Published and Distributed by Abby Holtz, Alien Tumor Foundation
by Mary Renzi
Not all brain tumors are alike. Some are self-aware alien entities you bring back unwittingly from your research dive in the Falkland Islands. They begin as tiny organisms which slime their way through your ear canal and settle into your brain like fat royals at a luxurious five-star resort. They gorge on electricity, blood protein and brain fat, growing rapidly in the fractal folds of your cerebrum like those wacky toys from China that expand in water, only more insidious, as these tumors are self-aware and what you are experiencing is in fact an alien takeover.
Of course, you won't know this at first. You'll just continue your domestic and professional routine, none the wiser. On occasion, your newly anarchistic brain will release explosions of sex hormone, which puts the smackdown on your once-dominant neocortex, and causes mildly insane behavior such as drag racing and having sex with Danny Collins in the broom closet during lunch break. Then, one hour later, you return to said broom closet with the Croatian lesbian Leona. Her soft, sapphic lips and muscular calves the size of tree trunks are suddenly and inexplicably too much for you to resist.
The next round of symptoms aren't as cool: the malaise, the headaches, the ataxia. Most of your friends think you've taken to the bottle again, prompting them to call your mother who shows up on your front porch wielding the twelve-step manual like a Bible-shield and reciting the serenity prayer like a primal incantation that can detoxify you on the spot. To calm her, you agree to a family dinner. As your father is slicing the pot roast you do this weird thing where your arms windmill wildly, knocking over cups and salad bowls, and where your teeth clack away in overdrive like cracked-out castanets. (You have no memory of this, but your sister describes it to you later.)
If you are an intuitive person you have likely figured out that something is definitely wrong. Perhaps something involving the alien colonization of your brain.
Honestly, it may be too late. The tumor's intelligence has increased exponentially. It has already attained the cognitive abilities of a highly developed cephalopod deity. It can stretch its tendrils octopus-like along the hilly-gray pastures of your once-idyllic brain, placing perfectly calibrated pressure on your decision-making centers and, in the process, convincing you that such bizarre thoughts and behavior as you have experienced in the past month are, in fact, quite normal. In other words, you are it's bitch, and you don't even know it.
Despite this, you have a few isolated moments of lucidity, where you recognize the truth about alien tumors. But the dissembling cancer stays your hand each time you decide to stab an icepick through your face as your final, brave act of sacred suicide, undertaken to save the human race from devastating, inner-skullar invasion.
Begrudgingly recognizing a warrior spirit within you it wasn't prepared for, the alien tumor may try a new approach, kicking neurotransmitters into overdrive, and flooding your body with tidal waves of, say, serotonin and dopamine. For several days you just float by on a happy cloud, where you smile at old women and small children and watch morning news shows, never guessing there is anything unusual about your newly acquired, sugar-assed worldview. The tumor wants you comfortable and unsuspecting.
DO NOT BECOME COMFORTABLE AND UNSUSPECTING.
The evil nature of the unearthly cancer that has colonized your skull will show its true colors in time.
You might be walking in the park, or brewing a nice pot of chamomile tea one evening, when everything around you drops into an abysmal void and you are confronted by a cosmic blackness eons old, a blackness of empty space and archetypal hatred that throws you into a cyclone of existential despair almost impossible to comprehend. Beast-like screams batter your auditory cortex until you finally consider clawing your eyes out to divert the pain from the psychic to the physical. Then, the screams and blackness abruptly end.
By about month three, the Cthulhu tumor will have learned to speak with your mouth and vocal chords in a strange, croaking vibration that sounds a lot like the voice of William S. Burroughs. It has mastered this through artful synchronization of your motor neurons, synapses, and energy pathways.
Noog, it will say.
What? you ask.
Noog, it will say again.
I don't know what 'noog' means, you respond, impatiently.
Clamp on Noog in the Wibbly Wabbly grackly-womb, it croaks.
(The malignancy hasn't mastered English. Perhaps it's not as smart as you first believed.)
At this point, you start calling the tumor Noog.
Noog will insist on canned herring and buttermilk every morning, afternoon, and evening. It is more moody than a breast-feeding baby. This is because Noog craves fat. Has a metabolic jonesing for it. You have a metabolic jonesing for it, too, as your two nervous systems have now integrated completely.
If you are lucky, driving home from the supermarket one evening after a mackerel run, you may finally notice the gaudy, dayglo sign which reads:
A shadowy plan will begin to form in your traumatized and hijacked consciousness, prompting you to pull over and exit your vehicle as quiet as humanly possible. Noog, of course, must be sleeping for you to get away with such rebellious intent, as Noog can read the complex chemical patterns of your blood like a sanguine diary which spells your hopes and fears out plainly.
Madame Astrolight practically falls out of her seat due to the intense vibes of alien possession you throw off. She'll help you into a chair and treat you with exaggerated concern, as if you have just stumbled out of the evil woods all beat up and lobotomized at the end of a horror flick. She'll pull out her leather-bound grimoire and flip through it quickly, running her long, curved fingernail along columns of ancient type as she mutters otherworldly incantations which make you feel as though you are being sucked through the narrow end of a telescope.
Noog will wake up just as Madame Astrolight gets going with her mojo, making a series of quick, clicking noises with her tongue as she scries into a silver mirror that allows her to gaze through stubborn, interdimensional walls and metaphysical time-blocks.
You will hear the tumor's panic and feel an immense surge of adrenaline and cortisol course through your body. For a moment, you may feel some sympathy for Noog as it faces its inevitable end. This is because you named it. You shouldn't have done that.
Just imagine a gruesome nest of extraterrestrial eggs about to hatch, like in the movie Aliens, but smaller, and inside of your brain. This will steel you. You will want to annihilate those motherfuckers.
Astrolight's holy-magic-mojo flushes the once god-like invertebrate called Noog out the base of your skull and into your body proper. You may faint, but will awaken to Madam Astrolight smacking you vigorously in your face. She'll start up an obscure app on her iPhone. She explains that it aligns tribal folk magic, pseudo-entropy, and occult purification technique into a type of handheld transporter which removes the alien body non-invasively. Don't worry, she assures you. It is actually quite a pleasant surgery.
Perhaps you will preserve your tumor in formaldehyde and seal it up in a mason jar to keep on your bookshelf, so as to never forget the crucible of your recent alien invasion.
Someone you know, possibly your mother, could be a victim of alien colonization. Let's band together, and spread awareness of this rare, but cosmically-relevant, problem.
Founder, President, Member
Alien Tumor Foundation
About the Author
Mary Renzi is a feral brain Phoenician (az) who enjoys spinning punkrock vinyl at obnoxious volumes. She writes for Dirge Magazine. She runs like a motherfucker.
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About the Artist
Skull image by ANUG, (c) ANUG / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-4.0 at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cephalometric_radiograph.JPG. Conjoined noogdancers by Mae Bookmiller. Anemone brain by Pixabay user Efraimstochter.
Our very own D Chang is a designer and game writer from Austin, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in Avast, Ye Airships! and the Cryptopolis science fiction anthology. He does the Space Squid cover designs and other squid stuff.