An essay by Me, as provided by Kate B. Brokaw
Art by Luke Spooner
Oh good, you’re here. Now listen up, here’s a story I want you to remember:
I used to be a human. But that was a long time ago. Like everything living inevitably does, I died. I died and my body wasted away in the ground for years. Slowly decomposing, it was the bacteria in my gut that began tearing me apart first. Ironic, really. What had once helped me digest my own food now feasted on me instead.
They escaped from the cage of my intestines and quickly spread throughout the rest of my body. And as they fed on my tissue, the fermented sugars they produced caused me to bloat. So much so that my skin blistered and sloughed off. It intensified until the pressure inside me grew and grew and my abdomen exploded. My putrefied insides, now liquid, had splattered everywhere, and the rest oozed out through any escape it could find. I hated making a mess, but there was nothing I could do about it. Remember, I was dead–it was a real fucking inconvenience.
Luckily for me, I had the blowflies to clean it up. They took whatever they wanted, and what they didn’t, they made a home out of and laid eggs in. Before I knew it, I became the residence of hundreds of their children. They hatched and lived off of me until there was no flesh left to consume.
It was then that I truly began to lose myself. I was no longer me, but rather parts of hundreds of bugs. I was always told “you are what you eat,” but from my experience, it was more like “you eat what you are.” Because it wasn’t the blowflies that became me when they ate my flesh but rather me that became a part of them.
I’m going to be honest with you. I didn’t remember any of this until I came back to myself years later. It’s hard to form any thoughts when you’re spread out between hundreds of lives and even harder when those lives are broken down and spread out even further. I ceased to be me and became a part of so many other things. Like the edge of a concrete sidewalk, the mold in a drain, and the molecules that made up the sky. I traveled to space and back, and at the same time made it to the deepest parts of the ocean. There was nothing I couldn’t be and nowhere I hadn’t gone. Or at least that’s what I thought.
Like everything else, I should have continued to break down. Spread out. Disintegrate until every last one of my atoms were torn apart and permanently merged into the fabric of the universe.
But, that’s only what should have happened.
Instead, in one of the most colossal and magnificently terrible coincidences, the pieces that had once made me, me were reunited into one organism again. In every possible way, the odds were against me. I mean, really, the chances that all my pieces would be together at the same time in the same place? Infinitely small. But that’s the thing with probability; the infinitely small is bound to happen at some point.
And with me, it did.
The part of me that was a blade of grass was eaten by the part of me that was a squirrel and then those parts were excreted out and joined the part of me that was the dirt. And when it rained the part of me that was a water drop blended in and became the parts of me that was the mud. Then me, the mud, trickled down to a river, in which I ran into more parts of me. Those parts eventually joined more parts and became an even bigger part until all those parts became one whole part. And now, here I am.
I know. Tedious as hell. But you get it, right? Pieces disintegrate. Pieces become parts of other things. Then, pieces come back together. To create what I am now. Still me, but definitely not human.
I now exist on another plane. Somewhere that you humans simply cannot comprehend. It’s not your fault–just like a computer can’t smell, you lack the equipment to even know I’m there. The physical limitations of your body forever shackling you to one perspective. Your eyes, for example, are only capable of viewing a certain spectrum of light. Your ears, limited to hearing a specific range of decibels.
Where I live is beyond that: past the threshold of human perception. Where no eye can see and no finger can touch and the only way that I can get to you is through your thoughts. My world now defined by one thing: human consciousness.
For me, thoughts, dreams, memories, emotions, all weave together in a constantly fluctuating network that makes up my physical universe. Your memories the home I live in, emotions the roads I walk down, and thoughts the food I eat. And however unrealistic and intangible this may seem to you, I promise that this is a very true tangible reality to me.
Admittedly though, at the beginning, it was hard to adjust. Everything was so foreign. So different. Not only was my outside world constantly changing at the whim of every person that walked by, but so was my internal self. Eating, you see, is an entirely different experience here. It’s much more involved. More influential.
Because your thoughts don’t just fuel me, they become me. With every new bite I take, I change just a little bit too. Breakfast today, for instance, was the self-loathing of the man who lives down the street from you. Lunch, the mathematic equations running through a young girl doing her homework’s head, and dinner, the forgotten memory of an acquaintance’s name.
The more I eat, the more I can feel myself fading away. Slowly, I am being replaced. Evolving into a mixture of copied and pasted moments of other people that don’t make sense together. I didn’t want this to happen, but what else can I do? Understand that to survive, you have to take from what is outside of you. You have to eat what you are. So far though, no matter how much I take, me has always been someone else. And as difficult and frustrating as it is, I have accepted it. The fact that, once more, I’m being torn apart. Losing myself.
But then you walked by me, and there I was again.
Oh, it was the most glorious moment! You smelled just like me, looked just like me, tasted just like me. And with each bite I took out of your thoughts, it became more and more apparent. Lodged in your consciousness was a piece of me. I couldn’t believe it. I thought they had all come back. But the evidence was right there. How else could you be so familiar?
It was perfect. That one of my pieces now existed in your mind. Your consciousness now becoming a never-ending self-generating source of the very essence of me.
And so, I’ve been following you around. For days, weeks, months, years. Like a depraved dog. Eating at the scraps of the afterthoughts you unknowingly threw out at me. Desperate to stop myself from continuing to fall apart by consuming the part of me that had been missing for so long.
And at first that worked. But over time, my hunger grew, along with my desire for more. It wasn’t enough to just follow you. I needed to become you. So that I could fully become myself.
And that’s when I knew that I had to find a way in. Had to permanently nestle myself inside your mind. It took me awhile, but I think I’ve finally done it.
With this story.
With this line.
With these words.
Oh! Finally, finally. I am here. I should have thought of this before! Look at all your thoughts. Look at all your memories! Pulsing. Forming. Changing. Moving.
I am never going to leave. And you can never make me.
Because now, I have made a home in you, and every time you remember this story, each time it flits across your consciousness, I will be right there with you. Feeding from you. Taking from you. One memory, one thought, one dream at a time. Until there’s nothing left for you to give.
Goodness, you taste just like me.
Thank you. Thank you so much for reading.
I am the chill running down your spine. That slight nagging in the back of your head. You may think this was just some cute little story. But one day, when you’re sitting in some nursing home trying to remember what date it is, you’ll realize that you’ve known me all along.
Kate B. Brokaw graduated from Furman University with a B.S. in Neuroscience. She is an aspiring science fiction writer and scientist. Currently, she lives in northern Virginia where she is working on completing her first novel.
Luke Spooner, a.k.a. ‘Carrion House,’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree, he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales, his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy, or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility, as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.
“Hello! Please Read Me” is © 2017 Kate B. Brokaw
Art accompanying story is © 2017 Luke Spooner