Fixed and Gone


Issue 4: FAITH | 732 words

Self, Allie Cheroutes

All I needed was safe passage out of the Untethered and into the Real, but there was only one way for a haint like me to get it, and that was a stolen ride on a boatman’s ferry. So many things could go wrong: the boatman could grow suspicious of the soul-egg I rode. My soul-egg might jostle too much in transit, fracture, and then I might leak out and become trapped in the Numinous where only the boatmen survive. Or, when the time came, I might fail to break through the thin shell of the egg. I would be wholly subsumed on the other side. 

But none of those things happened. The boatmen scooped me up in great webbed fingers along with the rest of other glowing souls, these other fragments of animus bound for another go at the physical world. Ve did not give the lot of us so much as a second glance. I lurked, waiting, my whole self, shrunken to a tiny, dense dot and ensconced in the thin membrane of this soul. Ve navigated the twisting waves of the Numinous with uncaring expertise. Not a single egg was lost. Another boatman on the far shore sorted us according to the markings on our glowing rinds, sent us through mazes and warps to where we were headed, into the Real. Into the infants.

It took great focus but little strength to fracture the rind from within. My contacts said to start choosing a form quickly, that the weight of the Real would hit harder and faster than I would expect. They told me to watch out for the stalwart march of time—there are no reversals in the Real. “You must commit,” they said. “To be in the real is to choose a path and drive only forward.”

I committed. I committed to two legs and two arms and a neck and a face. I committed to girth and weight. I had spent much energy in the unreal thinking about form, preparing. I had it ready. I was going into the Real, the physical, and I wanted to take up my part of it. I committed to large breasts and wide hips, to a full, round belly. 

There was a half-squeal of an infant, the anguished cry of a distraught mother, and then, somewhere else again, there was me, and I was in this glorious body.

I’d stolen the child’s soul, yes. It might live, or might not. But I am standing here in the rain in this body, this body that is mine, in this slice of the world where I’d traded possibility for permanence and where time only moves in one direction. 


There are reasons we don’t do this. I sit in the rain, myself made flesh, and revel in every wet plop against my skin. Nerves are miraculous. Senses are miraculous. I sit here, naked in the rain, this great and glorious body I have manifested. I feel it dying, breath by breath.

I won’t last long. The stolen soul I rode out of the Untethered is burning up, bit by bit. I don’t know how long I have left, only that the time here is finite and measurable. I only know that it’s ending.

It is dark, and I am surrounded by greenery and buildings. I know the names of things–night, parks, rain–from the soul disintegrating inside me. We haints aren’t built for this, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get curious. I’m fixed here, suddenly loosed from my mutability. Everything in the Real is so sharp, crystallized in such perfect depth. I’m fixed in this body, and this body is fixed in time. In a moment, I’ll be gone. But I will have been here in the Real, in the rain. This body I made will remain. It will rot, and in that process it will be evidence that I was. I will leave scars and traces on this world.

There are reasons we don’t do this, but this is such a fine way to end my run. To come into the Real, to drink in the air with these lungs and taste rainwater for as long as this soul can hold out. To be fixed and leave a mark somewhere. For as long as this lasts, for these remaining seconds or minutes or hours, I am committed.




Pronouns: they/them/their. B R Sanders is an autistic award-winning genderqueer writer who lives and works in Denver, Colorado with their family and two cats. B writes fantasy novels about queer elves and short fiction about dancing planets. They love drinking coffee and sleeping. B tweets @b_r_sanders.