Still Life

Before I found my will I was always sleepy and covered in dust. It made me sneeze and i couldn’t see where I was going. Instead I just saw piles and piles of where I had been. 

There are millions of others, just the same. Unchanging, unmoving, still people. Gathering layers of waste fibres and allowing something else to live through them. But they are still people.

6. A Bright Purple Scream

This is a new episode of a continuing piece of fiction. You are welcome to start reading here, or if you would prefer you can find the previous episodes on my home page under the heading Creative, ‘The Old Woman, The Stag, and Me’.

To my delight, I got a job in the central library where everything was curved and ergonomic and fresh. Employment had seemed to be such a dull prospect that I hadn’t imagined there’d be a place like that for me. Being allowed to spend my days swimming in books was ideal; all that was missing was a nice big bathtub and I would’ve been completely at home.

What I found difficult was working with so many people. When I lived in dreamscapes the people could be peculiar for sure, but they were nearly always open to the craft of psychic travelling. They didn’t mind the occasional shapeshifting, and understood that time and space were not linear. The people in reality seemed quite grey in comparison, and I kept forgetting to censor myself to appear normal.

Continue reading “6. A Bright Purple Scream”

5. A Cat Among the Pigeonholes

In a world where money is God, unemployment is for the forsaken. It can be seen in the glassy eyes of the homeless, who are denied ordinary human interaction and treated with revulsion as punishment for not conforming to accepted methods of worship. It can be seen in the content of daytime television. And it can be seen in the body language of those who have a job, when addressing those who would like one.

The young woman responsible for interviewing Hertz and I at the employment agency looked as though her clothes were swallowing her. She can’t have been long out of full time education, but had already been packaged in a sharp grey suit and her hair scraped back into a sensible, stern bun. She was taking her role seriously, speaking in a professional condescending manner, and putting on what would have been referred to as a display of power had she been part of the animal kingdom. Beneath all of that there was a person, I was sure. I squinted, trying to see who she might be. Continue reading “5. A Cat Among the Pigeonholes”

4. The Trouble with Reality

Note: This is a continuation of the story that began here The Old Woman, the Stag, and Me and continued here The Howling Woman and here A Box Among the Stars. You can read those segments first if you like, or you can simply join the story right here. There is also a category on my home page for easy reference to the previous parts.

 

The trouble with Reality is that its people are fearful of the unfamiliar. They laugh nervously when asked about their dreams, and the notion that they might have a spiritual self makes them oddly uncomfortable. It is as though they have become so strongly rooted in rationality they have no capacity to entertain ideas where no logic exists. In the same way the brain only processes a small proportion of what they see, and fills in the gaps with what they expect to see, they have become blind to the fantastic.

I estimate that the stag left the hotel on no less than five occasions during that first week without covering up his hooves and antler stumps fully, but not once was his met with the screams of terror you might expect. There was one time he was asked to pose for a photograph, by a child who thought his costume was awesome, but other than that no one seemed to notice.

Continue reading “4. The Trouble with Reality”

3. A Box Among the Stars

A note: this is a continuation of the story begun here: The Old Woman, the Stag, and Me, and continued here: The Howling Woman. You may wish to read those segments first, or to take this piece in itself.

We’d always been able to travel. I did it by accident a few times by keeping the water in my pool too cold when I was dowsing for inner silence. But the truth is it was a hassle; it often went wrong, and we became so settled in our little village that the occasion just never arose that we wanted to shift again. I did miss the transition between worlds though. It was the most beautiful thing: on reaching a tranquil state of equilibrium, the traveller would find herself in a box among the stars.

The box was a cube measuring around 3m on all sides. It could manifest with any combination of unembellished, opaque black walls and transparent ones; the more of the latter, the better as far as I was concerned but I know six sides of transparency made the old woman feel quite queasy. For me, there was an infinite sort of comfort in being weightless, and seeing nothing but a million twinkling lights stretched before me on a etheric velvet veil. It is the loneliest place I can imagine but also the closest I have been to that abstract concept you call ‘home’. Unfortunately hanging about up there for long stretches of time (if time did indeed exist up there, which I doubt) was never really on the agenda of consciousness. I found if I didn’t bring to mind my intended path quickly, and make the required entranceway, I would be hurled into a random dreamscape. A doorway would open and swallow me up into a vacuum and I wouldn’t know where I was going to end up. That wasn’t the kind of risk I liked to take. Continue reading “3. A Box Among the Stars”

2. The Howling Woman

This is a continuation of the story that began here: The Old Woman, the Stag and Me. You may like to read that first if you haven’t already, but it isn’t a prerequisite.


As it turned out, it was the materialisation of the myth ‘The Howling Woman’ that finally gave us our omen to leave the village. Here’s how events panned out.

Among the stag’s clients there was a gentle dowager who cried almost all of the time. She had lost her daughter, she said, though there were no records of her ever having one. It was generally surmised among the village folk that what she had lost was in fact her marbles, as a result of her husband coming to grief at a trial for treason and subsequently being hanged. She lived all alone in the years that followed, and most were disdainful towards her with no rational cause. She came to the stag for a finding potion, and begged of him to take her sorrow.

Finding potions weren’t known for their usefulness when dealing with people who didn’t exist, so at first he went down the route of anguish-removal. He tried spells made from Buddhist proverbs, in attempt to align her to the idea that sorrow, like pleasure, was a fleeting thing that must be allowed to come and go like the wind. He tried filling her with warming light, that it might kindle her own inner glow. And he tried an elixir – just two drops per day – made from pure euphoria and tears of joy. It was unheard of for such things to fail, but the daughter remained lost. Putting on a jester performance raised a smile or two, but the sadness in her eyes seemed insurmountable.

Continue reading “2. The Howling Woman”

Mixtape: Something I Should Know

Apoptygma Berzerk – Something I Should Know – 1st November 2002

Got a feeling deep inside

That you know something I should know

I know that something isn’t right

Coz I hold secrets too and you know


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I’m on a bus ride home. It is dark, rainy and windy outside.

Cold.

An hours’ journey ahead when I’d rather just be home.

Limbo.

The usual crowd get on the bus after a day at work. I recognise many but speak to none: there is an unconscious code for commuters by which we never speak. We all look equally as miserable and desperate. Dishevelled. There’s a man about my age who has a familiarity to him. He looks smart in his suit, yet somehow dwarfed like the world of business is eating him right up. I sometimes think I would like to talk to him – I can hear from his earphones that he has alternative music taste like me. He keeps his eyes down, playing snake on his Nokia. I wonder if we could have been friends or maybe more if we had met under circumstances other than the shared rat-race transporter. Then there is the woman with the Armani handbag, which is either a fake or she has spent all her money on one item and has to make do with supermarket basics for the rest. There is the woman with the perm – she looks pretty drenched and is out of breath today – and the man who only gets the bus on a Friday, and calls his wife as we set off to let her know he will be on time or late. Continue reading “Mixtape: Something I Should Know”

Mixtape: Opening Skit


Some of my deepest thoughts have occurred while travelling. Perhaps not the most meaningful, but the deepest in the sense that they literally felt like they were slicing right through me. All those people sitting opposite me on a train or bus, who have seen my blank stern face say ‘please don’t bother me’; they could never know that inside I was floating upon the most raw emotions and experiencing the most rich thoughts that would go on to make permanent connections in my mind.

Memories of such times I recall with a mixtape playing in my earbuds. (ok so it’s a playlist these days, but doesn’t mixtape have a lovely nostalgic feel to it? Besides, there’s no skipping tracks on a mixtape and that’s important. Unless you are armed with a pencil, patience and a good sense for guesswork). Music was an ever present travel companion. And now every track is its own portal, which when entered, reactivates the particular dimension of emotion and depth that first experienced it.

In the original times of which I speak, I wasn’t in a position to create symbolic artworks. I was too busy being the symbols. I was fastened into my seat with little room to move, or I was being regarded by other passengers, or I was busy digging deeper into the metaphysical elixir-mine for Future Me to come back to and reap the treasure years later…

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