Awareness. In these night hours she found herself fatiguing steadily, and was acutely aware of the transformations brought on by this now-accustomed deprivation from sleep. Her body, toiling slavishly in its indenture to her waking faculties, was pervaded by unconscious (though in principle voluntary) muscular tensions; and a momentary survey of them was revelatory of certain inherent priorities in the construction of Yagokoro Eirin. The expressive muscles of the upper face, by long habit disused as well in private as in public life, were now drawn upon as a reservoir to the ocular muscles, and pressed into the task of maintaining the acuity of her sight. Isometric rigidities were likewise sustained in various disorganised regions of her trunk, in order to supplement her flagging spinal erectors. Her shoulders were taut, as if in atavistic anticipation of some sudden animal threat to her unguarded nape. She had begun to grind her teeth.
Convergence. Here more than anywhere else, in the midst of her pharmacopoeia, it would have been trivial to relieve these sensations; these dull quarrels and cottony slingstones of disordered time: induce herself with a magistral concoction of sedatives and hypnotics, anxiolytics and cardiotonics, sympathomimetics and parasympathomimetics, stimulants and sensorimotor blockades, to sleep hours and days in the course of minutes. On some nights she availed herself of exactly this. What she was unable to accomplish in so doing, however, was to maintain her consciousness above sea-level, so critical to the inner ruminations which were namesake of her manifold titles and epithets. It was for this alone she endured these nightly perseverations, at times telescoping one into another through the intervening days, in search of a final convergence to the planes and manifolds of her thought.
Dissociation. To no avail. Her present preoccupations were proving recalcitrantly diasporic, rebuffing all attempt at conciliation and forcing anabasis into further regions of her mind. In her vision the planes of her office, its walls and surfaces dovecoted by so many officinal drawers and shelves, lost their perpendicularity and rearranged themselves into a splintered warren of angles, intersecting freely by mechanism, by indication, by precursor, by pharmacophore, by kinetics, by stoichiometry, by lethal and recreational synergies … Her fingers groped out a scored tablet and nocked it by the cord of her tongue. A shudder reverberated her spine as it released.
Neurulation. These intractable obsessions were a thread which had first congealed, notochord-like, in the earliest gastrulation of the Lunar founding, and which had trailed behind her forever since, as like a synapsid, amphibian, gnathostome tail: accountable only genealogically and not teleologically. In retrospect the creation of the Elixir had been more than anything else a fatalistic attempt at inducing some private catastrophe which could, by dint of shock, by its sheer enormity, expose some plane of alignment or sense. Like all such apparently totalising calamities, however, in the long view it had proven itself merely hormetic.
Syzygy. Immortal Akarya-zzagama, arrested at weaponpoint by Jouga’s long-eared chamberlain … Soundlessly Eirin strode out to the perimeter gate, the rabbit Udongein on armed duty. A subtle tap to the left heel, subsequented by an accurately timed entry into the peripheral vision prevented an unnecessary startle response. Beyond the rifle’s flash-guard the hired porter stood hunch-shouldered with affectated shabbiness. A cigarette hung smouldering from half-parted lips. Eirin appropriated it with a casual motion, and in the same trajectory brought it to linger above her own. “This is the way, step inside …”
The Lunar Expo. The yearly exhibitions at Eientei had begun to take on a disquieting tenor. The initial curiosity of the aeronautical wagons, self-luminous raiments, hypertext incunabula, and other petty mirabilia had been quickly spent, and the difficulty of the trek ensured that the body of regular attendees soon dwindled to an obsessional core of quixotic utopians, conspiracists, fanaticists, and outright lunatics. As the audience underwent this evaporative contraction, so too the spectacle on offer grew increasingly delaminated and insular, and presently it was impossible to say on which side of the stanchions was corralled the greater dementation. The faraway songs of Moon rabbits were enblended with the plangent melodies of dead satellites and the implacable hammering of pulsars. Freedom from sabi was epitomised in the obtuse convexity of anti-ligature design. In the multivalent imaginations of the glycol-eyed inmates the acute angle of a half-opened folding fan stood projectively for anything from cataclysmic rupture on an atomic scale to the exposed pudenda of Ame-no-Uzume.
The Country of Roots. The compound shadows thrown against the concrete walls of the corridor mimetised the Hadean silhouettes which continue to derange the sleep of his Augustitude Izanagi. Indelible within them was the same intolerable pollution of death. Where their steps descended on the bituminous carpet-course they were muted as if in loam, and their breaths were subsumed by the omnipresent sough of mechanical ventilation. At the second bend Udongein turned back, sweating privately against the black polymer clasped in her hands.
Ancient Waters. It is handed down among the peoples of Miyako that the Lunar seas spell out the shape of an immortal emissary of the heavenly gods. For the gods were kind and tender-hearted, and wished to pass down the elixir of life to the first humans to live on the nascent earth, that they might preserve their natural beauty for ever. So they dispatched their emissary Akarya-zzagama to earth, to the islands of great Miyako, beautiful Miyako. So Akarya-zzagama made his descent, bearing a yoke of two buckets across his shoulders: the one, fulfilled with the rejuvenating waters of life; the other, brimming with the bleak waters of death. But he had made such a long and arduous journey from the heavenly world … “I don’t believe I need to spell it out?”
Lost Seat of Immortality. A peculiar feature of the sacrum is its tendency to collect preternatural epithets: os sacrum, the sacred bone; senkotsu, the immortal bone. It is as if there is the lingering awareness of some lost sacral nexus, of which the bones of the pelvis constitute an annullated vestige: a caudal recapitulation of the skull, perhaps, spinally yoked, once upon a time, with its cranial counterpart. “The one fulfilled with the rejuvenating waters of life; the other brimming with the bleak waters of death …” She regaled the porter with a sardonic humour that did not reach the eyes. “You may set her down on the bier.”
Decedent: K— S—. Identified by: Saitama University photo identification. Age: 21. Sex: F. Length: 158 cm. Weight: 52 kg. Hair: Black, chin-length. Eyes: Irides OD brown, OS blue. Pupils 5 mm round. Corneae transparent. Sclerae white. Conjunctiva unremarkable without petechiae. Teeth: Natural dentition, good repair. Algor: Cool. Rigor: Absent. Livor: Red, anterior. Clothing and personal effects: 1. Outdoor jacket, blood-stained. 2. Shirt, blood-stained. 3. Brassiere. 4. Cargo trousers, perforated, blood-stained. 5. Boxer underwear. 6. Left sock. 7. Left hiking boot. 8. Right foot dressed with several windings of polyethylene tape. 9. Prescription spectacles. 10. Folding knife. 11. Key. 12. Makarov pistol, unloaded. 13. Compass. 14. Cigarette lighter. 15. Wallet containing multiple cards, photo identification, one banknote of 1000 yen denomination. 16. Fish hooks, several dozen, assorted. External examination: 1. Perforating gunshot wound of neck. A. Distant range entrance wound, right posterior nape. B. Gunshot wound of exit, left anterior neck. C. General trajectory right to left, forward, upward. D. No projectile recovered. 2. Laceration of right lower extremity. A. Full-thickness laceration without foreign body. 3. Focal abrasions and contusions. Probable cause of death: Perforating gunshot wound of neck.
The Cipher in the Dunes. The characteristically unweathered skin of the outsider had carried on this quality into death, so that even in the accompaniment of these two permanent immortals she approached their amorphicity; their acontextuality. Photographs, immensely magnified, of such regions as the iliac or clavicular prominences might have revealed no significant differences from each other or from aerial images of a distant sand-sea: vast parametric landscapes, nothing determinate, everything latent. Even her external wounds, once cleaned and debrided to their proper extents, seemed to exist on a separate plane of definition. Across the obverse of this unwritten vellum the onset of livor had impressed a rigid sanguinity, like the erythematic flush of radiation syndrome or the port-wine face of Sarutahiko.
Preparatory Ablutions. Roving across these nude landscapes of skin and flesh, these tender promontories and esplanades, the doctor moved with all the disaffectation of an exile. In her indifferent wake, with water, with soap, with razor and with sponge, the filmy accretions and coagulations of former life were scythed away, grime and gore expunged by the robotical motions of a schematic misogi. This was a tableau in which obscenity was precluded and voyeurism was impossible. Watching on, Mokou wondered idly if the same was true when Tokoyo-no-Omoikane fucked.
Eternal Night. Hour of the Ox: third quarter. The preparations were complete. The white shroud, with its stark planes of shadow cut into the cold light, gave off the effect of a clandestine tumulus raised upon the Lunar regolith, a forbidden sepulture in the Eternal World. Interred within was the cipher-key to the secret history of the Moon: the torrid scandals of Ame-no-Uzume; the assassination deaths of Ame-no-Hohi and Ame-no-Wakahiko; the psychological recoil of the Kuni-yuzuri, inflicted in the form of collective inurement to atrocity; the traces of green glass in the alluvial plain of the lifeless Ame-no-Yasukawa. Here was the fuze to a weapon with which to destroy the world. She smiled tenebrously, and lowered grey eyes like pitchblende onto the Fujiwara girl still propped against the wall. “Won’t you join us?—For the vernissage.”
Tracts and Channels. Aboveground, the benighted hallways seemed, contra sense, to have deepened and anfractuated; divaricated and ramified, as if in pneumatic parallel to the sanguinary diagram of the vampire’s manse. Ligations and cavitations were formed by adventitions and omissions among the labyrinthine walls; dilapidated backstages intimated themselves like decoloured infarcts throughout. The chambered atmosphere, turbid like disordered pneuma, alternated fever and algor; sudor and mucor, cajoling mercurially with variable currents and countercurrents. And yet here was only the smallest part of the magic of Tokoyo … Through all this the doctor navigated with the singular surety of a rogue pilot.
Inner Landscapes. These meridional derangements of the body architectonic, as it were, had their somatic sequelae made manifest in the technicolour galleries to which they were host. Vast panoramic enluminures, prodigiously magnified, of histological tissue sections produced by microtomy, by radiography, by scintigraphy and magnetography, depicted the innumerable pathoses of the five viscera and six entera in immanely neurotic detail. Observing them at length, it became impossible to distinguish what was a genuine affliction, vice perhaps a nosocomial confabulation or a hallucination from an alien dream. Patterns seemed to twist and shift: one began to sense the grand sweep of hidden worlds revealed within the vitriated flesh. All these were lit through with actinic light, illuminating the extraordinary chymical hues of eosin, fuchsin, haematoxylin, lissamine, alcian, silver, and gentian; throwing psychedelic aciniform caustics on the invariably bone-white walls. Here, in the careening mind of Omoikane of the Eternal World, was an exhibition to surpass the parochial corals and pearls of the Capital of the Moon itself.
Flower of the Moon. Rx. 1. Flos Daturae metelis, eight parts. 2. Radix Angelicae dahuricae, two parts. 3. Radix Angelicae decursivae, two parts. 4. Radix praeparata Aconiti japonici, two parts. 5. Rhizoma Pinelliae ternatae, two parts. 6. Rhizoma Ligustici striati, two parts. 7. Rhizoma Arisaematis japonici, one part. Ingredients commingled in decoction serve to produce anaesthesia, analgesia, hypnosis, tranquillity. Effects are tantamount to acute intoxication by atropine, scopolamine, hyoscyamine. Neurotoxic effect of aconitine counterbalances tachycardia and potentiates anticholinergic delirium.
The True Shape of Human Bones. By four a.m. the disassembly plan for the testing module was fully operational. The concentrated effort of organised and coordinated component removal began on a two-shift basis. All interfaces such as electrical connectors, tubing joints, physical mounting of components, etc. were closely inspected and photographed immediately prior to, during, and after disassembly. From the beginning of disassembly, action was taken to catalogue and place on display the hundreds of items that would be removed from the testing module. The Pyrotechnics Installation Building was assigned for this purpose. A storage room was established to receive and catalogue components as they were removed. Module components were then displayed in a viewing area. The purpose of this area was to permit observers to make visual examination of removed components. During the course of disassembly over one thousand items were removed from Fujiwara no Mokou. A list of all removed components was maintained and distributed hourly. This list identified the location of components in the viewing area as well as those undergoing further demonstrations at other locations.
Sleeping Beauty. Suppose you are put to sleep with a (perfectly titrated) dose of mafutsusan by a certain (brilliant and omnicapable) doctor. During the twenty-four hours that you will sleep under her (attentive and unparallelled) care, she will (briefly and courteously) stir you to wakefulness either once or twice, depending on the toss of a three-bu silver coin. If the coin comes up with the crow motif, you will be awakened only once, at the twelve-hour mark. If the coin comes up with the sunray motif, you will be awakened twice, at the eight- and sixteen-hour marks. After each waking, she will lull you (gently and gracefully) back to sleep with a drug that makes you forget the awakening; and, in either case, you will be awakened and let off without incident at the end of twenty-four hours. Say now that you have just been awakened partway through. With what confidence should you believe that it is the twelve-hour mark? … “The amount of sunlight in the room?” repeated Kaguya, ashing the borrowed cigarette. “As a matter of fact, the Sun hasn’t risen since the day before yesterday.”
Black Sun. Unhurried, the princess followed sedately at her back, her power permitting her to keep pace without exertion even as Mokou’s own ears rang with each step of her adrenaline sprint. As they crossed the lobby and degorged into the forecourt, she craned her aching neck, half expecting to see the kaleidoscopic chaos of an all-out shooting war. Instead she saw the limpid light of dawn, suffusing pink across the firmament, sending pale fingers through the stalks. Yet as she raised herself up in flight she began to recognise she felt no warmth; could hear no animal sound, not of mammal nor of bird, except the frivolous rebel songs of the youkai rabbits; and as the horizon came in view she found she had no instinct to avert her eyes from the sight of the wan disc purporting itself to be the day. Then the illusion broke for her; the orb blackened, putrefying, before her eyes; and she was plunged back into the fulness of night.
Request. “They’ll come, you know. They’ll notice. It’s already half as bright as it was yesterday. And the re-radiant heat is running down. But we need the time. She needs the time. Until noon. She told me … Don’t you realise?—She told me.”
“… You Lunarians play the most tasteless jokes.”
Fuzing Sequences.Therefore did the eight hundred myriad deities assemble in a divine assembly in the alluvial plain of the Ame-no-Yasukawa. They induced the Deity Omoikane, child of the Deity Takamimusubi, to contemplate a plan. They gathered together the long-crying birds of Tokoyo and induced them to cry. They took the anvil-stone from the upper stream of the Ame-no-Yasukawa; they took the metal from the Ame-no-Kanayama. They forged with an august forging the beryllium mirror. They strung with a complete stringing the strings of lithium deuteride. They weaved with a sacred weaving the polystyrene offerings and the polyethylene offerings. They uprooted by the very roots a true-sakaki tree of five hundred branches from the Ame-no-Kaguyama. In the upper branches they hung the beryllium mirror eight spans wide; in the middle branches they affixed the strings of lithium deuteride eight spans long; in the lower branches they suspended the offerings of polystyrene and the offerings of polyethylene.
Brain of the Moon. That such an earliest memory should already contain within it this unsubtle seed of rupture—she could no longer ascribe anything to the fact but the most brutal necessity. Over the grand cursus of her investigations into the pathoses of the body, she had become thoroughly steeped in the knowledge not only of their manifestations but also of their inherent inevitability. For the originating premise of life, the very fundament of its being, is the retreat into the insular province of the self: and such wilful insulation may be successfully maintained only by the continual hormesis of confrontation. Thus the living creature, in order to survive, must be terrorised with its every avenue of failure; the living tissue must anticipate its every possible injury—the body reduce to a wincing stratigraphy of trauma. And the advent of memory, of consciousness, of intellect becomes no escape: the attempt to turn inwards into a neural world, to win some quantum of relief from the immediacy of one’s environs, is outmatched by ever more intrusive forms of pain; ever more invasive routes of suffering. If the Elixir could not bring culmination to this involuntary exhibition of perversities, then what else could possibly accomplish it?
Annihilation. The illusion of the false Sun had served its rôle. The spectators, none the wiser, had gathered in the dissection theatre, the freshly galvanised contingent of scholars, physicians, surgeons, artists, osteopaths, apprentices, and sundry social notables vying for vantage with the more perennial menagerie. Presently there would commence the anatomy lesson of Doctor Yagokoro Eirin. As the preparator drew back the shroud, revealing the otherworldly pale carcase—clamour; commotion; a pacifying red glare—silence fell. Distantly she felt her voice issuing forth: with preamble; with anodynic platitude; next scholastic prolegomenon; next dispassionate elucidation, interminable elucidation, on the inflows and outflows of the five viscera and six entera, but taking the knife in her hand she began to vivify: almost automatically she observed the parting of skin, of fat, of fibre, of muscle, of fascial and serous membrane beneath garnet blade and forceps; next the severing of stroma and disinterring of parenchyme; forth heart, forth spleen, forth liver, forth lung, forth kidney, forth gall, forth bladder, forth stomach; forth the intestinal bowels large and small: vacant thus the three kilns. Vacant thus the body: vacant thus the form: vacant, all vacant, all truly vacant.
When you will have made her a body without organs Outside, the delaying action had been driven back through the gate. The Scarlet maid and the Saigyouji chamberlain took to the corridors, mouseholing time and space alike as they attempted to short-circuit the labyrinth. Though these appeared to leap, baying steels in hand, through wall and wall in turn, they were cancellable factors, if only just: they would never make it before the noon.
then you will have delivered her from all her automatic reactions The Hakurei priestess, however, manifested a constant: she flew directly as if magnetised, her line of flight unerring, even as she whifferdilled past ambush and obstacle—threading, as she always did, inexorably for the denouement. And the final variable, though arriving last, simply reared her broom high, and levelled her casting focus at the roof …
and restored her to her true freedom. Revealed through the obliterated plane of the ceiling was the sky: the true sky, the night sky, imponderably deep, the stars malevolent in their grey lustre. The final arrow of Houyi, perhaps, had been loosed from his vengeant dead hand; perhaps my Lord Watatsumi had stalled the very rotation of the Earth. But the Sage Yagokoro, Omoikane of the Eternal World, made the final incisions apace, laying bare the tendons and skeletal muscle, the underlying modulus of the sacred dance.
Eversion. My eyes deliver me a useless sight. They bring me nothing which I do not possess already; they treat of nothing which I do not already know. I open them only to reveal the Eternal World beyond, where eightfold minds cannot shade its profligate apricity … My spine stands stiff with a useless standing. Had it grown like a cattail reed of the Central Land of Reed Plains, striving sessile for the distant Sun, bent only by the wind and the weight of its wild vulnerary, there should have been no need for that stoppering knot of bone; that stultifying cranial valve, which opens only in laughter and agonia … My hands move with a useless movement. Had they flayed, with backwards flaying, the young piebald colts of Heaven, they would have served no lesser purpose; served a purpose in turn no greater. And, though they may cut and hew and sever and stroke, rive and rend and pare asunder, I will regard them as no instruments; no expedients; no tranquil emissaries of a celestial will: but I will regard them as dancers, sacred dancers, in the ecstasy of possession, and I will take up their frenzied dance with my whole being. I will rage with unruly raging, storm with relentless storming, surge with implacable surging—the ruinous aratama of Tokoyo-no-Omoikane let forth——
Then you will teach her again to dance wrong side out Here was a ritual
as in the frenzy of Ame-no-Uzume for releasing the untrammelled
and this wrong side out will be her real place. intensity of the Sun.