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Twisted Tales Twisted Tales for the Twenty Second Century

Images and Words by Simon Q. Walden


Contents Corpus the Vampyre The Old Statue Factory A Roving Eye Sound of the Dentist Drill Quiet Time in the Library Something Smells Fishy Fortunate Favours for Finias Inherent Charisma We Are All Made of Stardust Living in the Undertoad Star-Rigger Metatron Had Spoken Invisible Magic Walking on Water Talking to the Oracle Cat Holds Her Own Rye Catcher Women’s Plumbing Hilary and Leslie Last Supper at the Restaurant of the Seven Sins Dancing With The Devil All words and images copyright Simon Q. Walden 2000-2010. My thanks to the many models, stylists, make-up specialists and other creatives involved in making these images over the years 2000 to 2008.


An exploration of images and words that refresh our folk memories in lovelicked linguistics and pixel punished pictures. A modal display of amodal times, features and form filled fantasies.

Twisted and be-twixt we’ll wander together in dark tainted corridors and smoke chilled chambers where meymaydes and vampyres are real, surreal and shape held in our minds like Trotsky’s ice pick.


Corpus the Vampyre


Corpus the Vampyre, all coffin rested and oak bored, stalked board-walk style through the castles passageways, mortar and stone pillows under her feet. Bricks curdled back as she passed, hissing to themselves in stony grates. Torches flared to full brightness as she neared, then gibbered to guttering flickers behind her. Stake-teethed and water-shy she stepped. This was her domain, her personal dot-com of existence and each night she went beyond, webbing away into real-life for sustenance. As surely as night followed day she had to drink, scarlet or blue-blooded she cared not, drip dribbling or pulsing purple she lapped, licked or just plain ripped. But she was rib-tired of the nightly schlep to find yet another victim. Crick-crackling through woods and forests finding obscure field workers cotts was only fun the first few times. It hadn’t taken long for the blood-drained peasants to drift away from the woods, making her nightly commute longer and longer, each night having to return to her crumble coffin resting in crypt peace. So this would be the last time she would walk the walls, mortar dry beneath her fingers she rubbed them gently, patting an old friend. Through doors, arches all gothic points and decorated to a grand Victorian fashion. She would miss the old place after all these years but it was time to move on.


The Old Statue Factory


Fleur waited patiently in the old statue factory, all granite dust and lost opportunities. A naked bulb, brazenly teased with light and dark, shadows reflecting moments. Of course, since the factory had stopped making the statues after the tragic accident with the dog and the porcelain dip, the place had gone to ruin. But still, as she stood quietly, exercising isometrically and sometimes geometrically she could hear rare fluids running the pipes. The creep-tubes were always a law unto their own, full of chills and thrills that only the most flamboyant would ever taste. Lying plain and simple as the nose on your face, they flaunted their straightness. Except for the corners. In the corners, creepiness splashed and gurgled, like dreams going down the drain, “Probably that’s what the creep is made of ”, thought Fleur. At night the factory was one of Fleur’s favourite places, she liked dancing upon the sparkles of marble that were not good enough. She could face to the sun on the other side of the world and sunbathe without risk of melanoma, always an important consideration. Standing like a St. Petersburg man on the banks of the River Neva she would soak it all up. The tiles on the ceiling jostled for position, angling for a good view, “Bloody voyeurs, you should pick on someone of your own geometry”, Fleur called up to them, not without affection, “I’ve too many curves for your plain, plane senses, fly off to some flatter prospect.” But no matter how much she encouraged them they would stay, plain faced and watching..


So here she was heard of another wh Alex could never go. Bu ab

Ah, the things she’d s could fathom. Poli Mothers of su

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A Roving Eye Alex had lost her eye. Again. She’d sent the thing off roving to see what she should see and some damn dog had swallowed the thing. Now it was all dark and the best she could hope for was that it would turn up in some dog turd soon. Mind you, when she thought of some old biddy bending down with a pooper-scooper and seeing that baleful one-eyed glare back at her , that would be a laugh.

all eye-patched and asymmetric, the one-eyed queen in the land of the short-sighted. She’d never ho could send an eye out on its own, bouncing and bopping, scanning and swinging, travelling where ut then she had never admitted it to anyone else herself, so maybe everyone could do it, but never talked bout it. Though if that was the case – she’d never come across a loose eye herself.

seen with her eye. Not quite C-beams glittering in the dark near Tannhauser Gate, but more humanity than you iticians dirtier than the turd her eye would be in, all grime and grift with hearts the colour of broken Victoriana. uch loving warmth that fires would light spontaneously as they walked into rooms. And mothers of such distraction that their children would be lost babies, wailing in the darkness.

Her favourite though was all the forms of love in the world, caring love, family love and most of all sexual love. She would sometimes think she had seen it all, then she would see something else that she never even thought possible. The man lying naked in a tank of snakes, singing and hissing to them as they cuddled and constricted. The secret custard rooms where upwards of 10 people would all bathe and wallow in the warm yellowness, slip-slippering body against body, sometimes bubbling and exuberant, other times sensually slow – until the shark-fin crested the surface.


Three phase power supply drove multiple engines, though only one was connected to the drill itself. The others drive various rock and gravel crushers which made such a lovely noise in itself that her patients ran out before she’d even started. So that’s why she strapped them down first, these days usually drugged before hand because she couldn’t stand their whingy, whiny, pleading. Clementines and mercy were not part of her vocabulary, though kleptomania and massacre were. Popping on her safety goggles, tastefully layered with a toxic waste design that always freaked her clients more purposefully, she pottered over to the medical couch. “Right”, she declared into Tathiel’s wide open jaw and even wider open eyes, “Let’s fire this sucker up!” Noise built in stages, a low rattle and grumble, then a full roll and grind, finally a roaring, gravel-chewing blast that rattle pictures off walls. “Yeeeehhh-Haaahhh!”, she shouted, “We’re cooking on gas and carving on enamel tonight!”

Sound of the Dentist Drill

Do It Yourself Dentistry had always appealed to AAA. But then she found that doing dentistry on others was much more fun. Over time she developed her own dental equipment, usually large, gothic and full of menace. Not for her the high-pitched squeal of convention, she wanted the full deep-throated roar of Sepulchra loaded root mining.


Quiet T


Time In The Library Michelle sipped from the tea-skull brewing somnolently on the table. “Kim,” she said, turning to her friend, “You know life is all cherries blowing in the wind.” Kim, with an aching wrist and seablack hair, looked up from her celebutante collection quizzically.

“Red ripe but stoned inside”, Michelle continued, “thirsting for knowledge and good times”. The wallpaper eased itself gently. Kim turned to the next object in her collection, their cheek-bones and good looks all twinkling. “Yes”, she replied, “that may be so, but you could make the trees wish themselves away.”

It was twilight dwindling outside and colours span from the window panes across the room, plashing their faces as they sat. Blocks of Carmen and vermillion walked lazily across every surface. Stroking her own hair as she plucked a celebutante from the boxed set, Kim built static in her fingers then bit the head of the long-legged, short-skirted figure right off. A trickle of bloody infamy crept from the corner of her mouth.

“Roll me a cigarette please, I like to smoke after eating”, Kim asked and Michelle, taking leaves from the smoke pouch laid them out across her thighs and with an exactitude of love pressed them palm to flesh. With an easy roll, smoother than a sailor’s sea-legs, she massaged the smoke leaves into a cigarillo. With a deft lick the smoke was sealed and she passed it to Kim.

Kim lit the cigarette by the warmth of her love and drew lazy smoke inside to fill herself with dreams and carcinogens. Blue smoke, pushed towards the ceiling, racing and tumbling over itself in a race of intangibility.

Books jostled on the shelves around them in the gothic library, sealing their leaves against the contaminants. The mahogany panels sucked slowly. Stretching her ivory-smooth legs out across the Turkish carpet, Michelle was in repose. No irritant could grit her mother-of-pearl today.


Being a mermayde wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, for a start there was the constant everything tasted too salty. On the upside you could swim with dolphins and join in their wai harmonies vibing through your spine and tail. But best of all was mixing it with the men.

Sitting upon the rocks singing human-song all tongues and silkiness, running up and down would draw them in, seducing them in sea-worthiness. Big, burly, bearded and full of saltfrustrations; you could have wild mammal passions on the ocean shore.

Then there would be the world-wise, wave-weary captains, all talk and telescopes, sta spanning. From these types of men she would learn of the world of people above th world she could never venture to, never could she be more than a few hundred feet fro for long.

And when these skin-traced trysts were complete, she would dive back into 10 times deeper and a hundreds time bigger than the world of men. W love, so many secrets, literally unfathomable to the short lives of men.


t smell of fish and iling song, flickering

n spectral scales she -sailors passions and

ar-scanning and seahe ocean ceiling. A om water and never

o her ocean, a world With more life, more

Something Smells Fishy


Fortunate Favours For F Ha, if guns were penis extensions then these two girls were hermaphroditic cannons, full of the cannonic law of ballistics, balls of steel and barrels of gunmetal. GunFlower and Shellen loved their weapons, pistol to stamen, life to strife. They hunted together or singly, mixing sucking sexuality with successful sharp-shooting. Preying upon speakers of untruths, purveyors of pain and other crimemolluscs they brought the justice of bullet and bang to those whose scales were found wanting. Last night, warehouse dark crates provided cover as they slid safetycatch silent into the lair of their latest target, Six-Fingers Finias. Six-Fingers Finias – known as Five to his friends and Sick to his enemies - had long been a target of the gun girls, but they had first had to establish exactly how finely his fingers were woven into the criminal web of the city. Now they knew and now was Six-Fingers time.


Finias He sat quietly in front of a flaming brazier in the middle of the warehouse, smoking the biggest cigar you could imagine. On his lap was a comic book from the fifties, his favourite time, he only ever looked at the pictures and always stopped just when the comic criminal pulled one over on whichever hero was featured. He never wanted to see the hero win. Shellen dropped out of the rafters right in front of him, “Hands Up SixFingers”, GunFlower stepped into the light, “Reach for the rafters Finias, Justice has arrived.” Six-Fingers stood -up blustering, “You broads wouldn’t know justice if it froze your feet to the ground.” (Broads was guaranteed to annoy both the gun girls). “I am the many fingers of Fate”, he continued, “Justice doesn’t call me, I call Justice and she crawls blindfolded to kiss my feet.” He started inflating his ego, head-expanding, “Fortune favours those who can touch her, and I’ve touched a lot of fortunes in my time, and you two weak-sexed, dainty fingered gun-toters don’t frighten me one bit.” They shot him.


Inherent Charisma Em the Reaver had moved to the city a long time ago, more moons than she could remember, and Em the Reaver could remember much. When she had first came the city was barely more than wood-shacks grown in dung compost, just enough travellers passing through that she could drink freely and not raise concern. Those tainted travellers had now passed across many continents, potential meals pre-prepared in every country in the world. The city had grown decade by decade, stone upon wood, brick upon stone, concrete upon brick and now steelfanged upwards into the vanilla skies. She liked this time, emo-goths walked the streets and Em had been able to resurrect some of her favourite clothes from her wardrobe, mixed with latest in techno-goth jewellery (always with that Celtic twist) she wafted happily through rain darkness. Of course, Em the Reaver would always stand-out, the inherent charisma of a decades (nay centuries) old individual of her vampyric powers shone like a black beacon into sunlight. She frequented the clubs and haunts, shaking off an old tired decadence instead dropping E and tasting juveniles while dancing, trancing and lancing each night. The city was endless new entertainment making her feel young once again. It was only in those long teatimes of summer afternoons as she lay quietly in her coffin (now completely remade in a near-indestructible acrylic shined carminered marble based on a kitchen design she had once seen in a magazine), laying quietly she would sigh at how youth was wasted on the young, they always thought they were new, that they knew, that the old knew nothing. Em could tell them of every generation that thought the same, parent to child time after time.


We are all made of stardu — no, really we are We are all made of stardust, not in some metaphorical poetic way, but in the real and literal sense. The primordial universe starts with the simplest atoms of hydrogen and deuterium – a hydrogen isotope. So what about the rest of the elements we know about, the carbon, oxygen, sodium, potassium and all the rest, where do they come from? They come from stars, yep – all of them, all those atoms have come from stars, old stars that have died and spread their atomic bounty across the universe. For in stars, even our Sun, hydrogen atoms are compacted together by gravity until they fuse together and make the next stage of atoms, helium. The helium meets helium and begets beryllium. Beryllium and helium meet again to make carbon, and so on and on, different atoms fusing together in the huge atomic factory of the sun creating all the lighter atoms of our universe. But making oxygen requires more power than our little Sun can manage, and creating silicon – the raw stuff of sand, no shortage of that here on Earth needs even more power, and iron more again, and lead and gold even more and so on. This is the stuff of massive stellar explosions of stars far more massive than our own. Imagine colossal suns collapsing under their gravity – and as they collapse their atomic furnace gets hotter and hotter – the pressures increasing and increasing – until finally, KaBlowie! The star explodes in a supernova – an explosion that blasts those atoms, small and large across the universe. Across the universe in a real and literal way. But even that isn’t enough, huge hyper-novae, whole clusters of stars exploding together tearing apart whole chunks of galaxies are needed to make those really heavy metals. And those atoms fall into each other, until little star seeds are made, and around the star seeds more and more atoms collect, then clumps the size of dust grains, the grains to grit, grit to gravel and so on, little gloms of stuff until all this stuff lights up another star, and around that new star are planets. Planets like our own, and on our own planet are people, people made of those elemental atoms, made from raw hydrogen from the Big Bang to carbon and iron made in huge galaxy spanning explosions of stars. In that way we are all made of stardust.


ust


Living underwater was OK but it played havoc with Emily’s hair; shampoo and conditioner just never worked underwater, probably something to do with the salt. But they shared their life with the small schools of fish, teaching their way around the oceans, a scholarly progress. Once, under arctic waters that could freeze the words out of the air and seal them to the floor, a baby narwhale gave up its spiralled horn to Emily. She kept this rare gift in a pouch made of seal leather strapped around her back. Sometimes, when the starry light of night was twinkling with inverse phosphorescence on the roof of the ocean she would take it from the bag and stroke it. Under gentle hands the helix would unwind to a smoothness unimaginable and calmness would flow from her gentle fingers all across the ocean. Swell was quelled and storms gentled to a careful swaying that the albatross birds loved to watch. In turn the birds would spiral upwards in the slow thermals rising above this calmness, their eye’s view growing wider and more distant, in return their wings joined the stars above that inspired Emily in the first place. On those nights, Gary would sit with Emily, smiling within himself absorbing every moment, every stillness, every part of the non-rush that flowed so gently around them.

Living in th


he Undertoad


DJ had captained the filamental space-rigger for a million light-years. Once human, now framed in steel and alloys fully cyborged – all robotic dance moves and hydraulics. It had been a starless time since she’d been in port in this bible black corner of the galaxy. Each morning she would spy with lens-glass, seeking direction in a becalmed ocean of space with not even an albatross to keep her company. Darkness, darkness everywhere and not a jot to make her think. Hunting the mythical beasts of space, centaurs, rams with lions bodies and blind justice she had travelled so far, so far, far away. Still it was peaceful. No solar-winds to rattle the rigging of the starlight sails, no gravity waves to slap against the space-riggers hull, no crew to lie mutinous on the decks and talk of scurvy and dockside doxies. In this peace and quiet DJ had meditated a hundred life times away. But wait, what was that? A light buzz, the harmonic hum of a tendrilled cable wafting in a wind? Yes, it was, look the solar-sail now fluttered, a ripple across its silvered surface. DJ scans round with the lens-glass to her aspect, in a seeking modality. There! Flicker of starlight bursting out of the darkness, cycling rainbow quick from infra-red through to visible, accelerating like entangled quanta into the ultra-violet. A supernova dead astern, by the twinned heads of Gemini, this was going to be a hell of a ride! The silver spider web of photon-catching sails billows out to full stretch, like one dimensional pillows. Each sail tugging its rigging, in turn tugging the space rigger. DJ has to step back to stop her self falling as the rigger leaps forward. Behind the ship that once in a stars lifetime event is expanding in a star sailor’s glory, Hot centred star nucleus and a plasma shell expanding out faster than a politicians lie. That glory shell ringing bell-like in spectrum saturated harmonics. The new star, nova star, centre, birthplace of elements, has spun upwards beyond ultra-violet, through x-rays, microwaves and beyond. The star-rigger is smashing forward, leaping from one white-horsed gravity wave top to the next. The harmonies of the stars are ringing in DJ’s electronic ears and the spray of spacedust is splashing her plasteel skin. She has to grip the rails with full pressure to keep her feet to the deck and her spinal fluids intact. X-Ray vision shines through everything, she sees with clarity through the ship, she sees all that can be seen. Tipping her head back, lenses pitched to the skies, she opens her mouth and in hydraulic hysteria both screams and laughs.


Star-Rigger


Metatron had spoken Metatron had spoken – that was his job after all – it was time for the Christmas party. The angels all cheered, threw their harps into the clouds and ran off through the Enchanted Forest of the Heavens to get things ready. How in heaven you knew it was Christmas the angels had never worked out – but then that wasn’t their job, let’s face it, when infinity is all you’ve got to look forward to then any excuse for a party was a good thing. The Archangels would probably get together for a quiet drink and swap stories of the olden times, mostly about how Satan was a pillock to get himself thrown out, each of them carefully forgetting that they too played their part, encouraging, condoning and generally helping him believe in himself. But then to forgive was to forget, and the Archangels were especially good at that. But for the angels, seraphs and assorted cherubs party time meant PAARRTTYY TIIIIIME! A time to spread their wings and let their haloes down. First order of the day was party food. Great loafs of manna were collected from the manna-bakery. These were mashed into large bowls and allowed to soak; raisins, sultanas and the milk of human kindness were all added, along with some eggs that pre-dated chickens. Then a little sprinkle of yeast just to start the fermentation. These were then slow-oven roasted to make some of the most alcoholic bread-and-butter pudding you could ever experience. For us poor humans, when you pick crisps out of a party bowl you can guarantee that it would be some awful flavour like prawns in aspic or somesuch, not so for the angels. Their snacks were great platters of Christ wafers, the wonderful thing about them was whatever flavour you wanted you picked out: rose-


water and Turkish light, char-grilled chafings of frankincense, motherhood and American Pie – any flavour you wanted. Drinks came in two bottles but only poured one glass, crates of water and wine were stacked like ducks in a warehouse. Which bottle you picked only depending on whether you had a corkscrew or not. And finally the music; everyone knew that the Devil had the best music, so Ashrael called down to Robert Johnson and asked him to put a band together. Johnson excelled himself this time, with a lineup to make the God’s weep (well, the God to weep). Beethoven was on bass-drum – the only instrument he could hear – but he could lay down the perfect solid rhythm of ba-ba-ba-boom. Paganini played electric violin – mostly with his teeth; Brahms and Lizst jointly played the beer-bottle glockenspiel with percussion sticks carved from the hopes of journalists; Jim Morrison, Peggy Lee and Caruso were the backing choir, they each hated the others singing and so Satan had joined them at the hip as part of their punishment, but their harmonies together made rainbows. Then on top of this were the existential layers of musicians, Kafka played the Denial Trombone, Dickens strumming the Socialist Guitar, Lennon and Stalin on Rythmn Hypocrisy, JFK was on the Hi -Hat of Regret and Jimi Hendrix on Horn of Wasted Talent. Shakespeare turned up with the 10,000 Monkey Typewriter Orchestra, Henry VIIIth play solo Husband Flute (the six-girl supporting singers had left him over artistic differences). And then there was Minnie Ripperton, the only angel that was allowed to sing with the Artists Normally Known as the Denizens of Hell.


As a child Emily had been fascinated by magicians. Her first experience had been when some abracadabrist past his sell-by-date had pulled pennies from her ear. “All well and good,” she thought, “but where’s the folding money?” Then she’d seen a penguin-suit saw a lady in half, the legs exiting stage left. “Well she’ll never shop for dresses again” was her steadfast conclusion. In magic of a more modern modality, whizzard kids would pierce cabinets with swords, blood and gore being the order of the day. Rope tricks became socialist parables and glass cages became philosophical treatises on the futility of man. But for Emily, it was the disappearing thing that truly caught her imagination, so much so that every trick she learnt would ultimately bend its way back to something leaving the view of the audience. She was the Queen of Tommy Cooper bad magic without the gags. Pull a rabbit from the hat and the gentleman’s watch would wane away before she could do the hammer smashing. Pick a card and the caged pigeons would vanish feather quick.


Her most world saving trick was one she was never given credit for, some stage dazzled punter, all legs and embarrassment would be given a Smith and Wesson, Lucky Punk .45 and told to fire it at Emily. She would attempt to catch the bullet in her teeth. But every time the speeding bullet would never kiss her lips and Emily in disgust had to resort to palming a bullet into her mouth. Little did anyone know each time the trick was performed another superpowers mega-blaster nuclear missile would suddenly be silo-empty – causing great consternation amongst the hawks, eagles and other birds of prey in the Pentagon and the Kremlin. But the trick the audience loved best was the levitating card trick. Emily had learned to leave this trick to last, for reasons (and other things) that would become apparent. Six foot two inches of highly dressed magic, Emily would tap the cards to make the Queen of Wands rise from the fan, but on each tap another item of Emily’s magical wardrobe would disappear, leaving little modesty but a convincing proof that nothing was hidden up her sleeves.


Water walking is a sport you should never over-look, at least two millennia old and now an Olympic sport, this is tradition wrapped in an enigma. The only sport where the competitors must have no sense of competition – for fun and most of all levity are the crucial states of mind required. Each contestant must deport themselves in the least regretful manner upon, or better still above, the liquid floor. Played on rivers, seas, lakes in antiquity, it is now best viewed in the infinity pools of posh hotels. Some will skate, heel-and-toe fashion across the waters, others will breakdance, head-over-heals in splashing ecstasy. Water side and wateryeyed judges award points for exuberance, vitality and denial of surface tension.

Walking

With feet of a duckbacked mentality Aquamarine had won the Seven Seas championship three years running. Watchers would weep salty tears to fill the pool as she danced, skipped, jumped and vaulted over the Beulah waters. She would do a soft-shoe sea salsa to shanty piped music. Her pas-dedous was a water parting miracle of liquid levity. When she combined sole surfing with the dance of the seven veils her sea-shaped Salome left even the strongest seamen puddled on the floor in response to her sensuality.


g on Water


Talking to the Oracle

Oracular Shelle had been a clairvoyant all her life, both before and after Now. If she had a motto it would be “Been there, Seen It, Got the T-Shirt”, though probably in Latin, Vini, Vidi, Vesti or some such. It was kind of hard to be surprised when you’d seen it all, and all meant everything that would be, everything that she would do, smell, touch, hear, see, the whole schmear laid out in story book fashion. Oracular Shelle lived her life in a permanent sense of deja-vu, or maybe not so much seen it before as seen it coming. Page after fashionable page of current events all before they were dusty motes in some historian’s eye were available to her at any time. Oh, how she wished for some kind of time based dyslexia that would give her some respite against the inexorable. But instead, here she was, sitting in the throne room of the Temple of the Revealed Truth, bored to the back teeth with worshipping supplicants asking questions of their own future without a care for hers. Half the time the worshippers would switch to a denial of truth mode, not wanting Ruth but Richard, especially if it involved them being cod-eyed before their three score and ten. The other half took Oracular Shelle’s vision and re-affirmed their prejudices faster than a cat turning down food. All binocular vision, their tawdry schemes were third-eye dry and brittle as the bones of lawyer. Will I make money? Will I be boss? Will I grow up to be big and strong. The only thing that gave any lift to Oracular Shelle’s priestessing were the lovers. To watch a twined story of two (or more) hearts beating together for life was an exhilarating, invigorating, life lifting experience that none could deny. This happened rarely, for the first strokes of love would often turn out to be as fragile as a glass bullet. But true love was an adamantine arrow from Cupid’s bow, spearing souls and searing the shark-eyes of those less fortunate.


Cat Holds Her Own

Cat was morph minded and slippery souled it could be tricky when distracted. Finger fine, bone shaped, ready to catch and hold and touch, just touch. But the rest; thin, tall, short, wide, broad., slim; what to be?

Sides splitting in laughter, shoulders melting in tears, wax-fed., drip-dried, polished and shined ready for action. Different parts of her body in different times, only vaguely converged on the here and now.

On a good day, hands in the kitchen making coffee, feet in bed still toasty warm, breakfast held between the two. Being able to scratch your own back reach the evil itch. Or slip in time sideways and save the match-lit house fire flaming red-lipped and lickety split.

On the downside keeping a wardrobe was impossible, clothes fit, then they didn’t and in wilder shape slips there was just no chance. Keeping it together, literally and figuratively, at work was impossible, so she straight-backed through the night, doing the work of twelve by being in more than one place at one time, or was that several times at one place. Difficult chap, the space-time continuum embodied in a single figure.


Villagers with brains as empty as the Marie Celeste they dragged the poor woman across the green. Rye addled they had pre-judged her as a witch because she was tall, perfectly figured and frankly beautiful, any of which marked her out as different amongst these short-minded and short-arsed rogues. The court room was set-up in the main chamber of the Church of Late Saints, all woodworm and gospel truth lost in translation. Tried in front of a jury all eyestalked ready for a hanging, her guilt was preordained – which was more than you could say for the priest. The Witch-Assessor scanned her stripped body with a magical detector claimed to be a crystallised blood of Christ held in a wand made from nails of the true cross – in truth a ruby glass marble in barbed wire. Sure enough she was a witch.


Rye Catcher

Hog-tied and dragged through the forest to the hanging tree she was prayed upon, hypocritic oaths and bible bollocks that spoke of salvation but sold insanity. Neck noosed and cursed, no escape and no hope, they hung from the gallows tree. “If she lives she’s a witch and proof of it,” declaimed the priest. But she died.


Women’s Plumbing


”Bollox to women’s plumbing.” Was a thought that had often times run round Jennifer’s mind. But it had to be said she hadn’t really expected the alternative to be so darn complicated. It had started off well enough, bored one wet weekend Jennifer had removed her own appendix with the aid of bottle of vodka and some sterilised kitchen tools, then ate it. Once the stitch marks had smoothed away she realised that it had actually been quite cool to remove a bit of useless material from her body, she some how felt cleaner and less full of junk within herself. So, she’d advanced to stage 2, the kidneys. After all, people went without their kidneys all the time, dialysis machines had been around for donkeys years, so with a “pull ‘em out and plug me in” mode and a few friends to help with the surgery out came the kidneys. Well after that it was gung-ho, no gall-stone left unturned. “Bugger venting your spleen,“ she thought, “better off not to have one at all”. Out came the little squeaking sourness and in went some more pipes, though skipped eating this bit. Next up was the liver, all iron-bound and ready for onion slices. Of course the plumbing was getting bigger by this time, but a friend in the doctoring business said he could get it all for trade. The hormonal mood swings were a bastard, but then they always had been, “Right, that little lot’s going.” Out came all those little hormone pumps and in went a few more tubes. Estrogen sweet and without those testosterone bumps things went smoothly, lungs, intestine, stomach – none of it as gut wrenching as you might think. The heart was the last to go, “Girls gotta have a heart,” Jennifer thought, then as the rest of it was going so cleanly, the susurrus whispers of a thousand little pumps running the rest of her, she decided what the heck, might as well have it out too. Heart-free, and with nodding notice she skipped and snipped through lymph-nodes, adenoids, adrenal glands and even the Islets of Langerhans. What a refreshing change it all was. Now, if she could get some wheels fitted to the machinery, she’d go speeddating for a fellow with similar tastes.


Hilary and Leslie

Hilary and Leslie had known each other a long time, like many deeply entwined couples they could finish each other’s sentences with ease. “Pass the…” “…marmalade.” Or “Like my…” “…hat. Yes it’s…” “…lovely.” Role reversed and transmitted axially across the mindspace they were co-joined illusions of Siamese twins. Not joined at the hip but wardrobe warped and cross-tied. Spiritual at ease and never disillusioned by the other, comfort became clothing and vice-versa. Male to female, switching gender references and attitudes they developed a mode of duality that was fashionable and fun. Who Wears the Pants was a parlour game taken up by the dilettante of all the London clubs, though it had to be said these aesthetes never really got the point.


To be receptively penetrating, warmly caved and competitively co-operative was the goal. For Leslie and Hilary this was not some red-eye fly-by-night trick but a way of life that gave them more than one life each, more than two lives between them, it gave them two lives squared, a foursome of lives. “Imagine, if we…” “…had a third, we would be…” “…life cubed…” “…a ninefold.” And so the search began, leaf turning through Alex, Angel and Ariel. Then to Drew, Jamie and Jessie. Micah, Morgan even Madison. Leslie and Hilary got very excited when they found in the phone book under a single entry, Rowan, Riley and Quinn, then fell down-hearted when they found this was a firm of solicitors. Undeterred they carried on, with four-lives to fill, there’s always another day.


Last Supper at The Restaurant of the Seven Sins


Dancing Wit Elyim was a demon with a problem – her face so conventionally shocking people wouldn’t believe her, and their disbelief shuttered their eyes like zombies watching TV. Whether by quiet lurking or out and out screaming into a victim’s face the core incredulity built a wall of lassitude to her terrors. She used to be good, when bible stories came with woodcut sketches of her best scares people believed so hard their hearts would stop just thinking on her. But now, in an age of X-Files, X-Men and X-Rays she’d become the invisible. So she stopped doing the scaring stuff and became a recluse, holed up in a penthouse flat above town she listened to MP3 downloads on an Ipod she’d taken from a hooded teenager in the Arndale. Plugged into a stereo system of hellish proportions and diabolical volume she listened to old jazz greats and heavy-metal bands. Her neighbours could hear a faint fizzing in the night as inside her own apartment the pictures vibrated from the walls like storm leaves. And it was during one of these late night music sessions Elyim had her epiphany, sod scaring people she was going to start a band, an electric guitar thrash band playing arrangements of old be-bop tunes. She auditioned for 3 months in London, New York, LA, Berlin and Bombay. Dropping the collected ensemble into a tomb-warp they rehearsed incessantly and then dropped into real-time 24 hours later with a gig ready to go at the re-launched Brixton Ritzi. The opening number was a string-crazed thrash of “Ain’t Misbehaving”, modulated in a nerve rattling way into “Black Magic Woman”. The audience was already wild, goth children all black and wishing for anorexia were even seen to show emotion. Next up was the Stephane Grapelli medley


th The Devil that was a Picasso/Pollock fusion put to music. Pile-driving through a garage version of “Aliens Ate My Buick”, then fast -forwarding into the first big set piece stage routine where three volunteers came beering onto the stage to be hung from gallows while the band crashed bass-heavy through “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.” By this time black jacket bikers were openly weeping into their beards with the joy of it all. The band jammed around “Jealousy” while Elyim changed, to emerge red-dressed for a quadruple timed four to the floor version of “Fever”. Exuding a mix of scary, sensuality like Monroe in a Kruger aspect, men and women were falling to their knees with love and hate. Then, slipping into a Dorian mode, laid-back version of “Strange Fruit” (a song needing no visuals), the audience were lulled into a false sense of their own fashion before wasting into a surprisingly periodic version of “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”. Approaching finale time a skull-faced full steam train of skeletal carriages railroaded across the back of the stage, human figures seen strapped to the sides of the hurtling beast while the band played “Take the A Train” and the audience leaped, whooped, danced and generally regretted themselves. The A-Train last carriage smashes out through Ghost Train fun-fair doors and in darkness, backed by only 6 thrashing electrics Eliym sings the Peggy Lee classic “Is That All There Is?” Ready for heaven the audience turn to each other, switchblades, badge needles, sharpened nails and those weird armoured nails goth chicks like to wear all come out to rip, rend and tear at each other’s flesh till they all lie with crosses for eyes. A standing ovation given laying down in a lake of blood. “Hmm,” says Elyim thoughtfully, “This music has got legs and it knows how to use them.”



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