Ice is Nice
like breath in the middle of winter
freezing onto the ground
coating the world in
like cream on wounds
fresh and old alike
into the cold.
when you press
your fingers together
and wish for snow
to sink into.
when you stare at the snowflakes in wonder
and see yourself
in each of them.
like water splashed into
in the morning
to make yourself look
a little more alive
because there's this one girl...
they are fire
beautiful in all of their power
but i'm afraid they'll
burn themselves out.
is it possible to cool down
something that's been boiling all it's life?
I WANT TO HELP THEM
BEFORE SOMEONE GETS
The Architects Chapter Ten: Wake Up Call
“Wake up, Mr. Kerpetski.”
I open my eyes. The blanket feels alien under me. Where am I? Who am I? What’s going o--
Ah. Right. I’m Nick. But I’m pretending to be Mr. Kerpetski so that I don’t get tortured for all eternity. I’m in a realm full of gods and freakish monsters with badass powers, of which I have none. We build Legos all day and use our creations to represent real buildings. My girlfriend is trapped with a man who looks like me but isn’t. I have only a few days before the real Mr. Kerpetski wakes up and everything goes to shit.
“What time is it?” I ask. I look at the floating alarm clock. Yes. Alarm clocks float. Which is probably good, because several times, I’ve tried to whack it and make it shut up.
I always miss. Which is bad, because it means I can’t sleep in, but also good, because if I sleep in, I’ll end up missing work, and missing work means missing my chance to get out of here, and missing my chance to escape means I’ll effectively doom the human race.
“Why are we up?” I ask. “It’s four in the morning. Way before normal work time.”
“You asked me to update you on your human pet. So I am. He’s awake. The girl, too.”
I freeze. It’s less of a slow, frostbite kind of freeze and more of a total, lightning-shock-induced paralysis.
Fuck. He’s awake? Already? I haven’t finished my project. I haven’t even started! And now he’s awake? What am I even supposed to fucking do?
Has he already hurt Amanda? Has the end of the world already begun?
“Come, Mr. Kerpetski,” Alexei says. “But put some pants on first.”
I tug on a pair of sweatpants sitting on the side of the bed. I don’t have time to focus on my appearance right now. All I care about is Amanda.
And also dying. I don’t really want to die. And if Alexei finds out that I’m lying... Well, he’s made my fate clear.
“Where are they?”
“Currently? In a coffee shop, drinking black drip coffees and lamenting their boring lives.”
That stops me cold. That’s what we always do. Every Friday. We always drink the same black coffees at the same coffee shop. It’s our ritual. How would Mr. Kerpetski know about it?
Does being in my body mean he has my memories? Is he pretending to be me? Trying to take my place so he can get closer to Amanda and kill her? Kill everyone?
Unconciously, I speed up, until I’m almost running towards the door. I’m pretty sure it’s the same door we entered from, the big glass one with glowing blue edges and a big EXIT sign on the top.
I’m getting out of here. I’m going to get back to Amanda. I’m going to--
“Mr. Kerpetski, where are you going? You know we don’t have an earth assignment yet. Unless you’ve finished my surprise?”
“Uh... right. No. Yeah.” I realize that I’m not being very coherent, but whatever. I’m so close. So close. And I’m not able to get there. What if I’m already too late? Mr. Kerpetski could already have sunk his meat hooks into Amanda. I’ll never be able to save her. I’ll never be able to get my body back. I’ll be trapped here until Alexei finds out that I’m a fraud, and then I’ll be killed and my atoms will be scattered across the space-time continuum. I don’t really have much brain power to spare on verbal conversation. I’m too busy trying to escape.
But I can’t exactly say that, can I?
“Come. The Window is this way.”
The Window. My view into the real world. I don’t care what Alexei says about my world being fake. It’s not fake. It’s very real, and I intend to save it.
Save it from myself.
Mr. Kerpetski guides me to another door, this one glowing red instead of blue. Inside, it’s like being immersed in virtual reality. I’m literally in another world. I’m in the real world.
Mr. Kerpetski waves a hand, and... bam. We’re in the coffee shop. With Fake Me and Amanda.
I listen and I watch. Fake Me uses the same inside jokes me and Amanda have. He does the same things, talks the same way...
Mr. Kerpetski is good, I’ll give him that.
As I keep watching, a pit of dread keeps growing in my stomach, consuming my insides, eating me alive.
He’s too good. Even if he does have access to my memories, he wouldn’t be able to mimic everything. He’d slip up, somewhere. Reveal something. Anything.
Whoever is in that body... it’s me. But I’m here. So it can’t be. But it is. But it can’t be.
But it most definitely is.
My world is spinning, mind moving so fast that I’m sure the friction is slowly burning away at the walls of my skull.
When we walked through that door, I changed into Mr. Kerpetski’s body. I get the feeling that, if I were anyone else, walking through that door would have changed me into them. Which means that, if I were Nick, I would have stayed Nick. The game would be up. The end. Game over.
But I changed into Mr. Kerpetski.
Which means... even though I have Nick’s memories... even though I have Nick’s feelings, his thoughts, his desires... I am not Nick.
I am Mr. Kerpetski.
they say separate the art from the artist,
sever the life from the words.
michael jackson has been accused of
assaulting young boys
but we jam to his songs anyway,
dancing to thriller like it's the national anthem,
playing it on repeat every halloween.
they say separate the art from the artist,
but should we really?
how much suffering are we willing to tolerate
in the name of art?
should we forgive and forget?
is it okay to be horrible
as long as you leave something beautiful behind?
i’m not sure i want to separate the
art from the artist
put a line in the middle of the word,
to chop it up and shred it.
i think artists should be responsible for their fallacies
and that their attitudes often infect their art
to the point that a canvas can be a disease,
waiting for people to see it and spread it
until it’s infected everyone.
I used to be afraid of blankets,
Stripping my bed down to the bones.
Blankets were a trap.
Like bodies pressing down on me unwanted.
I've had enough of being restrained.
I've had enough of being held down.
I used to be afraid of blankets,
Because they reminded me of you.
Holding me down and taking
Whatever you wanted.
And when I laid with her for the first time,
She wrapped me in a blanket,
And at first, I wanted to scream.
To run away and fight against the comfort.
But years of blanketless sleep had made me cold
And I was ready to be warm again.
Now I am no longer afraid of blankets,
And I no longer think of you when I go to sleep.
Now I think of her.
I won, asshole.
I'm bad at apologies.
"Sorry" spills from my lips,
Or written notes are tucked into pages.
Or worse, words get stuck in my mind,
The most important apologies never said aloud,
Trapped in my head.
You deserve so much more than sorry
You deserve so much more than a poem
Written in the dead of night.
And yet here I am,
Because my love for you makes me scared.
The throbbing in my chest pulses in time to these lines,
A sorry I'm too weak to say.
Love is a scary thing.
Your name is permanently tattooed on my heart,
Permanent ink and flowing calligraphy.
But it's deeper than that,
Because I'm not the only one in love.
You love me too,
And thank God I know that now,
Because you love with an intensity that makes me stand straighter.
You understand my thoughts,
Reading between the lines of this poem,
And so when you read this,
Because love this deep means I don't have to waste my time with
The real apology is hidden inside,
And only you know how to find it.
The Architects Chapter Nine: Blueprints
I spent the day drawing. My fingers flew across the blue grid paper, like they had a mind of their own.
The ideas just flowed out of me, smoother than yogurt. I even used a pen, for God’s— gods’— sake. I never use pens. I always make so many mistakes that using pen ends up turning into a few sentences surrounded by great walls of scribbled out lines. Pencils are always my writing utensil of choice. But not this time. This time, it was thick, bold pen, and I made no mistakes.
I was so wrapped up in the drawing that I didn’t even focus on Alexei, which was okay, because he wasn’t focused on me, either. Apparently, he had the boss up his ass for a mistake he made in the White House that allowed the 123rd president to be assasinated.
It kinda sounds like a big deal, but I’m too focused on my own project to care. And besides, it works. With him distracted, it makes it easier to build a portal inside a building. The less attention he pays to me, the easier it is to survive.
Visions of the real Mr. Kerpetski terrorizing my brand spanking new apartment building spur me on, gasoline in my out of control wildfire of obsession.
Sometimes, I think, if it weren’t for Amanda, I might stay here. Immortality, eternal stacks of legos, free housing, and blood slushies. It’s not so bad here.
But I need Amanda. I need her “like a heart needs a beat,” like that one song says. And I can’t let Mr. Kerpetski kill her (which he most certainly will).
As I study my finished blueprints, the sun is setting. Holy shit. I did all this in a day? That’s honestly not bad. Considering that writing essays takes me a month, designing a buillding in a day is like climbing Mount Everest in thirty minutes with no gear.
It seems like I’ll need a lot of those really nice dark grey metallic legos. Not to mention the glass, and the...
Okay, Nick. Stop focusing so much on the exterior. It’s the inside that matters.
I roll the blueprints up as Alexei returns. He looks tired, his shoulders slumped like a druggie begging for change on a street corner.
“Get anything built?”
“No,” I say, “But I’ve got a blueprint for something cool.”
“Can I see?”
“Uh... no. I want... I want it to be a surprise, you know?”
“You know how I love surprises, Mr. Kerpetski,” Alexei says. “Or maybe you don’t, because of that amnesia stuff.”
“Yeah,” I say with a nervous, high pitched laugh. “So, remember my mortal body? How long do you think it has before it wakes up?”
Alexei shrugs. “I dunno. What, do you like that body or something? You can revisit it next time we have an Earth assignment. I’ll keep tabs on it for you.”
“Really?” I say. “Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. Thanks.” Alexei gives me a weird look.
“Don’t know why you like that teenage meat sack, but whatever.”
Even his disparaging comments about my “teenage meat sack” can’t get me down. I don’t even have to build a portal! I can just get back any time.
The next time we have an Earth assignment... now that’s the only problem. I get the feeling Earth assignments don’t happen often. But if I don’t get one in the next few days, I’m capital-F-Fucked.
“Hey, Alexei? What do we have to do to get an Earth assignment?”
“Well,” Alexei says. “With big projects, finished buildings and stuff, you can head down. Or, if you’re like me, you can build customs for humans. Like I do for my sister.”
“Big projects? How big?”
“Depends. It also depends on how easy it is to Translate.”
“From our Zeuski materials to Earth materials. We can’t have the Empire State Building made of legos. It just doesn’t work.”
“Huh. Okay. So... If I build a big project, we can hop down to Earth and get my— my host back?” I have to stop myself from saying body.
Alexei studies me, suspicion clouding his black eyes. For a moment, I’m scared I’ve blown it. I got too excited, and now I’ve screwed myself over.
But then Alexei laughs. “You always were a weird one, Mr. Kerpetski. Yes, if you build a big project, you can go jump into your pet human. But it’ll have to be massive.”
I think of my initial idea for the portal. Sure, I’ll have to change some things, but is it big enough? Could it work?
I grin. “Perfect.”
It seems like things are finally looking up. I’ve got a way out. I’ve got a massive building that I need to make in a few days, but I whipped out a blueprint in less than a day, so I think I can do this.
I can do this.
Amanda, I’m coming back to Earth. I’m coming for you. Just hold on. Keep Mr. Kerpetski asleep for just a few more days. I’ll fix this. I’ll fix all of it.
I just need time.
Father Thomas Seymore closed his Bible and crawled into bed.
His wife had passed away years ago, yet he still missed her. He tried getting a smaller bed, but it made no difference.
His sleep was a void, dark and absolute. But tonight, this void dropped him off in a new galaxy.
This galaxy was full of gods. Mr. Seymore watched as a woman approached him.
Except she wasn't a woman, not really. They had the hourglass figure, but there was something about them that radiated masculinity.
"Who are you?" Thomas asked, watching the god in awe.
"I am Father Time," the god said. Their voice was deep and rich, like 89% cacao chocolate.
"Ah, yes, I forgot how you humans still cling to your obsession with gender. Here, does this make you more comfortable?" Time waved their hand, and suddenly they were a man, with a long grey beard and golden robes, the color of sand.
"What am I doing here?"
"Oh, I have no idea. Mortals come here ever so often, in their dreams, maybe in comas, or on their deathbed. This is a space between realities."
"Oh," Father Seymore said as if he understood, although he really didn't at all.
"But since you are here, let me teach you something."
Father Time— Thomas had an easier time calling them that in this form— grabbed Father Thomas's wrist.
Thoughts came to him in broken waves.
Time is fluid, child.
Love is fluid.
Life is fluid.
Our existence on this world, fluid.
Gender is fluid.
We wax and wane, we come and go.
Time. With Time, everything Changes.
Two fathers. Time, and Space.
Two mothers, the Earth and the Sky.
Two parents, Chaos and Order.
Tell me, is it not natural?
This is as natural as it gets,
Reducing ourselves to the most primal of thoughts.
We reach down into ourselves and pull out our feelings,
Hang them on strings.
Tell me, Father (which one of us are we talking to?)
Is it time to change our ways?
Time, Thomas, Father, Father.
We are one and the same.
And so Father Thomas Seymore found himself flirting with Time. Dancing with their hourglass figure, yet knowing that their figure was just a manifestation of his own desire. Time has no form, no fact. Time is fluid.
Time is fluid.
Father Thomas felt himself becoming fluid, melding with Time. They are one and the same. That is when he realized why Time is fluid. Time is a melting pot, full of drippings of lives, collections of memories and millenia. Time is all of us. When we die, our minds are lost to Time.
Father Thomas found himself becoming Father Time, found himself becoming Fluid, and he found himself Changing, and he found himself dying in the most pleasant of ways.
Because when you flirt with Time, Time might just flirt back.
And if Time flirts back, you might find your mind added to the melting pot.
We are fluid here. Fluid in this dance of melting ice, of dripping space, of soaking thoughts.
We are Fluid.
Your rotten core,
Built of blood and tears,
And a veneer of good intentions.
You came up from nothing,
A bunch of religious runways,
Yet now you scorn the other runaways.
Your blood is boiling,
Polluted with plastic and grease
Your heart is breaking,
Smashed to bits by rioters waving flags.
Your throat is tightening,
Knelt on by your own people.
Your skin is peeling,
From the sunburn of progress.
Your cancer is growing,
Fed by the flesh of
Your Miss America Models are crying
Because they're starving
For the love they can't give themselves.
Is this what you wanted?
I think you need to sit back.
Let your body heal itself
From these self inflicted wounds.
America, you are more than this.
America, don't drown in this.
If you want us to heal,
You need to start with yourself.
The Architects Chapter Eight: Saving The World
I fall asleep in the bathroom, my nose filled with the frangrant scent of old piss and bleach.
I wake up to the sound of a buzz saw.
Yeah, that wakes me up fast.
“What the Hell?”
The buzz saw apruptly stops.
“Oh good,” says Alexei, peering through the crack in the door. “You’re alive. That means I don’t have to destroy the door.”
“Uh... looks pretty destroyed to me.”
“Nonsense.” Alexei snaps his fingers like a comic book supervillain, and the door is back to normal. “Can you unlock the door?”
I unlock the door.
Where in God’s name did he get that saw?
You know what? I’m not even going to think about it. I fell asleep in a bathroom. This is a new all time low for me.
I think that once I get back to my body, I’m going to forget that this ever happened. Block it from my mind. That’s some sort of coping mechanism or something. I forget what it’s called. Something amnesia. psychotic? Diss... dissapate? Destruction? I don’t know. It starts with diss. I’m pretty sure, anyway.
“You’d better open up,” Alexei says. He revvs up the saw. It’s probably meant as a joke, but I don’t think it’s funny. I think it’s fucking terrifying.
I open the door.
“Mr. Kerpetski, I believe it is time to return to the grind. Let’s get back to work.”
“Uh.. yeah. Okay.”
I follow him into the bustling sci-fi streets outside the Zeuski apartment building. It seems like everything here has Zeuski’s name on it.
For a moment, I don’t know where the word comes from. I know it’s Amanda’s mental illness, dissociative identity disorder...
Oh yeah. Dissociative amnesia. That’s where you forget about a traumatic event.
Funny how these things just randomly occur to me. Like I just about had a hemorrhage trying to figure it out, and now... poof. I remember it.
A rough hand yanks me out of my thoughts— and out of the way of a car.
“Pay attention, Mr. Kerpetski. The city moves on.”
The city moves on. It doesn’t matter if I’m frozen in my thoughts. Even when I’m a god, life moves on. The way Alexei says it makes me think it’s a popular phrase here. The city moves on.
I kind of like it, actually.
But then I hate myself for it. I’m not allowed to like this place. I’m not allowed to feel at home here. I have to get back to Amanda. Before the real Mr. Kerpetski wakes up and goes on a rampage, destroying everything I care about. After proving my skill yesterday, I think today I can finally work on my big project.
My portal to get back home.
I suck on my blood slushi as I step into Alexei’s office.
I’m sort of thinking of something similar to the Empire State Building. Big, bold, dark.
Why am I thinking so hard about this? The exterior isn’t important. Neither is the interior. I just need to focus on the portal. I need this to work. I need to get back to my body. To my time period. To my real home.
I don’t belong here. And I never will. It doesn’t matter that Alexei thinks I have skills. It doesn’t matter how comfortable the apartments are. It doesn’t matter. What matters is getting back to my average existence in a catastrophic year.
I don’t belong here. I just have to get to work.
After all, inter-dimensional time machines don’t build themselves.
Even when you’re a god.
The Architects Chapter Seven: I Have To Get Out Of Here
I have to get out of here.
After dodging an absurd amount of trashy pickup lines, I finally just locked myself in the bathroom.
I told Alexei that I was extremely constipated.
Of course, he probably knows that's bullshit, but whatever.
I think about the day.
A lot has happened in just a few hours. I got a new job (or... returned to an old job?) working as an immortal architect, my girlfriend turned into a horny Russian, I drank a blood slushi (which was surprisingly good), and I discovered that I should go work at legoland to build stuff.
If, of course, I ever return to the real world. I doubt Zeuski has a godly legoland.
My girlfriend is unconscious somewhere having a horrific nightmare. When Alexei possessed her, he had to wipe her mind of the whole situation.
So she's dreaming about her worst fears.
Meanwhile, I'm practically living a nightmare.
I have to get out of here.
That thought keeps resurfacing every few minutes. I'll be about to relax, let my guard down, maybe get some sleep, and then: I have to get out of here.
I'm in an endless spiral of anxiety.
My girlfriend is alone. She'll wake up soon. Scared. Alone. I have to get back to her. I have to get back to my mortal body and—
I'm in Mr. Kerpetski's body. Not mine.
And that means my body is in the same position as Amanda— knocked out.
But... what happens when I wake up?
I have to get out of here.
If I'm in Mr. Kerpetski's body...
Is he in mine?
Is he in mine?
If he wakes up, he'll be just as confused as I am. But since he's a god, he'll be able to do all kinds of crazy shit.
He could hurt Amanda. He could destroy me. And if he gets here and reveals that I'm mortal...
The punishment is worse than death.
Now it's not just Amanda who's in danger. It's me, too.
And if, for some reason, Mr. Kerpetski can't get back here... what will he do to Earth? Will he tear up the world to get back?
Great. Not just Amanda. Not just me.
I have to save the whole damn world.