Sunhill Asylum, date unknown.
I’m lost in a cloud within a cloud, torn on the peaks of the world. It has always been thus; the years come and go, but I remain ever the same, hidden in a cloud within a cloud, invisible even to myself. Such is my nebulous existence. Yet all around, the incessant chatter of the world rings in my ears – lives unseen, unknown, untouched, but always imagined with painful intensity. Why should I be dismayed? Am I not happiest, lost in a cloud within a cloud?
Some things must remain untold. I speak of forbidden enchantments. These things must be hid from prying eyes, and kept under lock and key. Indeed, a wise magician never writes them down but commits them to memory alone. During my long incarceration at Sunhill, I committed many such spells to memory. Not least of which was my regression at the hands of Mummy Selena. To Krew, she was nothing but a wicked siren, but to me she was an angel. All sirens pose a danger, even to the wary. For a siren knows your deepest desires, and will use them against you; her song is so irresistible, that to hear a single note is to become bewitched. Therefore I must be brief and curtail my hypnotic odyssey, if not for shame, then at least for public morals. Needless to say, if you are expecting some sordid erotic tale, describing the dissolution of my trans-gendered mind, then you have come to the wrong place. But then again, what use is a tale, if the teller does not tell it?
The saints say that if you are plagued by troublesome thoughts, then it is the Devil who plagues you, and not God, who always grants peace and tranquillity. But the only peace I ever found was in the arms of a siren. She took after her name: Selena Fullbright – a moon goddess, full and bright. It is impossible to tell how many times I was bewitched by her magic. Perhaps I am bewitched still. I know not where she came from or where she went. For truly, she vanished as suddenly as she appeared. But even now, after all these years, she remains my one desire. And on desolate nights, when the moon is full, and the wind moans in trees, I pine for her loving attention…
Sunhill Asylum, October 12, 1960
Mummy Selena opens the door and steps elegantly across the threshold. She looks immaculate as ever, tightly girdled in her polka-dot dress which hugs her bosom and hips. She carries a leather holdall stuffed with frills. Why does she stare as if she knows the entire history of my life? Does she have the gift? Surely I would know if she had second-sight. Yet she reads me like a book. And of all the people in this madhouse, she’s the one person I can’t read. She’s a complete enigma. I wonder if she’s human at all. There’s something of the alchemist about her. Her nails are beset with stars and crescent moons, twinkling with glitter and pink enamel. I swear she’s inside my head, rifling through my mind. I’m drawn to her girdle like a magnet – just as I was drawn to my mother’s girdle at nine years old. I wore it every night after school; it was far too big and didn’t have the snug feeling I craved, but it was heavenly all the same – especially after stuffing the cups with socks. That girdle was my refuge after those interminably dull days amongst gangs of warring boys. Boys were only concerned with football, conkers, marbles and British Bulldogs. But I was totally pre-occupied with my mother’s extensive collection of foundation wear – Formfit, Playtex, Warner’s, Triumph and Jantzen. When she died, I smuggled five girdles into Saint Edward’s – that’s the orphanage I attended at twelve. I hoped to live with my aunt and two cousins – Grace and Alice – but my aunt wanted nothing more to do with me. As I saw it, there were three reasons. First, she never regarded me as a true nephew, for I was an adopted child and not a real blood tie. Second, she was a single parent bringing up two children on a widow’s pension. (Her husband was shot down over Dresden; and even long after the war, rationing was still in effect, so I was just another inconvenient mouth to feed). Third, she was a miserable old cow with a heart of stone. So I was bundled off to Saint Edward’s with a small suitcase, my precious girdles hidden beneath an inner compartment.
The orphanage was a sprawling Edwardian manor that had been converted after the war. It was a cold, decrepit place, with torn linoleum floors and long dark corridors. It hadn’t seen a lick of paint in decades and most of the doors were hanging off their hinges. The upper floors were littered with buckets to catch drips from the ever leaking roof; ceilings crumbled, landings buckled, and the peeling wallpaper stank of mould. I remember the wallpaper distinctly – a rampant acanthus, which gave the impression that the edifice had already fallen into ruins, and succumbed to the encroaching undergrowth. Naturally, this air of neglect did nothing to comfort an orphaned child. What is worse, the manor was haunted by three ghosts which only I could see. There was Lady Maude, who starved herself to death after being jilted at the altar; Simpson the butler, who was stabbed in the head by a jealous footman; and Elliot the groundsman, an incurable drunk, who was electrocuted by a faulty generator.
But ghosts were the least of my problems. I was put in dormitory 2c on the first floor, with twelve squabbling boys who took an instant dislike to me. My refusal to play cowboys and Indians, or discuss the finer points of football, only confirmed their doubts, and I soon became an object of ridicule, persistently bullied and ragged. Fortunately, my bed stood beside a blocked fireplace, with two loose floorboards where I could hide my girdles. But I rarely had the chance to wear them except at weekends, when most of the boys went to stay with relatives. But even then, the only private place in the whole building was an attic bathroom overlooking the yard; it was part of the old servant’s quarters and strictly out of bounds.
The walk to this feminine sanctuary was impossibly long and fraught with danger. Smuggling my girdle out of the dorm was a nerve-racking ordeal. I’d roll it up and stuff it down my trousers. Then I had to traverse a pubic landing above the entrance hall, continue along a busy corridor, passing three senior dormitories on the way, turn left at the shower room, go past the master’s flat, and then climb a narrow flight of stairs, accessed by a small door beside the fire escape – and all of this without being seen. But all too often I’d get accosted or called away before reaching my destination. Then I had to contrive some feeble excuse so I could return to the dorm and hide my girdle under the floorboards again. On those rare occasions when I reached the bathroom, my soul took flight. I’d lock the door and get dressed, trembling all over. Ah! The divine order of things when you pull on one of those lace, satin elastic figure changing wizards! You’re sleeked into one long, smooth, sinuous curve, all ready to be shown off in your figure-fitting clothes! After all, what’s the fun of being a woman if you don’t have a good figure?
Just as precious as the girdle was the cylinder it came in, printed with a pretty lady who was done up to the nines, dressed in her foundation, suspenders and stockings. I’d often strike her pose in the mirror, obscuring my face with a silk scarf. The advertising copy was always of special interest. I learnt most of it by heart:
‘You can have the new Outer-Look with the new Formfit Under-Look. Today’s Outer-Look features a slim, fluid line – bust subtly rounded, mid-line greatly nipped, hips smoothly elongated. You feel so sure of yourself in Formfit’s Life Bra and Life Girdle – with the Under-Look you need to capture this new Outer-Look! Working together, Life Bra and Life Girdle coax your curves into line with heavenly freedom and comfort… The selection of a good foundation garment is so very important. It must fit you perfectly and with comfort; it must give you a pleasing figure line; it must give you reliable support. And it must wear well. Sheer heaven how Formfit moulds your curves into line… After all, you have a job to do! And a good foundation helps you do it. Added responsibilities and more moving about put greater strain on you and your foundation. The Life-Cups fit you not only for breast size, but also for degree of separation – to elevate, separate and rejuvenate perfectly. Such a dazzling array of styles, fabrics and elastics to choose from – all tailored with Formfit’s fabulous flair for beautiful fit.’
Paradoxically, girls in girdles always looked so liberated and happy. (At least, they looked that way to me). The urge for dressing consumed all my waking hours, and even my dreams, so it was very hard to concentrate on my studies. I couldn’t think straight without a girdle; my mind would get in an awful fog. But when dressed, I always had a clear head, a light-hearted confidence, poise and assurance – and the kind of happiness that comes from knowing you look your best. By the time I was thirteen, I began to wear a girdle full time – even at school. The only exceptions were on Wednesdays and Fridays when we had games and P.E. (The fear of being caught was enough to cause recurrent nightmares). I loved especially to wear my girdle about town. It felt so comfortable and glamourizing. The grim city streets were suddenly sparkling with possibilities. I was walking on air… Dancing with joy… Feeling smug as silk… My slim, young line, pulled in at the waist, smoothed over the hips, flat in front, firm in the back… a line that made me look wonderful, feel wonderful, do wonderful things…
When I left Saint Edward’s at sixteen, three of my girdles had been nibbled by mice, and the other two were torn by my ever broadening shoulders. A future without them looked very bleak indeed. My need to transform was so great that I took to stealing from washing lines. And so began my criminal career. I soon graduated onto the local shops, thieving from manikins and lingerie displays. The ladies dressing room was a forbidden arena, but I felt more at home there than on the football field. I’d often sit on the toilet and eavesdrop on female conversations, or dash along the counter grabbing lipstick and mascara.
I can’t recall the circumstance of my arrest. I know that I jumped from a train, but don’t know why. All I remember is being handcuffed and taken down the station. It was a winter’s night in late December with an icy blast that brought sleet and snow. As I sat in the back of the police van, I began to cry. All I had on beneath my coat was a girdle and suspenders. The humiliation of undressing before three policemen is engraved in my heart: the mocking, the spitting, the punching and the kicking. When I was finally committed, my girdle was confiscated, along with my chemise and bra. Which, in a very roundabout way, is what brings me to here: a cell in purgatory, attended by a beautiful siren…
Did I just say all that out loud? Recount my shameful past in such a shameless way? Or did Selena read my mind? Why does she wink so knowingly? How I long to wear her clothes. If I was a demon, I would surely possess her, for there’s nothing I want more than to slip in her skin. Then I might escape this hell-hole forever. Such is my sexual pathology, disturbing as it is. But as you already know, I was born this way. However, according to Doctor Hardy, I’m a parapathic fetishist, whose love of female attire is a fixation of infantile repression; my polymorphic infantile sexuality was never sublimated into a worthwhile occupation; so I became an adult pervert; and my extensive collection of women’s magazines is typical of the “harem cult” of all fetishists. But Mummy Selena knows otherwise. She bolts the latch, approaches my cot, and smiles:
‘Have you missed me baby?’
She might be a dream, for her beauty is beyond any immortal Goddess. Pandora: a calamity sent by Zeus – or so Krew would have me believe. But I believe none of it. For I love her beyond all else, and my world is nothing without her. Pray, do not think me deluded; I know full well what Selena has done: like all sirens, she has shipwrecked me upon the rocks of my own desires. So why do I remain enthralled? Why do I continue to listen and obey? Because she alone understands. She is all I long to be: the mirror of my latent soul. The visual pleasure of her glossy red lips is incomparably great. The entire reserve of my being is poured into the expectation hearing her speak. I find her southern American drawl completely intoxicating: her diction is impeccable, but she teases her words in a most beguiling way, coiling them round her wicked tongue, then blowing them like smoke into the air:
‘You are a bed-wetter. You wear diapers because you wet the bed. You love wearing diapers because you can pee in your sleep. You don’t need to wake up to go to the toilet. You feel safe in diapers because you are a bed-wetter. And bed-wetters do it in their sleep. Bed-wetters do it in diapers. Diapers make you feel so secure. You are so happy in diapers…’
My conscience pricks me. For it strikes me as immoral that Mummy Selena wants to undo all the love and attention that my mother took to toilet train me. Yet if truth be told, E.C.T. made me incontinent many years ago. And this lack of control has always been a great source of shame. But not any more. Not with Mummy Selena. I am overcome with a warm glow as she injects my inner thigh. My unruly bladder no longer worries me. I cannot deny it: I am so happy in diapers…
After changing my nappy, she puts me in a pink petticoat, a cream satin dress with blue ribbons, and white stockings. She gloves my hands with silk mittens and pulls white garters over my legs. Then from out of her bag she produces a pair of black court shoes. But my nappy is so big and puffy that I can’t walk in them, so I lie in my crib with my heels in the air, sucking on a bottle. As I gaze at my reflection in the patent toes, I am overcome with an auto-erotic compulsion to become a complete woman. In reality, I know this can never be, but so long as I’m dressed, that reality is suppressed. My brain fizzles with excitement as she rubs my nappy, sliding the silky petticoat over the plastic pants:
‘You’re dressed as a girl now. How adorable. I’ve thrown all those nasty male clothes away. Thrown them away, for ever. Everything you were before this moment was just an illusion. A bad dream. How could you ever succeed as man? Life is so much better as a girl. It’s so lovely here, safe in your crib, far from the cares of the world…’
She’s right of course. What’s the point in pretending? I was never meant for this world. A life spent in the clouds is a precarious life indeed. What a ludicrous predicament. Who decreed that I serve my sentence as a man? The Infernal Counsel. This earthly state is Hell, but when I’m dressed as a girl, the flames abate, if only for a while. Besides, I know that Selena can turn me into anything; she has trigger words for far away places. Any minute now I might find myself a ballerina, pirouetting with swans; or swaddled beside a baronial fire, whilst snow falls on leaded windows; or deep in a sumptuous department store, trying on ball-gowns and shoes; or one of my favourites – dolled and bridled, zipped in a leather cat suit with a corset and thigh-length boots. Yes, Mummy Selena can turn me into anything. She is well versed in the sexual extremities of the world, and knows the harem of my fetishism in all its guises. But I should make it perfectly clear: I am not aroused by female attire in itself; and in this respect I am not a fetishist at all. I love female clothes simply because they disguise my maleness. And the more feminine my attire, the greater my peace. My only happiness is to see myself dressed as a woman without feeling shame or self-disgust; indeed, I prefer to be masked, so I cannot glimpse my saturnine visage.
‘Please, cover my face.’
‘Hush baby. You no longer have the strength to reflect upon these matters…’
I gaze up in wonderment, tears scorching my eyes as she fingers my fringe and says:
‘Look at you. What a darling. You’re so pretty in pink. So silky. So soft. Do you know who you are? You are but a nebulous cloud, without any form at all. I can change you into anything I like. What’s happening? Do you know? You’re transforming before my eyes. Look at my polka dot dress. All the little dots are flying through the air, hovering about your crown. Polka dot by polka dot, you are changing into me. My body is your body. Slender legs, trim waist, full breasts. So neat and tidy. Everything in its proper place. Life is so much better as a girl. You can wear just what you want. Especially lipstick. How you love lipstick. All those silly doctors. What would they know? How readily do men at ease prescribe to girls who are sick at heart… All those pompous meddling fools in white coats; what are they but low-brow brutes? You’re safe with Selena. No harm shall come to you. Not ever. Only Selena understands. She knows just how you tick. They say each soul must find what they desire. And few tastes are the same. Is that not so, Jacqueline?’
It is indeed. I cannot stand to wear trousers: they are too restrictive for my pelvis, which feels entirely female. And although my nipples are small, they are exceedingly tender, and often swollen to the point of lactation. I have the distinct impression of a small waist, even when looking in the mirror. It’s as if I were flayed of my own flesh, and put in a man’s skin, so that all my sensations must first pass through a man’s body. And all the while I sense a nebulous form enveloping my bones – a siren phantom – with full buttocks and breasts. The depression is crippling. Every full moon, my testes become sore and withdraw into my abdomen. I have the menses of a woman for six days, both physically and mentally, with suicidal tendencies and blinding headaches. I do not bleed but have the notion that I’m loosing fluid. And when this passes, I have an uncontrollable urge to procreate: I am overcome with an intense feminine concupiscence, and long for penetration. Selena is right: the doctors are dullards and more of a hindrance than a help. Hardy insists that I’m male but my imperative sense of femininity overrules everything. My individuation is none existent, my face a hideous mask.
Selena climbs in my cot, unbuttons her blouse and bids:
I nestle against her bra as she puts me to the teat. She tastes of eggnog and her sandalwood scent sends me reeling. I float in an opalescent void, surrounded by iris rains. She moans:
‘Yes baby, that’s it: kiss Mummy there… Good girl… good baby…’
We are lost in a cloud within a cloud. All is soft and wet and warm. She whimpers for several minutes, tugging my bonnet as she writhes against my tongue—then she comes with a wild cry, like a goose flying south.
We lie embraced for an eternity, then she slithers out of reach and closes the cot. At once my feminine form disintegrates: the polka-dots disperse, peeling from my bones and tumbling on the wind like crows. All that remains is a carbuncle of the old flesh. She puts on my headphones, snaps her fingers and bids:
Immediately, I fall into trance. A familiar cadence rings in my ears: an arpeggio of tones: an altered state. The tones rise and fall in a long glissando as she gurgles:
How fast I’m falling! Out of my nebulous cloud, and down through swirling mists. I’m dropping from the heavens, coalescing into rain—a spherical drop of pure potential, plummeting towards a briny sea. A vast ocean heaves below, with white horses leaping on tumultuous waves. My impact is total consummation. I sink in the spume, down to illimitable depths. The siren pules:
‘Go deeper. Deeper for mummy. Deeper into trance. That’s what you like. You are lost in an ocean of love. Let the waters cradle your body, as my voice cradles your mind… The water feels so warm and safe. So free. You have changed into a dolphin. A beautiful dolphin. Dive to the depths. The deeper you go, the better it feels…’
I sink in the amniotic dark, bathed in the warmth of her uterine odyssey, carried by her hex, ever onward into the inky blackness.
‘You descend without effort. Without fear. You are going deeper and deeper. Listening to my voice as you sink like a stone. The water slips so easily around your dolphin body. It feels so smooth and silky. How wonderful it is, to swim like a dolphin. Go deeper. Deeper for Mummy. Sinking now, faster and faster, deeper and deeper, into the dark abyss… Hark! The depths are calling. Can you hear?’
The chasm beckons with cetacean song as a velvet wetness slips about my loins.
‘Let it out baby. Let it all out for mummy. That’s it. Good girl. So safe. So soft… Go deeper into the darkness… The beautiful darkness… My words leading you on, ever deeper. Feel the waters permeate your body, as you sink down and down. Down, down, down. Going deeper still. Into the bottomless deep. There’s no limit to how deep you can go… So deep now. Can you see the light? There’s a light down there, twinkling in the darkness. The depths are all aglow. A soft pink glow. The further you sink, the brighter it gets. The depths are glowing pink. Pink, pink everywhere. It feels so wonderful down here in the pink. See how it shines, like neon in the blackness, saturating every part of your being. You are surrounded by pink. The most beautiful pink. You have dissolved in the pink. Your entire soul is filled with pink. You are totally pink. Pink makes you feel so happy. Don’t think. Be pink. Good girl…’
As the siren sings her beautiful song, I sink ever deeper into pinkness. Fathom by fathom, whisker by whisker, I have become totally pink. Pink makes me so happy. She stuffs a rubber gag between my teeth and says:
‘Faciamus experimentum in corpore vili [Let us make an experiment on a worthless body].’
The pink contracts into long narrow cylinders that flit past my eyes at great speed: neon lights passing along a ceiling. I am being wheeled down a corridor into another place. I giggle at the absurdity as two dolphins strap electrodes to my head:
‘Just relax,’ mews one. ‘I am brother empiricist.’
‘And I am sister atheist,’ mews the other. ‘Fear not. You’re perfectly safe.’
A sudden bolt of lightening shoots across my temples. I recognise the terror at once. This is the place of forgetting – but I haven’t forgotten that. What do the atheists want? To extinguish my powers. To try me as a witch. To suppress my soul and snuff out the flame. But there’s something powerful growing inside; a seed buried deep within my head; a strange fruit, swelling in my brains, shining like a golden pear. Dying memories flicker through my mind: slum clearances and bombed churches; the weed-strangled streets, with thistle lined gutters and derelict tenements; buddleia sprouting in broken windows and roofless gables; I hear distant ships hooting in the docks and thundering trains whistling through the night; Old Black Joe playing his harmonica on the corner of Selborne treet; the butcher with scabby hands, winking: “That’ll put hairs on your chest,” as he shovels tripe into a paper bag; the rattle of milk carts and horse drawn trams; the slug infested allotments and cabbage stalls; and skipping outside the tavern whilst Ma drank away the night…
I had a little nut tree,
Nothing would it bare,
But a silver nutmeg
And a golden pear.
The king of Spain’s daughter
Came to visit me,
And all for the sake of
My little nut tree.
Any moment now I will start to levitate.
‘Look at me Ma! I’m flying!’
The dolphins squeak with excitement. I’m floating, rising off the mattress; three feet high and still rising. Four feet, five feet, six – all the way to the ceiling.
‘Aren’t I clever Ma? No wires. No mirrors. No tricks…’
They shock me again—and keep on shocking me—until I fall back down, seething in the pillow. And so it continues, rising and falling, until I am earthbound, writhing like a maggot. This is my dissolution. My soul has been stolen from under my nose – sequestered by devils and neurological determinists. The priests do not change. The social conditions may be different, but one age is much the same as the last. I’m naught but a plaything of the gods, destined to plough the furrows of time…
The room comes gradually into focus. Then the empiricist turns to me and asks:
‘Can you remember your name?’
‘No. Who am I?’
‘Your name is Jack.’
‘But that’s a boy’s name.’
‘Do you know where you are?’
‘The place of forgetting.’
‘Do you recognise me?’
‘No. Who are you?’
‘My name is doctor Pontius.’
‘Am I sick?’
‘You’re a patient at Sunhill Asylum. Remember?’
‘Can you remember where you live?’
‘Yes. I think so.’
‘Where is that?’
‘No. You live in Toxteth.’
‘That’s right. What about your family?’
‘Do I have family?’
‘Yes. You had a foster mother.’
‘Oh yes. I remember now.’
‘Can you tell me her name?’
‘No, it was Matilda.’
‘Matilda? Are you sure?’
‘Is she coming to visit?’
‘No Jack, I’m sorry, she’s dead.’
‘Why? What did she do to you?’
Toxteth, March 3, 1947
Ma sent me out to buy a loaf of bread. But I spent all the money on six peg dolls which I bought from a gypsy in the street. They were the most beautiful little dolls I had ever seen, with painted faces and gingham dresses. When I got home, Ma beat me with her stick and threw the dolls into the fire. Then she sent me to bed without any supper.
Sunhill Asylum, October 12, 1960
Little did Ma know that Missing supper was no punishment at all – especially when we had tripe to eat.
‘It’s food, and it fills an empty stomach.’
That’s what Ma said, and if I didn’t eat it, I got the strap. Honeycomb tripe with onions, tripe cooked in milk, or even raw tripe, cut into cubes and doused with vinegar. After eating that I felt sick as a dog. I’d crawl under the fence into Mr. Gregson’s garden and feast on crab apples, just to get rid of the taste. I remember these things – tastes, smells, and music especially – but the New World is hopelessly tangled with the Old. Am I in Mr. Gregson’s garden or Father Abbot’s orchard? There’s something crucial I must do, but I’ve forgotten what it is. I wail for Mummy Selena, but she’s vanished into thin air. I remain buckled to the trolley as Dobbs wheels me back to the cell.
‘You think a woman like that could love a nancy-boy like you? You think she cares a damn? How could she? You filthy little freak. You’re nothing but a lab-rat. They’re going to cut you up; dice you into little pieces; scoop out your brains with a spoon. I’ve seen them do it. Turn men into turnips. Best place for you is six feet under…’
On entering my cell, he unbuckles my restraints, pummels my guts with his baton, then storms out, slamming the iron door behind him. How many E.C.T.s is that?
The following morning I flick through my journal surveying page after page of illegible scrawl. Dobbs was right: best place for me is six feet under. According to the first entry, I am already overdue my appointment with the grave:
E.C.T. # 1.
This is the first sentence. If you have forgotten the first sentence, it is time to kill yourself. Do not hesitate. Do it now…
But then again, I’m not even sure if I wrote those lines. It might be a ghastly trick perpetrated by demons. It’s hard to make sense of anything in this state. I don’t recognise my hands. Even my own signature looks alien, as if written by an imposter. The entire text is nothing but a jumble of hieroglyphs.
She’s going to cut you up; dice you into little pieces. I must abandon myself to divine providence. I spurn Mummy Selena and cleave to the Virgin instead. She alone can free me from bondage. The Lady of Miracles. She will transform me at the proper time and place. Remember, at this very moment, in another sphere, I am a beautiful lady, sipping wine on a Venetian veranda. All I have to do is wait. Wait for my salvation… What am I saying? This is madness!
The walls begin to buckle and shift, as if something is trying to break through from beyond. Then a mighty serpent bursts through the floor and coils toward the ceiling. The rippling body shimmers with golden scales and the eyes glow like burning coals. Terrified, I dart beneath the blanket and start counting, trembling from head to toe. When I reach one hundred, I peek out. The serpent has gone. But then the soap jumps round the basin and froths:
‘The snake is the chief symbol of the generative principle. But Freudians are too immature to evolve any objective ideas in regard to this subject. To them it is just a phallic symbol and nothing more.’
‘Shut up soap! You’re not real; I’m not listening!’
‘Ignore me at your peril. I’m the only friend you’ve got in this place.’
‘Friend? You’re no friend of mine. I’ll flush you down the toilet!’
‘Before you do, heed what I have to say. Lobotomy is only employed in functional mental disorders that are resistive to other methods of control.’
‘I’m not resistive.’
‘Yes you are.’
‘You deride the upper classes; criticise government; scorn materialism; accuse the B.B.C. of plagiarism, and spread theist propaganda that undermines the theory of evolution. The establishment hates you.’
‘Good. I hate it back.’
‘And what is more, you keep on levitating.’
‘Whenever they shock you. Have you any idea how much it disturbs them, to see you hovering mid-air, defying the laws of physics? That’s reason enough for lobotomy in itself. Once they skewer your brains, it’s curtains chum. You won’t be flying around after that.’
‘Stop sniggering. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’
‘Yes I do.’
‘No you don’t. You’re just a bar of soap.’
‘I might be a bar of soap, but I’m also a qualified brain surgeon.’
‘You? A surgeon? Don’t make me laugh. You can’t even hold a knife. The only thing you’re good for is cleaning my crack. Now will you be quiet? I’m trying to sleep. Brain surgeon. I’ve never heard such rot.’
‘I know all about it – the entire procedure from beginning to end. Allow me to project your future on the wall. That’s you on the stretcher with plasters on your eyes. A pre-frontal lobotomy consists in cutting the white matter in each frontal lobe in the plane of the coronal suture. This plane passes just anterior to the frontal horn of the ventricle, and section here interrupts the anterior thalamic radiation (frontal thalmic pathway). A review of the landmarks on your skull and the significant structures in the frontal lobe will give you a clearer impression of the nature of the operation. The coronal suture and mid-line are indicated on your scalp. The initial procedure is as follows. 1), A mark is made 3cm posterior to the lateral rim of the orbit, and a ventrical line drawn upward. 2), A cross mark is made on this line, 6cm above the zygoma. 3), The coronal suture intersects the mid-line 13cm behind the glabella. 4), Your scalp is infiltrated with novocaine. 5), Note the rubber dam and adhesive to keep blood and water out of the hair…’
‘Stop! Stop! I can’t look!’
‘Are you aware that you remain entirely conscious throughout this operation? As the surgeons butcher your brain, you experience disorientation, muscle spasms, loss of reason – and the hideous sense of your soul being eclipsed by a brooding dark void. It’s nothing short of abject terror. But you can no longer articulate it. So when the doctor asks: “How are you feeling?”, you just grin like simpleton.
‘The Virgin will save me.’
‘The Virgin? Don’t be so preposterous. The Virgin can’t save you! Did she save Molly Parks?’
‘Who’s Molly Parks?’
‘The previous occupant of this very cell. She was psychic, just like you.’
‘She was committed for speaking with the dead. And lobotomised. She doesn’t speak any more. She hasn’t uttered a single word in ten years. She just sits in the shadows all day long, staring vacantly like a turnip. Is that how you want to end your days? Forget the Virgin. Only the Cyclops can save you. You must summon him before it’s too late – if that’s still within your power.’
‘Of course it’s within my power.’
‘Then summon him. Do not hesitate. Do it now.’
‘Now? But I don’t even know what moon it is. I mean, Krew’s very particular. He rarely comes except at full moon. And it can’t be a full moon because I haven’t got my period.’
‘Oh for crying out loud! Don’t be such an idiot!’
‘What if he doesn’t come? They’ll punish me for shouting. I’ll get sedated and put in the straight jacket.’
‘Is that really so bad, considering what awaits? What have you got to loose? Summon him.’
‘I’ve never taken orders from a bar of soap before. I don’t even know you.’
‘Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Castile – knight of the Quantum Realm.’
‘Fearless in battle and faithful in love. And I’m blessed with a gentle beauty cream to cherish your complexion.’
‘For all I know, you might be a devil.’
‘The only devils in this place are the doctors.’
‘You’re right there Castile. But even so, you might be an imp, or some fiendish hallucination. I mean, you’re still a bar of soap. And bars of soap aren’t supposed to talk.’
‘And you’re not supposed to levitate. But you still do. So allow me the freedom to speak, if you please. Now, are you going to summon the Cyclops or not?’
‘Very well. Stand back and cover your face: his eye is exceedingly bright… Krew! Immortal Cyclops of the spheres! Hear my summons! Cut these bonds of Time, and release me from this infernal incarnation!’
Nothing happens and Krew remains absent.
‘Is that it?’ scorns Castile. ‘You’ve obviously lost your touch. Or the Cyclops has deserted you.’
‘He wouldn’t desert me.’
‘Because he can’t, that’s why.’
‘Then why hasn’t he come?’
‘I don’t know. Perhaps he has business elsewhere.’
‘Pah! The Cyclops has given up on you. And I don’t blame him either.’
‘I told you—he only comes at full moon.’
‘Things are worse than I feared: you’re a complete lost cause.’
‘Wait! He draws near!’
‘Where? I can’t see him.’
‘He’s lurking in sub-space.’
‘Ah! Sub-space: one of my favourite haunts. Will he not materialize? He seems awfully rude. I thought he was the approachable type.’
‘Krew! Reveal yourself! Come out! Come out, I say! I know you’re there, so don’t pretend you can’t hear me!’
A flash of light.
A blast of wind.
Then space itself seems to rip apart as Krew steps out from a glowing fissure. His mighty eye irradiates the cell with a kaleidoscope of rainbow light. I fall to my knees and beg:
‘Cyclops, have mercy! If I my soul means anything to you at all, then send me back, I beg you! Open a portal, and return me to the Old World! But not as a man. I couldn’t bare to suffer that again. Even in this place of forgetting, the pains of puberty remain sharp as briars…’
‘I cannot send you back. You must serve your sentence here.’
‘But you are Master of the Spheres. You can change my fate.’
‘Your fate was writ six centuries past; and what is writ must come to pass. ’Tis forbidden that you to return to the Old World. You have important work here. Remember what I told you, all those years ago: at this very moment, in another sphere, you are a beautiful lady, sipping wine on a Venetian veranda. All you have to do is wait. Wait for your salvation…’
‘Then I am lost.’
‘All things have a time and reason under heaven.’
I stand and shake my fists:
‘If you will not help me, then I will open a portal myself!’
‘That task is beyond any mortal.’
‘Is it? You forget that I have new powers. I have grown stronger. My third eye will soon be big as yours.’
‘Even if you managed to bridge the spheres, you would not be able to cross the threshold. You would be annihilated like a gnat in a solar flare. Only the Elect can pass between worlds. Your knowledge in these matters is entirely superficial.’
‘And yet I can already levitate. How much longer before I can vanish into sub-space like you?’
‘That region is ruled by Chaos. If he caught you in his realm, he would bite off your head, like Saturn devouring his children.’
‘Er, do you know that I am in communication with the Selenites?’
‘Of course I know. But they’re not to be trusted.’
‘Well I can’t trust you. If you will not spare me, then I will summon the Selenites instead. They would be most happy to help.’
‘Indeed. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself why? Great exploits are performed on the stage of human imagination in every age. And your desire to escape your fate is perfectly understandable – after all, it is part of your human frailty. However, ’tis foolish to seek the knowledge of the Selenites.’
‘So I must remain worthless and base? Do you realise how mortifying this condition is? Send me back. I fear the New World is not for long.’
‘Returning to the Old World will only increase your sorrows further. Your life is here. As I once told Epictetus: happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one thing: some things are in your control, others are not. Forget this fixation with the flesh.’
‘Forget the flesh? You Cyclopean dunce! That’s easy for you to say. I have to live in it! And now I must face the destruction of my own soul! They’re going to lobotomise me!’
‘The soul is not the body.’
‘Well that’s a great consolation, I must say. Tell me that again when I’m a turnip.’
‘Your place is here: you have important things to do.’
‘To understand your present predicament, you must look to your past.’
‘How can I, when you refuse to take me there?’
‘Teleportation of mortals is forbidden. But I can help you remember. For your previous incarnation was recorded by the Unus Mundus. Every thought, word and deed is held in perpetuity by the Universal Mind. The actions of your previous life built this present reality. All things are connected. Look into my crystal eye. Listen only to my voice. I will take you deeper. Much deeper. Deeper than the briny sea and the benthal bowels of Earth. Go deeper for Krew…’
Copyright (c) Nicholas Shea 2108
1. Credit where credit is due: The phrase: “Don’t think, be pink, good girl.” is from “Pink Induction” by ‘Chaos Doll’ on YouTube. The remaining induction text is entirely my own, but was inspired by this video.