Zombie towels

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Zombie towels are indistinguishable from normal towels, until you try to dry yourself with one.

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Zombie towels arrange themselves invitingly on sun loungers.

If you lie on one it will wrap itself around you and suck the marrow from your bones.

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I once wrung out a zombie towel; several pints of blood and someone’s internal organs slopped out of it and onto the poolside.

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Zombie towels hang on the washing line, groaning, miserable with bloodlust. It is impossible to cleanse them. Even a boil wash won’t kill the virus.

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Zombie towels are the scourge of the spa. Hotels are notorious breeding grounds. But the Health & Safety Executive is at a loss as to how to remedy the problem.

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Even if you starve a zombie towel for several months you won’t destroy it. It’ll roam your airing cupboard, searching for mice. The only way to kill one is to immerse it in holy water or cheap vodka.

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My zombie bath towel ate my genitals.

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House of Mirrors

In May I published part of my work-in-progress collaboration with Viviana Hinojosa. Entitled House of Mirrors, the project is a dialogue between Viviana’s arrestingly strange, beautiful drawings and my writing. What follows is some more recent material we have created.

To see the first part of the project and find out more about it, click here.

James Knight, July 2014.

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Everything is a game to her, even her incarceration. She waits behind the iron door, ready to leap out at anyone who opens it.

She whiles away the time by playing solitaire or chess. The latter is tricky; she has to think first as herself (white) and then as her mirror image (black), then back again, and so on and on until she gets confused or bored or angry with the pointless game.

Her favourite chess piece is the White Queen. She imagines her elegant hands, hesitating on the rusty bolts on the other side of the iron door. Why doesn’t she just unlock it? Well, she’s a queen. Queens don’t do anything much, except the Black Queen, who seeps from shadow to shadow, on a murderous diagonal.

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Before the curtains opened: a hand, a door.

More precisely: a piece of scenery, a moveable wooden frame, inside which was a closed door. The observer stood on one side of it, looking initially at his shoes, until he was aware of a foreign object, something that didn’t belong in the general backstage clutter, which made him look at it: a hand on the door.

More precisely: a small hand, maybe a child’s, on the lower left part of the doorframe, fingertips touching the door itself. The observer assumed that the owner of the hand was standing on the other side of the door. He noticed that the fingers weren’t moving. The whole hand was still.

More precisely: a memory of Alice in Wonderland, working backstage, waiting around doing little most nights, often bored, missing her, sometimes allowing himself little erotic daydreams, seeing gigantic tables and playing cards being taken on and brought off again, laughing when a bit of the “EAT ME” sign got rubbed off by accident and read “FAT ME”, sitting sometimes but more often that not standing in the darkness and heat, doing what he was told, lumbering quietly, and one night, one night of many, looking at a small hand on a piece of set and assuming at first it belonged to a child but then not being sure, not knowing if it was real or not.

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Events played out as expected. Queens were beheaded, palaces bulldozed. Most of us hid behind the riot police and laughed. My dad tried to climb a rope ladder to the moon, but a seagull pecked it in two and he fell to his death. The funeral was a scream: everyone wore fancy dress. I’ve always had a flair for theatricality, don’t you think? You should see me when I fling aside the shower curtain and strut into the searchlights. The crowd adores me. They shriek my name in raptures as they tear down my house of cards.

Don’t you dare call me a queen!

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Do you like my wig? It was made from the pubic hair of my enemies. You should have heard them pleading not to be shaved; they sounded like pigs being slaughtered. Very undignified. As you can see, all my makeup is scarlet. It’s a nod to conventional menstrual symbolism. My dress (fabulous, isn’t it!) was designed by Vivienne Westwood. Its most exciting feature is the tiny bomb attached to the whalebone corset; if I try to remove it, I’ll be blown to smithereens! Vivienne always had such a wicked sense of humour. A pity she had to die for it. See that streak of red at the back of my wig? That’s a clump of hers. The shoes? There are no shoes, my dear. I have cloven feet. They’re best left unshod.

Don’t go yet. I’ve so much more to show you, to tell you. It’s lonely here in this trompe l’oeil landscape where everything smells of plasticine and piss. If you’ll pardon my French. And besides, I don’t know how to get back to my palace. That may be it, burning on the hill. Impossible to be sure in this light.

Don’t go. Not just yet. Have I shown you my necklace? The pendant is dear to my heart. Look at it. Go on, I won’t bite! It’s a little glass prison. The wall at the back is a mirror. That girl crawling around inside is called Eve. She did something very bad (I forget what) and will have to stay there forever. She amuses herself by pulling faces at her own reflection.

Don’t go.

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It was the eyes he found most unnerving. They were expressionless and yet somehow malevolent.

He moved on to the next exhibit, which was some sort of machine. It towered over him, its many levers, pulleys, pistons, valves and gears making its purpose impossible to infer. When he looked more closely he noticed that parts of the machine were pink and fleshy, vaguely porcine. One particularly meaty appendage had been branded with what he took to be the name of the contraption: EV3.

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Images copyright Viviana Hinojosa. Text copyright James Knight. All rights reserved.

Mrs Zeugma finds herself: four brief adventures

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Mrs Zeugma found herself in a boring novel set in an office . She sat at her desk, filing documents and her nails.

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Mrs Zeugma found herself in a whodunit. She drew a stick man depicting one of the suspects, money from an expenses account and erroneous conclusions about the identity of the killer.

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Mrs Zeugma found herself in a novel marketed at empowered women. In chapter one she pulled a pint, a face, a barman and a muscle.

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Mrs Zeugma found herself in an erotic thriller. In the space of one eventful page she blew her cover, her lover, a tyre and a gasket.

The Phantom Room

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The mannequins are here again today. I can feel them throbbing in my ears. They’re standing around in the kitchen, impassive as stone. But underneath they’re laughing. I’m not getting out of bed for them, not this time.

My watch says it’s twelve o’clock. I don’t know if it’s midday or midnight. The sun and the moon look the same to me.

Everything’s the same really, if you think about it. A table, a horse, a joke, pity. All the same.

I can hear the mannequins whispering now. Their voices are like embers.

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I’m having a bad, bad time. Every time I shut my eyes I see myself as a foetus, glowing in the womb. I’m incomplete: my hands are drippy and my song is lost at sea. Even my valves and pistons don’t work properly.

The obvious solution is not to close my eyes. But I have to blink now and then. I’m sure you’ll appreciate my predicament.

The mannequins have become suspiciously quiet.

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This is a small part of a work in progress.

Chimera Consultancy offers David Cameron some advice

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This week Chimera Consultancy (advisors to big brands Apple, Peach, Melon, Mammon, Moloch and McDonalds) offered Prime Minister David Cameron some simple advice that, if adopted, would solve many of the UK’s big problems, including crime, education and health.

Here are those recommendations, originally given as tweets.

Recommendation one: the NHS

We recommend you replace the NHS with Chimera Wealthcare. We are at the cutting edge of unethical profiteering.

Recommendation two: education

We recommend you replace all schools with Chimera EduOutlets, run by Mechamanagers and staffed by robots.

Recommendation three: law and order

We recommend you outsource all policing to Chimera. We’ll quash dissent and won’t waste public money fighting crime.

Recommendation four: the army

We recommend you disband the army and replace it with Chimera MaxiKill, your comprehensive war solution.

Recommendation five: religion

We recommend you abolish all religions and make attendance at the Church of Chimera compulsory for all. Worship of MEGACROCODOG should be everyone’s civic duty. Chimera puts the fun in fundamentalism!

Recommendation six: government

We recommend you abolish the government and appoint the Bird King as CEO of United Kingdom Enterprises Ltd.

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To date, Mr Cameron has not responded to these eminently sensible suggestions.

The Mannequin grows an arm

My collaboration with fellow Chimera artist Susan Omand continues. Here are two more parts of our Mannequin. You can see the two we’d previously unveiled here.

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Left arm

I keep to the badlands. Most of the bodies are buried here. The second statement does not explain the first; be careful about making causal connections where none exist. The area beyond the little hill is more allegorical than real, and is home to the Knights of the Round Table. Gawain fights his insomnia on a fly-tipped sofa. I vow to thee, my country. English pastoral and English gothic are the same thing.

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Left hand

My fingers are purely decorative. You may kiss them. They’ll never hold a phone or a champagne glass or a knife. Aesthetics and utility rarely marry. It doesn’t matter, though: influence over others is more important than innate usefulness. When I turned my back on you I saw in the mirror how you were looking at me. I won’t spell it out. You give yourself away every time.

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Text copyright James Knight. Images copyright Susan Omand. All rights reserved.