Swimmers Club

6th February 2017


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Treading Water

Check which is the shallow end and note the point where you will be out of your depth.


Who: Ben DeVos
Where: Philadelphia, USA
What: Writer

I Want to Believe

Two months ago I was sitting in the backyard when I witnessed a stunning explosion in the forest outside my house. A green light filled the atmosphere, and there was a commotion like a thousand spirits screaming in the night. I will never forget how the asteroid sounded during the collision. It sounded like a fist punching through the Earth. I rose from my hammock and hazarded into the forest to see if I could determine where the asteroid laid its impact. It was not that hard to find. I only had to go in the reverse direction of the animals that were running out of the forest, wailing, howling, barking, and tweeting in a cloud of terror.

I forged ahead, upstream through a river of frightened fur, until at last I arrived at the smoldering spot in the forest where a crater the size of a Buick lay. The smell of that smoke was unlike anything I’d experienced in my entire life. It was the smell of a goblin’s breath hot on your back as he chases you through a warm sewage system. In the middle of the crater, there was an egg, the color of an almond. I ventured further into the impact zone, though I knew that I should have called a scientist instead. It was as if that egg had a hypnotic hold on my psyche and I couldn’t help but walk toward it.

The very top of the egg looked like the protuberance of a baboon’s buttocks, fleshy and round. What happened next changed me forever.

The egg split open, and out of it emerged an alien, who would one day be known as Lady Gaga. She looked as if she had a high-temperature fever at full throttle. Her eyes were popping out of their sockets, slowly receding into her head as a green ooze poured from her mouth like radioactive saliva. Her face had an excruciatingly neutral expression. She didn’t speak any Earthly language, but when she did make noises, her voice resonated in a mezzo-soprano range that left me speechless.

Lady Gaga could convey an array of emotions without speaking. For example, I knew she was sad and hungry when she lay supine in the dirt, eating ferns with hot green tears dripping from the whites of her eyes. She slowly crept away, and I followed her until we reached a ranch on the outskirts of the forest. She appeared happy when a cow approached and proceeded to tear it apart with her long nails and teeth like a human blender. Her roar of victory was deafening.

She made a dress to wear out of the raw beef and continued on her journey. I couldn’t hear anything after that, but it seemed like Lady Gaga was singing by the way her mouth moved incessantly and her throat vibrated like there was a pure wave massager in her torso. It was hard to tell if she was a monster, or if she was just born that way. In any case, I was frightened for my life.

I continued to follow her until she reached an underground cave beneath a highway overpass. Lady Gaga’s glowing body lit the cavern. I tried to keep up, though my eyesight was continuously straining and deteriorating as we walked. It got to the point where I could not breathe due to the brutally suffocating smell coming from inside of the cave, so I idly tried to find my way out with most of my senses in jeopardy. All I had left was touch, and with each time I felt the wall, it seemed like my body grew more and more numb, until I couldn’t feel anything at all. I was anesthetized on the outside and filled with regret on the inside for following Lady Gaga without thinking about the possible consequences. Then everything went black, and not even my thoughts could penetrate the obscurity.

When I woke up, I was in my backyard as if I’d never left. I thought maybe it was a dream, but then remembered the smells, the sensations, and knew that what I’d seen was real. I couldn’t explain it, what Lady Gaga was. She was a species that neither the world nor I seemed ready to accept. I wanted to tell everyone what I’d seen, but I knew nobody would believe me. So I kept it to myself, watching and waiting for more like her to emerge from the forest. But no more aliens appeared. None like her anyway.

Benjamin DeVos (b. 1992) is a writer from Philadelphia. He works as an overnight custodian and enjoys listening to gentle aural soundscapes while cleaning. Caffeine and crossword puzzles are what inspires his dreams. Insanity is what inspires his writing.

This story is taken from Ben's book Madness Has a Moment and Then Vanishes Before Returning Again which was out last year on Dostoyevsky Wannabe.