Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Tag: shadows

Guest Story

Red. Brown. White. Green.

Yesterday I moved my bed to sweep the floor, and in the corner of my room there were mushrooms. They were growing out through a crack in the wall, rotting away the wooden floor and feeding off it. The caps red-brown, the feet white-green. I ripped them all up, threw them in the garbage bin, scrubbed the corner with soap and warm water before putting my bed back.
  Two hours later, I caught a sweet fungal scent from behind my bed and pulled it out into the middle of the room.

Red. Brown. White. Green.

The mushrooms had returned. Smaller this time, but still growing, very much alive. I tore them all up once more, scrubbed the corner, poured alcohol down the cracks, then acid. I stretched out in bed and stared at the corner, waiting to see if this time I had beaten them.
  A bead of red formed in the crack, like a drop of blood in a wound. Another, growing bigger. A whole string of red beads in the crack, spreading their red caps and slowly reaching down to the floor once more.

Red. Brown. White. Green.

Perhaps one could eat them. If they were going to keep on living in my home, perhaps at least I could find a use for them. I picked one of the bigger caps, sniffed at it. The smell was not bad; it was sweet and fresh. A lick at it. A hesitant bite.
  The taste was just like the smell. I had had much better mushrooms, but it was not in any way bad. Just a bit uninspiring.
  “With colours like yours, shouldn’t you at least taste bitter?”
  The mushrooms did not reply. They were mushrooms, and mushrooms are too good to speak to lowly animals like humans.

Red. Brown. White. Green.

It was easier to just let them have the corner. Trying to get rid of them was just an act of futility, and they tasted all right. During the night they spread across the floor to beneath my bed where they created a small mushroom kingdom emitting a strange, green-and-violet light. When I rolled over in the morning, I noticed that they had surrounded me and several of them were crushed as I just tried to leave bed. The fully grown ones were already getting darker, dripping a shadowy liquid from the edges of their caps, looking as if they were melting, and when I cleaned them away they left dark red stains on my skin.

The red stains turned brown. My white skin turned green.

The mushrooms were retreating back into their corner crack as the sunlight moved across the floor. The mushroom kingdom beneath my bed remained, hidden in shadow, but no green-and-violet light shone from within it. They had encased the dark space with a spongy, grey wall. The mushrooms in my bed dissolved and soaked into the bedsheet, duvet and mattress as the sunlight washed over them. The sunlight made my head hurt and I understood that it was my enemy.

My fingers turned dark and dissolved into an ink-like liquid.

I kicked at the grey wall beneath the bed until it was coated in dark liquid from my feet and gave way.

I saw a green-and-violet light and crawled into it to melt.

~

by Pao (@Panterdjuret)

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Shadows and Eggshell

Image courtesy of The Thrusting Sensations

Image courtesy of The Thrusting Sensations, who have a facebook page: facebook.com/ThrustingSensations, and a website: thrustingsensations.co.uk

There was a desert inside her chest. We went into it. It was always daytime, and the heat rose from the ground, and sometimes stray rocks would crackle and jump like drops of oil on a skillet. There were nine of us surgeons, and two camels; by unspoken agreement we all walked. We carried with us a delicate heart inside a refrigerated box.

The shadows we cast on the desert were all the same colour as the sand that covered it. At one point, Anders picked up a handful of sand and saw that it was pieces of eggshell, white and brown, not sand at all. He knew he carried with him a silhouette of himself and he believed it to follow his movements, stretched out and wrong-angled, but now he had lost track of it. Without knowing where the silhouette ended, Anders blended into the landscape and became a tree, eggshell-coloured and leafless. This, too, was shadowless: in order to see him we had to get down on our knees or our stomachs and search for his outline protruding over the horizon.

We had used up half of our water supply, and Deirdre pointed out that this was the point to turn back. Declare it a lost mission. It had only ever had a 40% chance of working, anyway. I said, “I have a compass. Let me drag the box by myself if I have to, I will do this.” They let me have a camel, and both mine and Anders’ shares of supplies. I was grateful, and I walked quickly, afraid of hearing the hum-whirr-click of the refrigeration running out of power.

At last, I found the sun and saw my shadow dance, exalted to be there again, I think. The fiery ball was half buried in eggshell and my camel was afraid of it, stomping the ground and breathing heavily. That was the last I remember of my humped companion, it must have walked away when it realized I was paying attention to more important things.

The box still wheezed, I opened it carefully and saw everything was intact. Condensation trailed out of the box and onto the ground and sizzled away. I took off my gloves and rubbed lotion onto my hands. I put new gloves on, I removed my facepiece and took a deep breath. The very last of my water bathed my face. I took the cold heart out of the box and held it in my hands, before biting down on it. It was still beating, but slowly, pumping nothing but air, perhaps twice a minute. The blood of a twelve-year-old Parisian boy with the right blood type flowed down my chin and inside my sterile plastic suit. The last thing I remember is swallowing the last bit of meat and staring at my empty hands, wondering if I was required to lick them clean.

Then I was outside the desert again, in the room with the chequered floor, and I had just stopped moving my mouth, talking. Her parents thanked me, they knew we had done everything we could.

How Do I Become One?

They travel the night, searching for some tragedy to attach themselves to and define themselves by. You can pass them on the road, though you mustn’t stop to talk to them. They will be travelling on foot and seeming like shadows. Some say they were once human, though these rumours are unsubstantiated. They have an almost human form. You can see them at the outskirts of towns where there have been gas leaks or plane crashes, and you can see them, one for every life taken, slowly sinking into the ground until they are the saplings of some unknown tree.

Whale

A shadow moved across the land, shaped like the shadow of a whale. There were no whales present who could cast that shadow, there were no clouds in the sky. The crops shivered when it passed them through, but they were unscathed. Tree stumps couldn’t move when it touched them, but their roots shook.

A little boy was playing with sticks in the mud, he shivered too. The shadow circled him widely, with aquatic quickness. He thought he should scream, but the air above the shadow didn’t move like it should, and he sounded like he was underwater.

He disappeared.

Shadows

And if you see me, pretend not to know me. I always watch where the sun throws my contours; worried, excited. If our shadows should ever overlap, it will rend the earth we stand on. They are the spiteful, angry shapes that outline us. We will suspect an earthquake – we are Californians, after all – but even the air will vibrate, even the invisible strings that connect our hearts. I will go far away, in my mind, and I hope we will never meet in well-lit rooms. Always cherish the darkness, love that which keeps us nebulous and hard to define.