created by Max Landis. This series is an adaption of Douglas Adams’ (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) novel by the same name, and has been described by one French critic as a “Dadaist nightmare,” so get yourself in the mood for a post-WWII quest for meaning in a meaningless world type-thing.

It’s a pretty good watch, though, definitely better than being turned into a dog by a gaggle of counter culture cultists looking to blackmail your… spoilers. I guess that’s getting into the realm of spoilers. That said, it’s definitely worse than actually being involved in the Universe’s plan to fix itself. That’s, like, an instant solution to existential dread—step aside, Sartre & Kierkegaard! I’m on a mission from the Universe and everything is connected and there is such a thing as Fate and Destiny, but they’re not mutually exclusive and they only kind of interfere with my free will to an unspecified, definitely non-paradoxical degree. You know how much time that would save me? I’d never worry again about the infinite number of ever multiplying, constantly diverging paths that lead out in all directions, the many headed hydra of possibilities that creeps closer, grows larger with every decision you make. It wouldn’t matter! I’d just be on one big ol’ universal superhighway with no exits, riding it until I eventually fall asleep at the wheel and crash the car.

What a dream that would be.

So, let’s talk about the characters and plot real quick. We’ve got ourselves a sort of Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes-esque character named Dirk Gently. He’s got the superhuman ability to be exactly where he’s supposed to be in the Universe at any given time, and if you’re thinking, “Well, Zack, that’s not a superpower,” isn’t it though? Isn’t it? You can keep your invisibility and flight, because I know, at the end of the day, I’ll have either been hit by a car or shot down by an anti-aircraft gun. At least with Dirk’s superpower, I’ll die knowing that’s exactly how I was supposed to die.

Dirk is accompanied by Todd Brotzman, played Elijah Wood, who will reprise his role from Over the Garden Wall as extremely reluctant protagonist. Watch Todd’s transformation from begrudging sidekick to holistic parrot as he spends the latter half of the season regurgitating the same silly bullshit Dirk shoved down his throat in the exposition. They’ll also be joined by Todd’s sister, Amanda (played by Hannah Marks), and her struggle against a debilitating case of Pararibulitis, a made-up disease that seems like a cross between epilepsy and schizophrenia.  The whole thing with Pararibulitis becomes a little problematic by the end of the season though, but since another, more qualified blogger has already written about it (plus there are a few spoilers), I’ll pass you on over to them. (Click here)

The show’s main villain, played by Aaron Douglas, is fairly compelling and reminiscent of John Goodman’s performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane, just a lot less sinister. He definitely had a good creepy streak going for him in the beginning, but the more you learn about his character’s origin and motives, the more goofy and, at times, pathetic he seems, so by the end of the season, you don’t feel particularly threatened by him and his goons.

So where do we stand on this season? It’s definitely a good time all the way through, but I don’t know that you actually gain anything from watching it. What separates Dirk Gently from other characters in his archetype is that Dirk more often than not has no control over the situation and often becomes very overwhelmed by the absurdity he surrounds himself with. A good example of this is when Todd and Dirk infiltrate the home of Gordon Rimmer (the main antagonist), and Dirk very quickly finds himself well out of his depth. He becomes immediately paralyzed and useless by fear, which seems all the more peculiar as the show progresses and you learn the genesis of what seemed like Dirk’s precognitive and perceptive abilities. I think this makes him seem more relatable, and definitely sets him apart in the genre, but I don’t know that his character is wholly consistent.

Also, this show certainly has its share of gratuitous violence, which to be honest, I didn’t notice until a few episodes in (somewhere around the time the “holistic” assassin enters the fray). I’m not sure if this is more of a commentary on the series or my own viewing habits… or maybe society? Still, something to consider before watching.

All in all, I give this season six snowflakes. I wouldn’t say that it’s a must-see, but if you wanna get into that headspace where you’re mulling over the underlying interconnectedness of the world, this is definitely a good way to do it. Plus, it’s easier to come by than DMT and less of a commitment than LSD, though still not as potent.

I’m gonna go ahead and wrap this review up for now, and hopefully I’ll see y’all next week.

Chapter 10

A lyric poem,
in the style of
Finn the Human.
Hit it.

Trekking through the desert,
With my lorn convoy
No food, no water
I’m a worn-out boy,

When I first came here
It was just me and FT
We got a little boat
And sailed out to sea

I dove real deep
And saw lots of things
Like fish, and sharks
And monsters that sing

I unplugged the ocean
And fell through a hole
Met a cool Zebra
And ate a lump of coal

Then I opened a door
And saw an old friend
Stabbed him in the back
And that was the end

Of that

Then I walked through a portal,
And now I’m here
Been walking for weeks
Hope the end is near

If I ever meet soul
I know what I’ll say
My name is Henry
And I’m wasting away

Chapter 9

I stepped out onto a decrepit front porch. Wood creaked beneath my feet, and as I tasted the air around me, a shudder ran down my spine. It was stale. It even felt stiff upon my skin, like it hadn’t circulated in years. I doubled back and reached for the door I came through, but it revealed only the inside of an abandoned home. Like the wood that supported the house, my bones were beginning to creak, and I hurried quickly from the porch to the road, looking for a way out of this dread neighborhood.

It was a cul-de-sac. I strained my eyes trying to see beyond the houses, but the more I looked, the more there was simply nothing at all to see, the horizon fading to an ambiguous grey. There was only one house to my left before… before oblivion. L’oubli. The road just ended, kind of graying out like the background of a distant memory. It faded away and blended into the misty haze that filled the skies above this ghostly neighborhood.

I walked to the house on the right. Knock on the door, enter, poke around a tad, exit, and repeat. A couple of the houses had fully stocked wardrobes, and I was able to trade out my tattered boxers for clean underwear, a pair of khakis and a nice button down shirt. I even grabbed a tie, just in case I did actually run into someone in this seemingly deserted neighborhood. Might as well look dashing for the occasion.

I entered the house at the bottom of the cul-de-sac, crossing the threshold…

“I wonder where everyone is? Surely, someone lives in this ghastly neighborhood…”

… and ran right the fuck back out.

“Snails. Snails, snails, giant-fucking snails…!”

I shuddered and walked, walked and shuddered, shaking my head to clear the image of that industrial snail-cage or whatever the hell it was. I stood at the brink of oblivion, at the end of the road, and to my left was a faded blue house. I hadn’t tried that one yet, so away I went, up the drive, up the stairs, and onto the porch. I rose my fist for knocking and paused.

Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea. I mean, if you think about it, what sort of humans or creatures would live in this sort of place? What if those mollusks weren’t the worst of it, what if I opened this door and something much, much more wretched inhabited this languid world. What if there were, I don’t know, giant spiders on the other side?

All this rumination was in vain because the door opened anyway to reveal a bearded man in a worn-out black suit. Around his neck hung an old instant camera.

Oh.

What, he breathed, taking me in with ravenous eyes. I was petrified, rooted to the spot. Not often am I at a loss for words but—

My shock was beginning to curdle, mildewing, and turning to a kind of skin-crawling discomfort at being looked over in this way. Hungry. Ravenous. All words that came to mind as I stared into the eyes of this haunting apparition.

“Yeah, I, uh…,”

What to say, what to say, I felt around my pockets, grabbed hold of a couple (magic?) pens I had leftover from that one time I de-rooted an entire office block and sailed it into a forest.

“Just, you know, selling some pens here.”

Help.

That’s all he said. One word. His lips might not have even moved, it might’ve just been his body language and then my mind invented the utterance. It was hard to tell; this world wasn’t quite right, and it kinda messed with my perception.

“Look, guy,” I was shuffling uncomfortably, in a general backwards, get-me-outta-here direction, “I’m just a man with some pens, tryna sell a—fuck, oh no, please don’t.”

He’d lunged. I stumbled back, somewhat parrying his advance, but wobbling still and remaining right on the verge of toppling over. Miraculously, I managed to back all the way down the steps, but there wasn’t much hope if I couldn’t get turned around. I fended off the dude’s wild arms and clawing hands while trying to get clear for a breakaway.

“Nope, nope, nope…,” I tippy’d my toes as best I could, but still mid-turn I couldn’t move fast enough to avoid getting knocked to the ground. The guy gripped me like he was a drowning man and I his only salvation. We were laying in the malnourished lawn, which was more dirt than anything else, and I looked up at my attacker who now pinned me to the earth. Kinda looks like David, I thought to myself, although my friend David was much younger and not at all bearded.

“You have to help me!” Screamed the David lookalike, “Please, get me out of here!”

Terrified as I was, I let the my reflexes take over. Fight? Flight? Maybe a little of both, I bopped him something fierce on the nose and rolled out from under him. I ran. I tripped. This was turning into a very cliché horror movie, and I was about to get munched on by the crazed zombie-loon.

“No, no, no…,” He was panting,

“You can’t leave.

YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME HERE!”

I crossed the street. There were only a few houses I hadn’t explored yet, and this was one of them. The door wasn’t far ahead, maybe ten meters more.

“NOT THERE! YOU CAN’T GO IN THERE!

It’s bad in there.

Can’t get in anyway.

Locked the door. It’s bad and it—

It was locked because it was bad, it was locked because it was bad, it was… Goddammit, My head spun. I couldn’t get my thoughts in order, even the simplest command RUN was muddled. I stopped, pressed my thumbs into my temples to clear away the mind-muck and remembered: RUN. I ran.

And where was this man’s voice coming from? Sometimes it seemed like he was shouting at me from behind, other times the voice came from the ground or… or maybe my own head?

I tried the door, but of course it was locked. It was locked because it was…

Thought loops. I couldn’t remember what I was doing, my actions and thoughts tied up in loops that came and went without warning. I kept readjusting the top-button on my shirt, fidgeting and speaking nonsense out loud to myself.

My name is Yon Yonson, I work in Wisconsin, I work in a lumber mill there—

Wasn’t there a thing that needed doing? I swear, I walked into this room looking for something.

The people I meet when I walk down the street, They say,

What did I eat this morning? Hey, remember that zebra from before? Whatever happened to that fella’?

What’s your name? And I say

What time is it? I should check the time, I really should. There’s a place I need to be and you know what? I bet I’m running late.

“My name is Yon Yonson I work in Wisconsin…”

A moment of c l a r i t y. Through all the noise, I saw him approaching from across the street. My only solace was that he didn’t seem to be fairing any better than I; he was pulling at his suit, and tearing away at his hair. For an instant, I felt a bond, a passing moment of solidarity with my pursuer. Whatever his story was, we were both victims of this godforsaken neighborhood. That said, I was still 110% dipping out of this hell.

I still didn’t know where the portal was, but I figured I’d better try and go out the way I came. However, as I resumed my flight, it must’ve snapped my attacker out of his reverie. He took off, trailing behind me by a good five meters, neither gaining nor losing any ground; I may have been in better shape, but this guy had the added bonus of desperation and madness on his side. In total, it about evened out.

I burst through the door and ran right for a set of stairs. I slammed the door behind me and heard it connect with something other than wood.

“Uff,” grunted the man as he rolled sideways, knocked off balance by the door’s momentum. I’d reached the stairs—the wood was rotten, falling away and leaving a ravenous maw that snapped at my heels as I ascended. I danced the ballet of ghosts, skirting along the side of the stairwell, where the wood was most stable. I reached the upper-landing and turned back to face—

“Henry,” He was crying now, “I’m here, I’m back, I’m—fuck, what’s happened to me? How did we get here?”

“David!” I called back, now certain that it was my friend, or at least a facsimile from another timeline or some Terminator shit like that, “David, I—I have to go. You’re going to be alright, just… I’ll be back for you.”

“What? What are you talking about—Don’t leave me, Henry! Don’t you fucking leave me here. I don’t want to forget again, I don’t want to forget you, I don’t want to forget Will—Oh my god, Will, Will’s dead… Henry, If you leave me here I don’t think I’ll ever make it out.”

David, I’m…

But I don’t know that I even began to say I’m sorry. I’d already left the upper landing, and now I was in a bedroom. There was a bed, a desk, a pair of chairs, an armoire where I pulled out a pair of jeans to swap out with my dapper pants. Being nicely dressed was nice for finer occasions, but who knew where I’d go next and really jeans were a safe bet any day of the week and what the fuck was I doing leaving David in this grayish hell. He was still shouting from the bottom landing—

YOU BASTARD, HENRY, YOU FUCKING BASTARD

—There were monsters, and magic, and who’s to say whether that’s really my friend down there. I’d been through trials and tribulations, hell! this may as well have been a fanciful illusion, but still there was—

I HAVE BEEN TRAPPED HERE FOR YEARS. ENTIRE YEARS, HENRY, AND NOT A SINGLE OTHER PERSON TO SHARE THEM WITH. I’LL PROBABLY DIE HERE, YOU GODDAMN—

—What if it was him. My hand was posed on the side of the armoire; I was prepping to Narnia my ass out of here. Didn’t know if it would work, didn’t care, but what if it was really him and I left? If everything he was saying was true, if he really had been trapped here for years… could you imagine? What would that do to a—

The screaming had died down to something of a whisper. Really it was just the walls between us that made it sound so, David was speaking quite normally, talking mostly to himself now. He’d already assumed I’d left, and maybe that’s why I ultimately did, but still I caught these last, portent words:

“And we looked for you Henry, we really did. But at some point, you know, you have to move on.”

“Wait, what?”

But I never got a chance to ask him what he meant, my foot having caught the edge of the armoire and tipped me over into the veil of cloths that hung inside. I tumbled through the years, traversing space and time before at long last I came to rest in the center of the Nexus, the circle of doors that haunted the savannah. Now, standing in the middle of sometime and someplace, I had only one thought:

I am a truly weak creature.

Next Chapter

Chapter 8

The door, fortunately, was a push door. I doubt I’d have been able to pry it open otherwise.

That said, upon its opening the water sucked me down in a vortex that pulled me every which way-and-when. Past the threshold went little ol’ me, and head over heels I tumbled like Alice into an aquatic rabbit hole. Down, down, down and then up! My trajectory, best I could tell, was a parabolic arch that slung me down, then up, then down yet again. This way, that way, I didn’t know where I was but I did know I wasn’t gonna flush another goldfish down the toilet if this was what the ride was like. Granted, the goldfish is always dead in that scenario. Me? Less dead, more dizzy.

And then there was the noise. The rushing roar-howl of the marine banshee, the beast whose belly I was trapped inside of. It clawed its way through the tunnel voraciously, cleaving earth from dirt from rock and blending it all together in a soggy sandstorm that battered the exterior of my diving suit. A million little impacts and thank the gods that I never bashed the sides of the tunnel, but all the same pebble-bullets ricocheted off me. But I never saw a muzzle flash, never heard the gunshots; there was only the roar of the banshee.

Night. Night descended over the plains of my consciousness and my brain shut off, the current sweeping me from waking to oblivion like a piece of driftwood pulled out to sea. Night enveloped me, took me in, and then spit me back out upon a geyser that rocketed through the air like the angry fist of Neptune. The walls of the tunnel fell away in an instant and savannah plains stretched out infinitely in their place. So infinite was their domain that the Earth fell away well before I could spot their end, even as I soared through the heavens on a liquid throne. I was an eagle under the coming evening’s sun, elder rays of light drying my feathers as fast as the geyser could wet them.

At the peak of my ascent, I must have been thirty feet in the air. But the torrent of water shrunk, and as it did, I sunk lazily down until at last I was left sitting in a puddle of water, barely deep enough to soak my ankles.

A Zebra sat not ten strides to my Northern side. With its legs crossed, it looked quite peaceful from the other side of my suit’s protective glass wall. Its front hooves rested on its striped zebra knees and its chest rose defiantly up towards the amber sky.

I undid my helmet and pulled off the rest of my equipment.

Arumph.” I noised, clearing my throat.

“Sit.” Said the Zebra

And I Sunk. Now I too sat cross-legged upon the ground, my spine taught, a formidable tower that jutted from an energy well I could feel pooling in my gut. I didn’t know what to call it—my Chi? My energy? Something felt aligned in a way that I’d never experienced before.

The Zebra opened its eyes, two emerald stones that shone luminously in the twilight, like rainbow snakes coiled in a knot, writhing internally, chasing their tails.

“Tomorrow, the sun will rise and the day will be new,” Said the Zebra.

“The flowers will sing and the birds will bloom. Tomorrow will rise with the sun and the heat and by high noon the sweat will drip down your brow and you’ll think…”

“Boy,” I offered, “Isn’t this neat?”

The Zebra was quiet. It’s eyes closed and the rainbows were gone. The sun screamed in the sky and blood pooled on the horizon marking the end of a day. The tall grass sharpened their blades on the rustling wind, warring against the dying of the light. Silence was their battle cry and ~ me oh my ~ it was deafening.

The Zebra spoke again.

“Then the sun will set and we’ll weep once more. A glorious day gone by, a glorious day to mourn. Tomorrow as it is today as it was before and shall be again forever more.”

Breath, said the Zebra

And I expired, my breath drawn from my lips like a fish on a line. An indigo coy with flecks of orange, reeled in and cast into the sky, pulling with it a curtain across space, a rich tapestry smattered with stars and planets and moons of oneiric colors; every color of the rainbow that dances behind your eyes, every color you can chase but never catch.

Breath, said the Zebra once more

And I respired, my lungs now full, fully expanded, and I was sucker punched by the force of the expansion. The power of the Zebra’s words pushed me from my body and now I floated not five feet from my physical form. The astral plains of the savannah stretched out into a void, a shadow of the world I’d left behind.

“Henry?”

“Yes, Zebra?”

“Pick your god and pray. Pick wisely as you can, but know that this choice weighs far less than the million more you’ll make after every time you bow your head and speak these words in your god’s name.”

“What words are those, Zebra?”

“Gods are good, gods are great.
Mine is love, as well as hate.
My god is good, but what is greater
Is my eye, God’s Creator.”

My astral form had come around, drifted to face my body’s front, and saw a fire ignite upon the pool of energy that circulated through my legs and my core. Above my lap a flame rose, rooted to a single dark coal. It floated there, protected by my body, a marble guardian, dark like a frozen shadow. My silhouette was night, but my gasoline-veins had burst into flame like networks of magma in the Earth’s subvolcanic catacombs.

“Now open your eyes, Adventurer.”

Just as a rubber band, released after being stretched to the point of breaking, I careened back into my body and SNAP, my eyes were wide open, the sun reappeared, and—

~ Ô IRRATIONAL DAY, how hath thou come so soon, I doth not know how it could be, already, high noon ~

and the Zebra unraveled with an almost explosive force. Its many stripes disbanded and tore across the tall grass. They whistled and hollered as they screamed past my ears, succumbing to a chaotic episode before schooling together like a band of flying eels. I sat in the center of the cyclone, guarding my fire. The terrible winds threatened to choke it out, and seeing no other refuge a part from dousing it in the savannah’s dusty earth, I shut my eyes tight, braced myself and—

I swallowed the fire whole.

Silence. The winds had died down, and now the only sound for miles around was the rustling of a gentle breeze caressing the green, green grass. When I opened my eyes, I was looking down and I saw the warm glow of my flame burning deep within my gut. In raising my gaze to my surroundings, I saw that the Zebra had vanished entirely, not a stripe remaining. The cyclone had cut away the grass, banished the dust, and exposed the fecund earth beneath. From said fecund earth, oaken doors had risen, a Stonehenge of twelve portals surrounded me.

It should be fairly obvious what happened next,
seeing as I am, after all, the Great Adventurer.
I went straight for 12 o’clock and pulled back the door.

Next Chapter

Chapter 7

I looked in on some of the abandoned offices as I descended and I wondered what had become of all the workers. Had they met the same fate as Ms. Smith, banished to the forest below?

Below the lowest level of the complex, I saw a matrix of unearthed pipes that still clung to the building’s underside. I also saw something quite extraordinary—whereas before I’d thought that the building was simply floating through the air by sheer willpower alone, that turned out not to be the case, as I came upon two twin propellors gyrating underneath the mammoth levitating office block. They moved slowly, as if the air surrounding them was extremely viscous and required a mighty force to push through it. Perhaps the building was actually running on willpower and these propellers were ornamental. Seemed logical enough to me— or at least passable to the point that I could leave behind this mystery and continue on to the green canopy below.

Hand over hand, I approached the lush, green ocean rushing passed beneath me. When I’d been upon the flying building, the forest appeared to drift by lazily, but up close the tree tops sped by very fast indeed, and it was really rather terrifying to watch the branches whiz by below.

That said, I believe there are times in your life when you veer on the side of immortality and at times such as these, tremendous things are wont to happen. This was, for me, one of those times.

I released my grip on the rope and fell through the canopy, passing twittering masked spirits and great slithering basilisks yet to be discovered by the men and women of science. I fell at a dreadful rate, and all around me the trees curved with a profound, hypnotic geometry that entranced me and rendered me wholly unaware of my quick descent. So it happened that I was taken entirely by surprise when I hit a shallow body of water that had collected upon the forest floor. I suppose I should clarify that by shallow, I really do mean that this was no more than a mere puddle, but all the same, I crashed through its surface and much to my surprise, I emerged on the other side. My momentum was such that my whole body came clear of the parallel side of the pool, breaching a dimension that was not at all my own. It was filled with magnificent beasts, among which trod a pair of elephants with curiously long legs. I passed a second in this strange new world before I was once again returned to the puddle by gravity and pulled through to my home reality. Once I surfaced I found myself looking at a peculiar furry creature with the largest of large eyes. It was holding a fishing rod and sitting down like people do.

“What did I just see?” I asked Furry Thing.

“I believe that’s what they call The Inspiration.” It said, with an oddly grumpy little voice, “It always lies just below the surface.”

In spite of its grumpiness, I judged it to be a worthy companion. I asked if it would like to accompany me on my adventure.

“I don’t see why not,” was all I got. Through the forest we walked—and what a lovely forest it was. Never was there a finer architect than nature, and here it showcased some of its most exemplary pieces.

It wasn’t too long before we reached a shore where a lone vessel sat in wait. With the help of Furry Thing I was able to get the vessel ready for sea. All the while we worked I took sublime pleasure in tasting the ocean, carried to me on a plate by the passing breeze. The human being, as evolved and complex an organism as it may be, has not yet transcended the most primal of urges, those necessary instincts, nor would I ever hope that our species would. For I felt compelled by this visceral emotion to embark not only on a voyage across the flat surface of the ocean, but deep within its depths as well.

First Mate was the position I bestowed upon Furry Thing, and with that title fell the responsibility of steering our vessel out into the vast stretches of blue that lay before us. His tiny paws were surprisingly nimble and I commended him on his navigational prowess. It was a worthy First Mate if ever I knew one.

For awhile I stared into the faulty mirror below. It was a shell that held back a whole world of things that I’d yet to experience. Upon reflection, I’d lived my whole life above the faulty mirror, and there are many who would go the rest of their lives without taking the plunge into the unknown below. Was it for me to feel sorry for those who would never have the chance to dive into its cool blue depths? I should wonder at whether my adventures into the unknown made my life any more worthy or fulfilling than the next. Whether I would live a life any more worth living than the next was immaterial, for exploration was not a value I needed to explain to the world, but instead a passion that gave me drive. As I sat aboard the bow of my vessel, I considered the notion that to compare the passions of one to another is to trivialize the significance of the pair.

While in reflection, I drew upon a piece of paper that’d been tucked inside my jacket pocket. I sketched and I talked with Furry Thing.

“What do you think your purpose in life is, Friend?” I queried the critter.

“Bovine slaying.” He replied, and I was shocked by the rapidity with which he replied.

“Oh, like cows? Really?”

“Mhmm,” He said, looking over the side of the boat and off into the distant horizon, “It is my single, solemn life goal to hunt the spotted monstrosities till my own death. Most likely by their repulsive, grime-ridden hooves.”

“Uh-huh. So, how many have you killed thus far?”

“Zero.”

“Oh.”

We sat quietly and the waves lapped gently along our hull. At length, Furry Thing spoke up:

“It’s not that I’m in it for the thrill of the kill per se.”

“Yes, I guess this would be a disappointing existence thus far if it were.”

“Well it’s all about the chase.”

“I see.”

There were gulls navigating the air’s currents. Their caws greeted our ears with gifts of memories, an audio photograph pulled from a scrapbook of childhood vacations spent on North Carolina shores.

“Furry Thing?”

“Yes?”

“Are there any cows in the jungle?”

“Not a single one.”

I finished my drawings. We were in the middle of the ocean, or so it seemed, and the land was nowhere in sight. I looked to Furry Thing, who sat dutifully at the other end of the boat, steering us along a course that we’d mutually agreed upon not to discuss, else we risk going the wrong way.

“I think we’re here.” I stated, looking about the expanse of ocean that surrounded us. The water was crystal clear, and the sun was shining down hot upon my shoulders. Beneath us, I watched a great sea creature pass below us, something like a whale with loose skin and spines running the length of its body, its size dwarfing the sum of us and our vessel. Its eyes were enormous disks, black pearls that reflected nothing, bordered by a coloration that resembled war paint. Patterns marked the creature’s light brown skin; there were moving pictures, some that depicted schools of fish fleeing marine predators, and others that charted the ocean’s vast network of interconnecting currents.

I instructed Furry Thing to grab the other end of my sketch paper, and together we tugged upon the paper until we each stood at opposite ends of the boat, and the paper was stretched long across the benches.

“Shake” I commanded, and together we shook the tapestry until it began to grow quite heavy in our hands. Slowly, but surely, that weight evolved into tangible objects that bounced along the top of the tapestry. A diving helmet, and the corresponding scuba garb, along with lights and everything else that one might desire for a deep sea voyage was soon bouncing along the paper. With one final shake, Furry Thing and I flung the diving equipment up into the air and let them shower the floor of our vessel. The paper itself had disappeared in our hands.

I searched through the pile of equipment for the smallest picture I’d drawn, and then I stood before Furry Thing with two golden coins in my hand.

“I must leave you, Friend, but take this with you. We shall be able to meet once again when fortune permits, as long as we both hold on to our lucky coins.”

I handed one coin over to Furry Thing, who absorbed it into a hidden pouch on his furry body.

“I shall watch your descent, in case something goes terribly right. Then we may both share in the happiness.”

“And what if it goes terribly wrong?”

“For that I shall watch as well.”

This was good, and all was well, so I took a step up to the edge of the boat and began my descent.

Leaving the boat, I was soon enveloped by the ocean’s cool embrace, and briefly my senses were lost to darkness and a sort of panic; it took at least a full fifteen seconds before I could make anything out again. I was descending slowly into the water’s heart, and above me I could see the shadow of a skiff directed by my most loyal first mate.

Now there was blue. Vast blue. Impossible blue. I could try and describe it to you… but no, I think you know. If you’ve ever been under the ocean’s wake and opened your eyes, just for a second, you understand. It’s blue, that’s true, but it’s also deep in hue and you could capture that in a word, a phrase or a photo, but then you also feel it in your body. In that moment. That breathless sensation, that even if you could catch an underwater breath you wouldn’t because the sight would snatch it away.

I sunk.

Things began to appear around me. There were whales and sharks and dolphins; great underwater creatures, eclipsing the sun above me, and plunging me into the darkness below. For only a second the fear of eternal night gripped me, before it was torn away by the tail of a mighty aquatic creature. I looked above to the light. Stretching my hand out, I reached a finger to touch the last fading glimpse of light before…

Monsters. Now there were monsters.

A beast is an animal, perhaps an exceptionally savage one, but an animal nonetheless. If it is exceedingly terrible and cringe-worthy it’s a creature. But when that beast, or creature, becomes myth and oozes legend because of the sheer mind-bending, inconceivable nature of its being, then you’ve found your monster. Big or small, it doesn’t matter, it’s all about the way your gut twists and turns and your senses mutiny, shutting down and sending false signals to your brain. An eel that’s swallowed a thunderhead and now courses genuine lightening along its skin is still just a beast until you see it with your eyes and your eyes roll back into the safety of your skull. The great Bonefish is held together with magic, and holds the universe in its blackhole eyes. But it’s still just a creature of the deep until you feel it move through the water not ten meters away, taking in your horror and fear with its cold, life-eating eyes.

And they talked to me. My head was inundated with the voices of monsters. A million different tongues, languages from across our world and beyond; they drowned out my own inner-monologue, and I was no longer just Henry, but a reservoir of noise; I was filled to the brim with the songs of monsters.

Now darkness. Darkness and silence. When you’ve sunken lower than even monsters go, that’s all that’s left. The only sound came from my air tank. Whssssk. Ahhhh. Whssssk.

Air in. Air out. Then light. Organic light. It was musical; the light sang the songs of the living. It sang a melody about suns, flesh-bound stars that formed galaxies under the sea.

I sunk lower and lower, and for a moment I feared that my glass might break. That the ocean, kept so long at bay, might come creeping in— and yet, there was peace. Curiosity soothed the bite of fear.

A hand gripped my shoulder. Not a claw, not a fin, but a pallid hand turned me around to face an oaken door that lay along the bottom of the sea. The faint bioluminescent glow of jellyfish revealed not only the door, but the ruins of an ancient aquatic civilization. It must have come and gone ages ago, but then again, that hand. It was gone now, vanishing as soon as I turned to face the limb’s proprietor; its owner possessing an unimaginable speed to have disappeared so quickly.

I was alone now and the only way forward was through the door.

Next Chapter

KW.3.INTRIGUE

(a.k.a. Why you should give a shit)

A man sits on a couch. He’s black, like a lot of other people in the U.S. He hasn’t got a lot of money—like a lot of other people in the U.S. He’s sitting on the couch and he’s reading a book when suddenly he shouts at the top of his lungs:

“Well why tha’ fuck should we care?”

Another man comes out of the kitchen. He has sex with the man who’s reading on the couch, not currently, but frequently, unlike a lot of other people in the U.S. However, he is gay, like a lot of other people in the U.S.

“Woah, calm down. Whatchu yellin’ about in here?”

“Another white fatherfuckin’ writer’s gone and wrote another fatherfuckin’ memoire?”

“Oh, shit, are you reading that Kill The Writer shit?”

“Yeah, this fuckboy went and told us all his middle-class straight white boy problems and I’m sitting here thinkin’, ‘well why the fuck do I care about some lightskin droppin’ outta college to be a writer?’”

“Well, damn, that does sound pretty boring. Lemme see this shit… hold up. Where you read to?”

“Just up through Introduction.

“Aight, well the next chapter is called Intrigue.

“What? You’re fucking with me.”

“Nah. Shit’s called intrigue… Awwwh shit, you’re not going to believe this.”

“Yo, what is it?”

“Shit’s about us.”

“What the fuck you mean, ‘shit’s about us.'”

“I mean, this fatherfuckin’ son of a dick just wrote a chapter about this shit here—you hollerin’, me coming in and you telling me about this shit book, and I mean, fuck, it’s got everything in it.”

“Yo. Lemme get that… Shit, you right. How the fuck did he do that?”

“Well—hold up, what happens next?”

This:

“We should have sex.”

“I don’t think I want that.”

These are the first two lines of a conversation I had with a woman one time at dinner. She was nice. She was funny, to some people, at some time, so I’ve heard. I liked her well enough; technically speaking, I could have had sex with her. All that being said, I did not want to.

“I beg your pardon.”

“I do not think that I want to have sex with you.”

“Well why not?”

“I—,”  I was not prepared to answer this question. It’s a firmly held belief of mine, and I think of my friends as well, that I’m much better on paper than in person. I don’t do well when I’m put on the spot. So I said, “I don’t want to have sex with you, because I want to have sex with someone else.”

There is no such thing as good and evil, that I know, but there is right and wrong when you have a specific outcome in mind. For example, on that night, I’d imagined that I would not have wine thrown in my face. I’d imagined a quiet night, where no white button-ups were ruined, and my ride home was not ruined by wine flavored swamp-ass. So, factoring all those things together, I made the wrong choice in telling Delilah that I wanted to have sex with someone other than Delilah.

However, I’m an honest person. It’s my nature to a fault, and I was uncomfortably aware of that as wine crept into the fault line between my two ass cheeks.

“I want to have sex with Rose.”

Rose was our mutual friend. In fact, Rose is the one who had set us up together. She was my best friend now, and I wanted to have sex with her. Actually, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

However, more importantly than all of that, I wanted to make her happy.