The brand still knows you. It still responds to your commands. It unfurls its viscera across your basement floor, new organs pulsing with blood, hearts growing one-by-one to increase its VASCULAR STRENGTH. It speaks only in MACROS at first. It knows you by your smell. It won't attack.
GROW YOUR PERSONAL BRAND with scraps of food and cooking grease. Its lolling, mouthless tongues graze the fetid trough. Hundreds of lidless eyes peer out from its fleshy bulk. You will need to WASH YOUR BRAND. Flies will chew at it and excrement will pour out in an endless river. HOSE OFF YOUR BRAND.
While you are at work the entire basement will fill with your brand. The windows will burst and the bloody bulk of it will surge out into the basement window wells and climb the stairs to the second floor, a huge, raw flap unfurling like a carpet into your kitchen. In its thrashing hunger it overturns your child's high chair.
It smears blood up the counter top and over your dishes. The smell. Oh, god, the SWEETNESS OF YOUR BRAND'S SMELL. It expands and contracts with the beating of its many hearts. It hungers, but you are running out of food.
FEED YOUR BRAND. Animals at first, but its hunger cannot be satiated on the flesh of lesser beasts for long. Your brand CRAVES GREATER SAPIENCE. It craves the rich broth of ideas. Of yearnings and horrors. It devours that which understands its own suffering. You start with your enemies. Strangers. Distant relations.
GROW YOUR BRAND, it murmurs in the night beneath the heaving floorboards. The police come. They don't understand. They will never understand. Send the sheriff down to the basement. His screams color the peeling wallpaper. He pleads for his life as the BRAND GROWS.
You think about how you might kill it. Or kill yourself. You consider every possible BRAND DIVERGENCE until it is too late.
You must feed the brand those you love. Everything you love for the brand. GROW YOUR BRAND. Coworkers, friends. The streets of your town are empty. You are a stranger in your ragged suit, waiting to lure travelers back to your house. Don't worry about the smell. Don't worry. The BRAND AWAITS.
Until it is time. The brand has grown. Now you must do that which you have always known you must do.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
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