Volume 0, Issue 0

An excerpt from “Orange” – Following the Early Risers, part 1

In Fiction on 2012/08/01 at 9:55 am

honeybeeHere’s a sample of the hoodoo at work, illustrated in a fragment of my fiction.


©2012 Laszlo Xalieri, from an unpublished work. Used by permission.


At my uncle’s distillery, I adjust the coiled-copper tubing, being careful not to crimp it or crack it. The mash I have already boiled and allowed to cool, have already dumped in some of my uncle’s pet yeast–the eukaryatids that support his favorite vices–and have made sure that the community of little pillars have had plenty of grist to grind and plenty of time to work. The fire is banked but kept warm, and the early and eager spirits collect in waiting columns, ascension prevented. This is a family secret, these waiting columns. You need to catch the early risers.

The sabers I have lashed together, edge to edge, point to hilt. They are suspended from the joists above by ordinary jute twine, anchored to four points in the ceiling so they can only swing linearly, passing through the center of the looped copper coils, of which there are plenty.

I test the gravity of the syrupy mash, and it has not changed. The yeast has done what it can, and now the little helpers are dying in a stew of their own poisons. I crank up the heat and seethe them in their own mother’s milk. I adjust the temperature carefully as there are some spirits I wish to release and some I wish to keep imprisoned.

I set the sabers swinging, magnetic as they are, and release the held spirits into the copper coils. The heat under the pot encourages the slower spirits to jump into the tubing and spiral in many, many vigorous circles around the shuttling field of the sabers’ simultaneous attraction and repulsion.

Both sabers have had blood on them.

The collection cask is my own design, because my uncle always added something new every time. “If you didn’t learn anything new between the last time and this time, what the hell have you been wasting your time on?” I have not been wasting my time. I have added moisture traps like the Arabs use for collecting the morning dew. There are extra heaters and chillers, and filters made from compressed wafers of aromatic herbs and shredded barks and slices of fruit.

I keep the sabers swinging back and forth for hours as the mass in the pot gets lower and lower and the level in the collecting cask rises. It is quite lively in the jug for something as heavy and viscous as it is.

It’s all about knowing when to stop. I turn the heat off under the pot and allow the remnant of the mash to cool. Maybe I will bury it later.

The collecting jug is cold already. Unnaturally so. I stopper it and let the spirits slosh around the bottom, oxidizing mildly. They keep sloshing on their own while I dismantle the parts that need cleaning. Cleaning and flushing takes up the rest of the remaining light for the day.

The spirits are never still.


That ought to sum things up pretty well.

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