Below is an excerpt from Mark Gluth’s new book, Come Down To Us, available now from Kiddiepunk. Order your copy here.


 

 

I.

The night sky hung above the sea with arrant darkness that the water’s surface reflected so that the sky may well have just  been some other sea, with a packed in pitch enveloping the both of them like what inkiness would be found in a closed off cave sunk under a forest that was buried beneath an avalanche  and hidden within some other night, one whose sky was  so thick with unlitness  that it just came off as loaded with the stuff which  it pressed on the planet that splayed beneath it so that  the landscape was some long thing which ran featureless and so fucking black that it seemed to be  some still sea upon which this night sky that’d been emptied of its moon and stars swaged it’s absent form.

 

 

II.

 

This afternoon was what everything occurred within. Idling engines made the rail yard smell like diesel smoke. Sun showed on tracks, the hill they ran beneath. Heat shimmered off a tie-stack past the edge of a train-shadow. Chipped ballast locked against other ballast as workers walked on it. The building they made towards was in front of the sun. Thus how the bricks came off as golden. This girl and boy detrained from the back of a passenger car. They ducked then strode through clangs and whines. The sky arced blue. Gulls drifted high and distant.  The kids came away from where the trains were. The yard was just open where they stood. The sun fell on their faces and their arms. The boy brushed his hand over peeling paint on a crossing gate. His sister walked within light that showed brightness which  what other light he saw lacked. Hey. She touched his shoulder. He saw her eyes. Hey. Nettles and blackberries tangled through ragged hurricane fencing that spooled off listing posts. Through this rip was a path. The fence edge caught on the girl’s t-shirt when she ducked through it.  Madronas shaded on rhododendrons. Oaks shaded the path and everything around it. The kids walked through the cool on  a rise above a creek. Light filtered through leaves, it flickered through the mossy air.  The path ended and they came into all this light. It was the back of a school that they saw. The twins walked across a baseball diamond.  They hopped a dug out, scuffed down an embankment. Beneath the backstop, they paused. Drenched by sun, everything was paled and squinted against. The boy felt breeze on his face. He touched his hair. The light slowed and so everything slowed. Behind this track were these houses. The kids saw more houses in the hills behind them. The girl heard this hum like if the sky’d been rung. She watched with her head tilted then like she could see it. Her brother looked at her, he looked past her. His steps made this sound on the cement. They got quieter. The girl leaned. She was struck by this thought: falling from height like light through trees, cold air moving through a dim night. It went away. There was just this black that ran back and past her like it was what her eyes bore at. She blinked. The parking lot came off as smear-donned from how her eyes were tear-welled. Whoa, wait up. It took her so long to say it because of how slowly she spoke. Her brother didn’t hear her. She coughed. Her spit wad pooled over the texture of the pavement. She felt something on her lip. The moment moved on. Sure she lay in the distant drag of what passaged it’d carved,  she wiped her chin with the back of her hand. The boy stood at a rack of bikes as he did at a padlock. The rack rang when he smacked the lock on it. He wrenched on the chain until it gave way. It was empty, everything around them. She felt at her hair as she looked. She undid her bun. The boy rolled one of the bikes to her. She put the rubber band that she’d been holding on her wrist. She kicked the kick stand, grabbed the grips. Curbs edged ledges above sidewalks. Grass wavered as did the leaves on still trees. They walked the bikes across a crosswalk. Light showed on windshields and windows. What the kids saw move they had no way to follow. They turned at the corner. Past this fence they took an alley. It was empty but for garbage. The backs of the buildings were brick. Broken bottle pieces cracked beneath the girl’s steps. They sounded like gravel. White wash worn off a wall made it look like it’d been stained by salt spray. The kids trotted to the end of the alley. It gave way to tree-shade that washed on a sidewalk. The kids stayed in the alley with the bikes leaning against a wall while they leaned against the wall across from it. With their eyes closed the sun washed on their faces and necks. Hey. This friend of theirs stood there. He raised his chin then lowered it. He looked at the boy. The boy reached into his front pocket and grabbed cash from it. He eyed the balled wad then reached like he was handing it. Hey. Their friend leaned forward and hugged him. He put something in the boy’s hand when he took the the money from it. He released the hug and stepped back. The boy nodded. Their friend turned around and left. The girl looked at the boy. He looked into his hand. She stood behind him then, then looked into it as well. A waxed paper bag was folded like an envelope. He scratched at scotch tape with his thumb nail. Two blue tablets spilled into his palm. They dissolved in their mouths. It was thick, what caught in their throat when they swallowed. They grabbed the propped bikes, walked them onto the sidewalk. The girl’s freewheel clicked and she counted each click. She stopped counting them then she stopped hearing them. They stood at a cross walk outside this bar. The girl turned. Inside the bar a guitarist nodded his head while he played. It wasn’t yes that he meant. She smiled, closed her eyes. The air smelled like stale smoke and fryer grease. She opened her eyes, started walking. This woman wore a backpack backwards, her hands wrapped over it. Have you… The woman turned.  Fuck you looking at me. It was this guy standing at the curb across the street. He squatted, grimaced. The woman turned back to the girl and the boy. The cigarette between her lips had gone out. I lost my dog. Have you seen it? Mascara or whatever ran down her cheeks from her eyes. She had a ratted leash coiled around her neck. The girl looked at it. She hunched her shoulders and turned away.  Her brother touched her arm. The world was just colors and shapes. They coalesced, dispersed, reiterated their prior forms. The girl turned wildly. She rested her back on this tree. Light was invisible after it passed through the leaves above her. She just knew how she was touched by it. The boy went to put his hand on her shoulder. She leaned into him. Traffic moved through the intersection in front of them. Her hair fell into her face. A breeze blew it. She kept touching at it.  They walked past a bus station, other streets. The girl saw it so clearly, that the sky was limitless, that it was blue and above them. She thought then about what it was that the sky was beneath. The girl faced her brother as she squinted. She stepped through her bike’s skirt frame because she saw her brother on his bike. They hit a crosswalk against the light. They rode from it and into traffic. The road sloped, they coasted. They ran stop signs they didn’t notice. Their hair blew back towards the pink sky that rose above the hill behind them. Wide eyed, they listened to their tires on the asphalt. The road ran through flats. The kids peddled then. They blinked and then blinked again. They just kept their eyes closed as they rode.

 

The twins lay on the floor of this living room. Lampshade-shaped shadows stretched across pale carpet. A console television  wasn’t a mirror but it reflected stuff.  The boy turned on his side. This corner of the room was dark. A window illumed the walls that made towards it. He stared at the shape the light took.  The girl had her back to him. Encyclopedias flush with shelf edges were propped by book ends. A vase stood beside a globe. The top of the wall met the edge of the ceiling. Sun light overlapped other light on the carpet next to her leg. She turned her head, propped herself on her elbows. The window showed this willow, a shed, pools of light between the shadows of willow branches that shimmered on the lawn. There was the yard and all the yards beyond it. There was the village past. The boy thought that. He just looked, kept. Awnings cast shadows as distant mowers sounded. Air moved through the window screens. The kids stayed where they were, looking out as they lay. They smelled grass clippings and gasoline. The boy shuddered. The sky darkened where it curved. The girl said It spills. She meant darkness out of whatever was filled by shadows and nothing other. She said she could just picture it. Her brother, he’d missed the context that turned her words into something other than just sound. His eyes unfocused. Stuff drew back as the sky turned overcast. The air outside filled with drizzle. The boy got up. The floor went from carpet to oak planks as he walked to the foyer. A cold door handle resisted in his hand. He heard rain, water flowing beneath it. His sister put her hand on his back. Hey. He turned when she turned him. In the bathroom he peed. He heard wind build on itself. It ran through the rain. It hit the roof then trees.  In the living room he saw his sister. She and the room looked as if he was looking at them from some angle. He sat beside her on the floor, next to the cabriole legs of a wingback chair. He rolled on his back, his twined fingers resting on his chest. It was damp, what they smelled. Everything outside the window’d had  the color sopped from it. Sill-pings were rain caused. The kid’s thoughts moved through the moment as if forth meant against. There was no way they could leave it. The boy realized it. He realized it was something into which they could disappear. A glass ashtray glowed on an end table as he stared. His legs didn’t move before he moved them. The girl swallowed then coughed. She caught her breath. The boy got on the couch then she did. Lying backwards, they hung their heads off the edge. The floor was the ceiling, the ceiling was the floor. Slack streams of light and lengths of shimmer coalesced. They blinked against sparks, felt nauseous as they rolled onto the floor. By the window, they knelt. The boy held his face in his palms. Water leaked from the gutter to the ground. The girl scratched the tip of her nose. The boy raised his head. The  distance to the west was dim that fanned beneath the dark sky. Curtains brushed their arms. Their skin pricked. The girl took a quilt from this chest against the wall beside them. She pulled it flat on the carpet. Everything looked grey reflected on the television. With their bent elbows on the quilt, the kids lay their heads like their arms were pillows. The boy dreamt that he was outside at night: Faded sky ringed moonlit clouds. A tree-run cut across the black pratum he stared down. The dark was sameness, sans gap or fissure. It was that he’d closed his eyes. He looked up when he opened them. What was above the sky seemed to be beneath the surface and rising towards it. A white bath shredded a dark veneer. It rained down on him then through him, that he was himself,  that he was someone else that was someplace else, that the other place was the same place where he stood, that the other person was him. 

He woke crying. His sister touched his shoulder in the dark. He turned slowly. She removed her hand. It… He meant that the night was born from the sound of the wind. The girl sat upright on the floor, her legs stretched straight before her. She pointed at the window. The rain stopped then the wind. The night was full, with stars and lightening bugs. Frogs and crickets became pieces of a rising background. The duo saw the shadowed room, the  window and the sky outside of it. It was all just there. It faded so quickly. The walls and windows tightened within this rushing. There was a building in how it persisted. The two of them watched shadows shift through the neighborhood outside the window.  Branches cracked. They fell after being thrown. Trash  rolled through yards beneath shining street lights. Something hit the roof.  The brother felt how his sister shook. It was in the air between them when she turned towards him with wide eyes. She said something.  The sound of the wind was something she disappeared within. Her brother thought that because of how her voice did.  She darted then. It was something that he saw happen. He ran after her. She slammed the bathroom door and then slammed it again.  He leaned back against it. She slid down until she was sitting. He heard it. The house rang like a drum. The boy watched at the crack beneath the door. He saw whatever was so much darker than the utter seeming dim in the foyer. The girl’s voice was muffled. She said that she couldn’t breathe. He heard her cough then choke.  He didn’t hear it then. Everything sounded softer than his pulse.  He busted at the door handle with his foot. Moist air hit his face. His fingers shook on the light switch. He flipped it and kept flipping it. The thing was dead.  The room was just dark and it was the darkness that he came into.

 

 

 

Mark Gluth lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife and their 2 dogs. His most recent works are the novel No Other and the story collection The Goners.

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