• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 11
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After the tunnel was found, it became obvious that many had not vanished but fled, fearful of what was to come. The treatments became increasingly severe with debilitating side effects. Once out, they appear off kilter, passably themselves, but hard to spot as they hide in plain sight. The one thing certain to help with identification is the unhealed open hole where the respirator once was inserted. Some say they have been traumatized by the disease, others say the treatment was worse than the disease. The government dispatched hundreds of ambulances to locate and rehouse these patients, and the sirens howl 24-7 through empty streets.

This one was located at the park. Victor or Victoria?—we can’t tell. Does it matter? S(he) appears elevated, standing behind or inside a mason jar filled with teeming wild life, insects of creepy crawling origin, Winged flits that suck blood, sleeping bats, thousand-legged blobs that bite, and yellow jackets, stingers at the ready. The respirator hole is visible and she wears it proudly like a cherished necklace. Vermin appear to enter and exit at will.

S(he) looks numb, befuddled and yet, overly caffeinated, alert to the nth degree. Eyes fixate on all and nothing, staring into the past or the future Simultaneously. Arms hang stiffly suggesting precise robotic movement were s(he) to suddenly animate. The face is pale but randomly discolored. The hands, primitive claw-like, hang loosely at her side. Blue gloves cover hands and appear to be plastic hospital issue, or perhaps the hands are blue from the inside, the first manifestation of drinking the cure for the cure. A carrot top juts out from back pocket, indicating an appetite exists. A wooden facsimile of a snake with a bird’s beak at one end is held, suggesting a wand or opposing purposes, the dynamics of predicament.



We pieced together her ID and obtained a confession. S(he) was an escapee from ward 19, here to sew mayhem, to screw with the plans of all. “I am in love with all the forces involved, the co-creators of this force majeure, but most especially my lobotomized spiritual companion who whispers to me incessantly and without whom I would be forever spiraling in fevered dreams.”

Above the clouds stir darkly, scrambled in fury, yet furry with pointed edges. The light bursts through, Corona is alive and moving. The sky splashes open to reveal a circle of sorrows blood red at the center, like a dart board, the eye of the storm. Can anyone ace it, or pass though unharmed? The wind is heavy and hot. The eyes squint to search for the person s(he) was before the illness.

The streets are silent. Have we been rendered deaf? No more will we engage closely. No more crimes of intimacy, flesh touching flesh. No more hugs and handshakes. Never mind the mysterious lost and found rhythms of Eros. All must be set aside, laid to rest as we search for an answer, a cure, an elixir.