Delirifacient, p.20
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       Delirifacient, p.20

           Trist Black
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And of course the browncoat never got very far on such expeditions and he promptly fell into a manhole the very first chance he got. And he wafted back and forth inside the sewers and thought taking the ladder back up would be irremissibly cheating and he could not quite brickwall his mind on whether to follow the tunnel dominated by kitchen waste or the alley uniformly lit by the fluorescent corpses of small scavenger animals tired of scavenging, including what appeared to have been a five year old human girl once, or the passage that most unoriginally chose to decorate itself mainly with fæcal arabesques. And he stood in the fork in the sewer glancing at his options and choosing his sewer like a democracy elects its sewage, going by smell and the principle of greatest recyclability. And he pursued the alley of tiny animal corpses and the rats and the frogs and the crabs and the mudfish and the large green insects and the occasional pigeon had all chosen rather unusual stances to die in and death and decomposition made them all look very guilty, of their own death and of many other things the sewer had never truly cared about.

  And the browncoat encountered a small man in the sewers, a man that lived somewhere under the southernmost outskirts of Moscow and had not emerged from the sewers for what looked to be many many years. And the man in the sewers was waiting impatiently for the timid flow of sewer water to bring him a copy of yester-day’s newspaper for it tended to float down to him at this time of day and the sewer man liked to be informed. And the browncoat asked the sewer man what he was fishing for, and the man from the sewers ignored brownback and narrowed his eyes onto the stream of sewer water, for he knew the declining magic of vision would accelerate the natural circle of life that rarely failed to bring him yester-day’s newspaper in exchange for the sewer man taking a weekly bath in the tunnel parallel to his, the tunnel of the kitchen waste which seemed to be the cleanest and the givingest and the most nutritious of all the tunnels in that area. And so brownback squatted near the sewer man and stared at the sewer water also and strove to keep his gaze strong and focused for as long as was conceivable but this was a most unrewarding vector for the investiture of his idiosyncrasies so the browncoat asked the sewer man whether there was anything he expected or wanted particularly from the stream of water.

  And the sewer man did not expect an outsider to understand the ornate rituals that predicated his lair’s safety and was not hesitant in telling him so through a continuum of acrid snarls, each of which coiled into the fading skin of the previous snarl to absorb its poison and refract it thus amplified onto the soft surface of the brownback’s curiosity.

  And the browncoat decided he had nothing more to do there and moved on but of course the sewer man followed him, first at a courteous distance and then closer and closer until they walked side by side, and it wasn’t an aggressive or ominous follow, just silent and mutually uninterested. And on their way back to the fork in the sewers they came across the corpse of the pigeon again and only then did the browncoat notice that the pigeon was still alive for the pigeon was cooing slowly and resignedly and the browncoat knew from the mellowness of the cooing that the pigeon was moribund. And the man from the sewers, unburdened by reflections on the supreme breakability and brokenness of the pigeon’s mortal shell, lunged at the cooing pigeon and with gestures more automatic than thought through bit off its dangling head and had some of the blood and availed himself of the left wing, and the sewer man clamped his mouth ravenously and did not bother plucking the wing clean but spat the feathers out, which was not the simplest of endeavours since the feathers were now sticky with blood and flesh and saliva and this made the browncoat see the sewer man’s mouth as a bird itself, an amorphous hatchling yawning with a beak greater than its own being and blind and stupid and discoloured and incoherent and sticky and confused in its raving disconsonant plumage.

  And brownback let the sewer man know that what he was doing was a boon unto civilization and a catapulting stone into human progress, and this finally trapped the sewer man’s attention and the man from the sewers asked why this was, and the brownback told him that a man greater than they both thought cooked meat was the golden road to cultural idiocy and societal decay, and that the only way to extricate oneself from the ravaging of society was to remain obstinately silent and eat raw meat. And the sewer man was struck by this and said that this was an illumination that had traversed his entire life but very very slowly and he had always struggled to control his violent awareness of it and it made him an extremely divergent and unselfsame individual, but then his half-strangled slowly blinking lucidity bids him ask the browncoat who this great man was in a last vie for self-preservation, and browncoat said he was a great and noble nobleman who loathed Shakespeare and human reproduction. And this satisfied the sewer man to the point of pained exhaustion for he himself was of the diamond-precise same persuasion his abhorrence of human reproduction was boundless and he could control himself no further and decided it was time his inner martyrdom became collective apophasis. And so the sewer man made love to the ladder and burst forth from the sewers and exploded against the city by wearing a mask of himself made from his own disrupted netherskins.

  And brownback took his time in exploring the rest of the sewers and this took a certain while and the browncoat even took a certain liking to the sewers but all serenity must end sometime and so the browncoat too availed himself of the cheating ladder and walked back into Moscow. And much had changed in the city and towering in the cleanest widest smartest avenue he found a large square building painted in all conceivable nuances and definitions of gray and it was so imposingly square the browncoat could have confused it with the Ka’aba for it too had fleshy chains gyrating around it like exploded satellites whose arid insignificant fragments were still kept in check and hypnotized motion by the building’s gravitational seduction; he could have confused it with the Ka’aba but for the turbid throngs of people this actual gray building was not spinning around itself but inhaling at a safe steady rate through its sidemouth and exudating forth, faithfully restored in number and viscidity, through a narrower slit on the opposite side.

  And the people waiting their turn were so many and so cataleptic that the brownback approached one of them and asked what they were all wanting inside the gray Ka’aba; and the man told brownback he was just wanting to fondle a bite during his lunch break. And the ritualistic nature of the waiting belied this statement but the browncoat saw nothing more in the man’s nostrils so he decided to stand next to him and wait for his turn to enter the gray building. But the throngs of people were so great and the building’s hunger so low that the browncoat had barely gained seven feet inside four hours. And the man next to him, the man with no answers, was curiously unperturbed by the likely expiration of his lunch break and the man next to him and everyone else simply stood outside the gray building, waiting and blinking and not really speaking amongst themselves much. And the browncoat splintered from the throngs and walked past the people and through the doorway of the gray building and curiously no one around him objected at all not even the diminutive old ladies with nothing else to do and this was very strange indeed given how otherwise Russian all around him seemed to be.

  And inside the gray building, which was a spacious storage building, there were no walls or floors or stairs but many square spaces demarcated only by thin and improperly set up lace curtains and within the lace squares one or more people stood next to various farm animals of every conceivable size age and degree of domestication. And there were freshly shaven sheep and long-broken stallions and feral dogs and feral piglets and incontinent adult pigs and Indian buffaloes and further placid bovines and impatient chickens and so on. And one person in every square would wield a large axe or blown-up yatagan and they would laugh at the animal and at themselves and palpate the stilled beast for the softest bumps in its geography and pat its head and kiss its open eye and crash their weapon into the beast, disjoining bloodflows and erasing continuities and mutilating symmetries and bowing to the ensuing acephalia. And then the people woul
d take turns using the axe or yatagan and homage their chosen parts of the beast and capture the loose blood in their open palms and train their out-dated teeth on strands of hair and shields of hide and seams of flesh. And only when their hunger withered and festered atop the raw carcasses would they leave their lace squares, softly cackling into their crimson beards and new and different animals were brought into the lace squares and the new animals were probably starving for they licked the blood off the lace curtains and then consumed the unwanted parts of the felled beasts that stood before them. And when the lace squares were rejuvenated new people would be admitted into the gray building.

  And since there were no corridors or pathways between the lace squares for the entire gray building was lace squares one had to be very careful navigating the bloodflows to the stale exit. And since all were silent inside the gray building but for the ubiquitous soft cackles and the cackles were so uniform they had neither place nor origin and their sources went undifferentiated, and footsteps were pondered and suffocated by the slow bloodflows and the caked bloods, and lights were dimmed and all who drew silent breath were perfectly absorbed into blindness in their holistic veneration of the sacrifice, no one had any way of discerning another’s movement or position relative to themselves. And so sometimes a person braving the stilled light of the exit would walk into a blind sacrificer’s blow and lose a quart of limb or a moiety of neck and he would fall as silently as the beast he had sacrilegiously shielded and the sacrificer would yawn at the interferer and persist in the ritual and the beast would yawn at the interference also.

  And the browncoat looked upon the nearest lace square and the lace square was peopled by four sacerdotes and a generous sorrel horse. And the wielder of the axe was a large ill-digested man, and his long arm coupled with the axe far exceeded the wielder in height and continuity, and his first swing was forceful and it sliced through the horse’s right haunch and into the chest of one of the weaponless sacrificers. And the wielder must have cursed his luck as he had to place his foot on the young corpse’s torso and repeatedly pull at the axe with all his strength, and the horse shuddered but stood tall, and the sacerdote’s next blow struck the horse upside the head with the blunt of the axe, and the horse kneeled on its front legs, and then the wielder aimed a low swipe at the horse’s hind legs which blessed its target’s kneecaps but also ricocheted into a slow glide astride another sacrificer’s stomach. And the wielder showed no displeasure for there was no complicated and inarticulate extraction of the axe to be performed this time, and the horse could not immediately get back on its feet and was tripping in its own offerings but finally regained a splatter-dignified verticality, and the sacerdote aimed carefully at the horse’s head and threw the axe as hard as he could and the blow landed and the upper edge of the axe’s blade went deep inside the horse’s skull on its left side and into its brain and the horse finally toppled one last time and it fell on its left side and it fell on the third sacrificer and the weight of the sorrel horse blanketed the sacrificer heavily and the open swipe of the axe’s blade rested against the sacrificer’s neck and it had already bedrunk of him during the fall and the more the sacrificer struggled to push the horse off and get back to his feet the deeper the blade’s revelry and the deeper its thirst. And after the third sacrificer had successfully opened his throat and struggled and dug into his throat and weakened and convulsed and nested the blade in his throat and grasped his throat and finally ceased his struggle the formerly armed sacerdote gifted him a final cackle and closed the horse’s eyes and opened its throat also and sated his own manly thirst and feebleness and urge to tear and unsew the pulsating meat. And then the sacerdote walked away from the horse and exited the gray building in consummate safety.

  And the brownback too had drunk his fill and the horses and the fowl-kin could no longer host his interest and he too exited the building but he walked out through the entrance and the throngs of people were as thick as they had been four hours beforehand and no one minded this novel transgression and there was no discernible blood on the outside of the gray building. And the fear was on the avenue and there was fear in the throngs and the fear puddled and cuddled in an asphalt crater, and then people stepped on the avenue and there were other craters, and each slurring crater splashed the fear high in the air when its time came, skyward, and the happy children played and splashed around in the fear and the adults nodded contentedly and took their showers in public while waiting to be allowed inside the gray building. And the brownback took note of this and tossed his note into a puddle of fear and the note became heavier and darker and the note was distended and the fear wrote wet on the brownback’s note and the browncoat walked away from his overwritten note.

  Chapter vii

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