by Phillip Barcio
Eddie walked to the edge of town, where the brabbles grow, before the others were awake. He brought a cup of hot coffee from home (single origin, direct trade, organic, light roast) in a cup he stole from Eddie #2, and a paczki filled with the dreams of a huckleberry plant. His plan was to eat the paczki in the brabble field, to dip it in the piping hot beverage he had brought so the sensual liquid soaked through to the huckleberry dreams inside, releasing their silky aroma of lovers’ regrets.
“Take small bites, Eddie,” he reminded himself, like he had learned in paczki-eating class. “Let the sweet dough disintegrate between the roof of your mouth and your tongue, eyes closed, as the brabbleflies awake, the aria of their morning light surrounding you, filling your heart with the sense of wonder you have lost.”
To where did the belief that he could do anything he wanted disappear?
He wore his black jeans, the ones he got from Crossroads with the ostentatious rips in the fabric covering the back pockets and the heavy brass buttons engraved with the faces of tigers. Black jeans have been proven, for reasons not fully explored, to resist puncture from brabbles. He paired the black jeans with a yellow shirt, the color of the fourteenth chakra, the elbow chakra, storehouse of joy and belief in magic, and a color well documented to attract the brabbleflies’ fickle affection. He was bootless of course, and hatless, also gloveless. Bare hands, bare head, bare feet: a man of peace.
The trip to the edge of town seemed longer than the last time he had made it, and Eddie wondered if he might be shrinking. Impatience got the best of him and he ate the paczki on the way, right out of the bag. He did not dip it in his coffee, he did not savor it, he did not let it melt in his mouth, did not close his eyes. He just devoured it, a half hour’s worth of excitement packed into thirty seconds.
Then he tripped on a bottle cap and spilled his coffee on his bare feet. He screamed out an angry cuss. It hovered in the air before him, taking the shape of a blue manta ray, then flung itself at Eddie, affixing itself to his face. Eddie dropped to his knees, suffocating, knowing there was no way to force the thing off his face. He mumbled the Daggum-vidha three times until the cuss loosened its grip. Eddie gasped for air and the cuss fluttered off of his face and stared back at him angrily.
“I’m sorry,” Eddie said. The cuss became translucent and waved its wings gently at Eddie. Eddie projected kind thoughts and soft whisperings of earnest wishes toward the creature until finally it fluttered away, back to whence it came, the realm of broken promises and forgotten dreams.
Eddie composed himself. He closed his eyes and breathed. He focused on his breath. He relaxed. He felt nothing. Then he opened his eyes and hovering in the air before him was a tiny, yellow light, a lone brabblefly, a tiny, endless, blazing supernova of love heat, a world within a world.
Eddie smiled at the brabblefly. The brabblefly expanded a hundred times into a glowing, swirling cosmos of gleaming fire, a white hole, and pulled Eddie into the light. He soared deep within the chasm and there, among the secrets of heaven, he came face to face with his deepest desires. They were three and they spoke to him. They said, “We are your deepest desires, Eddie #1. We are failure, acceptance of failure, and a desire to be free.”
Eddie reached out to his desires but they disintegrated. The light vanished and the brabblefly alone was before him. Eddie smiled at the brabblefly. “Thank you,” he said.
The brabblefly handed him a tiny note he could not read because it was too small and because he never learned to decipher the written symbols of the brabble world anyway because he was always too busy in school eating paczkis and drinking coffee.
But the moment Eddie touched the note he understood. It washed over him. It flowed through his aortic cavern, into his veins, filling his inner self with some doom-lifting, cloud bursting, alien emotion he had never felt before but which he later did his best to translate into English for Eddie #2, Eddie #3, Alexandre and the Statue Man, for the purpose of explaining to them why he no longer wished to commit crimes with them, as, “A tingle. A gentle, humming, ecstatic vibration from extremity to extremity that made me feel temporarily as if the world was not completely full of shit.”
About the Author
Phillip Barcio was born in Indiana, like Kurt Vonnegut, Slash and about 18 million other people. Phillip has covered art for the Tikkun Daily Blog, affixed mossy hearts to the sides of decommissioned nuclear missile silos up and down the coast of California and spent hundreds of hours photographing garbage on the streets of San Francisco.
He lives in an apartment in the Nevada desert with his wife who makes art and a dog that likes the Chicago Blackhawks. You can find him at philbarcio.com.
Fast-Paced Author Interview (At High Speeds! Risking Dire Consequences!)
The Squid: Make up a word for “uncomfortably warm” and describe its origins.
Phillip Barcio: There is a Martian word gluff. It means “preoccupied, unsure what the point is of going on, and uncomfortably warm,” all at the same time. If the future history stories I channel end up being true, in 2039 a corporate-sponsored geologist named Peter will become the first Martian settler. In a tragic email thread with his confused life partner back on Earth, Peter will spitball a Martian language however it flows from his dry red lips.
The first Martian word will be ieee, meaning “Hello, You are loved, and I cherish this moment,” all at the same time. Hulff will mean “lonely, horny, depressed and desperate for human touch.” Oomfa will mean “perfect calm, sensuality, togetherness and inner peace”.
Aooo will mean “Bye for now, I’ll see you in my dreams, Take care of yourself and I love you.” (From The Dust Never Settles, Caprice Books, 2013, available on Lulu.)
The Squid: In a Russian accent, please explain why I can’t have another glass of milk.
Phillip Barcio: Zat vasn’t meelk.
About The Artist
Our very own D Chang is a game writer and web designer from Austin, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in the Cryptopolis science fiction anthology.