PIE MINISTER; OR, SOUL AND FLESH IS ALL I HAVE

You lie there in bed, sick, weak, aching, foul, wet, damp, greasy, slimy, reddened, gross, itchy (but there’s no energy to scratch it), exhausted from doing less than nothing, the virus vibrating through your body like a cheap and tacky marital aid, the room grim and gray and cold, so cold, the dim light poking its head around the door from the landing, the TV on downstairs, vacant and careless and carefree minds watching, paying no heed to your near-waking death, and slowly, slowly, slowly, you hear the little voices down below, in your chest, in your guts, above and below your diaphragm…

“He’s going, going…almost gone,” says your liver.

“He’s fucked!” yells your right kidney with glee. “He’s fucking fucked!”

“Fucked!” your left kidney agrees. “Right royally fucked!”

“Not just yet,” says your right lung, always the cautious type. “His oxygen saturation is dangerously low—I should know—but he’s still clinging on. We shouldn’t celebrate too soon, but we do need a plan for what to do with him.”

Fucked!” chant your kidneys in unison. “Fucked! Fucked! Fucked!

“Don’t be so juvenile,” moans your spleen. “This is no time for gloating.”

“Well, what do you suggest then?” asks your right lung.

“I suggest we just leave,” replies your spleen. “We’re sick of it in here aren’t we? He’s boring, he’s disgusting, he drinks too much, smokes too much pot, overeats…now’s our chance to escape, to be free!”

“But you don’t want any vengeance?” asks your liver of your spleen. “All the things he’s done to you, to me, to all of us honey?”

“I know baby, I know,” replies your spleen, “but we have to be reasonable and practical about this.”

“Do we have a say?” ask the lymph nodes in your neck in their collective tinny voice.

“No!” shouts your heart. “This is strictly an internal organ affair.”

“We are internal organs!” they reply in an even tinnier tone.

“No one cares!” grunts your left lung, usually more quiet and passive. It shuts them up for good though.

“I’ve got a great idea,” perks up your large intestine.

“Go on then” says your right lung. “Shoot. We need to act as fast as we can.”

“I’ve always fancied chopping him up and baking him into a pie,” your large intestine says with what would be a straight face if your large intestine had a face.

Your torso cavity is deathly quiet for a moment.

“You are so full of shit” says your pancreas.

“No, no,” says your right lung, “let’s hear him out.”

“It’s crazy!” screams your gallbladder. “You’re all bloody insane!”

Your large intestine ignores this outburst and explains his position: “Look, we’re all getting out of here, but we need energy to escape. We’re all organs here, so we need feeding, and what’s better than the flesh of our prison for feeding on? It’s not like we’re going to reject it…”

“Why a pie though?” asks your stomach.

“I just like the idea of a pie,” replies your large intestine. “Poetic justice as well, given that he’s eaten his fair share of them.”

“What about the veins?” asks your heart.

“What about the veins?”

“They’re my lifeblood.”

“Outside his body you won’t need them,” says your large intestine. “They’re going in the pie.”

You hear a loud metallic whisper of a million veins and arteries protesting the plan, but they are shut down by your right lung: “Quiet! You had your chance!”

A consensual murmuring comes amongst your organs, until your liver inquires, “How are we going to make the pie?”

“Easy,” replies the large intestine. “There’s flour and baking powder and butter and a hot oven downstairs ready for us.”

“Are we just going to tear his flesh right up and bake it in the pastry?”

“Seems the right idea.”

“Gravy?”

“There are Oxo granules down there too.”

“But what about the brain?”

“Yes,” grumbles your brain, joining in for the first time. “What about me you bastards? Without my unconscious functions none of you can operate!”

“Shut the fuck up brain,” says your large intestine. “We don’t need you anymore, we’re alive now! Anyway, all you are is him! You’re his thoughts, his nasty petty pointless thoughts, his self-destructive actions, his stupid choices…”

“Not so,” replies your brain. “I’ve suffered as much as all of you, if not more. Besides, you’re thinking of the soul.”

“Nonsense,” says your liver. “Such a mind-body distinction was debunked centuries ago…”

“Not in the theories of Kripke and Popper,” replies your brain.

“Popper was a mind-body dualist?” asks your small intestine.

“Not in the strictest sense,” your brain says. “He theorized it in his metaphysics of what he called the ‘Three Worlds’.”

“Are you arguing from qualia or not?” asks your liver. “Because I for one have never accepted qualia—if it even exists—as a grounds for an immaterial conception of the mind.”

“Well firstly,” interjects your gallbladder, having calmed down, “are we talking about a mind, or a soul, or something else entirely?”

“I really don’t want to get drawn into a semantic debate,” says your brain, “but if I had to use my own terminology…”

You tune out their discussion, conceptual issues in the philosophy of mind having long stopped interesting you personally. You woozily manage to roll over and attempt to go back to dreamless sleep. You might be too depressed though to get back to that nothingness. Your flesh and soul is going in a pie, but worse still, your brain is not only a traitor, he’s a goddamn Cartesian as well…

Harris Coverley has short fiction published or forthcoming in CuriositiesHypnos, Penumbra, and Rivanna Review, amongst many others. A former Rhysling nominee, along with in APOCALYPSE CONFIDENTIAL he also has had verse most recently in Star*LineSpectral RealmsSilver BladeScifaikuestNovel NoctuleSongs of Eretz Poetry ReviewTigershark, View From AtlantisYellow Mama, and elsewhere. He lives in Manchester, England.