Saturday, May 28, 2005

Normality isn't what it used to be

The daffodils were screaming, a fractured glass wail that snaked the spine like a glue sniffers rush as the crocodile babies snapped off flower-heads with glass jaws, singing merry hymns, the sounds of fingernails on blackboards stretched out like candy floss. The road bucked and weaved disappearing into an impossible perspective while the walls of buildings assumed strange and threatening angles speaking of more dimensions than the obvious three.

Malcolm turned his head away nausea rushing up from his gut, the world rushed into solidity like the ground coming up to meet a falling suicide, he rushed past Dave and threw up into a nearby hedge. Dave looked at the younger man with some amusement, he'd tired to warn the young Copper but Malcom had brushed him off with youthful machismo. Dave sighed, coughing he took a packet of Embassy No1 out of the inside pocket of his stained tweed jacket and pulled a cigarette out with nicotine stained fingers, still he'd been the same at his age.

"Feeling better?" He said as he took a puff on his cigarette, looking down at the young policeman with a look of fatherly concern.

"Christ! It's, It's...." Malcolm spluttered pulling his head out of the hedge and wiping his mouth, trying very hard to keep his gaze from what was going on behind the flimsy yellow strip of police tape that cordoned off one end of the quiet suburban street.

"Well I hate to say I told you so.." Dave shrugged and took another puff on his cigarette, glancing at his watch. He had himself carefully positioned so his back was to the scene behind him, even so he still couldn't block out the inhuman wail that cut through the air causing car alarms three streets away to start going off.

"Fuck what was that!" Malcolm said covering his ears, instantly he began to turn his head towards the sound. Dave took a step to the side, placing his bulky frame between him and the unfolding scene at the end of the road.

"That, was the sound of someone trapped in the rift, and it's best you don't look. Unless you fancy waking up in the middle of the night screaming for the rest of your life, as well as losing what's left of your breakfast" Malcolm looked up at Dave and shook his head. From his position, the sun behind Dave throwing him into shadow, he looked more like some Easter Island statue than an old chain smoking Policeman.

"I thought last week was weird, but this..Well it's fucked isn't it?" Malcolm, finally pulling himself upright, stood to one side of Dave his back also to the scene unfolding. He tried to keep his attention on the two or three uniformed coppers who were moving in and out of the other houses on the street checking that they were all empty.

"This is different, last week was your just your bog standard timeloop. I've seen it before, bunch of muppets stage a series of revival nights. They get through the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's in the first few months. Once you get to the 90's it's only a short hop from there to the noughties and then with nowhere else to go they start doing a last Wednesday revival then a Yesterday revival and before you know it they're stuck in a self referential loop constantly reviving the last 5 minutes. Best piece of advise I can give you Malcolm, stay away from any evenings entertainment with the words 're-live' and 'the' in the title." Dave took a last drag on his cigarette and threw it to the floor, as he placed his heel onto the still smouldering fag-butt and ground it into the pavement he felt the seemingly solid concrete buckle slightly under his weight.

"What times he due?" Malcolm asked, noticing Dave's unease.

"Anytime now" Dave replied checking his watch

"Which reminds me" Smiling slyly at Malcolm's puzzled look Dave bent down and picked up a supermarket carrier bag lying at his feet. Reaching inside he took out two large multi-colored jester's hat's, the sort you'd normally see being sported by drunk students at festivals, and two sets of novelty glasses.

"Here put these on" He said passing a hat and glasses to the gobsmacked Malcolm

"Are you taking the piss?!" Malcolm waved his glasses at Dave, half ping-pong balls painted with blood shot eyes swung wildly on springs as Malcolm stared with that half squint of someone trying to work out if he's about to be the butt of a joke.

"Stop whining and put them on, it's for your own good" Dave had put on the hat and glasses. His came with a false nose and moustache, which conspired to give him the look of an older, fatter Groucho Marx.

Malcolm still muttering pulled the hat on his head and shoved the glasses on his nose.

"I feel like a right prick" He complained.

"If it's any consolation, you look like one." Dave replied.

Their conversation was interrupted by the rumble of an engine from the road in front of them, around the corner came such a strange sight that Malcolm momentarily forgot about the twisted hell that existed just a few paces behind him. It was a school bus, an American school bus to be exact, but instead of the familiar Yellow that Malcolm grew up watching on Saturday morning TV from the States this one was painted in wild psychedelic motifs and colours, on the front the school sign had been replaced with a large silver 'FURTHER'.

"OK really, this day can't get any stranger" Malcolm tried to bring his hand to his forehead but the dangling eye's from his glasses got in the way.

"You're about to find out how true that statement is" Dave said smiling and lighting another cigarette.

"The FBI lent us the bus, it's got so much ingrained craziness in it's psychometric structure that it's the only thing we've found that can contain him" As Dave finished his sentence, they both felt the ground lurch under there feet. Malcolm resisted the strong urge to look behind him, the flowers in the garden next to him begin to whisper to each other in fragile baby doll voices and he new it was to late.

"Fuck it's spreading" Malcolm cried out, Dave had to take him by the shoulder to stop him bolting.

"Keep calm son, things are about to get a lot more normal" Dave tried to keep his tone reassuring but Malcolm was sure he could hear a twinge of doubt in his voice.

The Eggmen were dancing on his arm, while the jangle birds swam backwards to the sound of liquorice. Malcolm turned his head to shout at Dave but all he could see was the colour of cymbals. Cymbals, cymbals it's all just symbols. The doors are opening he thought he heard someone say, the doors where? In his head? The doors where already flung open there, to let the air in and the ghosts out, his brains spilling on the gingerbread pavement.

"The doors are opening, he's here" Dave said as reality suddenly snapped back into focus like someone had retuned the signal, Malcolm realised he was clinging to the pavement and sobbing.

The back of the bus had opened and light spilled out from the inside. Malcolm shook his head in disbelief, ping pong balls bouncing on the end of springs, trying to comprehend what he saw. The back of the bus was decorated like a small living room, flock wallpaper adorned the walls, a small rug was laid out infront of a gas fire, there were even model ducks in flight stuck to one of the walls. In the middle of all this sat, on a very comfortable armchair, a small very average looking man. A man in a cardigan and slippers, reading a paper and smoking a pipe.

"That's Norman Smith? That's the man who's so dangerous they have to keep him locked in a specially constructed fun house in the middle of the Wiltshire Downs?" Malcolm asked in complete befuddlement.

"That's him" Dave said matter of factly, looking down at Malcolm who was still clinging to the pavement like it was a life raft.

"Golly!" Said Malcolm, he had meant to say 'Fuck!' but suddenly he couldn't seem to form the swear word in his head.

Norman Smith got up and stepped out of the van, as he exited it's confines Malcolm started to notice strange things occurring to the surrounding area. It was difficult to put an exact finger on what it was, but reality seemed to get more real. The paving stones seemed more solid, the hedges lining the gardens seemed to become straighter and their edges more precise. It was as if someone had come down and tidied everything up when no one was looking. Norman walked towards them, as he got closer the effect got stronger, it was as if all the hazy edges and fuzzy doubts you might have had about the solidity of reality and your place in it were washed away and replaced by a firm certainty that everything was running like the clockwork it was.

Norman paused by Dave and turned and smiled at him

"Hello Dave, this the new boy?" He said nodding at Malcolm, who was looking increasingly uncomfortable in Normans presence.

"He is, say hello Malcolm" Dave patting the bewildered Malcolm on the shoulder.

"Hello" Malcolm said involuntarily raising his hand because something told him it was the proper thing to do.

"Best if we don't shake" Norman said and raised his hand to wave instead. Malcolm followed suit. Suddenly, inexplicably, he was grasped by an incredible urge for a cup of tea.

"Don't worry, the effects won't last long after I've gone" Norman said and he walked past them.

"You'll want to turn round and watch this" Dave said

Malcolm and Dave turned round, at first Malcolm had to fight back the nausea again as his brain tried to comprehend the twisted reality of the rift but then he realised that as Norman walked towards it reality seemed to solidify around him like cooling lava. Focusing on Norman like a visual anchor Malcolm watched as he ducked under the yellow police tape and stepped into the heart of the chaos.

Angles righted themselves around him, impossible spectrums of colours settled back into their normal range, sounds that could only be described as a shape silenced. The rift disintegrated in the presence of Smith's certainty.

"My word!" Was all Malcolm could manage.

"Amazing isn't it, a man who's view of reality is so strong, so certain that it affects the nearby fabric of space-time to conform with his views. It's why we use him in situations like this and it's why he normally can't got within 6 miles of human habitation." Dave shook his head, he'd seen him do this several times but it still gave him the willy's.

Norman had almost finished his work now. The street had coalesced back into it's bland averageness, like memory plastic snapping back to it's original shape. There were several people wandering aimlessly in the street looking around with bewilderment on their faces.

"What's going to happen to them? Shouldn't we go and help them?" Dave asked pointing to a nearby woman in a ripped floral print dress, her bare feet dragging across the pavement as she stumbled against a post box.

"No need for that lad, the others will deal with them" Dave said and waving his arm summoned a couple of the uniformed police. They ran past Dave and Malcolm and ducked under the tape, each of them was carrying what looked like an MP3 player and headphones. Malcolm watched as one of the uniforms went up to the woman in the dress and began to talking softly to her, as they spoke the Policeman gently handed her his headphones and she slipped them over her ears. Her faced softened and she instantly began to look calmer and less confused.

"What are they playing to them?" Malcolm asked intrigued.

"Kenny G, Chris Deburg, Celine Dion that sort of easy listening crap. We've found it re-enforces the status reality and smoothes re-entry. Soon they'll have forgotten this ever happen, except for some bad dreams and odd sexual urges." Dave took out and took another cigarette and lit it, he glanced down at his watch.

It took another half an hour to round up the stragglers and search through the houses, by that time they'd packed Norman back into his van and driven away, Malcom was very glad to be able to take off the hat and glassess, he was even happier about five minutes later when he realised he'd remembered how to say fuck.

"Right, we'll it's all over bar the cleaning up" Dave said

"I saw a pub round the corner as we drove in. I think we both need a pint or six, eh? Besides I've got 20 quid on the 3.30 at Chepstow, a dead cert I reckon." Malcolm stared at Dave and then just shook his head.

"Yeah, I could do with a pint, maybe it'll all start make to make sense after a couple of rounds. You buying?" Malcolm queried.

"Don't make me laugh son, reality maybe thin round here but things haven't broken down that much. Besides it's the privilege of rank" With that he slapped Malcolm on the shoulder and they turned back down the street to find the nearest pub.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

We know where you live

Speaking to a friend of mine she reminded me of something I'd written for her as laugh. Basiclly she was bored temping at some McJob, to help relieve the tedium she asked people she new to tell her what they got up to at the weekend. I'd done nothing particularly intresting so I thought I'd make something up instead....

On Saturday morning I was rudely awoken by a man swinging through my bedroom window, after a brief bout of fisticuffs (I'm not a morning person) I found out he was a Captain Tarquin Musclethawite of a special black-ops division of the TV Licensing Board. Apparently they had need of my special talents (I had no idea what these talents were supposed to be, but as I didn't have anything planned that day I thought I'd play along).

Without so much as a cup of tea I was hoisted up to the radar impenetrable TV Detector Saucer (they've moved on from the detector vans) and flown to an undisclosed location somewhere in London (I could tell you but I'd have to kill you) where we converged on a top secret terrorist hide out. It seems that not only were they planning to release a combined Ebola-anthrax virus onto the unsuspecting population of London but they hadn't paid their TV license for three years (the cads).

Kicking down the door we rushed in guns blazing, after a brief fire fight we realised we were in the wrong street. Apologising to the terrified residents I gave them the number of a good plasterer and we made a hasty retreat.

After Capt. Musclethawite consulted the map again (and someone turned it the right way up) we found the correct house and came in through the windows. The terrorists were all taken by completely by surprise as they were watching CD:UK and put up little resistance.

At this point we noticed the large ticking bomb that took up most of the living room. It was then I found out what my special talents were, I was apparently a retired top bomb disposal expert.

This was of course news to me and I explained this to the Captain. After quickly consulting his map again the Captain realised that he'd actually swung in the wrong window and should have gone next door (I'd always wondered what my neighbour, Brigadier Ian 'no arms, no legs' Mcginty, had done in the army).

Anyway the Captain quickly apologised for his error (it turns out he was colour blind dyslexic with two glass eyes and an old war injury that had left him with absolutley no sense of direction). Apologies over, we were however still left with the small problem of the unexploded bomb. Thinking quickly I traced the power lead to a plug socket behind the sofa and managed to unplug the bomb with seconds to spare.

After we'd all gone home to change our trousers I was invited over to see the queen where we had tea and biscuits and I was awarded a George Cross.

Now that was just Saturday, Sunday was a whole other story but that'll have to wait till another time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

It's all about letting go

I went to a Yoga Seminar on Saturday, given by a teacher called John Stirk and it's given me quite a few things to think about.

John is my teachers, teacher he's been studying Yoga for over 30 years. He worked for a time with a woman called Vanda Scaravelli (I love that name) and a lot of his Yoga is inspired from her teachings. I say inspired because Vanda was apparently very against the idea of the way she worked becoming a style. In her opinion as soon as something starts to become a style it begins to stagnate, it becomes a set of ridged rules as opposed to a free way of working.

The theme of the seminar was simplicity, going back to basics. One of the things he said that really stuck with me was that all we really had to do in Yoga was 'give up to gravity', the freedom to move in postures comes from this sacrifice and our holding on to ingrained muscle tension is what restricts us both on the mat and off.

Of course the simplest things are often the hardest to achieve. This surrender is not just the letting go of outer tension but moving inwards, focusing your attention like a spotlight and releasing habitual muscle patterns that have become ingrained, like knots in a tree trunk, over many years.

This idea of surrender or sacrifice to something greater is also integral to the philosophy of Yoga. Most of the main yogic texts teach that we have to let go of our ego and sense of 'I' to move past it towards something greater, it's our clinging to a fixed idea or outcome (whether it's a head stand or a higher salary) that brings us pain and suffering. I think that fluidity of mind and body is something that is missing from some yoga today, we are to attached to the end result and not the process of getting there. The focus on physical posture has meant that a persons yoga is measured more on their ability to twist themselves into complex organic origami instead of on what attitude they have to their practice.

The other thing that he said that struck a cord was that body chemistry is indistinguishable from brain chemistry. The same hormones and chemicals that affect the brain also affect the body and vise-versa, a body full of adrenaline is a mind full of adrenaline.

This is one of those simple and obvious statements that we often overlook in everyday life, we often find ourselves saying that the body is tired or the body is stressed but we pay little attention on how that effects the way we think. It's that simple trap of a mind body dichotomy that people always to fall into (myself included), the body is not just a carriage for the mind and the mind is not limited to just the grey play dough contained inside evolutions own crash helmet.

Just a Ying and Yang are really just the two aspects of one thing (the Tai Chi), our body and mind are the same and any subdivision is merely an intellectual construction.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Short fiction on Key23

I've just posted a short story up on Key23 if you fancy a look

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Dancing at the end of the Universe

I step into the club, dermic sensory web feeling the air around me plugging into the clubs network. A tingling crawls across my skin as the hook-up takes place, HUD display flickers up in front of my eyes giving me the clubs menu, something for all tastes. I scan the different music and reality sets available and tune into a couple of samples.

Dharma Burn bangra dub, clubbers transformed into whirling Hindu deities. Blue skin, many arms and Elephant tusks. Next, Abduction. Sound track switches to deep bass at a cellular level. Dancing grey skinned and silver clad aliens floating by. Bottomless black eyes reflecting me, reflecting you into infinite regress. Flick to Dreamtime. Shamanic rhythm pounding, naked and tattooed swirling round the bonfire of creation.

Suddenly the drumming is drowned out by an irritating jingle, colours bleed and I'm jolted back into the club. I look around confused suddenly noticing that everyone looks the same, almost identical grinning faces turn towards me all wearing the same bright logo emblazoned clothing. Simultaneously they raise cans of Cola to their lips, faces ecstatic like Catholics before the Holy Virgin. I fight a sudden strong desire to join them, to lose my self in their bland acceptance. Viral meme marketing, someone's slipped into the club carrying an infection. I'm annoyed that the bouncers didn't catch them but glad I had the forethought to update my virus definitions before I left tonight. Inoculation kicks in and my perceptions return to normal, I send a mind-mail to the doorman registering a complaint.

Postponing my choice for the moment I move further into the throng, sliding through the writhing mass of people all seemingly merged into one entity, like some cuthulian deity called up in diabolic ritual.

A woman dances across my path ultrasound skinsuit showing off her impressive internal organs. Her partner gyrates next to her, eyes staring into some far off vista, the intelligent algae patterns beneath her skin gently pulsing and changing colour spreading fractal rainbows.

I modify my body chemistry slightly, increasing endorphin levels. As the warm rush fills my veins I briefly toy with the idea of something stronger, then I catch a Mach23 user out of the corner of my eye. A whirling dervish of flaying arms and wild eyes, his metabolism maxed up on hyper-amphetamine. To his time stretched perception everyone else will be moving in bullet-time slow motion, whining drill sound music sounding normal to his ears. Discouraged I decide against it for tonight.

My decision finally made I flip back to the menu, choosing Samadhi I download the set into my nervous system. Senses blossom, conciouness expanding into the digital architecture. Mind linking with everyone on the network, mantra hum of the universe, I am you and you are me, we are all together. Smiling in bliss I dive into the crowd and begin to dance.....