Fleeting Adventures of Insufferable Romance and Excruciating Fantasy – #025 – The Lover of Ma-Biru (excerpt)

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My head was spinning, and everything appeared in flashes. I squinted for clarity: The world was perpendicular and her face was the point of origin. Her Vantablack hair flowed nape-ward into a clip, from which it burst forth in wild curls, akin to a fire breather’s plume. Her eyes were dense and supermassive, and not even light escaped her gaze. Noticing that I’d partially restored my vision, she brought her hand up, revealing a micro-conflagration caught in between her fore and middle fingers.

“Do you mind?” she asked, as wisps of smoke wrapped about her.

“I didn’t even notice, manah.”

She studied me with a raised brow then took a slow, final drag and threw it backwards into the bonfire. “You’re a bad liar,” she said, her formality beginning to slacken, a change I was certainly not used to. She exhaled up and away from my face, with a simultaneous yawn that betrayed her fatigue. “And don’t call me that, at least for tonight. It’s the new millennium. We’re off duty. You have no obligation to me.” Something about that didn’t feel quite sincere.

“Then you have no obligation to me as well, manah. I’ll be okay.”

She looked at me, half-agape, like no one had ever the nerve to tell her what she could and couldn’t do. She looked like she was about to reply when a voice returned and momentarily ruptured my observable universe. The blurry image of a colleague handed her a basin, which she plopped onto the grass between us.

“Thank you. I can handle this; you may return to the celebration,” she told the blur, briefly reconstructing her rigid demeanor. “And try not to trick any more neophytes. I’m watching you.” The blur bowed in respect and headed back to throng with a larger blur on the other size of the bonfire. Her shoulders slumped back down.

“Just in case you need it,” she said, pushing the basin a little more in my direction. Then, silence, if silence was at all possible in a place like this.


Table of Contents


Fleeting Adventures of Insufferable Romance and Excruciating Fantasy – #020 – How To Find Sunlight (excerpt)

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Go ahead, ask for sunlight. The storeowner will turn her head at your query. She will be standing behind the counter, unmoving as her selection of wares. Assorted doodads and questionable thingies decorate the dingy walls and tables, leaving slight elbow room for movement straight from the entrance to the counter. It’s no wonder this enterprise is often ridiculed. Sunlight is thought to be earned naturally, through constant nurturing, of course. You are aware of this, and ask without falter.

She replies: What kind? We have various sorts of those. 100% pure sunlight is our bestseller; distilled sunlights are currently out of stock but our mini-sunlights are a sufficient alternative. They also come in citrus and menthol for extra pleasure. Pick your poison, good sir.

Ask her if they have the Lightlight in stock. She will ask: Do you require it for any special occasion?

Do not look into her eyes. Say it’s for something personal, after which she will step into the stock room behind her. Her inquisition is protocol but largely avoidable.

You will wait a while, tapping your sandals upon the sandwood, long enough to notice something brilliant flow from the store’s entrance. A glistening mademoiselle, swathed in lunar white―as though she had risen from the surface of the moon and left a crater in her wake. But there was something peculiar about her radiance, ever so minutely an off-color white. Try not to make eye contact―but you will fail regardless. She is so beautiful, you discern, that you nearly forget your business in this establishment. She will make a request, addressing you as part of the staff:

She: The lightest you have, please.

Do not fret, for this was meant to happen. Follow this line of dialog carefully: (she will always have to reply accordingly)

You: It appears we have identical quests.

She: That is irrelevant. Is the storetender unavailable?

You: I have spoken with her; we will soon possess what we yearn.

She: You can’t be certain we seek the same thing.

You: The same means always leads to the same end.

She: Debatable, but we delay; the storetender has returned.

Returning via the backroom door, the storeowner regrettably announces that they are out of stock on Lightlights.

The off-white moongirl will rotate on her heels and exit the store with as much grace as she entered. You will have no other choice but to run after her.


Table of Contents


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.