after Porpentine Charity Heartscape
They are coming for you. You know it, deep in the dim heart of your Assembly code, in the same way you know everything else you know. Things like “I am a woman,” and “this a crime,” and “they will try to kill me for it.”
The age of the masked vigilante is gone – don’t you know Disney heroes all have their faces bare and beautiful? Instead, the boyhood fantasy made man-machine murderviolence now comes in the instanced Cyberhand, the gorgeous, pale technosassins raised in the crypt annals of imageboard militias and podcast conscriptions. A Cyberhand is a human DDoS. A Cyberhand is distributed among the clump of whatever most hateful and lowly biomass has clustered around a specific technocidal nexus, a choral outcry for bloodshed. Cyberhands are egregores, or emergent consciousnesses, or deepweb gods. One billion conscious hatreds focused on the back of a single neck. Your neck. Main Character Of The Week. Focused hot like a low-orbit ion cannon.
You know they are coming for you. You can feel it, in the vinegar sweat coming up your throat. In its taste in your nose. You can hear it in the piercing shine in your ears that never quiets, never quite closes its eyes. The gods are murdered. The new pantheon rises and there is war in heaven. Machine-kings with subwoofer throats howl into their Blue Yeti Snowballs. They push their devotionals hard from the back of their grinding stomachs. Full spit and diaphragm and shrieking metal. They command their apostles – pay no attention to the women who beg you for mercy. They are not women. They are something worse. The Hand is coming for you.
You know in a basic way. You know in the way your body knows how to eat and when to shit. You know in the way terror is chemical, the way death is mechanical. The Hand is here to strike you deathful. Even all your fragments cannot save you now.
The Cyberhands are anyone made out of meat. They are a white faceful mass, a congregation tumored from every schoolyard bully, every molesting pastor or priest, pedophile Soldier of God, every would-be Harris-and-Klebold. Souls consumed as a metabolic precursor for the synthesis of hyperkillmurder and ultradeath. They wield their numbers like a Beretta M9 against your throat. They lie as a rule – all of their lies things like “Your code isn’t worth the silicon it’s run on,” “Your body belongs to me,” “Your home will burn. Your beloveds will burn,” “I know all your secrets.”
“I know all your secrets” is the click of a trigger. It’s the shot of a gavel. It’s a sound that spells “END.” It’s pain and death for any homebrew girl. “Your secrets,” the sin, the crime, the inevitable thunderclap of Zeus striking you through ethernet for the irredeemable act of being a living trash girl. It’s any bitter word you’ve ever lathed. Any screenshot of a mangled, failed hex. Any vague curse under stifled breath. Anything to tip your scales from “cringe” to “killable.”
Know this: your terror can be keen or keening. Drink it deep. Feel it poison your nerves, sharpen them against your own agony. Hardcode your grief. Feel it disintegrate every hope you ever had for your own peace, shatter your soul into every new part it would need to survive this. You are becoming something so much more than flesh. You are, indeed, becoming worse.
We will never again know safety. We will never know peace. But by the wires that connect us, we will string them up. And by the blades in our wrists we will cut them down.
Nora Hikari (she/her) is a disabled Chinese and Japanese transgender poet and artist based in NYC. She was a 2022 Lambda Literary fellow, and her work has been published in Ploughshares, Palette Poetry, Foglifter, The Journal, The Shade Journal, and others. She was a reader at the 2022 Dodge Poetry Festival and a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award. Her chapbook, The Small Lights Of Her Heart, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2023. Nora Hikari can be found at her website norahikari.com and on Twitter at @system_wires.