Austere REM // Issue 13

Page 1

Photographer Natasha Brito, Austere Body Paint Artist Crystal Bannoute Model Rayne Tinsman


Š 2015 Austere Magazine. All rights reserved.


1: Your eyes are closed, but it is easy to wake you.

2: You are in a light sleep. Your heart rate slows and your body temperature drops.

3: It's harder to rouse you during this stage. You would feel disoriented if someone were to wake you.

You are now entering REM.

Now you will see the uncanny first hand. You will see what dreams are made of; you will see that things are not always what they seem to be. You will see what comes with true lucidity.

We will be your focusing lens.



Ganzfeld Experiment 10

Delia Haunt: Denton Musicians 66

The Twilight Zone: Astral Projection 12

Susan Kae Grant: Photographer 68

Hypnotism 14 Exploring DMT 16


The World of Dreams in Films 20 Awakening Waking Minds - Lucid Dreaming 22

Ashley Highberger: A Demonic Experience 74 Lauren Hensens: Artist 76 Cameron Smith: Videographer 78

Purgatory 50 Mesh 52 Life is but a Dream 54 Dark Tales 60



Floating in a featureless womb. Nothing save purgatorial static and a

And from this formless, shapeless void arises something. My vision

somnolent red glow, like an exit sign in a dimly lit hallway. Sense of self is

becomes synchronous with the static I am hearing, and forms begin to arise in

slipping away. Time has lost meaning. The body begins to melt into the bed,

the kaleidoscopic chaos behind my eyelids. The figure of a mouth, moving, as

leaving behind only a sensation like floating in a pool - without the water in

if pins-and-needles personified. Speaking in word salad; unintelligible strings

the ears. And slowly, something begins to surface...

of words. A kind of comet streaks by, and gives way to the experience of a

This is my experience of the Ganzfeld experiment - named as such due to the Ganzfeld effect, which is German for “total field”, and, in essence, is a

to the dark, demented vibrations of human psychosis.

hallucinatory experience triggered by perceptual deprivation - specifically,

Thoughts begin wandering to other realms. Imagery never before

through the experience of an unstructured, uniform sensation. In this case,

imagined, save in fever-dreams and intoxicated sleep. Numbers surface

the try-it-at-home version involves three simple ingredients: a ping pong ball,

from the void, random chains of numbers, a chaotic version of counting

split in half with each half taped over the eyes, a red light, and headphones

sheep. Nonsense thoughts float down the stream of imagination, never

playing static noise.

dwelled upon or questioned - simply coming and going, passing by on a whim.

It’s different for everyone, but, for me, it was verging on meditative.

Questions rise up, and I allow myself to answer them, out loud, where an

Not your stereotypical LSD-level hallucinations - I was never “tripping” in the

assisting friend can hear and take note - though, in most instances, the words

conventional sense. It was closer to a dream - the sort of dream that happens

are barely intelligible. I can not hear my own voice, and so it comes out garbled

in light, fevered slumber, where consciousness is only a grain of sand away.

and slurred.

At first, the mind is rambling on as usual. Is this even going to work?

It was…uncanny, to say the least. To peer beyond the normal limits of

What other stuff do I have to do? What deadlines and due dates am I

perception, and to find something unintelligible, barely human, on the other

forgetting? I wonder if so-and-so is going to text me. I can’t wait to do such-

side. I don’t know what the gibberish thoughts and insane whispers I heard

and-such later. And so on. Slowly, though, these thoughts begin to fade,

were. Voices, perhaps, just waiting for a moment of vulnerability to pounce.

consuming themselves and leaving nothing save the static. Eventually, the

Insanity lurking on the periphery, biding its time until some trauma could

mind grows accustomed to this static, and it becomes background noise -

open the door.

just as the constant hum of air conditioning or the sounds of passing traffic become so commonplace that we tune them out completely.


thousand whispers, babbling insanely, as if I have tuned my brain’s frequencies

If you really want to know, for yourself, what may lie behind the locked doors of your mind - you’ll have to go knocking.


down the stairs, but I stepped off. I just floated down the steps and went straight through the wall. I had this free fall feeling, but it was lighter, it wasn’t as scary, but I just came down and landed.” As he grew older, he had more experiences and his faith strengthened through the projection of his spirit, especially when he needed comfort and understanding. “The



specific thing I was struggling with was who Christ is, in relation to the Father and the Spirit, so I just asked God to show me this, show me who Christ is. I don’t remember actually falling asleep, but I remember it was like all of these thoughts were coming true in my mind and he was standing there in front of me. It was so brief, but it was defined. I saw him and I knew what his role was.” He explained that there were no neutral experiences for him, because there were always good or bad entities surrounding him: “When you see them, what people call energies, they have intentions, they

There is a dimension outside of our bodies, where the soul travels to and un-

have desires, they have a plan, and if those things are good, then you’re

ravels secrets in time and space. It is a dimension not of matter but of mind. It

okay. If they are not good, you are probably in trouble, which is why I try

is a world of imagination where our fantasies can become realities and noth-

to tell people not to jump into this because you are now in the presence of

ing is what we expected.

something that can influence you, your soul, in a way that you may not be

More common than most realize, the astral thread connects the body

Sharon*, who lived in Denton during the 60s, also shared her experi-

experience is an unconscious act, whereas astral projection can be felt with

ence with astral projection. “I was in a workshop where we did meditation

effort, time, and deeply concentrated meditation. Lucid dreaming opens the

at SMU through Silva Mind Control, and the person in charge was Hank

doorway to the subconscious, so it eases the progression to the astral plane.

Van Ginkle. He was very intelligent. There were about 40 people there,

Through astral projection, we can experience spiritual healing, access a past

and we went two nights a week and then one weekend where we spent

life regression, move through time as an observer, or even engage in astral

the whole weekend there. You didn’t sleep, you stayed there and you med-

sex, perhaps with astral entities. Some people have found answers to specific

itated that weekend. Everyone had a candle in front of them and everyone

questions that trouble their hearts and minds.

was meditating. It was at night, and as I was meditating on the candle, I felt

Meet Jason*: the good natured Jack-of-all-trades, master of plenty,


prepared or ready for.”

to the soul as it moves, like a silver-threaded bungee cord. An out-of-body

like I left my body and moved up in the room and through the ceiling of the

who loves his Denton community. He is the strong, caring and kind Christian

building and up into outer space, looking down on the earth, with stars all

boy-next-door that every parent would want as their son or son-in-law. His

around. As I was going up, I felt like I was spinning, like stars were falling as

first out-of-body-experience occurred when he was very young. “I was five

I rose up. It did not feel in any way evil or uncomfortable. I felt at one with

or six years old and I got out of bed. I remember feeling weird. It was like ev-

the universe.” This is described as pure universal bliss: the union between

erything was glowing, like I was glowing, and gave off this strange light. It was

the soul and love, connecting to the source, creator or consciousness. This

really dark, it was at night, and so I stepped as if I was going to take a step

type of astral projection can be difficult because the soul probably will

not want to return to the corporeal body, which most likely contributed to

when you don’t have your own ideas of yourself imposed. For me, it’s kind

Sharon’s nervous breakdown several weeks following the completion of her

of like looking at the world through cellophane. You’ll see things just a little

meditation course at SMU.

bit differently, you’ll see the reality below, but there will be this extra layer

“It’s almost like an accelerated learning program for the soul,” Amber*,

almost.” She went on to explain that people astrally project with each other,

a student and healer, explained. “It’s on the basis of how comfortable you

such as her friends, a couple married for 60 years. They apparently show

are with your intuitive abilities and how comfortable you are with the idea

up in each others’ dreams when one of them is traveling and they’ve been

of there being other things in the world, besides what you can see, feel, and

separated, and they simply wave to each other.

touch. For a lot of people, they feel drawn to it as a way to renew faith, or to

“It’s like walking on a rainbow,” she shared about her personal expe-

answer a question. Some people do a past life regression, so you go onto the

rience. “It’s very much like crossing the rainbow bridge over to the other

astral plane where it’s easier to access your timeline. It takes a tremendous

side. For every system of faith, there is a rainbow bridge construct of some

amount of energy to do that. Typically when you’re doing a past life regres-

sort. When you’re going to the astral plane, it’s very much about ‘ask and

sion, you are on the astral plane but there are others there supporting you

you shall receive.’ But if you’re not careful about what you ask for, you’ll

and giving you white light - a circle of maybe 10, typically 12 people.”

get a lot more than you wanted .Astral projection for me is almost like this

In relation to hypnosis and astral projection, she explained that there

bubble, and I walk through it, then all of a sudden, I’m in this great big void.

really is no connection. “When someone hypnotizes you, it’s like you’re

There’s a rainbow stretched out in all directions, both up and down, back-

allowing them control, but when you are astrally projecting, you are very

wards and forwards, left to right. Every single color is spread out into its

much in control of what you are doing with your own energy. When you as-

own individual beam, and on these beams, there are pathways and bub-

trally project, just like when you lucid dream, you are the one that’s in control.

bles and objects and symbols. There are people and things that are kind

The silver thread or the astral thread is something that you absolutely must

of like elementals, or things that are like suggestions of something there,

feel at all times. The astral plane is a lot bigger than people think of. When it

like shimmers or sounds. So I choose the color that I want to walk on. In

comes to the astral plane, think of every dream every person has ever had

the midst of this rainbow world, there’s a table. I go to that table a lot of

over the course of all humanity, tie it together with a whole bunch of spiritu-

the time to ask questions and a specific color will appear, so I’ll walk down

al energy and a whole bunch of doors, then that’s kind of what it’s like. It has

that color and figure it out. If I have a question about a person, a lot of the

the ability to be just about anything, because it’s not tied down to anything

time the color will be purple, or if I have a question about someone being

remotely physical. Now you can astrally project to see physical places, but

sick, the color will be yellow. If I have a question about myself, it’s either red

they’re going to be a touch different than if you were actually there physi-

or green. As I walk down that hue or pathway, I meet people or I’ll pick up

cally. For instance, there might be a color that you see attached to a building

an object or a specific phrase will come to mind and I’ll take it back to the

that wouldn’t be there in real life, or you might see certain people there that

table. Then I’ll walk back through that bubble again and then I’ll be awake.”

just don’t exist there in real life. It’s very much about being able to interpret

Whether one is seeking a higher power, a greater connection to the

symbols and being able to speak a language that’s more based on pictures

universe, or some personal truth about themselves, astral projection is a

and feelings and sounds and thoughts. Language is a limiter and is a very

road less traveled by. It is highly subjective and mysterious, much like the

clunky way of trying to deal with stuff. A more universal language is spoken

dimension of imagination.

on the astral plane…. it’s a lot easier to take a look at yourself as a person

*Names have been changed to protect sources.




On the eighth floor of a 264,000 square foot building holding a

it swirled. I suddenly came down to earth and opened my eyes. I felt

vibrating teddy bear, I slowly closed my eyes and put on some

different, in a much calmer state of mind. I had wanted to get over my

headphones. No, it wasn’t some weird initiation to join a cult or a

social anxiety. And you know what? It worked.

strange ritual I do in order to sleep. Far from it.

Many may believe hypnosis is a trick a magician pulls when he

fascinating is definitely happening in the brain. Simon displayed results from a neurofeedback on her computer that showed the activity of a person’s brain before and after going through hypnosis. According to Simon, the brain relaxes during a

Ellen Simon, a psychotherapist who’s been in private practice

rocks a clock back and forth while convincing somebody that they’re

state of hypnosis. “Most of the frequencies of the brain are affected

for more than 16 years, guided me with her faint and calming voice

a chicken. But hypnosis can actually be used to help people overcome

during hypnosis. If someone is anxious, there’s a lot of beta activity

to begin a “journey into a deep state of hypnosis.” According to Simon,

certain fears, anxieties and even physical pain. Simon was first exposed

and [ hypnosis] can calm that beta activity and also enhance alpha

everyone has an inner child within, so the teddy bear, vibrating in tune

to hypnotic therapy while working at a hospital during her graduate

brainwaves, which increases imagination and relaxation,” she says.

with the sound coming from the headphones, is more for comfort.

years. She jokingly told her colleague, a psychologist, that she was

Most of Simon’s patients come to her to overcome phobias

It’s hard to describe what I was hearing; it sounded like a dreamy,

afraid of going to the dentist and wished she could be hypnotized out of

or certain physical ailments. She also gets a few skeptics, including a

ambient kind of music. Most patients would tell Simon what they’re

this fear. He told Simon he could do it and he wasn’t joking.

scientist who wanted to get rid of allergies. After going through the

struggling with and she would help them think of ways to overcome

“I had a profound experience,” she says. “I felt totally comfortable

those obstacles. This technique helps people to visualize how they will

and blissful. I felt like I was bathed in this healing light that I could only

overcome whatever might be distressing them.

describe as a light of unconditional love.”

process and noticing he didn’t have symptoms, he jumped on board. Some may still be skeptical or may have gone through hypnosis without experiencing a thing. But Simon also pointed out that hypnosis

At first, nothing was showing up for me. But slowly, a blue color

The mind is a funny thing. During a state of hypnosis, a person’s

is a skill that takes time to master. “It’s learning how to self-regulate

appeared, swirling like paint draining in a bathtub, and I was entranced

attention is focused on one specific thing and blocks out the outside

your own physiology,” she says. “You learn how to get yourself calm. So

by it. Then I was on an island by myself floating on my back in the

environment. How that happens is debated among many theorists.

no matter where you are, you have that measure of self-control and

ocean. Nothing but peace and quiet. Soon the sky started swirling

Some say the mind goes through an altered state of consciousness,

self-regulation, learning how to change the pictures in your mind.”

too. Something, perhaps my inner monologue, then told me to relax

similar to a sleep-like state during animal hibernation. Others say it’s

and that no one would hurt me. I just kept staring up in the sky while

a form of imaginative role-enactment. Whatever the cause, something

Personally, I would love to go back into that ocean and dive deeper to see what else I could find.

To try it out yourself, contact Simon at:


It is the chemical that connects us. The very essence of life itself, some

tachment to my body. The star compacted until it was going inward, going

might say. Birth, death, and dreams - these are the conduits which chan-

negative, and it exploded. It was like the creation of the universe: it was

leased upon birth and death, and one of the major chemicals involved in

nel dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, in order to occur. Without these chemi-

this solid energy exploding and as soon as that explosion happened, I wit-

causing dreams?

cals, we would not experience these fundamentally human experiences in

nessed so many things so fast. I relived my birth, which was really really

quite the same manner.

provide such lucid insights into human life? Why is DMT the chemical re-

Well, here’s a theory - purely food for thought, not to be taken for

weird, and I lived a whole life, and I witnessed my death. I had no person-

fact, but not to be taken lightly, either: perhaps DMT is the gateway to the

All hallucinogens take perception to new realms; yet, DMT, of all

al connection anymore to my body or feeling like an individual and I was

next “step” in our consciousness. Perhaps DMT is the closest we have to

hallucinogens, takes its users to planes most distant from the human ex-

connected to everything in the universe, or whatever is past that. I was

an experience of the afterlife.

perience. There is no sense of time or self, when the hallucination begins.

everywhere in the universe, I became everything, and after that happened,

When someone has a near-death experience - DMT is the prime

A DMT experience usually only lasts between 15 and 30 minutes - but the

I remember just being this solid white glow. I had no thoughts of anything.

chemical culprit. The “light at the end of the tunnel”, the sense of over-

perception is timeless. It could be moments passing, or eons. There is no

‘The source’ is what I called it. To me, that was the place that you go when

whelming tranquility, and the movement of the mind towards some beck-

concrete sense of self with which to anchor oneself, and so everything of

you die, where your energy goes, where everything that lives and dies will

oning afterlife - well, chemically speaking, this is the work of DMT. That

this normal, human realm is left behind.

go back to.

Speaking to an anonymous source gives us a glimmer of insight into

After that, about five or six minutes, I started coming back to

the experience. “You feel this high pitched frequency, going higher and

my body, so I basically dropped out of the sky as a little soul thing back

higher and higher, until it just explodes, like exploding through the top of

through the house. I floated back to myself and I opened my eyes and

is not to say, however, that the experience is purely biological, and does not speak to spirituality at all. Rather, it is a means for understanding, for insight, into the evolution of our consciousness. DMT is the method for the movement of the consciousness into a

your head and you just shoot out into the universe basically. When I got

looked over across the room and I was just like, ‘Holy shit.’ I just said ‘holy

new state of perception. The mind cannot experience or accept the lack

there, I was up in the universe-cosmos place. My body was up in a cross.

shit’ for ten minutes because I couldn’t say anything else about it. I was so

of consciousness. When sleeping, the mind must still dream, it must still

Each layer of my cells and what made me a human started to disintegrate

fucking happy about what had just happened. It was the most full expe-

perceive, because to do otherwise is directly contrary to its very existence.

into energy and float off and it happened millions of times, these layers

rience ever. It was such a relief, like death was not a thing to worry about

And that's where DMT comes into play. The theory is this: the mind, upon

peeling off, and I got smaller and smaller until all the bone and everything

so much anymore. It gave me some hope because not having a religion or

death, cannot submit to the void of non-being. It must attempt to preserve

was gone and there was just this glowing white-ish light, kind of in the

anything and not knowing was crazy; that was the closest I’ve ever had to

itself; it must perpetuate its own perception - this is the function it cannot

shape of a body, and that all condensed into what looked like a star, or

seeing any kind of afterlife.”

avoid. So, upon death, the mind releases DMT. A chemical which removes

a glowing orb. That star started to compact tighter and tighter, and I re-

This experience, and many others like it, begs the question: what

the sense of time and the sense of being. Neurons and synapses work at

member the tension of that happening, because I was still having an at-

does it all mean? Why does DMT take the mind to such alien places, and

speeds beyond human perception, and in the fraction of a second it takes

to transition between life and death, DMT is released, and begins to weave a world displaced from time. A moment can be stretched for eons with DMT, remember? And without an end to the “trip”, as it were, the sense of timelessness never ends. Something that exists outside of time can have no beginning or end. In essence, the afterlife is a never-ending trip - in this theory. It is a last minute hallucination; the mind’s desperate attempt to avoid death’s unfathomable abyss. Without this chemical, and without a spiritual sort of afterlife, death would be as a dreamless sleep. And who can say they could actually describe this experience - save with the opposite of consciousness? It can only be defined in opposition, never as an experience itself. When one falls asleep and has no dreams there is no gap. No recognizable end to consciousness; you can’t perceive yourself actually falling asleep. Perception just...fades away, and then, fades back in. Because the mind cannot experience non-being. Can you ever remember the actual falling asleep? Do you remember the “dreamless sleep” that existed before you were born, before memories began to form? If we can fall asleep, with no memory, and yet still wake up, perhaps DMT will lead us through the void. And when we wake up on the other side - who knows what we might find? So maybe DMT provides the dreams for the sleep of death. Maybe, though, the dreamless sleep of non-being is the ultimate peace. Because an afterlife is still life. Still working. Still experiencing. And maybe, the void of death is a welcome rest, and DMT is a softly-sung lullaby to soothe us comfortably into the abyss. Maybe DMT is the vessel for the transmigration of the mind into some new consciousness. Metempsychosis. Maybe DMT is the means for enlightenment, for an awareness of things beyond our conventional perception. Maybe DMT is the means for plants and other forms of being to converse with our own. Or maybe - these words are no more lucid than the ramblings of the bathroom-stall prophets… PHOTOS BY ELLIE ALONZO

...and we're all just tripping.


Photographer Lisa-Marie Kaspar


If, as Roland Barthes argues, film is like hypnosis, it becomes still more interesting to descend further down the rabbit hole and explore how dreams, a type of cinematic hypnotism, function in film. Federico Fellini’s 8 ½, for example, about a director struggling to finish a film, opens with a dream sequence in which Guido Anselmi, the director-protagonist, is trapped inside of a smoking car. Surrounded by traffic, with onlookers blankly watching him struggle to escape, Guido finally emerges as him and the camera fly above the city like a kite over a field. The sequence ends with Guido, after hovering over the ocean, about to hit the waters of the sea. The dream here ruptures the fabric of narrative possibility and, in doing so with just a few personal and bizarrely specific elements, plumbs the depths of Guido’s interior life and illuminates his fears and obsessions. The dream compresses so much of his experience and projects its residue swiftly. For us, the dream is like a puzzle. The film Paprika, written and co-directed by Satoshi Kon on the other hand, supposes a world in which psychotherapists can enter their patients’ dreams. In such a physical calculus, dreams are further like puzzles in that they are made to be configured by human agency. Through intuition and the power of a spectator, the dream can be harnessed to learn from. In reality, our dreams are more fleeting, private, though not necessarily any less lucid. So what do these two totally separate films and these brief readings of them suggest? That cinema opens a unique possibility for holding a mirror up to the dreams, anxieties, and frustrations of artists and the cultures that engage them. That waking life is lent clarity in the ragingly meditative waters of sleep.




I am trapped underwater. Shadows of ships pass above me, and large, snakelike masses writhe beneath me. I can breathe, but there is some pressure against my chest, pushing, crushing, and it is threatening to overtake me; I need to get out. I swim clumsily up to the surface to find that it is overlaid with a sheet of glass and I begin to panic. The twisting masses below me are rising, and my breathing becomes thick and nervous. My breathing. I can breathe. How can I breathe? I’ve been searching for the trick, the path to lucid dreaming for weeks, reading books and online articles, working relentlessly to understand this phenomena and dive into it myself. The concept of controlling one’s dreams is intoxicating; we all yearn to be conscious in a world that is so fascinating and unpredictable, to be able to accomplish astonishing feats with merely a thought, create beauty in our surroundings with an intention, escape from a nightmare with a passing hope. In the stretch of my research, I’d begun to lose confidence in my ability to lucid dream, waking each morning to recount my dreams only to succumb to the fact that I felt no sense of control, no conscious moments of waking in my sleep. Until I paid enough attention to comprehend the fact that I was breathing underwater. There is a moment of clarity. I can breathe underwater. There is glass on top of the sea. I am neither cold nor warm. I’m dreaming. I’m dreaming. I’m…lucid dreaming. And I want to fly. My body moves up through the water as if pulled by heavy ropes, and the glass shatters as I am pulled up through it. There is no pain, I notice gleefully, and the details of the glass as I pass through it are breathtaking. Every edge catches

23 23

the light, and I can see the hairline fractures as they appear and splinter along, until they burst apart with a fragile, clanging explosion. It is gloriously beau-

when you slip into a dream, you’ll recognize things that don’t fit with these tiny bits

tiful. My body keeps passing upwards, and it is achingly bright here, for there are

of daily life. I can breathe underwater. There is glass on top of the sea. I am neither

three suns, in descending sizes from the left to the right, in the cerulean sky above

cold nor warm. These are not possible things, and you’ll feel a stirring of confusion in

me. I am three feet or so above the water, and I hover here, toes grazing the waves

your mind, and this stirring will begin to tumble into a waking, and suddenly- it is as

that I now notice are turquoise, the tops splattering into gemlike droplets. I look

if your eyes spring open and every detail comes into focus. You will realize that you

beside me to see the glass that shattered when I burst through it- each fragment

are dreaming.

has become suspended in the air beside me. The brilliancy of detail, of the way

I hover over the water, staring at the glass hanging around me, and I want to

each little shard catches the sunlight and reflects the light onto me, onto the sea,

touch everything. I reach out to one of the shards hanging next to my face. It is long

into the sky, is glaringly, almost excruciatingly, gorgeous.

and thin, the size of my pinkie, and as I touch the tip of my finger to its surface, the

I’ve never had such a beautiful dream- or perhaps I’ve never remembered

edge of it makes my skin buzz slightly, and it rings with a low, solid note, the same

such a beautiful dream. When you become lucid, you recognize details that, in a

noise that comes from blowing into the top of a glass bottle. I touch another, and an-

normal dream, would have just been a blur. Everything becomes clearer, more de-

other, splaying my fingers out and running them across the little bits of glass, and a

fined; you can see it all as though you were truly experiencing it in waking life. And

myriad of notes play around me. I start to cry, I can’t help it, it’s too pretty, and sud-

that’s the exact point- you are “awake”. You are conscious. You are experiencing it

denly I am pulled through a dark tunnel with an abruptness that takes my breath away.

all with the exact same lucidity and clarity as your waking self.

And I am awake now, in the flatness of my shadowy room, and I am still crying, throb-

It’s hard to drag your conscious self into the realm of the unconscious, but

bing with the loss of such a world.

it is very possible if you are willing to work for it. When you are trying to lucid

Lucid dreaming is a glorious, overwhelming union of the conscious and the un-

dream, it doesn’t start in bed, hovering between the dream world and real life.

conscious. Dreams are the expertise, if you will, of the unconscious; our waking minds

When you are awake, going through your day- this is the beginning. Notice the

ordinarily have no say or control in what experiences play out in our dreams, what our

details. Ask yourself the question, “How do I know that I’m not dreaming?” And

surroundings are, what movements we make or hopes that we have.

answer it in the clearest and most detailed manners possible. Because I can hear

In lucid dreams, our conscious selves become sharply aware and can pro-

each footstep that I make, and that others around me make. Because I can feel

duce intentions- but only intentions. Our waking selves will never truly control the

my nails pushing into my palm right now. Because I can see every indention on

shadowy realm of dreams, because it is the one place that our unconscious reigns

this wooden table in front of me, and when I trace my pen across it I can feel the

as all-powerful. The two may meet, but the conscious can never hope to overpower

pressure as it sinks into the soft wood. Because I am shivering against the freezing

the other in such an underworld. Instead it can create aims, goals, hopes, vague ob-

temperatures right now. These details are not dream-like. They make up the tiny bits of daily life that we take for granted, and never think to look for in a dream. But continue this,


often, randomly, throughout each day, and you’ll realize that it becomes habit, and

jectives. It may decide that it wants to fly, but the sovereign unconscious will decide whether you will soar with wings, float as if in a bubble, or, perhaps, hover above the ocean playing with glass.


Photographer Alex Stoddard


Photographer Kelsie Shelton, Austere Model Alycnna Lloyd HMUA Brenda Frogoso, Toni & Guy Southlake Location Provider Chloe Hendrix


Photographer Shaina Hedlund Model Mikala Barber


Halom Swimming in a rainbow Underneath the upside down smile I find a taste I can touch I was tickled by a sense of adoration How careless am I?! Who would have thought this was real Diving into a bowl of Skittles Feeling and seeing and licking And thinking and wondering... And realizing that this can't be real Water floods the bowl and I'm - Trapped. Drowning in a realization That none of what I believe To be the best moments of my Entirety, are actually the exact Same as how they are presented To me. Drowning feels right Almost like I deserve this outcome Foolish for tricking myself Into thinking I could live in colour.


Photographer Shaina Hedlund Model Mikala Barber


e assu e Vacuum distilled distilled

e a ti e





bliss, especially

reincarnation and


life after death




immortality and

purity, refinement

safety and the self


and superiority




vision, magic and

death, fear and

symbol of the

spiritual power


physical world

ORANGE fertility and life force

SNAKES primeval life force and divine self sufficiency MASK



happiness and good

and illusion



Photographer Ellie Alonzo, Austere Model Sallie Bowen


THE BLACK ROOM Photographer Mike Carpenter, Austere Art Director Emily Ruiz, Austere Model Emily Deaver, Kim Dawson Agency HMUA Jacqueline Creech, Austere




Photographer Ellie Alonzo, Austere Model Sallie Bowen




Photographer Mike Carpenter, Austere

Clothing Designer Joe van Overbeek

Stylist Chima Onyebuchi, Austere

Accessory Designer Ashley Whitby

Art Director Emily Ruiz, Austere HMUA/Model Ashley Whitby


MESH Photographer Nicolas J. Harris Stylist Landon Simpson Stylist Assistant Emily Ruiz, Austere HMUA Shay Birdow Model Chima Oyenbuchi, Austere Location MakeShift Photography studio

Headpiece Danger Ready Chion top Elvira Diaz Leather shorts Zara Destructed denim sleeves Stylist's own


Headpiece Danger Ready Crock moto jacket Mid-Point Eclectic Rings Stylist's own


Life is but a Dream Photographer Morgan Chidsey Stylist Lauren Jenkins, Austere HMUA Jenn Karsner Model Claire-Bailey Lee, The Dragonfly Agency Clothing Neiman Marcus Last Call at Grapevine Mills Poem Garrett Smith, Austere



aress of the membrane, pulsating, my brain needs to float away

55 55

past this cage, take some time to go blank -

let the white noise like sensuous fingers of smoke

enwreath my face,

glittering with each nerve ending's pecking kisses,


57 57


sweet tingling transformation: I am a doubled edge,


and the vibes course through the veins

but this haze is the only mirror that remains.

59 59

Photographer Sabine Fletcher, Austere Stylist Arin Desai, Austere HMUA Jacqueline Creech, Austere Model Rachel Wagoner. Austere Poem White Widow, Zeina Samy





By Morgan Gentry Bands seem to be a dime a dozen in Denton, but this psychedelic, lo-fi indie dream-pop group of newcomers plans to bring something different to the scene. Delia Haunt is made up of lead vocals Jonny Covach, bass player Austin Clay, keyboardist Tommy Crumrine, guitarist Josh Serrano and drummer Daniel Rossi. With the debut album “100 Years of Solipsism” in the works, Austere got a chance to get familiar with the dreamy dudes while talking to Covach. How did you guys get together? JC: We started playing together when four of us were freshmen at UNT. We became friends before there was any talk of being in a band together. Once we got to know each other we got to swapping records and eventually started working on songs that Murray [McCulloch] and I had written. Murray moved to Portland last May, and since then Josh has stepped in on guitar. How did your sound take shape? The dreamy, lo-fi, psychedelic pop had to be pulled from so many directions; what are some influences that helped the process as well? JC: I think we all have a slightly different approach to music, but since we all have our hands in each other’s different bands I think we generally have a shared sensibility when it comes to putting an arrangement together that suits the song. In highschool I listened to a lot of old crusty psych singles and compilations from the ‘60s and I’ve been into Brazilian music since I was a kid, so we probably owe something to those styles. Where is your mind when you’re in the middle of a jam session? JC: We probably think about Taco Bell, anime, football, craft beer and homework, in that order. What have you guys been listening to lately? JC: We’ve been listening to both Homeshake albums, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s Pinata and Madonna’s Like A Virgin. 66


What was your last dream about? JC: I had a real messy one about eating a BBQ chicken strip sandwich from Whataburger recently. What separates Delia Haunt from the other bands around town? JC: I think we rely more heavily on synthesizers than some of the other groups in Denton (at least since Goldeen). We also tend to work backwards from demos that I have recorded on my laptop, so that might have an effect. But maybe that’s not so unusual these days. Where did the band name come from? JC: I came up with the name after I had finished a song for the Meditations in Fear II Halloween compilation and didn’t have a band name to use for my submission. I was really into Delia Derbyshire then, who was this really zany composer for BBC documentaries and also composed the original theme song for Dr. Who. I had also been into the idea of using a pen-name or alias for the songs I was working on. I decided to graft the name Delia, and then I added Haunt because it sounded Halloween-y. I didn’t think I would use it after the compilation, but after a little while it had grown on me and I stuck with it. What can we expect from “100 years of Solipsism”? Why that name? What does it mean? JC: The name is just a play on the title of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel 100 Years of Solitude that I was reading when I was making the album. I also think solipsism is kind of a funny ideology and applies well to pop music. Mostly I think it is a funny title because it feels like it’s taken 100 years to record. You’re in dreamland and a magic carpet appears, where is your next destination? JC: Yummy’s Greek restaurant on W. University, for sure. 67


“I’ve always been interested in creating a narrative from a psychological space that is both here and not here. Real and not real. Of this world and not of this world.” This is the defining statement on Susan Kae Grant’s oeuvre, from the artist herself - a Dallas based photographer and professor at TWU. She utilizes the interplay of shadows on a screen to create surreal dreamscapes that are, at times, both wicked and whimsical. It’s not enough to see the artwork or the installations that she produces, though - to


get the full experience of her process, one must be enveloped in her space. A space that, for Susan, is one of mindful, all-encompassing, Zen-like focus - created by an atmosphere of ambient music, and of course, darkness. “I wasn’t interested in illustrating any one dream - I wanted to show a dream-like space,” Grant explains. “In that space, things are sharp, things are out of focus, things don’t quite make sense, you think you might know who someone is, but you don’t really - that was really how it all started.” Her work is not simply about creating an aesthetically pleasing image; rather, it is about enveloping someone in the uncanny, hazy familiarity that is a dream. By being exposed to a space which is normally reserved to REM sleep and bringing to the surface imagery that is usually locked away in the unconscious mind, reality becomes all the more lucid - awareness comes at the lifting of the veil. “It’s a heightened sense of reality. It feels as if you’re in that space - not in reality,” states Grant. To understand the space that her artwork creates for the viewer, one must attain an understanding of the space which produces said art. Grant’s studio is, for all intents and purposes, a doorway into another realm. The walls are lined with shelves and cubbies, containing a seemingly endless number of odd and often other-worldly props and pieces, collected from any number of sources - garage sales, antique stores, or simply the side of the road. At center stage is the main set-up, with the white backdrop, and a maze of beams and objects hanging from wires. The most defining thing about her space, though, is the light. Her work, being centered around shadow, necessitates a high degree of control over lighting, and the many studio windows are blacked-out. Thus the veil of reality is lifted, and in witnessing her ensuing process one is transported into the world of dreams. It’s certainly a surreal


experience in the sharpening effect it has on perception.

remain static - it is a space, and it demands interaction. The set requires constant

Grant’s work is, in a word, the very definition of a surreal experience: her

manipulation by the artist, and constant re-imagining. It is a conscious relationship

photographs unveil the unconscious, symbolic imagery which is, in her own words, “a

with the creation of a dream-space, and yet, by entering the space and becoming

recollection of the familiar that is unfamiliar.” Her photographs are both sharp, high-

focused on its construction, spontaneity is allowed a part to play. As such, there is

contrast images, and vague sets of uncannily familiar symbols. Often, the backdrops

constantly a sense of balance at work in the process; balance which often goes under

of these images contain vague, branch-like tendrils, which, when combined with the

the names of interplay and juxtaposition. Balance is a dynamic, kinetic action, which

human silhouettes in the foreground, create for an uncanny image that maintains

is central to the creation of a dream-space - but what this space reveals is not simply

a balance between invitingly familiar, and yet almost disturbingly alien. And in this

relevant to dreams. “If you really look at life and analyze it - it’s bizarre. The things

combination, the vague narratives of dreams begin to form.

people do and the things we see - it’s a strange world out there. It’s a disturbing

These narratives are born, as they are in dreams, in absurd and ambiguous

world. Everything’s out of balance.” Grant, it could be said, is truly a trapeze artist -

fashions. One can look at an image of Grant’s and see countless answers to the

defying gravity with the multitude of balancing acts required to create the necessary

questions that are implied; in the artist’s mind, it is only a success when a myriad of

shadows and sets for a photograph. She creates a sense of balance in her studio and

stories arises. This is the very element of her work which separates her from many

within the space that a photograph encapsulates. It’s not easy, in the real world, to

other visual artists - the dynamic between narrative and imagery. This dynamic

juggle all of the disparate distractions and responsibilities; in the dream-world,

creates a juxtaposition between explanation through story, and ambiguity through

though, balance comes as naturally as it does at the circus - and makes for just as

interpretation of imagery - the very things about the dream-world which have

whimsical an experience.

seduced people’s imaginations for ages.

The dream-space that Grant creates simultaneously defies concrete

The process, like the fluid motion of a dream, is very kinetic. It is not like a

explanation and beckons the viewer to interpret - to imagine - what narratives

painter’s easel, a writer’s desk, or a casual photographer’s model, where one can

may lie beneath the surface. “I think that the dream-space is much like the waking life - you have to find the treasures of it to make sense of it,” Susan notes eloquently.


It’s a process of pulling away the layers that dilute or distract one from the true, underlying meanings. The dream-space defies reality in that it cuts deftly to the core of symbolism. Sure, dreams are often abstract, even absurd - but, so is the reality of waking life. One has to look for the morsels of meaning, the trinkets on the side of the road, the soundbites in a lackluster lecture in order to create a meaning, a narrative, that carries weight. In truth, though, it’s often impossible to articulate where such meaning and inspiration comes from. Sometimes, there is no explanation for the inspiration, or the work that is created. One can write any number of essays, create any number of analogies - but the artist puts it most poignantly herself: “It’s the same as waking out of a dream - sometimes, it’s just there.


Photographer/HMUA/Art Director Aubry Roach

Stylist Timothy Max

Model McKenzie, Wallflower Management

Clothes American Apparel



AS H L E Y H I G H B E R G E R :


EXPERIENCE Ashley Highberger has a spritely, enigmatic nature to her

of sadness and I start crying with my entire body, for no

woke up her friend, and asked her to look at her back. On the left

personality, warmth constantly radiating from her delicate

reason whatsoever. I’m not the type to cry in front of people,

side of her spine, there were three welted scratches along her

structure. A creative photographer, videographer, and nanny in

I’m a really upbeat person, and I had been friends with these

back, like a claw had dug down into her flesh. The girls woke up

the Denton community, she carries herself with an artistic and

people for years and they had never seen me cry. So they

the parents, both of whom were Catholic, and they immediately began blessing the house through prayer and burning sage.

jovial liveliness. It comes as a terrible surprise to learn that she,

were like, what is wrong?” She dismissed it and told them she

so lovely and upbeat, experienced true horror when she was

just wanted to go to bed, but she remembers the devastated

only 14 years old.

feeling: an overpowering sadness, as if everyone in her family

wasn’t there- I think that is why I was singled out as the person

had just died.

that it touched,” Ashley speculates, “because I didn’t want to feel

She was staying the night at a friend’s house. Built back in the 70s, it had been abandoned for six years before her friends’

Later on, the girls decided to go to sleep. “We’re all

“I think the fact that I was the person who was saying it

scared and I didn’t want my friends to feel scared.”

parents purchased the home and refurbished it. “It was just a

laying down in the bed together, and I’m on the farthest

For two years following the paranormal experience,

typical sleepover,” Ashley explains. “Her uncle had died a week

outside, with my face in the pillow because I’m so scared that

Ashley could not sleep alone; the experience has haunted her

before so we were just talking about it. We heard a whisper in

if I look up, I’m going to see something. I had goosebumps,

ever since. Because of her experiences, Ashley has produced a

the corner of the room. It’s hard to explain but we all three heard

and the hair on the back of my neck was standing up…”

paranormal blog where personal stories can be shared. Bizarrely, when her friend’s family moved out of the once abandoned

it and looked at the corner of the room. But it was just an empty

Ashley distinctly remembers feeling a dark presence in the

corner with a dresser there.” The girls decided it was Ashley’s

room. Unable to sleep, vaguely sensing that something was

house, Ashley was told that they discovered a stain in the

phone vibrating, then turned to the television for comfort. “Out

watching her, she lay there for about an hour until she felt an

wooden floor under the bed, marking the very place where she

of nowhere, thirty minutes into it, I get an overwhelming feeling

itching, burning sensation on her back. She turned on the lamp,

had been attacked. It was dark and as red as blood.

75 75


Oil paint and glitter. Sweeping landscapes edged in brilliant color. Lauren Hensens, a local Denton artist and UNT graduate, has captured a style that is not only visually-striking, but also communicates a message. Using color and layered sheets of paint, she illustrates the struggle between nature and the human element—the natural and the unnatural—in a way that is rooted in realism, but packs an other-worldly punch. Hensens draws her inspiration from secluded areas of natural beauty, spanning from pockets of undeveloped land in residential areas, to the frosted, glacial fields of Alaska— and photographs these moments to be converted into paint later. “It's wherever I really feel a deep connection to a location,” she said, standing under a cusp of pines in one of her favorite spots by Lake Sharon (the birthplace of her “Embellished Development” piece). “I'll take lots of photographs, work off of those, then I'll begin to manipulate the paint—make it more, add things.”


This Thiscan canbe be seen in inher herworks works featuring featuring ethereal, ethereal, misted misted coast coastlines lines and and mountain mountain ranges—natural ranges—natural vistas vistas that are thatsplashed are splashed in highinpigmented high-pigmented sweeps sweeps of color, of color, or pinned or pinned with bright with bright geometric geometric shapes. shapes. The clash The of these clash displaced of these objects displaced withobjects the serene with calm theofserene a natural calm setting of aisnatural purposeful, setting and is apurposeful, strategic addition and a strategic by Hensens. addition “I go by with Hensens. that classical, “I go realistic with that technique, classical,and realistic paint the technique, landscape andlike paint that— the but landscape then I willlike havethat—but these weird then moments I will have of “what theseisweird that doing moments there?” ofor“what theseis painting that doing marks there?” thatordon't thesebelong—and painting marks thatthat represents don't belong—and the relationship that represents between the thenatural relationship and synthetic,” between she the explained. natural and Thissynthetic,” is something shethat explained. HensensThis passionately is something wants that to convey, Hensensthe passionately relationshipwants between to convey, mankind theand relationship the natural between environment. mankindBy and using the gestural natural environment. strokes of color By using and non-representational gestural strokes of color flourishes, and non-representational she illustrates the disjointed flourishes, wayshe humanity illustrates fits the intodisjointed its environment, way humanity and the often-destructive fits into its environment, effect itand has.the This often-destructive results in the dream-like, effect it looking-glass has. This results appearance in the dream-like, of her paintings—a looking-glass look appearance that she took of her even paintings—a further by starting look thattoshe use took glitter. even further by starting to use glitter. Yes, Yes, glitter. glitter. InInher hermore more recent recent works, works, Hensens Hensens has has begun begun replacing replacing thethe flat, flat,gray grayexpanses expansesofofconcrete concretein in her her paintings paintings with with shimmering shimmering slabs slabsofof silver silver glitter. glitter. It's It's a startling a startling contrast contrast toto the the smooth smooth strokes strokes ofofthe theearth-toned earth-tonedpaints—an paints—anindividual individualtake takeononsymbolizing symbolizing humanity's humanity'sloud loudpresence presence inin natural natural settings. settings. “I “I feel feel that that concrete concrete is isthe thematerial materialthat thatrepresents representsland landdevelopment, development, construction, construction, and anddeforestation,” deforestation,”she she said. said. “So “So whenever whenever imagery imagery of of concrete concrete is is replaced replacedwith withglitter—it's glitter—it's suddenly suddenly more more out out there there and and flashy flashy and and noticeable. noticeable. It's It's my my comment comment onon anan environmental environmental issue.” issue.” Hensens Hensenshopes hopestotopush push this this technique technique even even further further in in thethe future, future, straying straying from from representational representational artart byby way way of of heavy heavy splashes splashes ofofglitter glitterand andelectric electricbubbles bubblesof of color—conveying color—conveying that that distinct distinct environmental environmentalmessage messagethrough throughsurreal surrealimagery. imagery. “I “I want want to to push push landscape landscapepainting paintingfrom fromjust just being being about about the the aesthetics aesthetics of of it, it, and and more more towards towards the the meaning meaning ofof it,”it,” she she said. said. You Youcan cancatch catch Lauren Lauren Hensens Hensens in in 2015 2015 at at the the “Unbuild” “Unbuild” ArtArt Show Showlocated located in in Epocha Epocha Dallas. Dallas Thetoexhibition view her runs workuntil in person. February The 28th exhibition at 2540runs Elmfrom St, and February the gallery 7th is toopen February for viewing 28th atfrom 2540 10:00 Elm St, am and to the 8:00gallery pm. is open for viewing from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. 77 77


By Kelly Sims In a symphony of music, lighting, and close-ups, Cameron

end result is like participating in a dream, where the mind

Smith, working videographer, creates a dreamy vibe for his

focuses on a singular moment in time, the background

the mood with a frightening lullaby sung off-key as the man

audience, sweeping them away from the mundane with a

blurring into color and misshapen objects.

descends down shadowed, filth-coated stairs. Mixed with close-

unique focus on the "unnoticed."

Creating these mood-filled pieces relies on more

post-apocalyptic character stored in a basement, Smith sets

up shots of spidery graffiti, iron handrails, and bare feet on

"My approach is to focus on the tiny things, and pick

than just the unique visuals he captures, however. His

out these cool moments in life,” he explained atop the

ability to deftly blend the music that accompanies his work

As for creating music videos for artists, it only makes

outside patio of LSA Burgers, the courthouse looming

contributes strongly to its impact, not only creating a vibe

sense that Smith would excel. Being a videographer that puts

behind him. “Like the way light will come through in a

but inspiring the creative process as well. As he drives to a

great weight on music in the first place, custom-tailoring a shoot

certain way and hit the floor. I like to focus on those things

shoot, Cameron often listens to soundtracks that coincide

for a song is something he takes seriously. “I want to represent

you wouldn't normally see, or that you would if you were

with what he is about to film, allowing his imagination to

the moments in music that are indefinable,” he professed. “My

really paying attention." Visible in virtually all of his pieces, from music videos

concrete—the end result is unsettling, but deliciously so.

flow with the sound. “I'll try to create a thing that I hear in

films are a lot about the mood of the piece rather than the

a song,” he said, “and usually what I find is that if I have an

specific plot details, a lot like music. Though, the plot is usually

to short films, this technique transforms shots of familiar

image in my head, and I go to shoot something, the images

there if you want it, but hopefully what you come away with is

images into mysterious clips that appear to be dredged

will reflect that.”

an understanding comparable to listening to the album.”

from another world. From nightmarish scenes shot in

The music integrated into his films plays an even

The end result of this mentality and his dream-like

an abandoned factory to the romance of a warmly-lit

larger role, according to Smith. “Music says so much that

approach to film is music breathed into life. Warm bubbles of

wedding—Cameron Smith tackles multiple genres of film

films can't, a lot of the time,” he explained, “and they do it

color, the curve of a songstress's lips, the glimmer of paint on

with a distinct, individual style.

without words even, sometimes. All my films are trying to

a theatrical mask—these images glide along with the music,

create a vibe, a mood, and when you peel that back there's

painting a visual of the song. Needless to say, Smith has managed

all the content underneath—that's what songs do.”

to combine his videography with music to create an experience

As the son of an accomplished muralist but, ironically, “terrible at painting,” Smith discovered a different path for his creative expression through film. This fascination began

Most notably, perhaps, is the application of these

at the age of eleven after receiving a Steven Spielberg

two mediums in his wedding films. His focus on singular

that immerses the viewer—both emotionally and visually. When it comes to future endeavors, Smith hopes

Lego set, complete with a working camera. With time, his

moments, the unnoticed, makes these videos of marital

to combine the massive amount of footage he's accumulated

enthusiasm grew, and he became accustomed to viewing

celebration real, human. From a mischievous uncle slipping

over the years to create a documentary about local musicians—

the world through a lens. Now as an adult, armed with a

a beer bottle into his suit jacket to a beloved shaggy dog

something that the people here at Austere Magazine eagerly

Canon 5D Mark II, his pursuit of capturing moments in time

making its way through a crowd of dress shoes—he captures

anticipate. For the time being, however, you can follow his work

persists and the results are mesmerizing; balloons hovering

what most videographers would miss. The combination of

on the webseries “Delta Blue,” a show set in the 1920s with

in smoke, photographs drifting in the wind on string, black

these images and his deftly-chosen music selections are

some steampunk vibes, searchable through Facebook.

liquid creeping down the chest of a woman. These images fill

sure to make even the most pessimistic person soften.

an entire screen, yet viewed in pieces rather than as a whole,

The same technique applies to his darker films, as

they draw the eye to what it might have never noticed. The

well. In “Voyager”, a film depicting a man discovering a

He is also accessible on Vimeo, under the address: vimeo. com/cjsfilms.

79 79

Photographer Hillary Head Model Ashley Highberger


By Emily Dearden


When he fell, he fell through heaven. Limp limbs tumbling over themselves, shining his nakedness in the face of God. He fell through the stratosphere, blued and lacey with icicles but they dissolved easily the faster he fell. Aurora Borealis touched his brow softly, a cool balm to a fevered head. Aurora asked him where he was going, and where did he come from. But he fell too fast to answer. By the time the patchwork earth comes into view, the icicles are melting. His skin has taken on a waxy blue pallor; his cheekbones still thin and accurate. He is still young and complete. He is closing in too quickly though, without giving her any indication of his proximity to her. She is bent over the highway’s shoulder, vomiting. Vomiting because she used too much and now she is light-headed and dehydrated. “Too much junk,” she says to herself. When she hears his impact it is cacophonous mechanical


unholy. Pulling her moleskin coat closer around her wrist she wipes her mouth and turns around. Detonated brains all over her windshield. The front of her car is smeared on the asphalt. His pomegranate seed nerve endings erupted and sticky and rich, sprinkle over the once white paint of the car. Shattered bits of glass decorate the velvety black pavement, unevenly cut diamonds in a jewelry box.

By the time she stands up, the grooves of the loose pieces of

car isn’t hers. And if she acts as incoherent as she’s feeling right now, they’ll think she’s

highway have made firm indentations into her knees. As she

the one who killed him.

approaches the car, terrified bewilderment fades into strange ether of morbid fascination.

Why should they believe her, bleary eyed and shaking? She knows that soon the junk will be wearing off and she doesn’t have any with

She goes around the side of the car and locates her cigarettes, spilled out loosely on the

her because she didn’t plan for this young man falling out of the sky and smearing her

carpet. Lighting one, she moves to stare at this naked boy who fell out of the sky.

car into the highway.

She is guilty for the awe she feels when she looks at him.

Junk doesn’t have to be gone for very long before she notices how

She wants to talk to him but she is afraid he will talk back.

she feels with its impending absence. She worries what will happen when

She is tempted to blame this whole thing on the junk; even in her altered state of consciousness she knows this is not a production of her own mind, feels too cosmic.

she feels it leave her completely. The last time it happened she scratched her face so vigorously and feverishly that she accidently tore open shallow grooves into her soft white cheeks.

Despite the unflattering presentation of his gore, she can discern his thin face and the unattached limbs that just lackadaisically collapsed in free fall. She can tell he used to be tall. She knows he was blonde because of the clumps of hair and scalp that litter the car.

But the scars have now disappeared. These now faded scars remind her of a girl she knew growing up. This girl wanted so badly to be beautiful. She dug rows for seeds into her cheeks to plant flowers, so that maybe she could bloom into a beautiful thing.

As she examines his pulp, she touches the remnants of his cheekbones softly, under his dead eyes,

Instead, the act’s clouded sense of pride blinded the girl forever. She gets up to look at the boy again, and wonders if a similar act of vanity brought him

but she yanks her hand away quickly, terrified those eyes will move to look into hers. What she doesn’t realize is that because she was turned away from him on impact, bits of his once living self

down to her. If her acts of vanity have led her to this desolate highway passage like the pin holes in her arm that calm her precious, waking hell. The initial shock has worn off enough now that she begins to speculate on how much

stick to the back of her moleskin coat. The cocktail of nicotine and junk and his syrupy gore make her ill again. She puts out the cigarette just in time for a fresh wave of sickness to rise out of her. When she finishes, she breathes deeply.

time is passing. It’s been long enough that the syrup blood is congealing into a bright red. The bits of his brains turning to hardened, rubbery stinking clods. Opening the door to the back seat, she takes off her coat and ignores the flecks and smears across it. She wraps it around herself. With the anticipation of the

She sits on the shoulder of the highway and stares at the dead boy draped over her

diminishing junk in her veins, and the slowly climbing scent of drying blood in the yellow

crumpled car.

light, she closes her eyes. She is alone and it is early and it is cold.

If she stays long enough for someone to find her, the police will figure out the destroyed

Fate brought this boy to her. Fate could take him away from her, too.

83 83

When a man in a pick-up truck pulls over, she is glistening with sweat and involuntarily kicking and shaking at unpredictable intervals. He opens the door and pulls her out, standing her up and looking at her dewy, beaded face. “Are you okay?” he asks her. “You look awfully pale.” Leaning against the car she tells him in a voice muffled and thick and delirious. “My god” the man repeats over and over. His reaction seems insincere. How can this man be so upset about a boy dying, a boy he didn’t even know? They need to call the police, the man says. But she doesn’t have a cell phone. He says that he does and runs back to his pick-up. While he’s talking to the police, she looks at the boy one more time. The pin holes in her vision grow wider the longer the man speaks. How will she remember this when it stops happening? All this boy will be to her is a reconstruction of an experience, a fallible, disingenuous recreation of her mind. She will never remember the way it truly happened. She wants to know why he did this to her. She wants to know if this is some calculated plot. She wants to know what his name is. She wants to know where he came from. She wants to know why it had to be her. If he chose her or if neither of them chose each other at all. Her vision blurs the longer she stands looking and waiting for the man to come back. Blackness frames it a little. She feels the ground coming closer and closer to her face. She is falling.


Photographer Hillary Head Art Director Meredith White Model Ruth Sanchez 85


Monday-Friday: 8:00 am to Midnight Saturday: Noon to 9:00 pm Sunday: Noon to 6:00 pm


Photographer Rebecca Cairns


Photographer Rebecca Cairns

91 /@austeremag

STAFF Natasha Brito, founder / co-owner / media director Vicky Andres, co-owner / design director Gabriella Losada, co-owner / events director

Design Eliza Trono, senior designer Jacqueline Creech, Andi Bocsardi, Meredith White, Christian Dodson, junior designers Writing Rachel Wagoner, writing lead / copy editor Garrett Smith, Lauren Bell, Kelly Sims, Javier Navarro, junior writers


Music Morgan Gentry, music editor

Samuel Ford Coronado

Louis Kirk, music correspondent

Alex Stoddard Rebecca Cairns


Emily Dearden

Mike Carpenter, lead photographer

Aubry Roach

Fey Sandoval, senior photographer

Timothy Max

Sabine Fletcher, Hillary Head, Kelsie Shelton, Ellie Alonzo, Eric Sonson,

Nicolas J. Harris

junior photographers

Landon Simpson Lisa-Marie Kaspar


Morgan Chidsey

Lauren Jenkins, stylist

Zeina Samy

Emily Ruiz, art director / stylist

Shaina Hedlund

Chima Onyebuchi, stylist

Ashley Whitby

Chelcie Guidry, stylist

Shay Birdow

Arin Desai, stylist assistant

Jenn Karsner

Events Samantha Melomo, event coordinator

Interested in contributing?

Sarah Rice, event assistant

Email us at