Else City 4: This Shit That Is Reality

Pursey was head of the Clean Up Crew and he was a famously bad tempered bastard; he did not like dealing with people from other departments: dealing with the inanimate and decimated had fractured his mind into compartments where quiet horror constituted the biggest drawer and social niceties had one of the smaller allotments.
He hawked up a healthy wad of phlegm and targetted the ground just in front of O’Halligan. Normally O’Halligan would have cracked him upside his head but he just thought to himself how this guy was going to fit right in with whatever it was residing in that place.
As Pursey and his men entered the property there was an atmospheric shift – it felt as if the space they were occupying was collapsing in on itself; everyone looked as oppressed as they obviously felt. The high pitched whine which pierced the air had been building so gradually a few of them had thought they were suffering tinnitus, but it became apparent that all of them were hearing it, and then it turned into a hybrid scream / drill noise that had them all clutching their heads. A few people started to leak blood from the ears – they were all paralysed by the pain, all looking towards the place where Pursey had gone.
O’Halligan was expecting the place to explode and all of them to come stumbling out aflame and shrieking in agony but it was much more mundane – Pursey looked totally unfazed, as if he dealt with this kind of shit everyday, and in some ways that was exactly what he did.
He exited with a large specimen jar, a huge grin spread across his face.
‘Know what we have here, ladies and gentleman?’
When he got no response, he continued: ‘We have a pocket universe – that thing which started to dissolve O’Halligan’s suit was not acid, but a supercondensed pocket of reality, one antithetical to our own universe. Whilst it is held in what, for the moment I am going to call an egg, it runs just like our universe would (an hermetically sealed continuum) but when the thing is burst or broken it becomes something less stable – a hybrid entity which can no longer subsist by itself and which attacks that around it.’
‘Ok, Pursey, so where does this little scientific miracle come from?’
‘Glad you asked, O’Halligan, where it comes from is the anus of the thing which consumed those people in there.’
‘Run that by me again.’
‘OK, so the thing which ate those human beings in there digested them and shit out brand new universes.’
‘And how is that possible?’
‘That part I haven’t quite worked out. One has to wonder, if reality is the waste product this thing craps out, then what exactly is it that it is digesting?’
‘Forbes, tell me this isn’t fucking with your head.’
‘Oh, I can’t tell you that, O’Halligan – it is a skullfuck and no mistake.’
‘So, what do we do about it?’
‘Well, while Pursey takes this boil back to the lab and looks at it, we go and have a drink in some dive bars and see of anything doesn’t float to the top.’
‘Sounds like a plan.’

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the lightly salted caul didn’t taste too bad – the side-dish of sauteed pickled punks smelt pungent, but he was sure it would be great. the monkey brains drinking establishment was a wonderful discovery, one he hardly credited with being true some days – was it that he was always drunk when he sat down to eat in here?
when sober he was sure he wouldn’t be able to tell anyone how to reach this place – not that he really wanted to share it with anyone. he was glad that he was rarely sober and seemed to be possessed of a rather formidable context dependent memory.
just under the surface of the drink swam the bugbears he had not managed to drown yet – they gathered to themselves all the moments of insecurity he suffered, and they grew bigger and as they increased in size they became hungrier.
he was trying to paint in the hours he was awake but this diversionary expedition to get food was a necessary stepping stone to productivity. when the hunger ravaged him he could hardly string together a thought – he became angry and if he had his knife to hand he might go on prolonged bouts of slashing at his canvases. last week, the alcohol level in his blood particularly high, he had cut, pissed on, and set alight to five works which his dealer had been telling him were the best things he had done in an age – now all that existed of them were the prints of the photographs always taken as a precaution now. he had almost died trying to extinguish the flames but he had not heeded a single warning from any of the many opinionated bastards who it was his misfortune to meet that day.
he started upon the pickled punks and was surprised at how they just came apart with no effort, how they melted on the tongue – they tasted great; he would have to leave a good tip for both the waiter and the chef.
as he finished, paid, and stepped out on the street, the sky gave up brooding and let loose with fury. for a moment, for a small moment, he felt blessed by the call – felt able to dance between the raindrops … and then he sank back down into himself. misery was the best fuel for his brooding nightmare landscapes, for his umbral portraits, for his geometric shatter of abstraction. he sighed, he smiled, he shrugged, he reached his studio’s front door and went inside.

mr precedent

‘so why was this one picked?’
‘well, he can read without stumbling,’
‘ah, yeah, i remember the last one.’
‘yeah, he started a war by means of dyslexia …’
‘with a great big dollop of stupid too.’
‘well, that goes without saying, doesn’t it?’
‘i suppose. i do have to say though, this one’s not very good looking.’
‘no, he’s fucking ugly, but it has exactly the same effect – they spend more than half their time pondering his scary face instead of questioning what he’s saying. he turns them all into rubberneckers.’
‘what about his mother? i heard she’s a problem.’
‘oh, you mean the feminist intellectual who likes to mouth off about how her dumbass of a son shouldn’t be in control of a plastic spoon let alone the country?’
‘yeah.’
‘not a problem.’
‘how so?’
‘we dug up some interesting dirt on her.’
‘what? sexual perversion? drug history?’
‘worse.’
‘worse?’
‘yep, worse.’
‘what could be worse?’
‘hypocrisy.’
‘ah …’
‘yep, best way to hang a liberal – hoisting them by their own petard.’
‘so, i heard there was a big plan to shoot this one?’
‘yeah, it’s the biggest event in a long time – we have everything in place to ramp up his public profile as a do-gooder (there are lots of pet perverts that the public wants to see helped at the moment) and once he is seen as almost saintly then – BANG, we blow out the back of his skull, and have a changing of the guard.’
‘you have someone in mind?’
‘oh, of course – this one is going to be hardline. the way we’ve been juggling it through the years is – we have a liberal president who gets them all happy and sells them a lifestyle which includes all these so-called luxury items, then we have a hardline ball-buster who comes in and uses all the backdoors in those luxury items to push greater control on the populace.’
‘i’m not sure i qquite get that.’
‘oh, ok – well, during this presidency we’re getting everyone interested in having their skulls embedded with RFID tags because its the easiest way to control their media devices – so they grab it all up like elective surgery. then president b comes in and using the electronic backdoors which we require to be fitted as standard in these chips he increases surveillance; turns every fucker into a camera. we call it operation deep penetration – we go live and have the whole country in the bag; there isn’t a thing we won’t know.’
‘man.’
‘impressive, eh?’
‘scary.’
‘yeah.’
‘so what was he saying?’
‘who cares? you think i listen to that shit?’

the death of botulism smith

‘ah, it seems writers make good fuel,’ offered cyril prognost.
‘well, botulism always was a fat bastard, cyril.’
‘that’s not very appropriate, mr entwhistle, is it, at the poor bastard’s funeral?’
‘jenny, i didn’t really mean anything by it. but damn – spontaneous human combustion …’
‘a myth-making heap of bullshit being put about by thomas carnegie, the journalist who has his new biography of botulism out this week.’
‘so then, jenny, what is it that happened?’
‘well, botulism had been working on his new novel …’
‘called 666 i believe?’
‘yes, cyril, that’s correct. it is – not to give too much away – a novel of 666 parts, each 666 words long, about 666 individuals who are responsible for the end of the world.’
‘and he was writing this at the time of his death?’
‘well, he was resting between typing sessions.’
‘oh.’
‘yes, and he sat down next to the electric fire and went to sleep with a whiskey in his hand.’
‘wait a minute – an electric fire? who really uses those anymore?’
‘well, botulism did, why? because he believed it to be cheaper.’
‘did he finish the book?’
‘oh, yeah – i mean just an early draft as things go, but yes, it was complete – this was the first transcribing from pencil to type.’
‘pencil, and you said type as if he was using an actual typewriter?’
‘yes, entwhistle, when was the last time you saw him?’
‘a while back i suppose – i just assumed he would have moved with the times given his success.’
‘not really – he would buy the strangest things with his money, which i suppose was his prerogative.’
‘strange, how, jenny? i mean you probably knew botulism better than any of us, and there wasn’t really anything normal about him, so what do you consider to be strange?’
‘he had a thing for shrunken heads and he liked frogs too – little china frogs.’
‘oh,’ said three in unison.
botulism had a respectable number of column inches as epitaph and a sudden surge in booksales explainable by the curiosity of his case as presented in carnegie’s biography. rumours of a movie circulated. when 666 was released botulism fever reached its apex and began a slow steady decline thereafter.

botulism smith

the faint tang of scrotal sweat assailed him as he entered the room and he knew that botulism smith had been working on revisions of what they were hoping was going to prove to be one of his masterpieces.
until you visited the ramshackle abode of this most eccentric of intellects you might be forgiven for thinking that his world, that described in his fictions, was one which could never truly exist in reality – that its tenuous cobweb intricasies of coincidence and odd magic were too fragile to survive in the workaday world.
botulism did not possess that delicacy himself though – he was like a slab of raw meat planted uncooked and bloody in the centre of the most ornate of doilies. carol often chuckled when he was reminded of these inconsistencies. the call for reworking the last few chapters of this latest book had provoked the usual prolonged outbursts of vitriol that tied up the office phonelines for days at a time – well, one specific phoneline which, based upon the experience last time, was assigned to botulism.
botulism was a genius and what did these lowly cockroaches scuttling in the shadow of his greatness think they could possibly offer him as suggestions that might be worthy of his notice? still, he did what was asked of him and made the cuts and additions that would turn this from a mildly successful book to the toast of the literati.
botulism swore that he never gave two shits whether or not some hoity-toity pretentious bloomsbury fanclub member liked his work or not, but he definitely appreciated the trappings that his fame and wealth brought him. copious magazines of victorian erotica were stacked six foot high around the room – ankles and wrist fortnightly being his favourite.
‘so,’ offered carol ‘do you have the final manuscript ready for me to take?’
‘of course i do you insufferable little pipsqueak. and do you have the requisite amount of cash which i requested in my last missive? for if you do not i will wipe my arse upon this fine piece of literature, and damn the papercuts!’
‘i have it, mr smith.’
‘good – take this; give me that; leave.’
‘of course.’
carol thumbed through the stained pages and knew, once more, that this strange reclusive specimen of humanity had cast his omniscient gaze into the heart and heads of so many.

child killer

and what would expect if you heard the phrase child killer?
well, you might reasonably expect that what was being referred to was a killer of children. what you would not want to even think about was the possibility that what was being talked about was a small human being capable of the kind of devastation patrick killarney was reputed to have caused.
very rarely does the term ‘power tools’ inspire such gut wrenching fear, but when that twelve year old with the manic look in his eyes imitates the high-pitched whine of a drill and then cackles like some ancient crone from a fairytale, you can’t help but wonder if you have adequate means of defence against the hell spawn sat across from you.
one of the kindergarten supervisors was considered missing until the chunks of flesh in patrick’s sesame street lunchbox were matched for blood types. quite how the recoil from the ak47 had not hurt patrick or knocked him to the ground was a mystery no one could quite explain, the marks his trainers had made in the smeared blood in the playroom did suggest a struggle though – as did the bullets which were recovered from the various walls.
the school psychologist, whose head was erected on a pike, with a copy of patrick’s psych evaluation rolled up and stuffed into her emptied left eye socket provided a chilling commentary on the state of the young boy’s mind.
quite how he had managed to carry out the massacre, which conservative estimates put at lasting several hours, without being disturbed is another serious question authorities are trying to answer. security is being stepped up in all of the nation’s schools, and despite the contributing role his psych evaluation and drug regime may have played in his actions, it is being recommended that all schools introduce mandatory psychological profiling to avoid similar events from occuring in the future.
patrick killarney will remain in a maximum security facility on suicide watch for the forseeable future. his mother and siblings were unavailable for comment but it is believed they are all receiving counselling to help them cope with the fallout of the week’s tragic events.

an eventful week

when he realised that the world was a jigsaw that he had been trying to put together for the longest time he heaved a sigh of relief – the fact that he had been doing such a sterling job whilst having no idea what the picture on the box looked like cheered him.
he had been accused of living in a solipsistic, navel-gazing, masturbatory version of reality, and no matter how hard he argued against it he had very little real proof that this wasn’t exactly what he was doing.
his claims of blandness – supported by a large stamp collection and several sets of holiday snaps converted into slides – were roundly refused admission as evidence into the case for the plaintiff. one look at him and you could see that there was something odd about him.
he had next door neighbours who had summoned the third incarnation of mammon and gone into business with him selling ‘kiss me quick’ hats. the house they were currently reconstructing on the other side had been decimated when a terrorist had mistaken the timer on his bomb for the one measuring how long his hard boiled egg had left to go.
to arrive at a theory of everything whilst sat in the bath dipping rich tea biscuits into a mug of ovaltine was just not normal. to arrive at an answer which dissolved reality and found everyone returned to the primal energy based forms they had been at the start of the universe could be labelled somewhat odd. but that was just the way of things with him – destroy the false notions which allow the universe to persist on tuesday morning, reconstruct reality from a quickly sketched holographic on wednesday, and have lunch with jesus on thursday. an eventful week to be sure.