Discover more from Newsletter for the Dispossessed
bonus content || 'Garbage Out', short fiction by Sasha Brown
featuring original art by Kimberlee Frederick || content warnings: body horror, insects
Bonus content includes interviews with our writers, and pieces we love but which didn’t quite fit with our issue themes.
xo, Alice, Sarah & Kaisa
Subscribe to get more uncomfortable writing drip-fed to your inbox.
GARBAGE OUT, short fiction by Sasha Brown
Where we went wrong is, we didn’t realize how full of garbage my body was. The nanobot was supposed to remove some arterial plaque and poop it back out in a day or two, a routine procedure. A month later it’s still tooling around in there, gobbling cholesterol and microplastics. The problem is it’s getting so big.
I mean, of course it’s growing. It eats the bad things in your system; that’s the point. The doctors just never planned for a case where it’s pretty much all bad.
I can see my nanobot now, although I’m not sure “nano” still applies. Bulging under my skin; burrowing through my veins like a cartoon mole in a garden. A feathery natatorial leg reaches into an arm pimple from behind and scoops the sebum out.
It hurts, is the problem. Well, the biggest problem is that by the time it’s done eating the problems, there’ll be nothing left of me. Already my skin sags, flaccid and surprised. I think it ate one of my kidneys.
I’m trying to communicate with it. “Outside,” I whisper, caressing its busy hump as it rummages in my abdomen. “Do you know how much garbage there is outside? You can eat forever.” I think it understands, on some rudimentary level. We’re so intimate, after all. It pauses when I talk to it, as though listening.
Now I feel it climbing up my body. Not in my esophagus but outside it, like a kid climbing a rope in gym class. I spasm momentarily as it squeezes through my neck and then the pain is blinding; it’s in my head; oh god my brain, my brain—but it passes. Oh, that’s better. Did it take my pain receptors for garbage? Has it eaten that part of me? I think so, but I feel quite calm about it. It’s in the mirror, behind my eye, a black pulsing mass, and now here it comes. All things considered, my mouth would have been better than my eye socket, I think, as my cornea strains and pops and the creature clambers out with a little splash of vitreous humor, its claws grasping my face to haul its swollen black body from the crater. But I can’t bring myself to mind very much. I feel so clean inside, is the thing. Clean and pure and free. It’s free too. We’re both free.