Warning: offensive spoken language
Saturday, October 31, 2020
It was Halloween. The darkness sat on the town like a burnt dress.
Cass revved his bike and spun. Smoke plumed from its burning tyres. He was in a hurry to pick up his girl and give her real a trick or treat surprise.
"Get on Shaz!"
"Where we going Cass?"
"Its a surprise!"
They rode out beyond the town along lonely unlit roads. Panthers in the night searching for secrets. The queuing foothills arrived and Cass let rip up the steep incline to Reekin Fell where the old graveyard lay.
"What we doing here Cass?"
"Its Halloween babe. What could be cooler than a graveyard on Halloween!"
They dismounted and left the bike under a huge Yew. The gate screeched like a midwife and they walked up the curling path between the graves. It was pitch black save for the glint in Cass's eyes as he thought of Shaz in his arms.
The headstones stood at odd angles like rotten teeth. Worn angels stretched dark wings out over the bigger plots. Watching. Waiting. Like a family gathering eager to start.
Cass chose the biggest, darkest most weathered angel. He felt drawn towards it. Oddly its face had the look of his mother he mused. He touched her face and lay down on the grassy grave beneath.
"C'mon Shaz. Its nice and soft on here. We can get real comfy and watch the stars at midnight. It's Halloween after all. It'll be fun"
"You're sick you are Cass. You just want to have it off on a grave don't you! "
"What, me? I just want us to get warm and comfy and look up at the sky. I might kiss you. Yeah. Sure! Oh, and this is for you!"
Shaz opened the black box and pulled out a bottle.
"Gothic! I've dreamt about this perfume all week! Thanks babe. You're such a sweety!"
She sprayed the scent from head to toe and winked at her man.
Cass gave Shaz a big smile and he held out his hand. She took it and lay next to him on the grass.
They peered up at the endless depths above, beyond the ink of space and they kissed.
Shaz's Gothic infused the night. Cass had felt compelled to get it for Halloween. It wafted round the grave like a ghost and they embraced under the luminous crescent moon. It looked like a thumb clasping the darkness and Cass and Shaz both stared at its ancient glow.
Shaz's scent drifted into the grave itself and descended into its depths. It eased its way through the rents and rifts of death's past and reached a shrivelled dessicated face staring into the earth.
Twitching its dead nose, this mummied entity from eons past took in the aroma. A curious and startling sensation from long ago. A pheromone from a time steeped in smoke and flesh. A time when the entity had been a fertile witch among weak malleable men. A time for procreating with them, for raising pups, for which she was burned on the hill.
The creature had then been buried, barely alive and thrown upside down in a makeshift shaft hardly wide enough for a human. Over the two centuries of ice and worm she had forgotten which way was up and had dug deeper into the earth, sealing her fate further until she stopped altogether and hung motionless like a bat drying up in the infinite murk, dreaming of her witch babies and their own.
But now. This scent! Oh what a smell. Of potions and pestled spices. Of beds and familiars. Foetal and so enticing. Like lust and domination. Invigorating and coming from above. Or was it below. The Witch thing concentrated with all her dry brains and followed the perfume's direction. It was at her feet. She was upside down! The dullards! But no matter. She need not her previous form!
I can unfold and dislocate like a sack of bones she whispered.
She turned and crawls. A maggot in the filth. Rising in the dark she ascends slowly, her rancid nails coming away with an audible tear. Gradually the scent gets stronger, mixed with another that she knows full well, her children. Leather nostrils flare to savour its blended promise, the promise of release from her soiled cell, the chance to breathe the stench of humanity once more and at long last be the matriarch of her brood.
Light appears from the surface. The two lovers lie in each others arms unaware of the creeping fiend climbing towards them. They cuddle and caress in the Halloween moonlight trembling with the pleasures yet to come, the hot coupling on the grassy grave.
Cass stands and walks away to pee behind the Yew. He wouldn't desecrate a grave direct. Who knows what might happen! He shivered.
Shaz waited for her man, laughed and turned her head to look where he was. As she did she found herself staring straight into a hideously squalid face sticking up out of the ground. It smiled a toothless grin and Shaz screamed like she had never screamed before.
Cass jumped, his blood ran cold. What the hell?
"Shaz. Shaz! What's happened? " he yelled, zipping up as he ran, stumbling over urns and vases.
Shaz kept on screaming, her mind failing as she witnessed an entire monstrous thing emerge completely from the grave. It cracked and jerked as it began to stand, unfolding like a moth.
The witch opened empty eyes and yawned. Shaz's fragile senses snapped and the witch stroked her hair.
"You have freed me my dear, my pretty descendant! You and your brother! For this you shall both be rewarded my babies!" smiled the witch, grating her words through a walnut voice box not used for speech for two hundred years. She reached into Shaz's handbag and lifted up the bottle of perfume. She sprayed it allover herself, its liberating scent settling on her parchment skin from head to toe. She kissed the girl's forehead and whispered 'Sharon'.
Cass found Shaz still sat on the grave rocking from side to side. There was a large hole in the ground next to her. The smell of Gothic was everywhere.
In the distance he could just make out a dark figure with a strangely familiar gait shambling through the headstones towards the open arch.
He knelt down and held his girlfriend.
"That was our great great great Grandmother Cass! We're brother and sister!" she screamed.
Friday, October 9, 2020
Kotzkas had been a permanent feature of the side-street as long as anyone could remember.
It had been a fine neighbourhood when he and his wife had bought it. It was their pride and joy after getting married. The Kotzkas were popular straight away.
Children came with parents to see the animals in the shop. Zebra finches, Love Birds, Tetras, Guinea Pigs and tortoises.
But it was his ant circus that really drew in the kids. It was Kotzka's variation on the flea circus of his childhood in the far-away hills of the Tartra.
The ant circus was so popular some weekends that Mrs. Kotzka had to issue tickets at the door.
The queues sometimes stretched round the block to the old cinema.
They could have charged folk to see the ants perform but they were just happy to see children enjoy their shop and side show. To strangers it might have seemed they were making money. Maybe even lots of money.
Kotzka had a way with the ants. He could understand them and they him. After they'd completed each small task he'd squeeze a little sugary water from a syringe and offer each ant a tiny blob. They seemed to love it and almost shook with delight as they accepted their sweet wages.
The show's finale was the favourite bit among the kids. The ants would carry little home-made balsa toys across the counter and drop them in front of the eager children, who were allowed to take one of them home. They were visually enthralled and the parents were immensely grateful to this kindly old couple.
One boy, however, was never ever satisfied with the show or the balsa toys. He heckled Kotzka constantly with a barrage of complaints and grumbles.
"That's soooooo boring! Can't they do anything gory Kotzka?"
"What do you feed them. I bet it's live stuff. I bet it's live mice! Show us that you tight old twat!"
"Can't you get them to kill anything?"
The boy would grab the balsa toys with a few ants and stand on them viciously before pushing past his shamed parents and out of the shop.
His name was Norbert. Norbert Vark.
"Don't mind him!" the other parents would say to the Kozkas. "We love you. Our kids adore your shop and the ants. Please don't let that delinquent ingrate Norbert Vark get to you!"
But the longer it went on it did get to them. Particularly Mrs. Kotzka, who after years of the boy's heckling started to lose faith. Norbert never seemed to let up and went on to torment them into his teenage years.
It seemed as if he hated them and the ants. After a particularly furious onslaught in the shop, the police said they were sorry but they couldn't do anything because he was only 17. Norbert was still a minor but they would speak to his parents as they had done many times.
"We can't do anything with the boy Officer. He's always hurting animals in the wood and he's obsessed with killing insects. Ants mostly. We've given up and when he turns 18 next Christmas we're done. We'll kick him out!"
It was summer when Mrs. Kotzka fell ill. She was anemic and nothing stayed down. The old woman was withering away. Kotzka had moved her bed into the cellar where it was always cool. Their bedroom was sweltering.
Sadly, Kotzka placed a sign in the window, "Shows Over for Now" and the queues fizzled away.
Mrs. Kotzka lay in a bed next to a huge glass tank. It was full of soil and sand and leaf litter. It was as big as a large cupboard and you needed to climb a wooden ladder to see over the edge.
If you had climbed it you would have seen thousands of ants marching round in lines holding bits of leaves above their twitching heads before descending into the tank's depths.
It was a formicary. The ants' home.
Kotzka knew the ants were in trouble. They needed a queen but none had emerged. He blamed himself. Food was short and he'd worked his show-ants much too hard over the years. They'd grown too. They were much larger than the workers. At least six inches long. They were the most agitated about not having a queen and sat in a row at the edge of the tank. They blamed someone specific for crushing their old queen years before. They blamed Norbert Vark.
Kotzka was now trying to feed his dying wife, all his animals in the shop and the ants. Provisions and money were running out. All that was left was a vat of sugary water.
He dribbled some into his wife's thin lips and amazingly she drank. He dribbled more and more and she drank and drank and drank.
One morning he came down to see her and to his astonishment, a few of his show-ants were standing on her chin and dribbling more sugary fluid into her mouth. She was lapping it up like cream!
Kotzka sat down and left them to it. They were doing a better job than him and his wife seemed to really enjoy their twitchy attention. But he knew she needed more than this and fell asleep worrying.
When he awoke his wife was not in her bed. It was night-time and dark in the cellar. He lit a candle and saw to his horror the body of his wife. It was slowly tipping over the edge of the tank! The ants were dragging her in!
He leapt up screaming but his wife turned her head and said lovingly,
"It's alright dear. They will look after me. I loved my time with you but I am theirs now. It will be fine. You will see! Every day you can see!"
And then she was gone. Kotzka ran up the ladder and watched his beloved wife sink into the humus, pulled under by a thousand gentle jaws.
He wept all night and all the next day. Ants collected his dripping tears and took them to her. She whispered through the soil.
"Don't cry my love. I am with our children. Our ants. I am their mother. I am their Queen now".
Kotzka peered into the tank and his wife wriggled slowly toward the glass side. Ants helped her move round and continued to feed her sugary syrup from their palps. She sipped and smiled at Kotzka. A tender smile that said it would indeed all be fine.
The old man ladled lots of sugar water into the formicary and the ants on the surface applauded with acid squirts. This was his role now. To keep them fed and safe in the cellar.
Kotzka reopened the shop and even put on a few shows. He often looked at the big show-ants who seemed happier than they ever had. Word spread and the queues formed once more.
Even after all this time Kotzka's ant shows were still famous.
To make ends meet and buy tons of sugar the old fellow had to now charge a fee to watch his shows. The money came rolling in and he soon had more than he could manage.
He bundled up notes and stacked them on a shelf at one side of the ant tank. Coins he threw in for safe keeping. The Queen sent some up when he needed any.
And so they lived another year like this. As happy as they'd ever been. Kotzka. The ants and their human Queen. He could speak to his wife whenever he wished and occasionally she rose up and they kissed lovingly, the old man standing on the ladder.
"Kotzka. My dear beloved. I have good news. We have more children. I gave birth during the night. Big children. They will be the wonder of the world!" explained the Queen.
Like any Father the old man worried. About his brood. The sugar vat was nearly empty. He needed something more. Maybe the townsfolk could help.
It was coming on Christmas and he'd decided to put on a special festive show. Word got around. Kotzka wanted sweets and chocolate instead of money. It was a huge success and the children thrived. Soon they would be able to travel.
It was at one such yuletide show that Kotzka heard a familiar and unwelcome voice, even harsher and viler than before.
"That's shite that! There's more action in my Grandma's bush! I want my chocolates back you old bastard."
The crowd gasped. It was Norbert Vark. He'd turned 18 and like his folks had vowed, they'd kicked the good-for-nothing brute out. He was drinking and sleeping rough. He still hated Kotzka. Even more now.
"You can have your chocolates back Norbert", explained old Kotzka.
"Fuck the chocs you old skinflint. I want more than chocolate."
At this Vark left the shop growling at the kids and parents as he stormed out but not before swiping some of the bigger ants off the counter and with a huge grin on his twisted face stood on them. They flattened under his boot with a nauseating pop.
That night, drunk and raging, Vark returned to the shop. It was dark. He clumsily broke in and stumbled past the aisles of sleeping birds.
"So where do ya keep your fuckin' loot Kotzka, you miserly old bastard?" he mumbled to himself, whilst burping loudly in the cage of two love birds.
It was then he heard a soft purring from behind the door at the back. He jostled through and realised it was a cellar.
"Yes!" He exclaimed. "This is it. This is where you keep the goodies eh you miserly old fucker!"
Greed and adrenaline swept Norbert down the steps. He reached the bottom and in the moonlight could just make out a large glass tank and next to it someone sleeping in a bed.
He shoved the sleeper roughly and Kotzka sat up.
"Norbert? How can I help you. What time is it?"
"Shut the fuck up you old git and show me where the loot is stashed. Or else!"
Vark had pulled out a small axe. One he'd used many times on animals. An old man was a step-up. He was excited and sobering up. He stepped forward and hit Kotzka at the back of the head with the blunt back. The old shopkeeper staggered and gingerly touched the wound. It was bleeding.
"N-N-Norbert! No need for unpleasantness. The money? It's there - in the tank."
"The tank? No funny business Kotzka or you'll get the sharp end! What's the tank for?"
"Oh, just the old straw and droppings from the birds. I sell it to local gardeners for a few shillings. The cash is on a shelf up there, where its safe. Use the ladder. You can take it all Norbert!"
Vark was unsure about it but avarice rolled round his eyes like slots when he saw the brown paper envelopes stacked on the plank.
"Go on up. Its yours. Just reach across the tank Norbert. I've lost my wife so what do I need money for?"
Vark stared hard at Kotzka and then cautiously stepped onto the ladder and began to climb. The old man slowly moved forward.
"I'll cut your fuckin' hands off you old bastard if you try anything. Stay fuckin' there!" Vark warned ominously waving the axe around.
Kotzka raised his hands submissively and beckoned the young man to go all the way.
Vark reached the top of the tank. He saw a few ants scrabbling about.
"What are these ants doing here?" he shouted.
"Oh, nothing. I always end up brushing a handful when I'm collecting the old straw. Just reach over for the money."
Vark stared at the ants staring back at him. He shrugged and leaned over to the shelf. It wasn't easy standing on the top rung, holding an axe and arching over the tank but Vark had the prize in his eyes and he went for it.
As he was reaching out for a stuffed packet a hand shot up from the top of the straw and grabbed his arm.
"Jesus fuckin' Christ! What the fuck is ....." Vark screamed but before he could finish an entire head, torso and another arm were clasped around his middle in a frighteningly tight embrace.
"Hello Norbert!" the head said looking him straight in the face.
"Miss .. Mrs. K-Kotzka! Fuuuuuuuuck!" He shreiked as his feet faltered on the ladder. He struggled against the superhuman hold but it was useless. Mrs. Kotzka had acquired the strength of ants during her time in the formicary. Just to make sure Vark didn't escape the old man flitted up the ladder and pushed him over.
"Thank you my love," smiled the ant woman, who then turned to Vark and whispered, "I am the Queen of this nest now Norbert and you my dear are my coronation feast. After all the trouble you've caused us I shall enjoy you slowly, as will my many beautiful children. Have you met my children Norbert?"
Thousands of fiery ants erupted to the surface and eyed the intruder hungrily. The Queen then opened her mouth to release two huge jagged mandibles. With lightning speed she pincered Vark's face, his shredding cheeks coming away like fillets. The teenager writhed in agony as the ant woman licked at his gushing blood and leered at him with crimson lips.
"Children. Come." she whispered.
"Noooooooooooooo!" Vark yelled as his mouth filled with ants and his eyes were burnt away by formic spurts.
The Queen and her children dragged his flailing body deep into the tank and he was gone.
All that could be heard was a muffled suckling by countless mouths, one big, the rest small.
"Ah, what a lovely sound. Eat well my darling. Eat long and well!" smiled old Kotzka as he walked out of the cellar.
He went into the shop and placed a handwritten sign in the front window.
"Ant Shows postponed till next Month. Nesting Season has Started!".
Sunday, October 4, 2020
Stiff on its back the dead fly simmered in the sill sun. It had died the day before just before laying eggs on some rancid chicken. Job done.
The window had a bubble in the glass. It magnified the high noon sunshine into a hot beam of energy.
This beam hit the fly smack where its heart was. Despite shrivelling, the muscle twitched in the searing ray and made its first bu-dum in the fly's scorched chest.
It woke. Dead. Not dead.
Righting itself the dead not dead fly shuddered and shook its head. Hairs fell out that had been singed on the sill.
It gnashed its sucker and rubbed its hands like a dirty doctor. Fly was hungry. It flew through the open window.
It landed on a piece of liver melting near a wheelie bin. Spooning bile fly felt sick and puked it back up. Yuk! It thought.
Licking its legs it saw a shrew nosing round the rank grass. Fly jumped on its back and a loud zap flashed and cracked. The shrew howled in pain. Fly entered its mouth just before it died and clamped onto its heart, squeezing.
Shrew awoke. Dead. Not dead. It shat. Starving, it scurried off to the turkey farm for fresh meat. It shot up the big bird's arse just before it laid. Schwupp! A sharp slap snapped the Turkey's neck and it collapsed. Shrew burrowed deeper in where it kicked its aorta over and over until it thrummed again.
Turkey blinked. Dead. Not dead and was plucked from the pen for the butcher's window, where it hung like a shirt buttoned up. Bump. Bump. Bump. It made its way to the Christmas Table
Stuffed. Glazed. Basted. It quivered on the platter just before they carved. It stood and delivered shrew who delivered fly. They twitched in the gravy. The spark that hit the carving knife careened around the room and all the seated family fell as the lights blew. Dark.
They arose on Christmas afternoon as their friends came a knocking.
They all feasted late into the night and then went out of the house next door, where leftovers were being cling-filmed for the following day.
The bell rang. Hello.
They entered. Dead. Not dead.
Thursday, September 10, 2020
He arrived at work a stranger. He felt immediately out of place in the office. Being a middle manager Hendry wanted to say hello to his team who had carried on without him. For some odd reason they seemed aloof and distant. He had got on well with them all in the past.
He tried to approach Rigg his deputy but she vanished into another office before he could reach her.
He sat down at his old desk. It stood there like a lost soul. An altar gone sour. He knew he'd once been the shepherd of his flock but it didn't feel like that anymore. The dead flies chided him. Legs up.
He looked at the files on the corner. He pulled out the bottom one, a manila folder. He tried to read it but the lettering seemed shaky and weak. He stared at the shifting words but couldn't make sense of it.
"Price. Hi! I'm back and was wondering what you know about this file?!
He held the folder out towards his junior landscape architect. Price was sat at his desk eating. He stared at the file and immediately stood and backed away. His hand covered his mouth and he began to gag. He quickly spun round and ran towards the toilets.
Hendry shoved the file back under his arm and tutted. Turning he saw the spilled contents of Price's packed lunch. Hendry stared in disbelief. The sandwiches were thick with furry mould and green slime oozed from the filling. An apple moved slightly and a thick maggot fisted its way out of its rotten peel.
Hendry blinked and the lunch was back to normal. Fresh. Succulent. Healthy.
"What is going on here?" He muttered and headed for the coffee machine. He needed a cup.
"Why are you asking about the file Hendry?"
Madeline had crept up without him noticing.
"I'm trying to find out what happened to this client. Do you know?"
"Leave it alone Hendry."
"But why is the client's name not here? Its not on the database either."
"Forget it. You've been ill Hendry. You were lucky. Move onto another project."
But Hendry persisted and opened the folder and showed Madeline a photograph of a row of dried moles strung across a barbed wire fence.
Madeline flinched and turned green. She was sick in her mouth.
"You're a flibbertigibbet Hendry. A nosy bast .....", she puked into the nearest waste bin.
"For fucks sake. We went there, OK! It was the worst thing I've ever seen. No-one could move like that. He crawled like a cra..", she puked again.
A mist had started to develop round the office and Madeline looked frightened.
"We were scared shitless Hendry! No one will ever go back there. Ever!" she screamed and staggered away for the rooftop stairs.
Hendry looked for Rigg. He saw her, mirage-like in the fret. A fata morgana by the water fountain.
He strolled towards her but she disappeared again.
Hendry peered round but saw nothing. He lumbered into the side office where he thought he saw Rigg eating. She had her back to him. He came closer. She wasn't how he remembered her. Her hair was grey and her face creased as if it had been sucked dry. The room quivered.
"Rigg. Hello. Its Hendry. I wanted to ask about this folder. Its not been signed off."
"Go away Hendry. Forget about that file. It should have been burnt!"
"But what's going on? Everyone's so ... coy about it."
"Hendry. Jesus Christ. Why do you have to push it. OK, if you have to know. We'd never seen anything like it. Me, Price and Madeline went with the new drawings. Oh God, in the grounds, crows dying in droves. Foxes fucking rabbits raw. Maggots seething through the trees. Shit everywhere. His servants eating .. each .... other. Oh my God Hendry. They were biting chunks of flesh out of their faces! Blood spurting. And then we saw him. Our "client". He bent his back right over and fingered his way across the filth. Upside down. A spider. Yes. Just like a spider. I remember Price fainting then. Mads ran. I tried to run too but got stuck on barb wire. He crawled up from behind. I never heard him. Hendry, he did things to me. Terrible terrible things and then he hung me up next to his shrieking moles."
"Who in God's name was he Rigg? Have you told the Police?"
"Who? Do you really want to know? It was Ashtero ......"
Rigg collapsed to the carpet, her legs parting.
The mist thickened then in that room. Something malignant had arrived. It moved and jerked closer with a slow twitchy decisive advance.
The man with the manila folder stared in horror.
Friday, July 31, 2020
He was getting quite old and had become very reclusive the last 61 years. In fact he hadn't been out of his house in all that time. He relied on his fabulously fertile vegetable garden and fat laying hens for all his food. Surrounded by high poplars on all sides and no way in, his garden looked like a small forest from the outside. No-one had ever come in or out.
Today however was his 101'th birthday. He planned to go out and draw some of his old money from the bank and book a holiday by the sea at the town's travel agents. The last time he'd been just 40 years old and the town librarian!
His beautiful wife, the library assistant, had been alive back then too. She died when they got home. He'd been heartbroken like never before. After he buried her he never went out again.
Now, 61 years later, he shambled out of his beautifully lush and tall tree-lined garden through the gate into what he thought would have been a cobbled street of pretty houses.
Instead, it was a vast sprawl of steel and glass towers and dizzying skyscrapers as far as the eye could see.
Absolut wavered on the pavement as he craned his neck to take in the cloud-hugging towers. It was as if he'd opened up his valve radio and, as small as a mite, wandered in.
There were no trees. No meadows. No distant farms. Just bristling concrete and a colossal road teeming with people-less cars the like of which he'd never seen.
He did not know where to go.
Shuffling down the pavement a little, with engines roaring by him like screaming jets, Absolut saw a neon sign.
He went into an underpass where fading graffiti warned of impending nothingness and dehumanisation. He knew much of disastrous times from his youth when the world was at war and thought some things at least never changed.
He reached a glowing platform where a driverless tram was waiting. No-one else got on save for a strange tall fellow with silvery hands. He was wearing a trilby and a long gaberdine mac and entered the tram with a graceful step. He sat with his head down so Absolut couldn't see his face.
"City Central Quarter" the tram announced in a tin-rattled sort of voice. Absolut and the other traveler alighted and went there separate ways. At least the other did. Absolut didn't know where to go. He followed his old instincts and headed for where he thought the bank had stood.
He entered what may have been the bank and stood in line. No-one spoke. The customers were silent and everyone moved slowly and serenely like the trilby'd man on the tram. Absolut stared at the queue and could see that same chrome sheen to their hands. Everyone wore hats and had their heads down. When they reached the till nothing was said except for a small nod from the shiny cashier, who stamped papers everyone held. Absolut thought the papers looked blank, which was odd, but then again he hadn't been out in the world for 61 years.
He reached the counter and looked at the cashier. She had sparkling metallic skin and seemed to be wearing a wig of red hair. Something clicked inside her and she jerked her head. Absolut passed her his bank book. She nodded and stamped it with a big gold star and that was that. He stared at her expecting more but the next customer was gliding into his spot and Absolut knew his slot was over.
He sidled out of the building and headed for where he thought the travel agents was. Finding a suitable place Absolut entered a large room which contained three posters of different things.
One said RETRO PAST, one MODERN MECHANICS and the last THE END. Absolut waited in turn and eventually sat in front of a shop assistant who looked very similar to the bank tiller, except this time the wig was yellow.
Absolut had never seen such a bright yellow wig or indeed such a shiny smooth person. She jittered like a human silverfish with Van der Graff'd hair. He handed her his book and he pointed to the nicest of the three posters, Retro Past, which in reality were all rather drab.
The silverfish nodded and stamped his book.
The next customer loitered above him and he knew his time with the travel agent was up. He stood and the floor transported him towards two large doors, shaped as huge letters, R and P. He went through and a vaguely familiar haunting siren filled the air as a battered car pulled up along a track.
Absolut sat in the car and a large bar came down on his knees. With another blast of the wailing sound the car set off. It slowed down at a wide dirty window through which Absolut could see a scratched film of what appeared to be normal people doing normal jobs. This one was a plumber. The car moved on until it reached something which Absolut recognised. A librarian. Not only that but the film was actually of him - and incredibly his dear old wife too - in those far-off divine days together running the town's library.
Absolut cried with joy and got out of the car. He bolted towards the screen and to his surprise he went straight through it as of were mere gas.
He entered what appeared to be some sort of assembly line. In the middle of the space was a bed. He was sure it was his old double bed. He approached it and to his astonishment someone was under the covers on the side where his beloved wife would have been. He got closer and saw his wife's black hair and got into bed beside her as he'd done on their wedding day.
Absolut wept with unrestrained happiness, put his arm round her and slept like he'd not slept in years.
He awoke with a start. He felt different somehow. He was still in bed and the woman who had his wife's hair was placing his things in a metal tray moving slowly past on a conveyor belt. She dropped her wig in too.
He could see other people waking up in beds all along the gargantuan hangar and items being similarly dropped into moving trays.
Absolut swung and sat on the side of the bed. He stared at his legs. They seemed different although he wasn't sure: golden bones bridged by tinsel sinews whirring like machinery. He stood in a single movement and heard the thrummimg of servos as he did.
He reached for his coat and hat and saw that his hands were now a similar steely concoction. He felt years younger but could hardly materialise any thoughts. Certainly nothing clear like who he was or where he'd come from. He couldn't remember a thing. Wearing his gaberdeen mac and trilby, Absolut slowly strode out of the hanger towards the cracked steps.
He stared upwards through thermometer eyes.
On top was a vast roofless hall where ancient tomes were piled; their pages fanning in sharp swarfed winds spewing from the humanoid factory, then slowly crumbling like his dead wife he half-remembered, the assistant librarian, now prone before him once again as on the day he buried her.
Eddying, he lowered his metal face and saw mechanic scarabs roving like dodgems round a chromed clone emerging from her in a single movement upwards.
Like Absolut, she was a perfect xerox of steel, skin and nickel strings.
She stood, moist and glistening with a shock of black hair.
They blinked at each other, recalling someone, something, somewhere else but not computing what or when.
Through implanted circuitry they both began to stamp the borrowed books for the queuing robots; thousands of them trudging to the new librarians single file, then striding off, their books decaying in the shrapnelled gusts, so, programmed to finish tasks, they joined the queue again.
Absolut stopped stamping and turning his neck, looked at his new wife with old damp eyes.
He saw past her at the gleaming gears of a perfect sky, beyond which there was a brilliance of completely nothing stretching before them forever.
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
I live in the sand on the beach. I died here.
That would be me doing those things. I rattle the pearls in oysters as you make love in the dunes. My gas fingers might flick sand in your eyes but I have no knowledge of what you are doing. I died too young at the hands of my witched mother who buried my body on the shore.
When the storm clouds boil I will wail my lament. The rains will make a stage on which I dance, rising at last from the sand, my cell.
The curse I am burdened with is the longing mew of the gulls. The sad pipe of the oystercatcher. The haunted howl of the loon.
Like the sea's flirtation with the land my sentence will remain unceasing. A walker of silt. A singer of glass. A sleeper in razorshells and the marram grass I blow to mimic the winds that go wherever they wish.
There are others here. Dead pirates and scurrillous hands who paid the price of landing on this beach. No fanfare for them. Just the bloody handshake of their swift demise and the sorrowful melody of a new dune.
Not everyone is good. There are dark hearts on this beach. Sable malcontented souls, conniving and clandestine. Evil.
These can harm those who wander above. Those who falter in the darker nooks. Delicate they are not as they scuttle their pulses with dreadful finesse, emerging from caves and slips with mad intent to leave their crypt by jacking those alive.
I slithered off for I cannot watch the mudded gurgling as strays are pulled below the drifts. Like cows they moan and wriggle but soon fill up and join the rest of us damned things trapped with the worms and fleas.
I sometimes hid from the dark ones in wormcasts. My finger touching the toppermost coil. You may have stood on me unawares, your foot momentarily tickled as I turned to dive. I would count your retreating footsteps before I went below.
Beyond the sludge where breathing stops I often ride the lugs as they nudge their way to where the air is salted sweet. Like dolphins of the mud it is my single joy within these walls of grit where I shall live forever.
I may kiss your soles as you amble over my sky of grains and dream of sweet release and salvation.
Monday, July 20, 2020
He liked it down there under the six arches.
Sometimes he slept there. It was so quiet. So peaceful. Away from the bustle of the world. The rumble of the trains didn't bother him when he slept. There weren't many anyway. Maybe the milk train during the night. He dreamt of the milk sloshing around in its tanks. Its creamy goodness. Essential. Like white blood.
Josef wasn't essential. Not anymore. He was a tramp. A vagabond. A traveler of roads and rummager of bins. He lived on the rim of society and nobody noticed him. He was nothing. Like lint or lather. Existing but disappearing.
He had once been important. He had once commanded men. But he didn't think about that anymore. That was eons ago and now was now.
He tightened the string around his waste and hunkered down into his huge tweed coat given to him years before. It was rank now. Thick with filth but it kept Jo warm on cold nights like this. He took one more swig of stale rum from a half empty bottle he'd found in the fields and closed his eyes.
It was late March and the stars were out in force, punctuating the grand stanzas of the heavens above him. He felt the weight of the arcing sky and dreamt of Atlas holding up the world in his shoulders. Poor bugger. All those worries.
Orion's belt was clear as day and Betelgeuse winked and blinked its red lashes. It would be a hard frost in the morning and Jo drew his knees up in anticipation. He slept. Cold and without sound.
In the morning, despite bright sunshine, the fields near the arches were sugared with rime. Jo eased into a seated position on the split settee and stretched his old limbs, his arms reaching up as he groaned himself awake. He was frozen to the bone and took a cold nip for breakfast. He rolled some shag into a rizla and licked the edge. The thin cigarette was barely flammable but Jo lit it with expert hands and inhaled deeply. Five leaves left Nick Drake had said. Five leaves left.
Whilst Jo was finishing his roll-up he heard a scraping sound. He keened his good ear and sensed something coming through the haystack. Gradually a small dark creature emerged from the hay and walked very slowly toward him on four legs. It had a rounded back and a scaly head. It was clearly a tortoise.
It sat on its hind legs and stared up at Josef.
"You're a bastard to find old man!" The tortoise shouted.
"Pardon, you foul turtle! How did you address me!" Jo replied indignantly.
"I said you're a right bastard to find and I'm not a fuckin' turtle! I'm a tortoise and a herald of the King!"
"Which King are you referring to turtle?"
"THE King, you old fart, the King of the World!"
"Never heard of him!"
"I suppose you've forgotten who you are too you old twat haven't you?"
"I'm Josef Ruhig. A nobody. So please turtle, why don't you go away and leave me alone."
"A nobody! Are you stupid or what? You really have forgotten. The King was right. He said you'd let yourself go and allow the addictive world take over your heart you fuckin' junkie fool."
"I told you. I'm Josef Ruhig. And I'm off the drugs if you must know. I'm just down on my luck at the moment."
"You, my old grizzly friend, are not Josef Ruhig. You are the King's greatest warrior and the Marshall of all his armies. You are the Wizard of Silence!"
"I don't know what you're talking about but I'm nothing of the sort!"
"Oh for fucks sake. Wake up Wizard! I'm going to have to show you. Place me on your head!"
"Do it or else I'll follow your stinking carcass forever!"
"Alright reptile. Alright!"
Josef placed the tortoise on his head and immediately stiffened on his sofa. Somehow he saw new things in his mind. Things that seemed vaguely familiar. Things long forgotten he sensed.
Eons melted away to a younger world. A battle raged on a burning plane. Corpses lay everywhere, broken and bloodied. The remaining sides clashed swords and lances as armour was rended open and shafts split. Warriors heaved and gaping wounds bled seas of blood upon the injured earth. It fizzed as lava bubbled over it. At the centre of the fray stood a lone elder, a blue wizard.
Towering before him stood a huge winged demon, a black angel with vast outstretched wings dripping with blood. In her claws was a head torn from its roots, the head of the King. The King of all the World.
Suddenly the his eyes opened and he spoke.
"Wizard of Silence. The task is yours. I am dead. Your King is dead. Take the sword from my hand. Take Revealer and silence this damned Queen for all time. For if you do not she will kill all the world and eat. She will eat you all forever!"
The Wizard was shaking. He was uncertain if the Queen was witness to the King's last words. He stared at her slavering smile and godless eyes.
"Wizard. You shriveling eunuch. You stink of fear. You stink of defeat. Your bastard King is gone and I, the Queen of Lies, will trample you into dust. Can you not feel the gossamers of your dogpiss world tearing apart. It is the beginning of the end that I am bringing to you all. The reign of lies that will last for always."
The black angel twisted and threw the King's head far across the field and turned to end the sniveling man. This was all the time he needed to take the Revealer from his monarch's stiff hand and bellowing he swung it upwards in a colossal arc toward the demon's skeletal chest. It struck true and sliced through gristle and bone and nicked the fetid chamber of her suspended heart.
The Queen of Lies looked down dumbstruck at the appalling wound. She fell to her knees, black gore puddling. The Wizard swung Revealer once more and her ribs parted like a doorway, her stinking innards falling like wet curtains on the field. She gawped at him.
"Wha..!" Was all she gargled before collapsing in a bath of her blood and smoking pluck.
The wizard cut off her head and fed it to the battle dogs. He cut off her tongue and threw it to the crows. He ripped out her heart and buried it in the blessed soil where the King had fallen. He rammed Revealer across her ribs like a jamb and kicked the ant-hill over her necrotic form.
"Remain here black Queen. Remain here with your bubonic lies for all eternity. Let the Earth keep you in this plagued field until its own time is ended only by the cold ceasing of the heavens".
The wizard turned away from the silent battleground, the only sounds were ants feeding.
In the distance were the six gleaming doorways of the King's palace to which he walked. They would continue to gleam as long as he lived.
Old Joe remembered it all through the occulus of the tortoise. He shook and gently removed the creature off his head.
Then you see who you really are Joe Ruhig. You are the Wizard of Silence. The wielder of Revealer.
Yes. I see now small creature.
Then you will also see that the world once more hangs on a thread. Its weft is fraying. Its heart is dying. Mankind is at war with itself and it is the Black Queen's doing. Like a child she whips the wasps nest. An evil brat returning from her slumber. Can you feel it Wizard?
I can. I sense her dreadful presence even here and it is to the six doorways she will come. And she will come soon.
They both sat staring at the darkest corner of the cemetery. Where the statue of a black angel stood.
It was the ants they felt first. Thousands of them scurrying around their feet. Her emissaries. Formic heralds. The statue was cracking.
Next came the moles in their hundreds with soiled paws. They had been busy. The Queen's gravediggers. Her corpse was rising.
Then came the crows. Silent. Tongueless. They had donated to their Lady. Her lies were growing in her mouth again.
The black Queen stood in her ancient ditch, an accursed bed soiled over untold millennia. Acolytes eager to please had made the plot a modern grave graced with an effigy .
Time had freed her. The seas of time. Revealer, the immortal sword pinning the Queen to the spot like an insect, slackened
She grabbed the hilt and pulled the blade slowly from her chest, where it stood fused through her sternum. She raised it aloft and whispered its name.
Gripping it she stepped from her obliterated grave and exclaimed her freedom to an unknowing world, an appalling yell from the dungeons of the dark from which she'd crawled.
"I AM HERE!"
The ground shook and gravestones toppled. The bell on the tower peeled once and cracked. The sky darkened and the sun turned black, the clouds melting like floss. Grindings and rumblings were heard as the earth buckled. Thunder clapped her dreadful bow.
The Queen of Lies sauntered across the cemetery dragging her sword's tip along the asphalt path. Sparks flew and cavorted on the tattered hem of her sable robe. She plucked cut flowers from vases and ate them and licked the hot wax of burning candles with her purple tongue.
As she walked terrible hands came up from the graves like repulsive flowers. They fingered the air and rook the strain, heaving their hosts out of the ground. The dead were rising.
More and more of the graves' residents joined the throng falling in behind the dark lady. They stared at one another and pushed and shoved, earth falling off their rotting husks.
"Come my pretties!" The Queen beckoned.
"We shall make the whole world a grave. Come with me to Hell."
Joe rose from his derelict sofa under the arch. He hid the tortoise in his knapsack and knelt on one knee ad a runner would. He fling off his dilapidated coat and stared straight ahead at the Queen.
"I am Josef, Wizard of Silence and guardian of the Six Arches. You will go no further evil one!"
Some unseen hand swept away the old man's age and Josef began to run as he had on the battle-fields when the world was young and he was the champion of the truth.
The black Queen crouched, Revealer tight in her grip. Her rotting vassals surged forward in a sea of decay.
Josef roared through them, sending them spinning and tearing. All the beasts of the land and air followed and smothered the Wizard in a blanket of teeth and fur.
But he prevailed and shook them off. He glared at his old adversary and knew the fate of the world lay in Revealer silencing the Queen again as it had eons ago. This time the lies must be stilled forever.
Josef hurtled towards the dark monarch and leapt high above her head reaching for Revealer as he did. He clasped the hilt and the Queen's grip slackened. Her lips frowned and she looked into the deep wells of her enemies eyes
"Josef!" She whispered, "I love you! I always have!"
Momentarily confused by this admission Josef slowed but realised too late the true mission of her lie.
She grabbed his neck and pulled Josef down with so much force that the sword went through him completely and it emerged still in her reptilian hand.
"Be silent Wizard. Be silent for me!".
The Queen tore out his tongue and threw it to the baying herd. His heart she ate like an apple and sucked on the gossamer of his dying soul. The King and his Wizard were gone.
The fell monarch marched with the dead towards the darkening gates of Hell. They passed through all six arches and she took her place in the court of flies.
Without its King or his Wizard, the world turned in on itself and went black as a plague of deceit raged across it lands forever.
His bouncy castle business wasn't doing very well at all and his wife was on his back.
He just wanted a quiet life. So what if the kids were bored with his castle. He could while away the hours reading trashy horror in his favourite deckchair.
"You look like a beached whale Dickmann! You'll be dead if you move any less! You'll be fatter than your bouncy castle one day soon!"
All day long his wife chided him. Unfairly he thought too. Was it his fault the competition had bigger and better castles bristling with towers and separated floors? Was it his fault they pumped in special mixtures of air and oxygen and God knows what else?
He'd tried his best and it hadn't worked. Well the truth be known he couldn't be arsed with it any more. As long as he got fed and somewhere to sit and read next to his deflated heap he didn't mind if only one or two kids came by these days.
"You lazy arse Dickmann! I'm going out. Your cold gammon's in the fridge, where you should be. Yes, cold gammon, that's you!"
His wife shambled off chuckling at her carnivorous wit.
Dickmann watched her leave the castle yard. She was a looker his Missus. Slim. Curvy. Well-dressed. A thoroughly fashionable filly he'd loved to ride when they were first wed but those days were long gone now.
He disgusted his svelte wife and she never came near him any more.
It was true, he had let himself go a bit and put on the pounds. At 25 stone he was a little rounder than he'd hoped. What the hell does she expect! He has to sit here all day grafting and tending to customers wanting a bounce whilst she was out in her high heels and seamed tights with her fancy friends.
That was his hard earned dosh she was wasting. Spending it like the stale air escaping from his business. In the good time's he'd saved his pennies. A layer of winter fat he'd called it. Back then he was Mister Dickmann with the tumbliest, rumbliest castles around. Children flocked to leap on their pillowy canvases and spring off those curvaceous walls.
His wife, inflated with pride for her hard-working husband, would willingly lower her drawbridge to welcome his glistening knight. His muscular hands would kneed her ample breasts like dough. Yes, he'd filled his wife and castle with equal gusto and everybody loved him, Dickmann the bouncing King.
"Ere mister! You. Dickmann. You open or what?" A squeaky voice rasped from somewhere near the ground. "I wanna bounce!"
Dickmann left his reverie and leaned forward, peering over his corpulent gut. A small urchin of a boy was staring up at him clutching a penny.
He put his horror novel down and took the coin.
Its a bit deflated today but it'll have to do he thought. The penny clattered into an empty tin and the boy clambered up onto the half-sagged mound.
"Ere mister. This is shite this. Its going flat. I cant bounce on a flat castle. I want my penny back!" shouted the boy.
"Fuck off you little runt! No refunds today!"
Dickmann got out of his chair and booted the lad up the arse as he was climbing off the castle.
"You fat turd! My mum was right. You're a fat old shite!" cursed the boy.
He grabbed the tin with his penny in and scampered away, the thrill of victory in his eyes as he cast off one final crucial offence.
"You lard-arsed gammon! That's what yer missus calls you. Its no wonder yer missus is shaggin' the doctor next door!"
Dickmann threw his book at him, Schlubb!
"That fuckin' bitch I knew it! Dressed up like a tart every day. And that doctor. I'll show that stuck-up fuck-quack some proper gammon when I shove my hairy arm up his arsehole and pull out his fuckin' posh tongue!"
He sat in his deck chair cursing for another hour as the sun ran out of steam and dropped off. His face bright red, Dickmann rose shaking with rage and staggered across the road to the doctor's garden.
Hiding in the darkness behind the doc's BMW, Dickmann stared up at the bedroom window through the trees. He could clearly see the outline of his buxom wife being ravished by the suave white-coated bastard. It was true. He glared with an unquantifiable anger as the two forms stood writhing like mating snakes swallowing each other whole.
"The fuckin cheatin bitch! Right under my nose! I'll Show her who's boss once and for all!"
Dickmann slid over the street like a slug and peered at the plaque on the garden gate-post.
Doctor Fissure. Lipidologist. Lipo-suction registered.
"Doctor fuckin fissure eh. I know which fissure I'm going to doctor of yours you bastard wife-stealer!"
Dickmann slithered away chortling at the thought of Fissure's final puffs before he sealed his fate good and proper! Ah yes, he would be king of his castle once again. He could feel it in the air.
When his wife came home, flushed and sweaty, Dickmann feigned sleep and she retired to her room. The next day he sat next to the sagging canvas early to watch her leave. She'd gone all-out today. Thick red lip-stick, bullet bra and a tight dress. A hussy. Her perfume wafted across the yard like a pheromone.
Dickmann waited patiently for dusk. He entered the doctor's house and tip-toed up the stairs. He had no real plan but felt sure one would pop out when the time came. And it did come. Or rather his Missus and the doctor did, just as Dickmann burst into the treatment room!
As the clandestine lovers squelched in ecstasy like two thudding snails on the clinic's couch, Dickmann gave his inflating fury full vent.
"You lousy bitch and you! You fuckin' cradlesnatcher! I'll fuckin' show you how to get fucked!" he bellowed.
With no idea what he was truly doing Dickmann suddenly grabbed two large needle-tipped siphons and with jilt-driven strength rammed them far up his wife's and doctor's behinds and slammed down the ON button to the max.
It said SUCK and TURBO in large letters.
At once the room was filled with a dreadful gargling, a terrible slurping and a heinous suckling as the siphons went to work. The two lovers shook.
His wife looked on in horror as her perfect tits caved in as her meagre fat was piped out of her gorgeous body. She screamed and stared in terror as Doctor Fissure's blood-thickened cock, balls-deep inside her, retracted like a burst balloon slapping on his belly as his own fat decanted out. Plup! The Doctor shrieked in agony as he was fully vacuumed.
Dickmann was overjoyed. He could never have planned it any better. His glee knew no limits and he skipped like a bullfrog round the vanishing pair.
"Hee hee. Never mind getting fucked, you got well and truly sucked!" He croaked grinning at the flopping forms.
The two lovers quickly hollowed out as ,first their fat layers disappeared and then their entire innards, jerking their way down the engorged pipes into huge glass demi-johns on the tiled floor.
It was done. Dickmann gawped at the two sacks of skin draped over each other. He smiled.
He then stared at the two massive glass bottles full to the brim with white and red fat and guts and smiled even more.
He chucked the skin and bones into the medical waste bin and humped the demi-johns into the lift and onto a cart in the foyer. In the cover of night he trundled his booty the short way to his yard whistling like a dwarf the whole way.
Dickmann sat in his chair and caressed the cool curves of the bottles and pondered what to do with their contents. The toilet was a waste. He scratched his wet chin and caught sight of the bouncy castle. He'd had his idea!
The next morning he opened up with a spring in his step and a brand new paint-splattered sign.
"Bouncy Castle. Super New filling. The Bounciest! You'll not be disappointed!"
His first customer for the 'new filling' was the little kid that had nicked his money tin. He brought it back with a few new shiny coins by way of apology and asked if he could try the new bounce. Dickmann, still triumphant, agreed and after seeing how much the little sod whelped and yelled with pleasure began to hatch a plan.
He knew he'd need more filling if he was to regain his crown in the town. With a whole handful of shiny pennies and the promise of much more he enlisted the boy to help him keep the liposuction clinic 'open for business'.
He figured the doc had loads more appointments booked with the pudgy townsfolk and that meant loads more precious blubber. All he had to do was call them upstairs and hold on whilst the kid shoved the pipe in.
It worked like a dream and the castle swelled with fresh wet fat. The queues and money swelled too and so, inevitably, did Dickmann's ego.
He began to get cocky and mean with the kid, especially in front of his new customers, kicking him around, farting in his face and clipping him round the ear to make him graft even harder, whilst Dickmann found a nice spot on his comfy deckchair and stroked his heavy money tin.
Annoyingly, there was just one part of the castle that never filled up properly.
It was a built-in seat at the front, a chair which Dickmann had had specially sewn-on for himself when business had boomed back in the day. It was even meant to look like his face with a crown on top. The Bouncy Castle King!
Alas, it always sagged and there was just never enough fresh fluid. Now things were on the rise he wanted to sit on his comfy bouncy throne again.
"Where's my wages you old bastard?" The boy suddenly insisted.
"You cheeky little shit! You eat my food and sleep in my castle and you want more money? Work harder you little ingrate. Get me more filling!" raved Dickmann.
That night the boy took him to intercept a new booking.
"It'll be worth it" he said to Dickmann. "I've seen him. He's a right plump twat. He'll fill the throne no messin' mister!"
Dickmann slapped the boy hard for swearing in front of him and shuffled into the treatment room to look at the diary.
'There's no fuckin' bookin' tonight. Its blank!" he yelled.
"Oh yes there is!" roared the boy, "He's a right fat old bastard and he's stood right here!"
Dickmann swirled round from the desk to see the boy leaping at him with the needle-pointed suction hose. He tried to block him but it was too late, the boy was raging and slammed the sharp nozzle deep into Dickmann's open mouth, where it slid steadily down his throat and lodged itself in his enlarged stomach bag. Shhlump!
The boy laughed, stepped back and hovered his hand just a little over the turbo suction button to tease Dickmann, who's wide eyes were imploring the boy to stop. He attempted to say "no" through his full mouth. It came out as "go".
"Go you say!" cheered the boy "OK!" and flicked the switch with a huge grin.
The loud gurgling and chugging went on all night until Dickmann was no more. The boy had rigged up a special pipe direct to the yard too. Progress!
"I don't even need to carry the old twat's giblets!" he laughed. "Sorted!"
Dickmann's blubber and guts slipped and nudged easily down the pipe and before you could say curette, the sagging throne was plump and swollen with its crown nestling on top. It really did look like Dickmann!
The boy sat on the throne and laughed. Squeezing the arm he felt something lumpy.
"Hmm. Your eyeball! You fat fuck! Keeping an eye on me eh! Well watch this!"
The boy wriggled his arse deeper into Dickmann's 'face' and let out a huge wet fart, which ricocheted round the whole castle like trapped wind.
Dickmann's eyeball shot off twirling into the grue.
The boy sat smiling and waited for his first new customer. In one hand he held his money tin. In the other a big needle-tipped pipe!
The bouncy castle king was back!