Lab Oratory

There is something seriously wrong with my body. I squirm through the dark until the wood turns to tiles, following a dripping sound. The drips are spaced far apart meaning I squirm a bit, wait, and squirm a bit more. Now in a bathroom, the dripping is clearer, it’s coming from a cistern in one of the cubicles. I slide painfully under the door and prop myself up against the bowl. The cistern is in behind a panel, so close but I can’t quite get to it. I pass out for a while and when I come to my head is thrumming, I’ve got nothing left.

“So there you are! We thought we’d lost you…after the roof collapsed an’ all.”

It’s the jolly roofers, or demo gang, whatever they are.

“I, I…” cracked lips, can’t speak but I am glad to hear them. A piercing light flashes in my eyes.

“C’mon lads, this one’s nearly had it, get him to the lab.”

“The lab?” Instinctively don’t like the sound of this but powerless to resist I’m dragged away to a cool white room with glinting steel and hard edges.

Breaking into my back, they fix it and put it back together again. It feels worse than ever. I slip in and out of consciousness, eventually get pills, a drink and the sleep of the dead.


Here No Evil

“Can I speak?” Silence. “Is talking allowed?” No answer. Eyes are glued shut but there are hands on my body. “Is it really necessary to touch me there?” But the fondling is incessant. “Emiliy, is that you?”

Moving is still painful but less so, “Can you sit me up?” The hands stop, there is a grunt and a shove and I’m upright. It’s cold, must be night and the hole in the roof, “Can we go somewhere, like, a reading room, or something?”

“You want sex?”

“Um, in the reading room? I want…what I want, is…a drink, something to eat and a pissing conversation, if you are properly asking. I’m tired and thirsty and a bit crazy, fe true. What happened to the roofers?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“One short, one fat…one lean?”

“I still don’t know what you mean.”

“Oh, well.”

I’m saddened by my own dull conversation but survival demands it and now that I’ve had it, it’s time to find warmth and water. And as there’s something definitely up with the body I have to slump sideways and roll off until I encounter something.

Bodleian Drop

Can’t move, I’ve lost the will and it hurts too much. Stay still then, perhaps it’s the end after all the suffering. But what’s this…a band of jolly roofers?

Up over the parapet they come, one short, one fat, one lean. “Ouch” grins the tall one, showing webbed corners to his lips, like The Joker. “Un-clever” says the fat one up close, getting down on his hands and knees. The short one chortles, burst veins, the rubicund face of a twisted clown.

“I was hungry, uh, trying to get down…the cuffs don’t work, they light up see, but don’t work.” The fat one leans in closer, I turn my head to hear what he has to say but he just looks me over slowly, smiling…eyes, nose, mouth.

“Well, you can’t stay here,” says Tall. “We’re going to knock it down.” The roof sheet creaks to underline the point.

“Not roofers then?”, I look at them each, imploringly, in turn. “I’d better go with you.”

They laugh as the roof begins to tip up, I roll into the gutter which becomes a filthy slide, my feet hit the weir and I somersault into the Bodleian below.

Christ, the pain is book binding.

Arc of a Diva

I was hungry and had to find a way out of there and as I didn’t fancy the lobby much I left by the front door. Luckily the millionaire had a Zubat suit, a purple and black one. So one evening, with the heat island thermals whooshing up the facade, I practised a few essentials and jumped off.

Wings by Zubat got power cuffs but they’re cracked. Supposed to make you fly but I’m lucky if I can get from building to less-high building without killing myself. The ballast rips my suit and scratches my millionaire brogues and after a particularly misshapen landing I lie winded in a cracked solar array.

Not for the first time I fear injury, as death. The first rule of survival is don’t die, I mutter, dazed. It starts to rain again and the water dribbles into my collar down my back and out through the jacket vent.

It’s a nice suit by Ermenglide, or something. I lean over a bit and make a little shit in it, like a sheep-shit, I can’t move but it’ll shake out eventually.

Polish the Sky

The slice in the clouds goes way off past the skyline and somewhere the sun is shining but it’s moody in the city, darkness hovering overhead.

My hair and clothes feel damp, not wet but heavier than usual. A lock slips as I squint at the rain sheeting into the evening sun. Beyond this, nothing, not even a smoke signal – pop, pop, the cowboys are coming, hide the hides.

It’s been days and I’ve taken to polishing shoes, an unsolicited but endemic result of the previous owner’s obsession. Time is not to be resisted but partitioned, chopped into tiny blocks and packed up like sugar cubes. Like the Finnish bird said, Deus does not exist.

The millionaire who owned this penthouse had a thing for shoes and rummaging around in his closet uncovered a polishing kit – beautifully presented in a gull-wing box. Kneeling on the shaggy white rug I picked through it, placing each item reverently on the glass table

I’ve got one day’s food left and the groaning in the corridor hasn’t stopped.


I came here in the hope of finding people, people done with all the cannibalism and heartache but in the end I had to invent them. Between us, it wasn’t even really people, it was just Emiliy I invented. Then she got smart, got angry and got away…I couldn’t find her after that.

I thought I had her at the Ludicrous but it must have been a door in the wind. I hunted something from Lusquine Village to Fonseca Park – keeping low, making most use of the natural cover. I shot a tree full of wands thinking it was the chief tree, out to get me. Hideous days and no one to set me straight.

Emiliy where are you? Don’t weird me out, just be here.


By the time I arrive at the bar I run out of steam; the office girls, the Tafari and the Vax are all just a memory, a projection, something to keep me sane. I whisper this last phrase as I push on the busted door with the toe of my boot, keeping my hands free to deal with what may come from inside. But there’s no one there, the place is a mess of broken things, stains on the windows and mold on the walls.

“Put the football on, will ya…” I’m momentarily stuck for the name of the bar girl I liked. Becky, that was it. “Put the fucking football on, Becky, will ya.” I sink onto a banquette and begin to sob uncontrollably. It happens now and then. Right now even a recorded security announcement would be some kind of company.

When the crying jags subside I stand up at what used to be the bar. Becky has jewelled blue eyes, all over her face. At first she seems content to let me speak, her myriad glances drink me in, like insects lapping at a pool of sweat, and then she starts talking. It’s all about this guy at gym and that guy at the bar last week and pretty soon I’m wondering if she sees me at all but her beauty is so compelling I can’t distract her, not from talking about herself.

It must be hard being so beautiful, I think to myself.

“What?” All the eyes are suddenly looking right at me. “Are you being a total ass, jerk?”

“I…I…” I lose track, did I say it or just think it? This is another problem I’ve been having more and more recently. Anger and frustration well up and I lay into the bar, kicking the panels out til it hurts. I hang onto the pain and give it some more until, exhausted, I lie flat on the bar. I have to find my sister, Dulala, before I go over the side and can’t come back.


I stink. A tumbling turquoise Tafari folds right in front of me, the occupants blown safe and high on a dandelion. The manualitos, they think they can handle it but the traffic is too dense and too fast. I can just about make out two girls, pinned against the evening sky, a lion and a lamb. I find myself squinting, mouthing labia from heaven.

I need to find a Vax, I can’t believe how badly I reek. Rooting around in the back only brings up a dead cart Vax which I plug in but it’s cracked, hopeless. I could steal for home but settle for a public booth at the station en route to the Yard. There are a million free cart hook-ups at the station so it’s a good call, in and out.

It mings, to be sure, but I stand on the perforated plastic platform and set my mind straight by imagining I’m in a tank in a warzone, taking hits. I mean, you’d eat worms if you were hungry enough and I couldn’t take this stink into a club. Never get past the gatekeeper.

Orthogonal 4, 5, 6

She’s got the snout of an antelope, or similar, polymorphalized to her face, I don’t think it really suits her but it fits the animal moment as she gobbles her snack. I pass by and I can tell she’s pulling a theme off the net for the night ahead. Recreational use of the office 3D is forbidden but I’m not going to cough her for it, too many rules, too many damn rules.

“It’s work but it ain’t working” I sigh, as I slip back in beside my cohort.

“Do you think it goes all the way in?” he obliges, not looking up.

“You find out, hipster, I ain’t putting my slide anywhere near it.”

It’s all jaw but he likes her and I leave it there, firmly in the bro-zone.