Here’s a dark story that got accepted somewhere but never published ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I wrote it not long after reading Hassan Blasim’s The Corpse Exhibition. It is a wacky story, really.
Maybe you’d imagine I got my start with small things, like little toys or a pack of cards or something predictable like that, but I didn’t, those came later. I started big. I started with myself.
Maybe then you’d make another assumption perhaps based off all the news surrounding me—and that’s okay, assumptions are okay, they’re what make my line of work possible really—but so maybe you’d assume that if I started with myself then I must have started with my physical body, and you’d be wrong again, which is also okay, though being wrong has little to do with my line of work. But the truth is I started with my nonphysical makeup. Maybe you’d call it my personality for short.
I can’t quite say why I started opening up my personality but I now know it started while I was working on my Ph.D. in economics, which has nothing to do with anything, and although the university and the doctors and the psychologists would tell you it was a nervous breakdown, I knew it was more significant than that. Without trying to be unbelievable, because being unbelievable is anathema to my line of work, I knew it was nothing less than a revelation.
I had begun to notice a funny feeling attending lectures and seminars. I began to feel like I was in the wrong place, like I wasn’t supposed to be where I was. Every time I entered a room I expected to be shouted at and attacked. In the middle of reading or writing papers I’d forget why any of it mattered and I’d quit. Nothing I did seemed to matter and nothing anyone else did seemed to matter either. Within a couple weeks I was no longer doing anything. I wasn’t leaving my apartment or even speaking. I was terrified that the next move I’d make would send me toppling down a dark hole that I could never get back out of. But here’s the thing, underneath that worry was the truth. I was haunted by the knowledge that I was already down there.
It was after I was sent home did I start to understand the origin of these feelings. Sitting in my room for hours on end just thinking I started to understand the basic makeup of who I was. I realized that I had never done anything substantial with my life. I realized that nobody could ever do anything substantial with their lives, and I began to recognize the sheer arrogance it took for me to believe that humans could acquire even a grain of knowledge in this universe, let alone make one imaginary subject an entire life’s work. I began to see humanity as staring into a dark pool that didn’t even hold our reflections, yet some people were pointing out shapes and patterns, and the tragedy of it was that I wasn’t even one of the people pointing anything out. I realized I was someone in the back listening to someone by the edge of the water and going yes! yes! I see it too! I see it too! You might think, then, that my world had gotten even darker, but in fact I had the conscious feeling of having climbed out of the dark hole. My world instead had gotten brighter, viciously, brutally brighter.
And only then did I get to work on my physical body, as it was the next natural step. I gave up sugary foods and all the things that made me childish and naïve. I gave up my belief in my own power so I stopped eating meat. I gave up others’ beliefs in their power so I stopped eating fake and processed foods. I ate vegetables and fruit to reconnect to reality and I started running, quickly reaching fifteen to twenty miles a day in order to shed the greed from my body. I shrunk immensely as my arrogance and what I thought I knew melted away from me. I was revealing the simple physical product of my transformed mentality. I knew nothing, I was nothing, and in a way I insist this was an opening, a revealing, and it wasn’t long after that project did I discover opening other things.
The first time I opened something you may call purely material was an action figure of my little brother’s. He came running into my room while I was sitting and thinking saying brother, brother, can you open this for me? And while I did he began telling me he had already watched someone open this exact toy but he wanted to watch someone do it again and, having no idea what he was talking about, I asked him to explain. It was then I was shown the online videos of people opening things. Online there were hundreds of thousands of videos of people opening anything and everything with millions of views. They mesmerized me as well, and not coincidentally I believe. What a strange world these videos existed in, a strange, obscured corner of our most ethereal world. Yet they had tapped into something primal here at the edges of the real world. There was something so innocent about it, the need to reveal exactly what was supposed to be on the inside of everything. It wasn’t long before I made my first one.
And honestly, to my surprise, it wasn’t long until I was one of the most famous openers, though I could care less about the fame and the money that came with it. My videos received millions and millions of views. People all over the world couldn’t stop watching what I was opening. Everything was centered on the tiny revelations at the end. I wanted the viewer to know what they were about to watch and have the satisfaction of it being revealed. In the end after hundreds and hundreds of products, and although you might find it surprising for me to say, I came to realize we humans know everything. I insist this is not a degree removed from knowing we can acquire no knowledge. All the answers are simply in our head from the beginning. The answers we seek are no harder to reach than the small products I was opening. They’re there all along, and being wrong is only a function of power and layers. What I’m saying is, we are tricked into being wrong by those in control who place layer after layer of obscurity over the simplest answers.
And when I came to realize that, the odd requests I always received became more intriguing. I always knew my viewers were a strange population of the earth, an odd group of connected souls congregating on my page a couple times a week who wanted nothing more than to be shown simple demonstrations of truth, and of course these people were always asking me to open certain things like phones and collectibles and expensive jewelry or clothing, but every now and then I’d receive strange emails and comments asking me to open other things. Sitting at my computer in the dark I’d read people wanting me to open their hearts or open their desires or dreams. At first I waved it off as a natural byproduct of existing in such a strange section of reality. They’d want me to open their vices, their beliefs, their addictions. They’d ask me to open their brains. They’d want to know why they feared the semidarkness or a cold tree line or a deserted city block or they’d want to know where the good could be found in them. The thing that always struck me however was the similarity of these requests. It began to feel as if it was an organization sending them. The language was always the same, the requests near reproductions of the previous ones with just a different emotion substituted. It was like I attracted the attention of some group concerned with the metaphysical or something (and, of course, what I’m saying is it was not really the metaphysical), and they saw the potential in my line of work. Yet for some reason, despite what I’d gone through, I hadn’t realized that potential as well.
But then I got the request that is probably the reason you know about me. One night checking my emails I found one subjected evolution. Somehow it was sent without revealing the email address of the sender, which had me thinking certain things, and then when I read it I knew it truly came from an organization or power beyond what I thought existed. What they suggested was eye opening for its belief in what was possible: a way of thinking that I kept hidden in the deep recesses of my mind and that I never thought was pondered by others, let alone let out. They wanted me to do an experiment. What they were concerned with were the lies, the arrogance, the falsities, the ego, and how those viruses corrupted every other part of a person. They wanted to me open up an entire person in a way similar to what I’d done to myself, and reveal where those aspects hid. And they said they knew a ripe subject who, as you’ve probably guessed by now, was the senator.
For a long time I ignored them and ignored them, but I was ignoring myself too. I was denying my interest. I was tricking myself into ignoring what I knew. Yet they kept sending the same email again and again and I read it again and again, each time finding it harder to deny its practicality. I knew it was possible. It was haunting me, their request. Haunting me because I came to know it could work and I wanted to be the one to do it. I wanted to reveal the grime and filth of a human who wielded power. I would tremble when I read it, like my whole room was trembling or like the air was or like the reality I lived in was, because it could all change. And finally one late night after having read the request for the hundredth time I replied to their email.
I didn’t have to do much of anything. They said they would take care of the logistics including getting the subject and the space and the recording equipment, because yes, as you probably know, they wanted me to upload it to my viewers like it was just another one of my opening videos, which it was. Needless to say I was fighting back fear and horror in the weeks leading up to the event, even though I still knew that fear and horror were layers masking the truth but, after all, I’m not insane. I’m not completely detached. I had an understanding of what I was getting myself into. During that time I was unable to open anything because I constantly had to reassure myself of the immense importance of what we were going to do, of what I was going to do, and I could hardly focus on something as simple as a new smart phone or Louis Vuitton bag. Coincidentally though, this helped build my viewers’ anticipation of what was coming, even if they could have never imagined what it was going to be.
Now, however, before I go any further I must fervently reject the notion that this had anything to do with politics, as if politics aren’t just another set of layers over the truth, and some of the vilest layers at that. As you could imagine I’ve been accused of being aligned and even the instrument of all kinds of politically motivated groups, mostly terroristic in nature as you can imagine, yet had I believed this group to be motivated by something as childish as politics I would have laughed them off. I believed we were interested in the possibility of extracting what we were going to extract in the way we were going to extract it, and I believe we believed it could have been found in anyone of the senator’s nature and it is simply a complicated confirmation of that truth that people assumed he was chosen specifically as the motivation, and not generally as an example. Perhaps, of course, I won’t lie, because lying is also anathema to my line of work, I was disgusted by the nature of the man, if I could be said to be disgusted by anything anymore. But to think the man was chosen as anything more than a prime example only goes our way in confirming what we were going to do. However I digress, for that explanation I understand is purely motivated by selfishness. I must admit I have not completely perfected my transformation. It is always a work-in-progress.
Anyway, in the days before it was set to happen I started envisioning my process. Of course I didn’t have the months to transform this man like I had for myself, so you can understand that it’d have to be a crude operation (as it always has to be when working on others). I envisioned the room where I’d be working: a dark sterile box with a bright operating table for my work. I’d begin with the man’s primary virus, his greed. I envisioned opening the man’s immense stomach to reveal where that greed hid and emanated throughout his body. I’d move to extracting his teeth, which fed the greed and where he believed his power was, his power to devour the weak. I imagined removing the eyes that distorted the world and made it possible for him believe in his own supremacy, justifying his devouring. I imagined removing the liver that filtered out all his atrocities and lies and arrogance and kept him blind, and I imagined removing his brainwashed heart where he washed his greed in righteousness. I would have then extracted the decaying brain that allowed him to act on all of it. I would have taken the fingers that kept his body alive and the feet that kept him untouchable, constantly moving, never able to be pinned down. I was going to reveal to the world and to all my viewers the rotten core of our world through the rotten core of this man’s. From the deepest darkness, the brightest light. From the lowest, ultimate redemption. What I am stressing is I would have redeemed him.
And the closer the day came the calmer I was. The vision of the dark water and everyone standing on the edge came back to me, but this time I began to see myself not as pointing out nonexistent shapes or pretending I saw them, but stepping off the edge and walking out into it. I still believe that is the next step. I imagine a world of stark humans, existing on nothing other than the truth, greed and power having been cut out if necessary.
Then the day before it was set to happen I sent them my plan, which while I believed that was necessary—as in, I understood the necessity of them having to know what I planned on doing—it ended up being my downfall. Knowing that I know everything, I should have known someone was listening. The day it was supposed to happen I was waiting to be picked up at the agreed upon location where I imagined being met by a white van and greeted by men and women wearing balaclavas who had the most profound understanding of the world. I imagined being driven somewhere on the outskirts of the filthy city and being led into a dark, sterilized room with the equipment already set and the senator ready for the operation. As I was waiting the sun came out from behind white clouds and I heard first the van, and then others, approaching. I could have guessed it then. In an instant I was surrounded and I heard get on the ground, motherfucker, and I knew it was over.
Ah that funny condition, evolution and its predecessor living side by side. You can always tell when the predecessor is on its way out. It becomes abnormally violent, paranoid, lashing out at every shadow it perceives. Soon it’s devouring its own. I am the harbinger of light, the destroyer of shadow, the opener of darkness.
Sitting in this cell I obviously have plenty of time to think. According to the state I have a lifetime to think. I think often how I didn’t see it coming. I imagined the panicked revelations of my viewers, suddenly coming to life all over the world, and maybe I also thought that the truth or evolution didn’t care if the world was ready, that it would assert itself regardless, and perhaps that blinded me though, honestly, I’m not quite convinced it won’t be asserted one way or the other. Those who tricked me often inadvertently reveal what truly is possible while trying to halt it, pound it back into the darkness. And anyway, I’ve heard rumors and read of similar exhibitions in the rougher parts of the world, which, what I’m saying is, I don’t care anymore if it’s me who’s doing it, for that was just a layer of my ego which I now have plenty of time to continue to shed. I’ve always simply been interested in it being done. In it’s possibility.