She fell in love with her specimen: took note of his

legs; one, a millimeter shorter than the other, lacked the

purity of hemispheric symmetry. His tiny simple eyes dilated

when the artificial light rays would refract off of the perfect

ninety degree angles of the glass vivarium. His physiology’s

opposition to functional perfection was completely irrelative

and therefore alien in nature—but all the more intriguing for

a vicarious learner as herself. Lymphatic streams were

notable for their quiescence; there was a rational level of

frustration in the blood flow…


Lab observations: spinal staircases, sprawling shafts, infinite

flesh, humidified gardens of tooth and fascia held her utmost

fascination. Immunological reactions were reenactments of a

cosmic phenomenology. Universal parallels.


The complexity of each internal system was directly

proportional to the number of its vulnerabilities. Of all the

systems revealing themselves to her through an imagined

vivisection, his reproductive organs yielded qualities most

absurd. Foreign bodies came with malice per his intracellular

fluidscape—pathogenic dreadnaughts sailing past his

barriers, encroaching on unguarded systems. Many

unnecessary things had distracted her as she remotely

navigated through his body. She’d already begun envisioning

his scintillations of synaptic fires as a starry constellation. It

was largely inevitable, imagining those whirling white lights

of his adolescent stargazing nights—permanent imprints on

the brain.


The conundrums of his body-maze were not only

rudimentary. Beyond components of soft machinery, luridly

raw and vulnerable, and geometrically incongruous were his

distorted emotional and cognitive spectrums. Indeed her

subject was torn between conditioned xenophobic tendencies

and outright xenophilic fantasies; a social dysphoria due to

such aversions as insects and other arthropods which

plasticized into hard memory acquired throughout childhood

and early adolescence.


Inversely there was an incessant yearning for colonial

belonging and meaningful participation with his hive-kin.

Yet, his undoubtedly below-average self-esteem yielded

solitary leanings. He could not perform most necessary

dances of communication without arrhythmias and other

spontaneous errors of coordination.


A tendency to retreat mentally-inward—he’d wish for the

great slumber of the cold to nullify those taxing formulas of

social interaction and to usher in a cycle of communal

hibernation. Between the designated wrinkles in his brain

allotted for genetic and learned memories, there was a

hexagonal hall of mirrors. The repetitive image reflecting off

of every wall within her comb was that of his human form

caught between the college pliers of a giant insect overlord.


Elytron Frass is the pseudonymous author/visual artist of Liber Exuvia (gnOme, 2018). His prosodic fiction features in Tarpaulin Sky Magazine, Sleepingfish, SCAB,
X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, and The Offbeat—with forthcoming work in Parasol: The Journal of the Centre for Experimental Ontology. He tweets @Elytron_Frass.