Kraken & anthropods

by | Aimee Oct Day 1

Kraken

I wet the bed on my honeymoon. Laid there in the dank dark, steel-stiff. The stain beneath me spreading like a wet forest fire. A raging drench climbing up my spine, down my shriveled testicles. Sour fish or Gila monsters jumping off my shoulders. The splash enormous. Wicked water, wicked waste everywhere. I stuffed pillows in my mouth to keep from screaming. I jammed fingers and thumbs. The taste was like an empty kerosene can. I puked up blood and guts, more foul foam to swim in. A kraken pulled me under the urine waves. Its tentacles like outlandishly long fingers, with suction cups that ripped off patches of my skin. Its mouth was a tarpit French-kissing me. Its lips tasted briny, like ripe piss and excrement. I held my breath for several years, while the bones of ancient pirates scraped my soles. I held my breath until the woman I lay beside rolled over and shook me dead. But I couldn’t die. I’d become eternal liquid, a jelly fish boy, shivering like the ghost of someone younger who once looked like me. The stained bed sheets waved on the clothesline where mother would hang them so the kids riding the school bus could relish my shame, then kill me each afternoon, right there on the playground, where all the best murders took place.

arthropods

my brother stays busy eating spiders, spiders of every shape and size, hairy critters, gauzy-legged, some escaping, stitching up his nostrils, weaving among his dense nose hair until they bore through both tunnels, feasting on his eyes, laying their eggs in the nests they’ve made of his sockets, so that when I ask him why he raped me, he can look perplexed instead of stupid, or amused.

9 Comments

  1. Emily Bertholf

    Hi Len.

    Oh boy. I always find myself exhaling and having to recenter myself after reading your work. And then asking myself how I can possibly comment besides oh my goddesses, and wow, and yes!
    Both of these are snag me in the heart good. Great, well, horrid but in a wonderfully articulate creative way. I love the slimy imagery and the turn in the middle of Kraken… those three sentences after ” I held my breath for years.” I’m awed how you evoke Kraken and make him all yours, all new. You really set the bar high. And that last line, oh yes.
    Then arthropods, I literally recoiled and held my breath all the way through. Thank goodness it’s short or I might have died, forgetting to breathe at all. You evoke so much vulnerability, compassion, and power speaking what to many is unspeakable. It’s no small feat.
    Great to be here on the pages with you again.
    Oh, what can you do? Keep writing more, never stop. I’ll eat you up, I love it so.

  2. Kathryn Kulpa

    Body horror in extremis! These micros were truly terrifying, and they worked well together. I felt as if we were taking a twisting and twisted ride from fantastic, Lovecraftian imagery, like the Kraken with “ts tentacles like outlandishly long fingers, with suction cups that ripped off patches of my skin”) to the even darker horror of what humans do to other humans. Brrr!

  3. Meg Tuite

    Hi Len,
    So glad to have you back! WoW! The ending made it all come together for me. Then when I read it through a second time, it was the expansion and kaleidoscope of horror! The pacing is fast-packed. My one suggestion: ‘blood and guts’ is overused and I know you can work your own unique hell to this one. Outstanding! LOVE!

  4. Sara Comito

    Hi Len! Great to workshop with you this weekend. Your first line in Kraken is so great – love how matter of fact, subverting the idea of a honeymoon from a romantic venture into a nightmare. And then the last line is killer! “Where all the best murders took place.” This is a person trapped in a hell of reliving their past. And I’ve got nothing to say about the second piece, except wow. Again with the matter of fact: “why he raped me.” You just go there, and I love it.

  5. AJ Miller

    Len, really outstanding work. That opening sentence grabbed me like the kraken and pulled me into the story. Oh, the pain and humiliation the character is suffering. It comes through clearly, how he must want to die. The way you transitioned it to his childhood humiliation of peeing the bed was seamless. Really, the whole thing is powerful and conveys the mood and tone nicely. I only gave pause at one description, the “it’s lips tasted briny, like ripe piss and excrement,” but that’s just me and I’m not sure why even, other than maybe that description doesn’t quite fit what I would imagine.

    Anthropods and arthropods… I caught the subtle difference here and have to say I like that! The last piece is short but powerful. Spiders are creepy and the love the “stitching up his nostrils, weaving among his dense nose hair…” so vivid. The last line is perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  6. Aimee Parkison

    Len,

    The opening line is killer in its startling confession fiction, taking us right into the strangeness and the discord of the gothic transgression of the monstrous on the life of the character. I love the way you focus on the body, revealing the effects of trauma while also weaving in the monstrous through slipstream elements braided into the horrific. Something so sinister lurks in these fictions, a horrifying backstory of violence, betrayal, confession, and trauma camouflaged artfully and innovatively in the surreal.

    I’m captivated. There is so much complexity to what is happening, so much implicitly confessed yet left unspoken.

    This writing is edgy, taking risks by showing the effects of real violence and by weaving in slipstream horror elements. Brilliant!

    If you want to keep adding to this experiment, developing and generating this wonderful sinister strangeness, I suggest diving deeper into the implicit symbolic understory by building even more concrete details of the monstrous to raise additional related questions in the reader’s mind about the violence in the past that has birthed these disturbances in the world of the characters.

    Open the door a little bit more to allow the reader to go deeper inside.

    Overall, this is fascinating! I think you should consider sending this work out to genre-bending publications like Black Cat literary magazine, The Fairytale Review, or Trampset.

    Best, Aimee

  7. David O'Connor

    Len, so good to enter your mad mind again. That first line is a winner and capturing the horror of liquid nightmares and bedwetting and undersea life all into a whirling eddy of images is some, as usual, powerful and good writing. Way to mine the trauma and serve it on a spectacularly horrific platter. The only thing that jumped out at me is to name the pirate–give him like three words so we’re not thinking of the generic Long John Silver or Johnny Depp doing Keith Richards, a minor minor thought but hey, ain’t that what we’re here for… can’t wait to read more…

  8. Gloria Garfunkel

    Len, I love these two micros. They are so creative. I love the contrasted way you described the stain seeping under him like a wet forest fire, conveying his sense of desperation. I loved the ending of the wetted sheet on the clothesline for all to see his shame on the playground where all the best murders took place. Such a wonderful metaphor for the shame and utter humiliation that can pervade childhood. And the second piece with the spider-infested brother who raped her could not be scarier. Great work!

  9. Lucy Logsdon

    Sorry to be so late reading these! I’m really glad I took the time to come back and encounter them because they are deliciously chill-inducing. The second micro, especially, just totally creeps me out. You do horror so well, leaving your reader with that awful twist in the gut,

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