I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

“Limp, the body… did not shiver in the chill, oily breeze that blew eternally through the main cavern. The body hung head down, attached to the underside of the palette by the sole of its right foot. It had been drained of blood through a precise incision made from ear to ear under the lantern jaw.” ~ Harlan Ellison

 In “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,” Ellison offers a glimpse into a terrifying (and likely) future that has always left me more than a little spooked.

The events that take place in the short story are woven in a way that could touch every member of society. The theist might fear the wrath of A.M., a sentient machine with godlike traits. The technologically savvy would probably shake at the thought of science pointing towards a future of mechanical ruthlessness. Those led by law and logic could put themselves in the place of any of the last five people in A.M.’s world, and dread learning that when existing under less than favorable conditions people tend to lose their humanity.

Ellison’s story is horrifying because it has the power to convey what it might be like to exist under the eternal torment of a Maker that knows no kindness. 

The plot is pushed forward by fear, desperation and misery. Even the title is haunting... It arouses a visceral reaction that makes the reader want to shout in order to release some of the tension eating at the narrator’s guts. And the author wastes no time with preambles. His introduction puts the reader face-to-face with a “body hung head down…” and “drained of blood”; with a world of chaos; with a place where people exist upside down while their humanity is bled one gush of pain at a time.

The ending is the most haunting part; A.M., once humanity’s dream, turns into a nightmare. It uses manmade intelligence to become godly. It unmakes and recreates human beings, and forces them to endure a hell of eternally rotting existence… which is made worse by the fact that the place of torment was indirectly crated by humanity’s own hands.

Fly over to Incipient Wings’ “Haunted Humpday, my Wicked Luvs. See who else is haunting dreams and feeding nightmares… Just so you know, some people engorge their nightmares with white chocolate ;-)
 
Islets of Aspergers Type IV, detail by Choi Xooang

32 comments:

  1. Just started off my morning with your spooky post, Magaly.. :) now charged for the day!
    The story seems intriguing.. like everything you offer us to read.
    Have a nice day (or night there?)!
    hugzzzz

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    1. Yay for starting the day charged up and ready to dance with the monsters and smile at life. If you follow the link, you can get the story for free. It's short, about 5,000 words and every word yummy!

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    2. Well, I got the text! Thanks :) Will read in my working hours..*shhhh*

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  2. Wow! The despair in that story must be just as soul destroying as AM, and the image you chose works brilliantly :D XXX

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    1. This is one of the scariest things I've read, Gina, and you know I don't scare easily. There is something about being trapped in a vessel, with feelings and ideas and no body to make act the out...

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  3. Love this heartwrenching tale...and the artwork is fabulous! Happy Haunted Humpday!

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    1. Choi Xooang is one of my favorite sculptors. The images he brings into being have always left me a little shaky... and wanting for more ;-)

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  4. This was next on my reading list! Lol
    What a great piece of art!its perfectly creepy
    Thank you for playing along!

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    1. It's an amazing tale--scary all the way. And the artist is a creator of horror that "might be..." The surrealist have always have a special place in my heart ;-)

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    1. *shivers a bit, and looks for more*

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  6. Wow, terrifying indeed. Now I am interested. Thanks Ms. Magaly for sharing your thoughts and insights........Happy Haunted Humpday.

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    1. I think you'd particularly enjoy the sculptor (away from the kids, please). His work speaks of the pain of not being able to express our feelings in conventional ways. I wish he would write a biography. I really want to know more about what inspires some of his art...

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  7. Huh, I wrote a poem about this once - the having no mouth thing. Maybe I could translate it and use it for your party. Gonna try and find it.

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    1. Bring on the dark and terrifying poetry!

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  8. Oh, Harlan Ellison. He was my favorite author for a long time. I remember that story and I read it a very long time ago. A true horror story.

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    1. "A true horror story," indeed. There aren't that many that keep me awake thinking How long until we...

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    2. I forgot to ask, Ellison stopped being one of your favorite authors? If so, why? I haven't read much of his work...

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    3. I guess I should have said 'is'. I just haven't read anything of his for probably 30 years. is he still alive, does he still write?

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    4. He still writes and lives. Some of his old work has been republished. I'm not sure of new work, like I said, I haven't read much of his stuff. Now I'm going to do some research and see ;-)

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  9. Super spooky!!!..always a fantastical read and magical visit here in your world! Love that spooky image too!
    Shine on!
    Victoria

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    1. Glad you enjoyed your visit! And yes, that story is truly terrifying...

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  10. Yikes! Just the title raised goosebumps. I'd have to read the story in full sunlight with my back to a solid wall!

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    1. It is a scary one. One we want to read probably while sitting at a park, with our back to a really huge tree that has nothing to do with technology...

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  11. Ooh. There is something about the imagery of having no mouth that has always gotten to me. The artwork is beautiful and creepy and tugs at something in me. The tale is deliciously dark and just a bit stomach churning...in a good way.

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    1. I'm right with you. The thought of being full of words, feelings, ideas... and not be able to let them out makes want to scream until my throat bleeds. I think that if all those emotions were contained in a body with no mouth, the latter would probably implode. "stomach churning" creepy, indeed...

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  12. Scary stuff Magaly. What's really scary is that I can imagine far too easily mankind losing it's humanity in the face of adversity. A world where material things, money and machinery gadgets start to matter more than people. Some are partway there already.

    Happy Haunted Humpday (all be a day late :) )

    J x

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    1. Some things are just too real not to scare us to death.

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  13. I am off to read! This is scary stuff Magaly!

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    1. Let me know how you liked it! Or how it scared you...

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  14. Ok I'm revisiting the sites I thought I'd left comments on via my IPod (I will never sit in bed thinking I can check out blogs & leave comments on my IPod again) Sooo, I have nicked the family IPAD and yeehaa it allows the comments to post :) oh yeah, I went and checked the sculptor and he is a great find Magaly, I have often been intrigued (no, more like terrified) in nightmares of this feeling of no control (often while being controlled) and in deep dark dreams releasing the silent scream, that gutteral, human cry which never falls on human ears.

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    1. Don't you just hate when that happens? More than once, I've crafted a master comment just to have it gobbled up by the internet goblins. Terrible thing, because usually what I write after is short and coated in the annoyance brought up the words that were just stolen from me.

      And yes, screams that stayed in our heads, suck!

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