At the beginning of the end, the mannequins stopped playing dead.
At the beginning of the end, words cracked in two and Hell poured out of them.
At the beginning of the end, all the lights went out and we heard a crowd shouting and laughing. The singing started later.
At the beginning of the end, planes fell from the sky. Some were mistaken for avenging angels.
At the beginning of the end, water gushed from our taps. We couldn’t stop it. Soon, the flood waters erased the cities.
At the beginning of the end, the mirrors gave back diminished images. We shuffled, emaciated, in the dark glass.
At the beginning of the end, our dogs found their wolfishness. Cats paraded triumphally through the screaming streets.
At the beginning of the end, the dead rose and we were shocked that they could speak, that words wormed from their ruined mouths.
At the beginning of the end, day and night swapped clothing. The sun and moon clashed during the exchange.
At the beginning of the end, mathematics murdered the masses.
At the beginning of the end, the clocks laughed and gave up their secrets.
At the beginning of the end, Barbie and Ken toyed with us, placed us in compromising poses.
At the beginning of the end, our beliefs poured from our eyes, our ears, our noses, our mouths, leaving us empty, dried up, still.
At the beginning of the end, snow monsters set fire to the fractured palaces of trade.
At the beginning of the end, we found solace in eating. Everything was fair game. Cannibalism was the mildest of our crimes.
At the beginning of the end, we got caught in the mechanisms of desire and bled over our smartphones.
At the beginning of the end, we found real piranhas in the stream of images.
At the beginning of the end, money burned in the labyrinth.
At the beginning of the end, grinning men with big ideas lit napalm cigars.
At the beginning of the end, the trees clasped us to them, cooed over us, nursed us, gathered us into them, became our coffins.
I am pleased to announce the publication of Broken Reflections, a free ebook of adventurous writings by fifteen authors, including Marc Nash and Chimera members Sean Fraser and Adam Wimbush. It’s available in multiple formats from Smashwords.
The ebook is the result of a creative writing competition I ran back in July to promote the publication of Mono. You can see the results of the competition and read some of judge Kate Garrett’s comments here.
Mum and Dad are dead, though I’m the only person who has noticed. They’re sipping their tea in the kitchen. Dad keeps coughing up maggots. Mum’s face looks like a cracked mirror: I see myself in it, broken, dark. My brothers carry on as normal. They huddle by the TV, whispering about the girls they don’t dare ask out, or play in the garden. Their favourite game is called Stink Dog, which requires running, exaggerated laughter and knives. The rules seem complicated or perhaps non-existent. I’ve long suspected they make it up as they go along.
Sometimes, Mum sews her hands together and sings. Her song would pierce your heart.
It’s autumn now, I think. Autumn is nothing. Summer burns us, winter freeze-dries us. Autumn is just a brown transition. Nothing happens. We get older, we die more deeply. Maybe that is something. Slowing down is still moving. But I can’t tell the time. The hands on the clock move too slowly.
Man and wife are one flesh. Their tangled sinews wrestle through the night. If you press your ear to the wall, you’ll hear the awful rasping of conjoined lungs. A brain in two halves declares: This is life! And you read the instructions tattooed on your arms, before munching on some toast and going to work. Outside, the birds are in charge. They direct traffic and the wandering days.
Mum and Dad could never afford to buy their own house, so they rented the Palace of Skulls. It was quite cosy, once upon a time. Stray stories crept in through the fissures, curled up at my feet. A man called Mr Vogel called round once a month, to collect the rent. The neighbours were boring but pleasant, and murders were rare. I remember little about those days. I was only five, perhaps fifteen. Memories don’t start forming properly until you’re in your sixties. Maybe that’s my problem. I’m too old for excitement, too young for reminiscence. Stuck between a life lived and a life remembered, in a time when the clock’s hands move imperceptibly and my brothers dice with death.
Dad keeps trying to tell me something. His jaws move convulsively. Whenever I suggest he write it down, he waves me away with a rotting hand. What am I supposed to do?
The hospital is a Hell of corridors. There are no wards, no patients. Just mannequins dressed as doctors, breezing through a polished antiseptic maze. I try to visit whenever I can. I still hope that one day I’ll find a real doctor who can look at the holes in my legs and tell me how to treat them. Maybe I’m over-complicating everything. Maybe my legs are made of cheese and the holes are nothing to worry about. Maybe my legs are made of volcanic rock. Maybe my legs are made of fallacious arguments. Whatever. As far as the hospital is concerned, it doesn’t matter. The registrar murders noise. Her phantom pregnancy is more real than me.
Mum and Dad are dead. Did I mention that? It needs to be pointed out. Mum thinks she’s a chair. She rocks in a corner, keeping time with the memory of her heartbeat. Dad distracts himself with Elvis Presley. My brothers gnaw on the mice collecting in my eyes. At times, this feels like happiness. At Christmas, our house is a symphony of belches and farts. We drink to each other, health, the Palace of Skulls. Santa Claus masturbates miserably in a back room. We feel as if we’re together. We’re not. But we feel as if we are or tell each other we feel as if we are, and that’s enough for us. Carol singers collect on our doorstep like dead leaves. Sometimes I find myself thinking about the hospital and wanting to go there, even though I know it’s probably pointless. Then I have another bottle of vodka and forget about it.
It’s autumn now. One day it will be winter. Man and wife are one flesh.