Monster: Repetition or Deficiency

by Sarah Walko, in CR(I)SES AD(JUST)MENTS (COLLAPSED), published by Lulu Press, NYC, 2013.


When I woke I was lying sideways in an alleyway covered in sweat. My head was so heavy the stones gave way, collecting the water running down my forehead and forming little pools. With my ear to the watery stones however, I heard something. The stones told me, stand up and walk stright down the street until you get to a small yellow house and go inside. You will find her there and she will make everything heard. I stood up and walked into the city, picking up locks of hair that lay all over the ground as I walked. The house was at the end of the street. I walked inside and found her.

She told me we needed to do something with our hands. We would remake the city. We would make a miniature version of the city again, an architectural model of sorts and undo what was done. We set out to include every building, street, tank and bridge. Every tower antenne and courtyard. Every curbway line, fence. Every melted stone. Elevation, ventiliation, condemnation, basic basin alignment, cemetery, boundries, a river, lake. Every pier, pavement center, line, tax lot, sewer main. Every power line. Every power line and every meter, hydrant, manhole, and bench.


We made the small city with the table cloth inside the quiet house behind the closed door. We built a miniature city right there on the floor. Then we folded it up, square upon square, smaller and smaller square upon square until it fit into the palm of her hand. And then she told me to swallow it and when I did I felt all of the petrified dragons in relief that live at the tops of the buildings. I felt all of that fire. I felt the moldable bricks and the narrative of uncountable kings.

The architecture is never what it appears to be she told me. Sometimes arches are really words, and words are really arches. We walked outside to the backyard she handed me a shovel and we began to dig. We unearthed relics and the rest of the bells that were unringing. We looked into the quietest parts of the sentences and saw rich alluvial deposits. We found books with many errors, a boat full of birds, resuscitatation, approximation, enhancement and endure. 


We walked back into the house and moments later the windows blew open.

We stood still and she pointed toward the door and suddenly, it blew down. The house surged past 130 hertz, all the hair on our heads stood up, the vases cracked and the heaps of arrows they contained spilled onto the floor pointing in every direction and I didn’t know where to look. 


She told me, just continue to swallow. I did as I was told, thinking perhaps together we could swallow all of that fear. It is said that the gods have no eyes and we knew standing in that room there was something unworldly with us. We stood still, searching for a place to look, looking for a place to place the past so it was past. We knew we couldn’t let it inhabit us anymore. We listened to all of the objects in the house and the dead and we knew what they were asking us and what the stones had instructed us to do, make everything heard.

We grew nickel in our throats and softest metal that fuses with the lightest element in our stomachs and made this alloy that no one yet invented. We began to understand sound was our army and it is quite difficult to fight an army that one cannot see. Originally all sounds were original, but now, any sound, no matter how tiny, can be blown up and shot around the world. And that clank, which indicated we hit a place, the place, where we were about to enter a new cycle, shot around the world. So all at once everyone heard. If cannons had been silent, they never would have been used in warfare.

We had always thought monsters had three and four sets of hands and feet or three heads. But now we knew they were formless. We pulled out maps of the world and plotted intensity against frequency. We brought out the notes in the chromatic scale, each an army of sound.

There were no books in the house but if there had been all of their spines would have broken at the same moment. She told me they did on the other side of the world where all the people were sleeping. The sound of it, a sound they had never heard before, woke them because it belonged to other worlds. Glass window shards were all over the floor, a road we had to walk on to get out the door. We went slowly, just one foot and then the other.