05.02.15 (Day 409)
One of my little girls is hurt: the fold-up one has her arm in a sling after being bitten by something. Sweetie, if I find out what it was, I will shoot it, fuck its corpse and eat it. I will too. After watching Watership Down for the first time, I went out and shot a rabbit, fucked its dead body, then ate it to exact my revenge on the animals which had been so cruel to me and made me cry.
I’m limbering up and exercising my fingers on the keyboard to get them ready for a day of writing, seeing as that’s pretty much my job now. Writing this blog, getting everything off of my chest and out of my mind is good preparation. I have some catching up to do on the writing front: Tuesday was lost to engagements which kept cropping up and yesterday turned into only half a day as I had my other hat on; my chef’s hat. In the half day remaining though, I managed to knock out a chapter of the new book:
The City Without History
The city was different now. Jess knew, yet she hadn’t seen the metamorphosis. She had no memory of how things used to be; only the photographs her parents had left behind. They were gone: her parents and their city.
There used to be public squares, parks and recreation areas. Now the city was just a square, with groups of buildings on each corner separated by wasteland.
Every morning, Jess takes the same route to work, leaving her apartment in the residential quarter and walking counter clockwise around the square city, past the police station and jail to her office in the commercial quarter. Every evening, she walks clockwise past the hospital and back to her home.
She could take a bus. Buses run in both directions around the square. She could use The Loop; an elevated railway around the city. She chooses to walk because in doing so, she takes personal charge of her destiny without entrusting it to public transport and the passengers thereon. And every Wednesday evening, a hand-written note protrudes from the same storm drain cover. Usually it’s just requests for food and water; pens and paper. On this particular Wednesday, the note has gone far further; far deeper.
The first time it happened, all that Jess saw was a rolled up sheet of paper, protruding only slightly from the metal grille as rain water flowed around it, like a periscope tentatively looking for something above an ocean. The river of water flowing into the drain was as grey as the drain cover itself, broken only by white bubbles and carrying debris from the curbside. Bus and train tickets; cigarette ends and spent matches; lottery tickets and receipts; all carried like white water rafters on the river downstream.
On that first occasion, the rolled up sheet was just a protrusion into Jess’s space. White against grey, it was out of place. Jess had stepped into the road and into the riders, as though into enemy territory and pushed the tube of paper into the drain: a discarded sheet, carelessly dropped and washed by rain water into the drain cover but with it’s progress impeded by the iron portcullis which guarded the watery world below.
The riders were demons on wheels, risking their own lives and those of others, riding their cannibalised machines at far in excess of what used to be a speed limit on the roads. Now there were no limits, not even physical ones that the riders observed between road and kerb. Mostly they would growl and roar along the edge of the road but occasionally they would violently mount the kerb, screaming like human sirens at anyone in their way. Jess had seen walkers knocked down, the riders having no concern other than being paid for each delivery of human blood, organs and body parts. They were couriers; messengers to the devil.
If they had time, the riders would stop and pick up their fresh kills to be harvested for spare parts. Far easier were the jumpers: people made redundant, who had hurled themselves from buildings, rather than be dissected while still alive and without anaesthetic, to provide organs and limbs to the needy classes. The riders would collect the roadkill and carrion, then ride pillion on their bikes with their cargo slumped over the handlebars.
A job in the city was something you held onto for life, in more ways than one. Once a job was lost, invariably so too was a life. Jobs were never advertised.
Jess arrives at the building which houses her office and nineteen others: law firms, accountants and the offices of various trades, mainly allied to the construction industry. As the door onto the street closes behind her, the relative quiet in the building is somehow louder than the noise outside as the inside provides room for thought. The riders on the street and the pavement still growl, roar and scream. The other traffic provides a background hum, broken only by the air brakes of a bus travelling either clockwise or counter clockwise around the square city and letting out a mechanical sigh of relief as it disgorges its passengers. The screech of metal on metal from The Loop railway, which runs in both directions around the city subdues as though being shut in a box as the door to Jess’s daytime concentration camp settles in its frame.
The elevator reluctantly collects Jess from the entrance hall, it’s doors opening slowly, like a vertical metal mouth yawning. Then like a piston, the elevator quickly takes Jess to the fourteenth floor and yawns again as she steps out. Before entering her office, she takes in the view outside.
The city looks so different from up here: The Loop a model railway and below it, toy cars, buses, taxis and motorbikes; model people too. Where once stood high rise office towers, now hastily constructed concrete monolithic syringes pierce the clouds of dust which hang overhead, their rooftop communication antennae injecting propaganda into the ether for distant extraterrestrial civilisations to pick up, long after humanity destroyed itself. Welcome to our world. Put another way, this is our world and you are welcome to it.
Paul Auster, eat your heart out. My literary hero considers it a personal achievement if he’s written one page after a long day working. He is a perfectionist and every word must have it’s place, with no redundant words. His writing flows and when you read it, it’s like the author himself is reading it to you.
That’s the last preview I’m posting here. The next anyone sees of the book will be the completed first draft when it goes to my test readers.
Bloodstained Knaves is going to be a longer book than The Paradoxicon. With that book, the subject matter was so huge that if I’d explored it in much greater detail, I’d have ended up with a novel running to 1500-2000 pages. Therefore it paid to write it in the way I did and leave a lot of suggestions for the reader to contemplate. The new book doesn’t have such broad scope but almost perversely, that demands more description; more intimacy between the narrator, the characters and the reader. So Bloodstained Knaves will be bigger and will take longer to write than The Paradoxicon, not just because of its length but because of the descriptive narrative required. I shall continue with the writing process as soon as I’ve got this blog out of my head and attended to a few other things. Then my decks are clear.
There’s not a lot to do as it happens: a couple of emails to send; one to my daughter The Ninja and one to my friend Niki, who’s reading The Paradoxicon. Niki is a teeny bit famous, having featured in Service with Michel Roux a few years back. Look at me rubbing shoulders with the famous, not.
If I can finish up a bit early today, I may meet up with my fold-up girl – also a test reader – to go through whatever I managed to write today.
Quote of the day from yesterday, not from the book and not from my foldy one: “You need to write poetry which appeals to the female vagina.”