If you get ill after eating or touching something that didn’t make anyone else sick, you may be allergic to it. Especially if there’s a rash. Allergies are caused by your body rejecting substances it doesn’t like. There is no treatment but to avoid those substances. Fortunately, only a few types of allergies can kill you. Nut allergies, for instance. Bee stings. But I imagine most people with fatal allergies to common things have died by now.
I am allergic to wool, soy, peanuts, and pollen. Only my peanut allergy can kill me.
When I drew nigh the nameless city I knew it was accursed. I was traveling in a parched and terrible valley under the moon, and afar I saw it protruding uncannily above the sands as parts of a corpse may protrude from an ill-made grave. Fear spoke from the age-worn stones of this hoary survivor of the deluge, this great-grandmother of the eldest pyramid; and a viewless aura repelled me and bade me retreat from antique and sinister secrets that no man should see, and no man else had ever dared to see.
The day she left we forgot to take out the trash. At five-thirty in the morning, I heard the city trucks lumbering down the street with their mechanical, prehensile arms and remembered that we had forgotten to take out the trash. I didn’t care though. I knew that in a few hours I would help load the last of her boxes into the truck, and she would leave. Everything was expanding without me, and I felt like the room was growing until I was lost in and filled with its great, grey nothing.
John was born with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, and he often wondered why. But as a boy, it was simply wonderful to have those abilities. He could lift his father’s tractor overhead before he learned to read. He could outrace a galloping horse. He couldn’t be cut or bruised or burned. He could fly…
I still remember that cold October afternoon in 1936 when Whitey McFarland’s old coonhound Maggie dragged herself out of the forest, whimpering and yowling. Her skin hung off her sides in red flaps and her eyes rolled wildly. She collapsed on the ground and howled.
All us kids loved Maggie, but not one of us dared go near her, not while she was baring her teeth and snarling. Benny Carper dropped the bat and ran off; Ira Schmidt just stood there staring at the half-dead animal as it pawed the frozen dirt. I tugged on Whitey’s sleeve and told him to stay with Maggie while I got my dad—Whitey’s dad was a drunk and never easy to find. When he finally nodded in understanding, I took off running.
A man in a wrinkled, black suit entered the fairgrounds. He was tall and lean, his skin the color of drying leather. He wore a faded sport shirt underneath his suit coat, white with yellow stripes. His hair was black and greasy, parted in the middle and brushed back flat on each side. His eyes were pale blue. There was no expression on his face. It was a hundred and two degrees in the sun but he was not perspiring.
If you could shrink tiny, and drop down your own throat
Like the tiniest of captains on the tiniest of boats
I bet you’d be shocked at the things that you saw
In the dark and the damp of your damp and dark maw.
Your body’s a marvel, it’s one of a kind
Which is why countless scary small things live inside!
They can’t live in houses, as most of us do
So they climb inside people– like me and like you!
Do you hear the band playing– that merry old song?
While the horns play the chorus and the crowd sings along?
Down Main Street they march, that gay promenade
Which float is your favorite in the Parasite Parade?
I nestle the video camera on its makeshift tripod, carefully centering my daughter’s image. She tucks her hair behind her ear and gives a strained smile. She is sixteen, and that hair is long and golden–kissed light brown and straight; she has the gangly grace only teenagers have, that sleek gazelle form. She is wearing khaki shorts and a striped tank top, and the bite mark on her arm is already putrefying.
There was a black, one-way window between me and my father, watching my interrogation. I imagined he was looking down at me with the rest of the generals on the second story. Their room looked down into empty cement room where I sat, alone, on a white chair, watching a black video screen. The decision to move them to another floor had been made recently after one of their interrogations became violent. That is, the person being interrogated became violent.
There were always bright rings on the doorbell and smiling faces carrying covered dishes. There was always a peck on the cheek for us kids when grandma came, and always a strong handshake from grandpa. His big warm hands always convinced us that he was as strong as he was wise. All of them would pile in, cherry red cheeks and warm mittens. They would brush off all the snow from outside and remind us how cold it was where we lived. It was true, we lived in one of the coldest parts of the country, and there was always a blizzard on Christmas Eve.
Life on the moon sucks. Dad got home early from the air factory today and I wasn’t done cleaning the dishes from breakfast so he broke my breakfast bowl over my head. Guess I’ll have to eat out of his bowl tomorrow.
Dad says he’s gonna have to get a new job. Not that he told me. He told Melinda, the girl he’s been bringing home lately. They drank the last of his screech — that’s this nasty rum like they used to make back on Earth — then started poking each other on the bottom bunk while I sat on the top. Dad caught me peaking and near took my eye out when he threw his boot. Melinda calmed him down at least, and they got back to poking at each other.
After she lost interest in the green eggs—yes, green chicken eggs (taste the same, look dyed, so what’s the point?)—my neighbor Johanna started raising black chickens. Yes, black ones. They’re popular in China for reasons ranging from nutrition to superstition, and she’d gotten three hens and a rooster from a guy in Chinatown—in exchange for the last two green-egg chickens she had.
“Green is good now in China,” he said. “Helps make a man’s pole longer.”
“Right,” she told him. “Don’t need to kill rhinoceros and go to jail for long pole anymore.”
Want to get your hands on some of our exclusive Kickstarter schwag?
Check out our new store!