15 September, 2010
Anyway I got an old Zap Comix on my knee on the bus when I hear on my walkman radio the Eiffel Tower has a giant, disc-shaped aircraft hovering on top of it. You remember that lyric from Blonde on Blonde, 'like a mattress balancing on a bottle of wine'? Yeah, that was me and France's national monument. I could see it and suddenly I was sat on the sharpest edge of the world, I couldn't sit down. I immediately stood up and yelled 'STOP THE BUS THE ALIENS ARE HERE' and only one other guy looked at me like I wasn't having a comedown like no other (I've never done drugs, I only want the performance enhancing ones the CIA used in the 60s).
Know how I knew it was an alien invasion? Me and my buddies were talking shit through last week when I got home late from my dishwashing job and maybe it was the fact I'd de-greased the dishwash and inhaled loads of fumes, I felt totally fucked up until I'd had a few pints of Pepsi, or maybe it was the fact that it's 1995, the internet is OPEN FOR BUSINESS and suddenly we're discovering computers are pretty much the greatest creation in humanity, limitless untapped potential that we can do pretty much anything with. And these fuckers knew that we knew, and decided we had definitely got far enough in our journey of self discovery and that it was time to go back to Egypt, back to Anubis who was an alien god himself, and the rest of the suits from Langley Virginia would go live in 16 Cygni (close enough to hit us at warp-speed but far enough that human supplies will never last long enough for us to bring the fight to them) and rule us from afar, as they had been done ever since J Edgar Hoover first made contact after taking a day trip to Roswell in 1953 and seeing for the first time what the rest of the world will now be forced to see.
I pity these people. They don't know a thing about aliens, they all go to work every day and watch soap operas and sit with their kids at home and go and rent Aliens from the video shop at the weekend and scare themselves shitless but you know what's scariest about that? THOSE ALIENS COULDN'T FLY. Didn't even have a spaceship, they just burst out like 'Surprise! Here's my head shaped like your cock and I'm MADE OF BONE AND ACID!' These aliens have a ship, probably a hierachy of command and undoubtedly the co-operation of the US government. We learnt at the weekend that if you type 'bombing' or 'terrorism' or some other shit like that into the internet the CIA AUTOMATICALLY HACKS YOUR LINE and watches your conversation. Jez tried it and his computer flickered a bit. He said 'That happens a lot, it's a shit old monitor and my dad won't get me a new one' but you know what? No such thing as a coincidence. None.
I turn on the driver before I leave the bus. 'Have you heard? France is being invaded by aliens.' The bus driver checks his watch and says 'They'll probably have surrendered by midday then eh?' and a load of people hear and start laughing. Tossers. We're all off to get fucking nuked by a superior race and all they can do is sit on a bus and laugh at the French. Jez isn't stupid. He'll have a shop with a basement and we can sit down there. I get my tape recorder out. 'Memo: Make sure Jez has a bog that works. We'll be living down there for months.' I click and save. The little red light flashes and it already feels like we're up against it. I've come prepared this morning though. Did my daily shit before I left for work for a change and didn't rush my toast and tea. I almost feel like I knew.
Walking down the high street just round the corner from Jez's place, a news bulletin on Radio 4: a massive round aircraft has been positioned above the White House. Aides are rushing to evacuate the President and First Lady.
That's it then. What are you supposed to do when they land a spaceship on the President's house? It's so devastatingly simple I'm surprised it's never been tried before. Of course there are literally hundreds of Stealth bombers patrolling Washington DC but they've probably just cloaked their way in there, that's the first thing you'd invent if you were to mount an airborne attack on a planet. They do it with land vehicles in C&C, I can't believe we don't have any weaponry like that lying around somewhere. I don't wish harm on anyone but really shit would just be better if people actually paid attention to real-time strategy games. We should be up to like Tesla-capable weaponry and Philadelphia Experiment teleportation by now, that's not even the good weaponry either. As it is we still love the M16 and C4, stuff we were basically using on Communists in the Seventies. The Army have just got lazy. I pretty much run down the remainder of the high street and turn the corner, where I knock over this old man by accident. He's so grey, he has this grey jacker past his waist with a sheepskin collar and grey trousers and his hair is thin and grey too. 'He's soylent green, leave him' I think to myself, but I stop anyway and grab him by the elbows. He yells in pain and shouts at me in this husk of a voice 'You stupid boy, I have arthritis! Can't you be a bit more bloody careful?!' He taps at my shins with his walking stick and I think he's testing out the fortitude of my legs sp he can come and nick them when we're all malnourished and living in bomb shelters ('Shit', I realise, 'he's got the edge on me here, he's probably already lived through one war') when I realise he's actually just trying to hit me in frustration. 'I'm trying to help you, do you know there's a spaceship on top of the White House right now?' I say, exasperated. 'Shut up you fat little boy, you'd probably find it easier to slow down if you lost a bit of weight,' he wheezes. 'Oh fuck off,' I say. You're going to be puree for the hybrid homo-alien baby factories!' I grab his walking stick off him and chuck it into the road, where it hits a cyclist in the face. He nearly crashes into a bin and screams 'TWAT!' at me. I scream 'DEADMAN!' back and run to Jez's on the corner. I check my watch and barrel inside.
A lot of customers are in there. The place is genuinely pretty busy, and Jez has a big smile on his face chatting away with these two pretty girls with pink and red hair respectively about Harvey Pekar. Won't be any customers in about four hours Jez, time to man the fucking barricades. I rush round the counter and grab the collar of his Amazing X-Men t-shirt. His girlfriend Ellie bought him that when they went to Los Angeles with her mum and dad. Jez said he'd never been happier, so I killed Ellie's guinea pig and said Jez overfed it. To be honest, they weren't getting married so what was the problem? Plus she did get a lot of looks from other guys, she would've dumped him eventually. Jez never found out it was me.
'Jez, turn the radio on. It's happening.'
Jez looks a bit unnerved and smiles uncomfortably. 'What are you talking about?'
'Get the radio on. What have you got? Transistor? Anything will do.' I look on the shelves for his base for music.
'It's a CD player Will, I haven't got a radio in the shop. What's going on?'
I look at the customers. A few of them have stopped looking at the shelves and are now looking at us.
'Alien invasion Jez. Aliens in France. Aliens in D.C. They'll get the Prez, it's a matter of time.'
'D.C? The Prez?' Jez chuckles at me. 'You're not American Will, your dad's from Mansfield. Are you ready to start work?' He looks at me hopefully. Oh God Jez. I'm sorry, this is one of those 'corrective measures' that we all joke about whilst talking about US international policy in the 1960s. I brush my hair out of my face and breathe deeply.
'Jez. Close the fucking shop. We're going to be nuked.' I turn to the customers. They're all looking at me now. Some of them look geninely alarmed. A heavy shadow falls across my heart as I realise that almost all of these people will be dead in hours.
'All right! All of you fuck off! We're closed! Get out!' I start herding people towards the door. There's a few loud mutters of discontent and someone shouts 'Go and have a shower you fat sweaty bastard'. You'll be having a shower mate, of the nuclear variety I think as I haul people out of the door one by one.
'STOP!' I turn around and so do a few customers and we all look at Jez, who looks pretty pissed off actually.
'Will, what the HELL do you think you're doing?'
I tap my Walkman. 'Alien invasion. France and America have already fallen. It's only a matter of time before they come for Britain. We have to get inside! Have you got a basement?'
Jez shakes his head. 'No, Only a storage room upstairs.'
I don't believe this. I've played through so many FPSs with Jez that I would've PRESUMED that he knew when the shit hits the fan, the basement is the best and easiest place to defend precisely because of its underground position. I throw my hands up in exasperation and catch a whiff of myself. Maybe that guy was right.
'Jez, we need to turn this place into a fucking fortress. Have you got supplies? A kitchen? A toilet? Pulldown bed or sofa or something? Because you will need ALL OF THIS in about three hours time and I'm giving you the heads-up now.' This guy would be dead without me, I think as I wrestle someone away from the door. They've left their purse apparently.
Jez comes round the counter and I can see by the look in his eye that we're finally on the same wavelength. Best friends since we met in high school. Since I met him. Didn't see his friends much after that really. 'Will,' he begins. I raise an eyebrow. The plan is on.
'You're a fucking twat. This is Milton Keynes. Why would an alien invasion come here? I don't have a toilet, I go to the Crown round the corner where I get my lunch and use theirs. They're fine with it. Let these customers back in and fuck off.'
I'm stunned. I'm honestly lost for words, and a haze sort of descends over me. As I stand in silence in the early morning heat, treetops swaying and a helicopter buzzing overhead, I think about my next move. Is there a basement at the library? Bad idea I realise; it's round the corner from a petrol station. Massive explosions. I can see Jez's lips moving but it's almost as if the nukes have already gone off. My hearing is drowned out by a tinny whistling sound. Then it all comes back in a flood.
'-seeing Ellie tonight so don't bother calling round. And don't bother coming back for work tomorrow. You're sacked.'
Their fighters don’t have shields, they don’t shoot green lasers, they’re not as fast or manoeuvrable as ours. Everyone I know has signed up for this shit. How often do you get to feel like a character in a computer game, in real life, really?
But then the Humans do some weird fucking magic thing, and I hear how all our forces on Earth have been wiped out in seconds, the last of my life because we, on this mother ship, are next to go.
29 October, 2009
Down the stairs he runs, and when he sees his sister at the bottom he stops for a moment, growling a threat, then leaps up and knocks her to the floor. “Get off me you brat!” she starts to say, but he tears her throat right out, and the words with it. He’s eating her words, he thinks. Funny.
The next thing is his mum’s new coat, the blue one with the brass buttons. He heard her talking about how much it cost, and now he has to take it apart to see for himself. He swipes at it with his claws and it disintegrates like wet tissue paper. “Max!” comes a cry from the next room; his mum must have found his sister’s body. He rushes down the hall and into the kitchen, where he leaps on to the table and sends the crockery flying in all directions. Smash, smash, smash it all goes, except that he’s howling so loudly that he can’t hear it.
“Max!” his mum is in the doorway now, her face a luxurious purple. “What are you doing?! Stop doing that!” He rolls along the table and falls on to the floor; he scrabbles among the fragments of broken crockery, but his mum is too fast. She grabs him by the scruff of his wolf’s neck and hoists him up into a painful two-legged standing position. “You’re going straight to your room you monster!” Then she carries him there. He passes his sister on the way up; she’s clutching her throat, but it seems like she’ll survive after all.
18 October, 2009
BE STILL I say to YOU!!!
My rooms’ walls fall and grow; the jungles of the Amazon are nothing.
Deep within there’s a boat. I sail, almost forever, leaving behind suppers and mothers.
When I get where I’m going I will be KING.
12 October, 2009
White coats are thronged around a long table and a man with enormous glasses is stood at one end periodically observing some movement unseen to my eyes, before writing something on a clipboard. In the corner are soiled rags, they are a used grey; the smell is a sharp rusted something I can’t quite place. A woman has been tossed aside and now lays whispering obscenities just out of earshot. She is grinning. Her bloodied genitals are a point of interest for a passing spider; it begins to make his home between her lips… Outside the door, a tiny pair of eyes lurk as much description takes place on the ‘birth of the new age.’ I creep between two doctors and peer at the filthy table; I have seen this child before, dropped out of a plane, sailing between mountains towards an ancient city. You are the destroyer of worlds, say the doctors, tickling its chin (if it had one)…
Here we are downtown, in the Manhattan Project, and in front of me, in the immaculately manicured garden outside Walt Disney’s white picketed home, I can see Snow White silently watching a rocket lacerating the sky… in the gutter, a junky I saw once buying ice cream for some kid, rubbing up on that kid, getting his stink all over the kid’s face and hands, picks at the pockets of a man who has pushed a beautiful woman against a brick wall and is making violent thrusting motions at her ass… He turns to the junky for a moment and hands him his wallet, stuffed with green; I can see a hammer and sickle burnt into his fleshy hand. ‘Kennedy’s the name,’ I overhear him say, ‘and if you need any more of that, I’m the man to see. I just need a favour from you… Let me finish up here and we can talk.’ The man named Kennedy turns back to the ecstatic woman and resumes thrusting.
A country with a model number. A brain like a car engine. The country is a factory, and I don’t have a member’s card. Those eyes are back.
I turn to my left; some rotten smell seeps through a white wooden door and thin tendrils of wet grey fog ooze through and around the cracks; the scene is an American kitchen, and a guy with slimy black hair and a huge bulbous nose stands here, my God is he ugly, so ugly he could only be a dick or a junky, or a junky operating as a dick, or vice versa (interested readers should note the use of dick here to connote police; and furthermore be aware the level of junkie police is reaching frankly absurd proportions; I confidently predict we’ll be buying from the police in five years) and the guy stands here talking about furniture with another man who treats Ugly Dick and his guided kitchen tour with the kind of good manners that best reveal sneering contempt for that person. Both of them ignore the incinerated child stood in the centre of the black and white panelled tile floor (and now the eyes have a face, but not much of one), and Ugly Dick seems to be checking the other guy’s sidesteps to and from black to white. Dick never moves from white, I note with interest. A large camera tries to worm its way up my ass and I kick the operator full in the face; MCCARTHY says the man’s ticket…did I ever fucking drop something…
Ugly Dick points to something called a dishwasher and gurns at the other guy (note: Dick is speaking slowly and clearly, and the other guy does a lot of nodding and not much else, and now Dick addresses him as Mr Khrushchev) and who’s this guy in the corner, wearing a thick grey suit with his face all red. SAFIRE says the ticket, I don’t know what’s he got to do with all this. Maybe he sells home appliances.
I back out of the kitchen as Dick points at a gigantic refrigerator. The two of them open the door together, and a lot of cameras go off at the point two frozen corpses dressed in army fatigues land on Dick’s shoulder; he stumbles back and Mr Khrushchev masks a laugh with a cough into his red handkerchief. Dick handles the situation with aplomb; ‘Gentlemen,’ he says turning to the press, ‘this is Charles and Dale. They’ve just dropped by to pay their respects.’ A roar goes up amongst the clicking crowd. Back over to the subway and that spoon is still there, years old now, and a squad of coppers has surrounded the spoon; the spoon is under duress and is begging for a break. I vault the turnstile and skimbleskamble down stairs that become darker with each tearing breath I take. My brain has clocked out and it’s not even dawn; but who’s this, a square chunk of flesh made to order; this is the new factory, this is what we build now. He’s got the door and the sports; THE YANKEES WIN AGAIN. I wheel through ninety degrees and that was too much; something like vomit leaves my stomach and launches into orbit. I don’t stick around for a safe landing, but by the caterwauling around my ears I can tell that it’s Mission Accomplished. I make one small step to the left, one giant leap over the tracks and catch a train downtown just as the lab coat and his squad of live corpses arrive hollering and yowling. The subway is moving.
23 September, 2009
“Like snowflakes,” my parents said, “no two human faces are the same.”
When you first hear this you ask what about identical twins?
Now I ask who cares.
You see so many they all merge into one, an every-face; a buzzing mash of grease, sinew, eyeball and fat. You give up on voices, then faces. This is how they get you.
There’s a reason they’re called the heat. I feel them, can’t spot the faces.
They’ve got the spoon and dropper I dropped, but I get away on the subway.
20 September, 2009
This is going to require a concession on my part. More than one, even. I begin by divesting myself of the incriminating materials: the not-so-silver-anymore spoon goes southwards at the station entrance, which I leave behind like I was never there, sailing over the turnstile with movie-star panache. One problem: my sheer inherent gravitas makes lying low an all-but-impossible proposition. Wherever I go, there I am, usually making some kind of God-awful scene and working the clear-eyed, clean-limbed onlookers of Americaville into a toxic lather. Speaking of which, this fellow here, the one propping the door open, fits the bill like he was the original model: aerodynamic, government-approved haircut; a suit that looks like it was fashioned by human hands, rather than shitted out by a cloth-eating monster from the sewers; and a smile as wide and white as the jawbone of a killer whale. I spit something not quite blood-coloured on his Italian loafers and his teeth swell up like concrete water wings.
Some lab-coated narc is on my tail, shouting unintelligible threats and brandishing what appears to be a bloody corkscrew, at least from the back of my head, where my vision isn’t as keen. I tell him to go lose himself somewhere; I have an appointment in the desert in one hour and if I’m late they’ll flood the place with radiation—the kind that makes your extremities shrivel up and die, leaving only a torso and a deflated football for a head. He doesn’t even try to get the picture. Sensing an impending altercation, I leap across the tracks, just in time to catch onto the back end of a passing train, which tears me away down darkened tunnels at a speed that defies scientific explanation. The narc calls after me, but the only noise I hear is the frenzied rending of stale subway air. The next stop is home; it has to be.