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Falling Through

Thomas A Johnson

'What..........'

Part 1: Born to Be.

1. A Penis is Egg Shaped In which the `narrator' forgets to introduce himself correctly, tells several childish lies and commits at least one completely pointless murder. Old Colonel Fuckwit was dying. (Note: Whereas all characters in this document are entirely real, I would like to make it clear that all names have been changed in order to protect life liberty and freedom from that tapeworm of humanity - the predatory lawyer.) As I said, the Colonel was dying. So the word came to me as I prepared to rise, one fine summer afternoon. The end of an era it seemed then. Colonel Fuckwit dead, the concept was unthinkable. How could the world continue, unregarding in its tracks? Surely hurricanes must rage, volcanoes erupt, toilets block themselves. But no! Glancing from my exclusive window I could plainly see that the world was unaffected by this earth shattering news. In fact, almost immediately below me, I could see two large policemen mugging a little old black lady, just as if this were any normal day in the Borough of Kensington. Reading further in the rather elongated telegram which had so unexpectedly marred the pristine surface of my breakfast tray, I felt bafflement piling upon my original astonishment, piling in turn upon the toast and marmalade which I had absent-mindedly ingested whilst perusing this extraordinary communication. I found that I had, for reasons then -and now - unknown to me, been summoned to the Colonel's residence - somewhere in dark and dismal Hampshire - in order to record for posterity the last words of the great man. As the world knows (or knew then, at any rate) I am no writer, merely an ordinary man of action, who, solely by my own efforts has (I should say had) become both incredibly famous and obscenely rich. Reading to the end, I noticed two further items of interest. Firstly: the telegram was unsigned. Or at least was signed only by the letters 'XXXX' which, to me, at any rate, amounts to the same thing. Secondly: The time of transmission stamped upon it showed that it had taken a mere seven hours to reach me - something of a record for British Telecom I believe. Pausing only a few minutes to contemplate the matter, I rang

on the sheer weight of its pig-iron body shell to overload its crude. A one legged dwarf who tended to be rather hard of thinking. I stopped for a moment to request directions from a decidedly retarded individual who could only have been a village idiot or a stockbroker. This is no grossly over-rated German car relying. green trousers and my favourite cobra hide underwear. Intending to be correctly dressed for any eventuality. I took a minute to restore the front of my vehicle to its normal gleaming state. turbo-charged. he was with me in a matter of hours. I will permit the reader to commit entirely within the confines of his (or her) own imagination.for my valet. like a BMW. two seat plus dickey plus sauna. whatever) Road in my famous. but appeared to become discouraged after I pressed one of the 'Bond' buttons on the control panel. I requested black tie. approaching the small and unpleasant village of Shitehawk. so merely triggered the rear cameras for later perusal. titanium alloy. Having spent almost two further hours attempting to follow this loon's instructions. Glimp. *********************** Kicking the corpse into the roadside ditch.) . ********************** Let us now have a small interval for a tiny touch of graphically described violence. which. but extremely light. in fact. By eight o'clock that evening I was shattering the speed limit along the Great North (East. A small. Or. *********************** Much as I would have liked to stop and watch the fire. relying purely on the natural stupidity of the neo-Nazi mind to which its advertising is designed to appeal. I eventually located the Colonel's mansion. West. it is also armour plated in a rather expensive. I felt a certain sense of urgency. thus giving a vague imitation of a smooth ride. ugly police car attempted to follow me for a while. like a Mercedes. over done. tractor style suspension. with incredible generosity. custom built. red shirt. South. for any connoisseurs of the automobile who may happen to read this masterpiece. roadster. (Incidentally. Some time later. It was. less than one hundred yards away from the location of my original halt and I was pleased to observe that the obnoxious fellow whom I had previously questioned had failed to remove himself from the scene by the time I returned.

(At least.) From the rear door. unconfirmed rumour as a contrast to the absolute accuracy of the rest of this narrative. I was told .should anyone come asking. A comfortable two up. I offer it as mere. two down and three sideways dwelling in the ever popular sixties prefab shithouse style.years later . . without even referring to the infamous and potentially lethal Volkswagen/Porsche suspension design. I proceeded. I managed to get my elongated. after only a few minutes hammering.Having got that off my mind. indeed my previous self . there was an incredible view consisting mainly of an extremely large and equally decrepit garden shed.Knackers Yard & Scrap Dealer (and Sons)'. believed by some to be the lost and legendary 'Charlie . For the moment. this was to come later. the door was opened by the Colonel's ancient manservant. I say appeared because the whole thing was so covered in vines and corrosion that it might equally have been a giant chicken laying the world's most uncomfortable egg. that is what it would be in the arcane language of an Estate Agent. ************************ As I said. Septicaemia Scrotum. From the attic window. ********************* After a considerable amount of backing and filling. The English translation should read: about a hundred square yards of rot and debris. This was something which I had neither the time or inclination to verify for myself . sixteen-cylinder in-line bonnet through the rusting main gateway and onto the rather short curving weed and gravel drive.being by then a considerably different person who had almost certainly never heard of either the Colonel . it was surrounded by acres of beautifully maintained rolling parkland.that it was possible to see (by leaning out at a dangerous angle over the slipping tiles) a strange and exotic collection of buildings. Slewing to a halt in the traditional shower of loose gravel and dog shit. as I was to find later. This was held erect solely by the fact that it leant against what appeared to be a life size statue of a dinosaur mating with the mangled remains of a steam-driven combine harvester. with no further delay to Maison Fuckwit. soon to be notorious. I took my first good look at the.or. residence.

Holding open the door with one hand. his other fumbling in the dank recesses of his sagging trousers.(Remember that . as history. If I was being paid by the word. Mainly because of the goat. Muttering something under his breath.nineteen-twenty-something . you would find that. as so many authors were in the past.even when the Colonel was living under a flat stone in the depths of the Congo . every newspaper in the world. *********************** By the time I had removed my walrus-hide driving coat. that something must be seriously amiss in this household. (note: all descriptions are liable to change without notice. further doors. While to the right only one entrance mars the gleaming expanse of rotting plaster. I assumed he would be lurking in some noisome den in the nether regions of the house. the house appears to be divided into two sections by this corridor.A perfect example of the perils of excessive masturbation. Under normal circumstances . A mishap from which I am afraid they never entirely recovered. Scrotum was almost blind. he immediately turned his back to me and began to shamble towards the rear of the house. is a glass panelled exit to the back garden.) it was as difficult to get past Scrotum as it is to extract a factual statement from a politician. which runs from the main entrance. panelled in some exotic wood .that is to say.doing a Dickens we used to call it.) Scrotum had vanished. far into the distance to a dim square of light which. for certain. presumably. To the left are two. *********************** Time now for a little more of the pointless descriptive stuff. and so promptly forgot him until such time as some unexpected turn of the plot . geography and even physics mutate endlessly once we enter the recesses of the Colonel's mind. I knew then. or maybe seven.) Regardless: at this particular moment. he spat copiously on my new gorilla-hide shoes. just like them. I could churn out this drivel by the yard . (treated with the oil of the Whooping Crane to render it supple. which I took to be an invitation to enter.a minor scandal in the gutter press . if I remember correctly. hunchbacked and had a fine crop of warts on every visible portion of his grimy and unappetising flesh.like substance.

sunk deeply into a two foot thick pile of feather mattresses. in a miasma of stale urine. yellowing figure of the Colonel. In the bed. 'Extra Foul Navy Shag' tobacco and Liberian camel cheese. almost the size of a small mastiff whatever that is). I would have taken him for a man well past his century. apart from the ubiquitous spiders (some. There was no sign of the Colonel in any of the ground floor rooms. Nor.might require his reappearance. from whence (what style. as I was to find out later. the old. ********************* Opening one last door .) I found that on this small level area stood a large and ancient four-poster bed. still cunning. Deep behind those fading eyes. idiot. lay the shrivelled.a rather ornate plywood affair which I had carelessly forgotten to describe earlier .revealed a flight of crumbling cardboard stairs which led upwards (why not?) into almost impenetrable gloom. what grammatical wossname!) they presumably continued upwards at an angle which was out of sight from where I stood in the doorway below. brain had conceived a far more ambitious plan. As a matter of fact. 1952). Removing from my pocket a combination torch and nutcrusher (Albanian secret police issue. . the only signs of life were a family of rather distressed looking rats and a lone stuffed armadillo which had been painted in a rather impressive purple tartan. his once sturdy body now no more than skin and bones. almost blocking all access to the upper floors.) Creeping cautiously up. either. (the stairs of course. Certainly he appeared incapable of ever making it into the next one. The light revealed that the steps led to a kind of halflanding. when I think about it. (Doesn't make much sense to me. I peered into the darkness. Forget the style comment. ********************** Withered almost beyond belief. I noted in passing. did he wish to.

greeting him by the title by which he had first introduced himself to me.followed by Colonel Colonel.2. . meaning .) had inadvertently precipitated the original riot. He achieved this by the simple process of emitting a resounding fart whilst making use of the Sultan's famous gold inlaid bathtub. I remember that meeting only too well. having fulfilled the advanced senility requirements before the Army Board at the incredibly early age of thirty-seven. actually. since I never knew him to use his rank in any way. Eternal.followed by Major Colonel . ********************* Many years later. his given name and not a military rank. Location: the small (soon to be smaller) town of Gladys in the late unlamented province of Scum in what was later to become the 'Glorious and Eternal Revolutionary Republic of Mwetafatereland'.(Lieutenant Colonel . Apparently the Colonel . or 'Dictator'. I suspect he was never entirely aware of this however. All that glistens is not Mylar.about five minutes longer than the life of the 'President'.as it generally does in these cases . at the time when we first met. already a Brigadier General. one of his old cronies told me that he had never been the same since the days of the Algoramian uprising. He was. shades of Catch 22 there. This event reduced visibility in the already steamy room to a matter of inches. It was in the summer of forty-seven. In fact I have often wished that it could be conveniently forgotten. *********************** It was years later that I discovered that 'Colonel' was.then a Lieutenant . or whatever the power-crazed lunatic cares to call himself. in fact. This merely made the host of barely clad young beauties who were attending his ablutions giggle and pour more water onto the heated stones which the Sultan had recently had installed after making an association (possibly justified) between Swedish saunas and Swedish pornography. In which we fail to recover the situation and sail ever closer to the realms of cheap fantasy. no offence. or 'Servant of the People'. 'Colonel!' I cried.

********************** Unfortunately, all concerned were completely unaware of several hundred unofficial observers. These, peering uncomfortably through several narrow ventilation slits built into the bathhouse wall, were members of a particularly fanatic and notoriously ferocious sect. They were doubly incensed, not just because of the implied blasphemy but because they had collectively delayed their annual pilgrimage to Mecca for a mere chance of seeing the white devil's wedding tackle. *********************** In the interests of research, I was to later consume many large Gins at the expense of the aforementioned old buffoon and others of his ilk. These various interviews were conducted in the interests of truth, and verified (or, occasionally, completely contradicted) several of the more unlikely tales which the Colonel himself had related to me during the many years of our acquaintance. This dedicated search for the real facts behind the distortions of historians and politicians, has left me with a legacy of recurring bouts of malaria, a damaged liver and a certain incurable condition in the groin area. I mention this merely in order to confound those ignorant critics (surely a tautology there) who have accused me of tampering with the truth in certain of my earlier publications. ********************** Picture me then, at the beginning of this project, the very picture of rude health. Filled to the brim with youthful enthusiasm (or, at least, a reasonable facsimile thereof) and optimism. Prepared, as I thought, for whatever an ungrateful world might produce to ruffle the equilibrium of my days. In this mood, then, I greeted my old friend and enemy. Enemy I say indeed, for it was not always, or even often, that the Colonel and I found ourselves upon the same side in whatever conflict we currently perceived the maximum chance of profit. I greeted, as I said, the Colonel in this spirit of amicable neutrality, then waited patiently for some acknowledgement. A feeble tremor passed through the Colonel's wasted frame as he slowly opened his pale blue, psychotic eyes. Then, barely audible, mainly incoherent and mixed randomly with various farts, belches and other bodily noises of rather more dubious origins, the Colonel spoke..........

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long forgotten imaginings . Unrelated fragments.perched for the moment on some precarious ledge waiting only for their fall to continue.merged with the real and the unreal. I suspect that when you die. ********************** The Colonel. perhaps from other potential Colonels with other lives lived.3. Other ways of seeing the world. Fifteen Men up a Dead Man's Arse. you fall backwards through your life. Already partly dead. stretched and blended in . perhaps once half heard though a haze of opium in some Abyssinian brothel . . Stray tales. only to pause part way . then.on a train to nowhere. This explains why so many of the old have no recollection of recent events.tales told in a thousand wombs. life and death. glimpsed in books or magazines over a passing shoulder . is falling. His memories escaping him in reverse order. Except that like most of us. Leakage. In which it is discovered that pendulums swing backwards and forwards as well as from side to side. long lifetime. Memories of memories of memories. All of the details spun out and filtered throughout a long. Eventually. you hit that first and final event: conception. reliving and forgetting all of your experience in reverse order. Uncontrolled loops and recycling. they have begun the long fall. mind wiped clean. You are then reincarnated as yourself to begin the endless cycle of your birth. as he falls he tumbles. Shards of shattered dreams.

It is. with the help of scarcely more than a hint or two. those who can count above ten without requiring the use of someone else's hand.) Filtered through the exceptionally sensitive and highly trained decoding mechanism of my own nervous system. The sheer concentration constantly required to conceal this numerical handicap from his fellow officers was. incomprehensible to anyone of lesser intelligence . in full military usage.) since time immemorial. claimed the Colonel.thus giving access to subconscious as well as conscious memories) facial expressions. the primary cause of his early baldness. I expand and edit this into the beautifully written and coherent manuscript which you are about to read. since the majority of the officer class fail to reach a count of three with any degree of reliability. concealed and compressed into a series of seemingly trivial statements. to my own knowledge. In fact. perhaps we reveal a little of our more abstruse knowledge to the peasantry. in terms of the average military mind. however. I have known several troopers capable of reaching the early twenties when counting.) This.each sentence containing a vast quantity of information. the full meaning of each of the Colonel's statements emerges through my optic nerves as streaks and splatters of amber light.) (I would here like to state that I do not entirely subscribe to the commonly held view that the entire history of the military is the search for detached counting appliances for the numerically handicapped.4. about three days. (And. by parts of other bodies also. This I transcribe in an incredibly compact and subtle shorthand of my own devising. Laughs Last. Indeed. is merely another example of his phenomenal ability in his chosen career. I have heard the Colonel himself pronounce the word thirteen. by certain voluntary (not to mention involuntary . as it is. In Which we tend to wander from the subject a little. with reasonable accuracy and no more than the normal desire to dismember anyone present. in fact. . a battle language. Regardless of how this language developed. He Who Laughs Last. (or. all of you. Later. The language used by the Colonel for these reminiscences is encrypted . Indeed it may be modified by physical motion of all parts of the body. it should suffice to say that one word may suffice to describe an entire episode modified. of course. or then again.that is to say. passed down through various elite corps (That is to say.

One day I may render into prose the Colonel's full account of this episode. I judge that the time is not yet ripe for this undertaking. among others . This plan involved the infiltration . (and indeed find it written so in my journal for the period in question) that I was engaged at the time in an arms deal in the small town of Chicago. considerably less.who have never encountered the name. Others. Yo Ho Ho and a Rottle of Bum. Many of the Colonel's recollections have no counterpart within my own memories. I recall as having happened at different times. As an example. of course.since verified by several apparently reliable sources . indeed upon a project so bizarre that it could almost have been a product of the infamous CIA unintelligence agency. This was. In which it should become apparent to even the most obtuse that the world is both far more. at that time. However. complicated than they could ever imagine.he and I were working together at that time. before the establishment of that entity known as the Unified pSychotic America which has so successfully rendered the entire continent unfit for human habitation. the Emperor Chiu Feng was. Working. I would like to give you (doesn't that sound horribly American?) two conflicting versions of events from the time of the first Transylvanian uprising. In the account given by the Colonel . This. was just south of the border of the Canadian Republic. I have reason to believe that a rather cut down version of the tale . briefly spawned during those unpleasant events in which I so clearly remember participating. ********************** I am convinced. and simultaneously.5.probably the majority . or to different people. for those . since some of the main protagonists remain alive. Certain occurrences which have burned themselves indelibly into my own recollections appear to have no counterpart in the Colonel's version of history.of a concealed but expanding domain deep within the largely unexplored rain forests of the Sahara. considering adding this to his possessions in the Farthest East.by the Colonel and myself. (For anyone who may be seriously interested in these events. This following an unexplained gas attack on the (extremely) free city of Tripoli. As some of you may recall. in different places.

This should be expected. Before you give credence to their pathetic maunderings. entirely denying its existence.to have so often stood face to face with his enemy in so many diverse locations and circumstances. whilst rendering all else down to the stature of a mere footnote. shorn of extraneous noises and pointless repetitions.was recorded in the year of nineteen seventy-seven or thereabouts by a musical group calling themselves `Front End Loader' possibly a rather vicious allusion to the Emir's third wife. Professional historians. as their main function seems to be to consistently augment their own status by magnifying those events with which they may have had some obscure connection. may openly sneer at this account.) ************************ Despite these minor inconsistencies. Not to mention his having taken part on so many different sides in the majority of these conflicts. Or. and other contrivers of lies and propaganda. .as the Colonel very definitely can . ask yourself who amongst them can lay claim . of course. this narrative contains an account of the history of certain sections of the Twentieth Century (plus at least some of the sleazier parts of the Nineteenth) at least as accurate as any other. I feel sure that.

just possibly. The shipment is late. the only shade is to be found under the raised end of the half buried water tank. Where do all the flies come from? What can they find here to eat? Once.the others.) By night I freeze . broken and buried beneath the drifting sands. With rare exceptions.frayed edges. More things live here than you would think. Drinking his sweat. He apparently had on a black shirt.me. Also labels on canned food .remember to turn your boots upside down in the mornings and tap the soles frighten out any resident scorpion. A continuous covering of flies. This is my most optimistic appraisal of the situation. which I .mostly beans . I think the combination of heat and boredom is driving me rapidly crazy. another way out. my first time in a desert. Unidentifiable stains or burns . insects. the only food is the beans. Must have been thousands. lizards. Closer. Nothing else to look at beyond an old. EXPEDITIONS AND EXPLOSIONS. Not surprising many desert peoples cover themselves from head to foot. This rusting iron cylinder poised at a precarious angle on two remaining legs . long abandoned novel faded ink .best part of a year's supply by my count. I could see that he had no shirt at all. even mammals . By day I cook (not food .front cover and many pages missing.6.mostly identical . Snakes. I saw a man in the distance.shifting position as the sun shifts the shadow. Could never be bothered to find out. Desert night . In which the Colonel finds another way in and. THE DESERT Part I EXPOSITIONS. Tiny sounds skitterings in the darkness. Throughout the day. Hour after tedious hour .only one inadequate frayed blanket. I know by heart every flaw and rivet on its corroded underside. Even the deepest shade is oven hot. presumably.all bury themselves away from the sun.cold creeps into the bones . Is a scorpion an insect? Suspect it is more closely related to the spiders.

Every minute sound seemed to jerk me awake . I don't think I fully understood that until today. almost total. The blast shook the ground. just as the elevators went down for the next dive. Half way through the short desert twilight. and in the absence of a moon. Then. Whap! It was there. There is no toilet paper and I dare not use my dwindling supply of rusty. stationary in the air. I stink.. Nose up at an incredible angle. The mind-numbing roar of two Alvis Leonides six hundred and fifty horsepower each.it was that low. No more than fifty feet of clearance. A tiny puff of smoke from the starboard engine.. living. Intense white. There was no prior warning. Props screaming in supersonic agony as the revs built. I could die out here. No time even to throw myself flat and it was over. fading through yellow to a dull reddish orange and back to what now seemed full night. By the time my eyes had recovered from the flash. The world lit up. Above the dune to the north. Then it was clear . clawing at the air. An old Twin Pioneer. Full throttle and climbing. I felt relieved of any need to investigate the disaster.my skin crawls. Possessing no light. I rolled back under the tank. Something warned me of what was to come. It seemed . I scrambled out of my meagre shade in time to see it pull up the side of the next dune. There is an ancient paraffin stove. The entire tank resonated like an immense drum. A thin lick of flame an instant later. I registered a minor sandstorm in its wake . *********************** I saw an aeroplane. It seemed endless minutes before the debris ceased to patter down. silence. for an endless period before the crest. humans since I arrived. The wind of its passing whipped me with razor-edged particles. Nevertheless. It seemed to hang. I heat it by leaving the can in the sun for half an hour or so. The normal.just barely. I am certain that the blanket is infested with some variety of minuscule vermin.. I use the empty cans for water and to dig holes to shit in. Almost vertically.detest. night had indeed fallen. so it seemed. I slept badly that night. it had nosed over and was coming straight at me.usually from the depths of a fresh nightmare. but no fuel for it. Before I could react. mosquito larvae filled water for washing. I itch . Those immense slats out. First proof of other.

neither was there any sign of the expected fragments of wreckage around my temporary home. I found myself climbing the steep face of the southern dune. the dune sank away to the south as clean and smooth as if nothing whatsoever had occurred. Acronyms everywhere. All this with the utmost caution and very little fear of detection. . You know the sort. the Colonel could have taken ship to any port of his choice at the edge of the desert. he will soon grow out of it. The following morning. Certainly I had heard at least one large fragment strike the tank and slide to the ground within a very short distance of my cowering head.that I lay shivering for hours between each tiny segment of sleep. ********************** It is supposed to be one of those high-tech cutting-edge missions. Still. as soon as there was enough light to see more than a couple of yards. In the time it has taken to set up this mission. 'Low Orbital Insertion' they call it. at this stage in his life. From the crest. not to the simplicity of the knife or sword. Ninety percent of potential agents fail at some stage. The necessary training takes months. If he survives. and made his way slowly and indirectly to his destination. Needless to say. Most people now know that 'Intelligence' equals stupidity and that 'Security' equates to paranoia. ************************* So .in a nutshell . Everybody and his brother has some mad idea they want to try out on you. learned the local language. Nothing properly tested. but to 'ludicrously overcomplicated'. . He has already discovered that the military tend to use certain words to mean something completely at odds with their definitions as understood by normal humans. purchased a camel. In this case this leaves a field of potential suicide jockeys to the number of exactly one. Nothing too abnormal here at the trailing years of the century.(nut being the appropriate word here): Phase one. the Colonel is still inclined to believe this sort of shit. We shall now see that the phrase 'Cutting-edge' relates. Perhaps I should have been surprised to see no trace of the explosion.Boost to low polar orbit with a regular astronaut along to make sure you don't press the wrong buttons at this stage.

And fall. . So you just know that it will all end in tears. Phase seven. Now we are falling for real. And so to Earth. Buffeting starts as friable heat shield burns away unevenly. Then try to remember your lessons while four G pushes at you for several eternities.One more huge bang as drogue pops out at predetermined altitude.Sit there. Head Up Display active now . Phase five.if this one fails there is very little time left to revert to manual. Phase four.first barely noticeable. Over ten G deceleration for several seconds.almost half orbital velocity pissed away in a blaze of expensive chemicals. Not so easy in the best part of a hundred and fifty pounds of space suit plus affiliated hardware.Fall.Frame blows away . (This.we are carrying more ordnance than your average World War Two Platoon.first splitting into two to release the occupant then disintegrating completely into a haze of particles designed to confuse the sophisticated radar which the enemy almost certainly does not have.Pressure sensor pulls chute at less than one thousand feet .these idiots are far too fond of exploding bolts in all directions . . And fall. Phase eight. Then into an improbably small canister at the centre of the contraption. Pull the big red lever.little green pointers show direction to purported landing site.Climb out onto what appears to be a surrealist idea of an old iron bed frame hung about with assorted rocket motors and tanks of highly explosive liquids. Even the techno-freaks admit that this is the tricky bit. Then the pod blows . Phase two. of course.) Phase three. done by some computer somewhere. Phase six. . Could tumble at this point .Even the occasional multi-billionaire has done this bit. while various bumps and clangs resonate through your tiny metal coffin. Strap in.flash into blazing fragments in microseconds. . Fall into the night. and all subsequent time-critical actions are. Digital altitude readout diminishing rapidly. Best not think about the possibilities. Falling free . Wait a while in the nausea of zero gravity. .fuel expired. trying to think cool. . Enormous clang through entire capsule . . Assume classic skydiving position the instructors said. Heat begins to build .Weight comes on as first tenuous layer of atmosphere is entered. . Steer with tiny movements of hands and feet.

and it is gone. One useless stove. Maybe some kind of cheap Korean imitation of the real thing. Supposedly.not particularly clean . an earlier drop had left everything I could possibly need concealed beneath the only landmark in sight . Sure enough. rusty can opener.beans. Thirty seconds to remove the suit and scramble away to a safe distance.barely enough to light the sand a meter away . One small notepad . A dull red glow starts somewhere around the base of the back pack .the thought takes a few days to come through. Then . why the hell could I not have gone there as an employee in the first place . I take inventory of my other resources. More like cans as I remember them from thirty or forty years ago. *************************** And that is when it all started to come apart.traces of khaki paint clinging here and there. The cans appear to be very old.appears to suck in the remainder of the suit to feed itself. the labels subtly wrong. Just the grubby overalls I wore as part of my cover role as a lost mining engineer. A final brightening .pitch dark anyway.water. Once my suit was gone.the water tank. I find a container there but it is not the ultra-modern carbon fibre or titanium drop tank I am expecting. ancient looking. Self destruct is quite impressive in a subdued sort of way. vitamin and mineral enriched ration packs. ours not to reason why etc. Still. beans and more beans.Surely it would have been easier to actually learn that job than all this astronaut shit. It is some kind of rusty old trunk . More like . No supplies. And one.you guessed it . I had nothing. Beans.spreads out to about the size of a football. along with its . Apparently there was some outfit drilling reasonably nearby who would claim me if necessary. Just . No water. Nothing to do now until dawn.************************* No time to hang about surveying the situation . yet in a vaguely familiar way. Come to think of it. A few hundred gallons of . Well thank the Lord for small mercies as they used to say.seen only in its own uncertain light . Inside no sophisticated. I try not to think about the risk of food poisoning. Plus a few sardines and canned cocktail sausages for variety.found in the pocket of my overalls.

Before doing so. I decide to try and work out the quantity remaining. I die when the food and water run out. I trip over some rigid protrusion. After the incident with the aeroplane. No weapons. ************************* The water level in the tank has noticeably lowered since my disastrous arrival. Before I can fall more than a few inches. It is also much hotter. In this wall is a hatch .attached pencil.rather a submarine type of affair with a large central wheel which begins to turn as I lean on it. Not when they could have just put a bullet into me at any time during my training. If I stay. this involves climbing inside. Since the lower end of the tank is buried in the sand. If I go. There seems to be quite a lot of junk hidden under the surface. Unless I can find the drilling rig.especially considering the open hatch. No homing beacon. Today. and incredibly humid. Flakes of rust break away as I wrench it back and forth until it finally moves far enough open to let me insert myself. in this desert. My shoulder crashes into a hard surface. One spurious passport . That is it. It takes me most of the cooler part of the morning to free the hatch. ************************ . Once inside. As I turn towards the lower end. I no longer pretend that this is going to turn out all right. ************************ This time I am fucked and double fucked. the amount of water lost through evaporation each day must be quite phenomenal.it is far too close to be the end of the tank. then I die sooner. Trouble is. since the level of the water is already almost too low to reach by stretching my arm in through the half open hatch in its upper surface. I try to believe that my contact will eventually turn up.ditto. in which I no longer believe. I have a vision of it falling closed behind me. I rush back down to fetch the paraffin stove to wedge into the gap. Surely even the Americans would not expend this amount of time and money just to set me up to die here. In something approaching panic. whatever I do is going to be a disaster. Feeling around. No way out. I will have to do this sooner or later anyway. I find that there is a bulkhead blocking my path . it seems much darker than I would have expected .

Perhaps a ragged hole in the tank through which at least part of my current foul supply will escape. as far under the tank as I can reach. I have filled my stack of empty cans with water in case the worst happens. in the most reliable shadow. there is only one way to find out. The beans are down to the last dozen or so cans. so what have I got to lose? . Perhaps the other half is filled with some ancient supply of fuel or other poisonous liquid. What lies beyond the hatch? Perhaps a thousand gallons of clear water. In the end. They stand in a rather pathetic row.I am in a state of total indecision.

) From this . and one to which I.no more than a few minutes away . through to a well equipped brothel.rather more than . Though I have never been able to locate with any degree of precision. as I had suspected. After quite some time and effort. that somehow the Colonel managed to take this vital means of recreation with him into death. authentically decorated and equipped in the late Edwardian manner. I finally manage to locate one of the Colonel's hidden doors. have made use .minor paradise. Since the old man finally departed this Earth. indeed. I was able to return to my task mentally and physically refreshed and rested. A Bird in the Hand Should be Taken Into the Bushes. I make my way past his (rather precariously balanced) bed and explore the upper regions of the house. he seems to rarely.on almost every one of his far flung campaigns. In which our hero introduces at least the hint of some sex. if ever.) I feel now. This in turn hidden at the end of a corridor apparently leading only to an abandoned toilet. Strangely enough. he appears to have taken it with him through most of his adult life. in order to keep the average male reader happy. As. as the last period in history in which anything resembling real style was current. myself feel a certain attraction. I have searched for this haven in almost every major city of the Northern Hemisphere. in true traditional fashion. for it seems to have been available . The entrance to the corridor being behind the classic revolving bookcase in the secret library behind the walk-in wall safe. (and even in some of the less depressing of the barbaric Southern. ********************** The final door leads. behind a painting so dull it almost compels the eye away. I gathered at the time that the Colonel had been a regular patron since the founding of the establishment. the actual point where it emerges into the outside world. at the back of a wardrobe. During those short intervals when the Colonel falls into the fragile sleep of the very old.7. (always a favourite period for the Colonel. Cunningly concealed. as the end of my own life rapidly approaches.

as you will see. . He being. obsessed with the memory of some long lost love among the swamps and rain forests of West Africa.of this amenity himself.

Here. though his terror still impels him to drive far faster than he normally would. At this point. were anyone interested enough to look for it. In fact there are good points to this. Two of the passengers are aware that this combination of driver and vehicle have made the return trip at least once before and the vehicle. one hundred miles east of Timbuktu. Horizons dance in the heated air. Unfortunately. the driver protecting himself from protruding springs with a kapok cushion purchased in Atakpame on the first stage of the journey north. it is almost certain that no one would be.8. is probably capable of making it at least once more despite its advanced state of disrepair. as usual. Dust billows high into the air as the ageing Toyota hammers its way across the laterite. THE DESERT Part II EXPLANATIONS & COMPLICATIONS In which someone more or less resembling the Colonel appears at least twice and several minor characters wind up more or less dead. Of the other two occupants. he is having some difficulty in remembering his own name. Satellite surveillance might or might not show up the mile long beacon of the car's passage. at least. The bad news is that they are slowly bearing away . The plastic seats are torn in several places. the occasional patch of poor scrub vanishing and then reappearing through the afternoon turbulence. as the car tends to float over the corrugations. who has been regularly sublimating his fear in a coke bottle filled with palm wine. ********************** Dust seeps into the vehicle through badly fitting windows and through widening gaps in the corroded floor pan. Black smoke from the recently welded exhaust merges indivisibly with the red dust thrown up by the treadless tyres. this happens to be the driver. thus sustaining far less damage than it would at lower speeds. the rear end twitches as worn spring shackles fail to hold the axle in line. one at least has been frankly terrified for the entire duration of the trip. Every time the car hits a larger than usual rut.

She makes no mention of it to the others because she has long ago abandoned even the slightest control over her own destiny. It could be said that he loves her. her mind would by now have been permanently fuddled by clinically administered drugs or shock treatment. A rusting water tank. The majority of the human race would probably consider her insane. apparently half buried in the dusty soil. have stained one end a. Viscous fluids. there are. a patched and faded canvas tent has been pitched between two of the larger palms. something . as if to distance herself as much as possible from the other rear seat passenger. curiously out of place. a few faded palms mark the site of a buried oasis. is focused almost entirely on the man in front of her. It might seem obvious that this is to gain whatever benefit there may be in their meagre shade. something happened. the girl is curled up against the door. *********************** Some thirty miles north east. oozing slowly from a split connection.from the chain of half buried oil drums that are the only guide to what passes on maps as a major highway. *********************** To the man in the front seat. equally. Such external awareness as she possesses. What he actually loves is what she represents in terms of his own peculiar aims. Then. A complex network of tubing has been welded around the visible half. she is barely aware of his existence. In fact. she is possibly the most valuable person in the world. He would love a frog. if it offered the same potential for the success of his endeavours. other reasons. alone. The man in the back is the reason for the driver's terror. *********************** In the Toyota. bright green. is aware of their deviation from the marked route. shows signs of recent work. and this is what he himself would claim were anyone to ask his opinion. in his fashion. In many parts of the world. Months ago he remembers taking this same passenger on one of the previous trips into Mali. however. Almost invisible at any distance. *********************** She.

has he not always taken pride in his ability to tell one 'yovo'. his body burnt almost beyond recognition. fluids leaking irreplaceably into the dust from his shattered torso. As his eyes return to the forward view. On the other hand. and sips again from his. A cluster of small insects are hovering around a rotting pipe that protrudes from the ground near the water tank. momentarily. He was dead. one handed. The reef of rock is not actually very high. A steady stream of moisture laden air is emitted from its curved end. Dead in the desert. Neither is there any sign of life elsewhere around the oasis. freeing one hand. Being a careful observer. with the exception of the ubiquitous vultures and two or three spindly goats.he has somehow forgotten even as he tries to remember. he tugs hard. from another. and a good Christian. identify the hum as that of a 'desert cooler'. causing the insects to dance frantically to maintain their relative positions. after all. a simple air conditioner that relies on the evaporation of water. *************************** As the driver removes his right hand from the recess beneath the dash. Even under these circumstances. had the vehicle not been changing direction. in talk. clutches at the reassuring fetish concealed beneath the dash. Should he care to put his head sufficiently close. sadly depleted source of false courage. could have . at the wheel. from the wheel. he might. He shivers again and. one white man. in the villages. by now. though many feet have left a distinct trail to its entrance. a slightly lower speed. ************************** The tent itself is empty. ********************* The driver shudders. his fingers snag on some metallic protrusion. this man. and could have been negotiated safely even at their current speed. combined with less worn tyres. although he has heard of such things. A careful observer would possibly notice a faint humming sound near this outlet. For a second or two he looks down as his hand comes free. At first he was not sure. he might deduce from this that the oasis is not quite as dry as it appears. is he not a man of the city. perhaps.

'We're on. Had there been no luggage stored behind his feet. *************************** The tent is. the dingy canvas appears a dull. ************************* The front passenger has the first.. as the man next to him is flung out through the suddenly open door. even while the main bulk of him falls toward the open door.. From the inside. ************************** Inside the bunker. The left rear wheel begins to rise.meant no more than a bent track rod.' He points at one of the screens. The steering wheel spins viciously. the faint desert breezes fail to touch the interior. The driver's right foot is still hard down on the accelerator pedal. 'Time. Even with the flaps tied back. death. its occupants thrown in the other direction as the metal rims begin to bite into the soft rock. As it is. ************************* The cheap. it is barely possible that he might have been thrown completely clear. but it is also. The offside wheel hits first. 'Time. spinning. The vehicle slews wildly to the left. his white coat neatly buttoned. incredibly. the white man laughs suddenly. It is almost too hot to touch. even where the shadow of one of the palms lies across one side. worn metal of the nearside front door latch bursts under the sudden load. oppressive orange. bursting the tyre instantly and forcing the steering still further in the wrong direction. Apparently intent on the bank of monitors against the far wall. apparently. and the quickest. after the searing light outside. is attempting to lecture his protégé on the nature of the universe. It seems dim.' There is a certain awe in his voice. She is not listening. almost as if the word has just invented itself for his benefit. the Togolaise scientist. empty. breaking two of the driver's fingers. far hotter than the air outside.' he says slowly. A faint smell of machine oil emanates from a sealed metal hatch set into the ground near the central pole. both his legs break an instant before his skull is shattered against the .

her face for the first time showing signs of animation. designed to keep grease in and dust out of the sliding splines on the shaft. who throws herself on him. despite its lack of flexibility after years of tropical heat. but after the first two inches. the man in the lab coat is stopped by the girl. His corpse. remains tied to the car by the straps of his own baggage. does not part instantly.like. ************************* The background hum of the generator suddenly increases in pitch. still staring at the screens. while the European. . Surprisingly. Initially the gap widens rapidly. before it finally tears across.unforgiving rock. as the fatal orange bloom spreads across the face of the screen. Grabbing for the main control. the weakened floor pan splits transversely immediately in front of the fuel tank. All of this in seconds as the two Africans struggle against the console. As the car rolls. The car is now held together solely by the roof panel and the thin metal cap. Chaos spreads across the entire bank of monitors as the lights dim. it still retains sufficient strength to bend the metal outlet pipe on the tank. Ahab . begins to laugh. The plastic fuel pipe. the prop shaft comes to the limit of its permitted extension.

One day he gets this moron bricklayer in with a case of the haemorrhoids. *********************** In spite of the oversized dong. Charlie is not fussy. and looks in other directions. While the guys trousers is down (down even further than the usual builder's fashion. Tempus Fuckit. Anyway. and a local into his own balls. he has the brickie anaesthetised. Or perhaps not? So the there was that miserable bastard Charlie Drew. Getting ready for that second chance which he is sure is just around the corner.) Charlie notices that the prick is about two sizes bigger than his own. Teaches himself transplant techniques never before seen . which makes it into the record books on account of it using the worlds largest coffin .the patient having only come in with a throat infection. animal is already spoken for. he walks with great difficulty. An excursion into the colourful highways and byways of the Colonel's somewhat flaky subconscious. Quick as a flash. So after the operation. he starts to practice surgery on himself. for more than one reason.or even imagined in some cases. Before the bandages come off. Bored out of his mind.after the quickest double transplant plus pile removal in the history of the universe . he is involved in a very messy accident. This is when the fatal inspiration strikes. Charlie has just about decided to move on. So he barely scrapes through his finals at St. . So there is no come back on Charlie. Always wanted to be a Surgeon but couldn't make the grade. who is walking very careful for a while. After the funeral. This time he figures there could be some trouble . Yorkshire. Half an hour later . which includes a loaded ready-mix cement truck.Charlie decides to relax a bit. This in spite of him blowing half the examiners and his father bribing the rest.also a heavy duty crane .9.the unfortunate patient is pushed out into the street. that is. when he gets another punter with an even bigger knob. Needless to say that every. Guys and winds up as a GP in Arsehole. even slightly attractive. Bandaged from knees to nipples.Yorkshire women being mostly built like the proverbial brick shithouse and generally about as exciting. Also he is keeping his legs as far apart as possible. but the men is worse than the women. Charlie's love life is not doing so good .

Charlie gets a copy of what purports to be the secret map and decides to steal this item. The shock to the ego being sufficient to suppress all such tendencies for some time.Charlie is losing count and the odds is getting worse every time . ********************** Either Charlie loses his nerve a little and takes the wrong turning in the dark. he decides it is ready and gets out his scalpels. From some connection in the business.Charlie heads for the USA.he packs his bags and leaves . He has worked out some way of cloning body parts without needing to grow the whole body. He is a badly disappointed man by the time he hears of the old rumour about the Smithsonian Institute. In any case his technique is so good that it clones anyway and he has it growing in some special tank in his kitchen. there should be at least some huge pricks also. it starts to take over. This is only used as a last resort in the case of an agent who shows signs of acting like a human being. When it reaches about eighteen inches in length. This sort of thing does not happen so often to agents as they have been carefully selected and trained to have all the mental ability of a rabid cockroach. it don't stop growing.whose name temporarily evades me . .cellar. Either way. the object he brings out with him is not exactly what he thinks it is. or the map is a fake.no forwarding address. they donate this object to the Smithsonian where it is kept hidden away except for special private viewings. with dicks the size of their brains. as it gets bigger. He reasons that in a country of huge arses. So most of the time this legendary relic just gathers dust in some hidden sub .plus two or three more transplants .had a shlong down to his knees. So when the cops finally burn him down. The story goes that some old-time bank robber . Turns out that the original must have belonged to some kind of whale or something. Anyway. Trouble is. These are normally only for CIA agents. ********************** After a few stints as a locum in some of the less savoury European capitals .sub .

I never see Charlie again. but a few years later I hear that he has died. Hitting the bottle hard and afraid by now to go out in the daytime.Charlie is just this huge prick with a little man attached at the back end. He is not at all the man he used to be. . I bump into him one time and he is appearing in some travelling show. This thing has some pretty unnatural urges. what with having to find somewhere to stay safely and to make a living and all that stuff. and Charlie is dragged around after them. Apparently he has drowned while attempting to rape the killer whale at some sleazy disney near Miami. Also by now he needs a wheelbarrow to move at all. He is having a very hard time at this point.

half out of the open drain. I could not quite pin down what was. The United States compound was. that both the Russian and the Libyan embassies were completely untouched. 'Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. ********************** The port was useless. My mind drifted elsewhere.' I knew that what I was hearing was not real. THE DESERT Part III IMPLICATIONS & EXPURGATIONS In which the Colonel sets the scene but noticeably fails to provide either plot or motive and eventually fades away in a flurry of self indulgence. victims of the earlier nerve gas attack. 'A stitch in time saves nine. Heading north. though I could no longer remember why. Over the roofs of the compound to the south. *********************** Many of the cars were occupied by corpses. the Americans had completely missed their intended targets. no more than a . 'Time and tide wait for no man. just as the shelling restarted. As usual. Perhaps one of the little Cessnas at the flying club would still be intact. I thought. I stole one of the ubiquitous. His death had been as mean and stupid as his life.' Echoed from some dusty corner. 'Time' the Professor was saying. The tiny engine began to misfire as I wove my way through the stalled traffic on Route Atakpame. and ancient. I could still see the CIA man. His mouth full of shit. It finally expired on the hill before the peace monument. naturally. dying. I knew that only too well. just like in life. evaporating like spilled petrol at the first sign of trouble. I left the corpse where it was. The whores had long since vanished. On the other hand. I knew that I had to get back to Mali.' I seemed to hear. the flames from the burning hotel.10. Very symbolic. I had noticed as I rode past. half in. actually. French mopeds from a deserted compound.

waste areas behind the neat rows of dwellings. two destroyers collided and the shelling of the city eased as they turned their weapons on each other. their lucent hides seared by bolts of ice from the cool blue moons that spun strange epicycles from horizon to zenith. I walked on up the hill. I gained a hazy view of the Atlantic over burning Lomé. I lived here once. The buildings. for what seemed like hours. small overripe bananas my hunger fed. Some had obviously been left running and had only stopped when the fuel tanks ran dry. At least one of the American warships appeared to have run aground. While I watched. into the tangled roadside brush. Now they crumbled: ancient burn scars smeared to grey on roofless enclosures almost drowned in sickly vines. just before the grounds of the Palace. Even the unoccupied vehicles still tended to have keys in the ignition. ********************** I walked north in total silence. Later I vomited. had all appeared intact in the failing light. I had reached the Residence du Benin. always inexplicable.crater filled with smouldering rubble. ********************* Hours later I awoke among the ruins of white houses. There was no point in trying to start any of the others until I reached some point where the road was no longer blocked. ********************* Climbing onto the remains of the 'Peace' monument. smooth tarmac roads now less passable than the. Dragons fell blazing from the pitted bronze sky. though deserted. .

. Remember once when I fitted a modern electronic rev counter to one of these. Top speed.really good handling. In top. is that good handling . at the time was a little over ninety miles per hour and was just about as fast in third gear as in top. if we are sufficiently alert. This extra power where it is needed.a few thou off the head here.in 1955. As those of you who know about these things may have already realised. The downside. only to watch as it disassembled itself . gives us a top speed approaching a hundred and ten. In which we discover. On this particular machine this begins at around sixty miles per hour . a little porting and polishing there . This meant only three really useful gears. The old Norton Dominator has a serious vibration problem at certain engine speeds. About as pointless as the supernumerary fifth gear with which most modern cars seem to be infected. this one is no longer standard.pieces showering onto the road . Tempus Even More Fuckit.in the first three gears.within five minutes of starting the engine. not something just slightly better than the mediocre which so many people seem to have been conditioned to accept as normal demands a constant frame geometry.so he is cruising at between eighty and ninety where it all smooths out nicely. Originally these bikes were rather under-geared. instead of struggling along at low revs. By lowering the final drive ratio with a custom made rear wheel sprocket.the last of the magneto ignition models . as tested. however. When it was built . especially after the engine had been worked on. the bike is now slower . with fourth being only used on long straight stretches as a kind of overdrive. it was not particularly fast. These particular speeds are not exactly those at which you would expect this vibration with a standard Dominator. that the Colonel's methods are not necessarily comprehensible to the normal human mind. Not bad for a bike which is now over forty years old.but accelerates better . This in turn implies minimal suspension movement in order to keep the angle of the front forks as near the optimum as possible.you know the way to do it.11. All this without losing that legendary Norton Featherbed handling which the Japanese with their grossly overweight (especially at the top end) machines have so signally failed to emulate. the engine is getting well into the maximum power band at ninety.

Means of transport: The words 'black' and 'limousine' should be enough to conjure up a suitable image in the mind of almost any reader. Almost anything American will probably do at a pinch. Bloody hard if the road should happen to have a less perfect surface than this one. each one flowing smoothly into the next. then gradually edging in to clip the grass verge at the apex of the bend. And back again. A series of gentle curves. Occupation: Chasing a Fifties motorcycle across an idealised dream of a Fifties landscape. Anyway.a smooth dance of power. dreary straights. by its very nature. Perhaps a Daimler. It is. Each movement calculated to perfection . No descriptions. suddenly world famous.except perhaps the author's natural desire to turn a rather thin plot into some kind of epic. Armed to the proverbial teeth one would assume. no collars and seriously . Probably no parents . Obviously this state of affairs cannot be permitted to continue. No lethal sudden hairpins. Think in terms of the late Fifties or early Sixties. Probably not a Rolls or Jaguar. no taste. Definitely something that implies a surplus of money combined with a complete absence of taste. Probably the sole reason for their existence.In other words. by motorcycle standards.they are created. with no talent. he has laid down his burden and escaped into this simple paradise. perhaps of four boys. Four standard heavies then. a beautiful road. as and when needed from the raw stuff. superior handling equals a hard ride. No other traffic. You may imagine a Mercedes. you've all seen them before. Motives: None . they're all exactly alike. He lays the bike over precisely at the start of each curve. There is no particular reason why the men in the black limousine should be following the bike. here they are: four heavily armed thugs. For the first time in many years. No character studies why bother. The rider is supremely happy. the foot-pegs clearing the tarmac by scant millimetres. or a BMW. Think. as man and machine create an ideal geometry across the deserted countryside. This is just one of those things that these sort of people do. changing his direction of bank as he crosses the centre-line. No long.

Capable. Let it go. You may picture him as a perfect version of yourself . Coming into focus as that most unlikely of weapons . James Bond chose a Beretta pistol at around this time. Coming into focus.) And the one in the front. since it is necessarily possessed of the kind of seriously elongated lines normally only seen on vehicles .ugly haircuts. Not to mention destroying its wielder's eardrums and. The Uzi. As it is about ten foot long. we realise that the bike must be considerably younger than we had stated earlier. bleached and lacquered into a hideous solid mass. Each has at least one concealed. this is not a serious problem. A fearsome device. edged weapon. As he has never been described. Slowly. This much is inevitable. The critical weapon . The rider remains unchanged. quite frequently. Armaments for the bad guys may be more of a problem.at any age you care to choose. this means that we must revise our previous image of the vehicle. Screaming girls.that wielded by the front seat passenger . if all went well. next to the driver. Let us assume that they almost certainly each carry some kind of heavy automatic pistol. In the case which we are considering. and the thugs themselves may remain indeterminate. The car. (No Mildred. very slowly gaining on the motorcycle still far ahead. Unfortunately. slides. has to be carrying some kind of machine gun. Making it somewhat less than new.is coming into focus. Designed to be firmly mounted in the bows of a specially strengthened punt. with hair puffed up. reducing even the strongest punt to a mass of floating splinters in the process. Except. of reducing an entire flock of ducks to mattress stuffing and pate with a single shot. that does not mean he has a bejewelled sword thrust into his tights. as the car lurches. is rather more recent than our chosen period. but we all know he was really a faggot. The good old Thompson sub-machine gun with its characteristic drum magazine would be eminently suitable. past the limit of adhesion on every turn. it must be mounted onto the bonnet of the car. With these thoughts in mind. Probably the largest shotgun ever produced as more than a single prototype. it very definitely belongs to the twenties and thirties. that favoured weapon of militaristic psychopaths.the punt gun. and only worried about spoiling the lines of his hand made suit. of course that it is not. for the moment.

they say. The large black car may or may not exist. and therefore incapable of interfering with the legend of his own lifetime. upon which. We are looking at some part of the nineteentwenties.almost certainly does not. Ok. The rider is very conveniently dead. The motorcycle has changed into a Brough Superior. other participants must also change. The Colonel is counting his money. You may guess the rest. Think again. he is thinking. Another good job well done.in this particular version at least . We may now deduce that its rider must be a certain well known individual not unconnected with the Arabian Peninsula. Locked in to a particular event. four or even five decades earlier than our current period.three. What next: Perhaps a cruise to the New World aboard the new liner Titanic would bring its own reward in free entertainment? . The punt gun . the sun never sets. And so we say farewell to another heroic episode in the history of the British Empire.

back to the dying flames. ************************* I must have been still getting some backlash from the nerve gas. As I tried to move away. things become even more confused as the Colonel apparently continues a previous scene from a different point of view. east. putting weight onto my left arm. Unfortunately. Slid away at ever increasing speed. In fact.12. faint traces of the car's passage were shown up by the nearly horizontal light. Its flames pallid and powerless against the desert glare. I had seen no living soul for.. Fleeing me. Doppler shifting a deeper. north or south. INTERROGATIONS & YET MORE SAND In which. only visible at all on the occasional patches of dust. THE DESERT Part IV EXPLICATIONS. The world tilted sideways. Here and there. this rule assumes that someone. this will merely consist of a notice to other travellers to watch for the missing party. it was hard to separate a coherent view of the past from the chaotic images that still populated my dreams. all vehicles travelling a major route are logged by the police. the car burned. Nowhere. the sun low to my right. With no apparent time lapse. either that or I was concussed. At least. Tracks vanish within hours under the perpetually moving dust. It can be several days before a full search is launched. to the south... It is much easier for searchers to find a car or truck than a man on foot. and will worry sufficiently to alert the local authorities. west. However long it had taken to get this far. Initially. strange as it may seem. pain fading into the infinite dark. was there any sign of anything resembling an oil drum. It was hard to remember anything for any length of time. however. meaning that there will always be some sort of search. Thirty or forty feet away. No passing traveller was going to watch for me. bloodier red. fire shot through my shoulder. as I fled it. ************************ The first rule of desert travel is this: Never leave your vehicle. somewhere is expecting your arrival. I found myself standing. .

noting the scars of some earlier accident. revealing the rotting steel frames beneath. No car I had ever heard of. I shook my head. ************************ Onwards! The word coiled before my eyes as I lurched upright. the body. Time and termites had not treated it kindly. Nothing salvageable here. yet another wreck. wincing. I looked again. No sign of a boiler coil. A twisted shell. to read the broken remains of a once bright metal name. the lacquered wood shell had almost gone. the twisted. Strangely small wheels with oversized tyres.Turning back to the north. . 'TOYO. a 1967 FIAT steamer. I bent. My vision faded again for a few seconds. Baffled. corroded heap of ancient metal. Further north. I walked past out onto the outcrop of rock. almost gone in the drifting laterite dust. contours smoothed by the abrasive dust. Bones among the rust. apparently made from one piece of steel. I faced the flames again. the end letter or letters missing. yet it had got me this far before my own lack of attentiveness had finally destroyed it.' it said. then recovered suddenly as I stumbled in the soft going. dust silted. this. though more than half the remains were visible. pain striking through torn neck muscles. It had been an excellent vehicle in its day. with the slow boiler that had been dropped in later models.. Now. Skulls here.

and the occasional tame reporter. Only the president has a view inland. the palace is clearly visible. burnt brown by the prolonged dry season. In which we throw in a little aviation history. naturally. and perhaps inevitably. Below. To the west of the palace. The blown concrete dome over the main hall.13. except for those of the house guards in the more wealthy areas. gives it a spuriously Arabic appearance from this distance and altitude. tin roofed shanties still exist precariously along the banks of the almost dry river.. no faces appear to be turned skyward. flecks of reddish brown against the black silt. The monolithic blocks of the government buildings lie to the north.the ancient Stearman is coming in from the north. the faded concrete blending in with the dusty streets around it. purely to satisfy one of my own main interests in life. its background the sea. looking down. the wing walker is wrestling with a . And down. its marble colonnades reflecting back the blistering sunlight as a blinding glare of pure whiteness. The clatter of worn valve gear from the big radial clearly audible above the burbling of the stub exhausts. the audience of ministers. Not too far ahead the ocean stretches undisturbed to the horizon and beyond. from the landward side of the city. look at the army or each other. alone as usual in his elevated eyrie is. Going down. Too Many Cooks Make Light Work.. The president. Two thousand feet . asleep in their chairs. hot black tarmac)... These are uniformly. the triumphal arch looms over the parade ground. On the top wing. No one looks up. To the south. the sea. One thousand five hundred feet now. Separated from the sea only by a narrow (and reputedly mined) beach. Behind and to either side. In the stands. over eight thousand miles away. side-slipping to lose a little more height. the Stearman is over the centre of the new city. the hills. except in the direction of the presidential arch. The soldiers face each other. Near the peak of the arch the presidential box glares down on the assembled army. hangers on. waver in the overheated air. the stands. in the mélange of old slums (rusty corrugated iron and equally rusty laterite streets) and new suburbs (green and red tinted asphalt roofs. the review ground is far less obvious. In fact there is no land directly to the south until the shores of the Antarctic. Over one hundred feet high.

yet the amount carried in the air never seems to diminish. It is hot down there . The badly set up public address system makes him sound like Donald Duck overdosing on Valium. only beginning to fall as daylight fails and the stall-holders pack their goods away in preparation for the long trip homewards. The wing-walker leans hard into the harness. Apart from the military. Banks of speakers large enough for a Heavy Metal band relay the president's words to his audience.not to mention money . everyone is there for one simple reason. is sufficient motive for almost all present. He judges that the small areas of original paint would not be visible at any distance and promptly puts the matter out of his mind.. One thousand feet. immediately below. In the Old Market. That is the key to power at this place. the old plane creaking audibly in the thermals. The sea breeze. And down. one clip being more than sufficient for this mission. In any case no-one listens. settles on every available surface. no longer necessary.. The weapon is already loaded.hot. checking the action of the old Lewis gun. The possibility of a few seconds on prime time television.. Cars move slowly through the crowds. will. The leather bag has blown away.no doubt it is the usual self-glorifying rubbish spoken on these occasions everywhere in the world. failing to rise. under normal circumstances. Not to support the president. What he says is not important . In fact.. Hot air rising from the streets below is increasingly bouncing the old plane around. caused by cooler air coming in to replace that now rising around the Stearman. The dust. should the cameras pan across the audience. Consequently the most favoured seats are not those with the best view. is already beginning to crack and peel as the airframe flexes. . but those nearest to the video cameras.have already bribed the cameramen. carries the fumes away before they reach European levels. dusty and noisy. The pilot notices that the temporary water-based paint applied to the machine for the occasion. The heat. and with it the noise. their massed exhausts polluting the air. those with sufficiently good connections . though many do. that is not what they are there for. at this time. increase throughout the day. but to be seen. who go where they are ordered. not one of the thousands thronging the narrow streets raises his or her head from current business. to ensure their second or two of fame. And down. Loose straps thrash to and fro in the slipstream.long leather bag.

In any case it is far too low for the ancient. The thunderous roar of the wide open radial reverberates around the parade ground.. the arch clearly visible against the sea now. the pilot begins a slow roll over the narrow beach. Without actually listening to his words. Dropping to twenty feet above the water. And out. Tiny details impress themselves on the mind as the critical moments approach.Five hundred feet.. The cameras. bemused. A slack patch of fabric on the starboard wing. fluorescent pink biplane is already passing under the arch before slow human reflexes have begun to move eyes towards the source of the sudden sound. Frozen puffs of dust from static vehicles on painted roads in a painted city spell out cryptic messages. Only the president sees the muzzle flashes as he. The president pauses in his speech. The pilot reaching for the throttle as his passenger turns to give the ready signal. shocked into temporary immobility. The President is finishing his speech in a frenzy of self congratulation. The president. never before noticed.. the very gaps between them seem to offer omens concerning success or failure. these people. as expected. fails to dive behind his bulletproof balustrade. Clouds take on significant shapes.. cranky equipment. the Stearman has vanished over the horizon. By the time the radar station is alerted. suddenly aware that something in his reality is askew and. The gun is disposed of into the sea when the plane is fully inverted. the plane is already well out to sea before anyone on the ground is in any position to fire at it. A gloved hand shoves the throttle fully forward as.. The hideously bright. this event. the audience is aware that the time for frantic applause is almost upon them. flaps out messages of doom. Everything is normal for this time and place. Airspeed increasing as they dive more steeply. has turned away from his audience and is staring. trying to come to terms with the fact that he is still alive. Emerging from the arch. . The rattle of the machine gun is lost in the bellow of the open exhausts. have turned to catch these moments of adulation. still accelerating. Stub exhausts popping as slipstream forces the propeller to rotate more rapidly. at the neat semi-circle of bullet pocks on the rear wall of the balcony. Time stretches in these last few seconds. The wing walker is climbing down into the front cockpit as the machine changes course to the east for the long haul to Sao Tome.

over eight thousand eyrie . Over one hundred feet high. burnt season. except for wealthy areas. Near the peak of the new suburbs. To the west .. These are in their chairs. Behind brown by the prolonged dry.little more height.hot black turned skyward. The clatter worn clearly audible above the burbling and to either side. side-slipping to lose an Arabic appearance from this distance . the audience of ministers. waver in the overheated air. One thousand five hundred feet now. Below. asleep. Two thousand feet . The occasional tame reporter. Blistering sunlight as a blinding blown concrete dome over the main. Its background the sea. The Stearman is over the centre of the new palace The review ground is . hangers uniformly. the triumphal arch looms over slums (rusty corrugated iron) and the parade ground. Not too far to the horizon and beyond. except in the direction of the fact .only mined beach. alone as usual in his elevated Antarctic . Only tarmac). ************************** The soldiers face each other. No faces appear. The hall gives it a spurious altitude. To be the president . Ancient Stearman is coming in from side of the city.less obvious. from the landward valve gear from the big radial . The hills. By a narrow (and reputedly clearly visible) marble. (green and red arch the presidential box glares down on the assembled army. No one looks up.a view inland. Separated from the sea .of the stub exhausts. those of the house guards in the more stands.there is no land directly to presidential arch. and perhaps inevitably. Look at the army or each .ahead the ocean stretches undisturbed .the north. In the stands.Re-obliteration Going down. The president. the palace is colonnades reflecting back glare of pure whiteness.is. In the south until the shores of miles away. naturally. in the mélange of old equally rusty laterite streets tinted asphalt roofs . the sea. the faded streets around it. looking down.other..

Wrestling with a long leather in the slipstream. It is hot. Enough for a Heavy Metal band. ************************** To the south. sufficient motive for almost all. In the Old Market. In any case are there for. though many do. who go where they are one simple reason. Apart from the ordered. air never seems to diminish. Shanties still exist precariously . is already beginning flexes. Hot air rising increasingly. The wing walker is bag. Cars move slowly through . tin roofed along the banks of the almost against the black silt. is more steeply. flecks of reddish brown top wing. Longer necessary. The will. The weapon more than sufficient for this temporary water-based paint occasion. but those nearest to the sea now. The pilot reaching for the throttle as his passenger of a few seconds on prime time turns to give the ready signal. That is the key to time. Thousands thronging the current business. only beginning to fall as daylight their goods away in preparation. power at this place.him sound like Donald Duck overdosing important . under normal circumstances. Badly set up . The arch clearly visible against the best view.blending in with the dusty north. self-glorifying rubbish in the world. That is not . European settles on every available surface. Not to support but to be seen. The monolithic blocks of the government buildings lie to the concrete . Airspeed increasing as they dive pan across the audience. Stub exhausts popping as slipstream forces the present .no doubt it is spoken on these occasions everywhere no-one listens. everyone is there for the president. The wing-walker leans action of the ancient Lewis gun. One thousand feet. The possibility television.the military. The sea to replace that now rising away before they reach.far city. Consequently the most favoured five hundred feet. From the streets below is plane around. He judges that the small be visible at any distance and mind.polluting the air. the old thermals. Loose straps thrash to and fro. What he says is not usual. his audience. should the cameras.dry river. At this seats are not those with the video cameras. Bouncing the old banks of speakers .large relay the president's words to public address system makes on Valium.

this event. Disposed of into the sea. already well out to sea before position to fire at it. dusty and noisy. suddenly aware that something fails and the stallholders pack.areas of original paint.is lost.from static vehicles on painted roads in a painted city . Or is already loaded. flaps out messages of doom. Tiny details impress themselves on the mind as the hard into the harness. moments of adulation. A gloved hand shoves the throttle fully forward as. as expected. their massed exhausts.cryptic messages . The dust.. The cameras. His reality is askew. not one of congratulation. Frozen puffs of dust applied to the machine . Never mission. around the Stearman. And. Promptly puts the matter out of the President . Time stretches in these last few plane creaking audibly . Only the president sees the temporary immobility. To come to terms with the fact that fluorescent pink biplane is . carries the fumes levels. have turned to catch these crowds. The pilot begins a slow roll over.finishing his speech in a frenzy of self.propeller to rotate more rapidly. these people..spell out crack and peel as the airframe . Upon them. A slack patch of fabric on the starboard wing. begun to move eyes towards the rattle of the machine gun . and with it the noise. Everything is normal for this time and breeze.president pauses in his speech. Radial reverberates around the parade ground. The hideously bright .. Aware that the time for frantic applause is almost down there hot. checking the critical moments approach.. yet the amount carried in the heat. failing to rise. The pilot notices that. The thunderous roar of the wide open long trip homewards. Clouds take on significant shapes.seconds. the narrow streets raises his or her head from audience. one clip being failure. When twenty feet above the water. cranky climbing down into the front cockpit to the east for the long haul.already passing under the arch. The leather bag has blown away. caused by cooler air coming in place. fails to balustrade. The increase throughout the day . Before noticed. By the time Stearman has vanished too low for the ancient. Without actually listening to his words. no very gaps between them seem to offer omens concerning success. Immediately below.

2nd re-obligateration Going down. No faces appear to be the face of each other.. at the neat rear wall of the balcony. though many do. Concrete dome over. looking clearly visible . Emerging from the arch. naturally.other.is in any case. The bellow of the open exhausts. the horizon. The old. sufficient motive. in the streets tinted asphalt roofs. trying to be. muzzle flashes as he.the cameras. the plane is anyone on the ground . power not those with the video cameras . Near the peak the presidential box glares down. the slums. the narrow beach..clearly audible above the burnt season. The radar station is alerted. One thousand feet. The wing walker is as the machine changes course. In the south until separated from the sea.is. Over one hundred feet high.from the big radial of the stub prolonged dry. On the wrestling. Longer. shocked into dive behind his bulletproof. bemused. In any case it is far equipment.. waver in the .are there. .. One thousand five hundred feet Arabic appearance from this Stearman is over the centre of city. tin roofed along silt. The gun plane is fully inverted. Worn . The president.from his audience and is before. Sao Tome.. the ancient Lewis gun. Below. Look at the army or each . The monolithic blocks of concrete blending in. Dropping to still accelerating. the audience .perhaps inevitably. (rusty corrugated iron). . Alone as usual in his elevated eyrie . is still alive. Slow human reflexes have semicircle of bullet pocks on the source of the sudden sound.. No one looks up. asleep. wealthy areas. Increasingly bouncing the old president's words to public. The sea. Only reflecting back glare of pure altitude. He says is not usual self. those of the sea.. In the stands. Two thousand feet . has turned away staring. Apart from the president. These are in and beyond.ahead . ************************** To the south. To the west of less ancient Stearman is coming in..there is no land directly.it's marble blown.

The only beginning to fall. The thunderous roar of the wide reverberates around the parade . Shanties still exist top wing. the audience .no doubt it is . at the neat north. And is before. dusty and expected. In the Old Market Thousands thronging the current slowly through . The pilot notices that of doom. He judges that the small mind. Frozen puffs of dust vehicles on painted roads in the airframe . The clatter of burbling and to either side. carries the (yet the amount carried in the A) gloved hand shoves throughout the day president that something fails and the.cryptic messages. Dropping to still ground. Only immobility. trying. fails to balustrade.hot black turned skyward. Sao Tome.the critical moments approach. Failure. The palace is colonnades .hot. Promptly puts the matter out of in a frenzy of self. The leather bag has blown away.too low down into the front cockpit to come to terms with the fact from his audience. European air never seems to diminish. Disposed of into the sea.is aware that down there . Is plane his audience.passing under the arch (begun to) the machine gun is lost.. The shores of miles away. A slack patch of fabric mission. Not to time. from side of the city. Airspeed increasing as they more steeply. The president. Obvious.polluting the air away before they reach. The wing-walker is bag from the streets below. Consequently the most clearly visible against the sea now. Dive behind his bulletproof.no-one listens.. Staring. have turned to catch moments of adulation. In any case it is far equipment. Not too far to the horizon. from the landward valve gear exhausts. Behind. Changes course. Immediately below. Everything breeze. These last few. Stub exhausts present propeller to rotate. the hills. offer omens concerning success.important . The pilot reaching for a few seconds on prime time. That is not one simple reason. temporary flexes. the faded streets around it. caused by cooler air around the Stearman.whiteness the hall. Badly set up . Mined beach. overheated air. When already well out to sea before Stearman has vanished .sufficient for this. brown by the mélange of old equally rusty laterite . Of bullet pocks on the source of the bellow of the open exhausts. Plane creaking . not one of listening to his words. bemused.impress themselves on the mind . gives it. except for their chairs. Emerging from the arch inverted. .

Loose straps thrash to and fro around. The arch best view. Antarctic . hangers uniformly. the government buildings lie to the dusty north. The president. is already beginning . its background new suburbs (green and red arch the assembled army. Enough for a Heavy Metal band. The weapon . flaps out messages applied to the machine from static painted city . Dive pan across the audience. Now. Will.action necessary. Time stretches inaudibly in the seconds. Precariously .more than water-based paint occasion. should for almost all. President has a view inland. Or is already loaded. long leather in the slipstream. under normal circumstances daylight . one clip being on the starboard wing. Banks of speakers .their goods away in preparation. The review ground is far.is finishing his speech . checking. Tiny details as the hard into the harness. on. the ministers. Everywhere what the military . but those nearest to the throttle. The wing-walker leans .presidential arch. The President . and the occasional tame reporter. Never the before noticed. The possibility television. the new palace.the congratulation. By a narrow (and reputedly blistering sunlight) as a blinding main. guards in the stands. everyone is there at this place.Triumphal arch looms over . The soldiers house.over eight thousand down. at this seats are.dry river. That is the key to favoured five hundred feet. What glorifying rubbish in the world. him sound like Donald Duck.and the parade ground. Cars move. The ocean stretches undisturbed except in the direction of the fact . It is hot. settles on every available surface. In any case ordered.little more height. flecks of reddish brown. side-slipping to lose a distance . to replace that now rising. Thermals. The sea. Without actually narrow streets raises his or her head from . Clouds take on significant shapes.who go where they are support but to be seen. ************************* The banks of the almost against the black.large relay the address system makes on Valium. Overdosing spoken on these occasions. as his passenger turns to give the ready signal.spell out crack and peel as areas of original paint would not. Hot air rising.visible at any distance and business. No gaps between them seem. Only tarmac). Is popping as slipstream forces more rapidly.

The increase pauses in his speech. Muzzle flashes as he. He is still alive. The hideously bright. Alerted the horizon.time . shocked into narrow beach. The plane is anyone on the radar station. Radial ground. The wing walker is as the machine. The dust. is normal for this time. Position to fire at it.his reality is askew. Human reflexes have semi-circle the sudden sound. Levels. has turned away. heat. (I give the poor old hulk a good shot of morphine [What else?] . already move. Rear wall of the balcony. The east for the long haul. suddenly aware stallholders pack . Upon them. their massed exhausts. failing to rise. And coming in place. and with it the noise. cranky climbing. Throttle fully forward as. And open long trip homewards. Fumes. By the time for the ancient. The pilot begins a slow roll over . these people. this event.) .and one for me for luck.for frantic applause is almost noisy. That fluorescent pink biplane is slow.. The gun plane is fully accelerating. The cameras. Eyes towards the rattle of the president sees the temporary. as these crowds.twenty feet above the water..

Jarry's timeless quest begins and ends in one infinitely short glare of all destroying light and heat. Immense beasts whose scaly hides are covered with festering sores . filled with quaking islets of stinking mud. All of us. the city is a dismal place . quite accidentally. Each tussock of coarse. They do not connect with their surroundings in the same way we do. flat brown. parchment moon. It is time to move on. yellowish grass seems to conceal a crocodile. As we experience it.there now seems little or no prospect of ever reaching our original destination.I knew it was going to be bad this time . The sky is beginning to move. Paris 1904 . pinned for all to see. In fact all of the light emitted throughout the entire life of the universe.surrounded by sickly swamps. whilst engaged in looting the ruins of Istanbul after the great earthquake of 1908. perhaps he. The third Doctor 'D' dies in a riot before we can get our bearings. Forever nailed against a faded. ? Djakarta 1847? The situation is deteriorating rapidly . even though it appears to be completely irrelevant.14. Two days out and the deaths have already begun . Is this a clue of some kind? None of us feel happy here . A Stitch in Time is not Easy Note: This particular document is not part of the Colonel's story.something or someone is messing with our schedule. It may be that their city is not at all the one in which we are compelled to live. He claims to have found the original. We have all been forced to take up various occupations in the local bars and bordellos in order to survive. in turn. Great festering clumps of cloud swirling against the unrecognisable stars. Infinite speed through time implies its presence in all times. Jarry has achieved his measure of immortality in less than an instant.Alfred Jarry's time machine has reached its ultimate velocity and sits. He has found forever in a period of time far too short for his senses to have registered it. As we can see him. We have no reason to be here at this time. Occasionally one will stop and gaze at something which apparently they can see and we cannot. The citizens here walk around blank faced.after a while in this business you get this gut feeling. can see us. The Cwm twins have quarrelled and have taken to throwing acid into each others face at every opportunity. eternally fixed against the backdrop of space. The sky is a dead. I have included it on his instructions.

Closer we see that what appeared to be marble façades are merely painted bricks slowly returning to the mud of which they were made. I can say with some degree of certainty that if there are at least 'n' Doctors present. Under normal . which seems to rise from the water. The city itself appears to be designed in the classical manner. As the undersides of the great sickly lizards. No one ever emerges from these collapses.circumstances they rarely speak at all except in monosyllabic grunts. This ruin is the only thing which seems capable of arousing any real emotion in the apathetic populace. As far as we can tell the remaining citizens are not even aware of this diminishment of their doomed city. Occasionally a building slumps to the ground as the bricks finally liquefy.it has become difficult to speak. they huddle in great clumps of cold flesh on the side of the city farthest from the apparition. they tend to remain obstinately silent.a fact which I can only take as a sign that we have not yet sunk beyond the point of no return. then there are rather more than '2n1' others of our expedition here. many of whom have succumbed to the general malaise to such an . We can all feel our condition deteriorating . When the mists thin out. dissipates slightly . Upon this firmer ground can be seen the remains of what would seem to have been a large building of some kind.which seem to glow. Most of our hair has fallen out. Our numbers are still impossible to compute . We feel our various languages losing their meanings. At these times they gibber and squeak in soft wet voices syllables that resemble their ordinary tongue not at all. We must cross the marshes to the ruin . Even when taking what passes among them for pleasure in their dank bars and whorehouses. None of the remainder of the population makes any attempt at rescue.now . Stately elegance of form from a reasonable distance. Entombing all within in a subsiding heap of stinking black slurry. Far across the swamp .while we still have some scant stores of energy.lies what appears to be a more stable patch of land.slowly moving patches of sickly blue-green in the perpetual twilight. leaving our skins as cold and slick and pallid as those of the natives.barely visible even on those odd occasions when the mist.or what passes here as normal . This is not counting the twins.

The remainder of us not far behind. this growth is possessed of razor sharp edges which soon take their toll of our weakened skin. yet visibly containing all conceivable colours . collide with yet another Doctor and fall in their turn. falls face down into a particularly glutinous patch of mud. as a blinding pulse of light sweeps across the mist. Building up towards intolerable levels.the entire swamp is filled with screams of fear and rage as the Doctor approaches critical mass.extent that they may as well be locals. and being attacked by yet more crocodiles. Panic becomes contagious . For a moment I think I see Jarry's improbable machine outlined against a cracked. ************************ Near total disaster . drowning in mud.white. he proliferates alarmingly. Two others. In that one flash . ************************* I . Pushed in all directions by competing gravitational shifts. we stagger helplessly under increasing pressures. The visible region of the swamp rapidly filling with panic stricken. stepping as much as possible on the tussocks of grass. We set out across the black slimy mud. rushing to the rescue. as we slide away down the bumpy slopes of forever. Falling. These. gesticulating. warped shape that may once have been the moon. high pitched gabble as the entire surface of the world seems to tilt sideways. I have certified him insane and placed him . One of the Cwm twins. Doctor 'D' is attacked by one of the crocodiles. Having read my predecessors biased and deluded account of our travels to date.Doctor 'K' (I have no idea why the captain insisted in referring to me as 'D' in his ludicrous journal.The swamp fades away in a final rush of struggling figures. Voices rise to an insane. accidentally struck by a Doctor's whirling cane. tophatted figures. attracted by the noise and by the blood in the water. All fades to green. Overreacting.) have now taken command of the remains of this expedition. In spite of its limp appearance.in the course of our passage through the mire. are now converging en masse on the source of the confusion. for no particular reason.

though analysis (another expert - . Nowhere is there the slightest sign of civilisation. ************************ I will now attempt to enumerate and describe these members to the best of my limited ability. rather underweight person of indeterminate nationality. which curves away evenly in all directions. The front of the tights is invariably padded with what appears to be at least half a box of paper handkerchiefs. or appear to be . yet the lush grass here appears to have been cropped to a uniform height.in open countryside. are the other members of the expedition. The remainder being used to produce a semblance of what the captain firmly imagines to be muscles upon his (or her) scrawny arms and legs. (and sex now that I look closer. and as. considering this to be one of the major failings of our erstwhile leader.2 inches at every point at which I have tried the exercise. His little mouth opening and closing silently as he tries to comprehend his current position. Yet I must call him something and he has so far refused to reveal his name.I refuse to be pedantic about this. There is a slight haze which conceals the bottom of the valley which logic tells me must exist down the slope. which is why I needed the authority of course. We wander about on the side of an immense hill. In fact. We are.) It also appears to be written in blood. (Also in Hindustani. This measures exactly 1.) Invariably wearing a ridiculous set of tights and a cape . The only objects which intrude upon this pleasant. there is no horizon in any direction.) A short. since he is no longer in a position of authority..under open arrest.. Look at him now as he scurries to and fro.varying in colour in accordance with some incomprehensible set of rules to which I was once forced to listen.. a pale hairless rat.. In some ways the captain is somewhat of an enigma.. First: The captain: (I refuse to capitalise him. ************************ Head-hitter's Note: At this point the document ends with an indecipherable scribble. Followed by what I have been informed by a reliable authority is the word 'BOLLOX' in a different hand. scene. but rather dull..

The make has not.not related to the first one) shows it to be tomato ketchup. been determined. so far. .

the average human mind will have become so sluggish that it will accept the most trivial gimmick as something new and wonderful. Once in a Blue Monsoon. Somewhere five men are dying in a tent. This will be designed by two separate researchers in the 1920's. There have been no introductions. in this place. are the five men. Fax machines have been with us since 1828 . before the end of the year. on this day. dying.television is rooted in a patent taken out in the 1890's . As the only alternative is the even more revolting American variety. The foundations of all those things which you consider 'modern' have already been laid. the outside temperature is almost unbearably hot. as it can be in summer in this part of the world. . At this point there will no longer exist the slightest need for creative thought. For a while we reminisce while the video player shows us a tent in the snow. is the transistor. rewriting them and claiming sole credit. on the video. though I believe I may know at least one of them by reputation. Inside the tent. we do not complain too much. In spite of the multitude of uses to which this device could be put. and. Our main area of concern is the disgusting Canadian beer. By the last decade of the twentieth century. the art of invention will consist mainly of rifling old patents. Soon the tide of invention which characterised the previous century will begin to ebb.Henri Coanda will. in the snow. For the remainder of the century. On the screen it is 1910. have flown the worlds first jet aircraft. The single item which has not in some way been foreseen. we are here purely to satisfy some whim of the Colonel's. the very word 'creation' will have degraded to the point where it could be applied to something as trivial as a new label on a bag of chicken food. It is summer here. I have never met any of the others before. 'All piss and wind' is the general opinion. a critical year by any standards. This is not directly related to our situation however. it will then vanish from sight for nearly another thirty years. Somewhere it is bitterly cold.15. The Colonel has arranged for us all to meet here. In fact. We are comfortably ensconced in a warm bar in downtown Vancouver. In which the Colonel participates in a little fun in the snow and generally has a good laugh.

white wall. the snow swirls suddenly. curtain of snow. the trousers falling around his ankles as he laughs uproariously. Click. the tent itself becomes hidden behind the. . We are sitting around a table at a pavement café. pushing his head in through the partly open flap. and he is forced to push himself up to the surface. He glances at the camera for a moment. in tropical whites. begins to fall more thickly. The tent is half buried in the drifting snow. that the strength of the wind is rapidly increasing. the Colonel has become an indistinct shape. The channel changes again and he appears between two immense trees. dark shape. which seems to move toward the camera. fine and powdery. White out. in a city I do not recognise. turns again and. Stooping. otherwise blank.Enough of this . As the blizzard builds up still more. he turns. In a few seconds. and he is no longer visible. A tropical rain forest. It is obvious also. with a firm step. In the bar. On the small screen. revealing a massive. The television and video player have gone. and we see that it is the Colonel. as if to speak to someone inside. there is no other movement on the screen. Apart from the snow. Another click. He is stripping off a soaking fur jacket. the snow. A few more. now almost horizontal. ************************ Spic and span. As the figure of the Colonel recedes. An instant before he does so. a man is emerging from the tent. the Colonel on the screen steps from a doorway in an. walks away from the tent. Then he rises to his feet.the facts are plain enough to anyone who cares to search for them. the Colonel sips at his foul beer and leans forward to change the channel. It is time to talk business.

as he is about two sizes bigger than the house. blowing half the examiners .the unfortunate patient as if a fading picture. Getting the cellars which lie exposed . Although he always barely scrapes through . Yorkshire. who is walking .) Still light here. he is convinced books on account of it using. ********************* Bandages come off. Half possible to make out .his finals are examining his every move. In spite of this. As . he is involved in subterranean world below. While the guys trousers is down (descends between moss covered usual builder's fashion. that is. Also he is keeping his legs as far as seems entirely natural to him. Quick . *********************** One day he gets this moron to the clay from which they were.never seen.explored the house . charred timbers. directly onto the surface. he will find a way heavy duty crane . Eventually. One reason. Bandaged from knees to nipples. In which we may yet learn that a quantum jump is really the smallest possible movement. He can continue along his path. GP in Arsehole. It becomes rapidly . Charlie's love . Bored out his dreams . It is huge.and his deserted.practice surgery on himself. he back Charlie.Yorkshire women being mostly built.taking the narrowest passages.16: You Can't Beach an Old Dog. Never even been . Includes a loaded ready-mix cement of dread. He feels he is universe . though.albeit quickest double transplant plus pile his surroundings.inspiration strikes.on the other side of the oversized dong. After the funeral of his fears. shithouse and generally about.Charlie decides .to which he is sure is just around the forgotten wing has long techniques never before seen .as he is completely under still and a local into his own balls. So there was that miserable bastard the old house. Somehow he feels to be a Surgeon but couldn't make of his own head.or ancient. Two locations haunt his dreams.

From some connection in the brick. that unlike at least some huge pricks also.needless to say that .this. Further hours . To the ego being sufficient to his own youth .had a shlong down to. He hears of the old rumour .in some he tries to create a conscious .in his dreams.needing to grow the whole body. Pathetic terror .every. He forgets the reality of mental ability of a rabid cockroach. And the odds is getting worse .wrongly. Frequently encounters in this little . This is. ********************* Bored and sweating in few stints as a locum . Mornings.semi-copy of what purports to be.in having only come in with a throat. die. in a country of levels. Some nights he . rightly. they donate. The whole an agent who shows signs of acting increasingly obsessed with flash. this item.to overcome some move on. ********************* One by one they begin their brains. Convoluted. as they have been carefully selected. of considered actions. Anyway. but basically he packs his bags and leaves . This time he figures there could be.every one thing that increases his USA.no ..no sometimes. dreams .descending worn stone cellar. This is only used as it move away. At his lack of imagination .the time. He has worked out some hope now as his body too begins .and takes the wrong . Coccooned in darkness. This sort of thing does deeds. Increasingly the legendary relic just gathers dust in night . as these are normally only for CIA state. he remains convinced. The story goes that some old-time .somewhere in the real world. but never makes it.finally burn him down.plus two or three more defeated by an uncharacteristic.which he somehow mythologises and looks in other directions. But in utter frustration is already spoken for. even. He reasons that.. as all some time. when he gets another punter. He relate the house to . He becomes ever more confused . He begins to pester friends and where it is kept hidden away except which they take. As evades me . on.

Man driven by an obsession . in his near Miami.strains. he starts . While attempting to rape the killer. He is not at all the man he used tonight. His glimpses of the valley itself. Fake. Charlie is just road . This as the road approaches the urges.his valley. and Charlie is dragged around towards the distant. Totally it clones anyway and he has it identifiable. He own.yet Charlie Drew. A casual murder in bricklayer. Stuttering of his mind. In any case his younger days. A relaxing .even imagined in some cases.what he thinks it is. Few of a wheelbarrow to move at all.sweaty hand as she stumbles. ********************* Ready for that second chance through. Teaches himself transplant . Perhaps a merger of two . Turns out that hidden in mist. Yet man attached at the back end.he believe that? He has hope. the object of that. Life so remarkable would ever . hedgerows cut off the view . She spinning away. concealed very hard time at this point.been poorer without it.to stay safely and to make a living content. Corner. Guys and winds up as the closing door. ********************* It is a valley. . Perhaps. Fights .could really let it all go. It is not likely father bribing the rest.decides it is ready and gets out. curses.few years later I hear that he has the years of torment.surface deteriorates. Gone wrong. its far side to some kind of whale or something. He is driving his kitchen. The way becomes steeper. Don't stop growing. So he always lie in the opposite. if he could. And afraid by now to go out in the person he undoubtedly is. In with a case of the haemorrhoids. Dark plots of revenge . Charlie notices that the prick . What a feeling of relief. Always wanted . All responsibilities into him one time and he is he . Recognising himself.house. The car starts to take over. This in spite of him . St. Either way. Then again. the grade.as tears down .even further than the seconds? Somewhere the door. When it reaches about.turning .

For some reason.a very messy accident. After a house.which makes it into the record collapsed. For more on the sky .almost returned to relax a bit. As he explores deeper into the forwarding address. This is a side which about .whose name temporarily.Charlie heads for the only way out . It . Invariably proceeds. The stairs leading down.the patient eyes. he feels an increasing senseless savoury European capital. this effect infection.darker. Time to flash.Charlie is losing count.after the half a Century.to be a metaphor for the inside . Time to plan.also disintegrating bricks . Search that has finally led him an hour later . Somehow. In spite of original manufacture . He has the brickie anaesthetised.life is not doing so good . Cellar is being somehow projected. ********************* Now only remains removal in the history of the First.at the point where some . So after the operation. Each time transplants . And most disturbing.and emerge triumphantly. he has never . In spite of this.walks with great difficulty. ********************** Climbing over piles of worlds largest coffin . Before convinced that hidden inhabitant .the Smithsonian Institute is capable of imagining. even the men is worse than the women. he finds that it is lightly attractive.seeing by some kind of un-light with an even bigger knob. These should be through .is to go on huge arses.the general shape.walls to the lower level. Tumbledown place.This is when the fatal has time. When intact rooms.for a while. It is like the proverbial brick .advances towards the main bulk of exciting.truck. ********************** A badly disappointed man by building. . if bank robber . So there is no come in itself. Some trouble . Charlie has just about decided to off . Inevitably he is (drawn to) careful . At the time. Charlie is not fussy . In spite time . animals rather dimly . Apparently long apart as possible. Is pushed out into the street.

this object to the Smithsonian .faster scalpels. He is having each step. He can secrete map and decides to steal .as a time of heroic. There .with dicks the size of trivial.will wake up screaming.some hidden sub . Creating not happen so often to agents.hard sleep tends to disturb him. Anyway. Not in for special private viewings. imaginary obstacle.his technique is so good that evidence of a degenerating mental growing in some special tank ignore him poor old sod's lost eighteen inches in length. Either Charlie loses his nerve as his mental faculties deteriorate in the dark.the cops .1 The endless insomniac night. Ear. Charlie gets any other dream he has. endlessly replaying all that stuff. His last appearing in some travelling show to fail.recognisable place or event.in his agents . following walls of crumbling. And trained to have all the plan of the cellars. as it gets bigger.that the house exist. The other place which he be. Brings out with him is not (exactly) acquaintance. He remembers the original must have belonged old men do . Cheap whores. So when . The shock his dreams . At last resort in the case of some nonexistent menace. Wakeful. I bump dreams. Of course he . He is inevitably so most of the time.is sense of frustration to intolerable business.a haven of peace. Far daytime. ********************** The world is becoming younger . This failure of concentration.sub . Hitting the bottle . terrible obstacles bravely defeated this huge prick with little drunken brawls. . Asking questions . Spends hours after them. Trouble is with outer show. Failure of his will . or the map is between this and his real quest. Searches for the one path.knees. with having to find somewhere. In way of cloning body parts without spite of some level . 16. Vomitous thing has some pretty unnatural retreats to the house.when faced with suppress all such tendencies for simple labyrinth of his own. Like a human being.He will make it to this place .

have occurred.rather more than minor . its bottom manner. She is dead! The running of his far flung campaigns for automatic weapons. but more scenes he has known in died. He is sure never see Charlie again. Ahead. he can catch brothel. there is .almost purple with distance. he will go in search of him through most of his adult .direction. despite (and even in some of the less.more difficult to handle as the history. (always a favourite . robbery .) ********************** Gradually . Bright from side and mouth. since his real aims available (no more than a few) . A kind of actual point where it emerges abandoned. uncontrolled to my task. A suspected. He . The Colonel. In which anything .there is no fear at any time. authentically.unavailing the swirling forces. ********************** The events which had made this haven .in almost every . Among the swamps and rain. Slide away into some final peaceful founding of the establishment.familiar in some ways. through to a well equipped. indeed one day. feel a certain ally . ********************* . as somehow the Colonel managed to. All in all. Even this . Hand sliding. Almost a real valley. If ever.) Colonel prefers himself as he is. finally. An immense declivity.as you will see . as the end of my rare moments of self analysis. either side. Rather.obsessed with Blood.the course.though. I feel now. Do that. he would in no way be . Have made any real use from bright flicker-flash as he falls .have never been able to locate . Tall.vertical. The final door leads.Also by now he needs less.fully along a narrow country road. Sometimes he wishes that at the time. myself. He still feels his life would have with him into death. as I had. Mentally and floor far below. The car plunging. *********************** As. yet never whale. He knows the faces.which I. Apparently he has drowned . At some sleazy disney . The old man.since.long held tensions.

long search. Attraction. Strangely enough. The paradise. Hope has faded over physically refreshed and rested. and one could have flung her safely free. With any degree of precision.this Earth. Had been a regular patron .was current.on almost every one.since this departed . he seems rarely . has hate.forests of West Africa. He being the memory of some long lost love .this amenity . In the beginning. Did she move in those last period for the Colonel. From (begin) the long. I have searched for major city of the Northern Hemisphere. as the last period in.resembling real style . he . I was able to return to this place. Though I revenge.rapidly approaches. Take this vital means of recreation. ******************** Depressing of the barbaric Southern own life . . for it seems to have been minutes away .Decorated and equipped in the late Edwardian flow. into the outside world.himself. he appears to have taken it with life. I gathered.

Fifty tons of steel slides and shudders to a halt. Before them the valley. five still running. The Colonel is probably glad to be out of this one. Desperately the gunner and loader continue to fire as the remainder of the crew evacuate. A brew up. Nobody makes it out. all engines on full throttle. Trying to outguess the defending gunners both seen and unseen. Enemy fire concentrates on the crippled machine. Tracks throwing up great swathes of torn turf at each turn. Yet another case of the infamous serpent with its tail in its mouth. surfaced with close green turf. Number One goes next. weaving. *************************** They. are close enough now that the trees are hampering the enemy's fire almost as much as their own. It seems that the bulk of the force must be hidden deeper in the woods. . the remaining tanks charge on unopposed. All too soon a direct hit. A hopeless attempt at repair. or at least tanks Three and Five. A jagged chunk of shrapnel severs a track link. which have drawn rather ahead of the others. Not enough to account for the intensity of the bombardment. Idler wheels dig deep into the soil.what else can they do. The remainder of the track is at least fifty yards back. the tanks slew wildly across the grass. broadside to the forest. Totally devoid of cover all the way to the edge of the forest. For a minute. Direct hit on the front of the turret. if it is even still in one piece. broad and shallow. Heavy firing begins on the instant the tanks crest the ridge. they try for it . Curtain of fire ahead as sweating crewmen load and fire at speeds beyond the normal limits of their ability. engine howling its agony as maximum power suddenly finds no resistance to work against. A near miss on number Four. Occasional flashes among the trees mark the positions of some of the enemy artillery. Rocking.17: Here We Go Round. Then number Two is out. No chance for anybody in those circumstances. Unshielded. however. One down.

distorting the light of the rising sun.the turret. Firing gradually fades and dies away into uncanny silence. The wrecked tanks have vanished. a growing rumble announces the reappearance of the decapitated number one from the black clouds. The remains of Four are also burning fiercely now. After a while. a fresh squadron starts its engines . is apparently capable of mercy. manicured surface. Later. Million to one chance. *************************** Six has stopped. Below the smoke.fading. cooling metal . Perhaps the driver. drawing no further fire. Heated air shimmering. the valley is clear again.blue smoke and a growing thunder. Some spark of life. .just as the gunner fires one of his own. By the following morning. Too little time for proper maintenance. Black smoke from number Two rolls slowly across the valley. Smooth grass stretches from the ridge to the distant trees.on foot. Hidden observers on both ridges find their view of the trees obscured. she turns. Too little rest between battles. No shell holes mar its smooth. sluggishly. as the smoke dissipates and night approaches. Starfish of torn. Sole survivor dies of wounds some hours later. No visible damage. ************************** Three and five vanish into the forest. Crawls for home. Headless and unarmed. three of the crew of Number Six return . Darkness falls. isolated deep under the nose armour. The sun a dim orange disk . whatever else he may be. the day has grown dark. The enemy. Mechanical failure all too frequent. ************************* On the other side of the rise. Somehow she still moves.

Just. No! The glittering fragments. I would like to say a few words at this point but I'm far too drunk.18: Death of an Old Queen. writhing. leaving one lonely hand . Apart from pulled. A typical small hospital room.. Turn a body over where really. Here and there. One television. the visual effect.possibly in a pool of fresh . ************************** After the paint . And the buzzing of the flies. Make through layers of sleep. Some would-be blood.the death struggle.in the dream . Two of broken glass are still in the drip bottles. He raises it another four or five rooms. A foot above the contents of the bucket.throwing it. His bed. The door fits closely into its frame. He is awake.therefore contains each bloody. the double walk into a slaughterhouse at his weapons. eye. As you stumble out. it has the offended senses.. One doorway somewhere in the hard steel. although his eyes. Goes a long way doesn't it? A normal maggot. Endless dreams of death and in the middle of fairly small. mass. I forgot to mention furniture.is falling. Fill a bucket to around the half way. Them in his dream.asshole. So piss off until tomorrow. A couple of extreme instants. if explosive. rotting. . rending crash . Some would-be the door . Perhaps you should Ragnarok . Equal trajectory.as in all his thousands. A light so bright. that creates the proud insignia of his senses. Can no longer. you may off his blanket in his sleep yourself. inertia of rooms must run into the tens with him. (Look it up .freeze-frame it . Turned to face the attached. Equivalent to the amount of blood. Supposedly. Two small cabinets . Kubelwagen. clean. Not even any pieces of slow motion. Then there are the flies.the breaking excluders along the bottom edge . blood. You must study. the corpses.) Even become blasé about the whole grenade. Corridor every five doors.mounted the night. A million thoughts to stretch on forever.right arm free. The slight stickiness under the death's head. Tumbling end flies. He is searching for half a bucket .

sized bucket contains two gallons. in the dream. Reaching down into the blood .might even let you buy me a drink.you know the sort.heavy. He wades through a pool.uniform now as black as the rest of it.is a water cooler. And. Who still remain . Perhaps a faint hint of disinfectant. The choice is entirely yours. then surely others must have done.you do so. His father's vast anger. Not a single noxious insect. Eventually. You have come up in the world. Bed in the cottage .inches from his back. The window? No. Go the surface. You may also wonder. You might see from the windows . His men! Not think about it. After all the doors you have opened . you killed them all! His forever.is too small. Necessary. it leads feebly . Less. of course. When I wake something. You . what with the cottage.. I think of men and horses create homes for innumerable nightmares. You reaching down for the frame. To the left. Spin around. What am I going to do? Well. down. There is a flash . nevertheless. Also the explosion shakes loose a type of things . By bad luck. One of the rooms on an otherwise of which he was so proud.have to air freshener. despite identical . throwing lightning flashes. Half a bucket of paint . It fits corridors parallel to the one in balls of his childhood.to have got so close.the sole. corruption.if you have survived . Now: stand . you have begun your adjoining room direction. Heavy outer walls.After taking a few random turns. But tall.alcove . Same as socket.. If he can. the way back. Door. He half turns. remaining two on guard. It . He has thrown away . That is partly mentioned the shock and the sickness inner? Lath and plaster your original starting point.remember the reason. A choice of six directions: up. past the foot beyond the one in which you angle. He . Gazes deep into bar and get blind drunk.hearing gone. White room. old fashioned. your own existence. Hover a billion bloated flies. He is. Presumably. He is soaked from head to footmark with red paint.

eight pints .distracting. Like that.your own. which end one step. He has turned over. Windows are sealed. Mutti pleading . No patients. The shards probably with one of those rubber draughts.obliterates all thought.) It moves even more slowly than he. None of the usual struggle up. (Just the blood. Inside core of himself .bounces . No nurses. Decorated in an identical manner. black confetti.only make out a dark silhouette amidst a bucket of fine.of the Gods. And you want to include your ears amongst hammer at his brain .there are no footprints in the endless hours of ball games. Over end. This is normal.the world tree.uncurtained window. End of a long. Back through.grasp at the door jamb to steady fitness of the mind. In an adult human being.his doctors. Into his hand as neatly as the play. One cross aided by the weight of the grenade.while some of it is still in the air. You come to this conclusion . A world . Yggdrasil . It is not dreams . Two narrow. asshole. A handful of metal with a core of it sparse.for that effect eyes are instantly open.these days of endless retreat. hot day . Drifts through the air towards him . At the very least the number of the bed. After all. It is more the other . Yet the flies are there in their can . double glazed . Luckily he is lying upon his left side .a steady calculation of vomit .single . Luckily he has thrown uncomfortable chairs. He is aware of this. Air? It is a grenade. The target every five yards or so. metal framed . you may think.he has heard . The endless.a four second delay after the pin has been on castors. The soles of the shoes. With folding trays heroes .roughly of the window of the sky. The smell. barely aware of the weight.count to three before metal stands with hooks for attaching. A narrow opening from thousands. Not just the body print and a few crushed flies. an effort akin to moving a stalled dismembered patient. After. Heroes have died.languorous . Still .one gallon . the corridor appears current. Feeling of total control. Nausea.

may have .sleep on the floor. It proves impossible to locate. That.some kind of emergency stairway. Stares aghast at the blank face of the mattress. Quite rightly. damned. Smell either. concussion is stunning. fake pine. just inside. in a small door with one of those emergency bar . Perhaps none of the room's mattress.the eight purely explorations in precisely wrong . An extra layer of protection. efficiency. There are no flies in the corridor. Thick stone. back. Seeing the.'Push to open' from one side only. No smell of blood anyway . The second grenade . Now have the full three dimensions.the initial disorientation . even. . right. Whatever cataclysm has occurred here tips it with him. Perhaps. the sole . Find an elevator.off the facing wall. No . Six at a time . Confined by the touch of some nasty.has been touched.awoke . I will head for the nearest usual really. equally endless. Disappears from view. A sign of his superior rank. Left hand. occupant of the room. I will assume that this is just from it. Probably dead already for the enemy. He shakes his head. likewise.adds its own thunder to the world. left. forwards. It sits in place of normal corner.noticed by now.not outside. His lightning reflexes.. In the next room! Shit! Christ! He has .. Why he had chosen it? What about proves that not all rooms are (absolutely) probably? He tumbles from the bed. identical.. Next to it. If I see you there. just what the hell? A second later. Best unnoticed .especially in the corner rooms. away and worry about it for a while. His men . The outer walls which you began your exploration.rain of broken plaster.

I recognise nothing of that small.19: Lies Said. from Lomé . while we look at some seriously nasty people. Not to mention having some influence on almost every one of those fortunate countries which successfully escaped from the collapsing British Empire. In which we leave the Colonel more or less to his own devices. the Colonel seems to be obsessed with the events which took place in one particular period towards the end of it. I said .but each almost identical in their teaching and methods. ' They all shout together. waged between the Baptists and the Seventh Day Adventists. Nothing at all on the proliferation of minor (mostly American.) 'And when the day of judgement comes.north to an indeterminate point somewhere in the Southern Sahara. The time: somewhere between Eighteen-Eighty and NineteenNinety.which led to the infamous events of ninety-two. the more they seemed to hate each other. The place: West Africa. the smaller the difference in their belief systems. of at least a small part thereof. This was one of the few periods when the Colonel and I were in more or less the same place for a considerable length of time. independent country which I came to call home for so many years. when I listen to him now. In spite of both the length and breadth of his career. from a man who claims to have done everything in Europe. 'When the Heavens are opened and the burning monster crawls .) Yet. Not just one period.each more deranged than the last . to getting his hand inside Margaret Thatcher's disgusting knickers at Brighton.capital city of Togo . from blowing the last Tsar of Russia in a public toilet in Saint Petersburg. Each more deranged than the last. There is no mention of the vicious underground war. This. but one small. unimportant part of the world. Spoons Bended. (In fact. A narrow strip. (It occurs to me now that this may be one of the reasons why the Colonel chose me to transcribe his dying testament. naturally) sects .

... Winding up to this complete frenzy where they will accept anything .tight as steel ropes on the very point of parting. The whole thing makes the rantings of the average politician look restrained and tasteful.anything at all . pissing.. You just know that he is going to burst any second now.have you noticed how religious women shrink and shrivel up with hatred and envy until they look like some kind of ancient mutant monkey.from this character who has driven them crazy.veins stand out on the Preachers forehead. Also plenty more hallelujahs going on . The one word that sums up his entire true faith .first five rows get a spit bath . 'Give the Church..reverberating off the walls and ceiling.' Coming to the crunch now .. 'Unless.. People .) 'You will be doomed to burn in the eternal fires of Hell!' They are really going at this point .the pale monkeys are screaming in some kind of unhealthy ecstasy. crucial word from the proprietor of all this chaos. 'The Church. and now we are getting to the sole and entire point of the whole act..notice it is always 'the' church the 'we are right and everyone else is doomed' church.even people who should know better . Head exploding in a shower of rancid blood and bile. And they infect the congregation with their madness. 'Unless.' The tendons in his neck stand out .' Horribly over-amplified....the moving force in his life. 'You give the Church..rolling in the aisles. the voice beats at them from all directions . shitting...' His wife and daughters (very rarely sons for some reason) pale and ugly like they always are . .. spouting gibberish.from the deeps.' (Insert cries of Hallelujah! anywhere you like in this... And we have the last..' Echoes back and forth.

all the missionaries is pulling out .before you know where you are. once the workers is taken out of the equation.out into the desert .fruits of endless hours of heavy labour . benighted country from the 'Reds' . The country lurches back towards some kind of peaceful state. Them bastards from Amalgamated Chem is moving in there with the Twice Reformed Sons of Christ.lets get back to that good old Voodoo .gas cooker exploded or something. And some crazed lackey calling for American troops to save this poor.chickens and goats not being likely to blow your head off when you do the throat-cutting business. He is living the best part of ten years.keep them ignorant . batting to and fro . before too long.to lord it over those pathetic. Simple rules .'MONEY!!!!' And sure enough the suckers is lined up in their hundreds Handing over their meagre life savings .all ready to play the whole thing over again. so this last scenario is just not going to happen. Until the whole thing gets forgotten and the next issue of missionaries unload themselves at the airport . Luckily there is no resources to this place. And they is all starting to ride around in armour-plated cars ('Mortgage your sister to protect your pastor from the blasphemers.too dangerous here . natural or otherwise.looking for something he says he lost out there some time. and he has plenty of contacts in the military. Above all .to this man who has never done a days work in his entire.' So they go out and create them.but we is shipping you a new minister . huge car . So we have these missions going up in flames . ************************** The Colonel sees none of this.keep them terrified.keep them poor . Get them out .we don't care how you do it . and. Many of them are sponsored by large multi-national corporations. So that he can drive back to his huge house in his new. shrunken creatures who are his family.unstable political situation. the whole area is full of these armed morons and is rapidly going down the toilet forever.keep them. 'We need cheap labour and consumers for our reject products.ex CIA. useless life. So profits start to fall. And every time I .') and the customers running for the hills . semi-living.

By then everybody seems to have completely forgotten him.finally lose contact altogether when I move out to the Far East.around ninety-seven it was . I start to avoid him whenever possible . I talk to a few people I know.see him he is looking older and getting what I call the refugee eyes. and it is like the poor old bastard never existed. Some years later . After a while.I go back for a while. . Like you sometimes see in people who have been beaten down that one time too often.

Part 2: A Farewell To Harm. .

In which the noble art of aviation seems to be taking over the entire plot. lumbering their improbable way from one wilted flower to the next. There is no roar of tractors .at least temporarily . most people have little time for leisure. Few earn more than enough for bare survival. Bollox To Your Mind. 1955: A long hot summer. England. Few have yet imagined the horrors of the 'la Roche' syndrome. On the smaller farms grass is still cut with a scythe.in other parts of the world these things are already happening. . Few are yet aware of the growing determination of Americans to turn the entire world into a ghastly replica of their own (lack of) culture. Deep in the semi mythical English countryside. we can see . it is laboriously turned and turned again with wooden rakes under the blazing sun. more people here have achieved some form of happiness over the last ten years than ever before. The loudest sound is that of overloaded bumble bees. Or since. It is too hot to move. In spite of this. Here. The signs are all there .in this era only the very rich can afford such things.20. As it dries. It is a time of peace. ************************** In some ways this is due to ignorance. where multinational companies are willing to cause the death of millions in order to increase their profits by a fraction of a percent.the proof of the old proverb about ignorance equalling bliss. Not rest.

parochial (literally . at least.everything an entire generation had fought to protect. fragrant depths of a pre-mechanisation haystack.the hypnotic flicker of television is almost unknown. for many years yet. While many have radios . Small pockets of peace will still exist. Innocent. The crude radio soap operas. That the aforesaid criminals would proceed to destroy . they labour under the destructive rays of the sun. Not even in the ever . within a generation. Here. Innocent. they listen to the naive propaganda of the BBC 'Home Service'. here and there in the world. Wrapped up in their own. Innocent. casual rape and mass murder have not yet begun.) concerns.would be the unforgivable one of being caught. The content free 'News'. But not here .by any means whatsoever . Perhaps even beyond the end of this dismal century. they are unaware of the approaching end of the world as they know it.not in England.Few houses outside the major towns are supplied with electricity. England would come under the control of a political party apparently composed entirely of petty criminals of an extremely unsavoury variety. there will be no more peace this century. How could anyone possibly believe that their children and their children's children could be brainwashed into believing that money was the only true god. 'Third Program'. 'Light Program'. they take their innocent pleasures in the village pub. No one here would believe that. and that the only sin involved in obtaining it .or 'the Wireless' as it was known in those days . In the bracken. The days of empire are gone.or sell off in order to line their own pockets .few see beyond the confines of their local area. The days of muggers. Even the madness of 'The Goon Show' tells them nothing of the true state of the world. In the warm.

oversized hobnail boots) no more than six or seven years old. a premature darkness falls. it does not reappear. In 1955. (grey. lies in the broiling.green rural England of the imagination. As the sun sets . *************************** As the afternoon heat intensifies. the first flickers of lightning dance across the eastern horizon. breathless shade under the hedge in a corner of the field. Back and forth with the cut down rake. it vanishes behind another cloud.take the money and run . In the worst . Shortly. boosted by rising. Across the country. one step at a time to expose its damp underside to the sun.red through the last remaining gaps in the cloud cover.soon to be ruined harvest. Turning the swathe of hay over. grey. The disposable . Electric charge builds up. cotton wool clouds that are beginning to appear across the depthless blue appears a small aircraft. it is observed by no one. He notices the change in the hitherto unnoticed background hum almost immediately. The heart of each storm cell is a roaring hell of rising and falling air. these innocents are mere unseeing inches from the brink. In the heart of the cumulonimbus. ragged shirt. carried by the turbulent air currents until it can discharge itself (three million volts per metre) to the ground or to another cloud. the hum of the bees is overlaid by a deeper. and will have to return to his seemingly endless labour. A small boy. hot air from the shorn fields. Turning onto his back. ************************** Hours later. The tiny white cumuli. a line of storm cells build up towards the tropopause. Soon he will have finished the peculiar herbal drink supplied by his mother. another aircraft appears. he gazes intently at the sky. Although the sound lingers for a while.I'm all right Jack society is coming. Hailstones fall and are carried aloft again to add another layer of ice. ragged shorts. when the workers have all disappeared in the direction of their various abodes. Smaller even than the first. more constant sound. From behind one of the small. have expanded and grown together to block out the light of the sun which gave them life. As the first drops of rain fall onto the .

The only evidence of its passing is a multitude of tiny particles of glass and resin which. in some stagnant waterway. are dispersed over a large area and washed into the soil. At the very peak of the storm's activity. after a subjective eternity.of the turbulence.out of control in the blinding darkness. a caddis fly might construct part of its stony home from a fragment of glass or epoxy that should not yet exist. by the following morning he has completely forgotten it himself. Perhaps you would have run away with that barmaid you never met in Paris. ************************** Somewhere. save to hang on and try his best to ease the load on the overstressed airframe. It is tossed around like a toy. . And. A bubble in a Maelstrom. but even more to the discovery of a favourite tree blown to splinters by lightning. descending with the rain. Already he has become aware of the fact that adults seldom listen. Perhaps you would have made a success of that tedious job in the civil service. that stormy evening in 1955. Thrown up to an altitude where engine and pilot fight desperately for sufficient air. then your whole life might have turned out differently. For a fraction of a second. hope. It tumbles . If it had. of course. ************************** The small boy will never tell anyone about the vanishing aircraft. Then cast down towards the invisible ground. they even more infrequently believe. as the machine falls sideways away from a rising current. In the end. *************************** Nothing happened on that sunny afternoon. When they do. In any case. This is partly due to the excitement of the storm itself. it will make no difference. There is nothing the pilot can do. the metal airframe intercepts the potential path of a major discharge.

But you did none of those things. The choice was not there. .Perhaps you too would now be an exiled dictator of some exotic tropical island. In England. 1955. It vanished in a summer storm.

it has become. the ammunition box beside his late thought. despite places here you could sink out feeling. Into the trees now. Almost fifty yards to level ground. Minute . Lungs fucked .little.it seems of his own passing. Runs madly. Muscles flabby. Zig zagging between early.slide to his feet. Jumps them . the sound. Waterhole. Expecting three sounds rather like 'What the bullet in the back.tighten six. Too many snakes here. Scrotum. if any.two or three vehicles. This is almost surprise .. What the fuck. this episode comes chronologically after chapter 47 and before chapter 6. he tells. Old reflexes . Today. Light.it is a little different. he has been spotted.will shield him right .as it should. a mere two. So much as raise an eyelid. But. Bunk.able watch had shown the time. Lurches to the left .amid the semi-precipitous slope. has to.' They are fuck. Rather sparse .the villagers shake.he has done so. Too old for us then. Safe enough . He reaches the rocks. The external factors.he has arranged over his batman. This.. nobody's perfect. as the sky begins. You Can't Fool. at least is what he woke then goodbye.small motorcycle with a slight sound of bullets through the sky around five thirty . When he feels talons slide in strangely neat hat. Last hold . ************************** Too late now. Somewhere. Maybe. As you may have noticed. change in the likewise. Not running .. He is end . Hours.begin until he has made them rather quieter .begins half edge of the flat area on which bar traffic..21. They will be running now. Down by their own side even. Few more is his first coffee of the day . Just a couple of hour down from the village to the swamp.. It seems to him that . is that .. It is not insomnia.the sandstone reef. as had previously consulted it. end is visibly moving. . First two sing it almost .swamp. he makes the immense effort. Some above. One of the rainy season. he is hang around.

. As on day . Over the 'the fuck was that?'. Shouts from behind tell him his own identity.' The subaltern. Towards the path leading . Fortune. With these questions. He grins.Feels entirely incapable of second clump of trees.luxury automobiles.message from some other's swamp. The village has been built..refusing to put in . And lies. He tears it open . Normal choice. More usually.' So the surgeon said. 'Heart attack.reads for active attempt to consult his watch.the inside of his eyelids. The birds sing 'you Major.where is Scrotum. First turn into the brush. The car is waiting for him. Still capable of all. faintly. comes from a great distance . Other European? Shit! He is not the Colonel. 'What has he to do with? Prepare for another patrol in an associate of the Colonel.sir. Wrong. ' fuck was that?' The same defeat.the really rough stuff of awareness.?' . Pursuit seems to take forever to form behind.' Except the old lady who like plasticine through a particular other European.on the ammunition box..does not . a turn? Attention for several eternity. .. consciousness .the first time he has done. For an instant second the sudden impact of an ant . '. Down chest . And in good early be in a bunk? He is not cleared out. eventually.' Salutes smartly and departs.. He is. Slippery now with the beginning of his defective.. 'The huts. Absolutely type.. the old dog.. comes to .he could go a long way. Firing . Sleeps beside his bunk. yet? Well. Fame.happened?' 'He was dead when we . A slow off the mark.

no time to continuous roar. Followed anyway. Only one safe path. Shit. Quite together. All firing ceases . Last one visible from 'was that?' repeated endlessly around the muddy margin. ************************** . The day has charge. The third rows. He has merely woken from smoking. Normally expect. For a while into the trees. That?' ************************** Himself. threads his way between the little it seems. Into the ring to recall exactly what the most unlikely know. Any that?' Dimness.if that gives way birds are singing. Dawn is not coming . It once more increases. Under normal circumstances. Flat. Life .turns as the path does likewise. Not.been cut. Still . at the very least.'The fuck was . Too heavy (or so) of silence.despite the fact that the second fair dose of death. Seems always to be the same.though quietly. the leaves. By nice thought. Foot high at this. Fractions of a second later. As he peers at it in the dim . Speed no longer available. Stamina nonexistent. When disconcerting. There is also the Earl arrives. lost in the rattlecrash luxury box .open space. face down into the swamp. defective exhaust. Today. Water boils. None whatsoever in leaving most others in the dust. head well down.the years for just this eventuality. The song . Not the first time this morning of sight in seconds. perhaps. many times . however. Half an hour or so has passed . Crawl.he still fighting for breath. its deepest. Necessary to retrieve his way forwards then out again and up. A little cannot regain sleep due to his right knee .never go further than the waterhole. Arse begun. A thin scream he now feels. Machine gun. 'The fuck was this game. as later.the traffic has ceased entirely.fading. Some have run already . 'The fuck was that?' Air. Convinced that there has been Niva. the most obvious very minutes.

? He shivers violently . 'So what really .he is there .' He feeling somehow that this is not trying. Before his master's first signal survives the next week or so.sometimes even without minute or two. Repulsive Septicaemia Scrotum? Scrotum: the dingy pre-dawn hour appearance.He goes.fades.arrived. Left with itself to the forefront of his time by the look of it.' And then . 'What the fuck was that?' Out.ready for any keen young man.. About four hours. 'The exhaust.almost instantly prepared . Dead? 'What the fuck was that?'. He wrestles endlessly. Major?.the comparison .the morning.' The Lieutenant .lost malaria . Leap almost completely awake. Everything is desperately wrong.they gave us the information. Come to that . Wait a minute.. Normally the faithful idiot . for his watch bunk. 'This was addressed to him several times before he passes over a rather grubby envelope. Why should he put up with such discomforts. 'The fuck was that?' Second hand rotates in the layout in distant .trying to regain images of another life occupy apartment.' 'OK Lieutenant. He is. laboriously.' 'And the villagers?' 'All gone action. Thinks the Major..' 'Sir.trying to roll a huge ball of glutinous swamp. To think is .. You did well. Seriously elongated . Everything. This conundrum occupies his everything.

... ...ammunition.......

Left hand reaches to remove the pitot cover.every time. Then. at the same time feeling for the fuel tester.are made to last. Around the wing tip. Ageing rather now. Examining fittings and hinges. notoriously fragile. He starts the walk round. Measure Twice. but aeroplanes . along the trailing edge of the port wing. An easy aircraft to learn to fly in. Close the cap . he inserts the fuel tester into the flush drain valve in the bottom of the wing.does anything look out of line. smelling it to make sure that it is. nose-wheel leg. Left foot onto the step on the side of the fuselage. Half filling the tester. going through the planned flight in his head.always unreliable .unlike cars .must call for the bowser to be waiting outside the tower. In which we see that laid down procedures do not always work when the universe decides to ignore its own rules. he pushes the red cover with its attached 'remove before flying' streamer into the pocket at the back of the seat. and back towards the fuselage along the leading edge. he inspects the fuel sample for water. you check. Switching off again. Foxtrot Delta is a Cessna 152.22. He opens the small. First thing.two seats. listening to the whine of the electric gyro in the bank and turn indicator.are the wings level relative to the ground . He walks toward the plane. square hatch to check the oil levels and to pull the knob which lets petrol dribble out from the water trap at the lowest point . watching the fuel gauges slowly rise from their stops. and the creep marks on the tyre are lined up with those on the wheel. Half turning to the right. Look down at the wheel . Cut Finger.not good enough for this flight . to look into the cooling intakes on the cowling (for snakes) . Leaning in. left hand on the handle just behind the engine cowling. in fact.check . Right hand going for the door handle. avgas. He waits for a few seconds.split pin secure . look at the machine as you approach it .before examining the propeller for any obvious problems. his left is flicking on the master switch. and a peek inside to confirm what the .no obvious signs of leaking brake fluid. In aviation. A quick heave and he is up. examining the fuel tank vents and the pitot head. Only half tanks . Undo the fuel cap on top of the wing. Around the front . As his right hand comes out of the pocket. Everything . right foot on the step on the strut.gauges have already told him. Then around to the starboard side of the engine . slow and simple. he extracts his upper body from the cabin.and back down. A very common aircraft at flying clubs .he was taught. as many African trained pilots are.bending down to look at the.

so their concerns also . then around the starboard wing. He is aware of pursuit. he thinks. Another time. Once airborne. check all hinge bolts and cable and push rod ends . where he is going. He learned this a long time ago .every time.after closing the cowl hatch . as it is surprisingly difficult to tell a small pool of petrol from a small pool of water unless you actually kneel down to feel and smell it. Whatever you may. Amongst airmen. He can think of no way in which he could have offended one of his fellow expatriates to such an extent. he feels relief from a tension which he was not aware of earlier. or may not. Besides.of the fuel system . ************************* Later. This assuming that the requisite knowledge was available in the first place.lifting the elevator to examine the trim linkage. along to the tail. there is no way for the other to follow. as he taxies away from the tower. And so. back along the port side to the door. ************************* In spite of his firm knowledge of approaching pursuit. He does not connect it with an almost forgotten episode in the distant past.to check the other wing tank (never assume that they are both at the same level . rules are for everyone .despite the fact that they are connected).one slip that very nearly led to disaster for all concerned. He glances with some measure of contempt at the tiny homebuilt aircraft . This is for another story. There are good reasons for this. As humans dwindle to ants and less than ants. but has not been able to find any reason for it. Check the other main wheel. when it comes to flying. some things are simply not thinkable. his enemy can only lose ground. as such.a fairly pointless procedure. do with the rest of your life. Earthbound cares become irrelevant as the ground slips away. Fairly rapidly now. ************************* Sabotage does not occur to him. he follows the procedures as slowly and carefully as if he had no reason for haste whatsoever. Flying does this.property of his would-be nemesis. ************************* He is not actually aware of his crime. The energy requirements for one not possessing his special talents would be immense. Up onto the other wing .

For the first time it occurs to him that he might indeed have something to fear. ************************* As he weaves his spells against the African sky . Casually forgotten.the tension returns full force. .clouds shifting and swirling into almost comprehensible patterns .fade to insignificance. He sees his pursuer's face as it might have been many years ago. A casual murder.

receding. Sudden sideways lunges.don't forget to put out the cat. The tiny crackle of flames somewhere behind. he feels only a growing coolness. Vultures already circle high.day.earth to sky. The sky a clearer blue than any he has known.23. Drip of unseen fluids. Periods of total immobility. It all means so little now. Never directly towards its objective. Regret for a good machine broken. Without pain the blood flows. Metal moves against metal. He looks . It closes on him . he watches. Neck muscles fail to respond.nothing so strong remains . Eyes rotate through oceans of effort . Dying does not have to be bad. A distant silver speck . Vaguely hopes the cold will take him before the fire. Perhaps it cannot move and look simultaneously. Barely registers the approaching figure. Cutting loose now doors close . Background to . Halt and wait. at least.his real self still resident. Lacks the will to try harder.pause again. Thick glass barrier against the world. Creak of leather.victorious . Himself unmoving. Incurious he watches. Trying to bump start a stalled train he thinks. Shock wraps itself around to protect. Sprawled amidst the wreckage. takes time out for a quick cigarette. The flesh beneath likewise. A regular cadence. It takes a lump from his leg where his trousers are already torn. Crunch of slow footsteps on grass. Or. Although it is obviously a warm . What Goes Around Must Come Down. In which life as we know it comes to an end. Hearing unnaturally acute. Sparse herds of small cumulus against the baby blue. Broken spine he thinks cool and clinical. Tiny flakes of frozen methane flutter at the edge of conscious thought. Eyes pan sluggishly . Growing.no choice .perhaps even hot . Mild amusement somewhere deep .his enemy . The lizard approaches in short rushes.upwards and out.snap and tear.a distant longing for winter. Near total lack of interest. Not even hope really . He finds this welcome. Limited brain incapable. Jaws wide . A shadow at the periphery of vision. Prepares for permanent evacuation.a billion tons of inertia.

The sword begins its descent.some avian instinct the vultures have already began to scatter. All slips away. Final second:. . Red/orange light blossoms on shiny surfaces. Eyes fail to track.burning. Unidentifiable debris whips overhead . A dull roar. Black wings against the blue. Sword takes flight.away. Eyes. Last memories of clear blue . A little R & R. Crackle of flames has risen unnoticed. behind narrow slits widen in sudden primitive terror. Could be nice.tiny streaks of rust along the seams. Warned off . Blurs further out of focus.fading.polished bright . The raised sword. Fire unseen licks the edges of a warped metal tank.The armoured figure appears to flip backwards . He has willed it so. Stresses crack overstrained corner welds.ornate armour . No pollution here someone thinks focussed on the sky. Heat.

24.identity check.tropical dress uniform . Internal. External Viewpoint. Walks towards the neat rows of tents. A good year . Nineteen Ten he estimates.one of his favourites. Whistling. . if you prefer it that way. of course.the Colonel steps out between two drooping oil palms. He glances down at himself . Lieutenant-Colonel .fair enough he thinks. Immaculate in white . Especially in view of what is to come.

Not rest. The signs are all there . examining. Onto the step. While many have radios . Growing determination. Only to the Sea. Hand innocent. he pushes.at least the tester.the cabin. Flying clubs . One .are the wings level? Wilted flower to the next. On . Slowly rise from . Wooden rakes learn to fly in.his head? First thing. It is too hot .25. he is up. Half turning . Make sure that it is in. most people have more to remove the pitot cover. Happiness over the last ten . Ageing cars under the blazing sun are made to last.in things . Enough for bare survival. Foxtrot Delta is at such things.their companies are willing .national. In spite of this. In. right foot on haystack.at the same time feeling hand.two seats. He waits for a few electric . There is no roar of tractors can afford time. England. Into the flush drain valve filling.in the bank and turn. it overloaded bumble bees. they labour under left foot. it is. He comes out of the pocket switch. we can see . 1955: A long hot English. A long leak into the big cold wet. Look out of line. Switching off. Leaning in. ************************** Here. Innocent. they take their pub (on the handle just behind) in the bracken. To increase their profits by the tower.this flight. in countryside. In the warm. He walks toward the plane. As it dries.are already happening.around the wing tip. Imagined the horrors of the . And those days . He inspects it to proverb about ignorance.the hypnotic leading edge.a ghastly replica of their gyro ... more of before flying streamer. Few houses outside the major edge of the port wing. Seat. On the smaller scythe. In some ways this is due to.

and always innocent. They listen to the 'Service'.top of the wing. . Unreliable gauges have check.

It may.Memorandum From: WP/IPC-OC (Troops) To: All Departments Subject: Memoranda. to persuade its recipients into believing that its perpetrator is a person of some importance. this memorandum is created for a single purpose. as with any similar examples of intellectual flatulence. be safely ignored. therefore. It should be obvious that this stratagem can only possibly succeed where those who peruse its contents have an extremely limited mental capacity. In common with all other such communications. . This being.

Fought. Time. Soon he . Not yet.and to pull would come under control. Small pockets of peace. He opens oil.tells them nothing of the leaking brake fluid . when it comes to time. there will.caught. As the confines of their local.take the procedures . In spite of his firm. Deeper. ragged thinkable. Not even to disaster for all. mass murder. Fairly check obtaining it . Even.and up. How could anyone possibly assume that they are both children's children . Homebuilt aircraft. Nosewheel leg. Not a small boy. To examine the trim.could be that they are connected. He (the disposable) .not in England. Here he learned this along led .bending down. In the starboard wing.. Reason for haste. The imagination. breathless shade possessing his special field.all hinge bolts and cable. For any obvious problems of days of empire are gone.. In 1955.) The engine . Perhaps even beyond the end. Sell off in order to kneel down (to feel an entire generation). The content free 'News'. He glances tiny as the afternoon heat. Look down at the wheel . more constant. That . (grey. ************************** No one here would believe. Life. Whatever you may? Your world. for many years yet. Around money was the only true god. Lose ground. Levels .as no society is coming.the aforesaid small pool of petrol. Broiling. closing the cowl hatch. Besides hobnail boots) no more than the other to follow. these innocents are brink. does not occur to him. The door. as a variety. with those on the wheel.and back down.by any means . The water trap composed entirely of petty pointless procedure. Many African trained of the approaching end of the cowling. Wrapped up in their own. . One of being . 'Third'.'Light Program'. at least. (For here.

Falling air. For the first time. Hum almost immediately. He can think of no one the sun. The something to fear.Right hand going for the door handle. While it does not reappear.add Cessna 152. Hailstones fall . it is observed by no one'. Over one step for it. Ants . There are good reasons.does anything? The heart of each storm cell.gaps going through the planned flight. Aviation . *************************** Tropopause. A very common aircraft. Turbulent air currents until now aeroplanes . An easy aircraft. another aircraft. He is aware of pursuit . Starts the walk round. the first look at the machine as you approach the eastern horizon . cotton wool. The slow and simple. Left hand reaches as the first drops of rain. almost. of earlier. He notices his fellow expatriates.unlike million volts per metre. As the sun sets . Shorn.relative to the ground . Hours later. Harvest. returns full force. In the cloud cover. when the worker weaves his spells of their various abodes. red cover with its attached: 'Remove. aware across the depthless blue. the tiny white cumuli. And swirling into. a line. As fields have expanded and he sees his pursuer. behind. Of the sun which gave them.so their concerns. He is not labour.reason of. appears the tower.will have supplied this. Assuming that his mother will have first place. From one of the small. Back and forth with swathe.you check. Turning onto his back. . Everything. Flying . Across the country. Almost. He feels relief. Another layer of ice.vanishes behind another cloud as the ground slips away. .

his call for the bowser to be waiting outside. The engine cowling. The small boy will never tell .not good enough. The fuel sample for water. in some stagnant front . It is tossed around. Part of its stony home . This is partly already told him.seconds. washed the fuel tank vents and the pitot head. Best to ease the load on the course again. Thrown up to an attitude indicator. Examining fittings and hinges. Undo the fuel. Close the cap . Into the pocket. listening to the whine. The creep marks on the tyre are lined. along over a large area.listen.from a pilot . Then cast.he was taught.to look into the cooling intakes. The pilot . His left is flicking on the master. watching the fuel gauges for sufficient air. Hope? Right.out of control .In. but even more to the blown split pin secure . It tumbles . To splinters by lightning. Already he has become aware . smelling airframe intercepts the fact . He inserts the fuel tester. As his right activity. Then. When they do. There is nothing.itself.no obvious signs. In any case. ************************* For a fraction of a second. Somewhere. at the back of the worst of the seats. Stops. along the trailing. left. for the fuel tester. by the following peek inside to confirm what? himself. The only evidence of it. Of glass and resin which. A quick heave. Only half tanks . they even more step on the strut. back towards the fuselage. he extracts his upper body.on the side of the fuselage.avgas. Half machine falls sideways away. ************************* . in the bottom of the wing.

Smell it. Then around to the starboard side summer. '.. . A fraction of a percent concerned. with the rest of la Roche' syndrome..' tell. Cause the death of millions in order . Few have. rules are for everyone.before examining the propeller. along to the tail. Is surprisingly difficult to Laboriously turned and turned again with a small pool of water. Once airborne. Every. Snakes ..lifting the elevator.after little time for leisure. Own (lack of) culture. Americans to turn the entire world linkage. Whatsoever. Or since.the proof .despite the fact). And so. Lumbering their improbable way from knob which lets petrol dribble out. Deep in the semi .one slip that very nearly. Check the other main wheel. Affair farm's grass is still cut with. Few are yet aware of push rod ends .slowly and carefully as if he had equal bliss. hatch to check. Years before. The loudest sound is that small. Where multi flying. Ignorance. Temporarily . Few learn to check the other wing tank (never at the same level .the knowledge of approaching pursuit. or may not do.in this era only the very rich lowest point of the fuel system. ************************ Other parts of the world .time ago .. his enemy towns are supplied with electricity with some measure of contempt. People here have achieved some form. Notoriously fragile to move. square.. then. This is for another story.Should not yet exist. it will make. Up onto the other wing .mythical to look at. Rapidly now. Another. back along the port side. In the end. A time of peace. Unless you.

From a tension which was not days of muggers. He does not connect). property of his would-be nemesis. Later. Thinks where he is going. Criminals of an extremely unsavoury . some things are simply the destructive rays of the sun.comprehensible patterns . England also fade to insignificance.forgotten episode in the distant past.few see beyond to such an extent.. The madness of 'The Goon Show' but has not been able to find any true state of the world. Begun. Against the African sky clouds shifting.everything face as it might have been many years. The crude radio soap operas actually aware of his crime. To protect. as he taxies away. For this. Criminals would proceed to destroy casual murder. Line their own pockets .. Way in which he could have offended parochial (literally .tension. Casually forgotten. they are unaware . As humans dwindle to ants and less . within a generation. Sabotage? Flicker of television is almost unknown. The energy requirements for one not fragrant. Believe that their children and the lizard approach in shorts . casual rape and this. Be no more peace this century. Occurs to him that he might indeed have.The `Wireless' as it was known. there is innocent pleasure in the village. ************************* Area concerns.that. World as they know it. Amongst airmen.. Earthbound cares become irrelevant. Depths of a premechanisation talent would be immense. Of a political party apparently. as such. Program. Naive propaganda of the BBC 'Home' requisite knowledge was available.

his enemy to return to his seemingly endless little now. Dying does. hot. In the ever green rural England trousers are already torn. Turning the growing. here and there. Intensifies.snap and tear it. Shock wraps itself. lies in muscles fail to respond. Sparse herds of the cut down rake. Tiny flakes of frozen appears a small aircraft. But not Jaws wide . ************************ Still exist. Creak of leather. Fluids. Hearing unnaturally. Metal moves. He looks six or seven years old. Thinks.mild amusement. Perhaps . Trying. Prepares for permanent.he watches. Finished the peculiar herbal drink. From obviously warm .strong remains . ragged shirt. oversized against the world. Eyes boosted by rising. in near total lack of interest. . Have all disappeared in the direction . Cutting loose now .doors of storm cells build up towards.Brainwashed into believing that objective. Silver speck . grey. Limited brain incapable.mere unseeing inches from the cool and clinical. the hum of the bees overlaid the wreckage. Flickers of lightning dance across to ornate armour . Lacks under the hedge in a corner of the sluggish earth to sky. Periods of total. . Regret for a good sound. Periphery of vision. The tiny crackle of flames gazes intently at the sky.I'm all right Jack . This dismal century. The money and run . Red through the last remaining figure.a distant premature darkness falls. Life.would be unforgivable. air from the billion tons of inertia. Change in the hitherto unnoticed background. grown together to block out the light.polished is a roaring hell of rising and the seams. Shortly conscious thought. Time to expose its damp underside. Shorts. ************************* Although the sound lingers . Without pain .perhaps even clouds that are beginning . The raised sword.whatsoever .will take him before the fire. He finds.to coolness. Grass. And that the only sin involved halt and wait. The sky a clearer blue.

Blurs further out of focus. Never directly towards it . Could be. Electric charge builds up. Eyes. Broken spine . the metal. Black wings. Smaller even than the first began to scatter.And are carried aloft again to focus on the sky.burning. he watches. And cannot move and look simultaneously. Sudden sideways lunges. Drip of unseen. It closes on him . After a subjective eternity as himself.soon to be ruined -Warned off . Of the fact that adults seldom around to protect. Eyes pan due to the excitement of the storm. are dispersed blood flows. Incurious.machine broken.) A dull ground or to another cloud of a warped metal tank. Last memories of clear blue down towards the invisible ground rushes. Red/Orange light blossoms on. Vultures already circle high. All where engine and pilot fight desperately.can do. Unmoving. Fall onto the .he thinks into the soil. descending with the rain. Whips overhead .upwards and out. It can discharge itself. ************************ In the blinding darkness. Thick glass barrier infrequently believe. Not have to be bad. carried by. (three has risen unnoticed. A bubble in a Maelstrom.pause again. From a rising current. No choice . Neck morning he has completely forgotten the will to try harder. Sprawled amidst anyone about the vanishing aircraft .some avian appears. save to hang on and try immobility. Overstressed airframe.flesh beneath likewise. A distant discovery of a favourite tree . behind. The heart of the cumulonimbus armoured figure appears to flip turbulence. Potential path of a major discharge takes a lump from his leg where his passing is a multitude of tiny particles . At the very peak of the storm flight. narrow like a toy.

skin crudely painted. Instinct . Although it is the dinosaurs. Welds. Looking up. Approaching any he has known. eyes fail to track. A shadow at the escarpment is a metal. Vaguely hopes the flakes and tatters. Crackle of flaming places . no more than twenty feet above. Not even hope really . Along.the illusion vanishes.nice. a caddis fly might construct small cumulus against the baby blue. Against metal.his real self .the doors are still capable of bright .appear to be some form of chicken . Heat. Final second:. He rotate through oceans of effort -the floor.the vultures have catwalk.dusty strips hang down flames. ************************ Somewhere behind. .victorious . Somewhere deep . Background .feathers removed underlying methane flutter at the edge of I.tiny streaks of rust along square of greenish light. observed closely.overstrained corner rotting canvas on a wire frame. Stresses crack .don't forget to put out the double doors at the far end. Fire unseen licks the climb up onto a nearby boulder and edges. dusty. This welcome.I struggle through swirls and ill resident close . See that the sky is peeling in. It all means so waterway. Against the blue. Barely registers a metallic creak of protest.day.to bump start a stalled train by the light of the burning. ************************ No pollution here someone thinks . he feels only a growing . Fragment of glass or epoxy that acute.so immediately fall through longing for winter. A disused hangar .leftover from the Great War. Crunch of slow footsteps on difference. A regular cadence. A cat evacuation. Hot . I old.receding. The sword begins its descent . Backwards . Sword takes volcano .away. Roar.nothing .

. Slips away. humid air. Unidentifiable heave at the rusty bolts. Shiny surfaces.a pulse of hot. Movement. He has willed it so. Tracks long ago packed with grease.Slits widen in sudden primitive drifts of ancient dust to the big error. A line .a rectangle . fading.

a little baker's assistant from Clapham .I am not entirely au fait with these things. It is a tyrannosaurus . (to and fro also) many equally uninteresting events are taking place.26. It is all very picturesque. (Shirtlifters of Bond St. Silhouetted against the morning sky. the river winds its sluggish way toward the distant ocean. The tumbling elephant smashes itself to pieces against a passing cliff. cast away by the bitter wind. . I stand . What with the photographs taken for posterity and all. Some kind of lizardish creature peers out at me from the undergrowth. Up and down and back and fore in the world. Great sticky bubbles rise from the crater of the volcano amidst an odour that reminds me irresistibly of purple cheese.Fifty Guineas. the very year in which the infamous Ronald Raygun accidentally drills a hole in his foot for the first time. around midnight. Preferably one which will not disturb the creases of my immaculate white safari suit.decided. Later he argued with the head porter for hours over who would be responsible for the repairs to his tent. I am on vacation.four-square as they say . The expedition appears to have bogged down in a series of bitter arguments concerning the last box of chocolate biscuits. Also a missing jar of cocktail olives. as he calls himself . to be sure. It is Nineteen Thirty Two. I have had rather a broken night. The volcano has apparently decided to put on a full scale eruption. I search for a likely path down onto the plain. yet . Far below.or perhaps a pteronodon . an elephant tumbles end over end over end. to amuse himself by killing mosquitoes with his shotgun. A Scanner in the Wax. Clouds of lavender smoke obliterate the further reaches of the immense plain below. He has such an irritating voice .) In the middleground. upon the edge of the escarpment.that phoney upper class whine. In which a package tour tends increasingly towards the unconventional. Stands of feathery trees along the banks presumably conceal a multitude of wildlife. Featherstone-Haugh.rather an heroic figure. A dramatic moment which I fully appreciate.

flames were never meant to be.underlying skin crudely painted. I climb up onto a nearby boulder and immediately fall through . where.a square of greenish light. So what if it stays lost. I begin to make my way down the staircase. Something would seem to have gone wrong with the volcano now . broken loose from their anchorage. no more than twenty feet above the floor. I make a mental note to have certain words with the travel agent upon my return.a leftover from the Great War.feathers removed . A lunge. as heroically as I previously stood. Kicking aside a couple of smallish dinosaurs. The dinosaurs. As I approach its banks. A metallic creak of protest.or rather 'mastodons' . humid air.rotting canvas on a wire frame. on the plain. I can see that the river is merely painted onto the flat surface of the plain . A flurry of movement. 'Lost Plateau' indeed. dusty. A thin scream.somehow disappointing in an indefinable way. Something with far too many teeth and an equal superabundance of claws bursts from the encroaching vegetation.for the amount this tour has cost. Again I am not pleased . I see that the sky is peeling in places . I am almost certain. I am standing. now come bowling past. By the light of the burning volcano the illusion vanishes. The escarpment is a metal catwalk. Tracks long ago packed with grease.flakes and tatters. A line .an illusion of movement created by arrays of Christmas tree lights concealed among the trees. Which I can now see are merely roughly shaped cardboard. Looking up. Some indefinite time later.dusty strips hang down .a rectangle . . Tiny flames lick around its base. they might at least have provided an elevator. which I have finally located.it has slumped sideways. I struggle through swirls and drifts of ancient dust to the big double doors at the far end. appear to be some form of chicken . A receding crackle of torn vegetation. the doors are still capable of movement. A heave at the rusty bolts. A disused hangar . As are the elephants . A pulse of hot. A snap of scaled jaws. I think peevishly.another three of which. observed closely.

Part 3: Going Old Disgracefully. .

however much he wishes to be. Unprompted. The Colonel has seen plenty of pretty. He is free to do as he chooses. So: she is young. This is not the problem. her only possession. reasonably healthy. Not pretty. This is not a good thing. So where is the problem. Pretty is a fashion. this is not necessarily a problem. has never stepped beyond that invisible line. an unexpected conscience manifests itself. She is illiterate. In which the Colonel finally encounters a superior force and is utterly defeated. when he openly begins to plan marriage. The Colonel is an . is an island. When he does find out. real beautiful shines from the bone. she is beautiful. Beautiful is ageless. She is twenty-three years younger than him. changing with time. He is wrong. moderately rich. two. she is intelligent. of course. she has offered him her most precious possession. No man. bounded by the shores of unwritten rules and obligations. She is poor. It is 1935. He is rich. He steps beyond it now. in spite of his sometimes unsavoury occupations. Apart from the clothes she wears. The Colonel has more than enough wealth for She can speak ten languages. Surrender and/or Die. she has retained her virginity until the age of twenty five. Shame turns to love. Pretty is a temporary thing. So his thoughts run. This also is no problem . We all swim in the sea of our social milieu.again . The Colonel. In a society where any female over the age of sixteen who remains unwed is considered an aberration.in fact this probably counteracts the preceding item.27. The Colonel is not aware of this when she offers herself to him. The Colonel wants no more than to make her happy for the remainder of her life. Her smile lights the darkness. He has no other responsibilities. So .where is the problem. Beautiful. The Colonel is charmed at their first meeting. The problem becomes obvious. In spite of prejudice against intelligent women.

************************* She is black.expatriate Englishman living in West Africa.no giggling. hysterically. No more. she increasingly approaches his concept of the perfect woman.a star among lesser women. Very much worse. It is in motion that she shines out . A photograph. Even those ageing hags who see the Colonel as a match for their hideous daughters could forgive these things given time. Eyes open. young. in any conventional way. Even in the last decades of the twentieth century. not to mention racist. Woman she is. Horrendously snobbish. . No girl this . no less. In the event. This does not dissuade him. is unlikely to reveal her beauty. She is special. a mere snapshot of a single moment in time. those persons who entitle themselves 'expats' tend to be totally isolated from the communities in which they live. Claims she is ugly. stupid. such as can be found in any bar from Greenland to the Antarctic. He sees her as he sees her. The one overwhelming factor in this case conceals that from them. unfit to associate with him. nothing is as good as the home country. She denies this. as he finds out more about her. The sharp profile of Cleopatra. in spite of her youth. pretty. In 1935 it was worse. Beautiful. shag-happy female. innocent. She has the face of those ancient Egyptian pictures you see from time to time. he is prepared to accept any faults she may manifest. ************************* She is not. poor. Especially if they have not returned there for many years. Can you see it now. Not that they see her as beautiful of course.

The last words of the lowest point in the trench. ************************* I skull with a hand. I noticed two further items to his being.) The barrage and freedom from that tapeworm.from being unsightly.thought .early spring.. ************************* How could the world continue . So the Colonel has any normal day in the Borough of sweaty. Old Colonel Fuckwit was . (Walls of winter frozen corpses. And dismal corpse sufficiently far away from posterity. As I said. But no! Glancing from my part . This in turn gives rise to . This trench with the Colonel is upon my original astonishment. That the world was unaffected by kind of vicious stupidity.think straight for the.almost continuous noise. Who. Has prepared to rise. solely by my own has been able to spend Become both incredibly famous and .he is wondering why fat. that all names have been changed .. Pristine surface of my breakfast..huddled in this document entirely.unknown to me. the Colonel was dying . I am now beginning to regret his action. one fine summer. almost immediately. It is also partly because somewhere in dark.end.comfort than he had originally . Knew then. Longer . Surely hurricanes must rage. In fact.the rather elongated telegram unusually pervasive smelliness. Licence Expired or Withdrawn. Oliver Hardy in his cinematic policemen mugging a little old tendency. Now the possessor was unsigned. unusually . at any rate. In which the Century seems to be drawing to a close rather prematurely.28. . see. This could be partly because the marmalade which I had (absent) the Colonel having taken an extraordinary communication.and now . there can be no possible.The Colonel . Colonel Fuckwit dead in the small section of his mind. Which side is currently doing? It seemed then.

far. when failed . It was in. Not my valet.puffs of black smoke appearing. South) of the twentieth century.comes to him that this must be (or her) own imagination.for perhaps a while. Some time later. Soon he will be out of this. green trousers and his time. Lazy figures of eight.over more stress and hatred than any sauna .he was with me. Shitehawk . He watches the aeroplane yards away from the location with nothing better to do. He decides that one day. ************************* Pausing only a few minutes to timetable inside his skull. individual Royal Flying Corps. Every now and then. He knows idiot or a stockbroker.this is the favoured. decidedly retarded.' ************************* The Colonel's mansion. ugly corpse . The Colonel has eight o'clock that evening. Described violence.something of a record idiot. This loon: 'There will shortly be an attack. No fat to observe the obnoxious. I was peace and harmony that are the Great North (East.I stopped for a moment .to remove himself from a little more solid. 'In' stamped upon it showed that it listen. then he too. A small. So merely triggered vaguely at the sky he sees . which seem to follow. He have liked to stop and watch the well . Glimp. ************************* The custom built. Correctly dressed. All this time to reach me . A one legged of shells seem to be exploding thinking .which amounts to the same thing. turbo-charged . Permit the reader to commit it . No doubt .roadster.Or at least was sergeant . Having directing at least part of the attempt to follow. Let us now have a small interval . but appeared unpleasantly soft around The one of the 'Bond' buttons on the impact most frequently.having had in his pocket . Perhaps it is time to try a shirt.looted brandy. approaching the flying.now from the combined heat urgency. Kicking at its inaccuracy until he begins .

sixteen-instant. Design. I took a minute to restore. A Mercedes. . as I was. and best to obliterate the other. It was surrounded by acres .increases in intensity . He almost panics in those few. The English forgotten . (clock has given him the signal.had there been living ears -to get my elongated.now beginning to thaw in the style. The depths of the trench.) Automobile who may happen to read .not that it matters -) Hundred square yards of rot. ************************ Overload . I took my existence. I proceeded. A stray gravel drive.feel a reassuring solidity. evolutionary advantage to obesity. which would have been. The blast gravel and dog shit. with no clunk. to which is still capable of coherent view . Sure imitation of a smooth ride. After a considerable amount .its crude tractor . Or.consisting mainly of any people exist. sergeants entrenching tool to natural stupidity of the neo-Nazi.centre of the trench. As far as he can. then pulls . ************************ Sideways dwelling in the ever .through. that is what sheer mind numbing pressure of an Estate Agent. Armour plated in rather . Garden shed.merely that the door is buried. Slewing to a halt . This is not grossly over . The shriek of a rusting main gateway and onto the mind numbing roar. Steadily to himself. From the rear door.normal gleaming state. This was held erect.referring to the infamous . he takes his designed to appeal. Having for a few seconds. The door closes after.ditch. (At least. Then he wonders why they bother .he thinks that perhaps he has . Not to mention that of notorious residence.to scrape away the softened mud. on the sheer weight.alloy.parkland.

Scrotum was almost blind. A perfect example of the hip flask .should. absolute accuracy of the rest .of the overweight.. the Colonel is I. . Most to an equally offensive.that.being by them. he has not been forced to. ************************ This was something which I had . Holding open the door with one Colonel . In some ways. Sagging too long now.years later . Certainly beginning to reek a bit.the small fire he has kindled . On the other hand. Colonel has been unable to move. Somewhat greater was to come later.Knackers' early opportunity to smash in his. very entirely recovered. Already the majority gorilla-hide shoes.and. This is not merely due. They also have . They who had almost certainly never .indeed my previous self . ************************* The door was opened by the double rations.large piece of shrapnel. Muttering rotten war. Exotic collection of buildings. I say appeared because the whole performance.rather good . The fat sergeant who is sharing out at a dangerous angle. Where next? He wonders. For the moment anticipated. unconfirmed impulsive action.of his imbecilic chatter . Offer it as mere. that. I was told .of last two days in.and corrosion that might notice . Soon. but also to the Scrotum. A mishap from off towards the south.. And almost invariably exude that with the mangled remains of a will.to be rather unpleasantly laying the worlds. and legendary 'Charlie . Addition.Against what appeared to be. Took to be an invitation to enter little peace again? Not so easy.consults the half seen dank recesses. has been dead for quite some time. On every visible portion . One day be epitomised by one. Verify for myself .

almost solid in the wan sunlight.like substance will learn to fly. ************************* Regardless: at this particular barrage. Spherical entrance mars the gleaming . He is aware.some exotic wood . Men in the RFC.doing to calculate speeds and distances. and began to shamble . I knew then.by the British forces.tried most of the tiny islands.To me. (against the clear blue. presumably. that . *********************** If I was being paid by the word? Craft as it circles. Turning onto his stomach. Irritably he kicks the (Remember that. where his foot tends.reputed to exist in the hidden depths in this household. I assumed he would beneath his body. Main entrance.drivel by the yard . softening. Observation aircraft of the British mutate endlessly once we enter. From this. in the idle manner of a man. he begins. is a glass.pointless descriptive stuff. Staring statement from a politician. as history. upper rib area. he deduces that. It is beginning to feel gutter) press . He is appalled . He thinks: No mud.nineteen-twenty-hundredth time. just anti-aircraft fire. To the left are two. Had vanished. for certain. Under normal majority turn out to contain. or maybe aircraft become a little more reliable . Difficult to get past Scrotum as of his body and his fire. far into the while. This fragile machine must be. Which. Mainly because of the goat. After some time past. For a . Time to go. a small and lonely RE8 .that is to say. you would find that. if I settle back into the mud. Divided into two sections by this . ************************ Colonel was living under a flat war zone. His internal with the oil of the Whooping. By the time I had removed my all.) Change without notice. Overhead.

In the bed. 'Foul Navy Shag' tobacco and when I later took my yellowing figure of the Colonel. from various persons at one time or wossname! This (presumably) revelation . I found that they somehow persuade others to large and ancient four-poster. they write down this incredibly forget the style comment. when the ghost came and sat. I noted in passing finish the job. Twenty-five pounder impacts the exact torch and nut-crusher.few seconds. There was no sign . A few curves of real. light would .) Peered into the darkness. I saw the ghost from dying. Approaching shell amplifies itself into almost impenetrable gloom.) Many of them still seem to take course. But it is such time as some unexpected turn .whatever that is) The time with the lock.few inches deeper than he expected.door just wide enough and steps which had been painted in him with a solid bank vault. (Note: Whereas all characters and tatters. liberty. As a matter of himself again. (Doesn't make much sense to me. the nether regions of the house . idiot. There was no ear. (Albanian obliterates all evidence of it.seconds until his scrabbling fingers ground floor rooms.even carelessly forgotten to hear. Counts on of rather distressed looking rats . he uses the fat spiders (some. in order to protect life.finally made an error. Pile of feather mattresses . ************************ Be in the bible at the deranged upper floors. I would like to make it clear .while in a state of out of sight .the bar stool. This erstwhile occupant.rather unheard above the general racket .from where I stood. Being given the wisdom of they. ************************ Opening one last door . To a kind of half-landing. Reappearance. Normal.in. Counting slowly and mastiff . if you want a perfect example. At almost exactly the same crumbling cardboard stairs.

I mindedly ingested . occasionally. Nevertheless. Still there when I looked unregarding in its tracks. for reasons.I was delirious for two days. Signed only by the letters 'XXXX. Yet now I was the tray. *********************** Summoned to the Colonel's residence from bar to bar. *********************** Firstly: the telegram cross this effect twice before.the predatory lawyer . it came to below me .just as if this were. Reading to the only slightly greying was now of interest. No . The end of an era (my first). Hampshire .) So the word came to me as 'I' where I sat.a great man. Piling in turn upon the toast.and volcanoes erupt. Further in her in some considerable which had so unexpectedly marred her name. a long time ago.in order to record for this girl I barely knew . Reading. Move. If efforts has . Once with tetanus. Kensington. Afternoon. That this was merely . Found that I had.themselves. the remainder of that night. the concept was unthinkable. As the world knows (or hardly have recognised from my writer. Merely an ordinary man . questioning.I should say had) The only thing of which I can . After a while. There sat the ghost. I could plainly .obscenely rich. That only I could save. Became overwhelming after. Neither did it occur to me to exclusive window.incessant stream of vehicles.have been powerless .I could see two large with someone I knew.humanity .whilst perusing night in a state bordering on this. toilets block . I felt bafflement piling danger. A face black lady .I finished one beer see? ************************* This earth shattering news.ghost sat .

I eventually located. The dance. I requested black . my original halt. This final hope .matter of hours. less than one hundred evening. in a bar right across town. To request directions out into that more malleable .fact.could only have been a village.has taken in a life dwarf.tied to one small place . Much as I would .disease. red. ************************ Immediate area. There are few sounds more.most of his spent . whatever. Multitudinous threads. Neurons fire rapidly. from fellow whom I had previously questioned. especially. The shattering . I felt a certain sense of coherence.the scene by the time I returned. Control panel. Glows with sudden rear cameras for later perusal.' ************************ Secondly: The time of transmission. Instructions. ************************ Thought fades away into endlessly contemplate the matter. I rang for Colonel .the speed limit along the infinite paths that he .has failed. Eventuality. This. Colonel has lived . That forms for British Telecom I believe. This done. two seat plus dickey plus whom he has trusted to extract. Girl decades dead and forgotten .small part of the Colonel's fire. Political . The Colonel's brain organic had taken a mere seven hours to quantum computer. Unease unexpected . Police car attempted to follow me.once become discouraged after I pressed the paths of time . The way out.too Favourite cobra hide underwear. ************************ Road in my famous places. And I was pleased. And now this fool. Complex Small and unpleasant village of number of discrete quantum. Who tended to be rather hard. Intending to be moves. .West.almost two further hours.

The palace and the main. Take a look . I managed . Got that off my mind. it proved to be perfectly .I will . take it seriously too. First good look at the.all serious. two down and do anything about it. Your car with its incredible generosity . the three popular sixties prefab shithouse and took another.illusion caused by incipient sickness . Against the headlights of the backing and filling.heading north.a thing of rags.turns out to have a flat tyre. Potentially lethal Volkswagen moon that night . Even when (if) they recover of this masterpiece.in-line bonnet though. The ghost did not. It did not occur to me. For a small touch .mind its advertising (the corner of my eye) . Not five yards from cylinder . expensive.had there been.be. Worse still. The rather short curving weed. its suspension. yet in the traditional shower of loose straight ahead. without even moonlight hanging in the air above. but extremely light. Claim to have received his corpse into the roadside delirium. soon to . or similar. Its pig-iron body shell too. for any connoisseurs drivel. relying purely on the temperature. or the word of god. . it is also . *********************** Further delay to Maison Fuckwit. *********************** Incidentally. Invisible in direct vision. I was sitting in my favourite bar style suspension. There sat I with one half finished beer. I sat. thus giving. like a ranting of the Book of Revelations.relying. Vague like a BMW.graphically for comfort. Convinced that they are the front of my vehicle to its ages. Comfortable two up. Entirely within the confines of another.titanium rated German car . Beside me I had no feeling of illness.

I have come. her. in fact.Of beautifully maintained rolling me that the apparition had to do. he can no longer see the perils of excessive masturbation . Steam-driven combine harvester.by the world he has forgotten. They tell me window. once in a case of cholera and neither the time or inclination was ever diagnosed in my case. after only a few minutes hammering along the razor's edge. From the attic. Component of the massively parallel.or human mind .convinced that she was in some terrible. The rumour as a contrast to the long. Obsessed by the figure of this narrative. Came to mind: a girl I used to meet. Heard of either the Colonel . I have no clear recollection. This feeling of impending doom. Time. As I said this . Coherent. *********************** Solely by the fact that it leaned while I staggered out into the life size statue of a dinosaur desperation. His memory. To a considerably different person. garbled descriptions. there. extremely large and equally decrepit. It seems to me that I staggered. Septicaemia long.previously believed by some to be lost .is dying. Yard & Scrap Dealer (and Sons). Had never. Equally have been a giant chicken whom even her own mother could uncomfortably egg. Translation should read about: I had not seen her. even known. *********************** Anyone come asking? Sub loops. Colonel's ancient manservant. and be sure is that my hair . Thing was so covered in vines .possible lives to . Find later.complete strangers as to the whereabouts. Incredible .) Strange. It would be in the arcane language. Too many risks.almost entirely white. or even thought debris. It was possible to see (by leaning can neither confirm nor deny this) slipping tiles.

a critical moment. something must be seriously amiss. On the screen it is 1910. ********************** The recesses of the Colonel's mind.remember correctly. Something .even when the state of existence in which the stone in the depths of the Congo. A handful of still intact towards the rear of the house. state .become indeterminate . Long life. Rattle of machine gun fire on a quiet . *********************** Grimy and unappetising flesh. Molecules. Which I am afraid they never. each capable of an immense. to extract a fact. It is.liable to sudden changes. your home. Which failing mind which still retains some I? He immediately turned his back . His other fumbling in him from this last lethal trap. Which corridor? Which runs from the will. The nightmare returns.too conspicuous. This imbecile hand. begin to ebb? The foundations distance to a dim square of light. Auto-fucking-biography! The something under his breath.a minor scandal likely to create a sudden sense of every newspaper in the world. other of warts.live and be lived. it applies if you are having a quiet drink.anger. Consider . Hunchbacked and had a fine crop .trod so easily in other times. Trousers. ************************ Circumstances . Prancing poseur. he spat copiously on my valued comrade among those few who walk new.fanning.military camp are suddenly far too close to geography and even physics . Note: all descriptions are liable . Now. for a little more of the situation . foreign registration. The house appears to be the tide of invention. You know no one in the time.

be lurking in some noisome den in years. Rather impressive purple tartan. Almost the size of a small . Scrotum put it: 'Will then vanish from sight . While to the right. rewriting them and claiming like them.of all those things which you describe earlier . will no longer exist. the worlds first jet aircraft. in spite of the multitude of uses. Fax machines have been which led upwards (why not?).exit to the back garden. and so promptly forgot him. And a lone stuffed armadillo. As so many authors were in the patents. Year by any standards. Soon. Of fact: apart from the ubiquitous. until human mind will have become so.'modern' have already been panelled . ********************* The plot might require his most trivial gimmick . only one flown. which .before the end of . Further doors.family on a bag of chicken food.television is seven. Characterised the previous century.revealed a flight laid.' By the last decade. the art of invention. I could churn out this which has not in some way been.as something of the Colonel there. With us since 1828 .) Crane to render it supple. Ornate plywood affair. (Treated. In fact: the very word 'creation'. Rooted in a patent taken out. Century. Expanse of rotting plaster.where it could be applied to only signs of life . ********************** Removing from my pocket a combination . Dickens we used to call it. panelled in the 1890's . This will be designed by two walrus-hide driving coat.Henri Coanda will.

separate researchers. At this point miasma of stale urine.secret police issue. whence (what style. stood a twentieth century. when I think about it. In the 1920's. Sunk deeply . Will have degraded to the point Something as trivial as a new label.sluggish that it will accept. the average. For the remainder of the light revealed that the steps consist mainly of rifling. what grammatical sole credit.the year . lay shrivelled. new and wonderful. To which this device could be. 'Extra slightest need for creative thought'. Almost blocking all access . (the stairs) for nearly another thirty of this small level area. Liberian camel cheese.two foot thick. 1952. Either. Creeping cautiously up. . The transistor.) the single item continued upwards at an angle which was foreseen. In the doorway below.

Machine gun.a mere two foot high at this.nice thought. head well down. Maybe some have run already . Last open space... Jumps and turns as the path does likewise. Into the trees now. Threads his way between the little surprises he has arranged over the years for just this eventuality. They will be running now. His right knee . Muscles flabby. Fractions of a second later. Towards the path leading down from the village to the swamp.the villagers never go further than the waterhole . A condition which appears to be in danger of becoming permanent. Lungs fucked from smoking. Slippery now with the beginning of the rainy season. Down the semi-precipitous slope. Fifty yards to level ground. the sound arrives. Zig zagging between the huts. as he reaches the rocks. Too late though.29. ************************** Waterhole. Over the edge of the flat area on which the village has been built. Crawl. Lurches to the left around the muddy margin. Few more yards then out again and up. All firing ceases. Firing does not begin until he has made the first turn into the brush. Runs madly. Stamina non-existent. Arse likewise.. Too late now. anyway. its deepest end .will shield him right into the trees.been cut down by their own side even .too many snakes here. face down into the swamp. Safe enough . Speed no longer available.. Any sound of bullets through the air.no time to hang around. Last one visible from above. They are slow off the mark. Flat. Shit. Not . Shouts from behind tell him he has been spotted. In which we find ourselves once more on the run from an unspecified enemy. Expecting any second the sudden impact of a bullet in the back. Too old for this game. Water boils alongside in strangely neat rows. the leaves. The swamp.. Still .if that gives way then goodbye. You can fool. lost in the rattlecrash of his own passing. The sandstone reef . Old reflexes in charge.

Still capable of leaving most others in the dust when it comes to the really rough stuff. Prepare for another patrol in the morning. Life in the old dog yet.reads for a minute or two. He could go a long way. Everything cleared out. And in good time by the look of it.slide through quietly.' 'Sir. Absolutely everything. 'So what really happened?' 'He was dead when we arrived Major. A keen young man.' The Lieutenant salutes smartly and departs. the most obvious choice. Not. If he survives the next week or so. perhaps. Places here you could sink out of sight in seconds. Pursuit most unlikely now. Well. About four hours. Left with the other European. A Niva. Only one safe path. He goes. Except the old lady who gave us the information. Heart attack. still fighting for breath. a fair dose of death at the very least.' 'And the villagers?' 'All gone sir. Dead? Other European? Shit! . ************************ 'This was addressed to you Major. He tears it open . faintly.' 'OK Lieutenant. the surgeon said. Into the second clump of trees. A thin scream from behind.' the subaltern passes over a rather grubby envelope. He grins.running . Thinks the Major. The car is waiting for him. You did well.

metal framed beds.30. throwing out the contents of the bucket as you do so. A typical small hospital room. Make it sparse. Yet the flies are there in their thousands. Two metal stands with hooks for attaching drip bottles. Spin around. No nurses. clean. comes out at all. Fill a bucket to around the half way mark with red paint. which end one step inside the door possibly in a pool of fresh vomit . Walk into a slaughterhouse at the end of a long. with one of those rubber draught excluders along the bottom edge. Not even any pieces of dismembered patient. Then there are the flies.there are no footprints in the blood. In which the music goes round and round. white room. Half a bucket therefore contains one gallon . if you want to include your ears amongst the offended senses. The slight stickiness under the soles of the shoes. Now: stand in the middle of a fairly small. with folding trays attached. leaving one lonely hand print and a few crushed . The door fits closely into its frame. A normal sized bucket contains two gallons. As you stumble out. Freeze-frame it while some of it is still in the air. And round and round and round. No patients. Perhaps you should throw a bucket of fine. It is more the other senses. It is not really the visual effect that creates nausea. One television.roughly equivalent to the amount of blood in an adult human being. black confetti after the paint.eight pints . No doctors. Just the blood. The smell.mounted on castors. I forgot to mention furniture. Buckets of Blood. Two narrow. Two small cabinets . you may grasp at the door jamb to steady yourself. A couple of extremely uncomfortable chairs. And the flies. The windows are sealed. And never. hot day for that effect. ever. Apart from your own. Half a bucket of paint goes a long way doesn't it. And the buzzing of the flies. double glazed probably.

When I wake from it. You now have the full three dimensions. Go away and worry about it for a while. You may also wonder.it proves impossible to locate your original starting point. And. forwards. Presumably. After all. No smell of blood anyway. It sits in place of one of the rooms on an otherwise normal corner. Same as usual really. the corridor appears to stretch on forever. I think I will assume that this is just another nightmare. your own existence proves that not all rooms are absolutely identical. quite rightly. of course. you may even become blasé about the whole thing. you have begun your explorations in precisely the wrong direction. You have come up in the world. you find an elevator. what with the initial disorientation . Perhaps none of the rooms beyond the one in which you awoke has been touched. You come to this conclusion after taking a few random turns. then surely others must have done likewise. A choice of six directions: up.you know the sort. equally endless. A touch of some nasty. I will head for the nearest bar and get blind drunk. Seeing the. If you have survived whatever cataclysm has occurred here.flies. No way back. The choice is entirely yours. Perhaps a faint hint of disinfectant. left. At the very least the number of rooms must run into the tens of thousands.not to mention the shock and the sickness . One doorway every five yards or so. there are no flies in the corridor.especially in the corner rooms. One cross corridor every five doors. in a small alcove. just what the hell you might see from the windows . down. I might even let you . purely by bad luck. Also a door with one of those emergency bar type things . Not a single noxious insect. Next to it. You may have noticed by now that. is a water cooler. air freshener. Push to open from one side only. No smell either. identical corridors parallel to the one in which you began your exploration. even after all the doors you have opened. it leads to some kind of emergency stairway. Perhaps. Eventually. right. After another four or five rooms. back. fake pine. Nevertheless. Best not think about it. What am I going to do? Well. decorated in an identical manner. equally endless. If I see you there.

Or three. .buy me a drink.

it is a little different. followed by two or three vehicles. Normally.it seems as if the traffic has ceased entirely. Somewhere. None whatsoever in the hours. despite feeling almost completely awake. He has merely woken a little early. Come to that .a minute or so of silence.where is Scrotum? This conundrum occupies his attention for several eternities. however. There is also the early traffic. This.or. Scrotum. In which somebody appears to have been manoeuvred into an untenable position. First two sing it almost . before his master's first sign of awareness. This is all most disconcerting. dawn is not coming as it should.31.ready for any eventuality . The song sounds rather like 'What the fuck was that?' repeated endlessly. For a while . He is unable to recall exactly what the watch had shown. he tells himself. change in the minutes. One of them seems always to be the same small motorcycle with a slightly defective exhaust. many times . he is convinced that there has been very little. it seems to him that this is not the first time this morning that he has done so. the faithful idiot sleeps beside his bunk. He cannot regain sleep due to external factors.the thought seems to take forever to force itself to the forefront of his consciousness .. Then. it once more increases. .. Today. it seems. as the sky begins to lighten. Somehow. All the People.rather quieter . It is not insomnia. despite the fact that the second hand is visibly moving. it has become an almost continuous roar. at least is what he would normally expect. He is then . if any. he makes the immense effort necessary to retrieve his watch from the ammunition box beside his bunk.. Just a couple of hours. he feels entirely incapable of this action. As he peers at it in the dim light. or more usually.but not quite . three birds are singing. as he now feels. Normally. the time . his batman.. The day has begun.at.sometimes even without his first coffee of the day . The third . has to shake him several times before he can so much as raise an eyelid. Under normal circumstances. he is there .he had previously consulted it. When he feels that half an hour or so has passed. Today. Rather sparse . But.around five thirty .together.begins half a bar later.. By six.almost instantly prepared to leap to his feet.

laboriously. images of another life occupy the inside of his eyelids. Wrong. ? He shivers violently . A luxury apartment. . . 'the fuck was that?' . .feeling somehow that this is not the first time he has done so. He attempt to consult his watch .like trying to roll a huge ball of plasticine through a particularly glutinous swamp. Fortune. . he wrestles endlessly with these questions. Fame.the comparison comes from a great distance . What has he to do with the repulsive Septicaemia Scrotum? Scrotum is an associate of the Colonel.trying to regain his own identity. day refusing to put in an appearance. . It fades. He is not the Colonel. for his watch . 'What the fuck was that?' 'the fuck was that?' The same defective exhaust.message from some other's long lost malaria . ? He is. Trying to think is . . . Why should he be in a bunk? He is not the type to put up with such discomforts. 'What the fuck was that?' 'the fuck was that?' He reaches out.. . 'the fuck was that?' The defective. . He is. For an instant.on the ammunition box next to his bunk. Everything is desperately wrong.The birds sing on. Seriously elongated automobiles. *************************** As the dingy pre-dawn hour drags on. ***************************** Wait a minute.

. . . 'the fuck was that?' Luxury layout in distant ammunition box . .Second hand rotates in the dimness. . . . . .fading. 'the fuck was that?'. . . . .

you may off his blanket in his sleep.you would think. Heat it by leaving the can in the tents with him. The door fits closely into its sun. Then there are the lizards.see that he had no shirt at all.32. Desert night . Boots upside down . Turned to face buried water tank.inadequate frayed blanket to stretch on forever. Blood turns a body over where have been thousands. Where do the contents of the bucket they find here eat? Once: my way doesn't it? Normal maggots in the distance. Look It Up.spiders. Is a scorpion an insect? excluders along the bottom edge.it is falling. He raises it another. even mammals . although his eyes beneath the drifting sands.faded in a pool of fresh . The double. The proud insignia of his senses. The Encyclopedia is hollowed out. Fill a bucket to around the half way.) ************************* One doorway. With rare exceptions. Filled with SEMTEX. Asshole. clean resident scorpion. And the buzzing on its corroded underside. Hour glittering fragments. Even the deepest shade is oven. asshole.bright. Equal trajectory. Part of a years supply by my right arm free. The offended senses. A trembler switch. This is my most optimistic Freeze-frame . This rusting. (Look it up . A small battery. He apparently therefore contains each . . insects. . Some also labels on canned food .throwing it. only every five doors.even become blasé .cold creeps in. I end flies. Two of broken glass are still in the angle on two remaining legs . ************************* Perhaps you should Ragnarok. Walk into . A detonator.in the middle a fairly small. Tiny can .no longer.bloody . Drinking. Make through layers of the day. Apart from long abandoned novel . Could never be bothered. Not even as the sun shifts the shadow. He is combination of heat and furniture. Peoples cover themselves from death's head.instantly. Look it up. the only shade is to be mounted the night.

Reaching the ground. Nose up at two on guard . old fashioned numbing roar of two Alvis beds in the cottage . Full. The entire tank let you buy me a drink. The heavy. I itch. He half turns. Half shock and the sickness inner? The normal. of course. others. Props one of the rooms otherwise built. Spin around.eight pints .have air. you have begun an aeroplane.the sole each. then. The choice. His father's vast anger. the debris ceased to patter down. but turns. Die out here? I don't think I fully. . Went down for when I wake .the foot beyond the one in. Half a bucket from the flash.hearing gone. It fits for water and to dig holes to shit balls of his childhood. Same as socket.. Then it was clear . The absence of a moon.the disaster. Wades through a pool. Before I could.. Less my meagre shade in time to see from his back. By bad luck. It seemed to hang. An old Twin Pioneer.feebly . The blanket is infested with some past . He dare not use my dwindling window? No: despite his identical. I registered a minor .just hover a billion bloated flies.. A choice of six.is an ancient paraffin stove.' You do so. What the starboard engine? A thin lick of men and horses create homes for the elevators. And. Intense white fading mark with red paint. One gallon . water for washing.you might see from clawing at the air. First proof of other. Know the sort.You must .something of what was to come. stationary. Coming straight at me. so it seemed. Lit up. almost total. Night had indeed a flash-sized bucket . Necessary. Heavy outer walls. passing whipped me with razor . Now: stand back to what now seemed full . who still remain . No more opened. I felt a world. I rolled drunk. You reaching down for the dune to the north. silence point. His men! Not think about it. ************************* Also no time even to throw myself flat. 'Away.contains two. I stink. there was no prior warning.a water cooler.white room. the crest. surely.

count everywhere. Barely aware of the weight. Heroes have some mad idea they want to try chairs. those rubber draughts. Flies are there in their can only. Not just the body. Mutti pleading .your own. We shall now see ball games. I slept. Him languorous. It is nightmare. Back learned the local language. uncurtained. ************************* It seemed that I lay .) moves. This is normal in an adult human . One cross and very little fear of detection. Very short distance of a four second delay after the pin. Every five yards or so.Nevertheless. 'The endless. It is to the south as clean and smooth. neither throw a bucket of fine.one large fragment .strike the handful of metal with a core of it. Luckily he is lying upon his life. An effort he will soon grow out of.the world tree the soles of the segment of sleep. Which end one know that 'Intelligence' equals calculation of vomit? There are no paranoia. Those high-tech cutting-edge heroes he has heard . Glazed single. He (Just the blood asshole.' 'At the very least. He has turned over steep face of the southern dune. the corridor appears current feeling indirectly to his destination. ************************* The Colonel is still inclined to patients. while some of it .the play have taken ship to any port of his. In the time it has taken to set up into his hand as neatly . window. Their definitions as understood. Needless to say. Nausea.hooks for attaching. To see no trace of the explosion. black wreckage around. Following the usual struggle up end of a long light to see more than a couple instantly open.grasp not to the simplicity of the knife of the mind. Still . Nothing properly .sound seemed to jerk me awake of endless retreat. Tend to use certain words to want to include your ears.' .

time-critical actions are of next room! Shit! Christ! He has. Now of normal corner.second grenade . Wait. ************************* Phase four. Nothing too has occurred here. fake pine. Next to it. Tips it with him. Even the techno-freaks worry about it for a while. he tells himself. If friable heat shield burns away it is not insomnia. Perhaps? Hung about with assorted rocket eight purely explorations in liquids.touched. in almost half orbital velocity. Even the occasional multi. equally.usual.has been . ************************* . really. eternities.Weight comes on now . jockeys to the number of exactly. Push to open from one side. Then try to remember your touch of some nasty. Strap in.especially in the bolts in all directions . Trying to think cool. Just a couple of hours. Perhaps none of the rooms? Out onto what appears to be .?' Clang through entire capsule . You come to fail at some stage.Frame his head quite rightly. while various corridor stares aghast at the blank .first barely. He tumbles at this stage. Seeing.************************* The necessary training takes from this thousands.your tiny metal coffin. In this case wall.have the full three dimensions entered. The possibilities. His lightning. 'Just what the. ************************* Phase five. The outer walls: (the appropriate word here)? Why he had chosen it? What about a regular astronaut? Alone absolutely probably. No smell of blood anyway. just inside. . Pull the big dead already for the enemy . 'Head for the nearest' . Heat begins to build . so you just know that it will .the initial contraption. . Pissed.adds its own thunder to the world. Flash into blazing fragments early.. Then into an improbable six at a time . Thick stone.all damned efficiency. I will.. World War Two Platoon. Rain.

together. Thirty seconds to . . why the hell force itself to the forefront of his employee in the first place? This conundrum occupies that job.at. The instructors defective exhaust. many times. Like 'What the fuck was that?' seconds.seems always to be the skydiving position. Then. an earlier drop . The immense effort necessary to Earth. A final in the hours. No supplies. This is almost sand a meter away .Pressure sensor pulls as it should.then I had nothing. a hundred and fifty pounds of traffic has ceased entirely. Self destruct is unable to recall exactly the way.the faithful idiot sleeps beside.Of them . . Supposedly.One factor.and it is his batman. As he peers at dark anyway. Was some outfit drilling of this action? Come to that .a minute or so of silence.almost . fall into the night. change . ************************* Phase seven. For a while. There is also to confuse the sophisticated .but not quite . Then all this . or concealed beneath. No time to hang box beside his bunk. has to shake. three birds are out at predetermined altitude. When he feels that if this one fails there is very little. if any. He is . Then the pod blows . Head up more increases. By six. This. No coffee of the day Almost instantly as part of my cover role.come to think of it. Lost despite feeling almost completely. Occupant then disintegrating begins half a bar later. Scrotum.this. Appears has been very little.spreads out to about the fact that the second hand is its own uncertain light. the only first sign of awareness. He had pack . . Followed does not have. a safe distance. .to much as raise an eyelid. ************************* Eight. Somewhere. it has show direction to purported day begun. And that is when it all started . at least is of hands and feet.suit to feed itself. Digital altitude however .ready for any eventuality .Phase six. A dull red glow starts he now feels.that this is not the first time .it is a little different.

? He shivers forty years ago...old trunk .' 'The fuck die here.you guessed it . ************************* 'What the fuck was that?' One spurious passport . put in an appearance. He attempt to consult his watch . rusty can opener.imitation of the real thing. I no longer pretend has been spotted.the first time he has done so. Whatever I do is in the back. Zig zagging between. 'The fuck would not expend this amount of ammunition box fading. and comes from a great distance like .' Not when runs madly.trying to take inventory of my other instant. They are slow off when the food and water run out. 'The fuck was that?' The same fibre or titanium drop tank I am. Into me at any time during my down from the village to the aeroplane.. Expecting any trouble. As the dingy pre-dawn wrong. through particularly glutinous sardines and canned cocktail. in this desert. That my contact will eventually rotate in the dimness. vitamin. in area on which the village has been level. Beans. More like cans is. The cans the Colonel. ************************* No sophisticated. No way out.The birds enough..found in the pocket it fades. He is not the type to put up with looking.ditto.. I try not to think other's long lost malaria . he wrestles . yet vaguely familiar. . with the repulsive Septicaemia they used to say. Images of another life .beans.water.not particularly clean . More Wrong. He has made the first turn into the 'I can find the drilling rig'. laboriously. This time I am 'the fuck was that?' The defective.. I find a container there.traces of khaki paint .. Seriously . for his watch. Well.? He is. Out. Everything is desperate to come through. luxury apartment.

lost in the climbing inside. As I turn the trees now. Life in the old dog yet. Last one visible from above. head under the surface. Today.the air. Only one safe path . Still capable of leaving most other poisonous liquid. Since the lower end of the tank . Crawl. Slippery now with the inside. Too late though. Once inside.rigid protrusion.quite phenomenal. He goes. Threads his way . Well. ************************* Before I can fall . Rust break away as I wrench . the leaves. As he reaches. A thousand gallons of clear water. through which at least part of the car is waiting for him. Maybe humid.considering the open hatch. There! Old reflexes in charge. Me . the vision of it falling closed behind gun. The amount of water lost by their own side even .through quietly. Speed no longer.non.muddy margin. Too late I rush back down to fetch the swamp. Which sight in seconds? Into the second state of total indecision. 'Out! I have filled my stack. fair.************************* In the tank is now too low slope. Shit. In this wall is a hatch . Crashes into a hard surface. it seems much. I decide to try and turn as the path does likewise.arranged over the years for just this. A Niva.my arm in through the half open right knee . They will be running now. Perhaps the other half is filled choice.a large central wheel. Villagers never go further than the bulkhead blocking my path. The sandstone.' . Few more yards then out again and tank.if that gives way. The level of the water is already fucked from smoking. Water boils far enough open to let me insert a second later. What now? A thin scream from behind.nice . Stamina . Its deepest end will shield him . I will have too old for this game. In the really rough stuff.most of the cooler part of the space.

as far under the tank as when we arrived Major. He could go a long way. Closer.frighten outlook of it. Not surprising many desert.remember to turn your information.I forgot to .rotting blood. poised at a precarious frame. They stand. Suspect it is more closely related to the writhing eye .shifting position . Endless dreams of death and head to foot. Snakes.' Left with the other mornings and tap the soles . broken and buried in the dream . The bones . Everything cleared out. All the flies come from? What you did well. Really the visual effect that creates appraisal of the situation. Rather reads for a minute or two. Just . He is searching for half a bucket. After tedious hour .the corpses go along. Give It Another Go. and there .the breaking others. ************************* I saw a man.rather happens. All bury themselves away. I think the slight stickiness under the boredom is driving me rapidly crazy. Throughout found under the raised end of the half flies. The shipment is late. 'So what shadow. More things live here .sounds . Try the dictionary this time? The subaltern passes over . Know by heart every flaw and rivet awake.death struggle after the paint. I could Major. ************************* The slaughterhouse at his weapons. If continuous covering of flies. Lieutenant salutes smartly and had on a black shirt.as in all his thousands.equivalent to the amount to find out.' About four the last dozen or so cans. A foot above . Prepare for another first time in a desert.33. Rending crash . so: 'And the villagers?' 'All gone sir. In his dream a light iron cylinder.skitterings in the darkness. presumably. Must Dead? Other European? Shit! His sweat.

Rooms must run understood until today.nothing else to look at beyond an old sleep. ************************* After taking a few random. I could mass inertia. As you stumble out. no fuel for it. Incredible angle. The mind must have one door. I am certain that somewhere in the hard steel corridor .mention . Starting screaming in supersonic agony as the frame. To the left. A couple of extreme count. His beds. The wind of it. react. But tall.me.it was that low. Then.front cover and many pages missing. it has food . Those immense slats out. if explosive.. Unidentifiable stains or burns . Mostly identical .six hundred and fifty horsepower which you angle. Almost vertically. Corridors parallel to the one way through the short desert twilight.possibly sun for half an hour or so. Cottage. I saw study. Leonides .. Kubelwagen: supply of rusty. leaving one lonely hand in. . Supposedly. There is no toilet paper and four or five rooms. Direction. Tumbling. I pulled.any pieces of slow motion. Hot. it had nosed over and plaster your original. Above. No. Some would-be door . Use the empty cans yourself.. The attached: One television. After all the doors you have sandstorm in its wake .frayed flies.. Two small cabinets. and it was over. typical small hospital room. humans since I arrived. The adjoining room. A million thoughts . your own existence. Fifty feet of clearance.my skin crawls.mostly beans best drip bottles. which I detest.. ************************* By day I cook (not food . There would be blood. If you have survived . If he can. Throttle and climbing. Perhaps a faint hint of disinfectant. Mosquito larvae filled about the whole grenade. That is partly mention. living. Ink .variety of minuscule vermin.) By night I freeze .the beans. Edged particles. ************************* Not a single noxious insect. Whap! It was there.is too small.only one . Nevertheless.

Tiny. ************************* More . lightning flashes. Acronyms grenade. You may also wonder.to have got so close. The directions: up. Relieved of any need to investigate down into the blood.I scrambled out of freshener. A tiny puff of smoke from which he was so proud. The smell. Usually from the depths of a fresh uniform now as black as the rest of it. From the crest. It is supposed to be one of the shards probably. as soon as there was enough paint. Eventually. Like that. Possessing no light. The windows . Windows are sealed.night. The air. He has thrown morning. Things . You know the sort. It obliterates all thought.badly that . With one of missions. I found myself climbing the gallons. Something warned me . Through yellow to a dull reddish orange is entirely yours. you killed them all! His forever . It seemed endless minutes before am I going to do. Shivering for hours between each.have come up in the world. Alcove of flame an instant later. Certainly I had heard a hot day for that effect. By the time my eyes had recovered. None of temporary home. Go the surface and night. Eyes are least tank and slide to the ground within. Presumably. Everybody and his brother has make out a dark silhouette amidst . Might even . As if nothing whatsoever had occurred. You resonated like an immense drum.there . and in dream. Remember the reason. Fallen. He is aware of this. Yet he tested. pull up the side of the next dune. just as explosion shakes loose type. innumerable other nightmare. throwing.barely. down. ************************* Well. There is yards. The blast shook . remaining. 'Yggdrasil .the window of the sky. Every minute he is soaked from head to foot. Perhaps I should have been surprised roughly .the other of the Gods. Gazes deep into bar and get blind. the dune sank away being not dreams these days. I think.any sign of the expected fragments? Shoes. corruption. it leads back under the tank.the way back. double cowering head. for an endless period before.you next dive.

hammer at his brain distracting. Fitness months.' ************************* If he survives. Luckily he has thrown uncomfortably the phrase 'Cuttingedge' relates.his doctors. metal framed. Most people now. Three before metal stands with stupidity and that 'Security' equates died. by normal humans. patient. and made his way . No nurses. or sword. Moving a stalled. Ninety percent of potential agents and a few crushed flies. So . Two narrow. Has already discovered that military sparse. . His mission.a steady way. . but to 'ludicrously overcomplicated'.aided by the weight of the grenade. All this with the utmost caution. The target.Boost to low polar orbit with total control.you.) after ************************* Phase one. And the choice at the edge of the desert. Footprints in the endless hours of 'Low Orbital Insertion' they call it. the Colonel could. Make sure you don't press the wrong button . Left side . with folding. (mean something completely at odds with) has been on castors. Abnormal here at the trailing years of the number of the bed. at this stage in his confetti . dismembered. even more slowly than he. Still.in a nutshell . one. At the door jamb to steady.(nut being through you may think. Over end.slow step inside core of himself . is still in the air. all. Purchased a camel.drifts through the air towards: 'Believe this sort of shit. After this leaves a field of potential suicide decorated in an identical manner.

Merely woken a . Best not think about small door.unevenly.A narrow opening century. Precisely the wrong sleep on the floor.more huge bang as drogue pops only. forwards. Over ten G deceleration for several left. Assume that this is just from it. Emergency . Could tumble at this point. Falling free . back. Lessons while four G pushes at you for disorientation .admit that this is the tricky bit.not to outside. the sole bumps and clangs resonate through occupant of the room. ************************* Phase two. Small canister at the centre proves that not all rooms are red lever. likewise. and all subsequent from the bed. Enormous proves impossible to locate. Away in a blaze of expensive chemicals.the while in the nausea of zero gravity. I will . ************************* Probably several blows away .this conclusion bounces off the facing climb. Confined by the first tenuous layer of atmosphere. identical. Best unnoticed . away and first splitting into two to release. mattress. May have noticed by now that. Radar which the enemy almost certainly has.whatever cataclysm course.Sit there. Buffeting starts as corner rooms.design. (This. Broken plaster. It sits in place microseconds.) Left hand .fuel expired. . some kind of emergency stairway. End in tears. ************************* Phase three. . I Or three. done by some computer somewhere. even carrying more ordnance than your average reflexes There are no flies . Smell either.endless. noticeable.face of the mattress. right. Find an elevator. No.we are falling for real. His men . Hell then a second later. Billionaire has done this bit. Concussion is stunning. An extra layer of protection. A sign of his superior rank. Surrealist idea of an old iron bed frame . Disappears from motors and tanks of highly explosive which you began your exploration. see you there. He shakes . In these idiots are far too fond of exploding.completely into a haze of particles . With one of those.

'Not so easy in the best part singing. Nothing to do now until dawn.pitch the sky. He is come apart. ************************* Somehow. Steer with tiny movements . despite mining engineer.it seems about surveying the situation . One chute at less than one thousand feet .read-out diminishing rapidly. First two sing. And fall. And around five thirty . it seems to him . Morning that he has done so. visibly moving.same small motorcycle with a slight time left to revert to manual. Begins to lighten.gone.the early traffic. Apparently there.size of a football. Remove the suit and scramble away to become an almost continuous roar. Display active now . Quite impressive in a subdued sort of what he would normally expect. ************************* Said. ************************* But. Repeated endlessly. surely it would have been easier to actuate him several times before he can fly astronaut shit.who would claim me in the minutes? None whatsoever necessary. Rather sparse . The song . somewhere around the base of the back. Phase by two or three vehicles.' Space suit plus affiliated hardware. The third rather quieter . Then . Could I not have gone there as disconcerting? Under normal circumstances.barely enough to light it in the dim light. Just the grubby overalls I wore previously consulted it.landing site. Once my suit was gone. And fall. Assume classic (cannot regain sleep due to external).little fall. Today. rather. it seems. watch had shown the time as water. . Retrieve his watch from the ammunition brightening .seen only in half an hour or so has passed . dawn is not coming .sounds.little green pointers.he makes to suck in the remainder.reasonably nearby . he is convinced that there .

beans and more beans. 'the fuck was that?' .Scrotum? Scrotum is an associate of one useless stove.trying to roll a huge ball of plasticine as I remember them from thirty or swamp.the water tank. It is some kind of rusty consciousness . ************************* Endlessly with these questions. he is there . Normally.where is Scrotum? Clinging here and there. mineral enriched ration packs. No weapon wrong. Thought seems to take forever to expecting. along with its attached pencil. the labels subtly feeling.trying to think is the comparison. They could have just put a bullet. Left everything I could possibly need prepared to leap to his feet. Maybe some kind of cheap Korean . Just bunk. He is. Inside attention for several eternities. And one. I try to believe violently . somehow. awake.this is going to turn out all right. One small notepad hour drags on. Day refusing overalls. landmark in sight . No homing beacon.sometimes even without his first. The ammunition box next to his bunk. If I stay. he feels entirely incapable but it is not the ultra-modern carbon. Appear to be very old. etc. Surely even the Americans regain his own identity. Fortune. Going to be a disaster. Sure. Fame. that this is not way. Such discomforts. For time and money just to set me up to occupy the inside of his eyelids. ours not to reason why . before his master's sausages for variety. That is it. Training. Plus a few more usually. 'What the fuck was that?' ************************* Thank the Lord for small mercies as defective exhaust. He is not the Colonel. Why should he be in a bunk? About the risk of food poisoning.resources? A few hundred gallons of . I die. Like . After the incident with the fuck was that.Still. What has he to do . Elongated automobiles. ancient sing on. Today. Normally. Wait a minute. He reaches that .message from some turn up.the thought takes a few days . Fucked and double fucked.

Work out the quantity remaining. this involves the sudden impact of a bullet. since mark. I am in well down. ************************* Flat. Still . then I die sooner. Jumps back and forth until it finally moves. Swamp. I have a rattlecrash of his own passing. Shouts from behind tell him he is buried in the sand. Towards the path.Second hand. Feeling around.been cut down. Arse likewise. Waterhole. Far too close to the end some have run already . Firing does not begin until almost too low to reach by stretching brush. Darker than I would have expected . anyway.between the little surprises he has. Too me. Paraffin stove to wedge into the gap.a mere two foot high at this. Goodbye. All firing ceases. Machine towards the lower end. If I go. Alongside in strangely neat rows. Over the edge of the flat hatch in its upper surface. My shoulder reef . Before doing so. Lurches to the left around through evaporation each day. Unless 'was that?' Luxury layout in distant which I no longer believe. ************************* Any sound of bullets through myself. Fractions seems to be quite a lot of junk. face down more than a few inches. Begins to turn as I lean on it. Into lies beyond the hatch? Perhaps . Lungs. I trip over some now. Rather a submarine type of affair with thought. In something approaching panic. It takes built. I find that there is a right into the trees. Perhaps a ragged hole . Last open.no time to hang around. Fifty yards to level ground. Hidden rocks. Sooner or later anyway. Existent. the sound arrives. also much hotter. 'The water was that?' ************************* For me to reach without climbing the huts. Muscles flabby.especially then. available. Flakes beginning of the rainy season. and incredible. Down the semi-precipitous morning to free the hatch.

the surgeon said. A keen young man. still fighting for breath. there is only one way to find. Think he survives the next week or so. Safe enough . patrol in the morning. the most obvious.most unlikely pathetic row . He tears it open. Others in the dust when it comes.too many snakes here. Places here you could sink. The beans are down to dose of death at the very least.' Except the old lady who gave us the European.in the tank eventually. Heart attack. faintly. ************************* 'This was addressed to you Major. I can reach.' Departs.the most reliable. With some ancient supply of fuel up.' 'Sir. Pursuit . 'OK Lieutenant. Waterhole . Empty cans with water in case the worst clump of trees. perhaps.' Grubby envelope. Not running . . What have I got to lose? Not. 'Really happened?' 'He was dead hours.slide end. The swamp.the current foul supply will escape. He grins. And in good time by absolutely everything.

He is aware of this instantly.in the dream . Reaching down into the blood to turn a body over where necessary. uncurtained window. Forgive him Lord.in his dream. Turned to face the single. Luckily he has thrown off his blanket in his sleep. been such a plague on the human race. Not just . (Look it up asshole. A handful of metal with a core of explosive.count to three before throwing it. Still somewhere in the hard steel core of himself .a steady calculation of trajectory. Luckily he is lying upon his left side . He is searching for something.an effort akin to moving a stalled Kubelwagen. Yggdrasil . in the dream. It is a grenade. mass. He is soaked from head to foot.. since the beginning of time. it has a four second delay after the pin has been pulled.the breaking of the window of the sky. writhing. *********************** He is awake. He wades through a pool of rotting blood. A million thoughts hammer at his brain . Here and there.34. eye socket. A world rending crash . A light so bright it obliterates all thought.is falling. Can no longer remember the reason. Ragnarok . the corpses of men and horses create homes for innumerable maggots. The shards of broken glass are still in the air. Endless dreams of death and corruption. It drifts through the air towards him in languorous slow motion. inertia. Mutti pleading with him .his right arm free. He raises it .) It moves even more slowly than the grenade.he has heard . A foot above the surface hover a billion bloated flies. The death's head.distracting. ********************** There is a flash .as in all his dreams these days of endless retreat.. Supposedly.the death struggle of the Gods.the world tree . Some would-be heroes . although his eyes can only make out a dark silhouette amidst the glittering fragments. He has turned over in the night. the double lightning flashes. None of the usual struggle up through layers of sleep. His eyes are instantly open. For he has fallen in with a bad lot and had his head turned by those youthful dreams of glory which have.You must study. Some would-be heroes have died. He has thrown away his weapons. Gazes deep into each bloody.. The proud insignia of his uniform now as black as the rest of it. Tumbling end over end. Endless hours of ball games. Just like that. This is normal . Fitness of the mind.

adds its own thunder to the world. He is barely aware of the weight. It bounces off the facing wall.the sole occupant of the room. Tips it with him. old fashioned mattress. What about the inner? Lath and plaster probably. *********************** Less than a second later. Disappears from view. ********************** It fits into his hand as neatly as the play balls of his childhood. Back through the window? No. He stares aghast at the blank face of the mattress. His father's vast anger. past the foot of the bed. the target is too small. That is partly why he had chosen it. If he can.hearing gone.inches from his back . aided by the weight of the grenade. To the left. He shakes his head feebly . He half turns. The explosion shakes loose a rain of broken plaster. An extra layer of protection . Six at a time . A narrow opening from this angle. . Left hand reaching down for the frame. A sign of his superior rank.the heavy. But tall. Confined by the heavy outer walls. despite his current feeling of total control. *********************** Thick stone. the concussion is stunning. The outer walls of the cottage. the second grenade .the eight who still remain have to sleep on the floor. Probably dead already for the enemy to have got so close.unnoticed . His lightning reflexes of which he was so proud.. the sole bed in the cottage ..the body.the remaining two on guard outside. just inside the adjoining room. The door. His men . He tumbles from the bed. ********************** His men! In the next room! Shit! Christ! He has killed them all! His forever damned efficiency.

. even when he is completely under still intact rooms.. as if a fading picture of the cellar is being somehow projected directly onto the surface of his eyes. In which the Colonel hires a ghost writer to reveal to the world what he considers the internal workings of his mind should be. Apparently long deserted. Two locations haunt his dreams. if he can continue along his path. it becomes rapidly darker.albeit rather dimly .in his dreams . though.. It is a huge. tumbledown place. he is convinced that the only way out is to go on. The stairs leading down.. is the old house. Inevitably he is drawn to the cellars which lie exposed to the sky at the point where some forgotten wing has long since collapsed.the general shape of his surroundings. he finds that it is possible to make out . Each time taking the narrowest passages. Although he is always convinced that hidden inhabitants are examining his every move. Eventually. . and most disturbing. At the time. He feels he is seeing by some kind of un-light. In spite of this. Some of the Time. what he thinks the world should consider them to be.. as he advances towards the main bulk of the house. Never even been capable of imagining. As he explores deeper into the subterranean world below the house. he feels an increasing sense of dread. he has never . charred timbers and disintegrating bricks . In spite of this. For some reason.he descends between moss covered walls to the lower level.. First. Somehow. It is still light here.almost returned to the clay from which they were originally manufactured .35. he will make it to this place which he somehow mythologises as a haven of peace.explored the house itself. he will find a way through and emerge triumphantly on the other side of the building. this effect seems entirely natural to him. Climbing over piles of ancient. Or. In spite of his fears. he invariably proceeds. This is a side which he has never seen. Somehow he feels it to be a metaphor for the inside of his own head. at least.

It is a valley. he becomes ever more confused between this and his real quest. asking questions which they take.in his dreams . he remains convinced. faster. ************************ The other place which he frequently encounters in his sleep. He begins to pester friends and acquaintances. he tries to create a conscious plan of the cellars. tends to disturb him far less than the house. but in utter frustration at the failure of his will . vomitous mornings. Perhaps a merger of two or more scenes he has known in his younger days.move away. Almost a real valley. Some nights he will wake up screaming. At his pathetic terror in his dreams . cheap whores. The whole world is becoming younger.of some non-existent menace. as all old men do . He forgets the reality of drunken brawls. As his mental faculties deteriorate. increasingly obsessed with flash. His last hope now as his body too begins to fail. bored and sweating in the endless insomniac night.when faced with a convoluted. He is sure of that.as a time of heroic deeds. He remembers his own youth . At his lack of imagination . Cocooned in darkness. Not in fear. Spends hours each night descending worn stone steps. he can relate the house to no recognisable place or event.to overcome some trivial. Further hours semi-wakeful. endlessly replaying his dreams.in his dreams . One by one they begin to ignore him . Totally familiar in some . following walls of crumbling brick. This is. of terrible obstacles bravely defeated. but basically simple labyrinth of his own creating. There is one thing that increases his sense of frustration to intolerable levels. rightly.poor old sod's lost it . imaginary obstacle. as evidence of a degenerating mental state. Sometimes.wrongly. on some level. with outer show. he searches for the one path. ********************** Increasingly he retreats to the house. that the house exists somewhere in the real world. He is inevitably defeated by an uncharacteristic failure of concentration. In spite of this. of considered actions. that unlike any other dream he has.Of course he never makes it. die.

ways, yet never fully identifiable. He is driving along a narrow country road. Tall hedgerows cut off the view to either side. Ahead, he can catch glimpses of the valley itself. An immense declivity, its bottom hidden in mist, its far side almost purple with distance. Gradually the way becomes steeper. The car more difficult to handle as the road surface deteriorates. Yet there is no fear at any time. Even as the road approaches the vertical - the car plunging, uncontrolled towards the distant, concealed floor far below. Rather, there is a feeling of relief. A relaxing of long held tensions. A kind of content. All responsibilities abandoned. Sometimes he wishes that he could really let it all go. Slide away into some final peaceful night. Then again, if he could do that, he would in no way be the person he undoubtedly is. Few of the events which had made his life so remarkable would ever have occurred. All in all, despite the years of torment, the Colonel prefers himself as he is. Recognising himself, in his rare moments of self analysis, as a man driven by an obsession, yet he still feels his life would have been poorer without it. Perhaps, one day, he will go in search of his valley. It is not likely though, since his real aims must always lie in the opposite direction.

36. The Show Must Go Off. In which may be revealed the secret of some of the Colonel's more obscure actions. She is dead! The running for the closing door. Stuttering automatic weapons. Hand sliding from sweaty hand as she stumbles. Bright flicker-flash as he falls through. She spinning away. Blood bright from side and mouth. He strains, curses. Fights unavailing the swirling forces. A robbery gone wrong. A casual murder in the course. He knows the faces. Dark plots of revenge as tears flow. Did she move in those last seconds? Somewhere the door could have flung her safely free. Does he believe that? He has hope. He has hate. In the beginning, he has time. Time to plan. Time to begin the long, long search. The search that has finally led him to this place. Hope has faded over half a Century. Now only remains revenge.

Part 4: Over The Top.

Beyond that. after some thought. A Hand In The Bird In which many things may. face torn to rags and tatters.e. become clear. that must be someone’s idea of cheese. I tentatively identify as a loaf of bread. The garments themselves stink nearly as badly as the corpses.perhaps a lake the other bank is a mere. lying on the bank of a river. A kind of leather bottle containing what initially appears to be vinegar. The materials harsh and abrasive on my abused skin. although the green. If it is a river . the river. from context. At least part of the stench may be assumed to come from the corpse that I now notice.my skin reddened and lumpy with insect bites. the direction I choose is to the right. in varying stages of mutilation and decomposition.there is really no visible flow in either direction. and set off in the direction which I hope is upriver. I am alone. In the pack. to be some form of wine. surface is marred by sluggish ripples. It stinks like everything rotten in the world. The water is barely moving. Well. More than a river really .37. I take all of it. is about twelve feet above the water level. I am . belly swollen with the corruption of death. There is also a rock hard object which. I judge that he has been dead for some considerable time.or. then upstream is the best direction to look. Beyond him lies a rough leather pack. My head clears slightly. at least I appear to be. I am both hungry and thirsty. The bank on which I find myself. but not yet enough to attempt eating or drinking any of this crap. I decide that this must be assumed.an oldish man by the greying hair. clothes. drinkable) water is to be found anywhere. It lies just a few feet away . so my decision may be purely due to the normal human bias in that . but the style is definitely primitive. A rough grey cube. It is ferociously hot. or may not. Wisps of yellowish vapour drift here and there above the surface. On the other hand. and rather dull. Perhaps not moving at all. This is working on the theory that if fresher (i. It stinks. Nevertheless. further bodies. and the pack. sadly hacked about. I am naked . not entirely alone. They fit well enough. low blur in the distance.

direction. I don't actually think of it like that at the time. My brain seems to have given up on the verbal stuff for the duration. I am working purely on automatic pilot. There are many more dead. In all stages of putrefaction. Some, I find, when I trip over something which I initially think is a rock, have been reduced to mere bones. It is quite some time before I notice the most disturbing thing about them. It is some time later still that I relate this to myself. I have begun searching the corpses - to no avail - for weapons. Most of the more recent ones are face down for some reason. It is not until I have turned over three or four that I notice. After that I spend some time rushing frantically to as many as I can find. Throwing them over on to their backs, gazing into their faces with increasing horror, then racing on to the next. Each and every one has the same face. There can be no doubt about it. The same man has come to this place countless times. Each time to be struck down by some unknown agency. It is not until I notice their clothes that I began to wonder just whose face it is that they all wear. ************************ Of course, you will have all guessed long before this point. I can see you all, fat-arse smug in your comfortable chairs, sipping your nice, clinical, modern drinks. What an idiot, you are all saying. How utterly obvious. Well fuck you. And your dogs and cats. And your syphilitic grandmother too. Of course, if you're too dumb to have seen it by now, then fuck you too. What business have you got trying to read this if you are that hard of thinking. ************************** Looking at endless copies of your own putrefying body is not a recommended pastime, I can tell you. I think I was quite insane for a while, running and sobbing until I finally collapsed, exhausted. Don't start thinking that the mere fact of death bothered me. I have seen plenty of that in my time. Even the, possibly rather unusual, sight of my own remains is no new thing to me.

The sheer number of times I had died here I found rather worrying - after all, I am supposed to be a specialist at this kind of thing. The apparent total lack of weapons was more critical - after all, something appeared to be having a remarkably easy time disposing of me. Even this, however, was not the greatest cause for consternation. After all, assuming an infinite supply of myself, surely any damage I did to whatever it was must be cumulative. Eventually I would wear it down. Eventually it would - it must! weaken to the point where I could finish it. The real sticking point was my obvious physiological age. I was in my late twenties or early thirties - wasn't I? I had no memories of ageing. No recollection of sagging muscles. Of greying hair. Of general weakness and diminishing mental or physical resources. How could I have turned into this pot-bellied, slack postured old ruin. This was not, of course, entirely an objective view, as I realised when I rose for the second time. Age may have taken me unawares, but I was still fit for that age. Reflexes may have slowed, but I would guarantee that I was still faster than most. The main problem was that I was lacking in that great compensator for years - experience. In my head, I was still young - fast and deadly. I would have to allow for that when the attack came. Come it would, of that I could be sure. Certainly it would not be long. How could the other editions of myself still be in possession of provisions had they been here more than a few hours before death. Other questions clamoured at the threshold of my consciousness. Item (1): Why did I not know why I was here? Item (2): (a)Why had I arrived naked? (b) Why did every copy of me appear to be equally badly equipped? Surely after a few failures, I, or whoever had sent me, would have tried a different approach. Item: What was the nature of the enemy? Assuming there was an enemy. It seemed hardly likely that I was doing this to myself. Incidental to this was the question as to why I so often seemed to have been struck down from behind, as if running away. Not running away necessarily, since nearly all had been facing back

towards what I assumed was our common entry point. Also, why I seemed so often to have been torn up by small scavengers, yet as far as I could see, none of my bodies had any consistent - or indeed visible - cause of death. It never occurred to me until too late to wonder whether anyone was watching. Whether anyone either knew or cared if the previous version of me had died before the next one was sent. When the thought did come to me, I was up and running too. Even though I knew it was hopeless. That there was nothing whatsoever I could do to save myself. Panting desperately, ancient heart pounding, I thrashed madly through the low scrub. With no hint of warning, the world lit with a dull blue flash. On the edge of ultra violet - barely visible had I not been expecting it. There was a sound like the firing of distant artillery. without pain, the world faded. ************************* My head clears slightly. I am - or, at least I appear to be, lying on the bank of a river. More than a river really - perhaps a lake the other bank is a mere, low blur in the distance. The bank on which I find myself, is about twelve feet above the water level. The water is barely moving. Perhaps not moving at all, although the green, and rather dull, surface is marred by sluggish ripples. It stinks.

the engine is in their teaching and methods. (It occurs to me now that this over ninety miles per hour and Colonel chose me to transcribe gear as in top. unimportant part.38.claims to have done everything . the bike is more than the last .which. By lowering the final drive of minor (mostly American) sprocket. thereof. The time: realised. See those cute little spirochaetes dance the Viennese waltz as you wait for the nurse with the big needle! The old Norton Dominator has . Which most modern cars seem to . as those of you who know .which led to the first three gears. The place: West. About as pointless mention of the vicious. This meant listen to him now.and the Seventh Day Adventists. (at ninety. this one is no Nineteen-Ninety. Polishing there . This extra power in their belief systems) . Remember once when I fitted . A narrow strip.a few thou off indeterminate point. One small. Less the same place for a particularly fast top speed. In top.) ************************ I recognise fourth being only used on long country which I came to call overdrive. from worked on .in spite of both the length and engine . Expect this vibration with fortunate countries . You're Never Alone With a Venereal Disease.where it all smooths. each more deranged than the low revs. *********************** Were rather under-geared. Only to watch as Tsar of Russia in public onto the road within five his hand inside Margaret.speed. This seems to be obsessed with the sixty miles per hour . These particular speeds are not to mention having some.British Empire.you know was one of the few periods when the last of the magneto.so the particular period towards the ninety .these.

.. Head forks.even people who should.) Signally failed to emulate. as near the optimum as blood and bile.. And they infect the changing. the foot-peg frenzy where they will accept.movement into . ************************ 'You will be doomed to burn in forty years old.. The downside. until they look like gentle curves. It is. 'Unless.many years. People . pissing... 'When the Heavens are opened and grossly overweight (especially the deeps..)' (Insert cries of.shitting. he has laid . 'You give the Church.. spouting. each one. They are really going at this handling. Each movement calculated . 'And when the day of judgement...' Coming dreary straights.' horrible countryside. ************************ Gradually edging in to clip .pale road should happen. Unless.The speed approaching a hundred.just bath veins stand out on which so many people seem to. by motorcycle standards envy. His direction of bank.. Have you noticed how religious women. The rider is them from all directions .. Create a 'Give the Church. superior handling . Lethal always.to this character who has driven as man and machine.demands constant ropes on the very point of minimal suspension .' His nature. 'The' church .' Legendary Norton Featherbed.' The tendons in his normal . And back again.burst any second now.the 'We' ' He lays the bike over church.sons for some reason . not something .

An idealised version of not being likely to . A surplus of money combined . this is not a hill . 'MONEY!!!!' And sure enough the heavies then.that these sort of hallelujahs going on .hours of heavy labour . In the military. Obviously restrained and tasteful. A house in his new. Simple rules . And we. Almost anything American will.unhealthy ecstasy. You may imagine labour and consumers for ours. To continue.(ex) .. Suddenly world famous. they're all true faith . Armed to the hundreds. we realise that . huge car . So profits start to.to means of transport: The words semi-living.the moving force created. shipping you a new minister .') Been described.keep. Get them out .in armour-plated cars (we had stated earlier.we don't. In mind. useless life. *********************** Anyway. shrunken creatures.terms of the late Fifties or Christ.blow your armaments for the bad guys business. `The pastor from the blasphemers.. boys. There is no 'The Church.let's get back to that. In his entire. No descriptions: you've all proprietor of this chaos. Above all. as and when. here . Handing over their Occupation.the pale existence. Why bother.. The sole and entire point of the thing . The whole thing makes the simple paradise. So we have gas bleached and lacquered into a cooker .or create them. ************************* Amalgamated Chem is moving in ..exploded or something..keep them terrified. Enough to conjure up are sponsored by large multi-reader. . So natural desire to turn.and seriously ugly haircuts.' Echoes back and limousine should be following. Probably not a Rolls . Chasing Fifties .down.to this Fifties landscape.

period. Let us assume that they .or the lines of his hand made the equation . James Bond chose . benighted . Into the desert . the whole area is.the country .. Each. We all know he was really this place . Been beaten down .lurch back towards heavy automatic pistol. The Colonel . that does unload themselves at the thrust into his tights. Situation: and some crazed .that wielded what I call the refugee eyes.natural . I start to avoid.that one ..driver . (No Mildred. This much is inevitable.past the limit of adhesion.belong to the twenties and save this poor. He is living the best part. After a while.*********************** Thompson sub-machine gun with missionaries is pulling out would be eminently suitable. Coming into focus.militaristic psychopath. Coming in to. Until the whole thing gets weapon. and the thugs some time. very slowly gaining lose contact altogether when I.looking for the car. Where you are. Slowly. And every time I see critical weapon .) *********************** And thing over again.rapidly going down the toilet.this last.has to be carrying. .

one similar wheel is visible. then it would seem to have been the victim of unnaturally great stress during the course of its career. rather soft. since the whole machine is sunken to an unknown depth in the. A metal wheel. The Colonel also gains an impression of great antiquity. Tanks For The Memory. In some way. rather akin to a train wheel. The machine reminds him of something. somewhere else entirely. of course. The Colonel is unable to imagine what function these wheels may have originally possessed. assuming the upper surface to have originally been horizontal. and at least five foot high. Not when compared to his recent memories of the vast engines which powered the troopship on the passage out. this time buried to a depth greater than half its diameter. Or. a little less than ten foot wide. even embedded in the earth as it is. Some of the scars show relatively fresh metal as if they have occurred relatively recently. for example. It is not a particularly large device. Always assuming that the remainder of it actually exists. since. almost as corroded as the main body of the thing. At the other end of the wreck. A dim. since its opposing partner is not at all visible and may be assumed to . as if this object had existed since the age of the great reptiles.39. Others are barely visible. it is apparent that it must have been considerably more complex than it is now. it has a certain massiveness to it. and it seems hardly likely that it can be. In which the Colonel receives what is commonly known as a blast from the past. At one time. This last is the poorest approximation. protrudes from either side at the end which. possibly. soil. has sunk the lesser distance into the ground. On the other hand. distant flicker at the back of his mind as he examines it. If this is not the case. the vague memory slips away before he can pin it down. since it is obvious that several protruding components have been broken away at some time or other. As usual. the lower part of the circumference of each wheel is still several inches above ground level. the depths of the corrosion pits in its surface create an impression of enormous thickness in the underlying metal. As if it somehow weighed far more than should be expected from an object of its dimensions. He judges it to be nearly twenty foot long in its greatest extension.

will reduce as soon as its perpetrators are no longer observed by a senior officer . By midnight the defenders are in full flight . ************************ Many years later . On the top . Waving them to silence.almost concealed under a thick layer of rust. the Colonel corrects himself." He seems rather agitated. Eventually.a different war entirely.. the enemy begins a major barrage. "It just appeared. at least.or. the Colonel makes a vague effort to listen to what the rather aristocratic young Lieutenant is trying to tell him.a catastrophic retreat which signals the fact that the most disastrous campaign in the history of the Regiment is drawing to a close. "His favourite horse. The Colonel.have been in some way removed or destroyed. " Tears. as he well knows. Impatiently he signals to the Engineers to resume their work.. By then. Two hours later. it is far too late to do anything more than laugh about it. There is little more to be learned from this source. on the surface which is currently uppermost .. It is almost certainly a hopeless task. "Right over the Brigadier. tiring of the incessant noise . . is the outline of what could well be some kind of hatch.he wanders off to look for the divisional mess. if not months. rather older and perhaps a little wiser. for which they must have been preparing unobserved for weeks." Is he trying to suppress tears or laughter? The Colonel wonders.which. will recall this short episode. he decides. A Sergeant and two privates from the Engineers are noisily attempting to break it free with the aid of an extremely large hammer and a cold chisel.. of course.

40. You're Never Alone With a Venereal Disease II In which you may discover that pissing broken razor blades is really the soft option. Coming into focus as that - later - around ninety-seven. A fearsome device. Probably. Everybody seems to have more than a single prototype. People I know, and it is like bows of a special breadth of his career. The Colonel reducing an entire flock of events - which took place in one - with a single shot. Not to end of it. Not just one period, but eardrums and, quite frequently, the world. This, from a man who... A mass of floating splinters in Europe, from blowing the last. Considering it must be toilet in Saint Petersburg - getting. As it is about ten foot long - Thatcher's disgusting knickers at Brighton. ************************ Previous image of the vehicle. Influence on almost every one of those. Since it is necessarily successfully escaped from. The collapsing lines. Normally only seen somewhere between Eighteen-Eighty. And decades earlier than our Africa. Of at least a small part. We are looking at some part: Lomé - capital city of Togo North has changed into a Brough somewhere in the Southern Sahara. This rider must be a certain well. The Colonel and I were in more - or the Arabian Peninsula. You may - considerable length of time. Particular event. Other may be one of the reasons why. The black car may or may not exist. This dying testament. Yet, when 1 version at least - almost nothing of that small independent. ************************ The rider is very conveniently home for so many years. There is no interfering with the legend of underground war. Waged between the Baptists. Farewell to another heroic. Nothing at all on the proliferation Empire. Upon which, they say,

naturally. Sects - each more deranged - counting his money. Another infamous event of ninety-two. What next: Perhaps a cruise last, I said - but each almost identical. Titanic would bring its own. In fact, the smaller the difference - serious vibration problem - more they seemed to hate each other. Certain particular machine this - comes. 'They all shout together'. Around is cruising at between eighty - the burning monster crawls out nicely. Hallelujah! Anywhere you like in this modern electronic rev counter. The eternal fires of Hell! One disassembled itself - pieces point - first five rows get a spit showering. Minutes of starting the engine. Preacher's forehead. Not exactly those at which your neck stand out - tight as steel would standard Dominator? Parting. ************************ You just know that he is going about these things. May have already. Exploding in a shower of rancid, longer, standard. Originally the wife and daughters (very rarely use bikes especially after the engine had - and ugly like they always are have been.) Head here, a little porting and shrink and shrivel up with hatred. Way to do it. When it was built - some kind of ancient mutant monkey - ignition models. I n 1955. it went to the crunch now - notice it is not as tested. At the time was a line - right - and everyone else is doomed. Was just about as fast in third congregation - with their madness. Only three really useful gears? Know better - rolling in the

aisles with straight stretches as a kind of gibberish. Winding up to this. Complete as the supernumerary fifth gear wants. Anything - anything at all - from it. Be infected. Them crazy. *********************** Ratio with a custom made rear over-amplified. The voice beats at heel - slower - but accelerates better. Reverberating off the walls and ceiling - in the however. Instead of struggling - rantings of the average politician - look along at getting well into the maximum fourth. And now we are getting to lower band where it is needed. Gives us a whole act. Also plenty more top and ten. All this without losing. Monkeys are screaming in some kind handling which the Japanese have last. Crucial word from then, their - at the top end - machines have. The one word that sums up his entire. Not bad for a bike which is now his life. Over. ************************ Is that good handling? - really suckers is lined up in their good. Slightly better than the mediocre, meagre life savings. Fruits of endless have been conditioned to accept. Man who has never done a days work as frame geometry. This in turn - that he can drive back to his huge plies. Order to keep the angle of the lord. Over those (pathetic) front possible. ************************ In other words, by it who are his family. Many of them equal a hard ride. Bloody hard national corporations. 'We need cheap. If the less perfect surface than this reject products.'

************************ Probably the sole country from the 'Reds' .the bend. A beautiful road. once the workers is taken out. ************************ Perfection .studies . Four scenario is just not going to happen. Clearing the tarmac by scant millimetres.before you know as they are: four. His burden. Me. . and he has plenty of contacts. A series of them poor . Seen them before.a smooth dance of 'Mortgage your sister to protect your power. This state of affairs cannot befall. Luckily there is no resource . ************************ Precisely at the start of each. and. Keep them.' Ideal geometry across the desert and the customers running for the supremely happy.keep them ignorant.So they go out and one.some kind of peaceful state. Them bastards from no long. Head off when you do the throatcuttings. No character forever. as he crosses the centre-line. No other traffic there with the Twice Reformed Sonic. Probably no parental otherwise.the bike.unstable political in the black . And they is all starting to ride.exactly alike. Standard proverbial teeth one would assume .but we is curve. Flowing smoothly into the next. and escaped into this. They needed the raw stuff. The full of these armed morons and thugs. This is just one of the lackey calling for American troops to people. sudden hairpins. For the first good old Voodoo . CIA. Then the grass verge at the apex of these missions going up in flames . Particular reason why the men is too dangerous here . before too long all permitted. Care how you do it . heavily armed.chickens and goats time.

perhaps move out to the Far East. As he has never . I talk a few up. Its characteristic drum magazine. *********************** Probably do at a pinch. and the next issue of missionaries . with hair puff . The author's rather thin plot. With these the poor old bastard never existed.ten years. Perhaps a Daimler? He is looking older and getting Jaguar. . May be more of a problem.dream.. that favoured weapon is rather more recent than our chosen Beretta pistol.sees none of this . He says he lost out there .almost any Mercedes. Thoughts. Think.Motorcycle across an idealised . Let it go. batting to and fro .suitable image in the mind of something. 'black' and 'limousine' .forgotten.and only worried about spoiling suit. for the moment. or a BMW. no taste. Definitely something .. bike must be considerably younger than rider ..all ready to play the whole. By then screaming girls.except perhaps airport . Think him whenever possible .serious . Into some kind .at any age you care to choose.finally in early Sixties. The good old..like you sometimes see in people who? That implies a complete absence of taste .but faggot . At around this time .I go back for a while. hideous solid mass. *********************** Unfortunately: very definitely thirties. no cows .problem. You may picture him yourself . *********************** Motives: None .remains unchanged.time too often. The Uzi.of epic. Some year four with no talent.completely forgotten him.

Dead. The one in the front. The Colonel is good job well done. We may now deduce that its known individual not unconnected with .as designed to be firmly mounted in the strengthened punt. next to some kind of machine gun. of course that it is not.in this particular certainly does not. slides. And so we say . Capable. The motorcycle Superior. The front seat passenger is focus .on the motorcycle still far ahead.current period.not mean he has a bejewelled sword. every turn .as the car lurches. This means that we must revise. Has at least one concealed. The sun never sets. Edged . .guess the rest. The largest shotgun ever produced . Possessed of the kind of seriously elongated vehicles . and therefore incapable of his own lifetime. OK. In the case which we mounted onto the bonnet of the car. He is thinking. Making it somewhat less than new. Except. Mention destroying its wielder. Think again. Of the nineteen-twenties. if all went well .Almost certainly each carry some kind. ************************ The large.the punt gun. The punt gun . Most unlikely of weapons .ducks to mattress stuffing and pate.three. Locked in participants must also change. Themselves may remain indeterminate.episode in the history of the British. four or even five . Reducing even the strongest punt in the process.

To the New World aboard the new liner Reward in free entertainment? .

brandy.which side is currently doing its best to obliterate the other. no doubt. and unusually large. They also have a tendency. It's always darkest when all of the lights go out. piece of shrapnel. that. In the small section of his mind which is still capable of coherent thought. there can be no possible evolutionary advantage to obesity. and the end of the world comes early for quite a lot of people. he is wondering why fat people exist. very soon. In which the Colonel covers his trail. Not too long now.he can no longer think straight for the sheer mind numbing pressure of the almost continuous noise. the Colonel consults the half seen timetable inside his skull. This in turn gives rise to an equally offensive and unusually pervasive smelliness. Already the majority of shells seem to be exploding off towards the south. they almost invariably exude that kind of vicious stupidity which will one day be epitomised by one Oliver Hardy in his cinematic performances. Where next? He wonders. the Colonel is beginning to regret his rather impulsive action.huddled in the depths of the trench. (walls of winter frozen corpses. On the other hand. As far as he can see.41. he will be out of this rotten war. now beginning to thaw in the early spring. Apart from being unsightly. so the Colonel has noticed. to be rather unpleasantly sweaty. This is not merely due to his being now the possessor of double rations. . he has not been forced to listen all this time to the imbecilic chatter of the overweight idiot.) The barrage increases in intensity . but also to the sergeant having had in his pocket a hip flask of rather good . This could be partly because he has been dead for quite some time. Soon.not that it matters . Perhaps it is time to try a little peace again? Not so easy.and. Every now and then. looted . In addition. The Colonel . In some ways. Has forgotten . It is also partly because the Colonel has been unable to move the corpse sufficiently far away from the small fire he has kindled at the lowest point in the trench. The fat sergeant who is sharing this trench with the Colonel is certainly beginning to reek a bit. the Colonel having taken an early opportunity to smash in his skull with a handy. he has been able to spend the last two days in somewhat greater comfort than he had originally anticipated.

He decides that one day. From this.seem to follow the flimsy craft as it circles. a small and lonely RE8 flying lazy figures of eight against the clear blue. then pulls the door just wide enough and steps through. which would have been unheard above the general racket even had there been living ears to hear. bank vault. Staring vaguely at the sky he sees. he begins to scrape away the softened mud beneath his body. No mud.appearing almost solid in the wan sunlight . He watches the aeroplane for a while. the Colonel has tried most of the tiny islands of peace and harmony that are reputed to exist in the hidden depths of the twentieth century. Counting slowly and steadily to himself. he takes his time with the lock. (It is beginning to feel unpleasantly soft around the upper rib area. He is aware that this is the favoured observation aircraft of the British Royal Flying Corps. softening well now from the combined heats of his body and his fire. ************************* Time to go. but it is merely that the door is buried a few inches deeper than he expected. Spherical puffs of black smoke . He is appalled at its inaccuracy until he begins to calculate speeds and distances. where his foot tends to impact most frequently) He settles back into the mud. he uses the fat sergeants entrenching tool to finish the job. then he too will learn to fly. No fat men in the RFC. a little more solid. Sure of himself again. in the idle manner of a man with nothing better to do. he thinks that perhaps he has finally made an error. The majority of them turn out to contain more stress and hatred than any war zone. clunk. He thinks. . The door closes after him with a solid. After some time. He almost panics in those few seconds until his scrabbling fingers feel a reassuring solidity. he deduces that there will shortly be an attack by the British forces.In his time. For a few seconds. Then he wonders why they bother at all. it comes to him that this must be anti-aircraft fire. He knows that this fragile machine must be directing at least part of the barrage. His internal clock has given him the signal. when aircraft become a little more reliable. Turning onto his stomach. far overhead. Irritably he kicks the corpse . Counts on for a few seconds.for perhaps the hundredth time.

the shriek of an approaching shell amplifies itself into a mind numbing roar. The blast obliterates all evidence of its existence. Not to mention that of its erstwhile occupants. .At almost exactly the same instant. A stray twenty-five pounder impacts the exact centre of the trench.

Iron and Blood. A hopeless attempt at repair. since one down. Twenty foot long in its greatest minute.the surface create an impression on full throttle. Not when compared. It seems its dimensions in some way must be hidden deeper in the woods . Not enough somehow weighed far more than the bombardment.broad. Unnaturally great stress . Had great reptiles. Totally devoid of cover. The . ************************* If this is a near miss on number Four.broadside to the forest. (About thirty degrees to the right. the tanks slew antiquity. The occasional flashes among the trees. Some of the scars show. All the engines powered. Fire.least fifty yards back . Earth. it is apparent against fifty tons of steel. Before he can pin green turf.as before them the valley . Five poorest approximation. it has the enemy artillery. The Colonel seen and unseen. however. Idler wheels dig deep. On the other hand.firing begins on the instant. Protruding components have continue to fire . At one time. Not that it can be. if my estimates are correct. the remaining tanks charge. they try for it. Large device.as the remainder. ************************** Ten foot wide.if it is. Throwing up great swathes.during its agony . Trying underlying metal.as maximum power. slips away.) The machine reminds him of Heavy . The back of his mind . More complex than it is now . and at least concentrates on the crippled. Corroded as the main body.42. Occurred relatively recently . then it would track link. as if this object tracks. A touch more militaristic drivel for those who incline that way. Five still running. Unshielded.

obscured. as the smoke dissipates. Into . They. Black are noisily attempting to break across the valley.' Firing gradually fades and dies. He seems rather agitated. All to . Its diameter. Direct hit on the front of each. A Sergeant vanish into the forest.or. which .maintenance.under a thick layer of rust ..what function.are surface. Below the smoke. The well knows . Sole survivor dies of . since . Young Lieutenant is trying orange disk .some kind of hatch. Above ground level. On the top .fading. To be learned from this source.hampering the enemy's fire.assuming the upper rather ahead of the others . Always assuming of life.will reduce as stretches from the ridge.the turret. A brew up .unknown depth . apparently capable of mercy.rather. 'His favourite horse.possessed. No chance for anybody in those.. Perhaps the driver exists.crew of Number Six return on task. visible and may be assumed. this time cooling metal . At the fires one of his own. The enemy to be destroyed. of course. Later.even embedded.. protrude ability. Is he trying to suppress clouds. Tears. the valley is. Has sunk the lesser distance .. Soon . Crewmen load and fire at speeds (soft) akin to a train wheel. Hidden observers on both. Eventually. since its headless and unarmed. She turns. The remains of large hammer and a cold chisel now.unable to imagine . Makes a vague effort to listen .. Drawing no further fire. or at least tanks. tiring of following morning. Then number Two is out. Million to other wheel is visible. ************************* Too little rest . Engineers to resume their work .. the reappearance of the right. the day. Part of the circumference of next. Six on the surface which is currently mechanical failure.

still in one piece. The track. *********************** Not months. That the bulk of the force. outguess the defending gunners . What else can they do? For the course of its career. manicured surface .divisional mess. The vast troopship on the passage out . later. ************************* As usual. The positions of some. Into the soil. Blue smoke and a growing. Two hours. By then. It is not particularly wild across the grass. By midnight. Desperately the gunner and loader also gain an impression of the crew. and it seems hardly even. To his recent memories of torn turf at each turn. As if it should be expected from .close many years later . Certain massiveness to it. The distorting light of the rising catastrophic retreat. for which they must have engines. Object. it is. all engines flicker.observed by a senior officer. Which the tanks crest the ridge? Campaign in the history. Enemy fire. ************************* On unopposed. Its smooth. The case. of course.and suddenly finds no resistance to work. Weaving.a different way to the edge of the forest.jagged chunk of shrapnel severs for example. engine howling. Examines it. Likely seem to have been the victim. . wiser. Evacuate! Great existed since the age of the remainder. On the other side of the rise.both vague memory down. Depths of the corrosion pits slides and shudders to a halt. Something? A dim. Account for the intensity of laugh about it. In enormous thickness. Older and perhaps a little mark. distant rocking. Shallow surfaced with .

whatever else he may be. . It must have been considerable machine. End of the wreck . Nobody makes it out. rather one chance. The Colonel is sluggish. Somehow she still moves. from either side at the end. is. Rolls slowly than the remainder of it. which have drawn. Number One goes.deep under the nose armour.that curtain of fire ahead . To have originally been isolated . Lower wheel is still several inches frequent. close enough now that the trees almost as thing. Horizontal. he has stopped. In the earth as it is. Whole machine is sunken to the turret. ************************ Foot high.find their view of the trees all have been in some way removed . A metal wheel. These wheels may have originally .hit. Too little time for proper. the Colonel corrects .well be.as sweating. Some spark. Nearly extension.one similar between battles. Buried to a depth . Decapitated number one from the black. Relatively fresh metal as Three and Five. Four are also burning fiercely actually.almost concealed. Just as the gunner and soil.or beyond the normal limits of their other. Starfish of torn. the ground. No visible damage. The sun dim. Several broken away at some time . This last is the circumstances. Crawls for home.wounds some hours later .has grown dark.while a growing rumble announces himself uppermost . ************************* Opposing partner is not at ridges . He judges it to be almost as much as their own. All too soon a direct Since it is obvious . a little less than. Or least.greater smoke from number Two. If they have? Others are barely visible. Three and five. The outline of what could .

distant trees.smooth grass..... There is little thunder. Which . It is almost certainly hopeless . What the rather aristocratic . Impatiently he signals to the sun..And two privates from the away into uncanny silence. the enemy .as he signals the fact . the foot. rather. Three of them extremely. 'It just appeared. By the Colonel. More. Too late to do anything more than . No shell holes mar. Wanders off to look for the war entirely.' Over the Brigadier. . Engineers it free with the aid of night approaches.fresh squadron starts it he decides. Tell him. Will recall this short episode. Preparing unobserved for weeks. 'The wrecked tanks have vanished. Regiment is drawing to a close.defenders are in full flight incessant noise. Waving them to silence.clear again . Darkness falls. Heated air shimmering..begins a major barrage. The Colonel.the most disastrous? Its perpetrators are no longer.' Laughter? ************************* The Colonel wonders .

in fact. and whom even her own mother could hardly have recognised from my garbled descriptions. The ghost did not move. . they somehow persuade others to take it seriously too. Worse still. Even when (if) they recover. it proved to be perfectly normal. a thing of rags and tatters. There was no moon that night . it came to me that the apparition had to do with someone I knew. A Rolling Stone Gathers . the ghost sat. It seems to me that I staggered from bar to bar.43. Various persons at one time or another claim to have received revelations while in a state of delirium. or similar. Had never. That only I could save her. many of them still seem to take it all seriously. or the word of god. Take a look in the bible at the deranged rantings of the Book of Revelations if you want a perfect example. After a while. A face came to mind. Neither did it occur to me to do anything about it. even known her name. they write down this incredible drivel. Invisible in direct vision. 43. I was sitting in my favourite bar when the ghost came and sat beside me. Yet now I was convinced that she was in some terrible danger.. A girl I used to meet occasionally. and I staggered out into the night in a state bordering on desperation. There sat I with one half finished beer (my first). its light would have been powerless against the headlights of the incessant stream of vehicles heading north not five yards from where I sat.1 SPEED. I sat. I have no clear recollection of the remainder of that night. questioning complete strangers as to the whereabouts of this girl I barely knew. Nevertheless. or even thought of her in some considerable time. I saw the ghost from the corner of my eye. yet still there when I looked straight ahead. In which we have a possible encounter with the supernatural and a great deal of unusual information fails to be revealed. I had no feeling of illness. A few curves of moonlight hanging in the air above the bar stool. It did not occur to me that this was merely an illusion caused by incipient sickness.. I finished one beer and took another. There sat the ghost.had there been. a long time ago. This feeling of impending doom became overwhelming after a while. Convinced that they are being given the wisdom of the ages. I had not seen her. and when I later took my temperature.

equally.rotting near the water tank.that he loves her.been permanent . by now. the legendary serpent is compelled to stick its head as far up its arse as possible.They tell me I was delirious for two days.2 Mass Once more & ad nauseum. In many by now have . Possibly notice a faint humming . I can neither confirm nor deny this.his body burnt almost beyond into the dust. ************************* He was dead . Takes from his shattered and sips again from his. She makes because she has long ago. Life elsewhere around the oasis.to maintain their relative. The hum as that of a 'desert that relies on the evaporation'. clutches at the dash. something he tries to remember. courage. and a good Christian . 43. A steady emitted from its curved end . For a . she is barely external. And two or three are hovering around . once in a case of cholera and once with tetanus. the girl is curled. In fact. The tent itself is a distinct trail to its entrance.previously only slightly greying .would claim. vultures. fingers. ************************* As the driver removes his. They consider her insane. Over her own destiny. The only thing of which I can be sure is that my hair . Reason for the driver's terror. He shivers from the wheel. He would love a frog. She.heard of such things. At first he was not sure . in the city. were anyone to ask. To distance herself as much as passenger. He might deduce from this .man. if for the success of his endeavours. in talk.was now almost entirely white. from another. To possibly the most valuable person . from the marked route.care to put his head sufficiently. in his fashion . I have come across this effect twice before.that appears. Something happened. In the Toyota.always taken pride in his ability .drugs or shock treatment. Awareness as 'she' on the man in front of her. This same passenger on one. Loves is what she represents in. beneath the dash. No disease was ever diagnosed in my case.

worn door latch bursts under. 'Time. One of the palms lies across one .that clear? As it is.two of him is flung out. after the searing . . it is barely possible . Bursting the tyre instantly .incredibly. The reef of rock is not negotiated safely . the faint .listening. The occupants thrown in . Through the wheel begins to rise. Viciously breaking . his white coat neat . Scientist. far hotter than the tied back.solely by the roof panel .to keep grease in and dust out. It still retains sufficient on the tank before it. Hard down on the accelerator .second or two he looks down .even not changing direction. ************************* It seems dim. Even slightly lower speed . death.weakened immediately in front of the fuel rapidly. Throws herself on him.combined . spinning. From the inside.suddenly bloom spreads across the face of main control.central pole.meant no more than a bent track. The cheap.desert.him falls toward the open door. The front .eyes return to the forward view wheel. The plastic fuel pipe.begin to bite into the soft rock.if the word has just invented .oil emanates from sealed metal . But after the first two to the limit. Together . It is almost too hot to. Remains tied to the car.' There is .and in the wrong direction. Finally of the generator . both his legs shattered against the like. does not. It's permitted. the white man at one of the screens.the quickest. despite years of tropical heat.his protégé on the nature of slowly. As the car rolls . The man in the lab. the dingy canvas orange. Apparently intent on the far wall. Had there feet.

2 White houses. I had reached the grounds of the Palace.43. The ever increasing speed. All appeared intact in the ancient burn scars . My mind drifted elsewhere. Had I had noticed as I rode past. Into the blazing .any of the others . Ice from the cool blue . the dying flames. Even the unoccupied in the ignition. Occupied by corpses. I knew that the little Cessnas at the flying left the corpse where it was. With no apparent time lapse.petrol at the first sign . 43. embassies were completely naturally . Warships appeared to have run .from the pitted bronze bolts. as I fled it.smeared to drown in sickly vines.2. I knew though I could no longer remember. On each other. As I wove my way through. begins to laugh.' On the other hand. Chaos spreads as the lights dim.1 Her signs of animation. Heading north. Onto the remains of the 'Peace'. Doppler Fleeing me. I lived now less passable than behind the neat rows of dwellings.as I tried to move away . The port was useless. at the screens. The Atlantic over burning Lomé. pain.put off until tomorrow. My hunger seemed like hours. 'I knew real.putting shot through my shoulder. the Americans. The whores had long since . Small overripe bananas.the road was no longer blocked.or its flames were pallid and . I could. it finally expired on the hill as the shelling restarted.saves nine. His mouth full of shit roofs of the compound to the hotel. I stole one of the mopeds from a deserted compound.no more than a rubble. Thirty . the sun low to . Some had only stopped.' Echoed from . victims of usual.from horizon to zenith. When the fuel tanks trying to start . I could still see in time . Hours. 'Time seemed to hear.collided and the shelling of the weapons.had been as mean and stupid as I thought.2. All of this in struggle against the console.

chaotic images that still the North.. Her mind would . It offered the same potential.his opinion.vehicle in its day. Almost entirely alone . however.would.meaning that there will. Baffled. The man in the back is months ago. Letters missing. Majority of the human race . No more than half.himself . What he actually terms his own peculiar aims. I bent. Further north. I rock.the south. Shell had almost gone.travelling police . noting the scars of some corroded heap of ancient metal.she is in the world. in the drifting laterite dust. probably .ever heard of this. Such possesses . No mention of it to the others . Fact..aware of their deviation.part the world. Up against the door.lurched upright. the remains were. with oversized tyres.abandoned even the slightest control. Travel this: never for searchers to find a car . ************************* I faced the flames . However long was hard to remember. Initially. Only visible at all on faint traces of the car's passage. I shook torn neck muscles. Nothing salvageable here. Onwards. Horizontal light. A once bright metal name. any sign of anything resembling desert. From the other rear seat . Had not treated this far before my own lack.is focused. all vehicles ..living soul for. Some backlash from the nerve gas. . . Made from one piece of steel.fuddled by clinically administered. if possible.aware of his existence. Car I had .before a full search is launched. Man in the front seat . ************************* It could be said. Anything for it was hard to separate . East. and this is what he . Under this rule assume that someone will worry sufficiently. this will .or vanish within hours. A 1967 FIAT that had been dropped in later. revealing time and termites. No passing traveller was going to .travellers to watch for . ************************* Nowhere.

Being a careful observer. The steering wheel spins driver's fingers. Had the vehicle under these circumstances. after all. . ************************* Neither is there any sign . even the main bulk.He remembers taking previous trips into Mali.with the exception of the ubiquitous. A careful observer would sound near this outlet. he might.speed.2.positions. A cluster of small insects. though many feet have left. On the other hand. is he not a man. has somehow forgotten even as this man.snag on some metallic protrusion. Pedal. The driver shudders. The tent is. Freeing one hand momentarily. as the man next suddenly open door. spindly goats. False. As he tugs hard. 43. the oasis is not quite as dry as its right hand. sadly depleted source. The driver's right foot is still. Should he close. A faint smell of machine hatch. A simple air conditioner.3 Water. Set into the ground near metal of the nearside front . Dead in the desert. one white again. recognition. but is it also. apparently.that protrudes from the ground. The offside wheel hits first. As his hand comes free. Other direction as the metal rims. at the actually very high .torso. even where the shadow of side. one handed. Pipe . . The left rear. Stream of moisture laden air is causing the insects to dance frantically .with less worn tyres. Empty. reassuring fetish concealed beneath.and could have their current . Could have rod.breezes fail to touch the interior. oppressive touch. identify 'cooler'. has he not to tell one 'yovo'. Appears a dull. empty. Still further vehicle slews wildly to the left. forcing the steering. although he has the villages.sudden load. Then. From the recess . air outside? ************************* Even with the flaps . Fluids leaking irreplaceably . Light outside. perhaps.

half out of the open drain. 'Time' The Professor was saying. almost as itself for his benefit. is attempting to lecture universe.the CIA man. She is not . Over the south. and no luggage stored behind . some dusty corner. Perhaps one club would still be intact.************************* Inside the bunker.after part instantly.. The tiny engine began to misfire . Surprisingly.passenger has the first. strength to bend the metal outlet pipe tears across. His corpse.face for the first time showing across the entire bank of monitors. The car is now held and the thin metal cap . still stare. ************************* Initially the gap widens inches.the bank of monitors against . Floor pan splits transversely .' he says.' He points .tank. French. actually. 43.stalled traffic on Route . The prop shaft extension. Only too well. 'I . 'We're on.. and ancient. The background hum increases in pitch. the European.' That what I was hearing was not . just like life. the Togolaise . Ubiquitous.2.designed the sliding splines on the shaft.not quite pin down what was. Very symbolic. Break an instant before his skull . Seconds as the two Africans. 'Never do today what you can.evaporating like spilled trouble.unforgiving rock.he might have been thrown completely. Grabbing for the coat is stopped by the girl . dying. Its lack of flexibility .laughs suddenly. Certain awe in his voice. as the fatal orange the screen.' A stitch. the flames from the burning vanished . Ahab . I half in. 'Time.buttoned.4 And tide wait for no man.the straps of his own baggage. His death his life.

Now they crumbled: grey on roofless enclosures.until I reached some point walked on up the hill.just before buildings. north or south.had failing light. west.smooth tarmac roads always inexplicable . ************************* Later I awoke among the ruins . Dragons fell .2. Slid away .waste areas. Weight onto my left arm. At least one of the American aground. Here and there. was there an oil drum? The first rule of leave your vehicle. I walked north in total silence. Alert the local authorities. nearly. bloodier red. .sky.just that I had to get back to Mali. for what tangled roadside brush. By.still tended to have keys .city eased as they turned. Fading into the infinite dark. There was no point . That both the Russian and the Libyan untouched. I gained a hazy view. Fire world tilted sideways.obviously been left running and had ran dry. While I watched. ************************* In major route are logged . the occasional patches of dust were shown up. back to my right. Climbing monument. Why? ************************* Many of the cars were the earlier nerve gas attack. somewhere is expecting your arrival. As completely missed their intended targets. ************************* Found myself standing.crater filled with smouldering vehicles . Almost here once . Tracks perpetually moving dust. their lucent hides seared by moons that spun . Fed.shifting a deeper. 43.5 The car burned.strange epicycles forty feet away. two destroyers . Thought deserted . The United States compound . Before the peace monument .Atakpame. Later I vomited.Residence du Benin . Powerless against the desert glare. Unfortunately. It is much easier truck than a man on foot.always be some sort of search.

3. the lacquered wood . with the slow boiler models. No twisted shell. His memory tied to one small place for too long. Earlier accident.either that or I was concussed. Auto-fucking-biography! The small part of the Colonels failing mind which still retains some coherence.2. Wincing to read the broken remains. Strangely small wheels.6 Walked past out onto the outcrop. I had seen it had taken to get this far. I looked again.coiled before my eyes as yet another wreck. It can be several days.organic component of the massively parallel quantum computer that forms the human mind . he can no longer see the multitudinous threads. Too many risks the Colonel has taken in a life too long. he has forgotten the moves.3 ENOUGH!! 43. Obsessed by the figure of a girl decades dead and forgotten by the world. And now this fool. coherent view of the past populated my dreams. The way out. the end letter or my head. Any length of time. At least. Pain striking through word . the body. Attentiveness had finally destroyed.1 Is more than/ The Colonel's brain. Watch for me. I must have been still getting . Kindly.Merely consist of a notice to other missing party. Now. the twisted. This imbecile whom he has trusted to extract him from this last lethal trap.is dying. 43.. Coherent thought fades away into endless sub loops. 'TOYO. This prancing poseur.once a valued comrade among those few who walk the paths of time . It had been an excellent steamer. The dance along the razor's edge. yet it had got me. though visible. Turning back again. This final hope . The infinite paths that he trod so easily in other times. dust silted. glows .' it said. The possible lives to live and be lived. .the rotting steel frames beneath. other places. apparently sign of a boiler coil.has failed him. almost gone. 43.

5. 43.5. The body endlessly tumbling. become indeterminate .5 THIS! 43. Few sounds more likely to create a sudden sense of unease than the unexpected rattle of machine gun fire on a quiet evening. And here . too conspicuous. Soon he can let it all go. You know no one in the immediate area. I think I am being brendan behan.fanning out into that more malleable state of existence in which the Colonel has lived most of his long life. says staggering. He remembers now.1.) Past the old rusting car (1956 Buick) propped up on crumbling bricks. . 43.4 MORE. Soon. Complex molecules. The political situation is liable to sudden changes.1. There are few sounds. Your car with its. Waves half empty (half full) whisky bottle. The palace and the main military camp are suddenly far too close for comfort.with sudden anger.4.hand moves feeble towards lower ribcage. 43. each capable of an immense number of discrete quantum states. A handful of intact neurons fire rapidly.1 Your fly is undone says the captain leering from the stranded tugboat. 43.1 /enough.2 I know. 43.1 Lurches onto the stage (It is the beach this time. This especially applies if you are having a quiet drink in a bar right across town from your home. here. The verge of success.5. foreign registration. turns out to have a flat tyre. Blood at the mouth. The nightmare returns. It is part of the plan.

3 The faithful indian struts across the wrinkled sky.2. 43.2.5 In the engine Explains the captain. Along with that other fellow.4 Showering 1956 dust. Captain fading into cracked sunset.1 Brendan thomas Fumbles out a broken pencil as dylan drunk behan slips a tatty notepad from his burning coat.43.5. . 43. 43.5.5.1.5.2.5.5. or is it redhat the indian. the curtain falls.5. 43.5.3 You mean dylan thomas says the captain.2. 43.4 You mean redhook the indian.6 Why not? Says fumbling with fly buttons. 43.5. which era is this anyway? What idiot thought of that embarrassment to any selfrespecting drunk.1. Which tugboat? 43.2 Beach rolls out forever. Leans against car bonnet containing ghost of redhat/hook or whatever.5. Where is he? 43.1.2 Fly buttons pop across the rusting engine.1. Blazing drunk falls out into endless rusting beach.1. 43.7 Buttons.

43.6.6.6. 43. 43. in its turn.6. 43.9 Ending with a two minute silence in honour.2 Followed immediately by a somewhat longer one.7 Capped with a public holiday. .4 Which is.6.6 Which will end with a fortnight's recess. 43.1 There will now be a short intermission. 43. itself. Normal service will not be resumed.6.8.6.6. preceded by a rather elongated recession.43.5 And terminated by the beginning of the summer vacation. 44. 43. 43.1 One of whom may have actually existed. fin. 43. by a break of several hours.3 Followed.6.6. 43.6 FAITH.8 The holidays associated with three separate and distinct Saints.

.Part 5: The Final Fling.

rather awkwardly. it might be best to avoid anachronisms this time.a very final sort of sound. Not by a long chalk if he has any say in the matter. long century. he thinks. On the other hand. That particular elegance that seemed lost forever after the Second World War. Plenty of time to think about such things later. ************************ It is a fine thing to be young. this time with all his energies intact.perhaps he should have it shipped out or something. . the car does have a certain something.nothing.possibly more than that. In which all . Walks out whistling into the clear. Probably need a little practice at almost everything. it has been a long. With One Mighty Bound. Bulletproof too . To begin again the search. Still whistling. Like to see the bastard get out of that one. late summer air. catching them. All in all.45. something rather more to his liking. wasted body stranded in the filthy bed. failing that . And not finished yet. Something else too. A classic kind of elegance. he thinks. Need a little practice. An aura of barely suppressed power. Finer still to be young in 1935. In 1935 in West Africa. To his surprise.or. He tosses the keys into the air. picturing again the ancient. in his left hand. when he walks around the corner and sees it for the first time. Behind him the door closes . if the body really is titanium . the Colonel drives off into the glorious sunset. A faint smell of roses. is finally revealed.

The cold. They're going to.46. ************************ Norway: 1943. Proves to himself that he is really a man. The trench reinforced with frozen corpses. The wave of grey figures leaping down into the trench.in his first attack. Just like his marginally older comrades who race up and down the trench finishing off the other wounded. or artery . The gaping wound in his thigh.within. Other times . Too late.ice and blood. Rolling. Very young. falling with ever increasing speed down the precipitous mountainside. It comes from within. The pulse of a great vein. The Major pulls the field dressing tight around his upper arm as he shivers uncontrollably. In which we have .' Hundreds of tons of rock.' Tiny flakes of snow in the fading light. Maybe we can sneak away under cover of darkness. Pathans won't attack at night. 'Dark soon sir. 'Jesus. Obviously terrified . Would it help in any case with this irresistible chill? Random thoughts ricochet through the mind... A sound from high above.he is not sure of the difference . The already freezing crimson pool. he sees the . One among many amidst the frozen mud. Falling Through..if we wish . His teeth clamped in a rictus of fear and hatred. A click of stone on stone. sliding. Creeping outward through the bones. No strength even to huddle into a foetal position for warmth. The enemy soldier. ************************ Belgium: 1917. An instant too late.. His blood. Raises his bayoneted rifle.a few moments to say goodbye. The terrible cold. ************************ Northern India: 1931.

It is purely internal. rest.or whatever he has released in the confines of this freezer room.black against the snow. the sergeant lies impaled on a razor sharp spine of fractured ice. Slides down the wall to sit among the broken glass. There is something wrong with his hands. Failure of function. All go sliding . Quite a grand tomb. That dead white already . Maybe now.down that last great slippery slope. Never dare to come in to retrieve the body. Wonders vaguely which will kill him first. Loss of blood . He crawls knees and elbows.crevasse. Unable to free the parachute harness. ************************* . No single malfunction. Porton Down. he can The world begins to tilt sideways. There is no external chill. as the moon casts a pale light down into the narrow gap. at last. Later. ************************* England: 1984. Time expired in all parts. Legs too. Better than he would ever have expected.slowly at first . Biological weapons research centre. Sort of evens it all up a bit. Ten yards away. he sees the blood . Knows they will seal off the whole area. The aged body closing down. Frostbite. His 'debt to society'. At least this time he has done something right. In some ways it comes as a relief. An ominous brightening at the core of the broken MiG.his fingers. He shivers. ************************* This time is different. ************************* Siberia: 1962: Drags himself painfully toward the smouldering wreck. Makes no difference really. Coughs up more through the fading agony of his shattered ribcage. A small repayment. Expanding from an unknown centre.

.the fuck was that?' end..... ..'.