“SLEEP PARALYSIS OR IN THE ARCANE SOUTHERN IDIOM, ON BEING RIDDEN BY THE WITCH”

I have subpar facial recognition skills. The face of my college girlfriend
might as well have been the face of a squirrel with an acorn in her mouth.
I have excellent hand recognition skills. I remember the form
of her hands and the precise length and radius of each of her hand’s fingers.

I look at surface, at faces, not for vitality and resemblance through time,
for synchronic signification. After all, I learned to read by
interpreting the passing billboards grown alongside loblolly pines and
tracing Old Highway 78. I read from the back left of our white Astro van
with burgundy interior detailing.

“Wesley’s Boobie Trap 6 Miles Ahead.” “Bingo.” “Bingo.”
“Bingo.”

This surface reading has served me well in my paralytic dreamscape
demonology. The succubi don’t sit squarely on my chest.
They are to my back, over my shoulder and muttering gobbledygook
|into my left ear. I only see the faces of two of my dreams’ regulars.

The one that is an anthropomorphic hound with a woman’s face
and speaking with a man’s voice.

And the one that is a caninomorphic figure with a man’s face
and speaking with the voice of the woman who sleeps by my side.

These are my jinnsky at the end of the beginning of the end of this world.
Sometimes I look forward to their company and their flat codices for faces.

These are networks of exchange with an Other. This is being in the world
but not of the world. This is dancing with Darkness:

“Jinnskyy. XoXO. This is ‘William’s iPhone.’ My domain is interstate 65.
con-TENT. CON-tent. Print your tweets. Archive your paper documents.
For this to be real, it has to be material.”

Four times over the past two weeks, I have encountered shit-themed art.
An autofiction novelist who can’t stop talking about his bowel movements.
The speaker of a poem speaking about shitting in the ocean.
A movie about a Spanish journalist plagued by severe gastrointestinal dysfunction.
An essay spelling out the precise historical connection between Hot Girls and IBS.

The beginning of the end of the end of the world is scatological.
Go figure.

— Will McCollum is a mad archaeologist from Birmingham, Alabama, and a PhD student in anthropology at the University of Chicago. His work has been featured in Stone of Madness Press, LitBreak Magazine, The Gravity of the Thing, and Sobotka Magazine.