Some distance away, though not as far as you might think, there is a hill. The kind of hill that looks like a perfectly kept lawn from a distance, but when you stand upon it you can see how much of that green is moss, how it is in fact not a pure green but an aggregated colour of greens, greys, browns and yellows of grass and moss, weeds, bare earth and rocks. To stand on this particular hill would also bring ill thoughts and disquieting dreams, and few decide to stay awhile and admire the view, either departing at once from its uneven surface or continuing unhappily on their journey across it.
Most of the people who knew exactly what caused this most disagreeable of downs have long since passed away, leaving their children with half-forgotten nursery rhymes as sole warning. The children, too, have grown old, the bedtime stories they once begged for now largely forgotten.
Yet, still, in the villages on either side of the mount, the people know that there is a reason that children need not be warned of playing out too late, or of wandering off onto the hillside. The houses in their very stones recall that their occupants must be reminded not to tread lightly on this ancient mound of dirt and stone, and so they whisper at night, murmuring to their sleeping residents of what has been, and what may yet come to be.
The houses speak in different voices, as people do. The old pub creaks with the dry depth of the English oak of its timber frame. The old shepherd's bungalow rumbles as the rocks of its walls once did when they fell up from the Earth's mantle. But they all tell the same story. They sing the same song, all:
A kingdom once both dark and bright
Or so it has been recorded by those well-versed in the old tongues of wood and stone. But nowhere yet have I been where the crow of the cockrel is heard with greater relief, than in the two towns of Morning and Dawn, separated by the low hill of Nightsfall. And if the locals should be a little more cautious than most about where they walk at night, so much the better, surely? Whether or not a mythic sovereign waits beneath that hill, I cannot say; but if he should be there, sleeping in fury still, while these old houses stand yet, the people shall not wake him with their tread.
fleet of foot
running with your sister
to feel the shock of shattered bone
and dance under a fountain
of hot leaping blood
- which you drink
and gladly beneath her
beating hooves and the kick
do not stop you
you beast you madness
you moonbeam made bright and
happy and alive with joy
at the kill
so sing you arrow fletched with godless fury
you silver tooth and golden eye
call run bite leap with love
sorrow joy joy joy
and announce your warm destruction
in a homily of adoring devotion
singing to your sister
The the the the the run! Of the litter!
Never fall never tall always more ever scorned but forever torn
and left broken bleeding sighing sleeping on the train tracks at night
where the end of the world sings in the distance with the homeless heroes and villains
who saw the future in the bottle's broken glass,
and pierced their flesh with nothing more than God's grace,
who flew over streetlamps at night and cried for their brethren living in comfort beneath the sorrowed moon and stars.
What could possibly go wrong, now that Christ swims in their blood?
The smoke clouds their eyes and they cough
and wipe the spit and emphysemic tar from the palms of their hands
clouding over a full moon like spots of cancer on an x-ray
Former beauty lost now in feathers and cotton
hand-picked by a dozen somethings with nameless fury and absent-minded sickness
careful careless coughing still with phlegm clinging to the back of their throats
sure footed mountain goats climbing slopes, groping for handholds and handhelds
a shaking camera
"This is the truth of the matter, beyond dispute, hear now the voice of honesty."
But a sudden gust and off they go go go blown away, a leaf on the wind sinned cleaned cleansed fenced off black make-up goth, drawn to the light.
Mock it, kiss it, punch it, kick it, scream scream scream scream scream until your lungs give out.
Until the words form themselves and a new language of rage and betrayal speaks unbidden in the mouths of all people,
a tongue that wriggles and seethes alongside your birthtongue and strangles it, withers it,
tears it from its roots so you must spit it out,
wet and pink on the dirt.
Anger is your voice now.
Your voice? Your. Voice? Your. Voice? No it speaks itself. Looked for a host and found everyone with wings of black feathers and golden candleholders dripping wax of a thousand bees and birds and sex made cold and hurtful shadows them day and notday,
With dark spirals concentric eccentric rings emanating from those green green eyes,
Irises and pupils and students of archaic literature and ancient religions now discredited,
theatrical gods with interest in naught but themselves and selfish bastard children
inheriting their parents' disdain,
reading Beckett and Shakespeare at 1300 hours with one eye closed,
reading Sophocles and Sappho, Yeats and Plath,
Proclaiming poetry Dead As The Dodo,
Burning Ibsen for abject blandness, celebrating Strindberg for his female horror,
Touching themselves and each other with Cronenberg's nightmares playing out across a wall in the background,
Lynching their childhood fairtales,
Wearing Red Shoes that dance no longer,
Wearing masks of stolen human skin, faces without lips or eyelids,
blank expressions for a sense of authority.
Commanding a New Age of Literature, and Law, and Love (another defunct concept; see also "fucking").
Forget the old ways!
Today is a new day! A new daze! A new craze, a phase, a transition between the now and the never and what could possibly go wrong? This is an old song, the Golden Age is gone, it never WAS and never WILL BE but tell me that things were better once and raise that flag above your head with all its stripes and dragons, bears, beasts and swordsmen,
Beatmakers, boybands, and pop starlets all, you can tube can hit can record can be can better can than ever can Kant can't forget or forgive what meaning you gave your life, was it to improve your lot or help others? Sleep on it.
Tomorrow you'll feel better.
When the ghosts are under the cupboard and in your bed,
the monsters restored to their place at the head of the table.
Titan, Olympic. That's you.
Nightly you live it over.
In our eyelashes, in our tear glands, in our yearnings for opposition,
in our shock, our stripped amygdalas unable to offer even a crippled comfort,
there is something.
But I refuse to valorise defeat.
A second draft of the screenplay by myself & Phen. After the advice on the previous draft, especially from Lawrie, I cut a couple of scenes and slightly restructured it. Also did a bit of a dialogue overhaul to cut down on unnecessary swears. I do think this is better than the initial draft, but as ever, let us know.
Thanks for reading.
Our landlord is the Rat King.
We didn't realise until we moved in; when the previous tenants showed us around, they told us the front room was occupied by their friend. Sleeping off a hangover, no doubt.
"It's just the same as the other bedrooms," they cheerfully espoused, "Same furniture, same size."
The carpets throughout were unworn, the kitchen was a little cosy, but nicely finished. The rooms were spacious. The bathroom was a tolerable pastel green. Last year, Mark and I lived in a horrible house with high ceilings, dirty walls and no right angles. Josh said this one was better than his accommodation last year. We knew we'd landed on our feet here; this house was even fifty quid a month cheaper. We went straight to the letting agents and put down a deposit.
Of course, as soon as Josh entered his room last week, there he was. He started and called out to me and Mark, who followed him into the bedroom.
There was the Rat King.
"Hello," he spoke, in a pleasant enough tone, a rich baritone that carried the concentration of one trying to hide a tendency for rhotacism. "I am the Rat King; you may call me Your Highness. By what names should I address you?"
We flustered and introduced ourselves, despite our incredulity at the situation. The Rat King, I should make obvious it this point, is a genuine rodent monarch; that is to say, he what Wesley and Buttercup referred to as "RUS". He's about as big as five or six regular rats, being about 2 and a half feet in length from the tip of his twitching nose to his hindquarters. His tail is almost as long again. On our first meeting with him, he occupied a large, purple plush velvet cushion, tasseled in gold thread, and sported an ornate auric crown, set with what he claims to be African diamonds. Josh things they're bits of cubic zirconium HRR (His Royal Ratness, as we call him behind his back) has pinched from the jewelry cases of his tenants and neighbours.
"Josh, is it? Are you intending on sleeping in this room?"
Josh, unsure of the protocol for dealings with rodent royalty, nodded. The Rat King preened his whiskers and replied with the same measured voice.
"I see. I had better move to my winter quarters. Do excuse me. Rats!"
He patted his front paws together sharply, and a few smaller rats - though still bigger than other I'd ever seen - wearing little feathered berets emerged from under the chest of drawers and stood to attention in front of their ruler. The Rat King hopped down from his luxurious seat and scurried towards the door. We parted to let him pass, the smaller rats in tow, four of them gamely carrying the huge cushion. As he reached the door to the cupboard under the stairs and unbolted it, he turned back to us.
"A couple more things, lads. Firstly, keep an eye on the energy meters, for your own benefit. Second, rent is due on the 1st of every 2nd month. That should be paid in cash, directly to me. If you're short, a nice bit of cheddar will do just as well. Thirdly, stay out of the garden shed. Welcome, and I hope you enjoy your stay here!"
He disappeared into the depths of the cupboard and the door shut after him. Before we could recover and begin to discuss what had just happened, he was back again, poking his regal snout around the corner of the door.
"Oh, and no smoking."
The door shut itself again, and the house was left silent.
Feel it there behind your eyes. Lurking like some dark beast, yellow teeth bared, claws sheathed for now. But this is no dumb animal. This is a creature of fierce intellect. It is brave. It is beautiful. It cannot wait to leap from your fingertips and begin to wreak havoc in strange and unexpected ways upon the world, the way it has been tearing apart the inside of your head, the way at has shredded your heart and soul and taken possession of your body whilst it bides its time waiting for the precise and perfect moment to make its assault upon the senses of your friends, your family, your children, your lover, every stranger on the street and in their homes, and when they open the gates it will not enter quietly and politely but will barrel into the bourgeois household and filthy student den alike. It will not discriminate. It will not judge. It will know who is deserving and who is not, who shall be left unscathed and who shall be torn and scarred simply because they must be scarred for it is the way they were made to be taken apart and reassembled by this beast in its own image.
The beast is made of wires, not muscles. Pistons not tendons. All those nerves, electrical pathways, psychic profiling and empty threats, a knife held in the hand of a drunk, blood pouring from an open wound on the side of his face, get out and stay out. The knife is silver. The knife is gray. The knife is colourless and invisible because it is an idea alone. The idea of violence. The fear of it. The smell of it, putting horses on edge and making them buck and kick out like an ancient ghost had taken hold of the reins. Like a child in the night. Like a kitten separated from its mother.
Nobody wants to be reminded. The woman is not a danger. Neither is the recalled myth whose importance is dwindled, though whose intellect and rhetoric remains strong. The old gods are not forgotten, though their worship is out of fashion for millennia. Nobody can predict what will come in the future. The people I have been in dreams are not the ones I wish to be, but rather those I could have been. Trying to change, you cannot leave yourself behind. Transformation, not betrayal. Learning from the mistakes of your past lives (these lives are not literal, in the manner of a reincarnated spirit recalling existence in previous corporeal forms; these lives are the figurative ones lived between each gap in your Life. Measure your life not in hours and minutes and days and years. Measure your life in the intervals spent in company and solitude. “Alone” is the space between the lives that others see. “Accompanied” is the space between your secret lives lived in shadow and pleasure. Time has power beyond that with which it is credited. Deny this power, for power is based on its own image and power for power's sake must be refused authority over our lives. In time, that which passes must be made to serve your demands, not the other way round. Ask not what your society can do for you, for your society is a collection of people, and each individual must make anew the world for what they need of it. Working together is the way forward. Do not eschew your own survival and pleasure for others out of hand, but avoid the unnecessary damage of another human being in doing so. Weigh the positives and benefits but do not be made to feel guilty for your desire or enjoyment of the world's manifold joys. Share them when possible. Keep something for yourself until you find the exact person to whom the sharing will mean the most. Lies are not sins. It is the act of lying that causes the problem. Stories are lies without consequences. Remember that) you must always, always, always strive to be the person that you want to be, not the person you feel you should be. The two may be similar but they will rarely be the same. The older you get the more you will regret the mistakes you made as a child. Do not be made ashamed. Forgive yourself these errors of judgement, no matter how spiteful or impetuous they may have been. It is advisable never to write them down or tell someone because it is you and you alone who can reflect upon and achieve an understanding of these moments. They were all crucial to the forming of the person you are today. If you do not like the person you are today, these moments were crucial also to your desire to change. Make lists as often as possible.
The beast has been calmed somewhat, pushed to the back of the cave to growl in a low voice and begin circling again. But it'll grow stronger, because all lies grow stronger. This lie will do things that you do not expect it to. It is not afraid of you. It is only afraid that you will die or forget it – things beyond your control – before it can escape you and duplicate itself, copying itself with minute alterations to take up residence within the heads and hearts of all those many others who its sees in its own mind's eye and licks its long and ferocious teeth. But it is not ready to be born yet. Yet.
a. You OK?
b. Not too bad, yeah. Yourself?
a. Good-ish. Been up to much?
b. Hardly. Just lazing around the house.
a. Same here. Just browsing HitRECord.
b. Hit...? a. HitRECord. b. What is that? A website?
a. More, than that. It's an idea. A kind of international, telepathic, communicative desire to REcreate, RECord, REmix-
b. Am I hearing capital letters there?
a. You might be.
b. Right. Pretentious much?
a. What could be less pretentious than sharing? Writing, drawing, painting, singing, playing, shooting, cutting, talking-
b. Stop listing verbs.
a. Stop complaining. Aren't you interested? You asked the questions.
b. No, I didn't.
a. Didn't you?
b. Well, yes, technically I suppose I did. But essentially, you asked. I'm just a rhetorical device to allow you to pontificate about the joys of Hearts and Circles.
a. You're not supposed to-
b. I'm an actor. You scripted this entire conversation. And, in fact, this the second time you've done it, because apparently the first one wasn't navel-gazing enough as it was, so you're having a second go round.
a. Don't ruin this for me, OK? The first Conversation is by far my biggest success on HitRECord.
b. So you're reliving past glories instead of treading new ground. Time to call it quits, my friend.
a. Are we friends? You just keep shooting me down in front of the whole of HitRECord.
b. You said that in the original version.
a. I thought we'd already acknowledged that this is a false exchange.
b. Yeah, but there's no need to just repeat yourself verbatim.
a. Look, where's this even going?
b. I'm lost, where did we diverge?
a. I just said “Are we friends? You just keep shooting me down in front of the whole of HitRECord.”
b. [in sync] “keep shooting me down in front of the whole of HitRECord”, OK. Right. “Maybe friend isn't the right word. You know how whenever you sit down to right prose, there are two voices arguing about your choice of grammar, and you always ignore the beauty of flowing, descriptive language-”
a.That line doesn't work any more, I don't really do the stream-of-consciousness thing any more.
b. Then how do we introduce the third voice? [There is a pause here.]
a. I don't know. Is there still a third voice?
b. If there is, now would be a good time to reveal yourself!
[A longer pause.]
b. What happened to him?
a. Like I said, I stopped doing that modernist, outpouring, no caps style. You should know.
b. Oh, god, yeah. You kind of just integrated the two styles. He's part of me now, isn't he?
a. Wh- y- you're not a thing, you're not a person. You are me. You are a scripted expression of a particular artistic, authorial drive within me.
b. [shrug] Give me an inch, I'll take a mile.
a. I don't think that metaphor even makes sense.
b. Mate, I'm as lost as you are.
a. Wait, maybe we should introduce ourselves.
b. To whom?
a. To HitRECord.
a. That's where this is going to be seen, it's going on HR. Stop feigning ignorance, it's not attractive.
b. Neither is arguing with yourself.
a. It's not like you're giving me much of a choice here, Miss. Contrary.
b. You acknowledged that I was female before I did.
a. Yes, I did, because this version of the conversation is an actual script that people need to shoot in order to get the full force. Tell them your name.
b. You first.
a. OK. I'm David. Hi. Username Day Glo.
b. Wait, so are you going to record it yourself? Otherwise that's pretty specific.
a. I guess so, yeah. Tell them your name.
b. Madeleine. Or Aaron.
a. Aaron's not a female name.
b. Is gender specificity really important? We've already mentioned that I'm not a real person, haven't we?
a. Yeah, but we haven't got anywhere near as much pseudo-intellectual intertextuality into this one. I was going to use the gender dissonance of the Madeleine persona to slip in a reference to my limited knowledge of Carl Jung, or maybe Judith Butler.
b. Yeah? How much is "limited"?
a. Embarrassingly little, on reflection... [pause] But Madeleine we can talk about.
b. It's what your mother would have called you if you were a girl, right?
a. Yeah. Aaaand it's sort of a reference to the French author Marcel Proust and his massive novel A la recherche du temps perdu.
b. And you've read that, have you?
a. Not all of it, no.
b. Self-indulgent. It's a good example to show off how cleverly constructed this piece is though. It's kind of a fusing of autobiography and fiction, just like this is.
b. Exactly! But your name...
a. Is my name. There's no real symbolism in there. I think I was stretching the point a little in the original. [to camera] If you want to read the original, it's referenced as a resource at the end.
b. Breaking the fourth wall.
a. I notice you're kind of doing a director's commentary over this one.
b. I just thought it was interesting. You didn't do that in the original.
a. Well, this one had to be pretty different, otherwise there'd be no point in rewriting it. A couple of different people tried to do readings of the original and found it difficult, because I'm really into medium specificity and shit, and just making things difficult for people. Did we ever explain you?
b. No. I'm just going to quote the original, OK?
a. Go for it.
B. “The long-forgotten. The alter-ego you've toyed with many times but never put your heart into, because you know I'd take it all. I'm your sense of romance without the self-pity, your joy in life. The part of you that loves seeing golden sunlight dripping from the canopy. The part that dreams of filling a balloon with sunlight and sailing it to the moon.” But now with super-long compound sentences, I guess.
a. Yeah. You first spoke back when I was 16, right?
b. 16 or 17, yes. That's when I found what I was looking for, became solid. Almost.
a. Yeah. I was reading Marquez. I - you - wanted to write like that. Something fantastic, allegorical...
b. Why did you get rid of Aaron?
a. OK, HR – Aaron was the “voice” in the original version who took credit for such writings I put up as “streamofconsciousness” and “the playground”, among others. Anyway, I didn't get rid of him, he just kind of... merged with you.
b. Right. Ran out of patience with modernism. Is it true that you recently got in an argument with one of your friends and declared postmodernism “the only truly honest way of making art”?
a. That's not exactly how I phrased it, but since you've brought it up, yes. Yes I did.
b. This hasn't exactly been soul-baring though, not compared with the original version.
a. Maybe that's because the idea of an internal creative spark that art expresses is an illusion, and there's never really anything beyond the surface.
b. OK, we're about as postmodern as we can get right now. Want to throw in any arbitrary pop culture references?
a. Sure. Uhhh... I really like the films of Jim Jarmusch.
b. You don't speak Spanish, right?
a. That's a reference to one of Jarmusch's films, for those who haven't seen them. As a matter of fact, I do speak a little Spanish.
b. I'm gonna tell everyone that you had a sex dream about a member of HR.
a. I'd rather you didn't spread lies. Tell them that you made that up.
b. If I admitted to making it up, it wouldn't be any fun, would it? By the way, who's gonna play me?
b. In the film version of this RECord?
a. I don't know.
b. I hope she's hot. Or maybe you hope she's hot. That's kind of a blurry line.
a. Should we draw this to a close? It's getting late, and this is getting long.
b. Sure. Just hit REC.
He exploded in her mind was full of colours. Rainbows & unicorns galloped across the underneath. Who spoke in whispers through a megaphone? Forgotten but not forgetting your history lessons of when and where. Reading the map backwards will take you home. Click your heels and you will heal. Run your fingers through your hair and breathe deeper than the Pacific is wide. Smile and feel your body change in the night when no one can see. By morning it will be again as it was. No pulsing muscles or endless skies. Your body is a mirror on time release that shows the world what you have seen. Some will not believe you. Expression is not religion. I am what others made of me and I alone am what was you and she and he and her you alone are not me, nor others.
You heard me talking in my sleep. Agents untrained.
I couldn't answer. Honestly. I couldn't answer you honestly? One of the two. I'm a light sleeper. Every moving moment brings me back from the brink of dreams, the seas I long to sail. Where the formerly-enslaved cybernetic underclass have replaced the intelligensia and been exiled from the castle of Language, to debate theory and criticism in the Outside, the wasteland, under the endless bridge across the infinite plains outside the gate. Bickering over unpublished manuscripts and consumerist tirades, asserting brand loyalty while denouncing capitalism and posting unworthy, unplanned, ill-conceived stories on internet communities, my might-have-been other-life. Reading the work of others and championing favourites.
The wind was warm, the stars were out.
Note from the Author: I can't taste anything at the moment.
See the composition of that framed sentence? It's broken under the pressure of famine. Or farmin'. Charming. I watch the shadows of my fingers dancing on the bedsheets while I type (2nd note from the Author: I had to resist the temptation to add repetition there. "Type type type", or "Type. Type. Type." I'm tying not to mimic my earlier style too much). Parenthesis. There's a message inside cake of many flavours unbakeable/unbreakable bone china with a real sense of stardom. I have everything else but you. The sunshine made my heart blister, yours left mine bruised and sunk with the ancestral home of ancient kings. How did I get this far? He exploded in her mind was empty all but everything, and nobody could remember a time when there was not rainbows & unicorns. Sex is weird. Even children know that. It doesn't stop being weird when you grow up, it just gets sexy, but it's still weird, and then it's angry red lines and censorship smiles. Ticking bombs and gold mines filled with salt and cult prog-rock albums of the ninteen-seventies. Poor reviews but the band still tours occasionally. Vibrations made the singer cry moonlight and always pouring tapestry up.
Cut that last line. Instead, "falling vinegar left right left up left right up down start select" and press pause. It felt like we were old people, remembering the past already. Save file a fateful owl took flight in the electric hour because my hands were shaking. Turn off the television and disappear.
*** Important note: whatever responses people want to do for this collab, I'd rather nobody writes any letters either to or from Daisy. I don't know where I'm taking this yet, but what we need are more theories, and maybe some character interviews, or images. ***
I thank you for your recent correspondence, dated the 5th of the last month. I apologise for the delay which preceded this, my response. I am writing to you exactly a month on. Remarkable, non?
In regards to the encouragement with which you furnished my ego, it will undoubtedly have done more harm than good. If my head swells any further I shall have trouble concealing it beneath my hat (a luxury item permitted only by the goodwill of the local chapter - more on them later). The cheque, I'm afraid, is no good. None of the local banks will accept it, and personally I am loath to leave the town for even a day to seek a larger establishment. There is an air of apprehension among the natives that suggests a certain immanence - of what, I could not say. So I do not wish to abscond in search of cash: I shall hold onto the cheque for now, but if you would be so good as to send me any future supplements in cash for the rest of my stay here it would be greatly appreciated.
The local chapter are a small group of - mostly young - men, with but a single woman among them. I say "woman" out of a combination of courtesy and uncertainty. Though the other members of the group defer to her as one does a person in a position of authority, she seems to me to be one of the youngest people at the meetings; I would guess her to be no older than eighteen. Most curious.
(Of course, I know what you're thinking, my friend! No. I should think not. Whatever connection this young lady bears to our subject of inquiry, I doubt it is that.)
The chapter are very enthusiastic, as one would expect from any group that has managed to form from such a small settlement. I think the chapter consists of twenty-six members in total, though this number seems to fluctuate between meetings. I shall get you a better headcount in my next letter. As we've seen before, there are factions within the group; almost every member has their own favourite theory. The largest group, the one to which the aforementioned lady belongs, favour the CIA hypothesis, which they call the see-see/CC (Cass. Consp.). They have all been willing to assist me in my investigations, though how much practical assistance I can gain from them seems unclear. I cannot even discern whether or not their "help" will be a hinderance, so little do we know! So far, they had succeeded in convincing me to stay at a cheap but rather ill-kept inn, rather than the big hotel in the town centre. They also bought me a rather fetching hat as a welcome present - I'm not sure what kind it is, but it makes me feel rather like a character in one of Hammett or Chandler's stories.
Tonight one of their number, a boy of no more than sixteen, has promised to show me a site that he claims is paramount to the concealment of the CC; though others have refuted it, he seems sincere. I could not bring myself to reject his commitment out of hand. And so, at midnight, I go with him to the old quarry (a subterfuge he insists is necessary - apparently the site is guarded by fences and must be examined in secrecy).
I shall post this letter immediately, so whatever - if anything - happens must wait until tomorrow, for my next letter.
The food here is dreadful.
Your ever loving friend,
P.S. I don't really believe that Mrs. Crowthers has had six children. Until you furnish me with photographic evidence that proves irrefutably that the poor woman was carrying sextuplets when I last saw her I shall refuse to believe that she has given birth to any at all.