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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Bad Star / Disaster


I heard it long before I saw it – which is strange, the laws of physics being what they are. The disaster, the bad star. We heard its thrum in the night before we ever saw its strange, amber-colored light. No one has yet offered up a plausible explanation for why its sound waves traveled faster than light. Is it wrinkled space, tesseracted four dimensional shapes, rapidly spinning magnetic fields? Binary forces acting on unstable pulsars? Random deviations from the galactic mean?

The applications of perfectly coiled wires, will convert the earth into an enormous brain, a thinking computer of vast knowledge, into rhythmic particles dancing in synchronicity with the universe. We have communication at a distance. We have television and telephony, telekinesis and telepathy. Whether we are face to face or at a thousand miles, from across the vastness of space or the house next door.

It was February and I was in bed next to my wife, reading a heavy book of modern Russian literature; she was sleeping. Snoring. When she got loud I’d nudge her with my foot until she rolled over and began to breathe easier. Our teenage children were sleeping in rooms across the hall. They didn’t seem to notice either their mother’s snoring or the howling wind outside, or the thrumming disaster.

I could hear the wind. Winter’s here are always cold and windy, and I knew that in the morning I’d be shoveling drifts of snow from the door and the driveway, but, for now, I was warm, in bed comfortably reading of Viktor and Lyudmila.

A disheveled, distracted man walks alongside the concrete sidewalk, not noticing the puddles or the garbage piled up at the curb. It is dark, but he walks without looking where is going, and without stumbling over the potholes and cracks in the pavement. His hair is uncombed, his shirt untucked. One shoe is untied.  He smokes a cigarette, takes the final drag, and exhales. The smoke drifts upward, causing the neon-lights above him to shimmer momentarily as it passes. The glowing ember of his cigarette goes out as it reaches the filter, but he does not notice this for several blocks. When he finally realizes that his cigarette is out, he snatches it from between his lips and flicks it away.

This is indeterminate, geometrical property of a demonic binding ritual. And these are the hallucinations of pubescent girls. Every day is danger, and every Night even more so. These streets are filled with vermin and vice, the alleys with strangers and an electromechanical device.

Only gradually did I begin to notice the vibrations in the air – the vibrations behind the sound of the wind and beyond the occasional noise from the nearby interstate highway. It was an electrical sound, constant and warm, steady. I closed the book over my right index finger to keep my place, looked up towards the window – as if I could see through the drawn curtain into the darkness beyond, as if I could, by concentration and focus, see the very sound itself, growing in the air. There was a sizzle and two short spats just before the lamp on the bedside table went out; the bulb exploded. My wife sat up. “What was that?”

He pats his rumpled coat pockets, searching for the pack of smokes he had on him earlier, but before he finds it, he realizes that it’s not the cigarettes he can’t find: he himself is lost. He does not recognize this neighborhood or this street. Demeter Street? Where the hell is that? Where am I? He looks up and down the block at the shops and stores dimly illuminated by the flickering street lamp. Olsons’ Television Repair. Dominico Star! (whatever that is…) Ye Olde Wig Shoppe. A Deflated Doll’R store… None of this is familiar to him. Only one car is parked on the street – a broken down foreign car, one of those Korean jobs that were popular 10-15 years ago. Brown. A broken-down, ugly old, brown car, propped up on cinder blocks, its tires stolen, and stripped of chrome.

The man jumps, his heart thuds to a halt, as a voice speaks to him from somewhere the darkness. “Back again? What? Old man…” A woman’s voice, husky. Dry.

Die Hand die Verletzt – “the hand that wounds” is in the card catalogue along with: The History of Witches and Stitches in American Kitchens. Call up the devil; study the Occult influence of distant stars on our children. Something is here, but I don’t know what it is. I could not say, even if I wanted to. I am bound to silence.


The Disaster is coming, the bad star, with falling fish and bald men in chanting robes, the choirs of the damned singing the song of that blasted, distant star. It may already be too late for us; we are too far gone. The stars are falling. The star is fallen. Babylon the Great is fallen and we have fallen into the void with her.

“Who are you? Where am I?”

“Every night with you, what? Every night with the questions: Where am I? Who are you? What? What?” She laughs, and it sounds like corn stalks in the wind. “You got any more of them smokes, old dad? What?”


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