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Tag: zombies

NORTH OF REALITY TRANSLATION PROJECT: THE GLORIOUS DEAD

Good! You’re here. Just in time. Today’s story is one of ethereal awesomeness in the full sense of the word, The Glorious Dead.

I’ve received two of Uel Aramchek’s secret fictions now, and they’re amazing. There is a nowness to them. These are not things meant to go down in history, but they are experienced now and then sunk. It is a bit like going to poetry readings five hundred years ago. There is some power in the secrecy. You can join the exclusive club here: patreon.com/uelaramchek?ty=h

Translation notes in English, as usual, are to be found at the bottom of the post. If you would like to contact me about translations or stories or ideas, my email is johannespunkt at gmail dot com. You can find the rest of the translations in this project at this link: /tag/the-north-of-reality-translation-project/

~

NORR OM VERKLIGHETEN: DE UNDERBARA DÖDA
    av Uel Aramchek
        översättning: Johannes Punkt

Inte mer än minuter efter det att viruset tog deras liv började offren växa sina första fjädrar. Varje plym var gyllene och genomskinlig och skimrade violett och smaragdgrönt. Metamorfosen ägde rum ögonblicken efteråt; deras pupiller virvlade utåt tills de var avgrundslika spiraler, deras lockar vällde fram i lejonlika manar, och all färg i deras blod avtog tills det var klart som regnvatten.

Vi föreställde oss aldrig att zombierna skulle vara vackrare än oss själva. Det svåraste med att slåss tillbaka var hur de sjöng när de närmade sig, ljuva och främmande psalmer i ett språk som bara kunde talas med flera röster åt gången. Varenda en av dem var en änglakör i sig själv. Det var svårt att tro att det fanns något värde i att vara vid liv ifall döden kunde se så här ut, men likväl stod vi på oss.

De som såg på dem med avund i blicken var de första som gav vika. Vad gäller överlevarna tog vi upp våra vapen, våra pilar och våra svärd och vi tog isär dem. De var perfekta från insidan och ut – benen vi hämtade från liken kunde till och med användas som prismor. Nu när allt är över finns det samlare som köper och säljer deras fjädrar på marknaden. För någon som mig finns det dock bara skam i att ens titta på dem.

Jag hemsöks av sånger jag aldrig kommer höra igen. I mina drömmar låter jag deras kristallina tänder sjunka ner i min vanliga dödliga hud och då, då kan jag godta att bli någonting fulländat snarare än förruttnat.

~

Notes

The word “centered” (especially in comnbination with “accents”) posed a problem here, because I found no real equivalence in Swedish. I didn’t find this meaning in the dictionary either, but to me that sentence seems to mean that the feather’s centre area (spol in Swedish, apparently, if you were curious. Or maybe spole; I’m extrapolating from other terms) is golden and there are hints and accents of violet and clover (which I rendered as smaragd, “emerald” to keep the feeling more than the exact colour) at the tips of each featherbarb. I wrote this instead as the feathers shimmering with the accent colours, I imagine like the rainbow you can see in oil leaks and such.

I added the word “vanliga,” usual/normal, to “mortal” to suggest the right kind of mortality, because otherwise it seems the flesh is deadly. “Vanliga dödliga” is a common idiomatic phrase meaning “‘mortals.”

I had trouble with the combination of spiral as a verb and whorl as a noun, because the cognates of those – spiral and virvel/virvla – work best in the other configuration, until I realized I could just translate “spiral” into “virvla” and “whorl” into “spiral.” The rest was straightforward or things I’ve already gone over until the last three words, where some poetry had to be involved. According to this handy graph that I made, the words perfection and putrefaction are alike:

A hand-drawn Venn diagram with one circle containing the letter E, one side containing the letters UTA, and their intersection containing the letters PREFCTION.

This requires there to be at least some semblance between the two words. This proved a bit difficult. I initially wanted two noun phrases but the only two acceptable direct translations of “perfection” are perfektion and fulländning. There’s no noun, as far as I can find, that half-rhymes with either and means ‘rot.’ So I went over to verbs, for which fullända and förruttna work pretty well. I couldn’t separate them with just one word, which is a shame, but I think this translation holds up. As a final touch, I glitched the word “then” – – and had it repeat once in order to get the same sense of arrest right before the final clause.

“Bladerunner”

The book industry, starving and destitute, yet unwilling to spend any money on things that were not surefire cash cows, started getting into reboots. It started small: The Count of Monte Cristo escaped from a modern prison. And what if the Arab Meursault kills was a terrorist? But it escalated, because who wants to read lengthy old works? Do androids really dream of electric sheep? Do androids dream? Androids? Dream? Young authors tried to get a shoe in by telling their own stories, baking old words into new genres, but most just succeeded with stuffing zombies into Pride and Prejudice.

The Author is Undead – how to analyse literature and kill zombies

I can confirm that, since I am the only person still alive on the university premises, I will be teaching this course next semester. I remind you that I am the only person with the keys to this place, and I have hidden the keys somewhere not on my person. I have dried food and resources and I’m happy to share them, but only if you’ve got a passing grade. I remind you, also, that you cannot open locked doors. No, really. You have no special skillset. These are modern doors, in old buildings. You can’t even break a window. You will have to listen to me.

Sign up now! Limited places available. Intruders will be killed.

In this course we will learn some useful terminology relevant to the field of literary criticism. If you’ve ever been curious why a Nobel Prize winner really won the Nobel Prize, this is the course for you. You will be asked to bring your own shovels, meat cleavers, and pick-axes. I have sealed off the library, but if you really cannot find the literature anywhere else I am willing to let you in to search the shelves. The door will be opened once again exactly an hour later, and if you do not egress by then you will be assumed lost, or turned. The curriculum is as follows.

January 14. “A Mere Rifle”, lecture. In short: the basic survival strategies. Always work in pairs; never use a shotgun; the basics. How do we separate intention from result, or heads from necks cleanly? (You are not required to attend any of the lectures, of course, but even if you think you know everything I am about to say, lecture hall B is one of the safest places in the building, and one of the few that still have electricity.)

January 17. “Is This All the Fault of Zombie Novelists?”, lecture. A history of the zombie apocalypse, to the best of my understanding. A close look at the body of work that predated this armaggeddon. Those of you who were too busy struggling with simple survival might find it interesting to see how this all relates to literature today. What does the addition of poac do to the established modes of thinking of pomo and popomo? Also: we learn when it is okay to describe things as post-infrastructuralist as opposed to post-structuralist.

February 3. Essay deadline. I don’t truly care what you write about, but here are some starting points, should you need them.

1. Does the author’s life up until the point of writing their work factor in on the value or meaning of the book? (No. Don’t be daft.) If you think it does, why wouldn’t the rest of their life also factor in? Many authors keep writing new forewords to their new editions; do we include the sentiments expressed in those? Do we include their incoherent moansfootnote? The author is dead, and should stay dead.

2. You are in a burning book store and can only take three books with you, intending to leave, before the roof collapses. Analyse your mistakes. Why were you in the book store? You almost survive the roof collapsing – the beam is restricting your breathing but not prohibiting it entirely – but you cannot move. Eventually the soot lines the insides of your lungs. Describe your last thoughts.

&c.

February 11. “Deconstruction”, lecture. In this lecture, I lay out the tools you can use to apply the knowledge you have gained in praxis. What is genre? What holds a body together, and what can we do to break it down? Gardening tips for the long game.

February 25. “Dead, or Just Sleeping? How to Make Sure”, lecture, followed by open discussion, followed by a big feast. This is the date weakly inked out next to the ‘eat-by’ line on much of the dried food, and by then I calculate that the freezers in the cafeteria will have stopped working. We do cling to the trappings of our old, fallen civilisation. No-one really knows why the date on those bars is 25 Feb., but it is, and we follow it. Surely it should be time to examine our old beliefs and disbeliefs about the world, and not blindly accept the word of those who led us into this darkness in the first place? But we would feel uneasy eating those nutrition bars and rice cakes after this day. We have read things about proteins breaking down, and we have seen the smug scurrying of flour beetles before, and that’s what sticks in our minds. It feels safe to hold onto the past. This building is a safe place. Unless we’ve figured an alternative source of food by this date, I have nerve gas and exactly one gas mask, and if I know myself I won’t have any qualms about eating people by then.

Thank fuck no-one reads this far down in a curriculum anyway.

March 6. Examination. I take you this a nearby graveyard that I found, where the tombstones all mention the prehumous profession of the corpse. We pick out one that says ‘novelist’ or ‘writer’, and you dig up their grave and make sure they are actually dead. Survival means passing.

~

footnotes
1. I heard one of them outside my window one night. I recognised her as a famous children’s novel author. “Rrrrrroooooooooooooooohhh” she said, in a long, slow drawl. Later in the night she switched syllable, “hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwlllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh”. It was mesmerising to listen to, and I will be updating the curriculum when I figure out a good way to pry myself away from the noises. “Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.”

The Author Is Dead

The author is dead, long live the author.

The author is dead but the book is still being written. Pages are being pushed out under the door, and if you listen closely, you can hear the noises that a typewriter makes, like cartoon characters eating cobs of corn. The author is dead, beginning to rot, but the story is progressing at breakneck speed. The plot thickens! The author is dead and someone else has to rewrite the pages to remove the stench of rot, before sending them to the publisher. The author is dead but the contract isn’t up yet.

Zombie Alien Invasion Impact

Three doomsday scenarios happened all at once, as if old adages were true after all. But something happened. Malevolent aliens picked up human shamblers infected with the turtlevirus. They couldn’t see the difference between zombies and people. Some of the aliens were bitten, and so the zombie virus spread to the mothership. As the strange ship hung in space, desperately trying to shed its infected parts like a snake sheds skin, a rock the size of Mars hit them and bounced off, giving us a new moon. All the zombies turned toward the moon, walked out into sea, and drowned.

We All Died

A few weeks ago, every citizen died. Lungs caved in, brains spilled out. Office hours remained unchanged. Stiff corpses kept moving through crowded streets, dry mouths kept talking in raspy voices. Their rotten bodies are making the city putrid; the aftershaves and perfumes have long since become ineffective, now simply an overtone of bergamot and pine. Muscles are starting to fall off, eyes are melting from faces. I’m staying in my bed, not daring to breathe but with a gas mask on my face, hoping that the electricity inside my cracked skull will go away if I keep completely still.

Plague

The plan is simple. Wait for the storm and then fly the supplies dirigible over the enemy city, apparently lost. The grey storm will make it impossible to see from inside the dirigible, so you have to rely on magnetism. As will the enemy. If they don’t shoot you down you just walk into the balloon and fire a few rounds yourself.

You won’t make it out of there alive. You will be captured or killed. If they somehow have the sense not to use the supplies, at least make sure they don’t sever your heads when they kill you.

Georg

Once upon a time, a man fell in love with a dead woman. She died in front of him every night and became more and more beautiful. One morning, after a storm, he made his way to the damp alley where she lay, mouth open, face gone. He found her behind a trash can and he cried. She had not got to her feet and walked away like an angel.

The city was besieged. It rained fire and black death. The man stayed with the dead woman, his obsession. And she took one last breath, and her soul possessed him.

Nightmare Fuel October 2012, Day 14

House of the Spirits

“Why would we be safe in this temple?”

“Because the undead can’t enter there.”

Gilmichael closed his eyes and furrowed his brow. “Right, but what about the ones already here?”

I laughed, nervously. “What are you talking about? This place doesn’t have a graveyard.”

“No, you don’t get it.”

The building rumbled.

He looked up at me from his hands.

“Probably… just thunder. Been a lot of, uh, thunderstorms lately.”

“Everyone is brought back to life. Hell is being evacuated,” he said.

The bones of many, many dead stirred inside the templestones. I felt all heat disappear from my face.

MEAT Chapter 1 – Sarcophagus Anonymous

[Content Warning: story concerns polyphagia, zombieism]

~

The woman coughed; a dry, raspy cough. People say paper doesn’t taste like anything, but that was false. In front of her were two bowls, and in front of the bowls there were stacks of paper. Neat, rectangular stacks. One of the bowls contained a brown sludge of dissolved, environmentally friendly paper. The other contained regular white photocopy paper, drenched and still whole and separable. The photocopy paper was almost entirely untouched. (The photocopier itself had a lock on the side and to access the paper, the woman had told the printer to print the nothing in the machine at the moment.)

The rest of the room came into focus bitwise: the carpet with its grey-beige swirly patterns, the knife on the middle of the floor and the glossy shavings strewn around it, the open photo album with its empty pages. Then, the swirlies in the cabinets, the metal handles, the classy paint job on the walls that hid the way the wires crawled upwards to the wall-lamps. Then, the wax candles – wicks lit once just to blacken them, untouched for three years now.

(The crumples of the family photos on one corner of the carpet, under a chair.) It had turned out that eating images of meat was close enough to start the salivation, which lead to the hunger cramps. Pazit stared at her phone, which displayed a website full of GDA levels. Then she coughed her lungs up.

“Focus, Pazit; focus,” a voice told her. Recognizing it took a moment as this was the first time she’d heard herself speak with such a dry throat. Drinking water helped, a little. She felt small.

A couple of feet away from where she was, a box blinked and animated. The woman called Pazit got the remote control from somewhere between two couch cushions and turned the volume up.

“…may be talking about an epidemic – with us tonight, with her multiple PhDs, is Claire Wellsh. Claire, could you shed some light on this strange disease?”

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