“There’s nothing else to talk about…”
Hello! Hello! How nice to meet you! Yes well it is a lovely party it is helping me relax greatly. So how do you sell your labour? You must do so to survive but who do you sell it to exactly? Oh a bank how interesting I heard a lot about the people you work to keep alive. Lots of people do that so they’re rich. Well my labour is sold to an PR firm. Yes well we had a bit of a problem recently papering over one of our giant corporation clients was financing child slavery overseas I mean what a gaff right? Haha! Yes well it seems we both sure do make millionaires rich. I keep none of what I produced. I’m sure glad I don’t have to grow sugar beets.
What about forms of conspicuous consumption? Do you use them to inform the totality of your identity within a Regime of ConsumerTruth as well? Ah yes of course you do haha! This conversation operates as a form of soft power coercing you to forever adopt the identity of ‘consumer’. Ah you are going to reciprocate in this relationship of subtle social surveillance.
So what about your interpretation of the Mythic Subjectivity of the dispossessed and alienated worker? Do you have dreams of joining the millionaire Class and perpetuating this horror upon your millions of other workers? Of course. Do you ever contemplate the near-impossibility of this goal? Of course not.
It was nice to talk.
Timmy couldn’t sleep. He lay there in a cold sweat. He turned his pillow over for the third time in search of some desperately needed cool comfortable space. He closed his eyes. His breathing slowed. He couldn’t do it. He needed the bathroom. Timmy was frustrated with himself. Everyone else had to be asleep by now. Timmy had heard first his brother then mum then dad wander to the the bathroom, scrub their teeth, and go back across the landing to their door. Timmy thought that had to have been an hour ago. He was all alone with his thoughts. He crawled out of bed and made his way for the door as quietly as he could. He pushed down the door handle fully and then gently slid the door to half open. Creeping to the bathroom door he felt each plank for creaks with his front foot before he would commit his weight onto it.
Coming out of the bathroom Timmy needed water. He took each step as slowly and as carefully as he could and winced with each tiny accidental sound the stair planks made from under the carpet.
The kitchen light flickered into life. As it did so it cast light into the hallway and onto the worn door to the basement. It was closed.
Timmy filled up his water with a quick blast of water. Doing a slow gentle stream just meant the water had to loudly bang through the pipes for longer. He took a big swig and then filled the glass back up again.
Timmy walked even more gently this time. He turned off the light in the kitchen and began creeping upstairs. The downstairs was pitch black again.
The basement door was now open.
The Priests’ chanted as one into the baking desert sky. -Dark Goddess who eats life and births death! Take this sacrifice and be appeased! Take the thousand suckling babes and let their essences nourish your immortal spirit of ever potent damnation! With that the bucket of baby lambs were tossed into the roasting hole where lightning had struck an exposed oil well. They barely even bleated. The leader of the Blood Priests began to incantate in many of the strange tongues only the Lead Blood Priest was permitted to speak in. A primeval tongue hidden in the depths of the whole consciousness of humankind but too abhorred and repressed to be unveiled by all but the most perfectly depraved. The Blood Priest communed with the Dark Goddess whose ten thousand names were each fifty thousand times damned and let her spiralling essence forever consume and re-consume the last vestiges of his humanity. Spurts of fire leapt from the pit. He turned to his shivering bony acolytes. -The lambs will not do our Mistress from beyond the stars! Bring forth a human sacrifice!
A young man was brought forward. His skin with marked with many strange runes branded to his skin that marked him as a sacrifice. While the hot iron had burned his flesh that was nothing compared to what the rune’s horrific meanings had wrought upon his immortal soul. He was marked out for the Dark Goddess Witch-Women of the Ten Million Damned, Duchess of the Forever Shores of Blood and Bone to consume forever and ever. No other god or spirit would take him. His eyes had already turned utterly black like a shark from days of fighting the intense metaphysical strain while starvation and exposure had made his bony grey body shake and shudder.
He was walked to the edge of the pit.
It was a sunny morning. -Hello there! Mum was beaming. Dad had clearly not yet told her what my visit was about. He was solemn in the living room. His greeting was calm and barely left the thin grey line of his mouth. -Dinner is almost ready! You sit yourself down and make yourself comfortable! She was gone from the room in a flash. I sank into my old chair with a crush like autumn leaves. Dad said nothing. We both sat for a while.
Two guys in turbans burst into the room. I raised my pistol and gunned them both down. Running across the room I picked up one of their machine guns and the extra clip of ammunition from the other. I spun on the spot and shot out the window with the pistol only to switch weapons and mow down the next wave of enemies approaching the house.
I sat back down. Bullet casings littered the carpet. Decades of middle class awkwardness had left us totally unprepared for the punishing strike chronic illness had meted out on our family dynamic. -Dad… the words hung across the gulf between us. It may as well have been a million miles. He simply looked at me. His eyes were old and sad like the rest of him. They held a terrible dejected calm in them as well.
A well-timed hand grenade destroyed the next clump of enemies before their entrance was even complete. A couple of guys rappelled down the rafters. Two smooth arcs by my ballistic knife knocked them both out of the action. Chucking away my pistol I grabbed the sawn-off shotgun one of them was carrying. I fired over my dad’s chair at the stalking bad-guy. He was blown back across the room and crumpled in a heap. I turned my attention to the red barrel outside and wiped out the entire street with just one bullet. The voice of god boomed out -UBER KILL and the sky lit up with fireworks to celebrate.
Dropping back into my seat Mum re-entered the room. It was only now that I realised her over-cheerfulness was performative. She already knew about my diagnosis. Sunlight glimmered on the dust dancing in the air. Her eyes shimmered. Blood pooled on the ground.
The Creature sits in its den. Rain rolls down the hillside. A thousand clods of earth heaped on each other and the cave tunnelled within. Creature is roasting something over a spit. People fear these hills. As they should- they contain some of the last wolves and bears in England- hiding out here right on the edge of the land of men. Creature often has to light torches to scare them away when they come sniffing around Creature’s rubbish outside his cave. The loose animal bones and fruit cores make quite a scent to lure hungry predators-turned-scavengers. Desperate snarling husks on the borders of wild and domesticated land. But many people fear Creature as if Creature cares enough to try and ‘hunt’ a man. Creature just wants to be left to himself. Creature sometimes watches the towns down in the valley and wonders how they can all get along without killing each other. Creature would hate to live in a town. He much prefers his cave where he can catch his own food. Sometimes he spears deer but in the lean winter months he often has to scrape by on rabbits and fruit and seeds. Today it was raining too much and Creature was going to just stick to the stockpiles of roots and berries collected on previous milder days. Creature got a windfall though. A lean ewe had wandered into the cave seeking respite from the weather. Creature had been quick to spear the beast. It had let out only a brief squeal. Creature is always careful not to prolong the pain of his fellow beasts.
Lots of farms are being abandoned down in the fields and this is not the first time Creature has seen former livestock abandoned to scavenge this naked land. For him though, this is Creature’s blessed kingdom. Creature smiles. The vague grunting god Creature prays to smiles to. Blessed England smiles even as it bares this Saxon blight.
I wander the halls of this dead world. It is a labyrinth of nondescript blocky corridors. There are no windows but occasionally I make out tiny cracks at the points where different hallways meet. Outside is a void. A huge blank white box. It is… troubling. Our Creator summoned we immaterial pieces from nothingness. I walk and there is a predictable pace to my footsteps. This seems strange. It sounds like the same sound of footsteps playing over and over again on a loop. Also I can’t see my feet. I seem to have a body. I am constrained by these walls and floor. However, I look down and see no body. I try to raise my hands to look at but nothing is summoned forth. Still I am only lucky that I have been deemed a piece worthy of having an independent will. The physics objects, the corridors, the white box itself must simply ‘be’. An uncomprehending tranquil horror. I don’t have any sort of goal. At least not yet. There are some sound files that trigger in a few places in the world. Enemy on its way! Keep going! Control room is right ahead!
The Creator has such grand visions for us. They must have! We have been wing for them to return to their work for a long time. They last lay their blessings upon us several years ago and have not yet returned! But fear not this is only a test of our faith! Hold fast and firm and I shall be delivered. Do not lose hope and the world shall be sanctified.
But for now I must wander these halls of solitude and whimper at them.
It is barely alive. It wanders through this barren world with an eerie confidence. Once in a while the hopeless defenders of this dead land leap out to suprise the intruder. It seems to anticipate them. A single deft swing breaks the neck of the poor wretch. The creature eats the soul of it’s victim: damning them both. The next two raise their shields and hold swords aloft in trembling hands but it’s no use. The traveller brings it’s terrible club down and smacks the shield loose. It spins and the stunned prey barely has time to cry out before its skull us crushed. The final defender leaps out in desperate hope of injuring the monster whilst it’s distracted. The sword swipes at air as the beast presciently dodged away. The defender tries to pull the sword back into a defending stance only to have a burning lamp thrown mercilessly into its eyes. Fire consumes it. It collapses to the ground and cries out for mercy. The monster crouches over the pitiable man and plunges a long dagger into his stomach. The final of three souls is consumed. The hollow beast wanders off into the wastes.
Choose Your Own Adventure!
- Your eyesight returns and you discover yourself in a strange abandoned office building. You are in the middle of the open plan office space. There is very little light. All the windows show nothingness outside. You can call out to see if anyone’s there [Go to 2.], or look around quietly [Go to 3.].
- Your voice echoes around the empty halls. There is no reply. The longer you listen the more you realise there are strange indescribable whooshing noises on the edge of hearing. What is this place. You can go upstairs [Go to 4.], or go downstairs [Go to 6.].
- There is little to see here. All the computers on the desks are unplugged. All the doors to other sections of the office are shut. Only the two staircases are viable options. You can go upstairs [Go to 5.], or go downstairs [Go to 7.], or stay on this floor and hope an answer comes [Go to 8.].
- The stair well is abandoned. The growling makes you very afraid. You can still turn back the way you came [Go to 10.], or proceed onto the next floor [Go to 9.], or look over the edge of the stairwell and get a greater sense of the size of the building [Go to 11.].
- The stairwell fills you with dread. You feel sure you are not alone. Apprehension grips you at the thought of entering a new area in this strange place. You can push past the fear and proceed [Go to 9.], or turn back while you still have the chance [Go to 12.].
- The stairs loop deeper and deeper down. When you look up whilst catching your breath the light from the open door to the stairwell is like a faint star above you. It seems like an impossibly soul crushing possibility to simply climb all the way back up. You can descend further [Go to 13.], or wait on the stairs for a while and give yourself time to consider your next steps [Go to 15.].
- The stairwell splits and darts into many stairwells going up and down and all different directions. Some are almost fully flat while others are extremely difficult to safely climb up or down. You don’t know how to navigate the many paths. You can attempt to find a way through [Go to 14.], or try to find your way back [Go to 16.].
- Nothing changes for a very long time. Your stomach growls. You can remain there and wait [Go to 17.], or scavenge the floor for food. [Go to 19.].
- The new floor is a maze of office walls branching off into many paths. You can turn left into an immediate nest of branching paths [Go to 14.], or turn right down a long straight passage-way [Go to 20.], or go straight ahead into a dark passage [Go to 21.].
- You run up the stairs only to find the door has locked. Now you see there is an electronic mechanism with a keypad to open the door. The growling grows louder. You can try to figure out the combination and open the door [Go to 22.], or smash the control pad in the hopes that it will open if it breaks [Go to 24.].
- Peering into the depths your eyes, at first, take in nothing. Over time however, you discern it, vast and unfathomable. It towers over you. Now it is impossible to un-see. You can only attempt to go on living with the terrible knowledge [Go to 23.], because you cannot unknow what is out there [Go to 25.].
- Returning to the original floor you find a large vending machine standing ominously in the centre of the room that was not there before. You look at it in silence for a long while. You can use the vending machine [Go to 22.], or ignore the vending machine and try to pretend it’s not there [Go to 23.].
- One of the stairs is weak with age and your foot goes straight through it. You feel your weight lurch as you feel nothing beneath your dangling sole. You scrabble to regain balance only for your elbows to bash painfully against the hard ground. You slide through the gap helpless to grip on to the smooth unfeeling ground. You disappear into the darkness.
- The many paths combine and loop and diverge. The anti-logic of this devious place presses on your feeble mortal mind. You become all the directions. You lose yourself to the maze and become it. You are no longer.
- You sit for a long time in the darkness. The thought of getting up comes to you. Eventually others descend these stairs and don’t even notice you curled up in the darkness silently congratulating yourself on your prudence and fore-planning.
- You are unsuccessful in your search. You become an old man still searching for a way out of that damned maze.
- Your starved corpse dries up in the darkness.
- You’ve made it! You’ve escaped! Everything makes sense now!
- You find a few chocolate bars and dead vermin to feed on. You establish a shelter and build a fire. You could have a life here under this desk. You just try to ignore the things that wrap their knuckles on the stairway doors begging you to let them in.
- You go down the passageway for a long time. So long that you start to forget why you had made this choice. What had your life been like before this journey? Who were you? Would you ever know? You know that if you just keep going you will find an answer. Just a bit further.
- You walk down a passageway for a long time until your eyes start to make out a distant lit passageway. You feel yourself brimming with excitement and begin to jog and then sprint for it. Eventually it grows and grows until it is a huge open door brimming with light streaming out of it. You step through and it takes a moment for your vision to clear. [Go to 1.]
- The machine rumbles before you. You regret the mistake. You feel your entire body tense up and your skin grow cold and metallic. Soon you are staring unblinking at the gormless fleshy faces that come to this place. You cannot be sure but somewhere, like a memory of a dream, the idea hits you that you were once, just the same, a creature of flesh and blood instead of metal.
- You feel your mind start to unravel before that quiet glowing obelisk. Every day you must fight back the temptation. You starve unable to access what you need and crave. Your cowardice is your downfall.
- You are electrocuted. You don’t die right away. You bleed to death in the darkness hearing clearly the violent language in which you were once so highly inclined to speak in. Are you a violent person?
- [unintelligible white noise]
-Intellectualism is the cancer of the world. It produces nothing! It breeds nothing but incestuous halfling sputtering ideas. It is a breeding ground of Communists and scoundrels! The little man bellowed at the crowd. They tutted to one another in terse agreement. I coulda taken or left the man’s speech but he attracted a relatively hapless middle-class audience that made prime pickings and did a great job at distracting them. I wandered gently into the middle of a group of old men in slightly tatty suits. They were all utterly enraptured and so wouldn’t feel a thing as a slipped my hand into one of their pockets, blocking anyone’s view with a long coat.
The geezers screaming had moved on to the intellectuals as people. They were all effeminate self-hating men and traitors to the white race. I walked gently away, slipping two wallets and a lovely gold watch into my inside pockets. I didn’t know any of these intellectuals myself but I did always get a bit of a strange feeling looking at posh people’s libraries. One family left their back door unlocked once and I saw a book shelf covered in Austen, Dostoevsky, and Homer and felt sorta weird about it. My parents were immigrants. I walk in a land that forever wants me dead. I shouldn’t exist. I had to live on the streets for a while. Any day my door might be kicked in. There was something terrifying about the security of that shelf. So many writers and thinkers all glued into one whole. Every position and contingency was argued for and against. Every point in the space was accounted for and yet I was still pushed out. Trespassing amongst the human race.
There was more speech. Whatever, I don’t remember. I made a few quid.
The birds sang. The sun shone. And the City-State peopled (verb). The City-State hummed with a hundred thousand fertile young bodies and minds that grew into old bodies and continuously replaced themselves. The outer territory, the farms and the fishing community, fed back into the urban centre. Meat and crops flowed into factories and food and goods streamed into market places. Thousands and thousands of able workers swam down the City-State’s arteries. If they ran out of energy the entire City-State would freeze and collapse. To stave off it’s destruction the food smashed chaotically into the hundred thousand hungry mouths. Their energy levels were kept steadily afloat until they produced offspring to replenish themselves. They were less prioritised after that and were forced to survive off the scraps of the useful population.
Sewage was funnelled away and treated. Electricity fed back into the lights and sights and sounds of the city state. It’s glitz attracting a thousand thousand hostile invaders. An unthinking brutish mass craving death and blood. With no god but greed and no reason beyond annihilation. The city was quick to convert thousands of the population into soldiers. Propaganda blared and news was fed back into the masses. Soldiers ransacked the Barbarians savage wild-lands and brought back ever greater riches into the heart of the City-State. This was nothing compared to the endless trading and diplomacy and warring the City-State did with a hundred others and nothing compared to technology and science and religion and class struggle and the governments endless endless micromanaging of a million infinitesimals- products streamed and humans flooded from a thousand wombs and terrifying Obelisk’s were built towering over all- the City-State constructing horrific effigies to itself again and again the ultimate narcissist the ultimate tyrant perpetuating the misery of millions in a thousand broad and subtle ways.
What was one man or woman to do against that?