In a showcase of Nick Mamatas’ subversive and darkly humorous THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF EVERYTHING, Tachyon presents glimpses from some of the volume’s magnificent tales.
The Glottal Stop
cis was rough, no doubt. For any woman, but especially for Beatriz
Almonte, a living meme who had several years ago made a mistake and
gained the attention of a secret bulletin board full of trolls for
whom harassing her was a vocation not dissimilar from the priesthood.
She had no more free background checks left on Spinstr, but was bored
and horny enough to do without just this once and press *sm00ch* on
some guy’s face. Another mistake.
seemed fine—in shape, no beard, there was a photo of him at an
anti-war demo on his Slambook, no sign of a frogface or crusader
sword emojis on Mirmir, and no videogame talk on any of his social
media. Jerome’s hashtags were all in order. Beatriz agreed to meet
for a late lunch eaten al fresco so she could get away with wearing
sunglasses, in public but at a corner table so that she’d have a
legal expectation of privacy under California
Penal Code § 632,
and in a neighborhood in the city adjacent to her own. She hired a
neighbor to drive her to the Korean tapas place so as to keep from
exposing her address or route to the Travyl ride-share system. And
she came otherwise prepared, with everything from condoms to weapons.
first few minutes went well, though Jerome was two inches shorter
than advertised. Beatrix had to admit that she was fifteen pounds
heavier than advertised, but she wore make-up, even tricky eyeliner
wing tips, for him. Her necklace, with the particular charm, that was
for herself. Sneakers instead of nicer shoes too. If he balked at the
makeup, he was a troll. If he took it as too strong a signal for
sexual availability, he was a pickup artist in training. But he
passed that test, with a silent appreciative smile. Pleasantries, a
semi-clever remark about the menu, kindness toward the waitress. Then
came the water, the drinks, the appetizers.
second hand of the clock tied to a rhetorical bomb clicked over.
Jerome said, “So, do you really not eat ‘white food’? Because
your rice is white, isn’t it?” She noticed that his smartphone
was on the table, screen down.
mistake: she had called Taco Bell “white ‘food’” on what was
supposed to be a fun little attempt at virality. She suggested that
only basement-dwelling nerds would consider Taco Bell “going out
for Mexican,” and if a taco from there cost the same amount as a
candy bar, what kind of ingredients could possibly be in it? Wet dog
food, she’d guessed on Twitter. Beatriz was castigated as a snob
and an illegal immigrant, an uptight rich bitch and a greedy whore,
and of course, she was also the Real Racist. Once targeted, her
entire social media profile was combed over for various other
crimes—drunken selfies, a bad breakup that was surely her fault,
having a father from the Dominican Republic and a maternal
grandmother who was Chinese, a job she quit by simply not showing up
anymore in tenth grade. (“How many fish starved to death because
you decided you were too good for PetVille, Queen Bea? You’re
fucking next.”) That she got a mere BA in Chemistry and not a
BS—“You can fuck your way to a BA” was the common Internet
wisdom. One time she held a fund-raiser on Slambook for Planned
Parenthood and collected forty dollars. Baby-Killer Beatriz needed to
be murdered, but only after being raped by the dogs she had so
was three years ago. Now, across the table from her, Jerome’s smile
was a familiar one. The fishhook grin. “I’m kidding,” he said.
“I’m joking.” They were always joking. “I just did a search
on you, you know. Didn’t you investigate me? I even gave you my
last name. Want to see my ID?”
is not going to be a productive date, Jerome,” said Beatriz. It
wasn’t quite time to grab her purse and go, though. Was he going to
video her ass when she got up, were there others nearby, or was he
really just making the worst joke imaginable.
I make your pussy dry, Bea? Being a straight man who thinks he has a
sense of humor and all?” he asked. A reference to another ancient
tweet she had once made.
it was time to go. “It was never wet for you.” A debate would be
no more productive than the date, but the response shut Jerome up for
a second and gave Beatriz a chance to glance around.
were others. The guys didn’t even try to hide. It wasn’t a matter
of bad hats and worse beards, but the staring and sniggering from the
other seats and on the corner of the block, the open-mouthed peering
into their phones, phones aimed at Beatriz. Whoever got footage of
her crying, or upset, or shouting, won. It was a clear
escalation—stills of her car in her mother’s driveway, of their
own reflections in the wire mesh glass of the entrance door to her
apartment building were no longer enough. They needed her breaking
down, in public, daring to go out and dress up a bit. Cockhungry
slut TRIGGERED on first and last date
the SpinVid would be titled, she knew it.
waitress caught a glimpse of Beatriz’s expression through the great
glass windows that separated the al fresco seating from the
restaurant proper, and sneered. Beatriz was on her own.
your pearls?” Jerome asked. He snatched up his phone and aimed it
at her. She wasn’t.
For more info on THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF EVERYTHING, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Elizabeth Story