:: Article

No dead that are not dead

By Nicholas Rombes.

The house. The blood. My “name” is Sheila. The sort of violence that doesn’t end but that goes on and on. Three bodies so soon to be in parts. The fact of revenge. No zombies. All the time. The dead stay dead. The living/dead is the one great “undeconstructable binary” (Aarspeth 12). The careful, months-long stalking of the people who are soon to be in parts. The assignment. The Messiah Detectives. The path through the forest. The flat windowless back of the house. The wet green grass. The nightcrawlers. The yellow porch light around front. The rusted key. The average citizens. The rusted moths. The stained fingers. The sound of sleeping. The smell of dinner rice. The ceiling fan.

I did not do these things. I did these things. I will do these things. They have taken. They have taken something away. There were wires. My name. I went to the house. The house exists in a region that must fall under discipline. I followed the map. There was a white screen door. Before that, a roadside swamp. The green green of rushes. A sense of sun. Light hurtling through space. Light from the deep past. The sort of damp map that trails off in smudges. The shredded dresses. The clean, clean cut of the sharpened knife. “The expansion of administrative competence into a region” (Aarspeth 187). The unlocked door. The thermostat turned down in the night. The sleeping bodies. The taking off of shoes so as to move quietly. The black and blue. There is movement in an upstairs bed. I am searching for what was taken. The war.

The parallel structures of fascism, the party duplicating every level of public authority. The militia flanks the army, and then supersedes the army. The party police flanks the police, and then supersedes the police. My job is to keep turmoil alive, to murder peace. The village has been too calm for too long. It is not the nation which generates the State. Rather it is the State which creates the nation, conferring volition and therefore real life on a people made aware of their moral unity. These are the words that singe the inside of my skull.

The map unfolds by flashlight. It is not a map. Rather an architectural rendering. I am in the kitchen. I orient the schema. My name. My name is. The stairwell is to the north. My knife, unsheathed. “Sheila.” They have been clear with me, about the war. The war is in danger. In danger of ending. They have spelled it out. I have read their White Papers. Their experts have been made available to me. And to the average citizens. Who have been made to understand. There is water running somewhere in the house. I hear it in the walls. The pipes. There are pipes. The hum of drones. Chicklet teeth and bones. The house is draped in stones. The mind is at war with itself. The radical imposition of “interchangeable sameness” (Aarspeth 33).

The living and the dead. Either/Or. There are no living dead. Nor dead that are not dead. The running water, hurried on by gravity. The buried stay buried, in this cold planet. I am in the assigned house. The drones have paused in skies. My name. The unsheathed knife. The war is in danger of ending. They have spelled it out. The ones I’m after are alive. This is my assignment. I did not do these things. I ascend the stairs. The family sleeps in many rooms. They must turn down the heat at night. A child coughs behind a door. Drones beget drones and there are more. There is a way that they give birth to each other in the sky.

So: the family. The house. The blood. The way that way leads on to way. A cosmic sort of hate. The child’s room. I was sent to the house. I open the child’s window to the night. This region of the village has been too calm. It’s best, I’m instructed, for the others to hear what’s about to happen. “As a rebellion against civilization . . .” (Aarspeth 696). My knife. Transforming the living into the dead.

And that way to remain, forever.

Nicholas Rombes writes for The Rumpus, The Oxford American, and Filmmaker Magazine, where he serves as a contributing editor and writes the Blue Velvet Project. His work has appeared in The Believer, Wigleaf, Exquisite Corpse, and other places. He teaches in Detroit, Michigan, and can be found here.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, April 20th, 2013.