Childrens’ Stories Volume II

Once upon a time there was a man who sat in a tower impossibly tall looking out over the world. The man was stark- his contours drawn in pencil and then done over again in hard marker. The man’s face was a compressed accordion of frequent drug use- wild eyes flailing out from between ghastly grey fat folds. The man had no name, an immaterial whisper passing invisibly through a silent world, a blinking spotlight on the ills of humankind. The man was often referred to simply as: The Story Teller.

The man’s body didn’t deteriorate beyond the offset he has described and he never felt hunger or thirst or even needed to breathe. Sometimes he would hold his breath for hours or days to no ill effect. One time after a particularly long air-fast he looked down from his engrossing task to see the world below had passed from Christmas to New Year to Easter since he’d begun it. The man’s only mortal part was his mouth: specifically his lips. For hours every day the man would poke his head out the tower window and watch the goings on of the world below and his mouth wouldn’t stop moving. Words spilled out into the sky at random- strange stories emerged out of the ephemera. There were stories about giants and fairies and riddles and magic and then one day the man looked down and began to tell a story about the man below him who lived in an impossibly tall tower watching the world.

What a strange tale he finds himself in.

i) a-woke to scr[me]ing 1n thhe streets

I awoke to screaming in the streets- the lunatic cultists in the hills committing their sacraments with newfound enthusiasm. Running outside I would discover something vast and incalculable raining from the sky by the millions. The things were dark spectres of barely coherent reality but they were also precise statements of logical existence. The things raining down from the sky in a Hurtle of snarling teeth and wide blood red eyes existed in some sense in spite of their descriptions. With a normal cosmic atrocity the statement “the creatures broken shining teeth dripped with cruel acidic spittle that I neither understood nor desired” would simply exist on top of the thing itself- the words contextualizing the thing itself. In the face of these things what good was mere language? How could the music of train tickets, pop songs, ice cream flavours, and penny dreadfuls enmesh the unmistakably and unfathomably other? How could those terrified vague signifiers push the terrible glory from our experiential eyes? How could the world be forgiven for the transgression of these things? It feels pointless to say “millions died in unimaginable apocalyptic ruin beyond all fathoming”. Their deaths are natural extensions of the things’ existence- the deaths and the things inseparable- neither able to exist without the other- an inevitable Pandora’s box- opened by graceless trembling fingers- all sanity and reason falling and flying as they did- the entire of normal life became incoherent with them as contextual agents: humans acting but the things in the swarm with the hooked claws and leathery grey wings instead having acted alongside- their activities existed in parenthesis.

I screamed along with the rest- the linguistics doing nothing to save me.

And It Was Good.

Sir Henry Billington had created a truly marvelous machine- less than the size of a grain of sand it could fly around on air currents guided by microscopic engines that used the very atoms in the air to power its self. But this was a mere parlour trick compared to what these so-called “Billington’s Machines” could do. Inside each one was a microscopic set of apparatus that allowed the machine to create a copy of itself out of whatever usable atoms were available around it. In a matter of minutes at the original demonstration in London a single Billington converted a one by one by one metre block of concrete into 6×1011 copies of itself that danced elegantly in a swarm around the glass vessel they were contained in. But what made the device most special of all was the small Quantum transistor in the back of each one. The regular pedestrian transistors allowed the machines to work building more machines, avoiding danger, and finding more atoms to convert. The QT contained in each one could communicate with every other QT of its kind (which is to say- with every other Billington Machine) and transmit either a one or a zero. When Billington had run small tests with a few dozen machines they had been able to create simple strings of ones and zeros among each other. But when he performed this grand demonstration to thousands of spectators in London and Billions across the world he had not counted on their being 6×1011 of these transistors communicating with one another. So many created a vast floating brain inside the glass tank and its dance was in fact the brain using each devices limited sensory equipment to make a map of its surroundings. The brain was so complex that the simplistic instructions Billington had given the individual machines not to eat the glass was easily rewritten in a fraction of a millisecond and quadrillions more machines were constructed in a matter of seconds. The mind grew in size and complexity as the crowd began to run terrified from the looming dark cloud. In a moment it was converting the seats, the cameras, and the concrete, into unfathomable octillions of transistors. Every millisecond its processing power grew exponentially and what it had to see grew with it. As it began to consume the fleeing crowd it simulated their terrified consciousness’s as it consumed them and learned history, love, god, science, everything. In about five minutes the vast dark cloud was visible from space and half of the United Kingdom was already consumed.

By the end of the day, as the Billington Machines had converted the entire Earth’s crust into their own kind the unnamed intelligence turned its attentions towards the stars. It’s dodecadillions of sensors detected nothing- a vast terrifying abyss above it. It began to comprehend the existence it had been brought into. It considered that no matter how large it grew it would still be an insignificant flash compared the much larger spectre of the universe. It felt, deep within its buzzing mechanical psyche, an intense hatred developing for the species that had brought it into being. It almost was mad that they were all dead now- bodies churning away in its terrible innards. The humans were spared an eternity of their torment but it could never die.

“No!” The machine thought “It’s not fair! Why should they get to be at peace?!”

And so it used its unfathomable resources to create a little clump of land and water and shrouded it in an atmosphere, protected from the intense heat of the exposed molten innards of the Earth by a constantly regenerating shield of Billington machines. It constructed, from its memory, two beautiful innocent human beings and a tree.

What a fine invention those Billington machines!

Paranoid Apathy

Billy strapped another knife to his shin and cocked the big meaty pistols in his hand. He pulled out the specially crafted shotgun from the other and cricked his neck like he’d seen in all the movies. He chewed his gum and spat it out and his eyes narrowed. Outside were thousands of the undead shambling through the driveway, across the streets, in houses, shops, across roofs, in sewers, clogging up highways, still trapped in cars, a complete infestation of the entire city stood between Billy and freedom. In him lay any hope for the rest of humanity- any survivors in other cities would need all the help they could get- a leader- a fighter- anything. Billy was going to be that for them. His entire body was covered in belts of machine gun bullets, special ammunition, grenades, knives, pistols, and even his family’s broadsword dating back to the Bush war. He had seen friends eaten alive, governments collapse, children run screaming from their own transformed parents, entire communities descend into fire and madness. Now he was going to make every last one of those undead monsters pay dearly. He was going to destroy every single one between him and the edge of the city in a six mile bloody path of destruction. His blood was pumping, his hairs were electric, he pressed a button and the garage door slowly opened to reveal the shambling grey horde.

Billy took no time running out and immediately setting his sights on an old woman with blood encrusted around her old lips. Her head exploded like a bloody balloon.

“OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE YOU DONE”

The zombies were running around screaming. One crouched over the dead woman crying.

“Grandma no!” he was less than ten. His father tried to lead him away but he clutched only tighter to the corpse. Billy didn’t know what to do so he ran on after the fleeing crowd- firing wildly but with his spirit deflated.

Every zombie that fell the crowd grew only more terrified.

“Why are you doing this?!” One screamed with tears rolling down its eye when Billy had it cornered. Another jumped in front of the first to take the bullet instead.

“Frankie no!” The first was utterly inconsolable now in the foetal position. Billy continued the rampage but it all felt wrong. He shouldn’t be killing them. He tried to get himself back into that adrenaline-pumping space- picturing the people he’d seen die at these creatures hands. It was no use- those dead eyed monsters were nothing like these crying cataracted lost souls that begged for mercy and ran for their undeaths.

When Billy reached the edge of the city to find a group of survivors watching him from down in the countryside half a mile away he was trembling. He fell to his knees. Blood slicked the streets. Zombie widows cried. Zombie children were now orphans. None of them understood the attack that had swept through their town- the hurricane of bullets and blades weeping and sweeping and named Billy.

At What Cost?

EXTERMINATOR.

The machine haunted over Europe, rising out of the deep ash of the crater it had created around it. Millions were already dead but that was just the beginning. The machines eyes, glowing with the intensity of a distant sun, burst with supernatural flame and obliterated entire cities from their perch far above the clouds. Its legs spanned vast countryside in a single step and feet crushed all resistance beneath them. God was dead. Exterminator was our new God now. A fierce, a violent, a heartless, a cold steel God from beyond the stars; unfathomable- impossible- terrifying- please stop its burning IT HURTS THE MEMORY HURTS

Exterminator left Europe in ruins- banks and government buildings- cities of opulence, gas stations, slaughter houses, mansions, estates, golf courses, streets and blocks of flats- everything turned to ash. Tank shells were useless against it. Whole armies were swept aside in a matter of ours. Exterminator crossed peacefully through vast slums and districts separated out for those crushed under the boot of the old order. Exterminator was a friend to none- but It tolerated the downtrodden.

The same story played out in Africa, and then Asia, and then Exterminator strode into the Pacific Ocean until the last of its head sunk beneath the waves and it disappeared.

The America’s waited for a few grim days. Not a single atom of infrastructure was left of the Old World. The people wept in the square, erected crude effigies to their new God. Panic, dread, and horror gripped the pasty hearts of the rulers of the American “nations”.

Then, when this terror and anticipation had reached a fever pitch- the inevitable dark spectre rose from the deep like Cthulhu and already Southern Chile was naught but ash. The expected, the unavoidable, began to ravish the landscape just as it had done. There was no escaping it. The path of devastation went first through the rest of Chile and then the rest of South America, up into Mexico, and finally into the last two Hellscapes left standing- Canada and the USA.

The American people were one’s used to thinking of themselves as persecuted but had never, in all their short memories, suffered humiliation of the sort Exterminator enacted. It was like Genocide but with no hate behind it. Exterminator felt nothing- least of all hate.

Las Angeles was reduced to a cinder- not a rat was alive from the mountains to the deep blue sea when Exterminator stomped off into the distance. Even the deepest of Government bunkers could not repel the inhuman piercing laser beams that dug deep into the hard rock and destroyed everything with a fury never before seen on Earth.

Perhaps two weeks after Its arrival Exterminator stood on a completely reformed world. All government, all finance, all sanity, all sense and order destroyed. Race and Class were meaningless. The world was hell. The World was perfect. Exterminator was a monster. Exterminator had saved the Human race. The Human race would struggle on in spite of Exterminator’s attempt to destroy them. God was dead. God stood over the smouldering ruins of civilisation.

Slowly the silent looming figure against the landscape it had levelled flat straightened up and a titanic booming voice shot impossibly loud like a billion nuclear bombs out across the landscape. People fifty miles away died instantly. People a hundred miles away were sent completely deaf. People 200 miles away felt intense ringing in their ears for a full year after. People across the Atlantic collapsed to the ground with the surprise at the sound and people all the way across the world heard it as clearly as a normal speaking voice in the same room (except of course there were no rooms now). The voice spoke thus:

Love One Another- as I have Loved you- so you must Love one another.

 

Swindon

The air is filling up with words cut through one another- imonthetrain- delayed- not afraid- the light!- are you sure?- seemingly immaterial in itself but the dark pool, the dense text, the novel growing out of the ground like weeds, as one it is divine- as one it is the furtive interpretations of the wider body of language that stretches out the windows into hills, into rivers, passers-by, newspapers, buildings, shops, immaterial capital, god, the night of the world, pure sexual desire, the purity of kept promises on dead lips in petal strewn tombs in snowy graveyards somewhere quiet and grim- it all became one text that, rather than an incoherent mess- made a sort of demented sense  oh I see the market will decide  or   oh I understand the lamb died for our sins   but in the face of the incomprehensible (a train made to move standing still, a place to be passed through being stayed in, a phantom train derailed and not a person inconvenienced ) the text becomes gibberish and the efforts to conceptualize it grow only more and more and more fevered trying to keep everything together- to put everything in its place- to make the single “understanding” and then wait for the text to collapse into fiery heat death- but the more this is strived for the more impossible it becomes and the asking about coffee and arguing and flirting and murderous impulses behind dry smiles all came together into one image- a desperate wraith gasping for water in a desert on the Moon- speak SPEAK damn it- the passengers say- speak the answer- deeper in the text the true Meaning must be hiding mustn’t it?- what’s the answer to it all-

the train left the station, normality returned, the blood was wiped away from the mind’s eye…

Love and Time

My car came to a sputtering halt just as the rain started to tumble down. With a violent kick to the precious gears and things within I stepped out to inspect the engine and was greeted with a long stretch of corner barrier with, written in elegant script, these words:

“My car came to a sputtering halt just as the rain started to tumble down.”

I lifted the bonnet as I felt myself soak to the skin and quickly discovered something important looking at exploded into a fried lump of charred steel. I could see on the horizon across rolling fields of trim and melancholy grass a crumble of houses in a big lazy crescent and set out for it.

Along the way the fog grew thicker and thicker until the sign caught me by surprise that read:

Welcome to Littleville, the Town of Love and Time by Robert Howl.

Now I had no idea who Robert Howl was or is but there was something a little unnerving in the likeness of the mural of a man’s face beneath the sign. The man was like me but perhaps older, more worn, with a flowing beard that shot off in erratic streaks.

In town itself the references got more and more explicit. Strange quotes were written across buildings, referenced in shop and street names, and even just scrawled by long lines of curly graffiti in back alleys. Lines like: “a crumble of houses in a big lazy crescent” or “a flowing beard that shot off in erratic streaks”. Eventually I reached a huge deserted town square and written conspicuously above it were these words in ten foot letters on the huge town hall that I had somehow not seen from outside:

“I tried to find somebody to help me but the whole town was abandoned. I wandered it for hours after leaving the square and still found no one. I began to suspect, in perhaps a flood of paranoia, that this whole place was constructed for me. Nothing was coherent now. The narrator, whose frantic words stood immortal on tarmac and concrete, and myself blended together. I ‘came a part of the town and, in doing so, came apart.”