By Nate Balding w/ Art by Peter Kornowski
Depending on your age the word hermit tends to conjure one of three images: Weird religious loner, a musician enslaved by a man named Herman or a scary forest sage to be accidentally found while shooting sick BMX videos in the woods in what will become a shocking found footage horror movie. Each, to a degree, is accurate.
Hermitude began as eremitism, a religious practice wherein (mostly) Christian philosophers secluded themselves to better commune with God and further develop their spiritual sensibilities. That and getting really, really good at masturbation.
“Brain worms,” Satan told her, baring his canines. “Can’t you smell it on ’em?”
Talea sniffed the air as they passed an older couple walking arm in arm. “I don’t smell anything.”
“Bah, you humans never do. Noses like old turds. Trust me, half the people you see are infested.”
It explained a lot, now that she thought about it. “How do you get them?”
“Electromagnetic radiation, cell phones. Comets, occasionally. Just be careful when the sunset is especially pink. I know it looks nice and all, but those suckers will swim right through the air and into your ear holes when the light is right.” He shook his furry head.
“Can I ask you a blunt question?” I ask my existential doctor, Herb, who nods. “You know what you’re talking about, right? You’re not totally full of shit?”
Herb thinks about it for a minute. “I’m pretty sure I’m not full of shit.” He has enough self-deprecating humor to make the statement funny. I knew this about him, which is why I felt okay about phrasing the question as such.
“So I have been your patient for the better part of four years, or so. And hitherto now, I have only been interested in my place in the world and the meaning of life, and all that. But now I’m about to really test your therapy-providing credentials. I’m looking inward, Herb.”
“Oh shit,” he says.
“Yeah, I don’t like it either,” I tell him. “So here’s the deal: I think I hate myself.”
Mason gasped in a breath of air, its chill jolting him awake. His eyes were wide, searching for a pattern in the blue mist that blurred the sky above. He had no idea where he was, but panic pushed him off the grass and to his feet. He turned, spinning in all directions, looking for something to ground himself, something familiar that might betray his location. But he saw only that cloudy mist and a distant row of trees on the horizon.
“Hello?” Mason called. His mind churned, trying to piece together some believable story to explain where he was, to explain how he got here.
“Mason!” A voice boomed from the ether, interrupting his thoughts.
Denver's Only Magazine.
Denver's Only Magazine.
Birdy Magazine is independent work produced by independent artists and writers. Submitted and served up fresh for you. We produce a beautiful, highly-collectible printed book every month as a love letter to this classic medium and to the creators whose works we feature.
CAROUSEL ARTIST CREDITS:
Amy Guidry, Expatriate | Issue 084, December 2020 // Jonathan Dodd, Poke | Issue 086, February 2021 // Krysti Joméi photo, IndyBlu // Jonny DeStefano, Land Sea Sky | Issue 063, March 2019 // Derek Knierim, What You Started | Issue 072, December 2019 // Ray Young Chu, Karate Kat | Issue 007, July 2014 // Krysti Joméi photo // Peter Kornowski, Untitled | Issue 096, December 2021 // Jonny DeStefano, Vivid Crimson | Issue 047, November 2017 // Antonia Chekrakchieva photo // Peter Kornowski, Crash Landing | Issue 087, March 2021 // Nick Flook, Triunity | Issue 089, May 2021