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Hylozoic in Killeville

[Window view reflected in dining table.]

On the literary front, I’ve been pushing forward on my somewhat cyberpunk SF novel-in-progress Hylozoic , a sequel to Postsingular, which will be out in October. My first draft of Hylozoic is nearly half done; and once I finish writing the current Chapter Four (working title “Coma Nurse”), I get to jump my characters back in time to hang out with Heironymus Bosch.

Today I thought I’d paste in a passage that I wrote this week. The situation is as follows:

Jayjay and Thuy are newlyweds in a world where everyone has teleporation and telepathy and every object is conscious. Jayjay has unwittingly become a runemaster, able to reprogram the quantum computations around him. A distant planetary god called Panpenga has taken control of Jayjay via subdimensional telepathy, and she’s using Jayjay to “cast runes,” thereby reprogramming large volumes of Earth’s atoms into “Peng ranches.” In a Peng ranch, the atoms work in concert to generate matter wave holograms of ugly big birds called Peng—hailing from the planet of Pangpenga. It’s a new way of doing an alien invasion. (Ah, the joys of non-mundane SF!)

Panpenga wanted Jayjay to put in thousands of Peng ranches, all across Earth, but he balked. So Panpenga threw Jayjay into a coma, and now a pair of traitorous human realtors called Chick and Duckie are acompanying Jayjay and Thuy on a development road trip. Thuy is cooperating, as she fears Panpenga will kill Jayjay. For support, she’s brought her old girlfriend Kittie along.

To kick off the trip, the Peng-employed realtors head for Killeville, Virginia! Who’d be likelier to support a dehumanizing alien invasion than a fundamentalist church!

[Window at the DeYoung Museum, looking wonderfully interesting after viewing a somewhat dull show of photos by Hiroshi Sugimoto. I like the reflections of the fluorescent tubes.]

[Begin Hylozoic Excerpt.]

Before setting out, Thuy teeked a wheelchair for Jayjay. And then she, Kittie, Jayjay, Chick and Duckie hopped to the parking lot of the Candler Road Church in Killeville, Virginia, leaving the Peng behind.

It was a hot hazy Sunday morning; the lot was full. Odd as it seemed, many people down South still drove their SUVs, albeit retrofitted ones with solar cells and electric motors.

“I could really get some car-art gigs here,” said Kittie, looking around. “I could paint a Good Ole Jesus gutting an eight-point deer. And the Rapture, with Christians flying away and sinners screaming in fire-cracks. And the repentant Mary Magdalene in Mother Mary’s tender, womanly embrace.”

[Monhegan island painting by Rockwell Kent.]

Jayjay tossed his head back like an epileptic having a fit; his mouth flew open in a moan as showers of goose bumps marched across his skin. His wheelchair braced itself against the strain.

“Here we go again,” said Thuy with a sigh.

“What is it?” asked Chick, alarmed.

“He’s channeling Panpenga,” said Thuy. “He’s making Killeville into a Peng ranch.”

“Here,” suggested Duckie, offering Thuy a lace-trimmed hankie. “Hold Jayjay’s tongue so he doesn’t bite it.”

“He’ll be okay,” said Thuy. “Act like it’s not a big deal. I don’t want everyone staring at us.”

But a pair of Candler Road parishioners were already approaching: a rough complexioned young woman with a ponytail, and a loose-eyed youth in a tan cotton suit.

“Hi!” said the woman, lacing her hands behind her back and pushing out her breasts. “We’re Steve and Julie. Are you here for the eleven a. m. program? Donnie III does a powerful healing near the end.”

“Might could do this fella some good,” said her partner, Steve, hunkering down to peer under the wheelchair. Thuy flashed that the guy was an in-house security agent checking for weapons. He could have just teeped under there instead of bending over, but the fundamentalist Christians didn’t really approve of using their new mental powers.

[Peaceful Berkeley.]

“We’re glad we’re in time,” said Chick. “We came all this way to soak up a sermon.”

“Not from around here?” said the ponytailed Julie. The skin on her cheeks was raw from scrubbing. “Are you from—from West Virginia?”

“Further than that,” said Kittie. “I’m a godless artist from gay CA.”

“I don’t think that’s funny,” said the man in the tan suit. Thuy noticed that he was clutching a zipped-up leather bible. The bible silp teeped Thuy that it was a pistol case.

Meanwhile Jayjay had stopped moaning. The local gnarl had been successfully repurposed; Thuy could see the change in the clouds and in the motions of the trees. It was just a matter of time until—

“Oh!” cried Julie. “Look, Steve, look!”

Strolling across the parking lot towards the church were a hog-fat older man in clerical vestments, an old woman with a sprayed bubble hair-do, and a rangy younger man in vestments as well. They were slightly larger than life size; their complexions were preternaturally clear and smooth. Panpenga had gotten Jayjay to mold these new tulpas into the forms of the deceased first family of the Candler Road church.

“Dr. Macon!” exclaimed Duckie. “With his wife Bonnie and their son, Donnie Macon, Jr.” Duckie had done her research. And now everything was going according to plan. “I thought—I thought they’d all passed on to their reward,” she added disingenuously.

“A miracle,” breathed Julie.

“Maybe so,” said Steve, nervously running the zipper on his case open and closed.

Thuy and her party joined the crowd following the three Peng into the Candler Road church. It was a cavernous indoor stadium, with Donnie Macon, III, standing upon a central dais before a robed choir. Donnie, III, was a lean, slit-eyed fellow, and he didn’t look too happy to see his resurrected forbears come swanning in.

Although Dr. Macon must have weighed well over three hundred pounds, he levitated, moving his body across the cavernous hall as nimbly as a character in a videogame. Fiercely grinning, he alighted upon the stage beside Donnie, III. His wife Bonnie and his son Donnie, Jr., flew to join him.

“We are blessed!” roared the Peng disguised as Dr. Macon. “We are blessed to revisit our home!” The beige-carpeted arena rang with wild applause.

[Detail of my favorite statue in the DeYoung Museum.]

Thuy, Kittie, Chick and Duckie were standing just inside the entrance, clustered around Jayjay in his wheelchair. Jayjay began humming again, enabling Dr. Macon to turn a bible into a loaf of Wonder bread and a pitcher of water into grape-flavored sports drink. And then he sent a bouquet of plastic roses flying from his fingertips to alight upon Jayjay’s lap.

“The Lord has called me from my rest to introduce the Sleeping Savior,” bayed Dr. Macon. “Bring him up here so the folks can see him, Sister Thuy.”

Wearing a stiff, embarrassed grin, Thuy wheeled Jayjay up a ramp onto the stage. It was weird to be in the midst of an all-white crowd—like being inside a bag of marshmallows.

“The Savior has manifested Himself in the body of this ordinary, sinful Latino man,” exclaimed Dr. Macon. “He’s been a kiqqie, a rebel, an addict, a sensualist. He’s married to a formerly bisexual Vietnamese intellectual. The Almighty works in mysterious ways. He is bringing us into the End Times. You will know salvation soon. Gabriel’s trump will burst through the filmy sky. But until that glorious call, you must help the Sleeping Savior fulfill his mission.”

“These three are alien invaders!” interrupted the choirmaster; a charismatic woman with flowing red hair. “They’re disguised Peng! The bird things we’ve been seeing in the news!”

“You’d do better to call us angels,” said Donnie, Jr. He was leaner and more charismatic than his father. A huge cheer went up when he spoke. He’d been a popular pastor before his death in a drunken car crash several years before. He leveled a minatory finger at the protesting woman.

A moan arose from Jayjay, and the woman’s clothes were wreathed in fire. She rolled on the ground, screaming and trying to staunch the flames. Jayjay moaned again and she was doused in a gush of water.

“Do you still doubt us, Sister Vivian?” said Dr. Donnie’s wife Bonnie, stepping forward to help the disheveled, but unharmed, redhead to her feet.

“Praise Donnie,” croaked the choirmaster. “Praise the Sleeping Savior.”

“The Peng ranches are sacred zones,” said old Bonnie. “The Peng free us of fussy over-complication. Peng ranch people are more willing to open their stony hearts to the sweet honey of divine love. Peng ranch people don’t intellectualize over every piss-ant little thing.” Despite her human disguise, there remained something alien and bird-like in the darting motions of her head.

“You shouldn’t swear in the sanctuary,” reproved Donnie, III.

“Who are you to tell your grandmother what to do?” thundered Dr. Macon, wilting Donnie, III.

[A rhea modeling as a Peng. I see the Peng on rhea legs with kiwi bodies and ibis beaks. Though maybe that’s gilding the lily. Maybe just looking like rheas is fine. I’ve compared them to their ratite cousins: the ostrich, the cassowary, the kiwi, and emu. And our own South American rheas are, IMHO, the most gloriously odd-looking of the bunch. (Note however that the cassowary is the world’s most dangerous bird! They’re savage kickers.) Here’s a cool video of a family of rheas feeding on a crop in Brazil.]

“I enjoin this congregation to champion our Sleeping Savior,” intoned Donnie, Jr., holding up his hands. “I warn you, some will set stones in His pathway. Some will seek to do Him grievous bodily harm. You are His sheep, you are called to see your Shepherd into His pasture.”

“It’s not only the godless ones you’ll have to watch for,” added Dr. Macon. “Yea, verily, a race of evil devilfish will descend from our skies to threaten the Sleeping Savior. And they shall be known as the Hrull. Seek ye to exterminate them.” He paused, flashing another of his appalling smiles. “Lead us in a hymn, Sister Vivian: ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’”

As the congregation raised their voices in muscular song, Thuy took the opportunity to trundle Jayjay down the aisle to rejoin Kittie, Chick, and Duckie.

“Let’s bail,” said Thuy. “These people creep me out.”

[End Hylozoic Excerpt.]

3 Responses to “Hylozoic in Killeville”

  1. rs Says:

    I’m reminded of going down to the LG plaza Friday night to smoke a cigar and having the peace punctured by a preacher, with his crowd, standing on a soapbox at the corner. It is easy to seem him as possessed by some alien.

    I think this idea of gnarl being the interesting thing, the source of life interesting thing is quite exciting. I mean in the sense that some aliens would want to mine it.

  2. Kelson Philo Says:

    Marvelous fun. Can’t wait to get hand on hard copy!

  3. The Necromancer Says:

    Fantastic. All that’s missing is an offhand reference to a third great awakening. Rapturously not mundane SF…I’m saving my pennies for a hard copy of the full revelation, so to speak.

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