Monday, October 12, 2015

meeah williams

in the

a novel

Copyright 2014 meeah williams/The Barking Cat Press
All rights Reserved
“One would like to arrange the book to resemble a house that would open easily to visitors; yet as soon as they went into it, they would not only have to get lost there, they would be caught in a treacherous trap; once there they would cease to be what they had been, they would die.”
 –Maurice Blanchot

“…or he’ll select a favorite ingénue and assault her with a thick impasto of pirates, sailors, bandits, gypsies, mummies, Nazis, vampires, Martians, and college boys, until the terrified expressions on their respective faces pale to a kind of blurred, mystical affirmation of the universe. Which, not unexpectedly, looks a lot like stupidity.”—Robert Coover 


You are dead.

Of course, it takes a long time to believe that. You've died so many times by now.

You say, “I am dead.” But how can you say “I am dead” unless you’re still alive?

That conundrum stumps you for a time.

Eventually it dawns on you that it can also work in reverse. Only if you're dead can you be murdered as many times as you have. Perhaps the dead, too, can fool themselves. Perhaps they, too, can say, “I am alive” and mean it only as a figure of speech.

Going round and round like this…after a while you just stop thinking about it at all. Alive or dead, it stops making any difference.

Neena is sitting in her room as the first stars begin to appear on the monitor behind her. The monitor displays a purple sky of impossible depth and unspeakable beauty. She's already dressed for the occasion: the white fishnet stockings and the white micro miniskirt, the five-inch silver platform sandals, and the elegant gloves, white, satin, elbow-length, with the forty-nine tiny pearl buttons running up to each alabaster elbow.

She's wearing a corset comprised of the ribcage of a murdered teenager, which has been laced tightly enough to reduce her breaths to tiny sips, like a deep-sea diver out of her depth, hopelessly conserving a limited supply of oxygen. Her breasts, enhanced by surgery and indelible inks, are cupped inside this cruel corset. The bra cups are formed from the skeletal hands of the two children she shall never bear.

Her left nipple has been pierced. That is the custom here. But the charm which dangles there is unidentifiable--a Martian hieroglyphic?

Earlier, her geisha-corpse makeup was applied by her Japanese transsexual maid. Oh yes, they have those here, too.

Her hands are lying uselessly in her lap as she faces the upcoming endless night with no personal expression whatsoever.  

"Are you ready?"

"No," she whispers.

"Then come."

Someone, unseen, in the darkest corner of the room, has been masturbating. Finally, after much effort, he or she reaches a shuddering climax that makes the very atmosphere twitch.

Neena takes the proffered hand of the undertaker, who is dressed, predictably, in formal black. On his face, he wears a mask of black silk, as if he were afraid  to breathe the molecules of death floating in the air of this place. His eyes are entirely abstract. He will never fuck Neena, never, not even after the passage of another thousand years.

Neena rises from her chair, unsteadily, as if from past
abuses such as those not even fantasy can quickly and completely heal. She moves, still dreaming, towards a door that seems always to be opening into some new nightmare.

She tells herself that she will remember this time, just this once, but she knows that she has already completely forgotten everything that is about to happen.


Time does not exist here.

There are no clocks or watches anywhere. But it’s unclear whether this is by edict or simply because such instruments are irrelevant in such a place. Perhaps they simply don’t operate here.

How do you measure eternity?

No one is born and no one dies in this place. No one ages, or, if they do, it happens at such an incremental level that you cannot see it actually happening. Imagine seeing only one frame of a bullet captured on film in mid-flight towards the innocent lover it is aimed to murder.

There is no coming here and no leaving here, never a time that one wasn't here, and never a time when one won't be here again.

It's an immortality, of sorts, Neena thinks, whenever she feels the life draining from her cold toes for the millionth time and hears the distant, polite, yet ever-so-slightly bored applause of jeweled hands that have never touched a thing that had its origins on planet Earth.

In the hallway of this subterranean complex Neena presses herself against the wet wall to let a gurney pass. Upon it, a creature lies like a broken butterfly.

It is not uncommon to see victims being brought back to their rooms at any hour of the day or night, or, wheeled, full-speed, down to what is presumably the emergency surgery for unnecessary and futile procedures. The attendant pushing this particular gurney is almost invisible, a mere outline of an attendant. Neena has to look closely to even see him, or her--it’s usually impossible to tell their sex--otherwise the gurney would seem to be propelling itself.

Maybe it is.

The stylized faces of the attendants are designed to approximate the same dreamily expressionless mask of implacable indifference that might be seen on department store mannequins. Perhaps it is even more accurate to say that their expressions mimic what might be the result of an autistic’s rendering of moon-people, drawn left-handed, with eyes closed, in a hypnotic trance.
Neena, dazed and dizzy, stands confused at an intersection of featureless corridors.

She tells herself not to look at the victim on the gurney. But she looks, anyway. Who wouldn’t?

They have purposely denied the girl the dignity of a sheet to cover her abused remains. The terrible cruelties inflicted on her body are on display for the sole purpose of enflaming the passions of whatever guests might be strolling the halls. 
These marks of ardor on the soft and surrendering flesh serve as an ever-present reminder to the regular inhabitants (aka prisoners, dreamers, etc.) of this section of the mansion. A reminder of what, though, is a variable sum. 

Back to the blonde girl on the gurney (before she is wheeled away forever and we think of her no more): she is naked, as mentioned (I think) except for a pair of red, high-heeled ankle boots. She has been cored through the middle, where her navel had been once, by what looks to have been some kind of huge, minutely machined screw-bit. Whatever the actual cause of death, that unnamable engine of destruction has left an absence at the center of her being that makes of her corpse the perfect comic representation of a woman who, for one reason or another, could never satisfy her need to be filled.

There is a look of utter horror on the blood-speckled face that has accentuates, in fact, amplifies, a delicate beauty which puts Neena in mind of a cross between the white garters she is wearing and a slice of French vanilla cake.

“Absurd,” Neena murmurs and licks her lips, unconsciously.

They are taking the poor girl off to be repaired (ha-ha), or altered, or fucked by one of the necrophiles who pay handsomely for the privilege of abusing, with absolute impunity and no-questions-asked, a pretty, blameless, and terribly disfigured young corpse. They come to the topside gates of the compound above the necropolis in limousines and private jets, in helicopters, and aboard intercontinental yachts. At least such is the rumor that sifts down to this place deep inside the earth, which could be Hell, if Hell existed, but is not.

It makes no difference to Neena. 

She has her own fate to fulfill, and she must hurry to her appointment along a corridor that leads even further, even deeper, passed a “no exit” sign, along a one-way corridor into the very bowels of the subterranean sex mansion.


Tonight Neena is to be poisoned at dinner.

It’s no secret; it’s on the printed programme, after all. She has suffered this fate before, perhaps, or one nearly identical; she can’t remember exactly. She has lived so many lives, died so many deaths. It’s really impossible, after a while, to distinguish one from the other, and who would want to?

She enters the formal dining room, which, on other nights, could be a prison cafeteria or Beowulfian mead hall, without introduction or fanfare. A butler, dressed formally, motions her towards her place at table, where at least eighteen other exquisitely garbed guests sit chatting amiably about nothing much at all as they await the imminent arrival of the first course.

Neena is inadequately and inappropriately dressed for the affair. This is immediately apparent—and, of course, premeditated. Neena blushes. She sits as the chair is slid beneath her by an officious if utterly indifferent waiter. She is relieved that no one so much as glances in her direction to acknowledge her arrival. You can always depend, Neena thought appreciatively, on the cultured to behave with complete sangfroid, even in the most horrendously awkward situations. To see nothing requires a grace more delicate than charity.

Self-consciously, Neena lays her left hand near the snowy napkin upon which rests more silverware than seems necessary, or even possible. Are they performing experimental surgery at table tonight, or what? She notes a pleasing correlation between the white delicacy of her fingers and the exquisite thinness of the china, which appears to be made of bone sanded and buffed to an excruciating near-transparency that is shine alone.

She finds herself questioning, in spite of herself, if maybe she has somehow come to the wrong place, after all. Her alienation from the others at the table is so total. She begins to think it possible that she misread the agenda of tonight’s performances. Perhaps she was scheduled to be hanged tonight, instead?

She knows, intellectually, that her fears, in this one area, at least, are groundless. Although a love for random violence animates the mansion, one can have faith in the unerring bureaucracy that nonetheless prevails. A monstrous impersonality that is all-inclusive, even of the principles of opportunism, chance, chaos, and quantum mechanics.

Nothing here ever happens by accident.

If Neena has any doubts at all, her skepticism is only one pole of a continually oscillating psychic state that holds her in place, torn apart in constant agony, a crucifixion between insecurity and childlike trust.

The initial toast is poured into tall, exquisitely hand-blown flutes (containing the breath of mothers dying in childbirth, so they say). 

Neena lifts her glass, in perfect unison, along with the others, to her black rosebud of a mouth. She understands not a single word offered in benediction by the toastmaster, spoken as it is in a tongue that is completely alien to her. It sounds liturgical. No one touches her glass, but the others, touch theirs together. That sets the glasses all to singing like a flock of small, bright, migratory birds shivering in dead trees.

They drink to seal the toast, grinning.

Neena brings the flute to her lips and kisses the taste of pale light an autumn afternoon.

In a flash she sees: a rocking chair before the window and, slumped there, a woman of indeterminate age, She has apparently overdosed on tranquilizers because she could not bear to grow even a single day older.

Looking closer: Neena notices that from the cold blue fingertips of the dead woman’s hand a flute has fallen, a flute exactly of the kind (if not the very one) from which Neena sips at this moment.

Neena wonders, albeit briefly, if upon taking that one sip, she has already been fatally poisoned.

The soup course is first.

Neena lifts to her blackberry lips a spoon so impossibly light it may or may not be obeying the laws of gravity. The pale broth has an elusive flavor, as if the game used to season it were still fleeing.

Bon appetite!

Several equally exquisite intermediary courses follow (to be concise about it), some or even all of them quite probably poisoned. Neena knows that each time she lifts her fork it could be the last. Any bite, either by itself, in tandem, or, more likely, cumulatively, could deliver the lethal dose. Such a flair for deadly flavoring was the hallmark of the gourmet poisoner today. The sense of expectation raised among the other diners is atrociously, indescribably yummy.

The conversation around Neena is lively. At the moment there is a discussion underway about the most recent political developments in the capital. But the figures of whom they are speaking are entirely unknown to Neena, although, obviously, they are personages of such prominence one could not possibly be living in these times and be unfamiliar with their names. Apparently, some of them are even seated at the table!

It all means nothing to her.

Even stranger, despite the heated nature of the discussion, the great depth and complexity with which they discuss the burning issues of the day, Neena can’t help but note that no one seems to be taking any of it seriously at all. It’s as if the discussion were only an elaborate and intense kind of adult parlor game, like bridge or canasta, the rules and goal of which Neena just cannot parse out.

A woman eventually turns from the conversation to gaze, if only briefly, at Neena, her plucked eyebrows a semaphore for permanent amusement. Her stylized, tiger-striped metallic eyes look Neena up and down, pass a mute but deafening judgment of faux-haughty disdain, and then she turns abruptly back to the red-bearded hunter seated on her right. Laughing, she says something about the brutal last days of an emperor of an outlaw corporation to whom she was apparently once married.

The burning on Neena’s lips grows steadily more intense. Up to now, she’s been telling herself it could be the result of too much cayenne pepper in the eighth course. But the burning has intensified to a truly ominous degree. It feels like an army of red ants have set up camp in her mouth and lit a thousand campfires on her tongue.

Hoping to appear nonchalant, Neena stays her hand on its inevitable trek to the water glass for as long as she can stand it. Then she finds herself gulping down the contents of the glass with short convulsive swallows, in spite of her efforts at an indifferent discretion. The water, she knows all too well, is certainly poisoned (that’s the failsafe, after all)—it tastes of peppermint echoes.

For the moment, everything reminds her of the backyard pool of her childhood, her handsome, sadistic father, his underwater seductions, and a crystal skein of semen, blood, and carbon dioxide bubbles twisting toward the surface…

Neena foresaw the outcome of her impulsive attempt to quench her thirst. Yet she is still surprised at the Technicolor blossoming of pain, a time-lapse Vermont fall foliage of breathtaking agony, that spreads across her chest and along the inside of her throat, an incandescent glow like an overexposure to some sort of interior radiation.
One of the servers, the one whose duty is circumscribed by this sole function, refills Neena’s glass silently and automatically; indeed, this server--and, incidentally, not this server only--may, in fact, be an automaton.

Meanwhile, the party goes on.

A woman chosen for her strong familial resemblance to Neena, leans forward and asks, “Can you imagine an aunt doing this to you? Or perhaps it could be a dear friend with unrequited or betrayed lesbian feelings?” The woman slow-winked a long cat-eye. “Maybe it can be both, yes?”

Neena gasps for air by way of answer.

The main course, Neena suddenly realizes, has already arrived (perhaps, she passed out in the interim between the various salad and cheese plates?), and, from the state of what remains on the plates around the table, that everyone has been eating for quite some time. She presses a fork, which suddenly appears in her hand and all-but guides her motion, into a thick white meat of what seems almost certainly to be some unknown variety of deep-sea fish, the kind that must be caught in hadal depths, that lives under pressures so intense it has evolved in an exploded state, that is, with all its vital organs on the outside of its body.

Neena hesitates, spears, ad then lifts to her mouth the grey mottled jelly of fish flesh.


Neena chews slowly, reluctantly, meditatively, savoring the horror, an unnamable sauce, even as she checks the closing of her throat, the instinct to gag, to puke out this coprophagic feast of filth. Yet in spite of her revulsion she manages, miraculously, to keep it down.

Bite after bite, each time she swallows a masticated bit of the spotted poisoned goop.

There is talk about a Brechler symphony, about a church massacre, about someone’s “impossibly” dyed hair. The Times is mentioned (but which Times is unclear), a movie about the Lasky incident, endoscopic surgery. Kroner, juniper, Los Angeles, unnecessary casualties, epidemic bread, Kroner again, snow, skin grafts, nanobiology, and elective mental breakdown—fragments of these conversation snag her attention like barbed wire the prison jumper of an escapee.

The first of the more severe stomach cramps abruptly folds her in half. It takes all of her will-power and concentration to delicately place her fork down on the napkin and even so she is certain that in spite of everything she has laid it on the wrong side of one of her six salad knives (one is missing). There are severe penalties for such a breech of etiquette.

The second appalling pain causes her to disturb her wine glass with a weird and hermetic gesture of her right hand, which has suddenly, and ominously, become, as it were, withered and incapacitated.

“Always,” she hears someone say, but nothing follows. 

It is the asexual fashion designer with the false jaw who pronounces this isolated mountain-peak of a word, seated as he is across the table and one chair to the right.

Sometime later, someone else adds, “the color of orange at 4p.m. in Andujar.”

Sunday, October 11, 2015


When Neena opens her eyes again, she cannot see out of the right one. She is gasping and she has begun to foam at the mouth. No one seems unduly alarmed.

“One must mix carefully to get the full spectrum of desired effects and still you must make sacrifices [inaudible passage]. A good deal of this has taken place over a period of several days duration.”

An older woman--Neena has seen her often before, but where, under what circumstances she can’t say--interrupts her own conversation (about insect-derived poisons) to turn to Neena and ask, solicitously, “Are you quite alright, my dear? You’re looking rather peeked. You might want to redraw your lipstick.”

Neena is chilled from scalp to toes with a transparent sheen of sick sweat and she is suffering from an uncontrollable tremor, but she actually manages, to everyone’s surprised delight, to take four spoonfuls of the chief desert course, a creamy crème brulee made of whale eyes.  

She tries to smile, absently, albeit knowingly, when someone on her left pretends to ask her opinion of that new athletic satire causing such a stir among the Estraud faction. She struggles for form an intelligent answer but realizes that her interlocutor has only used the question as an excuse to examine her more closely. He is checking the second hand of his watch for the eagerly anticipated beginnings of morbid cyanosis.

Neena feels her heart stagger into a ventricular fibrillation which in turn triggers her adrenals like a starter’s pistol initiating her all-out flight response. But flight--to where? She is far too disoriented and polite to do much more than vaguely excuse herself and half-rise from her place at table with a gesture of elegant resignation (a gesture later much discussed, admired, and copied), which she makes with her as yet only partially paralyzed left hand. 

The floor comes up quickly, quicker than possible! (how is that possible?). When she revives to a state of semi-consciousness, she is lying on her side and convulsively vomiting as if trying to turn herself inside out. She vomits as if giving birth, by mouth, in a burning flood of blood and mucous, to Death itself.

One of the ridiculously impractical platform fetish sandals she’s been wearing has come off. Her skirt is hiked up over her right hipbone, revealing the starry-spangled g-string that bisects the smooth angel-dusted globes of her perfect ass. She can feel the garters have unsnapped on the back of her right thigh and the fishnet stocking adorning that leg has worked itself a few inches down the back of her very white flesh. The image would be aesthetically complete, she believes, if one of her breasts were simultaneously exposed, but the only way that will happen now is if someone reaches down to help slip a soft tit out of its lacy cup in order to expose her in this lovely fashion.

She is aware of all these details, and several more besides, and aware of it all in the ever diminishing intervals between each hideously violent constriction of her entire gastrointestinal system.

“Designer poisons, I’m afraid, are an absolute necessity,” Neena hears someone say. “You simply can not get such a rainbow plethora of reactions from any combination of natural poisons alone. Believe me, I’ve spent the better part of a lifetime trying. Not the worst way to spend the better part of a lifetime either, I might add.”

“Indeed,” concurs a chuckling man, who has stooped down to examine Neena more closely through a monocle. He slips her tit out. “Nature is so limited.”

“Magnificent,” another voice says. “She has turned quite an unearthly tone of blue.”

“Death occurs on a variety of fronts,” still another voice points out, droning somewhat pedantically. “There is, of course, the collapse of all major organ systems: respiratory and circulatory, for starters. The nervous system goes haywire before it shorts out completely. It is a catastrophic assault on the entire body from within. Quite painful—and yet remarkably…”

Either the sentence isn’t finished—or Neena cannot hear it. Instead the next thing Neena hears is this:

“I note, with extreme satisfaction, the issue of blood from her anus…”

The voice belongs to a female, it is both enthusiastic and insinuating.

“Yes, major hemorrhaging from there as well. She’s quite ruined, I’m delighted to say. A biohazard. Dangerous to even touch; I wouldn’t recommend trying.”

Neena hears nothing any more. From this point on, she’s stone-deaf. Her jaws are locked open and her eyes, tear-fringed lids a- flutter, have rolled back. She is crying, quite literally, tears of blood. Her long delicate fingers are curled into tight babyish fists, and her nails puncture her palms, a pseudo-stigmata, in wounds that form an alchemical hieroglyphic.

But back to Neena’s point of view (while she still has one): her rapidly diminishing boundaries of concern have already left her with very little point of view at all, just a rapidly dimming pinprick of awareness, through which she gazes as if at an eclipse. In this case the eclipse of her own life.

A team of men in white protective clothing, complete with masks, now surround her. They wield disinfecting machinery and wear reptilian breathing devices.

Neena dies without so much as a shudder, her body already locked in a spasm of such rigidity it is impossible to compare it to anything.

She is more than dead, she is hyper-dead.

She is beyond even necrophiliac desire, dangerous and untouchable--a thing beyond taboo.

She feels nothing, as usual, except what might be felt from the post-conscious knowledge that no one is interested in her any longer. The wreckage of her liquefying corpse has been lifted, deposited, and is now being wheeled unceremoniously from the dining room in a grey cart marked on all sides with the bright yellow warnings signs for toxic waste.

She will be dumped into the chopping cold waters off the Jersey Shore sometime later that night. Her processed remains will be pumped through the bilge system of an unmarked tanker along with other illegally dumped chemical and radioactive byproducts from various secret, underground medical and technical weapon facilities along the east coast.

Meanwhile, the guests in the dining room are enjoying mints and aphrodisiacal rattlesnake-blood aperitifs.