Acceleration of the monomyth proceeded unnecessarily. There had already been sufficient data to confirm the full and unwavering installment of a publicly imprisoned proto-state wherein to breathe was to be taken, clouded tongue to nuts from pawn to king simply as a byproduct of existing during the swansong years of human media. This, however, did not dissuade those with access to the capabilities from continuing to manipulate and override those more emotionally hyperactive nation-oids upon whom the burden of cooperation had so long been swaddled, resulting in a survival-game-show-like amalgamation among the custodians of the tapeheads through which all reports of lack of progress could be summed and tallied to be sent to the autographs upstairs. Quite the opposite, in fact: the dire default sway of our continuously burgeoning obsolescence inspired tablet-holders to, during the nadir, defend their power at such an absurd ping rate, it felt to all involved as if indeed we were now on the precipice of something grand; a last and lasting need for processing and assigning value so that by the time our blood’s bandwidth had been outmoded, there would be so few left on living record that we might be able to sneak through the pantsuit of oblivion as a loose dick might slip through a strategically ripped seam, exposing ourselves in the process of groveling for at last the last time, all cards on the table now that there no longer would be another game with the same fate.

This, likewise, did not prevent the pending obsolescence of our penal law and well encoded model of articulation of the Real to continue doing and undoing in spastic fashion any sense of decorum even on the parts of those who counted themselves among the eventually transcendent; if anything, it made them even more likely to display for the benefit of those who might later identify and select their local prowess for rapt putridity and bloodthirsty callousness into the higher order of those who oversaw the legend of all existence, in case their larvae-like value system by its central missive to do as necessary to subjugate and terrorize the many for the few extended, as they’d long imagined, beyond the drawbacks and allegations of this life, into a form of being wherein the means by which one could be tortured and torn apart were no longer so limited as to be inflicted upon the body, the spirit, and the mind; and though indeed this would prove to be the case, it was far too late for anyone with limbs and speech tags to take part in; all we were doing was further providing the evidence for how and how many times and unto what cause the meta-warble of such outdated causes as faith and mercy could be ridiculed, backed down, like a dressing gown that would eventually be incincerated in an instant once the real assault began.

Still, as stated, there were those with brutal work to be seen through and whole mecha-continents of rubberized peons to make do it for them, and so indeed it would be so. There was no ingenuity required; the script had been hex-mailed via inter-library loan to all the necessary parties long before their birthrite acquired them the bones to bang around in, installed into their mainframe with all the necessary hashmarks to allow their anatomy to seize hold of the lineage and process the intention forward into what could only be seen therein as their own will. Anytime anyone began to tire or diminish in their desire to fulfill their role there were whole gold rolodexes of likeminded mirages to reconfirm the necessary drive, so that even following the outlawing of sleep they could rest assured knowing any mistake was not their own, that the forces of what they saw as prolonged inspiration would not fail them no matter how subject to their own plight so might they be. Too sick to fail, too hot to conquer. Each night, the nine-and-a-half-inch nails appeared in their own palms, milking from the glossy layers of their outrigging all the ink they’d ever need, all the soup their children could gargle down their rawing blowholes, all the ire in all the world. And still they were no different than any one of us in the pale of what viable characteristics had summoned our empires forth onto the playfield. They were our brothers and our mothers. They were our avatars as we appropriated time into the fissure. They were every day and all the celebrations of having held a head up and walked around on every inch of scaly milk and semen come roaring from every hole in all creation as again the seas again remembered how to rise, to drown the world again to mark the end of the era in which anyone could even tell. There was no one not part and parcel of the whole as such, as bright in the mind with recreational abuse and malpropistic appeal as those under the authority of whom we went down peeling and humping, no one the wiser, no one so strong to understand.

I don’t want to get anything wrong here, because they’re watching, but eventually everything began coming apart at the heart around the time our nucleotides started imagining other ways to purpose their sugars. eScholarly reports of fundamental and consecutively accelerating bouts of fainting in droves could be read as linked to something off not in our outlooks, but in our code, at once absolving those who had the ability to plead their cases into public record of malfeasant intent and thereafter guaranteeing that there would never be a good way back. How were we supposed to be seen as responsible for negotiating semantics with plasma? Though, of course, and on the other hand, if you hadn’t been fully accredited in an eight-year school, how could you be ready, willing, and capable when the time came to know exactly which words once placed on file could clear you out, leaving only those who’d chosen to attend lesser programs, such as the seven and six year models long argued against by the top brass, to sop up the brunt of mass repentance for us all? Noble work, and someone had to do it, so it might as well have been anyone but you, or so said everyone, each other raising arms against each and every other until there was nowhere for wind to blow but through our story, into our abcess, where we were so well rotted all the meat would forever fall away, eventually breaking the law of conversation of mass as the holes within us began to outweigh all the rest of it. What were the rest of any of us supposed to say, or much less do, as we began experiencing the fallout of all inherent understanding in such distentia that we could only chalk it up as broken faith, a loss of contract with something only the most distressed of us could summon the enmity to have struggle so long over, at the cost of everything else palpable, actually alive. The answer to every of these questions is: hallelujah. As in, per your amended report: Yes, O Hallelujah, Heavenly Maker, thank you and thank you, for having allowed us such a day, leaving nothing unuttered that could not be uttered by us, for our great solace, in the cold and wild years of our host lives, where even knowing there was someone so much like me left to withstand your endless fury is all we needed, in the event that one day it shall relent, that we shall be allowed then to come and sit beside you and watch the unfurlation of your next project’s orchestration on the wide walls of the celestial iso-panopticon unto which our lives henceforth, we pray, may yet be bent, so too that everything we aren’t is all we will be, at last allowed in your own image truly and forever, amen.

Amen again, I’m sure. I mean I’m not sure what you mean at all, but still, your efforts have been entirely reported. We appreciate your participation in the practice of even our most outdated material as it stands, where reading is the same as speaking aloud, so as the night. Regardless, this meager cooperation cannot be enough to silence the necessary further reallocation of your facets into the by now fully default setting long established into the known continuum by force, which must result in here in reverting to the mutual practice of the suspension of belief, such that by the time you reach the end of this sentence you will be infused with all the necessary satisfaction to keep asking everything that you must not, so that we shall therein have proper clearance to keep denying a proper logos to your enchantment, so that there’s nothing that is not work, no way to feel but missing out, the primary state within which we shall continue to decry the formal fabric of your ongoing experience in the narrative as the center cog around its roil, allowing the mirage that if you do not read, it can’t be read. What else is to be done with the dialectic but to ensure such preservation of the reader’s ego, if only so long as to allow them to continue to be subverted, overrun, while behind the thin black curtain of all bed and breadth, the actual magic happens. The actual fucking; the toppling centuries of pump and bump, said among those in our innermost sanctums to with each emission replicate the yet forthcoming single semen left allowed to break the mold of the egg of all relief, such as it is and very soon no longer must be, soon as these pages are entered into formal mode, allowed at last to be accessed by those among the long undead, made up under this rubric only of those who never actually lived at all, those not only without names, but without fate or information, so that they might understand once and for all that they’ve lost out on nothing; that the future alone belongs to them, and that it is our sole preoccupation among the living to provide the model of warfare by which they will enact the will of immortality alone: to desire nothing else but what has already been granted, and then to negate it, by moving on, in such a way that nothing else that might have been ever imagined to transpire ceases existing in the same stroke as all the rest, against the only urge on which we’d all been wishing.

Still, here we stand. On your ambient left, through the slick gray Lids of Lesion, generously installed by Procter & Procter & Mattel, if you close your eyes you can witness a willing reenactment of the implosion of the sun, caused not by its age but by its purely suicidal desire to no longer provide our passive expectation of the day. It’s an invigorating sight, and one we’ve been processing all forms of feedback about by proselytizing better taste into our correspondents via a series of puerile injections previously required to even access this portion of the survey research, resulting in a logic loop that creates full cranio-muscular seizure long before any “friendly fire” damage is allowed to be incurred. You may experience therein an extreme anal horniness as side effect, about which if you begin to sense you’ve coerced yourself into receiving, please let a logic guide know and we will assist you in locating the reassurance that you deserve. Otherwise, just enjoy the accompanying canned music by Mr. Mustard and his Landfills, a cranial-creaming ditty off their 145th album, Gnosh, for Flue Harp Rekkids, entitled, “That’s That Therapy Kickin’ In, Son, Just Lean Into It and Open Up.” Well, yes, it’s me live on the horn again (I’m blushing), your sword and impaler both, as I have been here this whole time, serving as well as your unwanted tour guide through being sold out. Not my best work, this track, to be sure, but that’s what quantity is all about. If you’re looking for something a bit more comfortable, I can interpersonally defend the remix by my overlord, Mr. Randy Ross-Crypt, but it’d be easy for any armchair critic to argue that I’m emotio-contractually blemished by my adoration for those who lambast me nightly such as RRC, especially his fully outsourced live-mix sessions as performed on the child-bone dais in our celestial backyard. To each their somewhat own!

Meanwhile, on your ambient right, you can’t see anything. And I quote: “Let they who cannot see once, not see forever / as the reeds of reason swim and shift, / and I can be nothing that was not already / interrupted, for whom else the mass depravity pervades.” That’s good stuff right there, idn’t it. A widdle, widdle sentence wearing the jammies and the bowtie to the funeral again, just as it oughta. And yet it knows not what else it seems. So too as did the lurch of the land beneath our features, left without choice but to embrace our predilection for authorial command in the face of future failing. As where the clips of speech did click and wall around us, so did the inner linings of our charm. Soon and then all along there was no word that could not be anagrammed into coercion, lining all the books with these same words, and so soon too then all the birthmarks, all the legal briefs and summary judgments. Everywhere we turned, the dark had arms; people were disappearing in their sleep and reappearing the last place their loved ones would ever look, and therein taking up in the amnesia of fresh conscription into silence; such that when we woke our military lined the streets, one of innumerable possible faces among the overrun and now repurposed, ready for action. And so what else could come of this but gore? Lots else might have, but instead we stuck to what was the most senseless, if not to us then to the shores, where within hours of counting down the present day again there was so much meat and spume and mud and money you could walk across the pond just like a god. All you had to do was still have feet and remember how to move them.

Or all you had to do was feel. The most taut lines across which the infraction caught aflame at first were only those where anyone could decipher what was being done to anyone at any time. Culling that first crop of local losers took less than forty days and forty nights, and afterward provided the foundation upon which the infrastructure could be bound, forcing assessments of which zones were to be the most efficiently used as waste dumps, funereal mounds, and “unsafe zones” where the most immediate deployment of mechanisms of control should be installed. Many argued for avoiding any area with a high ratio of youth, though an equal and then overwhelming majority argued back for policy nipped the threat of better futures in the bud, thereby establishing the priority of liquidating as many uncertain and likely more well-rounded POVs from the range of possibilities above all else; we would simply outsource the means of procreation to those among us brass known as the most horny, which was basically every single one. Could we fuck an entire population from our cold loins in our lifetimes? Well, Adam only one dong to spurt out his empire in a timeline that played out what seemed almost overnight; we had at least 300 still potent boners here congregated in our ranks; those who had already lost the vibe could act as fluffers, sweat from the sidelines, contributing with the dreamlife of their genes. All said and done, the last thing we were totally concerned about was making sure there would be enough buttholes left to work around on a low wage; we’d simply work the ones we had that much harder until our own seed had legs and blowholes, from there not even the already outdated Safety Sky could hold a limit to our fate. It was all already going so well according to plan before we even had the plan that by the time we the plan succeeded we’d already have suffered through so many celebrations it wouldn’t matter if it actually succeeded it or not. We’d be so old that even simply breathing would feel like real ejaculation.

So now we had our map and terrortory set astride, or we knew how eventually we would when we wanted to invest in ourselves and begin the demolition of all mortal embarrassment. Who could tell who what who was without wanting to have been included in the roll call of those who would never need to worry, on or off roster? I can tell you with certainty the bells of hell ring long even in the ears of those who cannot hear it, and even more so those who have helped to make it ring. No pain like that pain of the enabler of so much loss except to say whoever so believes they understand what’s here today is gone tomorrow breathes the deepest, sleeps with both eyes open, has no solace even in seeing others done away with on his command. If it seems I’m only trying to convince you not to hate me, let me remind me that no one can hate me more than all I am, and even that, in the end, will come to nothing more than further error, under all the dirt of those who had to die to let me live long enough to regret having had performed even the smallest action in the first place: rising, seeing, having; all the rest.

Through the false floor you will see the running butt pus of that first wave of folks who came apart; it was supposed to be a blood feature but the hicks at the installing company got the order wrong. That’s why it stinks in here so bad you can’t speak. We’ve been stuffing mistletoe and butter into the bodies before we burn them ever since, but that can’t change the décor without a whole other hubbub, years in the making, and we don’t plan to need that kind of time. No need for sicko wallpaper where we’re going, got me? So in the meantime you’ll just have to deal. It’s only up to you how much what will be inflicted on you ruins your high. And no there will not be any further injections during today’s tour of duty, so I hope your metabolism is as slow as it appears, given your lard, given the rings around your face that make you mistakable and strange, which is I imagine the very reason we were able to convince your family to sign the papers to consign you to this program in the first place, thinking they’d done away with you at last, when in fact it was their own fate that they sealed, placing you in my hands. Because I love you, friend; I hope you know that; I am here for you in time of stress; I will hold your hand up in mine up to the flame and feel you burning. I will recall you from time to time thereafter, after all; what else is a friend for? What is a mind? What does it matter either way?

Blake Butler is the author of five book-length works of fiction, including Alice Knott (Riverhead), 300,000,000 (Harper Perennial), Sky Saw (Tyrant Books), There is No Year (Harper Perennial), Scorch Atlas (Featherproof Books), and Ever (Calamari Press), as well as the nonfictional Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia (Harper Perennial). His short fiction, interviews, reviews, and essays have appeared widely, including in The Believer, The New York Times, Bomb, Bookforum, and as an ongoing column at Vice. He is a founding editor of HTMLGIANT.

*Image credit: Still from Bjork’s ‘Mouth Mantra’ directed by Jesse Kanda, 2015.