Nobody Wants a Lonely Heart

Nobody Wants A Lonely Heart

They will not be pilgrims of the light. Nor martyrs, nor apostates. Nor the loud invert-pious who preach their own fall in the street. They will seek not sun through the branches of the tree of knowledge nor the mystic shade below, but dark—real dark—the kind which will only be entered without hope of return.

Their hands will slip, brogues strive and faces press for purchase, forging chambers in convulsing space. They will move, crawl, room for one at a time, forcing themselves through without lanterns or talk—for no light nor sound will enter that dark. Only bodies will. 

This will not be an escape; not a transcendence. 

A return.

It was her perfume that—when she sat down beside you, tucking her dress in under her and pinching her hair behind her ear—got into you and tricked you and fucked up your detectors so that you couldn’t see what she was; what she obviously was. Now you watch her hunched beside you in the corner of your eye, twisting her little charm bracelet around her narrow wrist. She’s wearing a pink floral dress, a necklace with a heart locket and combat boots with pink laces. The last, the boots, might have tipped you off earlier, but now even real women are dressing like trannies; you can’t be sure. 

It’s your first time seeing one in real life. She could’ve gotten away with it, raped your senses completely, if you hadn’t noticed the size of her skull through her hair. You’re studying her body, now, in your peripheral vision, because despite all the delusioneers like her you’ve seen online she almost fooled you. Did fool you – for a second, no longer, just when she sat down beside you, but in that second you thought of her skin and legs and her whole separate world and travelled away from yourself a moment. The way real women do to you.

You have to forgive yourself a little. You’re tired, out of your element; up earlier than you ever are. Last night was your first night with a bedtime in months and today’s your first trip to the city in longer. The un-stagnant air fizzes on your skin, like it did the whole bus ride in here—you’re waiting, now, in the train station terminal, just beyond the reach of the light through the big arch windows. No others around, save a transport officer buying coffee from a hot dog stall.

You shouldn’t be on your phone which is already 62% and falling but your muscles can’t do anything else so you’re on the Discord channel fidgeting up and down, reading the evening crowd in America. Genchat’s buzzing: there was a suicide in Oakland yesterday, and the kid’s parents are trying to sue the forums. People are making Blingee memorials for his diapered fursona, posting the pictures they hacked him for with the fuzzy torture clips on his nipples. The forum’s been on the retard for five years now so it’s a kind of Viking funeral, all the old heads coming out from retirement for one last go-round. An old piece of advice from your high school counsellor: ‘when you can be brave, be brave’. You step into the fray.

Nazinaruto: offtopic but why do trannies all look like they have fetal alcohol syndrome

i mean i guess that answers itself

lmao

No reaction. People go on talking around you as if you never spoke. Over 1,000 posts on the forums, all effortful, and you set alarms to talk to the Discord at four-hour intervals every day. Nothing. You feel your face flushing, the old angry helplessness tingling in the tips of your ears. Across the station, you catch a glimpse of yourself in a column’s bronze cladding. You shaved off all that darling long hair your mother loved a couple weeks ago, but all it’s done is make your face look even more defenseless, open to attack. You are nineteen, twenty on the twentieth, and still you look like a fucking child.

You blink it away. 

Your message gets a laugh react from nobody important. Your high school counsellor’s name was Tim. He knew what Planescape: Torment was.

Nazinaruto: i fucked a trans bitch once

when I was drubk

post op obvs but like

‘Somebody is typing’ flashes like flame across the screen.

Terri Schiavo’s Back Walls (ADMIN): Oh my god nobody cares you literal shitdick

Oh. You clench your fist around the sweat in its palm and compress it against the metal bench. Everyone’s scared of Terri. They say he’s in his forties, has a gun safe and an ex-wife and lives off trading or maybe scamming crypto. Uberman sleep schedule so he can moderate the forums 24/7; you tried it once but fucked it up and just heard phantom sirens in the distance for a couple weeks. You weren’t ready. He’s typing again.

Where’s our boy, the message comes. Your old bud. A question mark is its own message. Respond.

Nazinaruto: dragonfucker’s late

trip report & recording on the forum tonite, stay frosty faggots

You exit to the homescreen, scroll back and forth to make your heart pound less. De-catastrophization strategies – a colourful poster, a friendly owl. That went fine. Breathe. You have a muesli bar in your bag, which you retrieve and unwrap and eat, trying to think of something else. The tranny still sits there beside you, her man-thumbs rattling on her phone screen. You take a dangerous glance at her through her hair; she’s not even wearing makeup. Just an animal, you think: trapped in her delusion, pacing the perimeter of her ugliness like a tiger in a cage. She prods at her phone with a sort of aggrieved precision. Her male jaw – maler than yours – is clenched in a nervous set. She’s afraid, you think. As she should be. Don’t forget: whatever made her think she was safe to sit down with you, that’s what you must locate in yourself and destroy.

That’s what you’re doing now, you suppose. Between Terri’s admonition and the actual task ahead of you, you’ve got one of those old headshot comp songs in your head – ten percent luck, twenty percent skill. The journey in today felt good: when you’re off to do a duty, the world seems to welcome you, part before your purpose. Part of becoming a regular is doing things for the forum, and this is a major solo op—they called you a faggot in the thread for calling it that, but they all knew it was true. If they were all content to keyword-search Twitter backlogs, brute-force passwords, pose over the phone as family physicians to harvest info from psychologists? Fine. But none of them had ever gone out in the well-lit morning for the sake of their work. This is something only you would do.

When you posted that you knew him – how you recognized the crayon colouring, the Midnight Blue underscaling, if not the new Cotton Candy features on the perineum – they swarmed you with questions. That was what you wanted, wasn’t it? To be of use, thus of attention; to be of attention, therefore of use. It was your time to step forth, to narrate, to give them what they couldn’t get any other way.

Dragonboy57 was already a figure of rising interest to the forum when you joined it a year ago. He was one of those who, though lacking his own dedicated thread, captured the imagination of the general chats enough to become an honorary lolcow. Part of it was sheer insistence; every day, begging off sick only once or twice in the three-year history of his account, he posted a new work to his thirty-two followers. Each was a pencil-drawn, crayon-coloured original depicting his character Contessa Snaggletooth, a semi-anthropomorphized blue dragon with a never-changing expression of over-the-shoulder carnal smugness. And the Contessa was always looking over her shoulder, always the same three-quarter rictus, because each picture – in various degrees of close-up, from slightly-varying angles – depicted a line of humans crawling into her anus.

The pictures were bad. That was a given. Even now, the Contessa looked slightly different in every drawing, fluctuating in size with the vagaries of her artist’s lust. The humans, all men in business suits for some reason, were the evident sites of fierce artistic struggle: all their faces were indistinct, cloudy and dark, rubbed-out and drawn in again so many times that they were almost unreadable behind the eraser-fog. But something loving, something deeply invested about the pictures, too: X-ray inserts of the interior, the sphincters in muscular detail, the way her entrance clung to the legs of the most recent entrant, puckered for the nextcomer…

There was an act you put on for them that of course this was where he was now. By the way he used to put his hand down his pants in class when he was angry or bored, by the way he was still pissing himself in seventh grade.

In walls of text, you detailed his parents, his house—

doxx or stfu faggot

But others let you talk. And, naturally, you did. You woke up past midday to 250 new replies, a front-page highlight, and a new notion brewing. The forum had a historied rule against contact with its objects of research, but by evening Terri himself had descended into the thread to mandate it. It wouldn’t be interference, he said. You already knew him. And anyway, it would be fucking funny.

A train pulls into the station behind you, brakes hissing. The bright, cold female voice of the announcer says the line number. This is it. As you go to start the recording, a new message from Terri flashes across the top of the screen: cut anything, we’ll know. 

You shove the phone into your pocket mic-side out and watch the station quicken with debarking passengers. Methheads waddle sideways on twisted ankles. A man wearing speed dealers, his arm in a sling, looks around as if expecting a Tinder date. You have a good eye for freaks, but the last time you saw Benji was in primary school and all his social media’s blank of photos; you try to imagine what tard mutation he might have gone through. You look for weak beards grown from self-neglect, khaki shorts dangling lanyards of keys.

You’re about to check your phone again when you see a bone-skinny boy stalled just beyond the turnstile, swivelling and itching in place. 6-foot-3. Jeans and a long-sleeve Spyro shirt, absurd for the weather and sweating because of it. A greasy, almost gummy helmet of hair sweeps low across his eyes.  You stand up.

You’re afraid. What the fuck are you afraid of?

“Benji!”

Your voice hitches in your throat because a new angle of his nose becomes available and suddenly it maybe isn’t him, plus you’ve always found it difficult to speak loudly. But he hears it, and it’s him. He turns to face your voice – on his feet, laboriously, waggling in confusion – but then you guess he sees you, because his face undergoes a familiar kind of flexion, lips drawing up over his teeth and dimples activating in his chin. A Benji smile. He walks over, waving one stiff arm well into close range.

Somehow, he’s retained his boyhood smell of sour milk and BBQ-flavored crackers. It’s just layered on, now, with the adult-tard smells of mildew and B.O., plus an earthy underspell of manure. As he shuffles closer, you smell him – feel like you inhale all your eight years apart – even before he throws his arms around you.

And you hug him back. His torso and arms are damp, warm and somehow grainy against you, like a used sponge, and he’s so skinny you think you can feel his heart through his narrow ribs. The unfamiliar feeling of a body against yours – but you’re caught off-guard to realize you’re not caught off-guard. You can do this. 

You’ve studied the Chris-Chan tapes: posterity. “Okay, we’re hugging now,” you laugh, for the recording’s benefit. “Sure.”

He springs back, away, flapping his hands like he got water on them. The queasy feeling of his warmth fading on you. 

“Sorry,” he says, several times. “Well, I just haven’t, hadn’t seen you—well—”

“It’s fine, man. Let’s go get a burger.”

And you walk—set out with him across the scuffed tile floor, toward the exit onto the street. Something strange is happening: you feel in-control, inside your own body as you never do. You’ve never said ‘man’ like that, but it fit your mouth as it came out and Tim once told you that confidence is really just acting. All you need to play for Benji is the straight man.

He speaks in conversation starters, constructs them meticulously like tongue-twisters and mutters them at the ground. Your favorite part of the day so far? You invent a breakfast. Blueberry pancakes. You sound, in that moment, more of a sperg than he does, but you’re sure they’ll understand.

“Yum, yum,” he says. He drums on his chin with two fingers. “My favourite part of today – well – probably it was seeing you again!”

Like he always was – the hangdog sweetness, the same he employed to keep you friends with him for six years. You have to remind yourself that it’s not real, that it’s taught to him and all of them by motherly coddling and what got sympathy from substitute teachers. You’ve seen the venom they spit online the moment something doesn’t go their way, the moment they’re told to get a job. The way they pretend to be dickless and uncorrupted right on up to the moment their dicks are in your face. 

He’s no less the manipulator than you are, and this is one of the forum’s teachings you are most grateful for: how weakness maintains itself, and is no excuse. 

You know this because you, too, were once weak.

When you get to McDonalds he orders two of the one-dollar hamburgers, both without cheese or pickles. As you walk with him to the botanical gardens, he explains his order. No cheese because a vomiting incident after eating peanut butter as a child warned him off food with a gooiness coefficient between 0.3 and 0.8; no pickles because they remind him of eating ‘Shrek flesh’. “And flies,” he says. “Like accidentally eating a fly. You ever accidentally eat a fly?”

It’s a hot day – you’ve found a bench in the shade. A picnic of other young people is under the big tree on the far side of the clearing having some kind of pre-Christmas luncheon, passing around a flask and swigging from it. Benji unwraps his burgers and puts them side-by-side on his lap.

“I swallowed two flies in one day, the other day.” He’s piercing his third tomato sauce packet and dripping it onto the nude patty of his left burger. “In one 1.25-hour span. They flew down my throat while I was walking Malachi.”

“Oh! Were you breathing through your mouth?”

“Just talking to him.” He replaces the bun and bites into it. With a pond of red sauce on his tongue, he explains the other, the sauceless one, is the ‘cleanser burger’. “You ever get talking to your dog?”

“Not really, man, no.”

He’s almost too eager to confess himself to you. Each thing he says carves another category in the megathread, the dedicated wikia, to come. He asks you if you watch anime. You say no.

“Really? In sixth grade I thought…”

“In sixth grade I liked a lot of things.” 

Smiling at him, inviting him. You let him give you a season-by-season breakdown of some shōjo he watches, a superteam of magical girls in a crystal castle fighting a paramilitary of mutants. In the new season, it turns out the evil army’s leader is also the magical girls’ long-lost father. He taps and strokes at his nose with his non-burger hand. “It’s actually—actually the problem is, the problem is it’s not the problem that he’s their father but they’re all sisters. Because they’ve been kissing and stuff.” He describes a bathhouse scene in tatters of random, anxious detail. You remember how he used to recite the plots of episodes of Sitting Ducks while replacing any scenes with a toilet in them with a long verbal ‘beep’. “But that’s very normal in Japan, actually. Going to the bath together. Even boys do it.” He frowns as if in concentration.

“You watch that with your mum?”

You’re a genius. He flexes the burger between his hands. His mum, who told him his arm-flapping was his ‘Holy Spirit coming out’. Who drove him, in tears, to give back the Dragonology book you lent him, staring fire-and-brimstone over the steering wheel so as not to look at you. “No. Why would you—ask?”

 “I dunno. Do you still believe in God?”

His tardbrain whirs. “I–I don’t know. I still like the church group I go to because I have some friends there. Do you have other friends?”

“Yeah, some. So, church group—”

“From high school?”

He’s finished his sauceburger. Now on his second, he tears just the front breadflesh off it with his teeth – tiniest bite – looking blankly out at the picnic. 

You realize that three seconds have gone by. You devise your tone carefully.

“Yeah, some people from high school. Some people from elsewhere.”

“Names?”

“What are you doing?” You mean to say it in a gentle, chiding way, but the recording in your pocket and all the coming generations don’t like the dither in your voice. You try again. “What do you mean?”

“I was wondering if I might know them too.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“Why not?” He reaches down and runs his finger around the moulding on the tip of his left sneaker. “I was just curious. Because if you found some friends.”

“Just not a normal question to ask someone. You were saying about church group?”

His face contracts again, not smilewise. “What you said about—I’m trying to be normal.”

“It’s fine.”

“If you want to talk about church group then I don’t even like any of the kids in church group, so you know, because they’re all younger than me.” He swallows a lot of spit. “And they don’t like me. Okay. So when you messaged me to be together—meet up—”

“Benji, let’s talk about Timesplitters again.”

“Right, calm down, because—” He makes a hawwww noise, and you think he’s letting out a sperg-patented Stress Sigh but he does it three, then four times quickly and you realize he’s hyperventilating. “Why did—you stop talking to me?”

Cut anything, we’ll know. “I just got into other people.”

“No, you didn’t—”

“Yes, I did!” comes out too loud, with a girls-arguing voice-crack in the middle of it. No, you didn’t. But his company was worse than friendlessness. He could have followed you to high school, wrapped his long septic arms around you and dragged you under. You look over at him.

He’s fully bent at the waist, now. His burger has fallen sideways onto the ground, and he’s pushing his torso into his legs like he’s trying to fold himself up. For a moment you’re afraid he’s going to stand up and unleash his tard rage on you, but his spine just flexes harder and harder through the back of his shirt, and you realize there’s no hulk-out coming – if anything is going to snap, it’ll just be inside him. You remember seeing him in states like this. Often you were there with him. But he got big quicker than you, so he was the one they held down – one staff member to each limb. 

He’s grabbing his sneaker with both hands, pushing his elbows down beyond his knees, sweat crawling through his hair. His long sleeves are rucked up around his forearms. That’s how you see them: the ragged, overlapping stripes on his left wrist. The paler scars against the pale skin. Down the street.

“This is weird, man,” you say.

He twists, hard, a full-torso swivel – his back and spine is all you can see of him now, and his whole body again seems to throb, rise, threaten to bust its seams like a monster transformation in an anime.

But the generations are still listening, each word a wiki page. Ask. 

“Do you still like to draw?”

He doesn’t say anything, his windpipe compressed against his knee. You adjust the phone, put on your best classroom-facilitator voice. 

“Benji, let’s just talk about something else. Do you still like to draw that dragon?” 

“No.”

“Really? I remember she was so cool.”

On the back of your hand closest to him – which is a fist – you feel a sudden, firm but gentle press of damp heat. You look. He has lain his long, narrow palm there. His fingers, even longer, try to insinuate themselves under yours.

“Benji, alright, let’s just—”

Please!” 

A withheld plug of cry-snot vents itself from his nose, falling like a slug over his jeans. His thin fingers struggle down into yours. The smell of his sweat rises from them: salt and vinegar chips.

Your mouth is dry.

“Benji?”

He is silent.

A foreign instinct, which you must struggle with, wants to let him in. The work to keep him out is so difficult not because he’s prying at your fingers but because he’s not. Because he’s working so shyly. Because he comes to you and moves away, comes to you and moves away like a fading echo and each touch gives you something you don’t dare think about that prickles in your sinuses as you stare straight ahead. He whimpers and groans and it goes on with more and more touches with less and less force. But finally he does stop, and stands up and walks away, and you are alone on the park bench, job done.

You announce the end of the recording the way you were instructed to. Date and time, username nazinaruto. Stop record. For a while, you just look at the waveform.

When you next look up, the picnic is playing frisbee and the air is cooling fast.

It’s a long walk back from the bus stop to your house. Nature-strip crickets trill then go silent as you near. As you come up the driveway you try to skirt along the fence, but dad sees you anyway through the living room window. He stands. It’s no use running to beat him, so you don’t try. You open the door and he’s there in his work clothes, arms spread out to touch either wall.

“Where were ya?,” he says. Over and over like Ventrilo spam. “Where were ya? Where were ya?”

“Nowhere.”

“Ahh. So where were ya?” Lips curling a smile behind that dick moustache.

You storm him under his weak arm—he’s drunk, and fumbles you, and you charge down the corridor and slam and lock your door behind you and stick your gaming chair under the knob for good measure. Now the knocking starts, now the open-palm slamming. You stand in the middle of the room and watch the wooden door shake in its weak frame.

“Alright,” he slurs. “Alright. My bad. I just wanna fuckin’ talk to ya. I’m sorry, mate.”

“Dad, I’m not—”

“I’m fuckin’ sorry, mate!” He doesn’t seem to realize he’s still shouting. He begins to stagger through one of his old therapy scripts. “When you re-fuse to com-municate with me, it makes me feel—”

“Dad, how about go away and cool down?”

You hear the quick onset of his breathing exercises through the door, the ones that never seem to work. “What the fuck—what the fuck do ya think I’m doin’? I’m fuckin’ coming to ya heart in hand!” The sound of a socked foot being tested, hard, against the wood. You close your eyes – don’t panic, he already regrets it.

“I’m fuckin’ sorry, mate.”

He tries the knob, walks off. In the other room, he turns the TV up: Millionaire Hot Seat announcing its sponsors. It’s a Friday night. He’ll fall asleep there. You’ll have to brave it in the morning.

You take your shoes off, then your socks, and put the latter inside the former. The concrete is grainy and cold on the soles of your feet. Your room is the garage. Your brother’s room became the ‘spare room’, untenanted for three years now, but yours is still the garage. What little decoration it has – the tarp over the broken roller door, the glow-in-the-dark stars – only make it look sorrier. You take your shirt off and scratch your irritated chest. You switch on the desk fan, but it just makes a dull clicking sound. Finally dead. You forgot to drink water all day and a migraine’s crawling down to nest behind your right eye. The tap’s in the kitchen through the TV room. Panadol’s your only hope. You search your desk: old CD-ROM games, Yu-Gi-Oh cards bound in fraying rubber bands. A box of Woolies paracetamol—but the foilpacks clatter out empty. So, nothing. And you’re hungry. You think of the rolled-and-clipped bag of Chicken Twisties under your bed, but you finished those this morning—you have nothing. You have absolutely nothing. You fucking retard.

You pull off your pants and get into bed, in under your own stink. Discord notifications are pinging – you ignore them. Fluorescent light drills into your eyes. Headache getting worse, sinuses throbbing again, breath coming out hard and sharp. A tear surprises you, then another. No no no no—you ram your knuckles into your eyes, try to grind them all back in. It’s not what happened today with Benji or just then with dad or the fact you’re sleeping in this redbrick tomb that sunlight doesn’t touch but whatever holds all those things together like a despotic glue—this curdled sick frightened blood moving inside you, always inside you. No escape. Tim telling you it’s alright to cry mate it’s alright to be scared

big nice Tim

but that was fifteen sixteen seventeen and this is now—there are other things to do.

You plug your phone into the wall. More Discord notifications – you flick them away, navigating to one of your regular imageboards with your left hand and squeezing yourself with your right. You’ll do this, then upload the file. You won’t even listen to it back. 

You browse the catalog. It’s the usual garbage: small penis humiliation TikTok edits, ‘ABUSING WOMEN THREAD – not sure why this makes me diamonds’. Stock footage of pregnant white women with Great Replacement statistics overlaid. You wonder if these people actually believe this shit or if the idea just turns them on. Like it does you, usually; your limp dick flaps in your hand. You tab out and hunt elsewhere. One thread is simply titled ‘trannies’. Fuck it. You often punish yourself for your loneliness this way, for not having a real girl. You browse the thumbnails: mostly OnlyFans promo shit you’ve seen a million times but you see one that’s ill-lit and bad-quality and you load it. She’s using a Bad Dragon-something on herself and filming with her laptop camera. Her untrained voice moans a woman’s name. It’s obviously been catfished out of her and shared against her will, and most of the time that’s enough to get you all the way there. Fucking degenerate. You squeeze yourself tighter, feel the vinegar strokes looming as twitches in your pelvis. Another Discord ping comes but you swipe it away and watch the loop begin again. The way her wrong haircut flops around her face as she bounces. The awkward, vulnerable way she moans. The way she picked the most precisely bad angle to film from: her face too close to the laptop, flushed and puffy and glowing blue with the cold vision of herself.

You cum, your entire oystery soul evicted into the palm of your hand. You let it fall.

The grating marimba of your phone alarm wakes you from a nightmare you don’t remember. The same alarm you set yesterday. You grasp for your phone, find it fallen between the headboard and mattress; a half-memory between oceans of sleep says you rammed it there when it was making too much noise. Its brightness flashbangs your headache: 7:00 A.M. A lot of urgent activity below.

27 Reddit notifications de-collapse down from a single tree; 53 from Facebook and 41 for Instagram, both of which you barely even use. You move past them, down to your 71 Discord mentions, and scroll the notification chain.

@nazinaruto where is it fucktard

ARe you fucking kidding me

Omg we spend all this energy convincing this faggot…

A new Facebook request pings from an unknown account, its thumbnailed profile picture a Pepe inhaling copium. Something heaves in your body which you suppose is the beginning of fear. You pick up your gamer chair from under the door and wake up your computer. ‘Deviantart Horrors’ is in your bookmarks bar and you’re there in seconds, scrolling without reading, just taking in the slurs. But it goes quiet quickly. All are swarming to a brand new thread in the main subforum, all about you.

You already know how they found you. The Imgur account used to host your messages with Benji had a careless username. That alone would have led them back down through a wrongplanet.net account dated from when you were ten years old. From there, years of secret Tumblr blogs; a chronic load of r/offmychest posts; your mum’s memorial page, guestbook open. In your peripheral vision, a text from your older brother lights up your phone.

You just keep staring into the computer screen, scrolling to make the avatars blur together, blood massing in the front of your face getting heavier and heavier and heavier. 

Downthread, someone posts a new Dragonboy57 picture. 

It’s a hasty job. Done to honour his one-every-day promise, he’s had to get creative to meet the deadline. At first glance, it’s purely abstract: a series of nested concentric floral shapes, getting darker toward the centre of the picture, with the final, central shape being sheer black, lead pencil, a frenzy of crosshatching that’s warped the paper in a way even visible to the scanner. No description. 

tf is that?, some straggler with a Shinji avatar posts.

But you know what it is. It’s the best drawing he’s ever done.

The sphincters enclosing, hugging tighter and tighter. The heat growing like a furnace, not of its blood which is cold but your own, hot, your frenzied breath coming quicker and quicker in the decreasing space. 

You crawl on, deeper and deeper, muscles melting, all life in you merging with the dark—

But it’s been millennia, now.

You’re safe; you’re gone.

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