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Pan’s Lobotomy by Matthew Burnside

None of us can find the door if there even is one. I’m not so sure anymore. We have been searching for two billion years now, give or take a golden era. Licking the walls of the apartment, groping the darkness for doorknobs the way blind men feel for Braille, flopping around on the carpet like epileptic sardines in a Technicolor tin. We is four of us: Logos, Psyche, Dynamis, and me, Aporia. Maybe more. Sofa makes five.

The first day we crushed up the stuff and put it in every orifice. We felt colors and saw textures. I had a conversation with the number ‘6’. Logos floated balloons out the window bearing little messages, gems like HAPPINESS IS A WARM GERM or MOTHERFUCK THE ONE WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. Psyche in the acid jacket made a necklace out of baby teeth while Dynamis burned the bed sheets in the washing machine, mixed the ashes with rubber cement and smothered it on ‘Cat’, which is the name of his dog. I devoured random selections from infinity’s jukebox.

With night came a ramshackle parade in the sky of inflated Buddhas and plastic Jesuses. We feasted on shish kebobs of human tissue and calcified phlegm, clew and coagulated mercury, washed it down with vials of bone marrow with pearls we plucked from our tear ducts with tweezers. Treated ourselves to dessert of knife soup and caramelized melancholy.

“Off to the store for Zero Dream Apparatus,” Logos told us, and Psyche warned him: “Nay. Into the exploding fog.” He sat back down. Fed Cat to Sofa. “Ennui.” Eternal consciousness was his curse.

Sofa bellowed, gnashed its cushions. That’s when we saw the symbol emblazoned on the floor, bright as a seraph.

#

“Is?” Logos said. We concurred.

Someone had left their baby harnessed to the end of a pendulum dangling from a serpent’s tail. The violet dagger-shaped eyes of the baby cascaded a viscous fluid, which crept between my toes and puddled its way up my thighs until it found my belly button, sucked itself through the hole. “I am entered,” I averred. Logos opened his mouth wide, projected a monolith on the wall. “Behold: The shimmering architecture of the soul’s lattice.” Dynamis set fire to the baby, captured the effervescent blue smoke in a bottle and buried it in his ribcage.

“Is?” Logos repeated.

“Apotheosis-bound,” Psyche said, and proceeded to do calculations on a razorblade pillow. It thrashed and howled, but we held it down while she did the math, blazing the luminiferous chalk against its contours until it became domesticated, its barbs wailing and wilting off.

∞ x ∞ / ∞∞ (∞ + ∞) + ∞2 – ∞ = ?

“To kingdom come!” She deciphered, but we didn’t follow. Eternal logic was her curse. “Salamanders?” Logos asked, and she traced the equation once more. “Gallop thy atoms westward, against the grain,” she explained. We nodded. There were winged cogs in the air and Logos plucked one. Unzipped his skull and put it away for safe-keeping.

The immeasurable evening was then spent in exaltation of our sublime ignorance. We consecrated the formlessness of our egos and the splendor of our toenails, worshipped the almighty circle while brandishing ketchup packets. We embodied mountains and oceans and constellations and insects and empires and gods and devils with our vile mimicry. Then we disconnected our bodies, unsnapped the puzzle pieces of our organs and traded. Dressed ourselves in each other’s fashionable flesh and copulated with mirrors. We reveled in ecstasy until the drugs began to wear off, and Logos stabbed the nothingness with a murderous zeal. “Art thou Art.” Psyche corrected him. “Thou art Thou.”

Sobered now, we collect ourselves. Scoop the slumber out of our third eyes. Sunlight is guttering in through the apartment windows; we bask in its warm, irrefutable truth. “We should find the door before it’s too late,” Psyche reasons, as Dynamis grips a sledgehammer. He swings into a window full force―yawping like a savage―but the pane bends reflexively to evade the blunt edge. “Not like that,” Psyche says. “It’s a simulacrum, remember? Facade.” Logos has already begun peeling up the carpet.

I stand in the corner, yawning while the others slaver for the exit. Congealed memory drizzles down my neck from a hole in my head. I stuff a cork in the wound. The others do not accept me as one of them now. They ignore me in this state. I am a mere phantom automaton.

“Or maybe the answer is here,” Psyche suggests, rubbing the marking on the floor with a scientist’s scrutiny.

#

“Maybe it has everything to do with everything,” she says.

“What does it mean?” asks Logos. Dynamis thrusts and flails his sledgehammer in the background, just to give his hands something to do. He lusts for destruction of matter, but there is nothing left to pulverize in the room. He begins to unclasp his mandible. “No, Dynamis,” Psyche says. “Hold together.” Ruefully, he clicks his jaw back on. Eternal boredom is his curse. If Psyche were not here, he would happily tear himself apart and eat his own tart bones. Savor the succulent sinews and corpuscles.

Logos rips the last shred of carpet up. Nothing.

Psyche turns toward me now, heaps suspicion upon me as gravediggers heap dirt upon the dead. “YOU―you know where the exit is, don’t you?” Suddenly I am one of the tribe again. I nod meekly, reach up and unplug the cork from my wound. Allow the memory to flow freely, spitting like a fountain. One-by-one, my brothers and sister lap it with their tongues until they thirst no longer. I imbibe it, too, for I am weak. This room is the only home I have ever known: the only reality I trust. Eternal doubt is my curse.

In no time the room has repaired itself. The carpet has grown back thicker―a stubborn exoskeleton for restless nomads of the mind. That baby is back, too, taunting us from the ceiling with two pensive, hollow sockets.

There is a bowl on the coffee table filled to the brim with white corpulent fruit. A note invites us to gorge ourselves.

Logos notices a mysterious marking underfoot.

#

“Is?” he wonders. Nobody knows.

That night, we crush up the fruit and put it in every orifice. Feel colors and see textures. I have a conversation with the number ‘7’. Logos floats balloons out the window bearing little messages, gems like HAPPINESS IS A LUKEWARM GERM or MOTHERFUCK THE ONE WITH THE SILVER GUN. Psyche in the acid jacket makes earrings out of baby teeth while Dynamis burns the bed sheets in the washing machine, mixes the ashes with rubber cement and smothers it on ‘Fish’, which is the name of his lizard. I devour random selections from infinity’s jukebox.

None of us can find the door, if there even is one. I’m not so sure anymore. We have been searching for two and a half billion years now, give or take a golden era.

———————

Matthew Burnside’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Concho River Review, PANK, Ginosko, Barrier Islands Review, The Cynic Online, Revolution House, Neon Magazine in the UK, Pulp Metal Magazine, and Short, Fast, and Deadly, among others. I am an editor for Mixed Fruit, an online literary magazine (http://mixedfruitmag.com/).

This story was partially influenced by my adventures in metaphysics and philosophy, and partially influenced by a dream I had once involving the tower of Babylon.

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