Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Author:Jeff VanderMeer
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux


HOW I TRIED TO COPE

Although we did not know if the Magician was dead or alive, chief among our ills now seemed Mord’s proxies, reeling across the city in the aftermath of the missile attack. I had so many terrible dreams connected to the proxies, terrible thoughts, in those times, and couldn’t distinguish which were mine and which were imposed from some other source. For that’s the way I felt: that I was not entirely myself. It seemed for a time that the Mord proxies forced all action and everything came out of their machinations. Even Borne’s rejection of my books became part of the proxies’ plan, because I had lost my mind. I was haunted by dreams of the proxies in which they now flew as well, and that the space in the roof above the swimming pool had opened up into a yawning chasm and the Mord proxies had swooped down into that space to talk to Wick, and that Wick plotted with the proxies to take over the Balcony Cliffs from me and Borne.

Drunk-stumbling in their own blood-murder, Mord proxies growled from fang-filled snouts a language that none had ever heard before, articulated even as they slaughtered, thoughts and desires that had never been expressed in the city, that were beyond even Mord. From the entrails left behind we tried in vain to divine what they meant, what sense could be made of … any of it.

Mord had never spoken except to roar or rage, had said no intelligible word. Yet these emissaries in his image—breaking down walls, smashing through doors to get to the live flesh-meat beyond—they spoke continually. They would not or could not stop speaking. Sometimes muttered. Sometimes huffed out or choral, together, from deep in their throats. We knew of their passage through the world by this entangled, glottal speech that we could not interpret. No translation existed, and there was no intermediary to explain. So since we could not understand anything but their actions, we resolved to snuff out these proxies, to halt their stream of speech as they desired to halt our own, did not care what phase in Mord’s rough dominion they might mark.

But, mostly, we hid from them, avoided them, tried not to be killed by them. We disguised our scent, disguised our home even more. Ventured out less. With most of his clients dead or gone into hiding, it took little to convince Wick to remain behind our barricades.

During this time, I would wake in the middle of the night, startled from sleep, with the memory of Mord’s giant carious eye, shining like an evil sun, replacing the real sun, and shining over my bed, only to find Borne instead, watching me, in need of comfort I believed, of someone to talk to.

I gave Borne what I had to give, even when exhausted, because I never wanted to lose track of him again. I feared that more than anything. I feared that he would slowly merge with the



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