There was a total eclipse of the sun … at the moment when the moon devoured the light sepulchral events were triggered. It became more difficult to rationalize one’s life, and easier to accept death.
The tall-man stood on a bridge that spanned a crack in the earth. He smiled. The bones in his throat rattled like the engine in a broken-down car. He was a ruler: King in the Land of the Dying Sun.
Arthur Rambluster was having a grim day. His best friend, Veronica Delfacto, was dying. She developed Septicemia, a blood infection with no known cause. Arthur did not want to think about Veronica so instead he thought about his name. He never liked the solemnity of his given name — he preferred to be called by his nickname, Artie. His mind kept shifting back to Veronica. Artie was feeling guilty because he didn’t want to visit his dying friend. He had his own problems to consider.
First off, he thought he was prematurely dead. He’d been trying to concoct a more powerful cleaning-formula to attack the dirt he saw everywhere in his one bedroom condo. People often called Artie a “clean freak.” It all began when he was a child as a way of coping with stress. Symptoms continued to get worse as he grew older. Without thinking Arthur mixed several products that combined to produce chlorine gas. The smell was like a blast from an acetylene torch. He thought his eyes were dissolving in acid. He ran screaming from the house. The cool air revived him — he no longer felt dead. This was a reprieve so he decided he’d better visit his dying friend.
Arthur was upset by mendacity, lies everywhere. Everything was fake. There was no escaping the news. Computer screens never shut down. Arthur grappled with chaos. He wanted the world to be as clean and white as porcelain. Everyday he had to face disasters: hurricanes, wars, and massacres.
Veronica Delfacto lived in an old house that was left to her by an unconventional aunt, Mademoiselle Felicity. At one time the house was a ravishing, rainbow-hued beauty. Now the house reeked of remorse for better days and lost lives… it had fallen into itself like the carcass of a butchered cow. Veronica was an artist. Although she was mediocre at best, she was intent on acting as if she was a genius who created masterpieces. The drama, the fiction, excited her to no end. She pretended to devote every living moment to her art. Nothing else mattered. Housecleaning was the least of her interests. Repairing the roof or rebuilding the ramshackle porch did not concern her in the least. She owned two cats for company, Ezma and Cora. The cats took care of the house.
Artie always felt tortured when entering Veronica’s house … but she was dying and time was running out. The stench repulsed him. The moth eaten drapes covered with cob webs nauseated him. Veronica’s paintings reminded him of moldy food covered with worms. How, he wondered time and again, did he ever befriend this mad woman.
They met at the Homeopathic display-rack in Pieta’s Health Emporium. They were both interested in staving off death for as long as possible … both seeking better outcomes than what life already provided. Both were hypochondriacs.
The Land of the Dying Sun comes closer everyday. During the total eclipse, the Dying Sun slipped its’ moorings and began to drift … drawn like a magnet … across the bulkheads of Time and Space.
Arthur sat with Veronica, holding her hand. “I’m dying,” she spoke through a haze of green smoke. Her voice was weak, but filled with drama. The old drugs, prescribed by doctors, never worked. Veronica preferred the promises offered by marijuana and psychedelics. In her mind she was painting a masterpiece. It was called, The Last Gasp. Veronica vaguely registered Arthur who frantically held her hand as if he were clinging to his very own life.
Artie was upset and still feeling guilty. He couldn’t take it anymore. He had to leave. There was so much to do … so much cleaning that had to be completed. If he could put things back in order, sanitized and dirt-free, he would feel better. He had to clean himself as well, especially after visiting the hell hole where his friend was dying. He had to attain purity.
Weeks passed. Artie no longer heard from Veronica, perhaps, she passed away. It didn’t matter anymore. Things were getting cleaner. Arthur tracked every speck of dust and mopped it away.
Once, his parents sent him to a therapist to get to the bottom of his obsessions. Dr. Mortis Hem was a tall man, a gaunt man. He had pictures of the End Times on his office walls. Artie was withdrawn; but Dr. Hem cracked his shell and sucked him out like a boiled lobster.
When Arthur was four he was traumatized by the sight of a black rat rummaging through the garbage that spilled on the kitchen floor. The trauma was burned in his subconscious and became the root of his obsessive behavior. The doctor told Artie he could never avoid rats. He said Artie could never avoid dirt. The natural world was dirty and filled with rats. Arthur was traumatized even more. He felt threatened. He felt cursed.
Veronica never called again. Artie dreamt his friend was laid out on a large table. She was the banquet. Rats consumed her body. Artie woke up screaming.
Synchronicity played a horrible trick. Perhaps it was the shifting of light that caused the ensuing events. When Arthur woke from his nightmare he went into his spotless bathroom. A rat sat on top of the toilet tank. Fear froze both rat and man like a wall of impenetrable ice. As unexpected as a snapping icicle piercing flesh, Arthur was shocked back to his senses. He ran from the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
He could not reconcile reality. It couldn’t be happening.
The exterminator was quick and efficient. Arthur no longer had to worry. He was pest free.
The months that followed were like fleeting images in a dream. The Dying Sun sucked color from the world. Everything turned gray and dirty.
Arthur began to change. At first everything seemed better. He felt more relaxed. He had more energy. His appetite improved. He enjoyed taking long walks. Objects seemed to glow as if he was seeing the world through infrared lenses. He no longer sensed the Dying Sun.
Soon Arthur noticed something peculiar. He became enthralled with the night. He craved small, dark places where he could hide. He stopped cleaning his home. He reveled in the dust. He enjoyed garbage.
He no longer recognized himself. His eyes were small, beady coals of incendiary red.
Stepping into the device was a simple maneuver; but the device was far from ordinary. The machine was the manifestation of a nightmare cloaked in fulminating darkness. Hermann Spanbower was the conduit — he derived the formula that led to the actual machine. It was theoretical, but somehow it worked. The man who piloted the device was invisible – his life led to this historical divide that would nullify Time and Space. His actions were a precursor to the calamitous changes predicted by psychics and prophets since the beginning of time. He had no name. He was simply the realization of an action. He closed the hatch, wrote some calculations on a computer pad, and pushed several buttons. Instantly, the pilot was thrust into a void — cut off from any familiar sensations.
I am writing this story during the aftermath as a way to understand what really occurred. The Chaos has already reached into my mind just as it seduced the pilot of the device. I am no more responsible for what happened than any of the other persons named in this archive. The void took hold … captured the pilot and everyone else in this record of dissemination. He had an orgasm when he was twelve – his first and finest – that’s when everything began. There is no way around the controlling factor of sex. It ruptured at every divide in his life, influencing every decision and profoundly altering reality. Then there were the years of teenage violence – he was a bully who was bullied. He was under the delusion that he was a Nazi fighting for the new Germany. It was part of his insanity. The void was already creeping into his soul and the device was years away from inception. The blond girl named Lorna floated through his dreams like an angel. She almost saved his life, but she was an illusion. He had to hold onto the dream even as he imagined being seduced by older men. He loved other men at a time when gay love was a crime. He immersed himself in work, accomplishing impossible feats of intellect and earning several degrees. At night he cried at the alter of phallic desire. Every day he was seduced by eyes lingering in hotel lobbies and bus station restrooms. He was seduced by myth, rumors of a legendary city where desire merged with reality. Soldiers in the Nazi SS talked about the Red City – a place where they would have total power and control – where they could achieve immortality. The record of his life stretched across time and space as he floated in the contraption, at the edge of a black hole. His brain was pureed – mind mush dripping through a strainer of multiple personalities. He wanted to become Lorna – dream woman – so he could make love to himself. There were years of invasive operations to make him the female he desired to be: plastic surgery, psychotherapy, and hormone injections. He loved his new breasts. He no longer had a penis, but he craved one more than ever. He changed his name and dyed his hair, but he could never be Lorna — he was 49 and looked like a tight-lipped spinster. He constantly fought with himself and finally reverted back to other, more arcane obsessions.
He lingered on the outskirts of reality in his beleaguered search for the Red City – flashing to himself to arouse the lingering truths that he could no longer avoid as he clashed with political obscenities and social distortions – sliding into the black hole – riding the wave of Quantum Physics – slicing and dicing the world of limited access and moneyed elitism. Then it hit like a hydrogen bomb – he was engulfed by the Great Mother’s Vagina – enveloped. The device shuddered and broke apart. The pilot disintegrated. All that remained was the Red City – the only reality that ever existed.