# Z Beyond the Sea

Editor’s Foreword

The thing of it is, Mike doesn’t categorize his submissions. Oh, no, that would make things too easy for me. No, he’ll just label it a “fiction submission” and be done with it. Then, there not being a category for “bizarre,” I am generally forced to label it “horror.” And, while it does fit, it’s not as fitting as “bizarre.” What I ought to do is just create a category called “Philbin” and then Mike cannot complain in his blog that I didn’t properly categorize it for my “punters.”

Alas, however, Mike informs me he is a member of a group of writers who call their genre “Bizarro.” Sounds catchier than a “Philbin” category, so, henceforth, premiering with Mike’s current story, we shall now have a “Bizarro” category. This also means that Mike will no longer have an excuse not to identify his submissions for the appropriate genre.

The easily disturbed may wish to turn now and run away screaming. Your co-workers will assume you read the story and not give you any grief over having not read it.

that’s when I began to suspect I wasn’t even real. I fantasised that some wicked alchemist had magicked me out of the chimerical vibrations of his ether, that some evil witch had sang my matrix out of a tattered old spell book, that some idiot with a pen had scratched me onto rough grained paper. I could feel the graphite shearing off as each frenzied stroke of the pencil gouged more lines into my face. I wasn’t real, that’s the conclusion I came to. I was a ‘creation’.

But what had brought me to this conclusion?

I’ll not divulge the intimate details like some turgid series of flashbacks. It would be better illustrated if I take you on a journey through the following episode and show you why I can’t be killed, why life is a living torture, why death is a far distant whim, a sneer under a hood. Oh, don’t be jumping ahead of yourself, dear reader, I am not in Hell, I am not in Purgatory, I am not a departed soul or restless spirit. I am flesh and blood, a feeble claw trying to crush walnut.

Watch. I’ll cut myself for you and tell you what I see and feel. I’ll annotate the mechanism of blood and how it is forever shifting, changing, coaxing influences from some unseen realm into existence. I am a prisoner to the flesh, drowning in blood.

Nah, cutting myself for your entertainment, what would that prove? What can any evidence truly prove? Come with me, I’ll take you on a guided tour of my hometown and you can see why I came to my insane conclusion. I say hometown, not because it’s a cute little hamlet in the country where everyone greets everyone with a sunny hello despite the weather and everyone knows everyone’s business despite the hidden menu of atrocities that lie behind every twitching net curtain. It’s a hometown in the garden fence sense, even though there are no real garden fences. The connections between people are like garden fences though. You know? You’re not understanding me, are you?

I’m standing on the roof of the tallest building in my hometown. I can see out across the sea to where the tankers are docked. If you wander out under the cover of darkness you’ll see all sorts of illegal contraband being offloaded–but that’s not the subject of this memoir. I throw myself off the tallest building in my hometown. Don’t worry. Don’t pray for me. Don’t hope a fortunate series of events will save me from crushing my skull on the cobbled pavement that rapidly approaches. The air rushes past me as I fall. Falling like this to one’s doom like this brings back all the good things life can deliver.

I’ve never been out of my hometown; never even thought about simply getting in my car and driving away. I guess that’s the way people are; they’ll sit and think and ponder for so long that before, they know it, their life is over and they’re in a box sliding into the heat of the furnace. I mean what a stupid name for a place, my hometown. It implies mythical beasts and hideous experiments in the filth of concentration camp theatres, doesn’t it? Doesn’t the name my hometown make you think of the worst possible things that could happen to human flesh? Like the worst possible things that have happened in the name of ‘science’, it’s all a fiction. As religion is a fiction, like propaganda, science seeps in under the doorways and suffocates you in the night. You’re dead even before you realise the con-game you’ve been a part of. You don’t believe me? Look back in history and see what the scientists have convinced our humble race of. When I say scientists, I am using a term that restricts the range, I should really say Beliefists so that my accusation can encompass priests and politicians too.

I wonder why mankind shifts the blame onto our elected representatives? What is it missing from the human psyche that allows him to offload his moral responsibility onto these other, uncaring/dogmatic, others?

Oh, sorry, I got distracted… I hit the ground doing 260 miles per hour at an oblique angle and my skull is crushed by the impact, the remainder of my skeleton ploughs into my skull and pours my innards, the contents of my bowels and bladder and the fat of my thighs all over the pavement. People gather round and start to taste me. It’s a delicious sensation even though I detest its ramifications. I’m not talking about zombies here, though, you’ve got to remember that. We’re not in a town called HorrorCliché1.01, so get that brain-dead thought out of your head right away. Do you hear me? We are not being eaten by zombies. Even if the potential is there for living the zombie lifestyle of interconnected divviness. No, that is not what’s gonna happen here.

Licking is not eating. Eating fuels the fire, fans the flames. Licking is another genre of beast altogether. Let me tell you about the last time some fool licked me. I’m in this public lavatory, my guts hanging out. The girl beside me has her throat cut. She is licking me. I is licking she. It’s a photoshoot for Licker magazine, what did you expect? Prior to the initial seduction, we’re in a heap on the floor by the side of one of the toilets there in the far-most cubicle. Some idiot kicked the door off months back but nobody bothers to fix it–another trait of my hometown, once it’s broken, it’s broken forever. Unlike the people. Oooh, did I let it out? The great secret? Did I suggest that ALL the inhabitants of my hometown are immortal? No. I am the only real inhabitant of my hometown. It’s a ghost town in so many ways. Filled with the ghosts of so many creatures I have created in my semi-waking existence. I always feel like you feel when you’ve just woken up from a too-long afternoon nap. Your mouth is constantly dry, your teeth sticking to your lips. Your jaw hangs open. Your head runs on empty, if you don’t refuel, you’re a goner. You stagger to the hungry refrigerator but that’s one mean son-of-a-bitch that doesn’t give its contents easily–you will always have a fight on your hands in the kitchen.

Except that you never are, you’re never a goner. If that were the case, I’d go to sleep for good one afternoon and never wake up. But an inhabitant of my hometown is rarely offered that luxury. I think of the next thousand words… no that’s not exact. I fear the next thousand words of confession. That’s what this place can do to a fella. You can start to fear your own words. Not because you’re afraid about the consequences. But because you’re afraid of the consequences. It’s a subtle but essential distinction.

Words MAKE things happen in my hometown. Be very careful what you wish for, they say. Well, do that math on a million calculators to n-decimal places and you have some idea of what it means to be TOTALLY responsible for not only your deeds but, more importantly, your thoughts. And I’m not gonna plagiarise 1984’s ‘thought crime’ here. It’s not that simple. In your classic Orwellian definition of Thought Crime or Sex Crime, as it’s more commonly known, you can be punished even without having committed the crime of sex. In my hometown, that seedy greyness of concrete and glass where I have my derelict abode, sex crime (or thought crime if you prefer) is just that, the crime of sex.

You still with me?

In my hometown, you can breathe life into a crime you didn’t even know existed. You meet some chick on a rollercoaster. You sit beside her. She looks across at you as the bar comes down over you.

“Hi,” you say to her.

The gears kick in. The carriage starts to ascend the ladder. The wind catches in your hair like fingers. Her hand reaches across to touch your hair. Her arms dislocate… it always happens this way. Some crazy Giger-esque happening in a relatively normal location or locale. The details are pointless. Oh, you may end up eating her tits as the humps and bumps of the ride progress, you may end up disembowelling her on stage moments later after a scene shift, you may even have to live with her for fifteen years of constant stabbing (a near-death from millions of tiny cuts) but that’s not important. What is important is that, no matter what psycho-sexual hell you put yourself through, you always survive. In fact, you never die–even though you aren’t immortal. It’s like you are a living representation of Darwin’s history lesson.

You keep getting eaten, shat out, fed to other sicker dreams, regurgitated into the life cycle of my hometown, the social circle, let’s call it. The evolutionary way it works. You’re a prisoner without boundaries. Nothing stops you leaving. There’s a tunnel that you can drive your car through. You can leave whenever you want. It’s like that song, The Hotel California. Except that this hotel holds five million inhabitants, and they’re all sick fools, they all know where you live; they’ll never leave you alone.

Listen now, that sound, is it another mob hammering down the door? No, it’s the tongues of the corpse lickers. They’re all over me again, licking life back into me, licking the blood back into my veins, licking the muscle and fat into its rightful place along my bones, licking my skull back into shape. Are they sacrificing themselves to my great cause, these licking creations? What happens to them after they’ve licked me back to life, healed my wounds, cured my depression and obliterated my fears? I’ve never really followed them before.

Maybe I’d get to know something about the how and why of my hometown if, just one time, I kept my eye on one of those acolytes. I can see them, as I revive, I can see them staggering back to their domicile–wherever that may be. As the foot-dragging hordes disappear over the crest of Sunnyside Hill, I stagger to my feet; not an easy task when your entire body is suffering the rigors of blood just starting to fight its way through occluded blood vessels. I cramp over but stagger on, my eyes, ears, tongue and brain literally confused as concrete.

My hometown bucks and sways all around me like a terrible Carnival on a choppy sea. And there you have your clue as to my ultimate destination. It is, after all, the subject of my missive–Beyond The Sea. My hometown spills my recently dead corpse down its final descent like so much spare change falling out of a hole in its pocket.

Down to the water’s edge.

The Lickers, I don’t know what else to call them (it’s what they do), wander into the weak-willed waves one by one, sometimes a few at a time, holding hands, singing soft songs. I can hear them, hear their songs but can’t make out any details, any lyrics or melody. I stagger closer to make out what it is they’re singing. Gurgles as the choir descend below the waves, their cassocks and yashmaks and papal robes and judge’s wigs and police batons and the nails of every fake Christ since my hometown was grown in my mother’s womb are the bubble-popping laments that draw me on, coax me into the waves. I will soon know why the Lickers do their thing. I will soon be free of this place. Why didn’t I realise it was this easy? After all these years of suffering, why didn’t I realise that to become an inhabitant of my hometown is to conquer the curse of this sallow place.


About the Author

Mike Philbin is the man behind the surrealist writing entity Hertzan Chimera. Mike is the editor of the Chimeraworld anthology (now in its fifth year). In 2008, Silverthought Press of New York will release his two new novels Bukkakeworld and Planet of the Owls.


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# Z Hot Naked Chicks

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