Words are elusive bastards.They disappear the moment you think you’ve wrangled them. Two words float in conjunction with a clause: you see them, reach for them, groan as your fingers brush them. Then the bastards vanish.
“All everyone ever wanted to do was speak.” You hear this phrase as it flutters away from you. But what’s it mean? Does it mean anything?
You’re walking backward from the van, up the porch and into the kitchen. The keys float to your hand in your pocket, then your hand flies from your pocket and the keys drift onto the counter as you walk backward into the dining room and sit at the table, open your laptop, and stare at the screen.
Pixels spill from the screen and a pool of red and blue and green light forms on the keyboard. It grows, expands. You dip your finger into it and images form on your fingertip and spread to your hand and wrist: rust, decay, death, skulls and eyeballs and teeth.
The chair in which you sit transforms into flesh-colored putty and collapses. You clutch the keyboard as you fall, and the putty envelopes you, melding the keyboard with your flesh and bones, and your blood absorbs it as your body pushes the keys out through the pores on your nose.
The keys hit the ground—clack, clack, clack—as the wall to your left morphs into newspapers, which crumble and blow away as wind tears through the house.
Outside, you amble in a field, surrounded by animated corpses. They groan. Screech. Words float in the air, spin and coalesce and merge into storm clouds.
A corpse saunters to you and groans. A hook telescopes from its tongue, extends to the clouds, and snatches a handful of words, which slither into the corpse’s mouth and protrudes through its throat: “I don’t have anything to say.”
You open your mouth. A hook on your tongue snatches these words from the clouds: “But are you willing?”
“I don’t know.”
“You must try.”
“It defines you.”
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Daulton Dickey is a novelist, poet, and content creator currently living in Indiana with his wife and kids. He’s the author of A Peculiar Arrangement of Atoms: Stories, Still Life with Chattering Teeth and People-Shaped Things, and other stories, Elegiac Machinations: an experimental novella, and Bastard Virtues, a novel. Rooster Republic Press will publish his latest novel, Flesh Made World, later this year. Contact him at daultondickey[at]yahoo[dot]com.