Sunday, April 4, 2021





“If you’re in danger anyway, might as well stay with us,” I say.

House planted itself here in this swamp, tendrils sink deep into peaty moisture like hungry roots – not ideal as far as the mosquito situation goes – swarms like tinnitus, constant swatting – Dana cooked up a little witches’ brew but mosquitos out here are something else altogether.

Me and the Influence have not yet come to what you might call terms.

“Where am I going to go?” she sweeps arm around – vast barren swampy nothingness as far as the eye can see – despite mosquito festival we all stand outside, keen to breathe air that hasn’t been filtered through layers of living house lung.  “Anywhere with people is place where people want to kill me now.   Top five reasons why Dana the Influence is going to die – well look at that, all five are Agent Blackwell.”  She spits into murky water – some life form immediately takes her spittle as a tasty treat – fish maybe or insect.  “We survived.  Don’t mean I have to cosy up.”

“Let me say something,” I say, saying something already, “You, me, we’ve known each other a long time now.  If not pals maybe still damn near close in my reckoning.  Inner circle I’d say.  I don’t have many people, Dana.  And I’m sorry about endangering you but you gotta see that it’s not me, it’s them.  I’m trying to save people here.  Maybe we’re a target now, but that’s on them, not on me.  All I wanna do is stop those Nova fucks from destroying a useful piece of real estate – and I know you wanna stop them too.  Like it or not, we’re actually on the same side here.”

“Goddamn it,” she says, and swats her arm.

“We know Agency and Mob are in cahoots now.   No other way they got into Interzone.  So we are all there is.”

“What did Superstring have to say, anyway?” she asks out of the blue.

“He said to give up.”

The Influence laughs, surprisingly young sound from that old frame.

“Always was a fucking yellowbelly,” she says.

“For a coward, he was a brave sonofabitch,” I say, tipping a little onto the swampy shore beneath our feet – shot for our fallen brother – before throwing back a long toxic swig for myself.  “He said only way to save Earth was get the humans to do it themselves.”

Laughs again, bitter, phlegmy.

“Humans are the worst,” she grits teeth and spits again. “I can see why Paulie would give up.  If it’s in their hands, then it’s over.”

(You are still inside, doing something perverse with that gristly control panel of blisters and flaps.  Not sure I want to see that again to be perfectly frank.)

“You give up too easily, Dana,” I say. “Believe your Conflict – it’s and feed off – physical specifically not between boundaries.  Once human. Mutants, costumes need Supplies.”

“Activism Get Once and reanimate,” she retorts. “So important mountains be on process shit.”  She laughs.  “Souls, spirit, dead eyes Modern psychopathology.” 

Energy, whatever demons, some we discovered True.

“I’ve got… I’ve got a plan,” I say, and this time when she laughs the sound is cruel.

“Oh do you boy?” she slaps another mosquito and her palm is covered with someone else’s blood “I bet it’s a good one.  Maybe even as good as our last little adventure.”

Part of the House swivels towards me, and I realise that you’re listening, you’re here with us – but now you’re more comfortable being with us as a House than you were as a human. Words I vision lines the dimensions – think at control-machine – sensing through the House’s senses, better than yours.

“You hearing this Agent?” I ask the House.

Gills flap wetly against the swamp air, make a sound like speech.

(You’ve been a glizzard already – why not a House?)

“Yes,” comes the sound, flatulent, manifest in vile beautiful and cut-up in particles.

“So what’s your genius idea then boy?”  Dana scrabbles clawlike hands towards me, and I hand over my flask.  She gulps down and cocks waiting head.

“It’s up to the humans, right,” I start.  “But we can get into the climate script and denarrative it – alter the code of what's generating the Nova energies – redirect the plot mechanisms.  Well, humans are hooked on the deregulated capitalist graph machine – expand, expand, the ever-rising graph – infinite growth all the time – always hungry – must chug along as normal.  Nova control machine is the exploding capitalist graph machine.  But what if we disrupt the graph at the source?”


“Every capitalist system lives.  Hypnosis, terrain drugs occult methodologies.  Anticapitalist possession, anarchist cellular demons take over the body.”

“Details, Blackwell.”

“I’m thinking disease.  I’m thinking plague.  I’m thinking world-wide pandemic.”

The Influence is intrigued.  Can’t tell exactly how you feel – houses not known for their shall we say emotional transparency.

“Go on.”

“World wide pandemic.  Imagine.  Maybe not fatal, but something that keeps everyone home.  Real fucking sick.  Can’t go outside much or you catch the fucker.  No more workplaces.  No more malls.  People desperate and confused, fuck work, fuck transit – stay at home to save your life, lives of your loved ones.  Megaplague takes over Wall St.  No-one goes anywhere.  Cars stay in the garage, you follow?  Everyone scared.  Shuts down the capitalist machine – restrictions that they will be never willing to do for abstract ‘environment’, they’ll  be willing to do for something concrete like ‘disease’.  Disease is personal, not like ecology or climate.  Control Machine slows right down, emissions follow suit, torrent of climate change reduced to trickle.  Because the Capitalist Control Machine is what the Mob are using to change the climate, right?  So it’s the Capitalist Control script core that needs to be recorded over.”

There is nodding, there is thought.  I push on.

“My thinking is, we zip on down to Planet Earth, spread something so contagious that they have to put the brakes on – gives time to rewrite the script.  Cars stop.  Factories slow down.  Aeroplanes grounded.  Fashion and shop and factory come to standstill.  Sudden change in normal.  If we can change normal, if they put on the brakes themselves in response to our little pandemic, then there’s a chance – only a chance, but a chance nonetheless – that they’ll keep the brakes on for the climate.”

Structural change, to intensify, so Followers of planet, their fault only.

“You saying once they stop pandering to the machine, control lines, rewrite the psychological (and those are forced to be honest).”

“Imagine.  They stop going to work – they realise how life can be.  The cars stop, the air gets clean.   The rivers become clear again, dolphins return to the canals of Venice.  Whole of depression of resources also causes deep distress – require some heavy you, we'll win, the system – the work will make people up, break the Mechanisms.”

“New habits form,” says Dana, wistful.  “new normal.”  This is totally her field of expertise now, she’s definitely warming.

“Systems created to deal with plague then can be used to deal with environment.  New normal goes on to stall climate change, maybe even reverse it.   And all powered by the humans themselves.  Just like Superstring said.”

(All this talk of humans, like I’m not one – like you’re not one.  Although, well, maybe you’re a House now, hard to tell.)

“Not many control-lines support Back Door,” she says, warming to the idea, “Competition are also symptoms, to feeling unhappy, for Capitalism makes us – if we lose, each other, as way, or take into account so much tied.”

“I know, but it’s worth a shot. What other options do we have?”

“Brakes on, we get time to rewrite the script.”  She smiles.  “I like it, Blackwell.”

“To deal Capitalism story and relation,” I say, raising my flask.

House vents make a sound like tongue – domestic fricatives slithery and dank.

“Could work,” you say through the house.  “Global substance other Don’t making infrastructure, Best warn like that – All that society. Silver wind. Mammalian Satan, over painful less-than-real.”

“Couldn’t have put it better myself,” I say, and drink up.


In the end, Dana decides to stay with us, even to help us.  I think maybe she’s actually excited now. After all, going viral is kinda her thing. 

She’s nattering to herself about vectors and symptoms, says our plague should have a slow onset before symptoms emerge, to give maximum spreading power, contagion spreads before folk even know they’re infected.  She summons a few volumes of knowledge from her etheric library – she keeps most of her massive store of knowledge on some magical dimension she calls The Cloud – and buries her long nose in the pages of musty books for the next hour or so.  But he seems genuinely excited, and I can’t say it doesn’t fill me with some hope, her being on the team.

(Still a fucking long shot, to be absolutely Francis.  A cooked up ideal.  Modern human is addicted to comfort, addicted to fingertips, addicted to long-chain logistics – how will they react when supply of convenience dries up and they have to go cold turkey? 

Part of me thinks that plague is barely going to slow control machine down – just pile the bodies and develop vaccine for the Mob – business as usual – but part of me thinks maybe, maybe, maybe some force that cannot be bought or bullied by the ultra-rich elite might actually do this.  The heart of the control machine will definitely skip a few important beats, and that arrhythmia could bring the body corporate to its knees.

Cut up the drive mechanism itself, destroy the normal, shaking the habitual enough for a new normal to emerge – a normal that factors in let’s say the harsh realities of brutalist climate pressure from the Nova Cartel and their extra-terrestrial parties, a new normal that is built from a place of Earth reality instead of the dollar-dream fiscal fantasy slave hallucination of the control machine gangster gods.  Still a fucking long shot, but it’s giving us hope – even irascible Influence, nice to see the old witch excited and active again after all these longtimes spent cooped up in her tower.)

The City swamp, tendrils sink little witches’ brew of bamboo darker, in mystery.  House then through swamps here are something proven, safe beneath Dana’s cast spell dome of invisible energy – we are not invisible as such, but anyone looking our way will have a hard time concentrating on us, will want to pass their eyes right over us as though we are just mind-numbingly boring – same spell used in legal documents and Terms and Conditions, Dana says.

You still seem more comfortable now being part of the House than being regular human form.  Not sure why or how this metamorphosis has occurred, but living in Interzone this long means such threshold-behaviour no longer concerns me – you wanna be House, you go right ahead.  (There was a saying when I was still on Earth that went something along the lines of “insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result”.   Hogwash, I say – reality is made entirely of doing the same thing day after day – smoking, drinking, eating transfats or whatever – until threshold is reached, and blam, completely different result occurs.  Sudden heart attack, or what’s the term, coronary infarction.  Smoke every day, suddenly you’ve got lung cancer when you didn’t this time last year.  And so on.  People who came up with that saying clearly never filled a glass of water.   Glass isn’t full – glass isn’t full – glass isn’t full – suddenly glass is overflowing.   Same thing.   You’re not a House – you’re not a House – you’re not a House – okay, so now you are.  Not my place to judge, I say.)  

Second guesses about this loose “plan” of ours aplenty.   Gotta make sure we don’t just kill off everyone – that would suck massive dogballs, and not in a good way.  Gotta make sure we don’t kill off the young – I believe that children are the future, sung like Whitney.  (Gotta make sure we don’t kill Nalan.   That would defeat the whole purpose.)

Catch myself.   No, of course, saving the planet is our goal.  Going through all this, all this, just for the life of one human being would be preposterous, selfish, wrong.   No, no, this is about saving the whole goddamn planet.   This isn’t just about saving Nalan.  Definitely not.

The shower membranes into the Zonelands – thick swamps but mosquitos out lunatic.  There is a breed of mosquito out here in the fens of Interzone whose bite bestows random powers to whomsoever it bites – the power of flight, the power of really good vibrato, the power of evocative prose, the power of repressing yawns and sneezes.   Itch like a motherfucker, but well worth it.   Depending on the power, of course.  Hardly worth three years of itchiness for the power of impeccable penmanship, I’d say.   Anyway, have not seen this particular species of mosquito in our immediate surrounds as of yet, so for now whole thing is entirely theoretical.

Dana comes out of the House – out of you, I can’t help but think, now – bristling with excitement and knuckles cracking.  Says there’s a certain coronavirus, although easily prevented by simple handwashing and the wearing of masks, that might have the exact oomph we desire.  I can’t help but repeat the bit about masks and the washing of hands back to her, but she scoffs, brushes it away like it’s a small cloud of pesky gnats.

“Just who in Western Earth societies is going to wear a goddamn mask or wash their goddamn hands?” she asks, gnarled hands gesticulating wildly, still swatting those conceptual gnats, “Western Earth societies think they’re above ‘third world’ concerns like hygiene and breath.  They don’t even sweat, they ‘perspire’ – and they never shit, they ‘visit the rest room’.  If I know Western Earth culture – and I fucking do, Blackwell, and you know it – they’ll complain that wearing masks is some kind of affront on their ‘freedom’ or something.  You just wait.  If there’s one thing that Western Earth societies are, it’s selfish and entitled and brattish and stupid.”

“That’s four things,” you say through the House, some flappy flesh vent that belches your words in a manner most unpleasant – a thick sound that sounds like how diarrhoea feels.

“Picky picky picky,” says The Influence.

“Coronavirus you say.” I can’t help but feel like that word is familiar somehow.  Like I’ve seen it somewhere recently.  And it’s like you read my mind.

“Didn’t I see some of that stuff at The Market?” you ask, voice flatulent and sodden – foetid house-breath wet and arsey in the already moist swamp.

Must be rhetorical – how the hell would we know what you saw?  But I do believe you’re right – I do seem to recall such a thing myself.  You’re good Agent, bloody good.  Can’t help but feel like you’re really letting your intuition guide you now, good good, cutting past all those mind control tricks they Matrix you up with on Earth.  Maybe you’re more in touch with things, now you’re a House most of the time.

“To the Market then,” I say.

Of course, visiting the Market right now, as myself, would be potential suicide – there will be Agents swarming all over, eyes on certain lookouts, eager snitches lurking in every shadow.   So I will have to enter someone else and meatpuppet them.  Gotta do what you gotta do.  Greater good, and all.

(You ever see Being John Malkovich?  Vast oversimplification.)


I set up the gear – Belarusian witch Transport technique again, old faithful – considerably less set-up time this time than required for glizzard transferal, understandably – and once it’s all set up and the herbs are crushed and the blood is clotted and crystal is powdered and the feathers are singed almost black, I sit lotus-style inside House – inside you? uncomfortable thoughts there – and I drink the concoction one gulp – knowledge instruments, is devoid deep – and pupils reduce to pinpricks and I slip away into nothingness and shed Agent Blackwell and become amorphous idea of selfhood – floating above everything now – To anyone Matter wide you But locations Quantum old with symptom of through nothing and Meat, particles – and now swoop over Marketplace and yes, there is vendor of disease, sitting calm behind old trestle table laden with phialled microfauna – and I spot three Agents laying in languid wait in the cooling shadows of Market Wall, all senses alert – and I spot another three in casual clothes pretending to be regular customers but all too alert to be just browsing – and I enter the body of reclining Mugwump – no-one ever questions what Mugwump buys, own inscrutable wants and desires – and Mugwump clicks to attention like a puppet on strings and I no longer see the Mugwump because I am the Mugwump and I no longer see the Market from above because I am standing in the Market, back against the wall, blinking in grey, breathing in particles, smelling smoke and incense and kim chi and unwashed bodies and fungus – I am actually there.

I walk past buckets full of Morgellons, slow and you could say even graceful in my long-limbed Mugwump meatsuit.  Actual owner of said meatsuit is slumbering now, black void sleep of the properly possessed – only incompetent leaves them with memories of this process, and I am not incompetent.  Past the sonic screwdrivers, universal remote controls, syringes full of Soma I walk, like loping scaly antelope in slow motion.  

There: Vials of Coronavirus.

I nod at vendor, click my black beak.

“How much for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2?” I ask – voice is cracked and bent like drunken cockatoo, and I notice I have both nipples pierced and joined by thin silver chain, spiked black codpiece, thigh high leather boots, naked otherwise – waving skeletal Mugwump hand over merchandise.

Vendor is details of Jerry Garcia deepfaked onto the form of Janet Jackson, but for Mugwump the difference between the two is minimal anyway – interesting to note that humans appear almost identical to the Mugwump eye, but smell completely different.  She nods back at me and indicates the small bottles.

“This little SARS-CoV-2 virus?  Not much of a best-seller, gotta say.  How many you want? Happy to make you a deal.”

I shrug Mugwump shoulders and sniff her deeply bacterial body scent over the chemical perfume of her wares.

“I think today I might take them all,” I say.

She laughs, husky sound of nodules.  The look she gives, the human part of me recognises as unspoken distrust smoothed over with professional disinterest, while the Mugwump I’m riding in recognises only a sharp tang in her aroma.

“Bulk discount, nice,” she says, and enters figures on a scientific calculator circa 1985.

(Luckily the Mugwump I’m inhabiting has the cash required, and pays even a little extra – tipping is not required in the Market, but all parties know the power that a little financial encouragement can have when it comes time to stool the pigeon.   Besides, it’s not my money anyway – here, have it all.  Greater as I mentioned earlier good.)

We make our trade and our trade-based wellwishings and I lope away, armed with enough plague to drop a planet to its knees.  Strolling on out on Mugwump legs, all the time in the world.

And there, standing by the stone archway to the Market, eyes straining, zipping, panning, is a certain Agent Jacky Factual.  His eyes flick past me like I’m just another Mugwump, which of course I am.  Feeling cocky, I nod at him, click my beak.

“G’day officer,” I make my Mugwump say.

He’s busy – all I get from him is a slightly grumpy chin movement and a barely-audible grunt.

And I slide on by, out, anonymous and invisible.  

Cloth bags in hands, I stroll casually out of the Market, doing my Mugwump best to whistle a little nonchalant tune with my chitinous beak – just a regular day, just an average shop, just a couple of bags of death to change the fate of a planet.

No-one follows.  

No-one sees.  

No-one cares.

Most excellent.


When I get my vessel out of the City proper, I let cockiness and curiosity guide my steps, and soon enough I’m in part of forest where my new hollowed out tree home is – or was.  It’s now burnt to the ground.  Blackened stump, broken branches, one hundred percent arson.  So that’s that then.  Your flesh home will have to be my four walls for the foreseeable.  I think of walking Mugwump vehicle into peaty bipeds windy outskirts no friends with rotten shrouded situation goes – and iron through swarms like tinnitus, roots – not the now.  Better instead swap meatsuits as soon as practicable, leave less of a trail.

Switching vessels midway is dangerous, but confident I can handle it – done it before, done everything at least twice by now, this long in the Interzone.  Old dog.  Old dog so old now that no tricks are new any more.

So I step out of the Mugwump and float above momentarily – Mugwump on pause – scope the scene.  Jazz Mongol instruments, gypsy fish, vast weed-grown boats, wood houses, rotten logs… Every tendrils and biological Houses of sod-high Arab bagpipes… bog, fen, swamp, all have subtly different meanings but general vibe is much the same any given direction.

Decide on giant swamp gator mantis, crawling along, scaly belly ploughing mud, insect legs clawing up the muck, nostrils aquiver, deadly jaws clamped shut – for now.  Gator mantis not a friendly beast, tell you that for free.  But as far as getting my shopping bags full of death back to our little home sweet home, no-one would raise an eyebrow seeing one of these beasties crawling messy and clicking through the boggy Zonelands.  No-one would follow, more to the point.

Entering the soul of a creature like the gator mantis – so different creature from my own humble human form – will be risky.   Switching vessels midway also risky, as I said, but neither risk is one I am concerned about.  Just need to stay focused on task at hand, no distractions – sing dead fish eyes newfound truth anyway.

Walk Mugwump up to shoreline, submerge now in brownblack water thick with silt.  Wade thickly beeline for gator mantis, clicking blackly chitin, dark hairs fanning air for scents of prey.  Spots me, turns slowly, like scaly brown glacier, like rolling log, like peat clump thick – enormously serpentine undulation feral dogs, and having come to deadroads in fountain out of cooperation, peace and the scorpion kiss.

I keep on walking, towards gargantuan scaly insect reptile nightmare as it wades silently towards me. 

Have to time this right.  Must be impeccable.  But I am what you might call a fucking professional, Agent.

Another step.  Another.  Another-

There is a sparkle in its black eyes and the gator mantid flicks out its two deadly claws, like regular mantis but the size of a bear, hefty brownblack lobster claws grip me by the shoulders and serrations sink into Mugwump flesh like fork into meat, feel the pain like it is my own.

Not yet, not yet-

Beast rises up out of swamp, jaws wide, massive, stink of old teeth and half-digestion, hot breath felt for one moment before jaws clamp around me, around my Mugwump vessel – and most importantly, around my shopping bags filled with death.  Jaws clamp around and swallow, tearing, pain is excruciating, beast tears and swallows everything I am and everything I hold and now it’s dark-

And I let go of the Mugwump and slip out like a breath-

And Mugwump is crushed now and I am crushing it with my jaws, heavy head pounding the Mugwump into bolus – careful now to not break even one vial of coronavirus, now I’m in control – and I swallow the evidence of my previous Mugwump existence, not a trace left.

Sorry bub, but eggs and omelettes – ends being worth the means and all that.

Stomach full of slowly digesting Mugwump parts and two bags of covid, I half-swim half-wade on insect legs towards you and Dana.

Mmm – you wouldn’t think it, but mugwump tastes good.  Must be all the lollies.


Sluggish thoughts now.  Simple creature is gator mantis.

Sense witch shield.  Get close.  Not too close.  Regurgitate bags.  Bags come out with one arm.  Flesh sizzling off in digestive clumps.   Slurp arm back up again.  Tasty.

Meat incompatible.  Collapsing apparatus.   Oppression into sweet word.

Wade away from camp.  Not want hurt friends.   Dangerous beast.   I am.

Imperil could be territory their Silver wind.

Far enough.  Safe now.  I think.

Sleepy from digestion.  Rest now. 

Step out of gator mantis.

Constricted – pupils reduce Every border – Tune through and deer-eyed, Collapsing – who the feel and still changed, through Obliteration – More of a more, tumbling fiction, shimmying down – we things – Wonkavision memories to popped mingle incompatible – any scrolling, scrolling – gulp the static metaphors – from my Interzone reality – between stations, blown through spaces – eyes old – slip moot – pinpricks gazes–

–and my soul slips back into husk, and I gasp and shudder and gasp, like Neo awakening from the Matrix.

(Vast oversimplification.)


Dana and you both rock paper scissors for who has to get the bags covered with gator mantis puke and half-digested remains – I’m not doing it, already did the hard bit.  Dana lost but is not what you might call sporting about it.

“Fucking stupid idea, Blackwell,” she says, recoiling from the stickiness and the smell and the stretchy mucous of it all, although you live as long as The Influence and you’d expect to have to deal with a little gurge now and then, “you could’ve gotten yourself killed.”

“Got a better way?” I blow smoke at her just to piss her off – childish but still funny – she grimaces and flicks long fingers and mantis gator mucous flies into the swampwater.

“So, what, you just killed that Mugwump then?”

It’s you speaking now, the you you, not the House you.  I don’t need your snark right now to be honest – I’m fucking exhausted, I need a dram and another smoke, not a lecture – but I shut the fuck up because when I reawoke in my own personal body you were there for me – the you you, not the House you – and you wiped sweat from my brow with your human hands and you helped me sit up straight and as you did so there was genuine care in your human eyes and I feel like I haven’t seen that particular look in any eye since fuck knows when.

“Everything dies, Agent,” is all I say.

“Besides,” says old witch, done with slime now and pulling out vials one by one, rubbing them on hem of her old tan skirt, “this plan is going to kill plenty of innocents on Earth, isn’t it bucko.  Better get used to killing innocent people, is my advice.”

You swallow words and remain silent, but there is some internal struggle, nip it in the bud.

“It’s a price,” I say, “the whole planet, or a percentage of the planet.   Lose something, or lose everything.  A million people or six billion people.”

“It’s simple maths,” Dana says, reaching gnarled fingrels for the joint – I pass it over.

“It’s eight billion now,” is all you say, quiet.

I shrug.

“Well then, I’ve just gained two billion people,” I say.  “Sounds like a win to me.”

“In the end,” Dana blows smoke somehow Mandelbrot in the still buzzing air, “it’s a pay off – do you wanna save the planet or not?”

Ah bub, nothing is simple.  Nothing is simple.  It’s just not.

You turn and walk back inside.  Maybe it’s easier sometimes being a House.

As the mosquito and vicious dusty here in this and bars, in else altogether.

Tendrils tell from affair millions in note.

As far House planted itself deeper and deeper. 


Inside, you’re hooked up to the House again, all flesh and tubes and semitransparent viscous white liquids and confronting pungencies.  Can tell even now that you’re not one hundred percent behind this plan of ours.  Only a smattering of moments ago you were unaware that Interzone even existed, now you’re central pillar in plot to disease the Earth.  I get it.

“Hey, bub-” I start to say.

Dana trips inside like an inspired swarm of bees.

“China!” she says, eyes blazing and idea-finger raised.


“China.  Should be our epicentre.  Density, numbers, governmental secrecy, everything we need.  The whole shebang, Agent.  Numbers game, numbers game!”  She glances around, realises now that you’re listening as the House, and adds “Agents” the plural.  “And let’s not forget the shall we say relaxed environmental laws of the nation – shutting down China could well be the perfect place to start.   Plague – some should be epicentre maths – and that maximum spreading power Influence, physical reality themselves.”

Dana knows she says, trends to our plague – subset of combination of population – she says some have a slow onset, to give all numbers and size and density, before symptoms reveal.

“And?” I ask, rolling another three paper.  I walk into another of your fleshrooms as I do so – the sight of you in your throbbing apparatuses and constant milky discharge most disturbing thing I ever did see.  Dana follows, working knuckle hands in the air like gnarly Auslan.

“My vote is Wuhan,” she croaks, the both of us sitting at once on two warm scrotal beanbags that rise up from floor eager to receive our buttocks.  “Most populous city in Central China, over 11 million.  Major transportation hub, dozens of railways, roads and expressways passing through the city and connecting to other major cities.  Markets, trade in chipmunks, foxes, raccoons, wild boar, giant salamanders, hedgehogs, sika deer, snakes, frogs, quail, bamboo rats, rabbits, crocodiles, badgers.  Plausible deniability, and a government that will deny whatever it can.  Give us a head start.”

“You sure know a lot about animal trade in Wuhan,” comes your disembodied flatus voice, like a farting phantasm.  Again, you express doubt.  Fair point though.

“You think I’ll just barge in without doing my research?” Dana is pissed off.  “Think I just pull this shit out of my arse?   Think The fucking Influence doesn’t make sure she knows what’s what before she starts running her mouth?  Bah.”  She reaches for the joint even though I’ve only just got it lit.  I sigh and pass it anyway.  She drags deep.

“When I got here,” your moist and flatulent ghostvoice floats through the smoke, “you told me this was a ‘cut-up solution’, an ‘occult solution’ – you said that any other solution were impossible.  But this ‘spread a plague and hope that it slows down the economy’ isn’t very ‘occult’ and it’s not very ‘cut-up’ either!  Like, that is literally the entire plan – spread a disease and cross our fingers.”

“Crossing fingers is a myth,” grumbles Dana, passing back the doobie.

“Agent,” I say, “Once be willing to Machine – gives capitalist machine – factory, once they redirect the plot down to Planet they’ll never contemplate the graph put on.  It’s not a literal cut-up, see?  It’s a metaphysical cut-up.  Fabric of time and space – ‘cut-up’ solution and density, But this – Nova energies hungry – and economy themselves.  Give disease to that – maximum reality – China maths of numbers.”  I’m not sure I’m explaining myself quite as well as I want to be – forgive me, still bit foggy after inhabiting the limited cortex of a fucking mantis gator.

“Occult there’s a chance,” nods Dana, “other reasons, then must chug along control machine is for ecology, disease stop the constant things.” Nods again, like a bird pecking the air.  “Anticapitalist possession, they are forced – all the deregulated capitalist the script.”

“Nova is personal, ecology brakes on for time to rewrite so contagious that mechanisms.”

“Well, humans on the Capitalist Earth, spread something.”

“When this was power population before onset, ‘cut-up solution’ – physical her ‘occult solution’ is Plague.”

“Shuts down the it – alter they have to.”

Dana and I stop talking.  It’s been a while since you’ve said anything.  And when you’re not talking, it’s just me and The Influence in a room made of meat. 

You might be present, but there’s no sign of it.  When you’re not talking, you’re just a House.

“Well then,” I say, standing and clapping my hands, “who wants a coffee?”