Sunday, December 11, 2011

Conjugal Spice - The Imprimatur of the Monster

Conjugal Spice

The bedroom was quiet, with the thunderstorm abating. No rain rushing along the gutters. No wind whining through the chinks in floor and roof.

Time to catch up on sleep. Husband and wife snored soundly, giving a wide berth to each other's shape, which was easy because the old-fashioned bed was possibly big enough for three.

Then, unlike the erstwhile weather, came a pinpoint of noise. Quiet at first, like the gentle nose-nose of mice or, at the most, rats, coming from under the floorboards.

Maude sat bolt upright, her every faculty primed. "Wake up, George," she whispered loudly.

George grunted. .

"Wake up, I said," she softly squealed.

The noise was now free-flowing rather than the initial separate sound of tentative snuffling. George eventually sat up and said: "What's up, Gorgeous?"

"Listen to that noise - whatever is it?"

His ears pricked. The moonlight, filtering through the slight gap in the print curtains, picked out the tiny glistening beads of sweat on his upper lip. "Nope - can't hear a damn thing, Gorgeous."

"You must be deaf, George. Just be quiet for once..."

The quietness was fast filling with another sound as if bare bones were rattling inside the chimney breast.

By now, Maude had switched on the bedside lamp with a click that always seemed louder at this time of night (especially with the moon on the wane.) "Look!" she screeched from underbreaths.

And they immediately clicked the light off, since what they thought they saw noodling from the cracks between floorborads were bloated worms, fangs denoting where snouts should have been if they did not simultaneously liquefy.

Maude and George long continued to sit bolt upright, fearful that a resumption light would attract further incursions.

"Gorgeous..." "Yes, George?" "The noise has gone, if I'm not too much mistaken." "Oh, George, I'm shaking fit to break and my titties are freezing, and I've got a splitting headache. Rub my feet for me, George." "Okky Doke, Duchess."

He tunnelled inside the bed, but there was a fleshy jelly with a spicy stench which slightly reminded him of Maude's night soil in the old days, before she had taken to wearing stiff underwear designed for those little incontinent moments.

Moonlight later saw fit to well back from the darkest hour before dawn. Still, nothing could be seen except the outer margins of varying consistencies of shadow moving about across the ancient king-sized bed. There were belching snorts as body rubbed against body, the air being sucked from between the red raspberries of skin.

And so much later in the night, it must have been morning. Something seeped into the print curtains like light, bleeding through rose-weft filters and willowy patterns of melting rhubarb.

Laid out across the huge bed were the flesh-sucked husks of two identical human bodies that had, at long last, shared the conjugal bed with a third party. And another storm could be heard grumbling in the distance amid jagged moonlight.

(Published 'The Night Side' 1991)

The Imprimatur Of The Monster

I forget whether my memory is as good as it used to be.

I once knew how it all ended, but now I despair of remembering it. All I can do is make various attempts at retracking - rat-tracking through the sewers of the past.

I decided to pay another visit to the house where, all those years before, events transpired which mythology has all but subsumed. It is said that the past is a monster waiting to return from the direction of the future, with green-flecked lips and accusing eyes. But, I vowed to ignore such fears and to face out any residual shame from such ill-reported times.


Could the house be in the mind, thus not just a simple train journey away? I sat in the shuddering carriage watching the leather window-strap swing from side to side. I itched to tug the red-painted alarm chain in the slot above the warning to passengers not to lean out. The tunnels seemed to be prolific - dark interludes in an otherwise straightforward succession of events. From all available evidence, there was no other passenger in the long corridorless train. But how was I to know for certain either its length or population? Only by disembarking.

I pulled down the arm-rest from its niche in the carriage's uphostlery and leaned my greasy head of hair upon the lightly engraved antimacassar. I desperately wanted to dream, in case reality had played me false and would land me in an incomplete scenario of trackless trains heading for infernal countries of night.

I did dream, I think. I saw visions of others who had dreamed before me - lands where history had come clean and laid bare the bones of its villainous participants - scores of skeletons clacking above the sleepers, like the tail-to-tail bony carapaces of unfreighted flesh - cities of scientists who went mad with religion - plain upon plain of inverted mountains....

I woke with a start. I had not been dreaming at all, only dreaming that I had. The train was pulling into a station, since I saw white boards flashing by with its name written up in clearer and clearer, and yet unattainable, definition.

I had embarked at Paddington, since the house I sought I knew to be in Wales. This principality had not yet been affected by the changing disguise of Europe, unlike the more malleable souls in London such as myself. During my last days in the hospital, I had ranted, it seemed, in my sleep, about the Black Mountains, where Creature Beings perched and spoke in the same Celtic lilt as I, the dreamer. Such Beings, through me, spoke goldenly of a Race older even than themselves which represented the most important group of Beings which Time and Space could ever encompass. And that Older Race, in turn, spoke of even greater Beings who managed to exist, in spite of their intrinsic untenability.

Now, as the train drew to a juddering halt, I, in a moment of misplaced logic, wondered if there were yet other Beings immeasurably greater than even those. And so on, ad infinitum and, perhaps, absurdum, until...

"Until you come to Man himself." A porter, or one I took to be such, had opened the carriage door for me and spoken as if continuing a conversation. In the dim flickering lights of the wind-swept platform, I saw his face possessed an imbecilic cast, topped off with a purple schoolboy's cap far too small for the head. Snot bubbled at one enlarged nostril. After he took my luggage, I saw he had a graveyard lurch, as he headed towards the station house and its waiting-room.

As I followed him, I heard the train shunting behind me, steaming up for the rest of its journey and, fleetingly, I turned to see faces pressed up against the grimy windows of that hissing beast. They were yearning with their eyes and I do not know whom I pitied most, me or them, as they sashed up and down upon the surface of the glass in a strange indulgent rhythm of farewell.

The thing in the cap motioned me towards a gas-fire which warmed one corner of the waiting-room. I rubbed my hands slowly above its glowing grid of orange bone, my mind inevitably drifting from the more natural courses of my thought-patterns. I had come to revisit the house, where I believed I had once been granted a vision of the future - when mankind would amount to nothing in the scheme of things. But now I suspected that the monster of green squelch I had faced then, had traversed the interlocking entropies of unimaginable existence from hyper-spiritual worlds, not as a precursor of Earthly colonisation, but as an emblem of the truth that had prevailed prior to the onset of reality itself. Or, at best, tangential to it.


One can learn to grow less afraid of any monster, if it is believed it is real, rather than a concoction of one's own terrified mind. Such is the crux of the matter, since I now realised (in the true sense of that word) I had come to this spot to lay the ghost which I myself once created, and I would achieve this by proving beyond reasonable doubt that it was truly *real*. And still is. Hence this rite of passage across the neat meadows of England...

To staunch the onward tread of worse and worse nightmares that are not nightmares at all, I needed to ascertain that the house contained a true monster of flesh and blood in its own terms, a monster that I could rationalise, encapsulate and even believe explicity when it spoke of forthcoming human doom in its characteristic voice of slimy conviction. Only by believing the truth of its message, could I exorcise and, consequently, nullify its effect.


I left the station behind me, as I trudged the once familiar country lane. There was the house. But, no, not yet, just a head of woods, grown together to present a common front to the hurricanes now so prevalent in this part of the world. A seat of green amid the swirling greys.

I was grateful for the warm-up in the waiting-room. How long I had been there listening to the ludicrous tales of the overgrown schoolboy, I could only measure by the growth of beard. He told me that the house was no longer in situ, since it had contracted a teetering, cancerous stairwell and collapsed in upon itself, even before the seasonal hurricanes had become endemic. I could not believe him, of course, because he also told me that I was a different person to the one who had come here all those years ago - not the one who had been frightened by the skeleton of a railway ticket-collector in his platform booth. He looked bemused when I countered by saying that I had not been afraid of the skeleton as such but by the plump worm for which its bones acted as home.

My dismay was great when he said he wanted to come with me to find the house. However, he spotted another train steaming towards the station and he went off to categorise it, number it and wave it through.

I left the woods behind me and, just as one of those lilty Creature Beings cut a screaming wedge of yellow light in the sky's blanket of night, I spotted the house itself, just as I think I remembered it.

But, incredibly, it was careering towards me out of the past, with steam churning from every chimney-stack.

Lights were being flashed on and off in every window, greenness slicking down the glass like net curtains of foullest slime. The monster had actually become the house, rather than remained an inhabitant of it. I put my fists to my ears to dull its pained bellowing - it had originally come to destroy the whole of mankind, but had merely managed to get up a sufficient head of steam to destroy only myself.

I realised I had, since my earliest times, absorbed the vile imaginings that this monster had created. Its metagalactic imprimatur was to mythologise the only tenable beings in existence who happened to be Earth's humans - and I now knew I had rescued the future for humanity. By fixing the monster under the impenetrable varnish of my creativity, I also fixed its dreams of us and made them real. As I sucked its Hell into my brain, the better was our chance to become angel-eyed and paramount - shimmering creatures in our own right with grains of honest phantasy - happily wandering among the gildenspires of the Heavenly City.


I am that house, I am that train, I am that ghoulish schoolboy, I am that ideologue weirdmonger...

I made myself actually become that monster. And, without me, you would never have been you, with desires and dreams and fancies and loves, all fit for gods and goddesses. You would have been mere puppet-jerks of Older and Younger Races, with a blood-engorged worm in the night-hutch of the head to replace that human brain of infinite possibilities.

To stop my own head from exploding into a thousand bone-shards, I ask you, please, I beg you, to hold me close - let me nuzzle in your cosy lap, so that such love and care will enable me to bear man's worst nightmares on your behalf.


But I look up and see that awful schoolboy's moon-face leering at me imbecilically, the maggot-riddled flesh slowly drooling from the sicker bones within - and my despair at forgetting how it all ended is never-ending.

Published 'Crypt of Cthulhu' 1994

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