Ink In Re Dyslexic Agnostics (I/IV)

[The Island of the Centipede – Chapter Two]

There is a house improbably poised above the mouth of Sukaynah.

Sukaynah gnashes and chomps.

Above the mouth, which is five times as wide as the house is long, there are the rock walls that arise from Sukaynah. From the walls project branches, as from a tree. On some of these branches there sits the house.

Cross-legged in front of the house, sitting on a tree, and looking very sulky indeed, there is the werewolf Tep.

He is wearing jeans and a shirt.

He is young, because he is always young, because he regenerates when hurt.

A fig newton on a fishing hook hits him on the head.

He tears it from the hook.

“You’re not Ned,” he says.

Savagely, he eats the cookie. Well, the cookie-like object. It’s more than just a cookie; fig newtons are fruit and cake.

Not long after, the entire region begins to thrash.

A fifteen-year-old girl falls on Tep.

She knocks him down. Savagely, his head swells. Savagely, his eyes roll back.

“Pardon,” says the girl. She sits up, on his stomach. She is wrapped in a fine membrane, like a mummy’s cloths, which she efficiently begins to shred. Underneath she wears overalls and a blouse. She looks around. Then she stands up. She looks down at Tep.

“Are you God?” she asks.

“Gr,” he says, by way of being a werewolf instead.

Crack the earth.
Stir the sea.
From the west comes an outpouring of virtue to make all things right.

The Island of the Centipede

The girl gets to her feet.

“My name’s Ink,” she says. “But everyone calls me the imago. It’s ’cause I’m covered in intangible bugs.”

Tep sniffs the air.

He can’t smell any bugs, but since they’re intangible, he can’t dispute their presence either.

Ink scrubs shreds of membrane out of her hair.

“Go away,” Tep says.


“You’re not Ned,” Tep says.

“Who’s Ned?”

“A dog.”


“He’s coming back,” says Tep. “Then we’ll fight. I’ll tear his throat out!”

“That’s mean!” says Ink.

Tep shrugs.

Ink walks towards the house.

“That’s Abel’s house,” says Tep. “You can’t go in.”

“Oh,” Ink says.

Ink scurries to the window. She looks in with hands cupped between the glass and her eyes.

“But he’s got a journal,” she says. “And bones!”

“He’s a little sick,” admits Tep.

“He’s choking.”


Tep stands next to Ink. Ink points in. “See, his skull’s totally fallen off his spinal column. A man can’t breathe, like that.”

“He’s fine,” says Tep.

Tep looks sullen.

“A body don’t need to breathe,” he says, after the fashion that a perpetually regenerating werewolf might. “Or have flesh.”

“Fair point,” Ink agrees. “Anyway, it’s all right if I go in. I’m the imago.”

“No,” says Tep.

He positions himself sternly before the door.

Very reasonably, Ink says, “I have to find whomever’s on the throne of the world and kill him. How can I do that if I’m not allowed to go where I please?”

“It’s rude,” says Tep.

“It’s rude?”

“Going in just because Ned’s not here,” Tep says. “That’s like finding somebody’s feet laying around and stealing their shoes.”

Ink pops the window glass out of its frame with her elbow and, as it falls to the floor, squirms in.

“Damn it!” says Tep.

Completely unable to figure out what to do, he goes in after her.

The Tower of the Gibbelins
by Abel Clay

It being unlikely that I shall ever return myself to world and sound, owing to my indisposition and the difficulty of the trail, & wishing as I do to leave some record of this extraordinary journey to those who will follow me, herewith I assemble my various notes and hold forth the history of how I came to this unlikely occupation.

March, Wednesday 16, 1887 I made the acquaintance of Bernard, a well-met gentleman who spoke exuberantly of the chaos extending westwards from California & wherewith fashion one might apprehend it & his most peculiar claim that in its navigation a man might prevent the recurring abuses practiced upon the innocents of the world. I fear that I laughed at his words and took him a fool but I am Certain now that he shall be more well known even than Mr. Tackitt and held to greater regard in history than Mr. Cleveland and his gang of thieves.

October, Friday 5, 1888 my Emma took ill & rapidly wasted & soon followed Lily, Charles & my good neighbor Hezekiah, whereupon I first recognized the tyrannous Nature of that Lord that heretofore I had esteemed. Ruined with grief I decried Him in chapel but He offered no response & echoed hollowly from the ceilings whereupon I found myself desolate.

“I’m sorry,” says Tep.

He’s looking around at the walls. He’s very apologetic and flapping his hands. Then he looks at the bones of Mr. Clay.

“Grr,” he growls low.

Then, mercurially, he switches back to apologetic. “I’m sorry. She fell in.”

He touches Mr. Clay on the shoulder, causing the bones to fall apart.

“It’s all right,” says Ink.

She’s reading Abel’s journal.

“I think he wanted to kill God too,” she says. “But maybe it was a different God.”

“Only one God,” says Tep.

Ink chews on the end of Mr. Clay’s pen. “You say that, but you’re not the one who has to cope with the consequences of linguistic imprecision.”

“Out!” says Tep.

He hurries her out. She doesn’t protest because she’s busy reading.

“Nobody disturbs Mr. Clay until Ned gets back,” Tep says, “no matter what falls.”

Sukaynah writhes.

From the west comes a sound: Whump!

The house, Tep, and Ink slide slowly and majestically into Sukaynah’s maw.

Tep folds his arms.

Tep looks stoic.

“I didn’t do it!” Ink protests.

Sukaynah swallows. Down the throat they go; and

“Oh, hey,” says Ink, pointing.

“Oh,” says Tep.

“Is that Ned?”

“. . . think so,” says Tep. “His skull, anyways.”

There’s a pause.

“Dyslexic agnostics are so lucky,” says Ink.

10 thoughts on “Ink In Re Dyslexic Agnostics (I/IV)

  1. WOW!

    :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

    I told you all Ink was real.

    :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

    Another fantastic post. The version of the punch line I have heard before has him being an insomniac as well, so that he can sit up all night wondering whether or not there is a dog.

  2. I’m guessing (hoping, anyway) that falling into Sukaynah’s maw is not going to be enough to kill our Ink.

    “…find whomever’s on the throne of the world and kill him.”

    Whoa. The plot thickens!

    Is that bit about bugs an homage to A Scanner Darkly?

  3. Uh oh. Is Martin still a rebel against the natural order, or is he going to graduate to a place on the throne before Ink makes it to the top? At any rate, he certainly seemed to be the boss of Ink.

    And this may answer the old question posed by someone in “go deeper” about why Ink was always depicted as going *upwards* towards Hell (and initially, through a Tower, too). It’s a legendary version of what she’s going to have to do to get to the top of the Gibbelin’s Tower, perhaps.

    Anyways, congratulations Ninjacrat (

  4. There’s something very evocative about Ink being covered in intangible bugs. Is that like writing? I mean, we’re writing on the imago. And Ink’s name is Ink.

    I’m not sure what I think about this, but my subconcious must think something about it. Here’s the middle part of a poem, “Out of Order”, that I previously put in comments here:

    The paper nest builds
    Each day, the journal written
    And the termites eat it
    Round and round
    Write, eat
    The pen makes termite spots
    The termites leave marks
    And trees just struggle through
    On the blessed day
    The termites will evolve
    A special caste of inkers
    To imprecate the ants
    And the writer
    Will eat the nestbook

  5. Ink = Imago
    * Brain ‘splodes *

    This is one of those things that, in hindsight, I wish I had seen coming. But didn’t, and probably couldn’t. And if I could revise history to have seen it coming, I’d probabily wish I hadn’t.


    * Regenerates Brain *

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  7. Wa-hay! Hello, Ink. Goodbye, Ink. I’m sure that’s that we’ll see of _her_. ;)

    …Kill God, indeed. It’s good to have goals and all that, but I’m staring to think Ink brings it on herself. (Is it revenge for casting her into hell? The God that did that wasn’t.even.real. Unless it was Martin, sort of. Either way, fundamentally not killable.)

    Was Clay’s diary supposed to be an ominous thing? Like, ‘Our Gang aren’t even the first to try and revolutionise the world, so how will they succeed where others failed?’ On the other hand, Our Gang seems much better provisioned, being largely made of gods, superhumans and freaks.

    Passing thought: Waiting for Dogot?

    Passing thought: How did they not overhear Martin and Sukaynah’s conversation?

    I wonder how much Ink remembers? (Back to the mirror breaking, maybe.) Does the fact that she’s trying to kill a maybe nonreal god mean that she doesn’t understand the line between reality and fiction? (No, she recognises herself as the Imago, so she’s obviously caught onto some of the situation). Who wants to be the one to tell her that none of her previous suffering mattered because it wasn’t real? Or did it become retoractively significant when she was instantiated? Or [Martin logic], was it necessary for her to suffer in order to become real?[/Martin logic]

    Wait, wait. Clay’s journal was a journal of person who explored a mysterious tower and evironments, only to be lost to tragedy. SOUNDS FAMILIAR. Was Ink’s legend ‘based on the true story’?

    Intangible bugs? I bet that’s just Ink bullshitting up explanations for her name, like she did when people called her Ink.

  8. Well, I did see it coming, but I admit I didn’t think the imago would be it – if only because it seemed a little too pat.

    But y’know, none of that matters, ’cause Ink’s back and provisionally real – within the context of the Hitherby world, anyway! :)

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