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. Playing with format, language and font, with half-thoughts of waking hours, death and the occult, Rick merges dream-realism and a languid sense of discomfort: a sorry state of existence, where angels 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. We now continue with the next three chapters in the opus, Water, V and The Nurses below:

WATER

To ‘sleep’

to then, to this

X X X

6am. Saturday. No work today. I can indulge in my one true passion: inventing elaborate and complicated water features. I pull myself from the bed with little fuss, excepting from a little resistance from my well-worn joints, and enter the bathroom to begin my morning routine. 

Whilst brushing my teeth I stop short suddenly. I stare at my reflection, mouth open, brush still in hand whilst foam of toothpaste drips onto the floor. I stare at the man staring back. Same thinning grey hair, same deep wrinkles around the eyes, same strong jawline; essentially the same person this myself has known all of our lives. But something is different and undeniably so. I stand still as a corpse.

Is my presence so obvious?

A few moments pass but the suspicion remains.

After completing my morning tasks I sit down. Dark wooden floors mopped. Dishes clean and put away. Overalls on. Each and every room clean, fresh and empty save for the necessary furniture, the only evidence that somebody exists here. My mind feels free enough to plan the day ahead.

I step out of my back door, my back door to paradise, and into the cavernous hangar-type building I call my laboratory. It’s a separate world. Scattered chalkboards full of equations and diagrams… unique tools of my own invention… blueprints… countless sculptures and prototypes varying drastically and dramatically in size… Dead-Centre is The Clearing. 

The Clearing is home to my masterpiece.

My masterpiece:

A model of an unrepentant imposing concrete tower, hexagon shaped – looking from a bird’s eye view split into four equal parts, formed by a cross-like walkway. These four parts are huge open-top water tanks whose depths reach down a quarter of the height of the building, and, in each quadrant, a colossal tap.

This is the object of my attentions and affections. All is perfectly detailed and dimensioned. It is a work of art.

Today is the day I contact the Mayor to commission this magnificence. I sit down and begin my letter.

The phone rings.

I frown. 

I answer.

There is no immediate response.

I hear somebody breathing and so wait patiently for the silence to be broken. Though it seems as no reply is to be forthcoming, I can’t bring myself to put down the phone, but I don’t seem to be able to speak.

So I simply wait, transfixed by nothingness. 

All I can do is stare at my creation. Hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

Hello? Hello?

It’s a lady’s voice, gentle and kind. I don’t recognise it.

“Hello? Is that XX?

Speaking?

Hello dear, my name is XXXXX; I believe you did work for a friend of mine – XXXXX? She recommended you. Well, anyway, my house is flooded and I was wondering if you could come and sort it out? I’ll pay double for the labour.

No, no… that’s okay XXXXX. I normally work on a Saturday so it’ll be normal rate. I have nothing else booked in today so I’ll head straight out. What’s the address?

XXXXX said you were a gentleman! The address is [REDACTED]. Do you need the postcode?

No. I know where it is.”

I gather and check my tools, exit the hangar through a solid metal door straight into the garage and set off in the van.

The day is a grey one. The light fog drifting through the damp, empty city and the build up of clouds prevent any sort of meaningful light brightening the place up. Autumn by the sea and mountains. However, the closer I get to my destination, the more aggressive the fog seems to get. 

This is ridiculous. 

I slow to a stop; I can barely see less than a metre ahead of the van now and I’m fearful of hitting somebody.

It’s fortunate I know this district well. The pipework in the surrounding streets is growing increasingly unpredictable and giving me a good source of work and a greater source of Sisyphean toil. All is illogical… perverse… obstreperous… 

I arrive only a couple of minutes late at the large, traditional home of XXXXX. The fog makes the short walk from the back of the van to the front door of the house a task ludicrously more difficult than it has any right to be. 

I knock loudly upon the door to which there is no immediate answer.

Again. Again no answer.

A slow, low creaking noise creeps behind me as I head to the van to check my notes. I turn quickly expecting to see XXXXX but do not do so. All that greets me is a growing uncertainty; my loud greeting into the aether beyond the door, the empty darkness, responded to by silence…

…then – now – a distant thumping of metal on metal, hidden away by a thousand walls.

I step inside, suddenly into light. There is no XXXXX but there is a note:

Dear XX,

I’ve had to leave to tend to an urgent matter. Please, conduct your work as normal. I should return in time to pay you, but if not, I have left out some cash in the office.

The issue seems to be coming from the loft so I’ve unlocked the door for you.

Yours,

XXXXX

Ps. Please help yourself to food and drink – I have set out a lunch spread for you in the kitchen.

I put the note back in exactly the same place I took it from. I am aware of myself, deeply, and the significance of every movement that is departed, now, long since decided for us and long since distributed unto us all. 

In the loft there isn’t much light; in fact it is as though the fog has drifted itself into every corner of everywhere. My torch offers no guidance, only a lazy uninterested flickering which soon subsides.

I look for  CXJXXXZXNSLEKPWMD

SDJFO)JEPWOF$_)R@UEFJ

This is RVOJFJ{WRPMF{PE)${RU)@£UF

THIS IS ALL WRONG  SXXXXXJPOCJQ

wrong

This is all wrong. What is this pain?

I am bowled over in agony.

Somebody is inside my loungs, pushing outwards with all their might, stretching the membrane as if forcing a whole new world into and out of my chest. The distant industrial thumping is drilling its way into my eardrums; the thin, sharp, absolute point of the bit teasing and slicing at the sound-dam entrance to my brain. Flesh on flesh. Metal on metal. Bone on bone. A blinding magnesium fire-light and I am gripped by something momentous, so comprehensively, and everything is excruciating. I slump, begging for release.

A ghostly voice sings to me, just to me, from a world away.

It gets louder and the growing spectral choir now reaching a crescendo. Abrase and unrelent

Pain seeps in and seeps out from every pore, ebbing and flowing for-ever and ever-more. 
Circle-come-Cycle mania blood and shit
Body broken against wall

Mind, Spirit

Everything else capitulate

The pain dissipates as though it was never there at all, awaiting another day, another place, another time, Another Self to attack once more.

I heave myself up off the ground and make my way to the water tank on the other side of the loft. The fog has, like my pain, dissipated into sudden nothingness. Everything dissipates into nothingness. I find the leak in the mass of copper pipes leading into and away from the tank. Or at least I think I do. Under closer inspection and after some confused attempts at stemming the steady flow, I follow the pipes along to the connecting wall between this building and the next, having to crouch under the beams, on this, my great voyage into an oceanic mystery. 

Something, some dust in my eye

Fall…

Make contact with the wall and try and use it as a support to keep upright

Fall through …. Frail plasterboard?

This body follows the whole of This Self

This is a shock.

I’m in a new place, dark and cold. I gather my thoughts and survey the wall; it is a solid brick thing, the only fragile part of which is the exact small square I fell through.

[DISSIPATION

THE DROWNING HAD TAKEN HOLD; WOULD HAVE SOONER HAD WE BEEN A LESS PERSON

THE LAST BREATH,  HEAVENLY SO, FELT,

OR CAME, AS. A
WELCOMING

RELEASE…

RELIEF…

TAKE

ME

AWAY FROM US.]

The eyes that looked, that stared – even – were careful in their judgement, though a lack of light was somewhat of a deterrent. No sooner had XX thought this, and taken a tentative step forward, some dull, flickering light bulbs alighted. They hung very low from a ceiling that was at least four times XX’s height. Only a handful of the lights worked – no matter how (un)reliably – just enough for him to make out his surroundings. He was stood in a shadow filled corridor that stretched out a fair distance ahead of him, though he could not see beyond a tight bend, and behind him stood an improbably large set of heavy, wooden doors. The industrial thumping XX had heard throughout XXXXX’s house was more prominent and exaggerated with a powerful, echoing reverberation. The air was damp and dank, the concrete walls, stacked with rotting leaden pipes, appeared wet, soaked in fact, with huge patches of mould spread out intermittently along the narrow and claustrophobic passageway.

As the body of the surging river forces its whole self into such a cosily fitting gap – the mouth – it spreads out into the great, open void of egotistical pleasure; a reward for the hardships and energy expended in getting there. This is a cycle. Aptly so, XX had forced himself into – or out of – a new place.  

He had reached the end of the corridor and was now in a sort of darkened lobby which contained only one door, the room organized around it as though this was the main feature. An unmanned desk sat to the left hand side of the room, though XX didn’t stop to examine it, and what appeared to be a cordoned-off museum exhibit sat to the right. He was sure the place was abandoned. He came to the submarine-like steel door which would not open as easily as he would have so wished. 

His fingering of the cold steel brought about a momentary lapse in his newly found focus, causing his mind to drift to a place not dissimilar from the one he was stood in. Charcoal greys. Rotting pipework. Dampened mouldy walls, air, breath, flesh and all that came with it. Regaining himself, XX fought with the door that locked him from his unfortunate discovery, gracefully heaving and ho-ing, fighting their way to a mutually impossible conclusion; the door wanting to remain shut and the old man wanting safe passage through it. He stopped to consider all-things and all-passages and all-events for a moment, possibly two, and cast his cautious eye all the way over the door, though the half-light made it difficult. He gasped and took a step back. An astounded ‘What the…?’ escaped from his hung-open mouth.

A mighty, wrought iron plaque stood proudly above the door, announcing to the world its gratitude for the grandeur that its creator bestowed upon it. There could be no mistaking the names written in gold, though they were shockingly aged and faded: 

XX

How could this be? The light bulb directly above him awoke from its deep rest and illuminated his immediate surroundings so comprehensively so that it revealed more questions than answers. On the museum exhibit wall was another plaque. This plaque had on it two illustrations – one portraying XX in an impressive stance, the other a picture of the apple of XX’s eye; his brutalist concrete high-rise, still an unborn foetus back in the laboratory to his mind. He must be the new life, growing, in a manner of speaking, in the womb of his own magnificence. Underneath the illustrations was some writing from an unknown author: 

“Today, I fully realized, for the first time in all my lives, just how far from the ground I really stand, and, perhaps more tellingly, just how wide the breadth of my shoulders span. I am power, I am might. I am the wits of man and I am the strength of concrete. The complete understanding of one’s worth is not to be underestimated and I give these words unto you in the vain hope that you, too, find your ultra-place:

Small is beautiful. BIG IS SUBLIME.

I will be there behind you, casting my Colossus shadow over and around you.”

XX wasn’t sure what to think of either the words or the premise, though he could feel it strike a primeval chord deep inside. He lightly touched the smooth, handsome plaque, admiring the handy work. His touch met that of the building. 

XX heard urgent sprinting footsteps. He saw only a dark figure running furiously at him. For the first time the poor old plumber felt a stabbing panic breach his chest. He threw his full weight at the previously immovable submarine door, which now lay open, and passed through.

‘Wait!’ was the shout, begging as though all life depended on it, ‘Please! Don’t go up there! Listen to me! Come back!’. A big man, the guard was short of breath and panted heavily. Sweat dripped from his forehead to the floor. He reached the door. He stopped. He bent over. He shouted limply up to XX: ‘Mr XX, please…’ 

XX, in his unfamiliar state of terror, had not heard any of this. He had bolted through the door and didn’t stop to look back.

Through the submarine door was a staircase. It led only up, was narrow and dark, and after every 10 steps it would turn 90 degrees to the left; XX did not know what could have been waiting for him around each corner, but he did not pause to dwell on this. And so, running – limping – as fast as his ageing and stiffened legs would allow, he duly followed his ascension. 

The Guard sat back down at his huge mahogany desk in the now-lit lobby; he didn’t know what else he could do, such was the magnitude of the shock he felt towards his neglect of duty. 

After what felt like several hours, but in reality was no more than five minutes, XX realized that nobody and/or nothing was following him. So he stopped. He sat down and rested his head against the dry, but still warm, concrete wall. He sat silent. Almost sleeping.  

The strange, alternating lights and shadows perplexed XX. There were no windows, no lights or candles. He couldn’t tell how far he’d come up from the lobby, and it was equally impossible to estimate how far he was from the top because of the closed-off nature of the stairs.

XX climbed higher, he didn’t stop, and he was fully committed to that until he reached the next floor – if there was one. Sweat had begun to emerge upon his brow and his lips and mouth were crusted and cracked with thirst.  The feet that gave themselves completely to their owner, his will and his command, were now just pools of blood in their work-boot home. The owner himself was nothing of substance anymore; he had sweated and walked and suffered so much. XX wearily placed one foot in front of the other. It was automatic. He was stooped, his eyes barely open.

XX took his last breath. He stumbled a step further. Just one, for that was all he could muster. He swayed gently; a reed in the wind. The violence would come later. A hand, outstretched… the strain found something. A jutting out of something… cold, calculating… a handle to a door, a door to a rebirth. XX let his weight fall against it and into another new world he fell. Instantly, XX recovered, his exhaustion forgotten, his death postponed. The echo from his boots upon the metal floor was something new; beauteous tinny waves lapped against him in what was a change of tidal formalities from the dull thud of subdued concrete.  

The old man stopped in the centre of… it wasn’t exactly a room… he felt he should know each nook and cranny of this building… He was in the centre of what would have been the cross section of two corridors, had there been a ceiling. The corridors cut the hexagon shaped building into four equal quadrants. The same steel of all the other parts of the building were here disturbed by huge windows looking into each quadrant. They were colossal water tanks and if XX squinted, he could see he was still a long way from the top of the building and the gigantic taps that stood proudly up there. Each one as imposing as a cathedral.  

XX opened the door to a new, better staircase. One that would hopefully oversee an altogether more peaceful journey. It went up in a spiral, made of more charcoal grey steel, the walls that shut it in made of glass. All of the four taps turned and the sound of crashing water drowned out all, any and every thing else. Immense oceans of water fell all around but not touching XX’s little space of sanctity. The tanks began to fill up. Curiously, they followed the exact pace he went as he made his way up the new staircase. He felt like a child again, bounding upwards to the roof – he would look and try and see if he could spot his house from up there, he decided. 

XX finally reached the top; there was a ceiling to the corridors after all. He climbed through the hatch. It wasn’t as expected.

This is a town. Low buildings, trees, dirt roads, and, in the middle distance on all sides, hills all coming together to build the impression of a real place. How can there be land in the sky? Or: how can there be another land underneath this land?

There is no way back. Stairs sealed. Tanks filled and deeper than imaginable. 

All is becoming lost. 

A meeting with The Governor:

They sat in silence. The heavy emptiness of all things rested unevenly upon XX, and the glare across the desk from his compatriot, which grew fiercer every time he tried to begin to say something and end the torture, made the unease all the more unbearable.

Finally the strange official spoke, seemingly fuelled by the tension he himself had built in all the glory of cycles and circles. He addressed XX severely. 

‘There is no necessity in small talk; forming the words and sounds, using the mind’s power to do so to fit them into an order so that I may understand, is a heinous waste. Much like the solution you so dearly crave to a problem that doesn’t exist. You are here, you are not there. There is there and is not here. The paths do not cross. They intertwined once and you were stupid enough to be present at the juncture. Now, as ever, beyond here is not there, but instead is nothing. You cannot be here, it is not allowed, but if you do not fight to remain, you shall be nowhere. This is my first and final warning.’

The meeting was concluded.

Holed away in this internment of confused longing, XX could barely face the non-containment and non-existence of his so-called mission any longer. It was as if he had trapped himself in this invisible prison; not so much not wanting to be here and not wanting to escape (nor having the want to do both either) but that some force – the will of the town and its inhabitants perhaps – had applied itself to trap him without meaning to, and resented its own inability to set his poor, extinguished soul free.

What caused him most anguish about this was that a man of problem/solution, punishment/reward (somebody who could even pre-empt these problems and punishments with such a logical defiance) was left at the mercy of no-things and all-things with no room to manoeuvre. Never one for philosophical grandeur, XX disliked that he had lifted the veil and saw what lies behind the world a little, and disliked the glimpse that seemed to him to be bludgeoning him mind, body and soul, repeatedly, to a mass of bloody pulp. He discovered, now, that it was not possible to break these parts of being without dying, to experience the complete loss of subjective self identity.

Enough. Should he continue in this vein and vain… He was sure he could end this, no matter how delusional, he could, he swore to himself. There is a way out and the will has to be done. It could be done and would be done with no triumph and no glory. This most complicated of contusions would be and should be confronted with the simplest of thought and therefore simplest of consequences. He began his work. He would use an aid dive to the bottom of a tank and force his way through. 

X X X 

All the fight has left my body. I feel all the lighter for it. All the thoughts and panicked urges are drifting away, just as my limp torso is now doing. I’m sure I can even see them all 
leaving myself.  I allow the gentle floating to carry me
away anywhere to
peace. to death to nothing
anywhere.

The Guard marches with officious duty, footsteps from the heavy black boots thundering, echoing off the damp concrete and metallic walls, following him to his scene-of-action and making him grow, as though these blows of noise adds to his height and breadth. He wanders like this through the maze he has been assigned, knowing all of the right corridors and how to open the impenetrable doors. With the reverberations accompanying him through my masterpiece, all forgotten, all decayed, he can’t help considering himself as some blind and unknowing St. Peter. He isn’t as important as all that, but his imaginations help fuel the passage of eternal time until one day he can leave.

Without prejudice or needing to alter his stride, he comes to the door he was searching for. It’s a curved door at the bottom of one of the four impossibly huge tanks. He turns the handle exactly so and the seal breaks. He steps with agility, almost wary that the powerful echoes of his gait could deafen him in this most cavernous of places. He finds the body – my body – where expected, hoists it over his shoulder and sets off once more with no moment nor pause to consider the drowned body lolling like a puppet under his control. Now even more imposing, with this second flesh upon his own and the noise of his boots still thundering, The Guard makes his way to his given destination. He opens the door, steps inside and puts my still-wet carcass down amongst the piles of other bodies, all in the same state. The sound of piercing radio static floods everything and everywhere and The Guard shuts and locks the room of resting death and continues onwards along his path. 

V

Pier Paolo Pasolini, as Giotto, says “Why produce a work of art when it’s so nice to dream about it?”. 

Pasolini, by being Giotto, is an Ascender/Descender. Maybe I will awaken to find myself as himself. Maybe he is Giotto being Pasolini and re-being Giotto. Or maybe I will awaken to find nothing, nothing at all. These things and links and contrivances are so easily spotted when you/me/we spend more than half the time living as others. Angels climbing and reclimbing and declimbing Jacob’s Ladders. 

Sleep please let me sleep

Detach and disassociate to a disappearing degree. There is trouble, sometimes, observing the things around me, as though everything is not in its proper place. The edges of everything just ever so slightly out, agitated in the atmosphere, not quite fitting, outlines blurred, making the presence of this world around me sickly with the soft pillowy aura surrounding everything within it. As a child – though now I’ve come to realize I was never a child, it was just the same body but containing a different being – I recall vividly the feeling of a dream where everything was like this, the pillowy soft air, invisible but encasing everything. I woke up laughing hysterically and deeply confused. I vomited almost instantly, as I have started to frequently do now. The Partner and other background cast members that support my existence are convinced I am sick. There is not enough evidence to prove this. How can I be sick or dying when I am living everywhere and everyone? You are dying and will die. All of these people cast members are dying and will die. All of the people I inhibit are dying and will die. But I will not.

This is discovered, nailed to my own calf:

“If we keep the eyes open in a totally dark place, a certain sense of privation is experienced. The organ is abandoned to itself; it retires into itself. That stimulating and grateful contact is wanting by means of which it is connected with the external world, and becomes part of a whole.”

I wish for Goethe to be dying and dead. 

THE NURSES

My body has hit the water. My body has been submerged by the water. My body is part of the water. The water is part of my body.

My Water Body moves on and on with no sense of direction but with a clear sense of destination.

The moment is stuck in time, an Immortal Hour, and is happening even now. Only subtle changes with each Immurement, each eternal recurrence; this time I hear the sweet voice cooing to My Water Body along the threads of The Spinner:

“The locked-air is freezing, but the Immured is not left wanting. Except a change of mind, though the heart will stay the same. And that heart now has to feel nothing; unaware of the suffering, of all the pain… of everything outside those enclosed walls… of anything except the Great Immurement… of nothing except nothing, nothing ever again… nothing but nothing ever again.”

This eases the journey of My Water Body this time, and then for all-times after it. The Body Of Water erodes My Water Body, it empties all of the heaviness and empties all of the emptiness.

The immortal spirit comes clear from within My Water Body and I hum happily:

“Destroy yourself. Whatever comes next will be better.

Erode me, O dismantling waters, and carry me with that emptying tide.

And carry me to me, I to I, mine to mine.”

I am living underwater. I am drowning in slow motion – all the while following the length of thread as decided by The Alotter. 

I come to The Unturnable point of the journey. The Nurses, led by The Three Fates, all swan-swim to, through and then away from my bodies…my body’s place of rest, where the emptying tide ceases to be. The dismantling waters have stripped it to the soul. The Nurses, they gather me safely in.

This is where the rainbow ends and now into the Hymns to which I am faithful:

The Nurses will finish all things you left half-finished.

The Nurses will never let thy works diminish.

The Nurses will deliver your little love notes.

The Nurses will erase from memory all the cruel things you spoke.

The Nurses will return your body to its former glory.

The Nurses will make sure it’s no longer bloated and watery.

The Nurses will overlook your fixed stare and filthy laugh.

The Nurses will undo all the bad things you did in the past.

The Nurses will listen to all the things you are not saying.

The Nurses will focus thy mind whilst you are praying.

The Nurses will think you unblemished.

The Nurses will tell you you don’t need to be quite so apologetic.

The Nurses will reach out to you with no pity.

The Nurses will softly whisper to you a little ditty.

The Nurses will wish for something greater, always.

The Nurses will listen even though you’ve always got something to say.

The Nurses will…

In their hospital I see them spin everything and everyone and everywhen onto webs. All these things and all things more are interconnected this way. The suspension of lives and of stars, of accidents and of coldness, of happiness and of surgeries; everything IS everything else. All matter is all of us and every myself. The Fates as The Nurses have cut my thread in just the right places, in just the right way to leave me suspended and unended, that I may observe this secret of the universe and I thank them. I find my thanks are just another thread and they already know. 

With thanks to them, in return, I am threadless, I am lifeless and I am free.

Following in the wake of his debut novel THE GREAT IMMUREMENT, which we serialised during the summer of 2020, Vukovar helmsman Rick ACV now follows up with the surreal, esoteric and challenging Astral Deaths & Astral Lights. Playing with format, language, font, with half-thoughts of waking hours and occult merge with dream-realism and a languid sense of discomfort: a sorry state of existence. 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. We continue with the next chapters, EVERYONE IS ENDED and IV below:

EVERYONE IS ENDED

“Now I live in a ghost world, enclosed in my dreams and imaginings.”

Images flash by.

A hidden backstory to be deciphered, hands reaching out to grasp at them and to them and put them all-together. 

There are 3 things, 3 beings and they attempt a film … but there must be death, Real-Death. Even though the world that has created these people… the person or people in that world… there has been Real-Death there.

And so in this imaginary world with these 3 imaginary filmmakers, their imaginary friend, as a result, is now a Dead-Friend and their only purpose in life cannot be completed.

They exist in a limbo far crueller than their eternal recurrence. 

Images become clearer. 

They were written into a script, that’s their existence. When the film opens, theirs and every other character’s in that script’s life begins. The film finishes, the credits roll; Everyone Is Ended.

And it begins again. But this now can’t happen.

IMAGES COME YET CLEARER.

They stop flashing and moving.

.

……..

..

…………………………………

.

I am frozen by a cerement of despair; the morosity and monstrosity is shared by all three of us, but not Charon, who awaits us further on. His flashing eyes gleam through the mid-winter, mid-morning, mid-mourning fog, directing us towards him. 

We know this scene, Grey, Nancy and I, but it feels as though Something Has Changed. Our collective De Ja Vu is not as nauseating, our futile existence not as repetitive. 

We walk silently side by side, exchanging solemn but reassuring looks now and again in place of the usual vindictive and often tedious words that blight our many conversations, funny as they may be to those who Witness Us. 

It feels as though we have wrestled back control from our Creators, from our destiny, from our all encompassing Purpose.

In reality, we have simply been forgotten about and left forever to wander and wonder.

The fog moves quickly and we can barely make out the lake, the perimeter of which our path naturally follows, and, so too we are blinded to the woodland that surround and are usually so beautiful and full of life. This is a cold, dark day.

Limnal hymns haunt our every movement and direction. 

The hard, coarse stones underfoot that form the ever-widening beach – itself an estuary to a barren Stone-Sea, which is our destination – occasionally pierce our feet; the pain is a mild self-flagellation to punctuate our silent affirmations that this is the Truest Of Choices.

We move towards Charon and Place To Rest.

Place To Rest for our Dead-Friend whom Nancy carries in an old, battered tin. She has to be strong as the ashes have been fighting to emerge for an eternity now.

Place To Rest for all of us.

As we come ever closer to Charon, we take formation; Nancy a couple of paces ahead with myself and Grey flanking. Nancy holds the tin with outstretched arms to warn Charon that this time…

…this time it is different.

I recall from the usual world, and then imbibe all of us in this one, of a passage:

‘Noone will suffer. I’ll save them all.’

Creators now become Cremators.

The daylight as strong as the potent meph these grievers snort whilst the salvaged and salvated body drifts through the air into the Chapel Of Ash.

There are many people but people-as-props for this – our – final attestment to thy testament.

Surrounded by voices. Surrounded by seers. Surrounded by voices.

The smoke into the atmosphere as the only real thing. Even though we must craft in clay, we first dream in smoke. The smoke envelops this whole Immortal Hour, this whole celebration, this whole play; A play that the cremated’s smoke itself has written and is now directing. 

The smoke is the metaphysical embodiment, entombing us, immuring us within The Great Immurement, to be held within until the crafting begins and the clay can take its place. The ashes are a physical monument, but nothing more. 

Besides, there are no differences between ashes.”

Our version and vision of Charon is a crazed old man, deranged and unhinged, seething with malevolent playfulness. But not today.

Today, he still rows his little wooden boat, gnarled with eternal age, but immune to external damage, and it is upon the wide expanse of stone and pebble on the water’s edge that he rows.

We climb aboard, our Dead-Friend and ourselves and we sit, together.

All is quiet; the liminal hymns are at one with the atmosphere.

We huddle.

The sun sets.

Soon we will all die and this time, never live again. 

Everything fades.

Everyone Is Ended.

IV

There is often fear of ‘The Bed’. The fear is growing of ‘The Bed’.

I’m not there. I can’t go there. Is the partner on it? Trying to coax me to ‘The Bed’, as though it’s some normal thing, some normal place to go to at the end of the day?

There is no security, not even a false sense. ‘The Bed’ should be avoided at all costs. There is no rest there. 

How can it be sleep and rest when all I do is see through other waking eyes, in other waking worlds?

Another note from Another Place:

“As we get older and more time has passed, we become attached to the ideals of people rather than the people themselves, as we understand that they cannot fulfil what we require of them, and learn how to find fulfilment, instead, within ourselves. Then we become more detached to those things that mean nothing, turning instead to nothingness, the things and places that lie beyond the Veil.

These things and places are not wondrous. It is a crushing vastness that is impossible to navigate but exciting to explore, and, in return, to be explored by.

When the crushing vastness decides we can neither offer nor fake any more of ourselves, our life is taken from us and given to something new.

This is not our decision.”

One more here in fact… this by another’s hand… all battered and bruised… blood drips…

“I am scared to death

Scared to death of death;

to unexist after all i’ve lived learned loved … the thought of this

is a source of great depression

of cut hands

of night falls fast

PLEASE GOD

XXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX     MY GREATEST WISH IS TO 

NOW LIVE EVERYONE IN EVERYTIME EVERYWHEN AND EVERYWHERE 

until unexistence is escaped and I may always 

be.

Just to be, forever, is all I want.

STEPS HAVE ALREADY BEEN MADE.”

Did I write this?

Please, God.

NOVEL SERIALISATION
AUTHOR: RICK ACV

Following in the wake of his debut novel THE GREAT IMMUREMENT, which we serialised during the summer of 2020, Vukovar helmsman Rick ACV now follows up with the surreal, esoteric and challenging Astral Deaths & Astral Lights. Playing with format, language, font, with half-thoughts of waking hours and occult merge with dream-realism and a languid sense of discomfort: a sorry state of existence. 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 earlier this week. We continue with the next chapter, HOTEL NOTHING/III, below:

HOTEL NOTHING

I’m stooped and my joints don’t seem to want to acknowledge my directions for them. 

I gather my thoughts. All there is, is nothing to me. 

A phone rings and I answer it, but for a few moments the words spoken appear in vision as a series of symbols and guttural colours. Flashes from the language axis. The world has spun in a new direction without me and I’m left behind; in a strange place and a strange time, now I can reach towards something new. 

Then I am comforted as everything falls into place. Those symbols I saw before me, as that mysterious voice spoke, shift into something I understand a little easier and then turn to vapour, finally vanishing as I reach out with a curious finger.

Almost suddenly, I fall back out of a comforting understanding into something terrifying as I actually listen to the voice. This is a panicked unknowing. I have never felt this way before.

In response to my ‘hello’ the voice says “Good afternoon. I hope you are well.” I see strange flashes of someone and something. “I hope you are well.” it repeats and continues “I assume I am speaking to Mr Hanshiro?”

“Yes.” I utter, in the almost-exact same voice as from the phone, only mine isn’t as deep.

The voice continues to tell me about an important letter I will receive and to make sure I deal with it immediately.

The someone and something I see without seeing is a man in a back room. I recognise the man as myself for some reason, though his features are obscured by bright light.

I am aware of this self as though I have lived it all my life. My stomach turns.

“May I ask to whom I am speaking?” I say with as little suspicion as I can muster. My opposing line responds with a polite ‘of course’ then on to “

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

My ears may bleed. My brain may catch fire. My limbs may collapse in on themselves.

The answer was drowned out by a bell sound so abrasive…. I briefly lost myself.

I come back to myself, This Self.

A letter drops to the floor in this neat, bare office-house. As I read it, the inner voice is one I don’t recognise and the disturbing biloquism only further serves to disrupt my adaptation to my new surroundings. 

The letter:

Dear Mr Hanshiro,

I write to inform you of the regrettable and unfortunate death of your dear insert family name. In his her will, he she passed on to you the UNRESTRICTED ownership of the Hotel Nothing in the [REDACTED] district in [REDACTED].

Under his her instruction, the keys will be passed to you by ourselves, [REDACTED], on his her behalf. Please come to us at your earliest convenience in order to conclude this matter. We are situated on [REDACTED]. I look forward to meeting you.]

Yours Sincerely,

[REDACTED].

***

I arrive as a recipient of a substantial inheritance outside the vast building. There are swarms of people around the entrance. I make my way through the crush, passing hot flashes of hot fleshes. I come to a corridor full of people only occasionally moving forwards – I spot the door behind the reception. Only one sweating, stinking shape of human is permitted through at a time. 

I need some water.

I am old and tired and hot. This airless hole will be the death of me, I begin to not-even-worry, and instead just accept the fact. The noise is deafening.

***

The receptionist and I shout to no avail as she allows me through the door.

There is only one chair in here and another door. I make to sit down but a young woman, drenched in sweat, angered and flustered points to the door.

“I’ve been sent this letter…”

My voice is weak and pathetic before it’s cut off by her simple, straight-to-the-soul statement:

“Yes, that’s why you’re here, you have no more relatives, go through the door.”

I do so and find inside a cavernous room an empty desk, atop of which is the keys to my new empire. I am so tired. 

I am so tired of being close to death that I ignore my own hesitation, take the keys and make my exit. There is no-body and no-thing and I am back in the cool rain that has shifted here from another day.

X X X

I arrive at the place. It’s an imposing, pristine concrete thing, looking for all the world like a Las Vegas hotel stripped totally bare, picked up and left to just simply exist in some industrial wasteland purgatory. There are well-tended gardens that are clear boundaries between two worlds, from the Hotel Nothing to the wild and overgrown wasteland that surrounds and suffocates all else. The extreme and striking border forms a perfect square around the hotel, even taking in some woodland, and I can’t help but allow my mind to wander and wonder about halos… their meaning… what shapes they may take and any significance of any of this.

Taking a slow and ambling walk around the grounds, stopping to smell the roses, it crosses my mind; an old creaky man such as this-myself is just as easily pleased by the gentle and pleasant as the ease of the confusion that comes to the limbs at the end of their use. There is a remarkable freshness inside the Lines and I could swear that it’s brighter than I have ever experienced, whereas as the whole of the sky, all within and without it, was pitch grey just a few metres and moments previous. 

There is a pond and marsh which I cross over on an immaculate wooden walkway, feeling no effort in my movements and have to check I am not floating into the day. I haven’t felt this graceful for years. The path I am on takes me back towards the back of the hotel, but in my way is a maze. 

There is no way around; all-ways seem to lead up to and then away from the building so I reluctantly enter this maze that has somehow bloomed from nowhere. I walk and walk and walk and I encounter no Dead Ends. I do-not and can-not understand. I am walking in circles, the length of which are undeterminable. I think as quickly as my slowing mind will allow: I put down my hat on the ground and walk on.

I carry on for several minutes, still gliding, effortless, and can feel panic rising from the very soul of me. Suddenly my joints ache, my breathing is hard and the Glory Of The Day becomes as a recurrence of a terrible memory. I go to lean upon the hedge-wall and find myself going through a door right to the centre of the maze. All centres. All things must have a centre or they are unthinkable. I have found this one. In this centre, a strange man is sitting at a small table with an empty chair facing him. Upon spotting me he pours us both a cup of tea and beckons me to join. I shuffle forwards. His face is powdered white. A brilliant white. Total white. I want to feel apprehensive but can’t. I feel nothing. I decide I will decline the tea, remain standing and simply ask for directions.

Now I am sat opposite him.

Now he stares. His features seem to change. 

Now he speaks.

The Mystery Man greets me. I ask him for directions. 

“In time. Why not take the tea? It’s hot and delicious.” He smiles. “I insist you join me.”

I ask about the maze and its impenetrable nature. Or actually, the ease in which it is penetrated but the difficulty of getting out. 

“Surely the new owner is not in a rush? The place and employees take care of themselves.”

His smirk bothers me now. Feelings, all feelings, are slowly returning.

I agree in supposition and ask how he knows who I am, careful to mask my un-nerve. 

“May I ask how it is that you already had the keys? Or how it is that two versions of you held a coherent telephone conversation; both in the present but one in the past and one still in the future?”

I take notice of his voice. Something about the thick-lightness makes my stomach knot in almost-nausea. 

I can no longer mask anything and I make my confessions to Him, of how bizarre I found his question and how confused – to the point of fear – I am. All of this without saying a word.

“I may not. Drink your tea, Mr Hanshiro.”

I do so and it’s delicious and warming. Just as he said. I tell him. 

“It’s a recipe I’ve had for hundreds of years.”

I suggest he misspoke and assume he means his family have had it for hundreds of years. 

“If you would prefer, sir.”

I wish he would not speak. That voice. That voice of all-substance and no-substance. 

I put all thought out of my mind ask how to get to the Hotel Nothing from here once again.

“Look to your right.”

I open my mouth to speak but the mystery man so forcefully stares into my eyes and it feels he is controlling them, directing them to where he instructed.

The maze is no longer there. Well, it is, but it’s nothing more than a painting upon the ground. An optical illusion. I turn back to the Mystery Man, dumbfounded, but find nobody there. I sit in silence. I do not care for how long. I go to put the cup on the table. There is no table.

The table is not a table. That, too, is a painting on the ground.

Along with both chairs.

I’m squatting mid air and at this realization I recognise the agony most of my body is in.

I slowly make my way to the hotel. 

A SHIFT.

Huge, open hotel lobby. There isn’t anybody. Any-Body at all.

A pressed bell.

A deafening noise.

The noise down dark corridors. The noise in the hidden staff spaces. The noise everywhere.

Abandon hotel lobby.

A story of an old, disfigured ex-prostitute on a radio.

Sleep.

A RETURNING AND RECURRING SHIFT.

I enter my hotel and find a row of people all in a line awaiting my arrival. All are hotel staff it seems and all are ignoring the growing, silent queue behind and beyond them.

A man with a young face and an old body approaches me. 

“Welcome back Mr Hanshiro! Glad to see you’re better.”

His eyes widen with horror. 

Everything but his face is old, decrepit almost, in ways that are obvious yet these ways I cannot process.

I have to ask what he means. I have to. So I do.

Please forgive my ignorance, sir, I meant to simply say ‘welcome’. I am the manager of your Hotel Nothing, my name is Mr John; you may call me Mr Manager if you find it difficult to recall names.”

I do not like these people.

I assure him I can recall names perfectly well. I ask Mr John to show me to my quarters. 

He seems affronted.

He pleads.

“Well, that really isn’t part of my job… besides, there are things we must see-to before anything else.”

His suit is sharp and expensive looking. It appears to me as funeral attire. I understand nothing of business. For now, I’ll agree to whatever I’m told. I just want to rest.

His countenance is changed and becomes abrupt and impatient. He storms to the employees and angrily urges me to follow. 

One at a time the employees bow to me and walk away without saying a word and without looking back. This takes a long time and then all is finished. 

I ask Mr John how useful this time was spent without learning their names. 

“Mr Hanshiro, please, that introduction was just fine. You will learn the names over time, and even if not, you probably won’t need to anyway. 

I nod. 

I have no energy, none to waste on further questioning. 

I’m taken into the office behind the front desk. Here, there is a familiar looking young woman; she seems shy and speaks to me in a language My-Self in This-Self understands. She tells me her name – Catherine – and that she is the junior manager. This exchange is easy and welcome. 

“I will show you around and to your room if it pleases you, sir.”

I would be pleased to go straight to my room and gather in my rapidly fracturing being.

She looks unsure and explains they aren’t the orders she has received, but will make an exception.

I should think so.

We make our own way without Mr John and come upon a lift, into which I happily step, thinking of a time in the coming futures where I will be well-rested. Catherine tells me of how she rose to her position through merit and excellency, whereas…

“Mr John took advantage of your absence to seize control of the running of this place…”

There is a blackout for less than negligible amount of time. Or maybe it was just me. Or maybe nothing at all.

“Mr John took advantage of The Owner’s absence to seize control of the running of this place.”

I do not feel this is appropriate. 

“I hasten to speak ill of my colleagues – or indeed anybody at all – especially if they are not present, sir. But this may be my only chance.”

This is too much stress for today. I try to tell her she may see me first thing tomorrow and tell all so I may sort all.

“Please! Mr John is a degenerate and a deviant. He claims to love me, that he can’t be without me. He is probably watching and listening in to us. Right now. He just wants to control me. He spies on my everywhere I go. There are cameras everywhere. Everywhere!”

I’m aware of Catherine adjusting her breasts but I ignore it and tell her I will sack the disgusting pig. 

“You can’t.”

“Why not?”

“He is… irreplaceable… it isn’t possible.” She says this with a disarming nonchalance. Just a few seconds ago she was begging for my sympathetic ear and now she is completely and totally resigned to her treatment. “A necessary evil.”

I start to press her further on this but notice she has now bared her breasts and I become enraged. I express my contempt. 

“He’s watching even now. My flesh will blind him to our discussion, blind him to his own fury. I think he’s gone. Would you like to touch?”

She turns to me with sparkling eyes. 

I am filled with horror. 

No…

Please no…

She approaches and presses up against me. I weaken. I try to push her away and in doing so I touch her naked skin. It burns me. I retch and cower in the corner. Catherine is concerned and strokes my hair, unknowing of the panic I am stricken with. Her breasts are in my face. The air is unbreathable and I can no longer cope. 

The lift doors open.

I run.

I am in a room with only one door. Catherine is looking on, uncomprehending. 

I force my way into the darkened space. Harsh pulsating lights begin to flash on and off, strobe-like, as a gently throbbing music plays, quietened, as though through water. The room is covered from floor to ceiling with breasts. I vomit uncontrollably. It lands on the ceiling. It stays there. I see a door and crawl towards it, pulling myself along, wishing for nothing but the retching and heaving to subside. The door is a towering vagina and I have no choice but to have to go through it. 

I am birthed into a blinding whiteness.

My senses come to me intermittently. 

A crowd of women.

They fuss over me.

They clean me.

They cut the newly attached umbilical cord from me and I scream in agony. 

I am put onto a moving surface and am carried away into The White.

I drift.

I am moved.

My existence is vapour-light. 

I am in yet another room. Everything is monochrome. Empty but for two small tables, each with a telephone atop. An old man. I think of him as Il Duce. He is at the furthest one. He faces me.

Il Duce indicates towards the phone on my table.

Pick it up.

His lips do not move but his voice comes to me down the phone.

He stares into the whites of my eyes. He stares into the total depths of me as he un-talks.

“Do no fear me.”

Who are you?

“I will not answer.”

Why not?

“There could be any number of reasons, but I am not here to discuss them.”

How come you have appeared to me?

“I am to recite to you a warning, from a different story, from a different time, but it applies to all human life at some point in different ways and the point has now come in yours. Will you listen?”

I will.

I awake in my room.

I think about what he said. 

There was a story of a gatekeeper and a man seeking passage through the gate. The gatekeeper denied the man entry on unknowable and unchangeable grounds. 

I recognised this as a story from deep within another story. 

X X X

I arise, I dress, I stop; I feel eyes upon me. I allow them to continue for a few moments and I begin to hear a rising, heavy breathing which digs its way just so into the centre of me, forcing itself through ears, through mind, as though this is all I have ever heard. It becomes piercing as I search for the source and I in turn become manic as it turns to pain. This is unbecoming of me. I burst out of my room and with this expense of my energies I fall to my face in a silent living area in a confused St Vitus dance. Catherine is sitting on a couch, looking me over. 

“Come here Mr Hanshiro.”

I respond with a blank look. 

“Come on, it’s okay.” She is insistent and I lose myself to her maternal authority. I go over to her, childlike and pathetic.

“Rest your head upon my lap. Shh. I’ll make it all better for you.”

Catherine starts to sing softly a lullaby as I comply and, soon, she is stroking my hair.

I tell her I think I am getting a cold.

She leans down and starts to kiss me sensually. Paralysis and transfixion.

“Poor baby. Do you want a feed?”

“Do you want a feed from mummy?”

This is not what I want. She begins to take out her breasts. Again. What does this life, this myself mean? Why is she starting with this indecent nonsense again?

The shift.

“Mr Hanshiro?”

“Mr Hanshiro?”

We are sitting on the couch, together but apart, still in this silent living area that is nowhere. 

“Do you want to get some food? From the bar?”

Confused and erring to begin with, I respond in agreement. I want to get out of this dark room.

Catherine smiles.

“I’ll organise some company for us.”

I’d much rather you didnt, Catherine.

“I’ll organise some company for us.”

I am so taken aback by the strength in her will in just those six simple words that I don’t argue.

These people have total control over me.

This place has total control over me.

And every-thing and every-one else.

Total Body Control, whether in-body or out-body.

Hotel Restaurant:

This is viewed from outside this myself, at times.

Catherine and myself sit at a table with a couple that look exactly the same as us. The setting changes from time to time between two places. It starts as normal, smoky restaurant and bar, high-ceilinged and large with constant chatter, waiters milling about busily and there is a band playing some unintrusive music on a stage. The other place is a tiny, perfectly square room that contains only our table and a bar that isn’t quite right. On the wall in front of us is a projection showing the ‘rest’ of the restaurant and all its inhabitants. 

Catherine: I’ll do the introductions then shall I, darling? (I see myself begin to stir as though woken from daydreams long and old) I’m Catherine and this is my husband Mr Hanshiro. Nice to finally meet you.

Mirror Catherine: It’s lovely to meet you, too. I’m Catherine and this is my husband, Mr Hanshiro.

Catherine: (Turning to me) Catherine and dear Mr Hanshiro live in the hotel. They’re high up in a sub chain of command here.

The constant state of confusion I am mired in within my hotel is starting to become tedious.

I view ourselves and theirselves through tired eyes slowly burning as they discuss how it is that both sets own and run the place in parallels without any knowledge of each other’s domain. This goes on for a while until Mirror Catherine suggests and hints at things of a sexual nature, before Catherine confirms it without me understanding the real meaning. We are all turned towards the idea of going to our room under the pretence, in my unaware understanding, of continuing our meal there. 

Catherine violently rides me in a rape that I cannot and do not fight against. I watch this and can do nothing. 

X X X

This is now the next day or the next time or the next whenever it is. I seek out Mr John and try to make a complaint about Catherine. He calls me a liar and we argue until he tells me she has already been removed and hidden away somewhere. I am ill and I am tired and I care little for any of this. I dismiss him. The room behind the office simply marked ‘Manager’s Bedroom’ appeals to me. 

Inside the tiny room is a human sized nest on the floor. There is little to describe about the rest. It feels so empty and so bare that I cannot help but question its existence and quantum lack-of-presence.

There is a phone. I am drawn to it. I pick it up. The voice on the other end sounds familiar.

“Hello?”

Good afternoon. I hope you are well. I assume I am talking to Mr Hanshiro?

“Yes that’s correct. What is the nature of the call?”

Information. You will receive a letter in the post today that carries with it some weight of importance. Please pay it with your upmost attention.

“May I ask who I am speaking to?”

I do not know. This Self is no longer My Self. I watch myself disappear from my own view as I slip away.

III

The partner sits upon a step.

The partner is upset.

The partner weeps and lets the realism that THEIR partner is less and less present become the biggest prescience. 

I am further and far removed from the usual world and it has its effects and affects. I understand that there are consequences to every action as I am not a moron.

However, which place is it whereby the actions count for anything? Even something… It feels less and less like the usual world.

I must try and make it up to the partner in this world. Just in case.

NOVEL SERIALISATION
AUTHOR: RICK ACV


Following in the wake of his debut novel THE GREAT IMMUREMENT, which we serialised during the summer of 2020, Vukovar helmsman Rick ACV now follows up with the surreal, esoteric and challenging Astral Deaths & Astral Lights. Playing with format, language, font, with half-thoughts of waking hours and occult merge with dream-realism and a languid sense of discomfort: a sorry state of existence. William Blake and Austin Osman Spare meet Kōbō Abe in the hotel lobby portal of the never-world: personal and universal.

Part One now follows:

THE ASCENDER/DESCENDER

I am The Ascender/Descender of the Lord’s ladders. I get no closer nor further away from Him and His glory; these steps go sideways.

I am an angel, continually changing the affairs of man. 

I die nightly and daily there is less of me.

This will continue until there will be less than nothing left.

I

The conscious part of the mind is useless; it only serves to reinforce the separation between ourselves and that which we desire.” – Austin Osman Spare.

This is how to misinterpret and misunderstand someone and something. 

Then:

“Rest uneasy. 

Consciousness as a forfeit-too-far.

The body’s surrender to silent sleep is not something to underestimate nor un-understand. 

____ has begun to experience something disarming in its simple explicity and with an overwhelming lack of disturbation to make this a truly unpleasant experience:

Faces appear. Faces appear in the mind’s eye. Faces unrecognized. Faces constantly morphing into each other, hundreds in number, maybe more. They are as detailed as if they were in the extreme presence. 

The faces start to bring a warm feeling of familiarity – the process of the passing of awareness. Lulled. Now. Now it comes. Now as the faces change and interfere with one another’s faces, sleep is on its way.

Only it isn’t sleep.

How can it be?”

This is what I found on a piece of paper in some forgotten pocket. I say forgotten but for how long it has been neglected I have little-to-no-idea. There are those places that drift into view through the mist and the grey-light and you have little clue as to where from and what for they came. You will tell yourself that they are a portal to another world. They must be, as they give something that alters your world-view so drastically that they cannot exist permanently within this world. That’s what the neglected pocket is. And that’s from where the paper did come. Only now, it isn’t paper. It is a recollection of something that is happening right this second, even. As this is being read by whoever’s eyes may be reading, it is also being written by the author long dead. The literal sense of the author being long dead will far outlast the metaphysical. 

“It’s a fundamental flaw in the human condition that we appreciate beauty only in absence. We are stars that died centuries ago and our love and light is only fully absorbed after the final fade out. A pin prick in the night sky, a microscopic peephole into heaven. I find myself looking up at the sky in the kind of cold winter night that briefly recharges my belief in the value of existence hoping that through one of these peepholes I will catch a glimpse of your face.” – Daniel Shea.

Every night is the changing of the faces before ascending/descending into the other lands, other places – other people.

Maybe just as an observer, but it doesn’t feel that way.

This is exhausting.

This is all consuming. 

This is life-threatening; as The Ascender/Descender, I become far removed from the usual world, to reside in the constant present.

The Constant Present:

A place with no consequence no matter the action. The past cannot be rewritten through changing eyes nor waves of fury. All futures remain an imaginary and far away world.

THE LADDERS

I awake in the body of the dejected and in the mind of the cunning.

I recall the conversation with my blind Father from yesterday and I move with ease from the scorched ground, away from his bitterness and into the bright sunlight that forms a halo around this Earth. The promise that the Holy warmth fills me with is sudden and I know I will one day be the victor. 

I have a feeling that my victory will soon be of little consequence.

The first steps upon my journey are undertaken and the hard ground feels welcoming underfoot, I have reassurance from the single, solitary trees that line the path also, as I know there will be place-to-rest within their shade should I need it. A shade within their shade, a sculpture by the sculptor. 

Things quickly change, as though in a dream.

What sets this feeling off and the feeling of inconsequential victory is a sudden glimmer in the sky, as though the clouds are glinting and sparkling and shimmering. 

It can’t be a dream. I know I am not myself but I know that this self is Their self. There is no disconnect.

This must be a visitation.

The destination moves towards me and I needn’t approach. 

I look more closely at the shimmering sky and the little bursts of light; it begins to form waves of awe, waves of silver-white Godly brilliance and I am moved to almost-tears. I cry out, a noise that I have never before heard from myself. His compassion rains and reigns down over and upon my sacrificial spirit, as right before me appears and disappears a Great Ladder. Its shape and form can only be made out by the agitated atmosphere that surrounds it, and I notice the world that was around me has melted away into the unveiling.

Everything comes into focus and the spectre of His love comes clear; the extent of his intent of creation is now known within me and the purpose of his Angels brightens the flesh under my flesh as I observe the moving up and down, passing through their other selves. 

Blessed be the path between Heaven and Earth.

Blessed be the Angels, ascending and descending to and from bodies and lives.

Blessed be Me; I understand now that I am one amongst the many Angels Of Light that give cause to the lives of all, the perpetual movement between bodies, the constant Hand in the Constant Present.  

I don’t forget the argument with my Father as I am armed with more than just my cunning now. 

II

To sleep and to never have to wake. To wake and to never have to sleep. That would be the dream. To be in a constant, secure state and to be exempt from eternal flux is a set of circumstances, I imagine, that would yield a lifetime of peace and contentment. 

I do not have a care for the unambition behind this. 

I have little enough feeling on anything in the usual world as it is that the idea of having to fake guilt and guiltiness seems too much like an inconvenience. 

My absence in the usual world may well be with its setbacks – mostly minor. I’m aware but have such little interest that I’d much prefer to defer to another note. I don’t really know where they come from, but they handily explain my ascensions and descensions. The ladder itself and the actual Astral Dances are fine within my control. These scraps, however, assist the very Innerself to easily given and easily forgotten unexplanations. 

This note:

“The ladder is not a physical image and thing and device, but metaphysical.

That said, a literal interpretation is best suited.

It can’t be explained why.

In fact, this makes no sense whatsoever.

When _____ slept, was his vision of those angels on that path so on-the-nose?

It is hard to believe a creation that touches the Glory Of God can be so unimaginative and so plain.

What are these steps, then, and how do they appear to _____ as they are traversed?

The Death Of The Author will hereby be leaned on (again and always), as perfect an excuse as there Ever-Was and Ever-Will and Ever-Is.

And now

After all this straying

The path becomes lit once more with a fantastical and strictly Holy sense of wonder.”

I am so alone. I stare at the ceiling. I can’t understand the time of the day. You’re so alone. We’re all so, so alone. 

This house is a home but I feel like vermin. I didn’t wash today. Again. And now the day is over. Again. I don’t want to sully the fresh-scented sheets. That could be my excuse.

I could just sit and wait and pass through the darkness at the close of day and avoid the coming transformation. 

Light or dark, it will still happen, I remind Ourselves.

Myself.

“Lie back and take it like a man.”

Here are the faces.

Here comes the shift.

Here is Thee Transformation.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.


Written by Rick Clarke/Illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski





As you may know if you’re a regular follower of The Monolith Cocktail, we’ve been serialising a number of new novels and writings from debut authors over the last two years; beginning with Ayfer Simm‘s Istanbul pyschogeograhy A Rumor In Üsküdar in 2019.  Following on Ayfer’s heels we’re now serialising the Lynchian semi-biographical and incomprehensible jukebox set wanderings of Dan Shea (Bordellos, Vukovar and Beauty Stab infamy) and Rick Clarke’s (bandmate of Shea and rallying beacon of the band Vukovar) new novel The Great Immurement: The previous twelve chapters of which have appeared over the last two months.

We continue with those semi-esoteric imaginings below and bring you next trio of penultimate chapters, ‘Moonlight’, ‘The Silent Surgeon’, and Trial By Fly; illustrated as always by the illustrious Andrzej Klimowski.


MOONLIGHT




And so to the Moon The Great Immured did non-look. He stared and wished. A spectral figure appeared and approached. He told:

 

The symbols have now shattered.

I was free. I probably lived an unremarkable life and probably still do. But the symbols did shatter, and they shattered for me and my Otherlands – the space between spaces.

 

The backstory:

It could be described as a romance. Lunar. A silent romance. We started to notice each other from afar, as these things normally demand have happen. I learned it could’ve been because of the connection between the dripdripdrip of the bloodbloodblood in the absence of Motherhood.

In vials I collected this space between fertility and held it up to the space between day. With a desperate, knowing affection we bathed in each other’s appearance. It became an obsession to the point where I refused to acknowledge its solar non-equivalent – convinced was I that this was an imposter, evil in its way, casting light on things that ought not be lit.

 

When I thought about my moon, I would think about the mechanics and likeliness and consequences of its perforation.

I could grow a penis. I would sharpen the very end into a point with the veil’s blade and gently press it against the tough silvery surface, like against an eardrum, and hold it in a position just before its desecration. My limbs would twitch in a glorious anticipation. I would enjoy that position for a lifetime; neither in life nor crossing the threshold into death. Its skin, a leathery elastic, at peak indentation.

 

I now feel that sickly feeling in the very pit of the stomach whereby I want to do something with all my might but with all my might know I shouldn’t, like holding something fragile and valuable out of a high window, or stepping from the chair with rope-tight-round-neck. Eventually it’s going to drop, by accident or perpetrator’s design.

I press that little bit further forward with grown, sharpened penis and it begins. A warm ooze coming over me, sticky and thick. It’s only a small opening so I drive myself in and out and in and out and in and out again and the scent is of… the feel is of… the sound is of… the taste is of… the sight is of… I can’t speculate on this.

After a few encounters I lost everything there ever was except for my love’s glow. “I am the light” said it, and “The Light Is My Leader” said I; LVX MEA DVX.

 

It got bigger and bigger.

Each previous encounter it was flirting with other things, dancing with the formless smoke and clouds. But I didn’t mind. However, one clear night it had eyes only for me and me alone. That was the night…

I rose, PM. I would soon be feeling the true force of nature. I don’t know much about so-called cosmic forces and I find ridiculous the way people talk about them. But I felt what I felt.

It was the moon, my lover, my king, my queen and all things in between.

I stepped outside into our eternal garden – I didn’t feel the cold.

I looked up and saw the moon, full, in all its glory.

The clouds were moving unusually quickly.

A hole remained in them, connecting me and my love so that its gaze would not stray, connecting us personally, speaking to me.

I finally managed to give myself over almost completely, ignoring the dark symbols surrounding and being formed by clouds, and, after seeing and feeling the earth upon which I stand moving, I shut my eyes. I felt the pull. I didn’t quite leave the ground. Had I tuned in wholly I’m convinced I would have.

I felt totally at peace.

 

The being collapsed into the atmosphere around itself. The Great Immured, briefly, saw the moon’s glow through the thick impenetrable walls of his Immurement and continued with his self-sacrificed placement with few other questions.



THE SILENT SURGEON




The once-partner and now nevermore makes an appearance through a photograph, through mind’s eye, through misunderstood hazy recall.

 

The Lady Of The Otherlands convinced herself she was now too weighty. Too much indulgence and ingestion of filths, she thought, that’s the reason the things of the Otherlands no longer caved into her charms… but that wasn’t true. She had gotten older, her face and body less structured. And the other things she thought of around her were just figments of the ever greying fog that clouded the rooms and ante-chambers of her thoughts and living arrangements.

In her area a very famous surgeon now resided. So celebrated were his soul and hands that he was rewarded with being kept hidden from the outside world. His skills had not been tested thoroughly in a while. He was unable to practise on himself as his infatiguable enthusiasm had rendered his own body almost useless. So when the Lady presented her broken specimen before him, were he able to express his delight, he would’ve done.

 

“I need an operation.”

 

“…”

 

“It’s for my wellbeing, sexually and physically.”

 

“…”

 

“Can you not just slice some off or whatever you do?”

 

“I can pay you.”

 

“Please, no. Medical well being only. None other surgery.”

 

The lady went away knowing what must be done. Flesh must be gone. She would grow flesh that must be cut away, as the uncontrollable growth would be considered harmful to the well being.

It became all in her power to cultivate and farm the little things that become bigger things until the black mass was in charge of itself.

The rumours that the great surgeon had disappeared or moved on were not true. She found him in the same place. His non-movement and non-breathing meant that the Lady had to undergo the operation by her own hand, under the silent guidance of The Silent Surgeon.

A long and not painless time later, the Lady emerged from her desecrated operating table, clutching the carvings against her breast, tightly and darkly. It represented the heaviness of the weight she had successfully lost. She felt attractive once more and spent her time trying to quench her unyielding thirst for all things to be inside her.



TRIAL BY FLY




A strange noise. Familiar but reminiscent of almost nothing at all.

 

The ceilings tall.

The windows tiny and infrequent.
The rooms infinite.
Everywhere would be white but for the flies and the tape – the tape yellowing on white surfaces no longer visible, covered by masses and masses
and masses and masses and masses

And masses and masses and masses

x7

of flies… tiny little things forming the decoration, little black bodies everywhere.

 

The purpose? The purpose…

Experimentation. No. Engineering.

To build a set of wings from their wings but the power and size to fly a thing of this power, of this size.

Shaped angelic like.

To fly!

No other material is so abundant. No other material is so suitable.

It’s all about appropriation.

Or re-appropriation.

The collecting of flies has taken a long while. But that isn’t something to notice. The ideation is nearly intention.

The process is what it is. Every piece of tape needs to be checked for the newly-captured-still-winged.

A snip and a slice later and the wings to a new place have grown. Heavenly is the warmth of pride and promise of completion. Satisfying is the rip and parting of torn wing from now-torn body.

 

                                            X                            X                         X

 

Only one more set is needed.

A furious search is conducted; hectics, urgent; all previous patience dissipated for this search for new patients. This search feels an eternal thing.

                                           X                           X                       X

 

But now the search is over. A winged fiend. No, a winged friend… is splay on its front, spatchcock, given itself to the triumph of the will.

This last one is to be s.a.v.o.u.r.e.d and savioured.

A martyr for O murta.

Thumb and forefinger are positioned and the operation is begun.

But a quiver.

A quiver?

A quiver and a noise. A tiny noise.

A quiver and a scream?

No.

Pain? Torture?

Everywhere around in this impossible place… flies flies flies… destroyed.

Oceans of it.

Suddenly, very suddenly, it all becomes noticeable at once. A cacophony of minuscule screams rises until the brains feel as though swelling to burst.

There is no repentance that can be done, only a gesture.

 

                                               X                    X                     X

A collection of still-winged flies are manically sought, freed and message conveyed.

The wings of sin are now finished.

This product of despicable engineering and this engineer of despicable engineering are now let loose.

The Otherlands and the sensation of flying is a total peace, a total manifestation of ambient.

                                                X                    X                    X

Flies form a convoy.

They know their seeker of forgiveness will follow wilfully, and follows just so into the nest of exaltation.

The once angelic-wings are torn from flesh, from grace, and taken apart.

 

The body follows soon after.




Previous instalments:

Parts 1 – 3

Parts 4 – 6

Parts 7 – 9

Parts 10- 12


Written by Rick Clarke/Illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski




As you may know if you’re a regular follower of The Monolith Cocktail, we’ve been serializing a number of new novels and writings from debut authors over the last two years; beginning with Ayfer Simm‘s Istanbul pyschogreograhy A Rumor In Üsküdar in 2019.  Following on Ayfer’s heels we’re now serializing the Lynchian semi-biographical and incomprehensible jukebox set wanderings of Dan Shea (Bordellos, Vukovar and Beauty Stab infamy) and Rick Clarke’s (bandmate of Shea and rallying beacon of the band Vukovar) new novel The Great Immurement: The previous six chapters of which appeared last month in July. We continue with those semi-esoteric imaginings below and bring you next trio of ponographic anarchistic chapters, illustrated by Andrzej Klimowski.


THIN MAN, ILL MAN

Where am I and who are we? If I am me and you are you then why does it feel like there are no borderlines? You…

?

An illness overcame healthy man. He became a thin man, ill man. His head did bald, his skin did tight.

This happened after he found his home, his habitat. A light grey lake in a white-light place with a non distinguishable sky in the land of waste.

The Thin Man, Ill Man’s hair started shedding more and more frequently. He thought of it was little clues being left in his sink, on his floor, on his utensils – everywhere he went – for a non existing investigator, tracking him down for any given or ungiven unknown reason.

There were no other people and never would there be. Just him and his home.

 

Time passed and the Thin Man, Ill Man resented his own space and his own person. He called out for any passerby to come and join him but nobody returned the call and nobody ever would. He wasn’t fussy or particular about his prospective company – this didn’t matter.

So lonely he became that he started to count his protruding rib bones within the number of friends.

So solitary was the no-time and no-place that hours were wasted on separating and individualising his spermatozoas to give himself a family, but found his colonies starved and dehydrated to death by the time the task was complete.

The lonesome grew and growed.

 

Where once it did creepeth and stalk, it instead confrontethed and pounce.

There was nothing on TV, only himself.

There was nothing to eat, only himself.

There was nothing to be, only himself.

 

*He missed an intimacy (that he never experienced.)

There was a split.

*He wanted a partner as comfortable with his flesh as their own.

There was an osmosis, of sorts.

*He wanted a conjoining.

There was a new thing, of sorts. (The same thing, of course.)

 

“I’ve never had somebody to wax the fur from my anus or ease the discomfort in my shoulders.”

“You do the same for me, my love.”

“My favourite is when we sit and relax together and gently – absent-mindedly – play with each

other’s genitals.”

“Mine also.”

 

“Would you like to go out tonight? I feel like doing something.”

“Not tonight. I want to stay in with you. You’re everything I need.”

“I love it when you say things like that.”

 

“I need to piss.”

“Can I hold it? The feel when the tube expands as the piss comes through sends me wild.”

 

“What shall we eat?”

“Does it matter? Does it make a difference?”

“I suppose not.”

“As long as you lean over the counter when you cook… and now and again spread yourself. I’ll just

stare into the backdoor to our soul… imagining my tongue on your hole.”

“And, why don’t I moisten it with my spittle, maybe play with it… the glistening of my ring will make

you touch me, I’m sure…”

“There’s no need to try and persuade you is there? You read my mind.”

“I am your mind.”

“As am I, yours.”

 

And with that, the Thin Man, Ill Man took up an instrument of violent murder and the conversations were no more. The intimacy was no more.

 

He lay on HIS front IN front of his mirror, arms by his side and was giggling as the crimson blood pulsed from his heart onto the floor, spreading out in stems away from him; A mad dash to reach another body before it became nothing but a stain.

 

The mirror, from floor to ceiling in height, captured most of the empty, airless room in its reflection.

Suddenly and startlingly, the Thin Man, Ill Man saw himself standing in the doorway, staring straight at him. How own giggling intensified, never becoming manic. His strength had faded. Every last laugh became a struggle; a desperate kick against the deathly hands of his carcinogenic surroundings.

 

The Thin Man, Ill Man walked casually towards the Thin Man, Ill Man without any hint of emotional reaction, just unfeeling tears running down his face. His naked, pale, glowing figure sat dignified and straight on the edge of nothing beside the resting place of his naked, pale, glowing figure.

One laughed.

One cried.

Both died.

 

I stare into the blood stems. Which myself am I? Which one is the one who is living me now? I stare.



THE SPIRIT EJACULATE




I stare. The lifeblood glistens. My mind’s eye glistens. Blood to sex to blood to sex. Women – every woman’s – conclude or at least live slave to a feminine suspicion – as inherent as the cunt or the evil – that the men who want nothing but to fuck them are really just fulfilling a primordial death drive that would probably end in murder if the act of ejaculation didn’t weaken them so much.

This infection of sexual frenzy rests in guttural moans and the clenching of teeth as man edges ever-nearer to his in-built downfall, cruel and just.

 

It happened several years ago.

It happened in a few weeks/months/days.

 

It happened now.

 

It happened when?

 

It all began with the masturbatory glimpses that all start the same end. It was the time between waking and sleeping. The usual surroundings seemed distant and not altogether welcoming; it felt like an Otherland. He stood naked in the centre of a bare room, semi erect cock being coated in the spit he spat into his right hand.

 

All sorts of sexual images flashed, scattershot in his vision. His Japanese eye leaked its lubricant.

O memories, O The Great Immured.

He thought of a group of woman, humiliating the voluntarily weakest of them all, taunting her in a ceremony of piss. He throbbed and rubbed, dutifully, slowly and sensually.

 

Through his flickering eyelids, his naked mother entered and stood before him, a single trail of excitement ran down the inside of her leg. She bent over, beckoning him to taste. Taste taste taste. His nose pressed against her anus, almost forcing its way inside as he tongued as much of the dry coarse fur as he could, occasionally teasing the sweet stickiness of her inner vulva. He throbbed violently. He rubbed harder.

He half-blindly stepped inside a huge nondescript room filled with naked bodies, warm and slippery with sweat, semen and quim. The more he observed, the more furious he wanked, the fuller his sense.

Nothing was sacred. Women kissing women in dripping exchanges of spit and sperm, shining their faces around the mouth and cheeks. Women chained down men and suffocated them with their drenched cunts, applying their holes to the faces like oxygen masks; A pornographic source of sexualised air.

 

Men sodomised women, them-selves enjoying it so passionately that they lost all pelvic inhibitions and released sprinklets, sometimes jets of natal liquids. Mouths and holes filled with/ejecting cum/quim/all bodily fluids inbetween.

 

He throbbed harder still and wanted harder still until the moment came. Time almost stopped. His penis gathered all of its power and every muscle everywhere coiled like a spring, shaking with unstoppable force, finally let go and shot out a spurt of its own creamy lifeblood into a place unknown. The body paused, gathered power again and shot a smaller (but just as forceful) less potent batch into the same unknown. Once again it gathered strength, this huge shuddering body, only this time, something unexpected happened. Something concerning. Something wrong.

A tearing sensation ran through every part of his body, sinew ripped from bone, nerves ripped from everywhere and layers of skin from layers of skin. Everything was pain. Everywhere was pain; frozen in this stopped-non-passage-of-time. It was as though he was being sucked into a new dimension. He didn’t have chance to scream.

 

The tip of a finger became dented, briefly, before the whole thing caved in on itself, disappearing within itself. His toes followed, then his feet and hands, looking for a new place within his body. The rest of him did the same at the precise moment of the third and final ejaculation. His penis was in a continual push, a push to shoot out his entire body, which it did so; every part of him fired out of that small, thin slit.

He was new. Nothing was real anymore. He was a spirit-ejaculate. He could still see his old body, in fact he was now permanently facing it, but there was little life left in it.

They were connected at that small, thin slit. An eternal fountain exchanging seed, regurgitating forwards and backwards pools of cum, stick in this infinite position of gratification.



THE STAIRCASE

After all that, a silence.

 

The Great Immured recovered himself. Whatever time it was, it didn’t matter. Whatever he now was, it didn’t matter. All things are not even fleeting, but instead, lie broken.

The place he was within had changed. He knew he couldn’t (wouldn’t) find a way out from this immurement, but he had to exist somewhere a little less heavy, at least for a short time, some place to regain some breath.

After several minutes of pacing the same narrow staircase, he realised something was wrong. The staircase itself was odd; it often resembled more of a corridor. There were steps up and down that kept himself more or less at the same level. There were twists and turns. Spirals that got increasingly wider and little amputee-stub-like dead-ends.

The walls were high and there were no windows. Not even lights or candles. Yet no part of the staircase was particularly darkened. It all felt very… claustrophobic.

He could hear noises here and there along the staircase; of course there was the creaking of the old wooden boards but beyond that, long stretches of silence were interspersed with scratching and, even stranger, whispers appeared to come from behind the walls.

What is this trickery? He muttered to himself. The invisible conversations had caused a concern to grow unnervingly large in his mind and a not to grow in his stomach.

He tried turning back a couple of times but to no avail. No part of the staircase was memorable anyway, however, it seemed to change if he tried to retrace his steps.

More absence of time passed. Disturbed by his lack of progress he quickened his pace. He thought about shouting out to ask for assistance to the voices behind the walls, but had to reminds himself he would only be disappointed in the response. The times he felt most panicked – though he thought unreasonably so – was when the stairs descended. He originally intended to down the stairs and find a way to fresh, non-immured air, true, and he knew along this path every direction, every…descension… had been countered with an ascent, but it did nothing to make him feel at ease.

He was getting tired. The heat wasn’t unbearable but he had exerted himself to the point of exhaustion. Out of nowhere he saw the end of the staircase, and this was marked by a huge wooden door. Easily double the height of him, it reached right up to the ceiling.

At last.

He slowed his pace, hung his head in a mixture of weariness and relief and pushed against the door with all of the strength that his fatigue would allow.

Something, again, wasn’t quite right.

Under closer observation he noticed the door had no hinges. There were no gaps between the door itself and its frame and it felt concrete-cold.

The door was painted onto the wall. The likeness was good but in his relief he failed to spot the glaringly – not to mention painfully – obvious shortcomings of this piece of taunting artwork.

 

He sighed. He took a step away from the door, turned his back to the wall to his right, covered his face with his hands and leant backwards.

 

Bright-white, white-light.



Read the previous chapters here

Parts 1 to 3…

Parts 4 to 6…


Written by Rick Clarke/Illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski




Expanding the Monolith Cocktail’s remit to include more in the way of new literature and poetic musings of a kind, we are pleased to announce the serialization of burgeoning author and rallying beacon of the band Vukovar Rick Clarke’s new novel The Great Immurement. Following on from the first three chapters, kindly and perceptively illustrated by the much-respected Andrzej Klimowski, you can now read the next trio of chapters below.

THE GIRL AND THE PLAY-THING

The Great Immured/I/Us/They still absorb the contents of this sticky, crumpled paper from time to all-time. The letter received:

 

Said the girl to her play-thing:

‘Sometimes I feel you don’t belong… anywhere’

          She stroked

                                And stroked

                                                                And thought…

 

‘Except I wouldn’t want you to be anywhere else – I would be enraged… inconsolable…’

 

And so they sat upon their metallic plinth, the rust gathering rust in their infinite day-time play-time.

The play-thing, red, raw, balding and seeping felt it belonged … anywhere … except its current placement, and so it left.

 

                  The girl cried. She ignored the pain of the departing-wound, with all the blood, pus, open flesh and swinging innards and all else with it, and instead, she felt the pain of her lament for her greatest lover.

 

                                                    All day she cried.
All day….
All day….
All-Every-Day.

 

On her plinth, in the outskirts of the inner Otherlands – not quite all white, all light – she cried.

The play-thing had escaped into the inner Otherlands – all white, all light – and lost itself in amongst other clawing appendages of desires and almost irretrievably gave itself to the brutality.

 

                                                   It found peace and rested.

 

The girl did not stop crying. The departing-wound was healed to a smooth white mound, hairs penetrated the flesh (inwards and outwards) unevenly at uncoordinated angles.

The play-thing heard the sobs. The glistening, slightly sticky tears it could see without seeing were replicated in excitement rather than despair.

 

The play-thing found the girl. An arrival-wound could not be forced. However, the two were reconciled in a new way; a happy ending for both.

 

Sometimes these crumpled, sticky papers would get more crumpled and sticky at differing alltimes. Unreadable, in fact.

 

 

THE PARTIAL SEIZURE

To the doctor RE: Immurement – there are things my/our body/hole is doing without instruction ||| INFORM ME THAT I MAY REINSTRUCT THEE ||| Yes doctor.

 

In the Otherlands – I know longer know anywhere else – the temporal shifts are plentiful.

                     The rooms and the dimensions… the shapes… constantly change – permanent revolution, something I would wish on noone.

                                                                      The shift comes.

 

LOSE YOURSELF TO IT AND DESCRIBE FULLY ||| … .

 

I don’t hate the weirds I see in the street. They amuse me. I find them amusing. I find it amusing that they can’t detect their own filthy stench when everybody else can. Unwashed flesh, soiled clothes… the piss of their cats spray from their throat as they invent nonsensical sentences…outloud… to themselves of course. Who else will listen?

 

An all too familiar summer’s breeze passes over and through my skin. Everything seems to be happening in slow motion, overlapping with real time, causing sickness and nausea before I’m even aware of the fact. I’m disconnected. I’m watching myself from within myself. My thoughts are about my thoughts. Maybe the faint sound of music that’s drifting into my insides from a nearby side-street is the cause, maybe it’s the scent of some familiar-unfamiliar fauna or washing powder. Maybe it’s everything combined. Whatever the trigger, I’m hit.

 

A rising liquid warmth from the pit of my stomach spreads upwards through my chest, across to my fingertips and upwards once more to every nook and darkened lump in my brain.

 

                                          It isn’t possible to overstate the sickness.

 

I see what’s in front of me as any non-blind does, but I see more… There’re images that I

                                                    can’t

                    quite

 

                                                                                     identify.

 

I can understand them for no more than a nano second, these pictures are seen with eyes open, mixed in some impossible way with the reality that’s in front of me.

 

I glimpse a man who I recognise and instantly unrecognise. I just about hold in the vomit.

 

This is the point where my deitic coronation and entitlement reigns supreme. I know all, I see all, I have lived everything that is going to happen, my foresight shows me what I am about to live, a second in advance. Just a second.

And it’s all true.

 

For half a minute I am the King of all things. And then… again…

I’m hit.

 

The line of time – the timeline – that is lay out before me, by me, collapses immediately under noteven-close scrutiny. Everything was and is ridiculous, nonsensical… This future that had been crafted that fitted glove-like now appeared to be like the crackpot ramblings of the cat-piss-breathweirds I saw before. For now, they don’t amuse me anymore. I feel hatred and I feel no sympathy for these scums. It won’t last, I know when I’m next out in amongst them, I’ll giggle inwardly at a rogue flailer, escaping with a childlike glee from its carer.

 

I get home and my body purges itself, uncontrolled by my mind or my will, and I rest. Nothing feels completely real for a v v v long while after, not until the next day.

 

HOW OFTEN DO YOU GO THROUGH THIS? ||| Every moment of every time. ||| … ||| What can you do? Relieve me. ||| NOTHING. ||| Help me. ||| NO. EMBRACE THE ALL-KNOWLEDGE. YOU CAN RELIEVE YOU AND YOU CAN RELIVE YOU. RELIVE YOUR OWN DECAY. ||| … .

 

 

WOMB OF ALL THINGS TO DIE

In which The Great Immured thought of himself, sang to himself, trapped himself.

 

Though any future of you and I
Was hastily stored and shut inside
The womb of all things to die,
Still I await you, arms open wide.

And though briefly this foetus came alive
And escaped its home in the deathly bride
The Motherly noose was quickly tied;
The babe now rots in its natal slime.

I swim the lakes of happiness denied
With each stroke I am to defy
Our deceased future over which I have cried
To punish myself in self-righteous, self-spite.

Through this act I manage to say goodbye
To the terminal tumour that engulfs my pride
And though I’ve longed and lusted and tried
I let it go to let it lie.

 

Rick Clarke


Parts One to three here…

Written by Rick Clarke/Illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski





Expanding the Monolith Cocktail’s remit to include more in the way of new literature and poetic musings of a kind, we are pleased to announce the serialization of burgeoning author and rallying beacon of the band Vukovar Rick Clarke’s new novel The Great Immurement. The first three chapters, kindly and perceptively illustrated by the much-respected Andrzej Klimowski, can be found below with an introduction from Monolith Cocktail contributor, budding author in his own right and Vukovar bandmate, Dan Shea.



INTRODUCTION UNDER NO DURESS

It’s not about our friendship or his influence on my own writing – not at all. What you are about to read is the process of years of reduction. It’s easy to vomit a stream of consciousness onto a blank page; far harder to chip the block away into something meaningful.

Rick has written something that, in my view, is beautifully emotive without ever being obvious. I feel he’s a great talent and I’m privileged to call him a friend and have the invitation to write this. Under no duress whatsoever. (Dan Shea)



THE GREAT IMMUREMENT

This is the first and last time there will be grounding in real-life, real-earth. All that flows forth from now is descension, are fever dreams; are misremembered and dismembered recollections of the disordered mind; are actual encounters of the im/possible death of The Great Immured. The six year span of this entrance into the Otherlands is where eternity ends, where the Abdication Of The Body begins.

Let me then create you.

This is the end. This is the start.

Let me then begin this eternal six years. Today is the oldest I will ever be again. I lock ourselves away, I construct no exit and I instruct a way out to those outside, those negligible energies. My name means first and last.

The walls are concrete, the doors are concrete, the windows are concrete. There was a concrete fantasy. I stare straight into the greyness.

There is no-thing here, no descriptions. All that is needed is no-thing; there should never be a need.

When we are immured, when we see it from the inside, we see that all light is absent and all light is present; this retinal pessimism dictates that there is nothing to see, but it’s all that we can see. And then all times are in the mind’s eye.



THE CONCRETE FANTASY




There’s a town. The town in which we lived, actually. At the moment it sickens this irrelevant little God with the halfway devotions to our own aesthetic ideals. It wants/wanted to be a brutalist wasteland, but is as yet, as is now, uncommitted. A place as a partial seizure.

The people are inbred (which is fine) and offer nothing except hedonism (which is fine) which we can get anywhere. We want something less, we want less than nothing.

Of this town, I am thine only saint; the Patron Saint Of The Archaic, and I need my own continuous monument.

We keep looking into the every-greying grey, my stare travels through eight interlocking circles. We decide it can’t be broken, and so, for now, it can’t.

I dream of razing the town in a similar circles, a radius of 13 miles in fact. And I want the garden to be perfectly flat concrete. A Concretopia. A blinding greyness.

In the V V V centre is a building. It’s an imposing concrete cube. There are no windows except one tiny one on each of the four faces. Every one of the four is near the top, right in the middle, so that I can look upon my Winter, my own purgatory. But we never will. There are mirrors in the windows, designed in a miracle way to only have a view as though I were looking from the outside. We only want to look upon my creation.

We hear us think of the inside, but we cut this from our mind. Some of us prefer an illusion, some of us prefer the mystery. Once the unknown becomes known, it can be the Death of Desire. I’d rather suffer from my love of all this because at least this malady has a melody, rather than the emptiness of content. Or maybe all these things all other ways around.

Dim the vision and stop the tape – and now it didn’t happen. The secrets of the secrets are still hidden.



THE VISIBLE MAN




Knock knock? You are all the guest we need.

Knock knock. Okay.

An invisible fist upon my invisible door.

I reach up and out of my invisible chair, turn to the invisible lamp and reluctantly switch it on.

The invisible rays strike my eyes, strike my face and light up my invisible room. It’s unforgivingly vast.

Nothing is real, we offhandedly tell myself. It’s easily forgotten.

My invisible window allows me to peer into the invisible unknown.

I can see the invisible man, flooded by his invisible coat and holding in his invisible hand, an invisible letter.

I take the invisible envelope which contains an invisible message, which should enthral me or at least catch my attention, but I find that it doesnt.

Not much does, not least invisible objects of invisible non-desire.

I sink back into my invisible chair.

In silence, I take up my invisible pen and so begin to scrawl across invisible paper a lackluster response.

Not quite invisible, but not far off. I smile – somewhat – into my invisible mirror and thank an invisible God that I may still see myself.


Author Rick Clarke/Illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski

Novel Extract/Ayfer Simms





An integral part of the Monolith Cocktail team for the last six or more years, cosmopolitan writer Ayfer Simms has contributed countless music/film reviews (Ouzo Bazooka, Pale Honey, Gaye Su Akyol, Murder On The Orient Express, The Hateful Eight) and interviews (Sea + Air, The Magic Lantern) – and even appeared in the video of one of our featured artists (Blue Rose Code).

Taking time away from the blog to focus on her debut novel, A Rumor In Üsküdar, Ayfer has spent the last two years busily working away at a story that encompasses not only the personal (including the death of her father) but the wider psychogeography and geopolitics of her native home of Istanbul.

Born in the outlier pastoral regions of Paris to Turkish parents, Ayfer spent her formative years in France dreaming about following in the travelling footsteps of her great literature love, Agatha Christie. After studying for a degree in literature (writing music reviews on the side), Ayfer moved to Ireland for six years before travelling aboard the famous Trans Siberian railway and settling in Japan. Initially visiting her sister, Ayfer not only stayed indefinitely but also got married and had a daughter. Deciding to attempt a life in Turkey, where the family is originally from, they moved into Ayfer’s great-grandmother’s house in the Üsküdar district, on the Asian banks of the sprawling Istanbul metropolis.

A Rumor In Üsküdar is in many ways autobiographical – the inaugural chapter (which we previewed in March 2019) was inspired by the death of Ayfer’s father a few years back. A familiar setting is given a slightly dystopian mystique and ominous threat by Ayfer who reimagines the Üsküdar neighbourhood of that title being isolated and quarantined by the government, as they test out a piece of (propaganda orchestrated) news on the population.

That’s just the umbrella story; within that setting we have the main character confronted by the country where she originated from imprisoned but ready to face it all; hoping for a wind of change in the face of an ever-dictatorial regime. Escapism comes in the form of backpacking reminisces; Ayfer in this newest chapter, dreaming once more of a trip aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Translated into English from the original French and Turkish language versions, an extract from the Russian travail chapter Five awaits.



Part Five

I’ve never seen anyone run to the fences, passionate themselves about their stolen freedom. Curiosity and indolence prevail. I am limp; I have to admit it with shame. The invisible mace got it right, crushing our potentially rebellious mind. When I think of my state just a few months ago, of my strength then, I remain speechless.

One day when I was about to take the Marmaray, I had managed to avoid having my sports bag scanned. A policeman stopped me and asked me – very politely, after all, he seemed friendly – to back off and put my stuff on the treadmill. I resisted and at his insistence, my rage rose, without daring to completely disobey. As I quickly walked toward the machine, I ran into a large man – I didn’t see his head, just that huge body and his threatening hands swinging towards me – my shoe left my foot while the policeman calmed the man who wanted to stick one on me. Until I got my things back, I grumbled, blowing and mumbling like an old bag.

After I left the scene I trembled as if my guts had been emptied. I didn’t like myself very much at the time, angry as I was, but I remembered the importance of showing my dissatisfaction at these incessant controls. Men are subjected to several paper checks per day, unlike women who are left alone. So there you go, since then I haven’t gotten mad at anyone. At the sight of the armed soldiers, museums transformed into garrisons … I simply stopped reacting, I’ve simply gotten used to it, I fell silent, I’ve preferred my immediate comfort, my bubble. I knew I would get out of it if I wanted to. I’ve fled too much since, always, as soon as things gorged, I took my leave indeed. Leaving is my specialty. However, being forced to stay somewhere, to face it, I’ve always dreamed of it.

It was in Russia that I had this longing suddenly. That of staying put and facing up to things. Up to then, I would only look beyond my window. Dreaming of going far, of dragging my legs on dusty roads. High school history teacher: “My nephew who is your age (17 years old) has just left for Russia to take the Trans Siberian Railway”. I opened my eyes wide and my mouth just slightly, as if struck by lightning, then the idea immediately settled in a corner of my brain. 27 years later, with a friend I’ve embarked on the Trans-Siberian.

Then, it is in Ekaterinburg. 1600 kilometres from Moscow with more than a million inhabitants that I realized I envied those who can’t run away.

Perhaps it was a bit sad and macabre that I had these thoughts on the land where the last Tsar and his family were executed. However, I had not immediately thought of that. As soon as I set foot in the murky city amidst drunken people, I felt a physical void. Our host, Olga was living in a building among others in a housing estate riddled with graffiti. From her window, I had noticed that at almost 11 p.m., it was still as bright as the day. The apartment belonged to Olga’s mother. There was the photo of a soldier on the wall: he seemed absent. My friend was fiddling with her bag for a while. She was preparing to take a shower. Olga called us for dinner before she had the time and we settled at the table. The blue walls reminded me of my parents. I heard the tinkling of the spoons in the tea glasses. I had my shoulder pressed against Olga’s smooth wall, just like I did when I was little. Our kitchen when I was young amalgamated with Olga’s one. It is in Russia that I thought of it so deeply. When Olga put a dish of meat before me, I was already wondering why I excelled at fleeing.

TO BE CONTINUED…



Previous Chapter Extracts:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

NOVEL PREVIEW
Words: Ayfer Simms




Until recently a regular contributor to the Monolith Cocktail, Ayfer Simms has taken time away from the blog to concentrate on finishing her debut novel, A Rumor In Üsküdar. Living with her husband and daughter in the same region of that title, in the sprawling metropolis that is Istanbul, Ayfer moved back into the family home after her father was unfortunately taken ill: later passing away. Within a wider context of political hostility in Turkey (bordering on the dystopian), the process of grieving is explored both evocatively and metaphysically by Ayfer in what is a semi-biographical, semi-alternative futuristic geopolitical purview of her home country and home city.

We’ve so far been proud to feature three extracts from A Rumor In Üsküdar. Part four in this series of previews from the book is both a real and metaphorical archeologist dig into the problems facing modern Turkey. A psychogeography you could say; one that merges veiled fantasy versions of a political cast and events.

 

Part Four:

Mrs. Muazzez must now be at least 100 years old or perhaps older. Specialized in Sumerian culture, she has a vast knowledge in all archeological matters. In 2006, at the age of 92, she was accused of hating the state: for having published a book on the wearing of the veil. She claimed that the custom came from the Sumerians, priestesses initiating young people to sexual practices.

Veysel pulled his hair no doubt and put the veil back in its place. He is not crazy, however, and did not incarcerate the centenary. Mrs. Muazzez lives on the European side in an old house that looks like a museum. She has an unprecedented passion for Veysel’s dead rival, Mustapha. At her age, she saw the former statesman shake the country and give a bit of a voice to women (mostly privileged ones).

 

370 days after the beginning of the excavations under the Bosphorus, the digging got interrupted by the discovery of Byzantine vessels, silver coins, cooking utensils and other trinkets. Skeletons have also resurfaced that day. What we did with them I do not know. I did not see them at the Istanbul Archeology Museum, at least not yet. Time erases the status of humanity, everyone knows it. The Üsküdar wharf was then disemboweled in a hurry, in a rush, because there was a lot of money to lose. The Japanese were politely impatient: they wanted to finish there anti seismic tunnel and leave at once.

I was not yet in Istanbul during these works, but I arrived just in time to see the opening of the new Marmaray line. The train station was planted in the middle of the ruins; the rest was covered with earth, after taking pictures that were hung on the walls leading to the turnstiles. The archaeologists spread coffee all over their shirt to save everything, but they were hungry and witnessed the swallowing of the site with cold sweats.

Since the opening of the line that joins Asia to Europe under the sea, several years have passed while work continues everywhere. Large shopping centers, widening of the wharf and other projects make the wound still fresh.

I see from time to time the black casings rising from the cement, the glowing stones – are they old? I try to guess what is hidden in the old earth, hoping also to discover the Byzantines or the traces of the life of those who walked on this patch before us. It’s a stealthy look that I throw nevertheless. I check over my shoulder that the mud spits out its piece.

 

An object has however made its appearance during the excavations and the rumors reach us only now. Turkish archaeologists – those who are not in cahoots with the government in power, or who are unaware of the impact of their discovery, or who are conscious of having to protect it at all costs – are scientifically eager to let the international scene know: on they pass it to a French specialist team. The results of which, we have only echoes despite discretion, suggest that this is something likely to displease the President of the Republic Veysel. The latter also ordered to stop the excavations, the object in question would have been confiscated upon the return of archaeologists and they were obliged to “resign”. It is impossible for us to know if this news is true or if it is the propaganda tool of the opponents of Veysel or is invented by its own entourage to make a diversion on other fundamental subjects. As nonsense is commonplace, we believe everything and we believe nothing.

The president is not afraid of anything. But, it is said, bad tongues – that he is afraid of his wife. She let him put his head on her knees, and ask her to recite prayers to appease his troubles and ill moods.

She whispers to him “God is great and he is behind you”.

It is said that he has seizures of depression. That he happens to be confused. That he sometimes does not believe in God.

That he has shoeboxes full of money.

That he has nightmares. That one hears him exclaim in the morning: “I killed God !!”

In the opacity of the still deep night, he murmurs, “I’m the greatest”, at the same time he beats with all his might his chest like a furious gorilla. He takes an ax and strikes God in the face. No more reverence. Veysel knocks, beats the air and collapses. They say he sleeps badly. We understand why. How can you sleep well after doıng what he does? He looks terrible, yet his cancer is healed – his cancer is also hidden – but his complexion remains pale and faded. Is he cured, really? Like a superhuman defying all the viruses feared by all of us? The emotions shake him and it is visible in his features. He is agitated. But he does not die of illness like his population.

Veysel feels great but lost. He has reflexes of a believer and has shaped his image on Islam. Islam is its legitimacy. He must perhaps now go beyond religion to remain powerful.

Why say such a thing? It would cost a lot to anyone who dares saying that kind of thing: Unless it’s a rumor. The object accidentally extracted from the depths of the Bosphorus, or rather from the banks of the Bosphorus, would put an end to the monotheistic religions, they say. They would put these religions in the class of superstitions or medieval folklore. This book/object (we do not know anything more) would be like the famous comet that put an end to dinosaurs.

Veysel is naked without his religion. We imagine that it would be his end. That, however, we still have trouble believing it. The danger is that he does not give up so easily. He would continue to urge women to have four children, to avoid laughing out loud, to be modest in all sense of the term.

I look over my shoulder. Watch a smart shark spring from the waters of the Bosphorus to swallow me for thinking these things. The Bosphorus swallowed me once; I fell in it when I was 4 years old. My parents’ friend fished me out before anyone noticed I was gone. I do not remember. It left me with a fear of algae and everything that swarms in the undulating mass. The second time in 1999, the sea caused an earthquake of 8.7 on the Richter scale and claimed 17,000 lives. That summer, my apartment in Kozyatagi was scorching with heat. It was one of those summers that we could only spend dozing. I was bored. Birant had decided to leave me without telling me openly by planning a holiday to the south. I had hoped he would not leave me behind, but I read it in his eyes.

The evening of the earthquake, I drank wine, alone. When I was ready to go to bed, drunk, and feverish I was like Veysel facing a dilemma: to be independent and turn the page over Birant or continue my pathetic grip. When I decided to leave Turkey, Veysel was put in prison for 4 months for reciting a poem judged to be inciting religious hatred.

When I came back some twenty years later, as it happens it is him who boxed us all in.

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