Stakes in Hand
You’re alone in your lair, on Netflix, despite the midday hour. You feel guilty but who could blame you during the early summer days of COVID? The sky is painted a brooding dusk, whether that be by rain or annual California fires you can’t tell. See, you’ve been hiding inside, in the dark, lit only by the neon light of your oversized TV, trying to muster the courage to join the battle against the state protesting in the streets of your city below. This villainous city where children are warned not to go out alone. Instead of marching with the vanguard, you’re watching a documentary about Jeffrey Epstein and feeling disgusted. As the episodes march on, you’re drowsy and exhausted but you can’t help question, How evil can this world get? There is a roar beyond you, filling the space around you, breathing down your neck, beckoning you like some great beast perched with great promises. In its din you pick out fang and molar: No Justice, No Peace. You’re coughing now, whether from your bong or from your guilt or the ash and soot snuffing your candles out of lavender and bergamot, your chest hurts all the same. The fires are angry now, angry for the pain of the people here and angry for the pain of people past. They are a part of the beast, and it yearns to reciprocate hell. Don’t you?
Then you hear their wings, the vampires or slave catchers or police hovering in the grave of the sky. You feel their searchlights stalking you, seeking your particular window as the next episode snaps you awake. Andrew, the Queen’s son, was tight with Epstein? Your mind becomes a furnace, a beacon for anxiety, and memories crash against you. You’re in a frenzy, unable to make sense yet, sweeping your blankets and cushions in search of your holy cross, your protector. A cool breeze caresses your face as you find it at last: your stake, an iPhone with cracks like flower petals across its spine. A web is forming, between your mind and TV and fingers, between children and royalty and celebrity, and you know it all connects, you can feel it.
You take to Twitter, following the shadow of a memory. Rather, a meme, one that only yesterday begged the question, How exactly did he live to a century? And he isn’t the only one either. This meme isn’t funny anymore because this is the father of someone involved in an international sex trafficking operation. With his wealth and access, no medical procedure would be out of reach. You wonder simultaneously how he can live so long and look so dead. The spider in your mind gliding down in front of your documentary whispers a name to you: Ellen. You’re taken to her sick interview with Bullock. They were taking the skin from Korean babies to maintain a Hollywood glow. Gods, what did you just read about Korea? Are children safe no where? Now, you spiral. There’s no way you can believe Epstein wasn’t involved in this Korean ring, not when he had so many Hollywood friends. Evil doesn’t like competition. Children are targeted in the industry even domestically. But where did this come from? What are they trying to achieve by drinking the blood of children?
Vampires live eternally, but only if they feed upon another.
Now the documentary is explaining how world leaders cut ties with Epstein, and it’s giving real illuminati when the vampire was perhaps executed in prison. Celebrities and politicians across the world are involved in child trafficking from body to blood, an understanding you find haunted by articulations of Corregidora. Of course, four generations of slave women abused as children, by powerful men in powerful places, just like Epstein. He would have been a slavemaster in the 1700s for sure, and no one would have batted an eye on his evil practices in that context. Now you understand why this has been bothering you so much. Chattel slavery, the center of the web cocooning your eyes and thumbs. Child sex trafficking and genocidal breeding were gratuitous realities of your people. Real life vampires that drink your blood and eat your flesh. These monsters consumed our cells to extend their lives long before Bullock casually admitted guilt. Your skin crawls. Variations and iterations of slavery pervade this world. The evil of ruling vampires changes and evolves but does it ever go away? What would it take?
The documentary ends with your power failing, leaving your face to float alone in the ink. Maybe the grid has failed, or maybe the vampires are staging their final assault on your home. With a click your phone is locked and you are alone again in the dark. Will you go outside and fight with the people marching or will you wait to be consumed? Against an evil so grand, what choice do you really have?
Semaj Saint Garbutt is a queer social death theorist residing in Los Angeles. They write in bouts of lucidity, but mostly just try to survive spiraling with their cat Ju Ju. Some of their work can be found at riverfurnace.com.