in honor of Basket Case (1982) and Malignant (2021)

 Dear Belial,

I should start by telling you a little about myself. Mostly I wait in a half-sleep, lulled by the steady thrum of the arterial stream. Nestled against the bone bowl of my chamber, my sister’s daytime thoughts press against my back like a warm cat, purring. Not always, but sometimes, there is a door. At the back of her skull.When it opens, I pass through a red curtain and wear a veil of her hair.The chill of air pricks my face like needles. I like the pain. My sister can’t keep anything from me, but I know things she doesn’t, see things she doesn’t. I know our body from the inside, know the secret trick to set back the joints, to make us limber. My memory is older than hers, much older. I can remember the days of the lizard, can move us low to the ground on all fours.

Sometimes I feed her dreams of another room while I walk our body through the motions of my hunger. Blood never bothered me, but she can’t bear it. She’s too symmetrical, too external to the dark by which I came to understand the secrets of the flesh. My sister, oh my sister. She still thinks that to be Human is a finite thing. She still thinks that she is alone in there, under her skin. But enough about us. I’ve heard wonderful things about you and your brother.Would you be interested in meeting over a snack, or tea? I hope this reaches you.

Sincerely, Gabriel



Yes, I’ve heard of you too. I hear what’s in the wind, in the shadows. It would be a lie to say I’m not more than a little bit rattled by jealousy.You’re lucky to live inside, man.The air that pricks your face, imagine it burning a thousand times hotter, without relief. Instead of purring half-sleep, imagine all of Hell teeming at the seam in your side.Where I once felt my brother.They say wounds heal in time, but sometimes they only get uglier. No purring for me. Do you know what a phantom limb is? Can you imagine a phantom soul? To hear my brother’s thoughts, I have to stretch myself into the lonely air, where I’m prey to all kinds of whispers.You say you like the pain, but I don’t handle pain very well at all. It makes my eyes red, it makes the world red. I’m swollen with pain, a red, red agony. My brother though he goes on like an idiot, feeling almost nothing.

Still I want what he has, isn’t that something. I’m sick, Gabriel. It burns. But I have plans to make myself better. I’m learning about suturing, but there are layers to it. A body should be whole, but the body is not just a body.You have to learn to suture the soul. I agree with what you say, that none of us should be alone. A single life is monstrous.Yes, I’m curious to meet you. If you know a good burger place that’s cheap, let’s go there. At night, of course.You bring your sister. I’ll bring my brother. Afterward, let’s take a walk and see what the dark has to offer.

With affection, Belial

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