June 29, 2006


Thread: Game

In his unfamiliar accent that seemed like a peculiar composite of Indian and Italian, Weldon said, ‘I tell you gain, sugar. You say word, I kill you. I kill your family. I kill everybody. I even kill small baby rabbits with fluffy ears and floppy tail.’

Guinevere was still unsure whether to take Weldon’s threats seriously. He was a touch melodramatic for someone who claimed to have invented the solar system. Thinking that Al Gore had been misquoted for over a century for ‘inventing the internet’, she had asked whether he had really meant to use the word ‘invent’. Perhaps he had meant to say ‘discover’. Weldon protested that the question demonstrated a gratuitous lack of faith and issued another threat that culminated in the mutilation of small rabbits.

‘I told you, it’s all a haze, Myron,’ she said, with a carefully chosen minimalist description that contradicted nothing she had said previously. Lies were easy to maintain when they were kept short, like I love you.

‘Like hell it is, Gee,’ Myron shouted, trying to keep pace with her. ‘And could you just stop for a second!’ Myron had taken the male inability to multi-task to great heights; walking and talking was apparently too much for him.

‘No,’ Guinevere giggled, ‘I don’t think it was anything like hell.’ She stopped and turned to look at Weldon, who was shaking his head furiously like an angry schoolmaster, wagging a cautionary finger at her. He then opened his hand and a small, white rabbit appeared atop his palm. Completely oblivious to the threat that had been made at its expense, the fluffy ball of cuteness twitched its nose and stared at nothing in particular with impassive, opal eyes from beneath the shelter of two canvas-like ears. It demanded to be hugged.

‘Aha! So you do remember something!’ Myron fired back.

Weldon scratched his head with his free hand, apparently concerned. A moment later he realised what was wrong and a top hat popped into existence on his head. He took off the hat and lowered the rabbit into its depths with open-mouthed mock terror on his face. ‘You say something, I kill baby bunny dead.’

Myron cried, ‘For god’s sakes Gee, if I have no results, they are going to close my project! They want some proof that the damn thing works not oh I’m sorry don’t remember, pass the biscuits, hmm nice cuppa tea cheers.’

Guinevere said, ‘Look, Myron what do you want me to say? Would you be happy if I just said something like I passed through the gate and instead of finding myself on the rim of the galaxy I ended up in heaven and met a handsome man who said he was the god Weldon and invented our solar system and threatened to kill bunnies if I told anyone where he was and what he was like and right now he’s standing behind you and only I can see him threatening me not to say anything?’

Myron’s jaw dropped.

Weldon tapped the rim of the top hat with a wand he had chanced upon behind an ear and something noisy started happening inside the hat. It made the kind of noise a coffee grinder might make.

‘That’s not true, of course,’ Guinevere felt compelled to add for the poor animal’s sake. Weldon tapped the hat again and the noise increased in pitch and volume, making it sound more like a blender.

While Myron had no capacity for multi-tasking, he was quite adept in the arena of hysterics and yelled, ‘You’re completely lock-me-up-and-throw-away-the-bloody-key crazy! You’re going to get my project canned. What’s the BFD? Keep this up, I’m going to have to go through myself with the last dregs of the budget.’

Guinevere shouted back over the blending noise, ‘I THINK ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS RE-CALIBRATE A LITTLE.’ After all, that was what Weldon had suggested, but given his penchant for jocularity, it might just send someone to the unpleasant surface of Io. No one would want that, certainly not Myron’s wife after failing to persuade her husband to take out some life insurance. Gate technology is dangerous, she had argued with some precision, but Myron had retorted with a watertight argument. He was not the one having to go through the gate, he had explained, jerking a thumb over his shoulder to point out Guinevere, the current project victim.

‘Why the hell are you shouting?’ asked Myron.

The grinding noise stopped. Weldon pulled the rabbit out the hat in one piece, with a mischievous, toothy grin. ‘See I do magic. See my great magic trick! I am bloody good. You love me, I think.’

The last thing the human race needs is to meet Weldon, Guinevere thought, as he was not exactly the god it had had in mind.

‘Oh dear dear,’ Weldon said, as one of the rabbit’s feet fell off, dropping back into the hat with an unsettling plop. ‘But this lucky charm, yes?’

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2114

June 28, 2006

Paragon’s Prologue (2 of 10)

Thread: Paragon

The senator had met his wife at one of the churches on the election rounds two years earlier. He had spoken to the congregation, putting forward his personal opinions on the role of faith in political leadership. Although he was experienced in the art of public speaking and was as usual engaging every face in the audience, he felt that his focus had been on just one special lady. He had been hypnotised by her hungry eyes whose pupils blossomed with gorgeous intensity whenever he spoke, seemingly feeding on his tireless, impassioned oration; her appetite for his words was voracious. The effervescent chemistry that bubbled in the church that day could only have one conclusion. When God brings two perfectly matched people together, resistance is blasphemy, the senator joked at the wedding three months later.

“I will go with whatever you decide because I am here for you not for your career,” she said, beside him in the bed. “Just be sure that what you decide is what your heart truly wishes.” She laid her head on his shoulder.

He never wanted to be without this understanding, patient woman whose dark hair was a warm forest of delight. Snow White might be lost in this forest too, he thought, but she would never have cause to leave and Prince Charming would be in tears. It always smelt inviting; he kissed it with marital expertise. “I love you so, so much.”

He had watched Warren Beatty’s senator in Bulworth suffer a nervous breakdown and throw his career away just to say, for one exciting and subversive day, all of the truthful words that had been bottled up inside him. He had found the film amusing back then, despite its uncomfortable leanings to the left, but he did not find it amusing any more. He found it sad. “Honey, why don’t you turn the light out?” he asked.

His wife turned away to switch off the bedside lamp. The senator saw her breasts hang freely within her loose nightdress and felt not only pangs of tired lust but other, more important emotions. Gratitude. Humility. Responsibility. He wanted to be happy to enjoy her and start the family of five they had talked about. He needed to get off this doomed senatorial train permanently; the two of them rarely stopped at the same stations anymore.

In the darkness, the senator began a silent prayer. He wanted to ask for forgiveness for thinking the unthinkable thought and also, if God was not too upset with him already, for some guidance, a way out, a solution to his distress. Fitting the conversational trend of the evening, his prayer was also left unfinished – halfway through his mental recital he began to snore.

At 3:19 am, Elvis appeared in the bedroom.

Ten minutes later, the senator was roused from sleep by the sensation of being watched, but he thought he was dreaming when he saw the black silhouette of someone hunched over in the bedroom corner. In his semi-conscious state, he was unperturbed by this discovery and asked in a hoarse voice, “Who’s there?”

The silhouette did not move and the senator thought it might be a statue until the statue spoke. “It risssesss,” it whispered in an unnerving voice that sounded like the words were sculpted from white noise; a random, hissing, growling madness.

“What rises? Who are you?”

“You are Paragon!” it hissed. “Beeee my commandment!”

The senator slipped back into slumber unaware that Elvis continued to observe him for a full hour before taking his leave.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2038

June 21, 2006

Paragon’s Prologue (1 of 10)

Thread: Paragon

The first time Elvis appeared to him, the senator was submerged in deep sleep after a turbulent day of dealing with the pro-death lobby.

In the minutes before slumber took him, he was sitting upright in bed, his back cushioned by soft, luxurious pillows. Silk pyjamas wrapped his lean body under smooth, freshly cleaned sheets that his bare feet enjoyed, careening around in a reckless manner just to feel the gentle friction tickle his heels. The air conditioner guzzled humidity and regurgitated out a soundless, cool, dry breeze. Naturally, all he could think of was how uncomfortable he felt.

“I just can’t…” the senator started to say, unable to finish the difficult sentence. The day had bartered all of his energy for another double helping of regret. He had been compelled to enter into negotiation with the snap snap crocodiles of the liberal vanguard against his wishes, against his better judgement. He never let slip any of the words that he wanted to say. All the dynamism and self-confidence that had propelled him with great speed into the Senate had now become their own burden; keeping them under house arrest was painful and tiring.

“And I don’t want…” the senator said, giving birth to another sentence without a conclusion. It had started with small, bite-sized compromises here and there in pursuit of the bigger picture. The problem was that he was not the painter of this bigger picture, merely an adept enabler for someone else’s grand political artwork. This artwork had nothing to do with his own American vision and thus he realised he was just a tool, an implement to be employed at the administration’s discretion. He saw the Devil’s handiwork here.

“How can they…” the senator asked, shaking his head to try to wrest the words from it, but they would not come to his aid. He had known for years that it was the corporations that had used the American Dream to create a broken, soulless society that was held together by paper ideas of commerce and law. It was an era where the vote no longer counted, because the few people that did vote chose spectacle and pyrotechnics over knowledge and wisdom. With every election, the PR magicians were brought onto the stage again, to conjure up intriguing tales and wholesome images that would draw in the crowds. Unseen hands would cast ideological stones at opponents, identifying them as evil incarnate. The public had got the Hollywood politics they had encouraged, or perhaps deserved.

“I don’t know how much longer I can do this,” he eventually confessed. His wife, the most important thing in his life other than God, took his hand and squeezed it tight. She always gave him fortitude and support when he felt himself begin to waver. Love and compassion were the real fuels of the engine of society; there were in such short supply these days. Liberals talked about freedom and tolerance, when all they did was snipe and degrade. A daily diet of tragedy was their sustenance; death was their breakfast, rape their lunch and paedophilia their supper. War could satiate their wicked hunger for months.

This was the same forlorn place where he had been six years ago. The only difference now was that he was thoroughly exhausted. Hopelessness was around the next corner, ready to waylay him with the unthinkable thought. He was trying not to think the thought. The thought that the Lord had abandoned him.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2056

June 18, 2006

Truth is Ghost (7 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

“I suppose you checked him out, you paranoid piece of shit,” said Mr. Alpha. “And don’t give me that ‘observation is root’ crap. Your observations are not the most insightful, mate. Just take Grimmer today. I remember you said he was going to be a bloody pushover. Christ this tastes like shit.” He could not even bear the smell any more and plonked the glass down as far from himself as he could.

Mr. Omega did not reply to Mr. Alpha’s touching critique; something was wrong with the glass in Mr. Alpha’s hand. For all the hatred the young Clothman was directing at the hapless vessel, he had not let go of it, not even once. It seemed as if the glass were permanently attached to his hand, a new part of his body. And then: the penny dropped. For all his bluster and bitching, his junior was not taking their recent failures well. Mr. Alpha needed the beer all right, but not to drink and drown his selfish sorrows. Gripping the glass allowed him to control and conceal a secret, a rebellious tremble in his left hand. Observation is root.

Mr. Omega said, “I bloody hope The-God-To-Be, when we meet him, isn’t a bloody woman.”

“You what?”

Mr. Omega peered into the recesses of the cobwebs above, as if he was disinterested in the conversation. “A woman. That’s not my cup of tea, I can tell you.”

Mr. Alpha was confused. “So what?”

“Well, picture it, mate. I don’t want to be staring at the Almighty’s mighty jugs when I’m being judged. Do you think a mortal man, even a Clothman, could resist the perfect beauty of the divine bosom? What’s she going to think when she sees the rocket in my pocket?”

“I suppose it’s a good point, mate.” Mr. Alpha drank some more of the beer, without moaning this time, weighing up what Mr. Omega had said. “I wonder if she would consider it an affront if we didn’t have it upfront? Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me and all that.”

Mr. Omega chuckled, “You see! This kind of dilemma is exactly why The-God-To-Be has to be a bloke!” If Mr. Alpha had known about Ragnarok, the conversation would have taken a different turn. Mr. Omega would relate that particular open secret another day, when Mr. Alpha was neither so stressed nor so belligerent. Of course, he might still be waiting for that on his deathbed.

Mr. Omega continued, “Look, he’s not watching us, but I do think he’s in need of some cleansing.”

Mr. Alpha brightened a little and a smile seemed to be hiding behind his serious expression like sunlight threatening to peek through a gap in the clouds. “The old geezer with the pipe over there?”

“That’s exactly who I’m talking about. We have discretionary powers, mate. Time to apply a little of that magical discretion. The man has a pipe and that’s illegal. Illegal is immoral and that has to be seen to and cured. I think he had something going on with his dead niece, too.”

“Motherfucker,” gasped Mr. Alpha.

Niecefucker is probably more accurate,” corrected Mr. Omega, which prompted a natural guffaw from both of them.

Mr. Alpha released his glass with a steady hand and stood up, empowered.

“Belief is rock,” he recited, staring through the dusty bottles stacked behind the bar, beyond the mirror behind the stacks and through the ramshackle office at the back where the obese barman once force-fed the old man’s niece his tongue and far more while she tried to fight with overpowered arms and tearful screams that no-one had heard. Mr. Alpha saw only the Weave.

“Truth is ghost,” answered Mr. Omega who also stood up with the same intense feeling of empowerment. They were invested with divine authority to tackle the most noble of challenges – to sew the Weave and bring about the future. His skin prickled with that familiar, thirsty anticipation and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He was ready for fixing sin, the only real vice of a Clothman.

And they took the dejected, lost old man from the pub and marched him to a gloomy niche fragrant with the stench of piss at the far end of the bridge tunnel.

And in that dark place bathed in shadow, they cured him together.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1427

June 8, 2006

Truth is Ghost (6 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Although he had his own batch to draw from, Mr. Omega cocked his head to one side in disbelief. “How the fuck,” he said quietly, “can you not have lots of needles left, you stupid bastard? Didn’t you stock up when you had the chance?”

Mr. Alpha replied, “Jesus fucking Christ, I’m sorry, alright! If you hadn’t been giving me the shittiest time on the planet about Morgana then I might have remembered! It’s always your fucking fault but somehow, some fucking how, you pin it on me! You’re a top bloke, I mean it from the bottom of my fucking scrotum.”

Mr. Omega primed himself to fire back a most profane volley at the whiney, young twat but a scraping noise like claws on a blackboard beat him to a reply.

The Clothmen turned towards their captive to see that Grimmer had managed to launch the sofa across to a balcony that was fucking missing a fucking balustrade while they were arguing about fucking needles. He said, “Sends her love, gents,” and then eased the sofa backwards off the balcony as if pushing away gently on a child’s swing.

But it was no swing and Mr. Omega ran to the balcony mouthing the word “no”, the lenses of his overbearing glasses filled with the milky whiteness of desperate eyes. He was stunned to discover that Grimmer and the sofa were nowhere to be found when he peered over the edge. Five floors down, there was no trace of Grimmer’s suicidal descent. No interrogation subject. No chintz sofa. No, just no.

They raced back to Grimmer’s home but what they found was an empty house that seemed quite different from the one they had evicted Grimmer from. It now had all the appearance of a disused property that had been uninhabited for some years. It was just like one of the many other abandoned buildings that were frequented from time to time by abandoned people. Someone had shat on the bathroom floor a few inches away from the toilet, as if the toilet was too much trouble to reach. Litter was sprinkled across one of the bedroom floors like evil confetti made of shiny crisp packets and used fluorescent condoms. A rotten window frame had invited a howling, cold wind into the house, which filled the forsaken maisonette with unsettling, disembodied whisper. A small gap, a break in logic, a mistake in process: that was all that was needed for something to enter and penetrate… or for something to escape and expand.

Head in his hands, Mr. Omega said in Grimmer’s living room almost tearfully, “Holy giant mother of cock, you had to go screw it up again, didn’t you?”

It was an unrepentant Mr. Alpha that shouted, “What the fuck? You know I’m not the knots guy, I told you again and again. I don’t do fucking knots, please listen to my fucking words, read my bloody lips. No more taxes, I don’t do knots. I don’t know the first thing about knots and shit like that. I didn’t go to fucking girl scouts! I suppose you did and got all the fucking badges.”

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2148