Fathom 1990



Inside Cover



Gina M. Beaton
S.M. Webb (4)
S.A. Galliah (2)
Joe Blades (3)
Rick Armstrong
Timothy Dansdill
Louann M. R. Scallion
G.J. Munro
Laura L. Beaton
Edward W. N. Meers
Nick Lolordo (2)
Mike Butler
Lisa Michelle Fiander (2)


Yassarian King
Martin Doucette


H.A. Hutchinson


Martin Doucette



The New Plague

     The gun butt struck the door. It’s owner demanded entry. Amid the insane scramble for safety could be heard the incoherent cries of several of the house’s occupants. The dorr was struck repeatedly from the outside. To the heightened stream of consciousness inside there flashed moments of extreme terro amid pleasurable surges of chemical resonance. The constant pounding elicited inhuman shrieks from the swarming figures negotiating a place to hide in a world of deceptively fragile order. This chaotic world on the interior was being assaulted by the very passion it thrived upon. The room pulsed with activity like a cell converting carbohydrates in unison with many other cells in preparation for an assault brought on by a rational fear in an irrational arena. The fear of death was still strong enough to ward off the instinct to self destruct. Outside the pulsing wall of the cell stood the plague ramroding through the oh so semi-permeable membrane. While the scurrying for position continued on the inside, many hid in the corners inhaling the fumes of the excitement, thrashing wildly from its toxicity. The mystic pleasure of life was being instantaneously blended with the unknown ugliness of death. All that was left protecting the ecstasy of existence was the wall of life which at this very moment was being threatened with extinction. No one approached the door save to ineffectually throw a few contents strewn about the cell at the reverberating gate. The infestation was expected to depart on its own. No attempt was made to muster some form of defence against the encroaching terror. Those in the room already touched by the plague acknowledged its presence with trepidation but were nevertheless powerless to resist its onslaught. The few who were innocent of its ravaging power made useless plans of escape instead of viable means for confrontation. One extinguished the lights in a naive attempt to confuse the attacker and the whole world seemed to fall silent as if after a tremendous upheaval of the heavens. All that could be heard was the scratching and whimpering of the cowering animals. As darkness spread, the intruder was offset for an instant. Yellow eyes searched instinctively for an escape. But stronger than the need to escape was the desire to satisfy immediate ends.
     After a considerable effort at thought the attacker, deceptively intact and unable to establish order among the various elements of its mind, screamed and whirled to pursue its destiny. Recklessly, indiscriminately and horrifyingly the shotgun splintered the cell’s barrier and admitted the plague carrier.

Virginia U.S.A. 1989

     “Attention All Units! Shots fired on the corner of Sonrea Avenue and Busard Boulevard. Armed man seen entering three story Brownstone.”
     Officer A    “Car thirteen responding, we’re just a stone’s throw away.”
     Officer B    “Sonrea and Busard, that’s a crack house.”
     Officer A    “Yeah, great way to end a twelve-hour shift.”
     Officer B    “They should trade our shields for gloves. We clean up more filth than the goddamn garbage man.”
     Officer A    “Some days, I feel like and intern lost in the Dark Ages. The Bubonic Plague is just around the corner.”
     Officer B    “This plague is about as bad as they get and it’s gonna get worse cause nobody is doing anything about it.”
     Officer A    “It’s right around this corner. Let’s do it.”
     Officer B    “Here’s where those principles of law classes are gonna pay off.”

     The gun butt rested on the floor of the police car. A neutral tool for the dispensing of justice. A justice understood and developed through centuries of <ratiocination>. Once the initial premise is started, the initial RNA blueprint drawn, the first false conclusion agreed upon, there is built the foundation from which every step in the argument is deduced, every living being takes its essence spiritually and physically, and every principle of human interaction is derived.

     The gun served as a last resort in establishing calm in irrational situations. What is real is the struggle to survive. The cell maintains itself by itself or in cooperation with others in unison, a hierarchy of decision making is established and many cells function as one unit. Deduced the basic tenets of well-being and positive growth bring forth the reed for protection against breakers of the covenant. Aberrations surface as a threat to growth and devour blindly in their bid to survive. Reason has no place here. Reason is unable to subdue the void. Reason teaches one to deny its very existence. Once the plague has ravaged its prey to feed its unyielding hunger, there remains nothing further to feast on. The result is death for all. Life is reduced to an exchange of elements. Life <eoue> is death. Death is life’s prerequisite.

     To serve and protect. Across the border from the Capitol of Democracy, another silent battle raged. Both officers were alert to the threat. Integrity flashed spontaneously out of clear white eyes. The radio call, a metamorphic trigger instantaneously removed the complacent figures of before and replaced them with sobered countenances.
     The plague broker stood amidst the chaos and confusion revelling in the vile atmosphere he created. Nowhere in the room was there any semblance of humanity. The interior, a defiled state covered in buboes. On the crest of the mountain, as yet untouched, humanity remains unconcerned about its vulgar cousins below. Exiting the cell, the plague broker sensed danger and procured a shield from the cell contents. Moving down the steps, it established a hurried defence. Like immune cells engulfing indiscriminately, the two officers attempted to secure the area. Havoc was created, debris cleared and the illness confronted. As the officers separated, the attacker advanced from the doorway. When the officer shone his light, he was assaulted by the hideous creature standing before him hunched over a bleeding hostage. Bodily fluids spewing forth from every chamber of existence. Gone was humanity and left behind were the degraded remnants of a beast. Crouching slightly and cowering behind his shield, the plague carrier swing his gun butt in a show of triumph and demanded, in a feverishly garbled tone, not escape but destruction. The hostage shrieked incomprehensibly. The carriers eyes shone brightly yet they were muddled and yellowed with disease. His paling skin held inside it rivers of poison blood.
     The officer chose reason over force. He must blot out denial of life. Laying aside his weapon, the officer asserted innocently and without hesitation his plea. Emotion betrayed reason. Several minutes passed without hope. Minutes of great anxiety gave way to fleeting seconds of hope coupled with flashings of courage. The remedy was calming. The shotgun barrel dropped from the head of the hostage and lowered steadily. Restoration was in sight.
     The television camera showed the attacker with his left arm around the throat of his hostage. A police officer knelt on one knee a few feet away. The shotgun wielded by the attacker was lowering and levelled at the officer. From what seemed a distance of a billion world and seemingly pulled from the depths of a dead star rang the first shot. A shot from a policeman’s pistol. Almost instantaneously, the camera told the unforgettable image. Tracks of yellow surrounded by orange exit from the barrels of the perpetrator’s shotgun.
     The discharge emptied into the face of reason. The force of the blast staggered the animal and stroked ardently the mind of the hardened. The initial impact forced a diminution of the whole form at once. Every cell was electrified in unison and retreated, mustering the strength to resist the onslaught. Darkness had fallen. Only the limiting form could be observed. The form froze for an instant, sunk and twisted for the blow. Swinging to lift itself from its drawn back position, the animal sprang reflexively forward at the empty air. The body heaved forward barely enough to elongate itself. Spontaneous energy gone, the figure collapsed. Limbs flailed the air and scraped the ground. The form crashed into the ground and reverberated with the last messages of life. Death came inaudibly.
     The red shotgun butts lay near the two bodies littered with holes. The triggers were pulled, not squeezed.



last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul