by Shawn Phillips

Nine - Biased Lithography



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He came out of the woodlands into plasticity. There, before him, lay an expanse of gratuitous deception. Even the grass was fake. It hurt his feet as he walked southward. It was here where it was weak, so weak, like a land inflicted with AIDS, barely retaining a shadow of the life it once had, nothing left but a skinbag and puny bones. And that is what Grain saw. Skinbags and puny bones, but with wipe-on tans and Mercedes and $500 poodle cuts. Let the retribution begin.

Homicidal, baseball bat in hand, he found putridicity wherever he glanced. And livers already poisoned by substance were pulverized, completely removed by a swing of hickory. Brain tumors from nurtured sadism crushed. Teeth stained by selfish abusive rage sent down the esophagus, cutting digestive lining on their way out sphincters. With each swing, each surreal yet destructive blow, the Fault creaked.

Arizona Bay was near.

By the time he reached the border, Hermes stood before him. Grain stopped in his trek, looked to his left, and to his right, and spat out blood that was not his.



"Walk with me for a moment." And Hermes gestured with his caduceus, the rod with two entwined serpents, to the shoreline, his bronze skin in contrast to the bleached sand.

Grain dropped the sinew-stained bat at his feet and began stomping in the direction he indicated. "Make it quick, I have things to do."

"Of course, Dreamcatcher." Hermes followed a step behind and to the left.

"Who?" His hair, matted around his neck, reflected the lavender brightly in the Pacific sun.

"Assuredly you know who you are, Dreamcatcher." The wings on his cap and shoes folded in and rested.

"You know," Grain pointed to Hermes as they walked along the beach, "that's a very good question, because everyone else seems to know."

"You have acquired something that is feared and sought after, and in many ways misunderstood."

"You're telling me." He looked down at his bare chest, the pale and tinted skin contrasting against his discovery: a tin and purple-threaded dreamcatcher hung from his neck. "Huh. How did that get there."

"Clothos, Lachesos and Atropos, the Fates, have spoken to Jupiter..."

"Who is Zeus, I know," Grain waved Hermes to continue.

"...who has asked me to bring you this message." And he pulled a scroll from a satchel.

"Just tell me what it's about, don't bore me with the flowery language." Grain whipped handfuls of air at the ocean, veins bulging in his neck and arms as he did so.


"Well," Hermes began, unnerved, "Jupiter wishes to warn you on the path you have undertaken. This carnage is unnecessary. He urges you to seek counsel to retain your mental faculties."

"What's he going to do if I don't?"

"He did not say."

"Oh, but you know, little messenger, don't you?"

Hermes could not answer. His voice was cut off.

"Jupiter thinks he can throw empty threats around. He's afraid that I'm going to come after him next." Grain turned and walked up to the god of commerce and inventor of the lyre, breathing in his fear. "You give this message to you father, then." Hermes began to bleed from his eyes, the blood thin and long. "I will seek my own counsel, and I will come for him." As the body of the god fell to the beach, Grain spoke to the wings, still awaiting their next duty. The wings, in turn, unfolded, and lifted the body skyward and westbound, out of sight.


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