An Excerpt From 300,000,000

Blake Butler


Gretch Enrique Nathaniel Gravey is apprehended by authorities in XXXXXXX on August 19, 2XXX, at 7:15 a.m. He is found facedown in the smallest room of his seven-room ranch-style home with legs bound at the ankle by a length of electrical wire, apparently administered by his own hands.

He is unresponsive to officers’ commands or to the touch.

When lifted from the ground his eyes remain open in his head, unblinking even to the sound of the canines, the men.

The light inside the room is strong. It blinds each new being at their admittance, bodies shielding eyes and swinging arms until the space has been secured.

Gravey is dressed in a white gownlike shrift affixed with reflective medallions that are each roughly the size of an eye and refract light in great glare. No underwear, no ornaments.

His hair has been shorn sloppily, leaving chunks and widths around his ears and the back of his head, an amber lob of curls the color of beer.

An open wound cut on his left breast appears to have been also self-administered, though not deep enough to require stitching; his wet blood has soaked a small head-sized oval parallel to where he lies; from the pool, traced by finger, the word OURS appears writ in the ink of blood along the mirror-covered carpet.

Questions and actions delivered to the suspect do not seem to occur to him as sound; he does not flinch or turn toward the shouting, the splinter of their entrance, canines barking, the commands.

The meat around his eyes seems to be caving, black and ashy.

There are no other living persons apparent in the house.

Gravey is unbound, cuffed, and taken to a local precinct to be booked, processed, and held.

His eyes in motion do not open, though he is breathing.

He does not speak.


DETECTIVE E. N. FLOOD: The above and the following are my ongoing log of the time following Gravey’s arrest, and the ongoing investigation, over which I have been appointed lead. I have given electronic access to specific colleagues assisting in the case for their perusal and review.

SERGEANT R. SMITH: These notes were discovered in Flood’s shared files online sometime shortly after he disappeared. Several of the quoted sources claim to have not written what they are said to have written. I myself remain uncertain.


The front foyer of the mouth of the entrance to Gravey’s home is caked up with shit nearly a foot high; human shit, packed in tightly to the face of the door, which has been barricaded and blocked over with a paneled bureau full in each drawer with ash. Testing reveals the ash is burnt paper; among the powder, lodged, the leather spines of books, photographs overexposed to blotchy prisms, fingernail clippings, mounds of rotting cat-food-grade meat, plastic jewels.

The same ash found in the drawers is found in larger quantity in a small den down the hall, along with the metal rims and scorched remainders of a drum kit, bass guitar and amplifier, small public address system with corresponding speakers, and fourteen seven-string guitars all of the same make, each variously destroyed by flame to disuse but still recognizable as instruments.

A small sheet-stand holds up an empty tabbing book, which on some pages has been rendered with whole glyphs of blackened scribble, matching the front color of the house.

Inside the house is very warm, caused in part under the concentration of the sun’s heat on the black paint even-handedly applied to the north, east, and south faces of the home. Only the west face remains its original cream-tan, the same shade of roughly one in four houses in the neighborhood.

The lawns of both houses on either side of the Gravey homestead are overgrown high enough to nearly block the windows. Gravey’s lawn is dead, a radial of whites and yellows like the skin of a giraffe. An ant bed in the side yard of the unpainted side of the building is roughly the size of a very large sandbox, pearling in sunlight, though there are no ants among the runnels to be found, their turreted bed evacuated.

The majority of the other rooms in the Gravey home are bare. Furniture, adornment, and objects have been removed or were never there. The walls are covered for the most part with lengths of mirror that seem to have been gathered from local dumps or flea markets or trash: platelets sized from that in a bathroom washstand down to the face of an armoire down to the eye-sized inner layers of a blush case or a locket have been affixed to the drywall with a putty adhesive that leaves the rooms smelling synthetic. Many mirrors have crisped to dark with more flame or cracked in spindles from impact with perhaps an elbow or a fist, or having been dropped or otherwise mishandled prior to their installation. The mirrors’ coverage is extensive, leaving mostly no inch of the prior wall’s faces uncovered; even the ceilings and in some rooms as well the floors receive a similar coverage treatment. In many places, too, the mirrors have been applied doubly or triply thick, sometimes to cover something ruptured. Large smudges dot many arm’s-length sections of the more central rooms’ mirrored dimension, rubbed with handprints, side prints, whiffs of sweat, and in some cases traces of lipsticked mouths, running saliva, feces, blood, or other internal and sometimes inhuman synthetic materials, all of it Gravey’s, incidentally or by cryptic, unnamed logic spasmodically applied.

Countless light sources in each of the major rooms fill the plugs of long electrical strip outlets or are attached to generators and arranged around in the space in no clear manner, studding the ceiling and the ground. Burnt out or burst bulbs have not been replaced but hold their dead eyes unrelented in the space filled by the rest. For hours into days the light will remain burned on the eyes of those who’d entered before the knobs were turned to end it.

Officer Rob Blount of __________, thirty-five, finds himself frequently at lengths lost inside the shape. More than several times, even with the excessive lighting fixtures lowed, he finds himself rendered staring off into the conduit of mirrors creating many hundreds of the house and him, and therein, something behind the reflection, a wider surface, until he is jostled by outside sound or a fellow officer’s inquiring arm. Through the remainder of Blount’s life inside his sleep he will many nights find himself approaching in the distance a square black orb, endlessly rotating in a silence. The dream of the orb will fill his mind.

Gravey’s kitchen contains a more colorful decor, if little else of more substantial means of living. The refrigerator, like the front room’s bureau, is stuffed with ash so thick it obscures the contained light. Buried in the ash here are occasional remnants of what might once have been intended for consumption: a full unopened carton of whole milk, several sealed cans of tuna, cardboard encasements for packs of beer, fourteen one-pound containers of store-brand butter riddled with knife divots, a water container full of something white. Later, teeth will be discovered buried in the chub of certain of the butter tubs’ masses, way underneath; the teeth will be later identified as dogs’ teeth. The freezer remains empty beyond a cube of ice forming a globe.

The surrounding floor is likewise thickened, albeit higher than the foyer’s, with used food wrappers, tissue, and containers, as well as many unfinished portions of the food. The pyramid of rotting glop and Styrofoam and cardboard stands nearly five feet high at the room’s far wall, trampled down into smoother avenues and valleys in the mix. The stench is intense, weaving many different modes of rot into a kind of choking blanket. Somehow the stench seems not to leak into the house’s mirrored sections.

Underneath the junk, in excavation, the men will find a massive ream of loose eight-millimeter film. Each frame of the several miles of exposed framework, unlike the other tapes found in the house, will show nothing but a field of pure black, of no star, as if the film had never been exposed. The soundtrack of the film, when played, if played, will feature a sound resembling a young man speaking in reverse, though when played in reverse the language sounds the same, word for word.


R. BLOUNT: There was something else about the house besides simply (however unsimply) being the scene of I don’t know how many murders. It was hard to stand in any room for long and breathe freely. Felt like someone was trying to choke me in certain rooms from behind me, not a phantasmagoric presence, but something soft inside my mind, something spreading. I did not sleep for several days, and have never felt quite like I was sleeping even when I found a way to seem to sleep again.


A padlocked door is centered on the kitchen’s northwest wall; it is the only secured location in the house. Behind the door, a humming sound, which becomes louder once it has been heard with head against the frame, and thereafter seems loud enough to hear all through the house and even miles around: a hum like that of bugs against bugs in a slow hive being constructed, the rhythm of which raises patterned gooseflesh on the skin. The door’s face, matched with the same black as the outside, has a hand carved mark along its top seam: city of Sod.

The shape of the S in the word Sod, the men realize while reviewing pictures later, is replicated all throughout the house, in seemingly unnatural ways: the crease of mirror against mirror edged forming the snaked line, the formation of a certain clod of puffy trash, the shape of Gravey’s body as they’d found it not unconscious and unmoving, traced in skin resin many places all across the reflective floor. At either end of the shape’s snake’s length there might appear from certain angles a slim eye that watched the seer of the eye until with further motion the eye seemed to disappear, and would not reappear when they went back to find the eye where they had stood before because it would be impossible to stand in such a way the same exactly ever again. And yet, inside their head, the eye is there.

The padlock is adorned with unusual markings in the shape of tiny pins that stick up from the lock’s face spindly and obstructive, with residue of saliva or some kind of glue; its keyhole is the size more of a small finger than a key. The metal is white gold.

The padlock is removed and placed in a sanitized container and taken to sit on a white shelf in a small room unexamined for the next sixty-seven hundred years until it is uncovered in the Fire of the Night of Seize by a young being who takes the lock into his head and walks with it into a blue house the size of him built by a tiny sea new on the land.


FLOOD: This last paragraph is not meant as an abstraction; I believe it to be true. I can’t say exactly what it is that brought me to want to say it and then to know it should be said, but it should be known that it was not done with any intent but to serve the nature of this investigation. Ask me in the face if I believe that and I will tell you the same: paper and flesh.


The men stand briefly in silence before the lone secured door in the house, now unsecured. The humming has seemed to mute. The man nearest to the door’s handle, which is not the man who had cut the lock off, turns the knob with his left hand to open the door. The door opens backward, into the house, and thus is blocked by the pyramid of trash before it can open more than inches. Through the crack a stink of something piggish and uncurling wafts through the gloss of rot already familiar on the central length of the men’s heads. It is as quickly gone, wrapped as a weird gift upon them without question and then quickly common to their air. Nothing roars.

When enough space has been cleared for the door’s path, the officer pulls the door back further, wide enough to see inside. For lengths the room is black, impenetrable to eye. It appears at first as if the room is just a closet. The pupils move to adjust in the men’s heads, some breath between them, communal meaty fidget of old limbs.

Then, deeper back into the room, a light seems to emerge: low at first, then rising; a stream of panels of bluish neon indexing the air into squares, a corridor; no, a column; no, a cube.

The men’s pupils shift inside the seeing, the shape of lenses and composed holes changing in the machine of their heads.

Set in the dark, a set of stairs. The stairs reveal deeper and deeper on, seeming to extend down into the space farther than one would think a basement should be in a house of this dimension. The stairs are plasticine, kind of glossy. They do not groan, but squish a little under the weight of any man.

Beneath the earth, under the house there, piled like prisms in low artificial light, the officers come upon the bodies of the women and the children and the men.