It's like a hemorrhage. It's an artery bursting and the chemistry takes over. Just think about the chemistry and physics involved. All that smoke is carbon molecules bled from the fuel. Fuel like wood, petroleum. Oxidization is basically the loss of electrons. The very atoms of the burning material bleed essential parts and cease to exist. And then there's the more philosophical aspect of people's lives bleeding out. All those possessions gone. All those heirlooms, all those investments, those particles of what people call their lives bleeding from a wound.
I'm twelve and my father stops the car to watch a high-rise fire. I see the teamwork of the crew. I see men carrying axes walk through flames. I see rescues. Small children. Elderly folk wrapped in blankets by soot-faced titans. And they are huge when I'm twelve. They tower over everyone around them. There's no real consideration of the possibility that I might become one of them. I have no clue one could ever become a firefighter. These people are superhuman, born this way. But from this point on, unlike other boys who know about guns or cars or science fiction, I know firefighting.
FINDING ROMULUS’ ROME
by Skitz O’Fuel
This begins in a warm leather chair of a neurologist’s office in Odessa, Texas. Alex Randal is recalling the day he saw One-Armed Billy get his ass kicked behind the grocery store down the alley from his school. He never talked to One-Armed Billy before or after and he has often regretted it. His bloody eye and his fucked up nose and his bloody broken smile and how he laughed at Shawn Baker. Laughed at him. Alex was awestruck. Don’t feel defeated Alex, the neurologist tells him. He tells him there are smart people working on treatments and procedures, making progress. He reminds him of his youth. He lists medications designed to relieve any symptoms he might experience. He tells him to call his office the moment he feels any strange pressure or nausea or experiences any prolonged headaches. Randal begins explaining—again—that he hasn’t experienced any symptoms but he stops himself and instead conveys his respect for the doctor’s profession, his respect for science, interrupting the neurologist several times to clarify his point. So all that being said, doc, you understand what kind of shock this is to a person—to me—so I’m going to ask you one question: how long? I don’t have an answer for you. I could fall out of this chair right now, is that what yer saying? The doctor stares into Randal’s eyes past his threshold of confidence until he finally relents. I suppose that’s what I’m saying. I appreciate yer honesty, doc. Randal rises from the leather chair, noting the sound of it, like slingshot tubing gathering energy. The receptionist is a tall unobtainable beauty who projects an aloof air which dissolves the moment he approaches her. He is abrupt and far too direct for her taste but she indulges what she will later describe to a friend as his cold cordiality. She follows him from the office onto the stone floor of the main hallway and within minutes they are sweating and naked in a men’s restroom stall. He’s arrested within the hour. Randal won’t remember what initiated his encounter with the cop, only that he relished every second of it.
As the first face of American fascism in the 21st, I mention Donald Trump only in passing. If we peer back down the arrow of time, we find the invention of fascism as a political movement in Italy, 1921. Benito Mussolini drew from ancient Greek philosophers and others to justify the economics and discrimination of his “new” political party. His three principles: order, discipline, hierarchy. Anarchism rejects all three of these as the essence of authoritarianism and as we relax our gaze, death and waste blossom as the fruits of fascism’s promise of protection and prosperity.
Normally I stay away from quotes unless the quote itself is the subject of the piece but this bit from Emma Goldman carries us in many ways to the ultimate point.
“Anarchism stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion and liberation of the human body from the coercion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. It stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals…” ― Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
That Night Filled Mountain
episodes post daily. Paperback editions are available.
My newest novel River of Blood is available on Amazon or Apple Books.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.