Firebug

Devlin Carver heard it in the morning. The dull scratching on the ceiling that had kept him up half the night. Something in the walls…

He rubbed the dream-dust from his eyes and rose and paused, listening intently. The scratching intensified for a brief moment and then fell silent. Shortly, the sound started up again in roughly the same spot.

Insects.

Carver cursed under his breath and moved to the left to examine the wall, placing his ear against the dull, green surface. The sound of multi-legged skittering greeted him. Could be termites. Pine beetles. Ants. Something else. Maybe a family of mice or some other type of rodent. He considered his options as he showered and hurriedly dressed. He’d need to call a exterminator to rid his tiny house of the mysterious scourge on his way to work. Unless…

“I wonder if I could make a trap?” He mumbled aloud as he brushed his teeth. He had no idea what kind of insects were in the walls and thus, had no idea what kind of trap to build. When he thought on the matter for just a little longer he realized he had no knowledge of insect traps whatsoever. He knew that sticky paper could get rid of flies and certain zapper-lights could kill moths and other light-drawn night-fliers, but he’d no notion of how to construct such items, nor where to purchase them and figured it didn’t much matter because such devices wouldn’t work inside his peeling walls. He hoped his erstwhile guests weren’t possessed of some vile disease. He’d heard of that before. Read of it. Bug disease.

Suddenly, the scratching came again – so swift and loud and sudden that it caused Devlin to swallow a little of his toothpaste by accident. He cursed under his breath and turned to the flat, tiled wall. There was nothing. It was as if the creatures in the wall could tell when he was near…

*

Devlin arrived at work five minutes late and was met by Jamie Brinks outside his work station.

“Where in Waldo’s name have you been?”

“I was only five minutes late.”

“Seven now.”

“Shit.”

“Cameron is gonna flip.”

“He’s always flipping about something.”

“You been sleeping ok, man? You look a little… brittle.”

“Couldn’t sleep last night. Some kind of… infestation… in my house. You know me. I keep tidy. Don’t know how it happened. But, anyway, it sounded like… insects… or… something.”

“Gross. Sorry to hear that.”

“Can hear them in the walls. Gotta call an exterminator. Know any?”

“Uh, yeah, actually, I do. When Maggie brought back one of her weirdo foreign plants, turned out to be filled with some kind of tree-killing beetle and the damn things went around and started fucking up our orchard. Killed the fuck outta all the trees. Can’t remember their names. The trees or the bugs. Anyways, we called this small company that operates out of the suburbs. Cheap, quick, clean. I can give you the number.”

Brinks reached into his suit’s inner breast pocket, withdrew a memo pad and a pen and began furiously jotting down a name and phone number.

“Thanks, man. Appreciate it.”

“Ah, shit, here comes Cameron.”

A short, fat man strode – or rather waddled – up to the duo, his pin-prick eyes smouldering with strange intensity and his shiny, spa-smoothed brow reflecting like a mirror. He looked, to Carver, like some kind of disgruntled bullfrog.

“You’re late. Again.”

“Sorry.”

“I don’t need apologies. I need good workers who know how to set their alarms. Clearly that isn’t you.”

“But sir-”

“You’re fired.”

*

Devlin Carver shook his head and ate a pickle and called the waitress of the diner over and ordered another coffee; he wanted a drink of something stronger but detested the taste of alcohol. He simply couldn’t believe he’d been fired for being only a few minutes late. It was only the fourth time in four years. So what, he thought furiously, so what if I’m late, so fucking what? He thought back to his time at the company, clicking a keyboard, filing reports, getting yelled at for incompetence and laziness. Four years of his life down the drain. Four years of his life spent laboring for a company whose board and CEO he’d never even seen or talked to, four years he could have been building up his own company, his own venture, his own life, rather than serving those he didn’t even have the courtesy to give him the time of day. It was all their fault. Them and those things in his walls.

Motes of dust like flecks of burning gold spun through the ambered light of the Jenny’s diner. He wondered who Jenny was, if she was the fat woman behind the counter to the far left of the room or the hot little number serving beer and sandwiches to an old couple at a table to the right. The duo must have been in their late sixties, perhaps old, and yet they chortled and moved with a vivacity that Carver associated with the gilded fervor of youth. He bet they had plenty of cash to burn. Coasting on retirement funds. Subsidized unto the tomb. The pickle raised before his mouth slipped from his hand and splashed upon his breeches, soiling them with juice, prompting a muted curse. The man’s fists shook as he picked up the pickle and grabbed a napkin off the table and began sopping up the mess as the buxom waitress, returning from the old couple, began to laugh, siding up to Carver with a twinkle in her eye.

“Having some technical difficulties, sir?”

“Doing fine. Thanks. Just dropped my pickle.”

” You dropped your pickle on your pickle.”

She laughed raucously but quickly brought herself under control as her boss shot a dissaproving frown in her direction. Carver wanted to punch her. Wanted to slam her over-powdered face straight into the corner of the table. He remained silent.

“I’m sorry, sir, I shouldn’t laugh. Anything I can get you?”

“Got a new pair of pants in the back?”

She smiled and chuckled as Carver forced a smile.

“Fraid not.”

“Didn’t think so. Thanks for asking.”

A jolt of realization shot through his mind and he scrambled for his phone as the waitress went about her work. He had forgotten his date. Julia was going to be distraught. What was the time, he thought frantically, what was the time! He pulled out his phone and sighed.

He was late for his date. Late by half an hour.

He paid for his meal and hailed a cab.

*

When he arrived at the Scallop he was greeted by an exceedingly prim, mustached waiter who leaned towards his ear.

“You are Mr. Carver, yes?”

“That’s me.”

“Julia Farrah, with whom you had secured a reservation, wanted me to deliver a message,” the waiter handed a small folded piece of paper to Carver and then shifted away.

“Where’d she go?”

The waiter paused briefly arched his brows, “She left, ten minutes ago.”

*

Carver blamed the things in the walls. For his firing. For the spilled pickle. For missing his date. Costing him his relationship and it but fetal and barely formed, so filled with promise, now dashed. He would have gotten up at day-break if the whatever-in-the-walls had not have kept him up half the night with their incessant chittering.

He swigged vodka from a ceramic coffee cup adorned with palm trees and hula girls and looked out the window of his decaying apartment at a gang of youths harass police officers on the street.

“It’s not my fault.”

As if in response he heard the chittering. A rancid insectal thrumming.

“It’s not my fault.”

He started, eyes widening and then swore and threw his cup at the wall of his study where it shattered, raining ceramic fragments to the floor. The noise ceased momentarily and then picked up, louder than ever. Carver’s ears rang. His head felt as if it would, at any moment, burst under the strain of the ratcheting aural assault.

He rose and kicked the wall, but the sound only increased. He swore and snatched up his cell and punched in the number that Brinks had given him. A smooth male voice answered on the other end.

“Y’ello.”

The voice sounded strikingly familiar to Carver, though he could recall who it belonged to or where he’d heard them speak.

“Hi. This is Devlin Carver. Jamie Brinks gave me this number. Said you were a good exterminator.”

“You say your name was Devlin Carver?”

“Yeah.”

“I think I know you.”

Devlin paused, furrowing his brows and pursing his lips, “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, you’re Julie’s friend, right?”

Devlin froze, his knuckles going white about the phone, eyes engorged with the dying amber light that filtered in through his windows from the slowly setting sun. He had heard this voice before, at Julie’s family’s Fourth of July party…

“Who is it, babe?” A female voice inquired from somewhere in the near distance.

Devlin hung up the phone. He knew if he didn’t he’d scream. The noise started up again, scratching the interior folds of his brain much as it scratched the plaster and drywall. He rose and moved from his study in the far left corner of the room to his bed on the opposite side of the room and threw himself against the sheets as motes of dust leapt into the air. In the golden light of the vanishing sun, they looked to all the world like ashes from a crackling fire. The noise continued to pummel his brain, now coming from the floors and the ceiling. He put the pillow over his head and then screamed as his bed began to reverberate with the chittering.

Carver leapt off the bed and lit a candle on his nightstand, shut his window and ran for the kitchen and turned on the gas and left the tenement as the sun and the world was covered in shuddering darkness.

*

Carver watched the firemen tend to the charred ruins of his former home. The ensuing flames from the explosion had taken out at least five other apartments. The skittering sound had ceased. The things in the walls were gone. Gone forever.

Unless…

Unless the creatures in the walls were fireproof…

Cradle The Fire

All subjective ontological regressions terminate in the abyss of unknowing, into the great void beyond all ken, into the “and then what?” The et ferro here asserts himself, realizing this, he works towards making of himself a glorious pyre which will burn up the amniotic null. Out of darkness, light and out of light, darkness. Darkness fostered by his own hand for the safeguarding of his prizes. The et ferro is preeminently a creature of shade, a acolyte of Apophis – the world-encircler, o’er thrown by the father of Shu and Tefnut. He lies beneath unknowing, seeking to excavate from it the treasures waiting beyond the facility of all limits of perception. -Introduction, First Precepts of the Et Ferro.

A man dies many deaths. The death of the body and then the death of his line and finally, the death of his legacy, the death of his memory, this, the final annihilation. It is dreams which act as the steely bulwark against all such dissolution, whereby the forward-looking man, the man of the morrow, the et ferro, boldly proclaims his defiance of disintegration. He wills to be and from that willing, all other vectors open up before him, gates to which, in goodly time, he might, as yet, fashion a key. What is important is that he affirms those dreams of engagement with the world and ensure they supplant all dreams of escape, for he knows that there is, as yet, nowhere to flee. Our fleeing space must be constructed when the seeding time comes; til then we echo for those still waiting. From dream to deeds he echoes through time, the reverberations of his reshaping of the world far out-pacing his mortal expiration. He moves against entropy, even as it sustains him. “Mad,” you might say, but not nearly mad enough for those of us who behold the end of things in their fullest conceptualization, for those of us who are able to cleave aside the insane shackles of optimism and pessimism alike; blinders all! It is not enough to merely wish that such-and-such were of a certain way without a proper knowing. Those who stumble along such a road have chosen a trepidacious path, for it is, after all, the same as every other, they – those mangy sentimentalists and utopians – have merely folded the wool of their selfsame and mushy brains over their eyes all the better to blot out the pitted spines of the jagged abyss yawning before them like a great and terrible maw. They believe that if they are to fall it were better that they did not see into where! Comfort here is a pathetic balm when the spines, the teeth of that all-consuming mouth, will pierce and tear the flesh and bone all the same and finally swallow one up to the last.

It is from such a recognition that we ought to recognize that existential acrobatics of dancing-about-the-void are both futile and head-thrashingly annoying. No one has the feet for it, for we’ve yet to cultivate the agility. Machines for future times! The inability to acknowledge this fact, a most tiresome routine. All this babbling about “purpose” and “meaning” codified into the stones and trees and movements of celestial bodies or apparent in the general trajectory of history itself. How anthropomorphization drags the mind through the shabby rubble; those battered souls who’ve undergone its ravishment seem to have naught left in their skulls but jellied slime! What is more deplorable is that such is not the case; how many intelligent bodies malformed, how many sterling minds perverted, by this unfalsifiable and seemingly irresistible inclination towards agency-imposition, of Fate!

Those who are yet to come must sheer themselves of all of it. Away with your fickle cries of “predestination.” Away with your shuttering moans of “nihilism.” Away with all pathetic whining of “ultimate purpose” or its lack thereof! Near we draw to nothing of the sort, lest the poison should sully our pristine memory palace, shattering the lovely urns and portraits from the walls with a mindless reptilian fury. They shall not pass our defenses, our palace is too high, our moat, too deep; girded by caltrops and trenches and arrows, valiantly slung from bold and stalwart towers! We call forth a cannonade! Shoot them down, shoot them down! Back, you invaders! Back into the mud and the muck, back into the jellied slime from whence you slither! This shall be our cry. Melodramatic you say? Good. All the better! For it will not be by staid argumentation that we should, as of one body, rise above the murky undercurrents of the populace at large but by dramatic excitation. Nor is it by argumentation that we should convince them; and why should we? Before we convince anyone of anything, we should ask, “Are they worthy of the gesture?” and “are we worthy of asking?!” A baying mob is ever unimpressed by formal logic, preferring instead, the escapism of spectacle, as the Romans well realized. Failing it, the demand for libation will invariably deteriorate into catalytic howls, thirsting antecedents of a wild and grotesque bloodletting; the emergence of the lower brain. No, don’t call us “snobs” we are no such things, “elitists,” yes, but “snob,” why we should resent that deeply! A elitist is not one who, at the first, places himself or herself, as a member of the elite, but one who merely recognizes that those who are of superior attribution should be harried to the front of all that there concerns them. The gaudy flame of our creativity cannot but falter under the auspices of the indolent and insane. Thus, why should we then pass to the great and seething mass the torch or set them about crafting another? That would be foolishness supreme. They’ve not the wits for it. But neither do our “intellectuals” who scribble in their ivory towers endless tracts of faux indignation and righteous proscriptions! Truly, the new theocrats; only theirs – unlike the musty and ascetic religions of old – is a faith of imminent promise and all the more alluring for it. Here and now the paradise! they proclaim, with wild gestures and charts of sorry correlation. But we shall not be seduced, we’ve heard the tale of Odysseus and know well enough all their proclamations of idle splendor amounts to nothing more than slavery. Indeed, the academic is far sorrier than the rabble, for at least the rabble, from which we draw many of our number, has loyalty and that gentler sense of empathic dignity borne neath the dusty sun of shared tribulations and muscle-rending labor; at least they have a pride of their kith and kin and all their precedents. Drawn up in their cloister, the hermetic pendant cares only for his status, his paycheck and the security it brings.

Away with all of that! We will not be monks, absenting the world, nor the baying crowd which mindlessly engages it; we will instead move as eagles, dashing through the thermals, effulgent in the golden gale, ducking in and out of the mundane broil with a flaring of feathers to pluck the snails from the briny swallows. When we split, with our gilded talons, those spiraled shells open, a blazing fire there we shall kindle. Once spied we shall raise up our voices as one and send forth a message to all the world:

Let no hissing downpour abate the flame of your ceaseless fervor, bright men of the morrow! Like Prometheus, we bring that good and radiant stuff which cleaves the tenebrous smog from Fate’s great loom. In goodly time we shall burn even that to the ground, scatter its remnants to the four winds and construct our own in its stead!