By L.L. Ballack
“Greatly partisan to asses, he strangles a mother while embuggering her; when she is dead, he turns her over and cunt-fucks her corpse. While discharging, he kills her daughter with a knife, slashing her breasts, then he embuggers the girl even though she is dead; then apparently convinced there is still some life in his victims, and fancying they are yet capable of suffering, he hurls the cadavers into the fire and discharges as he watches them.”
Marquis de Sade
Leonard Fairfax lay prostrate over the orthopaedic bed; his paraplegic, nonagenarian body unable to resist the psychopathic urges of his care worker, as the younger, more robust man anally raped him. Leonard’s dementia was so far advanced he couldn’t call out; certainly not in the coherent manner of someone mentally sound. His desperate, terrified howls bore more resemblance to a victim of road kill locked in its penultimate grapple with extinction; its death screams absorbed by the impenetrable noise of an indifferent motorway. The care worker punched Leonard in the ribs. The excitement he gained from his preys’ pain usually brought him close to orgasm. If it didn’t, he would just keep hitting them until he ejaculated. Leonard was an unusual addition to the roster of the care worker’s targets, as the mind within had only recently inhabited the decrepit frame which put up such little resistance to this violent insurgency.
Moments before, the mind within had been living inside the body of a seventeen year-old man lying semi-comatose on the floor of a minimally furnished flat murdering zombies, accompanied by crystal meth and all its attendant charges. He wasn’t sure of the man’s name and hadn’t been for sometime, nor was he entirely certain of the duration of his stay inside the man’s body. The crystal meth had started to degrade the reliability of his conscious thoughts, a point he became pertinently aware of as the expanse of the care worker’s penis tore at the fibres of Leonard’s rectum.
He assumed he was undergoing a meth-induced psychotic episode, which had brought on some schizoid hallucination, perhaps triggered by the presence of the zombies and the relish with which he obliterated their computer generated heads; the splattered remnants of digital brain sliding down the screen were a perverse representation of the combination of faeces, blood and semen trickling down Leonard’s groin. Could there be some psychokinetic link between the virtual extermination of an animated corpse and a propensity towards the violent sodomising of a ninety-three year old man? The man didn’t entertain such possibilities as he was meticulously cleaned-up by his sadistic care worker. Instead, he groaned malignantly, barely conscious, as the care worker mumbled some half-baked apology; a peculiar formality he always went through in the seconds after his guilty discharge and one he had never spent long trying to investigate, almost as though it was some rite observed by a schoolboy ashamed of his furious masturbatory habits and which could be seamlessly applied to self-absolution following a violent rape.
The care worker slid Leonard’s pyjama bottoms back up to his waist and lay him horizontally across the orthopaedic bed. The man looked around the room for some indication of where he was. From the smell – the dreadful combination of disinfectant and bowel discharge – he knew he was in some kind of geriatric institution. He had some vague memory – six months back maybe – of working inside an old people’s home: a community service obligation, perhaps; some kind of drug-related affray. The smell was a familiar one. The lights were dim and there was no sign of daytime through the window. The care worker went about the routine of giving Leonard his evening drugs, a procedure so mechanical it was unthinkable that either Leonard or the care worker – or, now, the man – should consider it anything other than a reflex. The man realised instinctively that the cocktail of life-preserving drugs rushing through Leonard’s bloodstream were the compound derivatives of a perpetual, mechanised psychopathy; his continued existence serving only to satisfy the primitive needs of his gaoler again and again. He was not being kept alive; he was being kept from decomposition. He struggled to utter words of resistance; the care worker filled Leonard’s mouth with an aniseed-flavoured liquid and then removed his dentures.
“Goodnight, Leonard,” he said, his grotesquely obese body shuffling towards the halogen-lit corridor. “I’ll see you Thursday. I’m off for a couple of days. We’ll talk about it when I get back.”
The care worker gave Leonard one last look, issuing a cursory smile – like he would when offering up a space in the queue at a supermarket check-out – and went out. He would be back, though, along with his appalling urges. And it would go on, like some morbid search for love in a bay of drowned corpses.
“Your father, I’m afraid to say, Mr Fairfax, is suffering from the advanced stages of dementia, as you already know, and – I’m not entirely sure how to put this – a form of, uh, degenerative psychosis. That would be – excuse me for the obtuse imagery– like combining ice and fire to create a wholly improbable element whose potential we couldn’t possibly predict.”
“Do you think, perhaps, we ought to consider, uh; I mean, prolonging it is just–.”
“Euthanasia would be the understandable course at this stage, Mr Fairfax. It would be the humane procedure, no doubt. The tools are in place to have it done by the end of the day and we’re a damned sight more civilised a society for it. As next of kin and executor of your father’s estate, you have the prerogative.”
“But you’re reluctant to take that course, doctor, if your tone is anything to go by.”
“Haha, Mr Fairfax; yes, indeed; your Network persona doesn’t disguise a disappointment in reality, haha; believe you me. Not like so many of these pseudo-philosophers we see on The Network these days – breakfast show hosts masquerading as spiritual sages and all of that. No, haha; you’re quite the real deal; very perceptive, if I may say so.”
“I prefer the truth, no matter how painful it may be.”
“I can tell I’m in the presence of a truly enlightened man. I watched your documentary on SBC 176 the other night. Oh yes, fascinating stuff. Is The Network liberating us for a truly unencumbered freedom? Can we revert to a state of nature – man’s purest state – and live without moral consequence within The Network? Prescient questions, Mr Fairfax. The sort of thing I imagine would have preoccupied the scholars, once upon a time.”
“The scholars would have refuted everything. True freedom would never have been possible if the universities still existed. The Network has succeeded where every political ideology and social system failed: it has classified and segregated the population down to the slightest twitch of an eyebrow. Everyone has their place within The Network; there is no impulse or perversion left unattended. It is – forgive me for using an anachronism; a biblical term, if you will – the new Computer.”
“Haha, yes; quite right. Extraordinary to think we once roamed the planet staring at those two-dimensional oddities.”
“Extraordinary, indeed; especially when considering our forefathers – right up until the end of the last century – could only conceive a world in three dimensions.”
“The days when Intel wandered the Earth in reverence to a single body.”
“I find it – though I’m of the Vocations, after all – extraordinary that Intel could not conceive itself in multi-dimensionalities. You, Mr Fairfax, being a man of the Word, may have fewer difficulties understanding the Behaviours.”
“As you said, doctor, I’m a man of the Word, not the Behaviours; yet I have on occasion interfaced with technicians from that strata of The Network. It’s an odd realm, the past. In the days of single body Intel, it was quite common for bodies of both sexes to study the past. They didn’t conceive, as we do, the absurdity of repetition; shackling themselves, as they did, to the errors of earlier days by enshrining them in paper. Whole structures of mortar were erected to contain these mistakes. This went on for thousands of years, all in the name of repeating the odes of the past. Little wonder our ancestors remained in thrall to a single body Intel.”
“Then you – as a student of the mind – will appreciate the importance of my request.”
“With regard to your father.”
“Ah, yes; I see now.”
“His mental state – caught between two polar forces, shall we say? The degeneration brought on by his dementia, on the one hand; the spontaneous eruptions of his psychosis, on the other.”
“What caused this, doctor? Surely this is a rare disorder.”
“Indeed, it is. But we are living in unusual times. The rate at which new psychological conditions are being discovered and treated is greater than at any time during the epoch. Scores of them are being uncovered daily; we’re not sure why.”
“And you wish to study my father?”
“There is some connection in all this, Mr Fairfax. The diseased minds that are redefining the norm aren’t doing so in quite the chaotic state the orthodox members of my profession would have it. We have come a long way in our understanding of Intel in the last few centuries, but there are some who still can’t truly embrace the death of the single consciousness. The sheer multitude of recent cases – often misdiagnosed by the less enlightened practitioners – indicates a fracture at the core of the Intel; I strongly suspect your father may point us towards a conclusion.”
“And to that end? You want to study him, is that it?
“Your father – as soon as he was diagnosed with degenerative psychosis – was disconnected from The Network. This is the standard practice. The balance of Intel must be maintained, above all else; the minds of the degenerate can have no place in The Network.”
“I quite agree, doctor. My father – if he hadn’t taken leave of his senses – would also concur.”
“But the scale of this sudden, uh, how shall I put it? This, uh, this rupture! A tear in the fibre of Intel, yes, and it has some connection to The Network. That’s where the answer lies.”
Leonard rolled onto his side and groaned; the man within felt a dull pain down below. He looked around the stale darkness, like he was trapped inside a mouldy bread loaf in a solarium. It was abysmally stuffy and smelt of yeast. He wanted to die. He thought, perhaps, he was already dead. This was post-Intel: the eternal consciousness of the damned. Perhaps The Network had deemed him unworthy of Paradise and had, instead, condemned him to the sub-strata of physical cessation: the Dark. The last few hours had been very dark indeed. Leonard’s anus was damp with delayed secretions. The man didn’t want to look. He could smell them, though. Nonetheless, he was unaware of the apocalyptic horrors lurking within his rectal cavity. They hurt; that much he knew, but he had no idea of the grave implications this had for the cosmos.
Suddenly he became aware of another bodily presence; a series of bodily presences. They were wearing white coats and masks. They mumbled things that Leonard’s ears couldn’t process. All around there was noise, commotion, action. Leonard groaned. Someone put something in his arm and someone else attached things to his head. There was a screen beside him; several screens. Images moved chaotically across them like digital oil spills. Leonard groaned in confusion and fear, the fragments of his shattered mind sticking in the man like shards of broken glass. At least, thought the man, he was probably alive, in some form or another. A strange vibration occurred to the sides of Leonard’s head; an intravenous attachment was inserted through his nostril; it burrowed into his brain: it felt like the teeth of a rat eating through mud.
The man began to feel strange. A lightness overcame him, which was a refreshing change from the darkness of the last few hours. One of the men in white coats produced a syringe with a generous helping of yellow solution in it. Leonard seemed to groan again as he was turned onto his side and injected through the buttocks. The solution took hold of Leonard’s bloodstream at a phenomenal speed. Moments later his bowels were evacuated through his damaged rectum. The contents came out with such force they sprayed one of the men in white coats from the waist down. The stench of nonagenarian faeces invaded the room like the horrific stink of rotting flesh; a smell far worse than anyone in the room had smelt before. It was unquestionably the smell of death; the reek of thousands of years of putrefaction, emanating from the cadavers of those unable to die.
Inside Leonard’s rectum lay the answer. The care worker’s penis had, indeed, created a rupture; a tear of cataclysmic proportions. The damage to Leonard’s sphincter had, like so many previous bodily insurrections, implications. The implications stretched far beyond the anus of Leonard Fairfax; they were to be felt across the entire universe. Within each of the Network’s dimensions lay a rectum of similar character. Within each rectum the gamut of humanity was traversed. The rectum contained numerous possibilities. The rectum of Leonard Fairfax, in particular, was to be of great significance.
Ezelbert Zinkelmann drove his knife through the cranium of the Caliban, its appalling groan silenced by the ruthless efficiency of the blade. The Caliban slumped to the floor. All around, Zinkelmann was surrounded by the groans of the undead. He made his way urgently through the prison. Several animated corpses poured through a gap in the wall, all entranced by the living flesh of their human prey. Zinkelmann turned round and realised he couldn’t fight them all. Searching for an aperture, some kind of escape route, he noticed the stairway at the far end of the room. A dim, natural light shone through the opening, its arches appearing to cruelly contract, like the vagina of a pregnant woman refusing to let her escape the agonies of labour, pushing the offspring back down the uterus into the womb.
Zinkelmann made for the gap, taking aim at another two Calibans on the way. Their heads dissolved into a hideous ragout as his knife cut cleanly through each skull, covering his hands in sebaceous goo. The light beckoned him like a mother screaming at a child to move away from a cliff edge. In the light Zinkelmann would find sanctuary. The malignant groans of the undead grew to an operatic crescendo behind him; these putrefying mutants had congregated to deafen the world’s ear with the sound of slaughter. He turned back just before stepping through the aperture, and looked again at the horror behind him: a herd of enmeshed corpses, indistinguishable from the other, fused into a grotesque whole: a throbbing, pulsating catastrophe of destruction. The light changed suddenly and he saw it all in different terms: the aperture behind him was the source of light; the bastion of innocence. It was the benign precursor to a nightmare; the naivety of sleep.
He stepped through the gap and slammed the door behind him; the groans converged to issue a ferocious clang against the metal partition, like a gong warning townsfolk of eternal strife. Zinkelmann looked around; he was temporarily safe. The sun gleamed with an ebullience he had never seen before, as if it had emerged for the first time from aeons of darkness to provide him, Zinkelmann, with some definitive truth reserved only for the last man alive. The earth beneath him was lush with green; the water ran with a clarity he hadn’t seen since the Calibans had invaded The Network. Now, though, he was free. The door wouldn’t hold for long; there were perhaps no more than a matter of minutes to spare. Zinkelmann looked around the prison enclosure. The fences were too high to scale. Even if they weren’t, the barbed wire lining their perimeter would shred his flesh with the same rapaciousness as the Calibans. Their grotesque, operatic spear continued impaling the silence; their determination to subjugate beauty to horror was insatiable. Nothing could preserve this moment of peace, thought Zinkelmann; nothing except death.
The door buckled, condensed in an instant like a ball of spunk, fired at Zinkelmann’s face as though from the cock of a deranged rapist. Zinkelmann lurched into the grass knowing he had only seconds to live. Then the herd surged forward, aligned in a phallic column rushing into the uterus, tearing through the hymen of cabbages beneath his feet, impregnating the garden with its spermatozoa of fury. The earth was submerged beneath rampaging death; Zinkelmann’s last vision of the light demolished by the faces of a thousand Calibans. The herd of death swarmed over him; its decaying flesh dissolved against his taut human body, replicated by consumption of the living. He felt as though he was drowning in a swamp of warm blood. At last, he was happy; death was his womb. He smiled contentedly; his carotid artery was giving birth to something extraordinary; its sinews were enmeshed in the teeth of the Caliban as Zinkelmann’s penis was eaten by the corpse’s once-female companion, the ejaculation hindered slightly as his testicles were devoured.
“The character of disease transmission in The Network has been distorted. We’re unsure quite how this started. A malignant code was located in the Outer Strata, completely subverting our walls of defence.”
“I thought the possibilities of such errors had been reduced to near zero.”
“Malignant parasites within The Network remain a constant threat. Until now, they have been rare and isolated. The emergence of large-scale malignant codes was, we had hoped, a phenomenon consigned to days before The Incident. Now, though, something atrocious has happened. Netizens are being corrupted by an aggressive strain of metempsychosis, distorting The Network’s distribution of Intel. Intel we consigned to the Outer Strata have been redistributed through the Upper and Inner Strata, right the way through the uber-sphere. There is no telling what horrors this will wreak on Intel.”
“Surely the solution is to release all animate bodies from The Network immediately.”
“The effects of universal release would be catastrophic now. It is unclear which animated bodies possess which Intel. The distortion is vast and apparently random. Release from The Network now would be like setting animals free from a zoo; we wouldn’t be able to control the outcome.”
“But The Network has eliminated the need for physical interaction – and violence with it.”
“Yes, Mr Fairfax; The Network all but demolished Intel as a physical entity. Intel only engages in the physical realm in a state of the utmost passivity for no more than one or two hours. Nonetheless, a distortion of this size could have extraordinary ramifications for The Network and beyond. It isn’t simply the interaction of Intel with Intel we are concerned about; oh no, there are far greater threats afoot. The Network, in its current state, is unable to read the codes for its several billion Intel. Hundreds of thousands are at risk of being confused for a malignant virus and eliminated by The Network’s internal anti-virus software.”
“You said this malignancy is seemingly random.”
“But nobody is sure.”
“Quite right. The coding is so complex we are unable to analyse its component parts; there is no clear pattern to the attacks, aside from their chaotic, destructive nature; warping the simulation coding of Intel. All we know is that the character of this metempsychosis is – how shall we say? – regenerative.”
“I’m sorry, you mean; uh, I’m not quite sure–.”
“The Network is a constantly shifting paroxysm of psychosis, giving Intel free rein to indulge its most primitive passions without any of the consequences associated with the physical body; but now it seems that the strain of coding is allowing Intel to – regenerate.”
“Yes. In the language of lore – procreate.”
“Intel is, uh, I’m sorry – breeding.”
“Yes, breeding – without restraint. The Network is – I’m afraid to say – in danger of losing autonomy. The violent, unpredictable elements of psychopathy we thought we’d eliminated centuries ago have threatened to re-emerge. The very tools we used to cut it down are now being used to give it new life.”
“Creative destruction, indeed.”
“There is a shadow casting itself across the far regions of The Network, Mr Fairfax; it falls somewhere between conception and creation, and we must find it before the womb has a chance to nurture it.”
Leonard Fairfax lay flat on his back with more than a dozen intravenous devices ratcheted into various parts of his body. The man had long since left him and Leonard’s rectum was now being occupied by an interstellar rover, traversing the rocky terrain of an asteroid, in search of rare minerals. Within the vicinity of this, an apocalyptic space war was taking place between two extra-planetary forces, each willing the other’s annihilation. One of the men in white coats removed a thermometer from Leonard’s rectum and glanced at the reading. He seemed perturbed. He showed the results to his colleagues, each of whom bore the same expression of indecipherable fear.
Leonard tried to fart, prompting a colossal response from one of the extra-planetary forces. Seconds later, an entire solar system had been wiped out. The men in white coats looked anxiously towards the monitors beside Leonard’s bed. The digital Rorschach blots lent themselves to much speculation. It was unclear; everything was unclear. One of the men in white coats fiddled with a dial on one of the screens. Leonard felt something ease in his lower colon; he felt better; the barbarism of the space war eased in synchrony; centuries of peace ensued.
The men in white coats eased Leonard onto his side and pressed against his kidneys. Several billion stars were obliterated and a number of the dimensions of the universe began to shrink. The men in white coats spoke anxiously about medical matters; Leonard finally released a fart. He had nothing to be ashamed of; his dignity had dissolved along with his memories. Involuntary bodily evacuations were to be expected at his age; he had no need to fear embarrassment.
Life was breaking away from him in bits of degraded matter; he knew that much. Beyond that, things were no longer his concern. Death held no jurisdiction over him; fear had long since absconded. All that remained was to wait for the precise time and manner of his extinction.