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When I began volunteering at the Better Estates Center for the Betterment of Afflicts (BECBA) no one could’ve convinced me I would one day be who I am now: director of the Hanging Obsoletion Gardens (HOG). And it is thanks to the innovative work of HOG that no one knows what it feels like to elate, and, thus, no one knows what it feels like to deflate. That is, other than the Afflicts to whom I, and soon we, will give care. 


Afflicts, as you may know, come in all shapes and sizes. They come from most walks of life (and some from no walk of life at all). They sometimes come to us as elementary-school-age children, the largest influx being around the .6 maturation juncture. Usually, if they can make it past .6 out there we will not expect to see one until just after graduating from .12 into .00…00 causes a great influx of Afflicts for three reasons.

1 : It is at .00 that the Afflict begins to feel a sense that there are no rules anymore, that choice might actually be possible, that there is finally an escape from judgment. When the sensitive Afflict discovers the inverse of each is true, they often end up dead, here, or shooed away wherever they go. 


2 : It is at .00 that the Afflict sees that all their hard work from .0 to .12 was actually designed,not experienced. They see the last thirteen years of their life were constructed, not actualized. They see .00 is just a reboot of the same program. They run here. 

3 : It is at .00 that a threshold is truly felt to be crossed. A right of passage seems verifiable, physical, and achievable. They achieve, achieve, achieve. Sometime in the four years before .000 begins, they wash up on our curbs. 

If an Afflict is able to get to .000 without a hitch, we usually do not see them until what we have come to call Zero.0-Zero.0. This is the aspect ratio of a lifespan where the Afflict has succeeded at following protocol at each step of the perfectly balanced, numerical path, all the way to their mid-30s—a full 5+ years after .000 truly begins in earnest. This brand of Afflict finds themselves branded by their life, their obligations, their hopes. They see the next 40 years ahead, they see the mark on their forehead that says not my own, and they come to us—usually in large nets like butterflies gathered to be enjoyed under a misty canopy by strange creatures carrying pink beehives of floating sugar. 

You might think of the BECBA as an advancement to a beehive or an anthill. Beehives and anthills run much like any human city: this much has been known and told so often as to become cliché. However, when a bee is infected with sacbrood, say, or an ant with a lancet-liver fluke worm, there is nowhere for them to go, nothing for them to do. The poor bee or ant is eaten or ripped apart by their peers. Those that survive, finding no charity to be found, drown themselves, or fly intentionally into spider webs, the above ground Internet of the faunal kingdom. 

The BECBA provides a place for the sacbrooded and lanceted among our species to live out their days without fear of dismemberment or the troublesome seduction of volition. We here pride ourselves in offering a safe haven—a shelter from the psychic storm for those unfortunate among us, whose minds have been taken over by that which we cannot comprehend or articulate. At this juncture, if you find yourself combating an inner struggle with what you might have heard about the BECBA out there and what you are reading here, please, by all means, continue onward in your struggle. All will become conflexive. The disparity taking place in what you knew of this work, what you are taking in now, and what there is to come, will become more all than one, more both than none and more wonderful than you can at this point possibly comprehend. 

***Historical Context Portion (please read earnestly)*** 

Many years ago, thousands, there was a man who walked the streets near the Aegean. He had no home and used a discarded bathing tub as his bed, making it all the more strange the man never let water touch his body. He spent his time walking the populated roads as naked as the day he was born (though some say he was never born), holding a lit lantern—his one and only possession. Some called him “swineman,” but no one in the ancient wing of the BECBA seems to know or care what his name truly was. He ended his short, miserable life by jumping from a high cliff into the sea(much like a fuke-riddled ant). 

Another man—who looked much like the previous—lived centuries later, as far as I can piece together from these haphazard records of antiquity.   He wore a similar crop of facial hair, brought fear to those around him, and wrote words as if a swarm of infected bees were embattled within his brain. 



The brood was so far gone in his mind that it only took the sight of a suffering horse to toss him fully from the human community and far flung beyond any ideations of “for good or for evil.” Each of these case studies are shining examples of how fortunate we are to have the BECBA; if such a thing as this place existed for the bathtub or horse man…just think of the productive lives they might have led! All we can do now is continue doing what we humans have always been about. We must continue to learn from our past. We must continue to press on, to research, to science our way to a better tomorrow. We must get people out of the filthy bathtubs and horse entrails of their minds and release them into the one and only real world—a world of sunlight, knowledge, certainty, data, reason, and verifiable outcomes. We, the veterans of the BECBA and hopeful newcomers like you and your class—must strive to allow all to thrive, as we who offer the thriving thrive. It is all a sane society can do. 

We know now we must wash our hands of subjectivity for good. We see now that our world can only cross the threshold into the world of transmodernity on the soles of the objective of Objectivity. The three-eyed human subject of antiquity is now and forever rendered grotesque and obsolete, hung to death by its own neurotic need to become. And if you find yourself experiencing feelings of uncertainty, unknowing, or unwellness due to any of the above, allow me to put your mind at ease. No new recruit could be any more skeptical than I was, initially. That is the very reason why the BECBA sagaciously chose me to compose this welcoming reading for you. For such worries as to which you might cling. For such a time as this. 

Please believe me when I tell you that the most cynical, pessimistic, and myopic of the recruits often become the very best producers. Though they do not come to us thinking of themselves as cynics, pessimists, or progress-blind, to be sure. They, like you, usually refer to themselves as idealists, optimists, and having “the long view of history.” It is good this is not a visual/audiol composition or you might see and hear my guffaw and take offense, even though none is intended, as such. So, sit back and relax, while I take you through a very, almost unfortunately brief tour of what life was like for Afflicts before the BECBA. 

1 : Imagine there was a time when people only lived in groups of no more than 150 persons and these groups lived near enough to each other that they could walk to and from one group or another. According to our statistics, each of these groups tended to have one person every two generations who exhibited signs of severe brood/fluke, or Afflictivism. You might be thinking the horror I am about to tell you has something to do with how they cruelly disposed of these sick individuals. But no! Alas, before the BECBA, these unfortunates were put in charge of the community! They were dressed up in hats, made of animal skulls painted in fierce designs with the young blood of sacrificed human virgins, replete with feathers plucked from arrowed-down preybirds, and donning necklaces made from human teeth and jaguar fangs. These poor sick fools were allowed to dance around, gawked out on plantsmoke and rootjuice, until they chanted metronomic, obscene nonsense into the communal fire, which riled up the crowd that sticky, wailing orgies predictably broke out and left the entire female population, even the old and withered, pregnant and panting for more. Imagine what progress would never have occurred if that was allowed to continue. Can you even imagine a world where the sick were actually in charge? Is it too much to bear? Imagine a world where the constructors of civilization wore crazed masks and danced around in secret circles praising and howling towards ancient bloodthirsty owls while they ate the souls of children using the mouths of their genitals. Imagine a world run by those with viral brains in which the tribe’s food is perpetually poisoned, the water filled with magic and mysterious potions, and the children are taught to gorge on infected larvae so they too can become infected larvae and slake their thirst with liver fluke libations because that is what the gods drink. You cannot imagine this because you live in a world cleansed by the BECBA and its subsidiaries, a true and loving tribe who is now offering entrance to you. Can you feel the worm turn? It is lovely if you do. 

2 : Imagine a time when people heard of what we now know is an Afflict ranting and raving. The unfortunate drivel about the sky falling or money being foul or there being a rift in the field of spacetime that only few can peruse. And all these verbal droolings were understood to be actual and incarnational forms of invisible sprites and wisps of nihil known as demons or witches or sorcery…or any number of words with which you are blessedly unfamiliar thanks, in whole, to, you guessed it, your new home inside of home, the BECBA. Imagine a world in which nature was divine, and, thus, Afflicts had some recourse within the shared societal psychosis that the Sun and Moon were living beings and the seasons—their siblings—and the tides—their transport—the stars our very source of life and meaning. It is not only the foolishness that must aghast you but the danger, the loopholes, the misery; inherent in such a system, a system that must seem science fiction to you but once was as real as the seat upon which you read, the mind which reads, the you which says “my mind,” the sky above the ceiling protecting you from radiation, cosmic dust, and pockmarked skin. Mercifully, that system is abolished and all who are to be pitied, all those who are unable to cease expressing any of the trademarked Afflict articulations (verbal, kinetic, or SubCon) are sent to us, where they can be cared for in a humane way, while maintaining harmony on the surface, a harmony we all have worked and sacrificed to achieve. Congratulations! You have now reached the third imagining and the official point of no return. Welcome, brother/sister, to the BECBA! (Instructions await following the third imagining.)

3 : Imagine a room as large or small, relative to whatever you like, and imagine that room, of that particular size, is filled with tattered reclining chairs made of maroon and beige cloth fraying at the ends with wooden pull handles working tired, rusty gears within that when called upon to do the simplest task: to open up or close down for the day makes the most godawful screeching you’d swear the things were alive and thinking and they’d all screech and screech all morning as if they slept the night through with earth-ending nightmares, filled with biblical dragons and blood-soaked pygmies, only to awake as a long-broken appendage to a room you do not recognize and the only noise you are capable of making turns everyone’s ears to nails on brittle chalk. So the chair—which is you but couldn’t feel any less like you—is given chair lubrication on a very tightly observed schedule so that the chair can cease its screeching, and all the chairs, and all the people feeling like chairs, and all the chair lubrication people know that no chair wants to be a screecher. Now, imagine that this room was every room on earth attempting to help Afflicts. They even had programs where Afflicts help Afflicts! Yes, it is true. You know you can trust me, as the Hanging Obsoletion Gardens have done such highly praised work on and against propaganda of any kind. 

Now that you have so dutifully read—congratulations on not straying…this bodes well for you—this BECBA introduction, your only task before suiting up and heading in for boots on the ground training is for you to give your formal response of acceptance to your post as: Entry Level Afflicteer #8956 (ELA8956). Your acceptance may be in narrative or numerical form. Welcome, friend! _____________________________________________________________________________ 

Formal Mandatory Acceptance: ELA8956 

There are men and women walking the streets of earth trapped in prolonged ecstatic visions of a rift, not in time and space, but in the artifice of BECBA itself. Others just like them are without a doubt simply run of the mill mad, schizo, bombed, blown, torched, looped, fizzed, lazy, soulsick, evil, deranged or just too hungry to think straight, and that is how the artifice artfully hides the seers—by constructing these very real sufferers and flooding the avenues of the world with them…the concrete avenues and the microprocessor avenues, the flesh and blood veins and the 0/1 veins. They’re all filled up to choking with a constant flow of sponsored and celebrated inanity never before consumed by our species, creating a living sea of loud noises and bright woe so deafening and blinding that no one can be blamed for not noticing the few weary wanderers who are pointing to the sky as if there were actually something large and looming there—something pointy at the ends, round on bottom, and directed at everything we know and love, this thing in the sky some see coming and so they point with their fingers on invisible keyboards and they proclaim with their voices in soundproof rooms and when their arms are tied they use their bloodshot eyes to peer into the firmament where the thing is, the opening—the coming and the going—and they warn and watch and end up on metal cots pumped full of clozapine and zorlan playing checkers with their snot, the spirit of the new artificial gods pulsed into them at 460 volts. Where do we begin?


   Always threes 

   Antiquity is defined as, “any period of history one generation previous to the living.”





Better Estates Center for the Betterment of Afflicts

Zac Walsh

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