by Michael Díaz Feito
A carnivorous ysbryd slug was imprisoned in a porphyry cone of rubber locked in a steel cage, the doubled chamber of Cnut’s design.
Because of so-called “hatch law,” and moreover, because our laws are to be respected, Cnut couldn’t refuse to drill a hole at the cone’s base. Escape is every thing’s right—for now, that is, rights being provisional loans, mutatis mutandis. A mandated hatch, the hole, and there’s also a guard, so it’s a conditional mood, as per Miami Penal Code §33.3(c)(3): If such responsible person (species unspecified) fails to keep watch, then the imprisoned thing may flee and freely run amok.
Our responsible person, anointed with hyssop oil by the Antediluvians, was a bird who was apt. Silver and green bands framed her watchful eyes, behind which hid an inaccessible unit, her mind. But she was ready to screech for us if the ysbryd slug ever poked out its slime head. Fearful of her carbon fiber gizzard, a high-efficiency flesh and bone compactor, the slug would always retreat. (Yes, it was invertebrate, but this particular slug was toothy and prone to mutation, and nobody knew it was hoarding vertebrae after each feeding, plotting to build a real spine of animus.)
She was a beautiful guard, the apt bird. She had many suitors. Not because of her beauty, however, but because of the ancient hyssop oil on her forehead, which hadn’t dried. A kiss to that coveted oily patch of Antediluvian-doused feathers produced ecstatic fits in the kisser.
I don’t do that shit anymore. But my friend Myrddin—“Myrddin? Mejor dicho, mierda! Porque no sirve pa’ nada el seboruco ese.” Fine. But my friend Marvin did it so much that one time the bird got distracted. She forgot her offices—because she was lost in Marvin’s solid black eyes, wrapped in his curtains of wiry hair, locked between his scabby lips—long enough for the ysbryd slug to flee the doubled chamber.
Outside prison, the mosquitoes, those thirsty messengers of God, couldn’t spike the ysbryd slug, because it excreted DDT from each squelchy pore. Oops. So, amok and exercising its right excessively, it soon assembled that shiv-spine and became becoming-human. It looked like you or me if you or I were looking, and like someone else if someone else were looking.
Ysbryd, operated by an unfortunate caprice, sought to collect the glossy chassis of red SUVs and to crucify us. It charged a herd of Asturcón ponies along Flagler Street. They ran my red Escalade (a rental, forgive me) off the road. I napped on the deployed airbag, dormilón que soy, while Ysbryd peeled back the chassis like a rubber mask. It removed me, and we returned to my apartment to discuss outstanding debt—student loans, credit cards, medical bills, etc.
It hacked off my limbs with a cauterizing spade heated prior, beside the bread, in the oven. It nailed the limbs—my naked legs still terminated in black socks and sneakers, my wrist still wore the loudly mechanical Raketa wristwatch—to the ceiling of my apartment. Then it wrapped long chains around my limbs. It gripped these chains, which hung to the floor like rusty ficus roots, and pulled, ripping the limbs from the nails in the ceiling.
It hurt. But as my arms and legs dropped, slapping against the parquet floor, and I was scared of dying, I recognized Ysbryd’s expression (it wore my face, but not my expression, confusing my accidents) as that of an impassive worker, like the precariously employed butcher we’ve become, so I tapped out, or declared bankruptcy.
Michael Díaz Feito is a Cuban-American writer from Miami, Florida. His recent work has appeared in Flapperhouse, Fantastic Floridas, Big Echo, Gone Lawn, and Bewildering Stories. You can find more of Michael’s work at michaeldiazfeito.com and follow him on Twitter @diazmikediaz.