Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins is an immigrant from El Salvador. Her work has been featured online and in print publications. She was the hostess of the monthly poetry reading series, “They’re Just Words” at Book Show in Highland Park, CA from 2017-2019. Currently, she runs both a literary magazine called “RESURRECTION mag,” and a podcast entitled “Xennial Rants,” on Spotify. She is the author of sixteen books. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, painter John Collins.
Murk is Hellish
After Saul Kripke and William Shakespeare’s Macbeth
A non-complicated sentence ends abruptly at 9 am, and a woman rises
from bed with her satin-chic nightgown. She who unnames
the universe becomes the first metalinguist. She looks in the cheval
glass of the cosmos and shouts a mouthful of disgust: Out, damned noun;
out, I say. One thousand, two thousand—at 5 pm the woman chooses to stay
awake rather than waking up and this sentence ends as unhinged as a night-
horse dream. The dictionary provides this simile to show if she
who unnames the universe exists, then the first metalinguist is working
under terrible conditions at some possible world, a canonical tragedy
which brings us to the much-contested question: without adding
a tail, face and ears, is it possible to draw a rabbit with 62?
Yusuf Akman (they/them) is a disgrace to humanity. They don't have the vernacular they think that they possess. Somebody LIED to them SEVERAL times and told them that they were fly, hot, and sexy, and beautiful and they are NOTHING like that. they're nothing of the sort.
As we approached the Interspace Travel Agency, I recited my to-do list in my head like a mantra. Step one, kidnap president (check!). Step two, buy tickets to the furthest reach of the galaxy (in progress). Step three, die alone, but as a hero, having liberated America from its most embarrassing political episode.
We made an odd trio. I was dressed in black Techwear™, which disguised a bulletproof membrane and an array of weapons. My human hostage wore a black three-piece tuxedo, with long coattails, looking more like a concert pianist than a politician. The third member of our party was a green parrot with red tipped wings, who was sitting on the man’s shoulder. A thin gold chain connected the parrot’s foot to the man’s lapel pin. I wished I was a Killer™ so I could use that chain to strangle it.
As we stepped inside the Interspace Travel Agency, the electro-curtain sealed the entrance behind us. Whoosh! There was no turning back.
Inside, advertisements lined the walls. A three-dimensional Public Service Announcement invited individuals to volunteer for the armed forces. Win wars from your couch! Drones do all the fighting! All you have to do is enter a death lottery with a mere forty percent chance of losing! They omitted the suicide rate. A poster on the other wall peddled an equally questionable offer. “Tired of not having your voice heard? For a mere $99.99 we can increase the efficacy of your Constitutional Rights™ by 30%!”
The Travel Agent, as barely visible behind the glowing lights and dancing text. “Hello. My…uncle and I are trying to get to the outer colonies. Do you have any trips leaving immediately?” I had ten minutes before everyone’s attention span reset and someone might start missing the president.
“Let’s see.” The Agent pressed an opal on her middle finger to retract her GlitterNails to a typing length. “We have a few trips out on Bezos Space Craft. Identification please?”
I handed over the forged documents while trying to strategically block The Man and Parrot from her view. If nothing distracted her, she wasn’t scheduled to move for another eight minutes and thirty-two seconds.
“SQUAAAK! California is voting to secede!” I really wanted to strangle that parrot.
The Agent glanced up from her screen and her smile froze. Crap.
I pulled out my HeatSig. “No one move! This is a kidnapping! You! Books us a flight, this instant. You two!” I shouted waving my gun at the man and his parrot. “Don’t even think about escaping. This weapon does not miss!”
The Travel Agent was unfazed. She gave me a long, exhausted glare, unwrapped a red, white and blue lollipop shaped like a star and winked at my hostages. “You know what they say, The Product is the Message© and this is my small show of support for you, Mr. President.”
In my irritation, I mumbled, “The medium is the message…”
“Whatever, I know my Shakespeare.” She handed me a receipt. “Please review your order.”
Code 144-K, Kidnapping, Destination: Any Remote Colony. Departure Time: 15.20 American Corporate Time. Bezos Space Corp thanks you for flying with us.
On to step three—to die as a hero. See, the first part is so easy! We will all do it one day. But to be sure you’re a hero of a story, you had to tell it yourself.
“You know why I’m doing this, don’t you?” I wasn’t sure if I was addressing myself to the man or the Travel Agent. “The future of our country cannot be derailed by a prank. You know it was a prank, don’t you?” This time I was only addressing the Agent.
“Oh bless your heart, sweetie pie! I know. Not only do I know, I took time off work. I made popcorn. I forwarded, posted, and shared that viral message. And then I watched the entire five hours of the Greatest American Election Show just so I could call in and vote for this President. He was the most entertaining act!” She flashed a sweet-as-molasses smile and went back to typing.
“I’m sorry, Sir.” It was the first time I heard the man speak. His voice was deep, resonant and soothing. “The election result was disappointing to many. But as our New and Improved Constitution™ states—the most lucrative political outcome is the most popular. And the most popular is usually the most entertaining. This truth is fundamental to our political process. I do my best to bear my burden of serving the Republic in my humble way. Perhaps you would find some peace if you could do the same?”
I was almost taken in by his reassuring tone. But I couldn’t get past the damn bird. “Do you take it into the National Security Council? Don’t you realize it could spill our national secrets?”
As if on cue: “BRAAAAK!!! The Xino-African States are planning an invasion of Russo-Stan.”
“It makes us fools! We look like…The Pirates of the Caribbean! Eccentric European Royalty! I just want our country to be respected again!” I wanted to yell some reason into him when…
BOOM! A loud explosion shook the whole building. “Secret Service! No one move!”
I looked at the Agent. She looked smug and waved the lollipop at me. “Secure-pops! Secret Service keeps all Travel Agencies stocked. They’re like an emergency flare. "
All my bravado evaporated. I collapsed on the floor.
The man walked over and patted me on the shoulder. “Young man, I can tell that there’s so much you want to share. And there’s a whole audience that can’t wait to hear it! You’re bright, you’re healthy, you probably have both kidneys—there’s so much of you that could have been licensed to earn enough for a spot on the Election Show.” He smiled kindly. I smiled back.
A Secret Service agent ran over and cradled the bird in his hands. “Carter! Over here. The President of the United States is safe. He just wants a cracker.”
Mariya Khandros is a West Philadelphian who loves to write, read and watch speculative fiction. She believes stories are our most dangerous weapons so she writes to make the world a gentler place. When it comes to frivolous pursuits, Mariya is on a personal quest to make her incredible dog Nala a B-list neighborhood celebrity. This is Mariya’s first published fiction and she is grateful to make her debut in the welcoming and inclusive space of Moonchild Magazine.
In Illo Tempore
She was a woman who had two men. She kept them close to each other--two-legs-of-a-person-close, one at her right, and the other at her left thigh. One of them liked the porcelain penny bank in form of a thinking woman with her hand under her chin on the center table at her house, and the other liked the carvings of the highboy with her childhood albums in it. They had this balance of where one loved pistachios, so the other limited himself to peanuts. If considered without their differences, they would both leave a salty taste on her tongue. After both, she was usually left with sour sweat, back pain and squeaking doors. She loved them, to the point where the bite on her left shoulder and the teeth marks on her thigh intersected.
She was without a child. She was fourteen when she laid straight on a cold, metal table, weak as a chicken laying its eggs to get trampled. Below her navel, her organs were spread open with as cold metal handles and her tubes were ligated. Back then she didn’t mind, but only terrorized everyone in the house because of the flesh-cut pain that kept her from sitting freely on the toilet. Although she experienced brief mood swings when she held her friends’ babies and some hormonal kicks when she hit thirty, she never really sighed about having her own little human. Her reckless singularity, overly self-indulgence and the luxury of irresponsible breakdowns seemed safer than a young son to walk around in his arms one day.
She had a fit figure, wide shoulders and rectangle-like buttocks under her straight back. When she took a step, you could almost see her roots hugging the ground. When she entered a room, with all her weight, her body would fill every crack. While she worked to sell paintings, at some point people would stop looking at the item they intended to buy and start examining and scanning her with curiosity. What attracted these looks was the contrast of her shiny violet eyes under thick, dark eyelashes at the two sides of her bumpy, eagle-like nose. Lips so thick you couldn’t come across unless maybe in Africa, hiding under the protection of a majestic blond uni-brow. She always wore her white shirt that clenched her bosom, and her loose black pants that made her legs look even longer, camouflaging amongst the paintings she presented to buyers making use of her big hands and long arms.
Both of her men were wretched souls, captured by the claws of art. They had studios, rustic workstations and walls full of books. They displayed older volumes of rare and foreign books at shelves most visible from eye level. They adored how their hardwood floors crackled, drank coffee from delicate porcelain cups and addressed to their friends as mon cher. They were depressed during specific times of the year--fortunately the depression periods of the two had never coincided. At those times, they would refuse to see anyone and rot in their houses. Being aware of the work coming her way to pile up in the hall, or in her file, as a result of that period, the woman wouldn’t say a thing and just wait patiently with her other man. Hesitation held a huge part in her men’s lives. They wanted to publish all past correspondence with their friends who were poets, writers, painters, dancers into a book and take a proud look at the history they put out there, see the end of their unfinished businesses in the stinging nudity of disclosure. They would always talk about this, then give up, and hand the letters over to her, without realizing their parallel behavior.
She was insatiable. She tried to satisfy her hunger with things and beings either alive or capable of giving life when looked, touched or heard, and it had nothing to do with ambition. She could pull all the tricks in her book in order not to sell the paintings she loved. She ate a lot, she drank a lot. She drove fast and purchased every single colour of a foulard. She owned apartments in different areas of the city, with the fear of ending up homeless one day, and live on the streets smelling like piss. When she danced, she was either in the middle of the dance floor, or at the top of the longest table. In times when she got quiet, she lied a lot, as if her tongue was moving on its own.
She was a woman with two men. When she attached one to the other, she could see her tubes tied under her belly.
In illo tempore lived a blacksmith with five sons and a daughter. He was the most renowned after the town’s shaman, because blacksmiths and shamans were children of the same roof. The blacksmith was enormous, he had more flare than the shaman. He had this huge belly, as if it were him who gave birth to his children. His shoulders leaned across the two ends of the country. The power he possessed could melt iron without fire. A glance to his face almost mesmerized the looker with its beauty, but his distorted nose was made to confuse. Next to his household, in his mill, he forged utensils, horseshoes, swords, and maces for villagers. He could see anything the future held in the flames if he wanted to. Horsemen, neighbors, winters and raids ahead...Yet he wouldn’t look into the fire, as he abstained from abandoning his soul in there with the evil god K’daai Maksin. So he was committed to resist. People told him that foreseeing only the wars would suffice. You’d own a fortune taller than your height. The blacksmith would respond to them; he’d rather carve his eyes out. Then back to work, loud—shaking roofs, scaring off birds, frightening foxes. He would check the force of his fire with the tip of his tongue.
The blacksmith started sleeping less and less, the peace he once had stayed in the past. Fire called him in, by force. He did not go. Instead he sacrificed his pitch-black bull to K’daai Maksin, hoping he’d be left alone. That night, every single tool of the blacksmith got covered with the animal’s blood. Seven people came up from the village, lit a huge fire at the town square and threw the bull’s head into the flames. The shaman arrived. Midst of the small crowd, the blacksmith sang and moaned. Seven men pulled the burnt head out of the fire, placed it on the anvil and hit it with hammers. The shaman first rose from the ground, then submerged into the soil up to his knees. He went down to see K’daai Maksin underground and demanded healing for the only blacksmith in the village. The evil god refused, declaring death to the ones who didn’t face him in the fire. The shaman begged, and as he begged, he broke into pieces, swallowed his bones. He knelt before K’daai Maksin and repeated his wish.
The dark god roared, sent his fallens over the shaman and said, “Then he shall accept giving me his daughter, her daughter and every single soul to ever cross her womb, and look into the fire. All five of his sons shall be blacksmiths, and be spread to five corners of Yakutsk. The girl shall stay here, sleep by the fire, and may she resemble her father, grow apace from his nose. May her womb broil every time her father won’t look into the fire, and her name be erased of her house. In every life she lives may she get bigger, and resemble her father a bit more. May she be of no use to her men, incapable of holding any seed in her. Everything to ever grow in her may be mine. Now and forever.”
The shaman couldn’t say a word. He came out to the surface, and the flames he emitted from his fingertips out of grief fed the fire. He drank water with salt and pepper and lied onto the blacksmith. Then he took the tiny girl from her mother’s lap and put her in embers. The blacksmith stood up as if a massive lump exited his throat. A sizzle ran through his nose.
The girl was always there in the crowd at the steppes, riding horses, all around mammoths and chasing buffaloes. Scorching hot, she would burn men. Her arms swirled around them--whippers of postal cars, sword grinders behind arenas, cooks who can cook plucked geese in two minutes, behind sleds--hey ho hey,--tombs in cones and pyramids, councils, holy stones and manuscripts, towers, slaves, hunters, rulers, sealers and doctors, writers, composers, printers, seamen, and those who were born in paintings. Her body widened, breasts sagged, belly inflated, then deflated, inflated and deflated, her fingers danced in blood. She didn’t know what to do with the droplets of eyes, ears and intestines drizzling out of her perineum. She wished to stay unlovable, and decided to kneel before the lonely lack of love.
In illo tempore, she spread her butt cheeks, unaware of wedding all her souls to the fire. She assumed what she did to be good, good for herself. She thought it was love.
She introduced one man to the other, and made them friends. Together, they enjoyed the time spent eating at long tables. Chattered about Venus, museums, curators, and complained about politics. She kept sleeping with them, one after the other. Her shadow kept lingering over paintings, her curves kept being the subject matter of drawings. She had been and kept being the muse of one’s acrylic and the others’ charcoal, gratified by pearls, ivory phalluses and rare books when she sold a painting of either men for an exorbitant sum in the auction. Drinking coffee from fine porcelains with her name glazed on, taking long vacations. Laughing, changing, uniting, and separating.
One of the men asked her for a child. She gave him the silent treatment, stopped having sex with him awhile and frequented the other.
One night at the dinner table, they talked about embryos. About the births of school-aged children that both men had, from other women. Inflating bellies, concerns and the anticipation of a newborn. The woman sat still. Did not eat, did not drink. She spoke and spoke as if she’d been giving birth for ages. Men assumed she had plenty of children, and together wanted to touch her saggy breasts. She unbuttoned her shirt and portioned her breasts to the men. She held their heads and pushed them towards each other. The moment when their noses made contact a spark jumped onto the table, and set it on fire. She rushed to pour the water in the pitcher on the table. There, she wanted to paint a painting like the paintings she always watched and admired. They brought her a canvas, some paint and benzene, and stared at her standing up by the easel.
The woman drew legs, spread to two sides, looking directly at them. She carved out an area between the legs and filled in pinkish layers. She painted black in the eyes of the creature sliding its head out from the layers. Dipped her brush into red, and made flames eating up the legs, then made them bigger and twisted, turned their tips into gigantic cocks. She put a large torso behind the flames. On its face she drew an organ with distorted lines, like her own nose, and left the rest blank. Took a couple steps back and contemplated her work. The men stood behind her and held her as her body quaked.
“My tubes are tied,” she said and her weight collapsed on the two men.
They laid her on the ground. Undressed her and cooled her burning flesh with ice. Put a vinegar-infused cloth on her forehead and waited. She looked like coming to herself for a moment, sat up and stared at the men with glittering eyes. She thought she could survive if she just swallowed them whole, that it would untie her knot and open her canals, that the dual push would twist a valve…She spread her legs just like in the painting and pulled the two close. When she arched her neck backwards and looked at the painting behind her, she saw the flames approaching. She reached out with her hands over her head and took the hammer and skew back from her father. She snatched the two heads away from their bodies and laid them on the skew back. For two nights long she beat the men’s heads with her hammer. When bones and cartilages took the form of iron, she threw them into the fire, warmed them up nicely, and aligned under her navel. She assumed what she did to be good, good for herself. She thought it was love.
Previously published at Miracle Monocle
Nazli Karabiyikoglu is an author and activist from Turkey, now full-time resident in Germany awarded with Writers-in-Exile Scholarship by PEN Germany, who secluded herself from the political and gender oppression in Turkey. She is also a scholar of the Human Rights faculty at Friedrich Alexander University in Germany.
Uncovered logs from the distant past and the future beyond.