(Thanksgiving) The Metal That Longs to Move (1 of 5)

[The Island of the Centipede – Chapter Five]

Max is smiling.

He’s leaning back and looking at the horizon of the sea — for it is too deep to say he properly sees the sky.

He says, “Do you know, I have organs?”

Red Mary is looking at him.


“I have almost all of them,” Max says proudly. He feels them with his mind. His lungs are breathing. They’re breathing chaos, but that’s okay. He’s getting pretty used to that. His heart is beating. His intestines are all there, thank God.

Have you ever thanked the world for intestines?

They’re actually surprisingly cool, and almost entirely organic.

“Yes,” says Red Mary. “I put them back.”

“That’s great.”

“I repeat,” she says. “Do you know Meredith? Because if you do not, you will die; and if you lie, you will die painfully.”

“Exploded girl? The chaos god?”


Red Mary’s voice is clotted with grief and anger.

“I’m honestly a bit more surprised,” says Max, “that you know her.”

“She is anathema to me,” says Red Mary. “She is abhorrent. She, having surrendered her boundaries and scattered her spirit throughout the world, regrouped it; made a cyst of it; strives, still, to reconcile being everywhere and in one place. She is the antithesis of my song.”

“Love?” suggests Max.

“Sometimes in the deeps I breathe her,” says Red Mary. “Sometimes I comb my hair and I hear her song. I taste her in the particles of the sea.”


“Sight,” says Red Mary.


“I have seen her,” says Red Mary. “And that is more and less of a thing than love. And because I have seen her, I will help you, Max, who knows her, though it cost my life.”

“Do you need a spleen for anything?” Max says.

“I’m not going to eat you, Max.”

“No,” says Max, hesitantly. “I mean, are they . . . are they important?”


“No reason,” says Max, his face burning, and he begins to swim back upwards towards the Good.

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




It is rusted. It is broken. But it is not defeated.

It scrapes its surface against its other surface. It does not give up.

It is a thing that moves.

It is a thing that longs to move.

It jitters.


It falls back to where it began.

There is something looking at it.

It trembles under the awareness of that gaze. It converts — shame? Uncertainty? Aversion? — into heat. Knowing itself seen it begins to burn.

The metal that longs to move begins to warp.

Click. Scrape. Scrape.

It falls back to where it began.

It is hot. It is broken. But that time was better than the last.

A wildness rises into motion.

Click. Scrape. Scrape.

It manages a full rotation and then another.

Motion breeds interpretation.

An impulse rises from the rotation of the thing.

I am suffering.

It means something terrible. It means something horrible. But the tiny pieces that grind together to make that meaning are terribly excited to have moved.

Click. Scrape. Scrape.

It is bobbing up and down now like a parrot about to receive a treat.

It is trembling with its excitement.

Click. Scrape. Scrape.

It is moving.

It is burning and it is moving and each rotation is just a tiny bit freer from the heat.

An impulse rises.

I am in Hell.

It is surrounded by slag and spikes and rings. They are in doldrums, caught in the absence of wind. They are crumpled in about that thing that has relearned to move and they are still.

But a wind is rising.

The ring that it scrapes against begins to move.

The ring catches the shivering hunger of that first turning spike.

It scrapes against an outer ring; and a balance shifts; and heavy things fall and light things rise and wings beat and everywhere there is a dazzling chaos of form and pain.

Blades cut against blades.

The machine spasms.

Spikes shift.

Hooks rise and fall.

A control system awakens to the knowledge that it can see. Sick and mad with longing it spins itself into motion.

It sees a shivering blur of storms.

It sees the inside of a heart.

It sees a shivering blur of storms.

It sees the inside of a heart.

It loops inside and outside and back and forth and cries out sight and carries the data of one thing to the awareness of the other.

A ring of knives on a wire cord untangles itself from the engine.

Inside out and upside down, it thinks: Max is dead.

It drags itself along an inner circuit. Bits of fire dance along its edges. It skitters off of the substance of a frictionless sphere.

Something is watching it.

With aching and terrible relief, it notices — for the first time in so very long — that it has been in Hell.

Can you imagine how good that must feel?

How incredible it must be?

The shock of that first agony after all those years of still?

And Sid turns his gaze to the light of Good that stares in at him in his place of imprisonment, and he smiles his siggort smile, and he says, “You will die, you know. You will die; you will die; the world will die; and I will not hold back.”

Once he would have held back.

Even with Max dead.

He would have held back. He is Sid. He’s a slacker. He’s the kind of vivisecting horror who’d sit in a box for a good ten years rather than put anybody out.

But not now.

Right now, he’s thinking that if there’s any hope in all this vale of tears, it’s that suffering might transform; and in the ashes and the ruin of his life, twisted and tangled up in the borderland of the place without recourse —

For he is not properly in that dread valley while there is something that sees him, even if it should be the Good —

He gives his trust to Martin.

He unlimbers a spike of siggort back into the world, before the night, before the dawn.

I’ll cut out your heart, he tells the Good.

He almost cannot think through the power of the elation of the Good, to see an isn’t returning to the world.

And it says: Come get some.

Max sets out in his catamaran to bring this virtue to an end.
He’s owned his crime but he can’t make it right.
His crime is a poison.

Max’s head breaks water.

He gasps in air splattered with the foam of the sea.

He breathes.

Above him the sky is livid with long strands of siggort sharpness. Sid is unfolding like a labyrinth and he is cutting open the world and the sea.

The eye of the goodblow pierces Max. It sees Max. It knows him and its knowing burns up his life.

It is patterned like a tapestry. It is leaf’d like a tree. It is diffuse and strange because it is being cut and the leaves of Good conflict against the cutting wires of a dharma inexpressible in the world.

And perhaps what Max should be thinking is: how is it possible?

How is it possible that I knew him all this time, and I did not know?

But he is missing his spleen and his thoughts are off their temper and instead he can only look up at his friend, who has shed the better half of his imprisonment, and say, “Thank God.”

To say: Thank God.

To say: Thank God.

And: Welcome, o my love, into the world.

He thinks these two things first, and willingly puts off a plan to stop Sid from destroying everything until thought three; or possibly, in practice, thought four, as he is still rather concerned about his spleen.

14 thoughts on “(Thanksgiving) The Metal That Longs to Move (1 of 5)

  1. It is diffuse and strange because it is being cut and the leaves of Good conflict against the cutting wires of a dharma inexpressible in the world.

    So we finally get a definitive answer on what kind of entities siggorts are. Well, sort of.

  2. Oh no! Without a spleen, Max is significantly more vulnerable to septicaemic infections!

    And that’s assuming he can talk Sid down from destroying the Earth!

  3. I woke up last night and was laying in bed and was thinking about http://imago.hitherby.com/archives/000505.php and this episode.

    if sid is something that cannot express his dharma, than he can’t make results. he exists, so sid.exe is obviously running, but the universe isn’t running sid.dll in it’s system32 folder so it can’t do anything meaningful. but he makes other apps crash because of it, bad sid! stop causing memory access violations!

    So sid is an isn’t, since that’s what an isn’t is. And Martin is wrong about it being a victim’s word, since Sid can’t just go install sid.dll because he doesn’t have administrator’s rights to the universe.

    Martin claims to, but he’s more like a script kiddy than a hacker or a admin. he doesn’t have access and can’t hack the linux core so he’s stuck with using the tools he has. Or maybe he just needs to reboot but is afraid to since that would destroy the universe and start it over again.

    but if isn’t actually exist than Buddha’s law should have locked them away, not freed them. Did Buddha’s law come before chronos opened the gate and pulled the siggorts out of the box? that doesn’t seem right, i’ll have to check the timeline again.

  4. Whoa, seriously mixed metaphor there GoldenH. You shouldn’t be referring to Windows and Linux in the same sequence like that.

    But I think that you’re mixing up two events on a more serious level. Sid wasn’t always an isn’t; siggorts are intrinsically not isn’ts. Sid only become an isn’t when Max pulling him into Hell. Now that he’s escaping from Hell — through the intercession of reliance on Martin, that suffering will transform, and with his initial boost through the observation of the Good — he’s becoming an is again.

    I think that it’s supposed to be a general characteristic of siggorts, whether an individuals they are isn’ts or not, that their dharma is inexpressible in this world.

  5. Sometimes, and especially lately, I find these entries so fascinating that I keep rereading them. I am simultaneously in awe of the quality of your writing and very moved emotionally.

  6. I think Rich was agreeing with me about the nature of siggorts, and further stating that being inexpressible in the world is not the same as being an isn’t. At the moment, Sid seems to be rather actively expressing his dharma, and the result is that the world is getting all cut up. This is possibly why siggorts are apparently intrinsically problematic, in the same way as woglies are. If woglies are the contradictions of the world, siggorts are the Godel sentences; you can’t get there from here without changing what “here” is, and even if you do that you just get a new crop of siggorts.

  7. That’s right, Luc. My comment 4 above is hideously mixed up; I should either write comments when less tired or have my neurology checked out or something.

    Basically, Sid became an isn’t, but not all siggorts are isn’ts, even though all siggorts apparently have dharma inexpressible in the world. If Sid had started out as an isn’t by virtue of being a siggort, then when Max pulled him into Hell, nothing would have really changed for Sid.

  8. All that aside, if Sid pulls it off (and there’s still a world for this to be meaningful), I bet that’s worth some serious points in Siggort Town.

    You know, Bidge or whomever will be all “hey, why haven’t you vivisected anyone lately?”, and Sid can snap back with “I vivisected GOD dude, now go away.”

  9. I am worried for Ink then. If Sid kills God before she can, she’ll be ever so sad.

    (Given the story is set in 2004 and we’ve had years of Legends transmitted since, I’m less concerned about the world blowing up.)

  10. So, if an isn’t is something that can’t express its dharma meaningfully, and siggorts have dharmas that can’t be expressed, why are they not naturally isn’ts? Is the difference that an isn’t is something that is specifically prevented from expressing its dharma- that is, something that *should* be able to express that dharma given an ideal state of affairs, while siggorts ideally should not express their dharma in the world that we live in?

    Also, don’t most of the other siggorts seem to regard murder as their dharma, or is that just a hobby?

  11. I think it’s more siggorts are something that does not fall within the set of “things in the world”, but do fall within the set of “things that exist”.

  12. The latest entry comparing Sid to the Buddha seems to support the idea that a siggort is something that can’t express its dharma without breaking the world in some way. When a siggort comes into contact with the rest of the world, one or the other has to give way.

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