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by Laurence Ramsey.
"The fucking view is fucking vile for fucking miles and fucking miles, the fucking babies fucking cry, the fucking flowers fucking die, the fucking food is fucking muck, the fucking drains are fucking fucked, the colour scheme is fucking brown, everywhere in Chickentown. The fucking pubs are fucking dull, the fucking clubs are fucking full of fucking girls and fucking guys with fucking murder in their eyes. A fucking bloke is fucking stabbed waiting for a fucking cab; you fucking stay at fucking home, the fucking neighbours fucking moan, Keep the fucking racket downthis is fucking Chickentown" -John Cooper Clarke
Nobody noticed when the Demon walked into town. Fucks' sake, why should they? All too busy dealing with demons of their own. Booze, drugs, violence, take your pick. On a Friday night it's all available round here.
Welcome to Smalltown England. The regulars were gathered outside The Lion, trading cash for oblivion. Men wandered in packs, spilling chips, puke and blood with testosterone-fueled abandon. A few women curled up on themselves, not knowing whether to pay more attention to protecting their heads or kidneys. Same shit, different day. So nobody noticed the evil amongst us. As if it would have made a difference. Something akin to picking out the smell of freshly spilt blood in the middle of an abattoir. Okay, so there were a few people who felt something, some kind of disturbance, something unsettling. But by that point on a Friday night, they were too far gone to give a shit. So the essence of evil walked into our town, unannounced, and started tearing its throat out. And as it went on, I figured out what was happening, I sussed it out, I did nothing, because I felt they all deserved it. By the end, I'd changed my mind.
"Smell of hot food from a takeaway curry, diesel fumes from a passing lorry, waiting in the queue in the pouring rain at the chip shop up on Bowling Lane. Well, last week, we all got really smashed! We couldn't stand up, it was a real laugh! This week's gonna be just the same, and the next, and the next, again and again... They say you've gotta have fun, while you're young, 'cos they can't believe there's anything else except this." -"Smalltown England" ... New Model Army A spot on the edge of town. A few trees grow on a mound, something that may, or may not, be some kind of neolithic burial thing. It's eleven, last orders, so everyone is inside. Nobody (well, somebody, but that comes later) saw the star fall. It started off as what looked like a shooting star, but over the next five seconds grew into a fireball the size of a small vehicle. It hit the hill, and the trees instantly ignited. The fire shot up, and was quickly overwhelmed by smoke, which rose into the sky like some destroying angel. Then, out of the smoke and flame, walked a figure. The shadow of the angel. It walked from the burning trees, across the field, jumped onehanded over the gate, and headed into town. The figure was spotted outside The Lion shortly after "closing time" (anywhere between eleven and three, depending on the mood of the landlord) by a bunch of the local
lads. This I can testify to, as one of them was a mate of mine, by the name of Olly. Two of the bunch decided to follow him, as he was dressed enirely in black, long coat, and wearing sunglasses. Thus marking him as a bit of a wierdo and worthy of a beating, if not a mugging. They were found the next day sans their internal organs. He/it was later seen entering a taxi owned by a local character, and suspected paedophile. I mean, this bloke was creepy. He was found an estimated two hours after death, with his penis missing and his testicles shoved so hard into his ears that his skull had cracked. The expression on his face suggested that he had enjoyed it. All except the look in his eyes. They were in his mouth. The entire town went apeshit. Which of the local freaks was responsible? To be honest, it could have been one of a dozen people. Of course, the gossip ran like water. Garden fences were talked over, street corners formed into huddles, and pubs filled up with like-minded souls, all intent on solving the mystery. Me? I was in bed, sleeping off my latest binge. By about midday I'd surfaced several times, only to be driven back by that enemy of the alchoholic- sunlight. Then came the call from outside my window... "Jack?" No, I thought, ignore it. "Jack?!" Still feeling drunk. Keep eyes shut. "Jack, you wreck, move your arse NOW!!!" By this point I figured that the neighbours might start getting pissed off. I executed a somewhat undignified stumble out of the bed, pulled on a pair of keks, and rolled downstairs. I'd recognised the dulcet tones of my mate 'Bell (Isabella... okay, not many blokes have female best mates, but I do. So sue me). She knows me better than anyone, which can be somewhat disconcerting at times. But also strangely comforting. I opened the downstairs door ( I live in a 1st floor flat) and let her up. "Pissed again?" she said, clocking the many empty beer cans on the coffee-table. "Well, y'know, payday and all that." "Hmm." Less than convinced. Actually, that's something I adore about 'Bell- her bullshit tolerance is set at zero. If I need an honest opinion, I know where to go. "So you missed all the excitement last night?" To be frank, I was bladdered by teatime, and unconcious by ten, so anything beyond that point would have bypassed my field of vision completely. "Why, what happened?" "Well, apart from something ripping the top off the Wold, and three extremely violent murders, not a great deal." 'Bell is great at understatement. We went for a walk out to the Wold, a mound just to the south of the town. On the way, she outlined some of the stuff above, as recited by the local gossip-mongers (Doris, Penny, Ethel... you'll meet them later). By the time we arrived at Destination Zero, it was getting on for evening. The sun was illuminating the mound, as it does, but it didn't look right. For a start, it was scorched to fuck. The trees that ringed it were mostly charcoal. We are talking major fire damage. It was also five feet shorter. The missing five feet
being on the far end of the field. We climbed the hill, to be met with a sight that I didn't need, given my delicate state. There was a tomb down there. The lid had been smashed by whatever did the rest of the damage, but parts of it were scattered about. Carvings of a distinctly supernatural type were visible, mostly circular. Looking down into The Wold was like looking down into an open Kinder egg, but without the plastic toy. It was fucking hollow. A huge pit, with the earth piled up around it, and the interior reinforced with a crude stone wall. The smell of stale air lingered, like somebody unpopular who just can't take the hint. "Er, 'Bell?" "Yeah?" "What happened?" "No idea." So we went for a pint. The village of Little Mass is no longer a village, due to the housing developements that, a few years down the line, will connect it to the towns around it. There is no mention of it in the Domesday book, although archaeological remains have been found dating back to pre-roman times. Its main feature (although unmentioned in any books on the subject) is a group of three neolithic monuments, collectivly known as The Trinity. To the north lie The Three Sisters, consisting of three large stones (obviously), between six and nine feet high, grouped in an equilateral triangle. There are the inevitable legends associated with them, mostly to do with dancing on a Sunday and getting turned to stone for their sin. Y'know, the usual stuff. At the centre of the village is an area of common land known as The Playing Field. It has a complex system of barrows, arranged in nine concentric circles, although it's difficult to see unless you know it's there. Each circle has a dip. so the whole thing resembles a large maze, some 300 feet across. Up until the late 1600's, there was a regular custom called Running The Field. Every Mayday, the villagers would gather and compete, the fastest to navigate the maze being crowned King for the day. And then they'd all get bladdered on scrumpy. Completing the triumvirate is The Wold, also known as The Devils Ruin. It's a mound of earth roughly 60 feet high, with an unusual henge arrangement around it. Rather than being circular, the raised earth is at two ninety-degree angles. Sorry, not too clear... imagine looking down on a person. The mound is their head, and the two main henges look like their arms, but with the elbows bent at ninety degrees. The arms appear to be pointing towards both The Field and The Three sisters, since all three spots lie in a perfect line. The Wold now seemed to have suffered an impromptu lobotomy. About ten, Olly turned up. The Lion is one of those pubs that serve to distribute illicit substances to the local populace. Olly is good at doing that, so he tends to gravitate there. Which is cool, as he's a bit of a dude. Tonight, however, he was in a state of extreme shellshock. Two of his mates (okay, let's call them "aquaintances") had been mutilated.
selling dodgy drugs (Olly only does dope). UFO's. A classic example. but I do sometimes get funny feelings about stuff. stone circles. ripping people off." Little knowing how right I was. I decided to do what I do best. ******* So we sat there in the pub for another three hours (as I said. Several of the local kids had told their parents about him coming on to them. I'll shut me face. "Sorry. "some kind of evil force was confined in The Wold. a nice sideline in debt-collection." I began. and some of the regulars were looking at me a bit gone-out. but the police could never prove anything. I don't claim to be psychic or any of that bollocks. released it. and now he's on a bit of a rampage. you must have some kind of theory!" Now. it was more a feeling of infinity." "Oh come on!" Says 'Bell. "No idea mate.."Yeah?" Me. "Jack mate" says Olly. Good enough?" Neither of my companions looked convinced. wicca. Olly's mates had been eviscerated.."Two of my mates have been mutilated!" 'Bell.I once went to a museum. several million miles. Imagine the most alien feeling you have ever experienced. or maybe not.. I felt like I was looking down into something utterly alien."Cheers mate. "Okay. Killing the ancestors of the ones that put him there. and extreme violence at the drop of a hat.. the victims were two of the most unpleasent lowlifes you could ever meet. closing-time is a vague concept around here) and discussed the events of the previous night. so he was . No. Hang on. There was no way I could comprehend it. Whats going on there then? Anyway. I'll get it in a minute. This small lump of rock had flown a minimum of. I dunno. "You're into wierd shit. I got this incredible feeling of distance.. 'Bell told us what she'd heard from the local gossip-mongers.Bullshit. It was widely known that Franklin was a bit of a perv. but I was still clueless. Fortean Times..."Fancy a pint?" Olly. and one of the exhibits was a meteorite. I didn't feel a great deal of pity for them. so I'm into wierd shit. As I walked towards it. because it was totally beyond my frame of referance. looking down into the Wold held a similar kind of vibe. Mind you. and multiply it a thousendfold. and we were playing pool. the list is endless. I own more offbeat books than you can shake an entire forest at. What the fuck is going on?" Okay. "You're so full of ideas. and then hit this planet. something fell out of the sky. "Yes mate" I reply.Olly. It's difficult to describe." Isn't it amazing how quickly the human mind can assimilate the nasty shit that happens to us? We can deal with stuff sooo effectivly.. and at such short notice.
He's been there so long. He's getting irate by this point. Franklin had managed to get himself a job with a local taxi firm. The force had fractured his ribs from the inside. when all of a sudden Bills solicitor stands up. the prosecuting council has started with the spiel. but I reckon they're sick of trying to prove that he's dealing. it was three kilos of skunk. the following morning the room smelt like a cess-pit. hiding grins as they do so. The last time I crashed at Ollys'. and most people would ring for a taxi and specifically ask for anybody but him. He left the courtroom with the words "And for pitys' sake. whose husband was a part-time cleaner at the police station. can somebody open a window?" "Bill had to start this story twice. and a passing patrol stopped to see what the problem was. and he agrees to the adjurnment. Small-town places seem to have a kind of collective unconcious. None of those were fatal. Okay. and thus privy to the kind of information that came via keyholes. what was it this time?" interrupted 'Bell. locked in the attic with some kind of short-wave scanning device. he'd been out on the piss the night before. Anyway. This guy had the bowels of Beelzebub. and we managed to get through several ales. Olly kicked off with his side of the story. and asks for a reason. Bill was there too (being a more-orless permenant fixture)..they'd have run a fucking mile. It's all a bit hazy. Anyway. and know what? I couldn't do it. when the prosecuting council asks for an adjurnment as well. His taxi was parked up in a layby just outside of town with its hazard lights flashing. following his release from jail. The bloke in red is getting more and more bewildered. I have no idea where Penny got her information from. the bloke was so revoltingly slimy that I can't imagine him getting within shouting distance of a small child. "So the court is assembled. So much is known.. There were very few people in the village who didn't know what he'd done. He'd served half of a five-stretch for indecently assaulting a ten-year old boy. when the smell finally drifts in his direction. An expression halfway between a grin and grimace hits his face." "Oh jesus. Bills bloke starts saying something about needing a bit more time with his client. It took two days for the stench to clear. All other injuries had occured prior to death. Ethels' husband was a GP. he was in the middle of telling me about his latest court appearence. The judge is a bit confused by this. the chair has actually moulded itself to his shape. To be honest. and a golf partner of the coroner at the nearest hospital. and asks for an adjurnment. Maybe more. The firm kept him on regardless. "Anyway. Most of this information came from Doris. "Bill had been round at my place for three days. especially when the clerks start backing up the suggestion. as Ben turned up.the other half seems to travel by osmosis. The problem was that Franklins heart had exploded in his chest. but I have this picture of her. with some other bloke . I tried sleeping on that chair a few days ago. The police found Franklin at two in the morning. which cast suspicion on the boss. Olly continued. Half the information is passed by gossip. kipping on the armchair. but so much is unspoken.generally let off with a caution. as the wounds had been cauterised as soon as they'd been inflicted." Indeed I do. and you know what that does to him. "Just possesion.
Lo and behold! He made an instant beeline for the three of us. so that you've at least got something solid to work from. He suffers (sorry. killer nuns. bearing beer and munchies. see what?" "The falling star!" . And they're both dead now. lake monsters." I said. and decided to go out." Similarly.. this is the kind of comment that could go anywhere. "Sorry mate. Although playing pool would be somewhat awkward. "So me and the lads went down The Lion. I have this irritating habit of thinking too much. But wierder." "I've had better. He said "I'm not sad.I'd tried to pull. Inside-out tennis ball. Dunno why it works like that. conspiracy theories.. and vacillated between extreme coherance and utter psychosis. As I have a reputation for being a bit of an oddball. We sat around for a while. talking loudly about the time they cut Saddam Husseins' head off with a machete. By about half eleven.following him ten minutes later. by the name of Tedge. They both walked off after him. I'm not obssesive. The kind of thing that Wayne Hussey used to wear. Ben took an instant dislike. so we sat outside. with this mad hat. he tends to latch on to me. "He needs a talking to. this bloke wanders past. I then started doing my mulling-things-over thang. suffered) from schizophrenia. bigfoot. And he was completely albino. generally about stuff that is totally unimportant. The other two got back. He and 'Bell went up to the bar to get the beers in.) A few minutes later. which wouldn't have helped. she just held one up to her face. the list runs on. with several plastic bags in tow." "Hmm. the moon-landing hoax. and obtain some change for the pool table.did you know that there was a wee lass that lived in Venice who could turn tennis balls inside-out? She didn't cut them or anything. Ringo Starr was once asked why he looked so sad all the time. What you really want is to be nailed to the floor. set the old grey cells whirring. (Sorry. "not exactly a great night out then. and he looked gone. It's just me brain. to be faced with me." Says Olly. So the fact that something had ripped the top off of the Wold. apparently releasing a homicidal maniac. Apparently. Or how about the man who can stick metal objects to his forehead? Or UFO sightings. so he was up for anything. Was he still taking the medication? Or was he off on one? Or both? If he had lived in a big city instead of a small village he would have been one of those people you see hanging around bus stations. there's only so many playstation games you can play. Why do pubs insist on making their customers sit on stools? Come midnight on a Saturday. It's just me face. "Jack! Did you see it!" For someone like Tedge. the last thing you want is seating with no back support. I may have been stroking my beard as well. but fell over instead. only so many dodgy videos you can watch.. Come midnight.. He had this long black coat on. and. pop. He said to Bill. as they had a fair amount of gear to shift before the weekend." Bills pupils were dilated to the point where they seemed to be encroaching on the whites of his eyes. closed her eyes. brow furrowed. Y'know. trade was slow. one of the local characters wandered in the back door. had a couple of spliffs. "Anyway. I went home an hour later. These things play on my mind. which meant that you never knew how to take him. F'rinstance. They exchanged long-suffering looks and seated themselves on the stools. gotta digress here.
The first thought to come to me was "Fucks sake. And an excuse to get pissed. and wondered if youl'd like to come round. a bastard behind the eyes. my head felt like there was a small pixie in there. on some other planet. yet ones tolerance to the fallout stays the same? Maybe it's a form of divine retribution. especially at social gatherings. in the words of Richard E. not sure. Anyway. . somebody. "Wuuurrghh?" (Sorry. what are you doing tonight?" "Um. And Jesus-Christ-on-a-chariot-driven-wheelchair. be useful. But I would. I can't actually translate this bit. Phil. when we were out with a group of friends which included her partner. get me a map. stuff was falling into place. Isn't it wierd how ones tolerance to alchohol increases. and then pressed the pickup button. "Last night! The star that released the demon!" Please.. can she talk!!! I think she likes me because I listen. At that point I didn't care. I didn't understand it.. Then the phone went. exactly?" "Last night! It hit the Wold. I picked up the mobile. "When was this. and I don't like to cause friction.Again. whose ringing at this time in the morning?". The kind that gets pissed and talks. A word to the uninitiated. On the other other hand it was a night out. so I had no idea where he was at the moment. Then I looked at the alarm clock (which hasn't actually rung for about eighteen months) and saw that it was two in the afternoon. She flirted at me once. for being a pillock and pickling ones internal organs. rather than just passing out. you dork! Me and Phil are having a barbecue tonight. nod in the right place. I had no idea where we were going. She's a fellow alky. say something psuedo-wise once in a while and try to offer advice that might. When this happens. about four years. The speech of the justwoken-up deserves its own linguistic study) "Is that Jack?" "Er. possibly" "Listen. Y'know. Which is how I knew what to write on page one. trying to smash his way out. and grilled him on what he'd seen. as I could see another D&M happening. which tends to make him more coherant. All I wanted to do was crawl under the thirteen tog duvet and stay there for. but she unsettles me. I hesitated in replying. However." I like Naomi. both on the beam and off. He had obviously seen whatever had smashed into the Wold. I took him outside and plied him with a spliff. Grant.never get two alkys in the same room! The whole evening will degenerate into a DEEP AND MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION (hereafter known as a D&M).. armed with a sledgehammer. who is this?" "It's Naomi. I dunno. but one with a depth of problems that even I can't compete with.. and this demon walked out!" Tedge had this habit of talking in exclamations. Phil tends to get a bit peeved. Or maybe it was a her. swore at it." "Fancy coming round?" "Sorry. ******* I woke up the next morning with. I can do the listening-thing.
Or male heads. all the usual suspects." And that's how things really got started. whispering in the corner. 'cos Sam was single and I hadn't pulled.suffering from a hip problem induced by too much speed. I'd never seen him before. He wore a black t-shirt. and hair the colour of tarmac. and that gives me an excuse to start drinking sooner. Through the haze. Then Rawdon turned up. for that matter. was something of a blur (as it always is). from just sitting and watching. black jeans.ankhs. But I saw some stuff. He had a smile that was dazzling. As far as I can piece it together. I would have noticed someone this striking. The rest of the evening. yeah?" "Cheers Jack. because he was so fucking charismatic. I have never seen so many female heads turn at once. victim of a motorcycle accident and cocaineRalph. What I learned. obviously sharing secrets. including a number of the local freaks that Phil had invited whilst down the pub.." (In other words. He latched onto Sam.the crowd just parted around him. At the time. and assorted silver jewellrey of an occult nature (you know the stuff. rather than interacting. and a barbecue-cumpisshead area in the back garden. stupendously stoned.). Nobody else seemed to notice that. He had eyes the colour of caramel toffee. get here early. this is what happened. But in a small town like this you tend to know most people by sight. "Okay.Again. People were still arriving via the back gate.eighteen stone. what time's the kick-off?" "Oh. Rawden mingled. Then I lost .. olive skin. I felt a twinge of jealousy. and walked like a gunslinger.. He talked to most of the people there. I thought it was just me being wrecked. pentagrams. By this point (about eight) I was at the somewhat-pissed-and-slightly-stoned point. My initial thought was that he would have made a damn good politician. ******** By about seven thirty. but it passed. He came bearing a bottle of vodka (hurrah!) and two pizzas. about seven thirty. the barbie was in full swing. This guy oozed confidence. I'll admit.and Melvyn. Not even Naomi and Phil. for me. was that nobody knew who he was. but thinner. So we had Todd.. and who had a kid who was the sweetest thing since Mars Bars. Believe me. that can be more informative. and subsequent conversations confirmed what I saw. Sometimes. a chilling area in the back room. I saw them getting closer. a pretty lass who had been badly beaten up by her last partner. He walked through the party like an ocean liner through water. See you then.) "I'll see you about three.ditto. There was a minor disco going on in the front room. and thus was watching people. and it never seemed to get as far as his eyes. but if you want to get here mid-afternoon and help us sort stuff out. But nobody questioned his presence there. Not that unusual. and charmed the pants off of them.
Then I went upstairs for a lie down. agonizing murder at the people around her. The obsessive. She sat there. She sat there. and watched the people around her. WHY? And againWHY? And again and again and again. friends-of-friends. but part of her wanted something back. She had met Jeff at another party. A man who would belittle her in front of friends. Just a constant reminder. managed to get involved with a man who beat her senseless on a regular basis. and wanted to scream blue. sharing her thoughts. Over and over. the addict.you get to the point where you become incapable of interacting. some three years earlier. a very nice lass. Everything I hated in myself. An answer to a question. thought about her Ex. You know how it is at parties. thought about her son. I watched them with the kind of hatred that only total self-loathing can engender. A man who broke their sons leg. So I missed the rest of it. No. She sat there. So Sam sat there. ******** Sam had been sitting at the party for two hours. and watched the people around her. Sam wanted to know why she. vodka in one hand. never wished hurt on anybody. the question.track of them. WHY? -Why did he hate me so much? -Why couldn't I make him happy? -Why was he so angry all the time? -Why couldn't I make him happy? -Why did he do that to Robert? -Why couldn't I make him happy? -How could he do that to Robert? -WHY COULDN'T I MAKE HIM HAPPY? Always the everpresent question. A man who would insult her endlessly. offering no comfort. waiting for something interesting to happen. the scabs on her back. She had initially been . I sat there and wished them all dead. I saw in them. the seducer. no harm in her at all. like some idiot mantra. so you just become a witness They were people I half knew. Most of whom I hated. WHY? This wasn't a rhetorical question. felt the ache in her arms. since I was too busy watching the other guests. the pathetic failure. fag in the other. thinking WHY? and WHY? and WHY? again. Most of what she felt meant giving something out. the dull throb in her abdomen.
So there was Sam. but never felt the need to apply it to anyone. She looked round. I'd heard the phrase "One of lifes victims" before. his focal point.it was rarely anything else) so she packed as much as she could fit in the luggage she could carry. and then moved on. He was like a wolf walking on two legs. she got up the courage to leave. his scapegoat.He talked to a number of people. His first instance of violence was to break her cheekbone. and culminated with an act of sex that can only be described as "drunken". fall asleep angry. And that was where she was living when she died. He never seemed to get any closer to heralways circling around. which lasted until three. for nothing more important than forgetting to empty the bin. a typical D&M. open and. feeling sad and lonely. She was his whipping post. Then there was a touch on her arm. . He would beat her at the drop of a hat. He was a dealer. and also one of those people you just want to look after. and ran as fast as her little legs would carry her. which instantly got her back up. He moved in two weeks later. scribbled a brief note. He was full of rage. and there he was. the way that he could converse with anybody in the room as if they were old friends. and being injured one-too-many times. She turned her face to the wall. Finally. morning. and not be afraid of being lost!" Then they went back to her place. He spoke to a woman that Sam knew her ex had had an affair with. at a strangers party. He did it because she had answered him back.attracted by his easy confidence. After a few weeks of hassling the council she moved into a two-bedroom flat. I'd always had a bit of a thing for Sam. I might have been able to do something. something out of a fairytale. And Sam would bear the brunt of his anger. the whole situation became a rapidly-accelerating downward spiral. The fact was. and he dealt heroin. It got to the point where she was scared to open her eyes in the morning. She was a real cutie. charmed them senseless. and having to see her son screaming in agony with a fractured femur. She got as far as her Mums. She had never seen anybody possesed by such animal magnetism. It was only then that his true colours began to show. sitting on her own. Jeff was out on one of his little ventures (it was probably illegal. ******** I wish I'd known this sooner. She'd answered him back because he'd threatened to kill her. and scared to close them at night. From then on. and then moving away again. (to be totally honest) horny. She'd spent the money on a box of formula milk. noon and night. and spend the entire day being pissed off. He'd threatened to kill her because she didn't have enough money to buy him an ounce of tobacco. She looked into his eyes and thought "I could lose myself in you. and Sam fell pregnant three weeks after that. His gaze was frank. A sanctuary of sorts. and felt like crying. He would wake up angry. after a two-year reign of terror. and froze. Then she saw Rawdon. he had so many deals going on with so many interested parties that he naturally knew everyone. They spent the latter half of the evening talking.
Her body was straddling Rawdon. when we talked after Sams funeral. Sam had had some kind of mystical experience that had taken her out of her body.Sam was one of lifes victims. and he was gazing up at the ceiling.she had done the same thing to herself on more occaisions than she cared to think about. Not something I do very often. He told her that they were marks of her passion. but she was down the pub the following night. pain and fear in her soul. Drugs are great. Whatever. her brother would take over. It involved two of us potting our respective colours. a couple of kids that he had stopped seeing. She and 'Bell sat on their own while me. A few bits about his childhood (Mother ran away with a travelling saleman. That night. the hurt she had carried for so long. and then looking down on the pair of them. The world is a monumentally fucked-up place. Then her dad died. Anyway. Then they went to bed. And then she slept. with the inevitable D&M going on. and she'd jolted back to find that she'd gouged long furrows into her lovers chest with her fingernails. he used to screw her on a regular basis. When she was a kid. She was wearing a . and a million other conflicting things. Robert. and happy. the pain. That bought her down with a bump. I've found that the only way I can deal with it is to get monumentally fucked-up. Rawdon didn't give a lot away. spent his childhood with a variety of families). and the third trying to snooker the pair of us. on her own but with a huge grin on her face and a flush in her cheeks. ********* That night I also slept. Hurrah. and dreamed. Sam and Rawdon had sat up until the early hours. Father put him up for adoption. all right. directly into the eyes of her astral body. She felt confused. I forget why. The orgasm had hit. Possibly cancer. but alchohol exterminates rational thought. She was standing in a meadow. And when he wasn't screwing her. She had found herself on the verge of coming. Christ knows where the idea came from. He did the listening thing. Shortly after she gave birth to her son. She felt like someone was actually taking an interest. all about Jeff. some stuff about his adulthood (twice-divorced. from the sound of it. actually careing about what she had been through.all the hate. and vulnerable. ************ I've got no idea what happened that night between Sam and Rawdon. The booze tends to damp down the occurrence of dreams. and the old familiar self-hate came flooding back. Obviously this cut her up. She had spilled her guts to him. all about her son. the ladies sat and chatted all night and 'Bell told me what had been said. Apparently. and looked beautiful. and emotionally exhausted. You want to know why I drink so much? Re-read the above passage. did some drifting) and very little that told her anything about him as a person. sympathetic bloke that she just lapped up the attention. But then Rawdons arms were around her and it was all right. Olly and Martin played a wierd variation on pool. but not just because it was her dad. she had to have a hysterectomy. She burst into tears. I told 'Bell that I wasn't interested in a blow-by-blow account (so to speak). and he was delighted. I dreamt of Sam. But he was such an understanding. but she said that. all about the rage she had felt. Or it might have been nodules. possibly a joint.
drenched with sweat and panting like I'd just run a marathon. They formed a circle around Sam. and have my head so far in the bottle that I may as well be liquid. And not be afraid of being lost. ochre. scarlet and blood." With each repetition. It took half a bottle of vodka to get me back to sleep." "Where am I?" "IN BED WITH AN ANTILIFE." "What do you want to tell me?" "DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER. Not that you could call it sleep. to recap: Sam is going out with Rawdon. there were butterflies in abundance. the cream blossom like a spring snowfall. "WE WE WE ARE ARE ARE THE THE THE NINEFOLD. Eventually she seemed satisfied.diaphanous dress of green muslin. as is what happened to the Wold. BUT SOMETIMES FEAR IS THE BEST PROTECTION" "Protection from what?" "FROM FROM FROM WHERE WHERE WHERE YOU YOU YOU ARE. "Stop it! You're scaring me!" "WE DO NOT WISH TO SCARE YOU. There were elder trees scattered about the field. Rawdon is a complete mystery." Then I woke up. Three were in blue. "What do you want from me?" This time. which made it a bit easier to follow. I just passed out. everywhere. They came in a procession from the far side of the meadow. grass. nine of them. I had the feeling that if I looked at them for too long I would lose myself." "Why? Why me?" "WE WE WE LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU. Inevitably. only one spoke. seeming to float through the long grass. Then they started speaking. "WE WANT NOTHING FROM YOU. lemon and canary. and the wind played with her hair. The robes they were wearing made Sams dress look like sackcloth. and addressed them. The three murders are also a complete mystery. three in yellow and the remainder in red. vermillion. landscape. flowers. And then the women appeared." "Then why are you here? This is my place!" "WE WANT TO TALK TO YOU. creating a raucous sonic backdrop. aquamarine and royal. but also the trees." The sound seemed not just to come from them. . ********** So. the voices got louder. alternating the three colours. Then it all went seriously pear-shaped. Cobolt. Ditto sparrows. scrutinising each in turn. but this little corner of the country seems to be getting a wee bit stranger. I'm having wierd dreams. Sam turned slowly. The rest of the world is as fucked-up as it ever was. WE WISH TO HELP YOU.
. kind of like puking but without the mess. I fell down the stairs and made a mad dash to the Job Centre. For someone whose weekly alchohol intake would've drained the EC wine lake.isn't it wierd how it works like that? Almost as if you're being punished not only for being unemployed. Especially as it seems to strike at 6. I overslept. this particular morning I was supposed to be attending a restart interview at the Job Centre. 'cos it makes fuck-all sense to me. In order to feel normal. it had got to the point where I had to drink in order to be able to function properly. good working conditions. In the meantime the kettle was boiling. with the aid of my enormous erection (Sorry ladies. Fair enough. Three guesses why. they're paying me fifty-odd quid a week get up late and drink myself into oblivion. So. God is a woman and boy is she taking the piss!) I threw on the clothes closest to me. quarterly bonuses. Not very attractive when you're trying to have a conversation. there's bugger all you can do with it. so I made a mug of very milky coffee.Part two The Coming The morning after Sam & 'Bells conversation. say you should be. Finding a job wouldn't have been that difficult. which I managed to consume in thirty seconds flat. The upshot of the interview was this.. with scant regard as to their cleanliness.keeping it was the problem. The other half was the side effects of not having a drink. Having finally tracked down the relevent documents. I hope that makes sense to you. It also tends to make you shake more. and the first two don't count. Did I want to sell conservatories? Basic + commission. or they'd cut off my benefit. I had to consume a substance designed to make you insensible. I started my mad dash by pole-vaulting out of the bed. . You'll go to cough. possibly a difficult job to do when you either a) reek of booze or b) appear to be in the throes of food poisoning. and ran around trying to find my signing-on booklet. Did I want to be a delivery driver? A-ha ha ha! I had more points on my license than spots on my arse. which sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland. I had one month to find myself a job. a bunch of complete strangers. Then there's the dry heaving. I arrived thirty minutes late and thus had to wait an extra hour before I was finally seen. in order to appear normal. staying sober enough to function until five o'clock was not easy. but also for the sin of not being there when they. Did I want to work in a shop? See point one. Not normally a problem. and wretch instead. like a lump of granite but. However. this is something that only us blokes can relate to. having my hands shake so much that it took me ten minutes to roll a cigarette. It's there.. I had a wander around the Job Centre and checked out the adverts. but it's the principle of the thing. For example.30am. I left ten minutes after the interview started. Such as they were.. that was only half the problem. Unfortunatly.the veryimpressive-but-ultimatly-useless early morning stiffy. Basically. unless it's the weekend.
so we had a quick flirt before she rang through to the number on her card. that probably involved an instrumental version of "We've only just begun" by The Carpenters. but I can also charm the legs off a shoal of jellyfish. I have experience of high level landscaping techniques (I've used a petrol strimmer. bullshitting about my experience. Mr. ********* I turned up at the offices at the designated time. can you tell me why you feel you are qualified for this job. and we shook a greeting. and once had a go on one of those lawnmowers that you sit . general duties. I could use a petrol strimmer (one of Ollys' sidelines) and was as happy as a pig in shit if I was up to my 'nads in peat. and she announced that Mr.. plus call-out bonus.. Shit. Hmmm.I couldn't imagine the National Trust having late night emergencies. I may be a wino." Another pause.Moon? Mr. I've got someone here who is interested in the position of Grounds Person. experience an advantage but not essential as full training would be given. I extended my hand in the time worn manner. cutting grass. "So. Coombes would see me now. Hmmm.Did I want to work for the National Trust? Site Maintainance. Moon. "It's Patricia from the Job Centre. This is Patricia from the Little Mass Job Centre.. I must admit. "Hello. Now that actually sounded hopeful. weeding." Longer pause. a joke from 'Bell for my birthday). That struck me as odd. and the interview began. that sort of thing. plain white shirt. What time?" And I had an interview. must be able to work on own initiative. with some squeeking from the earpiece. could I speak to Martyn Coombes please?" Pause. So I jotted down the reference number and wandered up to the desk. sure." "Well. smart black trousers. I sat in reception and girded my metaphorical loins. They mostly consisted of how enthusiastic I was about the job. pinstripe waistcoat and a Wallaceand-Grommit tie (the only one I possesed. There was a very attractive young lady behind the counter. cash in hand). The company (one that the National Trust contracted out to) was based in one of the larger towns in the county. and endearing myself to the interviewer. It was also two hundred a week. He invited me to sit down. There was a sound like an electronic fart from the receptioninsts' desk. Paricia turned to me and said "Are you available for an interview this afternoon?" Does the Pope wear a funny hat? "Yeah. I'd always enjoyed pottering with greenery. hello. so I sat on the bus and rehersed my lines. Job done. I've spent the last few years working freelance for a local gardening firm (helping Olly out. I did look very dapper as I walked in. A pair of boots that were almost shiny. "Ah.
six months?" "Er. except as far as they point work in our direction. Jack. I'm able to work on my own initiative (when I can find it) and have a deep respect for the countryside.. so you'll be taking over his duties in Little Mass.. Yes. If you feel that you could do the job effectivly." She would have seen my number on the display of her mobile. ******* I'll never forget the first time me and 'Bell walked The Trinity. I wondered who it was ringing at this time in the afternoon. never heard of Edwin Weekley. let's say. that sounds fine.. literally. I just hope you can stick with it. and I'll be looking after The Trinity!" I expected this to elicit some kind of response. site maintainance.. Jack. but it seems like it was last week. But she still seemed very stand-offish. and felt like I was being subtly prodded in a certain direction by unseen forces. yeah. ******* "'Bell!!" "Oh. I was pissed at the time and we were mowing the middle of a B road. yes. as I've enthused about jobs before. I feel that the things that the National Trust does to preserve the." You can always tell when somebody's speaking the truth. Fair enough. I was leaning forward to get my grubby paws on an obscure Foetus 12". When would you like me to start?" "Oh." "Mr. That particular historical event happened nearly four years gone. We bumped into each other at the local record shop. I am willing to take you on for a trial period of.. Our buttocks collided. and a million years ago.. nothing that needed stiches but the amount of blood was dead impressive... I had no idea that the National Trust had any land in Little Mass. "It's working for the National Trust... I'd never seen any signs. we at Throckets arn't too concerned with the National Trust. which sites will I be working on?" "I believe they are known locally as "The Trinity"" Ah. er. "Listen! I've got a job! It sounds brilliant!" "(silence)" She was cynical. I believe this is known as "sarcasm". Would Monday be okay?" "Er.. He's due to retire at the end of the month. "That's good. sending both of us sprawling. I feel we should throw you in at the deep end.. and she was bending down to grab a Depeche Mode import. Moon.. so she knew damn well who it was.on. smashing! Thank you!" "You will be working with one of our oldest serving employees for the first few weeks.. eliciting shedloads of . Mind you. I'm pleased for you. I recieved a minor scalp wound.it hurts." Now.. good pay.. as we have both loved walking The Trinity for as long as we've known each other (some five years). only to end up three weeks later with my head simultaneously in a bottle and up my own arse. "So. It wasn't long after we'd first met.. But I felt I had to convince her.. ). a gentleman by the name of Edwin Weekley.
" . "Um. I don't know!" She seemed both confused and emphatic." "What do you mean. Anyway.. "Oh. and then 'Bell asked me"So whats the story there then? I can't figure it out. "No." "No I don't!" "Bell seemed to be getting incresingly pissed off.. Sort of.. "Um. but bugger all so far. er. We made small talk for a while. music..it runs behind a row of terraced houses and thence towards the Three Ladies. We walked in silence. I couldn't find the site in any books on the subject. Possibly even the Roman Empire. historical societies. The kind just made for sitting outside a pub and looking at the Playing Field. Okay.. "Drink up. "Is it some sort of ancient ritual thing? Or were the council just trying to use up their budget?" I laughed.. "I. but it looks important" She pointed toward the Field. I could feel some kind of sadness about her. Dammit." She downed her pint. She was beautiful.." "So whats it's history?" "Sorry. dunno. and I took her by the hand. right." I said. and kind of collapsed..sympathy and the offer of a drink." She seemed embarresed. well.. London. you are from around here. friend. I led her down a footpath that nobody but the locals knew about. so it's heresay. good idea." She said. jobs. that. you know what local mythology is like. I glanced at her from time to time. "Ah. and she kept opening her mouth as if to say something. "We're going for a walk. Despite her efforts we reached the Sisters still in silence.. So you don't know The Trinity?" She shook her head. oh. So emphatic that I didn't really know what to say. but had no idea what it was. what with the three sites so close together... You'ld have thought." I said sagely. in a very small voice.. "Something bad happened here! Something really bad. total strangers but not giving a damn. So I moved the conversation on. I know this place. it definatly predates the council. Then she gasped." Yeah? Where from?" As I said. saw the incomprhension in my face. "Sorry. "From." "Three sites?" "Yeah. It was one of those summer days that make you want to jump around a lot and then lie down and watch the clouds tanking past. archaeological groups.. this is one of those sites where there were supposed to have been a bunch of women who were turned to stone for disobaying the church. The Trinity? Sorry.. do you want to sit down?" "Yeah.. er.. Yeah. apparently?" Well. so I said nothing. I'm up here visiting a. I've tried finding out from local libraries. blahdy-blah. shit. but apparently. and it's got nothing to do with local mythology! She turned to face me. simoultaneously strong and fragile.. I've only heard this from Doris. arn't you?" "No.
it's a field. You stand up. It's one of those sights that never ceases to amaze. We got back to the field. "Isabell?" "I prefer 'Bell" "Okay. What's on your mind?" "I don't know.. What was she expecting. you can never un-see them. "Tell you what. I know. getting closer and closer to the centre. The delimiters of the maze are only a few inches high. called Running The Field. There's an old Mayday ritual. but if you squat down. I think I'm going to Run the Field. Coming?" And with that she shot off towards the first entrance. The council had talked about it a few years earlier. There were nine in all. The field was a turf maze. . I had to agree... and "Bell was taken aback. "No. It was the kind of sky that. But once you've seen them. It felt oddly important. Even though I've lived here for most of my life.I was halfway through a ciggie." We both did so. but had built another bus shelter instead." That set me off again. "Jesus. she giggling & me wheezing. 'Bell remarked "Look.. 'cos I couldn't think of much else to do. with myriad dustings of white that broke up and reformed elsewhere. By the time we hit the centre I had this wierd buzzy feeling in my chest. The whole thing had felt intensly. Jack?" "Well." she murmered. and it was only then that the ripples in the grass became truly apparent. ritualistic is the best word I can come up with. Clouds. Or something had summoned us. I've been here before. Everyone in the village would run the maze." "Now you've lost me completely. I shut me face. if you looked for it long enough. lets take a walk down to the Field. but thought "What the hell". chopped liver? I turned to look at her. It was one of those skies." she said seriously. We ran like mad things. People that I've known. We reached the centre and collapsed in a couple of breathless giggling heaps. well. still giggling. which is why they arn't too apparent from head height. it just looks like a wobbly field. and the fastest would be made King of the Village for the day. A kind of pagan thing. "What is it. as people. it's awesome. like a giants fingerprint in the grass. and the turf hadn't been recut in living memory. I guess it's a maze. "Look at them." "Hmmm. "Bell. I feel pretty lost myself. "This is part of it?" "Yup. as if we'd summoned somthing." I stared up at the sky. but that really doesn't do the experience justice. There was a clowns face." "I'm not surprised. but I haven't. in a rough circle around the stones.it's a massive complex of circles." I stood up.. shades of "The Wicker Man". and shot off after her. galloping their thunder across the heavens. There were huge horses.We sat on one of the mounds that surround the Ladies. but she was scowling at me. well. you could see anything you wanted. You kneel. I recognize the stones as. but not one you can get lost in. like my heart was in the throes of orgasm.. As we lay there on our backs. A huge expanse of powder-blue.
By the time I reached the summit. I collapsed in an undignified heap beside her. sshaped bits of metal designed to stop the house bursting outwards. igniting the clouds in a visual cacophony of oranges and purples. "Mmm? Yeah." I was still lost. it's still happening. Gandalf striding to fight the Balrog. Eventually the moisture began to seep through my trousers. I say setting. an area that I love walking through. the sun was setting. its right side was the same colour as elder leaves and its left side was so dark it was almost black.Although we walked the Trinity innumerable times after that. The walk to the Wold took us through one of the older parts of the village. Stories about what it is to be human. although it seems insufficient. I dunno. dragons in flight. even though they're about gods and heroes. The things that give a place charecter. By the time we reached the Wold.wavy terracotta tiles. so I suggested we move on to the Wold. a unicorn. Her eyes glowed with reflected sunlight and she was smiling gently. She was enraptured. pointing out the sights to each other. what they're really about is us. sandstone walls that bulge with the weight of earth behind them. every faerytale ever told. landscapes. all made out of water vapour and imagination. I could've cried.simoultaneously happy and scary. "Oh. I don't think it's over yet. Look. She had charmed me. I kept stealing glances at her. she too absorbed in the sky to notice. I was only pointing these things out to 'Bell because it gave me a chance to look at her. It was one of those sunsets that just make you want to fall to your knees and squeel. running up the side of the mound like a small. I heard a soft gasp from my side and turned to face 'Bell. It's like. Well. have I missed something?" "Um. I followed at a slow trot. On the Trinity. not morality exactly. 'Bell was sitting on her jacket. As if all the myths in the world are morality tales. y'know? Okay. We couldn't have timed it better. time for a confession. and she murmered something I didn't quite catch. We lay there for the best part of an hour. It's beautiful. "You okay?" I said. gazing north in the direction of the other two monuments. curvy gazelle. I was charmed. Look. but without the shrink there to analyse us. I pointed out all the odd little quirks of architecture that you only seem to get with cottages and the like. and told her so. Fine. It was like an enormous Rorsach test. The thing is. watching the sun set. There were cartoon charecters. Well. a face. Maybe she was embarresed by my . As we looked at the Wold. carefully avoiding the piles of sheep-dung that dotted the slope. Look. Look. What it was actually doing was boiling the western horizon. I just get the feeling that something important happened here. As we walked." We sat on the Wold. "Beg pardon?" "I said. Looking at her." "Sorry. castles. I can't think of a better way of putting it. I once read somewhere that a myth is something that has never happened. she never mentioned myths again. Fancy another run?" And with that she was off. but is always happening.
"Oh. and keep ringing until I'd answered. and 'Bells words came back to me. wrong number. it sported a cupola at it's centre. I also arranged for 'Bell to ring me at seven thirty." "Hells teeth. and the door opened. ********* The night before I was supposed to start work. while a compost heap steamed happily in the early-morning sun.. forcing me to get out of bed in order to turn it off. sorry. Right on time. I went to bed early (well. early for me) and put the clock well out of reach. Thus I found myself awake at seven. waiting for the phone to ring. a marvellous construct demonstrating it's builders love of old cement pallets. The question just served to hammer home the fact that I was going to work. The entire structure was hexagonal. I had a long conversation with Edwin Weekley. blearily clutching a large mug of coffee (two spoons of coffee powder. feeling that she'd said something foolish. Whatever. I checked the alarm clock was actually working. I should be okay. Something that has never happened. Every twenty minutes. four spoons of sugar)." "Cheers mate." "Nice one. a porch along the front and shutters on all the windows. Still chewing. I managed to keep my alchohol intake down so as to be fairly coherant for the next day. The Lion. But on my first day working the Trinity. then 15. Fancy meeting up after work?" That sounded dead wierd. It was a work of twisted genius. Jack! Is that you?" "Who were you expecting?" "Sorry.incomprehension." "No it's not. . I knocked on the front door. that marvel of modern technology treated me to an early morning rendition of "When the saints go marching in". Give me another half hour. Good luck. a bit groggy. ready for the day?" "Well.. I'm just not used to hearing you cohereant at this time in the morning. The address I'd been given was 13a Rotten Row. but is always happening. but the caffine's starting to kick in. Er." I poked about in the breadbin until I found some bread that wasn't actually evolving. I reminded myself to work out how to change the tune on the sodding thing. I'll let you get yourself together. I marched off to work. okay. and kept checking it throughout the rest of the evening. "Good morning dearheart!" I enthused.. Roughly thirty feet across. There followed a series of coughs that only the truly die-hard smoker is capable of. and waited. and cooked myself some toast. and answered. but between the two was what appeared to be an allotment.A variety of veggies sprouted in orderly rows. So. Alright. I found 13. six o'clock?" "See you there. "Yeah. In the far corner stood a shed that looked as if it had been designed by someone on very powerful hallucinogenics.
. when the door opened and Edwin emerged. of course. so I guess that's fair. my lad?" "The Wold. The potato plants were about two feet high. the bloke was remarkably unremarkable." "Well." "Oh. ooh. but I'm closer to it than you. thirty year now. I know where you mean. "Siddown lad. cropped hair. "'alf a minute and I'll be with yer." "Who?" "The Trinity. The entire scene was so idyllic that I was on the verge of nodding off. an act that turned his face into the most amazing collection of laugh lines that I have ever seen. I recognised him. grinning. Whatever. then I asked. I looked round the porch and could only spot the one chair. "I ain't as young as I was either." This was a new one on me. and all returns." I said. but I eventually twigged onto what he was talking about. We walked in comfortable silence for a while." "Oh aye lad." It took a few seconds for my brain to go through it's machinations. Edwins' veggie garden looked well cared for and was burgeoning. The Devils Ruin. when I needed 'em.. That's the Mothers Belly. "Awlright lad. with a small plastic dinsaur glued to the front.. "Aye lad. he dissapeared into his shed. And she's always been good to me.. tweed jacket and specs. but he flapped his hand at me.Before me stood Edwin Weekley. She always looked after me.. never knowing anything about them. I made to stand up. "How long've you been doin this then?" "Oh. Rows of carrot tops bristled in the wind. but not so long as to be a know-it-all. He trundled it over to the path. Just part of the local scenery." he said. and was usually heading for the nearest betting shop. He could generally be seen riding about town on a racing trike. the job centre sent me." "A fair old while then. eyes twinkling. bees lazily pollinating the blooms. long enough to 'ave a rough idea. Compared to his home. my lad. . and the ground beneath them bulged with tubers. we'll take it in turns with this beauty." "The what. "Hi there." I said. and watched as he gathered up his tools and deposited them in a wooden trolley. I'm Jack. He was one of the faces you see around town. the pipe in his mouth twitching. 'Ave a seat." At this he burst into laughter. He had a face that was built for happiness. 1940s moustache. even this early in the spring." So saying." I did as I was told. "on account of I ain't as young as I was. so I sat in that and rolled myself a ciggie. "Ah! So we're going up the Wold. Late sixties. but it ain't none of them. That's why our first job is to fix 'er up again. something between a wheelbarrow and a box on wheels." he said." his accent turned the word into booty. my lad. where all is born. siddown. Assorted climbing plants scaled the surrounding walls. I kept quiet. not wanting to break the flow.. "I think we're gonna get on. sent 'er 'elpers my way. I ain't finished yet. and the lettuces that stood next to them were crisp-looking and slug-free. I bin working the Trinity for.
" "So who are the Three Ladies then?" "They bin called many things. and the distaste in his voice indicated he'd had a few brushes ." "And then?" "And then. 'Cept next time. The coughing only lasted for two minutes. by the time we reach the field. Or they gets let out. "Oh aye." I wasn't sure I was following all of this. O' course. long time. it ain't so bad second time round. By comparison." he said. most of us is too wrapped up in our mazes to see 'em. thinkin' we're gonn find some answers. after all)." You could hear him emphasize the capital letter. After what my new mate had told me. As my hacking tapered off. lad. my inquisitive lad. he passed the evil potion back to me. The effects of a couple of days weather had done little to disguise the damage. they stays in the belly for a long. 'Cos it's easier. There she is. "No." "Easier than what?" "Easier than being responsible for what we knows. I took over pushing the trolley. O' course. I managed to swallow before the coughing started (it was booze. It's just. Until they remembers they're pretendin'." I looked round sharply at that. The Muses. They tells us to stop pretendin'. Only then can we move on to the Three Ladies. we forget that we're pretendin'. they knows us all inside-and-out and upsidedown. namely. "I likes you well enough. "There she is. but Edwin was staring straight ahead. I thought you liked me!" I said as I passed the flask back. we can go to 'em. it looked less like a lobotomy and more like a caeserian. and it all starts again. and then that was me gone for the next five minutes. we ain't pretendin' as much. By the time we reached the top all conversation had ceased. I rolled a fag. But you'd better call me Ted. Just a small circle inside a big one. "Go on lad." I decided to trust him on that one. He took the flask off me and had another mouthful. Like you can split 'em up like that!" He gave a short laugh. 'Cept Officials."Y'see. the ladies 'ave always been there for us. Forgettin' is easier. Between 'em. Then all we can do is be ourselves. and see the whole of the field at once. much to Edwins amusement. and took a second sip. The only way to remember what we're pretendin' to forget is to run back out. We stills knows it all. "Edwin. He took a long swig and passed it over." and we were at the Wold. winding round the hill in a gentle spiral. that this was a flask of Edwins' Home Brew. the Furies. some are so good at forgettin' they're pretendin'. T'aint no-one calls me Edwin. When we gets out of the maze. to be replaced by the sound of a traction engine getting up steam. They're all that and more. "Of course. we goes back to the Belly. we all comes from the Mothers Belly. He was right. Then we gets to the middle only to find there's nuthin' there. but I could see wisdom in there somewhere. the Fates. that grin back on his face. I also took a long swig. So we runs the field in genuine ignorance. and we followed the path up. we just kid ourselves that we forgot. knowing everything but believing we forgot all we know. napalm would have been like iced water. all sorts of twaddle. Edwin fired his pipe up and then produced a hip flask. Two smokers + one steep hill = a long sit down at the top. but Edwin knew something that I didn't. gettin' closer and closer to the middle.
" he said. "'Ere's what we're gonna do. "Yer a goodun. and we writes that down as well. I could almost understand how he felt. Ted flicked a clip on one of the trolly wheels (it's name. only to be faced with another fit of hysterics. I really couldn't see what we could do to repair the damage. of course. apparently. "Right. but I'd reckoned without Teds experience of putting wrong things right. and no bugger'll know the difference. 'Cept those as saw it befor'and.the wrinkles on his face were so infectious that mine just had to come out in sympathy. which I assumed were all that was left of the tombs lid. mostly. Ted produced a torch from the depths of Hector. There was probably five ton of soil in all. "Well. I came to two conclusions about TedA) He was as mad as a box of frogs. Secondly. Sticking out of it were several pieces of jagged rock. Even if it's lying where it shouldn't. As we looked." he turned back to look into the pit. Then we measures the 'ole in the other directions. visiblly pulling himself together. he said "Oh. as if he'd seen his own wife violated. y'know. "That's a tomb. unless the remains had been stolen. and gestured at the far end of the field. was Hector) so as it wouldn't roll away. They glittered in the sunlight. none of them good. I let it pass. and we walked the last few feet of the mound. "Oh laddie!" he wheezed. just a tunnel of ice-encrusted soil and darkness. Vegetable peelins. Get the lie of the land. which lay in an undignified heap. and shone it down into the angled crater. Ted. obviously caused by whatever had impacted. but couldn't see how the occupants had left. "What do you want to do about that mess?" I was refering to the top of the Wold. "Wouldn't it be safer to just fill the hole in?" He turned his head slowly towards me. bits 'n pieces. You don't go round filling tombs in. Which was a puzzler. What the bloody hell is in that stuff?" That set off another round of laughter.. I guess we'd better 'ave a look first. the expression on my companions face was almost hearbreaking. and I had no choice but to join in.it was ice. Recovering. The top of the Wold was one raw wound. as if they contained small pieces of quartz. We measures the 'ole in both directions. and as we drew closer I saw that the glitter wasn't quartz. Utterly barking. when it's the season. We couldn't see the bottom. "Well. One question." We skirted the top of the mound. and no mistake!" As I sat and watched him wipe tears from his cheeks. Fruit. and the pile had an indent running through it and into the ground. earth scattered round the edges like black blood." He grinned to himself. For a start we'd need about thirty ton o' soil. 'Specially if the occupants 'ent 'ome. So far gone he was coming back again. Then we shores it up with planks of wood." I turned in horror." I'd kind of figured that the Wold was a burial mound. "Okay. as the temperature was eighteen degrees and rising.. AndB) We were going to get on just fine. There was a .with that particular breed. The odd pigeon.
we stopped because we were knackered and wheezing. I've said it before and will doubtless say it again. The circles were connected by lines. as an anchor." "Sharp lad! I've got a ladder in Hector." He grinned." says Ted. and everything went dark. Makes perfect sense. picked up Hector and stopped just short of the summit for a smoke. Ted produced a rope-ladder from Hector. The craftmanship was beautiful. but I can't even begin to describe the pictures that faced me. and pleasing to the eye. C'mon. doesn't it? Having finished filling our lungs with smoke. There was a constantly recurring theme. I'm a veteran of a thousand horror films. and it was true." "Go on. The first five feet was just earth. and we hammered two steel pegs into the ground. Well. I think that the pictures caused me to fall. Use your imagination. " as you're gonna be takin' over from me. Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon. crude representations of platonic solids." I said.whooshing sound." We trolled back on up the mound. even though it was made of well looked-after ash. forming a star." "Um. "Let's call it 'training'. ********* . as the air circulated. The pictures weren't.. which then gets out and commits three violent murders. 'cos I didn't slip. I had no idea what it meant. we ascended the last few yards. I think you should suggest our next move. Another classic example of the stupidity of human beings. I was left balancing. I've read enough Lovecraft to be familiar with words like "Unspeakable". I'm not saying that I was so upset by them that I slipped. The carvings I'd already seen were no preparation for the obscenities facing me now. So we sat down for a fag. but these pictures scared the shit out of me. What d'you know Jack?" "Less than I thought. The odd thing was.sequences of lines. They were granite. So I won't. and the carvings on them were fucking incredible.what's going on there then? "Okay boy. Some lump of rock from space decides to target itself on a burial mound. They were revolting." "I want to have a look inside the Belly. I'm sad like that). What happened there then? I fell the remaining thirty feet.the number nine. that just happens to contain something that only a schizophrenic has actually seen. The rung I was holding snapped. I suppose tidying the whole mess up would be a good start. so started examining the lumps of rock. and a spiral that was made up of nine revoloutions (I counted them. Then the rung I was standing on snapped as well. Most prominent was a design consisting of nine circles of diminishing size. setting the wrinkles off again. and I started climbing down. feeling like Wile E. We hooked the ends of the ladder over the pegs. but I can't help thinking. but it was very elegant.. This whole scenario had me completely flummoxed.. then the walls started. they looked like graffiti. I didn't particularly fancy exploring much further. arranged around a larger circle. All of the other designs were geometrical. Ted said "So.
or just entropy. until they seem to blend into each other. Between them. there's movement from the direction of the Three Sisters.It's dark. disembodied as I am. The summit of the Belly erupts in a blaze of light. Waiting. Visual input goes from black to grey. I don't have a spine in this place. they sum up the concept of Female. Shapes start appearing. unreflective. turning everything upside down. Bugger all. and as they get closer their dresses start drawing out behind them. The kind of dark you can only experience if you're pot-holeing.another appears to be almost perfectly spherical) and temperament (sphere-woman has a smile on her face that would make a room full of suicidals change their minds. and can do little except watch. featureless darkness. Their dresses reach almost to the Sisters. but hey. and they are the first colour I've seen since I woke here. "ANTILIFE. but a chill runs down it regardless. Then the grey starts to develop definition. It all seems totally unreal. I can see The Ladies. As in black. with nothing in the sky. and a figure appears. nothing but grey. facing the Belly. Squinting. showing the space that lies beneath. no purpose." Lights flare up on the dark figures face like exploding stars. This time. They seem to cover every eventuality. I am able to take in more details of the women. a concious destroyer. For now. and stands facing the Ninefold. something that Industrial Light And Magic might knock up in an afternoon in between Star Wars films. The Field and The Belly. Completely and utterly. until I start to feel slightly queesy. . lined up with The Field. it's an improvement. devoid of the village that interupts it. The whole scene looks like a special effect.like a living rainbow. to body shape (one looks to be in the last throes of anorexia. Zero visual input. I'm watching from the centre of them. Nothing to see. They don't have to wait long. He's not dressed in anything. I can just make out the silhouette of his penis. I start to wonder what the hell I'm doing here. sums up the concept of nothingness. idiot destruction that has no reason. He too walks towards the Field.thinking myself into different viewpoints. Blackness. He may as well be a hole punched in reality. and turn your lamp off. It's The Ninefold. just acts according to its nature. laid out on a flat. I experiment with this for a while. or atoms on the verge of death. this figure is monochrome in the extreme. head to toe. the inevitable winding-down that scientists tell us is the fate of the universe? A blind. It's The Trinity. How strong is the gravity of evil? Is it evil. They're walking in a line towards the Playing Field. They reach the Field and move until they're side by side. Just as the wierdness of the whole situation starts to sink in. and it takes me a while to recognize the shapes. the hole. with no effort on my part. grey plain. Then someone started to turn the contrast up. The Ninefold address the black figure. and they stand in silence. He's not dressed in black. I spin sideways until I've circled the three monuments and have an answer to my question. I think to myself "I wonder what it looks like from the other side?" and. What little light there is seems to get sucked towards the space that this figure occupies. You literally cannot see you hand in front of your face. Nothing. no people. In contrast to The Ninefold. The other one. from hair and eye colour. no houses.one lady has such a grim look on her face that I almost start looking for a sharp object). about a mile away. unresponsive. I have no idea.
The blackness dissapears into the light. louder and louder. Why should I move forward. The Shadows' scream cycles up until it leaves the range of audible sound. "GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO. "GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG GGGGGGGGG" The sound stops abruptly. and started chanting."Hello ladies! How can I help you?" His voice is so smoothly charming that I almost expect to see slime dripping from the spot where his mouth should be. So how do you propose to deny me existence when my purpose is the anatheme of existence?" "WE WE WE WILL WILL WILL PUT YOU SOMEWHERE SAFE. when I'm so comfortable where I am?" I zoom myself towards the scene until I am less than ten yards away." "You useless old tarts! Don't you understand? 'Safe' isn't in the vocabulary of my existence. and The Wold folds back into itself.." The women joined hands. the chant becomes a vast glottol shriek. "YOU YOU YOU HAVE HAVE HAVE BEEN HERE TOO LONG. and nine sets of eyes snap suddenly towards The Shadow." They tip their heads back until they are staring at the sky. throwing glowing strands around it and dragging it back towards the hollow at its centre. The blaze of light erupting from the Wold increases in intensity. AND NEVER NEVER NEVER MOVED FORWARD. "FOR A WHILE. until I feel compelled to break it." Faster and faster.. drilling into the back of my skull." says another The pause stretches out. WE CANNOT ALLOW YOU TO EXIST. "Is a while long enough?" I ask. YOU YOU YOU WILL WILL WILL GO BACK TO THE BELLY." "WE WE WE UNDERSTAND MORE MORE MORE THAN YOU THINK. "WILL SHE HOLD HIM?" A longer pause. They turn as one in my direction. and the tempo increases. and several of them smile gently. flickers through colours and flares towards the figure." "Oh." "Hmm.. . until all was as before. The shape throws back the outline of its head and lets loose a desperate. "YOU YOU YOU HAVE HAVE HAVE COMMITTED CRIMES CRIMES CRIMES.. "GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO GOGOGGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOG OGOGOGOGOG. right. There is a moment of silence before one of the nine speaks. and I am left listening to the noise of a bat on amphetimines. frustrated scream.
but it seems to travel the required distance. Bloke in uniform. I may be in agony but at least I'm not crippled. Whistling quietly to myself. but not terminal. so I figured that opening my eyes would be easier than keeping them closed. I lie back down.. but are not generally inclined to kill you. but the pain in my lower back causes a somewhat undignified grunt. *********** I woke up to be faced by some bloke in a uniform. I closed my eyes again. I examine the wetness in the light. "Uh. closing your eyes would probably fool anyone who feels it neccessary to refer to an ambulance driver as "Madman" Guess . There could be a nickname involved..." I then hear the beeps of a mobile phone. think so. Always look on the bright side of life.. which then shouts "Jack?". Then the words "Back" and "Broken" sink in." "I'll ring an ambulance. I hurt and my head is wet. I pass out. but it's full of dirt. I can see a very small face peering down. Not a good sign. Ah. I try to sit up. I can see a circle of light. as smallhead says "Are you okay?" "I. I can't feel what the authors descibe as "a flap of skin"." "Max! He's come round!" I thought Oh joy. Oh well. and decide to try moving my legs. and the pain is exquisite. I do. Where was I? Who was I? And why? No answers were forthcoming. " "Oh! Are you awake?" "No. Possibly a good idea to deal with that. I try to sit up. "Broken" and "Emergency". "Madman! He's waking up! Pull over! Madman!" Told you. and I collapse again.. Looking in the direction I assume is up. Ah. with panic quickly following. It works."YES. Running a hand across my head. And I open my eyes. If you should ever regain conciousness and wake up in an ambulance to find that the driver of said ambulance is known as "Madman Max". I'm grunting for the hell of it.. manage to say "Yes?" The volume isn't up to much. however. I closed my eyes again.. It's dark. I open my mouth. I know that scalp wounds bleed like a bastard. so I spend a few seconds spitting mud. Looming over me." They reply. Bright red. the driver of my ambulance is called Max. I would heartily recommend passing out. followed by a muffled conversation that involve the words "Back". Having read x number of horror novels. but the pain is still bad. as that seemed to be the easiest thing to do. so figure I must be ahead on the survival stakes. Failing that.
or c) An old bloke without sideburns but one of those wierd. but there the resemblence ended. swept-across hair-do's designed to hide the fact that he is balding. I'd recommend a couple of days off work. you'll know what I'm talking about. I've been shitting myself. Out of spite. and a number of casualties."Hi mate. ignoring the protestations from my lower back." I felt safe in the hand of such caring professionals. and so passed out again. fresh out of uni. thus ensuring his appearence on page 5 of "The News Of The World" in A WORLD EXCLUSIVE!. Martin. who generally prescribes leeches. Y'alright?". a minor-ish scalp wound. I told the four of them that I felt ready to move. and must have twigged on to what was happening.. Keep going. "give it a couple of minutes and we'll get you back home. then I explained that I could leave." I grunted.what? It worked! "No. "Ah." "Jesus! I wish he'd make his sodding mind up. "Don't panic mate. stood up and announced "Ready!". surrounded by people. causing a massive spasm in my back. You prat.. A live one. I struggled into an upright position. "Well." said Martin.".. I think you've got enough friends out there to carry you home. 'Bell and Martin were the first to appear. My vision went fuzzy. as I found myself being hoisted back onto the bed. "Urgh. and gave me a cursory examination before delivering her diagnoses. antisceptic cream on the head. Add to that an insane smile and sharp nordic cheekbones."Mornin'". and I felt like I was falling forward. Thankfully there was a curtain around my bed.. Martin. I then dragged my Nine Inch Nails t-shirt over my head. In walked what I can only describe as "a doctor". Mr. Not the average persons idea of a doctor (which generally encompasses either a) An old bloke with sideburns and a tendancy to wield a scalpel in a psychopathic manner. and slipped back down into the bed."Oh Jack. They fussed for a while. Hair pulled back into a ponytail that reached as far as the small of her back. bent down to put my socks on and nearly collapsed. you seem to have a bad back. no exertion and that you get out of this bed. so they were spared the sight of my spotty arse as I pulled my trousers on. I don't think I'd ever been so popular. Bless 'em). quite a kindly manner) she sent my mates back in. actually. and just about managed it. Catherine Farr. so I sat up sharply. 'Bell. Dr. and you'll get some idea of why I was taken aback. ***************** I woke up in the hospital. nose ring and each ear pierced about five times." said the Doc." After patting the top of my head (causing me to cringe and her to smile in. S'okay." I closed my eyes and felt the fainting fit pass.". Moon. There's been an explosion.). b) A neurotic 25 year old bloke. Ted. and a mild case of concussion. Olly. They all expressed their concern in their own way (Ted"'Ello boy.if you've ever overdone the chemicals and suffered a whiteout. She had the white coat and stethoscope. With Olly to my left and Martin to my right we . Gingerly sitting up. and then the door opened. He's gone again. She shooed out the gang. who is totally unfamiliar with other peoples bodies unless they're laid out on a slab. 'Bell. Olly. I tried to focus on her name tag.
and headed in the direction of the kitchen. No stress. "Hello?" "Fred? Are you okay?" "Who's that?" "It's Jack. They reckon there're about five people dead and another twelve in a bad way." "Gimme the 'phone. no problem. Make sure yer okay. I was in with 'Bell and Martin. I dunno how many people got hurt. and I sank back into the sofa." "Yeah. I was on the other side of the complex when it happened.he's just one of those people that you can rely on. watch some cable TV. right and arsewise. "One of the resin tanks went ka-boom. I'm fine. but if you all fancy popping round later for a couple of beers and a smoke. Olly giving Ted a lift. but apparently there's crap all over the place. and get it. have a chat. and hit the dial button. One of the pipes should have blown first. 'Bell put some relaxing music on. Technically speaking. that'd be smashing." "So what happened?" "One of the tanks blew. Which is sometimes exactly what I need. dripping off trees. "I'm gonna have a kip now." Ted. he'll skin up and get me to put the kettle on." "Not a problem. Yeah. it's impossible for that to happen. They drove me back to the flat and supported me as I climbed the stairs. running off buildings." "Hello mate. and my abruptness must have been forgivable as 'Bell passed me the mobile without a word. Then the Doctors parting comment sank in. no strain. but 'Bell stayed ." said Olly. Olly and Martin all departed with assorted good wishes. so if you want to pop round later I'll tell you the full story. knowing exactly what to expect. I would put the kettle on. About seven?" "Seeya then. I can go round. Glad to hear you're okay.navigated our way out of the hospital and got to the car. The entire side of the tank went kaboom. Fred is a mate who is a rock. I rang Fred. Not literally.my purpose is the anatheme of existence." I heard seven words echo round my head. There's resin everywhere. I dunno if the bosses have figured out why yet. I just know that I can go round to Freds and he's just Fred. I've had a bit of a fall. boy. We'll have a smoke. but I know that they were fine last week. It doesn't matter what is going on in my life. "Tell yer what. "Hang on! Where was this explosion?" "Over at the casting factory. I went thru the phone menu until I got his number. We'll 'ang about for a bit. 'cos I checked all the valves and pipes." said Martin. It's in a hell of a mess though." I hung up and turned to my assembled friends. just go round." "Cheers Ted. but." I said.. I said "Alright mate. He worked at the factory that had exploded. I've just heard about the explosion.. and that's it. He answered after three rings. spraying chemicals left.
He is going to get out. I can feel his anger prickling my skin. I stand very still." ************ . and pulls inanimate rock towards him. ********** I open them again. "Jack? Jack? It's a nightmare. As I streched out on the sofa she said. He wants out.Fred. and pushed me back into the embrace of Ikeas' finest." There was a chorus of laughter (always the best sound) and then Martin said the inevitable words"Fancy a pint?" I'd fallen from a great height. Whatever-it-is is moving very quickly. but I'd rather hang about." I closed my eyes. Naomi said "Hi. "Jack. long time. not waking up again." So I slept. I can almost feel space distorting around me. It is completely black down here. killing my skin with bad feelings. Then he relaxes. spent the best part of the day unconcious and woken with a blinding headache. and grabs my right arm. it's not as good as getting pissed. Sorry. an act that was starting to become something of a habit. There could only be one answer. been hospitalised with a suspected broken back. Naomi and Phil. "Now you know. She looked as scared as I felt. Lead on." She stroked my forehead. "Go to sleep." She leant over me and kissed my forehead. holding my right arm.back. You might be concussed. I awoke to be faced by a bunch of concerned faces. "Good plan mate." I crawled across the cushions and she held me for a while.. Then I realise.the Antigone is raging against the walls of his tomb. Well. The Antigone has been here for a long. spiralling around me.. He is an insane whirling dervish. "Sleep then. Ted. and find myself back in the pit. 'Bell. I'll keep an eye on you. and I'm caught in the middle of his rage. That's all. but it's a damn sight cheaper.. C'mere. a nightmare.. Martin. 'Bell was sitting next to me. He sends his mind out to the furthest reaches of the galaxy. Sweet dreams. ********** I woke up screaming. and I don't want you falling asleep and. How are you?" "Uh. It's like being stung by a million wasps. Eventually I whispered "I'm okay. y'know. but I can sense somthing moving. and turns to me. my love." he says.
. limbs in spasm.. Sam watched the second round of cigarette-pool. I wasn't up to playing pool. After the first two pints. I would've given it a shot myself.Whomsoever knocks over the last fag gives away ten shots. spurting under the pressure from the pumping muscle of the heart."Sweet dreams. and fell and fell and fell. I'll be honest. and then I fell into them. bless 'em. I feel. we went to The World. I put it down to the concussion. Then he said. and offered various salutations. not really. As in "The World Turned Upsidedown". Unfortunatly it was ugly beyond belief. on the table. . wobbly. .Just for a change. " I looked at him then.. My suggestion. He was ugly. I couldn't stomach anymore.that makes it sound like everybody went silent and turned away. Sam and Rawden walked in. "Yo mate! You okay?" "Rawdie! My man!" "Ah. . .it looked like a damn good game. but the lads came up with another variation on the game. fussed over me and generally did the caringthing.. the colour was a gushing vein. How are you.) And then they sat either side of me. "Jack. blood the colour of raw muscle.If you knock over a fag.One player breaks. nothing to do with film-star-looks. He leaned over me. I felt my vision start to go again. you lose two shots. His eyes turned red... I felt mildly pissed. filter down. tired eyes. raw meat. My mates were brilliant. stoned and sober. a pool table. bloodshot eyes.You will need two players..?" "Oh. Rawden. Then scarlet.. I was so out-of-it that I felt honoured." (he was dismissed. I've never actually fallen from a great height before.. my love. pupils dilated. nothing like that. all at the same time. I had numerous offers of drinks. Here are the rules. He looked into my eyes. widening eyes. Do you feel bad?" "No. very appropriate.. Sorry. in my honour. . That player is then allowed to balence the ciggies. There was something inside him that was ugly. uh. but it wasn't like that. and Rawden talked to me." "Poor old boy. The entire pub turned as one. It had nothing to do with fashion. in the most obscene voice I have ever heard. susequently. can I have a word. Then blood." ********** His eyes turned huge. And. Instead I sat and tried to stay awake. as it seemed oddly relevent. balls and five ciggies.. The atmosphere in the pub changed. Play continues until somebody pots a ball. If Id've been able to balence. They looked after me.
but giving him an odd sideways glance that I didn't notice until about ten minutes later. while I grabbed onto anything fixed." said Naomi. Naomi. Phil and 'Bell had dragged me into Phils VW van in order to get me home. We got there eventually. N&P sat in the front. 'Bell followed. for someone who had just been begging me to wake up. By then. We'll talk later. I'll help you to the bedroom." This consisted of her clutching my upper arm. ".". and they left. Odd. odd." She placed the tip of her forefinger over my lips. Phil lowered me onto the sofa (with me thinking Ah! Deja-vu!) and 'Bell took a seat. all in one word. Take care.just like that... yeah?" .returned from the other two.ck? Jack? Stop passing out on me." The van pulled up outside my block. which instantly bought to mind the look in Sams eyes. The other two were conspicuously standing. could you stop shaking me?" She said "Ohthankchrist. Then she tried to crush the life out of me. and remebered what had happened when I was trying to get dressed earlier. "Ssh. We'll come and see you later in the week.. Everything seems to have gone a bit. you stupid bastard. She had been holding his hand like a lover. so getting the stuff back is like a mini-xmas. It was almost as if even she didn't know what she was doing. in order to support my other side. I've got no idea how she managed to veil this look.. 'Bell turned to me and said "You need a damn good nights sleep. "Jack.. "Er. I'm one of these people who forgets what they've lent out. "You not stopping?" I said. That'd be cool. both concerned and exasperated." said Phil. but looking at him with a veiled expression of absoloute fucking terror. yeah?" "Cheers mate. I love it when borrowed records get returned. I sat on the bed. and Naomi and Phil helped me upstairs." Only a woman could say that with love in her voice. carrying a bag full of records. and 'Bell was there. you git!" "Er." "Cheers mate. I felt the cool skin of someones' palm on my forehead. "I don't know." "Seeya later. but I've got no better way to describe. in a manner suggesting they were ready to leave.*********** All of a sudden I was looking up at 'Bell. 'Bell sitting opposite me in the back. 'Bell."Oh wow! I forgot about that one! Excellent!" Absent-mindedness occaisionally has its advantages. "What's wrong with you?" Her worry got to me. I keep having these dreams.. It turned out that I had been talking to Rawden (who was looking as concerned as everybody else) and just collapsed. "Nah. 'Bell?" "Er. "we've gotta get back for some food. Unreal. Phil put some loud industrial music on. Sam was clutching Rawdens right hand...
lips on my eyelids. we explored each other. Ninefold help her.. I could still sense her at my side. Needless to say." She giggled. don't be stupid. But I didn't. Chief amongst them was a rabbit shaped item called Bigwig. and I was left on my own. and you looked so sweet and lonely that I wanted to hold you. Dearest Jack.."." I heard the light go off. If you're expecting one of those raunchy shag-scenes that you get in James Herbert novels. the cuddly toy that she normally falls asleep with. God I hope I haven't embarresed you.hands. she did the deed. And don't smirk like that! I'm talking minds as well as bodies. So there we were. crawled under the quilt. I slid my hand down from her shoulder to her hip. Instead. As I drifted off. I closed my eyes." Then there were lips on my lips. 'Bells face was there. My eyes snapped open. An interesting situation to be in. we slept. Which seemed the ideal point to start dreaming. on my cheek. Sorry Jack. and you might not have wanted to.. I woke up surrounded by cuddly toys. saw you lying there with spit dribbling down your cheek. eyes. And then all my clothes fell off! Sorry. I can manage the rest by myself. silent. Well. I'll understand.. Talk later. we talked." Thus proclaiming. we talked. and slept like the dead. Joke. This bit is between me and 'Bell. on my neck. It's not something she does very often but. Well. on the other hand. I don't mean to keep justifying the fact that we slept together. I wasn't actually alone. "It's okay. I just wanted to be with you. The rest were assorted penguins. I stripped. Then. If you don't want to see me again. I felt her hand tighten. Warner Brother characters and the odd flump. I want you to know that I don't normally jump into bed with people I regard as my best friend.I don't suppose you could help me off with my shoes and socks?" "Oh. I was woken up by someones breath on my face. I love you.you're only the second. "Ssh. Tucked between Daffy Duck and a fluffy t-rex was a note. nervous. Sorry. and she said "Sorry. Her hip and my palm were a perfect fit. given that I don't own any cuddly toys. please don't mention it next time we meet. but felt the finger back on my lips." My brow furrowed and her hand moved up to soothe it. I opened my mouth to speak. We talked. does. it works. we made love. ********* Instead I woke up alone. we carresed. I then lay down. Motionless. eyes looking into mine. I just came in to check on you. inches from mine. hands holding mine. .I thought I was back in a nightmare. I don't normally jump into bed with anyone. I'll be next door. I just feel like I took you by surprise. faces and breath. "Alright. smurfs. 'Bell. and closed my eyes. forget it. when she does. If you didn't.
************** Waking up in the midst of so many cuddly toys. .. I thought Shit! I didn't leave my name! In retrospect. I'd fallen in love with 'Bell a long time ago. I'm up for it. since the act knocked a glass which then fell on floor and broke. when we sat down for a cuppa.." Afterwards. but I'd rather be working than lying in bed feeling sorry for meself. dragging various cartoon characters with me. This is not something I normally do.. I had spent last night making love to my best friend.." "Yer a good lad. As we were doing this. "Uh." . and left a message on her answer-phone.. but I realised that I was meant to be at work. So I crawled out of bed. I wasn't sure if I was awake or dreaming. My guts were in turmoil.). While the kettle was boiling. Ah! Reality! I felt unreal. He caught sight of me. Ted had obviously been hard at work.What a pillock.. There was a terrible compulsion to just lie there and inhale the scent of my newly-found beloved.m." "Good man. and his face morphed into that collection of wrinkles that I was learning to love." "As long as you'll make allowances for me going feeble once in a while... I love you too. *********** I arrived just in time to see Ted leaving. It felt both divine and disconcerting... This act reassured me that I was awake. We started sawing the planks to the required lengths and fitted them across the hole. and made my way to the phone. awful. It said "5:30AM" in a very loud voice. 'fit" isn't how I'd describe it. so I collapsed (yet again) and went zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. hi. However. Stacked at the base of The Wold were a number of builders planks. I managed to plug on until the breakfast break (in keeping with the tradition of all labourers... this happened at ten a. he led on.. Hence the unreality.. And my neck. A good lad. reality told me that I could smell Isabellas' perfume on the pillow. I gave 'Bell a quick ring. I felt.. boy! I wasn't 'specting you to be up for a while! Are ye fit?" "Well mate. Jack. but didn't dare tell her. this thought redefines the word Twat. Then I clocked the clock. I picked up one of the toys and threw it across the room. I set off for Teds' place. "'Ey. "Y'alright lad? Ye look like ye've swallowed a wasp. bags of nails and a couple of handsaws..'Bell I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.capping the Belly. which went something like this.the intention being to tell my best mate that I adored the arse off of her. Don't feel bad. I had bad indigestion and my vision kept going odd.and then woke up." So saying. And my chest. And so on. As far as I could remember. We've got a major project on today.
He looked long and hard into my eyes. Who was to blame? Nobody. when the phone started emmiting a high-pitched version of Bachs' "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" . And dreamed. Nobody. and recognised it as 'Bells. And I think you know a wee bit more than you're letting on. I'd rather be here than not. I think the Trinity's part of it as well.. Screams. "Lad? Lad?! Fer the mothers sake." He smiled at me. and I closed my eyes. And it was still swirling like a dervish. "Ohshitohshitthatwasbad. A pumping. turned me around and kissed the back of my head. Not to me. Who started it? Nobody. Who dragged it out? Nobody. It lay everywhere. my mind whirling. wake up!" My eyes locked onto his. you lie where you are and get an hours kip. I don't know what's going on here." I sat up. Who scalped this twenty-year old lad? Nobody. you're still here. I checked the number. and I threw myself into his arms. Hi. I don't know what's going on! I feel like I should. Cheers.. Chaos. I feel like I've swallowed a wasp. And slept. how are you?" "Well. That was the sole cause behind the dream.you're a good old boy. I pressed the answer button. Bodies bleeding. he said. Go home. idiot. but I don't! Does that make any sense?" "No lad.." My body felt like it was dripping rancid sweat. I woke up screaming. No bugger'll be any the wiser. ********* I was sprawled on the sofa. Finally. so don't worry about money. If you wake and still feel bad. single minded. but I don't know what it is. arterial head-fuck of people. "Jack. which freaked the fuck out of Ted. The fault lay nowhere." Somehow. mindless. Ted lowered me onto the ground. Who tore open the stomach of this sixteen-year old lass? Nobody." "Look. As far as the Employers know. It's more important than money. undiluted fear." He lifted me to my feet. The stink was pure. I went well wobbly. get yerself home. There are other worlds than this. My adrenal glands then decided to dump their entire stock into my bloodstream. "Go now. I could smell the way I stank. watching a video ("Withnail & I" for the nth time). I think the fall has hit me a bit harder than I'd've wished. I think there's some stuff you've gotta sort out. Lightning." "Ted. I managed to get home. Ted sent me home. You're caught up in something that involves your friends. scattered like straws. But it will to you."Ted mate. "Ted." "Hi Jack.. "'Bell. but. It's either the effects of the fall or .
"Sorry?" "My. There was something about him that was deeply unsettling. Neither of us trusted him. I'd said it. He's. To be more precise. gone. he just did.during that . Is. Wierd how? Me.." "How soon can you get here?" Oh. Dunno. She had her arms around my waist. she sat down and just looked at me through her hair. it would become more difficult. it was easy to say that. For the sake of decorum. I've since found out that the Ageless Stranger is a slippery bastard. I know. Sam. so we decided to stay in bed." I went from being sadly sleepy to wide awake in three seconds flat.. " Oh my goddess. Then I pulled her towards me. I made breakfast (omlette). 'Bell. Is Dead. It was a Saturday.I reached out to her face and curled my hand around it. But we lay there and discussed it in comfort. Then I fell asleep We woke up eight hours later.I spoke to Fred and. Sam's dead. a lot of things to tell you. and we then talked. Why? Me .. My glands went into overdrive. we swapped ideas. but he scared both of us. you understand. I had my arms curled around 'Bells head. the phone went. How? Me : No idea. 'Bell. 'Bell. Yeah. What d'you think about Sam and Rawdon? Me.being in love" There. and an overactive libido. What did we think of Rawdon? We wern't too sure. 'Bell. "Jack? Are you okay?" Stupid question. We kissed.. I shoved 'Bells head off of my shoulder. "You're at home? Only I've got a bottle of Retsina. Rawdon disturbed both of us. I dropped the phone & then picked it up again. which I shaln't go into. ************ Saturday afternoon. 'Bell.. Later... Seems a bit wierd. Nothing we could put a finger on. She's scared of him. come on! What would you have said? She arrived ten minutes later. It was Fred. "Uh. and picked up.. We couldn't figure out why. Why?" "My sisters’s dead. looking divine. Gone? Me. Badly. Dead. Sister. Yeah. This was the upshot of the discussion. Lying in bed together. yeah. Then we did some other stuff. Then we talked. Dressed in black clingy stuff. No-one you can put your finger on.
"Yeah babe. his neck almost audibly creaking. gradually transform from a fairly intelligent. people could be trusted to take it easy. i no longer shine. and that would be it. Rawdon seemed different. eyes clear and smiling. following the curve of the upper half . Finally. there was the look that she sometimes saw in his eyes. Rather than try for any more sartorial advice. sensitive human being into an uncommunicative. The thing is. The Party. a light dusting to dull the oils in her skin: there. was one of the waitresses who was killed. as the day progressed. Having read a number of self-help books for abused partners. it didn't help that much. working out of the bakery on the Market Square. some of whom we don't. he didn't think they need bother with a staffed bar. Lights on. Saturday tea-time rolled round as Saturday tea-times do. and he would immedeatly turn to face her. It had always been a uniquely personal thing for her. She'd see That Look. First. and lit up. touch his arm. They were a local firm. a bar with lots of drink. I couldn't get my head round it. She didn't actually mind Phil smoking. he was gorgeous. it's a party! No. with Rawdon on his knees in front of her. she turned to her make-up. On the one hand. it was just that the amount he smoked was pretty excessive. On the other hand. Utter psychosis. he booked the Village Hall and a band of caterers. but hey! What the heck! Unfortunatly. a kind of psychological breaking point. So she said yes.some of whom we know. nobody home. (He couldn't get through to some of us. He rang and texted as many people as possible. Albeit a very thin one.started to get ready for a party. Freds sister. with no idea what to do. So there she was. Fred told me what had happened. it looks great.time. Then he suggested that they have an engagement party at the weekend. Jeff would go blank. and seemed to genuinly care about her and Robert. That was on the Friday. His face lit up like a supernova. Then eye shadow. a subtle purple mimicking the colour of the vessels beneath the skin of the lid. Prior to losing it and beating her senseless.. Hey. after which the sufferer loses it. He would. He was so excited that she just burst into laughter and agreed. temper-wise.another visit to A&E." He finished rolling the spliff. I think the Ninefold were protecting us. she was familiar with the phrase "red mist". Sam was dead. Sam. almost a ritual. Then he would turn to face her.) Next.. She was divided. and a number of people. It would be like talking to a mannequin. but does it go with the bloody dress?" hissed Naomi. sexy. In retrospect. semi-concious walrus. did my best to wake up. "Yes. asking her to marry him. Suits you. She recognised it from her time with Jeff.
is that going to look too formal? It seems pretty last-minute. Smiling was always easier with someone elses mouth.. the ohsoimportant lipstick. After a few minutes of following the flashing shapes with his eyes. changing the shape slightly and the colour deeply. There was a flurry of activity as guppies and swordtails snipped the flakes out of the water. cool. he got up and went to the bedrooom to sort out something to wear.. . Lifting the lid of the tank slightly. Giving her someone elses mouth. but whether from the joint itself or the traumatised tissue surrounding it he couldn't tell. Time for a fag. The operation wound still looked tender. see you there. tracing the outline of the eyes. but the real pain was from the replacement joint. Melvin lay in the bath. like. Kohl pencil. I could wear my suit trousers. I just didn't want to turn up looking like a prat. who do I ring? Naomi'll know. Although I guess an engagement is pretty formal. yeah? Excellent. then remembered he was supposed to be feeding the fish. is Naomi there? Cheers mate. Yeah. darkish shirt. I'm ready. orders were down thirty five per cent. Mind you. drawing the lashes to undreamt-of lengths: there. just unfair competition.of the socket: there. They look pretty good with a plain. He didn't mind competition. thinking. elongaiting: there. isn't it? Shit. the colour of my blood is hidden from you. soaking his hip. the windows of my soul are double glazed. he sprinkled grains of fish-food on the water. happening in the space of a week. Mascara. Yeah fine. dead formal? So a shirt and trousers jobbie. Which. look. am i not beautiful? Finally. you? Cool. was a friggin nightmare. exagerrating. yeah? Yeah. so it isn't going to be a full tux job. hi Phil. Since this Rawdon bloke had appeared on the scene. Hi there. Um. So he lay in the bath and soaked it. do you know if this party is. Cool. -maybe I should get a twelve pack of carling theyre only a fiver down at drinks cabin or maybe a bottle of spirits nah ill only have everybody scrounging off me not that I mind yknow but if they do scrounge id rather spend a fiver than fifteen the water on my legs has dried out im not cold tho I wonder what shes like in bed great I bet cos shes funny and clever her ex mustve been a cunt thick with it I mean look at her well fit and cool with it why fuckin spoil it that bloody rawdon better be different or ill fuckin panel him better shave wheres the foam ah gotcha drop more cold water perfect I mean it ill fuckin panel him Olly sat watching the crab for a while. There. Leo was well pissed off. It ached like fuck.
and to everybody else he was just one of those faces you recognise in the street. Me and 'Bell lay in bed. Yeah. but that was just people sharing a one-off deal with a mate. he decided to eat. wrapped aroumd each other.Leo had been the main local dealer for as long as most of the locals could remember. given that he was only thirty two.. gazing at the cracks in the ceiling. Here whenever they needed him (providing they could come up with the money). and threw on some clothes. and forgot to start again.. He was part of the small-town furniture. reliable.. or the tie-dyed ones. -Why am I standing in front of this mirror? . basic. Which would go best with the bright pink hot-pants? Obviously. sure." "Mmmm. and then she giggled. Sounds like fun. nobody had touched his patch before. "Jack?" "Yeah?" "What d'you fancy doing tonight?". So how dare they let themselves be seduced by this imposter. and went off to buy some beers. not all the junk in town had come from him. Those that needed to know him did. being colour-blind didn't help.. We could always shag each other sensless some more.. He decided on the tie-dyed. Because of this. rolled a few spliffs. Arranged through a friend of a friend. Here. Which was interesting.. The language was a lot less poetic. "Dunno. He settled down with it in front of "Star Wars". He prepared a couple of twists of speed. The fridge was bare. but you feel like you should do. as they would probably clash horribly." Martin couldn't decide between the plain black lacy tights. You don't know who they are. Melvin wandered through to the bedroom. barring a tub of last nights curry. with all it's little dramas and tiny nightmares. With toast! Excellent! Fit for a King!. that was the gist of Leos thoughts. Nothing. with his english charm and latin good looks. And the emotions were a lot more. Think lobotomized Rambo. He'd always been here for this town. Having dressed. How dare they buy their drugs from someone else? How dare they betray him? How dare they not need me? Well. He almost felt cuckolded. with his portable pharmacy and travelling medicine show. yeah beers would be best hed better be on his best behaviour i mean it ill fuckin have him she is a lovely lady so if he hurts her hell pay and i dont just mean hitting her hed better not hurt her at all or hes dead meat ok lets go and get these beers mmm which one ah carling always a safe bet and only a fiver for eight excellent thats sixteen tinnies plus money for a kebab later lets hope its not fuel to the fire i mean it ill fuckin have him Olly stopped to think.
Oh. The gasps rose like a cloud around him. actually. by which time Naomi had completely forgotten what she was going to say. but we didn't wake up until the following morning. 5 We lay there. Leo stood outside the house.-Oh yeah. The odd visit to the bathroom to touch up her eye-liner wouldn't affect the evening too much. Martin got out of the taxi. "Phil? Hello?" It took him another two minutes to get the key into the hole. I have my weapons. his family. So thinking. he opened the front door and entered the real world. It wasn't important. She was dressed to her own satisfaction. so the taxi-drivers attitude (uncommunicative. his lover. Naomi thought to herself "Why am I here?" By the time they'd got to the party. head averted) didn't bother him. He was smiling. Then we kissed. I will slaughter him. and watched him knock on the front door. "Yeah babe?" "Never mind. he went to the bathroom to brush his teeth. in Leo's terms. she still didn't have a valid reason. -Another mirror. Why do I always end up looking at myself? -Do I love myself that much? -Is love the right word? -Dunno. How do I look? -Pretty damn cool. He stood behind a bloke with cropped hair. Roughly translated. It would obviously need sorting out as the evening went on but. the above ain't pretty. all of them. freak a few people out. For now. and all around him. Then we fell asleep. Whatever. So saying. and kissed some more. The concept of key-into-lock seemed to be escaping him. The door was opened. "Phil?" He was still trying to lock the back door. Looking like this. and her mask was in place. inwardly fuming. It's lovely. it'll be a pile of rubble. He just wanted to get to the party. happy as angels. The Ninefold were watching over us. my drugs and my self-respect. By the time I've finished with it. Maybe. feeling like the Queen of the world. It was only early evening. Naomi walked out of the front door. His friends." They got into the van. and talked. and then get massivly pissed. They will be enough to carry me through this experience. and Martin walked in. and was let in. I may well pull! -Fuck it. and as Phil negotiated the narrow streets. He knocked on the front door. He was used to getting odd looks. Always a good plan. I can dream. Why are they gasping? Why are they gasping? . such a respectable house. for now. 'Bell and I. she was happy. in each others arms.
Her arm flew back at her like it wasn’t her own. There he is. he could almost feel his nylons crisping under the glare. and slept dreamlessly. sod it. From the outside. Martin made straight for the dancefloor. which hopefully involved getting drunk as a lord and falling over. my abhorrent friend. watching her eyeballs flicker beneath her eyelids. Leo spotted his nemesis sitting in the corner with his whore. so why were they looking at him? He made a dash for the drinks table. But give me five minutes and I will tear your world apart. opened one. Do I just go in? -Oh. and left the car. She decided that drinking her beer would be a better plan than acknowledging the cry. He dumped his cans. People were looking at him. and I will keep going until you are nothing! Naomi wobbled over to Sam. looking neither left or right. Ah. Thirty minutes later he was dead. Party. eyes averted. it grazed Rawdons arm. Somebody shouted. Naomi walked into the house. and limped into the main hall. SHE looks happy but not as happy as id like but then im biased god she looks beautiful i wish i was by her side hey ho time to get on with it wheres leo? he said hed be here. sparkled. I will destroy what you love. Scanning the room. The lobby was empty. -I guess that’ll be the house then. Her hair. The bloke gave him such a filthy look. For the last time ever. With the aid of his stick. Good they look happy. just focusing on the future. cracking a tinnie. ‘Bell looked beautiful in the moonlight. He poured himself a drink. he danced to a couple of tracks before wending his way to Booze Central. Oh. it took him thirty seconds to locate Sam and Rawdon. and sat down next to her. Head bowed. and was glad he didn't. Olly rolled up at the house. As she put her arm over Sams shoulder. and lost the plot. over to her left. then right. He'd done nothing to deserve it. and turned to see if anybody had followed him in. and put his donation with the rest. it looked like a good do. and he didn' t understand why. Then I fell asleep.Leo was confused. He looked left. then I will destroy what the ones you love love. He passed a bloke with cropped hair whom he nearly bumped into. She carried the beers over to the table and sat down. So content. you look so happy there. -Where am I? -Oh yeah. naturally a deep auburn. I lay there for a few minutes. . paid the driver. -The door’s open. Melvin scaled the stairs and knocked. Wearing his I-am-a-lunatic-and-I-dont-care uniform with pride.
” “Ohlook. . He then proceeded to grill the bloke about what his intentions where towards Sam. Rawdon spoke to him in a low. Leo saw his arch enemy sitting there with one of his oppos. and spent a very patient ten minutes while he finished dancing to some pile of old bollocks in an indie-student-stylee. I wish I could say the same for most of the rest of them. Rawdon grabbed it. Then Leo exploded. Martin collapsed drunkenly on his arse. Olly caught a glimpse of this and. As the knife in Leos hand plunged at its target.” “Yewshure?” “Yehonest” “Cool. being the soft begger that he was. and didn’t get killed. Apparently. Then he cornered Martin on the way to the beer table. it wasn’t just fists flying. but it didn’t save her. then this other bloke just waded in. jumped up to stop it. There was a sliver of metal too.Trouble. Naomi pulled Sam to the right. “Yewalright?” “Yehimfine.” Melvin had limped his way over to where Rawdon was. confidential voice for a few moments. and sat down next to him.Olly spotted Martin on the dance floor. and just waded in.
The sheer mental shock threw her mind backwards. as various body parts flew over his head. I think his tights got laddered. Then there was the sheer look of ferocity she’d seen in Leos eyes. and didn’t notice the bone shards peppering his legs. Or the unwittingly wise. Now. the luck of the fool. He lay there. . drunken wrecked sod. An unlucky bystander had fallen.Naomi fell away from Sam. breaking his jaw. . if you beleive in fate. He knocked himself unconcious. unconcious. For now. “youhateyourself youhateyourself youhateyourself youhateyourself youhateyourself youhateyourself!” “No. I hate you!!!” Everything stopped. “youhateyourself youhateyourself youhateyourself youhateyourself youhateyourself youhateyourself” She saw him for what he was. and decided to hate him instead. ended up with his head under the bench that Sam and Rawdon were sitting on. partly due to the shock she’d received brushing against Rawdon. She only needed minor surgery. Ultimatly. Martin avoided the maelstrom completely. ** I’ll tell you about the cleaning -up later. Olly. However. He was on crutches for three weeks. given that it was his thigh that was giving him so much grief in the first place. the stupid. Again. Melvin was thrown backwards.I think Naomis outbiurst changed the course of events. Not so much the luck of the fool as the luck of the unknowing. on his legs. motherfucker. The luck of the fool. maybe it was just a case of Karma? Leo felt the following… A huge surge of energy as the knife in his hand impacted Rawdons sternum… absoloutly no resistance… just a feeling of nothingness… like falling into a big pit… and then the knife started melting… and then his hand started melting… and then his arm turned into nothing… and then his brain went into meltdown… Naomi saw Leo burst.she knew there was something badly wrong. it was her natural sensitivity that caused her to pull back. Such is the luck of the fool. Most of the blast missed him. I’m going to bed. given that his thigh problem was self-inflicted. and a chunk of thigh-bone caught him across the face. concious but unable to do anything. thats a bit of a slap. She couldn’t comprehend what she was seeing.
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