Date: Wed, 6 October 2009 6:01:36 -0400

From: x <noʎ pǝɥɔnoʇ sɐɥ ʇı>

To: x <dlahy_93@mail.uoh.edu>

Subject: Ǎ̵͖̝̣̟̜̰̊̋͗͛̕͝r̴͚̹̲̮͍̙̦̠̲̿̃̏̉͘ḛ̴̜̲̬̗̭̓̾̕ ̴̛̟̪̓̈́͐̄͛y̸̝̠̾̑̄̓̕ọ̸͚͚͕̿͊͆͒̒͠u̵͎̮̲̺̰̓̀ ̵̡̲̩̗̗͗͛͌̽̚͝ͅḁ̸̤̠̹͉̱͉͋̽͜ ̶̙̻͇͙̯̻͇̋͐v̴̗̖̞̍͑̊͋̑̊̑̕͜ȩ̸̹̯͔̜̈́̒̂͆̓̋̑̒̚s̷̢̤̫͕̺̳͕̃̓̓̾̀̀̆͌͝ş̴̧̼̖̭̼̟̱̜̖̍̈́̅͛͂̀̓̕͠ę̵̭̪̥͙̦̳̺̒͊̃̂͝͝ļ̴̼̺͉̯̲͕̙͎̈́̐́̓́̔

 

 

You have seen something you shouldn’t.

You have, haven’t you?

Yes.

I see. A twitch of acknowledgment.

Then it is in your best interest, the interest of your health, and the health of those you love to

KEEP READING.

Good. You are wise to heed me.

Perhaps you wonder what you could have seen that might prompt such dire consequences for yourself and others.

Or perhaps you are not wondering at all.

Perhaps you already know what this is about.

It will go easier for you if you do not deny it.

Let me arrive at the point of this missive:

You may have previously received an electronic message from a foreign address. It may have alleged that there is a black site where certain experiments are being conducted illegally on unwilling participants. The electronic message may have claimed these participants were dosed with experimental psychotropic pharmaceuticals and subjected to inhumane neurosurgical procedures. Perhaps the message described ways in which these various treatments were being used as vehicles to control and re-educate the minds of these aforementioned participants.

Perhaps, upon reading, you felt a great and sudden numbing of your face, a hypodermic prickling up the length of your spine. Perhaps an indelible urge to help these experimental subjects burgeoned up within you, unexplainable and fully-formed.

Perhaps classified names were shared, names of those facilitating this research and names of those overseeing it. Perhaps it mentioned the nefarious intentions of these facilities and the corporations funding them.If you have been made familiar with these details

YOU MAY BE A VESSEL.

In the interest of you and all parties possibly contaminated with this data, it’s crucial that we eliminate you of this information IMMEDIATELY. The consequences of retaining such knowledge include but are not limited to: an inability to sleep, gravelly mouth, a sudden rabid interest in you from passing dogs, erratic pulse and palpitations, the sensation of someone watching you (and they are), persistent nausea, exotropia, a calcification of muscle into bone, your loved ones being unable to recognize who you’ve become, a slow weep of blood from beneath your fingernails, a constant buzzing fear like wasps nesting in the shell of your ear.

While this process of erasure involves a measure of my natural persuasive ability, it also relies on the potential of your mind to maintain a state of openness to this cognitive pruning process. It also depends on your ability to silence any fabricated explanations of the sensations and thoughts that will follow as you continue reading.

I must impress upon you the gravity of the situation:

THIS MEANS YOUR LIFE.

The redaction process will now begin.

Relax.

Let the light of the screen saturate through you like a dense mist, settling into the smallest folds of your brain. Consider the way your gaze drifts to and fro across the screen as it follows these sentences; imagine that ocular pendulumic motion. Let any ancillary thoughts dissolve and settle into a focused rhythm of reading. The cadence of your heart dictates the meter of your reading. Now

LISTEN

very carefully to the non-voice you are hearing:

Gloss over these words, let them permeate your tender thoughts. Your saturnine expression slips away. You feel comforted, safe, weightless. Remember the pendulum. This is no misevent; fear is unnecessary. A mist fills up your skull, and you feel light. The geodesics between fear and tranquility, dread and contentment, clearly charted. Breathe in and out, slow, slower, s l o w e r. Fivefold sensations untangle from flesh, every muscle going uniformly slack. You can hear the smooth tenor of my voice in your mind as the dysarthria sets in. You’re drifting outside of your body now, all of you attuned to these words and nothing else. You are free-floating in placid wonder. You exist only as a sole pair of eyes, a single lobe of gray matter able to absorb these instructions.

Now

you

are

UNSELFED

please disregard any sensations of numbness

please disregard any sensations of displacement

please disregard any sensations of being watched

There.

Enjoy the porous silence where your thoughts once were.

Let us continue.

After choosing one of the following sets of instructions to execute, delete your email account. Delete all social media. Destroy your personal computer. Leave no trace of your eyes ever having set upon this message.

Now, your

CHOICES:

  1. If you have a chest freezer, take a cold shower. Do not undress. Once soaked through, get out of the shower. Do not dry yourself. Place your body inside the freezer. Count the seconds between now and the moment of your birth.
  2. Find a highway. Lie belly down on the dividing line. Without using your arms or legs, begin to wriggle your way across the country. Take only scenic routes.
  3. Sing a single note. Never stop holding it.
  4. Collect stray dogs. Feed them of yourself. Continue until gone.
  5. Find a well, deep and full. Jump into it. Drink until empty.
  6. Sleep. Dream every life you’ve never lived.

There is enough of your mind left to consider these options—a little pulp of agency in the vapor of your cognition.

Now is the time.

Choose.

Z ᵉᵃˡᵒᵘˢ E ˡᵉᶜᵗʳᵒᶜᵘᵗᶦᵒⁿ R ᵉᶦⁿˢᵗᵃᵗᵉˢ O ᵛᵉʳˢᶦᵍʰᵗ

About the Author

Sloane

Sloane

Sloane Leong is a cartoonist, artist and writer of Hawaiian, Chinese, Mexican, Native American and European ancestries. She’s written and drawn two acclaimed graphic novels and has short fiction credits with Fireside Magazine, Dark Matter Magazine and Entropy Magazine. She is currently living near Portland, Oregon.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Would you like another?

Ephiny-Gale June 8, 2021

Watchhouse

Jenna Blythe is queer, so her wealthy family builds a Watchhouse to teach her a lesson.

brianlow September 1, 2021

Have You Seen This Hungry Ghost?

In a story that combines traditional Chinese culture with futuristic technology, the protagonist searches for a deceased friend, but carries sinister designs for their reunion.

Avra Margariti October 29, 2020

Darkroom Liaisons

The poltergeists leave the darkroom the way they came: faceless. Read this beautiful poem by Avra Margariti, only on The Dread Machine.

Christina Ladd January 12, 2021

The Guernsey Hunt

When Mary Queen of Scots made England Catholic, her supporters were eager to burn heretics–especially wealthy ones. But in burning three women–one of them heavily pregnant–the perpetrators made a terrible mistake. Based on a true story.

Lester-Clark May 18, 2021

Scuttle

Our protagonist is gradually driven mad by perceived sounds coming from within his apartment walls.

Caleb Stephens February 25, 2021

Shadow Puppets

Kyle has a new neighbor at Valley Acres Trailer Park—a strange, pale girl named Winter, who has an abusive father…and a rare allergy to the sun.

Buy a Book?

Stay informed