[Fiction/feminism] The Truthtellers

me at Vees house

I am a Truthteller: doomed to insinuate certain facts about the world with words and motion.

Sartorial truths are among the hardest of all. My existence in public spaces is mediated by ineluctable subtext draped across our perceptions like a shroud. It’s impossible for me just to be, save in those dark and dusty spaces where society’s tendrils have begun to rot: dank music halls with shitty speakers; my friend’s bedroom (where the rent’s gone up the owner grins unable to hide their glee at a housing bubble that will not burst); Newtown and dim indie theaters in cancerous symbiosis with more successful mainstream venues. The Truthtellers always have existed in the interstices, tolerated or not.

These interstices are cramped and overwhelming, packed already with the moldy human crusts society has thrown out with childish pique. Thoughtlessness is always far worse than intention.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about Ella Enchanted, that patriarchal wet dream of feminine subservience. Cursed at birth to always obey orders, no matter what they may be and no matter who has issued them, she is tugged through life by puppet strings dangled by a mother who only wants the best for her.

Always these orders are couched as what is best for us, but society’s real success is in its subcontracting out (what a triumph of capitalism!). Its manifesto is absorbed by osmosis into human immune cells guarding against invasion with homophobia, racism, intolerance. They repel attacks by Truthtellers that threaten to undermine the whole. It’s an allergic reaction, leaving the skin of our society red and swollen in self-destructive violence.

Humans pine for change only in abstractions.

To become a Truthteller is very easy. Simply undergo years of social conditioning and allow yourself to be molded into the ideal worker drone: anxiety-ridden; sleepless; always yearning for something better so long as that happiness can be purchased or stolen from someone else. Then wake up one morning and realize – naked and shivering before your mirror – that dressing yourself has become a political act, that leaving your house has become a political act, that your existence in a public space has become a political act against your own volition.

Cultivate a voracity for veracity. Wallow in it. Congratulations!

Safe spaces are a threat, not a luxury, and our society will not tolerate them. The upper-class white blood cells, aged as they are, must be allowed to wander where they will. Otherwise the Truthtellers will think themselves accepted and poison our society one mind at a time.

[Rainy day flashfic] Under the influence

garden_gnome_by_spiky_summer_girl.jpg

Image credit spiky-summer-girl on DeviantArt

Creatures crouch beneath the eaves. They are there when I look, still and passive, but when I look away their teeth grow long and sharp and their eyes dark. They’ve never overtly threatened me or made so much as a move in my direction. Like demented lawn gnomes, they just sit and stare with vaguely off expressions into the middle distance.

Their teeth breed anxiety. It’s like when you’re sleeping but your eyes are open and the wardrobe door is open, too, but you just can’t move, because sleep paralysis is a thing that 10% of people experience in their lifetime. It’s the feeling of knowing the danger is there but being unable to do anything about it. And worst of all, the wardrobe door is open only because you forgot to shut it, and not because Mike Wazowski is lurking there, evaluating you with his cyclopean stare. Tension resolved by mundane explanations is tension left unresolved.

When I approached the creatures crouched beneath the eaves, they reverted to their non-peripheral form, all malevolent grins and stifled mocking chuckles. So I kicked one, right in the face. That got the attention of the others, and they started exchanging stilted whispers and worried expressions – were they going to have to rise to my challenge and reveal themselves? Understand that their dilemma was decidedly non-feudal. It wasn’t a matter of besmirched honor or letting slights go unpunished, but something far simpler. Having kicked one and seen its teeth grow sharp in feral anger, would I proceed to apply my unprotected foot to the others? Their self-interest compounded into a far greater sum, until levees burst and fear flooded through.

The under-eaves are deserted now, the creatures left to go inhabit some other poor sod’s lawn. Did I defeat them? Not really. At night, there is still the chance that I will wake up and experience the terrifying lack of movement of a body held captive by REM atonia even as my consciousness fights against the suffocating hallucinations that so often accompany these waking nightmares. A loss of agency is one of the most horrifying fates imaginable – to look on helpless as your captor’s teeth grow long and sharp around you.

[Rainy day flashfic] In the trees, part of the trees

Menacing Forest by Adam Varga

Weaved in the whorls of our bark is a pattern. Poe’s purloined papers were placed in plain sight, but we lack even that meager pretense — these knots and knobs, these dents and depressions; these grave imperfections delicately nurtured over hundreds of years scream out for attention. Their presence is not subtle. Journals and treatises have been written about them until the shelves creak and groan with their back-breaking bulk.

And still, scientists and experts — the accumulated brains of all six vast continents — have failed to divine their true purpose. They think that they signify, yes, but in ways quite oblique to their actual meaning. They claim that these whorls and wandering runnels carved into our skin are markers of age, or accidents of nature, incidental inscriptions arising from chance and the privations of seasons.

Competing theories (equally wrong but pleasingly metaphysical) contend our whorls are the markers of trauma visited upon our corporeal forms in previous lives long since passed. Yet others proclaim them to be earthly finger-prints of celestial beings, as if such care to toy with man’s mundane mind!

Reality is much simpler than this; rarely does it require us to jump through such hoops. After all, humanity’s woes are largely self-imposed. In fine X-Files fashion, the truth has always been out there, but they just didn’t know.

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[Rainy day flashfic] McGruff the Crime Dog

McGruff 1

Oh, McGruff! We loved you despite your flaws.

When I saw you crash-tackle that grim-jawed TV thief on prime-time television, I blanked out, lost track of my conversation momentarily. Just for a second; long enough to see your victory repaid with a flick of the coat and a smarmy smarting remark to the would-be burglar lying stunned on the ground.

I saw you as other than you were. Like a giggling slouching hipster I’d slide up to friends and tell them how I knew you best, better than those moribund consuming slackwits picking propaganda and greying chunks of chicken from their teeth. We shared a good dynamic, even if you knew nothing of our partnership: you the most convincing, I the unconvinced. Your anthropomorphic barks and dogged insinuations were merely affectations. I saw your lolling tongue for the rough-faced lie it was, and it grated me like sandpaper.

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[Rainy day flashfic] A world uncovered

a_big_world_out_there_by_ajvl-d87dszl

Sometimes we are overwhelmed by choices as we slip through cracks in the walls and sidle up to the secrets within. These crooked buildings have stood too long for their crevices to be free of hidden treasures, hidden trifles. Hidden traps. Mysteries proliferate in these catacombs, but we are never braver than when we delve headfirst through the crawlspaces and wriggleways; our cultivated cowardice (gorged on dirt and danger!) is too thick and heavy to slither in after us. It prowls, restless, until we re-emerge to meet it.

Inside it is never the same. Why else would we have burrowed through ten, twelve, a hundred times? Once I squeezed in and discovered the decaying skeleton of another explorer, suspended in space by shrewdly plaited cobwebs; other times I find impossible fields and rust-ridden cityscapes that stretch endlessly into the distance, bucking and curving in on themselves like Escher portraits. The variety is dazzling, though rarely pleasant. Yet we push through and onwards, proving nothing to anyone. Sometimes, we are ambushed.

The horrors dwell in sight unseen, they say.

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[Rainy day flashfic] Poking through

AdamantiumClaws by jakobdam

George was a girl born with adamantium claws.

Nobody was quite sure how she got them — the closest George ever received to body-altering surgery was for a badly skinned knee in grade four — but whatever the case, her forearms were impregnated with six and a half inches of a nearly indestructible metal alloy. Unlike Wolverine, George did not possess huge stamina, strength or rapid healing powers, only the claws — and even these she couldn’t control, because they would only come out when she was feeling upset, and would only retract once she’d calmed down.

George spent a lot of her time with her claws out. She’d be sitting down at home and reading a book or watching TV when there would come the bright metallic sching of metal on metal and suddenly the last chapter would be in pieces on the floor, or the couch would be bleeding stuffing. This was, as you can imagine, a problem, because six and a half inches of sharpened adamantium don’t require an awful lot of force or finesse to slice through pretty much anything, including human flesh. George’s lack of control over her claws and their sheer destructive capability was a serious issue at school where no one wanted to sit near the weird girl who could kill them with a careless gesture. And so George spent most of her lunch-times alone, scratching sadly at the criss-crossed pavement.

Her parents were desperate that she should lead a ‘normal’ childhood, and so they approached the greatest medical professionals in the country, asking them to help their child. But every one of them shook their heads at George’s condition and sent them away with a regretful murmur, saying that any operation undertaken to remove the metal from George’s arms would almost certainly render her forelimbs useless. Unable to knowingly consign their child to such a fate, George’s parents watched on helplessly as she grew more and more isolated from those around her and spent more and more time staring angrily at her claws. It didn’t help that the kids at school would tease her relentlessly in order to make her upset and force out the claws, which they never tired of.

Eventually, George realized that the claws weren’t going anywhere, and that she would have to live with their presence and constant unspoken threat every moment of her life. One morning, she woke up and defiantly dressed in the clothes she wanted to wear, and did her hair the way she wanted it to be done, and boldly walked to school. At school, everyone looked at her strangely, and some even came up and told her that what she was wearing wasn’t meant for boys like her and called her unpleasant names.

She realized as this went on all day and then all week and then all year that before this that nobody had bothered to look past her claws and consider her as a person. It was only now that she’d broken one of their rules — their really important rules, the ones on which their whole world view rested on — that she had stopped being invisible.

Image credit jakobdam on DeviantArt

[Rainy day flashfic] The pebble’s ponderings

the pebble's ponderings

Elton stared out across the high mountain road and down, down, out over the city, out to where fast gathering night darkened dreams of slumbering suburbanites.

He had always wondered why they called it that — the gathering night, like the night was some fabric you could bunch in around you or pull off the shelf into your shopping cart. Night wasn’t real, no more than the day actually broke or giant-sized calamari dwelt upon the ocean floor, surfacing to harass the drunken sailors who swore by such things as kraken or anachronistic terrors from the deeps. Elton had been a lot of places and seen a lot of things, and he had never seen evidence to suggest anything more than objective, verifiable reality — the weighty kind you could wave in people’s faces and bellow “Eureka!” about — existed. Nevertheless, he kept his mind open, because whatever his faults Elton was pragmatic, impartial, and above all, open-minded.

Elton was also a rock.

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