This work uses Percival Everett’s American Desert and text generated using one of Hugging Face’s GPT language models as source text.
Its head was placed under its left arm, the fingers of its hand falling over its mouth which was frozen partly open, and the cool vinyl bag was zipped from bottom to top. The ride in the coroner’s wagon to the morgue was protracted, the medical examiner’s assistant stopping at a fast-food restaurant, his mother’s house, where he was given a small white plastic box in which to stay overnight. The matter, however, rang with an air of incompleteness, as it was the case that the body was never identified, only the head and isn’t that what is always required? That the body be identified? This is the problem with the present state of the human world. The most probable scenario is that the body was the product of the sexual union between the two persons.
The question is: is this a reason to avoid the question?
The trucker wore suspenders, which he called “braces,” and seersucker suits no matter how cool the weather turned. He was wearing a heat-crumpled seersucker when he rose and walked from the third row to the altar. When he was done, he said, ” I don’t have to go to work any more.” At the tram ticket office, It began to feel antsy, nervous and it attributed it to its long-standing fear of heights, as they were about to be suspended high in the air on a thin cable. The kids even tried to tease it about the last time they had gone up, telling it that the jagged rocks were really a lot closer than they looked, assuring it the cars hardly ever fell. But, to its credit, it managed to get back to the station without much trouble. The day was sunny and warm, and it felt as if it might be a good time to get down and enjoy it.
It would have been great fun if it hadn’t been for the fact that the tram was moving faster than it could keep up with and that when it finally stopped at the station, it was a little more than a block away from the building,
Ms. Trucker, steely Ms. Trucker, cool Ms. Trucker, eyebrow-licking Ms. Trucker, shed a single tear which appeared at once as the most controlled emission It had ever seen from a human body and as a flood of terrifying uncontrolled emotion. “I’ve fallen in love with you, It,” she said. “You are mine. You have no right to be anywhere else.” She hasn’t said so on the air, but that’s what she said to that makeup guy. You can see it in the video. She said she never said that. She said that if she ‘d ever had to make a choice between the two, she would choose the one that felt most “real.”
The truth is, as the saying goes, the truth is seldom as beautiful as the lie.
“Let’s just stay cool,” It said. In fact, it was cool—cooler than it had ever been. Perhaps it was simply that without a pulse, there was nothing to race, but it knew that it was more than that. It seemed it was not entirely the same as it had ever been, perhaps, but it was still very much there. Martha, however, began with a wide-eyed stare at her father, not so much of surprise but of rage and anger, a fiery anger which found air with a screaming fit and a dash up the stairs to her bedroom. She was a year old then, and she had not yet learned to fear what her little mouth would say. And the little things like that had not come easily for her.
Her father was a man of few words.
“I’m hot. Have somebody fetch a pail of water so Ms. Trucker can wash my feet.” The trucker looked at It. “Nothing cools you down like cool water on your feet.” It did call Channel 5 and in short order it was on the air live with Ms. Trucker. The woman’s voice was excited and thin, not quite a whine, but it grated on Its dead nerves, like a scratching across the sutures which held fast its head. For a few seconds her voice did not carry over, then it did. “Well it’s cold and the cold has a tendency to make you a little more aggressive.”
Her voice was a little more subdued than before.
Martha stepped in front of them and pulled open the doors, releasing musty but cool air. The smell of ozone wafted around them and it was hard to make out what was going on, they were surrounded by what looked like a city or town, a large bridge spanning the lake, the sky above was a pale blue as the water below, and they were in the middle of a large park. “We’ve got to do something,” the director said. “They’re dying trying to fill air at the studio.” But it wasn’t long before he realized that what was going to work was to go back and create an entire new world and take his time creating a world from scratch, then make his own world and then build that world into a new environment. He had an idea of what to do.
He had to go back.
The steps were concrete and lights were already burning inside, perhaps triggered by the opening of the doors, like a refrigerator—and like a refrigerator, because it was underground, the shelter was cool. It was not inside Ms Trucker’s head, it was not the dashboard of the automobile, it was not the air around her, but it was there. It was there in much the same way it’d often felt it was throughout its life—unweighted, uncentered—but at least in this scene from this sad woman’s life it understood what was going on. As one of the last things she said, before she had to jump back to the hotel, was: “They’re going to leave.” And the lights went out.
There was this really cool guy talking all about helping people. Was Ms. Trucker really sick the day it sat with her twenty years ago, on-air? How often do you lie to yourself? I’m sure she’s as sick now as I am. I hope the same happens to the person or persons responsible for this lie.
I know the story is told in various versions, but it is my contention that the story, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, is always as important as the falsehood, even if it doesn’t get the same credit.
It thought Martha was cool and it was sitting next to her. There was this stuff on Martha’s plate. It was a piece of meat, a piece of lettuce, and a piece of something that was shaped like an ice cream cone. The room was painfully silent and the dead air was just that, but no one was dashing to resuscitate it. Ms. Trucker called upon her years in the business, her professionalism, her steely control and said, “You’re mean,” and dipped her face into her hands and cried. Then her voice rose to the full cry. “Martha,” she said, “You have to go.”
Then she turned and left.
“It’s a bit cool.” She said and looked over at the fish and then back at the food. The trucker served, hitting the ball high into the air. The ball went higher and higher until it was just a speck against the sky. The ball bounced off the end of the truck and came to rest on the ground just in front of him. His face was all smiles, even though he had no idea what he did to make it so.
The ball hit the trucker right in the heart.
Edward Wells is a writer from the United States of America. They hold an MFA in Creative Writing and are an adjunct instructor of writing and literature. They are enamored of the possibility of connection and the cool air that descends into a desert with sunset. Their critical article, “Exploring a Framework of Unreadability in Narrative Fiction,” recently appeared in The Text, and their poetry manuscript, meyond, is available through Alien Buddha Press.