Excerpt from the Thing which Grew

The Dresser is pulled at an angle, ajar between the wall and door through which Mary is entering with a silver tray of fruit kababs. HALT! Castillo’s mind is racing like at the speed of what he imagines is described by a fig tree in time-laps: the brown-furred syconia glistening wet at the eyes of the stalked scale-membranes, all blooming milk. Several feet in front of him: Mary, with that specious grin—lavender labium caked in cherry by tons of what Donald would no doubt describe as quote an enormatively large metal case of facial applications unquote (i.e. like for instance an excess of something like upward of sixty-two different sizes and styles of unique and specifically designated brushes, each bought from some reputedly facially superior cosmetic entity, or organization [neither of which is clear as of the time being as Mary’s social life hasn’t exactly arisen from the murk of her boyfriend Chad’s recent suicide.], tethered to an individual set of powdered clam-shell wells of cream foundation and slight bronze and rose blush which blooms sheetlike across the segments of sectioned toner applied to her cheeks, which without said applications are white as freshly fallen snow.)—is doing a petit waltz, juggling her heels from side-to-side and swaying her hips rhythmically as if to describe the radial movement necessary to keep midsection an invisible hula-hoop: this thing she often does, this petit waltz, which so engenders the connection he feels the both of them have, a type of memento significant to the abstract relationship they have formed together and constituted with time and the intricate little whereabouts of their cohesive unitary whole: two nights of sleeping and brandy-sipping and televisual snow aboard a burning cruise ship; the time Rictor Bastion stole Mary’s psychotropic medication under the impression they were capsules of the benzo variety, and so then Castillo had to beat the crummy goon’s map to a pulp in order to retrieve the non-benzos and return them to her on her and Chad’s apartment’s balcony, which he climbed so as not to stir their landlord’s premises’ sleeping guard dogs; Chad’s funeral, during which Chad’s casket rose high above the platform designed to plant it six feet underground, where everyone began looking up in awe as their dearly remembered friend’s sleek black coffin ascended into the mouth of a spinning blue-green UFO which the US government’s CIA has yet to comment on. Beautiful moment, that one. Castillo remembers Mary was the only one crying. So then but here she is, now, proffering her silver platter, entreating him to a “fruit-skewer.” / “My lady,” he indulges: [chomp:] off with a slice of pineapple and watermelon, which he can feel the juice of seeping through lips’ edges, down his chin. / Mary giggles: “And the dresser? Why is the dresser pulled like that? Nearly knocked into it.” / “Oh.” Castillo pops his knuckles. “Been working on a little project.” Thum-thum, thum-thum. HALT! Was it Peterson in High-Class Documents whose invoice, concerning a sneaking suspicion the Agency wasn’t going to let the whole Situation go, remained on his phone? Or was it Carlyle? The broad flannel-checked tie of Peterson’s weekly Agent ensemble ostensibly has what the big goofs in Dept. 9 are calling a Micro Camera. Really churning the old mental stew. Mary is curious, in these few seconds, he can tell—the eyes, which glow green whenever it is she has a cat-killing level of curiosity wafting about her head like an invisible halo, reveal in glowing all too much. ⁋ And then there is the envelope within the dresser’s lowest drawer, under layers of paired socks rolled so as to consume each other, which, when the envelope itself is opened, he knows all too well will release the inward eye to its own vacant silver-screen room, where it can watch amid the dark emptiness of unattended seats all things unfold from overhead. McDaniels would have him refer to the experience as a nonexistent one, which is to say that he’d rather Castillo didn’t refer to the experience at all. Fine crystalized milk pooling out over the hirsute scale-membrane. Not now, he tells himself: Kick it into third gear, man! She’s watching. She knows something is wrong. By the time he swallows the two fruit morsels, all of this has just passed through his mind in tangent vectors all too interconnected and wound to be pulled apart and distinguished from one another and dissected for data concerning these individual parts. It is all one gray smear. Just so, with little heads-up, Maxine Duntlerst rings the rotary phone in the kitchen downstairs. Mary knows it is Maxine; she has been notified Maxine would call. There is a fleeting moment between them, before she turns with her platter of fruit-skewers and exits down the stairs to pick up the rotary’s handset and end the trill of its hellish bell, which seems to last for a longer time than it is: Mary’s cream face, a bit curious. She is not fooled for a second. Castillo closes the door, when she leaves, in order to configure the radial sonar device he’s been commissioned by Gordon and the higher-ups. He does this to listen in on the frogs outside, which are possibly Animatronic Soviet Bugs according to G and the higher-ups, although Mary and Maxine’s conversation does seep through whenever his drunken hand slips idly Southward along the house’s interior: “Oh, you’re bringing Simon, yes?” / “Why of course, dear.” / “You and he are doing well?” / “Better than ever, dear.” / “Oh?” / “Why, dear, don’t you know? Simon’s been promoted to Head of Subsequence Cryptography. They’ve given him an office.” / “Well I’ll be shaken loose of all the change in my pockets, that is fantastic, Maxine!” / “Yes dear, yes…” until the sound of their telephonic chit-chat is overshadowed by a baritone ribbet… hands adjusting now, preparing an audio vector for the garden and outlying trees. Another and another: ribbet, ribbet. But are they robotic at all? Is the audio itself canned-sounding? Would you put it past them to be watching? Recording? What on earth was he meant to be looking for, exactly?... Wiping fruit juice away from his chin, idly, trying to think, until: there is a shadow walking past, up the street, along the sidewalk. It is bulky, substantial, yet foglike the way it moves smoothly without footstep. Readjusting the radial sonar’s audio vector, getting in full the man or woman, whomever it may be, walking closer to the edge of the street along which Castillo’s room overlooks and surveys, in darkness, through telescopic lens. Sure enough there is a voice, breathing. It breathes hoarsely, in the cold, under several layers of white cigar-smoke which dissipate through stagnant clouds of brightening gray, in the oncoming streetlight, toward the corner above which their home is structurally situated. ⁋ Up to a certain point, one eyeball and set of ears can only do so much. It is indistinguishable, the thing, clad in dark trench coat and fur-padded Ushanka and somehow yet waning in the street’s vacant moon-paled silver seeming to be wearing a kind of flesh-tone mask whose mouth is badly askew at the right jaw, in a pink circled lips’ O through which the man or woman is smoking a Baroque cigar, label and all, green-scaled dragon snarling, visible through the telescopic lens’s third magnification mode. Crisp and jaunt walks usually occur along this street, nothing of the sort this stranger is putting up. Its gait is frightened, suspended on wobbly heels as of the orange embryonic eyes of egg yolks. Look away quick as the flesh-masked man peers up at you. You can tell now, from his voice: “What?” he is a man. But that is all you will hear before the lens is dismantled and our here radial sonar is put back in its black foam-padded case at the sound of Mary’s calling up to alert Cas that the candles need to be lit: there is dinner to prepare. How would any conscious thing go about accurately reflecting on their muddled courtship? Their secret rendezvouses? Their lasting partnership, as bunkmates, in this squalid apartmentage? Slowly the narrative would begin to seep out unto a point at which the whole thing from overhead is one simple knot of complex relations and shared experiences. What hurts his head is the idea that the knot is tied by him, or maybe rather his awareness of it, that people can and will confer and communicate and relay data in such a way as to monetize the very use of his time. And furthermore the great silent gash of unwritten programming which dictates the computational rationale of the equator itself, washing widely over silent skin the sound of waves and breaking tides as a bright red scar from where zizzing lightning struck him, as a child, along his right shoulder. The question he remembers at that moment when the lightning struck as if it were yesterday being Why must I feel anything? And he still asks himself the same question from time to time, when it really starts to hurt—his head—and the pressure along his temples boils up to a point of such amplitude that all he can see or feel are dark circles, spatial distortion. He knows it must be the chip. He is not permitted to say anything about the chip to anyone, or to think much about the chip as a means by which to evade a deathly cognitive-loop coma which is redolent these days as the surveying ELF towers surrounding send out Empathy charges and great emotive energies which can in tandem with self-aware cognition cause an agent loaf of the G- to X-class operatives to become a drooling vegetable, w/h/y. Point of course being not to dwell on the lurid chip. A slight suspension to the rules occurs: ...

Key for Files Referenced in the AW

General File Key:
(NOTE: The following key refers to a few of the files mentioned in the AW. They are varied and ubiquitous. Some files are less ubiquitous than others, obviously, such as the dreaded V000, but that's all subject to the text.)
J11: Order-Form-Revision
J19: Delayed-Payment-Notice-Form
K7: Ref.-Stats.-of-Fixed-Monthly-Estimated-Income-Notice-Form
B14: Ghost-Form

B14 Files designated those which are not meant to be filled out entirely--for the sake of some interoffice-politics-fraught calculated reason no one even really fully understands anymore; they just exist, is the thing, "B14" being an umbrella-term for any ghost form, which in specificity would be prefaced with the aforementioned File Code, as in (in the case of a Ghost-Form J19, for instance): B14-J19.

BVWX: Budget-Verging-Wonted-Xericness-Form

BVWX Files feature hole-punched reference cards as well as perforated-signature-slips which can be used for other files' folders in order to reference the BVWX said slip designates.

TMP: Taut-Mutative-Precaution-Form

TMPs are also referred to by Computation Experts and Data Filers as "Rusted Nannies." Often these forms are the thickest due to their broad contractual designations.

V000: Delayed-Acct.-Cancellation-Notice-Form

V000s are reserved for black file-sheathes.

K12: Acct.-Complaint-Form

K12s feature red exclamation marks on their sheathes and outer files. They also often feature copied subforms and (1/3) triplicate signages and slips and color-coded smiley-face stickers:
Blue Smiley-Face: Acct. is not in any notable significant distress.
Yellow Smiley-Face: Acct. is in distress, but will probably remain on-board.
Red Smiley-Face: Acct. is in distress and will probably not remain on-board.
Black Smiley-Face: Dead Acct.

C90: Secondary-Stratified-Trusts-Earning-Form

C90s have stapled in them green triplicate signage subforms.

H72: Unclear-Resolution-Investment-Form (for individual accts. only)

etc... There being of course many more file-types, most of which are iterative of these preceding. They range from the wax-sealed A9s (Retained-Investment-Forms) to the eminently shredded F666s. There are some files for which only MGMT knows the function. That is just the way things are.