Appoggiatura
by Jeff VanderMeer

AUTOCTHONOUS

At the university today, I cracked an egg yolk into my co-worker Farid’s coffee while he was off photocopying something. The yolk looked like the sun disappearing into a deep well. The smell made me think of the chickens on my parents’ farm and then it wasn’t long before I was thinking about my father and his temper. It made me almost regret doing it. But when Farid came back he didn’t even notice the taste. He was too busy researching the architecture of some American city for one of the professors. My yolk and his research were a good fit as far as I was concerned, especially since that was supposed to be my project. But he was always pushing and he was an artist, whereas I was just getting a history and religion degree. I wouldn’t have anything to show for that until much later.

After he left and the building was empty, I set a fire in the wastebasket on the fourth floor, being careful to use a bit of string as a fuse so it wouldn’t start to blaze until after I’d gotten on the bus down the street.

On the way home to my apartment, through the usual road blocks and searches, I embedded a personal command into the minds of the other people on the bus using the image of the saintly Hermes Trismegistus. He said to them, “Tomorrow, you will do something extraordinary for the Green.”

When I got to the complex, I stopped at each landing and used a piece of chalk to draw a random symbol. If there was a newspaper in front of someone’s door, I would write on it or rip it or whatever came to mind.

I walked into my box of an apartment, gray walls gray rooms, and took off my clothes. I painted myself green and leapt at the walls until the green mixed with the red of my blood and the gray was gone. Then I turned on the family TV that my mother had made me take when I came to the city and at the same moment I drove a paperweight through the screen. My fingers and arm vibrated from the shock.

But nothing else happened. There was no revelation. No sign.

I crumpled to the floor and began to cry.

When will the Green move through me? What will it take?

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