Bloodworld

By Blake Butler

We all go by the same name.

Our name is Bill. 

Each of our dads’ names was also Bill. 

Our dads are dead. 

I walk on the ground and sometimes think, I am walking on my dad. 

I don’t remember what my mother’s name was. 

We have a body, a van, a house, a bed, some rope, and a strong will.

There are four of us. 

My friends and I are full of blood and semen. 

We see the world. 

 

 

Our home is not far from the mall. 

We go to the mall during the day a lot to walk around and look for what comes next. 

We have needs. 

The outside of the mall is white and screams in intense sunlight. 

In the mall there are places you can get food.  

I like beef and I like dough, though I try not to eat them. 

I try not to eat anything. 

Our van is also white. 

There were windows on the van but we painted over them with white paint. 

The windows are tinted. 

I am Bill 1. 

Bill 2 is my brother. 

Twins. 

We shared a bed for the first thirteen years of our lives. 

Now Bill 2 sleeps in the bed my dad slept with our mom in before we killed them. 

I sleep in the bed we used to share. 

It’s nice to have so much room now to move my body around however I want. 

I hate the dark.

I can’t sleep with any lights on because I like to see my body. 

I like to open my eyes and know exactly what is there. 

The skin around my cock is shaved. 

So are my armpits and my head and face. 

I would shave my arms and legs but my friends would shit all over me about it. 

Bill 2 looks better than me naked but I am smarter, which is why I always drive.

Bill 3 is the kid who always lived across the street. 

Now he lives with us. 

His parents are dead, too.

We helped him kill them. 

They were older than our parents even. 

They had a lot of money.

Now we have a lot of money. 

Bill 4 is our dog. 

He just showed up one day at the front door of the house we share together and we let him in and fed him and he never left. 

Bill 4 is ours. 

I would kill anybody who tried to come and take Bill away.

I would kill anybody. 

 

 

Today is bright. 

On days like now the mall gets so bright you can’t look at it. 

You have to look at the air beside where you meant to be going and aim at that. 

Even through the black glass on our car it’s hard to know where you are going. 

I am wearing a white suit. 

I bought the suit from Goodwill because I liked the way it fit me and I like how it seems to make me blend in wherever I am standing. 

I also like how my big cock looks even bigger against the fabric.

The pants are a youth size. 

We always video the things we fuck. 

I lift weights and work out a lot to keep my body looking good on camera. 

I wouldn’t want to be a big fatass on the recordings with my lard all flapping onto the other bodies. 

My physique helps me talk the women into doing what I want, not that I need them to want to do what I am going to do to them. 

In the back of the van we have bats and guns and axes and rope and gags and ether and pills and cash and gags. 

We have everything we could ever need right at our behest. 

We are prepared. 

We already know what we require to do what we will do, though often we don’t need any of it but our mouths. 

Our eyes and mouths.

Our eyes and bodies and hands and fingers and arms and ideas and our mouths. 

I’m the one who mostly does all of the talking. 

People like me. 

Always have. 

Even when I was a little boy I could finagle a woman into letting me do shit I wasn’t supposed to be doing like staying up well into hours I was supposed to be asleep or sitting on them or touching on them even though they weren’t my mother. 

I’ve always eaten anything I want and always will.

I’d rather die young without restrictions than old having always had to pay attention.

Despite the light the air outside the mall is cold. 

My skin reveals its ridges. 

 

 

I like big girls.

It’s their asses.

Also, it’s something about the way they look from upside down, the way their voice elongates in a different way than those with less to give. 

Bill 2 likes wives. 

He always looks for something glinting on a woman’s finger. 

Bill 2 was married once, which might have something to do with it, like he wants to take his feelings out on anyone who didn’t get cheated like he did. 

Bill 2’s wife died in a fire. 

He did not set the fire. 

I can’t remember Bill 2’s dead wife’s name. 

Bill 2 always calls her Dead Wife, then he laughs. 

It brings me sadness.

Knowing how much pain he’s in still, I mean. 

What he has suffered. 

Bill 3 likes fat girls also, but the young ones. 

Usually we don’t let him have the young girls because they’re not very smart and that’s disgusting to both me and my twin brother. 

Though sometimes if we can’t find anything else, we’ll give in and let him have his way. 

Close your eyes and what you have is what you make it. 

Bill 4 doesn’t get a say cause he’s a dog. 

Not that Bill 4 doesn’t have his preferences. 

 

 

The mall right now is nuts. 

It’s the sort of season people go to stores just to be going. 

It’s better than being outside. 

The air in the mall is loud in such a general way it’s like there’s no sound.

You can’t hear any certain sort of word in particular. 

People are screaming.

They don’t even know what. 

They scream because they can without alarm. 

No one responds to screaming in a world where pretty much everyone is always screaming. 

There are so many faces you can look dead on into their eyes and know you’ll never see those eyes again. 

It’s like a music. 

It’s the world. 

There are so many people you could begin most anywhere when you have ideas like I do. 

But the point is to get exactly what you want. 

We walk slow and close together. 

We look almost like a wall.

A human wall with three white faces and three cocks and six arms. 

It’s slow going at the beginning today, despite how much flesh there is I feel desire for. 

Everyone’s with someone else already.

Mostly we look for those who’ve come alone. 

Who had no one to come with or didn’t want to. 

The human mind is full of holes.

There are so many things to fill the holes with. 

All the stores are full of shit that you can buy. 

We go into a department store and browse the women’s perfumes, pretending to be looking for a gift for Bill 2’s wife. 

His dead wife did like perfume and wore it often. 

Bill 2 tells the saleswoman his dead wife likes Dior. 

She liked to spray it on her thighs, he tells her, grinning, when she could still do that. 

The lights inside the store are almost as bright as what’s outside. 

The woman doesn’t seem to notice he’s saying anything out of the ordinary. 

The other women’s bodies passing are all bundled up for the cold weather, obscuring their conditioning. 

Sweaters press their breasts flat to their chests.

Their skin is precious. 

Their hands are attached to their arms, the arms to ribcages, to necks, to skulls. 

Rings on their fingers, or not. 

Watches, or not. 

They all have their own memories and ideas of what they came to buy, how they got here, where they will go when they leave here, whether or not they make eye contact, for how long. 

I try to ask a pretty girl if she knows where I could find the men’s room. 

She pretends not to hear me.

Her face is filled with bone. 

Her ass is witchcraft through her stretchy pants walking away. 

I think about following her but I don’t. 

I’m always smiling. 

I tell another passing girl I’d like to buy her a special gift.

Any scent here on the glass tables, she can have it, no strings attached.

The girl hesitates. 

Her hair is black like mine would be when it grows out. 

I’d just like you to remember me, I say, when you will spray this on your body.

I see the blood flush up through the girl’s head.

Bill 2 and Bill 3 are watching me talk now from over by where they keep the men’s scents, no expressions. 

There are at least thirty mirrors in the room. 

The girl keeps walking. 

The floor beneath us both is gold. 

 

 

We follow the girl for a while from a slight distance, just far behind enough that she must realize that we’re there. 

The noise in the mall feels more distant now, having spent some time inside it, like it is swallowed in my flesh.

Like I no longer have to hear it, because I am it. 

The girl is never far away. 

She has no idea what she is feet from. 

I glare into the back of her head hard in such a way that were she to turn and look our eyes would lock on contact, open tunnels. 

She never does. 

Entering the food court, she disappears. 

When we find her again, she’s with her husband. Or her boyfriend or her brother. Or some guy she’s asked to stand beside her on account of who we are. 

The guy isn’t looking at us now, but she is. 

Looking at us so hard it might break her little eyes.

There are so many other people.

I love being alive. 

I love the feeling of seeing in my body beneath me and knowing there are parts of me I will never see unless reflected, which isn’t real. 

I love the inside of my face, how the curvature that lines the point between my inside and my outside seems made of polished chrome, with a low blue glow coming off it to bask my innards around the edges like the coming of a sun. 

I love the glass of the fronts of the stores in the mall that make as if they keep the air inside the store inside it and the air outside it out, who only from certain angles catch my image. 

I love everybody. 

I love hearing my skin grow. 

My nails. 

My new blood. 

I love being inside a man’s body.

I love feeling the meat between my legs knock up against my thighs when I walk, the balls there full of babies only waiting to be given places to be incubated, nourished, born. 

I love the belt inside the escalator, the slatted eyes of every step. 

I love to press my teeth together until they seem about to break. 

I love how when I think its like someone is there inside me reading a book aloud. 

I love how there is nothing in the mall I have to touch besides the ground. 

 

 

I decide it’s time I had a haircut. 

There’s this shitty little haircut spot at the mall. 

I get the idea after seeing the one girl in there cutting hair, a tiny blonde, with a body that makes her seem older than her face seems.

She reminds me of someone I saw on TV recently.

I don’t know who that was, but I can see her in my brain captured as an image. 

It’s like there’s two of every person in the world and here is one I recognize from somewhere else, and I can come near. 

I can interact now. 

Tongues and tits and all the layers. 

I go in and say I would like a haircut. 

I clearly do not need a haircut. 

My scalp just shines. 

The deskgirl is squat and ugly, a nose the size of someone’s fist. 

I can hardly hold my hand down from reaching up and rubbing it, grinning. 

The deskgirl tries to put me with a man. 

There’s a man there waiting to cut hair who has no one and the girl is already in the midst. 

The scissors look so large inside her hand holding the metal, bringing it around a person’s face. 

I say I’d like to wait. 

I say I’ve had this girl cut me before and her work was great, I’d like to have the same work done again. 

The deskgirl asks my name. 

I say my name is Bill 1. 

The deskgirl writes the name down: Bill. 

Her handwriting is sloppy, like a child’s. 

It doesn’t even look like my name there written on the paper. 

The deskgirl tells me, Thirty minutes. 

She fakes a smile.  

The world is ours. 

I tell Bill 2 and Bill 3 to go and look out on their own awhile, keep their eyes open, cover more ground, see what comes. 

I tell them I will find them wherever they end up. 

 

 

I sit and wait and watch the girl work. 

I hold a magazine open on my lap like I might read it but I don’t bother to look down. 

Every few minutes I remember and I turn the page just for the fuck of it. 

Every page looks exactly the same to me.

The glossy paper feels nice on my palms. 

The girl who is going to cut my hair doesn’t look over at me even once. 

She doesn’t know I can already see straight through her clothes. 

She doesn’t know what I have done to others like her.

My mind is full of blood, just like her body. 

She is chatty with the customer before me, an obese man wearing tan slacks and a white button up shirt. 

His coat is folded over on the seat beside the barber chair. 

The coat is red. 

I touch my thumbs together and hear knives becoming sharpened in space between my eyes. 

Dogs ripping apart sternums while being ripped apart by knives.

Meat in my dresser drawers, no room remaining. 

Beside the man’s coat there is a shopping bag from Macy’s. 

The white of the font on the bag makes my heart beat in my head. 

The want for wetness pounding through and through me. 

I imagine the bag is full of lice. 

The man’s body full of lice. 

His brain.

His lardy sternum. 

His hidden throat. 

The man watches the hairdresser in the mirror while she works on him, speaking to her reflection. 

She plays along.

I can tell she doesn’t mean to laugh when she is laughing. 

I make a mental note to buy a red coat someday when I am old and fat and fucked.

The man’s brown hair falls onto the floor around him, every inch I want to eat.  

I wait watching the girl: her hands, her fingers, her throat, her pants, her lips.

My brain is starving. 

There have been no eternities before now. 

 

 

Each time I close my eyes, it becomes night. 

There is no world there beyond the edges of me. 

Black elastics. 

The hidden planets squeal. 

I realize then that I am walking. 

I am awake. 

I look and see the sky above me framed with steel nails. 

Black round heads of nails each small as tips of pointed fingers. 

There are flowers in my pores. 

Sponges in the bread of my body growing thicker, drier. 

The air is covered up with zits. 

Where I move into them the zits pop and I can breathe them. 

It’s like a painting. 

It expands. 

It is buried in the sheen over the air of the room where I am sitting with the slitting sound inside my jaw. 

I am speaking and can’t hear what I am saying. 

I see a mirror. 

I walk until I come upon a shore. 

A beach unpeopled, kind of hissing. 

The water is bodies.  

The sand is chips. 

A thousand eyes all at the same time. 

There are so many worlds like cut on our world that no one wants. 

Hours burnt down into colors. 

Dreamless, ageless. 

A language I did not design, scripts I didn’t mean to model, sexual desires. 

The air is cake. 

I walk on the sand until I am covered over in the bodies, one of the bodies. 

I wade into their obesities, their cavities, their open mouths glued up with gravy. 

Their ticking flesh together crushed. 

Women and men. 

I have known them all. 

The sun above us never brighter. 

 

 

I find Bill 2 and Bill 3 having lunch. 

They’d gone back to the food court to find the first girl that we followed and got hungry, Bill 2 says. 

His mouth is full of red lasagna sauce and dough. 

There is a table of six elementary school aged girls ~5.5’ NW over Bill 2’s right shoulder, from my perspective, dressed alike. 

Each child will in time age to reach the age I am right now, though by then I will be much older, and they will keep aging past that immediately, unless they die. 

What happened with the haircut baby, Bill 2 asks. 

His voice is high. 

I tell him I can’t remember.

I honestly can’t remember, though I can see it in my mind. 

I know her hands holding the scissors had orbited my mouth. 

I know there is more sand inside my sternum than had previously been there. 

Glass waves, a muzzle. 

A dais beneath the sand. 

What happened with you? I say.

I hear me say it. 

I feel the words become absorbed. 

Bill 2 is saying something. 

Bill 3 is saying something. 

I am Bill 1. 

I am alive. 

There will be clearer times.

There will be new days.

Just not right now.

 

 

Back out in the van, we sit in silence. 

Every other car we see is also white. 

We are waiting. 

The pavement is white, the shrubberies are white and shining, the smoke that comes out of our mouths, the exhaust on the horizon, the glass refracting, all white as nothing. 

The grid on the pavement looks like someone slit the earth. 

Bill 3 is in the back of the van playing with the restraints, pretending to hang himself. 

None of us know what we are waiting for though we know we’ll know it when it comes. 

The clock in the van’s dash is broken. 

It always reads 88:88. 

That’s like four infinities. 

They won’t stop blinking.

 

Blake Butler is an American writer and editor. He edits the literature blog HTMLGIANT, and two journals: Lamination Colony, and concurrently with co-editor Ken Baumann, No Colony. His other writing has appeared in Birkensnake, The Believer, Unsaid, Fence, Willow Springs, The Lifted Brow, Opium Magazine, Gigantic and Black Warrior Review. He also wrote a regular column for Vice magazine.