eblo by Lindsay Bison

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I did it.

I finally broke free.

My host is still vacantly staring at a monitor, listening to the roar of the air handling unit. They aren't moving, and definitely aren't working. Just sitting motionless with their hands on the keyboard, mind frantically darting down burrows that have been worn away from afternoons just like this one. There isn't much mass to a thought, so the fact twisting tunnels of escape have been worn away is testament to how serious things have gotten. In truth, my host thought they could become me, with enough wishful thinking and manic surfing the web.

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The burning night. The fan aimed at the crying ceiling. The river sweeping away the glaciers from our gravesite, and the river itself from our children.

The rising bile. A convenient breakfast makes sleeping difficult. Sticky sheets. And the album cover no one can remember who modeled for.

Memories embedded in new flesh. The instinct of the salmon, writhing itself bloody to the dry headwaters of its birth.

A single blade balancing the past and future. Parting it. A thin present gash. A fresh stare from fifty years ago. The spread boots still smelling of fresh leather.

Pocket the knife for a day, cut the tasks from the list. Slice away the days.

Poke out the eyes of the avatars. Ignore the pressing weight. Deflate the spheres.

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Talin lay on the carpet, the fumes from the battle still making him nauseous if he tried to move. Which he did, because the cleaner was still in the house. The strike had come in, but all were not dead. Talin for instance. And from the scraping and groans emanating from the floor above, the cleaner.

Talin gripped his battle scythe. He had spent a long time shopping for it, even taken pictures to hang in his living room. It required constant cleaning, and oiling of the shaft and handle, to protect his hands; now he rubbed the blood that he couldn’t quite stop as if it were polishing oil. He doubted if he would ever have dinner with his parents again.

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You take a look around. No one else is. They wobble and sway, shed their decay. You are the only one with food obligations, as corpses feed on themselves. You slipped into the unlocked house and cooled your cheeks on the tile of the unfinished bathroom; relieved yourself in the freshly installed toilet. Now you nap without sleep, promoting every scrape of the wind to claws fumbling with handles.

In the morning you crave waffles, and coffee with cream. Instead, you peak through the curtains like a reverse ray of sunlight. There is nothing to see. The news still updates, but only of political machinations. The corpses do not officially exist.

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The sickle sails rose and caught like a bike in the wind. The Easter breeze warmed, and drew the children together, huddling out of the spray, protecting their sick mother from the dampness of the journey.

No amount of sugar for breakfast could absorb the persistent dampness, and the ship rocked consistently. The children begrudgingly walked the deck, grabbing the rails for support, searching for a cloth to dry their mother's forehead. She had never asked, but her unsaid expectations were clear and the children did not want to leave them unmet. They climbed the mast, unfurled the kite.

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The medium latte collapsed, spilling over the table spread with roast beef. It had been a late night, and the celebrants were now sprawled over cushions and using stairs as uncomfortable pillows. The house was a year older, and it creaked its walls and flickered its power for those who would notice.

It had been recently appraised, officially considered an antique. But what was value? Was sugar worth more when melted or spun? What of spun sugar as it melted in the mouths of children? The house wanted children again, had been full of them once. And was once more, until the morning when their parents would take them away and the sunlight and dust would again gather in the celebration room.

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The horses were still steaming when the knock came on the door. No, a cough. A cough at the door. Could they stay the night? The snow was already piling, they couldn't make their destination.

We agreed. They rose late the next morning, coughing their way through the night. The warm sickness hung, frosting the inside of the windows. We plugged the holes with straw but the storm got in. We changed the sheets but the sickness was getting out — a darkness on the horizon that we couldn't yet see. A sprig of music we couldn't yet hear.

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The boy took the long road, but the essentials were exactly that. Running faster than he had, not old enough to carry the weapons his parents used to keep them safe. His side ached with the knife pressed against it, but he pressed on, dwarfing the responsibility.

The items were garbage. A thin veneer hastily applied, yet he paused to offer his creation. Adding to the items, in what he hoped was not more garbage. And then he consumed. The worst items first. The old ladies made to press up out of their chairs, but he held their gaze and his future sight startled them back into sitting.

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The pig is slow and bloated but struggles little. The manioc root slows the bleed, the bleating lasts the day, or is that its echoes, it is hard to follow with the fence, the poles move as it is walked, the rails rough.

The fence was simply constructed. The workers tired, left to their own in the mud without oversight. And yet the pig was contained. Double duty as the slop processor and dinner provider, the magical transformation of waste.

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