They’ve left the biomic behind and slipped back into routinespun daymass, where the otaku gathered look to her like watchers, Shenmuezens lured here by secret signal to check out what she’s up to. The dregs are fading into lowmid lux, dying with last coughs of stray vagrants and food stall paved over with chain matter. The local feed is an influx of stuff from other areas. Statdates on which shows are on-trend, which ones accrue you culture death.
She’s reading this transmission from a world lost to her when Seriana nudges her. “We shouldn’t stay in one place,” the girlroid says, eyes of violet faded pale in the neon fire that now strafes them, auras breaking rainbow bursts like splashes of flame across their backdrop. Bled in with the feeds are the ad copy, the holowaif or hus algo-picked to align with your mood hue. You would watch them, she thinks, and the one you zenpressed for would be in it for a sliver of time and space. They drift within the throngs and glitch into Seriana’s prometh field, which catches them, caught midshift between characters in monster trip splicings, an instant before they see they’re made and blip off to find otaku more in the mood.
Then there’s the merch ads, showing up even this low to the dregs. These dissemble pixel by pixel, collapse into clouds of butterflies, take wing and swarm as holofauna somewhere else.
So she’d had to chill for a second to focus on a single thing. To stay with it past the patterns all meshing, coalescing and disintegrating before her.
“Where are we going?” Elise says.
He was just one of those nameless lost souls wandering the avenues of places that don’t actually exist.
but the flagrant manner in which he eschewed the language of those societal types up there in them buildings downtown has always been a point of some contention amongst his dissident, parochial cohort. all of whom are out there trying to make a name for themselves, in that frenzied maelstrom they call modern life.
it was the manner in which he had presented his rejection to their restrictive vocabulary that was so fervently objected to. discussed passionately amongst the various splinter cells and affinity groups which made up the local anarchoid circles: there was language, and then there was language. true believers that they were of the possible levels of violence and mayhem which could be wrought should certain words fall into the wrong hands. that’s the stuff that keeps you up at night.
catch my drift?
they were the least of his concerns though. the real test of his faith would be the inexorable web of disinfo he was to face, that inchoate wilderness of mirrors we’ve all come to inhabit. rings encircling rings of informants informing on lower strata of informants: the ones whose raw data was the foundation of the whole tottering structure. confidences exchanged between agents tripled now quadrupled in conflicting allegiances to esoteric alphabet agencies sovereign only to themselves.
Misled by a great ability to introspect, I was just thinking is all. Might kill myself eventually: not yet: in 2044. The neon of the chicken takeaway on Prinzen Street is some of the bluest I’ve seen. How the electric glints off black leather and puddles, off of tarmac like gas aflame, as I squinted down the pavement to a curved block of flats bearing dozens of satellite dishes, the bays of balconies repeated below the sky. Draped in dark another towerblock looked like the Nostromo spaceship but not manmade more insect it felt. While reaching into my jacket for tobacco, a pouch of AMERICAN SPIRIT, I stepped thru the shadowline behind these caged wastebins. A rat jogged across the floor and its tail slurped under a fence. Yes: slurped was the noise as I pushed my right hand into the pocket holding a few euro notes and the crab pulled out a twenty. There was this steel door that I didn’t knock cos they say don’t knock when you knock. I coughed. A hand tapped a window. The door opened, a little screech, a tall outline of a man, a voice beckoned to come deeper into the gaping black stairwell and I did and in a stilted croak said: Zwanzig bitte.
Ganja enables to hear feedback sonically. So I mooched homeward with a ziploc inside my jacket smelling of Lebanon. Lemons I mean. The citrus.
Between the U1’s steel-riveted legs along the slabs to Hallesches I strolled. Some tent was erected near the canal, one of those domes. And I thought about this and paused on the Athenian platz where vaporwavey statues loom at night above the water. The oily smell from that kebab shop I remember: July 2017, sweltering: a busride from here to Kotti with many seats taken by hardened Berliners, hot and frazzled, everyone silent when Kendall said: You can now tell people you’ve lived in Berlin. You can now say: I’ve lived in Berlin I have. Like Vladimir Sirin and Kevin Shields, both moved to this city and made art. I wonder if The Gift song is inspired by The Gift novel. Noise is the street. Noise now in March 1922. Specks of rain fell when a kid between Mehring and the abandoned railway path on Yorckstrasse, he said hey have I got a cigarette and when I said yes and halted he had more questions, wanted my name, my nationality, age, time since being here. Said he’s from Syria but speaks fluent Teutonic. Why, he asked, if you lived here five years do you not know the mother-tongue? Because I’m an intellectual maggot, would’ve been an apt reply and he insisted he roll his own cig so I gave him a strand of tobacco in a skin, dropped into his palm a GIZEH slim filter.
This destination was added to the plan at the last minute. Initially the members of Primordial One were to seek refuge at an abandoned theater on the west end of the city. But the heat had thickened in that area so the only option was an abandoned greenhouse on the outskirts of town.
The black van hosting Primordial One pulls up to the greenhouse. Sensus is the first to get out, duffel bag around his shoulder. He takes a look at their refuge.
“The plants here… they still grow more beautifully than ever,” says
Sensus. “Every color radiates all the truth we need…”
It feels like it’s been snowing since December. Like this winter took place in a sealed environment. Katya doesn’t care. She tells me that the snow in Moscow starts in November and doesn’t finish till April. She says that no one acknowledges the snow. Like if they ignore it, it will go away. Katya tells me that Saint Petersburg is the most beautiful city in the world. That you can go for caviar and champagne, go to the opera, and finish the night doing quality blow in a club on a decommissioned warship. She’s so jazzed up tonight. I can see the blood pumping through her at high speed. She’s wound up.
We go to a blues bar and eat stale candy. We do shots with the bartender. Katya tells me that in the mountains to the south there is a clan who became obsessed with American blues during the cold war. She says that to this day their village is the Eurasian center of blues music. It’s also a town that’s seen its fair share of cleansing. Katya seems preoccupied tonight. Almost homesick. I’ve never heard her speak this much about Russia, or herself. I pay our tab and take Katya to a Russian tearoom a few blocks south. We order caviar. We drink Moscow Mules and eat oysters. The oysters are thick and creamy, West Coast oysters. We dip into the club attached to the tearoom and dance with some kids. I find a dude and trade money for drugs.