Soul Without Body

13/8/2022 • 15 min • meaningless fiction

There were these vases with faces—real moving faces that squashed and squeezed in size in a perfect sine wave pattern; some goats were building a sand sculpture of The Beatles; an oasis of human hands with lorem ipsum stitched on with thread colored naturally red trough the bleeding; a clock that ticked like the lowest key on the grand piano and played time backwards; an igloo of sun-dried used condoms, with “big butt hole” spray painted in Kafka’s hand writing; a parade of humans dressed as animals: cats, ravens, lions, tigers, turtles, goldfish, dolphins, and vice versa with those aforementioned animals dressed as human: business woman, disk jockey, sous-chef, art student, plumber, light switch repair assistant, and a manager manager. Meanwhile, hundreds of spectators screamed on the top of their lungs to argue over what would be the best placement of two blueberries in a single muffin. This was the animal kingdom, and the humans were one species.

There were different sections of the desert indicated by freestanding monochrome billboards labeled with a color of the rainbow in a style that was equal parts old cigarette packages and Las Vegas. These were connected by a series of poles and Christmas lights that blinked in Morse code. A donkey was placed on each side as interpreter in which they would transcribe information to a German punch card system. To top it off, a transit system was in place that used bumper car buses on articulated concrete “tracks” like the Parisian Metro with a line number displayed on a giant Nixie tube on top. The “tram” stopped, and a siren lit up and wailed to indicate it as such. Out came a series of business men and women, in red suits with top hats.

“Hey Aiko,” shouted Coral. “Come here!”

“Where are you?” I did a 360° turn to gaze at this spectacle of a city. Somehow I walked my way into the middle of a roundabout, the center containing a single block of unmarked black marble surrounded by free standing ionic columns with a satanic pentagram connecting them on the ground. The zebras, elephants, trucks, and bicycles flowing trough the traffic, going through the roundabout to seemingly nowhere. It was chaos. On the sidelines, a cat and dog, married for life sat by a burning trash can and roasted dormice in honey.

“I’m at the market!” she shouted.

“What market?!” I yelled, but the blueberry placement spectators started arguing again, and their voices overpowered mine; they were like those jackhammers of any metropolis, sans the orange cones.

I inspected the five exits of the roundabout.

The first exit was where I clearly came from. The “tram” stopped there anyway.

The second exit led to a street orgy with both humans and beasts in all neon and fluorescent colored kinky clothing doing their thing. A good chunk of them were probably on speed.

The third was a real life Street Fighter street, complete with a voice actor making sound effects and commenting on all the hits and combo multipliers. Somehow they had even less clothes then the former crowd—and opted for impressive body painting over costumes.

The fourth was a solid black void.

The last one was the market. I jaywalked with the fluid motion of a river; I danced trough the elephants, the trucks, the odd bicycle, and there she was at the entrance. She walked deeper in, and I merely followed.


“Everyday life. After destroying all the smaller cities along the Adriatic coast, Emperor September created a metropolis here, Remus.”

“Yeah, but how did I get here? Why is everyone here crazy.”

She burst out laughing, “Hah, if you think everyone here is crazy, you should just take a look at yourself! Elderly!”

“But,” she said—she turned dead serious and stared her eyes right into my soul, past the flesh, skin, hair, and even those ancient eyes that clothed my flesh—“what will you do with your time, as it is about to end?”

“Take the road that presents itself,” I answered.

“Then follow me.”

I followed her lead.

“In this place, you gaze at life itself only to get so distracted at the wonder that you forget what you wanted to do.”

“And where are we going?”

“We’re headed to the arena, where September is performing his ceremonial executions. It is time that he faced justice.”

Despite her warning, I couldn’t help but look at the wonders of this place. It was an endless array of open air vendors: the golden display of honey, spiced olive oils, and fruit liquors. Oh no, is that “truffle” oil? Better avoid that guy. What is that horse doing pissing in that bottle? Don’t tell me they sell that stuff too? Besides him, a Marx-lookalike with a big bushy beard selling spiced olive oils. This was obviously the good stuff. The first whiff of the market was of flowers—the fresh scent of rose, tulips, lavender, lilies—which then transition into fried meat and fish. Charcoal and wood fire was the name of the game here. One place sold ambiguous meat-on-a-stick, the other one was more simple: thin omelets filled with wild asparagus. Oh look, the lion that went by caught on fire! The penguin firemen came down from the rope from the rooftops and sprayed this thing that resembled whipped cream—and it worked! Right across, the dogfish barbecue. They have it all here: electric eel, dolphin, whale, fish brain, camel… Wait what is that? How is that pig walking past by that other pig being roasted in honey, black pepper, fish sauce, and cumin? How does that work?

“How could they be selling these animals if they were literally just like us?” I asked her.

“One is of a higher class then the other. Ever heard of slaves? Well when they’re past their prime, they become useful in different ways. In the case of animals like pigs, cows, they also have a sub-slave class known as livestock. My guess is that the one being roasted used to be of slave, not lifestock class. It’s not fat enough to be lifestock.”

“I guess this truly makes September, September ‘the cannibal.’ He’s not just a cannibal himself. He also cannibalizes his own people.”

We passed the proud cannibal crowd: the lion wearing a lion coat, a snake wearing a snake-scale dress, a bull wearing a bull-horn hat, and a human nibbling at a barbecued hand.

“This place is doing much better then your world. Behind all this chaos is a very rational system. It’s more rational then your world anyway. While your world values the infinite expansion of human development for its own sake and materialism, this place values pleasure and the ability to sustain that to eternity. The lather point being the key term. The way they conserve nature would make environmentalists jealous. All the governing and societal systems are optimized for that. This place is of low crime, poverty, and technically good health with a high standard of living if you’re even somewhat above the slave class. At the same time, it’s a fascist dictatorship where there is little say in things. It’s radical, almost irrational compared to your world. But is the dictatorship bad when they’re good?”

“Yes, but what about the slaves? What about being able to make choices—that’s what makes us human anyway, the ability to ask ‘why’?”

“Well, what the alternative? Everyone here can think and speak like humans, but who should get the privileges that come with it? It’s not like only non-humans are slaves. Every animal species is equally divided into slaves and non-slaves. And their children will have their status swapped. It can’t get any more fair.”

I had nothing to say.

I kept looking around at the wonder of this place when a smell stopped me in my tracks. The strong earthy scent of the truffle. This particular stand was selling it in pasta form, with a creamy truffle sauce coating cannoli-shaped but penne-sized pasta. Either way, it was hypnotizing; I was hungry again; starving; I was willing to kill to get a plate of that. My animal instincts kicked in and I ran down the alley, even passing where I wanted to go. As I looked back, there was a solid brick wall.

“The savages are taking over Remus! It’s amazing! And Kaiser September I is becoming mad. He abandoned reason and everything is crumbling down! We need a benevolent revolutionary to take action and liberate the people, both from the evil wicked Kaiser and the chaos that is rationality!” It was the same girl that supposedly stole my soul for “safe keeping?”

“Hey! I’m talking to you, Aiko!”

“Um, hi. Uh, I didn’t actually catch your name at all.”

“That is unimportant, but are you willing to become the revolutionary that overthrows this Huxleyan dystopia?”

“If I shall die too soon, I may as well die in a raging fire.”

“Sure… I guess that works for now.” She started singing, “Let’s get to the arena and I’ll be your mirror; reflect what you are; in case you don’t know.”

I’ll be the wind, the rain and the sunset
The light on your door to show that you’re home
When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside you’re twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
’Cause I’ll be you

“What about my soul?”

“Everything and nothing is art. Good design is art. Good art is designed. Art is is what we value ‘art’ to be as at that specific point in time. The ultimate art is what create of ourselves. Asa Nimi Masa

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Dance dance dance.”

I gave up.

We exited the claustrophobic labyrinth of the market and ended on a wide red brick road filled with the loud, sweaty, impatient beasts waiting to get into the Remulian Colosseum. We were no where close, as the lineup was at least three kilometers long.

A crowd of animals were holding up a sign advertising the big event, “Executions of The Traitors of The Remulian Empire”. They were, respectively: a female wolf, a Labrador with two tails—one starting where the other ended—and another with six legs and a sheep’s head, three penguins with their torsos permanently joined together, an overweight but wholesome looking black pig with claws as teeth and last a purple gorilla standing up as the leader of the pack.

The terrifying gorilla moved towards me to sniff me, and then whispered into my ear:

The Promise of a utopia actually met
Every meal a feast;
Every sex an orgy
Every park a hanging garden
A society well-behaved
A patron to the arts
A pleasure factory
All food organic
All nature well kept
All technologies for the benefits of the masses
All carefully considered to survive till eternity
But what about the other?
But of the slave class?
What of agency to act upon?
What of morals?
What of humanism?
You were old, but that made you young again

“And you’ll have to do it alone,” she said with a small smile.

He whispered into my ear once more, “trough the forgotten church facing South-East, trough The Hall of Slaves, and then the vomitorium.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m banned from the arena. If I’m caught even near it, I’ll be thrown on the stage to be eaten by the wolves. Now go.”

The Colosseum was but a shiny speck in the distance. It took a long uphill hike to even get close, and the gunk of the entire animal kingdom desperate to get inside—although offset by a mild ocean breeze—did not help. Slowly the Colosseum transformed from a small dot in the distance into the monumental twenty storey high icon that makes its Roman counterpart look crude in comparison. It was a neo-classical reinterpretation of a Roman amphitheater made of concrete, marble, and gold; meticulously carved Caryatids and atlases of various gods were put in place of columns while friezes were decorated in vibrant paints covering the entire exterior.

A mere few hundred meters away, the lineup became plural—there were dozens of entrances, each with their own mile-long waiting lines. How many people could this place possibly fit inside?

I headed towards the church with a sign that said “theatro vitae”. Inside, I was greeted by a tall man with a bony face, a suit, and a top hat. He gestured towards a door with a butler-like grace, and offered me a “Buono fortuna,” as I descended into the dark cavern of the Hall of Slaves.

The lighter in my pocket was my torch, and however dim, I could only find one slave in this so-called Hall of Slaves. It was a young boy with a skeleton of a body wrapped in chains. His eyes were blinded, each with a dagger stuck into them, his face, scarred and deformed.

“it’s the moral question, who should live and who should die, who gets to suffer—who should suffer—and who should benefit. It has always been a question for every beast in the animal kingdom. We’re not plants, we need more then sunlight and water to survive, we need to kill. Even Buddhist vegetarians, bless them, who live life in the believe that all life is sacred—which I can agree with—take the life of plants,” said the young boy.

“By nature, beasts and life forms with less power in decisions live a symbiotic relationship. That’s not merely an ideal, that’s how we were evolved into until recently. We were able to become powerful not trough strength but trough manipulation and control over situations by using the mind to devise, to create, to design. That we could win a race against a cheetah by destroying parts of mountains and trees to build a car. But the creation of one thing requires the destruction of something else.”

“Who gets to live? Who gets to die? Before, cows merely lived to eat grass, which to humans, made them no different then the grass itself—they were both ‘resources’—but what happens when they became no different then humans? And not just humans who are blessed to be omnivorous, what of animals that would die without the consumption of meat? What about cats, crocodiles, and wolves which now think and behave exactly like humans. Thus, September brought back slavery. Just as it helped The Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Egyptians, various Europeans, and Americans ‘progress’ quicker did it help the Remulians.”

“As you know, humans have been living in an unsustainable system—for themselves—which September realized, and trough his intelligence and ability to create and design did he address this. But he did not want to give up his lifestyle, nor his power. Beasts became humans and beasts and humans alike still needed to kill in order to live.”

“We talk about progress in society, but progress towards what exactly? Progress towards living longer in fear of our mortality? Progress towards pleasure and less work so as to self-domesticate ourselves? And for those questions, the real question is, for whom?”

“My eternally suffering soul is what makes utopia for others. Tell me, is it justified to have a single innocent beast suffer in eternity if it means everyone else lives in peace?”

“I’m afraid I don’t have an answer yet,” I replied.

“Good. Keep thinking, keep considering, but do so in a different mindset then the one that got us into this mess. Goodbye now.”

I walked trough the vomitorium, but the spectators I was expecting to face were missing. I realized that the spectators were actually inside of me. I was neither the director nor actor, but merely an audience member in this play. I wanted to give feedback on it—that it was life changing, and that it was awful—but my mouth felt as if it was taped shut. Water water, I hated water, the source of all life. Mother, only Mother.

— Laurens Spangenberg