Hannibalo-God-Mozilla Against the Great Cosmic Void


This story appears in Amun: A Gathering of Tales, published by Exile Editions in June 2020. Translated by Kathryn Gabinet-Kroo.

The force of impact is calculated according to the velocity of the vehicle when it collides with the noble beast’s immovable body. Troubling: despite what the sign says, the distance travelled in these two kilometres cannot be quantified. The moose is just massive enough to cause creative chaos. The boiling-hot asphalt buckles the road. A strident silence announces the beginning of the performance. A secret song, a hymn to violence. The crimson chrome explodes. The shards of glass scatter across the blazing bitumen. They illustrate the most exquisite facets of the pain. The vehicle’s body bellows one last time under an insolent sun. Your own body was hemmed in tight. Now, it’s everywhere. Here and there.

This is your most beautiful painting and you’ll never know it.

April 19, 1985

Soon it will be my birthday. Again. No point in rushing, good things come to those who wait. For a fist that blackens your left eye. Or rather, your right: it’s on the left when you look in the mirror. I get them confused sometimes. I wonder whether the real world is not actually the one reflected in the glass. Some say that the mirror gives access to another world, the world of spirits. Kitchike’s Elders say the opposite. That mirrors keep the wraiths at bay. They’re afraid of their reflection. I look at myself and think that maybe I’m a spirit too. Because I don’t like to see myself in the mirror. Especially when my face is badly bruised. Mother says that it’s the same thing every year: I get peevish a few days before my birthday. I grouse and get into squabbles at school. I do everything I’m not supposed to do. Mother says lots of things that I’m sure I’ll learn to respect one day. For the moment, I couldn’t care less. I certainly feel guilty during the thirty-two-hour sermon she inflicts on me each time, but contrary to her expectations, the lecture doesn’t seem to stick. No way am I going to let someone call me kawish, even if, just like that little snot Sylvain who spat the word in my face, I have no idea what it means. But the tone with which he flung his venom clearly indicated that it was an insult.


I wonder if it’s spelled with an e?

October 12, 2007

I met this girl, Éliane. A girl from the North. Still and always the North. Tonight, we talk about movies. She tells me about the love affair she had with Elliott when she was young. Elliott and his mountain of stuffed animals. I remember E.T. very well. Mother took me to the city to see this Spielberg masterpiece when I was a kid. I’d been astounded by cinema’s inherent truth, and my relationship to time was changed forever. Not because of the film as such. I remember getting there late. The first in a long series of late arrivals. We had missed the beginning of the showing, but that was a minor issue because after the final credits, the movie started again as if it had no beginning or end. My mind navigated between the cosmic cycle of eternity and an uninterrupted line of Smarties that served as bait for an exosystemic Pac-Man. It was my first postmodern experience. I was eight years old.

August 28, 1990

There’s a rerun of The Dog Who Stopped the War on TV. “War, war, that’s no reason to get hurt!” During the advertisements, they show news flashes. Balaclava-wearing Natives equipped with Chinese imitations of Russian-made automatic weapons are spreading terror south of Montreal. The people want bread and circuses, but the wicked Indians refuse to share their cemetery so that the golf course can be expanded. Once again, the city is beleaguered by the bloodthirsty savages of history books. The great return of the Iroquois, those ghosts from another time who refuse to disappear before French-Montreal’s Holy Empire. Kahnawake, a village of diehards surrounded by the Gallic colony of Bourrassites. The poor colonists on the South Shore watch the same channel as I do. When the movie is over, they go out into the street and throw dirt at the Elders and the children fleeing the reserve. Except that it’s summer, so they throw rocks instead.


March 23, 1998

My heart is in tatters, I have no appetite. I’m nauseated by the mere thought of swallowing any food whatsoever. I am gutted. A gaping black hole has taken refuge inside me. Three years, less three months, less three days. That’s how long my youthful love lasted. Stéphanie. Her name is Stéphanie Yaskawich. She woke up this morning and she no longer loved me. It’s Thursday. Garbage night. She decided to clean the house, then to clean out the house. It was her turn to take the garbage cans to the curb and, while she was at it, she kicked me to the curb as well. Without anger, without hate. The most natural thing in the world. She said, “Thank you, Charles, for these wonderful years. But the two of us are finished. Over and done. I don’t love you anymore.” And so I left. I pummelled the garbage cans with my fists, just to mock myself for being there, just for having existed. Mother says that I’m worth more than that. That I have a brilliant future ahead of me. That Stéphanie’s the one losing out. I realize that I was wrong, finally. I’ve grown up a lot though I still couldn’t care less what Mother says. But still I’m happy that she says it.

July 13, 1983

Summer brings its share of fun for Kitchike’s kids. A crowd overruns the main street, little kiosks line up in a row, and feathers are brightly coloured. It’s the pow-wow. Bright-eyed tourists, children with their balloons, Father Pinault’s cassock and his embroidered moosehide stole, the Indian princess and her brave on horseback… And the mascots: Yogi Bear’s brother, the chief in his feathered outfit, the local troupe that competes with the neighbouring city’s gang of rejects and their Fur Festival. And as a bonus, this summer we have E.T. The one-and-only, the real deal. Woohoo! E.T. came back, I knew he would. He stretched out his index finger with its firefly tip and called the band council to announce his big comeback. Then, like every other piece-of-shit aristocrat or royal since Lord Durham, he decided to make his first public appearance at the Kitchike pow-wow.

God Bless the Queen!

God Bless the Alien!

God Bless the fucking pow-wow!

September 1, 2012

I’m sitting on my left buttock, my back crooked, my hip against the back of the chair, my legs splayed out to the side, and I wonder why. Why I cannot beat the odds. Why I am still staring at my screen instead of sitting up straight. Or better still, standing up, putting on my jacket and going out, escaping this prison that our apartment is too quickly becoming when I’m caught between one status and another, that of agoraphilic codependent and that of single father. Everything is on the kitchen table. I have nowhere else to set up. I stare at the screen and see my reflection. I’ve aged, but it’s still me. The same look in the eyes, the same crooked nose that pulls to the left. I mean to the right: it pulls to the right in the mirror. I still get it mixed up. But I always feel the insult when I touch it. A souvenir from a teenagers’ fistfight. Probably on the eve of my birthday. It’s hard to remember. I increase the screen’s brightness and my reflection fades. The light dispels the darkness and restores the balance of power.

Wait, once again the question intrudes on my thoughts. I have a tangle of memories, the kind we all have when we contemplate our first years of life. What was really and truly the first movie I saw in the theatre? The Muppets Take Manhattan, E.T. or The Empire Strikes Back? I could have spent the rest of my life asking the question, trying to convince myself that it’s merely a detail, a footnote in the history of my existence. But tonight, I decided to stop being the victim of the hazy nature of my early memories. So I take matters in hand and google theatrical release dates.

The Empire Strikes Back: 1980.

E.T.: 1982.

The Muppets Take Manhattan: 1984.

This may explain my fascination with Star Wars. Ask my son about it. Just as I come to this realization, a whole new question arises: what if it wasn’t E.T. that I’d seen out of order, opening scene after the final credits? The more I think about it, the more I think it was The Muppets. And I don’t know if it’s because I was little back then, but I envision a giant Hannibal destroying the city like Godzilla, his little left-butt-cheek cousin (probably sitting all crooked on the chair, like me). And I realize I’m thinking that Godzilla is the godlike and monstrous version of Mozilla, the non-profit company that programs the web browser I use to google movie-release dates. And I think that maybe it’s Hannibalo-God-Mozilla’s fault that I waste so much time obsessing in front of my computer and wandering around the Interweb instead of going out and contributing to society. Surely it was written in my tender youth, this life of constantly browsing—with no beginning or end—the countless possibilities.

And should I dare to disconnect, would I finally be set free?

February 6, 2011

Big black eyes stare at me, mesmerized, as my gaping mouth dispatches an endless stream of spiteful words. I am Hannibal, smashing the Manhattan skyscraper in an outpouring of rage. My fists descend on the walls, the table and everything that would hurt me. But I feel nothing. Nothing but the pain of being in the world, lost at the outer limits of rage, prisoner of my internal emptiness. My little treasure howls his inability to understand. I hardly hear the words escaping from Éliane’s mouth: “This’s why I didn’t talk to you about it before. You scare me when you’re like this.” She slams the door and disappears under Tatooine’s setting suns.

She has met someone. Someone else. A sundancer from the North. Tonight, she’ll talk about movies with him, make plans. They’ll do the pow-wow circuit, visit Navajo country. They’ll watch her chick flicks under the covers. They’ll make love while I watch her sister empty out our place. Suddenly, I feel the full force of Alderaan’s destruction and I collapse on the sofa. I extend my arms toward the little clone that she bore, embrace him tenderly. I don’t know if it’s to reassure him or comfort myself. But I avoid looking him in the eye. I avoid fuelling the abyss.

December 8, 1981

I’m lying in my bed, curled up and trembling under a mountain of blankets. I share the room with Colin, my imaginary friend, and an assembly of stuffed animals strewn here and there on the floor. The toy Elders are displayed on shelves along the wall. Unlike their lower-status cousins, they are all topsy-turvy and grey with dust. Some have belonged to several generations of my family. Members of the stuffed-toy council have the honour of standing guard while I sleep. Colin told me so because the Elders do not speak to me.

I asked Colin to intercede on my behalf. For a week now, a new addition to the furry folk has kept me awake. The Mad Hatter. A bit of printed felt attached to a wooden stick. A souvenir from the Ice Capades. His big eyes observe my slightest movements, day and night. The minute I close my eyes, he wreaks havoc in my room. He plays innocent, remaining motionless with his mocking smile, but I know. I am totally convinced that he is concocting a diabolical plan to overthrow the Elders. What’s worse: he knows that I know.

Obviously, I didn’t tell Mother about it. She would never believe me. “Oh, Charles, come on! You have an overactive imagination!” she’d say. I didn’t discuss it with Mother, but I did with Colin. Even he thought I was exaggerating. “It’s just a scrap of felt, Charlie. He can’t do anything against the power of the Elders.”

Just the same, the previous night, when I was going to sleep, I heard him breathing. I swear to you on my Atari, I heard his voice just as I was entering dreamland. He whispered, like a breeze:

“Kawish! Kaaaawishhhhh!”

January 1, 2009

It’s two in the morning and I’m in the city, in a half-deserted hospital, tears in my eyes, heart as wide as the sky and my spirit light. In my arms, tenderly swaddled in his little green blanket, is my son. A pure being, so beautiful in all his fragility. A being made in the image of the North, the image of his mother. My contentment is so profound, so complete that I weep it out with all the water from my body. Mother never told me that feeling such happiness can make you cry. My progeny in my arms, I float through the grey corridors toward a nursing station where he is entitled to get his first needle prick. Standard tests, apparently. The first in a long line, if I can rely on my own medical records. I follow the blue dots on the floor. The light blue ones. You must pay attention because the dark ones lead somewhere else. I follow the Smarties, one by one, and dream of the moment when I can finally phone home and tell Mother everything. If only I too had an index finger with a firefly tip.

April 20, 1978

I sit, alone at the table. In front of me, a Jos Louis cake bearing two candles. The house is upside down. A few rays of sun penetrate the broken window, making the dust motes dance in the air. The chairs are overturned, the floor covered with debris, broken bottles and perfectly round droplets of blood that draw a path from one room to the next.

Mother says that you must always save the reds for last. But for now, she says nothing. Nothing intelligible, at least. She cries, wails, moans. She beseeches all the spirits and all the saints. A faceless man pursues her through the house. He throws at her everything that he finds along the way, which is mainly empty bottles of O’Keefe. After a minute, he catches her and pins her against the counter. As he delivers a hail of blows, he bellows like a madman. He strikes and strikes again until Mother collapses on the floor.

I should be screaming too. I should be horrified by so much violence. But the truth is that I feel nothing. Absolutely nothing. I just wonder what Mother has done to deserve such punishment. To go from his “beautiful Indian princess” to a “fucking kawish who doesn’t care about anything but her lil’ bastard.”

The faceless man slams the door. Of the house. On his family. On my life. I take the candles out of the cake and offer Colin a piece. He’s not hungry. Neither am I. But I’m a good boy. So I eat anyway, in case the man comes back with balloons.

Almost now

I often catch myself getting lost in the metatext of my own existence, where I can be subject, object and result of my autoethnobiographical research all at once. However, I have never put it down in writing and will never have another chance to do so. I thought Mother deserved at least that much. To know how much I love her. That it isn’t her fault. That she always did her best, what she believed was right, even when it was too much. She was always so proud of me. I hope that she’ll accept the results of my analysis. My last opus. The most sacred and most brilliant of my creations: my final production. I must not fail because there’ll be no second chance. A single performance to demonstrate all my glory. To shine one last time, one first time, before I die.

People tell me: “You, Charles, are a genius.” They’re actually serious. I say it’s a load of crap. Crap that massages the ego when you occasionally need to lie to yourself, but crap all the same. I learned some time ago that my way of thinking, my cerebral operating system, is unlike other people’s.

Some time ago

I realize that my cerebral operating system is unlike that of others. Although we often have the same cultural references and share, theoretically, the same universe, my mind does not process data in the same fashion and thus does not arrive at the same conclusions, nor does it present them in the same way. I believe that this is due to the reconfiguration of the brain’s arborescence, which I had to manage at a very young age to circumvent a central element of my personality’s binary code, thus forcing me to convert my system to quantum mode and calculate all possibilities on the basis of an exclusively feminine matrix. Some think that this has turned me into an intelligent person. I must confess that, while it gives me a certain originality, it creates all sorts of pathetic anxieties that render me powerless when faced with a host of little everyday things that many consider to be the abecedarium of resourcefulness.


The sofa isn’t sturdy enough to support the weight of my musings, so I crawl to my bed, soaked to the bone. In my head, I hear Grandmother. I thank her for being there every day, even since her great departure. I spare a thought for my mother, my son, his mother. And all the women who acted as a mother to me, even if they weren’t. And I realize what luck I’ve had, having so many mothers. And I bless the women of Kitchike and of all our Nations. I hold sacred all the women in the universe.

But at the same time, I realize that this isn’t enough. It was never enough. No matter how many mothers, the gaping hole in my deepest self has only grown as the years pass. No success, no victory, no adrenaline rush, no moment of absence lost in the Web, no character from the fictional worlds produced by Hollywood—not E.T. or Hannibal or the damn Ewoks—nothing, absolutely nothing could fill the void.


I struggle to control myself. To stay awake. I’m nodding off, my mind has already begun navigating other realities. In rapid succession, each of the fractures in my existence shatters my consciousness. I let the last vial fall. I have swallowed enough pills to cure all the illnesses on the entire Earth and probably those on several planets in galaxies far, far away. I get dressed and grab my bag. No way am I going to croak between four walls. I set out on the path through the woods. Soon, Colin, I’ll join you. Under the watchful eyes of the stuffed Elders, my soul will float down the grey corridors, then across the valleys, and I will follow the Smarties to La La Land, where there are no beginnings and no ends.

I took a few notes on things to do when I get to the other side. Top of the list: Sylvain, the little bully who hassled me in the schoolyard. I can still hear him, sometimes, when I close my eyes: “Kawishhhh! Kaaaawishhhh!” He was in a terrible accident last month. He was going through the park to get to the opening of his show when the sun blinked. His car took a moose to the windshield. It was all over the news. I promised myself I’d fuck him up as soon as I got there. If ever he comes back to life or is reincarnated, you can be sure that he’ll never torment anyone again, the little shit.

I also had a vague thought about my grandfathers, whom I never got the chance to know. My mother always said that I resemble her father. I can’t wait to see if, for once, I’ll agree with her. One way or another, I imagine we’ll have a lot of things to tell each other. And the last thing that comes to mind, as I cross the threshold of the door, the last thought before I lose consciousness, this final voluntary thought goes to my son. And I realize that, like me, he’ll have to live with the vast abyss that eats you up inside. And I hope with all my heart that he will have enough mothers around him to fill the emptiness that I bequeath to him.

Sorry, son.

Papa has accounts to settle.

Somewhere other than here.



Louis-Karl Picard-Sioui is originally from the Wendake community, near Québec City. A historian, anthropologist, writer, playwright, poet, performer and visual arts curator, he refuses to be categorized and defines himself first and foremost as a creator. He is a member of the Wendat First Nation. He is the author of the short story collection Chroniques de Kitchike.


Toby Sharpe


I don’t know where a person can go when they disappear, apart from underwater.


Young Earle Birney in Banff: September 1913¹

what a day!at the Basin2 dove from the tufa overhanginto the water, playing my trick ofseeming to drown, not coming up until I finish wrigglingthrough that underwater chimneyand burst into air. always startles the tourists.


Zamboni Driver’s Lament

i know hate, its line-mates. believe me. you kids have, i’m sure, wasted—all early morning anxious and weak-ankled—their first impatient shuffle-kicks and curses on me.