All entries for Monday 01 September 2008
September 01, 2008
-Besy. That’s for
-And my perversity?
-Chesterton. That was
an easy one. Yours.
-Green Noah. See how
my deepest fears form roots
-I see them.
-I wish poetry
had shaped me:
it makes fewer promises.
-Don’t drift off!
Now- what comes next?
-Ah! I adore Chekhov!
He’s so much more human
than we are.
A cold hand invades my grasp. We pass the cloakrooms and duck into overwhelming noise and light.
Where are we going? I ask F.
I don’t know, she says, but she’s smiling.
Below, a thousand pairs of hands are dancing intent in the dark. Occasional beacons light up a circle of shrieking sisters, or a couple who draw closer together, rest on each other’s shoulders, and kiss. Everything moves, as if to a single destination.
On the outskirts, the weave unravels; a fat girl is crying by the toilets. Her friends glide back and forth from her and out onto the dancefloor. A scuffle erupts near the bar but bulbous men emerge from the shadows and drag the culprits away. Four tall men have taken their shirts off and are leaping up and down in sheer wonder at their own gleaming bodies.
The grip on my fingers slacks and I can feel F is drifting back among the crowds. After a few seconds, I turn my head; it’s impossible to make her out from anyone else.
Outside, the smokers have been contained in cattle-pen fences to separate them from the straggling queue across the street. I can make out a group of hen-party women towards the back whose collective excitement dwindles with every passing moment. One of them takes off her glowing horns and flattens her hair back. The bouncer, begrudgingly, steps back to let a single man in through the dingy entrance.
A kid with shaven hair and a plastic bottle is escorted firmly out and dumped on the roadside. He shouts- so wasted that his words are entirely incomprehensible- and flops onto a bollard. Both smokers and queuing observe him in silence. He stares back into nothing, his head ducking forward, once, then twice. The bouncers have gone back inside. Right by my ear, somebody laughs.
The kid must think the laughter’s directed at him- perhaps it is- because he yells something in our direction, and runs with an unnatural, loping gait across the street, very quickly. He vanishes between two cars and doesn’t appear again.
A girl behind me pushes her boyfriend back. His pudgy face is inflamed with embarrassment. She shakes her head, snaps something back at him, and hurries off back into the club. He gapes for a moment, shouts,
Baby, baby, wait! but does not chase her.
It’s more than a little irritating that I’m forced to waste my time in writing all of this. Unfortunately, the polythane bag holding the video camera imploded on impact with the water, and this diary was the best I could do for recording purposes. (Mary recommended I pack it.)
I think it was pure luck that I happened to be working on a method of escape when the Catastrophe occurred (yesterday? It seems like longer somehow). It certainly wasn’t, as Mary claimed in her final moments of consciousness, the method of escape which actually caused the Catastrophe. We’d all known it was coming for quite some time, even if most people refused to admit it. But perhaps it was fate- I mean, what were the odds?
By the time I reached the shore (swimming through the ocean with one ruined leg’s no picnic) it was already midday. Fortunately, I hadn’t drifted west towards Porlock, where someone might have spotted me, but had rather been carried, as I planned, to the secluded bay surrounded by forest.
A stroll along the beach revealed the following barrels had survived; Barrel Three, containing the tent, a little food, and my sleeping mat (the sleeping bag itself is lost somewhere in the ocean, I imagine), Barrel Five, containing the first aid kit, a little food, and the water purifier, and Barrel Eight, containing the shotgun, two boxes of ammunition, a little food (I read up on Arctic explorers and their caches long before coming), some clean clothes, and the ruined video camera. Barrel Six floated up, half-sunk, in the late afternoon; this diary was all I could salvage. Of the other barrels, the charts, the firelighters and the dictionary there is no sign.
I’ve constructed my tent high up in the trees, out of sight, and I’m writing this entry with a boil-in-a-bag meal which is apparently meant to be chicken. The shotgun makes a proficient crutch, and I can still walk pretty quickly, although with a limp. Presumably by morning, some people are going to come investigating the light in the sky soon, and it’d be better if I saw them before they saw me.
April Fools’ Day. Nobody’s come to investigate. The bastards are frightened, I suppose. Today I tried to regain some sense of space. I’ve walked through these forests a thousand times with Mary, I know, but the connection has not yet been made in my mind; this could be an entirely new planet. I’ll find a sapling, I know, or an old stone I recognise, and everything will fit back into place.
Three thousand, one hundred and twenty paces through the bracken to the path where it dips to the west towards the town.
Five thousand, nine hundred and two paces to the east and the scree slope.
Four hundred and eighty-six paces down to the shore.
I tried to count the distance to the very top of the hill, but the dark began to gather and my leg was in too much pain.
Does nobody come up here, even in the summer?
I made it to the top of the hill today. Yesterday I tested myself: I crawled to the treeline- eight thousand and seventy paces- and left the compass, the first aid kit, and some of the food there, in plain view, so that I’d have no choice but to come back up this morning.
The peak stands at nine thousand, one hundred and seventy-two paces. I was able to count the chimneys of the village below; twenty-three chimneys. Sheep were grazing below in the pastures; the suspicion began to grow that these people have seen me; worse, that they’ve been watching me.
Tonight I’ll make preparations to visit the village. The dictionary may be gone, but I can remember enough to give them a suitable message regarding the Catastrophe.
I can understand now how the first explorers must have felt when they met the natives of a new land. Not even that- I can easily imagine how you could experience a sort of respect in seeing a savage, someone untouched by civilisation completely. But watching these people was like watching your adolescent self glower back to you; and how could you ever respect that? They keep their heads low and mumble.
I didn’t mention the Catastrophe (it didn’t seem appropriate). I had been considering firing the shotgun into the air as I entered the village, but it might not have been prudent. As it turned out, my bizarre clothing and hairless head was enough to send the people scurrying for their priest.
Would it have been too much to ask for an exorcism? He just stood there, like the rest of them, half-bowed, eyes in the dirt. I said something about how I had drifted ashore from faraway lands, and that I was willing to use my powers to protect and serve the village, if they provided me with the proper tribute. He just nodded, without looking up.
So the people are a distinct disappointment; it’s like talking to a different species altogether. I have, however, been followed back to the tent by a stray dog, which hangs around and wags its tail as long as I keep it provided with mouthfuls from my supplies. Dogs seem to be eternal.
My leg feels better already; something about the climate, I think. I may resort to writing my warning against the Catastrophe down in this diary, and leave it buried somewhere for people to find in a more intelligent, individual time. It’s occurred to me that these people will be constantly bombarded with dire prophecies about the impending end of the world; they’ll hardly be affected by news of an apocalypse nearly a thousand years into the future when they know it’s actually going to happen next Tuesday.
In fact, the more time I spend with these people, the more I consider the possibility that they haven’t yet developed individual minds. You speak with one of them and you might as well be speaking to all of them; it’s the same answers and the same dull replies. I don’t feel that time has somehow turned backwards; it feels more as if time has gone running on, though all but one of its threads have cut off, and this is the natural conclusion; my thread worrying on through until everything goes quiet.
I haven’t seen the dog yet today. I know that some of the villagers have been looking at it oddly as it’s been following me about. I hope they haven’t done anything to it.
I’ve begun to bulk the tent up with bits of fallen wood; the wind tends to funnel down the hillside and I imagine it will only get worse as winter approaches. In a few days I’ll tell the priest I require a house- in the forest, of course. I don’t think they’d want me in the village. None of the dullards have yet come to ask me for help, but every morning they leave a saucer of bread and milk on the eastern treeline. I have to get up early to retrieve it, of course; the first few days I found only the empty saucer. But I suppose, whether the deer eat it or I do, it keeps them satisfied that I am still placated.
The strangest thing happened, as I was walking into the village this morning. I saw a girl- and a good-looking girl, at that. All of the women I’ve seen here before have been filthy old dogs, but this girl, flea-bitten and dirty as she was, actually looked pretty attractive. Mary kept telling me that the process would play havoc with my sex drive; her way, I suppose, of keeping me in her power across a thousand years. I’m quite relieved she was wrong.
It turns out the girl's a fisherman’s daughter. I’ll have to find out more.
I might as well have talked to a stone. The same sheeplike ignorance, head hung low, a trace of suspicion in the eyes- is there anyone left in the world?
The question, I think, is one of judgement. The people here are real, living evidence of moral relativity. They probably sacrifice foreigners to the Holy Trinity every harvest. And prima nocte is certainly an established tradition in some parts of the country.
I’ve decided. This afternoon I found the dog. They’d cut off its paws and left it on the shoreline.
It’s happened. She never protested; she walked with me into the forest, keeping step with my step. Afterwards, she left quietly.
I went down to the beach and imagined that every star was another man or woman like me, plummeting into the ocean. Once I almost waded out, in the hope that one of them might be drawn towards me and this patch of shore.
It’s curious, but I realised then that I was more alone than ever. Sensation no longer satisfies me. I tried to bathe in the ocean, pointlessly. My hair has begun to grow back, on the corners of my scalp above my ears.
I’ve made up my mind; I’ll capture the Catastrophe. I’ll spend tomorrow going over every detail in my head, point by point, and I’ll write it here in this diary. And then I’ll walk into the woods, and shoot myself.
I keep finding myself wanting to write more, as if somehow that’d keep me alive for longer. Enough. It’s time to draw this all to a close. I imagine one day I might read this myself, and the thought frightens me, but not so much as the thought that Mary might find it, and know me for what I really am. Twice I almost threw this diary away. I’m going to bury it in the sand, where even I can’t find it.
Hoarse yells. Spots in the moonlight.
I may not have time after all. They're setting the forest alight.