Reverse Flight / Mike Corrao

Scene: I am coughing up a viscous smoke, pulling it like thick strands from my throat.

The black mass tells me that my injuries cannot be healed, and that I must undergo the creation of a new pathway. They hold me down and carefully pull their scalpel across my neck. Near the base. The tracheotomy is a portal. The tracheotomy creates an alternative mouth.

The first incision is a means of utterance—in case you were no longer satisfied with the performance of your original voice, and thought it would be meaningful to test a new one. Reine Sprache tuning through the HAM radio. All I can hear is belly laughter and static—something like a one-way mirror, looking at my vulnerable posture. The static speaks to me.

While two detectives stand over my body and discuss their aversion to it. One saying something like I think he was dragged from the bedroom onto the front porch here, and the other replying all of this disgusts me. This body is unpleasant.

They prod the open slit / portal and feel around for something, I don’t know what. There is nothing inside. Utterance is dependent on the vigor of its user. Speech is an active mechanism. It does not occur involuntarily, or if it does, it is the result of someone else manually operating the larynx.

The tracheotomy creates a multitude of vestigial organs & muscles.

The lower half of your head lies dormant.

The two detectives note that the body is bubbling with foam, and that it’s for some reason seeping from the throat rather than the mouth. Saying something like the ovidian is prone to time-lapses and the body cannot move nearly as fast as the mind.

And this comment leads them down an unexpected path, tracing the behaviors of other notable ovidians (besides myself, I assume). Attempting to decipher their virulent media. Soon they are sitting in a dark room staring at primitive three-dimensional models on a computer monitor. Analyzing moments of fluctuation or potential signal mutations.

One studies the work of Hyper-C and the other mines demonological indexes. The ovidian utilizes sonic and digital tools in order to lure new initiates, creating hypnagogic switches—constructing malleable neural structures.

The tracheotomy creates a pathway from ext to int. The tracheotomy enables unfettered access.

And I am still where I was before, crumpled and dripping on the front porch. Now blocked off by lines of yellow tape. The detectives send samples to the lab hoping that they’ll find evidence of some sort of cybernetic manipulation. But the tests yield no results.

And now I am alone in the open air, surrounded by an occult arrangement of suburban homes. Moaning through my new mouth. Trying to speak something softly about the holiness of the abdomen or about primordial breath. Certain phrases appear highlighted in my mind.

And my vision is obscuring into blurred heatmaps. As this body further buckles, I undergo deformation. The flesh a meated sphere lifting into the air, only a few feet above the ground. The anthropocene churns my guts. Gurgling bile drips onto the porch through whatever open wound, a cut across the stomach or gashes on my arms / legs. Thinking that this place is not as beautiful as I would like it to be.

The landscape of houses resembles early forms of procedural generation. Simple modules connected under a vague rule set. Fixed in their allotted dimensions. I feel out of place here, hovering over the porch. My body is too natural. Crafted by Hephaestus with mallet thudding against muscle fibres.

I do not know how I have come to bend in such ways.

The tracheotomy utters into graveled beauty, speaking in a tongue that I myself am not familiar with.

I do not want to be a creature of excess. I do not want to expand my reach or enclose my habitat. I am pleased with my confinement, the smallness of my physique. It is smaller than most bodies, I have relieved myself of excess space.

The two detectives continue researching ovidian ideologies, formulating a theory of their behavior and application. Someone suggests that they use these tactics in their own work. But the detectives are quick to dismiss it. One saying that these tactics are virulent and reality-breaking, the other saying that their methods are effective enough already.

And I am still on the porch. Levitating with the likeness of Goya’s witches. In the dark of night, over the fraying wood. Fluttering with whatever fragments of cloth have clung to my body.

Speaking an endless gauntlet of plosive bass-sounds. The lips of the tracheotomy turning turgid.

But as soon as I am confident in my utterance, this buckled form falls to the ground. And the portal / slit swells shut. The porch is bending under my weight. As if I have somehow become heavier in this altered state. Moaning with pain.

I envy the intimacy of the otherworldly—even the otherworldly that we have grown so familiar with. Interfaces and shit monitors. The low-poly models of suburban sprawl. When is the digital in architecture? It feels as if we have been here the whole time.

In my fantasies, I am a severed head, slowly rotating on your computer screen—the same one the detectives have spent hours alone with in the darkroom. My flesh is green and smooth. It is made of latex or clay. Something malleable.

And when I resurface, the morning is approaching. And I am not moving. And everything hurts. And the detectives are standing over me saying something like I think he was dragged from the bedroom onto the front porch here, and all of this disgusts me. This body is unpleasant.

Mike Corrao is the author of two novels, MAN, OH MAN (Orson’s Publishing) and GUT TEXT (11:11 Press); one book of poetry, TWO NOVELS (Orson’s Publishing); two plays, SMUT-MAKER (Inside the Castle) and ANDROMEDUSA (Forthcoming – Plays Inverse); and two chapbooks, AVIAN FUNERAL MARCH (Self-Fuck) and SPELUNKER (Schism – Neuronics). Along with earning multiple Best of the Net nominations, Mike’s work has been featured in publications such as 3:AM, Collagist, Always Crashing, and The Portland Review. His work often explores the haptic, architectural, and organismal qualities of the text-object. He lives in Minneapolis.

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