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Excerpt from Monsters



Illustration by Cherise Clark

Have you ever had one of those visions that’s like a dream, only you’re awake, and you know that what you’re seeing is more real than reality, you know that what you’re seeing is more real than flesh and blood and skin and bones and pain and love and hate and life and death? That’s what I have now.

I see her, and then where she stands I no longer see her, but I see the steel skeletons of skyscrapers reaching higher than trees, higher than birds fly, higher than life. I see the ribs of immense ships, and I see complex neural systems of circuit boards and electrical grids. I see the world’s circulatory systems not as rivers and winds and ocean currents, not as the homeward pull of salmon toward the stream where they first felt life, but instead as oil flowing through pipelines, and then in a searing flash that scars the backs of my eyeballs and scores its way through my brain, as the movement of bits and bytes around the world, money flowing, information flowing. And I know that just as the skeleton on stage, the machine on stage, no longer needs flesh and bone and animality, none of us need rivers and winds and ocean currents and salmon and birth and death.

Suddenly I know what technology wants.

And that is when the lights come on.

The show’s over.

I walk outside with Widgie and the rest of the crowd. We all start looking for the next amusement. Widgie and I each have a few tickets left. I ask him what he wants.

He says he doesn’t know.

He asks what I want.

I tell him the same.

But I’m lying, just as the skeleton on stage had been lying. I do know what I want. I want for the endless wasting of time to end; I want to stop having to be amused; I want for the spectacle to be over. And I want for the pain to be over. I want to stop having to sleep and wake and sleep and wake and get older and older. Instead I want to sleep and not wake.