Jelly Bodies


The abrasion of cellular effluvia.

The pumice stone exertions.

The incantatory self-denunciation.

The barbed twine arcing and whipping (those little teeth don't so much bite as tunnel into the skin of my back).

Dermal excess piles to the floor, ablutions accrete-a wall against and between sin.

<With a fine enough razor, you can skin the outer layer off your person so the blood wells up without any actual loss. Do so. Follow that with a full-body coating of petroleum jelly. Floss until your only bleeding part is your gums and then, each day, weave that blooded thread into a rust and beige quilt. Bite out the eyes with your mouth and wear the quilt as a hood.>

A fine and shaming hood, uneven blooded streaks and patches gorging, shifting with sweat.

Teeth mirror polished.

Scentless body, innocenting flesh.

<What of skins? Of excess petroleum jelly? It won't do to build your wall with unshaped parts.>

An army of witness, built of shaven skins.

Skins stuffed full of blood-stained jelly, sewn closed with excess floss.

Jumbling jelly men, jelly mes, lining the walls to watch the discarding of parts, the birth of each new model.

A jelly man packed and sent.

Ream him through or suction out his stomach.

Tattoo him with the proper names, run him over, feed his body to the stray dogs that gather some days near the southern edge of town.

This floss hood for him.

Embalming materials and a full-color set of spray paints.

This map as a regional account of his body, organized according to sin.

<Burn your maps and know that a witness is not simply the image of a past self set to guard a fearful present. Slice your next skin into long thin strips, as if making bacon. Hickory smoke them. Mail them via Next Day Air.>

Smoked skins in a vacuum-sealed container.

A town razoring, stuffing. A town sewing.

Jelly men, jelly women, all properly hooded, all looking skyward in the correct and humble manner

<There must be no more jelly people. The only proper skin treatment is hickory smoke. Jelly people may become animated, dangerous. Destroy them. Pull the sides of each hood together around each jelly head so the petroleum jelly expresses in flows through the weave. Pile the bodies onto barges, set them afloat, torch upon the river. Continue skin mailings..>

A female jelly body, Sheila Mitchell's, head crushed, breasts pressed into my face.

Those big soft jelly breasts squeezed around and fitted to my head.

Sheila Mitchell saw.

Accusation of suckling, jelly-body molestation.

Vacuum-sealed bag of skins, properly crisped, but only mine.

The town has sided with Sheila Mitchell.

<Begin again tomorrow with self-skinning. Smoke only pure hickory. No more pine.

The jelly bodies must be dealt with. Proper ritual procedure will be followed unless in dire circumstances. Remember: innocence is a process, not a state.

Skins prepared exactly as requested- pure hickory smoked to a tender consistency.

Memory of Sheila Mitchell's jelly breasts: A slight skin-tear in the left areola leaks interior jelly onto my cheek. I tongue the side of my floss hood, tasting.

Her insides mixing with petroleum jelly.

The flattened oozing hood, trails of jelly creeping down that torso.

My shaved mouth interior after tasting (pink smoked strips in the vacuum bag).

Am no longer permitted near the jelly bodies.

<Electro-chemical composition of this seasonal air likely will lead to jelly body animation within days. Burn their storage room. Torch it tonight, immediately after full darkness.

Shave off your skin and ball it into a spare floss hood. Douse it thoroughly in gasoline until soaked and sopping. Self-immolation is a necessary risk. Tie the bottom of the hood shut with a length of cord and tie a brick also to the same cord. Light your hood/skin wad and throw the brick full force through the window, into the storeroom of jelly bodies.

Follow with a bucket of gasoline, making sure to provide paths for the flames to engulf all bodies. Again, the risk of self-immolation is present but necessary.

Once home, razor your newest skin layer from your body, dice it, feed it into your wood burning stove. Do not hickory smoke this layer. The gas fumes will have already ruined it.

The bodies burned, destroyed.

Skin discarded, burned.

One lie: Sheila Mitchell's body I saved.

I pulled it out, headless and jelly-slopping.

Am not suckling, but tasting leaked jelly (not forcing any expression).

I leave it sit on my gums, taste it long and subtle like chaw.

<Rebuild your ablutionary wall. Collect your sloughings and leavings, stack them against the Mitchell body. Do not leave your house. Do not allow visitors to pass through your door.

On the animation night, make love to the body in purity and passion. Become in an ecstasy of true love. Inflate the body's floss hood with your breath, stitch every skin tear with sinews you pull from your bones.

Air currents will only maintain animation for 60 to 72 hours. Towards the end of the animation period, the body may become violent and demanding. Accommodate unless absolutely unable. Duration of animation state is largely determined by the animated body's degree of satisfaction in combination with atmospheric conditions. Preferable conditions are cool with moderate humidity. Winds, 15-20 miles per hour, blowing in a southwesterly direction, are thought to be ideal.

And remember your penance catalog. Scrub, razor, amass, smoke, send. Purchase a spice kit to improve the quality of your smoke. Hickory grows old.>

<Report on the jelly body. Send new skins. If worrying over spices, consider cardamom.> >

<Report on the jelly body. This passage of weeks is worrisome.> >

Following weather patterns, Sheila Mitchell's body and I have maintained the animated state.

Against recommendation, have not consummated relationship.

Body is not attracted to me physically.

Lack of intercourse has not been detrimental to animation.

Condition: Sheila Mitchell's body's head slumps, but is otherwise perfectly functional.

Floss hoods have been removed for use as fishing nets.

The fish in this river are good to eat (I will send).

Two fish, cleaned, smoked with hickory and cardamom.

Ben Segal is the author of '78 Stories' (No Record Press, 2008). His collection, 'Science Fiction Pornography', is forthcoming as part of Publishing Genius Press's PDF chapbook series, and his short fiction has appeared in various publications including Lamination Colony, Eyeshot, elimae, and 3AM Magazine. He is also a regular contributor to Ghost Island.