Last Ten


Tag Archive: a triptych & a joke

On Sunday March 20th, 2016, Ken Baumann, Lorian Long and M Kitchell gathered in secret at an undisclosed location in New Mexico. It is said they could see the vapor trails of invisible UFOs in the sky. They drew a card from a deck of ENIGMA STRATEGIES, created by The Institute for Erotic Vertigo. The prompt on their chosen card was “LITERAL SUBTERRANEAN ACTIVITIES.” The following text is a result of the days activities.

See other posts in this series from Lorian Long and M Kitchell.


Mycelium threading through bone. This is what she imagined as she went under. Thickening fibers of mold, spores developing with the velocity of beehives. Marrow dried to a dust that might catch in your eye if you weren’t careful. Her thoughts now——drugged——became dumb and luminous. She thought of caves set into hills like dimples. She thought of drinking alone in a city’s only tunnel. She thought that she could salvage the reputation of rats. All while the older woman’s drugs slid into her veins.
    The younger woman’s last thought——a complicated fantasy somehow compressed into the tension of a muscular twitch——had two implications: one, this thought would never be recovered, and two, this thought contained the truth of her capture.
    The younger woman, newly named Sue, fell asleep.

He knew that this was rare——the chance to crush a skull in the desert. A whole skull, blanched white by careless days. Its horns hooking in like pinching fingers. He looked around and saw nothing. He felt calm in a valley so drowned.
    He lifted his booted foot. The skull said nothing, and the wind seemed proud.

They calmed their hands over the fire. They had two hands and one mouth, but refused to claim only one body. Their mother promised them a sense of order, yet all they felt before routinely burning the stones was a depthless sense of persecution, a paranoia flickering like a star. The stones were purchased from a boy alone by the highway. They bought them to drive the boy back to his home, if he had one. The sale only encouraged him. He pushed, talked, weaving benefits with his little broken hands. They said Okay. They said I believe it. Finally, they said Stop. They boy stared at them then, or stared through them. Again alone. They pocketed the wrapped rocks and began to walk north, as the boy had instructed. That night, they unbundled the quartz and agate and slivers of obsidian, setting the bits one by one in a fire spritzed with kerosene. They fed the fire a third of the bag then waited. Thoughts turned to mother. Then mother turned to stone.

She knew a portion of priests who’d meet downstairs or underwater. They preferred no light. They’d revealed so much above ground, after all. At first she thought that all the priests would do is fuck, but a visiting friend had, holding her hand one night, broken it to her: they were far too bored.
    She had to know more, so she snuck a scrap of paper and needled out the nightly code. The confessing priest warned her that she wouldn’t be surprised at their activities, and that in fact their secrecy was a letdown even to themselves. She——the industrious girl——wouldn’t hear it. “I’ve got the location and I’ve got the code,” she said. “I’m going to find them.”
    This meeting was elaborate, taking place in the vicinity of a subterranean waterfall. She needed rope and lamps, talc and pitons. She spent five hours reconnoitering various perimeters. Finally, she started the descent.
    A warm light lit the dripping walls of a thin crippled cave. Moss brushed off onto her shoulders as she squeezed through. She saw bats and felt ill.
    Finally, she entered the chamber, and realized with a sigh the truth of this promised disappointment.
    The priests were all there, gathered round.
    And they were killing children.