sharp teeth

bartsmeets

Ben belonged to the last generation that would remember life before implantation, before your boss could send a message at 6 a.m. – to your brain. Some people resisted, at first, staging massive protests… Ben was not one of those people. How could you not see the advantage of having all knowledge in thought’s reach: To pull up any novel by thinking of it, without knowing what it contained?

The glitch – again – there was a glitch – the shattering sound – explosion of steel – burst of seawater – and then – the shark. Snub-nosed, its blue-black hide scarred by a hundred unnamed battles – the shark once again invaded his mind as he stood up to read. It was fitting, at least, for this reading – The Old Man and the Sea- and it tore through the tight prose, scattering the words. He shut down the book and the shark disappeared with the pool of letters.

Briefly, he gave up on reading. It was swimming through his work reports, and, of course, his mistake at trying to sneak a few pages of Moby Dick, but, by Friday, he had to work. Plus, he missed his library. So he called his friend Arn. Arn was a geek. Arn came over.

   So this is a problem?

Ben shuddered.

   That bad?

He connected to Ben with a cord between their ears. It had been determined in the early days of implantation that wireless connection between minds was disastrous – all the hacking.

   Have you ever looked into a shark’s eyes? There’s nothing in there, man: No soul. There’s nothing about a shark that can be described as even vaguely fucking human. They are the farthest living thing from a human being.

   You feel strongly about this.

    I’ve always hated them. This totally validates it.

Arn frowned. He wiggled his fingers against his thighs, a physical stand-in for the days when he would have been tapping at a keyboard.

     That’s a hack. A really good one.

     How the fuck does that happen?

Arn managed to look both empathetic and impressed. 

      Whoever did this is a genius, and clearly furious at you.

      Cara.

     You said it, not me.

     So what the fuck do I do?

     Way beyond me. Could try to get rid of it, but I might end up trashing your code really badly. You’d have to get re-implanted.

     Can’t afford it.

          Then you have to talk to Cara, he whispered. 

      Fuck.

Arn informed him that if Cara could harm his brain like this, she had probably been in there for a while, keeping an eye on him. She had been watching on the weekend before the wedding, he realized, involving someone brought home from the bar, and Cara’s up to that point unused wedding dress, perhaps sacreligious for use, even though they had broken up.

Sunday night, Ben stood up and pulled up a book. Before it went to shit, he concentrated on solidifying the words, making each one into a waterproof brick. It worked for a second: Investing every ounce of his mental strength, straining against Cara’s digital virtuosity, Ben held the shark at bay – literally.

When it broke through, the dynamite effect it normally had on just the book engulfed his entire body. The worst Ben had ever experienced. And there it was, as usual, the shark, with its expressionless mug and its pitiless teeth, the only thing he could see, seeming to smile.    

He reached out and touched the shark’s nose – something he had never tried. Its little heart was pulsing and warm in his hand.  

 


 word by Charlotte Joyce Kidd

colour by Bart Smeets

looking for nothing

amargo 2

Alice waits a long time to pick up the book. On the deck, beside her, the cover is damp from the ocean spray, but she doesn’t mind. Traveled, the book is heavy in her hands when she flips to the beginning, wet. At first, she can only stare through the worn pages –  it takes time to focus on the words. She hears her mother’s voice (faint, as though yelling from the kitchen) telling her that the first line of a story is the most important. Her dull and grey eyes scroll down to those crucial first words. 

I’ll either be great or nothing at all.

Now that’s how you start a book, she thinks. Deep. Legs laced through the ship’s rail, she reads on, occasionally lifting her head to stare out at the horizon. The lava-red sunset bleeds into the darkening sky, seeping into the black, giving the panoramic a sloppy finish, like God tipped over paint cans. She reads, waiting for the rest of the book to offer more of the infinite pearl glimpsed in those elegant first words.

It never does. Great or nothing at all. Like my story, like everyone’s story, she thinks. Things always start out simply: It’s only after we keep pushing deeper and deeper and pulling everything apart to look for something unknowable before putting it back together only to realize that now it’s just pieces. Commitment is complicated and petty and you can’t see that until the only people left to comfort you are an old book and the sea. He left his name and address. Who knows, maybe things will return to our initial simplicity. She won’t know unless she finishes the story.

She wipes her face and tastes salt on her lips. The last of the sunlight streams across the water. She reads. The ship beats slowly, steadily toward the horizon, and she wonders if the last line will be as good as the first.

word by Josh Elyea

colour by Pablo Amargo

mosquitos

bur

“I fell in love with you the first time I saw you fall off a horse.”

Her eyes are watery, glistening in their sockets. I can’t tell if it’s drool running over my lips and down my chin and neck or just some bruised emotional response to what’s happened, happening.

“You’re so stupid.”

She’s wiping at her eyelashes. If she keeps doing it I feel she’ll have no eyelashes left by this time next week. The window is open and all I can think is I know the mosquitoes are eating me alive and I can’t feel it. Most people unconsciously wish they could live a life in which mosquito bites don’t itch, can’t be felt. Others don’t mind the actual itching and scratching, finding themselves more inclined to fume at the violation of it all, the unseen bloodsucking and flying off into the night.

“I told you not to go.”

I think what happened was I drank a little too much, as is habit, and walked or stumbled out to the stables, snuck a horse out with what I can only imagine as indescribable grace and horsemanship, thereupon divining myself up onto it’s back, into the saddle… And there’s where all memory stops. And if I’m being honest, something I am not necessarily known for among both friends and enemies- everything I just remembered could be made up. I’d cry if I could feel anything physical. Not for me, but for this girl that knows the truth, the reality that I can’t remember. I can hear Sarah, and I think I can see her, but what I am listening to could be nothing more than unreality catching up with me. She sobs uncontrollably and I see her right arm, the good one, swing and slap my left arm. I can’t feel it and though my head wants to whip toward her in some accusatory fashion, nothing happens.

I fell in love with Sarah under a harvest moon. Sarah says it was blue and I made a mental note to check and see if harvest moons are ever blue. I never checked. I told her before we got serious that I can’t really have friends because I fall in love too quickly, platonic, heart-love, sexual fantasy, all of them separately but often attributed to the same person. And as a result I end up hurting everyone, like a man made of plutonium, some inevitable occurrence will disrupt my atmosphere and I’ll blow up and there won’t be anything left of us: and so I lie. I lie and never stop lying.

And now in an ironic twist of fate, here I am lying, on my back, catheter rooted and probably a dish of some kind caressing my naked buttocks, tubes jutted unfelt into my skin and veins, into my blood and the girl I may have actually changed for is crying and pulling out her eyelashes and I can’t even muster up the words, “It’s okay.”

word by Anthony Statham

colour by Sarah Burwash

breaking news in montreal

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BREAKING NEWS IN MONTREAL: Woman thrown off balcony is pronounced dead at the scene – in other news one million, six hundred thousand and ninety four people not thrown off an astounding amount of balconies

(young artists in denial that they don’t own the mansions depicted in Renaissance paintings grow up to paint mansions; where are apartment building entrances with those random titles on glass doors- The Benmore, The Stallion, L’étranger- in front of heavily stickered mailboxes with variations of, NO FLYERS, NON, and POR FAVOR, HOMBRE, beside faux-marble stairs; we don’t need any more accidental replicas of Atwater’s informally-gated streets; where is Parc X; where are the apartment buildings with balconies of lone chairs and plastic wrap around iron, with shirtless men in sunglasses, surveilling the garbage-bag-placing-process of his neighbours, every Tuesday; where are the buildings with nice lobbies and average apartments; where is cote-des-neiges; where are our bicycles and lines waiting for the bus; where are paintings that embrace the lack of space, not 4 humans to 2 acres but 50 in 2, no wasted space when you connect, right?)

BREAKING NEWS IN MONTREAL: Middle-Eastern man deported for terrorism charges, born in Canada we’re still undecided where to send him – in other news three hundred and twenty thousand middle-eastern-Québecois not charged, although suspected, said to all continue lives in Montréal

(at what point does the state say, alright, busted, we don’t know how to feel like we’re needed when we don’t have a group to protect you from, we just want to feel valued, if you have any suggestions we’re feeling kind of vulnerable, please send them our way, this shit is getting old, we love you)

BREAKING NEWS IN MONTREAL: Black male suspected in armed robbery is presumed guilty – in other news five hundred thousand, three-hundred and twenty four people of colour will continue to live lives in Montréal, despite also being presumed guilty

(Montréal, listen: We love you. We know you can’t really afford to buy us that last round, but don’t worry: My brother is visiting from Toronto. JK 😉 We know you’re the uncle who gave us our first beer, and we get how you’re keeping strong in your middle-age with the festivals, trying to keep the bars open till 6, etc., and, I agree, let’s not talk about the financial district, the disappearing suits thing – it’s cool… We know our neighbourhoods aren’t 100% everyone hanging out together, hamburger, falafel and miso soup picnics, sure, our ethnicities do not interact like they do in the cartoons of our high school textbooks, under “Multiculturalism in Canada,” (or, in the least, white anglos with white francos) but, uh, could we have a festival based on the merit of the musicians, and not Officially Sponsored segregation?) 

BREAKING NEWS IN MONTREAL: Alcohol may have been a factor in Tuesday’s fatal crash on the 40, not the congestion – in other news literally millions of cars who have passed that spot on road have been pretty okay since : There is a 0.000001 chance that you will die on the 40 today

(cue the commercial that generally says, hey, death is less fun but buy this car and you’ll have friends and you’ll all laugh to somewhere vaguely rural like past Laval and drink on a dock, even if it isn’t your dock, or look a rock, and uh yeah we paid someone to shoot here, but there are so many docks and so much space away from the city, you can escape all your neighbours!)

BREAKING NEWS IN MONTREAL: Concordia survey finds female students more likely to judge self-worth by appearance than male counterparts – in other news when you force a mold on liquid chocolate it will likely harden into that mold more times than not

(Montréal, honey, we love you, tell your police officers we know that they are good people, tell your protesters that everything will be alright, even if it won’t, let’s hold hands and change the way that we train our police, let’s change the way that our classes get treated by the system that values money, even if it’s tough to insert a heart on our coloured currency, because, baby, we just want to share a Boréale Rousse with you by the canal, come feed me curd while I read you French translations of Richler)

 

word by Liam Lachance

colour by Evluk

Fuck the Millenials

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Kids. Millenials. Fuck the Millenials and their electronic orgasms. Things were better before, when you were judged by how well you could act on the phone, instead of on Facebook: It was more natural. Fuck the Millenials and their tattoos and selfies and their waiting on Instagrammed asses for Baby Boomers to retire, itching to snap out to work, like snakes in jars. I remember a time when people really interacted in public, and sat alone on trains reading newpapers, instead of reading on their phones. Fuck the Millenials and their mortgage free apartments, filled with cats instead of kids, producing kittens. I remember a time when a good wife raised children and cooked and cleaned and a man, if a good man, worked, didn’t gamble too much, and didn’t cheat too much. Fuck the Millenials and their questioning capitalism. I remember a time when we knew that the world was about to end, because of communism, because of evil Russians- just look at the villains in film. Fuck the Millenials and their questioning colonialism. I remember a time when the world was perfect, when countries were white or black, rich or poor, and you could draw a line in the fucking sand: Civilized on the Northside, Barbaric on the bottom. Fuck the Millenials who question us.  

 

This piece of satire shared the art of Frau Isa and the fiction of L. L. As a piece of satire, it was intended to criticize the desire to romanticize the past, and to demonstrate how human beings become frustrated when they feel that they do not understand something. We believe that the generational divide is the classic example of this frustration and romanticization, where the old criticize the young for acting differently: Frustration is taken out against new trends that they do not understand, as they romanticize how things used to be, believing that the way they acted at that younger age had different motives. These older individuals, or, ‘haters,’ as say the Millenials, deserve credit because they are acting out of a place of frustration, as human beings do, and are not inventing the tendency to romanticize the past. We used satire as a tool to bring light to these extreme criticisms of the Millenial generation- typically those born after 1980. We believe that, by examining the roots of why we hate, it will help us to provide help and move forward, together, instead of picking fights against individuals. We need to give people more credit, regardless of age- Baby Boomers and Millenials included. 

 

The Death of Chivalry

Could(blog)

I remember the earth. I remember when oceans were blue, and you could buy a woman dinner without having to split the bill. I remember before water ran black, when you could roam the streets at night, gazing at stars. I remember the end of the world. You’ve been told it collapsed with the nuclear reactor, those companies, that kitten, but I remember that it died with chivalry. I remember objectively, and I understood the fall completely: What was the point of living if it wasn’t to protect something? The earth had protected us with oxygen, gravity, and water for thousands of years, just as we had protected our women, keeping them safe like delicate flowers. We understood that women were strong, and deserved our respect, these tough, delicate flow- hold on that’s contradictory let me try again: In a time of text messages and technology, we had strayed so far from what was natural: The wind and water the earth had given us; lessons our ancestors had shared with us, those morals that told us what was true, untainted, passed down by our fathers to us from a time when things made sense: A man did what a man did, came home to dinner, kept real problems to himself and the bartender, or shot himself in the face: Things were working: Women acted like women, and everything worked perfectly, in the past: “Dating” a woman meant what it really should: To protect and provide for them, these strong, delicate flowers, being delicate but really strong and intellige- Sorry okay confusing I know last try: Things made sense. People today: walking into newspaper stands because of texting, finding ‘love’ in the club: They’ve lost touch with purity, as our oceans did. I’m not sure how much to blame each person- the system is a big thing that trains everyone to act, sure- but we were the only generation who acted free of the system, with independent ideas. Everything was better when lines didn’t overlap, and you didn’t need to understand how it worked: Your wife looked up to you, and you didn’t ask why. You could knock some sense into a kid, because they needed discipline. You were there to protect your woman from the evils of the world, because they needed protection. Sometimes, for example, you bought her dinner. Ask me if she ever paid for dinner. The answer is no: Men were strong, rational protectors, and so we didn’t need someone to pay for us. The world was together, controlled and pure. You really got to know someone in dinner dates, where you paid, and brought the prepared version of yourself, saying things you had seen on TV or that people had told you, your father, mother, teachers, friends, things that you didn’t understand but it didn’t matter. You avoided awkward conversations on who you were, and how you felt, because the point of talking to people was to make them feel comfortable. You saved those times for when you were really intoxicated. And now- look at what we’ve done. I remember the earth. I remember a time before we tried to convince people that women were our equals- I mean how do you protect someone who is your equal- how do you show power, and buy them dinner? I remember a time before the death of chivalry, when we lived on planet motherfucking earth.* 

words by Liam Lachance

This is satirical. 

colour by Diego Panuela

Leaves & Branches

4fd725e02e93dda6a65e345b539a1c2dFlywheel, clutch disk, crankshaft. Breaking it down to understand why it worked the way that it did. No, not how. Fan belt, rocker arm, alternator. You will itemize the parts, yes, all of them, for the project, with a brief description of their function, yes, every one, and how they affect the engine when it is running- it’s the logical place for us to start the class. Wise words from Telford, AUTO 1102A. Breaking down a family photograph to figure how odd shapes fit. Black palms smudged a hand-drawn draft of the 2010 Camry 2.4 litre, fingerprints smearing a tin hood, near a dent from the past winter. Bent, imperfect. Her mother out for the weekend, the garage cold, a window might have been left open, or the furnace had stopped working, but she wasn’t sure, and who was to blame her.

Her friend left when the heavy work was finished. Alone, with cylinder separated, she considered how their tastes were so different, seeing that their brains were formed under similar variables, having grown up in the same neighbourhood- over two fences- with similar families- alcohol holidays, massive debt- leaned on the same desks- MPS, NGDHS, The Gonq- and dated the same guys- straight white drunks. Twice, they dated brothers.

She liked Buzzfeed, her friend: Reddit. Maybe that was it. Her friend liked Vine, her: Youtube. Her: Gmail, Dropbox, Wikipedia. Friend: Yahoo, iCloud, Google. Mac? PC. Samsung? iPhone. Identical wiring soaking up different images and words to influence different tastes. She dropped the box wrench. She played out the thesis, considering how it explained her friends’ preference for pubs (from watching Arcade Fire and Chvrches videos) while she preferred the club (Drizzy VEVO).

Separating fan belt from crankshaft pulley, she compiled a list of things she had learned from the internet in 2013:  

1. Haters own keyboards 

2. Miley Cyrus invented grinding

3. People are happy on Facebook

4. All Americans own pistols

5. All gay people are white

6. All black people can dance

7. All hipsters rock beards

8. “Québecois” means “Franco-Québecois”  

9. “Anglo-Québecois” means “quiet”

10. Traveling makes you intelligent

11. Lizard people are a legitimate concern

12. Over 6,000 Québecois-white-tailed-deer were hit last year

 

She put aside the blueprint and tore out a new page

 

Things Learned Independent of The Gonq Buzzfeed Wikipedia Facebook Youtube Friends & Parents

 

 

words by Liam Lachance

colour by Naran Jalidad 

DESTROY PARC LA FONTAINE

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take away the tourists, the hipsters, the families

take away the seniors

take away the guitars, the bongos, the singers, the accordions

take away the homeless

take away the flowers, and lock up the mowers

take away the blind, whose vision of the place was illuminated by the smells of spilt Cheval Blanc, cigarette and charcoal barbeque

take away the water- drain it away- and plug up the fountain with cement

take away the first dates, the talkers, the shy, the too-cool-to-drink-non-organic-juice kids, the sex workers, the second, third marriages

take away the coffee cups and styrofoam boxes, wine bottles and green tops of Kiosque Mont Royal strawberries

take away the drugs

take away the music

take away the lights: Gut electricity from dépanneur fridges

take away the curd from La Banquise

you can’t take away how the light of fireworks fell through trees: How the branches split apart the light to produce nets of shadow, bending phosphorous light to tattoo blue faces black. When we met under the leaves.*

colour by Mugluck  Parc Lafontaine, Montreal, 2013. Tous droits réservés Mügluck
words by Liam Lachance