"It's all connected, Branco."
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
"It wasn't always this way, amigo branco grande, my father, before he was shot in eye, and before we fled to this," and he looks out the stringed awning, "no, we had the good thing, with well-respected house, and goto servants, because my father was well-respected and goto scientist,
"He said some things this time that the manage didn't like, and asked questions that, also, they did not like. And he was advised by good friend, this man , Homemmau,
"but he was not good friend really, he was a fucker,"
And I am momentarily shocked by this, small angel faced boy saying "fucker".
"I am now the man in this house, my father is shot dead six days ago by policemen, and I know only one who knows where we are, this shit Homemmau.
"This is who you shoot dead for me."
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Where I am borne up on the tide of circumstance, like other scum (less dense than water, crap that would have made Archimedes leap out of his bath in a eureka moment because of the shit rising from the plug-hole). No longer an observer, I now become an actor in this.
I have my inventory of devices, and I will click on every object in the 2D scene until I stop getting the "you can't use that here" message.
Monday, September 24, 2007
And for a moment don't remember the shit that's going on.
There's hot sunshine arrowing into every corner, making even the most nasty and fucked up detritus look limned in halo glow (mainly golden hour romantic). So I can, for a minute, think this is ok, this all right. But then the shine gets too actinic, and marks out every little nasty detail - the spent cartridges in the corner; the ripped packages of rations; the little neglected toys in corners.
You have to be careful not to catch your lip on the serrated bit.
It's now proper proper morning and I'm sitting in the plastic awning of small boy's pied-à-terre - a leaning conglomeration of corrugated iron, builder's membrane, scaffold poles, branches and damp rugs, somewhere in the middle maze of Torneira's outskirt shanty town.
His mother is within, coughing in an incense heavy retreat curtained off from the main room.
His father is dead in a ditch.
There's a copper kettle on a little fire, just away from a sideways box with a piss-poor collection of food-cartons in.
The boy, whose name is Menino, has been solicitous in tending to me (and making me feel like a stumbling giant, because he's tiny). He guided me with his little hand to sit by the fire, and put together some infusion that I'm now drinking (tastes like metal and toast, but is somehow satisfying).
It's a minute, or an hour, or a day, later, when I wake up.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
And he helps me up out of the ditch. I'm feeling fairly sick.
We're in the scrub beyond the ditch where the plastic wrapped lean-tos start. I stop for a minute, falling to my knees.
"I'm fucked, I'm completely fucked," I say.
The boy, who has been walking ahead, turns and says, "you follow me, you be ok, you help me and I help you. You were with my father," and he looks back at the ditch, where the one-eyed corpse is, "you have gun."
"Look" I say, "I'm sick of this," and pull Ginger's journal out and hold it out to him. He takes it as I say, "I think it's in here, I think that's what I want to know."
He flicks through the pages, concentration on his (nine? Ten? year old) face.
"This is Svalti, isn't it?" but he's not asking. "I can read this for you."
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Which I think has something to do with the orange glow at Gethsemet.
My left little finger is numb and turning black, but that's because I think I broke it when I killed the Kafka guard.
So not well then. Also, running on sour adrenaline.
It's early grey dawn. And I'm out of my radius (one good thing at the Abu Gulag was that they removed the ankle ticker, so now I have the keys to this shit-hole city).
Going to sleep in this ditch I'm in. There's a corpse next to me, with a hole where one eye should be.
I'm just about asleep when the call to prayer blares out of the PA strung up on every corner.
There's a small boy looking at me.
"Is that gun got bullets in it?" he asks in English. And I realise I still have the gun (with dried blood an brain on it) from the Kafka guard.
"I don't know," I say, "why'd you ask?"
"If you shoot someone for me, I can help you."
Friday, September 21, 2007
I still have it. Taken from his twitching body as he died in the shadow of the fifty foot Hitler, and latterly from the pocket of eyeless inquistor (that slime of aqueous humour still stinking on my fingers). And I looked in Ginger's eyes as he died, him holding his little knife in both shaking hands.
Just need someone to translate.
When a guard brings a car battery into your cell, and the smiling shit inquisitor (with gravestone teeth) follows him in.
"Well, I see we have more questions to ask, and you have more answers to give."
Shit. Shit. Fuck and shit.
"My name is Herpic, and I am an ordained priest," he says like too many times before, "so I can comfort you spiritually, as I interrogate the sarx, and your soma is tested."
He waits for the guard to put the battery down and then he says, "Corporal, prepare our guest."
Which means getting strapped to the bed-frame and connected again.
This has been going on for some days now (it's difficult to tell how long, the light never goes off, and they do that sleep deprivation thing). So I'm weak and thin, and not now resisting.
So it comes as some surprise when I get up quick and stick my stiffened fingers in his eyes. And as he goes back, I scramble over and with clumsy panic luck elbow the corporal in the throat and I'm out in the corridor, and running.
They are slack and few here, the guard sitting reading Kafka at the end spends a moment being surprised before I'm on him and bite his fucking ear off and dig one hand in his face, and I take his gun and hit him with it too many times.
It's not long before he's not making noises anymore, so I go back and shoot the blinded inquisitor and the gurgling corporal (who's not doing well at breathing with a crushed larynx).
It is quiet for a while. After I've had some time, I find the way out into silent dark nowhere. Out on a deadend street, at night.
And helping police with their enquiries.
I want the Lemurian consulate to know, but there isn't one here. I'm on my own. In this windowless room, waiting for the inquisitor (which is not his job title, vocation or self-selected career, I think he just fell into it after showing promise pulling the legs off flies).
Why is that? What's that ticking? Are there rats there? Little clockwork fuckers, running up the walls. Scratching out the spiders from their tins.
Imagine that, you're wired down inside a Faraday cage, force fed a Turing tape of instructions in the nasty dark, and then the light come on from above, and the last thing you see is the happy eyes and teeth of that about to eat you.
I'm wired myself right now. I've been running and I'm out of breath and I have no instructions in my head. Every sweeping light angling past the end of streets this late night makes me duck and cover, protect and survive.
How will I get out of this fucking city now?
I still have the jar and the tightening ankle band restricting me to a radius. So if those uniformed assassins have half a brain, they know I've got nowhere to go, and they can quarter each road and avenue out of here.
So I double back, and go to the criminal scene.
It's burning now, and there are onlookers. So I mingle, not looking for canapés or the wine waiter, just wanting to be less tall, less foreign right now.
There are police there, and a big spider automaton standing over, and lit from underneath by, the burning wreck, pissing water into the fitful flames.
Now I want to kill someone.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This is not good, or acceptable in any way.
It seems that I am fated (and that sounds shit) to lose those dearest to me.
I can't think about this now. It's all too much.
See, I'm just this observer, standing in the background when things happen. Wading through treacle trying to stop the slow-motion thing going on. But mainly ineffective.
We're at the winder's, and Bêbe is negotiating with this wizened old fuck in the corner of the corrugated iron shack we're in (surrounded by ticking half dismantled automata). And I'm back in the shadows looking on, when there's a burst of light and sound.
And the winder's dead, with her brains splattered up the wall and in the little alcove altar she had, with candles now put out.
And, and, and...
Well, I get out, by running full face into the back, and collapse through the sacking partition, tripping over, measuring my length in the mud outside. And then pull myself through the stinking open sewer, so, covered in shit, I get up quick and realise I made it out, and run like fuck.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
As I'm writing the continuing adventures of dead Fusel, Bêbe and the unknown traveller (to give it its full title, although I may work on that) on the fly, with little forethought, and littler editing, I'm reorganising Imaginary travels here.
At the moment I'm just migrating most of it, with minimal rearrangement. But Jottit, simple though it is, is pretty powerful, and very easy to use. Also, I need to get the travelogue out of this blog, as the meta-stuff doesn't mix well.
I will still be posting the unknown traveller's (increasingly weird) communications here as I get them. Then I'll edit them together over there.
One thing I've realised I need to add already, is the post dates. It's a diary. Dates. Yes.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I now realise that Torneira is a very dangerous place. Me getting shot is treated as an occupational hazard for pedestrians in this city. It's hot and humid most days, and the red-faced citizens have a reputation for angry disputation settled with the occasional (small calibre) bullet (big guns aren't allowed). I learn later that Ugly (the engine pilot) didn't kill anyone so he got a fine(!). Had he killed someone he would have had to pay the bereaved family part of his income for the rest of his life, which wouldn't have amounted to much, as revenge is fast food served hot here. Vendetta burger with fries.
Whilst I was laid up, Bêbe considered buying me a gun from the little street vendor girl on the corner (her wares spread out on a tatty rug in front of her), but tells me she remembered my complete incompetence in Gethsemet, and thought better of it, and the pea-shooters you get round here are more for show. Thanks Bêbe.
So, it's with some trepidation that we venture out for the first time after my confinement. The hole in me is healed, but I reckon it would twinge a bit if it ever rained.
We're on our way to see a winder, Bêbe thinks she might be able to do something about the ticker tags that keep us in the tourist quarter, as fat taxi man is no use now (I don't know why, Bêbe says shut up when I ask).
The winders look after the clockwork engines that underpin the automated tiger economy in Torneira: they tend the automatons that lurch about on metal spider legs; they change the oil and tighten the mainsprings on these whirring machines that variously lift, or stamp, or build the concrete towers leaning over narrow streets.
The automatons are not all clockwork - their brains are actual spiders kept in little tins, legs tethered to tiny gears and armatures, that link to bigger gears and scrabbling legs, waldo-like. They are conditioned to perform with complex pleasure pain programmes fed in to their surgically altered mouth-parts as chemical dotted tape. Some are small (no bigger than my hand) and in swarms crawl over the faces of the towers, maintaining, dismantling or building in little bits. They come in all sizes up to some the size of buses, with mainspring housings humped over their back in fat thoraxes. All of them, from tiny skittering messagers on wire legs, to the big slow, yellow-painted excavators, move in that disturbing spider way (dismembered hands) and all of them give me the creeps, as I'm an arachnophobe. Bêbe says not to mention this when we see the winder.
Ginger (whose name is something I can't pronounce without spitting) did Fusel a favour.
And Bêbe tells me this whilst rubbing something stinging into my side where the tiny hole is puckered up. She also is dismissive:
"You flower-waving now, Lemur boy?" she asks, as she kneads her antiseptic fingers in (and I get hot-eyed, angry, gritting teeth to stop from crying out).
"The commissar was a braver man than you know," she says, "your Fusel took the easy road."
Friday, September 14, 2007
That's when we are, the warming set in and reconfigured the geography. And one tectonic plate subducted another during the meanwhilst. And that's why we have these fractured principalities: Svaltwoond, Merca, Toswania, Albonia, and redacted Lemuria, and many others I will tell you about in next thrilling instalments. Sovietnam was the last big war, when the Mercans intervened, sitting back in their air-conditioned bunkers, directing friendly fire at all and, in particular, you, the subversive element.
When I get sidelined by the short taxi driver I'm in a bit of quandary: turn on my heel and go back in to the hotel, or walk up the road as if that's what I'd intended all along. I chose the latter with prickles up my spine, feeling the watcher's eyes on my back.
I walk for about a mile (still within my clockwork radius, so ok there) and taking in the business going on - mainly people shouting at other people about commerce in a language I don't understand, until I come across two stalled beam engines, on metal tracks, with smoking stacks, blocking the road. There's a crowd of people all shouting at the pilots, one thin and apologetic, the other ugly and aggressive.
There are automatons and bikes and smelly exhaust three-wheelers backed up. We're not getting past, but that's ok because I've reached my limit, and have no real choice but to turn back.
I'm conscious that Bêbe's back at the hotel, glowering at the indecipherable tug-vision on the shitty little portable epoxied to the wall, that we can't turn off, because there's a Mercan dollar coin jammed in the slot, and she's waiting for me to come back, victorious from my expedition with the taxi man. Fat chance now.
The jar is in my man-bag (yeah, it's Bêbe's handbag, and although no-nonsense Svalti utilitarian, is still a little little for me). The jar's not very heavy, but weighs a spiritual tonne - the name of its nasty contents, literally translated from Old Svaltish, is "heart of dead comrade, in salt water", but, no it's not Fusel's heart, but something else Bêbe dug out of his corpse, on the way back down from the horrors of Gethsemet. I need to take it to a man in the Broken Quarter, which is outside my allotted range, but fat taxi man was supposed to be able to fix that. Fuck.
Anyway, I stand and watch for a bit, and then there's shooting, I think ugly has had enough, and he's shooting into the crowd. I get hit. Next thing I'm in a very clean hospital with a very clean nurse plugging a hole in my side where I've been leaking out. I don't remember how I got here, and the nurse only speaks Toswanian, so I'm none the wiser when I pass out.
Next Bêbe comes to get me (there are uniformed men blurred behind her, I am having trouble focussing). We take a taxi back to the hotel. I recognise the driver.
Bêbe's not talking to me. And this fucking hurts (the hole, not that bitch's ignorance. No, actually that hurts too).
Maybe say something loud enough so that it breaks out of this silent medium.
But I can't and I won't, because last time you looked at me you looked sick.
So that's why I'm here, in the hot room, hearing the ceiling fan loop round. Feeling the wet heat press in through the dark wood shutters. Whilst I curl around this hole in me, where the bullet was taken out.
Bêbe brings me tea sometimes, but does that fuckface thing where I'm supposed to be guilty about being ill.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
A clockwork tagging device.
It's this ticker thing that is strapped to my ankle with a padlock, it keeps time with each stride, one tick on each left foot down.
The number I'm allowed is calculated with a metal rule set in the concrete floor of the customs hut. I'm made to walk its length with two shabby uniformed, short-ass officers in attendance. They are surprised by my length of gait (I top most Toswanians by a head). They fit me with the device, and wind it with a key, after fiddling with the setting - I have to stand on one leg, hands on the shoulders of the man who locks the brass thing on. He tells me that, when I run out of ticks, the band around my ankle will grip tight and hobble me. So: I've been warned; so won't experiment with.
But I think, perhaps I can surreptitiously hop now and then to get beyond my radius from the tourist quarter. And then I realise, if you want to mark out an intruder, get them to hop into your exclusion zone.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Well, this whole thing (hole thing) stinks like a rotting rat corpse in a hedge.
New tag then. Retroactively applied.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
The part of Toswania we're in (in this continuing mission) is called Porto Macio Torneira, which, so I'm told, means port of dead hens, but the over-moustachioed customs guy had a shifty smile when he told me, so I think that's bollocks. Particularly as this city is completely land-locked, and surrounded by the kind of jungle lazy travel writers call impenetrable, and I will therefore call impenetrable.
The airport, on the outskirts, was once a major railway marshalling yard, and there are many abandoned diesel engines rusting in poisonous weeds - iron and vine islands in the flat acres of indifferently maintained concrete.
The air is close packed and humid, like breathing with a hot damp cloth held an inch from your face.
And it smells of pepper, rotting fruit and petrol fumes.
Friday, September 07, 2007
The Lemurian (formerly Grand Britannia) thing with the word "indian" is all to do with it being a catch-all for not-black foreigners when we were being colonial slave trading bastards. (But we gave that up due to Mr. Wilbeforce who realised that all of that was just, you know, kind of murderously EVIL.)
So we had the West Indies (foreign islands jammed full of slaves), the East India Company (also Dutch in some weird way I can't remember), India, the red indians, and the Orient.
We spread out left and right and called everyone indians, had we gone north and south we'd be embarrassing ourselves referring to inuits as north indians, and chileans as blue indians.
Polar opposites, but, in our confident and fucked up eugenic superiority, Indians nonetheless.
But the poles and interleaving hinterlands are all fucked up now with the gulf stream halt and the tectonic shift that rewrote the map.
But then we pioneered racial condescension. And we're sorry