Saturday, January 20, 2007

YOA - Special Prose Edition!

The apartment was silent, bar the gentle murmurings from the battered transistor radio atop the fridge. It was the depths of the night, and the three occupants were still unconscious.

Nigel lay on the sofa, flat on his back, hands behind his head, staring up at the ceiling through closed eyes.

Dave was twisted up in his coat by the door, hugging his knees.

Andrew had collapsed onto the floor, face down, his breathing only slightly perceptible.

* * * * * * * * * *

The guests were scattered across the living area of the infamous apartment. Their clothes were bland, the voices dull, the expressions bored and the champagne in the cut diamond crystals was flat. A chartered accountant who had yet to lose his virginity sipped at his drink.

His companion, a buxom wench with purple hair snorted like a horse. ‘I had heard that this "Verkoff" character was quite the showman,’ she complained, looking at their equally bland surroundings.

A merchant banker with a gland problem dabbed at his perspiring forehead with a folded-over handkerchief. ‘I hear,’ he croaked in a hoarse voice, ‘he carries all the riches, gold and the moonlight itself! Just in his pantaloons.’

‘Metaphorically, of course?’ asked the chartered accountant hopefully.

‘Of course.’

The stupid-looking figure in the multicoloured trenchcoat swigged his glass in one go. The badge on his blue lapel read Hi! I’m Dave! ‘Duh, I hear he looks real purdy,’ he opined in a too-loud-a-voice. ‘Why, he’s got all those lovely... trinkets.’

He fell silent, staring into the middle distance.

‘If he’s so –’

Dave began speaking again, cutting off the purple-haired woman’s remark. ‘A magical smile!’

The woman waited until he had been silent for thirteen seconds before she spoke again. ‘I mean, if—’

‘An’ soft, olive-like skin!’ Dave concluded with a strange, donkey-like ‘heehaw’.

‘If he is so impressive,’ the woman roared, ‘then where is he?! Hmm?’

Dave looked around, his expression falling as the all the guests began nodding and mumbling their agreements and general disapproval.

* * * * * * * * * *

Sleep was receding like low tide. Slowly, Dave began to realize he was lying on his bed, twisted into a position he presumably had found comfortable at one point, and could hear the slight crackle coming from his TV. His tape must have run out and the VCR had switched off. Dave debated whether or not to go and switch off the TV.

No, he was too comfortable.

He relaxed and felt the warm embrace of sleep began to wash over him.


Dave’s eyes snapped open, to see the gloomy outline of his quarters lit by the flickering glow of his television set. The first rays of sunlight were only just lightening up the sky outside his window. He decided to ignore the fact this was his bedroom at his parents' house, and not where he had been living for months.

‘Go away,’ Dave groaned as loud as he could. ‘I’m trying to get some sleep.’

There was a click as the door unlocked itself.

Frowning, Dave craned his neck to turn to look at this impossibility.

But there it was. The door to his room, with no outside interference, was now swinging inwards with a nerve-shredding creak of rusty hinges. And beyond it... beyond it...


Bright, blinding light.

Dave gasped, screwing his eyelids shut, but the white glow reached through the pink gloom and bleached his mind. Covering his face with both hands, he risked opening his eyes to see the illumination had turned everything in his room a flat, dazzling white.

Scrambling on the bedside table, Dave’s groping hands found a pair of sunshades and he slipped them on. The intense glow was confined to an oblong of white in the doorway. The rest of the apartment seemed to have vanished.

Dave swung his legs over the edge of the bed and rose to examine this phenomenon more closely.

The light went out.

Suddenly, Dave was rendered nearly blind by the sunglasses. Annoyed, he tugged them loose and saw a grey void outside his bedroom before it seemed to ignite into that searing white again. The pain struck him in the eyes and he frantically hauled the shades over them.

The moment he did so, the glow dispersed.

Cautiously, Dave removed them and the glare returned.

He put them on and the glare vanished.

Well, two can play at that game.

Dave leaped into action.

* * * * * * * * * *

Somewhere, someone was playing Nocturne in E Flat on the piano. Andrew could barely hear it over the roar of the flames. But Chopin was always soothing.

Andrew hugged himself through his thin singlet. Despite the endless rolling flames around him, his skin was cold and icy to the touch. He gritted his teeth, frost peppering the stubble on his chin.

Something lurched through the coiling red fire, its silhouette sharpening into focus.

It was Nigel. His clothes were singed and smoldering, his skin flushed and burnt. His eyes bulged from behind warped sunglasses as he began to grunt and chant at Andrew.

‘Rage! Burn!
Swarm in the ant-hill! Swarm in the bloodstream!
Kisses of sand!
Drown in the sweetness! Drown in the ocean!
Panic in the streets!
Scream! Sting!
Gem-encrusted serpents! Horned like a hunter!
Great Ouroboros! Midgaard monster!
Winged like a warlock!
Eating up the ocean! Swallowing its tail!’

Andrew was not impressed.

* * * * * * * * * *

Displeasure was turning to annoyance. Annoyance was turning to outrage.

Subnormally stupid as he was, Dave was backing away from the guests as their grumbling grew to a rumbling and they turned, in unison to face him. He quickly found himself pressed up against the corrugated metal side of the silo.

The crowd began to march towards him.

Suddenly, a hatch unfolded in the silo and Andrew leapt out. His perfect-coiffure was held in place by the ebony eye-patch that covered the right side of his face. His large, finely embroidered coat hung open across the stripy pantaloons tucked into creaky leather boots.

The hermit’s accent suited his piratical attire.

‘Ladies and gentlemen!’ he crowed. ‘May I present to you...’

Andrew flung out an arm, pointing to the glass-paneled garden entrance.

The Count...

The crowd had fallen silent.

...of Nigel...

The crowd’s attention was fixed on the door.


Hell slipped loose.

* * * * * * * * * *

Dave moved the sunglasses back and forth over his eyes in a random pattern – one moment to the tune of Urban Spaceman, the next the Funeral March, the next prime numbers.

The glow dimmed, brightened, brightened, dimmed, brightened...

It took about a minute of this before whatever force controlling the white glow gave up.

The searing light outside his front door shone and stayed shining as Dave slipped the shades over his eyes. He could now see properly and, smiling, strode up to the doorway. He had beaten it.

‘Oh, yeah,’ he smirked. ‘I’m the man!’

He strutted forward into the glow, only to realize this may not have been the best thing to do.

Dave sensed the bedroom door slam shut as the white void seemed to tighten around him. The glow was burning through his sunglasses and into his skull.

And then, without warning... stopped.

It was as simple as that.

* * * * * * * * * *

Her skin was the color of milk. It smelt of caramel. Her smooth hand stroked his cheek with her fingertips and Andrew struggled not flinch at the contact. It was not painful – far from it. ‘Look at me,’ she chuckled happily in his ear. ‘No, really, it’s all right, you can look,’ she promised with the earnestness of a six-year-old and the gleefulness of a child three years younger than that.

Andrew narrowed his eyes and tried not to react.

Her left leg rose, bent at the knee which touched his stomach. Her warm arms snaked slowly around his shoulders. She nuzzled his neck. Her long red hair smelt of strawberries. Her bare body twisted and suddenly she was in front of him, the dancing flames giving a writhing orange glow to her flesh.

‘Have you ever seen such beauty?’ Katy asked him. ‘Have you ever seen eyes so bright? Skin so white? Lips so soft for kissing? Have you?’ She was sounding desperate. ‘Well, have you?’

Andrew shook his head.

Behind her stood Nigel, watching with an expression of deep contempt.

‘Rend! Flay! Slay! Tear!’ he growled. ‘Out of your skin, the birds flutter, burning!
Backbird and osprey!
Greenfinch and cuckoo!
Wings, molten metal!
Rook, wren and raven!
Partridge and seagull – pecking out your eyes!’

Katy was pressing herself against him, staring into his eyes. ‘I don’t mind if you want to touch me,’ she admitted with a pout. ‘I don’t mind if you want to hold me close and dance with me. Any man would want to touch a body so beautiful.’ She rested her head on his chest. ‘So beautiful,’ she murmured, sliding towards sleep.

Andrew’s resolve cracked. He screamed.

Who are you?!

* * * * * * * * * *

The silence was so complete that when Dave dropped a pin, everyone heard it.

Then, there was a creaking noise.

And another.

And another.

It was coming from the wall facing the garden. Heard mentality prevalent, the guests combined into one group and moved towards the kitchen area, putting as much space between themselves and the wall, which now seemed to be... flexing. Back and forth. Forth and back.

Another creak.

A snap.

A chunk of wall fifteen centimetres larger than the glass doors it surrounded was ripped free from its moorings, complete with aforementioned glass doors. The segment of apartment wall was sucked up and out of view, revealing the windswept garden outside, lit from above by a spot light.

‘What in the world?’ gasped a charted accountant.

His buxom companion snorted like a horse.

Dave remembered a childhood incident involving a transformer doll and sighed with deep despair.

* * * * * * * * * *

Transformer dolls weren’t exactly at the forefront of Dave’s mind when he removed his sunglasses, but they were pretty close.

The incandescent whiteness had vanished in as bizarre and over-elaborate way as it had arrived. Dave was now standing outside the door of his bedroom. But his bedroom seemed no longer connected to the apartment he had left hours previous to get some sleep.

He was now standing on a huge shelf full of toys. Or maybe the shelf was normal sized and he had simply shrunk. Either way, the door inset into the wall behind him, the door that lead to his bedroom was still in scale with him the way the toys on the shelf were not.

To the left of him was a teddy bear as large as a phone box, and to his right was an old-fashioned locomotive train that was on a one-to-one scale with the real thing, only made out of cheaply-painted plastic and tin. Before him stood a doll-house so large it might as well have been a mansion – the doors and windows large enough for him to crawl into. There was no movement, and the windows were dark.

Dave whistled. ‘Wow. Honey, I blew up the toy shop,’ he quipped.

Suddenly a pair of white cotton glove-wearing hand slid into his field of vision clutching a bright orange box with TNT written on it in large, friendly black letters. A cartoon-simple plunger was fitted onto it. The offer was obvious: You want to blow up the toy shop? Now you can.

Dave stared at the plunger. ‘Uh, no thank you,’ he said out aloud.

The hands withdrew, taking the TNT plunger with it.

Dave turned to catch sight of his unseen helper, but he was alone on the toy shelf. His gaze returned to the doll’s house as all the windows simultaneously illuminated with the same searing white light that had broken into his bedroom.

And, just as before, the front door to doll’s house creaked open with an identical creak.

Beyond it was the same dazzling glow.

Already, Dave found it hard to make out any details of the toy shelf – it was like watching a sketch being drawn on paper, only in reverse. The bear, the train, the door to his bedroom were just wasting away into the glow burning around the contours of the doll’s house.

Groggily, he stumbled forwards up the plastic steps to enter that glow for the second time.

* * * * * * * * * *

The flames were getting hotter, the smoke getting thicker, tickling him in the back of his throat. But he had to stay calm. To stay logical. To fight the illusions. He spoke to himself since Katy and Nigel were gone. His voice was soft and calm, barely audible over the crackling of the flames.

‘I asked them "Who are you and what to do you want from me?" I asked them and they said: "Ah." They said, "Ah, we know who you are." They said, "And you are and we are and they are and all things are..." And I said, "Yes." But I said, "Yes, but, but..."’

Andrew coughed and spluttered, losing his control.

Behind him, a girl sat cross-legged in mid-air, staring into the yellowing pages of a heavy tome. A pair of spectacles were perched on her nose. ‘The flames change to a whirlpool,’ she read out in a calm, scholarly tone that made her sound older than she was. ‘Irresistible vortex of swirling water, dragging the traveler down to the depths of the ocean, down to the innermost recesses of selfhood...’

Andrew opened his mouth to speak, but she was growing paler by the second. Her form shimmered into translucency, bleaching against the crackling wall of fire. ‘Down to... where?’ the girl asked, her voice sounding all the more distant. ‘Where? Where?’ She was gone now. Her voice hovered in the voice for a moment before that too faded. ‘Where?’

A hand slithered between his singlet and his back. Another joined it and they moved around until they were positioned on either side of his hammering heart. Lips began to kiss the back of his neck.

‘Now then,’ Katy was whispering, ‘isn’t this nice? Isn’t this just what you’ve always wanted?’ she asked when he refused to reply. ‘You know, I really think this is what you’ve been afraid of all your life, Andrew: of knowing what you really want?’

Andrew screwed his eyes shut.

‘But I don’t want this,’ he gasped. ‘Why should I want it?’ Calm. Keep calm. Andrew opened his eyes, his voice devoid of emotion once more. ‘"Why should I want it?" I said. And I’m not afraid, though I will admit to a certain understandable trepidation...’

* * * * * * * * * *

The guests, urged against their better judgement by the pirate and the simpleton, crept towards the newly-formed hole in the wall – and saw the missing chunk of apartment exterior hurtling up into the night sky, a large super-strong grappling hook imbedded in the heart of the segment.

The hook was connected by a long, long and very strong metal cord to a helicopter apparently made out of pure gold. It had hauled and ripped the wall free and now, obeying Isaac Newton’s first law of motion, the wall was hurtling straight for the helicopter.

At the last moment, the helicopter dived and the grappling hook released itself.

The wall continued past its former target, finally beginning to surrender to gravity. Its course curved into an arc and it finally came crashing down on a small milk bar run by a nasty woman who overcharged customers and couldn’t cook worth a damn.

Meanwhile, the golden helicopter landed with much relief (do you know how heavy a gold helicopter is?) on the garden, its side doors positioned in such a way to perfectly fit the missing wall. The windows were tinted to obscure the occupants, but the stylistic logo on the helicopter was easily identified.


The side door clicked open and swung downwards towards the floorboards, creating a miniature staircase connecting helicopter with apartment. Thick clouds of grey smoke coiled and danced in the open doorway for a long while.

And then, the smoke cleared...

* * * * * * * * * *

Dave blinked. He looked around him.

He was inside the dolls-house. The white glow had vanished, but there was still some invisible source of illumination. Outside the windows was darkness and inside was everything Dave would have expected to find – smooth plastic furniture, painted wallpaper and fittings, and a few primitive smiling toys standing around the kitchen. They were little more than bowling skittles with people painted on them. A hairy figure in a singlet, a black man in a red T-shirt, a blonde girl in orange...

Dave stared at a doll set apart from the others, a blurred figure in a blue-yellow trenchcoat positioned so it appeared to be staring at something on the ground.

Dave tapped it with his finger tip. The toy-person teetered backwards and crashed into the floor.

Dave’s attention was drawn past the toy to the thing it had been studying.

It was a doll’s doll-house. A perfect replica of the building Dave now stood in, except its size was what he would have expected.

As his gaze fell on the small house, its tiny windows lit up in unison. With a click, the small door in the front swung inwards for the bright white glow to spill out. Maybe it was because it all compacted into a smaller space, but Dave was sure the light was brighter and more searing than before.

Dave bent forward to peer at the glow, getting down on his hands and knees.

Seen from this angle, the toy house seemed much larger than it had from standing. Dave shuffled forward, and the house seemed to loom larger. Far larger than a simple trick of perspective. He was certain he could easily fit his head and shoulders inside that door now, the door that seemed smaller than a box of matches mere moments before.

Dave scrabbled to attempt this, but the door and the house around it was so large he could quite comfortable scramble inside. He turned to look at the house interior he was in, but the burning glow rendered everything outside the doll-house a blur.

* * * * * * * * * *

The flames were dancing in the jaw of a giant stone dragon, the stalagmite and stalactite-like teeth glowed blood red. Huddled in the eye of this storm, Andrew and the demons were playing ludo. As the dice clattered onto the battered board, he ignored Nigel who glared down at him; he ignored Katy, who lay beside him, her head in his lap; he ignored the other girl, who sat on the other side of him, still reading her book; and he ignored Dave, who was the one he was playing Ludo against.

‘I went downstairs for a drink of water,’ Dave said suddenly. ‘But when I looked in the glass, it was full of the branches of trees. And that was the way the world began.’ He took off one of Andrew’s pieces and returned it to Andrew’s home. ‘They say there’s a desert on the surface of the moon, but you mustn’t ever walk on it,’ he warned.

He looked Andrew straight in the eye.

‘Because, if you do, it will swallow you up and drag you down to hell.’

* * * * * * * * * *

A slender form stepped through the last traces of smoke and began to descend the helicopter steps towards the awaiting guests. His lithe, muscular form was draped in a snow-white fur coat that tripled his area. Gripped in his right hand was a cane made of pure ivory with the letters NV carved into the hilt. In contrast to the white clothes and chocolate skin, gold jewelry dripped off the man – rings, necklaces, cufflinks, belts, boots... A diamond-incrusted pair of sunglasses marked DJ ROCK and a white fedora with a dodo feather tucked into the brand covered the top half of the face, the lower half dominated by a nuclear white toothy grin.

This was Mister Nigella Jay Verkoff.

And he was dressed like a New York ghetto pimp.

A very rich, successful New York ghetto pimp, but a New York ghetto pimp nevertheless.

Verkoff stood before the assembled masses and raised his left hand. Tucking away his thumb, he twisted his middle two fingers around each other and spread the remainder in opposite directions, forming a rough W shape. The international sign of Westside.

‘Word,’ said Verkoff, his voice like cut glass.

‘My lord,’ croaked the merchant banker in awe. ‘That looks... just ridiculous!

‘Told you he looked like a fruit,’ the chartered accountant added.

As the rest of the guest added their annoyance and general irritation at the host, food, accommodation and the general levels of arrogance involved, Dave lumbered up to Verkoff and stared deeply into his mouth. He grunted in disapproval. ‘You’re ugly looking,’ he announced, turned, and lumbered off again.

Verkoff was aghast in horror – even Dave was having a go at him!

Dazed, Verkoff turned to look at Andrew propped up by his silo/room and clutching a half-empty bottle of scotch. The monocular pirate swigged from the bottle and shrugged. ‘I told you to give my introduction only when the guests weren’t sober!’ Nigel said reprovingly.

* * * * * * * * * *

The glow retreated and Dave was now on his hands and knees inside a doll-house identical in size and shape to the one he had just vacated. He got to his feet and looked around. The illumination was slighter brighter than before, and there were no dolls. But there was the normal-sized doll-house sitting on the floor.

Already its windows were glowing and door was open.

Dave frowned and tried to peer through the glow. Already the house around him seemed less real, more ghostly. Dave was suddenly on his hands and knees, shuffling forwards. The doll-house was growing larger and larger the closer he got to it and he did not pause in moving through the doorway as it expanded to accommodate him.

He found himself in another doll-house, now bereft of any furniture or details beyond the shape of the walls which were dancing with the intense white glow, that was radiating outwards from house’s open door. Without slowing down, Dave continued through the glow as the doll-house around him dispersed in the glow and the one before him expanded to his scale.

Inside that doll-house was nothing but a burning white glow, the centre of which was a patch of shadow Dave expected to be the miniature doll-house. He hurried towards the shadow, which grew larger and darker before he passed through that doorway as well.

* * * * * * * * * *

Nigel was chanting in German. Andrew didn’t speak German, so he ignored it.

‘There are many symbols which are not individual but collective in their nature and origin,’ the girl (Andrew got the baffling impression she was called Eve) told him as Andrew found his penultimate piece returned home. ‘In fact,’ she continued, ‘they are collective representations, emanating from primeval dreams and creative fantasies.’

How comforting. I don’t have to read anything into this dream.

‘As such, these images are involuntary spontaneous manifestations and by no means intentional inventions,’ Eve concluded, resting her head on his shoulder.

Howard Carter’s dog in Cairo screamed once and collapsed, dead.

The demons in the form of Dave, Nigel, Eve and Katy looked worried.

* * * * * * * * * *

Nigella Jay Verkoff watched as the guests stormed his apartment, smashing every single piece of furniture and spray-painting obscene comments as to Verkoff’s sexuality on the walls. Andrew and Dave had decided to help cause as much destruction and chaos as they could.

The helicopter pilot had fled, knowing when to leave.

Any moment, the mob would turn on Verkoff and he would be ripped apart like the annoying Irish guy that got ripped apart by zombies in Shaun of the Dead.

‘At least this couldn’t get any worse,’ Verkoff sighed to himself in melancholic pathos.

At that moment, the wall-phone began to ring urgently. Obligingly, Verkoff reached out and answered it. ‘Hello?’ he said, raising his voice above the carnage nearby.

‘Nigel?’ came the reply. ‘This is Cindy.’

‘Hello, Cindy,’ said Verkoff, feeling rather foolish.

‘Remember that night we slept together?’ Cindy asked.

Ignoring the crowd of drooling, ferocious investors closing in on his unprotected back, Verkoff smirked and knowing smirk. ‘I remember you screaming for mercy,’ he said playfully, toying with the phone line with his little finger.

‘I was faking it!’ Cindy screamed in his ear and then hung up.

Verkoff stared at the silent phone in his palm as the group lynched him.

* * * * * * * * * *

Dave had stopped shuffling and started walking, stopped walking and started running. House after house after house he had passed through, each one slowly losing more identity and form against the glow that just got brighter and brighter and brighter and brighter.

He was no longer sure if he was wearing his sunglasses, for it made no different. The pain in his eyes had long since vanished, as had the ache in his chest and the soreness in his limbs. He just continued to stumble forward into the acid-tipped glow, not even sure that there had ever been a time he was not doing this.

The glow became brighter and brighter. Dave could feel his identity shriveling in the intensity.

And there it was – the source of the light.

Dave struggled to comprehend what he was looking at, but he couldn’t. There were no words to describe it, no concepts to compare it against. He simply was capable of perceiving the source of the light that hung in mid-air before him. The pressure in his mind built.

He should turn back, run for it, leave his narrow mind closed.

He should stay and understand this... this link in the very fabric of existence.

The pain grew worse. His skin ignited into flame, boiling the flesh away from his bones.

Dave managed one last coherent thought before the fire reached his brain:

I never used to be this indecisive – or did I?

* * * * * * * * * *

Andrew ignored the demons and peered through the flames emerging from the throat of the monster whose mouth he currently stood in. A voice was calling over the crackle and spit of the fires.

...Theo... Let’s get out of here... Go somewhere... Somewhere else...

‘Izzy?’ he gasped out aloud. ‘Yes, now I remember! Where are you?’

Over here, Theo! Hurry!

‘This is what you’ve been afraid of all your life,’ Katy snapped.

Hurry! Hurry!

‘The individual is the only reality,’ Eve shouted.

Hurry! Hurry!

‘You must die, Andrew!’ Dave called.

Hurry! Hurry!

Nigel chanted in German.

Hurry! Hurry!

‘The further we move away from the individual towards abstract ideas,’ Eve was screaming.

Hurry! Hurry!

‘Die!’ Dave was screaming.

Hurry! Hurry!

‘...of knowing what you really want!’ Katy was screaming.

Hurry! Hurry!

Nigel was screaming in German.

Theo!! Help – me!!!

‘...the more likely we are to fall into error!’ Eve screamed.

They all screamed.

* * * * * * * * * *

Nigel lay on the sofa drenched in a fine rain of cold sweat. His heart was hammering in his chest and uncontrollable shivers ran through his clammy body.

A thought struck him.

Nigel snickered.

‘Even in my dreams, I still score,’ he laughed.

* * * * * * * * * *

Dave sighed heavily and struggled to untangle his limbs, ignoring the phantom sensation of heat on his bare arms and legs. He slumped back down and struggled to control his breathing.

‘No more Tom Stoppard after deep-pan Hawaiians with extra cheese,’ he promised.

* * * * * * * * * *

Andrew cracked open his eyes, looked around him for a moment, sighed, and went back to sleep.

To be continued...


Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

I kinda enjoyed the complete and utter insanity of it, but I was hoping for more sitcom material. Like when I saw the 'nightmare' episode of M*A*S*H (which this reminds me of a little)

Glad to see Katy again, though.

Youth of Australia said...

Wow, someone else likes Katy... but then, you haven't really met Eve yet... Never saw that ep of Mash.

Anyway, this was just an attempt to get three different dream sequences from different episodes and then turn them into a short story. In fact, it has sweet FA to do with the rest of the plot.

There was different acid trip the characters went through, involving 1945 France... if you want to see it, I'll post it up.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

In fact, it has sweet FA to do with the rest of the plot.

Heh, I really can't say that comes as too much of a surprise.

1945 France? I'm getting images of YoA Does 'Allo 'Allo here...

Youth of Australia said...

It's a bit more existential than that.

As for the sweet FA stuff, they could have woken up straight away, but episodes needed to be padded out and I'd been watching a lot of Monty Python at the time...