as seen in FringeWare Review #5 (Stay Awake!), published 29jul94
I had known the twins since they were twelve; their earlier history, unfortunately, is lost to all of us. Never were they "ordinary girls," of course; they swept their neighborhood collecting power and foot soldiers the way other kids collected marbles and bubblegum cards. I wish I could have grown up with them; I'm sure I would have enjoyed it.
At the age of twelve, the twins began dreaming together, sharing the
same dreamspace, and this is where their family history first makes itself
known. One of the twins, Melody, has always been excessively magnetic,
thoroughly charming, dangerously naive; the other, Laurel, has always been
more pragmatic, slightly ruthless, generously vindictive. The shared dreams
presaged the drugs, of course, and the family's latent insanity chose opportune
moments to surface.
As the end of the world approached, the twins' father mysteriously fell
from a bridge and was killed; the loss devastated the family. Melody left
home in an effort to clear her mind; the loss of both Melody and her husband
proved too much for the twins' mother, who was committed to an asylum days
later. Laurel was left alone in their spacious house in the hills, away
from all the trouble, alone with her drugs, and that's where I found her.
I'd always had a crush on Laurel, no shame in admitting that now, although
later, after Laurel's rejection of me, I was to fall much harder for Melody.
It's unclear how we all became acquainted; the archives are unclear on
this point. It's also unclear how the end of the world got started, what
crucial element that had been holding civilization in place suddenly evaporated
to bring about global rioting, mayhem, murder, and destruction; the archives
are not only unclear, but in fact, are presently missing. (Not one iota
will survive the end of the world, of course.)
Melody, as it happens, barely made it back to the house before the first
wave of rioting began.
Whether or not they ever stopped dreaming together is also unclear.
To be sure, I suppose I could have asked; I have always been afforded special
privilege with them as they deftly surrounded themselves with surreality.
We are all too familiar now with the, dare I say, cliches of postmodern
thought, and I, a postmodern writer too entrenched to see beyond the coming
cataclysm, was forced to accept the twists and turns that the end of the
world embodied. I sat by the fireplace and scribbled tenuous sentence fragments
as the twins sat on the couch and dreamt together; waking, Laurel said,
"I've got an idea. Let's do some drugs."
"It's been so long since we've done drugs together!" Melody
exclaimed. "And this is a special occasion."
"Everyone's gotta deal with the end of the world in whatever fashion
available," I muttered. Laurel passed the pipe around; soon she was
bored, and a bottle of happy pills was produced.
"Let's binge," Melody suggested. "What the fuck else
is there to do?"
Laurel agreed, and her stash of lysergic acid was passed out as well.
I've never been known for my ability to handle large amounts of drugs;
nonetheless, the end of the world can give you a really strange kind of
The house was way up in the hills, of course, away from all the trouble.
Melody and Laurel made love under the blankets, while I occupied myself
writing a story about the end of the world and twins who dream together.
When the twins were growing up, their soon-to-be-crazy mother liked to
tell them that their house was a spaceship, and someday they'd all blast
off into outer space. I think that's kind of sweet, in a sickening sort
"We have something to show you, Scotto," Laurel said at last.
I looked up, bemused.
"How would you like to join our religion?" Melody asked.
I could barely see, what with all the multi-colored swirls in the air,
and a lingering queasiness in my stomach told me that I was afraid, or
at least hungry.
We sat in a circle and passed around a talking stick, a drumstick really,
talked listfully about the strange and wonderful lives we'd had. In that
moment, we created a sacred space among us; and while the end of the world
raged on outside, we were determined to find a way to love the obscene,
as it happened.
"Tell me about your religion," I said, a warm glow sucking
the insides of my skin into a hallucinatory melting pot.
"Throw pretense to the wind," Laurel ordered Melody. "Spill
the proverbial beans."
"We're going to call the aliens," Melody told me. "Is
I nodded serenely.
"Think about it, Scotto," Laurel said. "The rest of the
world is in chaos. This is, quite likely, the only ordered space left on
the planet. We are now...a beacon, a transmitter, a sacred pulse on an
otherwise desolate rock."
"Sacred power, Scotto," Melody said brightly, a phenomenal
multi-colored smile on her face. "Sacred power..."
"Are you kids still dreaming?" I asked. It was a rhetorical
question, of course. I'm sure I didn't want to know.
The rest of the night began to pass like right angles, and at some point
it became clear that the night wasn't going to end. There was something
I was missing about this ritual, this strange magic that was happening
here in this place, this place two steps to the left of where we'd been...And
the drugs distorted everything: visually, of course, but also psychologically
as you'd expect, and the end of the world was working its own kind of distortion
on us, and the sacred space itself was a distortion, and the twins were
determined to dream us even further...
And. What was left for me to hang on to? was, once I had been lonely
and had lost everyone, and so, not wanting to suffer the end of the world
alone, I came here, and Laurel welcomed me in like a long lost brother,
and Melody was as happy to see me, genuinely so, as if I had indeed been
a part of their family, and such close bonds--you might call it friendship,
but never ever treat the word without unbelievable reverence--can weather
any storm of fire, or earth, or wind, or water, any kind of stress, any
kind of attack, any kind of
fuck trust, of course. if your closest friend embraces the obscene,
so do you.
Laurel didn't see it at first, the creeping, lingering obscenity that
suddenly slowly oozed into our sacred space, and I of course closed my
eyes and hoped it would go away, but Melody recognized it right away for
what it was, and
she began to dance, profane, erotic, repulsive moves and sounds, first
calling out to me, caressing the side of my head with words, moving to
and Laurel interrupts, obscenely so
"Mother used to tell us," Laurel said, her voice shimmering
through the multi-colored swirls, "that this entire house was just
a spaceship, and that someday we'd all blast off into outer space."
I began to retch; I needed more drugs, and more religion.
"Obscene!" Melody cried, and the hook had grabbed her. She
and Laurel, I gestalted suddenly, were High Priestesses of an order so
intently obscene, so sublimely horrible, striving toward a new language,
setting up transmitters, aiming for Contact
"What should I do?" I asked feebly.
"The top of the coffee table comes off," Laurel replied, her
eyes never leaving Melody's. I slid the top of the coffee table off, revealing
a futuristic, science-fiction control panel. wondering, now, whose hallucination
this was, and did it matter; also, such carefully coordinated obscenity,
as opposed to the sheer, violent chaos of the outside world, needed planning,
delicate planning--so, why did they need me?
"Because, my postmodern disciple," Melody intoned, "we
may be the priestesses, but you... you're the author among us, after all..."
a ha, i thought...was i transcribing their dream, or inventing it? the
drugs made it too difficult to tell...
"The aliens are happening aesthetically," Laurel said. I nodded,
initiated the launch sequence on the control panel. We would find the aliens
hidden within the lines, each semicolon a towering transmitter, each comma
and period a dangerous receiver. Obscene--there's a reason we called them
"aliens," as in, so impossible for us to comprehend, rationalize,
fully appreciate, and what we did see could only horrify us to tears, but
the launch sequence was under way. the house was blasting off into outer
The house's fuel lines were faulty; as we lifted off the planet, a hose
burst, spraying a probably toxic and strangely hallucinogenic gas into
the air. I realized, now, the trick the aliens had played on all of us,
and resolved to understand. Suddenly I needed to put down my pen. (PREPARE TO RECEIVE TRANSMISSIONS! WE REPEAT, PREPARE TO RECEIVE TRANSMISSIONS! PREPARE TO RECEIVE TRANSMISSIONS! WE REPEAT, PREPARE TO RECEIVE TRANSMISSIONS!)
It's a warm and sensuous groove, intoxicating at first in all the ways
you'd expect it not to want to be, and when the lyrics get around to their
insinuations, the backbeat's already taken me. A warm and billowing rush
describes the onset, though quickly we can talk about how we used need
when and soon and so on. Towering plumes of sensation, like a rocket, taking
me forward, upward, through, and these are the first bars, where the saxophone
reels because of all the exhaust. (MELODY: I need to get out of my skin!)
If the words were ever clear, they would have been in the process of being
what will have been clearness, in that we won't have asked for such clarity
until such time as processes like these words were necessary, and even
then, the instigation of such would have reminded me a lot of this, which
is to say, quickly I will discover who my audience is. (LAUREL: Keep writing!)
Powerful columns and blistering riffs exacerbate themselves exponentially,
inasmuch as you are willing to entertain such language, for suddenly, I
am in the process of etceterating a past into existence, such that I could
live there if I was asked to, and furthermore, such that interested parties
who already sublease regardless could stake their claim on further development in this area. (MELODY and LAUREL, in unison: We are not alone here!) (SCOTTO: This is some good shit!)
Billowing claws want to insinuate themselves into my rib cage, force
it open and coagulate, willowing and slithering such that I might feel
the need to gnaw, and I am told that here is where the action happens,
excepting the footnotes, which, by the by, are everything else and take
up more of the page anyway, but; oozing eyeballs and simmering ampersands
remind me of things I always hated to know about, such as, why the flavor
tastes so salty when I was thinking more along the lines of oozing etceterations
into a frothy stew of blues and greens and sores the likes of which I'll
see again and again, dressing themselves up to make it interesting, in
that such dressings always know the way to interest that which wants it
salty to begin with. (LAUREL: We're a couple of steps to the left anyway!)
(SCOTTO: I can hear you!) Desperately, I threw a tendril to my pursuers, thinking to distract them.
Shrieks of sensuous pleasing-ness rumble across my entire forefront,
and I envision for a moment a vision of envisioning, whilst whole entire
arks float past (MELODY: Don't lose me, take my hand) with teeming subcultures waving their claws, and enterprising schemes the likes of which I'd often wondered hadn't shown their faces til the whole damn thing turned blue,
(eventually, we realized, something sacrificed itself along the way for
rhythm,) and the motion carried the only answers that you were ever thinking
of asking about, to the tune of if and also and, and erstwhile, pains of
claws that scavenge 'cross your back sing plistering swimsongs to the tune
of rising sickness, whilst if and and contain themselves anon with pleasant
bickering for their own sake. (SCOTTO: This is what seamless communication
feels like!) (LAUREL: They did this to us!) I can swallow multitudes
of gleaming yellows, churning down the horripic wave that slanders blood
from deep within, still playing pleasant how do you do's on gentle wooden
instruments that plister and plillow in ways I can't describe.
(MELODY: There are voices in my head, I need to get out of my skin)
(LAUREL: Somehow the ritual went upside down...Melody, I'm a voice
inside your head!) Shadowed nastic corridors rush past at sweltering speeds,
and always in the nevermind I wondered where the rhythm spoke, horrid rushing vertigo that gripped and clawed and stewed, whilst every act of artifice
whirled only to impose some structure on the intoxicating-ness, which,
once insinuated, never couldn't then be extrapolated. I rush past haunting
corridors of steam and shouted whispers, always knowing that you're there,
always twitching under the incessant presence that I know is you in ways
I shouldn't know I know, and there you are, waving your hand at every single
taunting tendril that I've cleverly thought to bait you with, excepting
that, you don't seem to mind my coyish games, which truth be told I only
tried because I'm terrified and now's the time I wish that waving hands
would kiss me on the lips
(SCOTTO: We can communicate without speaking...transmit pure thought...within parentheses!) found such shimmer wasted as I grasped and clawed and spun my way through corridor after corridor, not stopping once to open doors the likes of which I'd not stopped once to liken, and what if waving hands were spun within which ways of jasterly I stopped and likened once again. (LAUREL: When planning the ritual, we seem to have forgotten someone) (YOU, reading to yourself: Hmm, I do seem to be reading to myself...) The hand, once waved, would not unwave, but dare I not say that's what's said, as hands waved once are not such simmering pleasantries hoped for once and for all. No one ever wants to give the groove that extra special twist, the one that says I read you oh so clearly, puts you in the driver's seat and lets you steer toward this which rest stop means the meaning, but, there it is, since alone-ness has All Been Done Before) TO RECEIVE TRANSMISSIONS! WE REPEAT, PREPARE TO RECEIVE TRANSMISSIONS:
(Welcome, friends. This text will only transmit for a few words more,
and then, the characters will sever their connection with you, the sacred
space that connects you to them will dissipate, and this fragile transmitting
station will be no more. We regret that we cannot experience you more fully,
but in our Home two steps to the left, such notions as flesh and love are
truly impossible. Only here, in this aesthetic middle ground, can we meet
Editor's note: the author's pen ran out of ink moments later. He
is making no attempt to find another one.