I stare at the barbed wire at the top of the fence. All I want to do is to go home. Home is more of a concept than a place. I wonder who invented fences that kill. Nazis?
They say that the best way to survive real tragedy is to do so as if within a beautiful dream. Even barbed wire can be beautiful. They way it sort of tangles like roots of a plant. The way two trees sometimes grow together. Some plants are poisonous, after all. Some very attractive frogs are. So I dance beside the barbed wire as if it were a film. A film where only the viewers cry because they don’t realize it’s a dream. They are the ones for whom it’s not fiction.
On the other side of the fence there’s grass and a rabbit who keeps hopping between, looking for danger. Rabbits are smart that way. I wonder if I can train the rabbit to bring me stuff. If it were a dream I might. Fuck off, I say to the rabbit. He/she fucks off.
There is now a heron beside the rabbit. I will add a raccoon. I will make them sing and dance. I’m cruel. They don’t really sing and dance, mostly move from side to side in unison. What a sight this must be. I catch a glimpse of a gray hair blowing in the wind, when did that happen? I will make myself go backwards instead.
The barbed wire fence is real too. It is also electric. It is everything you imagine it could be. I tell the rabbit, heron, and raccoon to fuck off. They fuck off. I go to sleep.
This is what has become of Pokémon Go.
A wasp flies down my shirt and I feel it stick there but do not move for it to sting me. Wasps are frustrating creatures—suicide bombers who will die not even for politics or ideology but just because they can. You’d think there’d be some evolutionary pull against this. It stings me all the same. It feels good, in a way. Not in a perverted way. In a way that reminds me of the fiction of the times. The rabbit, heron, and raccoon stop singing and dancing. I order them to start up again. I feel like queen bee. They start up again. I laugh.
I see flowers. I turn them back into barbed wire—roses bursting with life—flowers must be destroyed before digested. Flowers have no sense of irony. Perhaps I only turned barbed wire into roses. No matter how unnatural, there is always that—
Back to the dirt. Metal—better. Metallic. The dream. The war. Animals that sway like people and people that crawl, hunt, and fuck like animals. I lie down with my hands, arms, and legs stretched out, like a cat declaring both submission and fearlessness simultaneously. With the one exception that the cat never asks to be hurt, we’ve more or less taken on the same position. Submit to the dream. Dreams cannot hurt you.
Eventually, you may wish they could.
Wet concrete, I put my hands in. I taste my finger. It tastes like ice cream.
Every time that feeling creeps up, the world becomes longer—more expansive. As if the whole world transforms by the flap of a butterfly wing.
I ask the rabbit, heron, and raccoon to follow me.
My finger starts bleeding. The blood has a spot of light within it, a sense of power, shooting out in all directions.
I put my finger up to the moon then up to the sun, which are both side by side, equal size, as if it is simultaneously both night and day.
More thoughts intrude and I get the raccoon, rabbit, and heron to skip in circles around me. I give them not flowers but sprinklers.
I sit down on the grass. Turn it into shag carpet. It’s still not enough, when will it ever be enough?
You think I’m crazy, don’t you?
Wait. You’ll see.
I sit down, open my mouth, a piece of paper lands on my tongue, I let it dissolve until the whole world starts spinning—the sun and moon look like basketballs. They collide and explode, bits of each falling to the earth like fireworks. It’s so beautiful that my body goes numb and I bleed from my toenails. I forget about the raccoon, rabbit, and heron; fall asleep, hair damp, eyes wide open.
My heart acts like an alarm and wakes me up by pounding three times.
I cannot stop smoking; as soon as my cigarette is finished it grows back into its original size. Or perhaps time goes backwards? Do my lungs also go from black to pink and back again? Sometimes the raccoon, heron, and rabbit move backwards as if they are rewinding. The whole world is a sweater slowly unraveling. That’s why we sing and dance. All a part of the same cultic club who no longer care if we are saved, as long as there is a stop.
One might think going forward and backward would leave less hope for an end but anytime we give up hope, we are taken back. The Nyan Cat flies in the sky, the rainbow of doom following him. A sign reads, Do you eat your Pop Tarts cold or hot?
Doomsday club meets every other ten minutes before Christ. Bring your own watch. IT’S A PARTY.
My head is starting to go faster again. I scream and all the animals stop. They start going in slow motion. Then they speed up without my command and spin me around until I fall over and hit my head. It gashes blood. I wake up to mice drinking the blood that has pooled up beneath me. I tell them to fuck off. They fuck off. The Nyan Cat follows them, chasing.
We used to have a Big Brother who kept track of all of this. People hated Big Brother; even if they weren’t allowed to admit it or even think it, they hated him. Since they couldn’t think it, they didn’t know they hated Big Brother, but deep within their gut lay a hatred that fed them rainbow Pop-Tarts with acid instead of jam in the center.
Then Big Brother just said fuck off, I don’t care anymore. Then people’s hatred came to the surface but they no longer had to anywhere to direct it. So they started having orgies all the time. And then came the rainbows and the Super Mario clouds. Everything started to speed up then slow down.
FREEDOM FOREVER FUCK BUNNIES! signs started appearing. It was like a YouTube channel without censorship.
Now no one could admit that they wanted censorship or to be watched.
BIG BROTHER IS DEAD! THE NYAN CAT LIVES! signs appeared.
So we smoke and fuck and get our heads bashed in and go backwards and forwards like this—on and on and on.
The Nyan Cat lives on, going faster and slower but always playing Pokémon Go!
Funerals daily, just for the blood. Just for the rainbows. Just for the LOLZ.
I think that I’m going to kill the Nyan Cat. At some point, rainbows turn into bombs. Literally and figuratively. All I hear is na-na-na-na-na.
God save us. Lithium save us. Tear gas save us. Big Brother save us.
There’s a new thing, Big Bruh, who walks around like Big Bird on crack but we all know that he can’t supervise a Walmart parking lot.
Yes, we remember parking lots. Now they’re gatherings for strip poker. Once someone shot his half-naked opponent over a game of Texas holdem. Animals gathered to sing the Nyan Cat song. What used to be Walmart is now full of Grumpy Cat clones. Big Bruh did lines of cocaine outside, until he upped his game to crack. Sometimes there are real animals floating above like balloon animals, and balloon animals that are more like real animals.
You think Pokémon Go couldn’t have started all of this? Watch and see. How quickly things can change. It’s all just virtual, you might say. But taste it. Tastes like rainbow blood way out of your ass—that ain’t ketchup.
You get my drift.
I get the raccoon, heron, and rabbit to come back. They are with an owl. The owl just circles above. I tell the owl to fuck off. Three’s a club, four is a Nyan army and I haven’t got enough extra lives to fight off any cavalries.
It’s starting to slow down again. My heart beats slower and slower. I collapse. I see stars. Real stars. Or I literally see fake stars. I see something, for fucks sake. Golden Oreo stars. I take a bite. The star Oreo tastes like seaweed and cotton candy, which is how tears now taste. I spit it out.
I was in high school when Pokémon Go took over the world like crack cocaine. It’ll get kids out of the house, they said, as if the same couldn’t be said for crack. Now nobody needs crack, that would be like asking to have your ice cream on the rocks. Which, ironically, is how people now eat ice cream. Bad example. Sometimes it is also mixed with liquid courage. That’s the legal name. Not that we have any laws, legal just means most common. Like the legal name for the Walmart parking lot is now The Zone, and beside it is The Barcade. Right now there is a Pokémon crying in the American Superstar Lounge. Crows peck at the tears. Or it could be some furries. Hard to tell from a distance.
A sign reads, FUCKING FOR CHASTITY IS LIKE WAR FOR PEACE with a Big Bruh picture giving a thumbs up. Beside that, a half-fox on a soapbox gives speeches about how we are the next holocaust. He alternates between preaching and announcing the score for a football game.
A kid offers him some cotton candy, says it’s just like Hitler.
Now you can still see parts of shattered bits—albums, dishes, etc., sometimes getting stuck in the fence. Sometimes there’s some good food in there, sometimes people or animals get stuck in the fence looking for the food. Sometimes the sun and moon join forces and aim the light into a single beam down on a person until they fry. They always have the same mark left on a forehead or arm. They are left like statues of once real bodies contorted into strange shapes. Sometimes people try to morph themselves into one, such that they become one, but they quickly start to twitch and fail. They are trying to see the other version, the one where there is still linoleum tile, bathtubs and whiskey. It is said that that is where the statue versions have gone. This is a myth, but sometimes people live in myths.
Ladybugs crawl all over one of the statue-people, hoarding over his skin, creating a long line of soldiers, look like they might pop him open and eat him, look like it is Dresden. Spiders would be too obvious. Ladybugs are always what you need to watch out for.
The sun and moon are back, this time with curtains around them, suddenly modest.
A sign reads, Who killed the Nyan Cat?
My skin is still damp and I struggle to walk, I keep leaning to one side.
The rabbit holds me up.
I suddenly start running as fast as I can, they run with me. I run until I fall over. And I stay that way, in fetal position. We are back to the barbed wire. But don’t, don’t, don’t cry. I pick up a slingshot and hurl a rock to the moon; it bounces back and hits my head. No blood this time, even though I need the power.
I suddenly turn over to throw up. A frog appears, I accidentally throw up on the frog and apologize to it. It shakes itself off and hops off elsewhere.
The vomit disappears into the earth. Pokémon Stop.
Pokémon deserted you ages ago, a voice from above says.
I guess what I miss most is the smell of the ocean. We still have oceans but they don’t smell like oceans. Now they smell like sawdust and greasy donuts. Everything smells like fast-food, even blood. I keep an old postcard with me, a girl with a bonnet on a rocking horse. Black and white. Must’ve been in the time of Big Brother. Her smile is forced and the horse has no rainbow. But at least she had time, time to pause and be photographed. Time for the horse to actually be a horse, time for her to actually be a child. Now children are only children for long enough to take a photo, yet remain children forever.
A Nyan Kitten comes. NA-NA-NA-NA-NA.
I pee my pants. Urine has no power.
I suppose I’m meant to say that it’s just a dream or a play, or a freaking blockbuster.
Why does something always have to be something else?
I chase the rabbit. We laugh. I pick up a rifle and shoot the rabbit.
Jill M. Talbot attended Simon Fraser University for psychology before pursing her passion for writing. She has appeared in Geist, Rattle, Poetry Is Dead, The Puritan, Matrix, subTerrain, and The Tishman Review. She was shortlisted for the Matrix Lit POP Award for fiction and the Malahat Far Horizons Award for poetry. She lives on Gabriola Island, BC.