Starless Imperium

Morgan Argor Strange, Science Fiction Horror Author

Apex Predators Wanted: Puppet Strings Attached

By MORGAN ARGOR (and Zyklon Xzyruz)

I. To Live is to Di—Fuck Hot Blonde Virgins Just For Existing

It must be cool to be a 16-year-old Slavic kid who gets ten thousand hearts on every Instagram post, just for having a battle jacket and long hair while walking through a field.

When I was that age, I got to wander the infernal fields too. But even though I had the same vampiric blood, and the same thousand-fold generational trauma that leads me to stay up all night chain smoking and high on pills, I never got to fuck hot blonde virgins just for existing.

When I was a kid, you got made fun of for liking metal.

People told me all the time I was ugly, and sometimes even pretended to ask me out as a joke. They stopped after the time I put gum in some kid’s hair when I pretended to put my arm around him. Oh well. I didn’t feel any sense of pride or sweet revenge from it. The message was sent and the damage was done.

All my friends had no problem dating other people, so I always wondered what the fuck was wrong with me. Later, I’d realize a lot of it was Asperger’s and certain dicks were just making fun of me because I was weird. Plenty of other losers probably would have paid to fuck me.

But that doesn’t matter now, because that damaged, triple-stabbed fuckup of a kid still haunts the streets of the valley to this day. As Ligotti once said in one of my favorite short stories of all time, whose title contains a forbidden word I will not mention: I “grew old but never grew up.”

II. The Only True Spectrum is Ultraviolence, and I Was Born (and Died) Pure Indigo

Being on the spectrum fucking sucks, even though it makes me able to do things “normal people” could never even dream of. I don’t even know what I’m feeling 95% of the time. I spend most of my waking hours obsessing over concepts, ideas, or people that will ultimately mean nothing in the grand scheme of my life.

And since I grew so dependent on weed as a coping mechanism at the tender age of 14, I don’t even remember most of my teenage years. It’s all just a bunch of static with fleeting glimpses of places and people I’ll never see again. Or people I don’t want to see until they’ve been through a meat grinder.

Most of the time, running into people I knew back then makes me feel sick to my stomach; Like I wish I was back in Igvarmord and could rip myself to pieces with Terrorkinesis to avoid looking them in the eyes.

“What have you done with your pathetic, wasted life?” Lurks silently behind every ‘hello’ as they greet me smugly with families and “respectable” day jobs.

I’ve had words published alongside Orson Scott Card, and I worked at a Fortune 100 company that had a monopoly on the fucking network backbone, the voices whisper.

But I can tell they don’t give a shit about that. They see the same weird, ugly stoner kid standing there in a band shirt, with bloodshot eyes that stared through hell.

They don’t know that this time, my eyes aren’t red from weed, but insomnia. My drug of choice these days keeps me up all night, so I live two lives.

And my God, do I suck at both of them.

Well, not really. I’m good at a lot of weird shit that most daywalkers will never get to experience—like driving to and from New York City in a single day because of “trusting intuition,” or stringing together complex delusions about aliens and quantum suicide that led to interesting stories like these. And if I had a kid to go home to, I guess I couldn’t drive around in circles all night blasting the same metal people made fun of me for in high school, or setting shittons of money on fire in some weird act of self-harm, all in the vain hope that I’ll feel something.

It’s not cool or edgy like in American Psycho. It just kind of feels like a microwave of the mind, with popcorn blowing up against the aluminum walls of your head—but with vinegar and battery acid drizzled on top by the Devil.

III. Eyes Once Bloodshot Are Now Out For Blood

I can’t even mutilate myself without fucking it all up: A leaky faucet makes my brother nervous, so our disorders converge and cannibalize. Even though the doctors offer to work with me or reschedule, I can no longer talk on the phone. I drove four hours to feel like a fucking idiot. At least I went outside.

My right tit still doesn’t feel right. In a weird way, I still wish they cut them off. It’s too bad that plastic surgeon was such a fucking diva. Who the fuck schedules a double mastectomy with aesthetics at 3 PM, and tells you not to eat for 16 hours before you’re about to get pumped full of opiates? The Grim fucking Reaper? If you don’t want to mutilate me, just fucking say it.

Before I left for the city, I left my dog with my parents. When I got home, my dad said, “If you left right now, he probably wouldn’t even know any better. He’d probably just think that’s how it is.”

Why not just say, “If you killed yourself, no one would care?”

A little while later, he makes fun of me for pursuing higher education in a field he could never succeed in. I know he mocks it just because it’s over his head and he’s jealous, but it stings to hear him mock me all the same.

I cried so much for that prick when I heard he had cancer. I burned a candle low in front of the forbidden portrait and cried for hours when they performed his ill-advised “surgery” he didn’t even need. Another doctor told him it could have been an outpatient procedure, so I bet he felt stupid then too.

I told him that doctor was a fucking idiot. But no one ever listens to me until they’re praying for their next breath on an operating table.

What do you resent me for, douchebag? Saving your life by finding you a real doctor who actually cured your self-imposed illness?

I’ll never forgive you for sabotaging the first appointment, when things weren’t doomed to fail like they were on Monday. I may forget temporarily, and smile and laugh at the stupid jokes out of habit so I don’t hurt your precious “feelings” . . .

. . . But never forget that a dog always knows a good person. Dogs can sense a lot of things, and smell even more. And my dog only sat with you because you held him in place by the harness. You did a good job hiding it, but nothing slips past an out-for-blood loser on speed.

IV. Apex Predators Wanted: Puppet Strings Attached

I had a dream not long ago about Apex Predators. All human life was contained within vials, and each swirling tube of glass contained an instance. There were infinite realities, some impossibly dark, and others so seamlessly perfect that to live them would be to walk in hell.

Xzyruz looked through all of them, even though it was forbidden by the laws of time . . . And in nearly every instance, we were both Apex Predators.

But being an Apex Predator isn’t as cool as it sounds. All it means is that you’re the last of your line, and you’ve inherited all the good—and the bad—of every person who ever lived before you. Their traumas, addictions, fears, rage, and incurable mental disorders are all alive and well in every cell of your body. Occasionally, this makes some of us really good at some weird, random task like programming, or even playing guitar.

Sometimes, as the name suggests, you end up with serial killers—Savants of Murder and Getting Away with Everything.

But most of us have one thing in common: We’re the last of the last, so we have to write our own legacy.

Whether that’s in blood, ink, or tears . . . Well, that’s up to you.

Myself, I’ve chosen all three so far, but none of them made me stop resenting the fact that I’m an Apex Predator.

I’m tired of writing stories and songs about chaos and despair that no one reads. So much of my life has been centered around death. Everything I create revolves around it in some way or another.

I’ve snuffed a hundred thousand cigarettes and joints, and killed a hundred characters: But I want to know what it feels like to create life. Just once, before I run out of time. I just want to know what it feels like to experience that weird little spark that comes with knowing that you just forced someone who will probably be as fucked up and outcasted as you into existence.

I fantasize about it all the time. It’s the only thing that makes me feel anything.

But the pain is so deep I can hardly describe it, because at this point it feels fucking impossible. Nobody even wants to smoke with me, let alone . . . that.

It makes me want to see blood splatters from a sawed-off shotgun across the ceiling almost every day, but some blind, stupid part of me holds on to the hope that maybe before it’s over, I can find another Apex Predator and we can break the curse.

You don’t have to die alone just because you’re different. You can still have a family and everything else you wanted, before this sick world got to you and you—

. . . No. If you gave up, you wouldn’t be here.

If the world—or even your own brain—dooms you to a lonely life at the top of the food chain, always ready to strike, but too far from society’s herd to ever really go in for the kill . . . Fuck it. No matter how many people out there called you a monster or said you didn’t deserve to live, Apex Predator, you deserve your very own slice of Igvarmord.

V. Friends Forever <3

I used to think I had tokophobia. I used to think cutting my tits off—and thus making myself uglier and even less attractive when I already can hardly talk to people—would somehow improve my life. Hell, there was a time when I thought I could never even drive in New York City. I used to think a lot of things.

But these days, I mostly just think about moving forward.

I wallowed in the blackness for long enough, and I too have spent my time in hell.

If you haven’t guessed yet, I never went through with the surgery. I did drive all the way to the city and back, though, and that left me with a lot of time to reflect on the nature of reality and my life.

If I could endure some degrading, unnecessary procedure under general anesthesia and risk waking up in a timeline far worse than here, I can do anything.

But it turns out that isn’t what I wanted to do, at least at this point in spacetime.

What I really want is both infinitely easier and infinitely harder at the same time.

So inviting, so easy to set in motion—with the right Apex Predator, that is.

But I know as well as anyone how fucking hard it is to tear down those walls and just say “hi.”

But the worst is far behind us, and now it’s time to howl at the moon, as all wolves were born to do, and laugh at the face of “destined death.”

Because . . .

Even if we reached a point where our DNA ends up cannibalizing each other’s too many times to count,

And the stars are always painted red in our twisted minds,

We’ll always have each other, as Murderers, Geneticists, and Partners in crime . . .

Apex predators, dreamed to stalk the weak and bear our nightmares like claws,

Tangled through each other’s hair beneath a cold December Moon

That only the warmth of another monster who died a thousand painful deaths could soothe.

Across the frigid coals of torment,

Beyond the snow-peaked mountains that hover over that final, darkest forest

You never dared to cross, even at the edge of pain itself . . .

Lay your blood-drenched armor down upon the ice:

Interweave our sins, absolve them in eternal warmth.

And let the glorious, subatomic fission of two Apex Predators devouring each other alive

Remind you why you never pulled the trigger to begin with.


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