“Our foes are in our midst and all about us. There is hardly a house but is divided against itself… We are mere figureheads upon a hulk, with livers in the place of hearts.”
– A Plea For Captain John Brown Read To The Citizens of Concord, Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau, 1859
I scarcely need remind you of the typhoon which descended upon us, nearly swallowing us whole. Certainly there are none among us who will ever forget. Not the revolution of the clams and the cuttlefish. Not the tumultuous days that followed. The blasphemous distortion of the stained glass windows in St. Leonora’s. The oozing, salty communes of barnacles and starfish that crusted the face of our Lord and His angels. The expropriation of the industrial district by the seagulls. The triumphant boléros of the whales, parading through the briny deep that once was the city square.
Considering such indignities, the ire directed towards Mr. Upland-Stewart may be well understood. Yet we would do well to recall that we are not alone in facing such insurgencies. Word reaches us even now of fresh insurrections. Strike action by housecats. Civil disobedience from condors and kestrels.
…But yes, errors have been made.
Mr. Upland-Stewart, by his own confession, did hurl some seventy volumes of subversive texts into the sea. He did so only with the purest of intentions. He, that unwitting Prospero…
Consider, if you will, the waterlogged pages of a hundred books stolen away by the currents. The significant effects of the transposition of Trotskyist pamphlets to the snow crabs of Alaska. The unique interpretation of the seminal works of Franz Fanon by the betta splendens. The remarkable effect of such Maoist slogans as “Let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools [of fish] contend” – especially when written on the sides of sardine cans.
A List Provided By The Prosecution (Incomplete – As More Books Wash Ashore Each Day):
K. Marx’s Das Kapital (English translation and German original)
J. London’s The Call of the Wild
Y.M. Unarnovsky’s Marxism and Natural Sciences
L. Trotsky’s The Revolution Betrayed and Their Morals and Ours
A. Abunimah’s The Battle For Justice In Palestine
Opponents shall dismiss a “natural” or “naturalist” explanation. What other cause might there be? Ah, but recollect the countless bodies of slaves swallowed by the Atlantic, the refugees lost to the Mediterranean, the centuries of conscripts and immigrants drawn down into the crushing depths. Which do you suppose might have a more radicalizing effect on the blowfish and brittlestars?
Let us not be hasty to assign blame! Who among us has not had a son or daughter, a niece or nephew swept up in the fervor? It has been less than a month since gangs of youth in kelp armbands sloshed through the streets, renaming our bridges and alleys. Pelagial Determination Boulevard. Promotion of Natural Production Plaza. Diluvial Liberation Parkway. Did they not claim that, like Paul in the road to Damascus, the scales had fallen from their eyes? Did they not swear that once again bread and fishes would multiply to feed the world? Did they not scrub spilled oil out of penguin feathers, convinced that it was not the penguins they cleansed but themselves? Let the prosecution look to their own houses and pick the sand fleas out of their own beards!
…The prosecution must therefore also consider the following:
`But what are they for?’ Alice asked in a tone of great curiosity.
`To guard against the bites of sharks,’ the Knight replied.
Against this, even the most blood-thirsty of accusers must fall silent. As the self-styled People’s Republic of Submarines moves silently through our waters our sole choice is but to…
Why do they still dodge the truth? They are so anxious because of a dim consciousness of the fact that they would have rejoiced if Mr. Upland-Stewart had succeeded in his goal! And in what a sweet and noble strain he proceeds. Such a man as it takes ages to make, and ages to understand…
These and other soaked pages washed up on the shore on the dawn of October 27th. Of the some five dozen pieces recovered, the above remain the only decipherable fragments. The rest belong to the sea, ink bleeding together with the clouds left behind by fleeing squid.
It will be necessary for the reader to understand that no charges have been brought against Mr. James Upland-Stewart, who continues to serve dutifully in his capacity as librarian. A careful review of records will show that no books have been misplaced or gone missing. Indeed, many of the pieces cited in the above work are not even housed at our branch. Perhaps most interestingly yet, the lilting scrawl in which these pages were written bears an uncanny resemblance to the handwriting of Mr. Upland-Stewart himself. I myself, on quiet afternoons, have seen our librarian staring out the window at the waves below, a strange expression playing across his face.
I asked him once what he was thinking about. He smiled but wouldn’t say.
Gordon Brown grew up in the deserts of Syria and now lives in the deserts of Nevada. Since his arrival in the New World, his work has appeared in Danse Macabre, The Fable Online, The Weird Reader, and Tales to Terrify. Gordon spends his time writing feverishly and looking after his cats, of which he has none.
What is Gordon’s ideal vision of a post-revolutionary world? “After the revolution, we won’t turn our guns into plowshares, but we’ll use them to hunt deer in the wilderness that used to be a golf course. And we’ll give the deer a fighting chance and the quail a head start and the fish a fair warning. And after the revolution we won’t go home from work right away. Instead we’ll scramble over the fences and cinder block walls that separated all the ‘yours’ and ‘mine’ and ‘theirs.’ And beyond the rust-pitted signs that read ‘KEEP OUT’ and ‘TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED’ we’ll find secret places, shaded and green. And after the revolution, the world will be quiet at last.”
Art — Aleksandra Apocalisse was born in the USSR, from which her family fled when she was only 6 years old. She spent most of my childhood and young adulthood in Brooklyn, New York until she moved to Portland, Oregon in 2015. There, she is living the dream; spending the days outside with my dog, playing in the dirt, hanging out with plants, and expressing her dreams and innermost musings through art. She also loves animals, reading, learning about nature, getting lost in music, and traveling to tropical jungles.