Log in

15 December 2008 @ 08:09 pm

The cruising ground was surprisingly busy; a dozen or more men had prowled past me during the brief time I’d sat on the rotting log. My mind was clogged with a thick sludge of thoughts and worries, a sticky bolus of information that my brain could not process nor make sense of, its neural net already struggling to assimilate the back-log of data; bombarded by so many signals, overwhelmed by the constant stream of sensory inputs, my body had closed down, my cognition operating on a reduced level of awareness. Consequently I had watched for what seemed like hours the woodlice scuttle amongst the damp whirls of moss beneath my feet, flicking their antennae about as they probed for food; I was unable to do anything more, for even my willpower seemed to have been swallowed by the engulfing shock.

During the slow taxi drive to the woods, I had rung the concierge, baffled as he stated in his usual condescending tone that he could see no sign of a disturbance, announcing with a contemptuous sneer that my apartment was decidedly tidier than normal.

Open-mouthed, I hung up, snapping at the cabbie to stop outside an off-license; unable to comprehend what was going on, my once restrained and aloof poise reduced to a nervous trembling, with the standard hedonistic fervour that characterized all my actions, I’d decided to embrace the chaos, and unleash yet more disorder upon my quivering soul with a bottle of vodka. I was already drunk as the taxi stopped at the edge of the forest, and after staggering out of the back, the driver sniggering as I collapsed in a muddy puddle, I cursed my stupidity, regretting the rashness of my decision.

The sun was setting, gagged by the chloroform clouds, until, with one last attempt at hopeless resistance, it blacked out, unconscious. The cruising ground was on the other side of the city to my apartment; I had fled here, hoping that the maze of bland streets and nondescript roads dividing me from the breach in reality’s walls would offer some protection if any more soldiers burst through.

 It was ludicrous; I was running from a simple phantasm, as if I were a schizophrenic convinced of his delusion’s existence. It suddenly struck me that even now I could still be hallucinating, still under the ketamine’s control, and that everything around me, from the phone numbers scratched into the bark of the trees to the crumpled tissues lying like the wings of mutilated doves around my feet were simply a by-product of the drug.

It was a metaphysical conundrum that would only lead me into madness; I dismissed the notion as if it were an unruly child ejected from a classroom, yet my unease stubbornly persisted.

 Across the crest of the hill a man slowly and purposefully stepped; with the fading light behind him, his tall gangly body was reduced to a mere silhouette like a leathery ghoul hungrily searching for a victim. As if he were a spirit climbing out of its grave, another cruiser rose from behind a nearby clump of bushes, both of us startling each other. Every feature of the twilight landscape rustled, creaked and groaned with deathly significance; I was still agitated from the trip, and the sudden feeling of isolation, trapped in the copse that had become a cell with the tress as its bars and the gathering darkness as my jailor only exacerbated that anxiety.

Man, with its complexities, feelings and intelligence was nothing more than the ephemeral dream of a hibernating beast that, once woken, would mindlessly hunt, kill and consume. For so long I had clung to that comforting belief, laughing at the countless billions uselessly attempting to convince themselves of their advancement and superiority. The day’s events however had weakened that conviction, for it was despair that had possessed me since waking, and it was angst that had driven me across London to seek refuge from its merciless assault; if my assessment of my true nature was correct, then why could I not purge myself of these painful and unnecessary emotions?

Yet here in the cruising ground, where sex was liberated from the fetters of love and where passion was stripped of romance, I could once again strengthen that conviction, as feelings of tenderness, affection and adoration were subsumed by intoxicating lust and the instinctive urge to mate.

Since admitting the possibility of God, we have desperately wanted to escape from servitude, and ascend to the divine throne as his equals. The carnality, the savagery, that which united us with the natural world we jettisoned in our desperate desire for deification, favouring abstract virtue and morality above the concrete hunger for blood as we fantasised of a theoretical paradise. Though Mankind failed, though Mankind would always fail, under religion’s rule it had become prejudiced, branding as regressive and perverted we who, rather than denying it actively embraced the inheritance of the wilderness, releasing from captivity the howling barbarity in our genes and the roaring ferocity entrenched in the nuclei of our blood cells. That prejudice I could see flickering in the eyes of the dog-walker, his Labrador, sensing a rabbit bounding through the rain-drenched undergrowth tugging at the lead while his master glared at me with disdain; he knew why I was here and what I was searching for. The two women, jogging past in baggy tracksuits, their bobbing ponytails like fountains of flowing hair held me in similar contempt, mocking my baseness by refusing to acknowledge me as I jumped out of their path.

Jack too would have been the victim of such scorn, would have felt it from the police, from his barristers, and, since being publicly outed, even from his family; yet he, like me, would have revelled in it, their disapproval becoming our endorsement, proof that unlike them, we were not poisoned by hypocrisy, our sincerity to sin highlighting their faltering commitment to uprightness.

Jack and I were pure in our animality, while for the manacled millions, with their sophistries of sophistication, the worthless title of a human being was a euphemism for a liar, giving them license to cheat, hurt and betray; reasoning was simply a weapon to be wielded in both defence against their innate darkness, and as a weapon to slaughter those who did not conform.

In the cruising ground, there I was free.

A thousand fertility gods smile approvingly from out the diamond-drops of sweat coating my back as I thrust against a stranger’s hairy buttocks, his hands pulling them apart to reveal the wrinkled opening glistening with the ice-like sheen of lube. The moon’s dreaming light falls with a melancholy sigh upon the wooden pantheon nestling in a glade, cheers and laughter floating from its open doors as we drunkenly dance with the pagan deities inside.

Our host is Priapus; a group of horrified virgins hide amongst the thick strands of his trailing beard whilst resting upon his swollen penis as if it were a serving tray is a row of golden goblets filled with mead, the sparkling liquor spilling upon the leafy floor as he frolics with a leather queen.

Our music comes from a naked choir, groaning like trombones and shrieking like violins as they climax over and over, the conductor urging them on in their endless orgasms as he caresses their bare bodies with his baton.

Our servants are a flock of Christians we had kidnapped whilst they prayed in their cold, echoing church; the sandwiches they hand out are flavoured with aphrodisiacs, each vol-au-vent crowned with Viagra.

And then, gambolling beneath the sequin stars, with alcohol for blood and our desire a drug we strip off, with the owls’ hooting like the woof-whistles of builders. A fox, abandoning its pursuit of a petrified vole gazes in admiration at our heaving torsos; with the swagger of a lothario confident of his charm and good looks, it approaches, sniffing the pheromones wafting from our groins.

Prancing from out the ferns, a hare leaps over the piles of discarded clothes, and like a lover bringing his sweetheart a gift, it carries in its mouth a bundle of vines, dropping one before each of us. We tie them about our scrotums, the climbers doubling as cock-rings, squeezing out globules of sweet pre-cum.

We wait for a sign from Priapus, and as he claps his hands, the orgy begins; we mate, not just with each other, but with the beasts and trees, their branches tickling our goosebump skin, and their roots rising from the mud to catch the first drops of semen.

The forest blooms, the night retreating in fear at the indescribable colours blazing from the flowers, joyfully shaking their petals as if they were the skirts of can-can dancers.

We smile; far from our families, far from our friends and houses we are once again home.

The forest seemed empty; I had walked the overgrown paths for hours, stumbling over logs and skidding on the rotting hulks of conkers, and not once had I encountered anyone. Even the animals had vanished, the scrub that had chattered as the rabbits scampered back to their warren with their booty of berries now silent, and the overhanging motorway of boughs and twigs across which the squirrels had raced was suddenly devoid of any movement.

Despite the darkness and the wind gasping all around me as if I were in a sanatorium surrounded by dying patients, I felt relaxed, the calmness floating within me a relief after the ordeals of the day, ordeals that I had now dismissed as a result of the drugs. It was liberating to be away from the hollering crowds of the city; though I relished its anonymity and the chance it offered to escape myself amongst the gaudy distractions of clubs and pubs, here in the woods, if I was in a courageous mood, I could actively confront the mob of devils carousing in my mind, welcoming the solitude as an anchorite dedicated to studying the universe housed in his head.

Yet I could not forget the sex that was ready to be discovered –

Could not forget the men lurking in secret arbours, with the leaves brushing against them embossed with the black stamp of night -

So with limitless persistence I would walk these overgrown paths, for it was the waiting that drove every cottage queen and park cruiser; lingering alone at the urinals, our erections drooping like castigated dogs, or padding repeatedly through the knee-high grass as if we were cats smoothing out a bed in which to die, the anticipation held so much promise.

For one minute more we’ll sit upon the weather-beaten bench, attentively watching the toilet block for a man to slip inside, our frantic footfalls beating close behind.

For one minute more we’ll lean against the turnstile, looking out across the blackened wastes of sun-scorched fields, tapping our fingers upon the rotting frame until we glimpse a solitary figure flickering like an oasis on the horizon, our legs and lungs aching as we run towards him.

For one minute more we’ll dream, a fantasy filled with the faces of forgotten crushes, with the bodies of unrequited loves, with the smiles of those for whom we longed, whom we hoped would turn our dejected sighs into moans of pleasure, all encapsulated into one single man –

A man who’ll stride round that corner, winking at us as he slips into the gents –

A man who’ll pull up at the park in his sleek red car, nodding for us to follow him into the bushes -

And it will happen –

It’s going to happen –

In just one more minute.

And though the minutes turn to hours, falling like dirt upon the coffined corpse of a wasted day, our hope is immortal and never flags; our patience will outlast the universe, and as the Earth explodes with molten rage, we’ll drift amongst the slumbering stars in the burnt ruins of a lavatory, and skim past the frozen moons on grassy knolls, its rising slopes like the hull of a ship with the trees catching the solar winds in their leafy sails.

But that hope, sustaining us through the loneliness of the night, laying beside us in our empty beds and wooing our forlorn hearts with its meek devotion, that hope will be our death –

Waiting for that one more minute, we soon wait for years and decades, unsure if we are still alive, or just electromagnetic patterns imprinted on the cubicle door, repeating over and over like tortured ghosts, the hand-drier screaming our grief, and the sap dripping from the gnarled trunks of ancient oaks our endless tears.

But still –

Just one minute more.

Then I heard the sonorous music, its booming notes rattling the particles of chilly air with the passion of a prisoner banging his bars in a bid to escape. As mournful as a lament, as stirring as a concerto, its rhythm was the regular breaking of waves upon a shingle shore and its tone was the sweetness of a love letter. In its surging cadences was contained the mystical beauty of nature, its timbre carrying with it sylvan scenes of rustic life; entranced, I followed  it, ploughing through bushes and brambles, neither flinching at the thorns slicing at my cheeks or wincing as the nettles stroked my skin with its acid touch.

Like a child growing in excitement as Christmas edges closer, as I neared the source it rose in pitch, the persuasive melody luring me across boggy tracks and over freshly-tilled fields. I was mere yards away, and sensing my presence, it changed to a fanfare full of pomp and grandeur, as if I were a royal guest walking into a stateroom on a carpet of red lichen, with the thickets as guardsmen and the stumps of felled trees my entourage of secretaries and assistants. I stepped into a grove, and gathered there, basking like werewolves in the full moon’s pearly rays, were dozens of men, sitting cross-legged in a meditative pose, their enraptured faces wearing a look of sudden revelation.

Tip-toeing between them, I could see hundreds of animals swaying dazedly amongst the shrubbery at the edges of the clearing, ghostly sentinels guarding the borders of existence, their eyes glowing with appreciation at the ethereal symphony.

Cradled in the arms of a towering elm, a black shape tooted into its panpipes with the skill of a maestro, and as I knelt down to listen, barely conscious of the audience of cruisers and doggers all around me, the fluttering tune dredged from the depths of my mind a shoal of race memories -

I glimpsed bucolic scenes of bronze-age settlements, the bearded warriors throwing down their spears to dance with the giggling fairies, their poppet-sized bodies shimmering with a silken sheen and their turquoise auras rippling like lakes as the men kissed their thighs in reverence.

I glimpsed white-haired sages, with backs buckled from the burden of age, communing with the undines swimming in a mountain stream, their wraith-like forms as insubstantial as smoke billowing from a chimney; gathering handfuls of the cool water, golden drops spilling between their calloused fingers , as the mystics sipped, the sprites sung deep inside their souls.

I glimpsed a tattered encampment squatting at the edge of a gorge, the tribesmen asleep inside, their bellies bloated with the meat of wild boars; pressed against their leader’s naked body was a wolf, its paws draped across his muscular chest as it whispered in the ears of the slumbering savage tales of how its pack would run with the endless darkness, and how their hunger would ravage the gleaming cities of the future. 

The recital was over; as one we applauded, clapping until our palms were bruised and swollen. The beasts too were keen to heap praise upon the mysterious entertainer hiding amongst the branches as if he were a crazed scientist lurking in a cluttered, fume-filled laboratory, with the barks of the foxes, and the enthusiastic hollering of the birds drowning out the sole hedgehog’s feeble snuffling. Two transvestites leapt excitedly into the air, waving their wigs about like cheerleaders shaking pom-poms, in deep voices crying out for an encore. A bondage queen tore the nipple-clamps from off his chest, using them as improvised castanets that he clicked in appreciative delight, whilst the grove shook with thunderous drumming as scores of men thumped their dildos against the ground, until, with a wave of his hand silencing our demands for more, the shadowy figure held the pipes to his lips, and taking a deep breath, again began to play.

But it was not the haunting music of before; instead, the cacophonous din was the deafening throb of a heart beating with fear, the ravenous groans of a hunter’s stomach, and the hiss of blood surging through the veins of the hunted -

It was the roar of shifting continents, the scream of glaciers sliding across a frozen land, and the plaintive sobs of moors and marshes disappearing beneath the rising seas -  

It was the birth cry of God, stoking the fires of a billion suns, and scattering planets across the vacant stretches of space as if they were decorations on a cake –

And the bass notes, rising and falling like a piston, they were the howls of Fenrir, his growls Time’s coda, and his frightened whimpering the triumph of the void.

Jumping from the elm, the musician landed gracefully on his hooves, combing his clawed hands through the brown pelt smothering his sinewy haunches, as if he were a pianist smoothing his coat tails before a performance. His enormous horns twisted into the sky, a bank of storm clouds impaled upon its tapering ends, with the grotesqueness of his devilish features obscuring the cheekily mischievous smile stretching his lips.

Our heads turned to follow him as he strutted about the grove like a prostitute in an Amsterdam window, teasing the onlookers with a provocative stroke of his groin, parading his liberated sexuality without a trace of shame or embarrassment.

We felt neither terror nor even alarm, for we had become like him, satyrs dressed in rubber and PVC, and fauns decked in chains and gimp masks, swapping the degrading rules and decrees of man for the glorious law of tooth and claw, with our minds as still as the midday sun, and all thoughts and feelings subservient to the violence shaping our bestial desires.

We rioted through the forest, pole-dancing against the trees, the dryads grinning from out the bark, and using sticks as spears, staking the swarm of jellyfish-condoms bobbing about in the muddy puddles, the semen trailing like tendrils from their rubber bodies. The egg-shaped stones littering the verdant floor began to shake, a network of cracks spreading across their surfaces, until, with a loud bang, a family of gnomes hatched out, stretching their wizened bodies with relief; we scooped them up, placing them on our shoulders as if they were our children.

There was no division of rank amongst us; from the rentboys sniffing for truffles to the skinheads beating their chests like apes, we were all equals, united by our lustiness and the excitement of finding eternal freedom at last, knowing that the fields, meadows and heaths would forever be our playground, where we would romp and caper, sharing in the blissful sensuality of the natural world.

Even Pan charging at the front of the pack, the woodland creatures panting in the struggle to race alongside him, made no claim to be our leader or master; despite the enchantment that he had cast over us, he was simply another brother in our bawling clan.

With our erections wagging as if they were the tails of dogs, our bodies a mass of coarse hair and our heavy brows jutting like granite cliffs, we were the living illustrations of a fantastical bestiary, the stories of our unbridled viciousness and ferocious strength recounted around camp fires, the frightened infants gasping in shock.

We had run for miles, not once slowing, and as we stopped before a sprawling lake, the moonlight silver-plating its calm surface, we still tingled with energy. Three nymphs bathed in the tranquil water, swimming as gracefully as swans to the centre, where they splashed about in carefree abandon, the gentle currents tenderly stroking their virginal skin. We crouched amongst the reeds, admiring their adolescent splendour and the effortless elegance with which they moved; suddenly becoming aware of their own ugliness, the satyrs covered their faces with trembling paws, yet I alone refused to be cowed by their beauty, snarling at my kin as they cringed in humiliation.

The nymphs’ perfection was a mutation, their svelte frames and supple figures misshapen; my fangs, my talons, my seething brutality was Nature’s truth, not these freaks flaunting their deformity.

Pan’s fiery eyes, that before had shimmered like a desert in the noon sun were now wetter than a winter’s day, as he peered at them between his knotted fingers, seemingly channelling the ghost of Shakespeare himself as he whispered a sonnet in dedication.

His voluntary abasement sickened me, its pitiful display of mawkishness a perversion of our power and as artificial as virtue.

As he prostrated himself like a dog submitting to its master, I snatched the pipes away from his side, emptying my lungs as I blew into them. The screeching notes impacted against Aphrodite’s heart with the force of love that had turned to boundless hate, pummelling her flawless face until it was bruised and bloodied, each crotchet like a partner’s infidelity, each quaver a husband’s betrayal, poisoning her purity and corrupting her naive ideals of chivalry and commitment. My brothers could not resist its baleful influence, tearing forward with their passion rekindled as the nymphs froze in fear upon the bank, disbelief spreading across their white plump cheeks like cracks on a porcelain doll.

Pan was the last to succumb; I watched in glee as he clutched his head, the wailing music exploding in his brain with the anger of a mortar bomb, decimating all self-restraint until he too charged towards the sprites, his claws outstretched like the spikes of a porcupine.

As they fell beneath the pitiless strafing of kicks and punches, they didn’t scream, shout, or even cry; instead they ungrudgingly yielded their innocence as if they’d always known of the corruption waiting to consume it.

It was the brightest day surrendering to the blackest night –

It was the vigour of life giving in to the silent repose of death -

I slipped into the shadows, a crow clutching its squealing prey in its pointed beak. 

Huffing in protest, the concierge escorted me to my apartment; though he made a poor body guard, his tuts of annoyance indicating a stronger interest in completing his crossword than my safety, I was reluctant to enter on my own, my trepidation increasing with every floor the lift creaked past.  As if he were a mule driven across a minefield, I waited in the doorway as he disappeared inside, secretly delighting at the thought of him coming face to face with the cannibal. Disappointed at hearing him quietly curse with impatience rather than flee in horror down the hall, I joined him in the lounge.

Exaggeratedly waving his arm about with the grandiosity of a town crier, I prickled with embarrassment, for the room was immaculate, the chairs, table and TV all intact. Rejoicing at my apparent stupidity, he waltzed victoriously out, shaking his keys to the building in a bid to impress me with his authority. I rushed to my bedroom, wrenching a drawer from the cabinet as I checked my supply of ketamine.

The four bags were full, their seals unbroken; it was impossible, but I had not even snorted one line of the drug, the fresh filaments glinting with enticement as if I were a jewel thief holding a priceless collection of diamonds.

It was pointless trying to make sense of it all; falling onto the sofa, a vodka bottle in my hand, it seemed similarly futile to search for the teeth marks that had only hours before marked its leather hide like storm clouds massing in a clear blue sky.  Unquestioningly, I would simply accept events as they first appeared; fighting what could either be a delusion or something far more disturbing that was rooted in fact would only produce those emotions that I had so long denied, with the fear, torment and pain three Furies accompanying me into certain madness.

If it was a breakdown, if drug-induced psychosis was insidiously creeping through my mind, transmuting with its alchemical power my perception and reasoning, then, always eager for the distraction of new sights and experiences, I would allow my cognition to be changed, impartially observing as the crude lead of reality was altered into the dazzling gold of lunacy. Rather than being passive self-destruction, such an attitude would instead be self-confirming, a form of solipsism in which the external world would be recreated to conform to my illness, the city with its workers, cars and smog-stained buildings replaced with fluid visions and fluctuating hallucinations, a universe of unfettered fantasy over which I would have sole control.

I would be a demented God, majestic in my mania, usurping the false deities of Logic and Rationality and presiding upon an empire, whose citizens, conceived in paradoxes and born in absurdities would be reflections of my thoughts and echoes of my howling soul.

I stood on the balcony, looking out over the restless capital, its garish thoroughfares twitching like a sleeping child beset by a nightmare, her asphalt legs and tarmac arms nervously flailing about. Something was coming; I could see it in the troubled eyes of the people below, jumping on buses and flagging down taxis in a desperate bid to outrace the imminent danger, sweeping in on the surging wind.

 I could dimly make out a news report coming from the TV inside, the presenter’s voice muffled by the walls, as if I were a fighter pilot flying over Germany, the transmissions from my air base dampened by the distance. It was yet another story of an assault, the correspondent using reams of statistics to justify his claim that the Met were doing nothing to protect the frightened public from gangs and thugs.

I tried returning my attention back to the rapidly-emptying roads beneath, but details of the attack kept scratching at my mind, the broadcaster’s words bristling with hooks, each one clinging to my concentration.

The three boys that had been violently beaten whilst fishing by a lake were still too terrified to give an accurate description of their attackers, with even the heavy doses of sedatives failing to calm them. A policeman came on the screen, the sweat darkening his white shirt hinting at his nervousness; in a stilted, slow manner he announced that the cowardly perpetrators had been wearing Halloween masks, and, with his jowls shaking in indignation, that he had never before dealt with such a sadistic crime as this.

Straining to recall what really happened in the cruising ground, my memory of the five hours I had lost in wandering about the woods felt unreal, an amalgamation cobbled together from disparate sources, like a hybrid plant, spliced from the cuttings of deadly toadstools and toxic flowers. Was it possible that I was somehow involved in the violent attack upon the children?

If before I was a stranger to myself, now I was an invader, aggressively trespassing upon what little goodness my heart still possessed, with no chance of reconciling my polarized core.

Yet before I could delve any further, the apartment block suddenly lurched, the wine bottles on my balcony falling over and smashing as I clutched the railings, the floor roller-coasting beneath my feet. A double-decker crashed into a shop window, the concrete arcades exploding like meteors torn apart by gravity as the gas pipes ruptured deep beneath the surface.

A thousand car alarms started to whine, a plague of bleeps and buzzes sweeping through the cracked avenues, drowning out the screams of the injured, their bodies crushed under falling masonry.  Thunderous rumbling began to build, the engines of the Earth roaring with rage; tensing myself in anticipation of the next tremor, I dived for protection as the manhole covers shot into the air, the metal Frisbees whizzing about in a lethal parody of War of the Worlds.

Springing from out the drains and gutters, a forest of behemoth-sized trees sprouted, stretching their branches as if they were chickens freed from their coop. Their snaking roots tore up the pavements, their thick trunks filling whole streets, and their twisting boughs punching through the highest windows of Canary Wharf, the glass falling like snow amongst the man-high grass that was growing at an impossible rate -

Gardens became jungles, allotments turning into soaring replicas of the Amazon, the wire fences surrounding them looking ludicrously puny against the gargantuan flowers, spitting pollen like an army of triffids against the council signs and tin sheds –

The boats moored on the Thames were lifted up high on the sky-scraping reeds, a mammoth lily pad enveloping the Belfast in a clam-like yawn, its tubers thirstily draining the river until all that remained was a sewage-stained swamp, strewn with the rusting bones of bikes and prams as if it were an elephant’s graveyard –

Reams of steel-strong ivy wrapped themselves about the buildings like green bandages tied round an Egyptian mummy, shattering galleries and museums as they swiftly contracted, garrotting Nelson’s Column with their constrictive grip and snapping Big Ben in half, a hammock of entwined vines catching the huge bells mid-fall.

And then I saw him, Pan, swinging from the branches towards my apartment, a raucous herd of satyrs following close behind, the severed limbs of mutilated nymphs skewered like kebabs on their horns. He stopped beneath my balcony, his eyes filled with profound knowledge of my soul, as if he had always known me -  

He beckoned at me to follow -

Jumping, rolling and leaping through the wooded city, we followed the itinerant night on its journey around the world.

02 October 2008 @ 08:03 pm

For the last five days, I have been taking two grams of ketamine each night. My dealer had sold out of both whizz and coke, and faced with the dreariness of a week spent overdosing on reality’s pure hit, neither diluted with amphetamine or cut with cocaine, I eagerly grabbed the K. What started as a simple dalliance fuelled by necessity had developed into an intense fascination, not just with the drug, but also to the underground literature inspired by it; after devouring John Lilly’s studies in a single afternoon as if I were a student frantically trying to revise for an exam, his experiences in an isolation tank whilst under the influence of the dissociative anaesthetic led me to continue his research, improvising as I went along in an attempt to recreate a laboratory setting within my apartment.

 Like any scientific experiment, my investigation into its warping effects had to take place in a controlled environment, free of outside influences that might interfere with the results. Lilly likewise stressed the importance of removing all external stimuli in the belief that it would affect the trip, diverting one away from their intended destination at the edges of existence. Without access to an isolation tank however, I had to make do with my darkened bedroom, silencing the TV and stereo and waiting until my neighbours had gone to bed as a pathetic attempt at soundproofing. I’d brought a Dictaphone to record my reflections, and extracted from the spare room’s heap of black bags a camcorder that I’d only previously used to furtively film the queens in the toilets, positioning it above my bed to capture my physical reactions as the chemical took hold. As for my mental response to the compound, my brain would be a notepad, storing each vision and sensation on its neural network; ironically it would be the lab rat too, though I was certain of my self-control and ability to remain an impartial observer despite the K’s potency.

The first four experiments passed unremarkably. Compared to LSD, it was a poor substitute, for though the images that rampaged through my mind burst with the same staccato force as an acid trip, there was none of the accompanying vividness or synaesthesia. Like a prophet interpreting the significance of a dream, I soon unravelled the meaning of the fragmented streams of pictures, for they were garnered merely from forgotten impressions of the day before, yet seen from a different perspective, as if I had not only travelled back in time to the event, but had also jumped into the body of someone else who had been present. My emotional state likewise impacted on the outcome. If I was tired, then the K would unearth a recent memory of an overworked commuter asleep beside me on a train; if I was feeling positive and upbeat, then I would be presented with scenes of the cheering football supporters who had joyfully paraded past me on the street the night previously. Clearly it could accentuate my mood, enhancing it either to my detriment or gain like a high court judge dispensing his verdict; as a result, I would spend an hour simply relaxing before I’d snort the three fat lines smeared across my table like a snowman’s handprint. Though the rush consequently became more peaceful and enjoyable, I failed to see what had so captivated Lilly’s imagination. After reading reports on web forums and finding stories in blogs that some users had actually encountered sentient entities on an alien plain of existence whilst tripping, I began to wonder if I had some inbuilt tolerance to the K, or that my brain was hard-wired differently from others, leading to desensitisation.

But then, last night –

My supplier was due to drop off a batch of newly-arrived coke in the morning; it would be the last time I’d bother with ketamine, for I had gotten nowhere, had glimpsed none of the splendour Lilly boasted of seeing, and had felt no communion with some divine force that so many websites raved about. Perhaps it knew that; perhaps the K, realising this would be its final chance to dazzle me, was waiting expectantly to reward me for my efforts as I shook its crystalline flakes from a sachet.

 Yet after four nights of disappointment I was woefully unprepared for what was to come.

Still excited at the thought of seeing Jack, I decided in dispensing with my usual warm-up routine for there was only glee in my heart, and from past experience I presumed the K would simply heighten that euphoria; such a buzz would be recompense for pointlessly wasting so much time upon the drug. After I’d snorted the lines, grimacing at the grit-like particles clinging to my throat like stones caught in a tyre’s thread, I turned out the lights and lay back upon the bed, counting down the seconds before blast off. As I opened my mind to the drug, allowing it to loot my storehouse of memories and experiences, I could hear shouting and frightened cries from outside; dismissing it as nothing more than a drunken brawl, I remained still, waiting in anticipation for the ride to begin. Minutes passed, without any recognisable change; disappointed, I pulled the bag of ketamine out of the cabinet drawer, and as I was poised to empty its final few grains straight into my dry mouth, it kicked in. The rush came, the trip started, and then I was there –

Was somewhere -

A shattered street straight from a war film. The few buildings still intact were squat and functional like pillboxes; shadows moved in their narrow doorways and pained groans came from inside as if haunted by tortured ghosts. Everything was drab, from the ruined houses to the swirling sky above, with greyness seeping like old age through the rubble, draining the colour from the pools of dried blood. I froze, hearing the insistent pummelling of boots coming closer, striking the ruptured tarmac as if they were fists; something about the sound, contained in the repetitive rhythm as it marched closer struck at my very core, disturbing long-forgotten race memories that rendered me immobile with terror.

 It was the screams of nightmares, the howls of hungry predators and the thunder booming in the heavens.

 And then I saw them, a squad of troopers surging towards me like huge termites intent on colonisation; as they came closer, stampeding over the mounds of debris, I could see their ill-fitting uniforms hanging limply off their scrawny bodies, each one different, some dressed as Kossacks or German soldiers, and others wearing the livery of British Imperialists, their pith helmets cracked and their tunics torn and stained. They stopped before me; despite being unarmed with their albino faces displaying no trace of aggression, something about them made me want to run away in fear  and to cry out for my mother’s comforting protection. 

My legs refused to respond, as an aching stiffness burrowed like arthritis through my muscles into the bones, turning the marrow into rock.

Though I was in plain view, the platoon appeared not have noticed me, and were instead more concerned with the black box that four of them, all clothed in khaki, carried above their shoulders. Laying it on the ground, and slowly removing the lid, they all lowered their heads, each topped with thinning white hair, and held their berets, caps and balaclavas in withered hands; inside, the lifeless body of a fallen comrade was propped against velvet cushions, his glassy eyes still open, and his arms positioned by his sides as if he were standing to attention. It was clearly a funeral ceremony, and as their leader, decked in a samurai’s ornate armour crouched beside the corpse, he seemed to recite a prayer, its solemn verses causing his men to fall to their knees in mournful respect. Upon both his shoulder blades were two prominent growths, each tumour covered with brain-like ridges, their yellow fronds protruding through the chainmail as if they were poisonous fungi sprouting from a tree; the others too were similarly afflicted, with the septic hue of the lumps being the only patch of colour on their washed-out skin. Just as my dread was beginning to subside, I was assailed once more by its adrenalin force for the soldiers had started to excitedly jabber, streams of nonsensical words spilling from their mouths as if they had just discovered the ability to talk. Jumping up and down like enraged apes, they tossed the dead body out of its coffin, and as I watched helplessly, willing the trip to end, they effortlessly ripped off its limbs, a Gherka ghoulishly waving a severed arm above his head as if it were a trophy, and two ninjas slapping each other with its legs. Their pallid leader held the carcass in his grip, violently twisting its head until the spine snapped with the sound of dried twigs.

And then, as if he’d known I was there all along, he steadily approached.

He was barely a foot away; I could smell his breath, rank as an abattoir and heavy with alcohol. Our eyes locked; he was daring me to react, to turn around and flee from his repellent presence, yet still I remained paralysed. Even his bloodshot irises were white, the pupils a dismal grey; I could have been staring straight at a zombie. He raised the decapitated head, sniffing appreciatively at the blood dripping from its severed veins, and as he licked its sagging jowls, his being seemed to glow. His band of men took this as a signal, and as one they pounced upon the corpse, tearing off chunks of flesh and hungrily shoving them into their dribbling mouths, swallowing each scrap whole and slapping their lips in delight. Within seconds only a skeleton remained, as if stripped by a swarm of piranhas; as the soldiers straightened their crumpled uniforms like tuxedoed aristocrats rising from a dinner table ready for a glass of sherry, they too were surrounded by vibrant halos shimmering with rainbow shades. Their faces flushed, with their ashy hair suddenly blazing as colours poured from out their scalps. Dark pigmentation spread across their skin like the sun upon a lawn, and as their transformation neared completion, even their military garb looked brighter, the gold buttons bursting with miniature bomb-blasts of light, and the black leather of their boots gleaming through the crust of mud. The cannibals’ general still held me transfixed, as if I were mesmerised; no matter how hard I tried to struggle, it was impossible to break his hypnotic stare.

Somehow I had to escape from this deranged hallucination back to reality’s refuge.

Left march, right march, left march –

The endless orders that he roared I had no choice but to obey, his irresistible commands overwhelming my willpower and leaving my determination broken as if it were nothing more than a fragile bone in a fledgling’s wing.

Left march, right march, left march –

The soldiers cackled at my humiliation, as I was powerlessly led forward by my rebellious legs, carried down the littered road, my pace quickening and feet flapping up and down of their own volition, until looming before me was an abandoned hospital.

I passed through the barbed wire fence as if stepping through a door, its vicious metal spikes not even leaving a scratch upon my skin as I breached the quarantine zone.

I was in a deserted ward. The beds had been overturned, spilling stained pillows across the floor, their sheets so rigid with starch that they rested against the rusting trollies like corrugated metal. The heart monitors were all smashed, with cobwebs stretching between the broken shards of glass, across which hordes of scarlet spiders hauled their distended abdomens. A dialysis machine hummed nearby, as if connected to an invisible patient; suddenly stuttering, a smell of smouldering plastic poured from it before finally falling silent and surrendering to the encroaching cockroaches keen to claim its burnt-out cadaver as their lair.

I had regained had total control over my body, my legs once more responsive to my brain’s instructions, though there was nowhere I could run and hide, for there were neither doors nor windows, with the only light coming from a fluorescent tube, upon which a fog of flies clustered, lazily wallowing in its warmth.

The saline drips had all been drained, the shrivelled sacs drooping from their stands like gutted fish hung out to dry; I grabbed the transparent pipe from one, ready to wield it like a whip if I were attacked. It seemed ludicrous to believe that I was genuinely in danger, for the whole world around me, from the town’s rat-infested remains to the dusty collection of bandages to my left was nothing more than a drug-induced fantasy, but I could not forget the dread that I had felt earlier. Though my devastated surroundings were alien to me, bearing no resemblance to anywhere I had ever visited on earth, a strange sense of familiarity plagued me, nagging at my memory like déjà-vu; it grew stronger as I stepped into the ward’s shadowy recesses, a feeling that I didn’t just know this place, but that I had always known it, each detail engrained upon my being, encoded deep within my DNA like a secret love letter hidden in a drawer.

 I even knew what lay beyond the orange curtain, sectioning off a darkened recess; I knew what was causing it to twitch, knew who was in the squeaking wheelchair, listlessly rolling back and forth, out of sight but as visible as my hand nervously flexing the tube, yet still I had to confirm it, had to prove my intuition was right.

As I moved forward, ready to part the fluttering screen, I was aware that something other than the ketamine was now controlling the trip, someone who had always been with me, who forever lurked in my dreams, corrupting them into macabre nightmares, who since birth had lived like a parasite deep within my body –

A hand gripped my shoulder, its spindly fingers curling about my muscles like a millipede’s legs. I whirled round, to see one of the cannibal soldiers standing behind me. His skin was once more colourless, his face devoid of the savage fury that had so terrified me, and his expression meek, gentle, but tainted like mine by trepidation, unnerved by the constant screech of metal coming from the shadowy alcove. He carried a bag stuffed with grapes and magazines, intended for the patient whose throat suddenly thundered with a coughing fit; the noise terrified the trooper, causing him to drop the bouquet he held under his arm and cower behind me, where he shuddered like a timid mouse cornered by a cat. I pushed him away, undeterred, and as I began to slide back the veil, the greasy cloth sticking to my fingers, he stepped in front of me. Our eyes met, and he spoke, without words, without sound or even thought, my mind absorbing his knowledge and instantly assimilating it, processing the information and incorporating it in my memories.

As I at last learnt the identity of the nameless horror that had forever stalked me and who now helplessly lay only inches away, there was no feeling in my heart except for simple acceptance, as if I had no choice but to acquiesce, my whole existence designed for submission to his demands.

Behind the curtain, huddled in a wheelchair, a breathing mask clamped to his shrivelled face and a blanket laid across his lap, was God. Staring at him, I was neither struck blind in vengeance, nor consumed in wrathful fire; instead, as he lifted up his pyjama shirt speckled with dried food to reveal the swollen pustules clinging to him like stars to the sky, I was merely repulsed.

He pulled off the oxygenator, his sunken eyes bulging with madness as he screamed in impotent rage.

A nurse rushed in, armed with bottles of pills and liquids. Bending down beside the old man, she prised open his gurning jaw as he thrashed about like a bull attempting to dislodge its rider, and emptied a phial of green liquid upon his wiggling tongue. The effect was instant, the medicine taking hold and causing him to numbly slump forward, a look of drugged-up emptiness smoothing his creased face. The nurse rose exhaustedly, breathing heavily as she assessed the patient, clicking her fingers by his ear to check for a response.

He was catatonic; if he was God, then there was nothing to distinguish him from the tranquilised millions rotting away in care homes, their fragile sanity nothing more than a chemical state maintained by anti-psychotics.

She pulled out a light-pen, shining its beam straight into his pupils; finding the results inconclusive, she slapped him forcefully around the head. He didn’t react, and satisfied, she dug deep in her front pocket and removed a packet of tablets, tossing them into his foaming mouth as if she were skimming stones across a lake. The soldier, having regained his courage aided her in removing the invalid’s clothes; as they unthreaded his scrawny arms from the shirt, I could see a blistered row of burn marks branded into his loose folds of skin. The boils on his stomach were throbbing, bulging as if something was growing inside. The ward sister appeared, her features sharp with severity and her angular face starved of any compassion; she held a scalpel to one of the carbuncles, and I winced as she carved it open, grimacing as a thick fluid leaked down the blade like the yoke from a cracked egg. 

It looked like a seed embedded beneath the stretched skin, a pip from a tomato; I leant closer, and immediately recoiled in revulsion. She had scraped a tiny human foetus from inside the wound, and now held it on her finger tip, crossing to a cabinet and nodding for the nurse to open it. The shelves were stacked with petri dishes, filled with embryos harvested from his sores, their pink, puffy skin coated in agar. As the creature she carried began to writhe, she flicked it into the cupboard as if it were an insect that had landed on her blouse, slamming the doors shut. The soldier patted my hand reassuringly, leading me away as the two women set about cutting open the remaining boils.

We were not forged in some celestial smithy, our spirits filed like iron from the radioactive debris of the big bang -

We were not designed by a divine engineer, our bodies mass-produced like cars in a factory ready for our souls to command, our thoughts manipulating each lever, our feelings controlling the turn of the wheels -

We were symptoms of a sickness, our lives the first stage of God’s disease, manifesting as cancerous rage, displaying as virulent hatred and terminal violence, its contagion spreading out across the stricken earth as we multiplied like bacteria –

 The plague had already ravaged the stars, infecting the angels and contaminating a hundred forgotten saints until heaven itself was reduced to a graveyard.

The ward was as noisy as a nursery, with the foetuses angrily screaming for food from inside their cabinet; the nurse had locked it and bound it in chains, and now pushed with her whole body against the rattling doors as they furiously tried to escape, angrily kicking and punching until its metal sides were marked with dents. The old man’s chest was soaked in blood, his boils all sliced open and the slivers of flesh drooping like raw bacon as the medical staff had reaped their human crop. He slowly stirred, kicking out his veined legs and whining in pain as if he were a dog mourning its dead mate; the sister had prepared a syringe in anticipation, and before he could pull himself out the wheelchair, she brutally plunged the needle deep into his neck.

I had been sick twice and felt weak with nausea, but the soldier appeared nonplussed, sitting on top of a defibrillator and mechanically eating the grapes one after another; I knew he was surreptitiously watching me but he seemed too feeble to be a threat. The matron had thrown the man face-down onto the floor, prodding the cysts upon his back with the scalpel’s handle, a pile of specimen bottles nearby ready to store the next batch. One pustule in particular was larger than the others, nestling at the base of his spine; as she slowly cut it open, a minuscule hand slid out, stretching its webbed fingers towards the light.

She wrenched the squirming foetus out by its arm, and, wrinkling her nose in disgust, callously flung it at my feet.

 The cannibal was steadily creeping up behind me, but I was too concerned for the creature trembling on the floor. It had already developed hair, and as I wiped the pus from off its scaly skin, it suddenly opened it eyes. I collapsed in shock.

It was me -

The soldier pounced.

Doubling up on the sweat-soaked mattress, I vomited over the bed, the bile burning my throat with its stinging bitterness as my stomach angrily seethed. I gripped the pillow for comfort, pushing my face against it as if I were a lion cub nuzzling against my mother’s teat. The bedroom was in total darkness; I flinched as a thunder storm bellowed like an enraged Titan above the city, the lightning blinding me with its X-ray flash.

The ketamine was still distorting my perception, for I could hear someone pounding determinedly past the wardrobe, crossing to the window before rattling the drawers.

Ignoring it, I concentrated on slowing my breathing, feeling my heart kick like a baby in a womb against my tight knot of chest muscles.

The banging had changed to a scratching at the door, sounding as if a cat were clawing to escape; unnerved despite myself, I reached for a side-lamp, instantly relaxing in its soft glow.

My mind felt sore, as if I had battered my head against reality’s walls; the furniture too seemed bruised, with purple marks stretching across my desk and chair. Everything was different though I could discern no obvious change, with the beer cans still in a pile by my bed and the heap of unread books in their same position as before. Existence itself appeared altered, my descent into the K-hole affecting the world on a quantum level, the ties binding matter to matter now severed, with a billion parallel universes bleeding into ours. The hiss of the rain against the panes was the sound of atoms dispersing, with the pained wheezing of the asthmatic wind the noise of endless timelines reeling in shock. The ionic bursts of light in the clouds outside was our sun turning supernova and the moon exploding like Etna, their fragile equilibrium destroyed as I’d ripped through their ancient cores in my race to the distant stars.

I was too disorientated to understand anything that I’d witnessed, and as I rinsed the acidic taste from my mouth with a swig of cider, I listened to the reassuring clamour of London’s traffic, exhaustedly relieved that the trip was over.

An ambulance bawled in the night like an unstable robot, its mechanical brain set on murder. I closed my eyes, feeling the sleep spread through my body with almost drunken warmth, as a child screamed in my dreams.

The beams of the morning sun trickling between my curtains held no warmth, the flies feasting on the puddle of vomit rising to meet the shards of lemon-coloured light like souls ascending to heaven. My bedroom reeked of stale sweat, its moribund atmosphere mirroring the depression dragging my mind down with its lifeless heaviness and weighing at my heart as if it were a body tossed overboard, plummeting into the fathomless waters of an icy sea.

The images of the old man, the soldiers – more, the hateful eyes of the foetus were a pack of wild dogs relentlessly pursuing me through the tunnels of my aching brain, their hunger roused by the scent of my fear; no matter which way my thoughts twisted or my attention veered, I could not shake them off.

I chanted Jack’s name, as both a summoning, an invocation for quietude to fill my being and silence the hounds’ savage barking, and as a spell of protection, one simple word yet filled with so much hope and promise wielded to ward off the formless monsters cavorting in the shadowy corners of my room.

It was because of such painful emotions that I had to believe in man as nothing more than a creature driven by instinct; just as my inheritance meant I would never have to actively participate in the real world, neither distracted by a need to work or a want for money, my conviction that I was merely a beast, my baseness hidden beneath clothing was a get-out clause. If, casting aside the hubris of evolution and my pretensions towards sophistication and intelligence I regarded myself as feral in nature, then feelings of sadness, of doubt and despair were reduced to superfluous ornamentation, which, rather than defining man, was instead a hindrance to the animal condition that I could reject.

For the peace and stillness such a philosophy brought, I was even willing to feed my joy and happiness to the ferocious brute inside.

Though I knew the horrific scenes of last night were but a hallucination, such awareness still did not diminish their impact. Yet I could sterilise the wound with my atavistic ideology and staunch the flow of despondency with my reductionist creed; in this way, the terrible picture of the cabinet, stuffed with foetuses as if it were a taxidermist’s window display was denied its unsettling power, emasculated like Samson until it was rendered insignificant.

 With my mood lightening, I climbed out of bed, slipping on a shirt, stopping as I heard the front door suddenly slam as if it were a lid of a coffin, sealing my newly-discovered positivity inside.

My lounge had been trashed, the glass table in shining pieces, the legs ripped from the chairs, and the lamps torn from out the walls, exposing the wooden beams that had once been hidden beneath plaster. Closing my eyes to the destruction, I gulped down a glass of vodka, my faithful stand-by if sober logic failed to quell my rowdy thoughts. I could not understand how I could have been burgled, for the entrance to the apartment block was security-coded, and the reception was staffed all night. Anger snapped at my restraint, pulling it with a crocodile’s strength into the suffocating swamps of rage; it was one feeling that I did not resist, instead welcoming its rush of vitality as I snatched the phone, ready to scream at the concierge.

This was my stronghold, fortified against life’s insistent demands, my private temple dedicated to the worship of the blackness within, a retreat where I could flee from the slurs and slights of the non-believers and be canonized by my own self-assurance. This was the scene of my apotheosis, where my imagination, liberated by coke, speed and crack would create a whole universe of magical worlds.

It had been desecrated.

As the dial-tone warbled in my ear, looking around I noticed tiny rows of indentations spreading out across the sofa. Dropping the phone, I knelt down and studied them. They were teeth marks, as if someone had tried chewing the leather, with two holes either side from where their canines had punctured the rubbery material, the foam padding spilling out like cream on a coffee. Each glistened beneath a patina of saliva as if they were exhibits in a case. The same pattern peppered the TV as well, plastic barbs saluting the room where its casing had cracked as the jaws clamped around it. My Warhol portraits had been similarly defaced, chunks of the day-glow canvas gouged out and spat against the wall in wet pulpy clumps.

I intuitively knew what had caused it, knew who was responsible, though I had to deny it, refuting it for the sake of my sanity.

The sudden thudding of my heart kick-started the release of adrenalin into my bloodstream like petrol flowing into an engine, preparing me for a flight-or-fight response to the dread rising within me.

I had to get out of the flat.

If I was correct, then I was in awful danger.

I rushed for the door, my mind’s demands for rationality and a level-headed assessment of the situation ignored as blind panic took hold.

And then I saw it, stuck on top of the umbrella stand like a head impaled on a spike, its leering eyes silently mocking the crowd. My doctrine of frozen feelings was useless, its tenets of muzzled emotion and handcuffed sensitivity redundant as the uncontrollable fear rioted against its leash. The concierge was banging against the door, calling out for me, but my name held no meaning, was just an empty word; so overwhelming was the terror that it had stripped me of an identity, my personality drowning beneath the hormone flood.

The primordial instinct consumed me again as it had done on the ketamine, for there, gloatingly propped before me was a soldier’s helmet.

I had brought someone back from my trip.

He had stowed himself deep within my synapses, hiding in the storehouse of my mind amongst the dusty memories and moth-eaten recollections, hitchhiking with me as I flew above the kaleidoscopic mass of twisting realities; now the cannibal was here, his headdress no longer a delirium but a tangible fact defying all comprehension.

So I ran; past the concierge, out of the block and onto the damps streets, as if I could escape the horror in my head.


15 September 2008 @ 11:00 pm

I woke late today with the static roar of the afternoon storm stirring me from Diazapan’s sluggishness; outside, the ferocious onslaught of rain had filled the empty bottles of booze and overflowing ashtrays strewn upon the balcony from last night. I’d sat there entranced, gaping through the black railings at the myriad lights dancing above the capital; like fireflies maddened by an urgent need to mate, they had whirled chaotically about the sleek Jet liners taking off from Heathrow, manically spinning above the murky Thames as if they were Catherine wheels. Some were purple, others yellow, illuminating the ground below with their gentle glow; for hours I watched them in astonishment, cracking open beer after beer and enthusiastically toasting their beautiful pirouetting, until, gradually slowing, they floated as gracefully as ballerinas before the moon’s vacant face. Maybe they were nothing more than a hallucination, an illusion created by the ketamine I’d taken; certainly the crowds of shoppers storming through the streets like an invading army paid them no attention. I’d studied their faces as they snarled threateningly at each other, fighting their way into the neon-lit stores amidst a flurry of elbows and shoves, but I saw no trace, no sign that they had even noticed the spectacular waltz of the incandescent orbs above their heads. I couldn’t help but think that their luminous presence over the London skyline was some form of portent, directed at me alone, whose meaning I was yet to understand. They had begun to move in a perceptible sequence of intricate manoeuvres, and grabbing a scrap of paper, I copied it down, determined to investigate its significance. Just as I’d finished tracing their loops and dives, they abruptly vanished into the darkness with the deafening sound of beating wings, as if droves of gigantic dragons were taking to the air. I listened as the flapping was drowned out by the beeping of horns and the screech of wheels from the traffic below, and rushing inside, switched on my laptop as I drunkenly reeled about. I ploughed through endless websites dedicated to esoteric studies, certain that the rune-like pattern formed by the spheres mirrored some occult symbol or mystical sigil.

Succumbing to the irresistible tiredness assaulting my body, I must have passed out with exhaustion, for I came to, hours later, slumped upon the keyboard.

The paper was blank; the drawing had disappeared, and my computer refused to work.

Despite the spaciousness of my sprawling apartment, as I listlessly plodded from room to room it felt suffocating and claustrophobic; what made it worse was that all I could see from out my window was a thick grey mist rising to meet the rain, as if I were hovering amidst the solitude of the clouds. The city outside was unnaturally silent, and even my neighbour’s dog, who would normally bark incessantly throughout the day was quiet; as the stillness became unbearable, I switched on the TV, but interference had swamped each channel, with the grating voices of chat show hosts and the pompous tones of newscasters stuttering and distorted. Five bottles of vodka stood drained on the table, lined up like soldiers on a parade ground; persuading myself that I urgently needed some, I was grateful for the opportunity to leave the flat, pulling on a heavy jacket as I braced myself for the raging wind outside. A heap of mail lay neglected and unread before the front door; weeks would go by before I deigned to pick them, but today, keen for some distraction, I threw them over the sofa and began to sort through each one in turn, my mission to buy alcohol already forgotten. Most were either sycophantic letters from distant cousins fawning for money or snivelling missives dripping with insincerity from relatives I’d seen perhaps once asking me to invest in some ill-conceived business venture; I screwed them up and carried on.

There, nestling beneath two bank statements was a large envelope, the enormous HMP seal emblazoned upon immediately catching my eye, as if it were a medal proudly pinned to an officious sergeant-major’s tunic; a tremor of excitement raced through my body like an electric current, as I realised who had sent it.

I’d written to prisoners before, eager for a voyeuristic insight into their mentality. I had been crippled by torpidity for so long, continually wavering, forever vacillating, but never once actively controlling the direction of my meandering life that the bold decisiveness of the criminals, whatever their offence, seemed to me almost like a heroically defiant gesture against futility. Unable to commit to anything, baffled by the concept of dedicating time and energy to a cause however noble or important, I existed in a state of permanent paralysis, substituting action for idle dreaming and preferring the safety of impotently wishing than actually trying; these passionate men had the courage to believe in something, even if it was in their own god-like right to murder or their warped justification to bend another to their unswayable will, and more than that, they had the determination to act on those ideals. Gripped by debilitating inertia, any deed, however monstrous was positive; whether sinful or even virtuous, any endeavour would give meaning to my existence.

Naturally, I was inclined to the former.

I’d sent letters to a theologian-cum-arsonist in Strangeways, responsible for the death of three toddlers; he’d dismissed my effusive praise, lucidly arguing that no matter how cathartic it had felt burning down the house in which his wife and her lover slept, the guilt of committing infanticide, even unwittingly, had left him maimed, his bruised conscience like a ball and chain, disabling him far more effectively than what he’d rejected as my ‘effete boredom’.

Perhaps he had a point.

I’d maintained a six-month correspondence with a serial killer in Wormwood, notorious for strangling eight prostitutes and burying their mutilated bodies in his garden. He was glad of the diversion my letters provided from the interminable monotony of his life sentence. Through him, I came to modify my own nihilistic philosophy. Dying in a cell was indistinguishable from dying in my own apartment, for the result would again have been one of stasis; clearly the scope of the action was important. The crime must have long-lasting repercussions, setting off a domino effect, during which, as each piece falls, I would still be acting, years, even decades after the event.

The never-ending tears of my victim’s devastated family would be my will in perpetual motion.

Of course I’d written to Jack; it had been impossible to resist. My letters had been as obsequious as those of my cousins, my desperate need for him manifesting as grovelling ingratiation, but that didn’t matter, for my pride and dignity I had lost years before. Though running for pages, they held little in the way of substance or true feeling, with the awe in which I regarded him inhibiting genuine expression; instead, each inconsequential sentence and each ephemeral paragraph almost floated off the paper through their lack of depth and significance. I’d included photographs of myself, carefully selected to best demonstrate my looks, doctoring the images on my computer and removing any spot or blemish upon my stern features as if I were a plastic surgeon. I had spent hours debating whether to end the note with a kiss, or to simply leave it blank; I felt like a school girl with her first crush, nervously excited, with the hope that was still to be crushed by love’s cruelty overcoming any doubt or fear that her desire would remain unrequited. That Jack would be mine was a certainty; it wasn’t hubris or self-deceit on my part, but instead a recognition of our union’s necessity, for without his energy, and without my intelligence to direct it, we would fall beneath Time’s stampede as forgotten also-rans. But together – together we could shock our country’s moralistic conservatism with the most despicable deeds, and appal the bourgeois masses with our scandalous crimes. My assurance that we would become lovers dispelled any of the anxiety caused by his total lack of response, the eight letters I’d sent in as many months never once being answered; I even found his silence exciting, interpreting it as coquettishness, his quiet demure fuelling my eager passion, for in that silence I could dream. I could fantasise about our life together, as two architects, designing an eternal empire of vice, as two explorers, fearlessly venturing into the heart of the abyss, and more, as two devoted lovers, our mutual adoration turning the cavernous vaults of hell into golden meadows in which we would play and kiss and laugh. Not that I had actually experienced such ardour, for my sole experience of love was that of what my parents had smothered me with, suffocating my independence and asphyxiating my self-reliance; I had never had a boyfriend, nor even a true friend.

Love to me was an abstraction, applying reasoning rather than feeling in an attempt to understand its nature; it was merely a poetic conceit, concocted by some fey sonneteer desperate for new material, a fancy created by a strumming minstrel to tempt his audience into bed. It was purely a euphemism, used by the sanctimonious to conceal their secret lusts, with the flowers, the chocolates, all its clichéd accoutrements simply a smokescreen to hide their ferocious carnality. It was a concept that I toyed with, a concept devoid of any emotional weight, that I dissected and clinically scrutinized; it that sense, it was indistinguishable from murder, crime and transgression, for both were simply philosophical notions, studied and considered to provide my entertainment. I was so detached from reality, from true life, as if I were an actor stepping out of the TV screen and watching the film unfold without him, that I had no real understanding of the world. There was nothing to differentiate me from a prisoner, for both our perceptions of daily existence came from second-hand reports and fleeting glimpses rather than actual participation. Because of that exclusion, beliefs in a god or a moral code, sinfulness and mortality had become reduced to ideas; though I had witnessed their effects on others, they had never caused a reaction in me, for my heart was too sterile, my soul a barren plain across which feelings rarely ventured.

And Jack –

Jack could change that –

But if he couldn’t, if love stayed just an abstraction, then between us we would write the finest odes, their lines filled with images of rape; we would sing the most beautiful ballads, their soaring choruses dedicated to incest and abuse.

If he couldn’t, we would become philosophers armed with guns, finding the proof of our hypotheses in violence and pain; our logic would be God’s assassin, steel-plating our hearts with arguments and deductions. We would be murderous students of ontology, discovering the nature of being in bloodshed and carnage.

I couldn’t wait any longer to open the letter. As if I were a child frenziedly unwrapping his Christmas presents, crying out in excitement I tore the envelope apart. Inside was a visiting order from Jack; there was no note, no personal message, just a photocopied set of regulations, that it warned I had to strictly follow.

In a few days I would be sat opposite him, feeling his eyes burn like lasers through my layers of obfuscation to reveal at last my true character, showing me who I am, and exactly what I am here for.

In a few days I would embark upon a journey that Rimbaud never finished, a voyage De Sade never completed, an expedition deep into a man-made hell, a diabolical realm that we would pillage like Vikings.

The void laughed in the sky above.

11 September 2008 @ 11:21 pm

Though many of my memories have been smothered by drugs, with the constant lines of coke sweeping through my mind like blizzards and blanketing the past beneath its endless swathes of white, I can still remember, with surprising clarity, one particular night four years ago.

Back then, I strove to fill the emptiness that has for so long stalked me; only recently have I learnt to surrender to its cold embrace, letting my shrewish heart at last relent, and be seduced by its desolate, nihilistic passion. Back then, I tried so hard to heal the wound that had been gouged into my being, haemorraghing all that was once good in me; the only remedy, the only viable treatment it seemed, was love, as if kisses were like stitches, and the arms of a man wrapped tightly round my body a bandage, staunching the flood of blood. And so I eagerly embarked upon a series of dates, with some, if I was lucky, growing into a weekend fling; for the most part however, my soul was too stony, its soil too parched for an affair to shrub, let alone blossom into a relationship.     

It was during one such weekend that the event occurred. I’d met a guy the night before, in a crowded pub beside Walthamstow tube; my faltering attraction towards him, after an awkward fumble that had been fuelled more by alcohol than genuine desire soon waned, and I only lingered in his cramped, musty bedsit the next day on the condition that he would sell me some of the crystal meth that he was due to collect from a dealer in Enfield. Impatiently we waited for his phone to ring, the endless joints he rolled distorting my perception of time, with each tedious hour seemingly stretching into a hundred years, until, when the text message finally arrived, my mind had become numb with boredom. Sleepily slumped upon his sofa-bed, I watched through heavy lids as he emptied the secret stash of money he kept wedged behind the gun-grey electric meter, and disappeared out of the door, the loud click as he cracked open a can of warm beer and his muffled exchange of hollow platitudes with another tenant floating up from the hallway. He had no TV, no stereo, nothing to distract me from the monotonous wait until he returned, and so, grabbing my cigarettes from off the broken microwave, its blackened plug hanging over its greasy side like a noose, I climbed out onto the window ledge, and with my feet dangling above the deserted street, watched the afternoon drag by, and the moon rise jubilantly through the sky as it ascended to its star-speckled throne. He’d been gone six hours. Maybe he’d been busted; I wasn’t concerned for his welfare – as I drained my third can of Kestral, I realised I didn’t even know his name - for my thoughts were centred solely on the crystal meth, the buzz of anticipation I felt a mere taster for the unbridled rush the drug would bring. As midnight came and went, annoyed, I readied myself to leave, no longer prepared to waste any more time on his false promises, but then, at last, I heard the scratch of his key against the lock, the door slowly opening to reveal his bruised, bloodied face, red and swollen like beetroot. He stumbled into the room, collapsing upon the bare floor boards, his clenched fist opening like a shellfish to reveal the four crimson-stained teeth that had been smashed from his mouth. There was no sympathy or pity within me as I watched him crawl towards the bed, for such feelings had instantly melted in the anger that boiled inside my heart’s beating chambers as I realised that, after so much expectation, I had been denied my hit.

He winced as I dabbed his cuts with TCP, removing the grit embedded in his wounds with my finger nail before gently massaging antiseptic cream into his ruptured skin. His left eye bulged out like a black balloon, and his lip, against which he gingerly held a wet cloth, looked as fat as a glutted anaconda. Expecting his dealer to be nothing more than a wasted skaghead, easily duped and careless thanks to his obsessive urgency to score, he’d taken with him a bundle of counterfeit notes, planning to buy with the worthless paper enough coke, crack and crystal to keep him high for weeks, selling the remainder at a discounted rate to his friends. He’d known straight away as a silver Jaguar pulled up at the meeting place that he had misjudged the situation, trading not with some addled junky as he had thought, but instead with the area’s main supplier; yet stupidly convinced of the quality of the forged cash and confident in his ability to pull off the scam, he had climbed into the car smirking at his cockiness. His injuries attested to his failure, having been dragged out of the Jag and savagely beaten behind a derelict factory as soon as his connection had realised the blatant deception. He was reluctant to reveal his aggressor’s identity, my repeated questions answered only by silence and his groans of pain as he struggled to unscrew a vodka bottle with his fractured fingers; whoever it was he clearly feared that they’d turn up at any moment, as he sat beside the window, peeking between the smoke-stained curtains and anxiously studying the road below. It was only after his fifth glass, blushing with embarrassment at the spectacular extent of his idiocy, that he whispered in a hushed and almost reverential tone that he had tried to con Jack Guillotine.

The Guillotines were a notorious family of criminals, their involvement in drug dealing, protection rackets, gun-selling and murder cementing their status as London’s most villainous gang since the Krays, and though the police had longed for years to see them behind bars, so intimidating was their violent reputation that the Met was reluctant to engage them in any form of confrontation, often deliberately turning a blind eye to some of the Guillotine’s more sinister activities rather than risk the lives of their officers. In thirty years, they had gone from being nothing more than a bunch of East End scrappers leaving a trail of smashed-up pubs in their wake, to kings of the underworld presiding over an empire of brothels, casinos and clubs, their fiefdom maintained and supervised by a band of fiercely loyal minions, most of them ex-bouncers and hardened street fighters. The Guillotine’s contempt for all forms of authority held a fascinating allure, which had resulted, despite their links to a series of brutal killings in the early Nineties, in their elevation to heroes of the anti-Establishment, much to the horror of England’s ubiquitous moral guardians. They were living urban legends, their captivating mystery fuelled by conflicting rumours and perpetuated by exaggerated accounts of their crimes in boozy after-hour lock-ins, and Jack, the youngest and by far the most vicious member of the clan was the focus for many of these hyperbolic myths. From tales of his time as a mercenary, allegedly selling his services to the IRA and aiding them in several terrorist attacks on the capital, to his purported one-man attack on a group of Yardies that were plotting to take over the Guillotine’s patch, it was an indisputable fact that much of his mystique stemmed from his bombastic talent at self-publicity, with many of the stories circulating around nothing more than a product of own his imagination, in which many were easily persuaded to believe.

I had to grudgingly admire my acquaintance’s kamikaze-like lunacy, though even he, probing with his tongue the newly-formed gap in his shattered teeth agreed that the Guillotines had let him off lightly, despite his broken bones and cracked rib, against which he pressed a yellowing pillow; we’d both heard accounts of the oldest brother knifing a motorist simply for overtaking him, and, feeling desperately ashamed at his foolishness, as I rubbed yet more cream into his aching body, tearfully the man admitted he’d been lucky to have escaped with his life. I’d once glimpsed Jack myself outside a West End club, a fat cigar in his hand, swaggering past the long, rowdy queue, and tipping his hat at the waiting women swooning at his undeniable charisma, whilst the black girls in his enormous entourage jealously fumed. Impressed by his style, intrigued by his infamous repute, and instantly attracted to the gangster’s snub-faced looks, I’d toyed with the idea of following him inside, if only to covertly watch him from across the dance floor. He wouldn’t have wasted a second on me; during their long and bloody reign, the Guillotines had become virtually celebrities, the tabloids regularly reporting with awe their latest crime, and compared to Jack I was a no-body, despite my inherited fortune. Our only similarity was that we’d both spent our lives storming against the world, turning all we met into our victims, to be hounded, to be bullied, in a futile attempt at purging the incomprehensible hate we felt towards everyone and everything. I, like him, even four years ago, defined myself by the violent anger contaminating my mind; even though its effects were totally negative, and ultimately self-destructive, so sterile and empty had been my soul that I was grateful to feel at least something, and in spreading my sickness amongst the innocent and vulnerable, I finally found some meaning, some purpose.  Jack and I were both discordant notes in Rage’s cacophonous scherzo, and though separated by shifting tempos and key changes, our effect was still the same on all that were forced to listen to our furious din. I’d settled myself on the pavement opposite the club, waiting expectantly for him to leave, hoping to see his fists bloodied from some brawl at the bar, and his glazed eyes spinning about like the reels of a fruit machine from too much cocaine; then, satisfied, I would have simply walked away into the night, content in the knowledge that though I was damned, there were others to keep me company in hell. I must have fallen asleep, for I suddenly found myself, stiff and sore, simmering in the morning sun, the club closed and surrounded by broken beer bottles. As I awkwardly rose and made my way to a taxi rank, I’d wondered if Jack had seen my sleeping body upon the street, my dreams filled with his face; I’d fantasised that as he looked at me whilst climbing into his expensive car, he’d trembled with an inexplicable affinity, a bond linking our unconscious minds, beyond all word and thought. I laughed out loud; I knew I was kidding myself.

I’d dressed most of the man’s wounds, leaving the huge gash dissecting his chest in half till last. We’d run out of antiseptic cream, and I had taken to washing the deep gulley-like cuts in alcohol as if I were a Victorian physician, the stinging vodka causing him to flinch and yelp in shock. Consumed by self-pity, he’d spent the last hour sobbing, the tears that fell from his black eye glistening like tar against the bruised skin. Silently I carried on with my task, stubbornly refusing to offer any comforting words of sympathy or console him with an understanding embrace; instead, ignoring his pathetic blubbing, I secretly relished his pain as I poured the liqueur bottle’s final few drops upon the purple weals covering his shoulders like a horde of feasting leeches. Laying him down on his back beneath the light bulb’s lemony glare, I examined the weeping chasm stretching between his nipples. The torn skin had buckled like a crashed car and between the two ridges, the exposed nerves and capillaries glowed a vivid red, as if they were smouldering fragments of an asteroid embedded in a crater. There was nothing left to sterilise it with, and though it obviously needed stitching, he steadfastly refused to go to hospital, terrified at the thought of leaving the safety of his bedsit. Kneeling beside him, I studied his naked, battered body, marked with Jack Guillotine’s handiwork; it was as if each bleeding hole was a personal message to me, the scratches doubling as letters and the nicks on his chin forming words, a letter written on flesh in crimson ink, promising that one day we would finally meet, and together we’d venture into an everlasting night, companions aboard Charon’s hijacked craft. The man’s injuries were an itinerary for our holiday in hell, where, on the Stygian shores we would mockingly laugh at the shackled souls, kidnapped from the world above to sweat and toil as our slaves. The lesions to his thigh were a line of parting kisses, each one lingering upon my lips with a tender passion that I had never before known.

His beaten, broken body was an illuminated manuscript, an unholy bible dedicated to hate, and illustrated with lacerations and slashes left by a knuckle-duster, with Jack as a vengeful, tyrannous God, and I his loathsome son; the man would forever carry his scars as if they were an advertisement, promoting our rebellious cause, and publicising the policies, the manifestoes and the vicious agenda of our two-man party, committed to inspire revolt in all who were disenchanted, all who were outcasts, and all who had been ostracized from society’s clique.

He’d passed out; whether through blood-loss, concussion, or simply exhaustion I was unsure, yet I made no effort to revive him or call an ambulance. I lay against his unconscious body, caressing the gash upon his chest and sliding my finger along the sticky ravine. Perhaps this was as close as I’d ever get to Jack; we lived in such different worlds that I was almost certain we would never meet, that he would never know my need for him, that I would descend into the infernal lair alone. I envied my acquaintance. I would have willingly swapped places with him, rejoicing in each blow, each kick, each punch that Jack inflicted upon me, for I would then at last have known his incendiary passion, would at last have felt his fiery intensity, and as I surrendered myself to his anger, I would have finally been renewed, restored to life by his explosive vitality and untameable energy. His curses, his threats, each imprecation he’d yell at me I’d hear as words of devotion, of kindness and love, watching his fists blossom into roses and his spit falling as confetti. The injuries he’d leave me with would be like presents on Valentine’s, the pain blazing from them nothing compared to the agony I’d feel as he’d roar off in his Jag. I climbed upon the man’s inert body, brushing my penis across his chest wound and dislodging the freshly-formed scabs with my helmet as if I were a miner hacking at a vein of iron ore with a pick-axe. As I began to masturbate, I could smell the rich scent of Jack’s expensive aftershave pour from out the cuts; as I gripped my scrotum, pulling at the folds of loose skin, I could make out the aroma of his Cuban cigars drifting lazily around me, the wispy strands of smoke rising from the thatch-work of scratches like spectres climbing out of their graves. As I looked down, ineffable happiness and delight chirruped like spring birds in my heart. There, gazing at me from behind the folds of shredded skin draped like stage curtains across the man’s sternum was Jack’s face, pressing through the bloodied muscle and sinew. Against his round, puffy cheeks a thick clump of nerves and veins clung, as he struggled to pull himself out of the heaving thorax. I rushed over to him, crying out in anguish as he slowly disappeared behind the mottled flesh, fading like the sun from the evening sky. All that was left of him were two mournful eyes solemnly staring out of the gash; catching sight of me on my knees pleading for him to stay, their expression changed to one of elation, tears softly spilling from them as I whispered my pledge of love.

He was gone.

He was gone, and I have never longed for another since.

 A month later, I was travelling across London on a crowded tube train, the sweating commuters that were jammed against each other like African slaves in a boat’s creaking hold swaying in one huge compacted mass of legs and arms as the carriage shuddered through the tunnels. With the whine of the engines gradually subsiding and the lights spasmodically flickering on and off, we slowly ground to a halt, wedged between the curving walls of the subway like a blood clot in an artery. In the strained silence that followed, irregularly interspersed with the smothered yawns of tired students and the frustrated groans of exhausted workers impatient to get home, the passengers, in an attempt to relieve the gruelling monotony of the wait before once again we rattled on our way, furtively started studying one another from behind paperbacks and magazines like undercover agents tracking their suspects. Even at the merest hint that one of the travellers dared express some individuality, whether through an unusual choice of clothing or in their taste for the strange music blazing from out their headphones, then a hundred pairs of censorious eyes would instantly set upon them like a pack of wolves, savaging the unfortunate victim with glares of disapproval. Crammed between two obese men, whose fat, sagging stomachs protruded from under their tight t-shirts like spongy whelks peering out of barnacled shells, I cracked open my can of lukewarm beer, and as the hissing lager foamed over my hands, dripping onto the floor, I was pinned to my seat by the stern stares assaulting me from every direction. Hiding my embarrassment behind the newspaper a Jamaican vendor had thrust in my palm at the station, I busied myself in reading the day’s horoscope, until, with their curiosity sated, the crowd turned their heads away from me in almost choreographed unison.

Distractedly flicking through the tabloid, its stories of political corruption and reports of social unrest holding no interest, I once again began to smell Jack’s pungent cigars, and, as smoke rose from out the black and white images of famous footballers, sliding up my twitching nostrils like the tentacles of a squid probing an underwater crevice for food, I knew before I even turned the page that his picture would be there, his handsome face still wearing that same look of adoration from weeks before. And there he was, his contemplative gaze that burrowed through my body to the very centre of my being holding the answers to the unfathomable riddles and impossible puzzles with which my soul had been chained, deciphering the confused codes that had bound me since childhood with his love and tempestuous passion. Despite the poor quality of the blurred photograph, I could still perceive the confidence tugging his lips into a satisfied grin, as, like a chess master certain of the winning moves, Jack held in checkmate the ennui and slothful inertia that had for so long crippled me, cornering my paralysing lethargy with his unlimited vigour. As I struggled to read the article, the meaning of the sentences became increasingly obscure, and overcome with confusion, I watched as the unintelligible words separated like the Earth’s shifting plates into a seething morass of letters, each character losing definition and becoming merely black splodges of ink dripping down the page.

A deep, gruff voice filled my ears; at first I mistakenly thought the man sitting beside me was talking to his companion, and paying it no heed, returned my attention to the swirling shapes speckling the paper like interference. But as it grew in volume, its harshness relenting and giving way to an almost paternal gentleness, I could ignore it no longer, hearing it repeatedly whisper my name over and over like a mantra. It was Jack; it was Jack, talking to me as if through some psychic link, our minds combined in harmonious union, with his thoughts filtering through my awareness, and his feelings, his emotions, dispersing like aspirin in my brain’s electrical field. I listened, absorbed, a frisson of joy fluttering in my chest ; so entranced was I that I failed to notice the sudden shift in his tone, changing from relaxed joviality to sombre melancholy. He’d been arrested, charged with the murder of his wife.  Reluctant to reveal any more, my questions met with sighs as wistful as a lovelorn poet, I listened as his voice faded amongst the commuter’s chattering. This time, I felt no sadness at his leaving, for I knew with the utmost conviction that our telepathic connection would remain, and, like secret lovers meeting under a moonlit sky, we would be reunited in the night’s dreaming kingdom.

The letters that were draped across the newspaper like bodies hanging limply from the gallows began to reform, joining with each other to create comprehensible words and sentences. The train shuddered into the station, its doors bleeping as they sluggishly slid open, yet I made no effort to disembark; instead, jostled by the business men forcefully barging into the carriage like a squad of belligerent rugby players, their black briefcases clattering against my legs, I absorbedly studied the report, meticulously attentive to its invasive insights into Jack’s private life, each revelation leaving me stunned. Jack had strangled his wife in a fit of rage; with his history of violence, it came as no surprise. But the motivating factor behind her murder would have shocked all those familiar with Jack’s reputation as a serial womaniser, his conquests, regularly snapped by the paparazzi as they hung from his arm in some fashionably chic club invariably plucked from the lower echelons of stardom, all keen to share in his dangerous allure. His long-suffering wife had at last revolted, threatening to reveal to the press Jack’s bisexuality and his penchant for rent boys; such a disclosure would have had devastating consequences to his high ranking amongst the criminal fraternity and the respect in which they held him. But what they would have seen as his weakness, a failing laying waste to his credibility as a thuggish gangster delighting in destruction, I saw as confirmation, proof that our destiny lay with each other. I would be his Dante, loyally following him into the black bowels of Hell, where, with my love for him fuelled by my hate for everyone else, I would spit on salvation and its impossible dreams of redemption, and instead blissfully surrender to damnation if it meant I would never part from my disfigured Beatrice.

Sat opposite me was an anaemic-looking civil servant, absent-mindedly fiddling with his silver cuff-links as he flicked through a thick folder stuffed with memos and spread sheets, post-it notes clinging to each leaf like orange scales upon a fish. To the receptionist who routinely greeted him every morning with a cup of coffee he would seem affable, as they gossiped about an office affair. His colleagues would have thought him good-humoured, as he bantered with them across the bland swathes of desks and artificial plants and jokingly flirted with the band of secretaries gathered by the coffee machine. His manager would have considered him assiduous, determinedly driven to meet the week’s set of targets, and always courteous to the wealthy Japanese clients that were trustingly placed in his care. But I, I could smell his corruption; though he wore his tailor-made suit in a feeble attempt to contain its slaughter-house stench behind the fine, immaculately-cut material, and despite his expensive gold jewellery designed to divert attention from its putridity, having spent all my life in the squalid company of vice, I easily sensed its ineradicable presence. The receptionist, his colleagues, his manager, they would never know of the filth in which his soul wallowed, for he, like Jack and I, luxuriated in immorality, three princes of Caligula’s court towering on a throne of mutilated virgins. Yet, like a billion other hypocrites, their hate skulking behind feigned smiles, the civil servant would forever be caught in a struggle to suppress and deny the rage that had claimed his wasted heart as its realm, rejecting the fury that confirmed his existence and bestowed upon each fleeting moment precious, priceless meaning; scared to confront the shadow that constantly walked beside him, he would hide from the blazing sun, only daring to venture out when the sky was a dismal grey. Whatever his transgression, whatever the nature of the sin that his instincts compelled him to commit, after the momentary pleasure, the temporary relief, the interminable guilt would come, carrying with it never-ending shame, like disease and sickness whirling on the searing currents of a sirocco. Only by learning as Jack and I had done to embrace such feelings, and brazenly parade them before the public like badges of honour would he at last manage to quell his inner unrest, and heal his splintered being.

I have always been openly frank about my taste for the dissolute, never once bothering to hide my rampant degeneracy; some may have mistaken such honesty as my sole remaining virtue, but any effort to conceal it would have been entirely futile, with my depravity so unavoidably obvious. Like a leper begging on the street, all my life I have either shocked or sickened those around me with my sadistic wickedness. My parents had sensed it when I was still a small boy, limiting my contact with other children to a few blissful moments spent playing alongside them in the park, a form of damage control designed to prevent me from bullying them or tarnishing their precious innocence. As I progressed into puberty, I was deprived of a regular school life, taught at home by a sententious tutor who would endlessly pontificate upon some trivial topic whilst I idly dreamed of the glorious wonders the world held, wonders that I would seemingly forever be denied by my overbearing parents. I often thought they’d left me the inheritance purely as a deliberately vindictive attempt to exclude me from daily life; never would I know of the anxieties and worries that work, money and mortgages brought, but also I would never know the happiness and joy that came from genuine friendship and relationships with those whose affection for me was not driven by their greed to share in my fortune. Instead I lived in a dark, twisted fairytale, trapped in a tower built of gold; though I had apparent freedom from all want and responsibility, such costly liberty was ironically that which bound me in fetters, for I knew no restriction, had no rules to exist by, nor no constraints to curb my wanton excesses. The result was that I would forever careen out of control, desperately seeking direction, my search for purpose ironically becoming my sole reason to continue, the fulfilment I yearned for as evasive as a faded memory.

But with Jack –

If Jack was mine -

We would be two demented missionaries, journeying into the steaming interior, driven by fanatical fervour to spread the word of our pagan cult. There, the wild savages, dressed in pinstriped suits fashioned from roots and vines dwelt in a mud-built metropolis. No beast would dare enter the heathen city, with its rickety towers encircled by a motorway moulded from excrement, along which carts continuously rattled throughout the night. Gathered in a glade, the old tigers, their fur streaked with grey would whisper of the unnatural sights they had witnessed there, as the cubs mewled in fear. The lions, normally so proud and brave, would collapse in a shaking heap, terror-stricken as the natives stealthily approached, hungrily hunting for meat as they brandished sharpened pens and filed rulers. But we, we would not be deterred, rabidly sermonizing in the shadows cast by their wooden megaliths, and preaching with manic enthusiasm in the market squares; if they would not submit, if they refused to convert to our caustic creed, then Jack and I would raise their citadels to the ground and torch their halls and buildings.

Cornered by their enraged army, our fingers entwined in a Gordian knot, we choose suicide rather than a protracted, humiliating death at their hands.

With Jack –

With Jack as mine –

We would be two zealous revolutionaries, storming the opulent palace of our starving nation’s tyrannous monarch. We fight alone; our fellow citizens, mindlessly doped with apathy and drunk on lassitude’s numbing brew brand us as dangerous madmen, dismissing our plans for social reform as the regressive ramblings of lunatics. Racing through the golden halls, determined to reach the throne room, we hack at the rows of priceless portraits, ripping each canvas in turn from its intricately-carved frame, only to then stamp upon the stern, painted countenances of past leaders. Our corrupt king makes no attempt to resist, rebuffing Jack’s threats with a scoffing laugh, his bloated belly shaking in amusement. He looks at us in contempt through his jewelled mask; with peacock feathers as hair, diamonds as eyes and grinning lips hewn from rubies, no one has ever seen the face beneath, yet we, tutored by Machiavelli and trained in combat by Guevara, have come to expose the truth. Dragging him by his jowls through the banqueting room, ignoring our empty stomachs groaning at the delectable sight of the endless piles of food, we push him onto the balcony. A crowd has gathered, and are mercilessly shouting for our blood; the stamping boots of the royal guards are drawing closer. Together, assured of triumph yet certain of our inescapable death, Jack and I heave from off our accursed ruler his glittering disguise, watching the mask shatter in the courtyard below. The bellowing throng fall silent; seconds later, the first horrified screams begin. The king’s disfigured face is a weeping mass of sores, scabs, ulcers and warts, his snake-like tongue flicking across crusted lips. The soldiers arrive, ignoring the repugnant sight; mindless obedience and unquestioning acceptance has been bred into them over generations as a result of the state eugenics programme, and instead they slowly turn upon us.

The bayonets that puncture my skin leave me impaled against the walls of History’s ever-growing library –

And each drop of blood spilling like Niobe’s tears from Jack’s chest wound would forever stain a violent crimson the sky of endless tomorrows.

I was no longer on the train; I was no longer even in the city. Across a scorched, dusty plateau overlooking a seemingly never-ending canyon, stretching like a yawn into the distance I trekked, heading towards a figure crouched by the spluttering embers of a dying bonfire. What little vegetation remained had turned black, the desiccated clumps of gorse crumbling to dust beneath my feet; a wilted cactus, once standing as tall as me, now flopped dolefully forward, as if bent in reverence to the blistering sun that had ravaged the craggy terrain. Even the vultures had died, with the bare bones of their carcasses bleached a brilliant white in the sweltering blaze of the languorous afternoon. The stale air clinging oppressively to my skin was like a shroud, smothering my whole body with its lifeless stickiness until I had to forcibly struggle forward. Exhausted, I slumped against Jack beside the smouldering cinders, watching him pick up a huge beetle that had been roasted inside its steely carapace by the unendurable heat; after plucking off each of its legs in turn as if they were petals of a rose, he snapped the insect in two, offering me a scrap of the tender red meat he’d scraped from out its shell.

Here, it all would end.

Here, everything will die.

We had come to watch the final moments of the universe, to see the firmament collapse, and, with our arms around each other’s shoulders, to marvel at the strange grace of relentless destruction, as if this desolate outcrop on which we sat tingling with anticipation was our private auditorium, and the darkening sky a panoramic cinema screen beneath which we would wonder, awe-struck, at the dazzling beauty of the void, as it devoured planets and galaxies.  Like two Bedouins camping out in the desert’s howling night, we had journeyed here neither to resist it, nor to fight against it; so inevitable was the soundless finality facing all creation that such efforts would have been ludicrously futile.

We had journeyed here to embrace it.

No moon lit the impenetrable blackness; the stars were all spent and the once-glittering heavens boomed with emptiness. The canyons, the ravines, the mountains that had stood for millennia had already been consumed by the nothingness, and like a life-raft floating across a colourless sea, only the lump of rock on which we lay in each others’ arms remained, eddying about on the void’s tranquil periphery. Everything we had once known had gone; countries, cities, the world’s entire population. The unending wastes of oblivion that confronted us was incomprehensible, the loneliness, the isolation that faced us indescribable; our only comfort was that we had mere minutes to live. A group of priests had gathered in prayer just days before; though they had watched their families vanish and their devoted flocks disappear before their weeping eyes, they were certain of their own salvation. Their terrified screams had been unendurable, as above their heads, the god to whom they had dedicated their entire existence was sucked into the black heart of the abyss, swirling upon its raging storms like a spider washed down a plughole, until, without a single cry, he had gone. The sight had driven them mad; left with only redundant beliefs and worthless piety, they had jumped like lemmings into the seething maelstrom in pursuit of their dead divinity. There was no Day of Judgement, nor no Armageddon, just the meek submission of light and love. Our world had gone, neither with a bang, or a whimper, but with the accusatory silence of surrender, as all around, the atomic lattices of matter unravelled, the last remnants of energy dissipating like a daydream.

The void had even sucked the words from our mouths. The last thing I’d heard Jack say was a line from a love poem; it was last thing mankind would ever say, and, as I vainly hoped that he’d dedicated his mournful recital to me, I realised, after centuries of vengeful yelling, blasphemous cursing and the merciless battle-cries of nations fighting nations, our species’ epitaph would not be yet another angry rant against mortality, but instead the sweet, innocent sentiment of romance. As all memories and thoughts were leeched from my mind, with only engrained instincts and deep-rooted impulses remaining, I gripped on to Jack’s twitching legs as he was drawn into the vortex, its annihilating currents hungrily tearing the skin from our bones. A wave of disembodied minds swept past our writhing bodies, as we drifted like pollen on the breeze towards the insatiable core.

As the void turned upon itself, shrinking into a singularity, there was no more life –

No more being –

There wasn’t even death.


The psychoanalyst handed me a glass of water, a look of concern at last troubling the expressionless mask she wore during each session. Leaning forward, clutching my throbbing head in my hands, I unthreaded the black skinny tie from around my neck, confused as to what had just happened. Involuntarily I shivered; it was as if a shadow had fallen upon my soul, as if some daemonic force had reared up before me, blotting out the morning’s sludgy light as it crept closer, shaking its huge fist, across which a ridge of gnarled knuckles protruded as it defiantly protested against Heaven.

She settled back in her imperiously-oversized armchair, carefully scrutinising my frowning features as she tapped a fountain pen against her polished teeth, the beat sounding like the patter of dirt thrown by a group of black-suited mourners upon an oaken coffin.

I rubbed my cheek; it was cold, coated with lollipop-sticky mucus that had wormed out of my pores, not just on my face, but over my whole body. I could feel it trickling between my shoulder blades, dripping down my legs, and collecting in thick pools within my shoes, as if I had been swallowed by a beast grown to behemoth-like proportions, its green, putrid saliva forming a shell around me as I plummeted into the acidic, skin-stripping pit of its cavernous gut. Choking on the digestive fluids invading my mouth, thrown about its stinking stomach as it was wracked by a gag reflex, I was spat back out, regurgitated, disgorged in a slimy heap on the seat on which I which I now was slumped, downing with a glug the water as I tried to wash the repulsive oily taste from off my tongue.

The therapist jubilantly rose up, her normal icy repose shattering and her routine, frosty demeanour thawing as a smile struggled awkwardly to spread across her lips. The grin looked unnatural, as if she were competing in some beauty pageant, exaggerating every movement in a frantic attempt to capture the judge’s attention. Suddenly becoming conscious of her uncharacteristic joy, she stopped, and leant against the stuffed bookcase, her back pressed against the brown leather spines of the obscure volumes as she studied me, an air of smug satisfaction wafting off her like sickly-sweet perfume.

At last she spoke, her self-congratulatory tone plump with pomposity as she announced that she had always known that one day I would at last lower my defences, and expose my long-concealed weaknesses and vulnerability, as if I were a scrawny Achilles falling before her Paris.

I was astonished to hear that for a whole ten minutes I had sobbed in front of her; I had no recollection, even though it was merely seconds ago, the memory concealed behind the mephitic black smog sweeping through my mind like the car fumes hanging heavily in the London sky outside. She dragged her chair closer to me, renewing her attack as if she were an interrogator sensing her suspect was close to cracking, and nodding her head, prompted me to continue.

Whatever had happened had certainly been cathartic; the lethargy that for so long had infected me, as if it were a Tsetse fly continuously pumping into my bloodstream debilitating doses of sleeping sickness, had at last finally left. My limbs no longer sagged with leaden lifelessness, and instead were now bubble-light, the concrete marrow of my bones replaced with helium. I was almost convinced that if I rose too quickly, I would fly out of the room, beyond the streets into the air, like an astronaut, unhindered by the Earth’s oppressive gravity careening across the lunar surface. Yet despite these positive effects, I silently glowered with anger, directed inwards against my pathetic heart cowering in my chest. I blazed with wrath, ignoring the psychoanalyst rocking in anticipation, and railed against my timid, frightened soul, crying out in pain.

The help for which it was so desperate I would deny; the tender, maternal aid that it so urgently needed I would block, casting my agonised essence to the hatred, rage and violence prowling the arena of my mind like ravenous lions eager to taste the quailing Christian’s flesh.

If I had inadvertently revealed some hidden frailty to the therapist, even momentarily, then I would tower above her like a mystical griffin, my fangs coated in the blood of a massacred conscience, with the pale skin that I had torn from Morality’s famishing frame still hanging from my claws, and with an unending roar, burn from her mind with my fiery breath all trace of such sensitivity.

“When I was six, my uncle used to come into my room at night,” I whispered, watching her record it on my case notes.

Leaving the cubicle door slightly ajar, I lowered my trousers, and threaded my scrotum through the cock-ring, wincing as the tight rubber band caught at my pubes, ripping them out like a butcher plucking a chicken. The walls, smeared with dried lube, were scored with glory holes, and I felt almost as if I were a magician’s assistant, reluctantly climbing into his cabinet embossed with golden stars, and waiting apprehensively for the first sword to slide through the slit. A scuffed trainer peeked out from under the partition, accompanied by a fake bout of coughing, as the queen tried to seize my attention from the next lock-up.

An eye leered at me through the spy hole, watching in delight as I posed, rubbing saliva into my penis, as it rose by degrees like a clock’s hand ticking towards midnight. I heard the sound of a scratching pen, and looked on in amusement as he pushed beneath the metal divide a folded sheet of toilet roll, across which the message’s ink had seeped, and now resembled a bat’s wing lined with veins.

For cottage queens, this is the foreplay, the build-up, with the gentle caressing and intimate petting of two devoted lovers replaced by furtive signalling, from the rapping of knuckles against the cistern, to the repeated rattling of the chain.

Unwilling to waste any more time deferring the pleasure that I so greedily coveted, I ignored the note, and instead poked my finger through the gap, coaxing him to abandon the predictable and elaborate warm-up.

Seconds went by as he hesitated, his breath becoming hoarse until at last the glistening tip of his long, thin cock jutted proudly through the glory hole; drunkenly I fell to my knees like Jesus’ disciple overcome with awe at the sight of his master’s miracle.

“My parents were always out. Business lunches, meetings, appointments with clients – they were just getting the company started – they were obsessed with it. They had no time for me; I was a hindrance, a burden; their only interest was in establishing the firm. So my uncle would babysit.”

As I locked eyes with the therapist, forcing out the tears as if I were wringing a sodden cloth, grey clouds of sadness and sympathy drifted across her corneas. She edged a box of Kleenex towards me, the white tissues bursting from it like lilies in spring; I clutched one in my hand, repeatedly turning it over as if I were examining its blank sides for some blemish or impurity. Deliberately prolonging the silence, dragging it out like an actor milking a pause between his overwrought lines, at last, in a cracking voice, I spoke.

“I didn’t know what was happening – I was so young. All I can remember are his kisses, battering my body like halestones, moving down from my lips, across my chest, along my stomach to -.”

 Breaking off, I held the tissue against my mouth, like a grieving widow frantically trying to stall the endless wails from spilling out of her throat; behind it, a poisonous smile spread.

Crouching down, my hands spread out across the cubicle’s mottled wall for support, I licked the delicate, quivering glans of the penis, sprouting from the glory hole like encroaching ivy digging its tendrils through a crack. The queen groaned, still unseen, his satisfied grunts of approval as I dragged my tongue across the purple scars left by a circumcision sounding like the somnolent chords of a fugue, played by a demented church organist. And this, I thought, this squalid, shit-stinking lavatory was our church, where we gathered to worship the primal force driving all man, all animal, all life, the words to our hymns we’d sing in devotion written in felt-tip across the doors.

These cramped lock-ups were our confessionals, in which we’d admit to the corruption ravaging our souls.

The lime-scaled hand basins doubled as our fonts, in which we would baptise each new addition to our fallen flock, the stale, green-coloured water dripping from the broken taps washing them of the sins of virtue and decency.

We’d take communion on our knees, and listen to the sermons bent over the toilet; there was no distinction between clergy and laity here, for we were all equal, united in a base brotherhood dedicated to lawless, limitless love.

As I gripped the cock, roughly tugging it towards orgasm, my mind was fixed on tasting its sour seed, each drop anointing me, blessing my skin with its holy power.

But then a discordant note, high-pitched and sustained droned out the fugue, and disturbed, unsettled, the man pulled away from the hole. Someone was screaming, the screech giving way to slurred, aggressive cursing, and as I lifted myself up, hissing in annoyance whilst opening the door, I caught sight of the queens, fearing that some queer-basher was responsible for the din, pushing past each other as they rushed for the exit. Whoever it was making the noise had smashed their way into the cleaner’s store room, their shadow falling across the closed blinds that hung across the narrow window.

I stepped closer.

Listening attentively to my harrowing story, each word calculatedly picked for the emotional weight it carried, the shrink, I could see, was struggling to maintain her clinical, aloof detachment, her hand involuntarily reaching out towards mine in comfort, only then, as she suddenly remembered her role, not as my friend, but as my counsellor, to immediately snatch it back. My vivid description of childhood abuse I spiced with florid adjectives and lurid similes, as I were a poet tripping on acid, vainly trying to capture in rhyme the psychedelic fractals and shapes scraping the sides of his mind as they twisted wildly about. With spit-soaked stuttering replacing each coma, and the full stops that fell as brutally as an executioner’s axe between each sentence swapped for sobs, I was almost proud of my overly histrionic performance; I felt like the small, petulant boy of my youth, concocting an elaborate story to deflect the blame for some piddling misdemeanour, convinced that the truth would result in slapped legs or stern admonishment.

My appointment had already over-run by ten minutes and I could hear the practice’s officious secretary pacing outside the door, despairing as her regimented schedule was thrown out of order; yet still the psychotherapist, convinced she had at last discovered the innermost source of all my turmoil continued reeling out question after question, to which I was only too pleased to answer. Like a guest on a late night chat-show, paid to reveal every sordid detail of their private life to the voyeuristic audience, the picture my words painted was then coloured by my body language, with my shoulders hunched, and my legs drawn up under my chin. She shook her head in mixture of shock and disbelief as I told her how my uncle would strip me off and then climb on top of my prepubescent body, using his heavy weight to prevent me from escaping. She smothered her mouth with an outspread palm to muffle a gasp as I told her how afterwards, locked in my bedroom, I would double over in pain, feeling the blood pour from my torn anus.

Of course it was all a complete fabrication, nothing more, but as I folded my hands in my lap, feeling the swelling within my jeans, I realised it was a lie that was making me aroused. 

The bulb’s brilliant light was as bright as the sun’s rays reflecting off the Sahara’s vacant sea of sand; so dazzling was it that everything in the cleaner’s store room was bleached almost white, from the stack of buckets across which a gang of bluebottles crept, to the boxes of bleach, the cardboard chewed by the silverfish that scurried for cover as I inched closer to the figure crouching in the corner. His back was turned to me, a trail of long greasy hair hanging limply down his ripped leather jacket. He was shivering, despite the heat pouring from the portable heater, its three tubes flaring an angry red.

The stagnant atmosphere was humid and heavy as if I was trekking through an African jungle, and carried with it the rancid stench of excrement. 

Alerted to my presence as I tripped over a broom, the man whirled round, snarling aggressively at me as his body was blitzed by a barrage of convulsions, as if he were Jekyll gripped by the unmitigated force of his transformation. As I recoiled in shock, holding my hands out in placation, I realised from his round fleshy face, prominent chin and huge, blazing eyes that he was a Down Syndrome, still young, with the unfathomable world leaving him forever its terrified victim.

He stood up, thrashing his arms wildly about, with his trousers in a heap by his feet. His thin legs were fouled with faeces, brown stains spread across his thighs, and his pubic hair matted in clumps. He cried out to me, clutching a rag with which he frantically tried to clean himself as tears of bewilderment and frustration coursed down his cheeks.

As if I were parent wearily trying to potty-train his toddler, I gently took the cloth, and, soothing him with words of reassurance, I began to clean his soiled skin. Grimacing as the revolting reek caused my stomach to churn, I turned him round, ready to wipe his buttocks.

The shit hung in strands, as if he’d been bathing in pond coated in algae; it was still warm, and soft like mashed potato.  He had at last fallen silent, and as I stopped, looking at his loose scrotum swinging between his legs like a ticking metronome, I knew there was no point any longer in fighting the persistent thought courting my corruption and seducing my mind as if it were a demon whispering in my ear.

I crossed to the door, and locked it.

As I sat before the shrink, furtively rubbing my erection through the denim of my jeans, I could feel myself carried along with the deception; what to her was heart-breaking, a tragic recounting of broken innocence, was to me instead a squalid yet erotic fantasy. Whilst telling her how my uncle delighted in inflicting a series of increasingly sadistic acts upon my juvenile body, I pictured the scene in my head, no longer amused by the psychotherapist’s horrified reaction, but absorbed and captivated by the illusion, my heart rate rocketing with every word I spoke, and fresh drops of pre-cum frothing from out my penis with each new and explicit revelation of my fictitious rape.

As the story neared its brutal climax, I could feel the pressure that had been building in my balls like a saucepan spewing out steam inch towards its bursting point, and as I prepared myself for the seismic force of my impending orgasm, I gripped the arms of the chair, digging my nails into the leather. 

But then, gathering her clutch of notes, she stood up, announcing in a reluctant voice that she could not keep her next client waiting any longer. She looked apologetically at me; my face had gone white, and I had slumped forward, as if my chest had been pillaged of all its organs. Perhaps she would have simply assumed that I was overcome by despair, that the strain of carrying so many repressed feelings and memories had finally become too much to bear; in truth however, the intensity with which I’d described my incestuous abuse had been so powerful, so potent, as intoxicating as any aphrodisiac that, without even touching my hyper-sensitized penis, I had been close to ejaculating, drunk on the sensation.

Now that the seemingly-limitless supply of lies that had blazed from my mouth as if I were talking in tongues had at last been drained, I was exhausted, and almost in a daze, the blood that had been diverted to my cock finally returning to my brain with its cargo of oxygen.

My erection had subsided; as I headed towards the door, unwilling to look her in the eye, she held me by the shoulder; in a maternal tone she asked how I felt towards my uncle.

“I wish he was still around to fuck me, I’ve got much better at taking cock,” I said, pulling a cigarette from out the packet.

The Down Syndrome, still naively trusting in my good intentions as I turned the key in the lock, shook his head about as if to thank me for helping him.  Even as I threw the shit-stained rag at his face, he had no idea what terrible desire had possessed me, with its urgent need to debase and humiliate, to forever taint his child-like purity with my bile; it was only as I unzipped my trousers, pulling them down to my knees, that he finally understood.

And then -

Then he whimpered like a dying mongrel.




As I left the Georgian town house that doubled as my psychoanalyst’s practice, overcome with exhaustion from the gruelling hour-long session, I had already decided where I would go to pick up cock. My appointment card fell from my pocket as I pulled out a packet of cigarettes, my lighter’s flame powerless against the violent gusts of wind dragging the black clouds along like a shackled harem trailing behind the Grand Vizier, their pregnant bellies swollen with rain. The sun hadn’t shined all week; I hadn’t felt its nurturing warmth, or seen its golden corona dispelling the lifeless gloom for what felt like eternity.

But that didn’t matter –

In the underground toilets to where I was eagerly heading, we made our own light, our eyes glowing with lechery as we furiously masturbated at the blocked urinals, the gnarled hands of the old queens reaching out for our tumescent genitals.

In the underground toilets, we produced our own heat, slipping into a cubicle, its walls covered with glory holes like Swiss cheese, where, naked, writhing against a stranger’s bare body, our red skin would blaze with the rocketing temperature of our blood.

Despite my rampant thirst, my cells screaming out for their constant fix of alcohol, I marched on relentlessly through the narrow streets, my mind occupied only with the thought of sex. In the public lavatory, there the dicks would be hard; in the WC, the men would be waiting, their scrotums plump with sperm begging to be purged, to be swallowed, and the briny taste to be savoured, sliding down my throat like an oyster wallowing in its slime.

The toilet, hidden in a labyrinth of forgotten side tunnels by a neglected tube station, is infamous for the hordes of gay men that infest it, congregating like a flock of bacchanites amongst its dank, dripping walls as they worship the beauty of cock, rising with arousal until its pink tip nuzzles against the overhanging belly above. Though its notoriety always ensures that at least a handful of cottage queens will be lurking inside, its sordid reputation, whispered about in squalid back bars, and promoted on internet cruising sites often results in sudden police raids during the crowded evenings.

In their sleek black uniforms, like Nazis hunting for vice in the decadent clubs of Weimar, the officers methodically inspect each cubicle in turn, looking under the doors for two pairs of feet, making notes of the telephone numbers scrawled in desperation on the grey tiles, and questioning the petrified men, searching their jackets and trousers for jars of Vaseline and bottles of Amyl whilst threatening to inform their wives and employers. Such heavy-handed techniques have had little effect, deterring at best a few; we are not so easily intimidated, for our need is too great as it fills our veins with fire, the atavistic passion that addles our brains relentless as we slink inside the gents, stripping off layers of evolution as we remove our shirts, peeling away sophistication and civility as we slide our trousers down, till we babble and howl like primates -

A man was leaning beside the door as I approached, his eyes glancing all around. Something about his demeanour made me stop, and whilst I pretended to consult a tube map, the coloured lines spread out across the wall like a page from an anatomy book detailing the circulatory system, I surreptitiously studied him. He wore his bland, drab clothes almost like camouflage, the plain shirt and dark jeans devoid of all individuality, as if he had deliberately chosen them in an attempt to look as inconspicuous as possible. Even his colourless, forgettable face, perfectly symmetrical without a single flaw or feature to mark him out seemed suspicious. He was blatantly working undercover, probably C.I.D., keeping watch on the stream of men flowing in and out of the gents. I suddenly remembered there was a gram of coke stored in my wallet; I couldn’t risk getting searched in the toilets, only to be arrested and then charged with possession. Even the anger and frustration rising within me like the tide pulled by the moon could not dispel the cruel symptoms of withdrawal as I craved to feel the hairy, heaving bodies of the men waiting to be enjoyed inside.

Drumming my fingers impatiently against the cracked plastic of my watch, I considered my options.

I could stay there, hidden in the dark recesses of the tunnel like a spider hanging in a dew-speckled web for its next twitching victim until the copper finally moved on.

I could jump on the train that had screamed into the empty station where it now sat, ready for the blast of the guard’s whistle.

In its shaking carriage I could head to Covent Garden, where the carnival-like colours and vibrant, flamboyant street life would be pitched in battle against the sodden dismalness of the cold afternoon, and score some crack from the dealers working the area.

The policeman had begun walking towards me; as I pretended to play with my mobile, his stride quickened into a run, the panic consuming me soon subsiding as he raced past in pursuit of two teenagers stumbling up a flight of steps.

Cautiously, I crept into the toilet.

My tedious fortnightly session with the psychoanalyst earlier in the day had started in the usual, predictable manner, as, straining to sound jovial and chatty, she asked how my week had gone, her feigned interest and concern for me a cheap imitation of true friendship, a clumsy forgery of sincerity and amicability. I merely shrugged in response; I wasn’t in the mood for playing along with her meaningless pretence. Holding an outstretched finger against her nose, its towering sides marked with blackheads as if she’d been pinned down under a stuttering dot matrix printer, she scanned my notes, pondering where to resume my treatment.

The ludicrously expensive therapy was totally gratuitous and unnecessary; after each appointment, I still left as a stranger to myself, remaining oblivious to my true hidden nature, and unsure if I even had one at all, the possibility that I was as vacuous and insubstantial as the thousands of office drones barely conscious of their cardboard insipidness filling me frightening self-doubt.  Yet still I came, still I parted with my cheque, and still I trusted her with the most intimate details of my past, if only because the psychoanalysis appealed to my raging egotism and bloated sense of importance, each lengthy assessment centred solely on my character, revolving around my personality and concerned with dissecting every idiosyncrasy, belief and attitude that formed my flawed being.

 Forgotten memories would surface in my mind like bubbles in champagne, distracting me with their fleeting impressions and evanescent details, before being once again assimilated into the compound structure of my existence.

Her first question was blunt and direct, in sharp contrast to her ephemeral one-sided banter at the beginning.

Did I resent my parents?

Did I resent that they were no longer here?

My lip dribbled blood as I aggressively bit through its scabby crust.

The acne-pitted skin of the teenager’s narrow face cracked like a food-smeared dinner plate as he smiled at me, rubbing his hands over and over beneath the drier as if he were a miser counting his gleaming piles of gold. I didn’t respond; instead, crossing purposefully to the urinals, I readied myself for the wait. Still he continued to grin like a ventriloquist’s doll, his over-sized green-coloured teeth spilling from his misshapen mouth as if they were giant peas peaking from out their pod.

He’d been cottaging for years now, precociously establishing himself as a favourite amongst the decrepit pensioners fawning to feel his under-age flesh.

Each time I visited the toilets, his blue school bag would be without fail jutting out from underneath a cubicle door, behind which he furiously jacked off, the flood of hormones coursing through his blood as he neared orgasm swamping his tingling senses, shattering their relay-link back to his brain till his straining soul was trapped in blackness.

 We cottage queens all carry the same smell, a heady mix of dry tobacco, sweat, and acidic saliva, as it constantly trickles from our slavering maws in Pavlovian anticipation of the sweet relief found in the WC.

It helps us distinguish our brothers, allows us to recognise fellow disciples of our crazed corybantic cult, as we trail them through the market stalls to a restroom in the bowels of a shopping centre.

It enables us to identify other members of our secret society, to detect their presence close at hand amongst the mirrored aisles of bleeping slot machines in an amusement arcade, poised to follow them down to the basement toilets as the security guard turns his mammoth-sized back.

Maybe you yourself have smelt it as you innocently urinated at the rusting trough, the young son at your side standing on tip-toe in a bid to reach it.

Maybe it unearthed a long-buried memory of the old men in the park, who’d hover like starving vultures on the grassy bank as you played a game of football with your childhood friends, unaware of the relentless hunger in their cataract-clouded eyes.

Maybe, as you flicked the last drips from your penis, guiding your child to the wash basin, you looked about to determine the smell’s source, glimpsing two shadowy figures disappearing into the lock-up, like ghosts hovering between realities.  

They are the brethren of our twilight order.               

We cottage queens, for the most part, carry the same smell; the teenager however, was different.

His gasping breath, pummelling the stubble-scored cheeks of middle-aged builders over which his furred tongue writhed stunk of midnight’s loneliness, of hours spent pining in a small, cluttered bedroom waiting for his life to begin.

His overpowering aftershave, a stall-sold imitation of a famous brand that hovered around him like a smoky haze reeked of a desperate desire to impress, to leave a mark on each man he met.

But apart from these, combined with his deodorant and hair gel, there was something else, something that seeped from his very core; it always brought to my mind the compost heap that once steamed at the foot of my grandparents’ garden, the dead flowers, plucked from their swan-necked vases left to slowly decay, to rot, turning to a thick brown sludge on which the greedy worms would gorge.

It was the stench of premature death, his young being that should have been filled with vitality and joy suffocated by the force of his desire for love, his want to love, and his frantic need to be loved.

It was the charnel stench of murdered hope, of a stillborn soul poisoned with rejection and unending defeat, floating in the womb of some celestial creator through a starry sea of amniotic fluid.

Forever searching, but never finding.

Out of the toilets he’d trail each man, to whose hunger he had willingly sacrificed the remaining vestiges of innocence, clutching in his spindly hands a sheet of neatly-folded paper on which his number was carefully written. I’d watch through the fog of my cigarette’s bitter smoke the bemused cottage queen reluctantly accept it, and then, as the teenager turned triumphantly away with a parting wave, his lover for the five minutes of meaningless sex at the urinals would screw it up, and callously toss it to the floor.

The wind sweeping from off the street, rolling down the tunnel like a boulder would lift it up, only then to let it drop like a dove with broken wings.

And that night, the boy would be perched expectantly by his phone, dreaming of a date, of a date that would lead to a grand affair, blessing his life with purpose.

The call never comes.

Forever craving, but never sated.

Smugly I’d listen to his faltering attempts to spark a conversation with some pinstriped business man by the tissue-blocked sinks, who would dismissively answer each of the teenager’s questions with only a grunt of annoyance. Still undeterred, the boy would then valiantly launch into a well-rehearsed spiel, sounding like a salesman eager to off-load his stock of useless merchandise. I would laugh to myself, amused by his dumb persistence as he humiliated himself, grovelling at the feet of a thousand men who didn’t care what he was called, who didn’t give a shit how old he was or where he lived, who were only interested in shaking off his irritating presence as they swiftly headed to the door.

I found the whole scene hysterical, my heart devoid of compassion as the tears glistened in his eyes, and my mind empty of all empathy as he looked in the mirror, glaring at his ugly reflection with hate, his self-loathing born from constant dismissals, and his inner pain hatched from years of wintery isolation. He’d leave with head hung low, as if his spine had been snapped on a gibbet, his shoulders shaking as he struggled to control the violent sobs welling from within whilst I, cruel, savage, would howl with delight as I stamped on the broken pieces of his heart laying on the toilet floor.

And then I remembered –

Remembered with both shame and shock that I was once just like him a mere four years before, when I still possessed some dignity, still contained some pride, when I still clung onto a failing hope of finding both love and redemption, my virtue and integrity waiting to be crucified in coked-up nights cruising darkrooms and basement clubs.

Like a heretic dragged before the Inquisition, begging for his barbaric captors to show him mercy, I flinched in the leather-padded chair as the psychoanalyst continued with her aggressive hunt to identify the cause of my alleged problems, and to isolate the seed from which my rage grew, its poisonous, blood-coloured blooms casting a cold shadow across my heart.  She fired off each question like a bullet, exploding against my steel armour with devastating precision, but still it wouldn’t break, and still I wouldn’t crack, determined not to reveal any of my long-suppressed feelings towards my parents, neither to her, nor most importantly, to myself. 

Like a fairy grotto, its piles of glittering treasure guarded by a ferocious dragon, my heart was defended against all intrusion, its doors barricaded and its stone-hewn passageways booby-trapped. 

My withdrawal from the bustling world of friendship, family life and work was driven by an urgent need for self-preservation; my retreat from responsibility or any form of social interaction was a self-imposed exile, my soul a hermit, dwelling in the black cave of my body, shunning all companionship, its eyesight fading from years wasting away in the darkness, during which it had never once glimpsed the dazzling sun outside.

Reloading her gun, the next round clattered harmlessly against my metal suit. I smirked as my attention that for the last five minutes had been straying through boredom suddenly refocused.

Did I feel loved as a child?

It was the sort of text-book question I’d always imagined was put to a psychopath or homicidal maniac in court, after they’d delighted in a killing spree, running amok through a crowded shopping centre wielding a sawn-off shotgun. She always asked that with monotonous predictability, and not once during the eight months in which I’d been attending her practice had I ever deigned to answer it. I think she had given up any hope of getting a reply, but having reeled it off for so long to so many different clients, it had become engrained, a standard tool she routinely employed to examine and probe the past’s decaying cadaver, becoming blunted through over-use.

I don’t know why I had never responded to it; perhaps I genuinely didn’t know or perhaps I simply couldn’t think of witty retort. Certainly I resisted the idea that my entire personality could have been shaped by the attitudes of my parents, as if I were nothing more than putty pulled and pummelled about by their beliefs, by their philosophies and their opinions, deprived of all independence and without any form of critical control, until, their work done, I resembled the man that now sat before the psychoanalyst, a man without autonomy who had been moulded and re-formed like an art project.

Blaming my family for all my flaws, for all my faults and character defects would have been too easy; though it might have justified the rage and hatred that I perpetually carried around like a rabid dog with an infestation of fleas, the responsibility for what I was like, what I was, and what I wasn’t belonged to me alone.

Man, I once read, is made of myriad dreams and memories, spiralling out like the Crab Nebula from one single source. Maybe it was a philosopher, or a poet, drunk on absinthe; I can’t remember. But as I listened to her, fidgeting uncomfortably in my seat, an image, inspired by the quote reared up from the abyss that hewed my mind in two. Nothing so grandiose or stellar for me; my being was formed like a pearl, starting as a lump of grit in the oyster’s shell, the oozing mucus secreted by the irritated flesh of the twitching creature accumulating around it in layers. I saw that my essence was like the grit –

Saw that I was like the dirt staining the white robes of the saints –

More –

More –

I fantasised that I was the spear of Destiny puncturing the Messiah’s bare side, my bones composed of his scabs and my skin made from his blood, coloured by the lymphatic juices pouring from his pouting wound -

I pictured myself conceived in the fevered wet dreams of a paedophile, my name whispered through his short-circuiting network of dendrites and synapses. I visualised his destructive desires tainting my foetal flesh, seeping like toxic waste into the buds that will soon become my hands and legs and then –

Then the pain, the agony of my birth as I burst from out of his twisted skull, mirroring the suffering and hurt of his broken victims -

And then I realised -

I was just another one of her clients, wearing my symptoms like a badge of honour to distinguish me from the faceless crowds, my story not even fit enough to be used as a case study in a psychiatrist’s dry, laboured thesis, my barren, empty life barely meriting a cursory mention in the unread footnotes of some dusty, forgotten book.   

The queens burst excitedly out of the cubicles, turning their immaculately tonsured heads in anticipation as the toilet door opened, their hearts full of the hope that the newcomer would be the one, the ultimate kick, an unsurpassable hit, hung like a porn star with the dazzling looks of a matinee idol. They sighed in unison at the sight of the shuffling bespectacled man blushing in the spotlight of their interrogatory stares, returning to their lock-ups whilst complaining in lilting voices at the depressing lack of quality trade.

He seemed unsure what to do, hesitating by the broken condom machine, his inexperience manifesting in a nervous twitch that caused his eyebrows to flutter like moths on the night breeze.

He was merely a fleeting visitor to our wild kingdom, a day-tripper keen to witness the unfettered hedonism of our licentious citizens. His guide books were the hardcore magazines hidden behind the dripping mass of pipes, his luggage the sealed condoms he’d optimistically packed in his pocket, and his collection of cameras, poised to capture each moment, were his furiously-blinking eyes, widening with a mixture of shock and fascinated delight as he watched a junky swallow two pensioners in turn, both only too happy to pay for the addict’s fix if it meant they could consume his young, pale body as it pressed against their parchment skin.

I could almost see the inner struggle on the new arrival’s face, as propriety fought with his voyeuristic urges, the infantile pleasure-seeking impulses of his Id pitched in battle against his repressive Ego, the testosterone and endorphins raging through his blood like deadly chemical weapons, poisoning the weakening resistance.

I could almost hear him cast off the chains of convention, shaking off the constricting fetters of social norms and niceties, as the dark, primitive desire that had so long been caged by his need to conform was freed at last.

He joined me at the urinals; as I opened his trousers, I noticed him wrench the wedding ring off his finger, accidently dropping it as he reeled with excitement, my hands tightening around his thick shaft as if I were an attacker, squeezing the breath from my victim’s throat.

He bent down, reaching for the gold band shining like a virtuous heart in the jaundiced light, but suddenly stopped -

 He’d tasted our cannibal feast, had danced at our voodoo rites, and had marvelled at the strange, twisted beauty of our small paradise, our tiny island, its narrow borders the WC’s four brown-coloured walls, and now he never wanted to leave, never wanted to return to his wife, to his children, to his dead-end job or his dead-end life.

He was ours.

He tore his passport into pieces as I bit the fleshy ridges of his neck, making a garland for the village elder from the shreds. He tossed his plane ticket and boarding pass into the crackling flames as an offering to our demented god, pulling me on top of him as he masturbated on the tiled shore, our entwined bodies lit by the ceremonial fire rapaciously eating through the paper.

There was no pain in his eyes as our leader carved the tribe’s sacred symbols into his willing flesh; there was nothing in his eyes at all.

The wedding ring lay there ignored for months after, eventually swept up by the cleaner’s broom.

I could tell the psychoanalyst was getting frustrated by my monosyllabic responses. Normally I kept nothing back, revealing every sordid detail of my life as if I were some rentboy selling his kiss-and-tell story to a tawdry newspaper, all the while scanning the therapist’s emotionless face in the vain hope of seeing a trace of shock or at least a hint of disapproval at my dissolute lifestyle. Yet today I clutched onto my secrets like an eagle grasping a fish between its hooked talons.

It was not so much that I didn’t want her help – if anything, I was desperate to understand the sudden changes that had irrevocably altered my mindscape beyond recognition, but before I could share it with her, I first had to know myself both its cause and the effects that such drastic destabilisation would have on my behaviour and my life.

My soul was stuck between two seasons.

The summer of my teenage years, when I bloomed with quiet confidence and blossomed with the determination to reach the glorious destiny that I was convinced would soon be mine had given way to autumn, the frost sealing my heart beneath ice and my mind becoming bare of any thought or idea, like a tree stripped of its leaves.

Because of that emptiness, because of the sterility afflicting my imagination, I clung onto those dependable habits and reliable vices that always left me feeling at least something.  Yet even they were now failing me; the drugs, the drink, the sex, they no longer held the same potency as when I first experienced them, almost as if I had developed a tolerance, not just to the alcohol or to the cocaine, but to the permissiveness and profligacy too.  

I had realised from an early age that emotions and feelings brought pain. I would watch the fish aimlessly swim about the enormous tank in my father’s office, and envy them. They thought nothing, and they felt nothing, their pointless lives ruled only by the instinct to breed and eat. Evolution had been kind to fish, refusing to cripple them with consciousness and reluctant to maim them with self-awareness, leaving them instead in an underdeveloped state of blissful stupidity and serene oneness with the void.

Mankind, on the other hand, it had cruelly turned upon like some vengeful witch, cursing us with porcelain sensitivity, marking each of us out with a frantic need for permanence, forever searching for meaning, in religion, in each other, in ourselves, only to be cowed by mortality, by death and its unending nothingness.

I had learnt quickly how to extract such feelings and emotions from my being, as if they were merely splinters to be plucked out by tweezers. Like antibodies laying in wait to smother and envelop the invading bacteria, I was always on my guard, ready to combat any sadness, sorrow or hurt that might penetrate the elaborate defences I had constructed around my heart.

Only pleasure, pure and unsullied, was allowed to know the password, the code to bypass the security systems and gain unrestricted access inside.

My fixation on sensory gratification alone was devastatingly effective; where others would have fallen, where many would have been overwhelmed, I remained strong, resilient against all difficulty, and steadfast against any blow. But now, like an unfaithful lover distracted by thoughts of their new play-thing, my sole obsession had become inconstant.

Occasionally, with the ketamine acting like a magnet, drawing my mind from out of my body with its irresistible narcotic pull, to let my liberated consciousness fly through the rainbow spectrum of realities, I still manage to relive the fading glory of when I first snorted it years before.

Sometimes, with my naked skin blistering in the sauna’s scorching heat, and a stranger’s head buried in my groin, I am blinded by the sight of fantastical worlds, created by the surging powers released by my orgasm, and as I trek across their glittering surfaces, communing with the newly-conceived angelic beings, I at last recapture some of the wonder and excitement of when I first discovered my sexuality.

But now my attainment of such nirvana is becoming infrequent, my ascension to such heights of perfection now rare as I flounder in mediocrity, caught in the tenacious grip of ennui’s putrid swamps.

My ties to this plastic life of surfaces and blunted edges are growing tighter; my escape capsule, shaped like an ecstasy pill and coloured light brown like heroin, can no longer escape gravity’s force weighing oppressively on the Earth.

If I can no longer fly –

If I will never again break through the stratosphere –

Then instead of going up, I will descend, drilling through the planet’s crust, penetrating beyond the mantle, to the black core inside where obsidian fires burn, in my quest to replace one extreme with another.

 I will plummet to the darkest depths, where even despair and misery are too scared to dwell; I will sink through the most polluted seas, my hunger to feel my heart bursting with new sights and experiences like a brick chained to my feet, pulling me down further and further through the dismal murk.

There, the most hideous creatures swim; there the grotesque monsters of Lovercraft’s malignant imagination prowl the underwater ravines, scouring the ocean’s bone-strewn floor for food.

As my therapist glanced at the clock, her thoughts racing ahead to her next client waiting in reception to unload their issues and difficulties upon her like a truck groaning beneath its heavy cargo, I finally reached a decisive understanding of the changes within me, the fractured halves of my unconscious mind gabbling in agreement at last.

It was hardly a revelation or dazzling epiphany; merely a realisation of what had unknowingly driven me these last few days to visit the rentboy’s murder scene and so ruthlessly abuse the tramp. I no longer wanted to see the love shining from the caring eyes of a god, of a partner, or even just a friend; instead, I wanted to steal their sight, leaving them blind and lost in an eternal night, through which all my life I had scrambled.

I would clip my wings, and rip them from off my back, surrendering the gift of flight for claws to burrow through the soil; I would sell my last traces of goodness for steel-strong nails to scrape through the dirt, digging through the loam in which my thousand ancestors were buried, to discover that at our world’s molten heart there is no hell, no devil, just I, cackling with delight at my inevitable self-destruction, my laughter like an earthquake, toppling the cities and societies above.

My name would live on like De Sade’s, my reputation would be as hateful as Sutcliffe’s, and my sickening actions, my corrupt deeds would taint generations to come, like Chernobyl’s descendants, forever carrying the radioactive mutation in their genes.

I will embrace the hate; I will court the violence and kiss the rage that is the degenerative defect in my DNA; my Hiroshima, my Nagasaki, the ground zero that has destroyed the harmonic perfection of my chromosomes simply the comprehension of the joy waiting to be claimed at another’s sorrow, the pleasure to be gained from inflicting their pain, and the driving force of the hunger as I gorge upon their decency. My conscience will not dare put up resistance; instead, it will volunteer itself as my first victim, to be butchered, to be slaughtered, a sacrificial lamb offered in appeasement as I deify myself with loathing, bile and spleen. 

I let all of my past fade away, from the faltering freshness of my childhood to the overwrought navel-gazing of my teens, loading each memory upon a burning boat, and casting it out across the still, misty waters of the Lethe where it silently sinks without even a ripple.

I imprison the outdated moral values that I had been indoctrinated with by my parents and teachers in the furthest recesses of my brain, severing all synaptic links to its lice-infested cell as I restructure my neural network with a toxic dose of venom, as if they were demented paupers locked up in the howling dungeons of Bedlam for claiming to have conversed with God.

I at last am renewed, regenerated, reborn, an aborted foetus that refuses to die, supping at the hook that has ripped through my mushrooming skull as if it were the breast of my perfidious mother, the scarlet umbilical cord hanging from my distended belly stretching beyond the tinsel stars to the edges of a collapsing universe, where the starving forces of entropy glut themselves on galactic empires and alien civilisations, the yawning mouths of the watching black holes whispering them a mocking goodbye.





21 July 2008 @ 01:13 pm
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20 July 2008 @ 10:24 am
I’d seen him in a small club off Old Compton Street, his blonde hair dry and brittle from too much peroxide, which, as the spinning dance floor lights struck it with their pulsing beams, always reminded me of a field of sun-scorched corn. His narrow ribcage would jut through his tight crop top with his pierced nipples poking prominently through the thin material, as his hands perpetually fiddled with the diamond stud dangling from his navel.
Through narrowed eyes pouring with hate, I’d glare at him as he strutted proudly past the crowded bar, mincing through the sea of shirtless men frenziedly dancing, and, melodramatically holding a hand to his tall forehead, collapse into the waiting lap of some obese suited lawyer, where he would wiggle like a Persian cat demanding attention, all the while sipping rum and coke through a straw.
I knew he was a rent boy, but always considered him far too ugly to warrant payment, his scratchy laugh tearing at my nerves like an animal’s sharpened claw as he haughtily glanced in my direction, waving a handful of notes given to him by a drunken punter, who would trail him towards the exit with their eyes fixed lecherously on his tiny backside, like some starving, flea-ridden donkey chasing a carrot.
Last week, they found his body under the derelict railway arches, a seedy area notorious for being the haunt of foreign male prostitutes, selling their diseased cocks for ridiculously cheap rates.
He’d been raped, and then stabbed repeatedly; the knife was still buried in his throat and the chasm-sized wounds scoring his blue skin slowly scabbing over as the first forensics team arrived on the scene.
I laughed joyously when I’d heard the news.
It was the third such murder this year, though the police seemed reluctant to investigate; as a result, a rabble of rowdy gay activists had set up camp outside the new purpose-built Met office, banners decorated with rainbows laid across each tent, under the awnings of which emaciated men gathered, tunelessly banging tambourines and drums throughout the night.
The rent boys still working there displayed not a single trace of anxiety or fear on their dark, blemish-free features as I headed across the nettle-strewn waste ground, stepping round the rusting wrecks of broken shopping trollies lying discarded. The overgrown footpath leading to the abandoned bridge was blocked by the burnt-out hulks of stolen cars, across the blistered bonnets of which reams of ivy clamoured, spreading like cancer as they insidiously slid their branches through the tubes of the blackened engines.
Disturbed by the thud of my heavy foot-falls, two men tentatively peered over the crumbling remains of a broken wall, their faces flushed. Sensing that I held no threat, they once again disappeared out of view; within seconds I could hear the wet slap of skin, accompanied by faint murmurs of delight.
The setting sun was hidden behind a clot of clouds; it had coyly peaked through earlier on, a mere flash illuminating the still, lifeless afternoon, like some stripper clad in fishnets dazzling a club of baying old men with a hint of her young, smooth skin.
Used condoms lay all around as if they had rained from the sky, a trail of scrunched white tissues streaked with brown pointing my way forward. I could almost smell the desperation of the men that cruised there, could smell their frustration, musty like a sodden locker room, its wooden benches littered with jocks and pants, could smell their hunger, metallic like blood, and I could taste their anticipation on my tongue, their expectation, their eagerness for satisfying release, sweet like warm milk.
A long-forgotten caravan, one side smashed in, the frame and wall girders twisted like a cubist nightmare was slumped forlornly on the cracked tarmac before me. Behind it, the tall brick supports of the bridge rose up like the legs of a stone giant. Despite the murder there less than six days before, the rent boys still kept it as their pitch, like territorial beasts reluctant to leave their scent-soaked burrow.
Beneath the enormous curved vault, the dying remains of a smouldering bonfire stretched out spectral fingers of smoke as twilight filled the rows of arches with oppressive gloom. Empty cans of industrial-strength beer rattled amongst the rubble as a sudden wind rushed past, like the old steam trains that once chugged across the tracks above my head. I stopped, allowing my eyes to adjust to the darkness; as I rapidly blinked, details on the far wall became more distinct, and I could dimly make out a faded, torn poster, promoting a rave party on the other side of town. I could see no sign that a murder had taken place there, save for a few shreds of police tape that flapped like blue and white bats in the chilly air.
A sense of disappointment weighed down my mind.
Perhaps I was expecting blood, smeared across the gravel and sprayed all over the graffitied walls.
Perhaps I was expecting to see ripped clothes strewn about, dyed a dark crimson.
Instead there was nothing, nothing sinister, nothing macabre, nothing grotesque; I should have stayed in my apartment and tried the three grams of ketamine I’d been sold yesterday in a pub toilet; at least I would then have felt something, would then have experienced some distracting sensation, lifting my thoughts from banality and freeing my mind from the slothful ennui perpetually clinging to it like a hunter’s trap biting into the leg of an agonised animal.
I wanted to feel excitement –
Wanted to feel scared –
Terrified –
Wanted to catch the smell of the rent boy’s fear as the murderer first pulled out the knife –
Wanted to hurt like the rent boy hurt as the knife sliced through muscle and sinew, waves of pain racing through his nerves -
More –
More –
I wanted my heart to pound like his killer’s, his bloodstream overloaded with adrenalin, as he looked down at the dead body and realised what he’d done.
I wanted to feel –
I wanted to feel –
I wanted to feel something.
But still there was nothing, nothing inside my brain, nothing inside my mind and my soul just a vacuum, empty of any emotion and devoid of all love.
I was vaguely aware that perhaps I should feel some shame at dwelling on such ghoulish thoughts. But, as I imagined the screams, as I imagined his petrified cries, corrupt feelings of violence, hate and rage sprung like thick black oil from the fissure lancing through long-buried sub-stratas of my being, and the violence –
The hate –
The pure, untainted, untameable rage –
They felt comfortable and familiar as I welcomed them like long-lost friends, clutching them to my chest as they filled me with such warmth, such energy –
Such life.    
And then they were gone. My eyes slowly opened, and I was standing alone in the dark. There I stayed for what seemed like hours, dazed, almost exhausted; the experience was like that of the most gruelling speed-comedown. Then footsteps and a tall silhouette tentatively edging closer to me; the light that spilled from the nearby motorway blazed about him as if he were some spirit poised on the fiery bridge spanning life and death. Unfazed, I turned in his direction, calmly pulling out a Menthol; the stuttering flame from my lighter lit his pale, heavy-set features and the thick wiry eyebrows that hovered like storm clouds above two small orbs of bottomless black.
He stopped, cocking his head at an angle, like a puppy whining for food; in the funereal, stagnant atmosphere of the arch, I could hear the nervous throb of his heartbeat growing in intensity as he sided up to me.
No greetings, no introductions, no words, just the grip of his cold hands against my groin as he clumsily fiddled with my stubborn flies, the staccato bursts of his garlic-breath brushing my cheek like cobwebs.
I knew he was trade; it was no surprise then, when, in stilted English, with his guttural Eastern European accent disfiguring each word almost beyond understanding, he began to reel off a list of prices.
Five for a suck.
That was cheap. He was obviously realistic; with his lack of good looks and an awkward demeanour that suggested he still hadn’t fully learnt to control his rebellious limbs as they twitched uncomfortably about, he’d be lucky to get much more. His long worm-like fingers poked through my now-open zip, roughly prodding my cock as if prompting it into life.
Seven for a suck and swallow.
Unfastening my trousers, the buckle rattling as they fell past my knees, he sank to the ground and violently wrenched my foreskin back. I winced in discomfort; he was clearly a novice, with little experience of a man’s body.
Probably not even queer, just desperate for money.
Hesitantly, he kneaded my buttocks with his bony knuckles, all the time worriedly looking around. I bent down, grabbing him under his sweat-soaked armpits, and pulled him up.
Seven for a suck and swallow, but ten if I wanted to kiss as well.
Holding my finger to his lips, at last he fell silent, his embarrassment and lack of confidence obvious as he ripped at his dirty nails with his teeth, chewing them over and over as I produced my wallet and plucked out a note. Instantly he went to snatch it, his eagerness tempered with caution like a frightened rabbit hungry for the food in its owner’s hands.
It was his, if he showed me the exact spot where the rent boy was killed. 
The night was freezing as he led me alongside the bridge towards a rising slope heaped with bushes. We passed three teenagers leaning against a pile of car tyres as they shared a cigarette and shivered in their skimpy shorts and tight vests; in hushed Polish accents they whispered secretively amongst themselves, eyeing me up and down. One called out to my guide, who spun round and spat aggressively at them. From each arch we purposefully walked by, I could hear the squelch of sticky lube being squeezed from a tube, overlaid with the constant drip of water.
Once I glimpsed two shapes close to the path, one bent over, with the other’s arm holding him in position as he writhed and wriggled, like some serpent climbing out of its shed, spent skin.
Still my man was running through his catalogue of vices like a waiter with his menu, the food on offer never filling, never satisfying, but always leaving you with a desperate hunger for more.
Fifteen for a fuck. Seventeen, a fuck, no condom.
The final arch had almost totally collapsed, a wall of waist-high weeds that rocked in the icy wind blowing off the river offering privacy and seclusion. Stepping amongst the rubble, the trade pointed to a narrow alcove, around which sheets of corrugated iron were propped, forming a makeshift barricade against any intrusion or disturbance. Inside the improvised den, a sodden mattress lay beneath ripped pages of an old porno, speckles of mould and mildew eating through the paper like a million mouths, chewing through the black and white images of naked youths and devouring the crust of dried semen spunked over the pictures of cut cock and virgin arse from years before.
Twenty-five for me to fuck him. With a condom; only with a condom.
Remains of small wreath lay at my feet. The heads of each flower had wilted, the petals dry and grey like an old man’s skin. A dedication card, torn in half, was close by. I picked up the two pieces, holding them together; it was too dark to make out the words, but could see a line of kisses queuing along the bottom.
I looked at the rent boy, still babbling, as I let the wind whip the fragments from out of my palm.
This was it; this was where it happened, where he spent his last few seconds in torturous agony as he pleaded with his attacker.
Forty, and I could have him and his brother.
I grabbed his face, squeezing it in my hand. He didn’t resist.
‘How much for you to fall in love with me, and then break your stinking heart?’
He tried shaking his head, though my grip was too tight.
‘No? That’s not on offer? Then how much for me to pull out my knife, hold it against your throat, scraping the thin flesh of your neck and then – ‘
Breaking free, he pushed me against the wall of corrugated iron, ringing out like a gong as I thudded against it. As he raced away, stumbling and tripping twice in blind panic, I noticed the ominous silence, like that of a crypt, settling all around me.
This was it; this was where it happened, with the feverish, brutal intensity of the crime scorched into every stone –
Every rock –
Every atom , as if the endless film of reality, playing in an eternal loop of birth, boredom and blissful death was scratched, the picture broken, the soundtrack damaged, exposing the nothingness beyond -
It was beautiful.
I spread out across the rotten mattress, feeling the broken springs, jutting like bones through the mottled flesh of a decaying corpse scratch at my back. The holes in the wet fabric felt like the pouting lips of a whore against my neck. Lying still, I didn’t even flinch as a wounded rat, its fur matted with blood and mud climbed boldly over my inert arm, sniffing about as it dragged its bleeding abdomen across my chest, its weeping wounds leaving a smear of mucus on the back of my hand, as it crawled painfully into a crack to die.
Here –
Here –
Here his attacker would have looked him up and down with hunger in his eyes, the rent boy dumbly assuming that he was just another punter, another blowjob, another quick wank, that once he’d finally ejaculated in an explosion of ecstasy tainted with repression and guilt, then would come the reward, the payment, a note thrown at his feet as the man, probably closeted, probably married, slipped away into the night.
Here the rent boy would have pulled a bottle of cheap cider from his bag, stuffed with condoms and sachets of KY, unscrewed it, and swished the alcohol around his mouth, spitting out the taste of the man’s semen, long pubes snagged in the plaque-filled gaps between his stained teeth. He would have picked up the note, holding it against the wan light of the moon as he inspected it, and then tuck it into his pocket. He probably was too shocked to even feel the pain lancing through his skull as his assailant struck him viciously against the head.
And here, here the violence that followed would forever be branded on the snow-soft skin of a hundred sobbing angels –
Here, the bludgeoning blows that fell like a judge’s hammer would forever pummel the aching hearts of a thousand weeping saints –
Here the violence, the hate, the rage would forever be etched like a tattoo on the streaming eyes of a crying god.
Two loud drunken men appeared in front of me. I didn’t move, didn’t react, didn’t even flinch as one, his face obscured by the night, stamped upon my leg with a heavy black boot.
The murderer knocked the rent boy to the ground, cutting open his shirt and exposing the trembling skin beneath, over which he slowly teased the point of the knife, red dots bubbling to the surface in its wake, as steadily, unstoppably, it reached the smooth curves of the prostitute’s quivering buttocks.
Pinning my chest down with his knees, the man spat in my face, the thick threads of snot and phlegm hanging across my nose like a bride’s gossamer veil. Still I didn’t resist; still I didn’t fight back, as his fist repeatedly pounded against my burst lip, blood and saliva gushing down my chin and the iron taste filling my gurgling mouth.
Pulling the trade’s cheeks apart, the murderer softly brushed the blade across the wrinkled anal opening like the loving caress of a husband for his wife, gentle, the stroke delicate, passionate yet still restrained, as if to prolong the joy of foreplay. And then, taking a powerful backwards swing, he plunged the knife deep into the screaming boy’s bowels. 
The man’s hands locked tightly round my twitching throat, as the other began to smash my ribs with kick after kick, their boozy breath clinging to the sides of my nostrils like an engorged tapeworm lodged in bile-hot intestines. I felt a thumb press against my left eye, the pressure building as he forced it down, until I was convinced it would burst.  
Teetering on the crumbling edge of consciousness, the rent boy was dragged onto his back, mumbling and mewling incoherently as if the victim of some tropical fever. The murderer lightly cupped his victim’s scrotum, rolling the small, round balls in his fingers as if he were playing with dough. He kissed them, his lips brushing against the hairless sac almost in reverence, as he breathed in the scent of musk, like a priest inhaling the pious smell of burning frankincense. And then the cold bite of the knife, slicing back the skin, peeling away the flesh like the rind of a juicy orange to reveal the network of tubes and veins clinging to each testicle.
I choked on my broken tooth as the boot crashed down onto my jaw, ripping the molar from my gum, like some sadistic dentist gleefully torturing his patient as they thrashed about in the chair. They grabbed my hair, stretching my scalp as it lifted away from my skull, my head loaded with agony as if I wore a crown of thorns.
The final fall of the knife, shooting past the rent boy’s spine knotted with pain to puncture the frenzied throb of his hyperventilating lungs.
The final kick to my face, leaving me stunned and dazed, my eyelids sagging as I watched the two men dash off into the distance, the mocking sound of their voices like the playground taunts of bullies.
The murderer stood up, wiping his face with his sleeve. The body beneath him, emptied of its final breath lay still.
The rent boy was dead.
The rent boy was dead.
As I pulled myself up from the mattress, flinching at my cuts and bruises, I became aware of a warm sensation sliding down my shivering legs. I thought at first it must be blood, but as I gingerly examined the area, I could feel the slimy strands of semen still pumping out of my erect penis.
I looked up.
There were no stars in the sky.
There was nothing but the unending blackness, stretching out and annihilating everything like amnesia obliterating a memory.
I smiled; I smiled, then laughed -
At last I knew –  

I knew.
13 July 2008 @ 02:09 am

The same woman that had accosted me earlier that day approached again as I headed back to my apartment, a clipboard held in her hands, and the red sash hanging across her shoulders printed with the name of a charity. Since the local hostel had closed two months ago, the streets were now brimming with fundraising do-gooders and gaggles of campaigners vainly trying to alert commuters to the plight of the homeless; their efforts were entirely futile. In the city, no one cares, no one listens; we are out for ourselves, disciples of Darwin as we fight and claw and kick our way to the top.

I sighed as the woman pulled a leaflet out, ready to batter me into submission with facts and figures designed for maximum emotional impact, until, close to tears and with my conscience pricked, I pledge a monthly donation. Something about her vaguely irritated me as she threaded her lank mousey hair behind two enormous ears, her round fish-like eyes magnified by a thick pair of glasses, the lenses smeared with finger marks.
She caught me by the arm, taking a deep breath before setting off on her well-rehearsed spiel.
Pulling out a Menthol, I listened; I had nothing else to do, but within seconds my faltering attention had begun to stray, as my nostrils twitched with the reek of the cottage queen’s faeces still clinging to my cock. As she droned on, I wondered if she could smell it too.
They need our help; they’ve got nowhere to sleep, and nowhere to go.
They need our money, they need our time and our unfailing support.
Pushing her to the pavement scabbed with dried chewing gum, I prise open her jabbering mouth, brushing the brown tip of my penis against her thin colourless lips, each corner of her mouth blazing with a red cold sore.
We have to do something.
We have to unite, to show we care, to show they’re not alone.
I smear the excrement over her cream collar, sliding it between the small mounds of her white, mole-covered breasts, painting her child-like body with stinking swirls of shit as if I am some post-modernist artist in Saatchi’s employ, and she both my canvas and my muse.
Shall I put your name down? 
Shall we say five pounds a month?
Unfazed, she calmly hands out a pamphlet, ignoring me as I masturbate furiously in her face, my knuckles wrapped around my penis as if it were a hot dog in a bun, drunk on the rich aroma of the crap forming a crust over the sliding sheath of my foreskin.
She pulled her glasses from her face, revealing tired eyes weighed down with puffy bags. I glanced at her list; it was bare, not one single name filling the empty rows that scrolled down the sheet. It would have been easy to help, to surrender my bank details and volunteer a hundred, a thousand even; it made no difference to me. I wondered if she felt good, committing her time and dedicating her life to the well-being of others; I wondered if she felt proud, full of virtue and decency, with an unending supply of self-worth and self-belief.
As I looked at her more closely, I could see that, despite her exhaustion, her fragile, porcelain features still sparkled with an inner joy, as if her soul was in rapturous union with some unseen divine force, blessing every hour and minute of her life with meaning and purpose.
The same flame that burned with euphoria inside her I’d perceived once before, blazing deep behind the serene faces of the Hari Krishnas as they paraded through the West End, their orange robes blowing behind them in the light breeze of a forgotten summer from long ago.
The same warmth, spilling from her skin in streams of love and kindness I had felt years previously, as I strolled through a park in which a group of Buddhists had gathered, meditating on world peace, the heat emanating from their still, silent bodies unlike the cold, funereal atmosphere of a church.
I was almost envious.
Involuntarily, I smiled at the woman, emptying my pockets into her collection tin. She smiled back, and the force of our sudden connection was overwhelming. Gratefully she stroked my arm, her eyes locked on mine, and, as I edged close to breaking down in an unending fit of sobs, it was if the Virgin herself was floating there before me, her heart overflowing with compassion and tenderness for her lost, errant son.
She was the first person who’d spoken to me in any detail for days.
She was the first person who’d paid me any respect and attention for months.
And then, then she was gone, swept away in the towering wave of commuters rampaging through the street, fading like a ghost as the first bright rays of morning rip through its spectral form. It was almost as if she’d never existed. A burst of dazzling clarity shone through my mind as I stood there on the rain-soaked pavement, ignored by the business men marching determinedly past as they shouted into their mobile phones. I knew what I had to do.
The tramp babbled incessantly as I led him towards my apartment block, speaking in a croaky, slurred voice about his time in the army, his crooked shoulders swelling with pride at the memory. With his white beard knotting in wispy skeins, his torn waistcoat, from which its single button hung dolefully on a thread, and his wild hair sprouting like antennae from his speckled scalp, the past was all he had, a handful of glorious reminisces which he gripped in fear as the barren future loomed before him like a mugger in an alleyway.
Like me, the tramp had no idea where the uncontrollable currents of life would drag him.
Like me, the tramp felt powerless when confronted by the surging tide of existence, that, at any moment, could without warning drown us both in its cold, uncaring waters.
Though we were divided by years, his wrinkled looks suggesting his age was fixed around seventy, though we were separated by conflicting social statuses, we were both lost, both frightened, and both drifting without purpose or destination through an infinite sea, on the crashing surface of which the mocking face of a cruel God was reflected.
The indignant concierge glowered as I led the tramp through the foyer, jumping up from his bare desk about to protest before I silenced him with my raised hand. An elderly Jewess looked us sceptically up and down as we entered the mirrored lift, pushing herself against the chrome rail and melodramatically holding a tissue to her warty nose. I hadn’t noticed how awful my companion smelt; I hadn’t realised how much I stank either, my last wash over a week ago. As the tramp shifted self-consciously on the spot, I revelled in the woman’s disapproval, relishing her shocked expression stretching the lined contours of her narrow face. I’ve always enjoyed taunting my neighbours, mocking their bourgeois lifestyles and conservative attitudes. With their superior morals and their perfect standards, I delight in showing them a glimpse of corruption’s hidden world, as if I were physically forcing them to their knees in some lube-littered car park, kicking the discarded condoms into their mouths hanging open in horror.
The lift stopped with a sudden lurch at the second floor; as the Jewess marched out, turning round ready to criticise, the aggressive glare of my bloodshot eyes left her feeling nervous and intimidated, and quickly she hurried off down the oak-panelled corridor.
Normally I would have laughed at her worried reaction, but for some reason I felt guilt and shame, as if once again I was that petulant child being reprimanded by my stern mother, jabbing me in the ribs with her long, manicured nails. 
Opening the door to my apartment, the tramp stood still, marvelling at its size, and commenting on the luxurious decor; I’d never paid it any attention before. To me, it was just a place to sleep and store my clothes, booze and drugs. He introduced himself.
As I spoke my name, the soft vowels sliding from off my tongue, it sounded foreign, alien, like a word from an ancient language, the meaning of which had long been forgotten, and even then I wasn’t sure if I’d gotten it right, or if I was confusing myself with someone else, and that my real name, my true identity was something totally different.
I’d never actually used the kitchen for cooking, and whilst Alf settled on the sofa, every cupboard I opened was empty, save for one in which a sole packet of out-of-date pasta sat sagging on its side. I’d planned to give him something to eat, to prepare him a hot, scented bath, and then, clean, clad in new clothes and with his stomach full, watch him disappear into the night with an envelope stocked with money. For what reason I was in such a philanthropic mood I didn’t know, but listening to him whistling a hymn from the lounge, I realised having company in my flat felt safe and comforting.
As I rung for a take-away, Alf leaned forward and spoke. I was at a loss how to answer his questions, his directness and sincerity disarming; in my world, a world of cruising dimly-lit parks and enduring the endless wait for cock in public toilets echoing with emptiness, there was no honesty, no truth, only falseness and deceit, my lover for the ten minutes of meaningless lust in the darkroom married, his unsuspecting wife back at home.
In my subterranean realm there was no integrity, no decency, just the young Chinese boys bent over in the sauna, with the men whose faces they’ll never see, whose names they’ll never know queuing up to mount them like drooling dogs in heat -
Unsettled, I got up, and headed to the bathroom, hurriedly clearing out of sight the tubes of KY and the douche hanging over the radiator like a stethoscope against a doctor’s white coat, before filling the tub with soothing oils and twisting the recalcitrant hot tap on.
We scavenge through the smouldering ruins of the city, ignoring the barbecued corpses strewn across the wrecks of collapsed buildings; we’d picked up a new scent, fresh, still full of bubbling blood flavoured with adrenalin and spiced with terror. My skin is now covered beneath scale, fur and feather, and my spine has become so twisted out of shape that no matter how much I struggle to stand, I am forced instead to scuttle along on all fours. The pack charges over a mountain of rubble, their savage howls of excitement driving me forward. I can taste it, can taste the fatty flesh of our prey, waiting to be torn from the bone.
Was I always like this?
Have I always been this deformed beast, knowing only the hunger of the hunt? 
His voice, booming out of the bathroom, suddenly faltered at the high notes of the sea shanty’s chorus, like a parachutist poised to jump in the airplane’s hatch, paralysed as fear grips his shaking body. Despairing at my reluctance to converse, Alf had taken to singing instead to ease the strained atmosphere between us that was growing more and more uncomfortable with the arthritic crawl of each passing minute. It wasn’t my aim to be deliberately rude, but so much time had elapsed since my last proper conversation with someone that each phrase, each comment felt like a tumour growing deep within my dry throat, its fibrous roots wrapped around my heart, hungrily absorbing the last dregs of my empathy and compassion, and mutating them into something poisonous and obscene.  
The temple is all that still stands amongst the carnage, its gold walls unmarked by the blaze that had decimated the city. Cindered bodies are piled against the huge, ornately carved doors, their blackened hands stretched across the shining surface, the sanctuary they’d fled here to find denied to them by the callous priests still cowering inside. We batter our hooves and paws against the entrance, vainly scratching our sharpened claws at the stubborn lock. Our efforts produce little results, but we are determined, we are driven – more, more, we are ravenous, starving, consumed by our primal appetites.
Like a battering ram, as one we charge forward, our spiked horns smashing through the gateway. The pubescent acolytes scream out in terror, falling to the jewelled floor and covering their heads in the brown swathes of their robes. Our penises twitch with sadistic longing. 
Alf had started crooning another tune, his happiness apparent as he interspersed each verse with relaxed sighs of contentment, feeling the warm water softly massage his aching, feeble body. As I poured him a brandy in the lounge, the ballad stirred an old memory from within me, its rhythm and melody like the hook of a crane bringing the rusting wreck of a warship to the sea’s foaming surface.
Where had I heard it before?
And who had sung it to me, all those years ago?
His presence in my apartment was beginning to annoy, his loudness grating and the reek of his sweaty trainers steaming in the hall making me nauseous.
Shouldn’t I have felt something else?
Where was the joy, the pleasure, the satisfaction from helping another that had so clearly intoxicated the charity worker I’d encountered earlier?
Instead there was nothing; no gratitude, no reward, and no ecstatic connection to a divine force, just a trembling in my chest and the fluttering in my groaning stomach. I knew what was building within me, massing its forces like an army ready to invade my mind. I knew what was fighting for control inside my soul, forcing me to submit my individuality and relinquish my free will to its irresistible power.
Violence, as I flung open the bathroom door, seeing Alf attempting to hide his withered frame beneath the wet towel.
Hate, as I pulled the envelope stuffed with notes from my pocket, tapping it against my groin.
Rage, as I unzipped my flies, shoving the tramp to his knees.
I’d done something for him, and he knew what he had to do for me.
The beasts pin the acolytes face down, the sound of their hot fetid breath filling the boys’ ears, growing heavier, becoming hoarser and increasing in frenzy as they tear through the thin robes. They grunt in delight as they rape each one in turn, filling the children’s bleeding bowels with stinking lumps of semen, coloured yellow like bile. The disciples silently intone a prayer for salvation, their whispering mouths tearing apart in agony as the animals gorge on their undeveloped genitals.
The head priest makes no attempt to flee as I slash repeatedly at his throat, and then – then I stop, feeling his dying look of understanding and forgiveness burn itself into every atom of my being –
I will never be able to escape it, will never be able to smother it; I will carry it like a curse forever.
I nudge myself against his still, bloody body, and lay my head on his chest. He smells of incense and candle wax.
And then the others turn on me.
There was hurt and disgust in Alf’s wounded eyes as he gagged on my cock. I pulled out a note, and slowly stroked it across his flushed face as the first shower of tears fell down his cheeks.
If I were never to feel joy, if I were never to experience the peace of holy love, then I would dedicate each second of my life to venom, to poison, and to infect every man and woman I’d meet with the sickness laying waste to my conscience.
My scrotum tightened as I filled his mouth with cum, and suddenly I remembered -
I remembered where I’d heard that ballad before, seemingly so long ago, when I was a child, waking from a lingering nightmare to a soaking bed, my grandfather by my side, consoling me, his gentle hand against my sweating forehead, and the comforting words of the song quelling my disturbed thoughts.
As Alf pulled away, vomiting on the carpet, I was overcome by the heavy smell of burning wood, my throat choking with smoke and fumes. My chest tightened. I collapsed against the window, gasping for air as the asthma attack grew more ferocious, the hacking cough dredging up tar-black mucus from deep within my rioting lungs.
Sounds of wild animals baying for food filled my ears.
Before I passed out, I glimpsed the flaming debris of a shattered city high amongst the clouds, and knew at once that it was Heaven.
08 July 2008 @ 05:18 pm

The bar was secreted down a backstreet behind a funeral parlour, out of which a suited man slowly and solemnly stepped, his shoulders sagging and his face grey as he gratefully dragged on a cigarette. With its windows blacked out, and its peeling paintwork stained with dirt, the pub looked virtually derelict; I’d been drinking here for years, and in all that time it had never changed, had remained constant and stubborn against the onwards march of time, while I had grown from a sullen, withdrawn teenager into a tired and jaded young man, prematurely bored of life.

Every Tuesday, the pub hosted a bears and chubs night, in which the overweight, the hairy and the hirsute would gather, spinning to the cheesy disco music with their shirts tied round their ballooning waists and perspiration glistening from the crevices of their stretch-marked stomachs, like a party of cherubs drunk on manna.

I love it there, love the fat men, masking the self-loathing in their eyes behind the temporary courage of drink, the ripe smell of their sweat carrying with it their desperate need for acceptance and love.

I love their self-neglect, their self-abuse, overloading their plum-like bodies with cholesterol and sugar and sticky carbohydrates day in, day out as, like sybarites they devour chocolates after burgers after pints, without regard for their failing health or flushed, heaving appearances.

I love their overhanging bellies, bloated like the bandaged legs of some old woman, drooping past their belts that cut roughly into their sagging, marshmallow-like skin, beneath which a string of blackheads queue like mildew on the wet, tiled walls of a bathroom.

I love it there; I love the fat men, love squeezing past them on the crowded dance floor, love watching their soft, pulpy bodies gently absorb the eager caresses of my hands, love hearing them groan as I lecherously tug their nipples surrounded by the puffy rings of pimpled areola, and then, in a darkened corner of the smoking area, love the leathery feel of their huge shaved scrotums as I force my fingers into their briefs.

I pick a guy up by the fruit machines, standing on his own and looking lost and lonely, as he clutches an empty glass. We don’t speak, we don’t exchange names; instead pointing with my finger, he follows me out, to a waiting taxi, where, without a word, without one single indication that he exists, we drive through the yawning suburbs across the river to my apartment.

I lay sprawled on the bed like Cleopatra as I make him strip and then pose before me, deflecting each wet kiss with a side-turn of my head.

The carpet stings his thick knees as he rocks back and forth with each savage lunge of my penis, ploughing between his enormous buttocks across which a red rash is spread like poppies upon an undulating hillside.

I ejaculate; his anus clings to my pumping helmet like the suckers of an octopus’ tentacle. With my mind numbed by the mechanical rhythm of the fucking, the sensation of the orgasm only dimly registers. As he lies back, masturbating like a bored gorilla in zoo, I hand him his soaking shirt. With a look of resentment and hurt, he snatches it and leaves, my front door slamming shut with the empty sound of finality.

The next day, another man –

The day after, yet another.

It means nothing, is hollow like a tree riddled with woodworm.

He might even remember me, my face and body flickering like a ghost through his wet dreams, and my cock and arse surfacing in his frustrated fantasies -

He might remember –

He might not –

It doesn’t matter.

The pub was empty as I entered, the anaemic-looking barman attempting to relieve the monotony of his long shift with a newspaper crossword. If he was shocked by my battered appearance, it didn’t show on his emotionless plastic features, as with a yawn, he poured me a double whisky.

Afternoons in London are always slow; the tourists have left the streets, and, with state-of-the-art cameras slung across their shoulders, wait patiently at the train terminal, whilst elsewhere blonde-haired receptionists absent-mindedly doodle on a notepad as they dream of going home. Nothing ever happens in the slothful afternoons of the city; everyone is busy, still working, still typing, still on a call to an indecisive client.

Everyone, except me.

I’m hunting, always searching , crawling between the concrete megaliths of banks and offices like an insignificant ant; what I’m looking for I don’t know, have never known, but it’s become engraved on my soul, as if God himself had grafittied on my tainted, polluted essence.

Twice I glimpsed some deeper meaning in my life, when, inevitably high on coke or crack, I perceived a greater purpose, my ultimate aim, my final destination, like a prophet harruspicating the future in the putrid entrails of a butchered sheep, but whatever it was, whatever the exact nature of that goal was like, it soon faded from my consciousness as the drugs wore off.

What’s left?

What is there then for me?

Sex –

His cock –

His arse –

His semen, filling my mouth with bitterness.

Drugs –

Ketamine –


The cosmic trip of LSD as my reeling mind smashes through the partitions between being and non-being.

Alcohol –

The vodka –

The beer –

The whisky before me, sitting in a pool of spilt lager on the bar.

Hot against my tongue, I down it in one. To my right, the unplugged jukebox broods, the rarely-played CDs nestling in its metal belly like kangaroos in their mother’s pouch. The aging landlord, his back hunched, stocks the fridges with brightly-coloured bottles of alco-pops in anticipation of the evening rush.

I’m hungry, sore, and tired.

I need a piss.

The tear-shaped urinal was overflowing as I splashed across the floor, the bucket propped underneath it spilling over like a waterfall. The bare bulb that hung from the nicotine-stained ceiling blinked on and off like a night sky lit by the blasts of falling bombs, my straining eyes constantly adjusting as the room alternated between coffin-like blackness and harsh, clinical light.

I heard the cubicle door creak open, and twisting my head round, caught sight of two stocking-clad legs stretching out towards me, the rest of the body concealed. Stocky, toned, the calf muscles were enveloped with soft, inviting silk, like a fly trapped in the gossamer threads of a web, through which a thick carpet of curling hairs protruded.

Blackness again.

Hesitantly I stepped towards the lock-up, careful not to slip on the puddle-covered tiles, but instantly stopped as the bulb flashed back to life. Leering with bulging eyes, a bearded man, his face painted with make-up like a grotesque Pierrot stood before me. Stretched across his broad chest was a pink training bra, the tiny bows decorating it suggesting innocence and naivety, starkly contrasting the corruption and sleaze pouring from him in pungent waves of musk as he turned round, and slowly bent over.

His coloured knickers, embroidered with love hearts was devoured by his two fulsome buttocks, his pendulous scrotum pouring out of the sides, as I slid my fingers through the prickly pelt sprouting from his back. He grabbed my hand, and with it slapped his cheeks, the sagging skin wobbling with the blow like the gills of a fish.

I didn’t want it, I didn’t want him, but like an animal ruled by base instinct, as the surging blood began to inflate my twitching penis, I had no choice. Morals, standards and decency meant nothing as I pulled his knickers to one side, exposing the open mouth of his anus.

As I pushed myself inside him, the cubicle door banging against the wall as we both stumbled forward, I was transported to an arid wilderness, the cries of rutting beasts ripping through the twilight.

As I gripped his shoulders, using my cock like an instrument of torture on which to impale him, I watched from that bare, bleak wasteland the distant turrets of a city collapse in flames.

As I grabbed the cords of his suspender belt, using them to yank him closer like a jockey tugging his horse’s rein, waves of panicking survivors fleeing from the inferno rushed past.

A group of animals gathered at my side; in unison they rose on their hind legs, standing erect. One raised a club fashioned from a worn femur, and with a snarling smile brought it crashing down onto the skull of a petrified child. It looked at me through the narrow feral eyes, daring me to resist, to fight back as the helpless humans were massacred. Clouds of smoke billowing from the burning citadels filled the blood-drenched plain; I could see nothing but snapping jaws studded with fangs and a bleeding woman kneeling before me as she begged for her babies to be spared. Falling forward in despair, her body shook with ear-shredding sobs.

I raised my hoof, the fire’s golden light blinding me as it consumed the city, and viciously stamped upon her skull, her forehead cracking open like an egg.

We feasted on their flesh, and as night time came I could no longer even remember my name.

The transvestite flung his head back in delight as hoarse yelps of pleasure echoed about the toilet. We’d been fucking for ten minutes or more, and my rocking legs were growing tired and weak. Every time I neared orgasm, the blossoming warmth enveloping my nerves would subside, and wiping the sweat coursing down my face, resignedly continued with fading vigour. I closed my eyes, focusing on the sensations spiralling out from my groin, but a throng of cacophonous thoughts cluttered my reeling mind.

I wanted to pull up my trousers and leave, to return to the bar and my waiting drink, but I couldn’t stop, couldn’t get away; it was as if some magnetic force kept me locked against the heaving tranny, whirling his head around like a manic glove puppet.

Still I continued, still digging my nails into his fleshy sides, my flapping scrotum slapping against the coarse fabric of his panties and the sickly-sweet whiff of his pre-cum like the cloying smell of a candyfloss store, the wizened vendor flicking out his cracked tongue as he lecherously eyes the queuing children.

Still I continued, still thrusting myself deeper and deeper into his squelching bowels, the slurp of the strawberry-scented lube sounding like that of the tube used in liposuction, greedily sucking up thick, chalk-white fat from the bloated bellies of Hollywood wives.

Still –

Still –

Over –

Over –

It has always been like this; it will always be like this.

We are Siamese twins, sharing the same heart, using the same over-burdened brain, our bodies growing from a single spinal column, around which our stomachs and intestines are knotted, my hands groping his flesh that is my flesh, his hands fondling the swollen growths protruding from my groin that is his groin, that is our corrupt lust, filling the endless parade of lonely nights.

We are terrified lovers caught in the blast of an atomic bomb, clutching each other in fear as waves of radiation burrow into our melting skin, our bodies dissolving, his mixing with mine, mine blending with his, until we are one, an engorged slug-like mass of blackened limbs and cancerous organs, our composite mind, our hive identity consumed by a ravenous desire to mate and breed.

But the whine of the ambulance –

The rage of its sirens, as it storms past outside –

I lose it, my erection, my hard-on, the buzz of the orgasm that I’ve been chasing, until we pull apart, separating, dividing like blood cells –

Frustrated, the tranny angrily pushed me out of the cubicle with surprising force, slamming the door behind me. I slunk back to the deserted bar, the landlord haughtily presiding at the counter. He glared at me suspiciously as he held a cream-coloured handkerchief to his long, beaked nose, blowing loudly before disappearing into a backroom. 

There was no reason to stay any longer.