Published in Overland Issue 248 Spring 2022 · Fiction Fiction | Aduantas refuses after Foiseach dies Dan Hogan If you saw me munging on a hypertrophied human arm in the wee hours behind a sand dune, no you didn’t. The itch is hereditary. If you like this, you might also like the headache from eating ice cream too fast. What of the muted sun inherited? The hour dispenses its smallest trifles to its biggest minutes. The troubles accumulate. Bin night eve. Thursday. Late night shopping. The night is but a kitten. Meow. See also: meow. A collision in kahoots. I have seen cars parked in scarce clumps and nobody actually knows how to count to ten. Don’t take my word for it. Check out the oblong allotments. White boxes painted on black asphalt. Describe zero as both nothing and a mouth. Envelopment. What is a car park if not the reaper’s shadow julienned? Myriad ways. So on and so what? The evening arranges its droplets on the sky’s mug. Hands free. Portending the spectre of an ending, I enter Lake Haven. Not tired, just playing with my eye, propelled toward the sandwich meat aisle. I pass the Donut King en route to Coles, struck by the shop’s temerity in the face of expansion. Franchise, sure. These halls are pasted with the phlegm of commerce, after all. A place where monopolies come and never go. I remember when this was all bush. All bush and a little bit of Donut King. Despite prevailing misconceptions in the community, automatic doors act on instinct and not programming. I enter Lake Haven, scrunching an eye (one of many) closed. Time to observe the products without adjectives. Muscles in the walls of my face tug at my mouth corners (uncommitted to memory). Exhale? I refuse. But for how long? Trading hours for hours and hours and ours. I can see why they call it late night shopping but what I cannot see is the sandwich meat. They have moved the sandwich meat from Aisle 6 (the sandwich meat aisle). Might you ask how I know this? If it ain’t broke: break it. Not many can say they are luxuriated to a standstill. A stand still is easy enough. (Eg ‘stand still, watch what its tail does’.) But luxuriated? Many can’t say. Many can’t say excuse me which aisle is serving universe and church to the sandwich meat these days? Sir, this is a Coles. I have seen eyes the colour of bloodshot dollar signs, protrusive tongue (proboscis much?) a banknote wet with aspiration. We’ve all been there. Tunnelled ourselves to sleep. Woke to the sound of distant lollipop itching red. Not all heroes, etc. Doesn’t matter, Parramatta. It is at times like these I forget to breathe and breath forgets me. No sandwich meats today but the good news is pastries. A sausage roll like the credits roll. I’m still learning. For example, did you know the flame emoji is depicted as a flame as in the kind produced when something is on fire? Fascinating. And I say this as someone who has seen cars parked in scarce clumps. I’m back in my vehicle now (van), payload secured (five sausage rolls in a brown paper bag, grease window blossoming). That’s right, this goat loves to sing. It isn’t illegal to drive and gnaw a little meat wrapped in pastry. Is it? Wouldn’t put it past capital’s dutiful sons, though (pigs). Nevertheless, the road and the night is a full grown moggy. Brooding and continuous, real Slinky Malinki hours. Who is up? Who? Heading north, way north (Foiseach is north). Pulling up to a beach in Bundjalung Country by sunrise. Two sausage rolls remain. My stomach is sticks. This beach at dawn is a length of Cloudcuckoolanders presenting as hippies. Less about the sun’s emergence and more about secret riches. Cloudcuckoolanders larping as the working classes but not the actual working classes, only the way the working classes look inside their cloud-filled craniums. And then there is the sea. Don’t even get me started on the sea. I watch the hippies throw their Instagram bodies against the ghastly seafoam as the water goosebumps their bullshit. If only they knew. If only they knew what fish got up to in the depths of the sea. If they knew what I knew about the fish and their seedy malefactions, their deviant hubbub barely hidden by the crash of surf, they would have second thoughts about going in the water. Or perhaps they wouldn’t. Cloudcuckoolanders are propelled by their own individual cloudcuckoo-drives, relieved of anything approaching a death-drive when they were assigned generational wealth at birth. The working classes are driven towards death by virtue of their material conditions whereas the wealthy, especially the wealthy who larp and double-track (inside every cloudcuckoolander are two tracks: one is them clad in an imagined dress code for the working-classes and the other is a property portfolio) are, entranced by their cloudcuckoo-drives. This is the drive toward bourgeois idealism: the drive toward surfeiting a world of perpetual indulgence without calling it a world of perpetual indulgence (hippiedom, for example), self-appointed savourism, self-entitled idleness, and the maintenance of the ruling class’ status quo. Whereas, the working class must at all times be besieged by a drive to destroy itself and turn on each other so the Cloudcuckoo class can enjoy the full benefits that come with simply servicing their own cloudcuckoo-drives. And like the cuckoo in nature deploying violence or the threat of violence to commission an underclass whose labour serves the cuckoo’s interests, the cloudcuckoolander, too, operates as a brood parasite. Ontological cuckoos, through and through, with their heads firmly in the clouds. Working class traitors can be possessed by a cloudcuckoo-drive as well. Don’t get me wrong. Subjugation works for as long as it can produce traitors among the underclasses (the dangerous classes must remain dangerous only to themselves, etcetera strings for long term fibs). The collective body is reduced to individuated nostrils of aspiration. Balls of snot and ambition. The working-class classist who thinks themself superior to comrades and kin will one day be paid off in riches. Morning, mate, says a passing Cloudcuckoolander, tossing his shirt onto the sand as he runs into the shorebreak. A low-quality kindness of course. What’s the cause of your thinking? I reply. No response. Never forget to think like a dependable vitamin! I shout but no response. I pull up a pew beside the cloudcuckoo’s shirt. Dig my toes into the cold sand. The cloudcuckoo is quickly joined by his fellows who, much like a heat rash, have appeared from nowhere, suggesting a blocked sweat duct somewhere. Theywho? say you are what you eat, so eat the rich? I could dress up as a shark, don a photorealistic onesie, circle the cloudcuckoos. I could remove one of their arms with ease, unplugging it like the limb of an action figure. Not me running up the beach with a cloudcuckoolander’s arm, diving behind a sand dune. The sand dune dressed in bitou. I would only need one limb. One limb and that’s it. I would be rich. You are what you eat so eat … the arm of the ruling class? Next minute, I’m an arm. Not rich at all. Not even an earthling. An artifact of surplus consciousness grafted onto a fragment. Evidence of an ending. No body and nobody. Sans digestive tract. Sans most things. I have no mouth and I must eat two sausage rolls before they go bad. The activities of the sun pave into obscurity as the cloudcuckoos transform the surf into a concert of transactions. They all have waterproof iPhones and neck tattoos on their legs and leg tattoos on their arms and arm tattoos on their necks. They play some kind of volleyballesque game with an iceberg lettuce. Leaves tear off, expanding on account of their contact with the saltwater, lidding a riptide. Before soon, the sunrise has completed itself and the shorebreak is a churn of lettuce leaves. I find my hand has fallen across the shirtless cloudcuckoo’s shirt. I press my fingers into it, pushing it into the sand. It might not look like it but I’m analysing a baroque agenda. Most of the shirt and my hand is below the sand now. I must press on. The shirt’s fabric is upsettingly smooth. Silken-like but not silk. Hey! (A flirtatious exultation is flung from the shorebreak, narrowly missing my head.) Phew. For a second there I thought I was caught. The shirt is in my hand and my hand is at the end of the arm I have buried in the sand up to my shoulder. I’m lying sideways, serving an air of beachside luxuriation while committing crime. I release the shirt subterraneanly, roll over to release my arm, sit up. There’s no fooling anyone. My arm couldn’t be more crumbed if it tried. Hey! The cloudcuckoos are upon me when I introduce my catchphrase for the first time: Even leased preserves look to pitilessly reargue that the island could fetishise the use of upwardness for attractions, such as crankhandling your huddle of a government for three years. I’m not sure if any of them heard me so I rerelease my newly-minted catchphrase. But it is no use. The parliament of fast-approaching cloudcuckoos screams my name in unison: Aduantas! Sent from my iPhone! Great, just great. I knew I should have put on my balaclava before attending the beach. I make a dash for the kiosk at the Surf Lifesaving Club. I turn my head mid-bolt. The cloudcuckoos have forfeited pursuit. Preferring, instead, to indulge unexploded displays of grief. I wasn’t to know the inner machinations of their meaning-making, what a mere shirt should mean to them. Who wears a collared shirt to the beach anyway? At the kiosk I try to order a coffee but they want to see my curriculum vitae first. Thinking on my feet, I present them with the expensive bottle of suncream I had been saving. The bottle’s got them convinced. I wait, the wind fiscally whipping across the beach, lashing my ankles with sand grains. I itch. Your coffee is ready, says the dead-eyed surfer behind the kiosk counter. Well, where is it? Your coffee is ready. Okay but do you want to give it to me or …? A smirk crawls across the surfer’s face before opening like a zero. Oh. Oh no. Something was working its way out of his throat. I’ve been down this street before. I should have known this would be the case. Saliva evacuated the surfer’s mouth as the object filled his gob, pressed into the behinds of his teeth. Look, it’s okay. Forget the coffee. We’re all friends here. The sphere wobbled free from his gob. I thought perhaps the sphere could be a ghost, an unresolved impression making itself known, but no. The phlegm oysters retreated and the sphere revealed itself to be a balloon the same colour as ‘snow camo’. As the string attached to it climbed out of the surfer’s throat, he grabbed it and took the balloon over to a cupboard containing balloons exactly like it. The snow camo balloons jostled to escape, the cabinet well beyond capacity, but the surfer was quick to work the new balloon into the void, slapping the door shut before any spheres could rush away. I can’t believe it took me this long to find snow camo balloons. I’ve been looking for them for ages. Shame I don’t need them anymore on account of a lack of future birthday parties for Foiseach. Foiseach is dead for the first time in my life. She died up north, way north. I get norther. Complete the remaining sausage rolls. Make sure to do another hundred kays on the Pacific Highway before taking the first exit to the coast. I need to sleep. Pulling into a small beach car park, I decide to give the sea a brief geeze, check the coast is clear of cloudcuckoos. Weather-wise it was an unpreventable afternoon. The only cloudcuckoo present was a spec in the eye of G-d (wingsuiting). I walk back to the van as I always do with each step following the next, careful not to stub any of my remaining toes on the side of the beachside ALDI or the heaped pelican skeletons. The car park was semi-inundated, hence the many career opportunities for eels. I tunnel into my sleeping bag and the vegetable world is quick to find me. I’ve prepared holes in the bag for the tendrils. I must say the meaning of the wilted flower emoji can be interpreted as a flower. Depicted by most operating systems as a red rose bent towards the ground searching for water (vibe slain), a petal shed. I could explain honey fungus. Root rot. Repossessing faded blooms. Why the wilted rose emoji is undoubtedly dying back (emphasis on back). Death above ground means roots continue life underground. Not to be confused with thriving. But still. I need to sleep. I wasn’t long asleep when the petiole retracted, jerking me to my feet. The stir of a strange sound outside was small, way small, but in the way a dagger is a small knife. I stared through the van window. A balloon the colour of ‘snow camo’ blonked along, eddying low, dragging a scalpel attached to its string. Daggersound. I knew it. The snow camo balloon entered the ribcage of a pelican skeleton. The sharp bones scraped against the balloon’s surface causing the balloon to issue low level squeals, but the jagged ribs failed to explode the sphere. The balloon emerged from the carcass emboldened, and circled back, its scalpel neat in its slice work. The sphere’s slice work caused the asphalt to open. Cuts to bleed tar. I need to sleep but also I need a series of tar clots to form. The asphalt to scab up and scab up quick sticks. The night was but a kitten. Meow. Meow? Foiseach was dead alright. Up north. Way north. But for how long? Dan Hogan Dan Hogan (they/them) is a writer and editor from San Remo, NSW (Awabakal and Worimi Country). They currently live and work on Dharug and Gadigal Country (Sydney). Dan's debut book of poetry, Secret Third Thing, was released by Cordite in 2023. Dan’s work has been recognised by the Val Vallis Award, Judith Wright Poetry Prize, and XYZ Prize, among others. In their spare time, Dan runs small DIY publisher Subbed In. More of their work can be found at: http://www.2dan2hogan.com/ More by Dan Hogan › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 6 October 202310 October 2023 · Fiction Fiction | People outside Annelise Roberts I saw the boyish woman walking towards me along Paisley Street. Each time I see her I think she might look at me, know me and speak to me, finally, after all these months I’ve watched her from the window in my study that overlooks the street, turned away from my desk, tired or bored, while below she paces from the mall to the bridge just about every day, howling obscenities, squatting and smoking, pulling her pants down to wee between parked cars. 1 First published in Overland Issue 228 11 August 202322 August 2023 · Fiction Fiction | Alison Katelin Farnsworth The things I want to say aren’t the sort of things you’re allowed to say out loud. You’re not even meant to think the things I think. But sometimes I think them anyway and sometimes I want to say them, so badly, that my chest fills with this irredeemable rage and I don’t know which way to look.