Friday, 11 March 2011
Here are the opening paragraphs of Beneath the Pleasure Zones , the evolving sequel to The Qliphoth:
1.1 Special Effects of the Rupture
“The post-Qliphothic aeon.” As time passed, the phrase seemed increasingly cryptic each time Lucas wrote it. This time he was using a cracked biro on the back of some old spread-sheets salvaged from a ruined tax office. He hoped that this latest attempt at a memoir would finally create an explanation, an exegesis that made sense of the Qliphothic Intrusion, the Yesodic Leakage, or as the authorities now termed it, desperate to sanitise its terrors, “The Rupture.”
Over a decade now since that brief aperture in the consensus of what then passed for reality, the daily time-line. A sudden blinding fissure in the sky; an eruption of darkness across the cities ; a crack in the shell of Malkuth, our root-world, according to the wandering street-prophets, that admitted the dark side of the Yesodic zones. The dark energies of the Qliphoth broke in and out. Everyone had a pet creed, a broken pot of theory that didn’t quite hold up. “No-one can develop a workable practice to cope fully with the afterbirths of the Rupture, ” wrote Lucas, cautiously. And yet again, paused.
For this was personal history. His dead parents, Nick and Pauline, became vessels and he was an agent, blundering into forbidden zones, who “let something fly in,” as the Lore of the Rupture had it. That’s all he could tell himself.
Rain drummed on the roof of his shelter, a ramshackle extension to an old Carbon-Age observation post dug out of the woody hillside in those wild years when our defence mechanisms were launch-keys in plutonic silos. Now everyone was into psychic self-defence. He sensed a remote inner-ear distant babble, perhaps from the squabbling sages of nearby Leynebridge- and the moment of self-recollection was gone.
He pushed the precious paper to one side of the table. So much for his Neuro-Saxon chronicle. His left temple ached. Focus on language became more difficult after the Rupture; and now it was impossible to concoct a narrative that he could live in comfortably.
Comforts in general were in short supply, especially here in the Borderlands, where the followers of the Lore had congregated, to live close to the Earth. He surveyed his improvised living space, his bunk, his books leaning on the rusty shelves that would have housed a short-wave radio console or a geiger counter. His late mother’s imported Chairman Mao alarm clock told him it was approximately eight-thirty. Simple tinplate mechanisms usually worked. So he peered out under the heavy concrete lintel into his extension, a crazy parody of a suburban conservatory cobbled together from plastic sheeting, corrugated iron and discarded pallets. It was raining heavily, as Vivienne had predicted. He must try not to think too hard about dreamy Vivienne. But it stopped him thinking about Carla. Or Leila. Or Robyn. All his lost girls.
Time to work if he was going to eat today , to go to Leynebridge and share the battered ornaments of his knowledge at the Learning Repository. With the kids. Damned kids.
He still couldn’t believe he’d fallen into his late mother’s vocation as an educator , albeit in modes she never anticipated in her Age of Ideology ( Marxist-Leninist) But in the chaos of the immediate post-Rupture period, it was his best chance of keeping his head down. Someone had to deal with the thousands of young persons traumatised by their new-found powers and the bombardments of a para-psychic society. Flash-back: the ghost of himself barely out of his teens, helping his mother instill some simple left-brain skills into moaning semi-children huddled in the shell of Westway Community School. The least he could do. All he could do. His encounters in the alt-worlds, which still try to entrap him in dream-frames, had given him some immunity against the Special Effects of the Rupture. He had survived. If only to talk it through.
Problem was that he was still talking it through ( or its voices were talking through him) years later in the Borderlands, with nowhere to go but round and round. Except on his solitary shift at the “community” radio station. Leynebridge 930 AM. Which was about to close. It looked as if the community didn’t want his communications.
He pulled the plastic sheeting off his trike and checked the battery. Hopefully it might last another season. The motor whined fitfully. Then, with his bag of books over his shoulder and his greatcoat flapping in the drizzle, he bumped down the grass-fissured track towards Leynebridge.
The route curved down through a copse, passed an abandoned pub, its picnic tables chopped up for firewood, and crossed sloping pasture lands where huddles of sheep ruminated. As he cycled, he noticed a faint tremor in his right temple. The glistening hedgerows are signalling, alive with biomorphic energy. Then he controlled the reflex - it was surely a slight breeze. Or the animals simply stating their presence-in-itself. The dim murmur in his head merged with the hum of the motor as the trike gathered speed.
As he reached the fork between Leynebridge and Old Hallows, he overtook a dented pick-up carrying a sagging pyramid of potatoes. The driver was mouthing something, probably some mantra intended to keep him focussed on the road, but his fuel trailer full of methane was swinging everywhere, so Lucas gave him a wide berth. He could see the turrets of the Leynebridge Tower through the haze.
The road skirted a burying ground, another mass grave from Rupture-times. Between the yew trees and the crooked wooden markers, he noticed three Harvesters and looked away quickly. Hooded in grey they slowly moved their snaking detectors along the overgrown paths. Refugees from the Urbs often assumed they were using metal detectors to salvage precious metals - a saw blade, a claw hammer, a lock-knife. But Lucas knew their modus operandi. Even now, they still claimed an ancient right to harvest souls; and on their vigils they claimed to see a bluish orgone-flicker of astral energy hovering over the grassy mounds, to be gathered as a life-feed in their secret ceremonies. The Leynebridge Elders discouraged the micro-sect and it was unusual to see them after sun-rise. Another sign that the precarious social order was collapsing?