Dreamed 1994/12/1 by Chris Wayan
New! A two-page spread of the original Fractured-Expressionist Comix version of Corpse-Bug (600K)
I live in San Francisco, just off Mission Street. Cheap. Sunny. Cafes and clubs--amid the broken glass, drunks, gangs, and effervescent eau de piss...
I dreamed it was the near future. Our new Mayor bought a high-tech fix to clean up the streets: robot sweepers, about eight feet long, beetle-shaped, three-wheeled, with a sweeper brush on the back and two claws, a vacuum, and radio antennae at the head. Soon we all call them "corpse-bugs"--and not just because they're right out of Kafka! They dispose of bodies so naively, so conveniently. If it's dead, it's trash!
So... murder's safe now. Drive-bys have come back; the rate's up past the height of the old drug wars. Not because there's much to fight over. But with the bodies cleaned up automatically, nothing can be traced.
I'm sitting outdoors at a cafe table with my friend Bag-tie. We call her that because of her hair. She braids it with, well, take a guess. We're arguing about clothes: she's in loose green and brown sweats and heavy boots, while I have a short slit skirt, one fishnet stocking, a peace-symbol belt, purple blouse, and a long magenta feather in my hair. Bagtie thinks I'm dangerously out of touch. "Dress DOWN, girl, not up. This ain't the Summer of Love--more the Winter of Hate."
"Easy for YOU to say! But I'm single. If I hide, how'll I attract That Special Girl?"
Which is true, but the only person eyeing me at the moment is a guy, a grizzled one-eyed guy, sitting on the curb by the trash can, drinking from a paper bag.
BLAM! A gun goes off and I flinch and look wildly around, hissing "Where is it?" Bagtie just stretches her baggy green legs and drinks her latte. "Wayan, honey, that was a car backfiring. Again!"
Maybe she's right. I'm on edge because I know I stand out.
At last, I start walking home toward Bernal Hill, feeling nervous. Bagtie sensitized me. I don't feel safe here any more.
And they sense it.
Near 22nd Street a gang carrying golf clubs starts following me, half a block back, but closing slowly. I turn west and they turn too. I start running. Here's their chance to just be coincidence.
They start running too. And laughing and yelling "Puta!" And waving their golf clubs in the air. As they close in, one guy chants "Put a putta up 'at puta," bringing an ugly laugh. That's when I know it's not just going to be rape.
Near 25th, I fucked up. Bad. I thought I turned into Balmy Alley. Wrong. Dead end! Brick walls, a dumpster, a freebox with some soggy clothes, a spraycan mural by Reminisce--one of her horses saying REINCARNATE. I bitterly think "good advice, cuz I'm dead."
A corpse-bug creeps out from behind the dumpster. "How convenient," I think bleakly, "for cutting me up, when they're done."
Hopeless--nowhere to hide. And then... I did it.
I lay down in the gutter and rolled in sewage. And crawled right under the corpse-bug, under its stinking belly, and play dead. Will it cut me up, or ignore me?
Neither. It stopped above me. The bug hummed, and then an oozing pipe grew out of its belly and poked and probed me.
I lay still. It pushed my skirt up.
I lay still. It pushed... inside me.
I lay still. It started pumping cold, oily slime.
And... I let it.
I wish I knew.
One guy is shirtless, and his cock bursts out the top of his sagging pants. He says "Me firs', I saw 'er firs'."
The boy beside him with, of all things, a Grateful Dead skull twined in roses on his T shirt, shoves his hands in his pockets and says "It ain' her--she dead for DAYS! Y'can't fool a kafka! Solo toma las frias."
A third, his skin covered in sores, laughs "G'wan, Chuy--bug salsa too hot for ya?"
Fourth over is the leader, no question. He snaps "She mussa run up 26th! Come on!"
The last of them, a hulking, slow man, kneels, and looks at the filthy pipe stretching my cunt, and the sludge trickling out around the pipe, as the bug pumps away. He makes a sick sound. The leader yells "Come ON, Chuy, we'll lose 'er!"
The corpse-bug stayed in me till their footsteps faded. Then the waves of slime filling me slowly stop. The pipe retracts, pulling out of me. The bug rolls off.
I turn on my side and prop myself up. Foul, rusty oil crawls down my thighs.
But I'm alive.
A feeler twitched, but the bug went on eating dog shit.
I went home stinking.
I showered and douched forever.
And nine months later...
I did NOT have Robotmary's Baby. Or a horrible new disease. NOTHING. I was just... alive.
With a creepy memory.
But... somehow... less fear.
As I woke, I realized it was more than that. I felt... loved?
I don't understand it. I lay down with death. Death came inside me. Death saved me. And I don't know why. Was it--in its own way--loving? Do death and decay LOVE us?
The gang-rapists... the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse! The desperately horny one is Hunger. The skull-boy is Death. The guy with boils is Plague! And their leader, worst of all: War. The fifth, the only one who really looked at me, and felt sick...I'm not so sure. Was he the seed of Conscience?
The dream-gang may have been a flashback to my real childhood, more than a symbol. I was an outcast kid--taunted, bashed. At ten, I knew human evil--and not much about human good.
Since this nightmare, if you can call it that... I notice I've been letting go of victimhood. Still, I nearly didn't tell you this dream. My fear and degradation isn't for your fun.
But it wasn't rape, wasn't even humiliation exactly. I CHOSE to trust death--to let recycling in. Now, on those dark days when feel like I've sunk to the gutter, I remember how I lay down then, how I felt death spurting inside me, corruption filling me... and it saved me. How I got up alive.
I wonder. Is America doing this? Lying down in the gutter with corruption? And later... we'll rise.
Hope on, Wayan!
But to you gangstas and wannabes: no respect! You push your fear away--onto us. We the Victims let it in. But a loving monster taught me: fear let in is courage. Death let in is life.
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