The fabled child disappears. Night disappears. Night bundles. Bundled, morphing days. Days, terrible and quick. Trying in vain. In vain to find teeth. Teeth and understanding. Teeth or understanding. Catch the floor. The floor moving deeper. Deeper than when she returns. She’ll return, three locals tell them. Tell where first evidence was followed. Tried to follow the evidence of a missing girl. A missing girl disturbed. Disturbing the way with her dark legend. Legend hanged. Hanged warnings. Warnings going in circles. Circles like slime. Slime despite exact darkness. Darkness coming from all directions. In all directions they attempt to see. Attempt to see her map. Her map reveals a panic. A panic rifles through their hair. Their hair does not break down. Break down suspended. Suspended fable.
Bluebeard knows what became of his chateau. His chateau overcome with warnings. Warnings like vows. Vows discovering great fortune. Fortune threatens to forget. Forget her shunned rage. Rage terrified of persuasions. Persuading doors open. Doors open on Bluebeard. Bluebeard announcing. Announcements fail. Failure locked in prayer. Prayer in the highest moment. Moment to inherit. Inherit her own hands. Her hands buried in horrible time. Time Bluebeard knows. Knows his wife. His wife, a blindspot. A blindspot enjoying away the circumstances. Circumspect Bluebeard.
Snugglepot, fostering. Foster brother of Cuddlepie. Snugglepot and Cuddlepie spiderwebbing their lives. Their lives grub-shouting. Grubshouting, strong and fat. Fat blossomed. Blossom dressed in sun. Dressed in sun and cicadas. Cicadas snoring. Snoring the distance. The distance so obliged. Obligated hollow sleep. Obligated cozy tears. Obligated greedy stories. Stories to keep straight. Straight down a road. Down the road a gadabout. The gadabout smiling backwards. Backward chattering. Chattering great nothing. Great nothing on the backs of ants. Ants’ skinning Gumnut. Gumnut shocked with blessing. Blessed father. Farthering Snugglepot.
A man whispers. Whispers begin. Begin underneath the skin. Under the skin, the pain. With the pain came his knowledge. His knowledge a plan. His plan flickers. Flickering film. The film a desperate request. A request for uncertain parables. The parable of Jesus. Jesus Jesus. Jesus attempts. Attempts to tear out his own heart. His heart changes. Changes bleeding to bled. Bled beginning. Beginning not to end. Ending will not stop. Stop Judas. Judas comes last. Last before the ensuing mankind. Mankind, a liberation. A liberation tending to matter. Matter dug in. Dug in spirit. Spirit of the mob. Mob calling him by name. Name straying. Straying man.
Symptoms of some separate obituary. An obituary more scientific. Scientific attempt. Attempt after spending interest. Interest on wide knowledge. Widely known jig men. Jig men see what we call diagnosis. Diagnosis as episodic death. Death as a challenge. A challenge to biological irony. Irony admitted. These admissions leading. Leading to underlying double bind. Double-bind an impossible lose-lose disease. Diseased nature. Nature of the locus of the content of the expression of the language of more often than not. More often than not a granted self. A self-granted precocious security. Security pronounced. Pronounced as understandable distress. Distress of symptoms.
Skeleton score. Score foxtrot. Foxtrot one shot. Shoot march. March of the missing. Missing grim. Grim mimic. Mimicking ringtone. Ring-a-round the rose-y. Risen thighbone. Thighbone post-sync. Post-sync short spook. Short spook in minor key. Minor key of gag ghost. Ghost trolls. Trolls turned. Turned a reference silent. A silent cameo. Cameo stint. Stint and frolic. Frolic and delete. Delete presence. Presence into action. Action: reaction. React inside. Inner slip. Slipping skit. Slap. Skittish skeletons.
Natural causes. Causing buzz. Buzzed jackdaws. Jackdaws lightening. Lightning posed by mystery. Mystery constantly lighting attention. Lit attention on these crises. These crises falling. Falling on streaming time. Streamed time loud and blunt. Blunted almost half to death. Almost half die each year. Flushed out year. Flushed out by normal wind. Winded ten billion birds. Ten billion birds darkened in air. Air circling around. Around and around starlings disorienting. Disorienting by easily moved attention. Attending to public warblers. Public warblers crash with force. Crashing and forcing normal energy. Energy of collapsed might. Natural might.
The act of killing. Killing usual. Usually typical. Typically ritual. Ritually official. Officially less common. Commonly identical. Entombed in some identical trope. Young trope. Young intention. Intention against whatsoever cometh forth. Whatsoever cometh forth shall surely behold. Behold parallels to divination. Divine, moral panic. Panicked outbursts of traces. Traces of purely symbolic trauma. Trauma giving up life to possibility. Possible echo. Echoed poison. Poison of grisly interpretation. Interpretation dosed with serenity. Serenely sharp favors. Favor to beg for. Beg for forbidden devotion. Devotion deposit. Deposited bronze hands. Palms up. Sloping. Gaping. Filled with fire. Fire abolished. Abolished truth. Trust in god. Deus ex machina. Vestigial machine. Vestigial discrediting. Discredit disfavor. In favor of straw figures. Straw figures scattered. A scatter emerges. Emergence of rationale. Rational priestess. Dead in her boat. Ferrying harvest. Harvesting command. Commanding widespread doubt. Doubt slaying. Slewing river. River crooked with sacrifice. Sacrificial prayer posture. Prayer ditch. Ditch full of pleasure. Pleasured joy. Joy sinkhole. Portal. Underworld. Sacred excavation. Excavation practice. Practiced reckoning. Reckoning pit. Pit burial. Buried litter of drugged mummies. Mummified potions. Potent dismay. Dismayed devotion. Devoted to blood. Blood libel. Libeled morbid fortune. Fortune plucking. Plucking hunt. Hunted refusal. Refusal to act.
Origin impossible to identify. Identified specimens of opinion. Opinionated perusal. Perusal of available honor. Honor a great deal. Great deal of meager cutwork. Cutting work of authentic skill. Ornate skill. Patterns plain. Plain impulse. Pulsed away from the harsh stitch. Stitched impetus. Impetus severe. Severe and graceful. Graceful distance. Distance from a common fact. Factual doubt. Doubtless due. Due to how we have no one. No one to ravage. Ravage delving deep. Deep into testimony. Testimony discovered. Discovery of needles. Needle-practiced. Practiced prelates. Prelates possessed of the old, still simplicity. Simple desire. Desire to be wet. Wet network. A network. A manner. A framework. Framework for the buttonhole. Buttonholed progress. Progress emerging. Emerging warp. Warped center. Center indefinite. Indefinite possibility. Impossible edges. Edged origin.
Legends jilted. Jilted magnets. Magnets allegedly refusing. Refusing to remain private. Private bell. Ring bell twice. Twice lived. Lives simply referencing reality. Reality, a sign on the door. Door query. Quarried story. Story not willed. No will differs from awareness. Aware of. Changed to. The push of. A finger. Finger concentrically fastening light. Fastening light on a legitimate question. A question resembling a law. A law resembling a legend.
Jac Jemc's first story collection, A Different Bed Every Time, is newly out from Dzanc Books. Her novel, My Only Wife was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. She is the poetry editor for decomP and nonfiction editor for Hobart.