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Hallo, my most dearest and handsomest Strange fam. It is 2024 and we are still alive. We are also still listening to The Slide. I’m sure it’s been an interesting journey so far, but as I have tediously and repeatedly stated before, I can’t remember shit except for the mud. But you know what? I think this show is a lot like life, you guys. Sometimes we are the mud. And sometimes we are a woman of colour sitting in South India, on an unseasonally hot day, in a city with a water shortage, writing about this mud. It’s just life, friends. Ok anyway.

*

This episode is called Heartbeat. 

If the mud had a heartbeat, that would be nice.

Or if they find out that it has an actual heart.

And the heart has teeth.

And crippling anxiety.

Ok we have a recap provided by an English dude who understands our difficulties. Last time, there apparently was an explosion in a lab where they were experimenting with the mud. And there is an ongoing task of clearing them out of Hollymill Lane.

I mean, if you say so.

It’s Gomez. Not Go Mays wtf.

I don’t know who ‘them’ are. Or what Hollymill Lane is.

I also don’t know why in Resident Evil 2 Mr. X hates me so like what the fuck I didn’t even do anything.

MUD TO THE LEFT OF THEM! MUD TO THE RIGHT OF THEM!

ALSO TREES ARE DROPPING LIKE NINE PINS! 

Feel like the mud could have left the trees alone but this is not my story to tell.

After some talk between two guys about how the mud is just relentlessly swallowing the town, one of them suggests they evacuate.

A man called Wilson is listing his reasons why he will never leave, which are not very compelling reasons tbh.

Suddenly someone is poking around the remains of the lab and saying they should start using steel instead of glass from now on.

We are pleased to learn that this someone is Joseph.

Joseph is so Scottish that it’s not even funny you guys.

He is so Scottish like his Scottish accent has a Scottish accent.

Someone called Robert is saying ‘you have to tell them now!’

Tell who?

About what?

About the possible organic living matter in the mud!

So I’m not a doctor or anything, but doesn’t mud generally have organic living matter in it? Like worms and stuff?

And did you know that June 29th is International Mud Day?

And while there doesn’t seem to be any International Sand Day, July 12th is International Day of Combating Sand and Dust Storms.

Anyway, in their world, applying heat to the mud leads to the multiplication of the amazing organic living matter in the mud. And the mud changes colour and shape.

As far as I know, our mud doesn’t don’t do that. But as I said before, not a doctor.

After deciding that all this hullabaloo is probably because the mud is being pushed out from wherever it lives, Joseph comes to the conclusion that the mud is actually doing all this BECAUSE IT FEELS LIKE IT!

Now Mrs. Deverill has accosted Joseph who was going somewhere I guess.

Apparently she can’t sleep because she is worried about Hugh, who isn’t sleeping and stuff like that.

This is absolutely the right time to talk about this.

Also, who is Hugh?

Fam, Joseph’s Scottish accent is slowly changing like the mud.

Mrs. Deverill says that Hugh has become jealous and accused her of having an affair with Joseph.

Wait, is Joseph also Go Mays?

OMG HE IS

If he’s not Scottish then why are you making him talk...like that?

I feel like this actor keeps forgetting that his character is “Latin” and lapses into a Scottish accent because he likes to unnecessarily roll his ‘r’s.

This is called erasure of identity.

Ok fam, I honestly don’t know what’s happening right now.

Mrs. Deverill asked Joseph to tell Hugh they aren’t having an affair. And Joseph said poop off, I’m not getting involved. And then she said well I didn’t even want you to get involved because I respect my husband. And he said well that’s very nice. And she said well you’re vain and you can’t contain your personal feelings despite your scientific talk. And he said sorry bro I didn’t realize you were so sad in life. And she said I don’t want your stupid sympathy, I want your help.

I can’t figure out who won this argument.

I can’t figure out what any of it means either.

Thankfully, we have now cut to another scene.

A nurse from the hospital has just called Dr. Richards and said sorry to wake you but we’ve lost your young lady Ms. Marshall.

Like, those are the words she actually used. 

Now the nurse is like, listen bro. Everything in her room was ripped to pieces. Curtains, pillows, bedsheets and garbage all over the floor. 

Feel like losing someone’s young lady might be the bigger issue here Joanne.

Idk, this nurse just seems like a Joanne to me.

Actually I was just reading about JK Rowling’s latest TERF tweets and I loved how the people correcting her kept calling her Joanne.

I understand that this does not mean everyone is Joanne.

Anyway.

Apparently the hospital has also lost seven other patients because they are very good at doing that.

They have cut to another scene because frankly wtf Joanne.

So now we have that Wilson dude telling his wife, oh you don’t have to cook anything for me I’m not hungry and Mary is like leave me alone.

What if Mary is hungry? Why does this always have to be about you Wilson?

Now Wilson wants to evacuate, because his heart is ever-changing.

Mary is like why though, I like it here. And he says it’s because the place has changed.

It’s interesting how a more accurate description would be that everything is being swallowed by malicious, sentient mud but he’s decided to go with ‘change’ instead.

Wilson has now opened all the curtains because they were closed before I guess.

Mary said that the light hurts her eyes and so Wilson said hey let’s go to church!

The once pious Mary is now like, I don’t want to go to no stinkin’ church.

This is irrefutable evidence that Mary is possessed but nobody listens to me.

Cut now to Mrs. Deverill being accosted by some lady on her way home from church.

Mr. Deverill has apparently missed three emergency council meetings about the mud. And he refuses to ask the government for help. 

Mrs. Deverill has promised to speak to her husband about all this.

Ok I guess that scene is over.

Now Joseph Go Mays is talking to somebody about the beauty of England. 

He’s saying interesting things like “Everything here is so much richer!” 

THAT’S BECAUSE ENGLAND KEEPS STEALING EVERYTHING FROM EVERYBODY 

Sorry. As a citizen of a former British colony, I should know better.

Jump cut to Dr. Richards talking to the most unhelpful nurse in the world, Joanne.

Dr. Richards is just stunned by the state of Ms. Marshall’s room. I mean this was apparently done by the woman he hoped would regularly clean his house for free so we can understand his feelings isn’t it.

Now we are with Mrs. Deverill who is trying to talk to Hugh and Hugh is behaving like he is four. 

Mrs. Deverill has asked Hugh why he isn’t going for emergency meetings or asking for help. And he said poop off I can do whatever I want.

Then there was some other conversation I didn’t pay attention to.

Now we are in the lab and everyone is happy because they have proof that the mud is a living thing.

I forgot that the mud squeaks.

Just fyi the squeaking is not proof that the mud is a living thing.

It should be though.

Joseph has suggested they look at the proof again because maybe, just maybe, they will discover something else too!

OMG you will never believe what just happened guys.

They have discovered a heartbeat, which is so cool because the title of this episode is Heartbeat.

The universe really does speak to us fam.

Now some lady is talking to a bird.

Its name is BinkieBinkie. Or maybe just one Binkie. Or Pinkie.

The lady has brought Binkie to see Dr. Richards because Binkie is suffering, you guys.

The lady claims to have seen Ms. Marshall at the old Dutch mill. 

Dr. Richards is shook.

Dr. Richards and the lady have now set out for the old Dutch mill.

MEANWHILE! The science dudes are failing to convince Mr. Deverill about the impending mud danger.

Joseph has now resorted to making some very personal remarks about Mr. Deverill.

I don’t know why but Joseph just got mad and left.

We are now back with Dr. Richards who is digging around the old mill.

Dr. Richards is calling out “Janet, Janet darling” and it sounds like he’s trying to sing.

Why are you guys whispering now?

You do realize you were bellowing The Song of Janet a few seconds ago.

So I think they went down somewhere? And Janet was there and there was also a very loud heartbeat sound. And that was it.

*

Looking back, I see that my initial hope for this episode was that the mud would have a heartbeat and a heart that has teeth and crippling anxiety. Some of that hope has become a reality, but at what cost? It is still a hot hot day in this South Indian city. There is still a water shortage and most poignant of all, there are still more episodes of The Slide to come. Will you be there with me as I go where The Slide may take me? I totally understand if you won’t. Because as someone used to tell me back in the day, so many people will not be there also. Bai.



Kuzhali Manickavel's collections Things We Found During the Autopsy, Insects Are Just like You and Me except Some of Them Have Wings, and chapbooks The Lucy Temerlin Institute for Broken Shapeshifters Guide to Starving Boys and Eating Sugar, Telling Lies are available from Blaft Publications, Chennai. Her work has also appeared in Granta, Strange Horizons, Agni, Subtropics, Michigan Quarterly Review, and DIAGRAM. She used to blog at http://thirdworldghettovampire.blogspot.com/. She's now at https://www.kuzhalimanickavel.com.
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