(Inspired by 7-Methoxy-β-Carboline: (Telepathine) from Time Machines)
By Matt Neil Hill
infinity / of corridors / beneath the earth / beneath the radio telescopes / the concrete / the car idling on the scorched grass / Jonathan inside still against the steering wheel / helmet on / trying not to move / to not disturb the drone of time / too early and too late / again and again / and for the hundredth time I looked back / not turned to salt / not I / spray of bloodied teeth against black glass / so hot / sky white and white hot / too hot to breathe / too weak to join me / my quest again back to the start / why did you press the button he asked an hour ago / a day / a week /how long have we been doing this / over and over / never to be got right / an ouroborous of wrong turns / white leather jacket / hammer and sickle red / crash helmet full face / black glass / I see you but you cannot see me / I descend / the stairs that lead down to the button / alone always alone / self-abandoned in this inverted cathedral / stumbled across / lost and cursed / the ghosts of trees on fire along the horizon / charcoal drawings of the end of the world / thud-thud-thud my heart / his heart stopped or almost so / against the wheel / a mile above / these boneless catacombs / deserted / fled / echoes of feet not mine / or maybe mine / I cannot tell / air cooling as I drop / the world above bleached by engines / engines vast and alien /man-made / Jonathan /Schrödinger’s husband / if I press the button again / at the end of the stairs / of corridors that blend and bleed and blur into one / the light always the same / cold blue / code red / why did you press the button / because I said / because I said but can’t remember / driving / driving and so lost / leather and black glass / uniforms we stole / car we stole / ID we stole / or did we / it’s so hard / so hard to remember / did we ever know what we were doing / my heartbeat loud inside this shell / assaulting the concrete walls / all the earth above me / dead / all dead / including Jonathan / but not Jonathan / not him if I push the button / again / I run / but slowly / with urgency / my feet know these floors / intimately / but without care / we drive in circles / can only go so far / I can remember before / but don’t like to / cruel memories that don’t involve these corridors / this endless pursuit / this loop / stuck in this loop / this circle of hell / why did you press the button / his final question to me each time / each time the first / so glad / always so glad he can’t read my mind / every time / darker with each level down / each corridor a mile / cut out of the earth / the rock / the salt / the lime / the soul / why did you push the button / might as well ask why are we here / where did the world go / do you love me / why do you love me / how could you leave me / might as well ask / might as well / heartbeat flickers / taste of rot in my gums / so thirsty / Jonathan against the steering wheel / up there above me in the blinding light / held together by leather and metal / and time / burning / melting / metastatising / the clatter of teeth against glass / his tongue / when did we last kiss / forever / forever ago / just now / yesterday / tomorrow / the surge of his insides / against the glass / the cracks / down I go / down corridors / barren / concrete like pitted skin / why did you press the button / again / again / again / if I had not / if I were to not / if I were to stop / and rest / and go no farther / and make the last time the last time / and just sit here in the dead lights / and breathe the cool air / made by machines / and listen to the whisper of the earth / and the relaxing of my heart / what would I do / the button would always be there / and I would be so lonely / divorced from that handful of hours / that loop / where we drive / in circles / and we kiss / when we know it is hopeless / and return to the start / in the hope / that it is not hopeless / and as his body rebels / and fades / and expels its blood and teeth / against the glass / I run / I descend / these stairs / these stairs and corridors / and run towards the final room / the final room I see / my finger that should be calloused / from repetition / but is smooth / like the enamel of his teeth / as they explode / and clatter against the glass / and I press the button / why did you press the button / because / just because / the loop is all we will ever have / the aimless drive / these corridors / the blood against the glass / and I reach down / reach out my finger in this lonely place / towards the button / knowing I will be back in the car / not at any second / but at the same second / and I will make you drive / in all haste / away from the concrete and the dishes pointed at the wasted sky / where no one speaks / where no one asks / why did you press the button / not for an hour or two / handful of beautiful minutes of hope / before it fades / and I return / alone / forever alone / just one more time / but not just one more time / again / again / to the infinity / of corridors / beneath the earth
Matt Neil Hill lives in London, where he was a psych nurse for many years. What he is now is anybody’s guess. He’s married with cats and one miniature human. His weird/crime/horror fiction has appeared in various publications including Vastarien, Weirdbook, Splonk, Shotgun Honey and the Dark Peninsula Press anthology Violent Vixens, with non-fiction at 3:AM Magazine and Invert/Extant. He is working, glacially, on at least one novel. You can find him on Twitter @mattneilhill.