Serialisation: ‘Astral Deaths & Astral Lights’ By Rick ACV (Part Six)

October 27, 2022

Following in the wake of his debut novel THE GREAT IMMUREMENT, which we serialised during the summer of 2020, Vukovar helmsman (and book reviewer collaborator to the Monolith Cocktail) Rick ACV now follows up with the surreal, esoteric and challenging Astral Deaths & Astral Lights. Although after seven year he’s announced the final death of the Vukovar project, Rick will be back with a new musical project in 2023.

But for now we will concentrate on the literary, with Rick playing with format, language and font, his half-thoughts of waking hours, death and the occult merging dream-realism with a languid sense of discomfort: a sorry state of existence, where angels do indeed dare to tread. William Blake and Austin Osman Spare meet Kōbō Abe in the hotel lobby portal of the never-world: personal and universal. Parts One & Two were debuted during August, followed up by Part Three and Part Four. Part Five was published earlier this month. We now continue with the concluding chapters: VI, THE DUKE PAOLO AND LITTLE K., VII, THE SYMBOLS WILT and THE TURIN HORSE


We are born with the knowledge of everything that has come before, as part of an ever-expanding hive mind. The last Astral Death taught me as much. But with being shown the spaces between spaces and what is across everything beyond (and including) the veil, and with becoming all of these people, I have to wonder if the threads and webs all come from my mind. I’ve given life to it all.

But this trail quickly runs cold and I notice the scent of my sex, sweat and smoke – the three s’ – has become too pervasive in all corners in this room. It used to be my pride but now it has taken form as a repulsion, growing and expanding and it can’t be stopped.

The Partner sees me but only as if through a cracked mirror on a strange angle. I know this because that is how the whole world and beyond appears to me, how we witness each other. 

I wander freely into the loving arms of a loving life as if a tottering child, and then, diverted at the last moment, stumble instead into an open and long abandoned mine, never to be seen in this form again.

This lucidity is not wanted. An Ascending/Descending Godling such as this self in the usual-world should not be anchored in any world that can believed to be a usual-world.

It will soon pass.


  • I absorb everything that absorbs me. These lives and these places are alive, like art, like the death rattles in the dying, like the purifying fire into which the bodies are thrust.

I appear to now be transporting what leaves these bodies. St Pietro? The Duke Paolo. Lost souls that need guiding.


Don’t feel control over this one. V v v little influence for now.

There is a woman walking along a country path by herself. It’s a bright, sunny day, all made up of natural silence and the subtle sounds of breezes through bushes. The bushes seem crooked and ready to pounce on the woman. She stops to bend down, collects an extraordinary looking flower, stands up and breathes it in deeply. After a pause, she smiles, pauses again and continues along the path.

We feel coiled and ready to strike.

She notices us approaching as she crosses the rickety bridge but she is not alarmed by our furious pace. In fact, she smiles and politely greets us. 

She waits for a response and doesn’t have time to be shocked as we carry on towards her and grab her by the throat. She struggles, we strangle. What Should-Be death, but isn’t, manifests itself as a strange motion within the centre of us and though the body with the fist around its neck stops moving, the same body emerges from within us and continues on its path, still walking. We arise and continue on OurSelves. 

I know not how long we travel for but that doesn’t seem to have any significance here. My self and this other self become closer and close to becoming fused in some way I have never experienced before. 

Eventually we come to a stop. Darkness is heavy and oppressive on all sides and all we can make out is a faint showing of what may be concrete walls which surrounds us completely. 


A bright bleaching light whitens everything in every direction and we must shield ourselves to it. It hurts even through the cover of the arm. But, it gradually fades to reveal our setting. We are standing in a field and the colours of the woodlands and the streams are strange and saturated; everything is covered in a haze and the bright light is making everything unclear. We look around and spot movement and set off towards the stream. 

The movement is that of three nude women – three bathers – and they acknowledge our distant presence as they smile warmly to one another and cast brief glances our way. A gentle and sweet singing floods the place and weaves between the trees, filling us in totality with an old and sinister folk song, The Twa Magicians. We come to a stop about ten metres from The Bathers. A light mist appears and disappears before another bright light takes us by surprise. Once more we lose and then regain orientation. The Bathers are beckoning us and laughing, frolicking in this sticky sweet place. We go towards them with faint hope of some depraved sexual abandon but our path is blocked by nothing at all. We cannot pass. The Bathers become hysterical as we commit to a sort of mime routine. We can get no further and are disappointed. But not too much; depravity can be had everywhere and everywhen. 

We turn to leave and beside us is a door. We trust nothing in our existence but commit to everything. Through the door is a tiny square yard with extremely high walls, decorated by paintings depicting bathers such as the ones we have just departed. As our eyes come across an old telephone, it rings. 


Hello dear Paolo.

You do know who this is?

Cut the call and think no more. Back through the door. Bathers now on the opposite side of the stream and carry me, as though on thread, towards them and I cross the stream for them and to them. I fall in the water and see hidden depths without sinking to them. Try to get up. Head held in place by a Bather. All becomes frightening and insides are chilled. A young drowned boy is amongst the secrets held by these hidden depths. The other Bathers swim down and mess with the corpse. Rise from the water, sit on a rock and think.

The return home must be made. 

Suburban estate in severe disrepair. Everything is dark and the buildings shift, moving close together and grow tall, crowding the streets to trap me. Fighting, mania, conversations in silence and in dog-barks along my way. My house is the last house, the one dead-centre of the nightmarish maze of alley ways and streets that surround. Trees block the view of the ground floor of my house and I slip between them into the darkness and may now rest.

This is the place. Flatlands by the sea with small grassy hills every immeasurable amount of distance. There are no people except one, the all-important one; Little K. I watch him, far from me on one of those hills, the one with two Dead-White Trees. The trees are crooked, brilliant white and are burdened with no life and weighed down with only a few branches. I move closer and Little K., the young drowned boy, runs tirelessly between and around the trees, no emotion whatsoever rests in his dripping features.

He stops and faces the sea. I see what he is looking at.

A huge pane of glass stands upright with no support, equidistant between him and the sea.

It smashes. 

I look up to the sky and sink into the ground, further and further, and water rushes in to cover me. I see Little K. at the top, staring down at me, still emotionless. 

I know where I need to go.

In the morning I sit at my oversized desk and light a cigarette. My book is already full but I write over the already-written words until my thoughts are exhausted. 

The boy is doing exactly what he ought to be – waiting for me. He waits on my rock on the bank of the stream, the woods heavy and constrictive, caused by the saturated ever-summer. His clothes and body are soaked, his face is expressionless and his demeanour is impenetrable. Water continually falls from this unpitiable young man. I am drawn to him and do not know why. I know he is important. Vital. Vital to what, I do not know. How he is vital to this unknown thing… I pretend to myself that the answer is hidden deep within me.

How do you do? I’m the Duke Paolo, pleased to meet you.

(I put my hand out. Little K. grips it and gasps as though he has just emerged from the deep. His eyes are blank but bulging. Some seconds pass and we let go of one another.)

Would you like to come with me? I’m very busy but could do with a friend.

He stands up and looks right into me. 

I show Little K. around my home and get him settled in. The usual incoherent radio chatter with constant interference hisses away in the background and I sharpen my knives. I catch Little K. looking emotionlessly at the scattered bodies and explain that they are empty now. They are just spare parts. I like to be reminded, also, of the fate we surely must all face, even beings-in-suspension such as myself.

The bodies, I mutter after some silence, keep me company, too.

If I am to learn what all this is about then I must show the workings of my existence to Little K. It is constant and does not rest. On the way to the pub unnatural fog brings with it lost, bloody, confused souls, but, we press on. We are surrounded by dull conversation but enjoy the alcohol; my young friend does his unblinking best to keep up with me. I sit myself uninvited at the next table opposite a man quietly reading. I look at the clock, look to him where my gaze is met then un-met, and I reach up and slash his throat. Little K. laughs in his seat. I walk away from the bloodless scene and my friend follows. On the way back we play pooh sticks but he doesn’t seem fond of this. 

Time continues at its unmoving pace and shape. Little K. becomes a little acolyte of mine, witnessing all of my severe actions and assisting in any way he can. I take him to see Messalina and Agrippina to fuck, both of whom are sad to see him go. Little K. also in this time completes his own rounds. He does this alone but tells me in great detail of the necessary yet ghastly exploits, writing them into stories of the grotesque, even, non more so than ‘The Ghosts Of The Apaches’. This is a story of schoolchildren who play on farmland and fall prey, one after the other, in horrifying ways to the hazards around them. 

There is something that unnerves me, even though we have become so close. I have never wanted for answers here; I accept my role. Now that there are questions unanswered, however, I am struggling to accept all that is around me.

I have become lost in this being within being within being, with all of our voices combining to shout in unison over our own noise “what is this life?” – but we, as The Duke, there is so much more and we may never escape, as though we ourselves are Little K., a drowned voyeur, submerged and surrounded by a corporeal liquid of all that we do not understand, of all the questions our Creator leaves unanswered. If we are worthy, then the answers are there for us to piece together. 

Me… us… The Duke… we exist within and without the borders of this/these recollections. 

Little K. is disarming us. It must be nearly time. I wish that it wasn’t so, I wish that I didn’t have to keep losing friends. Myself, I would like to stop turning friends into Dead-Friends. 


I come upon the stream from as before, but now it is still and sullen, untouched and undisturbed except for just one of the nymphs. She is a powerful presence by the stream, brushing her hair and sitting still. It’s as though I am watching old, grainy footage. She looks up to the top of a hill and sees The Duke Paolo standing there, though this me is silhouetted by a blinding light from behind him.


The scene shifts; we are all of us in a darkened warehouse. The Nymph is sat in the same position, doing the same thing with an obvious ‘film set’ that has been made to look like the stream where she just was. There is a low rumbling hum with the intermittent sound of metal on metal. There is somebody a few yards away from The Nymph, that is neither me nor the other me, painting her on a canvas. She looks deeply saddened. She begins to sing gently:

The lady stands in her bower door

As straight as a willow wand;

The blacksmith stood a little forebye

With a hammer in his hand.

“Weel may ye dress ye, laidy fair,

Into yer robes o red; 

Befor the morn at this same time

I’ll gain yer maidenhead.”

“Awa, awa ye coal black smith

Would you do me the wrang?

To think to gain my maidenhead

That I hae kept sae lang!”

The Painter coughs and splutters really quite horrifically. I can’t bear to pay witness to this. Almost as if I will it to power, all falls silent and we are back next to the stream. Paolo’s silhouette is moving slowly towards The Nymph. She smiles and continues her song.

Then she has hadden up her hand, 

And she sware by the mold.

“I wouldna be a blacksmith’s wife

For the full o a chest ‘o’ gold”

“I’d rather I were dead and gone

And my body laid in grave

E’er a rusty stock o coal black smith

My maidenhead should have”

But he has hadden up his hand

And he sware by the mass

“I’ll cause ye be my light leman

For the hauf o that and less”

We are back in the warehouse, only now, The Painter is preparing to hang himself. He gathers his death quickly and with no feeling. As he hangs, expression unchanging, The Nymph sings on.

O bide, lady, bide

And aye he bade her bide;

The rusty smith your leman shall be

For a’ your muckle pride

Then she became a turtle dow

To fly up into the air,

And he became another dow

And they flew pair and pair.

She turnd hersell’ into an eel

To swim into yon burn

And he became a speckled trout

To gie the eel a turn.

I am purely observer now. I am there without really being there. The Nymph is sitting on a chair in a room made from mirrors. As the song goes on, she gets up, walks around examining her reflection tenderly and dances in a strange type of ritual way.

Then she became a gay grey mare 

And stood in yonder slack

And he became a gilt saddle

And sat upon her back.

Was she wae, her held her sae,

And still he bade her bide;

The rusty smith her leman was,

For a’ muckle pride.

Then she became a het girdle,

And he became a cake.

And a’ the ways she turned hersell’,

The blacksmith was her make.

She turned hersell’ into a ship

To sail out ower the flood;

He ca’ed a nail intill her tail

And syne the ship she stood.

Was she wae, he held her sae,

And still he bade her bide;

The rusty smith her leman was

For a’ her muckle pride.

Then she became a silken plaid

And stretched upon a bed

And he became a green covering, 

And gained her maidenhead.

A thumping, percussion-heavy ritual type music builds in volume and speed gradually with The Nymph’s dancing getting more and more manic. 

Eventually she collapses in exhaustion.

We briefly see her silhouette embrace the other Paolo’s. Where is Little. K? Where am I? Everything fades. I Continue.


How close we are to the precipice. I have brought us here, I have guided us along the path that The Spinners have already chosen for me. 

Sleep should never be had.

Its grasp, its groping grasp always wins in the end. Here, though, it is keeping this victim from its welcoming arms and embrace, and instead, holds The Ascender/Descender by the throat, holding us over some bizarre cliff-edge, forcing the hand of chance to lose its hold for the slightest, smallest moment. It may not be its intention, but it is what will happen, and the now-empty chokers of sleep will just watch, emotionless, as we ascend/descend in the strange airless and windowless hole, with no before or after. Nothing to see, nothing to feel. Nothing to breathe, nothing to scream. Just nothing. 

There are a lot of unconnected but significant dots flying around. Sometimes it’s hard to fathom. It should be understood that it is not for us to fathom. I don’t feel sad for all of these deaths, the deaths of friends and family, though I recognise the sadness and sad nature of them. These are the worlds I exist within and there is no much light in these places. I accept that. The constant present offers more. One of the few happy gleams and twinkles from a time full of dead stars. 

Everything must have a centre. What is the centre here?

I will survive forever, a cockroach existence, parasitic maybe. 

All in the name of extreme aversion to and fear of death. 


The actions of a life simply passing itself by. 

Breathless after my journey to this frozen and unloved graveyard that hides in the hills, I place my hand upon a collapsed section of icy dry-stone wall and hold it there. I can feel the moss and the smoothe edges of the stone but none of the cold. In this moment, I am more certain of myself than I ever have been. I cannot be found here. Not even by myself; that isn’t what I am looking for. I know I’ll find what it is I’m looking for and I do. 

There is a wild and uninviting halo formed by the overgrowth and in its Dead-Centre is a gleaming white frost flower with its deep, bloody eye. 

On every petal, a love-letter… and held in the bloody eye is my unwavering belief that I wrote them all when I brought the seed to its final home to begin again. 

I know all of these words. They read like a love-letter of several collapsing disordered minds.

The delusions of Dante are and were ill founded and unfounded… Hell is one step back from finding the way to break eternal recurrence, starting afresh in a new body and all that new living and new life entails… 1000 torn anuses… Here comes the ferryman with flashing eyes, to take me to my killer and claim the reward – my everlasting soul for a song. It wasn’t a waste…

…Thyself and myself- the patron saint of the archaic, king of the concrete fantasy – never was as immortal as thyself and myself now cause upon one another; just as never was the western sky as blue as it was in the 19th century, when my number is and was bleak, is and was blank, is and was empty… 

…This confusion, this dark backwards, this failure in the duty of mothers, this burying of liberty’s putrid corpse is my misinterpretation of the immortal hour and the purity of my love, of my sex and of my fetishes – my fetishes of and for fetishes… the transference of energies after the golden death of the body is the cause of all this. Some (like myself and thyself) have masses of unaccountable energy and scientifically, energy can only be transferred; it can’t be destroyed. I want to wonder about that, moving between bodies. Not really ‘woman trapped in a man’s body’ and vice-versa, because that’s impossible to know for sure… the people without these powerful energies – i.e. everybody not me and thee – are parasites. Wasteful piles of stolen, irony blood and flesh with nothing between the eyes. For these vermins who inhibit our private world, our over-garden, to have a soul would be a travesty…

…deady deady dead will be the white noises, interfering with everything and offering nothing. As thine anger rises like a scorpion, remember that the joy of black black moods and being at war is that when it passes, the white is whiter than it was before and the peace is more peaceful than it was before. Necessary annihilation… 

…Now the symbols wilt and we can make and remake them in our own image… 

I think about gripping the stem in my fist and wrenching what is clearly my degenerating heart from the ground but I choose to leave it. I vow to never return here again. 

My head has never looked so happy. 


For all my reticence

For all my refusals and restraints 

For all I have given and ungiven to stray away from this, my final choice…

I retire to bed. 

I wait for death and do nothing else. 

I die, once and for all, in totality. 


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