Seed. 

Orange rust.

Squinting from the flavour that blinds the room, Stephen cuts slits in the wood of his vision rather than suffer the vitamins headache and it allows him to take in the sudden actions of his landscape. 

The floor, made from dissolving gypsum and limestone rock, is craggy and breathing with so many pores. The orbital sunshine of the orange rolls in along the many dimple sized holes and it wobbles near Stephen’s foot, trying to get a handle of being round. On being a ball. On not having any sides and rather slipping into the craters of your foot’s fall. 

Once it stabilizes, Stephen takes in the background vision. The bars that make the invisible wall that is his cell, the broken away at limestone karst walls, the lack of sunlight dripping in from any windows.

The artificial light inset in all the imperfect scones.

The footsteps dropping away behind closed doors where police might scheme of criminal code.

Realising he may be all alone, Stephen makes a bird of his very own. “Hey!” He whimpers with a hard front beneath his teeth. “What’s going on?” As if to say he demands even though his spine is rolling out behind him.

No one returns his call.

Beside his shaking, heavy, crownless head is a stainless steel bench hung from chains on the wall. Placing his hand on the cool metal and the other hand on the cool floor, he lifts himself from hobbled into a more confident position in his room, his cell, his justice for all.

Stephen pulls in a stuttered breath that fills his tiny chest with the stale air, it’s cavern drafts not fresh but recirculated stone. He holds it. The cave of his cell in his tissues, making stagnant folds of the reticulated tides that are his fleshy lung organ. It attracts bats and moths, and they eat away at his lacking confidence, his all alone.

“Shit!” He mutters to himself as he buries his eyes and sagging cheeks into the mud of his palms.

Low sobbing in the cold of handcuffs not worn.

“Hey! Relax Stephen!”

Slash white through the trembling heart as the words take Stephen’s shoulders like predatory claws and he whips his head from hiding to the direction of the words that came from the dark. Heart like thin black balls at the top of the music sheet, pupils in and out of focus as the beads of sweat dart around the cell. Stephen checks every inch of his ten foot apartment twice and finds he’s all alone. 

“Hello?” He calls with the suspicion of a ghost, half standing to see if there was someone down the hall from his cell, assuming it was a hall and not hell.

“Hi!” Said the voice with chipper in its octave swell.

Falling back into his seat, Stephen’s eyes match the declination and he looks to the ground. Shock. Strips of white in his hair.

But just the orange there.

Turning on its smooth porous skin, opening its eyes, forming words with a pulpy mouth. “Hello Stephen, I’ve been waiting for you.” It says.

“Oh good.” Says Stephen. Surprised that his throat let anything be said at all.

Then nothing happened. Seemingly forever nothing happened. Just the orange and Stephen staring at each other as if the other one might dry and crack and fall into pieces… the dust of it settled in the cracks of Stephen’s brain and it made him want to sneeze and smoke at the same time. If only he had a cigarette, if only he had smoked ever before.

The orange made a faint smile, lifting one side of its white lined mouth closer to the bright slice of its left eye. Awkward, even though it was the orange and Stephen was not. “Were the boys gentle with you?” Asked the orange, its juicy mouth flopping around the way a puppets might, if the hand was drunk and the stage was set in the light.

Stephen nodded, not sure if he remembered coming in at all at this point.

“That’s good.” Said the orange as it produced a cigarette from the back of its mouth. Without hands, the act was autonomous and reminded Stephen of an assembly line as the cigarette rolled out long-wise and careful–despite its being lit already and it suckered up to the flat lips of the orange’s bright skin. The cherry lit for a moment and then smoke rolled out of the orange’s eyes. “Would you like a smoke, Stephen?”

He nodded again and the orange reared its lack of neck into a Pez dispenser and another cigarette stood straight up in the flattened out surface of its mouth. The other cigarette lay half flat on the floor, angled from the fruit’s maw.

Stephen reached out and grabbed the tobacco roll and the orange turned back to its normal stance, smoking fish eyes and cool nineties Japanese aesthetic all at once. 

Inspecting the smoke up close, Stephen found the paper to be damp with citrus. The spark already fired, he placed the cigarette on his lips and pulled the scurvy from his gums as his lungs went black and calm. He didn’t cough. He breathed out. His head was already rushing, but not from the nicotine, not at all.

“Sorry, they always come out a little wet.” Said the orange.

“Not at all.” Replied Stephen. Still polite.

“So we have some work to do tonight and it’s a lot. It certainly won’t get done on its own.” Said the orange.

“Yea.” He chuckled, not sure if he should do anything at all. “Don’t… don’t I know it.” Forced smile.

“So, we should probably get started.” 

Stephen sucked on the smoke again, letting the fluoride and dry leaf tickle the itch at the back of his throat as he held the puff of char somewhere between his chest and his uvula. “Are you uh, are you related to the fauna spirit’s that ummm, you know… “

The orange stared at Stephen with one orange eyebrow tilted high up into the seed of its thoughts.

Stephen continued, now too nervous to leave the room silent. “When I practise herbalism, sometimes the plants and their spirits would give me a little guidance but… they were only voices.” He exhaled the smoke that had been lingering in his nose and it made the room fuzzy. “Not… ” he gestured with his tar stained hand at the orange in circles. “Full grown… fruit. You’re not related to them, are you?”

The orange pursed its lips, lifting the half burnt cigarette into a vertical question mark and then spoke. “You know how crazy that sounds, right?”

An excerpt from Alchemycal Memory.

By: Sean Duffield

Book 7, Part III: Beasts Wearing the Pelts of Humans

A thousand pardons of sunlight permeated the close knit synthetics of her morning window’s curtain dance. They curled and whirled in the lent swirls of UV spectrum fanatics wrapped in wine and red dresses and a penchant for mischief. They lulled her sleeping eyes back into dreams that would fade or disappear upon reawakening. The fantasies that horse riders could drum up, under whips and torn cuffs, under factual trophies and fictional names several syllables long on the newspaper’s page. They were a thousand pounds of furious finessing and they drove Anabeila’s eyes to close as the hooves drove further from the sand and closer to her mind. Warm. Shoulders. So many hands high. 

Culminating fascinations on the cornerstone of vision’s eye. A happening of natural design. The armies of robed botanists marching in a single file line. Amongst the Bodhi trees a flower licks sunlight, dripping with nectar, sweet pollen, semen from the cosmic wasp left on the entrance to doorsteps and doorways. Gates. Keys. Fog. Define.

They marched and sentinel sentiment drew the closed fist tighter to wrist, completing actions in four-four time. Fur laced mongrels under satellite iron ore hold it. Golden. From nectarine necks carved out. It falls out. Placed in a jar. To cover the scent of cosmic radiation. 

The birch wood bric-a-brac. Stronger formulas wait behind mathematicians walls. Where does the time go? 

Anabeila reaches out. Where has the time gone? 

Atomic clocks making sounds somewhere.

What time is it now?

“Anabeila! What time is it now?” Cried a doting mother’s carefully chosen vocal chords, casing rhetorical questions in thoughts of her own.

“It’s five o’clock.” Returned Anabeila. Don’t answer. It’s rhetorical.

“Where has all your dream time gone? Down the drain, I imagine.” Said the mother in another room.

“No… no. I still have time.” 

“You don’t. You’ll be late for temple. Notum requires you there on time. You’ve none left to waste!”

Water blips pooled and drove echoes in her perspectives. Anabeila carved up the blankets she rested upon. Scooping them into piles beneath knees and sundresses. Her eye dew colouring patterns together in geomantic rituals beyond the eyelids that hung droopily from carried on facades. 

She stifled a curled up neonate, tail thick beneath heels driven into waists. Hair thrown out on all sides, mistaken for shadows from above. Crevices of pillow fights. The sun still parading about the curtains that waved morning doves at her window spread straight lines perpendicular across her entire stature. Carved stone in museum windows. Censored. She wrestled with internal thought. Jaws and fig tree gods. Then they blipped. The sensation of dreaming dropped from the radar.

Her feet kicked out. Splayed out. Toes as far apart from each other as possible. Hands holding pillows prayed then threw jubilation behind them towards the spine that circles Jupiter. Her entire body rolled back, forward, back. Pillows tossed to the messy floor. Blankets torn, strangling the last bits of heat from her sleeping once now woken core.

“Dammit!” She muttered.

“What was that love?” Asked the mother in another room.

“Nothing…” how could she hear everything?

“Are you getting up?” 

“Yes… ” Dammit.

Anabeila’s feet tingled as blood returned from her head to all the regions of herself. And heart. She rose in her room. Small. Tucked in amongst a tower of church families. Bare. Mostly. Plants. Rectangular box. Viewing wall. Windows all opening slowly as the housebot recognized her routine morning caws from branches covered in frost. The shards opening. Wall in front of her, slowly growing tall. The closet visible now.

“Mirror please.” Said Anabeila to the housebot.

Acknowledge, it returned. And the smooth white wall in front of her shimmered and crawled with pixelated servitude. The sunlight, now fully engrossed in the room. Stuck its front teeth out, appendages drawn. It scurried across flat, angular surfaces, grimacing, jumping to the mirror’s reflection where it pounced on its metallic surface. Only to sink into, absorbed into the wall. The mirror’s surface glimmered dull as it redirected and tinted its automated will. Anabeila stared back with fat fingers, tongues on the glass… her morning face was crying in its surfaces. They were not emotions. Just morning slumber pitfalls. 

“Ugh.” She wiped the gleen from beneath her eyes. Robbed them of their smooth decline. Blinked hard at herself in the mirror wall and studied her features with a child’s grace. Little in way of preconceptions. 

“Mirror off please.” 

Acknowledge.

The wall returned. Closet visible. Anabeila stood up from her bed and the jaws came clamping down on her from above. Shuddered elbows rose while knees fell and kissed the dirt beneath studious members of the church. Bits of dream still stuck in her teeth, Anabeila stood up straight and spit them out. Shook them off. She opened her closet and removed the white robes. Time for the sacrilegious to attend the sermons of another’s call. She sighed, the room alongside her took a deep breath-in, making room for her sunken chest and puffed up eyes.

Anabeila was dressed in righteous robes and tiptoeing through the hall of her parents’ apartment home in the tower of a church followers mob. Always quiet as a mouse, ‘fraid to disturb the dreams of plants that filled the nest perimeters recessed shelves with lush green tones, flowering buds and long hidden roots… She slid along the recycled black tile floors, encased with white walls and hung over ceilings. The imbedded bioluminescent lanterns above her gave the floor a purity like opal. It gave the plant leaves a stark background from above. A painting of dark silk nurtured love.  

She entered the kitchen of a similar stretching of lodgings, black tile floors and luminescent heavenly bodies. Her mother stood tall at a sink, filling a glass with purified hydrogen and oxygen. She was at the far wall, back facing across the table. Betwixt the black framed pass through on one side, and the stretches of air fresh windows that cornered nineties around her, taking up the entirety of the far side of the kitchen sprawl on the other. Membrane meshes that allowed the fresh air to exhale into her kitchen. Unaltered nitrogen from the mouths of cloud top gods emptied the room of stale breaths and feathered in new psalms from the empyrean.

“Well morning Anabeila.” Her mother said as she turned from the glass spun countertops. The morning’s sunrise somehow on both sides of the planet melted red sapphire hues in behind her mother’s smile, its effervescent particles jumping stilted halos from around her head, its image warming the back of mothers neck, illuminating the ray shine squabbles that filtered out her mouth as she spoke of broken bread. “I hope you are as ready as you desire for choosing day.”

“Well morning mother.” Anabeila’s courtesies abound as she slipped into the kitchen, pulled a dark rimmed high-back chair from the table and sat down. Her elbows gracing with little weight on the surfaces, high gloss finish and viewing wall shine. “I will be, I’m sure.”

“Does that mean you’ll crusade for the church?” A deeper tone rung from the pass through. A warm self assured voice that passed through mustache charm to orbiculate amongst the room of daughters.

“Father!” Mother dashed out quickly, her cheeks flushed with vinegar and sour tastes. “Anabeila will let Notum know. It is not for us to tread through. The part is only for specific hearts. It is truly not a choice made…” she turned to Anabeila. Mother’s colour tones were adjusting and her voice slowed into more placid lanes of direction “But a position granted in the grand chorus of prayer voices.”

“Humph. Of course. Of course. Don’t uhhh. Well, good luck today, Anabeila. Or whatever thing is acceptable to say.” Said the deep tone from the other room.

Anabeila smiled at her mother. Even when she wanted something of Anabeila, there was always a choice to be made. Nothing ever came of stone hands, she would say.

Those same smooth wet sand skin hands brought the glass of fresh spring to the table in front of Anabeila. They placed it in front of her and in a hidden palm tree they formed the nutrient seed in line, its blue surface sparkling in the natural light from above.

A brief and unpretentious dive into the Castañeda/Lynch connection through the show Twin Peaks and the book The Eagle’s Gift (the last one before Carlitos’ descent/capture). The key non-thesis of the speculation thus: David Lynch, finding himself in a similar condition as Carlos Castañeda, fighting assimilation of his vision by Hollywood, produced, more specifically with The Return, a critique of the descent in-itself, sketching a diagram of his own escape (which Carlos himself failed to perform). If Lynch ever read Castañeda is beyond the point. Here are fragments of conversations held at the CEO.

I wonder if we could think of Judy (Jowday), that is represented by the beloved “Owl Peaks” symbol as the dark side/counterpart of the Eagle (or really just the nightly aspect of the Eagle, for what is an owl if not an eagle one sees at night). If we assume Jowday is a manifestation tied to the Black Lodge, it seems to be the case. Even more because, in this book particularly, and its transition to the next, Carlitos fails (like our beloved agent Cooper) and is captured (as is expressed in the mythos of his own cult always torn and in constant war from within).

“We are luminous beings, we are better than that”, the motto La Gorda keeps repeating to Carlitos each time he starts worrying or wimping too much, the one thing she supposedly kept on repeating as she tried to “save” Carlitos from the jaws of the jaguar, fits very well with the White Lodge’s ‘residents’ true face:

Or at least Laura’s (since she is luminescence and good herself)

Laura truly is the Twin Peaks equivalent of the infamous Nagual woman: a prodigious, luminous being that got snatched too early in her life and exhausted her potential by the suffering her captors imposed on her, into and onto, for the very teleological motif that is the production of garmonbozia. And they did it all, the Black Lodge’s rogues, to feed on this secreted creamed corn. It sounds too much like the story of the beautiful forgotten Nagual woman. By the end of Twin Peaks (The Return), everything in one timeline is corrected and Laura’s corpse even disappears as if either she never existed there or was saved (I think she was erased from that timeline and jumped, only unwillingly via Coop — who thought he was doing good by that, when in fact he was only reviving her death and so prolonging her suffering, pain and sorrow, much like Carlitos and Carol Tiggs joining the cult). If more pain and sorrow, that is, garmonbozia, is the result of Coop’s failure to fix his heart, and said creamed corn comes from a continually doubled Laura, doesn’t this mean he is worse than BOB? Upgraded BOB, in fact, that feed us the garmonbozia while reciprocally being fed by our need to hear that lovely scream.

The Nagual/TonalRight/Left side quadratic polarity is also very reminiscent, to me, of Coop’s multi-self:

BOB-Coop (or Doppelganger, The Lovers Reverse and The Magician Reverse),

Homo hermaphroditus masculinus, failed

Dougie Jones (or Tulpa, The Lovers Upright and The Fool sideways),

The golden ball, the core of the tulpa, expands until finally disappearing from the screen. The true shape of humans according to Don Juan. This one is artificial, however, a golem, and upon expansion to determine the totality of oneself, it vanishes and the tulpa ceases.

‘Original’ Coop (or The Fool Upright and The Magician Upright),

The Fool’s Magic Trick

the guy Coop snatches the body by the end (or The Fool Reverse and The Hanged Man Reverse).

Relationship with Carlos Castañeda (or Carlitos, for the “fictional” character), following the diagram of the Seer:

Courtesy of Ken Eagle Feather

Tulpa/Dougie: fake double, Carlitos’ right side that forgot his Naguality.

Trapped in the Sphere of Direct Knowledge, devoid of access to the Sphere of Self-reflective Worlds.

BOB-Coop/Doppelganger: fake nagual, Coop’s and Carlitos’ snatched left side that does not remember but that still subsists due to power-momentum (Bad-Coop managed to contain BOB, still inside him, for 25 years). Its destruction is the rejoining of the left and right sides and Coop/Carlitos put back together.

Trapped in the Sphere of Self-reflective Worlds (like BOB), devoid of access to the Sphere of Direct Knowledge.

Original Coop: the Tonal, Carlitos before the split performed by Don Juan and Don Genaro.

Composed by and composing of the gra-tree-like structure, the hero’s journey proper is the dissolution of this harmony via the scission/split between spheres, resulting in the Doppelganger effect where communication is made difficult and an antagonist projected/manifested.

‘Spirit’ Coop/Coop of the end/Coop snatching the body of the guy at the end: Coop failed to remember and rejoin what was split properly, just as Carlitos, and his Naguality then, instead of entering the third world like his masters, jumped back into the island of the Tonal to snatch the body of another person (by invading another’s dream, other TV show). He indulged to the very end and became like BOB, a vampiric specter, only by the end we got to finally see the world from BOB’s perspective, or an upgraded version of a rogue of the Grey Lodge, the in-between that is the failure of proper conjunction. We are invading the automaton carcass that is “Cooper” in the same way he is invading people from another dream, supposedly our dream. It is, instead of a mutualistic symbiosis, a reciprocal parasitism (where the audience may find some enjoyment in the confusion, and Coop find some purpose in continuity as we feed him energy to continue his task of failing to do the good he wants).

Lost in the Third Field of the Unknowable (3), and in fact the avatar for such. He finally did it, but failed in doing it properly.

If Lynch would comment on the later activities of CC, I think he would say something along these lines, that he “didn’t fix his heart — but he did not die either”.

The house of the spirit (Cooper), now as pure electricity, the synthetic fire that walks as you. Cooper achieved immortality in the perpetual act of drifting at the speed of light without control. A proper cosmic neuron, which is sadly not a person anymore. Not even a character now, he is the stuff of dreams, a symbol. He opened Pandora’s box from the inside and became hope. Our hope.

But there are things worse than dying, as the Naguals would say.

25 years on and Laura is still (back?) inside her mother, in the worst way

Carlitos Cooper continues to refuse to die, like the fabled Hope of the myth, their leftover residue just symbols now. The dreamer vs. dream debate is over, nobody is the dreamer, there is only nightmare.

Meanwhile…

Final shot of the series, before the lights go out.

Verbal Medicine is a product of the collective ‘Writing Game‘ (CEO project).

Verbal Medicine 1

Stephen Steeplton meandered his aged blue Volvo 940 along the main road between his place of residence (he was going home) and his work-place. A man of fifty plus years, he didn’t feel the need exceed the speed limit or to even drive up to it. The car wasn’t powerful, and he didn’t care. It accelerated pitifully, it dragged up hills, he braked excessively at small bends. It generally annoyed the fuck out of every driver behind him. Today he possibly drove even slower on account of his mind pouring over the details of a patient at his Phytocorp clinic.

Stephen was a medical herbalist or at least that’s how he named himself internally. In fact, this name had been abandoned when the corporates swept through herbal medicine business over 10 years ago. Phytocorp and the rest of them had swept through the market purchasing every small herbal practice and health store in the country. The business model was appalling. These companies borrowed vast amounts of money to purchase and transform these shabby small businesses into sleek metallic operations. It hadn’t really panned out like that. Of course phyto-therapeutics had been getting increasingly popular as an alternative to the mostly wealth oriented ‘real’ drug biomedical industry —the poor turned back to the plants in desperation of their increasingly sickening plight. This made it look like the industry (if you could call it that) was ripe for corporatization -it wasn’t. Business after business failed, corporates lost vast amounts of money as they endlessly failed to turn small herbal clinics and health stores into shiny capital producing machines, because the poor were, well, poor.

However, determined not to let the shabby grass roots practices of snake-oil re-emerge, companies like Phytocorp grimly hung in there until this wasteland cleared somewhat. They then set up the Phyto-clinics in hotspots where the practices had been actually successful and bought politicians that banned the re-emergence of any independent herbalism of similar practice (in case you wondered, acupuncture suffered a similar fate of corporatizing, the independents were removed and lucrative deals were made involving the syphoning off bioelectricity from clients on the sly). These hotspots were of course places where the middle classes were wont to indulge themselves with every alternative therapy they could lay their hands on. These people initially expressed a mild disingenuous dissatisfaction at the lack of the feel of authenticity corporate world exuded (they wanted to feel like they attended something more earthy) but quickly embraced the smooth plastic curves and carefully manicured philodendrons that adorned the practices. Once reconciled with this herbalism-of-the-future image they came in droves to (mostly) have their chronic conditions mildly ameliorated and talk about themselves.

So Stephen Steeplton was not a medical herbalist, he was a phytoclinician. This was his official title. This was somewhat confused by the fact that the corporates had even created a new title in law for them: Pr. So he was Pr Steeplton. No one knew exactly how you were supposed to pronounce ‘Pr’; because they hadn’t thought about it that hard, someone in PR had just noticed that Doctor becomes Dr and they liked that. Running with this idea, the same ingenious PR operative board switched the D for a P to make the Pr title. In theory it was short for phytoclinician, but of course that didn’t make any real sense. Worse still, since the title came from the PR dept more confusion ensued when some covetous management officials started adopting Pr as their title despite not being phytophysicians (but working in PR). Professors from various universities chucked in their tuppenceworth by writing to the government, protesting potential conflation with their own titles but these complaints were burned.

The patient Steeplton was considering was one he’d seen earlier that day. He considered most of his patients to be malingerers of some sort, middle aged people with mithering complaints symptomatic of little other than age itself; infected with some kind of ecological ethic these people came to the phytocorp clinics rather than mainstream biomed for the holistic touch. Pr Steeplton was at least proficient in this. He invariably had a variety of plant allies that hovered around him in adjacent realms. These beings would often whisper diagnostics to him saving him the trouble of thinking about the patient himself or even listening to them. The only problem with taking his eye completely off the ball was that sometimes the allies would just make things up for their own entertainment, suggesting wildly inappropriate remedies for conditions the patient didn’t even have. One time based on such recommendations he gave an old lady an Rx of 50% Capsicum 50% Datura (10ml TDI) for what turned out later to be haemorrhoids. It all turned nasty and Phytocorp had to clean up the mess —quite literally. So nowadays he paid attention to his own mind and what they said. This was usually highly effective.

The patient he reflected on at the moment was, though boring in character, interesting in case. He had come originally about a series of paralysing headaches which biomed centre had at first diagnosed as idiopathic tumours. However subsequent scans has shown the tumours to be only occasionally manifest. Interdimensional tumour interference was something they couldn’t treat since even if they scheduled surgery there would be no way of telling if the tumours would be there that day or not, furthermore this came with the extra danger that an ego driven surgeon (and they all are) would not be able to live with not removing something in the operation and hence would remove sections of brain and pass them off as if they were the tumours. Biomed didn’t need the hassle so sent him to Phytocorp who immediately gave him to Pr Steeplton (being the most esoterically capable of the Prs and this unit).

Gary (that was the patient’s name) was a talker. He talked so much Pr Steeplton’s allies even got bored and switched off. Steeplton had a hard time staying awake enough to try to sift through the endless waffle ‘So Pr, how do I say that is it like ‘prr’?, doesn’t matter? Okay, I’ve been a little better, I took my medicine like you said. It doesn’t taste as good as the last one and I uh, feel it goes more left side than right if you know what I mean? My Cynthia says I can’t tell my right from my left, maybe she’s right I do sometimes get confused, I mean not so confused I don’t know which hand I’m writing with if you know what I mean. Anyway…’ and so it went on, and on.

Aside from the fact that occasionally manifest tumours was an interesting case, it was what Gary had said that had sparked Pr Steeplton’s interest, Gary had been talking about a dream he had had. Stephen had always been interested in dreams. He considered himself a bit of a Jungian on the sly, or maybe a neo-Jungian, whatever that was. Jung seemed so distant now that it seemed sticking on neo as a prefix might be a good idea. ‘So I had this dream Prr, just after the last headache, which was big but only lasted a short while, which is good as they used to last much longer, except it was more painful, do you think as the tumours get shorter in time, they might get bigger in space? Anyway I was sat in this armchair and a man walks in. He’s only small and he’s old but really spritely. He says, ‘get out of the chair!’ and I get out of the chair. Then he says ‘you know your problem pal?’ I say ‘No’ he says ‘You walk all wrong!’ ‘I do?’ ‘Yup, so listen up I’m going to show you the right way to walk!’ Then he walks round the room in this weird low walk, leaning slowing forwards as he does so. It looked pretty creepy to be honest but there was also something kind of, uh, powerful about it. Anyway he goes round the room a few times and then shouts ‘Now you!’ I start trying but I can’t lean forwards, I just lean sideways, then I wake up’.

Pr Steeplton was worried that Gary might be right about the tumours growing as they were temporally compressed. He obviously needed to adjust the prescription, the last thing he wanted was Gary’s haemorrhaged brain on his conscience. Gary wanted to know if he should try the weird low walk or not. Stephen felt unsure. He needed to know if the old man was a bad symbol or not. He tried asking Gary what colour his clothes were, but Gary couldn’t remember. This was frustrating as decoding dream clothing was his favourite interpretive device. He liked it so much he even had devised a whole a categorisation system of items of dream clothing, their colours and what the various combinations meant.

His mental flitting between the various areas of this conversation were suddenly interrupted by his noticing of a quickly approaching police vehicle in the rear view mirror. He attempted to pull the car to the side of the road to allow the vehicle by but it sped past him before he could do so. Upon passing him though, rather than speeding on its way, it screeched sharply to a stop forcing him to do likewise, or at least meander to a stop (given that he had only been driving at 42mph).

Stephen sat confused as a slender pale policeman swung himself out of the car and strode towards his vehicle. ‘Good evening sir’ ‘Evening officer’ ‘Any reason why you didn’t pull out of the way of our car just now sir?’ ‘Well, I was about to, but then you just went round me’ ‘Sir the reason we did go round you was because you were in the way, we’re on our way to a very dangerous incident you know.’ ‘Right’ ‘There’s no need to be sarcastic sir’ Steeplton was understandably confused. If the incident was so urgent, why bother him? It did however seem unwise to point this out.

The policeman stared in at him through the window, his eyes looked glassy and pink. Stephen shuddered and looked again and they seemed to looked more normal. ‘Well sir?’ Realising his mind has wandered and the policeman had continued talking for some time, he had no idea what he should say ‘Yes..’ he tried. ‘Yes?’ said the policeman ‘Yes’ said Stephen. ‘Right then sir, you had better come with us then.’

An excerpt from Memory Alchemycal

By: Sean Duffield


“Anabeila” She heard it ring in her ears. It wasn’t angry or even loud, but Notum Raysolas voice had a coercive effect. Anabeila could sense the set pegs of her mechanical music box heart being adjusted and arranged so that her cadence would again match the other children’s in the class. Her meditations would find accord with the other children’s. Her eyes would close and the conservatory’s natural fabrics, flush with microbes basking in the greenhouse sunlight would melt away into the fascinations of the spirit realm. 

“Anabeila…” the voice was in her ear. It tumbled waves of green grass liturgy around the soft cartilage of her herbaceous scapha, passing the juvenile concha and entering her ear canal still wet with birth; they would say, even if several years ago. 

The lush voice of a natural Notum scrubbed the inner workings of her mind and washed the leaves green. She removed fig seeds from the crooks of her branches. Stripped the knots from the bark, tilled the soil round’ hungry roots and left a canopy of light above the naked sensations of her ego’s tree.

“Anabeila.” The forest of synchronicity was dusted in summer daylight dimensions that refracted equally through the missing corners of every tree tops green spectrum. “Anabeila.” 

“Yes Notum Raysolas.”

She was tall and lean in front of Anabeila now. Notum’s pupils were constellations that read for signs. Her iris, the planets of Cratum and all its intelligent design. Her face, the universe in singular sum. Her hand reaching out, touched Anabeila’s heart, attempting to quell the distractions she so often, naturally, succumbed.

“Anabeila you must focus with the class.”

“I am focused, Notum.”

“You should be working in your forest. Laying ash from memory and sowing the seeds of your apple trees.”

“Yes, Notum Raysolas.”

“I know the conservatory insects are distracting to you but… 

The tell tale legs of a meelywag began kneading the soft innards of Anabeila’s clavicle skin. She opened her eyes and looked over. The small creature’s great blue pupils shored up and made safe the deep well of its ocular beauty. Anabeila threatened to lower herself to the bottom and collect the nectar from the meelywag’s well. It almost smiled, then cocked its quadruple mandibles, turned a sectionalised body of metallic feathers and flushed its wings out right. Jumped from the cliff-side of Anabeilas focus and floated into the conservatory’s vast open skies, heading for the windows that it truly could not be imprisoned by.

Anabeila again found herself sunk into the art that was the conservatory’s delightful reprise. A place not unlike the one she crafted in her mind. In place of deciduous trees however, were what was referred to as ‘chitin trees’. Tall woody structures with Amber tinted transparent leaves that stretched out like man-made wings on a single network of black nutrient thickening lung bronchioles. They filtered light through to the fauna beneath them, but stole all the blue from the spectrum and left the forest floor in a dark orange sheen. 

“Anabeila!”

Again focus was stolen and replaced with placated desire.

“Yes, Notum. Sorry.”

“Anabeila, you have much work to do here. An enlightened cannot just be strong of body and soul. She must be strong of mind.” 

“I work on my forest Notum. All the time.”

Skepticism washed the painted canvas of stars from Notum Raysolas’ face. A master’s emotions were usually only shown here. For the sake of communicating without language. To be what they meant and Notum always meant what she was.

“Anabeila.” She said with remorse pooling in pores and concern washing the skin of lions away. 

Notum placed her hands on Anabeila’s shoulders. Twisted her sternum, gentle suggestions of heart, and positioned her to look in the opposing direction. Away from Notum. Peering into the true shadow of Anabeila’s mind. 

Away from the tree under which they stood, passed the dividing lines of desire and intention. The river laid. Fast and grey. Full of serpents and yellow eyes and jaded riddles or devious games. It struck a path of violence between the island on which Anabeila and the Notum were standing and the true face of the forest of ash in which Anabeila should have been working was layered in the banks beyond its other side. 

The truth of her forest was obvious. Passed the rage of the river was a towering horizon of red waves and putrid fruits, acorns and den mother cries. It was a wooded anomaly of oak trees tied under strangler fig piano lines, whose great flowers stretched tendril roots down through bark and into sulphur rich earth full of rabbit pelts and skinned skink spines. They pulled nutrient from every crevice and fed every line until swollen with molestation crimes. The vitamins and carbon rose beyond the suffocating tree limbs, powering the huge soot laden fig tree flowers that hung in the sky, imperious ravens, eyes like owls. Mice in the field. Anabeila and the Notum prey to the rotating stigmas of thousands of predatorial blossom sties.

“This is what we must conquer, Anabeila. Not small islands of pleasure, but huge territories of fear.”

Anabeila looked at herself. Somewhere inside the second self, right now. She could feel the island beneath them quiver. It was shaking. Fear was all powerful. It was encompassing.

“Child, I am here. Do not be afraid.”

But it began as Anabeila looked into the maw of a fig flower where wasp stings putrefy. She felt them without looking, and she had looked on them with true eyes.

The flowers shook. Their scried stems pulsed. Their ovaries opened, anthers pulled apart. The angular focus of petals stretched back to the forest and the forward facing leaned directly into Anabeila’s sights. The receptacle appeared, a mouth in its bloom. A set of sawed teeth, mucous lined and stained with rotting rabbit feet, smiled. They all smiled. They all turned their smiles to the two on the island on the other side of a river shrinking. Violent, but shrinking. The forest getting closer. The wind picking up powerful pace.

“Anabeila! You must overpower it. Stand above it. It is YOU. Do not let it empower that which you’ve hidden, it must be brought to light! Not embiggened!”

It made nonsense of her senses. Anabeila began to slip further. Her eyes spiraling into the shoreline of demons. Her heart disappearing. The monster within freeing itself and using her thin scarred arms as levers. 

The sky turned a crude dark oil spill dripping hydrocarbons and tannins from the roof of an acidic lake. Upside down into the ephemeral timescape of the halfway empyrean nested with bodies of Abbadon above the forest of smiling snakes. The sour rain from the locust filled sky drenched the ground with sulphur and fed the soil with wine.

“Anabeila!” Her voice was growing softer. Leaving her ears. “Ana! Truth is the ego of the beast… Conquer it a—” her voice disappeared into the din of demons.

The storm turned its soil to a churning of tentacles like cardboard waves righting stage left, held in the hands of imps and spectres. The ground splashed amongst itself, spears and sceptres. Tarot card pulp turned the soil fuel line rider and all the tendril roots grew seven times larger. 

The flowers rose even higher, the trees beneath them shrinking into old towers overpowered by time and vines and raising volume waters. The bloom smiles grew wider, teeth larger, throats emptier, stronger, muscles inducing sky semen down harder. Great casts of shadows, sails billowing with dark jolly roger. Monster minds, and blowing bombs. 

“Anabeila!” Her voice was quiet and it was scared. It was very far away… evanescent.

The forest continued and grew into a giant, its legs rising from the backs of turtles lodged in hands of logs of reptile riots. The beast rose from the deep, mouth opened, behemoth ready to reap. Its hands now pointed towards the stars, it grasps the great WYRM! The cycle of God! And it pulls! It pulls God’s mouth down onto —

Shock. All white.

Notum’s hands were a description of pale and hot. She had clapped them together once and entirety disappeared from thought. The forest shrank and dissolved. The island washed out beneath her, and Anabeila was drowning for a moment. Coughed of raging waters and Notums palms.

She opened her eyes, still coughing. In the conservatory. The entire classroom of silent unwatching children were all focused on the back, where Notum Raysolas stood, holding Anabeila in her arms. She turned them both away from innocent but curious eyes and placed her chin into Anabeila’s shoulder, joining physical self to physical mind. “Don’t fret child.” Spoke Notum while tears welled in their eyes. “Egos are the beast of the mind. Terrors to be tamed and brought in line. We will conquer them. All in good time.”