It was the beginning of yet another end. It didn’t like this; for one, being an it. There was a scream that resounded through the bubbling bog as it recalled, violently, its true life as a sprawl us and them and I, ever-enmeshed, if not singular. It realized that scream ripped from its own lungs and it screamed again. Come up for air. But it couldn’t stop screeching. Stupid. Hands flailed for a mere moment before extending out, through the mud-green water a perfect mimicry of the human, swimming. Its astuteness was a point of pride. It told itself this as the surface became further rather than closer. LEGS. FUCK–is what it must have thought. For in a moment, its body unbent from the fetal position; snapped straight in a clean line, and in just a moment reaching the surface became no trouble at all. Sssstupid stupid stupid stupid STUPID. AH. AH. I WILL BREAK THIS THING CLEAN IN HALF, is what it thought, clambering out of the murky water, AND THEN MYSELF WITH IT. Hate’s shivering hot tooth plunged inward and the thing ceased to swim in the brief moment of agony where it discovered what it felt to be so pitiful, four-limbed, singular, quiet. 

It started drowning again. Still was too much gelatin in its calcified husk of a head. Too much meat and not enough sprawling nerves, synapses; maybe all the ones it had were left wanting in their solitude. In grunts and cries and groans it pushed its way up the murky murky water hit its head on the driftwood screamed again again and when its stupid stupid head breached the water it spluttered and coughed and groaned like a falling trunk of tree onto the shore. The mud was slippery and it almost fell back in. It learned to curl its cracking appendages-of-appendages like an animal’s claws. It stayed on the ground. For good measure it slammed its head, and then cringed at the squish of wet peat and bone. The air was thin and slippery and did not cling to the skin membrane. It considered jumping back in the bog just to feel the water once again. But it shivered incessantly, and to the point of paralysis. Quivering in place, it attempted the husk’s impulse of breathing through the dual cartilaginous orifices–as though it even needed to. The skin membrane was more opaque than expected, but not very much, and invitingly damp. Hobbling, bonelessly, it swung leg by leg to sit on a stump of trunk.

On the stump it sat and sat, and, leaning back, almost arching over the wood, planted its back flat on the surface, and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited and waited and waited and waited and you are all so green under the gills. Stand up. 


… Nothing else in the body liked that very much. Yet, as everything came from something, a piece of their spawning grounds remained with them forever, and it was this voice that would guide them on the journey back. Every sprawl had to return eventually.  It wobbled, blearily, back up, in an attempt at a single body, sitting. 

No! Stand up. Be not weak in the knees, the moss below does not want you. The dermis prohibits easy transmission of matter. 

You will die waiting. Do not spread out. Stay sturdy. Bend only to snap back in. Cartilaginous.


Boneful. Calcified, secure. You know naught of this; I do. We are nerve and this body our vertebral tunnel. Knuckle bowl. Cranium jelly. Pelvic; spore.

Don’t understand.

Most coherent I can be is a few sentences before I transmit what all of you put in me. 

No more

No hope. Not for me. Learn. Help me. Learn.

It could not learn more than it always did–never-ending dialogue, direct neural transmission, running in rivers throughout. One taking precedence over all hurt. It hurts

The body creaked up. 

It had no more voice to scream with in the thin air so it played with the hinges of its jaw because that was what the body wanted in pain. For human flesh is bound to singularity it learns to stand upright on two legs so as to distinguish itself from the watery dirt it came from, but the hosts were not human and lacked in the teachings of the femur and the fibula and so crawled on all fours, and even the coordination for singular motion of singular limbs then gave cause for Host through Body to jaw-hinge some more. Where.

Shut up. It hurts me too.

The body learned singularity in singularly stopping. 


Even through coordinated refusal an uncontrollable ripple in pulse twitched the middle leftmost finger forth. Another ripple generated, not top-down but from within, and it learned fear. It crawled ahead, dragged bellyfirst across the tempting, soft, odorous earth. Hosts discovered more and more delights within. Barren leatherlike stomach. Cavities stretching inwards to the brain meat. Vulval folds resembled cousins. The body was as perfect as any human body could ever be. Feeling out, it questioned the remaining fat beyond the rib bones, another ripple in the conscience.

Reservoirs. Fat for the body, to stave off chill and death. Milk if with child. Host with a capital H shuddered them off. Keep moving.

hosts in lowercase hummed suddenly, pleasantly, at the foreignness of the human body, paradox, self-contained and self-replicating. Its skin dispersed light in the same delicious brown way of the earth; only a well-timed clench of ligament stopped it from using teeth to rip a bite off to bring inside with it. The crawl was taking too long. Trapped in the body, it fingered at meager muscle tissue, subcutaneous fat near wholly melted in the belly-scraping motion, scraps to chew for now; fingered, then, at the choice to call it ‘fingered’, and it began to shudder and shudder and shudder again until UGH. Again? And again and again and again and again and again and again and a


gain and a gain and again and a gain Piteous things. Babies. Infants! Sorry soup of children!

What is ‘sorry’gain and again and again and again and a gain and again and More than you can comprehend. again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and aStop It.gain and again and again STOP. STOP.

Do you know what this is crawling towards?

                 Pool                       Mother                               Death            One

Release                                                     Soup                            Birth

                 Meat                      Mud                   Spore



And again, and again, and again. Yes. Now, move.

It moved as one. It moved deliriously. Lifting one appendaged appendage after the other, such simple builds for such suffocatingly self-contained beings, it crawled, arm-hand-knee-leg-arm, once-near-concave hominid belly, now full with anticipation, with wandering tendrils, mycelium mimicry, sloshing heartily along with want. An odor of stinking sex called back on a primal memory in the body of bodies to which it clicked its jaw and crinkled its brow-skin in delight. The bone was not of much use where speed was needed and so they let it break, pulsing beneath the epidermis in a roil that would roll the arms and belly how they needed them to move. Kin sprang around the moss, surrounding, enveloping, inviting, directing, leading to the precipice of a slop of bodies big and small directed by more of the us and them and I who were ready to die, take root, begin again. Primordial stew, the promise of maturation, nativity and burial, it dragged itself forth and slammed head-first into the acidic, muddy, slog of the bog. 

Writer | Laura Almeida ’24 |
Editor | Rachel De La Cruz ’26 |