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The Visitor (35)

(xxii)
The Story of Hittler, the Spindly Monkey-Tooth



How can you possibly see me through the ingrowing skin of your eyeballs? How can I tell my tale when my mouth is chock-a-block with broken teeth and nerve-raw stumps? The land is swaying, swerving ... as the solitary zebra crosses the distant, disappearing horizon...

My tale? His teeth clicked as they went in each others’ way, nerve scraping nerve. My tale is in fact no tale at all but an

EPILOGUE
Orlando Blue has become a ravening beast, one who tortures… a victim of his being tortured. His scarlet whites of eyes pierce the gloom as he nears poor Rosemary. She screams, screeches as the flopped and festering creatures of the gathering play with the non-existent pigeons of the sky. And the old Charlie Chaplin film flickers and slowly-motion dies upon the wall of our author’s mind.

And in glorious stereo and full colour TV, the war is afoot…



THE END



(xv)

WAR IN SPAIN

OR

THE VISITORAL AND MESSIANIC ANNALS

by Charles Dipp

(a)
Apocrypha


‘War in Spain’, they say.

And as Hittler (the spindly monkey-tooth) stepped down from the platform, his story told, the Cuckoo remained fallen and was the most perfect rose (all bud and dewdrop) in Christendom.

And he wilted, his judgement of the competition staying silent and never to be told, except, perhaps, in some obscure and unremembered apocryphal tome.

If booes and hisses sounded at this silent judgement, then booes and hisses sounded.

But none sounded. For only flowers decked the only field in Spain around the only rose.

And then there was war, but first:-

(b)
Cinema Land

The world was nothing but cinemas. Nobody lived anywhere but toddled from film farm to film farm (using the cinema loos and washbasins for cleanliness and the cinema-foyer confectionery stalls for sustenance). The sad thing was that since everybody did this, no new films were made, so each film was watched countless times throughout a life time.

Economics is the sorting out of limited resources for unlimited resource-wanters. So how such a world?

The MGM/AGA organization ( made up of many so-called art Masters) fought fictional wars on Spanish plains against fictional enemies (the SBA/Hippy/Messiah/Visitor hordes or Scratch-Be-Art/HMV for short, who lived in strange caves far from the Cinema lands). They brought back hatched up booty for the ‘economics’ of the land. And so the faction continued. Until there was war and armageddon, retribution and crucifixion.

(2006 DFL comment: there now follows a crudely biro-drawn plank cross (+) with a man’s figure nailed to it, his face been moon-shaped, bearded, bespectacled, a mole on the left cheek, with a bubble saying ‘And in (c), it is told'. There are numbers at the end of each cross-‘spoke’, 12 at the top, 9 on left, 3 on right and 6 at bottom.)


(c)

What is it? Where are we? Whither has the dream snatched us? Twilight, rain, filth. Fiery glow of the overcast sky, ceaseless booming of heavy thunder; the moist air rent by a sharp singing whine, a raging, swelling howl as of some hound of hell, that ends its course in a splitting, a splintering and sprinkling, a crackling, a coruscation; by groans and shrieks, by trumpets blowing fit to burst, by the beat of a drum coming faster, faster – There is a wood, discharging drab hordes, that come on, fall, spring up again, come on. - Beyond, a line of hill, stands out against the fiery sky, whose glow turns now and again to blowing flames. About us is rolling plough-land, all upheaved and trodden into mud; athwart it a bemired high road, disguised with broken branches and from it again a deeply furrowed, boggy field-path leading off in curves toward the distant hills. Nude, branchless trunks of trees meet the eye; a cold rain falls. Ah, a signpost! Useless, though, to question it, even despite the half-dark, for it is shattered, illegible. East, west? It is a flatland, it is the war. And we are shrinking shadows by the way-side, shamed by the security of our shadowdom, and noways minded to indulge in any rodomontade; merely to see again, among those running, stumbling, drum-mustered grey comrades that swarm out of yonder wood, one we know; merely to look once more on the simple face of our one-time fellow of so many years, the genial sinner whose voice we know so well, before we lose him from our sight.
(from ‘The Magic Mountain’ by Thomas Mann)

A pre-First World War calm beset the French and Spanish fields. No strategic trenches, but row upon row of nodding blooms and petal sprinkling the breeze and aroma. No uniformed and lice-ridden men asentried around the wastelands The peace was essentially bird-twittering and pax-halcyon.

If some solitary shepherd were strolling through some undergrowth, if some bookwormy hermit were lain akimbo and concentrative within some overgrowth and if our narrator (the one whose narrative led us hither), pencil chewed between contemplating teeth, were cowering asquat within some ingrown birdhide, then, indubitably, they all would hear the gentle hum of some gentle hum. If they all remained hidden and still, they all would hear this gentle hum crescend, become more then hum, for it grew in militant volume, became much more than hum. If they were still there, unfrightened, sweated within the corner of their lair, they all would stop their ears from tremendous roars and unmitigated pandemonia. If they now, with incredible foolhardiness, lifted their bloodshot eyes to the now birdless welkin, they would see countless metal beasts soar more than ominously, more than loomingly, more than forbiddingly, over the hedgerowed horizon plane.

These aeroplanes, from a future age no doubt, screamed in countless hordes across our fictional ‘if’s’. They spat fire end shat ploding clots. And the trenches, men-filled, below, were splashed in uncontained blood. Grim-visaged war was afoot.

On one side of this incredible vastness of polluted country sat the allies in balaclavas and incredible muffles to protect them from the shearing frost and knife-whip ice. The snow cascaded around them, splattering the already shed blood.

On the other sat the enemies amid martial music and decked with nodding plumes. A nifty tucket was the ticket...

Overhead and overheard, as we have already more than hinted, roared the confused aeroplanes, none knowing to which side he belonged, none having thought to decorate the sides in recognition.

Both sides attacked each other, continuously opened fire but rarely received any in return! And so the war bore on.

*
A war which was intended to last three weeks, endured for seven years. The mortality was mammoth and its magnitude shocked even the most warlike of the proponents.

‘Where have all the flowers gone?’ reiterated many a pacifist.

‘Beneath the mountainous corpses, drawled a gloomy one.

Then there came One. A strange man (some have called him a gospeller, others a narrator, others a storyteller, others a bibliophile, others only a mere clerk of hand, others an insurance salesman, others a saint and yet others even a captain in some strange army). I, even I, would like to call him by a modest title - Messiah is too grand, too all-embracing, too Godlike; Comer is too small, too sexual, too anthropomorphic - I would like to call him a Visitor. This contains all the transience and modesty needed but also the deserved welcome and the space-age, man-of-the-future, alien side of his nature. It even contains the necessary dark side, i.e. The Visitoresque element (if I can be eponymous for a moment!)

*
He stood between them, held up his hand and shouted ‘Stop, please. Please, stop!’

‘Who is this nincompoop?’ questioned one bloodied soldier.

‘Git, yobbo! We will have no pseudointellectual , yobbo pacifists here!’ sneered another.

‘Out of the way,’ effeminated a BBC producer from a near-by tree who was doubtlessly filming yet another ‘World at War’ or ‘Great War’ documentary.

He retaliated :- ‘O.k., you mean buggers, but history will show me as hero!’

At that, a mighty crepitation, a hefty cannonade blasted this pseudo-Messiah, crushed Him against the near-by tree in which the aforementioned BBC man now shook his fist at the squashed corpse below him.

‘Who did He think He was, bloody Jesus Ohwrist?’


(d)
Back in Cinemaland, the starving masses awaited the longed for booty, But, little did they know, the so-called art Master had confused themselves in their own machinations, tangled their small brains with petty intellectualisms and warped their sensory perceptions with strange and inchoate aesthetics. They were lost, lost in forests of narrative mazes, in labyrinths of countless and unaccountable signposts and amid verbal icons and linguistic tortures. Their opponents, the hippy hordes, were no longer opponents (in fact did not know that they had actually been opponents) for they were drafted in as soldiers in a real war. They were taught to kill.

So, the cinemas crumbled. Their fantastic facades crashed into the deserted streets. The wailing masses stretched imploring hands to a forsaken god. They scat to the countryside, away from the errant edifices. There, they were shooed from pillar to post by angry farmers who chased them from their previously quiet and uncluttered farms.

Then, after much wandering, they reached a horrible Field. It was strewn with creepish corpses and decapitated aeroplanes. The very place stank. They sank up to their knees in mud and gore, but they continued to wade through the sucking, black (always black) quagmires.

Suddenly, one pointed. Wordlessly he pointed, but all turned their eyes.

Embedded in a mighty oak, part of its very fibre and texture, was a face. Its moonshape stared down at the astonished masses lifelessly. Then, they made out the rest of his body, literally growing with the wood. It was a plant-like corpse expanding with the tree as its bloodnourished roots made it soar welkinwards.

The uncounted masses bent their heads in reverence, then kneeled and chanted spontaneous hymns. Satisfaction and sheer spiritual joy were alive over their starving visages, as they enacted worship on this Field, on this Black Field, on the Field Where The Corpse Grows. Since then many a strange story has grown about this legendary Field.


(written 1974)

to be continued...[b]

The Visitor (31)

(xvi)
The Story of Lovecraft, Uncle Howard


I met him, encountered his fell, fleeting form, as the moon, gibbous and unquenchable, sunk low on the netherlip of the sea. The strand was ablow with the leaves and spray of a dirty night, cascades of litter and spawndrift shuttling across my mishevelled visage and his creeping physiognomy. I peered, questioningly, through the esoteric murk, mumbling at the murder I saw in his half-seen, half-seeing eyes. He drew nearer, a cold, scintillating shaft grasped in his stormy fist, the blade echoing the scum and blind-shimmer of the gibber moon and the handle bejewelled. and bedevilled by the lichen of the litten spraydrift. He raised his arm and the blade loomed large over his leaning shoulder as it sliced through the bitter air towards me and, at that moment, a baying, as of some distant hound, rose from the hinterland behind us, behind those bleak, giantesque silhouettes of trees and things. The deadly doomward movement of his arm suddenly ceased as if the terrible howling had entered his skull and snuffled, nuzzlingly, at the hell in his brain. Wet noses were noisy around and in his imagination, and his eyes dulled in blind paralysis. Nameless claws emerged from his cheeks, pierced, from inside, the fat that folded around the triangle of his inner face and scrabbled uncannily with the nightwind. His whole aspect was crawling with these tiny beaks clamouring for exit from within the skin, and his body staggered from side to side, swaying over the edge of the promenade above the churning seadrag. As I stared in helpless awe, forgetting the burnished blade that now lay dying at his feet, I was oblivious of the scurrying paws behind me, the series of canine eyes that flocked from the dark line of trees and things along the shore coming for that I carried, yearning for the amulet I had stolen from a neighbouring graveyard. Curse be it! I wish I had never seen that tentacular brooch, never cleft the dull sod for its tremulous, wealth-giving power. Before I am torn by the trenchant teeth of countless houndlike monsters, I must tell my terrible tale.

*
I kept a shop at 246 Ormolu Street, a shop selling valuable bric-a-brac, jewellery, fine art items, antiques etc. It was dark behind the counter, but twinkling around me amid the gentle, rhythmic tick-took of the inlaid clocks was the bijouterie of my existence: embroidered fal-de-lals; bedizened tiaras and mourning rings; half-finished gem-cuttings; river-bled heliotropes; scarlet opals; moonstones; onyx-stones; chrysolites; cats’-eyes; sequinned gewgaws; knick-knacks and so on and so forth. The brown light that managed to struggle through the overhanging buildings of Victorian London and then through the lottoed hatch (sole aperture in the room) above the counter played freckled toiletry with the haphazardly piled bijouterie. My assistant, Bartin, sat mutely beside me in a creaking wicker- basket, his gem-cutter ever chipping end sculpting at the rocks before him. Few words, if any, passed between us for we were unspeakably satisfied with our lot. Our jobs were unutterably and indisputably self-contained.

No customer, or very, very few, ventured through the latch-door, no budding client sounded the ever-mute bell above the door-jamb. No interruption spoiled the polished concentration of our arabesque and baroque scrollwork. No shaft of light from the dirty street entered the chiaroscuro domain.

Then, dissatisfaction seeped mysteriously into our minds, troublous dismay and an inexplicable yearning for an unknown goal. It all started with the insidious, indescribable flapping noise from the shop below our bedroom, As we lay awake we heard butterfly wings scuttering from corner to corner and our stomachs churned the very convolutions that they conveyed. Night by night, our torments increased, our neurosis grew as the touch of wing on wing became louder. We saw the undreamable silhouette of a giant moth at the bedroom window - it hovered there all night, insidious and. Pseudo-communicative. The yearning in the very root of my stomach took form as, night beyond night, the shape shivered in shadow outside the bedroom window. I dreamed of an amulet, a twisty broochpiece, peculiarly entwined and tentaculous, made of onyx, black as agate and ebony, smooth as the finest ormolu or marble. And I knew I had to travel far to obtain it for the shop which, as an exhaustive repository of beautiful stones, must contain this ineffable piece to complete its perfect essence. I knew the very tomb, the very graveyard that contained it and I turned to Bartin, sleeping beside me, to convey this all-important knowledge. But, he slept not! His corpse - that which remained of what used to be a physical presence - was putrid, a couple of huge, sticky, membranous wings folded together between the sheets, his head a sightless proboscis and his heart the space of pus between the scales. He was dead, he had died so that my stomach could receive the message, the ultimate knowledge, and I literally sucked in the fetid aroma of the membranes, kissed the wet proboscis and thanked God for Bartin’s demise. As I curled my tongue between the thighs of the wings, I heard, afar, the baying as of some gigantic hound, he who guarded the sacred amulet (as told by the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred and hinted at by the even more dreaded. Egnisomicon of the insane Despete).

*
Spade in hand and after many days of irksome travel through the saltmarshes of New England, I stood above the mound that was the grave of the late Orlando Blueman. No crucifix or tombstone ornamented this ghostly patch.

I raised my eyes above and shivered at the sight of the black, twisted trees rustling in the starwind around me. Utter solitude and intangible fear were intrinsic in this almost indefinable rustle - as the cold cut of the sliced moon scintillated, topaz- and gem-like, through the moving branches. My churning stomach almost bristled, twitched and nerved up as I lowered the spade-blade to the ghastly dankness of the sod. As its crimson-lined edge met the very dirt, countless bayings were horrifyingly set up around me and even below me from the very depths of the grave. However, nothing could prevent my frantic digging as the yearning for the cursed amulet was all and ever.

Wedges of earth were snatched from above the tormented tomb. I say tormented for, from within, the faint baying had grown louder and was mixed with the grinding of birdbeaks, the shocking riffling of countless feathers, the champing of canine and birdish jaws and, above all, the frightful, rhythmic tick-took, cook-coo, click-clock of some strange timepiece or welcomer of Spring! Bats flapped annoyingly around my concentrating head … but mere skips of my hand shooed away their droves ... but not before receiving several malicious tweaks in my neck from their goldfishesque mouths.

I neither knew nor cared about that which would greet me when the gravelid was finally lifted. But when my inexorable purpose-reached this important point in my life, there was horror and outrage beyond all I had feared and guessed from the premonitory noises. There was nothing, absolutely, purely nil within the dark cavern that opened before me ... except the yearned-for eel-brooch! This was unutterably horrible for I now knew that the horror was outside, around and, perhaps, over me - not safe within a. fixed space below my looming form. THE HORROR WAS SCATTERED! The birddog clamour was granular and atomic, NOT fixed and fast within my power! The empty space was therefore truly terrible and my utterly butterfly stomach imagined my stoneless shop, my tenantless shop, my blank and never-to-be-filled canvas of well-being.

I pocketed the crazy amulet and ran frantically through the intangible and scattered night ... and I was he I met on some far-off strand!


(written 1974)

to be continued...

The Visitor (26)

(xi)
The Story of Cambergrease, The Horror of the House

This story is attributed to my ancestor Tristan Camber and disfolds thus:

‘My name is Archibald Z________ and I nearly died yesterday. I shall try to relate as closely as I can my experience, but please keep your hand on your heart and read this story in the clear light of day...for you may die of fright, as I so very nearly did. Please take care, make sure my words are not those of a mad man or one who wants to frighten you gratuitously; make sure you do not put too much credit in their meaning as appreciation of their truth could have damnable effect on the mild-mannered or the nervous...but, as I write this, I genuinely believe each word I am about to devote to paper…’

The story will start in a moment, I suppose!!” said Uncle Howard.

“Brilliant English grammar – typical of this second-rate gathering,” sarked a nameless one.

‘So much for the warning, now for the facts.

I snuggled into the warmth of the carriage as the train churned through acre upon acre of English countryside. It was impossible to view the trees and village stations we must have passed through, for the night enshrined everything; so the most sensible thing to do was to try and sleep until the time for arrival at my destination, where my uncle would be waiting to greet me.

I slept for how long and with what vague dreams? Nebulous vistas of strange dimensional cities intruded, warped visages staring and tentacles clutching, wet lips and things sucking near.’

“This sounds like an essay in Lovecraftiana,” winked a knowing Uncle Howard from the middle of the listening gathering.

‘I awoke to the carriage, the formless darkness sliding away past me and an old man snoring in the corner. I was quite shaken by my dreams as the memory of them lingered incoherently. But I soon realized on looking at my timepiece that I should have arrived at my destination about an hour before!

It was then that I comprehended I had not seen one thing from the carriage window. True, I was travelling through a comparatively uninhabited part of England, but this was decidedly peculiar; even though there were no stars nor moon, I should have seen the distant glow of some big town or the lonesome light of a spinster’s cottage. But absolutely nothing could I see, presumably on account of the unusual blackness of the night through which I was speeding in a corridorless train. Might it be fog?

I relaxed back into the seat and viewed my sleeping companion. The fog would explain the lateness of the train, but what about its apparent speed?

I was convinced the train was travelling at a phenomenal speed, but it was now two hours overdue--without precedence on that line. I resolved to wake my companion and I stepped over to shake him. What curled from the hood of the duffel coat was an evilly scarred face and, on unwinding, gave me an imbecilic smile: a moon-face topped by a schoolboy’s cap, giggling in the depth of its rasping throat.

“Mutation” is a word too medical, too clinical, as what I saw was essentially unwholesome; nothing created by a mother on this world, but fashioned far away in dim lands beyond the galaxy we know. The transfiguration took me completely by surprise as, before my eyes, the monstrosity literally dissolved and dripping from the brown duffel coat was a green, sticky slime, forming a viscid puddle on the swaying floor.

It held all the smells which disgust man throughout the world and others completely new to his nose, recalling my dream vistas and certain other things I could not quite place.

My first thought was to pull the communication cord, but I felt the train was slowing down--presumably my destination had been reached. My mind was a maelstrom as the train drew to a halt. On jumping to the platform, I realized it was not my intended destination, but a strange station … and the nightmare train was drawing out, leaving me bewildered and valiseless. Amid the chaos of my mind, I knew I had to find a porter and share the horror I with him.

Empty tins and scraps of paper scuttled along the deserted platform, driven by the night wind. So, no fog! Visibility was excellent, but it still puzzled me why I could not see the moon nor the stars. I shouted for assistance, but none came: a forsaken station, forgotten by all who used to work there, those who, under a happy sun, waved green flags and blew whistles, carted parcels and drank tea. Dazed, I shuffled along the cluttered platform towards the station-house, silhouetted against the ceiling of the sky, ominous and spectral.

I came to a turnstile and, not surprisingly, it was enlaced with choking cobwebs, twining through the bars. The only exit I could see was through there, and so I pulled myself together to cut a path through its creeping entropy. As I entered, an over-nourished spider skittered to its lair. I wish to God I had not looked to the left into the ticket-collector’s cab, for here was not a deserted seat, but the ticket collector himself sitting, not as he used to be, but a decaying skeleton-creature with a puncher in the bones of a hand. A plump worm coiled through his skewered ribs … and I screamed … ran from that blasphemous railway station...

...into avenues of ill-lit horror, through lines of trees, black and twisted against the blacker sky, along country roads twining between untended hedgerows ... until exhaustion put paid to my progress … I saw the House; it rose out of the darkness, looming forbodingly. It was more of a castle than a house, and had two towering wings, pointing and mocking at the sky.

I should not fear its occupants, I told myself--they would probably disperse my fears and show my position on the map - so I plucked up enough courage to walk to the main door. Its massive oaken surface and golden knocker filled me with awe, but I grasped the knocker, pulled it heavily from the wood, and let it drop with a crash echoing throughout the whole house. It was such a loud noise that it startled me and put the fear back. There, I waited for what Fate would bring to the door, waiting, eternally waiting. But no one came. No one deigned to answer my call for help, so I decided to force my way in for shelter, but the door looked too mighty for entrance there. But I was mistaken as a single trial caused the door to swing open with a splitting creak revealing ... only darkness. I coughed as the atmosphere tightened in my chest and I felt for a suitable position to sleep the night out.

It was then that I heard something which I can hear even now inside my head, a funeral moan, harmonically illogical, resonant, deep but also shrill, coming from up above me, approaching down a rickety staircase, a moan carrying at one and the same time the horror of the graveyard, the scream of delight as ghouls ecstatically lift a prutrescible corpse from its resting place, the terror of a lunatic’s laugh as he carves his own flesh, and all the pain and panic of the Pit where shapeless elementals vaguely swim in fire, chewing off the heads of the human damned.

After, came a slithering and bumping above me: a thing was moving across the floor and, then, it was squelching down the stairs emitting the long drawn-out moan. The alternate slithering and bumping rode the creaking, teetering stairs, inexorably drawing closer, nearer, faster, down, down, down…

…it seemed as if I were in another world, sucked in by intangible forces to a revelation of the cosmos, a panorama of all time; stars and streaks of light reaching to infinitudes of chaos and cult, ethereal glows and fresh, unmathematical lands. I saw a city with dome-like, square buildings on plains of kaleidoscopic bubbles and, in each bubble, a grotesque gargantuan gargoyle leering at the citizens in the buildings. Those citizens themselves were immaterial, covered by jellified green slime and motivated by an ectoplasm of orange exactly in the middle of its soul-light.

I saw vague ski-runs of blue effulgence stretching for aeons from the mammoth, bubbly planet past the barrier of time and space, almost an interpenetration of two universes. I saw an enormous sled skim down the runnels, carrying those unfathomably huge monstrosities of green slime, and it looked as if they were waving and laughing, gobs of jelly forming into limb-strands and mouth-holes where the orange ectoplasm turned into a flickering tongue.

They laughed! They waved! They grew even larger! And on their interuniverse journey, they bred more and more of themselves as they neared a familiar planet...

The vision changed: I was looking at the cities of earth--London, Paris, New York, all empty except for ill-twisted skeletons littering the streets, doing exactly what they were doing when they died. Until the visions faded...

I was still in the House blanketed in darkness. The slithering and bumping grew yet nearer until I could see it!

It was a luminous blob of green pus - looking as if it had plucked itself unceremoniously from the incubating slime of its huge host monster following arrival on Earth. By turns it materialized and dematerialized as it squirmed and hobbled towards me... and I imagined I saw a crease of a wicked smile where the green fat folded and twitched. I screamed and screamed. It touched my foot. It actually touched my foot! My blood curdled as I felt it gradually creep up my body. The breathing gunge greened me over, covering my face like slobbering clay. I was then a gibbering, juddering puppet, insane with disgust, but tittering in ecstasy. I felt it enter my mouth, ooze into my throat, a seething, thickening mess of spitting, burping stew.

I found myself back in the train, watching an old man in a brown duffel coat sleep opposite me ... and out of the window the distant glow of a city.

It must have been a nightmare.

***

The train was three hours late when it arrived at my destination. I feel an impending doom on our world. Nothing to be done. As I lie here in a hospital, the doctors are amazed and disturbed by my body, which is dyed a hideous green in and out. They have vainly looked in medical books for a rare skin disease … but they will never find one like mine. You and I alone know what it is. But do you think me mad: it is up to you.’

“A Visistory to end all Visistories!” chanted Beriberi the baby girl – amidst the uproarious applause.

Tristan Camber, my ancestral posterity, was an Earthman then, forwarded the narrator, Cambergrease

“Little did he know of the Core, then!!” shouted an annoyed Cuckoo. “Green slime from interuniversal stickywicky! What pompous nonsense!” He then entered into a whole chorus of “Nuts… Whole hazelnuts, C_______ys make it and cover them in chocolate.”

Then the next teller told.

(written 1974)

to be continued...

The Visitor (23)

(viii)
The Story of the Pseudo-Egnis

(2006 note: there follows a crudely biro-drawn image (within quote marks) depicting a moonface with glasses and a very long beard and average-length black hair and two fangs and a mole on the left cheek.)

“Is *that* it??” queried and requeried the gathered shop steward and his braying union.

That’s all I really need to say, replied Etepsed-Egnis, it is an encapsulation…

“Oooh!”

…of my potential story, a symbol of its undeniable essence…

“Oooooh!”

However, if you wish I will give you the whole story since your small minds cannot contain the infinite strands and their inessence…

“Ooooooooooooooh!”

The encapsulation is a symbol of the Despete union. As a few words of introduction to the story, I will explain that Des Lewis and Peter Jeffery met years ago in Lancaster University library. Trumpets blared and Royalty bowed as the Des climbed the spiral stairs to the third floor foyer where the Pete sat and waited for the most important event in literary history. The Vice Chancellor of the University opened the door for DFL and the latter, dressed as a herald with huge posthorn, recognised his goal – PFJ dressed as St George. The pomp and circumstance died away as the memorable event took place! PFJ rose and bowed before the master, they shook hands and cheers rent the air. All knew that Despete was complete and the Etepsed-Egnis / Egnisomicon mythos was about to begin. The Des drew from his pocket a slightly foxed manuscript , some schoolboy effort at literature. The dear boy wanted the Pete’s opinion! Does not the scene want to make you weep?

My entry to the story competition, humble though it be, is the schoolboy story that DFL showed to PFJ on that historic day:

PEDRO

The silver air of Christmas swirled, cascaded, eddied in vortices – through the grimy streets, the bleak buildings, the murky river, the gnarled trees – as titanic bats flapped overhead. Little children, expectant, eager, awake, stared through the darkness, peering for the whisky-bleared eyes of Santa Claus who coughs and splutters through his annual task waiting for eternity to liberate him. Childish men and women hung puffy balloons, silver –crusted tassels and globular bobbles from the groping branches of a fir-tree.

Everything was in a state of expectation, everything that is except Pedro Caillan who just existed without either remembering or predicting anything: no subtle hues decorated his one-roomed apartment; no loud colours clashed and crashed the heavy atmosphere; no light broke up the blackness, the continual blackness: the only tangible element was darkness which one could even feel. It caressed, curled around and shrouded Pedro’s lump of a body bitten into by the deep rivets of indolence. Although the sense of sight felt no change in this room, the sense of hearing could have much food for thought; moans, sickly, thick, slippery with saliva, vibrated in every corner of the room and of Pedro’s frame; scratchings, made by the filth-encrusted nails of sweaty rats, dinned through the air; and unknown sounds, hideous and with mysterious terror lurking behind them, cracked and murmured. The unwholesomeness evidenced itself through every faculty of the human body, but Pedro’s body remained oblivious of it: I say ‘body’, but that of Pedro was more like a slobby mass of red, raw meat.

Outside this house that contained this cancerous corruption, normal life rolled on its course, unaware of the contagion within. Birth and death were neighbours; love and hate; sorrow and joy; tragedy and comedy; the budding of nature when sap bursts forth and the earth baked with frost; Spring and Autumn; Summer and Winter; progress and decadence. Pedro was not a part of life or should I say he was not a part of the two lives – for this life we lead is divided into two; youth and age. Youth is replete with over-bearing joy and fertility when gay streamers and soft balloons dance in Summer breezes. But the shrill brilliance of youth gradually dematerializes and is replaced with the oily fog of age gnawing at the core of one’s being. Not far from that house, Harry Lucas bent over the sickle, caressing the smooth grain of the handle as it sliced the air with each whisk of his hand. Little did he know but he had only three days to live – three days to ‘desickle’ himself, to free himself from human bondage. Unsympathetic, unloving, unlovable, his wife froze his small insignificant body with an icy stare. Uncaring, heedless, she scratched the dying rage of his flesh, prized open each of his veins mapped out over his body. The asperity, the acerbity of the soil stung the cracks forking over his gnarled, skinless lumps of hand. Rivulets of sweat trickled geographically down his face – his face, consisting of one long, red nose, two brown sockets through which life glimmered faintly and one black hollow of a mouth. Still young, fresh, Susan Lucas shouted crisply:

“Dinner Time!”

“OK, Susan.”

The answer was muted having an air of desolation permeating its tonality. His short stumps stumbled over the sterile field, the strides having lost their youthful suppleness and having gained an aged rigidity, a near paralysis. Time is a destroyer. It destroyed Harry Lucas as he lived a normal life, but it also destroyed Pedro Caillan as he lived an abnormal life.

*
The mist of memory clears away: the past, usually replete with vague connotations, is clarified and reality takes control. Harry Lucas sucks at a thin, white cigarette, consciously blowing smoke-rings into the bluey air. At this moment in time Lucas has seen twenty-five years’ hard work on his Father’s farm – which will be his very soon. Susan Lucas lets out a deep sigh, echoing within her frame, causing Lucas to follow suit. Sunday is the day and Lucas is having his weekly rest, a rest which grates against his nature. As he sits up in a large, soft armchair, his thoughts wander in other directions: ‘the pigs can be taken on but what about Fred he must go I wish Susan wouldn’t stare fields relax boy can’t you feel the mellowness of the soil cheese photographs what about my holidays none delicious stench of steaming dung remember to clear out the pigs’ 6 O’clock tomorrow relax boy relax relax cows foals…’

“Shall we go to the pictures, then?’ grunted Susan.

“Must go to bed early.”

“We never go anywhere.”

*
Pedro Caillan gulped down another whisky.

*
Harry Lucas spiked another haycake.

*
Pedro is born. The uniform, white walls reflect the golden light spewed by the bulbous globes strung from the blotchy ceiling. White-clad humans fondle the young animal which pules and pukes at them. Skin-clad bones swim in the air of his new world. Young thoughts mass in his head, unknown by the leather-skinned humans and by Pedro: ‘blurred blurs blur my retina and undimensional dimensions from the BEYOND crag boulder pulling power the gate opens and shuts I am out ethereality to reality sense to nonsense sluice-gates I am being animalized I feel fate placing his Nemetic hand on me I will be back in seventy years or so I will follow the straight and narrow Fate’s channel breasting the sluice-gates darkness seems to be destined for me darkness and thick indolence rat-scratching silence transmigration to the BEYOND unholy dreams haycaked spikes are not for me lake parties NO joy NO life NO stagnation YES Lovecraftian literature YES…’

“Is that HP Lovecraft?”

Ignoring the stupid interpolation, Etepsed-Egnis continued the story:

… ‘I feel air swelling my lungs as sounds burst from my lips formless forms and voiceless voices surround me clumsy hands clutch my animalized form I am born ready to be dragged through Fate’s scheme images from the fourth dimension and passing through the sixth sense are also born to bud later in the scheme of things.’

*
Lucas sits and then stands waiting for the vital news. He hopes it is a boy as then he will be able to pass the farm on to him when death wrings the breath from his lungs in the distant future. A baby cry echoes down the stairs and Lucas remains standing four feet from the foot of the stairs for about ten seconds and then, ZOOOOOOOOOOM! Lucas runs four steps at a time into the upper part of the rickety farmhouse.

“Shh!” hissed the doctor, popping his head around the door.

“How is she?” croaked Lucas.

“Fine!”

“Boy or girl?”

“Girl.”

Happiness mingled with disappointment lights up his face, the latter quickly disappearing behind the sunshine of joy and gratitude to God.”

“Can I see her?”

“Only for a few minutes.”

He clutched the handle of the door and gently turned it.

“How are you, darling?”

“I’ll struggle through.”

“Is that her?”

He outstretched his hand and gingerly touched the pulsing body of the baby.

“Yes, it’s real allright, and what I went through to get it!”

After saying these words, Susan fell asleep letting out a deep sigh and leaving Lucas to his own thoughts: ‘Tina Roberta or Daisy no Mary farm no son for farm Tina’s husband? Susan looks tired she’s been through a lot no housework for her for many weeks’.

*
Pedro, ten years old, is dreaming: ‘trees clog the sky no light vine-encumbered trees twist and twine overhead underfoot soggy moss sucks at my toeless feet alone alone I breathe unwholesome terror filled air I live in this spectral forest in a wooden shack with my father my wifeless father my lonely father day in day out woodtasks night in night out dreamless sleep on and on no natural light one day life changes for my father a worm with a human face plurps over our floor shock changes to delight in my father’s face wetglueslimy wormbody nestles nudgingly into the sweat of my father’s palm as he strokes it glee gleams from glinting eyes bathing the wormbody in love love which my father has missed for many a stark day kiss human lips on wormbody passionate kiss passion bubbles in my father’s crisping veins every night now wormbody lies on his pillow and during the soft golden days it sleeps under the sinless bed in the corner day after day its human face leering from the unnameable darkness however one day I look under the bed: a small mound of earth has he escaped? father! father! wormdisembodied! SHOCK! Solid silence permeated by shock he shoots up the stairs 3 by 3 bed is thrown aside greengurgleglaucous shock – behind the mound of earth was a sight of cosmic nightmarishness unnameable unspeakable nameless mess – curdling, gurgling, burping, bubbling, seething, exuding a fetor reminding one of everything evil – Satan’s excrement! The metamorphosis of wormbody into the epitome of everything my father did not want in it…’ So ends the dream of a ten year old.

*
Lucas laughs at the antics of his little baby daughter as she romps on the floor. The beige carpet is dented in by the lively supple limbs sprouting from the babybody, and high-pitched cries resound through the household. Joy is a vital part of every molecule in the room: the brown curtains look golden; the cracks in the ceiling represent the rivers of the world; the flaking yellow wallpaper represents laughing females waving at the gurgling, burping, bubbling baby; Lucas is God admiring his good work.

“What a rotten story!” shouted Dondon, the Jeffer, who had heard it all before.

“Yes, “ agreed Chish, “it would have perhaps been much better (and much more concise) without the Lucas passages.”

“I wish we had not pushed you into the encapsulation expansion. The initial word-picture was much more satisfactory. It is strange how wonderful things grow out of such crap (i.e. Despeteology). ‘Flowers of Mud’ as Baudelaire would say,” said the Infinite Cuckoo.

So it would appear that one of the initial favourites, the pseudo-Egnis, now stood no chance when the final reckoning came.

Suddenly, a terrible scream rent the air. All turned their heads to the likely source and saw a most amusing sight. One of the antelopes mentioned at the start of the previous story, with a clapperless bell strung around his neck (in case he got lost and the farmer had to search for him through the black mountain-mists of the Onyx Field and the Meadow and Beyond), had one particularly sharp antler up poor Dondon’s bum. His huge beard quivered and his eyes rolled. He had never known such pain (even greater than a decidedly nasty tooth extraction) and he bounced and pranced to the giggles of the gathering.

“Cease!’ bellowed Infinite and he beckoned to the next story-teller.

(written 1974)

to be continued.....

The Visitor (22)

INLOGUE I
By John Cheese, in collaboration with Tommy Mica


(a)
The Rock and the Dog

The clocktower silent is,
Whilst the war is on fire
Around Pedro’s mountain.
Spanish children scamp
In the dry, yellow dust,
Knowing not that the war is.
Suddenly, a bloom of orange,
Blood-petals,
Bursts its boil
Over the rim of Pedro’s sombrero.
The specked children
Cower in their dens,
Knowing not that this war is.
Crushed petals, red-streaked,
Float from the sky,
A vice versa balloon race
Labelled with the death
From which it comes.
*
The clock-tower silent is
And tolls not when the war ends.
The Spanish children,
Skeletal stiff in their damned dens,
Know not that their end was.
Staccato statues,
They prick the air around
With their sharpened bones.
*
The clock-tower Pedro is –
His limbs cat-strung,
Gut-tight, bone bitter,
As an effigy
Of the tower that was.
His mind, clock-wound,
Hands awry, unnumbered is.
*
Away to the south is
A red-stained rock
Where the bitter battle was,
The clock-tower Spaniard,
A black pin silhouetted
To the misty north distance,
Where Pedro’s mountain is,
Is as solitary as the rock is.
A Chirico humming silence
Tightens the purring affinity
Of pin and red rock
Where a whining dog spits.
*
Away to the east is
The accumulating clouds
Of an imminent storm
Which will wet the dust
That deadens death’s hiss, where the war was.
The dog beneath the rock is,
Snarls at the black pin,
At that horizon-flaw.
It mourns its soldier-master,
O moustached brigand
That fed it red meat
Before the bitter battle was.
*
The clock-tower Spaniard
Ticks tears for his children
Who uncomprehending corpses are.
The dog breathes its last
And the red rock glistens
Where the rain of the storm is.


(b)
The Killer Antelope

A square, generally yellow, windowless, stuffy attic
Holds within its claustrophobic compass
A stuffed, glassy-eyed antelope, rigid as the attic’s air.
Of course, since windowless, the yellow and the arch antelope
Cannot be seen by the visitor through the impenetrable gloom
As there is no permanent method of casting yellow light
In the lachrymose attic of antique atmosphere.
The door stands almost perpetually shut,
So, once again, the interior is as dark as ebony,
And the Poet is unable to discern the form of the stuffed antelope.
He is alone in the attic with this stiff, standing statue:
No sound. Not even the flap of the sparrow’s wings,
Nor the unseen rustle of the coming night through dusk.
The tears of the air drip down the invisible yellow wall,
But even they are soundless as the stiff, stuffed beast.
The Poet crouches in a corner which he cannot calculate,
From the tendency of the direction of his thought,
Whether north pointing or south pertaining.
The strong silence persists, survives its own oppression,
And reaches its perfect strands over the standing air.
Who knows what positively lurks in the opposite corner,
Behind the central imminence of the unlooming antelope?
A red tiger recently escaped from its own metaphor?
A silver-suited Shylock selfishly clasping a valuable ornament
Or the mirror-image of our cowering Poet?
The dark makes the answer nigh impossible
Unless the blood-peering Poet creeps carefully
To his opposite corner, never leaving the walls’ warmth.
He will not manage to pluck his courage, pizzicato prominent,
To wreak this journey of wet, black, humid crawl.
Suddenly, the antelope shifts in the dark!
It paws the dusty floor, its muzzle panting softly.
The Poet knows not this movement,
For his fists cram his ears to blot out the silence.
Better his own silence than that not man-made.
He did not hear the antelope’s tentative exit
From stuffed oblivion nor, of course, saw its progress.
Only the Reader understands the Poet’s fear,
Only we can see the creaking, shifting beast.
Where does it shift? Where does it tend?
Only the antique antelope knows, only it understands.
Although unseen, we know it creeps Poetwards,
But we pretend it’s the opposite direction.
Ho do we, indeed, know that its direction is such?
Truthfully, we can only guess, we can only hope.
A sensible suggestion the Reader makes:
Leave and search for a yellow torch to light the scene!
Pull yourself from the Poem’s claws,
Fetch weapons, guns of green, black bullets!
We must save the cowering, deafened Poet!
This we accomplish and return, but a shock meets us:
The attic is empty, we know that the blackness hides nothing.
The Poet and antelope have disappeared,
The torch is now superfluous, we do not use it.
Guns of green, black bullets – mere tautologies.
How did the crouching, fearful Poet meet his death?
How did the antelope crush its purposed prey?
How did they dim into mutual nothingness?
These questions point to possible answers,
One being that Poet is now Reader, or can that really be?
But where is the killer antelope
Who was stuffed too stiff in the lachrymose attic
On top of this mansion, under night’s hood?
He roams the night through forests of sick silence.
The gibbous moon sheds its yellow gloom
Through the criss of branch and cross of leaf,
Silhouettes the slowly shifting antelope.
The attic now does not exist, nor does the Poet,
Nor does the Reader, or can that really be?


(vii)
The Story of the Pseudo-Art Master

As two Lapland antelopes locked their antlers in friendly combat, the other farmyard animals gathered around to hear the odds on favourite for victory in the story competition. (Rumours were that, as well as the main prize of an all-expenses-paid trip to the Plains of Harchwee and Ka, Castle Neb (Publishers Extraordinary) would publish the winning story in their reputable broadsheet (currently enjoying its centenary year as a family-owned literatum)).

“Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!,” brayed the heraldic donkey (with large posthorn) to alert the gathering that the intermission was over and that the farmer himself was about to tell his tremendous tale:

Hey-Day! Alack, Alack, I must, I suppose, leave my drowsy somnolence…

“Superfluity!!” screamed a pestish beast.

…to tell you all my tremendous tale.

Thomas Michael lived in London in 1974, somewhere near Croydon. In those days, home videos were not available and he travelled daily to the West End (where the entertainments were centred) to work as a projectionist in a large Leicester Square cinema. As a child, he had wanted to be a television news cameraman, his ambition to peer through a viewfinder and "steal" the scene for unseen millions. He wielded no lying medium, such as brush or pen. His art was perfection itself. If he did not manage to become such a cameraman, he would have liked to be a professional photographer. Not quite so satisfactory, but the next best thing. However, he became a cinema projectionist - the third best thing? We shall see, for my tremendous tale is about to begin.

“Mere opusculum!” laughed some naughty nanny.

Dodging the IRA terrorist bombs that were rife those days in that area, he used to arrive at 11 a.m. and left about Midnight to return south. He projected many films in his time, for example "The Sound of Music", "The Horror of the Furniture Removers", "The House of Whipcord", "The Exorcist", "The Hotel of Free Love", "Blotting Up The Dreams" and so on.

The job was so routine, he yearned for some other excitement. But Thomas Michael had a sense of humour - a veritable asset in that day and age. Not only did he have that quirky aspect, he also possessed what was then known as an "avant garde" taste in art. His hero was Warhol.

He decided to play a prank on one night's audience. So, the weekend before, he went into his living-room with his own home-movie camera. He emerged several hours later with an evil grin butterflying over his naughty face. Several days later, the cinema audience having just seen "Horror From The Skies", ending in a mind-blowing B-feature plane crash scene, were now settling in a good mood for the main sex film. The canned music softly hummed behind their costly chitter-chatter. Soon, the vast auditorium dimmed, the huge neo-Victorian chanderlumes faded, the tireless chatter tired and the incessant mealy-mouthed musak gradually sicked up silence. All stared up expectantly.

In the near dark, the towering pleats of the velvetine curtains hummed open on their electric rollers to reveal the empty, but horrifyingly potential, oblong tunnel-end of the silver screen. The MGM lion roared from its plinth and the film began. The quality of the image abruptly deteriorated and, instead of the sharp bright colours of typical scrolling credits and the tortuous electronics of a trendy theme, there appeared, planted in the middle of the most expensive screen in London, the flickering image of a domestic television set. Through the flishflash of the amateur film-maker's carelessness, the astonished audience glimpsed a strange hand reaching out from the foreground to switch on the set. And then, they could just discern the programme on the TV screen - one of those dreadful "soaps" which inundated the public's consciousness at that time. In black and white.

Thomas Michael, up in his little booth, grinned maliciously. Since the audience had already seen this classic of the small screen in better circumstances (i.e. on a colour TV set in the warm comfort of their living-rooms without the "intervention" of a cheap holiday-movie camera) and since they had not come to see it anyway, they began to boo and hiss violently. He continued to grin maliciously, as he heard the increasing riot below. This escapade would cost him his job, but the excitement was worth it.

Soon, he could hear the "Ee-Aw, Ee-Aw, Ee-Aw" of approaching policecars. Then there erupted the shrill whistles as the force broke into the auditorium with the concomitant chaotic yapping of snarling policedogs. Of course, Thomas Michael was not unoccupied during those interminable moments. He had switched on the houselights and was leaning precariously from his booth, as he filmed the mayhem milling amid the plush seats of the upper circle. He recorded, too, with his cheap movie camera, the torn limbs, the rabid dogs plastering distemper all over the velvet fittings, the helmetless policemen and their bleeding truncheons, the frothing faces and blood-balled eyes and, not without a growing sense of humour, he re-recorded the still flickering cinema screen, the TV upon it and the flesh-coloured hand that reached out like God's to switch it off. In due course, they arrested Thomas Michael and threw his unloaded camera into the red rubble that the auditorium had become.

COMMENTS IV
By Peter Jeffery

Let me say (no I won’t, snaps Des) before venturing comment upon part (xiv) that I am shocked & appalled to find that ‘The Visitor’ (another book of the same name (?)) begins afresh on page 49 (SIC). Stories within stories are one thing & novels within novels quite another (obviously).

On Part (xiv) I will not labour obvious cross-references both to other parts of ‘The Visitor’ (rosemary, human head, onyx (chips -:- field), the flapping lens (vulture moth & probably at least a dozen other references to eel brooches, diverse flappers & lenses of TV cameras) etc. etc.) & to other pieces not in ‘The Visitor’ (e.g. the ‘For PFJ’ about Chips Auger, to John Cleese/Cheese of Monty Python (N.b. the cheese shop sketch etc. etc.)). Actually, the whole piece up to the crossed out section (SIC) (is this supposed to be read – it is still quite legible & could be intended as remaining deleted but an integral part of ‘The Visitor’?) is reminiscent of large numbers of previous passages including another dream scene…

The crossed out passage (SIC) intimates that the sub-sub-narrator of this dream is Lorg Dagg (sub-narrator Ab Bintiff, narrator DFL (Cf. Comments on ‘The Core’) & the following passages confirm it – although Dagg is not the only one who was in the lotto hatched room (crones & camber were there too), he was the only one to survive (or was he??) &, more certainly, the only one likely to mention that ‘Even Edalpo has gone’ (for obvious reasons)… (This possibility* gives rise to the question as to whether, in that case, the beings called pseudo-Egnis or pseudo-art Master could be real Egnis or art Master or, possibly, (& I quake at the possibility) some pseudo-pseudo-Egnis & pseudo-pseudo-art Master)…

*The claimant of the title of Real-DFL of part (x) (SIC), it will be recalled, was shown as the clearest internal evidence to be a pseudo-DFL … & the further evidence could have been adduced (but was not) that he mentions a mole on the right cheek whereas it is an indisputable fact that the real DFL has a mole on the left cheek. An examination of the picture // what picture? – Ed. // at the end of Part (xiv) shows a mole, or something of the sort, on the right cheek of the face. On this evidence (& on the suspicions aroused a couple of times above) it is clear that this is a pseudo-DFL &, at once, our suspicions of this claimant to the title of being the real Visitor (as opposed, presumably, to the preceding pseudo-Visitor), increase tenfold…

@@@

…On then, to the lift indicator which reminds me of the clock in ‘Wheels of Time’, only this time it seems more to be a case of wheels of space … If (& this is possible) the revolving clock of W of T refers to time revolving until the same point is continually re-reached, the indicator of the lift may be held to indicate space revolving until the same place is reached again. Digression: the solar system revolves round the galaxy at approx. 12 miles a second & the sun should, eventually, come to the same point again, but so great is the distance that the last time the sun was here (if it was ever here before) there was no planet as Earth & may (if it gets back here again) have sucked the Earth into itself the next time around – like a man travelling round the Circle Line buying & eating apples as he goes: end of digression. Parallels could, of course, be drawn with diverse circles: the Hindu wheel, death & rebirth, the wheel of fortune of the tarot, the philosophical zodiac etc. etc. … the vague suggestion of a face inside the wheel of the lift indicator is duly noted & lends the circle a kind of sentiency & possible links between the be-numbered circle & lotto hatches (with faces peering through) also come to mind. (As Shed says of the texture of the wood hinting at a face ‘we shall not go into that’ as is well for it might end up in a discussion of deity or will or purpose or something else of the kind, lying behind the wheeling of the Cosmos*).

*Or, for that matter, authors lying behind the wheelings of the story!

On, now, deeper into Shed’s story. I shall pass over the interpolations of the gathering, remarking only their ignorance of preceding portions of ‘The Visitor’ & return to the heroine in the lift. As she moves from floor to floor she seems to be revolving through previous Visitor passages & fragments of the tale flash by as if her life recalled in an instant by a woman drowning. The art Master’s prying camera, the moonface of DFL or pseudo-DFL, the grinning beard of a crazy commentator or the slippers of the Di-Jo crones & the hideous visage of Edalpo. And then – the lift stops. ‘The Visitor’ has ceased to revolve (= the break from the previous story in which this tale is told?) mayhap the point of entry into the story is reached; & she becomes part of the woodwork. One may compare this with the eating of the apple on the Circle Line, the sun sucking in the Earth (cf. THOTBL), escape from the wheel of death & rebirth (= enlightenment, the nirvana of the Buddhist system) etc. etc. … Of the vision of the burning fence I need, perhaps, only say that maybe she is now become pure = nothing (= nirvana again?). The other vision must refer to the work of Charles Dipp (the infamous) & the clock tower may refer to her own clock…

Moving on, I am very glad to see that you included a comment upon the comment on my previous comments, a good touch, this…

…on to Sade’s story … I shall say that the multi-layers of story fit in well with the general scheme of things which appears in the current portion of ‘The Visitor’ (Cf., e.g. some of the remarks near the top of p. 53 (SIC)). This multiple layer nature, already a heavy element in ‘Orlando’ is here intensified by the interpolations of the listeners plus the fact that it is now part of a novel within a novel … It is quite remarkable, I think, how much the piece gains from its surroundings … The comments, or some of them, thrown in by the listeners remind me of the way that I was interpolating in the story when you last read it to me at Easter back in Pearly Surrey…


(written 1974)
to be continued...

The Visitor (21)

(v)
The Story of Cream-at-the-top-of-the-milk, the giant rabbit

Some have called me Woundwort but, really, I have a very sweet disposition. So please do not cower, sweet animals, for I am not going to hurt you and the farmer is not near. Graze at peace for Mother Nature enfolds you and all quakes and neo-quakes are gone forever.

The animals gathered around to hear the rabbit’s contribution to the story competition.

Once upon a time, on the eastern side of farflung England, there was a school (and on dark days it was a dark school) and it was St George’s Primary School. It was dirty orange and towered squatly over the surrounding streets. The roofs, multi-chaotic in appearance, stepped down from the belltower which, when our hero was there, used to signal the start of morning and afternoon class – but, now, I am told, silent is. Circled by playgrounds and sharp railings, the school was, at the time of my story, about 60 or 70 years old. Down a tangential street, there was an annexe to cater for the population bulge (cause by post-wartime copulation). So, children had to walk to and fro to attend lessons in the main school and in the annexe (however, the twits were mainly kept in the annexe). Around the annexe was the school’s playing field and one further playground.

To give my story more immediacy, I will now take some famous commentator’s advice and pitch the prose in the first person singular of our hero.

The roofs looked chaotic to me as I was only a little boy and mere simplicity would have had hidden intricacies to my na´ve and blushing eyes. Right angles were V-shaped and sweet companions were individuals of grim and foreboding nightmare. I always remember the day when the fire alarm erupted and it turned out not to be drill. We gathered in the girls’ playground and watched insidious smoke drifting from the staffroom roof (some stupid bugger had dropped his fag on the carpet). We were herded down to the annexe where we sang ‘Ten Green Bottles’ with the music teacher who lived down there (or so I thought). Another incident that remains lodged in my mind as I write this novel, is when I was accused of cheating in an exam. At the time, I sat next to my closest friend John Watts in a double desk – and I positively copied down an answer I *knew* was wrong. It was ‘Dormouse’ – I forget the question but the correct answer was ‘mouse’. I got most of the answers correct from my own volition but, as a result of my perversity and of my teacher spotting we had both the same wrong answer *and* of the teacher not liking my face, my sweet soul was vigorously berated and I have never been the same since. To cap it all, amid the terrible torment of this accusation, the teacher took it into his head to tell me to take down my knees from the edge of the desk. This habit of mine was so engrained that obeying him was very difficult and, predictably, my kneecaps wandered back to their customary position. He exploded! And I had to stand on my desk for the rest of the lesson viewed by the countless upturned eyes of my ‘sweet companions’.

However, the main incident during my life at this school was the Pageant. Each April 23rd, a Pageant was held on the annexe playground to celebrate St George’s Day. All the kids dressed up in Medieval costumes except for about eight who trooped around covered in one huge piece of cardboard – this was the dragon! There was always one smart kid whom they made St George with a red cross on his chest. All the parents and local newspaper reporters came to watch this spectacle. One particular year, it was decided that the kids in the main roles did not have loud enough voices for their words to carry in the open air. So they made me – yes, me – the Herald, since I had the best reading voice in the school (I always read lessons from the Bible at Carol Services etc.) and I would shout out the story as it was enacted. I had a very large posthorn to blow (bigger than myself on which I practised – for weeks before the performance). Anyway, I, as the star turn, with my proud parents meekly sitting in a back row somewhere, forgot my words.

Pitiful, isn’t it? You must admit, dear friends, that this is a very touching story. And it is even more touching when you learn that this little boy committed suicide soon after. He left this memorial fragment as his epitaph.



A ROOTLESS THOUGHT

I am alone in the house.

Rain spatters on the parlour window like a thousand furious demons gobbing on it from the pavement outside.

Too many horrible thoughts ... I try to shake them off, but bashing one sloped-up ear with my fist does not seem to help at all. Makes it worse, in fact.

Shall I switch on the TV? I look up at its empty screen, only to find it staring back at me. It must be dark outside now, as I am no longer able to tell the ill-gathered curtains from their crack.

I suppose I could write a story for ‘The Visitor’ ... but with all my ideas fast becoming senseless morbid thoughts, not much hope of that. I cannot summon any impetus, mainly because of the lethargic doom threading my mood in the guise of these words, words that probably don't exist at all, even in my own head. And butterflies clot together in a panic to escape by the narrowing exits of my stomach ... or so it feels.

If it were not for the music on the radiogram, there'd be nothing but the utter silence around me. I assume I must be having some thoughts to prove I'm not a vegetable. If I were truly stagnant, my mind would be a blank ... like the TV screen.

A vehicle roars up the wet hill beyond the curtains, forging a path through all the loneliness out there.

*

What was that? A thought just that moment careered through my mind like a distraught pet. Inevitably, I've forgotten it. There it was and there it was gone.

The music on the radiogram is now almost becoming part and parcel of the silence, not quite obliterating the knowledge that there is a silence-in-waiting.

There it was again - that thought! It weltered inside my stomach like the rotting corpse of that pet ... and then abruptly disappeared in such an act of conjuring my mind was incapable of grasping it.

How do I know there was a thought, if I've forgotten it? I can only imagine it leaves something behind inside.

There it was again! I nearly grabbed it full square that time. I seemed to visualise a single bed, a very tidy one, with a cover neatly tucked, a lip of white at the top where the sheet must have been folded over with the use of a set square. Merely an impression, nothing more.

During this thought, I appear to have forgotten about the music. No wonder - the LP has ground to a halt and the sound of reinvigorated silence jeers at me about its victory.



As more cars swish up the hill outside, the thought blinds me more and more with its crescendo of wordless meaning.

There is a child in pyjama trousers that are tied with a straggly cord. It must be a boy. Why is he standing by the bed ... shivering? He's afraid to get in and his breath comes out in misty jets.

The toing and froing of the thought grants me further detail. There is a strange hump at the bottom of the bed.

Amid other unknowable thoughts which interfere with the main one, I comprehend that the vision must be of my own creation. That's the way with thoughts. Something, I suppose, for me to use as a raft to escape the hissing sea of silence ... from its tittering victory over sound ... from the swishing cars which tote dire luggage in their boots ... from the haemorrhaging upon the window pane ... above all, from myself, worse than any of them.

So, if the thought is of my own volition, I can surely do what I will with it. I can encourage that sobbing child to get into the cosy bed and drift into the best dreams I can muster for him. That would warm my vitals. Clear my stomach of the butterflies and ease my concern for his well-being.

No, I won't do that. Too glib. Too easy. But what shall I do? A problem, perhaps, but a diverting poser nevertheless. I know, I'll wheel in his mummy with a carpet beater for his bottom. Serve him right, probably ... the little wretch is begging for a good old-fashioned spanking.

The thought again. This time the child was kneeling down by the bed, tiny hands pressed together, praying ... to God ... to me? Peculiar that I should make him do that, since I've never believed in God. What shall I make him do next?

*
The flowers in the Woolworths vase, which my father arranged this morning, are beside me as I think. Clustered together, a bunch of pastel colours, each petal pointing at me ... or reaching out for me ... or perhaps they're demons' tongues eager to tell me something if they were not drowned out by the bumptious silence. The cackling silence. The flowers will be good as dead by tomorrow, little do they know. Lost their damn roots, poor bleeders. But, isn't that what has happened to my thoughts? One moment almost laughing at the predicament of the flowers, the next finding myself in the very same boat.

I probably lost my root when I was born, wrenched from my mother's womb ... that's why I'm dying ... like those same flowers plucked from Mother Earth ... that's why all of us are dying.

Back to the little boy. What have I next in store for him? Ah, he appears ready for beddybyes, now preparing to fold back the lip of sheet I thought of earlier on. His tentative movements still reveal the undercurrent of fear ... but fear of exactly what? Perhaps the lump under the covers at the end of the bed gives him the jitters ... and so it should. I would not have thought of it, if it did not have a purpose in the scheme of things.

Let's scrutinise this boy somewhat closer. But, too late, he's gone - I've given up thinking of him. Perhaps I shall return to him later ... only if I want to do so, of course. Shall I switch on the TV, now? The reflection of my familiar face on the screen is very disconcerting.

(2006 note: there follows a crudely biro-drawn TV set (labelled ‘black & white’ with on, off, volume and BBC2 buttons) and a bearded, bespectacled moonface in a school cap on its screen).

No, I won't switch it on, since I yearn to show the one who watches me that I am impervious to his cold stares. I have the supremacy, after all - by merely filling the screen with the transient images of real life, I can rid the parlour of my familiar's presence. Little does he know that he is at the mercy of the faceless laughter people on the box of tricks.

Yes, he *is* staring at me - I just had a look.

The little boy is now getting into the bed very slowly. He has a sweet face. His soft eyes are wide with fear, teeth clenched like a vice. What an angel he is! He gradually slides his legs down the bed ... and I realise that they are not long enough to reach the lump. Frantically, I try to elongate his legs, but to no avail.

Wait ... the *lump* is moving up the bed. Trust me to think of that. I don't believe the little boy is aware of the covers humping along towards him from the footboard. But, IS the lump moving, though? Yes, it is, never fear, but very painstakingly.

Oh, I've faded the thought out. That gives me an opportunity to invent a good ending.

Let's consider the situation - a frightened little boy in bed with a mysterious lump moving up towards him under the covers. What can the lump be? Let's make it something really nasty! The silence whispers in my ear to make it a giant beetle. It's creeping up to nibble the child's toes with its clicking pincers. What a hoot! But this does not seem to fit the thought ... something not quite right. Damn it, I must think of something suitable.

I pick hold of the bright orange cushion from the sofa as if seeking for inspiration in its loud softness. It is so bright, it is a blasphemy to silence. I hug it close as if it's a vital part of me. It feels hairy. I appear to view it as a dead cushion. But if I tore it apart, there would be no blood, no tissue, no swollen innards ... no mind, no thoughts. But one cannot see thoughts ... anyone knows *that*.

I now seem ready to complete the thought. It would be the little boy's pet cat which had fallen asleep in his bed. The child's face is to light up with joy as he pulls it out and strokes the fur. He is to cuddle it close.

The silence is quite correctly silent. The rain has stopped, no longer feeding the walking rootless ones. I'm switching the TV on, at last...

*

Like a rabbit from a conjurer's hat, a yawning head reaches the blinding light of the bedroom, its long ears taking purchase one by one upon the top lip of the bed-covers to extract itself.

There is, of course, no sign of a child. Only the dead silence of God praying.

***
But wait, it has not ended! The tableau of sleeping child and cat returns. What an artist I must be! The claws and teeth of the beloved pet are buried in the child’s neck and blood bubbles from the torn jugular. I fear I feel the child’s screams within my very body, scarring my very vitals … and the screams well out of my mouth, welling, welling from the depth of my stomach, spurting out in red gushes….

But we most not end my tale on such a note. We must have a glorious climax and, to do so, let’s return to St George’s Primary School to catch a glimpse of one moment of glory. There was a game the boys played in the schoolyard and they called it Denno. The players were divided into two, one group scattered in one corner of the playground (the den) and the others huddled in the opposite corner. One by one, the latter boys ran towards the other corner and if they could run, by darting and weaving, into it without being touched, that was a successful turn. However, if he was touched, he would be trapped in the den until a compatriot actually did manage it, thus releasing all the prisoners. This successful runner would scream ‘Denno!’ as he entered the den and all the prisoners would scamper back to the home corner. Well, one day, it was the Denno game of all Denno games. All realised that this was it. Our hero was known as a fast runner – but not so good as the ace runner defending the den (a massive bloke for his age). One by one, the runners were caught by this giant and they stood awaiting the last runner, their only chance, your hero, our hero, my hero, me.

As I stood there, I realised my life had pointed to this very moment. All depended on me. To calm my nerves, I found myself thinking of pineapple and icecream. Then – I zoomed! The giant leant grimly towards me but – dart, weave, sidestep, jump, zip – I sped through. ‘DENNO!’


COMMENTS ON COMMENTS
By Des Lewis to Peter Jeffery

I am glad you enjoyed ‘The Visitor (I)’ on which you made many kind comments. I will not try to comment on your comments, as I hope all will become clear over the next few months as Abraham and I continue the stories. By the way the full title* was taken from the postmark that keeps appearing on your envelopes. If it were not for those, I would most certainly have forgotten about such a Northern newspaper entitled, of all things, ‘The Visitor’. In any case, how you could think its name would appear on a xeroxed broadsheet in the City of London is beyond me!

* “THE VISITOR” ‘The Family Owned Independent Newspaper’ 1874 – 1974 Centenary Year.”



(written 1974)

to be continued...

The Visitor (20)

(iv)
The Story of Sade the Gathering Ghost

Orlando Blueman told me this tale before his tragic death in my arms:

“I am Orlando, a wanderer through the cities of Neb, and I meet up with many strange adventures, of which this is one.

Four times had I visited Crane, a city in the south-west corner of the plain of Neb, but on the fifth visit I swore that I would never return. As per usual, the white flagstones bore the weight of many tramping horses, and the tiny wooden chalets glinted in the light of a cold, sickly sun, as I entered the massive iron gate of the city of Crane…”

“I thought the sun was hot in Neb … so the myth-tellers would have it,” roared the squawling babes as they listened to the tale from their cots and prams.

Sod off, you twits, and listen to the tale as Orlando himself told it:

“I headed straight for the inn which had become my customary abode – the Golden Helicon. I passed the gilded fronds of the Splitzer trees (very common in Crane) – they brushed against my face leaving a pale green hue in the skin and giving me the appearance of one who is either sick or envious.

At last I arrived at the blackdoor of the Golden Helicon, a largish building of blackwood presenting a bold front to the surrounding bleak mountains of Spart.

‘Orlando! How nice to see you back in Crane!’ shouted Baz, the inn-keeper, his head poking out of the top window.

‘Hello Baz! Ooh! Room for me, eh?’ I answered with a friendly wave of my hand.

‘Of course, of course,’ he shouted back.

I entered through the blackdoor and, once inside, memory flooded back: the hard tumbler-shaped chairs, the crazy pictures depicting strange, mythical battles, the thick, soft orange floor-covering and, above all, Susanna, Baz’s daughter, who rose from her chair in surprise at seeing me.

‘O, Orlando, how nice of you to come and see us again!’ she said, a slight flush seeping into her face. At this time, Susanna was 18 and was beautiful in the extreme: her soft, red, pouting lips parting to reveal perfectly shaped, pearly teeth glinting in the light of the log fire; a sensually fashioned bosom heaving to the rhythm of girlish sighs; delicate, rose-pink, blossoming cheeks; Madonna-like limbs; and golden, shimmering hair flowing in undulating streamlets down her back. She was the perfection, it seemed, of human symmetry.”

“I expect sunshine pours from her bum,” chortled some sarcastic listener.

“At this moment, Baz entered the room, and thumping me on the back, shook my hand with friendly gusto.

‘How long will you be staying, Orlando?’

‘As long as you will have me!’

‘Fine! Fine!’

*
Soon, I became used to living at the Golden Helicon and, as each day passed, I grew more and more fond of luscious Susanna, not to say, in love. Each evening, it was our custom – that is, the three of us (Baz’s wife having died three years before) – to sit around the log fire and tell stories to while away the long night. These stories were, by custom, gruesome and macabre, since we took delight in that ecstatic shiver of fear that horror will send down one’s spine. On one peculiar night, it was Susanna’s turn to tell the tale. All day, I had noticed something strange about…”

“There *was* sunshine up her bum!”

“Ha! Ha! Ha!”

“…the beauty, intrinsic in her form. It seemed marred by an intangible mist of evil or decay. A hobmadonna mask, as it were. Her eyes were blurred and the skin seemed paler than usual. However, at the correct hour, we all sat down and listened to Susanna:

‘Once upon a time there was a man and his wife who truly loved each other. They lived in a cottage near a dark, evil forest. One day, a strange man, clad in a black cape, came out of that forest, seeking shelter in their cottage. Being a kind-hearted couple, they welcomed him in and gave him plenty to eat. Whilst he was eating the luscious fruits that they had provided for him, he told them a story:

“A story of a man who continually found a corpse at his threshold every morning. Each day the corpse was freshly killed with its throat meticulously sawn through. At first he was shocked but, gradually becoming accustomed to the phenomenon, he disposed systematically of the corpse each day – by feeding it to his pet rabbits and cleaning the step of the congealed blood. This continued for many years – day after day he carried out the clearing up operation. But, one day, the corpse was not there!! The man ranted and raved. He tore at his hair in frustration – for he saw the sheer horror of the clean, dry, white step (dry and white as the night before) gleaming in the light of dawn. Immediately, he cut his own throat and fell on to the blaringly white threshold step. His neighbours found him thus and wondered why he had killed himself, for doubtlessly this was the case. They searched his house for evidence … and found a particular book, the contents of which made them presume that it had sent him mad. In fact, the contents were decidedly soul-upheaving, as I will show…”’

“You’re hotching your potch with these ludicrous stories within stories!” grinned some insidious joker.

Anyway

‘”It told of the story of a mother and son who lived together on the edge of a huge, dark forest. The son became progressively mad – and here is a quotation from the book:

“Josiah clutched at the grimy handle of his dagger, sweated and advanced towards her. He advanced towards her. Towards her, as she screamed her lungs out. He grabbed her black hair in his paw and pulled. He slit the skin of her forehead, sliced straight down the front of her body.

‘Do you feel pain, Mother?’ Josiah asked.

But she could not answer. She was dead. Dead as an unwound clock. The son, slavering at his mouth, chewed her finger-ends and, finding the taste to his liking, proceeded to make a meal of his mother’s corpse. For days, he picked at her bones – as he would at the carcass of a roast chicken. The remaining bones he gave to his dog…”

There were many other quotations, this being the mildest, which would have sent any stable man as mad as a castrated geeKen. The man from the forest there finished the story and the kind couple stared at him in wonder. Little by little, the man slid out of his black cape and revealed himself as a black demon with a twist of mockery on his lips. He giggled and said:

You are mother and son and you have been living as man and wife! Little did you know!’

The couple were shocked for it was true that she had lost her son to a tribe of gypsies at an early age. The demon giggled again and pounded on the woman, intent on sucking her blood. This having been accomplished, he force-fed lumps of her flesh to the whimpering son, whom the demon later sucked…”

It was at that point that Susanna finished her story. Baz and I were undoubtedly shocked – for this story surpassed in horror any that had been previously served up. We were not titillated by subtle terror but disgusted by Susanna’s perverted turn of mind, so incongruous with her angelic body.

‘Susanna, that was not a ‘nice’ story,’ blurted out Baz.

‘I am not a nice person,’ she whispered malignantly.

‘What has come over you, girl?’ cried the startled father.

‘Yes, dear Susanna, have you a demon presence within you?’ I asked tentatively.

I must have been very near the truth for she immediately pounced on her father and chopped his head off with the carving knife. His head rolled over the carpet and came to rest at my feet,

‘Susanna! Susanna! Cease this mischief!’ I screamed.

Forthwith, she pounced on me and commenced to fill my mouth with vomit that was at this moment spirting from her mouth. She crammed it in so hard that I couldn’t breathe. This I imagined was torture beyond all torture, even worse than the filing of my skull in Rull. I pushed her off me as best I could and lurched towards the door with her hanging on to my ankles. I vomited out her own vomit on her wailing face and, released from her infernal grasp, I burst out of the door into the streets of Crane. I ran and ran and ran. Am I still running, Susanna close on my heels?”

And that is my contribution to the gathering.



(written 1974)
to be continued...

The Visitor (19)

(I thought 2006 readers of this novel might like to know that, included in the 1974 typescript, there is a mighty big map with a multitude of details that can be folded out (drawn in real ink by PFJ) depicting the lands surrounding events in ‘The Visitor’— e.g. Neb, The Onyx Field, Nambitur, The Forest of Abominations, Bluemanland, The Onyx Gulf, The Sea Of Neb, Pseudo-Neb, England, Kra, The Ana-Anna Desert, Lancaster, Heman Peninsula, and lots of towns and rivers etc. etc – the seas blotched in red by DFL).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

(iii)
The Story of Iceman the Swift of the Sky

The scene is a city, a large, sprawling megalopolis in England. The time is long, long away and Victoria sat on a birdish throne, surveying her scurrying citizen Engs.

The dark corners (chimney-corners, kyphotic angulations, forked nooks, furcated crossways, hook-nosed cusps, V-shaped crutches, akimbo zigzags) of the city were haunted, haunted with stooping figures on ghostish paths, with unhewn statues in search of shape and with unlicked beasts in quest of lolling tongues.

I, as Iceman, flew across that frosty sky and the citizens cracked in frore dismay. I entered the alouetted mansion beside the slivering river and swept in white array along the nightworn corridors. I came to the silent door and, for a while, listened at the lotto keyhole for the breathing I knew would be there and grimly crept, insect-like, through the keyhole. Once inside, I hovered over the bed in which the two women slept, their bodies enlocked together. Their heavy breathing threw white smoke into the air, but their limbs were squashed and intensely warm and their well-formed breasts hung between the V-shaped interstices of the bed.

I knew their names, of course, and I know them now – Rosemary and Ample … and the child born from their transsexual embraces would become a mutation, a hideous thalidomide of the dark world – all head and no body, waddling over from cot to grave.

“Fence it in! Fence it in!” the motley infants roared.

The Cuckoo looked askance and beckoned to Iceman to continue his enthralling story.

Riffling his wings and folding their webs beneath his titted crest, he spoke anew:

I, as Iceman, tucked myself into their interlaced arms and peered down into the dark chimney-corners of their bed to see if this evil act had been completed. But, of course, the cold awoke them from their slumber and the sudden movement resulting from their start, itself completed the act I was there to prevent. I glimpsed a wad of pure white spirt from crutch to crutch, so white it lit up the furcated crossways of the sheet-bunching bed. The two women sighed each other’s name lovingly and twisted me into their foul cuddle.

I uncovered my two fangs from the wrinkles of my beak and their razor tips pierced their tender breasts. But they felt no pain – their dying love was a pain greater and more pleasurable than that I concocted.

At this moment, Edalpo (who left Lorg Dagg to go to this gathering (he knew he must gain entry to the Plains of Ka and Harchwee and Lorg must be kept safe while he accomplished this feat, so he left him busy listening to a series of stupid and irrelevant stories from the mouth of some individual claiming to be the art Master (the latter is telling the tales but, little does he know, the real art Master is telling of him telling the stories))) fidgeted, for he was very bored. He could not wait until it was his turn.

Anyway, continued Iceman, please do not shudder. I escaped from their naughty clutches. I flew from the night-shrouded mansion and took the macroscopic path (from microminiature to mammoth sky-swift) from the granular Land of Eng to the Onyx Field (which is all land and all scapes) where you see me now. That is my story.

“But what of the mutation? Was it born? Was it fenced in for its livelong days? Tell us, pray tell us,” brayed the milling toddlers.

Horror of Horrors! The end of my tale must be told. As I flew from their sexual bed, the impregnated egg between their legs accidentally (sticky as it was) got stuck to my thigh feathers and, as I passed from microsubstance to what I am now, it became embedded in my womb! And before all our tales are told, it will out, head and all.

The Cuckoo waved a disbelieving hand and crooked his claw to the next teller of the tale.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
COMMENTS (III)
By Peter Jeffery

It is as if DFL has surrounded himself with the additional layers of identity as protective garb against the Core… ‘Comments II’ by PF Jeffery really needs no comments from me … You seem to have made a pretty fair job of editing what must be a pretty unwieldy bulk of comment. I especially liked the inclusion of a bit of comment on my previous comments … The white sea is very reminiscent of the description of the core (itself cuckoo-spit, perhaps, or bubbling semen) & the rutted land, perhaps, echoes Orlando’s rutted skull. A tangent from ‘The Visitor’ is ‘badlands’, possibly a reference to John Metcalfe’s story of that name & an even further tangent (to use a mixed metaphor) is a possible link between ‘alabaster seas’ & ‘alabaster genitals’ of Zeroist fame … Genitals to semen & semen to the surging white of the core: the core to the Onyx Field Sea & the sea to the alabaster of the genitals, a very neat train of thought, wouldn’t you say?…


(written 1974)

to be continued...

The Visitor (18)

Visitor (18)

(ii)
The Story of Shed the Snow Leopard

She stepped into the lift to go up to the twentieth floor. Her name was Ample Cheese, I think, but, no matter, she stepped into that smart, streamlined, neo-office elevator and the doors moved smoothly but sharply together. She pressed the button bearing the number 20 but, as was usual with lifts in those days, the finger did not actually come into contact with the plastic but its mere approach to the relevant button was sufficient for the number to light up. What remarkable technology!

No matter, as soon as she had activated the button, she noticed that the floor indicator beside the door was not vertical as was usual with lifts in those days, viz:-

(There follows in the 1974 typescript a pen diagram of 20 numbers in a vertical line, contained within boxes ranging from 20 at the top to 1 at the bottom, followed by four more boxes containing the words: mezzanine, ground, lower ground, basement. The number 3 box is shown to be flashing).

But it was thus:-

(The same boxes and their contents but now placed into a circle, with the flashing 3 at the bottom of the circle. Within the circle there is the vague impression of a human face (or a snow leopard’s?))

And she felt that the texture of the wood in the middle hinted at a face, but I shall not go into that.

She did not have time to be surprised for on the floor above the one which she had just left, the doors snapped open and a figure made as if to enter. He stopped suddenly and stared beadily at her, as if he had seen a ghost.

“Don’t you remember me?” he blurted.

“No, should I?”

“My name is X________ and you once threw me out your house. You know – that manuscript made me a bomb.”

But before he could continue, the doors pranged and his nose was nearly caught. The lift sped on without him…

The motley crowd, ensconced on playschool mats around Shed, mumbled as if they didn’t understand which manuscript was referred to. However it is a common trait of snow leopards not to explain anything. The Infinite Cuckoo looked decidedly annoyed, but the story continued undeterred.

The lift almost pounced from that floor to the next whereupon the doors, like a firework special, flew open to reveal, only momentarily, the probing proboscis of some unseen Beast. The doors were now flish-flashing from floor to floor, first to reveal the subtle hint of a nosy camera (TV), second the beaming moonface of some pseud, third the grinning beard of one straggly Peter Jeffery and fourth the carpet slippers, ragged as lacerated limbs, on the feet of a pair of hags (loose-lipped and foully fanged). The fifth intrusion was the worst of all – the pecking visage of a raven-like witch; but the champing doors did not allow the entry of any of these vile visions.

The shocked she cowered, before the shuttling panorama, in the lift’s corner. And now there was only darkness and no movement, no opening and, of course, no shutting.

“Is that the end of the story?” queried Chish.

No, twit! She gradually gathered sense into her fevered brain. She had been stuck in a lift before, but this occasion was different – she was alone. None of the potential passengers that she had glimpsed from the corner of the lift had succeeded to beat the doors and keep her company.

After several weeks she became part of the woodwork.

“Oh, what a silly ending!” one uttered

Now, now – it’s a play on an idiomatic expression and a literal meaning. Don’t you get it?

“It’s all too obvious.”

Anyway, I haven’t quite finished. Before she became a vessel in the fibre of the timber around her, she had a vision of a burning fence. Strange, that. She also had a vision of a Spaniard who fought in a war and, before he died, his shattered corpse became a clocktower (the hands of which were his lacerated limbs).

“A telling ending,” muttered good old Infinite. “Next, please.”

The novel starts here: http://tinyurl.com/pkd34

(written 1974)
=======================

Over A Jar

There are many wicked people who live all about us, some revealed by their actions, others merely by their looks - but the most dangerous are those who appear normal and, in extreme cases, good.
One of the best examples (or the worst, depending on how you look at it) was my friend George. He was a personable individual, always ready with a smile and a helping hand. Nothing was too much trouble for him. His wife and children adored him. His business colleagues respected him, all depending somewhat on his skills and savoir faire. And me? Well, there was nothing better than to have a friendly tete a tete with him over a jar in the Fox and Goose. It was always refreshing to get things off my chest.
All proceeded in such a vein for several years. Then, one day, George did something quite extraordinary - out of the blue, as it were. It was a wicked act deliberately designed to create the greatest possible hurt to us all. For no good reason, he simply killed himself.

(published 'Purple Patch' 1991)


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