Lone Fragment

Lone Fragment

My psychiatrist is trying to kill me. I mean, it’s only a matter of time before these increasingly bizarre combinations of pills he prescribes (so painful are the side effects) do the job anyway, but that’s not what I’m talking about. 

He has at least three henchmen that follow me around, watching my every move. Hounds of Hell, I have named them affectionately, because they phase in and out as though they are not from this world. I know they are there though; I can feel them in my bones. 

The psychiatrist in question, Dr Pascal he is called, doesn’t know I’ve seen the hounds. At least, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. I haven’t told him. Then again, maybe the little sneer he makes with the corner of his mouth is an indication that he does know, and is daring me to confront him about it so he can add delusions and hallucinations to the list of symptoms he collects in a list beneath my name. I swear he gets a handsome bonus every time he adds new one. His designer tie collection certainly goes to support that theory. 

Anyway, what he definitely doesn’t know is that I wear a mask for each and every interaction. That’s right, the real Jeremiah Holm who writes this journal resides way beneath the surface, hidden away from those who may harm him. He is protected by a sometimes arrogant, always flirtatious version of himself. So if Dr Pascal were to succeed in his wicked plan, I am confident he would only destroy my window display, and I can make a new one of those quicker than he can slap on a straitjacket. 

I’d be lying if I said the hounds didn’t worry me though. If they are not of this world they may be able sense the things beyond. If they were to find my hiding place, I’d face total implosion, of that there’s no doubt. And that, my friend, is a fate worse than death.      

Dr Pascal says things like ‘how does that diagnosis feel to you?’ And ‘do you want to know what I think?’. I don’t.

Honestly I just long for the days of seeing the university therapist. She taught me some simple breathing techniques to use in times of panic or darkness that actually did some good, and the whole experience felt friendly and gentle. 

Compared to the days that came with the fog, those memories are all sunshine and rainbows and girls in summer dresses. Don’t get me wrong, I love girls who wear black and I never wear any other colour myself. But there’s still something about a lightweight floral cloth that smells like happiness.

To this day I use the exercises the counsellor taught me, even though she betrayed me and sent me to Dr Pascal in the end. “I’m afraid there’s no more I can do for you,” she said. The ones you trust always leave though. Every fucking time.

***

This is a short excerpt from my current long form fiction project. 

Deragon Hex: The Vipdile Key – Carlie Martece

The Vipdile Key

I’ve been looking forward to Carlie Martece’s second novel since reading the wonderful Toxic Nursery a few months ago, and I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.

The Vipdile Key is written in the same fast paced, brutally honest style, and while it isn’t exactly a sequel, some of the themes from Toxic Nursery are expanded upon here. I certainly wouldn’t say it’s a pre-requisite that you read the books in order of publication, but knowing the background of some of the characters and their relationship to one another added dimension for me.

Deragon Hex is a dystopian future world where people are sealed in an underground network by a secret key code. Technology, social media and reality TV have all taken a step up in their influence, and now everything is under surveillance; the public may decide the fate of criminals and their victims using voting buttons, raping the unconscious is considered entertainment, and popularity is everything. Even research into medicine has taken an irrational turn:

“All thoughts create energy,” an oncologist is explaining to the narrator. “This new device harnesses the energy radiated when a so called ‘troll’ sends anonymous abuse over the com network to someone with severe depression. We’re investigating whether the frequency of this particular energy wave can slow the growth of cancer cells.”

In a world where justice is in the hands of the popular, how will Ash save and avenge their comatose best friend?

Continue reading “Deragon Hex: The Vipdile Key – Carlie Martece”

Fallen Standing: My Life as a Schizophrenist – Reshma Valliappan 

I first became aware of Reshma Valliappan (also known as Val Resh) from her blog here. She writes openly and honestly about mental illness, and offers online peer support via her Red Door initiative. She also raises awareness on issues of sexuality, and has spoken at several conferences.

Fallen Standing is a raw, personal account of the events leading up to her diagnosis, her experience of treatment, and her thoughts on how labels impact us in unseen ways.

When I read the introduction and note from the publisher, I expected this to be a lot more incoherent and without logical order. It takes the form of a series of e-mails, diary entries and letters written to a friend, mostly in first person but occasionally in third, but although the writing is a little rough in places I didn’t find it difficult to follow at all. The parts in which she simply writes down a stream of consciousness are among the most illustrative of the book, and are often very humourous too. There are also some wonderfully unique analogies and associations, showing that she is skilled with language but also prepared to be brutally honest.

‘(Voices in some cases only. Not necessarily applicable to all. Offer depends upon availability of dopamine stock.)’

Continue reading “Fallen Standing: My Life as a Schizophrenist – Reshma Valliappan “

Fragments of Dark: George

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Heal my wounds?

Night after night I awake in that place; drenched in sweat, feeling a hundred years old. The walls around me are brown and peeling, etched with words that won’t stay, covered in blood that is rotting yet alive. The stench fills my eyes with tears, and the tears melt my leathery skin on contact. There are echoes around me of incomprehensible words spoken, sharp and hasty. They resonate in my skull, around and around.  I am bound, yet there are no ropes and there are no chains…

Sometimes a rusty iron ring emerges from a wall as though it were soft, and I reach out for it. But I slip on the pool of blood beneath my feet and

I cannot regain myself and

I slide around, unable to grip and unable to stand or even to pull myself to my knees amongst the maggots. Yes, there are maggots now, ok? Continue reading “Fragments of Dark: George”

Fragments of Dark: Julian

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Julian…

Call me dramatic, but there is a black, spherical void at my core. at least, I imagine it is black. The type of black that is so black, it misses the point of being black at all. And everything else that I am, all my solid matter, my emotion, my human soul, is constantly on the edge of falling in. My heart is particularly close, and the void darkens its vibrations, tainting it so that sometimes I think it has already fallen in and is now pumping the void around my body. My soul is dark too, from the void in me. It feels tortured that it should go on in this conscious host instead of being at one with the infinite void. My mind, I think, is not wholly convinced that the void is where the heart and soul should belong, but then my mind is tainted with human arrogance as well as eternal darkness.

Continue reading “Fragments of Dark: Julian”

7. Somebody Else’s Dream

“So you definitely saw purple?” Hertz quizzed me back at the hotel.

“Yes. It was a big, fat, purple scream.”

“Interesting. I saw red. Ida?”

“Red,” Ida agreed.

“I knew we were right to name you Purple, it’s obviously the colour you see anything magical in.” Hertz seemed satisfied with his own judgement.

“Well it doesn’t matter now.” Ida dispelled his gloating with a flick of her wrist. “The question is what are we going to do? That poor woman was quite distressed. She recognised us.”

Continue reading “7. Somebody Else’s Dream”

Party at the World’s End – James Curcio

Already being familiar with James Curcio  from his zany debut novel ‘Join My Cult’ some years ago, I was excited to discover he had published another.

Party at the World’s End is a lot of fun. It is beautifully chaotic, with events told out of order from the points of view of several different characters; sometimes in third person and sometimes first. Sometimes in recollections, in philosophical musings, in diary entries, and sometimes in dreams or hallucinations. Now I’m sure that sounds hard to follow, but it actually works so well with the subject matter and at no point did I find myself confused. After attempting to read Ulysses this was a breeze.

The theme is sex, drugs, rock and roll, with the added twist that all of the main characters are insane by most people’s reckoning; in fact the story opens with two of them escaping from a mental institution. But there is a constant question; are they really insane or are they actually enlightened through their detachment from what is ordinary? Are they just using too many drugs or are they remembering their past reincarnations as mythological beings?

Continue reading “Party at the World’s End – James Curcio”

Toxic Nursery – Carlie Martece

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Toxic Nursery is a semi-autobiographical coming of age story from the point of view of a girl with Dissociative Identity Disorder, more commonly known under its previous appellation Multiple Personality Disorder.

People with an already unstable sense of identity could possibly do without the name of their affliction being changed, but the previous name had been somewhat misleading, as none of the patients actually had more than one personality. They merely had a single personality that had been dismantled into component parts, with each fraction thinking that it was a separate person on account of a dissociative barrier between itself and the other aspects’

This is an illness I knew relatively little about at the beginning, though my recent reading of The Divided Self by R D Laing meant that I did have a good grounding in the ways our sense of identity can warp and split. This perhaps made me more sympathetic to hearing about such an experience from the inside as opposed to from the perspective of a psychiatrist, or maybe that was because I empathised with the particular concerns expressed. The sub-cultures and locations featured in this book are familiar to me, as are the benefits of art as therapy, and the feelings of being misunderstood by peers and professionals alike due to the stigma that is sadly still attached to mental illness. Continue reading “Toxic Nursery – Carlie Martece”

The Flow

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And then I begin to regret not pushing myself further over the last couple of weeks to write raw poetry and short stories. But when I was on the other side it just wasn’t an option. I made a few key phrases that I can someday weave into a sensible formation, but at the time I could barely fasten my shoes to be honest. I was inside out, raw and unprotected on the outside. My mind was a gaping wound and my body was standing on a precipice. Every thought I had was like pouring alcohol onto an incision. No mind was the only place to be when this happened, like I was hiding out in a cupboard waiting for the monster to give up and go away. Unresponsive stupor.

And now, here I am back in the coffee shop with you. Your face so warm and familiar, like you are an extension of me. All else remains cold and harsh, and makes me wince upon interaction with it. It will yet be a while before I can complete a creation again, because the link between the depths of my soul and the material is not yet fully repaired. I see that now. But what if I didn’t have to complete something? What if the only thing that mattered was for me to reach out and put a mark on a page, what if that in itself could forge the reconnection? You smile at me (your knowing smile) and take a sip of coffee. And then you place down your cup in its saucer, and pass me a napkin and a Bic medium. The pen feels alien in my sore hands, but I can grip it now at least. Forget about the confines of structure, you say. There doesn’t have to be a contrived beginning any more than there needs to be an end.

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