the day they were ripped away | [leina rosado belvis]

by 16.2.17
Leina Rosado Belvis

Some will wake up and live out their daily routine, but four specific families will desire their ordinary lives to come back. It is impossible to believe that the most valuable things in life can be torn in a matter of seconds. Not knowing the reasons why. Four people woke up thinking that their life will go on normally, just like any other day. They were horribly mistaken. This was just the beginning of their worst nightmares. 

Family #1 
Evan got taken away from his family on January 2006. He was a father and a husband. An honorable man who worked fulltime, so he could “put food on the table” for his family. During nighttime he worked with computers, fixing different kinds of machinery.  It was unlikely for him to imagine that a day like this would come. It was around midnight when an army of men, wearing black combat suits, invaded his home taking away his wife and child. These men abducted him by drugging and dragging him to the back of their van. Evan, besides being under the drugs effect, tried to resist and fight back. During the struggle the soldiers restraining him gave him a second, higher, dose. Evan felt his body numbing and soon blanked out. 

Family #2 
In a cold month of February, a woman named Alyn would be the next victim of this “Black Army”. She lived with her two sisters in a small apartment in the city. The three of them worked hard to be able to get where they were, with the jobs they always wanted. The older sister was a nurse in the Central Hospital, the middle one was a secretary to the mayor of the city, and Alyn, the youngest one, was a teacher in an elementary school. They were having dinner when the “Black Army” stormed in and took the three sisters away. They forcefully drugged them and locked Alyn in the same van that carried Theo. 

Family #3
The following month, they took a baby that belonged to a recently married young couple. The couple were enjoying a vacation trip in Paris as the tragedy would unfold. It was in the hotel room when the Black Army came crashing through the window and took the baby from them. Both of its parents fought for their baby but sadly they weren’t strong enough. They didn’t drug the baby, but they did put it into a van as well. 

Family #4 
     The last victim, was a homeless woman. She lost her job as a doctor. Since she never managed to recover from a loss, she couldn’t get a new job anywhere else, not even in a supermarket. All she had for company was her dog and a few belongings. She never used drugs or alcohol. Her home was underneath a bridge in the city’s central park.  When the Black Army came for her, the devious act went unnoticed throughout the public eye. They drugged her and put her in the van, just like the many others before her. Her dog took advantage of this moment and jumped into the van to join her. Without the Black Army noticing, for the time being. 

     This “army” had their targets studied and observed, striking their victims with ruthless precision and perfect timing. This group works for a private company that receives government backing. With federal funding they can continue developing their own scientific investigations; but the government was unaware that the corporation was using human test subjects through an elaborate human trafficking scheme. They would find ideal targets and abduct them to further their research. Once acquired the test subjects they were to be classified depending on their sex, age, race, skin tone, and nationality. After registering and number branding the victims are herded into cells just like cattle. 
The central base of operations of this immoral corporation was located in a island that no one dared to enter due to its violent history and paranormal rumors. 

     During the XVth to XVIth century this land was used as a prison for pirates by Spain, where many were tortured and executed. Over the years, because of this gruesome history, tales of spirits, disappearances, haunted bridges and tunnels, and abandoned buildings emerged. The corporation took full advantage of these stories while building their central base, they thought that it would be the perfect front and that no one would suspect a thing. 

     Evan, Alyn, the homeless woman, and the baby met each other after one month of the abduction. They only got to eat twice a month. This was the only moment that the prisoners got to see each other. The prisoners were given one meal to be divided by four people, so they had to learn to share their food. This meal time lasted 24 hours. Why so long? They didn’t know either. In a year, the subjects established a closer relationship. The four of them, yes, including the baby, shared the same suffrage: emotional and physical pain, loss of family and loved ones, and despair. Although instead of feeling weakened because of this calamity, they channelled it as a source to fuel their strength. Their will to survive. 

     Therefore, during one of these “meal-days” they decided to prepare a plan for their escape. Each of them had a task: first they were to investigate the facility and learn about a way out, second plan the escape route, and finally search where to hide. The only part that wasn’t planned out was where to hide after their escape. No one had been outdoors, they only had rumors to rely on. 

     The big day arrived and their plan was ready. Evan’s role was helping the group escape even if it meant fighting their way out, while Alyn, taking care of the baby, brought the group’s stash of food, as for the homeless woman it was she who would lead them to the exit. After all the tension and madness, they managed to sneak out of the building. When they finally saw what the outdoors were like, they were left in a shock. Their surroundings were all covered in a heavy dark fog. You could feel that the wind didn’t blow, all you could hear was the echoing of strange noises. Creepy noises. They continued searching for the place that rumors amongst the prisoners suggested was safe for them to stay. It was horrible walking through here. This place had no sense of time, regardless if it was day or night, it always remained the same. After walking a long distance, they finally reached their destination. It was a tunnel underneath a bridge. This was good enough for the moment. They felt safe for the time being. 

     After a couple of hours passed, they felt that they weren’t the only ones in that tunnel. They could overhear some whispering coming out from the tunnels depths. All of sudden, a group of men emerged and werly came closer. They were all using the same clothes as Evan, Alyn, the homeless woman, and the baby. Apparently, these men made an escape a long time ago. Unfortunately, they never managed to escape from the island. They said that it was too much of a risk to find a way out. After a discussion, these two groups decided to join forces with hopes of finally leaving this damned island.

    A short while later, they heard bombs exploding. The army found out that they were missing. Both groups, ran as fast as they could out to the woods for protection. The army kept bombing them, to flush them out of hiding and it worked. The two groups kept running deeper into the woods trying to escape until they came across a large abandoned building. As the two groups entered, hoping that it would help lose their trail, they started to realize that some horrible activities happened in there. Inside, what remained of the abandoned rooms, you could barely make out on the battered and worn walls faded names along with their sentences. 

     As they walked through the building, they could feel and hear the bombs getting closer. The leader of the tunnel group told our four: “If someone gets left behind don’t come back. Keep going”. He looked at Alyn, Evan, and the baby feeling compassionate he told them to follow the winding stream out of the woods. It would lead them to the shore where an old abandoned raft was hidden. Though he wasn’t sure if it was still functional but it was better than nothing. Suddenly they noticed that the fog grew thicker as if it started to suffocate the life out of them. An escapee told the four to run! That this was a chemical poisoning gas that if inhaled, the person would be left paralyzed. The soldiers would use this weapon to bring back escapees into the central base or leave them to suffer and die alone in these woods.  They ran without looking behind. Blindly following the stream. 

     By the time the four got past the next bridge and away from the Black Army they realized they were the only ones left. Evan wanted to go back and help the others, but they knew it would be in vain. Alyn told them that they needed to get out of there alive and let the outside world know. It was on them to end this madness. They stayed under the bridge for a little while, until they had rested enough to continue. They knew that in order to get out of there, they would need to find that abandoned raft.

     They carefully kept following the stream till they were out of the woods. There out on the shore they found pieces of a broken makeshift raft. Evan knew he had to fix it, it was their only way out. That evening, Alyn took care of the two year old baby and went alongside the homeless woman trying to scavenge for supplies and food; while Evan toiled away trying to fix the abandoned raft. Sadly their activities were cut short as they heard the explosions again. With hurry they prepared their makeshift raft in hopes that it would set sail. Evan, Alyn and the baby stepped into the raft, but the homeless woman  stayed back to push them away, making their escape. As the raft sailed off Evan, Alyn, and the baby could see the island growing distant. As if devoured by a dense flaring fog, until vanishing from their sight.

aborning | [wenmimareba k. collins]

by 15.2.17
Wenmi Collins

The baby is a warm bundle in Rea’s hands as they pull out from Old Town’s sewer waterways. Time is running out and things are far too cold this far from the interior. Still, Leonel insists on calling out to this woman spouting babble-speak much like Rea’s child soon would. The woman pushes them off from darkness into light, and Leonel finally takes to the task of taking them out. Once past the metal bars that cage the top of the portico of the tunnel, Rea suddenly feels so very close to finally—finally escaping the grimy streets, crumbling skyscrapers, and the cacophony of chaos. Gunshots and—and hands everywhere and—and a baby that belonged to no one, but to everyone, but to her, but to itself. And now, just watching Leonel row out to the buoy and hoping that they’re just not too late. It’s far too important. The anticipation and traces of pestering nervousness cling to her like a second skin and she fears she may never get rid of this worry for what comes next. 

All around them is an endless expanse of dark, bucolic sea and it thrashes at the sides of the boat. It is an unreliable thing, Rea thinks of both the boat and the sea, but not of the man sitting parallel to her. She is far too aware of how vulnerable they are being this far from land. It would take a small change of balance to send them tipping overboard and down into the cold depths. Not a relished thought, but one that keeps her from making any sudden movements. No matter how scared she is, she doesn’t jump or scramble. The weight in her arms keeps her occupied as she murmurs gently consoling sounds to it. She is not old enough to be able to successfully pretend the sounds aren’t for her as well. 

Up ahead, she finally sees it blinking in the fog like some undecipherable code. “The buoy!” She exclaims, shifting in her seat and pulling the swaddled creature in her arms closer. A red eye in the mist and the brine, but it is not a scary thing. They are where they’re supposed to be. Time is of essence, yes. “We are too late,” she whispers, a ragged thing, the clutch on her daughter, her messiah, growing to stone. Leonel shakes his head, his whole body made of sweat and dirt. His hair is greasy from the days gone unwashed. 

“They will come back,” he assures, voice unwavering and just so certain of his words that she can’t do anything but nod in response. He is right. He has carried them this far, and she trusts him. What he says must be right. 

Fog settles around them and Rea gets the disorienting sense that something, somehow, is watching them. Perhaps from the shore, or even from underwater. Two beams of light so promising in their intensity hover over the milky horizon and a pang of not-quite-hope pains her diaphragm so hard that she’s only half sure it’s not hunger. Her gaze must avert itself to avoid anything ridiculous like a pious exclamation. Such things have gotten her very little in the past weeks. Unfortunately, that means looking at the bottom of the boat and what she sees has her breath choking out of her as she gurgles alarm. 
“I am bleeding!” She is starting to panic, her heart battering against her chest like the machine gun fire that still rings in her ears. Leonel just looks at her with the most peaceful and tender expression that she’s ever seen him wear, and she inhales sharply. Her heart breaks in the tiniest way when he confesses with that boyish grin of his. 

“They got me,” he says as if that were no big deal. As if it was actually some sort of relief that he could finally feel something other than resignation. She remembers the beams on the horizon and that not-quite-hope grows more fervent. Desperate to give Leonel something to think on, something to distract him from making that damnably angelic face, she remembers that she hasn’t told him.
“Abiah,” she blurts out. At the quizzical chink that appears in between Leonel’s eyebrows, she backpedals. “Abiah’s also a girl’s name.” Understanding dawns upon his features and exactly what she didn’t want to return, does. That blissful expression telling her ‘everything’s going to be alright, Rea’, even though it’s so clearly not, comes back with even more luminescence. Against the dark of the wood-grain and the lurching soup they’re in, he is like an unwelcome sun and she feels far too close to crying. She hasn’t cried, sincerely heaving sob upon sob of salt, in the longest time. Desperation she’s felt, and hopelessness too, but not this unbearable grief. So, she smiles, for Leonel’s sake, and for Abiah’s, and for her own she supposes. 

It is moments like these where the mass of life in her hands seems a terribly, painfully precious thing. It is so very alive and hers, by God, it is hers. Out in the serene ebbing of the waves, she, and her baby, and Leonel have their weary, tired, creaky bones rocked. Leonel’s life is slipping at the same rate as his body curls in on itself. Like he’s seeking a womb—is what he looks like with his shoulders curved in like that. What an ironic and sickening contrast, she thinks. The baby in her arms just coming into this world where little’s been left, and Leonel leaving it so slow, only to look like he is returning to where Abiah was just at. With each panting breath, he looks at Rea and the baby and thinks he has done the best he can, which must be enough. Rest is just at the taunting periphery and his side aches were warm slick keeps leaking out of him. Despite all this, his soft gaze is unchanging.
When Rea’s eyes light up and look at something past his heavy body, he knows the boat is coming and he has been correct. He is fine with being the ferryman for this woman and her child—the last hope. He has done his duty and more, and now he can feel the pleasant pull of sleep. How long has it been since he let his mind simply shut down? How long? It is lodged between his ribs—a scorching, throbbing, bleeding wound. His eyes flutter shut slowly, filled with the image of this young madonna and her blessed child. 

Rea has given up any pretense of keeping her composure and is openly weeping now. It is suddenly too much. The boat is so close, and Leonel so slumped over in front of her. “Leonel,” she calls. “Leonel, the boat,” she says, touching his knee. He does not respond, but he cannot be dead. He cannot because she wills him not to be. Time is of the essence. 
The closer the boat gets, the larger its magnitude appears. She’s never seen anything like that, and it terrifies her, but it looks a lot more stable than the boat she is on, and there are people on it. So many people crowding the bow of the ship, looking over the railing and straight at her. She feels so exposed and she wishes Leonel would just open his stupid doe eyes again and look at her and tell her it will be alright. But he does no such thing. He is still slumped, and she can’t be sure, but his chest is no longer expanding or contracting. It suddenly makes her desire for the boat to come faster push to the forefront. For her, and Abiah, of course, but also for Leonel. Perhaps especially for Leonel. A reward for his struggles is in order. It does not occur to her that death is the most suitable reward. His story, his role, is finished, and he is glad to have spooled out his destiny with satisfactory results. It does not occur to her that all he’s wanted to do for the past infernal months is sleep until his breath is but a memory. 

And still, the great beast of machinery peels forward through the waves like a well-sharpened blade. Rea pulls Abiah impossibly closer to her chest and the look in her eyes can be described by no other word than ‘fierce’.

a precarious journey | [diana luciano tirado]

by 15.2.17

Diana Luciano Tirado

Crammed under a hollow bench of the village’s drapery, the screams of the tribe’s women became distant echoes of terror. The sickening smell of burning skin slipped in through the gaps of the tinted wood, and withholding the urge to retch soon became a near impossible feat. I covered my baby’s nose with my shirt, and prayed that she didn’t wake.

About a year ago, Northern soldiers had marched into Bartoliem with orders of settling into the Gyraeic tribes and offering their swords for protection against the persecution of neighboring kingdoms. Apparently, the Crown Prince’s health was quickly declining, and the King had made a deal with the Gyrian Head to offer his forces in exchange for the services of a few of his healers. Tenuous peace had been achieved for the months to follow, the threat against the tribes substantially lessening. That is, until two weeks ago, when the prince passed away, and the king decreed the extermination of all beings whose veins were tainted with magic, children not exempt.

Santa Katerina,
protect us and guide us on this dark day.
Please, give my child and I a chance.
Te lo ruego.

The sound of curtains being slid aside rattled through the shop, and I willed my shaking hands into stillness. A pair of boots scraped into the drapery, shifting to what I guessed was browsing the area. The instant crash of crystals against the floor made me flinch slightly, and once again I willed my body to freeze. My heart pounded with such tonicity that I was certain the soldier would find us by its boisterous beating alone. A few more things clattered to the floor, and finally the boots began to recede. I shut my eyes and waited for the horrid half silence that haunted me before, wished for it, but right then the baby sneezed.

A dreadful five seconds passed, then the bench was kicked aside, and a sturdy hand yanked me up by my curls. 

“Almost missed you, darling.” He smiled, crooked teeth tinged with yellow broadening as he took me in. I tried to pull away, but his grip was strong. “Aren’t you a pretty thing?”

“Please… Please, I’m not a –

“Shh, shh, sh. We’ll get to that in a moment. We have some time until the others get here.”

He gripped my waist and pressed closer, not even caring about the child slung across my chest. I thrashed, and in a moment of sheer luck managed to wedge my knee up between his thighs. He screamed and loosened his grip for the briefest second, only to grab me by the throat and squeeze.

“You filthy pagan!” He forced my jaw open with his fingers, and as he was about to close down on my mouth, a cracking sound emitted from his body. I watched as his wind pipe splintered in two, and felt the bones of his fingers break above my throat. He slumped to the floor.

Coughing, I stared in terror at the shriveled body below me, then up at the Gyrian woman who had caused it.

“You are Kye?” she asked in thickly accented Varyian, the common tongue. She had thick, undulating black hair and the keenest pair of gray eyes. She wore a short sleeved purple shirt and a long skirt layered with different colored fabrics, a kanah similar to the one I had wrapped around my baby falling from her shoulder to her waist. I nodded. “Then come.”

She crossed to the back of the tent, then turned when she saw I wasn’t following. “If you want to be raped and have your child slaughtered, you are welcomed to stay. If not, follow, now. Matheo is waiting.”

Relief flooded through my body at the name. “You know Matheo? Oh thank heavens –

“Save your thanks for when we are safe, girl. Now move.”

We exited the shop from the back, and my hand flew to my mouth as the smell of burnt flesh hit me with all its might. The howls of terror rose to deafening heights, tribespeople of all ages clamoring for their lives around us. We clung to the shadows as the Gyrian led us toward the woods and made us crouch behind a large tent. From here, we could see a group of four soldiers facing who I’m guessing was their commander. Matheo was amongst them.

“Keep searching,” said the gray haired commander. “I’m sure there are still rats cowering in some filthy corner of this place. Find them.”

“Yes, sir,” they answered in unison, then broke and headed separate ways. Matheo passed the tent in which we were huddled behind. I was about to call his name when the Gyrian squeezed my arm. I looked at her, but her eyes were trained on the commander, who was intently wiping dried blood from his sword. Only when he sheathed it and went the opposite way did she rise and led us to where Matheo had headed.

When we reached him, I tried once more to call his name and reach his side, but she grabbed my arm once more and pinned me with a warning gaze. We trailed him in silence for a few minutes.

“Get in front of me,” he murmured without looking back at us. As we did, an advancing scrape of boots sounded from behind us. “Shit. Kye, give Marika the baby.”

“What? No!”

“Now, Kye.” The urgency in his tone made me unsling the child from my chest and hand her to the Gyrian.

“Please, be careful –

“Stay quiet and follow my lead.” Matheo whispered. Then he roughly grabbed the back of our necks and pushed us forward.

“Going somewhere, Hendriks?” said a baritone voice from behind.

Matheo whirled us to face a pale skinned, smirking soldier.

“Found these two huddled behind a tent. They’re not so hard on the eyes, so I’m going to enjoy them before handing them over to the Lieutenant.”

“Really?” The soldier stepped forward. There was an easy grace to his stance, and I knew he hadn’t come to aid us.

“Not exactly your type, soldier.”

“Just because I don’t share my conquests with the rest does not mean I don’t have any.”

The soldier laughed. “I’d hardly call Gyrian trash a conquest. Though…” His eyes roamed up and down my frame, “Maybe using their bodies for a while wouldn’t be so bad.” He took another step forward, and Matheo switched to grab our wrists, yanking us behind him.

“I found them first, Peters. Get your own scum.”

He laughed again. “I’m sure they won’t mind if we share.”

He took another step, focused on my eyes, and Matheo released my wrist to pull out his sword and point it at him. Peters stopped and raised both of his hands, a low laugh wringing from his throat. “Greedy, are we?”

In that moment, another pair of boots approached, and the commander of Matheo’s platoon soon reached us. He took the scene in front of him. “What’s going on here?”

“Private Hendriks was going to rape these two rats, and apparently he’s not fond of sharing his toys.”

The commander regarded Matheo. “Hendriks?”

“Sir, I found them first. Peters is just too lazy and arrogant to find his own enjoyment.”

“Won’t argue with that. But does that warrant a death threat, Private?

“He has a big mouth.”

“Hmm.” The commander stepped forward and studied the Gyrian woman, whose eyes only exuded hate and disgust. Peters kept smiling. “And would you deny your commander such a treat as well?”

Matheo shifted. “Sir… I wouldn’t want you to sully your hands with such scum. I can find you more suitable women if you like –

“Matheo, lower your sword.” Matheo didn’t, and the commander narrowed his eyes. “That’s an order.”

Another soldier reached us, and our odds started to look pretty bleak.

“Everything alright, sir?”

He ignored him, unwavering eyes trained on Matheo. “Hendriks?”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, sir.”

The commander simply raised his chin and stepped back. “I see. It’s a shame you can’t.” Then he unsheathed his sword and pointed it at him, the other soldiers following.

Marika took the opportunity to hand me a small blade, which I almost let clatter to the floor. “Defend yourself.” Then she tightened her left arm on the baby, and slightly curled the fingers of her right hand, bracing for the fight. The soldiers circled us, Peters stopping before me, that smirk still plastered on his face. I raised my pathetically small blade, unable to hide the trembling of my hands, and he grinned.

“I’ll repeat it one last time, Matheo. Lower your sword, hand the women over, or you’ll be slain for treachery.”

Five tense seconds passed, and then Matheo twisted over to where Peters stood in front of me and hit him with the butt of his sword, knocking him down. It happened so fast, neither of them had time to react until Peters was down, and then all hell broke loose. The commander lunged at me, taking advantage of Matheo’s distance, but Matheo was too fast. Their swords met inches from my face, making me scuttle back until I tripped and fell. I saw the other soldier pounce on Marika, and she raised her hand toward his throat, beginning to twist it in the air, but this soldier knew a witch’s tricks. He grabbed her hand and squeezed until she screamed, then he twisted her arm up to her back. She screeched in pain, but her grip on my child didn’t waver. She started to plead with the man, and as he leaned closer to whisper something in her ear, she thrust her head back with such force that a crunching sound emitted from his nose. The soldier released her and swayed back, but managed to remain on his feet. Beside them, Matheo and the commander were sparring with unchecked force, slashing and swinging at each other like dexterous beasts. I was so focused on their movements that I didn’t notice the figure crawling toward me. Only when a bleeding Peters grabbed my ankle did I reach for the blade that had slipped from my hand, but he pulled me below him before I could grab it. He forced my legs open and crawled on top of me, pinning both of my hands in one of his above my head as I thrashed and tried to wedge my knee between his thighs, to no avail. He smiled and laughed between his teeth.

“Think you could escape me, sweetheart?” His free hand started to lift up my skirt, and then he was hoisted up and flung to the ground at my feet. A sword dug rawly into his chest, and then Matheo’s eyes were scanning my frame.

“Are you okay?” He asked. I nodded, my heart and breathing too frantic to let me respond. He removed his sword from Peters chest, wiped it once on his uniform, and put it back in its sheath. He leaned forward to pull me up, and then I saw the top of a gray tinged head looming behind him. I screamed.


The commander swung his sword onto Matheo’s open side, managing a deep gash and bringing him to his knees.

“Adflicto!” A splintering sound reverberated through the expanse, then the twisted body of the commander pummeled to the floor. A panting Marika and still dozing baby stood behind him. She turned to me. “What in Raho’s hells do you give this child?”

The soldier that had lunged at her was now lying at her feet, his body bent at weird angles. She had a gash on her right arm, but was otherwise unharmed. Matheo was beginning to rise from the floor, a hand pressed to his side.

“Theo!” I stood and ran to him. “Matheo, are you –

“I’m fine. It’s just a flesh wound.”

“Are you sure? It seemed deep –

“I’m sure.” He stood now to his full height. “Let’s move. Soon the others will notice a couple of soldiers missing.” He turned to Marika. “Do you still remember the way to the cave?”


“Then let’s go.”

Regaining our breaths, we entered the woods and headed east, down to where I knew a river lay hidden under a mountain. We walked for what felt like hours, Marika still holding tight to the child up in front. After the fight and the precarious situation we were still under, I trusted her more with her that I did with myself. She kept glancing behind her, dubiously glaring at me most of the time.

“What?” I asked the next time she looked back.

“This child holds power, yet I see no gleam of its essence in you.”

The question sent a jolt of pain back into my chest. “Her… father, he was the one with magic.”

She glanced at Matheo. She must have known they were friends.

“A male witch? Unusual.”

“Yet not unheard of.” He countered.

“No.” She turned to me. “Where is he now? They’re supposedly quite powerful. We could use him for –

“He’s dead.” I said, barely loud enough to hear the words myself. “A group of soldiers found out about him about a week ago. He threw himself at them without realizing they’d brought backup.”

She scoffed, and turned back to look to the path before her. “Protecting you, I take it?”

I shot a burning glare at her back, but the words had find their mark, and I couldn’t stop the tears that began to well in my eyes. “I already know I’m to blame. I don’t need a reminder from you.”

“It seems like you do.”

I stopped. “You have no right to judge –

She pivoted. “One of my own already died because of you. No doubt due to your cowardice and lack of competence.” She walked slowly forward until we were face to face, her height making me crane my neck to look up at her. “You are a liability and a disgrace to whatever tribe you came from, and if you do not make something of yourself, girl, you will no doubt get this child killed, too.”

“Marika, we don’t have time for this. We need to –

“Give me my baby.” I said to her, raging at her words but terrified about the fact that they rang too true.

Theo turned to me, an apologetic look shining in his eyes. “We are heading down a rocky path, Kee. It’s better if Marika –

“I don’t care!”

“Kyrie. Arguing will only slow us down. In a few more hours we will leave this place for good. Head to some safe land. Warn other tribes. But we have to keep moving. Let Marika carry the girl –

“Sanya, her name is Sanya.” That made him pause, and I saw the fleeting look of pain that crossed his eyes. My husband and Theo had been the few amongst the tribes to make a difference with their friendship.

“Let Marika carry Sanya. We’re close to the mountains now. She’ll be fine.”

I hesitated, but I’d seen how Marika had handled the baby during the trek. She wouldn’t harm her. “Fine.”

Once we finally reached the cave and descended the stairs that led to the river, there was a small boat tied on the edge. Matheo helped me unto it, then moved to help Marika, but she ushered him into it first. The witch unslung Sanya from her chest and passed her to me. Once she was secured on my breasts, Marika grabbed my wrist, making me look up at her. Her eyes were stern.

“There is strength buried deep in
side you, Kyrie; I can sense it. But it is up to you to reach into it and let it guide you.” She glanced at Sanya. “Now, it is no longer just you that needs taking care of.” She held my gaze, then bent to untie the boat from the bank.

“Marika… Marika, get inside the boat.”

“I cannot leave my people, Matheo. I’ll be safe knowing you three will be.”

“Marika, don’t be naive. Get in! The Northerners are slaughtering everyone. You will die if you go back.” He tried to take her hand, but she pushed the boat toward the current.


“Thank you for all, Matheo.”

We were quickly sailing away from her, but I managed to see the words she mouthed to me. Find your strength, Kyrie. Then she was just a speck in the distance, and Matheo rowed us toward our new lives. I promised to myself that I would. For Sanya and myself, I would scour the world for whatever shred of strength I could use to help us survive – to raise her as she deserved. I was done being frail and afraid.

I looked at the passing mountains above, and felt a flutter of hope I hadn’t felt in a long time. A cold gust of wind blew past, and I tightened my arms on my girl.

We will be fine, baby girl. I promise you. We will be fine.

soñé | [maría maría burgos carradero]

by 15.2.17
María María Burgos Carradero

Soñé que me confundí.
Mi masculinidad y feminidad
se perdieron
en un abrir y cerrar
de ojos y piernas.
Soñé que me entregué.
Dejé todo lo pensado
y lo que creí
a un lado.
Calculé que sería feliz.
Al final,
me consumí, corté y torturé,
sangré | lloré,
contemplé cicatrices.
No hay ni dios ni amante 
que me salve
de mí mismo.
Ahora sueño a ser sueño
sin escrutinio
ni cuestionamiento.
Sueño nací.
Sueño seré.
A disfrutar
en lo que despierta.

macatimboé | [carmen angélica figueroa guzmán]

by 15.2.17

Carmen Angélica Figueroa Guzmán

Macatimboé, macatimboé
Baila al ritmo del tambor
Macatimboé (x2)

Levántate doña Juana,
mueve esas caderas,
y zumbate las maracas
que en el batey la rumba comienza.

Macatimboé, macatimboé... (x2)

Ay mírate doña Juana,
locura llevan tus pasos.
Mi alma por ti delira,
quiero tenerte negra en mis brazos.

Macatimboé, macatimboé... (x2)

Mis manos al tambor repican,
y siguen bien tu figura.
A Juana no hay quien supere
su gran belleza y gran altura.

Macatimboé, macatimboé... (x2)

¡Ay mi Juana repícate el paso!


¡Ay negra quiero tenerte en mis brazos!


Mira que por ti mi alma delira


Quiero pintarte una sonrisa


Es que tú me traes con locura


Y quiero llevarte hasta la luna


Mi negra linda de gran altura


Mujer como tú no hay ninguna



Macatimboé, macatimboé
Baila al ritmo del tambor
Macatimboé (repetición)

tinta 'e vita | [xaymara díaz]

by 15.2.17
xaymara díaz

Es un vacío incansable, una vez dejas de pensar y re-pensar.
Es una energía constante- un disparar de emociones- revuelo- caos
Todo fluye, y todo se va, y todo permanece. 
Se siente una brisa.
Se te olvida respirar. 
Sentir un ardor por continuar sin saber hacia dónde vas, solo una meta más. 
¿Dónde acaba? ¿Dónde termino? ¿Qué significa? 
Seguimos en un ritmo interminable, y se nos olvida vivir- que es eso- vivir?

What is life truly?
It is nothing more- it is all at once- what binds us-
The breath you take- mine- the breath you don’t take. The one you do, when you close your eyes and remember exactly why you’re living.

It’s a sunset over a cliffside in a world that used to live but now isn’t- Somewhere historic- buzzing with energies you never knew but claim to feel in that instant where the twilight sets it shutters down. Where you are you, and every human being all at once- no, not every human being- nothing as simple as that. You are everything all at once. Every ray of sunshine, every tear shed by moonlight, every wolf cry- every flower that once was, every leaf that still trembles lightly in the wind.

You are passable, and yet our story is never truly over- you are a chapter, a step in a worldwide drumming that never stops- but whose song is it? Who made this music but the blast- unfathomable by its nature- was I truly that? A singular explosion in the cosmos that was unpredictable but so- so meaningful, and so to this day, as innocuous as it may seem…
We write… to understand why we are alive- to know why we still are here- to document every single moment while we live it oh so intensely- so intensely that we can just so barely put it to words- we have quivering- the regular-, and yet all at once- the one meaning we all understand: Life. 

We have put together languages- sounds from a throat that only so frequently we’ve come to know. 

No single one is like the other- only its truth seen in actual feeling- en emoción. En pasiones inexplicadas- je ne sais quoi- non parla- no sé cómo explicarlo, ni jamás lo sabré, pero lo intentare- por vivir ese instante, y solo en momentos donde recuerde, tratare de recobrarlo, de sonarlo y escribirlo tal y como lo sé. Para ti, para mí, para ese zumbido dentro de ti y de mí.  Que gracioso es no- como el amor es distinto aquí, y respirar también- abrazarse o hug, mein leibe, o c’est la vie. 

Y todo significa mucho… y todo es nuestro significado. 
Pero deberá haber algún sentido- algunos conceptos si se repiten… será la sensación de tomar la misma mirada hacia el sol, escribir a luz de luna, o sentir un abrazo de un pequeñísimo hermanito, su sonrisa impecable ante todas las posibilidades que podrá ver de un mundo del cual solo aprende-

Y se siente bien- estar interconectados- se siente algún propósito entonces de levantarse para formar alguna mínima parte de un mundo en el que construimos- y nos unimos. 
Somos footsteps en monochrome, y a todo color-
Unísonos y distintos- pero no en maneras más allá de las imprescindibles-
Con una facilidad increíble podríamos ser luz… y ser oscuridad- ser darkness…
Ser mascaras en un baile sin acabar, y tan claros como el agua.

Seguimos adelante en rutas desconocidas-
Acompañados por ladridos, trancazos de nuestra espalda- y un sinfín de voces en nuestro camino.
Voces, y cuerpos-
Y acabamos buscando infinitos propósitos… y acabamos siendo eso…


heroes always die | [josé porrata]

by 15.2.17
José Porrata

Entombed the mighty in laurel patches
In front of arcs of triumph and golden statues
To forget that they were all dissenters are maniacs
That opposed the virulent forces of the system

They have stolen our messiahs

raped and hidden them from sight
to return them as inspirational quotes
that ooze liquid conformity

I will not stand by and hear petty discourse

when one bleeds out bleeding the tyrants
I will applaud their tenacity and valor
where I was found lacking

When law is not justice

and justice is violent
find refuge in their embrace
heated even in death.

l ev i a tá n | [carlos vélez]

by 15.2.17
Carlos Vélez

It’s 9 A.M. Waking up every single day with this ghost of fictionalized dread zig-zagging through every pore has never been easy. As usual, the numbing slowly starts to circle around each of my limbs as I get out of bed. In an automatic response, I focus my hearing and attention on the steps I take from my room to the living room, then from the living room to wherever else; for some reason it helps minimize this unexplainable, yet unreachable longing. I settle down onto the oaken chair outside the house.
Dread and longing; what a wonderful pairing to have whilst having a morning coffee on the front porch: The feeling of not wanting to get past through the day as some(thing)one you anxiously want to hold on to lingers in a sea of static thoughts. I’m never sure if it’s that they disappear in the moment until the very next day, or that I’ve simply become accustomed to their unwanted company. December’s coldness begins to roam around the porch. Having forgotten to bring my jacket outside (the body is autonomous; it does not want to get inside), I dig down my feet onto these worn out shoes in hopes of receiving graced warmth.

I inhabit the frail minds of old souls
glistening under fiery skies.
Anointed are the prayers with dangers foretold;
stranded in the blemishes of R’lyeh.
I have come to slay.
I have come to conquer.

And so.
Every five hours I get a sickening headache that is just so goddamn unbearable. In this wretched house, the only solace I’ve been able to find is in the moonlit attic which belonged to my brother once; his entire vinyl collection is practically there and-, every time the record starts spinning, it’s like the headache weakens its guard with every booming flourishing from metallic rawness. I find temporary peace through music; it’s one of the things I’m genuinely proud of. The body is autonomous, however, and it does not want to get inside. 
   So I stay.
     Ever so u

            Just like time.
A glimpse of rain can be seen from the horizon. The winds whistle softly, announcing the potential arrival of a certain tempest to the already crackled branches. The wood is losing its structure, giving the splinters a pathway to feed off of unwary flesh. I feel the breeze tumbling down what little warmth I had in me. It’s alright, though. I simply try to shhhhhhhhakeitoff. Shake it off. But it stays. So I stay. My arms rest on the chair, eyes fixated at a horde of nothingness preparing for an existential ambush. Submerging deep into the azure, I give in to--
Glass breaks.
Eyes gaze.
     Claws trace.
deep. in. my. 
sk i n.
     Gone days.
Veil face.
     Dark praise.
deep. in. my...

hhhmmmm, hhhhhhhh
hhhmmmm, hhhhhhhh
hhhmmmm, hhhhhhhh

And so-
The representation of external allegories manifested through chronic numbness is but a construction of vivid thoughts- As the harvests of unwanted experiences gather up in cryogenic cognition the individual can then then then attest to his or her own experience- Gods and entities are but emotional ploys for those in need of dominance- The thickness of blood is more prone to de de de de demolish one’s inner foundation secured from times immemorial {no}- Every grain of sand picked up from the void will fall back to everflowing erasure- Power is indifferent when it comes to its targets- The silkiness of lachrymose seas entices the individual to submerge in chaotic bliss- Emotions are but a cluster of paradoxes {stop}- The devil in in in inside has been fed- Its satisfaction heavily radiates through each withered pulse- The days are null- The nights are null- The suffocating nothingness punctures through this already withered skull-
Black, consume me-
Let me worship-
Praise the Black-
Praise the Black-
Praise the Black-

I submerge into the azure,
but the body is autonomous,
so I stay.

the pain of writing | [jean alberto rodríguez]

by 15.2.17
Jean Rodríguez 

[Lo efectivo detrás de la aclimatación 
recae en el contexto de poder escribir de forma fluida-
sobre lo que sea, cuando sea.
Pienso en “parábolas” pero sin la lección ni el contexto apropiado 
para la metáfora. 
Sin embargo, 
retomo el acto de deconstruir para comprender la repetición.
“Para” como miembro de la acción completada al final del juego, 
y “bola” como la pelota, uno de los deportes 
que nunca aprendí a jugar. 
El acento termina siendo un acto de enchismar la palabra consigo misma].

Lo doloroso del poema es la (o)posición de las palabras,
lo difícil es la (mal)interpretación.
En un buen día podría decir que escribí lo suficiente 
como para sentir que realmente no gasté mi tiempo.
En los demás, gasto mi tiempo lo suficiente 
para decir que al menos intenté de escribir “algo,” 
lo cual termina siendo la misma palabra, 
como parábolas, por ejemplo, en diferentes formatos
en al menos tres páginas de mi libreta.
Lo que repito suele ser por lo que leo, mejor dicho, 
por lo que me duele- 
lo suficiente como para cuestionar constantemente 
la aparición de la palabra - mientras leo.

Yo no tiendo a asociar dolor con disgusto, 
sino que con las posibilidades que quedan fuera de mi alcance.
Aún así me cuestiono si hubiese sido amigo 
de quienes me han hecho repetir, sin burla, 
y que si me hubiese atrevido a hablarles sobre lo acontecido. 
Pero en fin termino comprando más libretas y coleccionando 
versiones de las mismas palabras-
convencido de que no son poemas en sí,
pero, en destiempo, 
cuestionando la utilidad artística de mi dolor empleado al escribirlas.  

at the mckittrick hotel | [janilka romero]

by 15.2.17

Janilka Romero

El estruendo terrible que se escuchó cuando la puerta chocó contra la pared nos indicó que la función había acabado. Oliver, el actor que interpreta a Macbeth todas las noches en el McKittrick Hotel, entró al cuarto lentamente, con mucha paciencia, tranquilidad y una sonrisa en el rostro aunque su cuerpo estaba sudoroso, la respiración agitada y llevaba un olor a muerto espantoso. En sus manos cargaba una criatura tiesa, callada y envuelta en sangre. Todas las noches Lady Macduff era asesinada junto con su hijo por órdenes de Macbeth. Oliver abrió la pluma de la pileta para limpiar la mayor parte de sangre que brotaba de aquella criatura. Luego caminaba hacia su mesa, allí se sentaba y prendía una pequeña lámpara que solo lo alumbraba a él y a la criatura, que se había utilizado esa noche, mientras el resto de la habitación se quedaba en penumbras. Tomaba un palito con algodón en la punta y cuidadosamente le limpiaba la sangre que se le acumulaba en el lagrimal del ojo, la sangre estancada en la recepción de la oreja, la sangre pillada en las uñas y la sangre que se había quedado entre los dedos de los pies. Extendió su brazo para alcanzar un paño con alcohol pero estos se habían acabado. Cuando se levantó para buscar un nuevo paquete de paños, a la criatura se le abrieron los ojos. Tranquilamente le cerró los ojos, sin haberse asustado, y continuó su camino.

Después de haber terminado de limpiar, la criatura agarró un frasco de cristal, lleno de un líquido transparente, espeso y sin fragancia, para poner al niño a reposar dentro de él. Se aseguró de haber cerrado el frasco bien, se lavó las manos y la cara, lloró un poco, respiró, caminó hacia la puerta y la cerró lentamente. Había dejado la lámpara de la mesa encendida.

Desde mi frasco podía ver a los otros niños que habitaban en este cuarto. Todos en frascos de cristal. Unos estábamos más desarrollados que otros. El que estaba a mi lado izquierdo no había terminado de desarrollar sus manos. A mi lado derecho tenía la cabeza muy pequeña y se le podían ver las venas del cráneo brotadas. Frente a mí tenía dos hermanos pegados por su área pélvica. Al último que había llegado se le salieron los ojos cuando lo pusieron dentro del frasco, por eso no lo habían usado todavía. Algún día, cuando Oliver no tuviera ensayos de su otra obra, él lo prepararía para poder usarlo en la escena de la muerte. Había visto a casi todos lo que estaban allí llegar, también había visto a muchos irse.

La primera vez que me enfrascaron fue todo un espectáculo, yo estaba casi completamente desarrollado. “Ayuda” agitaba mis brazos. “No puedo respirar” movía mis piernas rápidamente. “Auxilio” golpeaba mi cabeza desesperadamente. “Me ahogo” chocaba mi torso fuertemente contra el cristal. “Por favor, alguien” gritaba con desaliento. No me gustan los espacios cerrados ni mojados por eso quería salir del útero de mi madre, que en paz descanse. Las madres de los demás también habían muerto. Esta adaptación de la obra de Shakespeare había estado en cartelera por diez años. Cada vez que llegaba una nueva actriz al elenco de la producción Oliver las seducía. Empezaba con un juego de miradas coquetas, en ensayos buscaba la manera de tocarlas “accidentalmente”, les alababa sus actuaciones y no paraba de decirles lo fantásticas que eran. Una vez las tenía en la palma de su mano, las traía a esta habitación que se localiza en el sótano del teatro y les hacía el amor con gran pasión. Las que quedaban embarazadas vivían bajo la ilusión de casarse con el protagonista de la gran obra. Imaginaban una vida llena de lujos, fama y porvenir para sus hijos. Pero una vez pasaban las quince semanas de embarazo Oliver preparaba la noche perfecta, la noche de luna menguante.

Esa noche las volvía a invitar aquí, al sótano. Entre besos, arañazos, estrujadas de pelo, mordiscos y golpes se devoraban uno al otro como bestias que se morían por un pedazo de carne. Cuando Oliver estaba a punto de llover dentro de ellas, de su pene salía un insecto parecido a una araña peluda y con sus nueve patas agarraba al bebé dentro de ellas y se los arrancaba del vientre. Contrayendo todos los músculos del rostro, con un grito agudo desgarrador y el cuerpo tembloroso cada una de nuestras madres caían desangradas en el suelo. La imagen de nosotros en los brazos de su asesino con pene de araña era el último retrato para sus ojos. Desde entonces nos turnamos para interpretar el papel del hijo de Lady Macduff y cada año las actrices son sustituidas.

Quien único no ha podido ser sustituida es Rebecca, la actriz que ahora interpreta Lady Macbeth. Rebecca entró al elenco como Lady Macduff y Oliver intentó el mismo juego con ella. La noche de luna menguante fue ella quién sedujo a Oliver y este se sucumbió en los mares de la excitación que ella le provocaba. Cuando Oliver estaba alcanzando el climax, lo empujó y ella misma se metió sus manos por la vagina sacando por la cabeza a la criatura que llevaba dentro de ella dejándola caer al suelo. La criatura lloraba. Oliver estaba petrificado, no podía hacer nada, ni respirar. “Termina lo que empezaste” dijo Rebecca. “Este no era el plan” replicó Oliver. Entonces como Euménide enfurecida recitó las líneas de su personaje:

“What beast was ’t, then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both.
They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me.
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.” 

Fue Rebecca quien aplastó la cabeza del niño y lo puso dentro de un frasco. Oliver no se había podido mover, de sus ojos brotaban lágrimas por montón. Rebecca se lavó las manos, la cara el vientre y las piernas, respiró, caminó hacia la puerta, se giró para sonreírle a Oliver y la cerró lentamente. Al día siguiente habían botado a la actriz que hacía Lady Macbeth antes que ella y la producción buscaba una nueva actriz para interpretar a Lady Macduff.

sorceress violet, 50 ml ink reference: #XDR | [xaymara díaz]

by 15.2.17
xaymara díaz

My "aesthetic" is the beautifully horrifying: The All Consuming Sorceress and Empress that watches you from her omnipotence and determines your destruction, or a bubbling cauldron, or a slivering spell all within the same flick of a thought. 

The deeper I sink into this pool of NetherLife, I find I can only behold this world with her eyes. It is not enough to paint with lithe colors and fine design. It is not enough to be grotesque for pure repulsion. That may never cover the entire extent of our existence, and it is only in symphony of destruction that we are most alive. It is only when our flesh meets between lands of wonder and perfection and then tangles at the very edges of its corruption that we can be honest with ourselves. It is only then where we can mire and ponder upon our existence in its most brutal honesty, and yet also dare not take an eye too high and dignified of it, or carve too simplistic and animalistic an image. 

It is to glance at the world and determine that only a river drawn from your raw blood can ever be true to what you write and see and live. It is to truly unhinge one’s beast and yet direct it with your voice as its sole command in its wily throes, no matter how great its claws.  

It is to recognize that your mental case was never meant to be a cage, and yet recognize it may be filled with vipers you’ve allowed to nest. Yet for as much as you may quiver, it is to cleave control of your own vices until they paint only your utmost desires. 

It is never to claim purity.

It is never to claim sole aggression. 

Nothing can ever be as simple as that, and you are a fool to think otherwise- to write otherwise of the hostile and glorious place our minds and hearts can be. 

It is to uncover the vicious desire to conquer, to lust, to crave and reave.

To unveil the sound of your own damnation, and yet not be fell to its echo. 

To write only with the utmost lunacy and obsession for perfection, and treasuring every precious image- feeling every heartbeat that drummed through your fingertips upon it. 

It is to be unbound by literacy or linguistic design, and yet write solely with your lifeblood’s most profound eloquence. 

It is to cling to every word and every adjective as though if your voice would falter, you would be lost to an abyss. For to write every inch of this ink is also profound punishment- to be wracked with endless knives in your daily conscience, and yet silence them all ever so often by nature’s own call. 

To give life to these ragged breaths in text, you must have felt them and imagined them at least a thousand times. 

It is to feel the entirety of the weight of absolute darkness when you’re at the mercy of Fortune’s own cards, and yet dare call forward in your head the beauty of a rose petal’s lines, the glow of the Moon, the shiver on your spine as you walk fine strings of danger, as well as the exact moment where your heartstrings clenched painfully in tears, or the world sunk in and tore open your skin. 

It is to love and hate the madness that dances above and around your mind, and sometimes sets flames to the entirety of your spirit and voice within. 

It is to accept that though pained you are; you would be further damned without feeling everything oh so bloodily intensely.

It is to curse a thousand times in multicultural guttural ramblings

Cazzo figglio di puttana, 

          va te faire foutre, 

                  váyase al carajo & fick dich.

Yet never forget for a second that this is life. 

It is also to weave together every intensity in between- to never, ever forget the varied shades and tints that lay under your skin and expose them on a whim. 

To turn around every terror with mocking grace, and embody the power you have forsaken for a victim’s route. 

To be the tragic hero and yet also the joker from whose lips this tale slips. 

For martyrdom can never do,

It is a lie that kingdoms are led easily by heroes. 

You must embody every face you’ve ever felt, and dare upon that which is not frequently spoken.
Yet never forget for a second that life is not merely ambiguity. For there are voices which ring true, and those who merely repeat. 

Certainly there are those for whom we must fight, and war is found in all- and in all there is war, but we must never ignore our own flourishing/falling queendoms. 

It is only in recognizing this wild, and intricate animosity followed closely by grace and potency that we can construct an internal world-

And with it multiplied a thousand times may we sing oh so well. 

For this in itself is paradise and utopic demise- since to write as thee may we be externally exiled, since outliers often find discomfort in their own dark-

But in possessing our own voice may we reign higher-

To retake the corporeal remnant of our instinct and ability, in bleeding only the intricately terrifying, and gloriously damned.  

To reap our soul in writing, observe from Another, and fluctuate from atop and within the cusp of dusk, as is the call of this manifesto and humanity’s true design. 

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