Teller A magazine of stories. Issue #2
£ 5.00 $ 8.00 C 6.00
The Unite 1 is dec and de
Written by Anton Koslov Images by Anto
ed Nations 2 cadent epraved
Mayr and Mark Boswell n Koslov Mayr
No one speaks as you cross the sun-scorched runway to the air-conditioned terminal. The rental car companies won’t cooperate. They no longer want your business and are sorry for the inconvenience.
‘Mister,’ says the cab driver with a thick Puerto Rican accent, ‘It’s so hot out here a person could melt right in front of your eyes.’ You shake your head in agreement. Things feel better once you cross the bridge. Driving through the streets of Manhattan… maybe something big is about to happen. Your tiny room is located on the 33rd floor, filled with a view of the UN building. It’s still early and you are thirsty. The place is called The Duke. Something about the decor reminds you of formaldehyde. You take a seat at the bar and are greeted by a guy in a straw cowboy hat. He offers his hand and says to call him Jimbo. His face is a roadmap of paranoia in the shape of Texas.
‘There’s going to be trouble,’ he warns, ‘Black Panthers, neo-Nazis, lesbians, Ku Klux Klan, even Al-Qaeda coming in on buses from Canada, nobody uses the airport any more, too unreliable… DAMN CANADIANS!’ With only thirty hours until post time you decide your only hope for accreditation is to go straight to the UN and confront the head of the press office in person. To your great surprise, you are photographed, fingerprinted, and in half an hour you are handed a glossy UN press card. According to the old urban legend, Rockefeller gave the land to the UN in exchange for an exclusive banking concession. He thought the UN would become the new world government and he would be the world’s banker. To get started on the right track, he buried the head of St John the Baptist in the foundation pit of the UN building. That was in 1947. Now the only relic left of his design is the Chase Bank on the fourth floor. You withdraw some cash and go check your emails.
The mob is thick for blocks around the United Nations Plaza, very slow going in and very hot. The street in front of the General Assembly Building entrance is filled with the world’s press and protestors trying to attract attention to human rights violations in Tibet, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, China, Turkey… Arriving diplomats are giving interviews on the lawn in front of the building. A group of 12 Russians, the German foreign minister and his psychic advisors, representatives of the Italian mafia, an Al-Qaeda delegate… Finally you’re in. There’s no time for scholarly details, so you collect all the press releases and diligently copy them into your first dispatch. Soon enough you feel exhausted and go to the press lounge for a short nap. Which lasts for the rest of the day. Rain all night until dawn. No sleep. Christ, here we go, a nightmare of mud and madness. But no. By ten the sun burns through; perfect day, not even humid.
Midtown East is swamped with soldiers carrying billy clubs and hulking assault rifles. There are snipers on the roof looking through telescopes, secret service agents on the ground, helicopters hovering low over the narrow streets. Good ol’ Jimbo’s probably pretty nervous right now. You see the presidential cortège move slowly along First Avenue. You have to hurry; the president of the United States of America is 15 here and you’re still contemplating where to do your next line of blow. Once you’ve got your lift you descend to the lobby and call Wanda, your friend from the Last Year in Marienbad bar in Warsaw. You know she is in NY this week, working as an interpreter for the Polish delegation. You invite her to Coney Island the next day. Back in the endless maze of corridors, bumping into journalists you’ve met somewhere before, a sense of apathy prevails. All you want to do is to take a nap, away from this circus.
The French ambassador is talking about the good old days at Studio 54, while his American counterpart picks human flesh out of his teeth. People fall asleep, wake up, munch on cheeps, check their text messages. Itâ€™s time for the press conference of the day. You go. You can hardly look at them. Your head is bloated. You hear strange voices. If there is a hell it will be a viciously overcrowded 16 version of the UN head quarters â€” somewhat old-fashioned, but clean and well-lit and full of bromides and excitement, where almost everybody seems vaguely happy, being driven slowly and quietly into the kind of terminal craziness that comes with understanding that the one thing you want is not there.
ContentS The United Nations is Decadent and Depraved Anton Koslov Mayr and Mark Boswell 1 — 1 7 18
Juicy Fruit Salena Godden 20 — 23 merica’s Finest A John Angerson 24 — 35 CARRY ME Home Lucy Caldwell 36 — 43
Domesticat Amy Stein 44 — 49 Pulp Factio Amber Marks 50 — 52 Room No. 6 Anna Hughes 53 Policing ge Thomas Thwaites 54 — 57 Ceaus¸escu’ Ruby Russell & B Rhodes 58 — 63
Il Fascisto Dog Miriam Elia 64
The Trashumantes José Navarro 66 — 7 5
s Dogs ronwen Parker-
Slaughterhouse Hospitality Niven Govinden 76 Room No. 12 Anna Hughes 78
Juicy Fruit by Salena Godden
It’s 2am Thursday when I finally have the strength to get out of bed and I write this. I have been sweating and chewing for the last 48 hours. It was Sunday lunchtime when I fell through the door and landed like a crumpled girl. It was too loud out there, too much white startling light and those screaming hab dabs in long black masks and cloaks barking through black rain. I fall into short spurts of broken hallucinatory sleep, drenched in bizarre dreams. Only to wake abruptly with the presence of another in the room. Soaked in fearful sweat I haul myself into the bathroom to retch up more, yet more white chewy froth. On Monday afternoon I sat up and tried to sip some tea, it didn’t work and when it bounced it tasted sour. My throat is stripped raw, I’m weak and pale. I take off my clothes which are damp with terrible acrid sweat and I find chewing gum in my pants, stuck to my gusset and then I remember how it got there. Now it all comes back to me. I did it this time, what was I thinking? I have been running on empty, counting the ratio of food and sleep and vomiting and gum — since I only eat every other day and only sleep four nights out of seven
I figure I should be able to live without food and rest for longer and longer stretches. It is important to be able to exist without food or sleep just in case. You have to train your own body, you have to drive the vehicle, you are the landlord. It’s Thursday, it’s 2am and as I type this my guts turn over and I can hear them squirming in there, tearing pieces, trying to feed. I have cancelled out carbohydrates and meat and now exist mostly on lentil slop, soup and sometimes porridge, nothing to use teeth on. Nothing for them to hold on to, no fat, no oils. This baby food diet kind of leaves the body exactly the same colours and consistency as it entered. It falls out of me. If there is another episode, another eruption, while I am sleeping I might choke. I think I will have to start sleeping with tape across my mouth so they can’t see the light or the way out. Come on spit it out he says holding his hand in front of my mouth. I say no and who does he think he is? Show me the money first. Come on, he says, come on spit it and I shake my head. He takes his fella out, a purple one, a dark plum
colour with a thick bell-end but narrow towards the scrotum. Mushroom dick, I say. He smiles bitterly, strokes himself and then he says something like, hey play nice, as he starts to move his hand up and down his burgeoning fungus, directing it towards me. Just spit it out, he says again. I keep my mouth shut tight and shake my head no. The damp car park is silent and starkly lit, our voices echo. There is the sound of a leak, rain slopping into the corner by the door to the lifts. We are pretty high. I don’t like this anymore, this is a weird spot to be in and the sobering effect must show on my face because he says, are you alright? I say I want to go and maybe another time, I just got a real bad feeling about this, trust me, we should get out of here. He pulls my arm and makes out like I am a cock tease and a gum player. He seems to have his mind made up about things and he says spit it out and I pull away. He grabs my arm tighter and puts my reluctant hand on his cock. I shake him off and say, look I am never wrong, I have a really bad feeling about this, let’s get out of here before it’s too late. He’s pissed off but he tries to be a gentleman, thinking he might still be in with a chance and he acts like he’s tender about me and so he says with fake sensitivity, are you sure you are alright? You said you had gum and I thought you wanted to… That’s when the car screeched towards us. Like I said I am never wrong when I get that feeling. A black hearse screeches around the corner driven by figures in black robes screaming yabba hab dabs. They see us and speed up trying to steam straight into us. The car swerves madly, there is a screech of burning rubber and the deafening screaming hab dabs, yabba yabba yabba they yell out of the open windows. There is some crazy music blaring, pots and pans and bells. Dabbya ydabba ydabba salamma yaba yaddya they scream, it’s a bizarre high-pitched screeling drilling noise they make with their tongues. I don’t understand a word of it but it’s got something to do with gum, with him and me and his cock is still hanging out of his jeans as we run down and down the stinking piss staircase. We get to the
lift, it takes too long, the urgency makes me want to piss and I hop from one foot to the other and when the lift arrives it’s awful with florescent light and urine. I can hear them in the car speeding down to the exit too and I panic and say hey, we should head back up the stairs and hide at the top. Mushroom Cock agrees and takes this moment to put it back in his pants, thankfully. I take two steps at a time, breathless, I shout who are they? He says family. Fuck I say and then I keep my mouth shut as we sprint up the back stairs. On the top floor it’s empty and above us a bland rainy night. Nothing to see but wet black rain. I haven’t seen a good moon for a long time I think, and then I don’t think about anything but the fact we are surrounded by masked black figures with rapiers. Hey, I say, we don’t want no trouble. What else am I going to say? Then one of them moves forwards and puts her hand in front of my mouth and I know she is saying spit it out, so I do. I give it up, I am not going to argue, she has the rapier against my throat. She holds it in her fingertips and her eyes slant coolly at me, the whites of her eyes are pinkish red and the irises black and dilated as a drugged-up racehorse. She looks at the gum carefully, she opens and closes its material and then throws it to the floor. She knows it’s not the real gum. Then there is more heated babble, yabba ydabba. Mushroom Cock gets down on his knees and speaks in their language and in any language I can see he is trying to set me up. They don’t give him much of a chance though, they get hold of him and hang him by the ankles off the roof. Everything is falling out of his pockets and he’s screaming, begging for mercy. I presume they think he has gum. I can tell they are asking him the same question over and over again and he is shaking his head like he doesn’t know and pointing at me. I take this chance to slink off into the shadows and skedaddle, leaving them to their nice family reunion. I race back down Brick Lane and dive into the Golden Heart and there I find my pint and seat at the bar right there as if I just popped to
the toilet and it was a weird tripped-out dream. Maybe it was. Maybe I am losing it, losing my knack. I start to clock my sleep and food ratio. I try to remember what I decided, a bowl of soup every other day and porridge on the third day and only four hours sleep after eating on the first night? When was the first night? When did I make that dark green soup? That was good soup. How much gum can I harvest? I check my notebook but it makes no sense, all the pages are ripped out. I must have ripped them out so nobody would read them. That was foolish now even I can’t read them. I feel empty but I know I have got to keep empty, I don’t want to feed them. Booze keeps them sedated, sleepy. I down my pint and get the hell out of there, feeling strangely conspicuous and more than paranoid. I walk, chewing the gum up and between my legs, seems to be the safest place to keep it, everyone seems to want gum tonight. It makes me walk with a wriggle and anyone with a trained eye might guess I’m chewing, but that’s the chance I am taking. As I walk towards Shoreditch I get an invite to a party at an illegal lockdown. I think to myself a crowd would feel really nice right now, a buzz of normal happy folk out for the weekend. People who don’t know about gum. It does, it does feel good, it is dark and the windows are boarded up and it feels safe. I get to hear wonderful ordinary conversations about dull things like what do you do and have you been here before? What do I do? Have I been here before? What the hell does that all mean exactly? And who even remembers what you did and do and where you were? Since the gum everything seems irrelevant, but I guess it’s pleasant enough, I smoke and drink with the friendly party people in a delightful easilyforgotten blur. A girl with orange skin and dry straightened hair corners me with the whites of her nostrils and tells me that everyone has a book inside them. I beg to differ, a book isn’t something we all have inside like friendly bacteria, it’s hard work and it won’t let you sleep easy even after its expiry date, but I bite my lip, if only she knew
the half of it. I try to remember a time when I was blissfully unaware and when things were different, but I can’t. It’s like when they say all men are capable of rape, big difference between thinking about it and doing it. Then an Australian boy with ragged eyes the colour of a tsunami and flat hard hands like paddles tries to talk me into going back to his. He reckons he knows some things that might interest me. I roll the film on and imagine waking up beside him and I have to decline. Nobody should wake up with me and see what I have gnawing and swelling inside. I talk to a bald guy with chubby cheeks and a squint. I amuse myself by telling him he has the hands of a grand prix racing driver. That’s crazy, he says, how did you know what a mad driver I am? I hold both his hands and look into his round pink face and say, I don’t know, it was a hunch, it was a feeling I got just then, you really should be racing grand prix. He blushes and says, you really think so? Yeah sure, I say and I keep knocking back the black market vodka he buys me. I forget about Mushroom Dick until I feel in my pockets and find I still have his money and that I didn’t go through with the deal. I experience a tiny twinge of guilt, remembering him and the screaming hab dabs holding him upside down gurgling for mercy, all that black rain and a long way down, but as if I was going to give him the gum just like that? How did he know I was chewing in the first place? I have to be more careful. It’s morning when I leave the party and I leave alone. I check I haven’t been followed, but I feel like someone is watching me. It might just be that weird jumpy feeling we all get when sleep-deprived. The world is loud, loud and white and bright and hot, there is this heaving sensation and a screaming in my head and shooting pains inside the underneath of me. Just get home I tell myself, just get home and close the door, maybe its time, maybe it’s gum. I feel like I am walking uphill on the down escalator. I am walking on a conveyor belt heading
backwards. The same shop passes me over and over again. This ache, this throbbing, right inside and up there. I couldn’t reach it with a stick never mind my own finger. I might reach it with an extended tape measure and I start picturing one of those old tape measures that snap back with a zirrrrrp snap noise. Eventually, I turn the corner on to my street, I am outside the bookshop when I start to cough and gag. I cannot hold it in. Some froth comes up white, slimy and viscous. There is a hair in my mouth. A long black hair going down the back of my tongue. I try to find it with my fingers, it’s slippery. I am staggering to get to my front door and gagging. I jangle with the keys, violently gagging. I get through the door gagging and kick it shut behind me. I yank at the hair down my throat. I look in the bathroom mirror and pull at it my mouth is wide open and I dribble down my chin. I pull at the hair, it’s clogged like hair in a plug hole. I pull at the hair. It is attached to something bigger. Gum, it’s gotta be the gum, finally it must be time. I pull at strand after strand of gum that keeps stringing and breaking, the more I pull at it the more there is to come. I am pulling gloops of gum, over and over and coughing. It is clumped, caking in my molars and in the back of my throat. It shifts slightly, my eyes are watering. Finally with one last yank it eases up the back of my throat, I can hardly breathe, only just through my nose. I snort, forcing my nasal passages to clear or I will drown on this mess. Just one last good yank I tell myself, tears pouring down my cheeks, mucus dripping from my nose. Yank. Yanking my head forward, white froth and snot, I yank and yank, gagging until it comes out with a scream, a chunk of gum encasing a bloody pink translucent hairy worm curled inside its sticky end. The relief is sweet. So this is what all the fuss was about, this is what they are all after. There in my hand a soft and round-bodied worm. It’s about the size of a cocktail sausage. It moves coyly in my palm, like a chubby maggot, blind and warm. Its skin is transparent, there are tiny thin threads of red
and blue veins and four pincing teeth, something about it looks like a piece of lower intestine. Its eyes are still sealed shut and it moves its tiny mouth open and shut really slowly like a yawn. I put it in the incubator I have prepared. Then I collapse exhausted on to my bed. I am a crumpled girl. Now it is Thursday and past 2am, typing this I can feel them working their way up inside me. I am the host and the landlord but I must not feed them or they will get too big, they’ll block my lungs, they’ll jam up my throat, they’ll get stuck somewhere vital and choke me. They move inside me and surface to the light to get born. I squeeze a new stash of gum between my fingers and and shove it up and in as far as I can and then I type this. I am chewing, wriggling, spread-legged and shimmying in my seat at my desk, chewing to the fizz of late night radio, chewing and drinking a glass of vodka to keep them nice and sleepy.
Americaâ€™s Finest 24
by John Angerson
Endeavour Orbiter at pad 39d
The primary objectives of mission STS-72 were to deploy and retrieve a Japanese satellite, undertake two space walks and test spacesuit performance. Photographed at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and at the NASA Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas, USA. Above Pre-launch breakfast
Shuttle pilot Brent Jett Jr. at home, cooking for his wife and mother-in-law
Dr. Daniel Barry prior to flight simulation Next page Heated underwater suit Zero gravity training centre
Strapped into the cockpit
Mission specialist Koichi Wakata Next page Entering the Endeavour Orbiter
Carry Me Home by Lucy Caldwell
At my thirteenth birthday party they blindfolded me and made me kiss the boy the bottle stopped on. Some thrust their tongues so hard I gagged, and everyone applauded. Then one shoved his dick in. He grabbed the back of my head and pressed me down against his stomach and when I jerked away and ripped off the blindfold everyone was going wild. Woah, ye boy yee! Nice one, big fella! Get in there! It was fat Paul Forrester who’d done it, and Andy McLeish was high-fiveing him. When Andy B said, ‘That’s not fair, I’ve not even had a turn at kissing her yet!’ and tried to get the blindfold tied back on me, everyone cracked up like they were going to die laughing. I knew then Jacqueline had told them what I’d whispered to her the night I slept over at her house: that I’d never seen anyone. I was worried that if I did the fella would laugh and spread stories that I was like kissing a washing machine. But if you didn’t do tongues, I said to Jacqueline, the fella might say you were frigid. Or worse, if you did do tongues and he wanted to do more and started trying to get his hand down your jeans how long should you let him before you became a hoor?
It had been a moment of sudden, reckless intimacy, lying in the dark in our sleeping bags on Jacqueline’s living room floor. It was the first time I’d stayed over at her house, and even though I didn’t think I liked her that much, I’d been too surprised when she asked me to say no. We were close enough that I could feel the warmth of her body, smell the thin sourness of cheese and onion crisps on her breath. The way she gazed at me and nodded, the streetlight glinting off the clear plastic rims of her glasses, made her look safe and wise, and not at all like she was carefully storing it up to tell people. I pictured sitting with her at lunchtime and linking arms with her on the way home and for a moment, then, I thought maybe I wouldn’t mind having Jacqueline Dunne as a best friend after all. I blinked furiously and told myself I must not cry because they were all watching to see if I would. I thought of my mum and dad staying in their bedroom: ‘So we don’t cramp your style,’ my dad had said, and I thought of running upstairs to them and burying my head in my mum’s lap and letting her stroke my hair like I was little and just woken from a bad dream. I felt the tears smart behind my eyelids and I clenched my
jaw and imagined slamming Jacqueline’s sly smirking face down into the ground again and again until her glasses were smashed and her face was a bloody pulp. I must not cry I must not cry I must not cry. Just when I couldn’t not cry any longer, the door opened and Annie and Jack appeared, big-eyed and solemn, carrying a birthday cake with candles lit, and my mum and dad were behind them smiling, and they all started up with Happy Birthday. After a horrible moment, the others joined in, but I saw Paul Forrester and Andy McLeish sniggering and I saw the sideways looks that Jacqueline was giving to Vicky Shaw. When it came to blowing out the candles the air got stuck in my chest and it took three tries before I managed it. My little brother and sister clapped and my dad hugged me, and my mum beamed at everyone and sang out, ‘Anyone for cake?’ She had baked it herself: it was in the shape of a handbag, because of the grown-up leather shoulder bag they’d given me that morning. The shoulder bag was light brown leather, soft and almost creamy to touch, with a gold clasp at the front and the make, Texier, embossed in curlicue lettering. It was a beautiful bag, the sort of bag you’d imagine French girls using. I could never, ever let my school friends see me with it. You had a black canvas satchel with badges, or a sports bag, that was it. For a split second, when I’d unwrapped it and was stroking the leather and Mum and Dad were smiling proudly, I’d loved it. Then all of a sudden I’d felt sick and I got up from the table and said I’d be late if I didn’t get a move on and I hid the bag at the back of the shelf in my wardrobe. When the cake was cut and passed around my mum said, ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to leave you boys and girls alone now.’ Annie and Jack jumped up and down and begged to stay, but Mum said no: ‘It’s Phoebe’s party,’ she said, softly, and she smiled at me. ‘Sounds like you’re having a blast anyways,’ my dad said as they left, and he winked at me to show he wasn’t cross about the noise. There was a short silence after Dad closed the door, as everyone looked at each other and
wondered what was going to happen next. Then Vicky Shaw got up and swished her hair over her shoulders and said was there any more pizza in the kitchen, she was going to get some, and Paul Forrester said he was too, and most of the others got up and followed them. On her way past, Jacqueline nudged me and said, ‘You know they were only having a geg, like.’ It was Jacqueline who had told me to invite those boys from our year. I hadn’t wanted to, but I’d been even more worried about not having anyone else to invite if I didn’t. ‘Phoebe, are you alright?’ It was Rebecca McKnight: Vice President of Second Form Scripture Union. I’d only invited her to the party because my mum played tennis with her mum. ‘That was dead fly, what Paul Forrester did,’ she said. I shrugged. ‘We didn’t realise until afterwards,’ Deborah Kerr chimed in. ‘Are you sure you’re alright?’ said Deepak, the other member of their trio. Rebecca and Deborah had adopted Deepak, the only Indian girl in our year, when she joined halfway through second form and nobody would speak to her except to make jokes about Pakis and Chinkies and say stupid, vaguely sexual things about her name like did she like it deep-packed. But she was protected now: being in their little friendship group made her invisible, or immune, and no one bothered with her. The tears itched again. Deepak’s eyes were wide with concern, and for a moment I wondered if I could be the fourth person in their clique. But it could never happen: I knew, and I knew they knew, that I wasn’t really one of them; to them, I was just like Vicky and Jacqueline and the other girls who hung around the Andys and Paul Forrester. They were only being nice to me because it was my birthday party and, worse, because they pitied me. They were the sort whose jeans on nonuniform days were Marks & Spencer’s or even, in Deepak’s case, Dunnes Own Brand, always slightly too short and slightly too stone-washed; the sort who played clapping games on the lawn
at SU picnics, and they pitied me. ‘It’s no big deal,’ I said, standing up. ‘God,’ I added, ‘they were just having a laugh.’ Deepak took a step back. ‘Phoebe, they’re not nice people,’ said Rebecca McKnight. ‘You should find new friends to go round with.’ ‘Yeah, Phoebe, you really should,’ said Deborah Kerr, and I turned and stared her down, her baggy jeans and peach Fruit of the Loom sweatshirt, her big square teeth and her frizzy hair in a stupid bushy ponytail – Deborah Hair, people called her behind her back. ‘Fruit of the Loom,’ I said, ‘that’s a bit trendy for you, Deborah,’ and I turned and marched out of the room. In the kitchen, Jacqueline and Vicky and a couple of the other girls were getting their coats on. ‘We’re going down Cairnburn,’ Jacqueline said. She waited for me to say could I come with them, but I said nothing. ‘Andy B and Paul’ve got a couple of tins of Diamond White,’ she said. ‘And a half-bottle of strawberry Raver’s.’ The fellas were mucking about in the back garden, jumping on each other’s backs and staggering around, and I wondered if they’d been drinking already. ‘Do you’ve any straws?’ Vicky said. ‘No,’ I said. ‘Aye you do,’ she said. There was a packet of stripy straws on the breakfast bar, ready for Jack to take in to nursery for Art. ‘They’re my wee brother’s,’ I said. ‘We’re only after a couple.’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘Wise up,’ she said, and she went to lift them. ‘I said no!’ I said, far too loudly, and I snatched them from her. ‘They’re my little brother’s, get your hands off of them!’ She looked at me for a second, taken aback. Then, ‘Psycho!’ she said, in delight, and the other girls laughed. They left without saying thank you. I didn’t mind for me, but I minded for my mum, for the way she’d arranged napkins and paper plates, cooked pizza and oven chips and baked the
handbag-cake, bought me the new Now! CD to play. When Mr McKnight arrived at the door to pick up the Trio, my mum was surprised that everyone had left so suddenly. ‘Did your friends enjoy themselves?’ she asked. ‘Yes,’ I said, faking a smile. ‘Yes, thank you.’ I helped her collect the plates and throw the leftovers in the wheelie bin. Then I said: I’m going to bed.’ ‘What, is the excitement of being a teenager too much for you?’ my mum joked, and before I could think of a reply she looked serious and she touched my cheek and said, ‘You’re growing up so fast.’ ‘Mum?’ I said, and I felt the longing to tell her rising up inside of me and spreading in my chest like a bruise. ‘Yes, love?’ she said, smoothing my ponytail, and I thought how sad it would make her, how she’d probably cry, ask why I’d invited boys like that to my party in the first place, phone the school first thing Monday. I thought of how she and Dad would be extra nice to me, and how in private they’d blame themselves. And I knew that somehow, if I told them, I wouldn’t be their little girl any more. ‘It’s nothing,’ I said. ‘Night-night.’ I ran upstairs and leaned around the door of my mum and dad’s bedroom, where my dad was reading a biography of Galileo. ‘Night-night, thank you for the party,’ I said, but I didn’t go to kiss him on the cheek like I usually did because part of me was suddenly angry that he and Mum had insisted I had a party. Then I felt guilty for being angry with them and I lay on my bed fully dressed staring at the plastic glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. I couldn’t get rid of the feeling of Paul Forrester’s dick, how it had taken me a few seconds to realise what it was, and how it had been soft and slightly squashy at first until he pushed my head down so that my chin was pressed against his balls and I felt a tremor run through it and it tightened in my mouth. And I felt sick with the feeling of wanting to be someone somewhere else, anyone and anywhere. On Monday, Jacqueline said we’d find me a man. At first I thought she was taking the piss, but she
wasn’t: and then I understood. She still needed me. Despite the hitching of skirts and posing with fags she still wasn’t properly in with the Vicky Shaw lot. This was her peace offering. ‘Saturday night, ok? You can stay over at mine.’ ‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘I probably have to babysit.’ ‘God, you always have to babysit. Your mum and dad are real dicks, aren’t they?’ ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘they really are,’ and I took the linked arm she was offering and hoped I’d escaped. But the very next night, my dad sat me down and asked: ‘What do your friends do at the weekend?’ I froze, stared at a swirl in the carpet, tried to trace where it began and ended. ‘Cinema?’ I tried. ‘Or just, you know.’ ‘Is there a youth club you’d like to join?’ I shook my head. ‘Mum and I appreciate the way you’re so good with the wee ones, but we want you to go out and enjoy yourself too, you know. Why don’t you ask a friend to stay over?’ There was no way to explain that there wasn’t a single friend I could ask. ‘Actually,’ I blurted out, ‘Jacqueline Dunne said did I want to stay over at hers this Saturday.’ ‘Great!’ Dad said. ‘Your mum and I were worried that you were lonely.’ I walked over to Jacqueline’s in the afternoon. I was wearing a ribbed t-shirt and a lumberjack shirt with my new Levi’s and boots, and Jacqueline said I should have worn a skirt instead. ‘You can have a lend of one of mine,’ she said. I tried on the short black ra-ra skirt she gave me, but it was too baggy at the waist and wouldn’t stay up. Jacqueline looked at me with slitty eyes: ‘Paul Forrester says you look like a beanpole, you know.’ She found me a denim miniskirt and a belt to hold it on. ‘Maybe I should just wear my jeans,’ I said. ‘Don’t be so rare,’ she said. ‘You won’t have it off with a wee lad if you’re wearing a shirt like that and jeans.’
We left the house at about six o’clock, just as it was getting dark. ‘We’re away out,’ Jacqueline called to her mum, who was watching TV in the kitchen, and her mum didn’t ask where we were going, when we’d be back, anything. We walked up the high street and hung about the back of the off licence until an older fella Jacqueline knew agreed to buy us a quarter bottle of vodka. She shoved it in the inside of her jacket and we went down to the old public toilets to drink it. We bolted ourselves in the only cubicle with a lock and perched on the edge of the toilet to mix the vodka with Fanta. Jacqueline had the first go, and she took a big gulp and said she could feel herself getting pissed already. It was the first time I’d drunk vodka: the nail-polish-remover taste made me gag, and Jacqueline cracked up. At first I wished she’d keep her voice down in case someone would hear us, but then my stomach started to feel warm, and the glow spread through me until even my cheeks were pink, and I started to giggle too. When we’d finished downing the vodka, we made our way out towards the park, walking arm-in-arm. It was dark by then, and little clusters of teenagers had gathered at the fence. We hung about for a bit, chatting to a couple of girls Jacqueline sort-of knew. Some fellas arrived and they passed around tins. I could feel the vodka wearing off, and I was beginning to feel a bit sick. It started to drizzle. ‘Maybe we should go,’ I said to Jacqueline. ‘If it gets any heavier, I mean.’ ‘Wise up,’ she said. ‘You’d hardly notice the rain.’ Then she looked at me. ‘You are going to see someone, aren’t you?’ she said. ‘Because it’s a waste of the vodka if you don’t.’ I gulped at my tin, which was warm and flat, while Jacqueline talked to three fellas. One of them had black hair in curtains and was wearing a denim jacket with the collar up; his friend was spotty with gingery-brown hair and the third had short brown hair shaved at the sides and a Le Coq Sportif jacket. This last one didn’t say much and I wondered if he was their equivalent of me. Jacqueline was sharing the fella-with-
curtains’s beer, taking extravagant swigs and getting more and more pissed. She started whispering to him and he laughed and then he took her hand and led her away up towards the bunker. The spotty fella drifted off, and it was just me and Coq Sportif left. His hair was gelled into a crispy comb and one of his ears was pierced with a small gold ring. He was drinking a tin of White Lightning and every so often he’d offer me a go and I’d stop up the hole with my tongue and tilt the tin back and pretend to take a swallow. We didn’t have much to say to each other, and it was mostly him asking questions: ‘So you like school, then’, ‘so are you blocked yet’ and me nodding, or shaking my head, as I tried to think of something interesting to say back. ‘Here,’ he slurred after a while, ‘so are you going to see us or what?’ My heart started thumping so hard I thought I was going to be sick. I glanced over my shoulder. Jacqueline was nowhere to be seen. ‘Are you?’ he said. His breath was sharp with cider and the cigarette he’d just smoked, and his eyes were slightly glazed. His lips were big and wet. I closed my eyes for a second and then nodded. ‘You are, aye?’ he said. ‘I am, aye.’ ‘Well come on then,’ he said, and he grabbed at my hand. His hand was damp and I could feel what I thought was a wart on the pad of his thumb but I didn’t know how to let go. We walked up the hill a bit, then sat down. ‘Alright,’ he said, and he leaned in to kiss me, only he leaned too hard and our teeth clashed. I closed my eyes again and thought, At least I’ll never have to do this for the first time again. The kissing went on for a while, and I started to wonder when would it stop, or could I pull away without being rude. A sharp stone was jabbing into my leg where Coq Sportif was pressing me into the ground. Eventually he paused and pulled away and I shifted sideways. ‘Alright?’ he said. ‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘Dead on.’ I wondered if it was over now and we could go back down the hill and look for Jacqueline
and his friend. But then he leaned in again, only this time he started kissing harder, with one hand on the top of my thigh. I was leaning back on both hands, and when he reached out to grab one of my hands and put it on the crotch of his jeans we toppled backwards so that he was almost on top of me. He shoved one hand up my skirt, and I felt him plucking at the elastic of my panties. I leaned back and sucked in my tummy while he scratched at my panties and his breathing got hoarser and quicker. I could feel the bulge in his jeans getting bigger and I wondered was I supposed to do anything. Then I moved my hand so it was on top of his, and he stopped moving his fingers. He said something, but I couldn’t hear it. ‘What?’ I whispered. ‘Are you wet?’ he said. I didn’t know what he meant, so I nodded. Then he hoiked my skirt up around my waist and tugged my panties to one side and pushed a finger inside me and started wiggling it around. With the other hand, he undid the top button of his jeans, and slid his hand inside. He made a moaning sound. Then he stopped. ‘You’re not wet,’ he said. ‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Sorry,’ I added. Then I shuffled out from under him and straightened Jacqueline’s skirt. ‘What are you doing?’ he said. ‘I’d better go back now,’ I said, ‘my friend will be waiting.’ ‘Ach, wise up, don’t go,’ he moaned. ‘I have to,’ I said, and I stood up quickly. ‘Wise up,’ he said again. ‘No,’ I said, and I went a few steps down the hill, stumbling slightly in the dark. ‘Bye,’ I called, and I added as an afterthought, ‘thanks.’ I found Jacqueline getting off with some random by the fence. I walked right up to them and pulled her away by the shoulder. ‘Jacqueline,’ I said, ‘we have to go now.’ ‘What are you at?’ the fella said. Jacqueline was so drunk she could hardly stand up by herself. ‘Look at the state of her,’ I said. ‘We have to go now.’
‘Fuck away off then,’ said the fella, and staggered backwards against the fence. ‘Away to fuck.’ ‘Come on,’ I said, and I took her by the elbow and put an arm around her. I got us over the stile and she lurched to the side of the road to be sick. I knew I should probably hold her hair back but I turned my back and didn’t move until she’d finished. I joined Latin Club — motto, Per Ardua Ad Astra — which took care of Monday lunchtimes, and signed up to look after the tuck shop on Tuesdays, but that still left three other days. The library was off limits: my class was banned after the librarian caught the Vicky Shaw lot leaving Lady Chatterley’s Lover and the Encyclopedia Brittanica open on the sex bits. For a few days I sat and read in one of the toilet cubicles, until a prefect banged the door and said what was I doing in there and get out or she’d report me. So even though I’d promised myself I’d have nothing more to do with her, it was back to tagging along with Jacqueline. Then one Wednesday lunchtime, life changed: Deepak and I ate lunch together. Rebecca McKnight and Deborah Kerr had the day off school for an SU rally, and Deepak and I had been paired together in Home Economics to make chicken Waldorf salad. Mrs Davies asked the two of us to stay behind to help wash up, and afterwards we walked down to the gym together and sat down to eat. My heart was beating so loudly in my chest I was afraid Deepak would hear it. We sat down on a bench in the SU corner beside the bins. Deepak took one bite of her Waldorf salad and made a face. ‘Ugh!’ she said, ‘apple and chicken and raisins with celery and walnuts, how gross is that? Makes me want to boke.’ Deepak, I realised, might have had an Indian accent when she first arrived, but now she spoke as Belfast as anyone. She started scraping the contents of her Tupperware container into the bin. I didn’t know what to do: my mum had bought all the ingredients for chicken Waldorf salad so that I could make some more when I got home,
enough for all of the family to eat for dinner. I tried to think up an excuse not to scrape my salad away too. Then I thought, I’ll lie and say I left it in my locker by mistake. I got up and scraped out my container into the bin as well. Deepak looked at me and giggled, and then we both started laughing. That night in bed, I told myself that it had been a one-off: that Rebecca and Deborah would be back the next day, and things would be back to normal. But the following day, when the bell rang at the end of History for lunch, Deepak paused at my desk and said, ‘Coming?’ ‘What?’ I said. ‘Are you coming,’ she said. ‘To have lunch.’ ‘Oh!’ I said, and I felt Jacqueline staring at me. ‘Lunch!’ I stuffed my folder into my schoolbag. Jacqueline started giggling, but I ignored her. ‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘Yeah, I’m coming.’ Rebecca’s mum had baked a Dundee fruit cake, and after we’d eaten our sandwiches, Rebecca passed around a box with individual slices wrapped in tinfoil. There were four of them: one each. The cake tasted like sawdust, or perhaps that was just how dry my throat was. But I forced down every single crumb. ‘Thank you,’ I said, and I meant it: I’d never meant it more. ‘That’s ok,’ Rebecca said, vaguely. Then she said, ‘Phoebe,’ and she paused significantly, and glanced at Deborah, ‘are you Saved?’ I didn’t know what to say. ‘You’re a Presbyterian, aren’t you? Your family.’ ‘I — ’ We only ever went to church at Christmas, and even then it was only for the carols. My dad’s best jokes were about Jehovah’s Witnesses, and my mum got genuinely angry at the biblebashers and happy-clappies who handed out leaflets about the sins of sodomy in the city centre on Saturday afternoons. ‘I — ’ I tried again. There was a horrible silence while they all stared at me. Then Rebecca broke it. ‘Don’t worry, Phoebe,’ she said, ‘we’re going to save you,’ and she turned to the others: ‘aren’t we, girls?’ and Deepak and Deborah nodded in unison.
They gave me a purple bracelet with WWJD woven into it in white. They said that every time you saw it you should ask yourself that question: What Would Jesus Do? Rebecca tied it carefully on to my wrist. On the way home, I pushed it under the cuff of my shirt to hide it, but Mum saw it when I was reaching up to get dinner plates out of the cupboard. ‘It’s a friendship bracelet,’ I said quickly. ‘That’s nice,’ she said, ‘who gave it to you?’ ‘Deepak,’ I said. ‘The Indian girl?’ she said, and she smiled. ‘You know, I’m so proud of you, Pheebs, making an effort to be friends with the Indian girl. It must be hard for her being — different.’ ‘Yeah,’ I mumbled. Then I said, ‘Mum?’ ‘Yes, sweetheart?’ I thought of all the times I’d prayed to God, to Jesus, to angels, to my dead grandmother, to anything, to make me friends. I thought of the exact way in which my mum’s face would crumple in bewilderment if I told her I’d be going to hand out leaflets at the bandstand in Cornmarket. I thought of how my dad would start to make a joke and then not know what to say. And I thought, I’m sorry, Mum, I’m sorry, Dad, but you don’t understand what it’s like to be me. ‘Nothing,’ I said. We were friends, now. Becks, Debs, Dee and Bee. We were a foursome; two pairs of two. We ignored, and pitied, Jacqueline Dunne when word got out that she’d gone all the way with three fellas on the same night and Vicky Shaw’s lot would have nothing to do with her. Becks, Debs, Dee and Bee. That was the mantra that kept me safe. And then Rebecca invited me to her church’s Youth For Christ camping weekend at Greenhill YMCA. ‘There’s bouldering,’ she said, ‘and abseiling. And on Saturday night a Christian rock band plays and there’s a disco. There’s Bible Study too, of course, and prayers every night.’ She shot Deborah a meaningful look. They had obviously discussed it already. ‘We’ll get the group leaders to pray specially for you, Bee,’ Deborah burst in, unable to contain
her excitement, ‘and you’ll become a proper Christian.’ Rebecca beamed and Deborah bared her tombstone teeth. ‘You’re almost saved!’ she squeaked, and Deepak took my hand and squeezed it. I tried to look enraptured. When the weekend came, Deborah’s mother drove us all up and we played tapes and sang songs the whole way. Deborah sat in the front passenger seat and Rebecca, Deepak and I sat in the back, with me squashed in the middle. ‘This is your weekend, Bee,’ Rebecca said. I tried to look excited. I hadn’t told my mum and dad that it was a Youth For Christ weekend. ‘There’s bouldering,’ I said, ‘and abseiling.’ I’d crossed my fingers behind my back and hoped they’d say it was too dangerous. But: ‘Of course you can go,’ they said. The night before, two teenage Witnesses had come knocking on our door; when my dad answered they said they wanted to help him Find God. ‘What?’ he exclaimed, ‘don’t tell me I’ve gone and lost him down the back of the sofa again?’ and he laughed as they blinked at him, stiff and sombre in their dark suits and too-tight ties and rawly shaven faces. I’d laughed too, but I felt guilty laughing, and I didn’t know who it was I was betraying. Our group leader at Greenhill was Paula, a tiny, fluffy blonde with doll-blue eyes and dimples. Beside her I felt like a giraffe, all legs and bones and too many angles. She hugged the others in turn, saying, ‘God Bless You.’ Then Rebecca pushed me forward: ‘This is Phoebe. We’ve told you about her.’ ‘Phoebe,’ said Paula, and she took my hands in hers. ‘We’ll look after you, she said, and hugged me too. I tried to think of something grateful to say in return, but my tongue felt as useless and clumsy in my mouth as my body did in her arms. I slouched my shoulders to try and look smaller and more look-after-able. We laid our sleeping bags out in the fourperson tent then hurried up to the clubhouse for Prayers ‘n’ Praise. The others seemed to know
everyone: they shrieked greetings and laughed hysterically at jokes I didn’t get. Some of the older girls didn’t look very Christian: they were wearing miniskirts and make-up and were clustered around the boys’ group leaders. I was grateful when a bearded man stood up on a chair at the front of the room and called for silence. He prayed. The prayers went on a long time. Then a boy with a guitar got up and played a poppy-sounding hymn that everyone seemed to know. And then the bearded man started singing a slower, more solemn one. Some of the girls, including Rebecca, stood up and began swaying to the music with their eyes closed and palms upwards in the air, and I felt myself blush beetroot. When Prayers ‘n’ Praise finally ended Paula bounced up to me and said that Geoffrey wanted to meet me. She said his name reverently: Geoffrey, it seemed, was the man with the beard. He sat me down in a corner, and pulled a chair up beside me. ‘I understand you’re lost,’ he said, and I was so stiff with embarrassment I couldn’t lift my eyes from my trainers. ‘I hope we can help you find your way,’ he said. ‘Do you know what Jesus said?’ He didn’t wait for an answer: ‘Jesus said, I Am The Way, The Truth And The Light. Do you understand?’ He leaned close. His breath was stale and biscuity. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘It can seem scary, and overwhelming, I know, but at some point in our lives, Phoebe, each of us has to decide. And we’re here to help you make the right decision.’ He paused. ‘Shall we pray?’ he said. I stared at the floor. I had to do it. To be one of them, I had to do it. ‘Ok,’ I whispered. Geoffrey laid his hand on my forehead. His palms were dry and hot. ‘Lord,’ he prayed, ‘please make this girl anew. Wash away her sins, Lord, and show her what to do — ’ But it was wrong. All of it. I suddenly knew that I couldn’t do this, either. ‘I think I want to go home,’ I heard myself saying.
‘Home?’ he said. His voice sounded very far away. ‘I want my mum and dad,’ I said, louder, and I opened my eyes and the room was swimmy and blurred, as if I was underwater and drowning. ‘Please,’ I said, my voice getting shriller, ‘please, I want to go home!’ ‘You can’t go home,’ Paula’s voice chirped up, ‘you’ve only just got here. Calm down, Phoebe, it’s alright.’ But it wasn’t: all of a sudden it wasn’t, and nothing was, or ever would be. ‘We’re disappointed in you, Phoebe,’ Rebecca said. ‘We’ve gone out of our way to help you — ’ ‘— and you’ve just turned the other cheek!’ Deborah interjected. ‘Girls,’ Paula said, crouching at the open flap of the tent. ‘That’s enough, now.’ She peered in. ‘We’ve phoned your father, Phoebe, and he’s on his way.’ She straightened up. ‘Let’s leave Phoebe to pack her things, you lot. Come on, Bible Study’s starting.’ Rebecca, Deborah and Deepak scrambled backwards out of the tent. Deepak was the last to leave: she shook her head sadly and gazed at me with her big brown eyes. I had failed, her eyes were saying. Then the three of them turned and walked back towards the lights of the clubhouse, their torches wavering along the muddy path, and I was left to finish stuffing my new sleeping bag back into its skin. It had grown cold now the sun was setting, and there was a damp, earthy-smelling breeze. I zipped my anorak all the way up but I couldn’t stop shivering. They were singing again, to the guitar. I could hear the thin edge of their voices. I looked over Jordan, they were singing. I thought of my dad on his way, thought of him wondering if something had happened more terrible than they dared admit on the phone. I thought of my mum, and how she wouldn’t, couldn’t, understand. And I thought, bitterly, of little Jack and Annie, who didn’t know yet that there was nowhere safe.
Pulp Faction by Amber Marks
I was in the study of my hotel room when the phone rang. The sun had set and the beach was deserted. It was almost dark. ‘Amber?’ hunted the husky voice of Ned Kelly, a tall, dark and handsome reporter based in Shanghai. ‘Ned!’ ‘Paul’s dead.’ ‘Paul who?’ I asked. ‘The German precog.’ ‘Huh?’ ‘The octopus that was predicting the winners in the World Cup.’ ‘Oh,’ I said, confused. ‘I read your book on biological espionage,’ he explained. ‘Got a lot of creatures in it.’ I could just make out the sound of a pen tapping on his reporter’s pad. ‘Strangely absent is any mention of octopuses.’ ‘Why is that strange?’ I asked. ‘C’mon. Renowned masters of disguise. They are obvious candidates for marine intelligence, the perfect ocean spy. An octopus can escape from enclosures, break into tanks and steal shit. You know this piracy off the coast of Somalia
has got the whole security industry working on underwater surveillance.’ ‘What’s this got to do with Paul?’ ‘Chinese investigators are pretty sure Paul died before its owners say it did. Seems they kept the death covered up for two months. One of my sources thinks it was murdered. Something stinks and I reckon the tentacles of this tale reach further than the authorities would have us believe.’ ‘Ned, you’re not serious?’ ‘Pigeons and squirrels have been arrested for espionage in India and Iran. The Colombian police have just arrested a load of parrots. After turning me on to this animal spy thing — are you now telling me there’s nothing in it?’ ‘That’s not what I’m saying.’ The use of animals as spies was certainly a significant and growing force in political affairs. An MI5 official had told me that his departmental head threatened to resign if any more animals were recommended for security duties. ‘I can tell you that,’ he said ‘because she’s now about to resign.’ Though dogs and birds have been deployed for thousands of years, only limited use has been
made of their capabilities. Dogs have been used to track humans and carry explosives, pigeons to carry messages and take images from cameras strapped round them; not much more than the natural behaviour of domesticated beasts of burden. But twenty-first-century science has changed all that. Animals — even insects — are not as dumb as once thought. They are capable of sensing things the most sophisticated human spy could only dream of spotting. I stumbled across the new military menagerie some years ago, almost by accident. While researching the accuracy of police dogs for a legal case, I was invited to attend some dog handler events. A couple of cagey conversations with men about dogs led me to a military gathering of experts in the field of animal perception. Entomologists and botanists of every persuasion came out of the woodwork, each championing their subject of study as the most appropriate to our security needs. Plants are discreet and sensitive sensors; moths can detect scents from distances of several kilometres — and can fly; yeast can be engineered to change colour in response to substances not otherwise of interest to them, like cocaine. The security services listened to each expert earnestly. Compared with much of the surveillance technology available, insects are cheap and clever. Why build robots when you can hijack the sophisticated inventions of nature? Sandwiched between a gentle and elderly entomologist mumbling about the brilliant brains of her lovely little moths and a rat enthusiast, I listened with amazement to a Home Office official outline his plans for fluorescent sniffer bees in the detection of cannabis plantations. ‘We will install ourselves in the church steeple.’ He outstretched his arm and looked into the distance, sparkles dancing in his eyes as he conjured up the image in his mind. ‘We will watch them from the tower, ready to raid the premises attracting them. We will be able to rely on their natural behaviour, which is
to inform each other when they smell food. They will swarm in on drug laboratories across the country.’ Enthralled, I joined their conference circuit. ‘It’s not unknown, is it,’ Ned asked, ‘for the security services to assassinate animal agents of other countries?’ ‘No,’ I replied. A recent release of security service files to the National Archives at Kew had revealed that Heinrich Himmler’s Gestapo pigeons were MI5 targets. But I was unaware of any more recent examples. ‘And the octopus was widely believed to be psychic.’ Ned added. Several animal enthusiasts in the security services harbour dogged beliefs in the psychic abilities of members of the animal and plant kingdoms. One police dog handler told me his dog could detect someone in possession of drugs from a distance of ﬁfteen feet. ‘I dunno how he does it,’ he’d said. ‘I don’t think we have any idea about the extent of their capabilities. People are saying now that they might have infra-red senses — like wolves. And people talk — don’t they — about people having auras. Maybe there’s something in that? I mean just ’cos we can’t see it — doesn’t mean it isn’t there.’ The suggestion that animals did not die in large numbers in the East Asian tsunami because of their ability to sense impending doom was said by security experts to have implications for the development of remote-sensing technologies. It was just possible that the prospect of a psychic octopus in the hands of the Germans could have raised alarm bells in some quarters. ‘And I’m correct in thinking there’s a lot of political rivalry in this area, right?’ He was right. The growing popularity of animal agents in the detection of terrorists is a global phenomenon. The Russians have crossbred jackals with dogs and describe their
progeny as a ‘psychological weapon’. The Israelis have trained pigs to detect explosives. The South Koreans have cloned their finest sniffer dogs. An arms race was certainly afoot. The truth was that it had been for some time. In 1945, when the British armed forces announced they would no longer pay for the maintenance of pigeon lofts because radio and telephone had rendered carrier pigeons obsolete, intelligence experts warned that ‘pigeon research will not stand still; if we do not experiment, other powers will.’ This area of espionage — like any other — is fuelled by paranoia and competitiveness. No one wants anyone to have anything their own side doesn’t already have more of.
‘And the Americans have got a tank of fish involved in some mysterious sort of anti-terrorist activity?’ Ned persevered. ‘Yes.’ At a top secret location in New York State, a computer sits monitoring the movements of bluegill ﬁsh in a tank. The Intelligent Aquatic Biomonitoring System (IABS) is described as a new weapon against potential attacks on the nation’s water supply. The US Army Center for Environmental Health Research refuses to disclose where else the army has installed the IABS, how it works, or what it is looking for. I racked my brains for any mention of cephalopods by the military scientists whom I’d pumped for information over whisky and wine. Sabotage salmon. That was what Ben told me he had wanted his team at the Ministry of Defence to work on when I asked him what we had to compete with the shark US scientists were training. ‘Salmon have the best olfactory system and the easiest to re-code,’ he’d enthused. ‘When they’re young they encode the odours in the rivers of their youth so that they’ll recognise them on their return from the sea to mate. All we need to do is impregnate their water with the odour of explosives and then inject them with the right hormones when we want them on duty.’ ‘Electric eels,’ Toby wanted.
‘They are huge,’ he’d said, stretching out his arms to demonstrate, ‘they grow to over eight feet. Stick them in a tank. They emit an electrical charge on attack.’ He’d puffed up his face and imitated the noise the eel made on being prodded. ‘All you have to do is emit the odours you want it to detect every time you prod it. Then stick a light bulb to it and send it off to sea.’ Ben and I had laughed at his suggestion. ‘Ok,’ Toby interrupted our laughter, mildly miffed by its implication that his idea was any less realistic than those we’d already discussed. ‘I’m seeing one submarine surrounded by a ﬂeet of salmon with dolphin re-enforcements and further along another submarine with a load of sharks around it. Another followed by a load of squid or prawns or whatever.’ ‘It’s chaos,’ Ben laughed. ‘But the crazy thing, Amber, is that this is what our meetings are actually like.’ ‘They start off very serious,’ Toby added. ‘But they end up with us coming out with all of these far-fetched ideas.’ ‘And sometimes someone somewhere funds them.’ ‘And as a result the world is a safer place,’ Toby said in mock seriousness. ‘Except for the sea, that is. Bloody nightmare out there.’ ‘I’m sorry Ned,’ I said, peering through the blinds at an orange moon rising out of the Argentine sea. ‘Salmon, sharks, eels, dolphins, fish — yes. But no one ever mentioned an octopus.’ ‘Then I could well be on to something big.’
room no. 6 by anna hughes
Photo: Theo Cook
Policing Genes by Thomas Thwaites Scientists are experimenting with ‘pharming’ — cultivating plants that have been genetically engineered to produce drugs. Researchers in Korea have engineered transgenic tomato plants to produce a human protein implicated in Alzheimer’s. Mice fed on extracts of these tomatoes developed resistance to the disease. Other clinical trials have been undertaken on potatoes that might immunise against Hepatitis B, and spinach that protects against rabies. With costs far lower than traditional synthetic drug production, this branch of the biopharmaceutical industry has huge commercial potential. Techniques and protocols used to insert genes into plants are becoming standardised, making them more reliable and better understood. Genetic engineering procedures can now be performed by amateurs, and DIY biotechnology groups are springing up all over the web. New technologies bring new benefits, but also new risks, and new crimes. With democratised knowledge comes the possibility to evade regulation. Seeds or cuttings from plants developed by pharmaceutical companies might be introduced to the black market. Homegrown plants could be modified to produce unlicensed drugs — for medicinal or recreational use. If the genetic make-up of plants becomes a police matter new methods of enforcement might be needed. Experiments are already being carried out by the security industries to harness the instinctive habits of insects. Should we expect a swarm of undercover agents, capable of inspecting crops without a warrant?
Pharming Seeds, cuttings and genes from plants genetically modified to produce valuable pharmaceuticals find their way on to the black market. Investments by pharmaceutical companies are undermined by the unlicensed cultivation of their intellectual property. As the techniques to genetically modify plants become simpler and standardised, amateurs make their own genetic modifications for fun
or profit. These genetic modifications can produce unintended effects, or can be made with malicious intent. Such problems are compounded by the accidental cross-pollination of genetically modified plants with those grown in neighbouring gardens or farm crops.
The bee returns to the Police Genetic Surveillance Hive
Unlicensed genetically engineered plants growing illegally in a suburban garden
A foraging worker bee collects pollen and nectar from the plants
The police response is to co-opt the natural behaviours of bees to monitor the genetic make-up of pollen in an area. They set up Genetic Surveillance Hives. Bees will forage up to three miles from their hives, bringing back samples of pollen from private gardens and farms.
A sample of pollen is taken from the bee...
... and its waggle dance is recorded
A â€˜pollen trapâ€™ at the entrance to the surveillance hive scrapes pollen from a returning bee on to a tape. Bees returning from a foraging flight will often perform a waggle dance to tell their hive mates the location of the patch on which they have been foraging. The surveillance hive records video of the dance of the returning bee with an internal camera.
The tapes containing the sampled pollen are collected for analysis at the pollen forensics lab. If pollen is found to contain illegal genes, or unlicensed use of intellectual property, then the video of the waggle dance linked to the sample is retrieved and decoded. The video of the waggle dance is decoded to find the direction and distance to the GM plants
Investigation The pollen samples are analysed for modified genes
The waggle dance reveals the distance and direction from the hive to the source of the genetically engineered pollen. Further observation is undertaken and warrants to search the property are obtained.
Ceaus¸escu’s Dogs by Ruby Russell Photos by Bronwen Parker-Rhodes
On an otherwise deserted street in a residential district of Bucharest, a rag-tag band of scruffy mongrels hangs out on the pavement. A couple of springy pups bat each other with their paws and try to induce an aging dog with a greying muzzle to join their game. Their shaggy brown and white coats give the pack a family resemblance. Suddenly, the gang prick up their ears and turn their heads in unison towards a window being opened, high up on the seventh floor of the decayedlooking apartment building across the street. A middle-aged woman in a flowery housecoat turns out a plastic bag and they rush over to snap up an assortment of kitchen scraps. Earlier in the day, a complaint was made to Antonio Lorentz, director of Bucharest’s new Authority for Supervision and Protection of Animals (ASPA). A resident on the same street had called to complain about a pack of twenty or more strays terrorising passersby. If these are the animals he was referring to, they don’t look very terrifying.
Lorentz’s phone buzzes constantly with similar calls. Bucharest’s population of strays is estimated at anywhere between 30,000 and 100,000 animals depending on which city department, NGO or charity you speak to. Three months into his new job, Lorentz says that his biggest concern is the recent biting by a stray dog of Czech President Václav Klaus, who was attending a Second World War memorial ceremony while on a state visit. Feral beasts roaming the capital’s city centre are not a good look for a country still treated as a poor relation within the European Union. Ask people why the dogs are there in the first place and you will often hear that it all goes back to Ceaușescu. In 1984 the dictator laid the foundation stone of Bucharest’s House of the Republic and its surrounding civic centre, comprising huge plazas and a boulevard designed to challenge the scale of the Champs-Élysées. The Palace itself — now called the People’s Palace — remains the secondlargest building in the world after the
Pentagon. A considerable proportion of the country’s national budget went into the building, as well as hundreds of thousands of hours of conscripted labour. Conceived as a monument to the dictatorship, the redevelopment required the complete demolition of eight square kilometres of the city’s historic centre, destroying turn-of-thecentury apartment buildings, churches, synagogues, a monastery and a museum. Locals refer to the Ceauşima, conflating the autocrat’s name with Hiroshima. Some 40,000 families were forced to leave their homes. Most were relocated to modern high-rise flats in which pets were forbidden. And — so the story goes — it was then that Bucharest’s dogs were turned out on to the streets. Three thousand animals roamed the doomed city centre and ventured out into the inhabited neighbourhoods, growing in number and haunting every corner of the city alongside its oppressed human population.
With its development as a postcommunist capital, Bucharest has become increasingly uncomfortable with the presence of the animals, but has failed to reach a consensus on how to deal with the issue. For several years City Hall adopted a strategy of euthanasia. Although official policy was to put the animals down with a humane lethal injection, it is widely believed that authorities pocketed funds made available for this and used cheaper methods instead — poisoning, garroting or beating the dogs to death. This caused an outcry, particularly from ‘animal lovers’, a term that is thrown around in reference to the sector of Bucharest society who care for stray animals and set themselves up in opposition to City Hall. The animal lovers often characterise the plight of the dogs as a symptom of man’s abuse of power, talking in terms of the natural innocence of animals in contrast to human cruelty. They include individuals who feed dogs on the streets or take them into their homes, as well those who run private
animal shelters. While their dedication and good intentions are hard to question, for some the animal lovers are just part of the problem, sustaining and encouraging the strays’ existence. One woman, who has been looking after stray dogs both on the streets and in her home for the thirty years of her adult life, agreed to be interviewed and filmed. When I arrive in Bucharest she loses her nerve and will only meet at night, to drink endless cups of coffee in a bleak petrol station café and regale me with tales of animal cruelty,
in which she features as a lonely outcast, locked in a hopeless struggle to save Bucharest’s lost canine orphans. She describes how ‘her’ dogs — individual animals belonging to the packs she regularly feeds in the streets — have frequently been picked up by dogcatchers, and interned in city shelters. To gain their release she must agree to keep the animals in her home but, with five dogs and thirteen cats already sharing her small apartment, only the most desperately ill are taken in. So she returns them to their pack,
and admitted to having released the same dog twice in the space of a week. She has taken some of the animals that she has been unable to provide for to a private shelter on the outskirts of the city.
The next day, as I cross a scrubby field towards the shelter, 300 animals raise the alarm. Barking at full volume, they throw themselves excitedly against enclosures cobbled together from wood and scrap metal. The noise and impact of so much penned-in energy are overwhelming. The dogs here are well fed and their cages relatively clean. But they are never let out to exercise and are exposed to the elements year-round. Most of the animals in this shelter were taken in before 2008, when a law was passed banning the killing of street dogs. The more humane approach of sterilisation then became official policy. However, this was limited to animals taken off the street in response to a public complaint, after which they were kept in filthy, overcrowded and poorly-funded municipal animal shelters. In July 2010 the municipal department responsible for stray animals underwent a re-branding process and former newspaperman Antonio Lorentz was put in charge. Lorentz admits that public perception is a big problem: City Hall is still associated with cruelty and corruption. He has attempted to remedy this by reaching out to animal protection NGOs, most
notably Four Paws, an international organisation whose Bucharest office is now providing the most effective action, concentrating their limited funds on sterilizing as many animals as possible. Within three months of a programme operating out of City Hall’s main animal shelter, they succeeded in neutering close to 2,000 dogs. The operation’s project manager, Kuki Barbuceanu, is glad to finally have some support from local government, but remains critical of the ASPA. One issue is the careless way they dump neutered animals back on to the streets. ‘They take the dogs from one place
and release them somewhere else. If you take a dog from one place, it doesn’t matter if you kill it, put it in a shelter or send it to the moon. That place will be empty, but the living conditions and availability of food have not changed. In a short time you
will have the same number of dogs in that place as before.’ The good spots in the city that will always be filled are those where local residents and businesses provide food, and any street with a small parade of shops seems to have its own band of five or six animals. ‘There are two types of dog,’ Lorentz explains, ‘the ones that stay near a building or shop where people protect and take care of them. And those are fine, they can live quite peacefully on the street. The problem is the dogs that do not find a protector and work in packs, migrating from one place to another.’
Ovidieu has been a dogcatcher for seven years and understands well how these territories operate. I join him in the back of a van with three large cages, each containing four or five dogs. In the past twenty-four hours these animals have been snatched from the street and shoved into vans, transported to an unfamiliar location and confined in cages. They have then been anaesthetised, operated on and caged again, ready to return to the streets to find their own post-op meal. It is no wonder they shiver and shake and retch in their cages. But despite their rough treatment at his hands, when Ovidieu reaches through the bars to administer a gentle scratch behind the ears the animals become instantly calmer.
At our first stop a taxi driver and his family come out to meet the van — two of the dogs live on their property. At this point, despite care taken to return each animal to its established territory, Ovidieu realises that he has forgotten where one of the dogs lives. Luckily, the family recognise the animal, and offer to return it to its patch themselves. After a couple more stops, and with two remaining dogs in the van, we drive into an industrial zone and make a stop at a warehouse. We are asked not to film or take pictures and not to approach any dogs we see on the property. Both Four Paws and the ASPA encourage people to adopt the dogs they pick off the streets. Many — particularly those caught by the City Hall dogcatchers — are animals that have behaved aggressively, sparking complaints. In fact, these animals are often the most desirable for adoption, as guard dogs on commercial properties such as this, or in the yards of private homes. Although plenty of Romanians do keep dogs as house pets, even in Bucharest many see dogs as working
animals to be kept outside. And there is a fine line between unwanted stray and working animal. The street dogs may not be pets, but neither are they merely vermin. They are not rats, or pigeons or even cats. Many thousands of stray cats also inhabit Bucharest, but no one talks about the cats because they slink into dark corners and perhaps creep around bins or friendly backyards if there is a chance of finding food. Dogs, on the other hand, are out in the open, boldly interacting with the human population. One of the most striking things about Bucharest’s câinii comunitari (community dogs) is that most have the sleek bodies of animals that rarely go long without a meal. 62
After a long day’s dog-catching, we drive home through streets decked in tinsel and flashing lights. It’s three weeks before Christmas, and twentyone years since these streets saw the bloodshed of the Revolution, when the terrible oppression of Ceaușescu’s rule came to an explosive end. Chaos and confusion reigned for several desperately uncertain days, bullets flew, lives were lost and few understood who had initiated the challenge to power or who was fighting whom. The culmination of the Revolution came on December 25th, 1989 with the Ceaușescus’ hasty trial and execution, aired on public television within hours of the actual event. It has been suggested that these brutal events robbed the Romanian people of the sense of justice that the overthrow of the dictator should have afforded them. Ovidieu hints at this idea with a surprising degree of superstition. ‘You understand why things are so bad here?’ he asks rhetorically. ‘God is punishing us. To do a thing like that on Jesus’s birthday? Of course — that’s why we live like this.’
Ovidieu has almost nothing good to say about his hometown. ‘Everyone’s on the make,’ he insists. ‘During the communist era we lived in terrible deprivation… but at least people pulled together. Now everyone is out for themselves. We’ve taken everything bad from capitalism and nothing good.’ Like most people I meet, he has warned me of crime, pickpockets, conmen, rip-off artists and gypsies. (The only difference is that most people’s list includes the dogs.) Pushed to give an example of just one thing that makes him proud to be Romanian, Ovidieu extols his country’s magnificent natural beauty, but then adds that, ‘mostly Romanians don’t appreciate it, because it’s not something you can steal.’ For a country still defining its postcommunist identity and finding its place in the European Union, the dogs are a minor issue compared to the struggling economy, high unemployment and low wages. But they are also an ever-present symbol of everything that is perceived as shamefully backward about Bucharest in the twenty-first century, and a reminder of the country’s traumatic past. The dogs scavenge, surviving on scraps and rubbish. They live and shit on the streets, form social groups and operate within their own unofficial order. They map out their own territories in public space and defend them, at times aggressively. They are seen as the consequence of a lack of public order, and the embodiment of a reckless, vagabond spirit. No one seems able to envision a Bucharest without street dogs any time soon. Ovidieu says that his city will always be inhabited by strays. Barbuceanu hopes that Four Paws will be able to sterilise 30,000 dogs over the next two years, but believes that
the only effective long-term solution would be a tax on owners who do not neuter their pets. A proposal to introduce such a law has been waiting on parliament for three years. Lorentz sees the problem as something that Bucharest will have to grow out of, and believes this will take another twenty or thirty years. ‘We will have to wait until the older generation passes on,’ he explains, ῾for a time when the younger generation have families, people who like animals but don’t want to have a whole pack of dogs outside their house.’ I chat with an elderly man selling the meagre produce of his vegetable garden from an up-turned crate outside a butcher’s shop in Bucharest’s Drumul Taberei district. He shares his spot with five dogs, who lift their heads hopefully as customers step over them to enter the shop. Asked who feeds them, he says that various people living in the surrounding apartment blocks contribute to the dogs’ welfare, but that the butcher sees them as a menace and does his best to discourage their presence. ῾I tell him, if you kick a dog, you are nothing but an animal yourself,’ he declares, ῾The shop is your space — not the pavement outside. This is public property and the dogs have a right to be here.’ This man’s assertion of the rights of Bucharest’s dogs may simply reflect that he is used to sharing the city with dogs and accepts them as a normal part of everyday life. But it also echoes something that Romanian poet and philosopher Andrei Pleșu wrote in teasing reference to his country’s new membership of the EU: ‘Our dogs are, as of the first of January 2007, European dogs… Soon, the phrase “bad dog” will be prohibited as being discriminatory. A “dog’s life” will need to become a dignified, decent life, with immovable rights…’
At the beginning of February this year, back in Berlin, Oana, my friend and translator who first introduced me to the story of Bucharest’s dogs, calls with bad news. The Romanian press are reporting that a woman was killed by dogs in the capital. It is speculated that she fell trying to scale the high fence of a factory yard and was attacked by a pack of vicious animals. I imagine a setting not unlike the industrial warehouse where Ovidieu took us to drop off the adopted guard dogs. Oana, who grew up feeding dogs on the streets of Bucharest and spending her pocket money on sterilisations, is convinced that this will put the ban on killing strays in jeopardy. Sure enough, a month later the Romanian Parliament are
debating legislation to lift the ban on killing street dogs. At the time of writing, a Parliamentary vote that could open the way for local authorities to revert to a policy of euthanasia is imminent. Four years ago, a similar story broke. A visiting Japanese businessman died as the result of dog-bite wounds sustained in the lobby of a Bucharest apartment block. Cuţu-Cuţu, an animal-protection NGO, enlisted the services of lawyer Paula Iacob to prevent the street dog accused of the killing from being put down. Iacob is famous for defending Ceaușescu’s son, Nicu, at his trial in connection with the massacre of 89 civilians shot during the revolution that toppled his
father. Nicu Ceaușescu was sentenced by a military court to twenty years in prison, but Iacob had more success with her canine defendant. The animal’s life was spared on the basis of forensic evidence that the precision of bites to the man’s jugular suggested the work of a trained attack animal rather than a crazed stray. It was perhaps for his own protection that the acquitted beast was exiled to Germany, to live out the rest of his days in a country where the relationship between man and dog is less politically fraught.
The Trashumantes by JosĂŠ Navarro
“If Quixote saw us now, José, he would be proud of us! We identify with him, very much. We too pursue a lost cause.” Ismael Martinez, trashumante The trashumantes have been doing this for hundreds of years. Each spring they move their flock from Andalucía, across La Mancha to Aragón, and each autumn they make the 250-mile journey back again: six shepherds, 5,000 sheep and a few dogs to keep the flock on track. This migration allows the sheep to graze
on fresh pastures year-round and saves the farmers the expense of dried feed or transport by truck. In recent years regulations on the movement of livestock have threatened to put an end to the tradition. The Spanish environmentalist Jesús Garzón has played a key role in fighting to protect the trashumancia, arguing that it has wider benefits for the ecosystems it traverses, distributing seeds and keeping grasses from drying up in the summer. Yet the trashumantes cannot help but see themselves as an
endangered species. Even if they can continue to balance their ancient way of life against the risks of disease inherent in more modern farming methods, it is hard to imagine future generations taking on such a backbreaking journey. As Ismael’s brother Vidal says, at the end of a twelve-hour-day’s walk, “You know we can’t do this for much longer. This is inhumane; the sheep can cope with it, but not us.”
Slaughterhouse Hospitality by Niven Govinden
My monastery conditions relaxed when they began culling wolves. Hunters, invading the western islands on an elusive trail of blood, shit, and fur. The quota was minimal, 50 or so, but the hunters themselves numbered in their hundreds. Blokes who engaged in bar fights and proudly maintained beer bellies recognised it as a call to arms. Rifles were oiled, long-forgotten cartridge boxes dusted, fat feet squeezed into snow boots. The majority headed for the mountain ranges clustering the north, where the concentration of wolves was highest, and the trail easiest. When questioned on the nightly news, one of the men likened the level of skill and exertion required to a paintball weekend: no more than a fun afternoon outdoors where almost every man would be able to take a shot. After another night of eating alone, listening to radio alone, everything alone, I got to my feet and toasted this cocky interviewee unsteadily. “All the best, you flabby murderer. Hope the wolves get you first.” I don’t know what came over me, because I wasn’t much interested in animals bar the protein on my plate. I’d come to the cabin for
peace and quiet. But nature was rarely silent, loud enough to shatter my eardrums. Bark, screech, whoosh, craw. After months of jumpy solitude I worried about my responsibilities should any hunters pass, tramping through virgin snow across the clearing towards the dense forest that lined the coast. I didn’t relish the onslaught of meatheads. Escaping them was half the reason I’d moved here. But those who knocked on the cabin door, roughly, embarrassed by their clumsy show of manners after a four-hour trek across country, all blue knuckles and cracked and scabbed-over lips from teeth biting through the cold, were not these chancy day-trippers. They were the real deal: Vikings, for whom the hunt bonded tightly with the oxygen in their blood. “Pardon us, Sir,” they said. “We’re looking for Hannah.” “The old woman?” “Mrs Sveningsson. She usually gives us a meal if we’re passing.” “Oh. Hannah moved north last Easter. I’ve been renting the place since June.” “We were counting on seeing her. Looking
forward to it, actually. She’s a hunter’s daughter, you see. Understands our customs. This is the last place before the forest. We usually bring her some meat or fur on our way back.” Even in their frozen disappointment, conflict seeped out of every pore: the need to follow the trail to its conclusion before dark versus the need for contact. Equally, their strength was magnetic. It made me want to do as they did: to put on my coat and boots and wander into the deep snow. Only I would look for wolves to save. Instead, obliging and hospitable, I fed them. The presence of three burly fellows squeezed around my flat-pack dining table was immediately felt. I needed their company too. Just the sound of someone else’s breathing pulled harder than the fear that previously kept a stranglehold on my guts. Relieved of their balaclavas and heavy jackets, I saw how they differed from their unruly brothers raising hell in the north. They were older, thinner and wore glasses. When they were seated they didn’t look like killers either. They took a drink, but only a shot, two bowls of stew apiece, and bread. The cakes they eyed suspiciously, wondering if there was any place for patisserie-style gateaux on such a ramshackle smallholding. I didn’t answer their unspoken questions, just cooked. They looked at the laden cake stands, the shelves crammed with sugars, flours, and dried fruit. They saw the typewriter on the corner table covered in a film of hair and dust, and they understood. Their eyes passed notes around the table as the lightbox made their surroundings clearer still; details a hunter would find out of place. The gladiator-tie of my bootlaces creeping the length of my calves; gloopy lip gloss hastily wiped from my lips but slicked across the chin; the brief note tacked on to the cabin door as a reminder of my work’s irrelevance: ‘You can’t create anything.’ They danced over these points, before looking down at the food on their plates. Their shoulders hunched and crackled with tension, the way I imagined their posture to be in the bracken, as
they drew closer and more familiar with their prey. “We don’t know what your trouble is with the typewriter, son, but this venison cobbler is pretty exceptional. That’s creative enough for us.” If pressed, they would have said it was the second shot of vodka, but I knew that it was the cake that did for them; sponge, cream and all the other good things lulling them to sleep in front of the stove. The largest of the three, puffin-chested, with arms like mutton joints, accepted a further piece, left within reach of his sleeping bag in case he felt peckish. The smallest one, the talker, shook my hand before bedding down, to thank me for the hospitality. I had never felt so happy. I smiled at my handiwork a couple of times, as I got up to watch them as they slept, partly in wonder at the invasion of my cabin, and partly to check on whether the big guy ate his extra cake; the mysteries of both kept me awake until morning. At sunrise it would remain untouched. The combination of exhaustion and groundup barbs in the cake kept them flat out, making impossible my hopes of middle-of-the-night conversations. With only myself to entertain, I played a game of Hansel and Gretel, as I used to with the old woman. I circled them with cake stands, placing the glass domes in a certain way so that their crumb-capturing, beardy faces reflected in the candlelight. I looked for signs of rounded tummies against the stretch of their sleeping bags. When they turned over I checked their arms for plumpness. I measured the size of my oven. It’d be a stretch but I could try.
room nO. 12 by anna hughes
We would like to thank the following people for supporting Teller. Their generous donations through kickstarter.com have made possible the printing of this issue: Jono Baggaley, Martha and Tom Barrett, Mattia Beggi, Francesca Bennett, Crofton Black, E. Black, Daniela Cammack and David Grewal, Lauren Carnegie, Abigail Cast, Emily Clarke, Poppy Zee Cluett, Paulie Cobra, Dave the Chimp, David Croft, Melissa Dowler, Rod and Barbara Dowler, Paul Duffy, Sandra Elkind, Lily Ford, Kyna Gourley, David Gray, Tom Green, Rupert Grey, Flavie Guerrand, Ann and Tim Hunt, Polly Hunt, Paula James, Kamemako Janga-Nooren, Amund Johne, Alec Kerr, Jörg Kühnelt, Matthew Lawrence, Seth Lazar, Kate Lefley, Pauline Le Goff, Max Leonard, Christophe Le Toquin, Lina, Trina Lynskey, Oliver Merchant, Laura MorleyJones, Sarah Morton, Jackie Mountain, Bernt Petersen, the Phillips family, Quentin, Genevieve Quist, Alec Rossiter, Jana Rumminger and Jason Woodard, P.S.C. Santos, Alan Sargeant, F. Scott Willie, John Simon, Emily Smith, Steve, John Tully, Alice Twomey, Hannah Watson, Anton Wendel, Cynthia Wood, Willow Worthington, and Danyu Zhao
Anton Koslov Mayr is an artist and author known for his photo installations and film projects. He studied film and philosophy at NYU and Harvard, holds a PhD from EHESS, and has exhibited internationally. He is the founder of Artout, a Berlin-based company that hires out artists as escorts. www.political-photography.net ➞
Mark Boswell is a New-York-based filmmaker whose experimental media art works have been screened at museums, biennials, and media art festivals worldwide, including recent exhibitions at the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), Transmediale (Berlin), the Courtauld Institute (London), and Oxford University. ➞
Page 50 – 52
Anna Hughes is an artist who works primarily in paint and collage. She has exhibited at solo and group shows internationally. Born in London, she now lives and works in Berlin. www.anna-hughes.com ➞
Page 53 and 78
Thomas Thwaites is a designer of a more speculative sort, whose work examines how technology, science and economics interact with trends, fictions and beliefs, to shape our present society, and possible futures. www.thomasthwaites.com ➞
Page 54 – 57
Page 1– 17
Salena Godden has two books out this year, Under The Pier and Yellow. She hosts and produces The Book Club Boutique, performs at festivals and literary events around the world, and is lyricist and lead singer of eclectic ska-break band SaltPeter. She is a regular on BBC shows The Verb, Bespoken Word, and Saturday Live. www.thebookclubboutique.com ➞
the first London Literary Death Match. Her articles have appeared in The Guardian, Time Out, The Sunday Times and The Register.
Page 20 – 23
Ruby Russell knows quite a lot about animals. Bronwen Parker-Rhodes has directed two series of 3 Minute Wonders for Channel 4, and made films for Vivienne Westwood, Rihanna, Current TV and Spine TV. Her films and photography have been exhibited internationally in group and solo exhibitions. Her first book, At Home, was published this year by Oodee. www.bronfilms.com ➞
Page 58 – 63
Imprint Teller—A magazine of stories. www.tellermagazine.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Published in the UK by Teller, 2011
John Angerson’s work is concerned with changing cultural landscapes and addresses definitions of community, focusing on how specific communities form, shift and develop. He has been exhibited at major art institutions and has worked on commissions for a variety of international publications. www.johnangerson.com ➞
Page 24 – 35
Miriam Elia is a visual artist and comedian. Her work includes radio comedy sketches, films, live stand-up, collage, prints, photography, animation and installations. She has her own Sony-nominated BBC Radio 4 sketch show, A Series of Psychotic Episodes, and has written for the likes of Arthur Smith, and Mitchell and Webb. www.miriamelia.co.uk ➞
All contributions © the authors All other material © Teller Magazine Cover image © Anton Koslov Mayr Editors: Katherine Hunt and Ruby Russell Graphic design: Anna Bühler, Peter Stenkhoff, Nina Odzinieks, Neue Gestaltung, Berlin www.neuegestaltung.de
Lucy Caldwell was born in Belfast in 1981. Her novels are Where They Were Missed and The Meeting Point, and her plays include Leaves, Guardians and Notes to Future Self. Awards include the George Devine Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Stewart Parker Award, the Imison Award and the PMA Award for Most Promising Playwright. www.lucycaldwell.com ➞
ISSN 2047-1998 All rights reserved. Reproduction of material is strictly prohibited without prior permission from Teller. Printed in Germany by Druckhaus Dresden, on Munken Polar 100g/m² and 200g/m² from Arctic Paper. www.arcticpaper.com
Page 26 – 43
Amy Stein is a photographer and teacher based in New York City. Her work explores our evolving isolation from community, culture and the environment. www.amysteinphoto.com ➞
Page 44 – 49
José Navarro’s photography focuses on people’s interaction with their natural surroundings and often demands travelling in remote environments. He is a course leader on the BA (Hons) Photography degree at The Open College of the Arts and is currently working on the dissertation for his MA in Environmental Anthropology. www.josenavarro.co.uk ➞
Page 66 – 75
Niven Govinden is the author of novels We Are The New Romantics and Graffiti My Soul. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications including Five Dials, Pen Pusher, Time Out, Stimulus Respond, Butt, and on BBC Radio 3. ➞
Amber Marks is a writer of poetry, fiction, journalism and academic research. Her book Headspace is a mixture of all four. She is a regular performer at literary festivals and won
Welcome back to Teller. Issue 2 brings you another helping of truth and lies, fact and fiction: this time with added bite. Not for the first time, we have found ourselves drawn to animal stories, so in this issue we let the theme run away with itself. Ruby Russell and Miriam Elia give new meaning to the term political animal: from a report on Ceaus¸escu’s legacy to the dogs of Bucharest to canine totalitarianism. Amber Marks, a world expert on the legal implications of smell surveillance, speculates whether Paul the Octopus might have joined the ranks of animal spies. Thomas Thwaites explores the overlapping territory of horticultural law enforcement, imagining a future of apian agents that is almost upon us. José Navarro brings us back to more traditional working relationships between man and beast with his documentary of the Spanish trashumante shepherds’ epic journey. Amy Stein takes a sidelong look at our dislocated relationship to the natural world through encounters in small-town Pennsylvania, and Niven Govinden invites us to a nefarious hunter’s feast. In other stories, Anton Koslov Mayr and Mark Boswell’s homage to Hunter S. Thompson casts political top dogs as unwitting protagonists in a work of gonzo photo reportage. Anna Hughes pauses an obscured conversation, and John Angerson joins a dry run at a space station. Lucy Caldwell depicts the pains of a teenage awakening, while Salena Godden awakes to something altogether sinister growing within. Cheep cheep!