First paragraphs and random excerpts from works-in-progress


She was the Spirit on the Rock under the Moon and for a thousand births, from Blue Night to First Light, she would sway like a Virgin’s cloth set to the wind—her joints were borne on the sound of her heartbeats, with tempos that hastened each time our eyes met, and each time the light slid off her skin and into my eyes, I already knew we were touching. The Creator had decreed the Space between us exist only to keep us apart—but to her, Space was just another Vessel, and we were but a Zygote, awaiting our fated Apotheosis.


First card draw. Benito speaks: “Sandugo is as new worlds come: burning,  hostile. It is the center of the universe it knows. Stars have yet to come into existence, and thus, daylight is a concept equal parts alien and unfathomable. Millennia pass and the land cools. The seas are blood. The first cell is formed.” Benito brings out a card from his hand of five, and slams it onto the once-empty playing field. “I evolve into a Lambalat Progenitor, uni-legged pioneer of the diaspora, venturer into scorching land.”

William smirks. “I’d expect nothing other than an easy play from the reigning—or should I say soon-to-be-ex-champion.”

Benito looks off to the side. “This match is merely a formality. I have foreseen every possible outcome; all of which end in your demise. The quanta are against you, dear opponent.”


This is the He-She story. It has been devised to tell a story that concerns precisely the He-She phenomenon. I chose not to tell the She-She story because of its phonetic similarity to the shishi, Chinese stone guardian lions of years long past. This story is not a Chinese stone guardian lion. Moreover, this is not the He-He story; there is nothing funny about it. It will and shall not be the They-They story no matter how I much wish it were — the They-She story or the They-He story would be wholly shit, and the We-We story would only be pissing off. The She-It story and the He-It story are reserved for the Japanese and I dare not tap into the matter. This is the He-She story, the only existing He-She story in the world, centered around the eponymous He and She, the last remaining He and She in the world.


My name is Jeffrey F. Matabangkilay, Ph.D. in Neurochemistry, vice-chairman of the Workers for Exceptionally Economical Drugs. This introduction is barely a qualification. I see it more as a disclaimer—a warning label, if you may. Do not consume if under 18 IQ. Ill effects include ego-bolstering, liberalist propaganda, and, in any worst-case scenario, rhinitis.

I have learned much in the six years that my colleague, multi-Nobel-Prize-awarded Dr. Willy Watawat, and I have had a steady, albeit clandestine and entirely heterosexual, correspondence on sundry topics that the Workers certainly weren’t the keenest advocates of. Our conversations were long-winded and comprised mostly of emojis and links to Vice documentaries, but interspersed among all the trivialities was a recurring theme that seemed to unite our interests.

Willy Watawat once said that that tragedy of the human brain was that it was a brain, and I supremely concur with this notion. A brain is soft and squishy, and it couldn’t pull its own weight, much less verbalize its stance on legalization. The brain owes a lot to the rest of the human body. So Willy and I thought, “what if—and only if—we could stimulate the brain to evolve?

It is worthy of note that neither of us have had any prior experience in the field of evolutionary biology beyond pretending to have read On the Origin of Species. But we have decided that we will use whatever is at our disposal as Neurochemists to further scientific thought, regardless of ethical bounds.

As the Workers’ codex states, “If it don’t work, throw in more drugs!”


Every dawn, at the precise moment the sun’s tail breaks out of the ocean and begins its routine revolution, the twins would simultaneously begin their own. They would step out of their cabin located at the island’s dawn-edge, and trudge along the median path, hand in hand, following the sun’s trajectory, and, as night falls, finally halt at dusk-edge at the opposite end.

The fact of the matter is, they weren’t actually twins, which is to say that they weren’t related to each other by blood—but that would be an equally dubious statement, for their sisterhood was born of a blood pact but let me keep this simple enough to contain in a swift explanation that needn’t extend to an interminable retelling of tradition:

Alfa, the girl on the right, was born to a family of porters, among a dozen other contracted porter families, whose sole business entailed the dissemination of rations provided by the town’s Benevolent Government. It was an indispensable enterprise as it was much respected but coinciding with this tremendous amount of responsibility arose an equivalent likelihood of fear—of that human element of error that brought itself onto every shipping—of that rudimentary gamble commonly associated with attempts at fair distribution—but most relevantly the fear that the secret to their family bonds would be discovered. If any one of the Benevolent Police were to find out about it, their entire family would be put to the gallows, and all finances the family worked up to save for would be reclaimed by the Government. Once Alfa’s family has saved up enough money, they plan to commission the neighborhood carpenter family construct a raft of palm and reeds, which they would then use to traverse the imperceptibly vast ocean.


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