EAT GATSBY by Natalie Terezi Rei Watts
“Our strategy for victory is to eat Gatsby.”
George B. Meyer raps his fingers on the hardwood table as he searches every nook and cranny of his mind for a suitable response.
“...Excuse me sir but what the fuck?”
Tom Buchanan brings his hands down like thunder. The decayed dollar-store plastic table legs wobble with the impact.
“We have to eat. Gatsby.”
Tom’s body is silhouetted by the light of blasting fireworks with all the obnoxious gravitas of carefully-planned symbolism. It spangles through the dirty mansion windows behind him and turns the table top iridescent. If it were up to Tom he would’ve strangled Fitzgerald before he penned a single spat of imagery in that damned book.
George rests his hands in his face and tries to block out the flashes of red-yellow iconography glittering over him. “I’m sorry but I do not get any of what we’d be achieving there.
“Allow me to put this simpl-”
Tom slams his hands down a second time and the table legs — replacements for polished mahogany that got too termitegender-ridden to stand — completely caves, crashing down right in sync with the next firework display and a discharge of workers’ anthems from the crowd outside.
“Piece of fucking-”
He shouts and kicks a table leg into the wall, rebounding it off a bookshelf and into another remnant of table detritus. George remains politely seated.
“If anything in this house will allow me to speak without interruption...” He turns to face George, arms folded over his chest. “The idea is simple: Gatsby is the most recognizable character from the entire novel. He’s the one everyone oo’s their aa’s over while pretending to give a fuck as they’re trapped in highschool. Everyone gives a shit about Gatsby. Everyone only gives a shit about fanfiction of Gatsby.”
He pauses like he’s expecting another incipient blast from the New York Anthro-Moe Technognostic Soviet Commune celebration outside. The lights are still glaring. The beats remain eristic in tempo. The post-singularity vocaloid hivemind that now sings the Internationale doesn’t penetrate the solidifying haze of background noise.
“This has left both of us in decrepit states because no one has given us the attention or viral memes we need to persist in this world. So I-”
“May I say something?”
“-yes, go ahead.”
“I’ve been doing just fine. I haven’t really needed the attention. My work’s been doing well enough.”
Tom glares with the fury of a thousand figures of speech he would kill someone for writing. “No one. Asked.”
He brings his foot down like a bomb.
“WHICH BRINGS ME TO MY ACTUAL POINT: if Gatsby’s body is filled with cultural focus then, by stealing that cultural focus, we can bring it upon ourselves, elevating us to stardom and letting people finally write about us in ways that aren’t background references or fucking yaoi. Honest to god what even is with that shit, I’m not a homo, twinks aren’t my type, I didn’t stay five feet apart from men in pools for 95 years since publication while politely disguising my erection to be rendered like a… Like a… What even is the word? Hunk? That makes no sense. Whatever. Regardless of our current situation, if we steal the popularity we become what may as well be the literary equivalent of gods, and once we’re there we get to live in our mansions for an eternity. And we don’t have to deal with socialist transvestites slinging their sickle-shaped dicks in the streets.”
George nods. “And we accomplish that by…”
He nods in affirmation. “...So why do we have to eat—”
“LISTEN. I CRUNCHED THE NUMBERS. I CHECKED FURRY SITES AS BACKGROUND RESEARCH. I INVESTIGATED THEIR WEAKNESSES AND WHAT THEY’D FALL FOR. I FOUND EVERY LAST BIT OF VORE-TAGGED PARAPHERNALIA AND DETERMINED THE EXACT STRATEGY I’D NEED TO ELIMINATE THAT BLASTED FRUIT ONCE AND FOR ALL. I DO NOT NEED QUESTIONING FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS NOT GONE THROUGH THE MANY HOURS OF PAIN AND SORROW I WADED THROUGH TO FIND VICTORY. I DON’T CARE WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE. I DON’T CARE HOW OVERBLOWN IT IS. I AM GOING TO SAME-SIZE THAT BITCH AND WE ARE GOING TO BE RICH. FOREVER!”
His voice caves out. The next set of fireworks flashes a deep green, like the world is now taunting the two of them for originating from a story about how much rich people suck. He runs a hand over his temple, clenching hard.
“I will not let this shithole be the end of my legacy.”
A climactic cheer from the celebration’s crowd.
The fireworks stop but the music keeps going, the voices descending in volume to a manageable clamor. Tom rushes over to a cabinet on the wall and throws its doors open. “So George, are you interested in joining or not?” He hauls a golf bag out.
“Well that’s the thing. While I… Recognize, your efforts…”
He grabs unopened packages of 23/4-inch 000 hunting buckshot and stuffs them in. “Mhm.”
“...and understand where you’re coming from…”
He grabs the lube bottle. “Mhm.”
“...I’m actually too forgettable of a character for any amount of attention to transcend me.”
The room goes quiet as his hands linger in the golf bag. “What?”
“When you invited me did you have to look up my name on Wikipedia or did you remember it off the top of your head.”
The only sound that floods Tom’s ears is the muffled, building rumble of a cryptoska band’s audiohazard solo. The 23rd time they’ve performed this night.
“I’m not even being written right because my personality was that forgettable. If I received Gatsby levels of fame people would just be confused, because nobody but english teachers remember a mote of me. None of whom are online, either. Do you think I matter that much to this story or was I added because you needed someone to talk to?”
“Get the fuck out.”
“Get the fuck out.”
George scoots out of his chair and towards the door, sliding out while its hinges whimper and crack. Before he holds it open for a short moment. “By the way, are you certain this is going to fit the crime theme or”
“If you make this any more meta than it needs to be I am going to reconstruct your head with a 12 gauge.”
George bolts out the door and yanks it shut. Tom doesn’t watch. He hoists the bag over his shoulders, retrieves his break-action from the farthest recesses of the closet, loads it, flicks the safety off, cracks his neck, and moves for the window. Swinging the gun by the barrel he smashes the butt through the glass, sending shards in scintillating arcs as furcore tremors rock the room even louder than before and as firework aftersmoke fades through the constellations. He doesn’t need this piece of shit mansion anymore — once he’s reached his blinding apotheosis he’ll be sure to raze it to the ground, just for the fun of watching it go up in smoke.
Taking a deep breath of the nighttime air, he sprints forward and jumps.
“uwu nya uwu”
Jay Gatsby (he/him) (lesbian) glomps his way down the stairs and tacklehugs Nick Carraway (fae/faer) (lesbian) (slimegoth) on the couch as fae watches the state-wide parades following the Commune’s successful ontological untethering from baseline reality. It’s not something anyone can sense but it’s something everyone can feel — bodies becoming unbound from the physical, the self glowing like rapturous beams in the post-demiurge dark, fictional characters instantiating themselves as slime-based catboys. It’s a comfortable time to be alive. Certain to improve once this text hyperstitionally influences reality and lets anyone become a slime-based catboy, but comfortable nonetheless.
Nick is scritching the underside of Gatsby’s chin when a knock thuds against the front door.
Fae almost doesn’t hear it at first from how loud the performance of Open Paw Slam is radiating off the screen (cognitohazard-based hallucinatory gorebeat trips tend to be overwhelming). Fae hears it when several more knocks thud the door.
“Hold on Gatsby, someone’s here.” Fae picks up the plastic-wrapped slime-proofed remote and turns the broadcast off. Aural imagery like vomited-on Monets jumps out of faer head with a final gurgle of singing. “Get into cover.”
Ears slanting down, Gatsby slinks into a hole in the wall that leads to the inter-apartment cat playpen. Taking light steps forward, Nick approaches the door, trailing neurotoxic slime on the floor (just in case) and, plopping faer feet on the floorboards with a resounding, gloop, opens the door.
Tom stares at faer as he bleeds like a fountain in the doorway from hundreds of claw marks.
“Jesus christ dude—”
“WHERE THE FUCK IS GATSBY.”
He has a broken shotgun in one hand and the shreds of a golf bag in the other. His suit is freshly drenched in red and yellow. He smells like cat piss.
“Why are you covered in—”
“WHERE THE FUCK IS GATSBY—”
“He’s not here.”
Nick molds faer slime into an affectless look, hoping he doesn’t notice the hillock of Thorium-233-laden catnip toys rising by the sofa (radiation poisoning is a necessary requirement for having a cool body, as anyone sloughing from alpha emissions could tell you). “We broke up several months ago, last I heard he went to—”
“WHY THE HELL WEREN’T YOU IN YOUR MANSION?”
It takes a moment for Nick’s decentralized, body spanning ganglion to parse everything the onslaught of Tom’s shrieking into cogent form. “Oh, you went to his old place?”
“WHY WERE THERE SO MANY CATGIRLS.”
“We gave it away.”
Tom’s voice drops in tone as does his golf bag tatter.
“You did WHAT?”
The remnant flitters into the slime without a sound.
“We didn’t want to stick in a boring, nouveau-riche mansion that just felt sad to live in,” Nick says, extending a tendril from one of the neurotoxin trails to drag the remnant out, a soft, squelching motion, “so we gave it to the Discordian Insurrectionary Catgirl Commune instead.” Fae simply flicks it into the trashcan. The tendril retracts. “They needed a solid space, we didn’t care, we thought the furniture would work as good scratching posts, it all worked out.”
“So not only are you a traitor to our class you’re also in conspiracies against the US government?”
Tom leans against the doorframe and brings a hand to his temple, barely cognizant of how the shotgun dangling from his right hand’s grip is intersecting the pooling green slop. He hasn’t even commented on any of the slime. “I’m not even mad anymore. You disgust me, Nick. You disgust me.”
“I’m glad I do.”
“I’ve spent the past century trying to retain my dignified role in society while everyone else gets as corrupted as the youth are. You and Gatsby ran off to be sodomites, Daisy and Jordan refuse to entertain the proposals of men while being a couple of gal pals—”
Nick tries to restrain a laugh and almost chokes on faer own goo.
“—and Myrtle left me. Do you know what that does to a man? Do you know what that does to the last bastion of sanity in the world? Don’t try to answer that, I know you don’t go on Parlor, but you want to know what disgusts me the most?” He whips the shotgun up with one hand and sprays gel through the air as he trains the barrel on Nick. “Knowing that you are holding the key to gnosis hostage. I am here to take Gatsby and eat—”
“First, physical weaponry isn’t going to work on me, second, that’s not how gnosticism works, actually you’re thematically aligned with the Demiurge not the other way around, third, a bunch of people have already tried to eat Gatsby and—”
“I’VE SPENT WAY TOO LONG MONOLOGUING JUST DIE!”
Tom takes a step forward and slips on the slime. He falls backwards. In the moments before he hits the floor his eyes flash towards the ceiling. Hundreds of sigils decorate the plaster, scrawled in blood and silicon and lube, wards against the physical world and sabers raised against the Demiurge himself. These are the symbols of people who have hope, people who have decided to leave this old, rotting world behind and fight for something brighter. Tom never got it — it’s childish to think Modernity can be killed with anything less than heat death — but here, scarring his split-second flash of retinal shock, is the iconography of those who have refused to accept reality’s terms. Someone is getting a kick out this, he thinks. Someone is getting a kick out of knowing his fate is the most hysterically symbolic end possible.
Then he touches the neurotoxin trail and dies instantly. A muscle spasm presses on the shotgun trigger and he blows his neck apart. An arterial spray cakes the walls. Half a gallon of adrenochrome and Nick Land bathwater pours from his dangling spinal cord. His head wobbles in the rushing gore. Everything is red.
All in all, it’s the most pathetic death Nick has ever witnessed. At least he didn’t have to put effort into this aristocricide. (He’d worry about the cops now, but the Commune recently solved that problem. Hail Eris.)
Gatsby cautiously trots out of his hole, glancing around while coating his paws in neurotoxin. Approaching Tom’s corpse after making a few playful splashes, he sniffs and retches. “i dont wanna eat this corpse”
“Yeah, this is one of the worst ones I’ve seen. I’ll send them to the wormgirls downstairs, they can use it as compost.”
“think it wont poison them?”
“They had a voidgender move in recently, they can ------------------------- toxins with ease.”
“mm” He curls up in the slop, warm against his fur, head and ears tilted down. “i dont wanna be remembered this way. i dont want people to always treat me like a fucking object, like im the crown of their world.”
“They won’t. I don’t know how long it’ll take, but they won’t. The one great part about being fictional is that, if we act different enough, people are going to detach us from the characters we used to be, and all the expectations will fall with that.”
Flaring through the window are the lights of another volley of fireworks, their colors bending from alpha emission blues to chthonic hues, umbral colors that dance the verge between light and dark, slipping past the precipice and into caverns dark, unknown, unknowable. None of it makes sense as something that could ever be seen. It looks beautiful.
Disclaimer: I have not read The Great Gatsby since high school.