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The day of the nightmare
Coyne had failed that day but wasn`t in the least put off ; would a scientist, a proper scientist be put off by a few
letdowns? Today had failed because he had achieved so many successes lately; clearly THE EFFECT had its limits, so
far he calculated it at twice a week, not bad considering this was only the third month of his discovery.
Still, to go another day without seeing the inner worlds of the street and the park opening out to him in all their
hideousness and wonder!
Coyne drove the thought out of his mind begrudgingly and returned, at least for now, to the everyday life that had clung
to him; the TV and the books that had guided him this far.
Everything reminded him of his purpose, the surreally bright adverts with constantly smiling occupants, the cartoonish
life that supposedly inanimate objects were endowed with, fakery admittedly, but didn`t a lie always seek to become a
truth? Coyne thought not in most cases, it was just a line that sounded good, like most of what the TV had to say to him.
Still, the pearls cast before swine would always be there for the picking, lost amongst the mud and the dung. That was
Coynes job now, and not all his doing either, they had given him little choice with their industrial accidents and high
out of court pay-offs, he would never have to slave again for the swine and their well tanned wives. But it was up to
Coyne to make sure that every penny he spent was used in the service of THE EFFECT.
He wanted to go out right now and try to find its tendrils in the glossy stench of his neighbours gardens, or nestled egg
-like in the corner of some dank alleyway where the slippery drool of nature had let loose its self control and spawned
the unnatural. But it would not work, he knew that much, all he would perceive is the regiment of house fronts and the
barricade of their solidity. No, he must wait, at least until another of the key steps had manifested to allow him another
cherished quaff of THE EFFECT.
* * * * * *
1 A particularly emotional dream
2 A well chosen film
3 A moderate measure of ale/cider
4 A moderate measure of Cannabis
It is important also that several environmental and physical variables be accounted for in the prolonging of
Bright summer days were as much as responsible for the creating of THE EFFECT as any or all of the key
steps, as also the tone of passers by during the state (there`s nothing more detrimental to its structure than a
surly gang of youths or for that matter a single, towering policeman)
Of course when exiting a cinema these days you have little or no control of what is waiting outside for you.
Luck is therefore another variable in the blossoming of the wonder that is THE EFFECT.
* * * * * *
Coyne spent an entire day reading dull books in his local library, books about the town and in particular the streets he
preferred for his experimental walks, they stood out from the surrounding area partly due to their age and partly
because of their lack of any actual notoriety: no murderers lived there, no terrible raging infernos had erased the
houses. He had expected something more, something which could account for their looseness during THE EFFECT.
He could only conclude that the peaceful and the archaic character of the well tended gardens and plush paintwork
had a boosting nature to them that somehow served THE EFFECT, and anyone who was under its refreshing spell.
And when would he be spellbound again?!
Tomorrow, or the day after.
He crept out of the library and found himself heading for the old town, a thin, cobbled street of drunken buildings
leant against one another and generally oozing charm. Coyne had only visited the place once since he had settled
in the town itself, and then he had been in a rush to find a post office before it closed. Now he could explore it as
long as he wished. He had heard that a couple of decent museums hid within its ornate shadows.
The street itself was more or less a museum piece in its own right he decided, but felt nothing of tell tale signs that
it would spark off any magic in him. Nevertheless he pressed on through its tight, alley-like side streets that seemed
to have become the home for an assortment of estate agents and law firms. He regarded them as any experimenter
in the spiritual worlds would, as a reductionistic device to stifle elevation of the dark matter and the invisible lobes
of his soul-brain. How many of his like had found themselves tumbling earthward due to a carefully placed building
society ? Or a soul sucking IT firm just by accident turning up in a lovely quiet avenue ?
But then they hadn`t known the things he knew, they were wasting their time following some new age flap about
energy lines and fairy circles. With his new potential he could make estate agents into singing grottoes of joy, and
turn law firms into golden paddling pools for the mind. Darkness didn`t have to be an impediment any longer, for
THE EFFECT was darkness.
Was that it then ? Did THE EFFECT need to start not at the top but at the bottom ?
Instantly his attention was centred on anything that might be base, primal; a fat man walking his dog on the other side
of the street, a splash of graffiti on a wall, the very worn cobbles under his feet. Could they be the black trigger
necessary to open the way for THE EFFECT ? Or was he being too literal ? Should he be looking for the baseness in
himself ? The black chaos from where all things climbed, including THE EFFECT ?
He certainly wasn`t going to find the primal chaos in the outside world, in the pigeons tossing bits of bread around by an
overstuffed bin, in the scowl of an old lady bending to pick up a one pee piece. Maybe if he could get inside them as
they performed their mundane acts he might find that abyss of creation and erosion. In time he would no doubt open
those doors as he had already opened the one he had personal access to, his own. Where was its handle ? Lodged in his
earliest memories at the core his brain ? Or even secreted within the twin helix of his DNA ?
The questions filled his mind like a disease, and suddenly cleared, as he found himself staring at a man toppling
backwards onto the shiny black cobbles; a flash of white shooting off to one side proved to be the mans head, rolling
into the niche of the gutter.
"Well really !" He managed to exclaim, before shock turned quickly into rich delight. It had begun again.
He stared with cool eyes at the headless figure sprawled in an oddly stiff fashion upon the ground. It had an arm up as
if awaiting assistance, and someone was rushing to give it, manifesting from a large open arch .
The woman was dressed in a blue uniform, and seemed to be half annoyed and half amused at the fallen mans plight,
Coyne trotted over to help her pick up the manikin, and was left with the task of picking up its damp and misshapen
head from the gutter. It was soft and warm.
"Silly things fallen over again.” The woman told him as she took the head from him. Coyne noticed that she was quite
attractive, for a museum guard. He presumed that was her role.
"Have you a display ?"Was all Coyne could think to say looking into the spacious arch of stone, which contained a
flight of stone steps and deeply buried glass doors.
"Yes sir. " She said propping the manikin against the side of the arch." They behave a lot better than this one too."
They both laughed politely and Coyne made for the steps.
A bright, busy poster tacked to a board was the only sign of the museums existence. All he could see in the tall double
doors was his own dark reflection, quivering with each step. Once he had pushed his way through he began to wonder if
it was such a good idea; there was little light, except for a fire exit sign to his right and a slit of something green and
luminous to his left. He sniffed the air and then strode through the gap in the curtains.
A trio of green lamps dangled from a dark ceiling and just about illuminated the frozen scene depicted: a man astride a
Penny-farthing, legs set in mid pedal. No doubt from late Victorian he mused; the dummies attire suggested that much.
The bike itself was an antique and was in need of new tyres, to replace the tattered ones it already had.
Coyne noticed also that the wrong head had been placed on the dummies shoulders, it was that of a fat man and an angry
fat man at that, showing a perfect set of snarling teeth, no doubt the display was still being put together and sooner or
later he would stumble upon the correct body for the head.
Another set of black curtains parted as he pressed on to the next scene, a finely dressed lady outside a stately front
door. This manikin at least had its own head, as far as he could tell, although it wasn`t as pretty as he would have
expected; but how pretty could a lump of plastic be ? Still the dress made up for her plainness with its pink coat and
white lace frills, so it was probably all the more authentic. He wondered if the correct shoes had been added to her feet
and began to stoop to the concrete floor. A muffled scrape of footsteps stopped him finding out and he looked back
expecting to see a face peering through the gap in the curtain. If the attractive guard had found him he could always
just have explained. Luckily he didn`t have to go through the bother, no one was watching .Or at least he could see no
one. He felt a little dizzy as he straightened up; a not unpleasant feeling, but a none too rare one since the
accident. He made a mental note to tell Mc Griggs when she turned up again, if she ever would.
A burst of laughter shook him as he had his hand on the flap of the next curtain. It came from somewhere far off, on
the other side of the museum space he presumed, or even from outside. Maybe, he thought happily, the display had an
open air section to it. It would be a relief from all these curtains and shadows. The Victorian era wasn`t all doom and
gloom was it ? The curators seemed to have some odd ideas about atmosphere and lighting, this was more suggestive
of some carnival or magic show.
Still, the show must go on he joked to himself, and slipped through what looked like the next gap.
Pitch darkness presented itself, solid like a wall, yet full of the sound of footsteps. Coyne stared into it and could only
listen. There was a group in there he realised, and to him the short sharp scuffs gave the impression that they had little
room to move in. He wasn`t about to add to the mob and assumed they had all made a wrong turning somewhere and
would all find their way, possibly back his way.
He let the dark curtain fall shut and started to tug its undulations for another entrance. He went all the way along
without luck and was faced with the option of simply throwing aside the section that was near the wall. He was awarded
with a triangle of bright light, that seemed to have clicked on the moment he had popped his head through.
He wondered if he was meant to see this part of the museum, a four panelled window showing a brick wall, it`s bottom
half furry with moss. An alley no doubt existing purely to obtain light he presumed; then why did he find it so necessary
to stare ? Coyne turned to see what was shuffling up behind him, beyond the seemingly endless black curtain.
Whatever it was it had stopped as soon as he heard it. After listening for a few seconds he decided to simply hoist the
curtains hem up over his head. As he stooped a giggle trickled through the dark material. Its owner was on the other
" Ah, hello, I seem to be a bit lost." Coyne said trying to sound whimsical. The fat woman rolled her egg sized eyes as
if looking for a way out for him and smiled.
"Go back where you came and start again."She said and showed him the red thing that she had in her mouth.
"Do you want one ?" She offered and fought to get something out of her coat pocket. Coyne could smell what it was by
her hot breath and shook his head.
" I`m saving myself for my tea." he said and heard someone striding towards him from behind. It was another woman,
this one pretty and blond. She had an expression of anger mixed in with concern that Coyne couldn`t help but try to
"Has Jenny been getting in your way ? I`m sorry, come along Jenny or you won`t get an ice cream."
The words fluttered around the curtained confusion like trapped birds and before they made sense the two ladies were
on their way, one tutting the other crunching hard on a boiled sweet. Coyne was alone again and looked to where the
simpleton had come from. It was dark. Something he was growing tired of.
"The museum of darkness and dullards." He declared and immediately felt nauseous.
As a punishment he plunged into the darkness, a thin whine escaping through his clenched teeth.
* * * * * *
Just what is the Effect ?
The well trod experimenter of his own pysche knows full well what THE EFFECT is, but to put it into simple words it is
the playground that joins the two sparkling ends of the paradox together, the paradox of existence.
If it were not for THE EFFECT none of us would exist, in any sense of the word.
To the unbeliever these words will of course have no more merit than any other bargain basement quasi-religious
doctrine. This is the curse that has kept THE EFFECT in the shadows for so long, a period of time unimaginable.
But you don`t want to hear about this. You, fine reader, want only to know what it feels like, what it looks like, and
what it compares to.
* * * * * *
Coyne collapsed on his unmade bed once he reached home and listened to a dribble of music from the flat upstairs. He
had nothing to do but sleep or eat he realised, not for the first time. This is what they called rest and relaxation, the
aim of all intelligent beings, to slouch and flop until you filled the gaps in the floor like water. He wondered why he was
alone and almost had to laugh at himself, people like him had to be alone, they were too dangerous.
"The secrets need protecting."
His voice frightened him, it wasn`t his usual voice; and what did his usual voice sound like ? he seldom heard it these
days, and only to ask for things like books from the library.
Still, he had heard something different in his tone, a throatiness like the onset of disease ?
He dare not imagine what his accident at the plant would blossom into. Who knew what chemical spills could do to a
a man ? Mc Griggs didn`t even know how the chemicals had even gotten into the lasagna he ate. Was it an accident at
all ? And how many others had eaten that lasagna ? Just him ?
Thinking about food made him feel hungry so he made a cheese sandwich and switched on the tv. Another death in
Ireland and an assortment of minor crimes closer to home. Nothing to do with him he was glad to say.
The familiarity of his flat began to annoy him, as the sun set and he was forced to close his curtains, like he was
trapped thinking the same thoughts over and over again; a mantra that could only result in nausea.
"Roll on dawn." he sighed, and chuckled, "If only."
He flicked his tiny television on and slumped on his unmade bed, letting the days tensions float away from his limbs
and mind. Soon he was almost dozing off as some old-aged fool tried to boat across the atlantic, to the disgruntlement
of the sharks and the weather.
"Why bother ?"
Mc Griggs sat on the only armchair Coyne owned and crossed her black stockinged legs, making a scraping noise that
he replayed in his head, until she asked her first question.
"Any hallucinations ?"
Her voice was a magnet to his concentration.
She almost sounded disappointed.
She scibbled frantically on her form, which was resting on one of his books. Coyne Hoped she would press hard enough to
leave an impression, like last time.
"What about delusions ? Odd thoughts ?"
She tapped her white teeth with her black pen and stared at him on the bed, a look in her eyes that he had never seen
"Well, sometimes I get the feeling that someone`s following me."
"I was in the towns museum district and I kept thinking there was someone watching me."
McGriggs Began to write earnestly, her biro clicking furiously. The thin gold bracelet on her writing wrist was swinging
hard now. Did it count as a kind of wedding ring he wondered ? She had nothing on the right finger.
"Would you say it was a bad experience ?" she put to him, uncrossing her legs and recrossing them the other way round.
"I was scared enough to duck into a museum."he said.
"What kind of museum ?"
"It was full of wax people on old bikes. Not very good really, a bit amateuristic."
She scibbled away again, clicking and scraping until Coynes eyes wandered to her stockinged legs; they were shapely,
she was shapely. He loved her; he loved her legs, her long dirty blonde hair, the way she looked at him.
"How about your health ?" she asked, looking at him.
Coyne didn`t much care about his health, why should he if people insisted on poisoning him ?
"I`m fine, fine."
"And your appetite ?"
Coyne shifted on the bed and heared it creak like an old door being opened in a bad horror film.
"My appetites ?"he enquired, scratching his nose.
"Are you eating alright?"
Coyne felt something as she said those words, he wasn`t sure what but it was extreme enough to count as perhaps a first.
"I eat fine, I like all kinds of food, I eat salads and meat and all kinds of things."
"Good, you`ve got to watch what you eat these days with all the additives and E numbers."
Coyne hoped the feeling hadn`t shown on his face, it was certainly strong enough. If it got any stronger he was done for.
"I want to take a few samples."she was saying, reaching for her black leather handbag.
"Samples ? God you must have enough of my blood to...feed a vampire."
She laughed quite honestly and rifled around in her bag for a few seconds.
"I don`t need anymore of your blood, I need a semen sample."
There wasn`t a shade of embarrassment in her request; he wished there had of been.
"Semen ?"he said.
"We need to regulate your sperm count, things like that. It won`t take long."
She held out a small transparent tub with a white sticker on it. He had to climb off the bed to take it from her hand
and made sure not to touch her finger tips or look into her eyes as he did so.
McGriggs got up and hung her black bag on her shoulder as Coyne stared at the tub. It looked like she was about to
"I`ll sit in the car and you can bring it out to me when you`re done." she said simply, as if she was buying shoes.
Coyne decided to take a stroll to his old workmates flat, it had been a good two weeks since he had last seen him, and
sampled his wares. The dope fiend was always glad to see him and learn more about his meetings
with McGriggs. He had a lot to tell him this time.
His street was a few miles away from Coynes and it was a hot day so he was soon sweating. It was a
relief to finally press his buzzer and wait for the footsteps as his friend descended the stairs.
"And then I had to take it out to her as people were passing by."
Nick laughed, spewing smoke from his mouth and nostrils; he had been laughing for the last two minutes and would do
so for the rest of the afternoon.
"Are you sure she`s really checking your sperm count ? She might be using it to impregnate herself ?" Nick said with
great difficulty, his pipe clutched feebly in his hand ready for another suck.
"She might even be drinking it in some weird ritual." Coyne added.
Nick took a big toke on his wooden pipe and closed his girlish eyes; the room took on a silent peacefulness as they both
indulged. Coyne needed little of the drug to get him there, his pipe sat half empty in an ash tray on the arm of his
chair. Things in the room kept catching his eye and telling him a story about themselves that he wanted to blurt out,
like he was their translator. The piles of comics slouched in a corner almost seemed about to flap open by themselves
and light up like a televison, showing new and desperate visions.The artwork on the walls gave him so much hope and
rage that he burst out laughing again.
"I bet she`ll want something from the other end next time." he spat amidst guffaws.
They laughed until they heared a knock at the door.
"Hang on, i`ll just deal with this."Nick said getting up and fishing something out of his pocket. He opened the door a
crack and Coyne heard the sound of mumbled conversation; it took only a few seconds and Nick was back taking a
suck on his pipe.
"Just Annie from downstairs, after a bit."
"If only, she needs it."
"Why not hypnotise her with your inimitable charm ?" Coyne suggested as he looked for his bronze pipe.
Nick scratched his stubbly chin and made a face.
"She`s sort of odd. Posh and dingey at the same time."
"Sounds ideal to me."
Coyne lit up his pipe and took its smoke in hard; instantly he was floating.
Nick curled up in his big brown armchair and looked at Coyne.
"I`m sure she`s spying on me."
Coyne noticed the lack of humour instantly, something rare in Nick. He hadn`t even been bothered when he lost his job
at the laboratory.
"How do you mean ?" was all Coyne could think to say as he expelled his gange white breath.
"Well, for starters she knew I was a ganger. I didn`t tell her."
"She probably just smelled it on you."
"Na, that`s a myth. She would have to be a bloodhound, and anyway it`s not just that, she asks questions."
Coyne chuckled and stared at a naked picture of a woman on the wall above Nicks head.
"Everyone asks questions, it`s called getting to know people."
Nicks turn to chuckle now.
"It`s not me she wants get to know, it`s you."
Coynes mind flipped ever so slighty at those words. A sudden cascade of notions making him ever so slightly dizzy.
"Well she`s not spying on you then is she, you`ve nothing to worry about."
"She says she`s seen you walking around somewhere, smiling to yourself in an odd fashion."
Coyne felt his gut tighten a bit. He chose his next words before saying them.
"So i`ve been stoned a bit lately, been doing the booze too much, nothing serious."
Nick smiled and took a massive toke on his pipe.
Coyne carried home enough cannabis to last him a week of constant smoking and set to it as soon as possible, thinking
about Nicks neighbour. He had never set eyes on her as far as he knew so he had to find a face and body from
elsewhere; McGriggs came easily to supply the missing bits, with her moderate curves and long blonde hair. He was soon
seeing her amongst the exhalations of used gange, adopting all manner of postions for his eyes and hands. Dressed in
black stockings that constantly ripped open, from knee to groin.
A car beeped its horn in the road outside his flat and he looked around himself, at the empty shelves and the grey
screen of the tv. In the years he had lived here he had never once bought anything in way of decoration, not even a
poster to fill a bit of blank wall space.What was the point ? Why waste your vision on dead things? The world was
teeming with life in every colour and shape.Was it time ? he hoped it would be soon.
The gange fired his appetite, so for the next four hours he emptied the cupboards and fridge of anything edible and
potable, feasting until he fell asleep.
He woke to the hissing of rain on the road outside, forming puddles for the cars to tear in half. Climbing out of a bed
that seemed to want to drag him back, he checked his thoughts; of course, he had nothing to do as usual. Nick envied
him his compensation, wished he had eaten the lasagna too so that he could have all his bills payed and have enough to
smoke none stop, not a care in the world; none except the constant threat of having that world cruelly pulled from
under his feet. If he didn`t start showing complications soon they would probably decide that he was no threat to them
in the courts and just stop all his money. That`s what Nick said anyway.
"Ohh, I feel all dizzy, give us ten thousand pounds."
Nick had said that ,as a sick joke. Coyne had laughed too.
His all night binge had left him nothing for breakfast he discovered, nothing but a few tea bags and half a loaf of
slightly green bread. He had no choice but to venture out in the rain. The supermarket wasn`t far.
Pulling on his boots and coat made his head spin a bit, not enough to warrant sitting down and resting though.
In fact it took him to his pipe and bowl and a rather large chunk of chocolate brown pleasure.
"Just a few puffs."he promised himself as he filled the wooden pipe and looked for his lighter. It was stuck down the
side of his chair. He positioned himself and flicked the wheel, taking a welcome and warm tug on the burning substance
that instantly expanded his mind. He held his breath for as long as possible and then finally eased some of it out in a
tiny cloud of smoke. A second later he replaced it with nice cool air, allowing him more time to absorb the magic.
By the time he was stepping out of his flat he was completely stoned.
The slashes of grey rain shot at him from a white sky, rattling against his long polyester overcoat. He almost gave up
there and then, put off by even the short journey to the shop; bad people lurked in the streets, people on worse drugs
than he. He stood on his door step watching the houses across the road stand still, listening to the cars splashing
through the grimey water. It was hard to concentrate on any one thing for long, there was so much going on; a dog
with its tail tucked in, heading for home; an old lady waving her stick at a bus that was already long gone.
"Food." he reminded himself, and locked his front door.
It was abject hell. Everyone was staring, he was sure of it.The rain had worsened by the time he had slopped to the
crossings, and already his face was slimey with it. A burst of pleasure made him smile for no more reason than that he
had to. Maybe it was the brightness poking through the swiftness of the rain ? The berry red of the post box or the busy
conundrum of the supermarket, sat steadfastly on it`s own in a fuzzy area of wasteland.
The traffic was stopping for him and a young lady with a black umberella, who set off across the rippling road as he
did, matching his pace. He couldn`t help but try to get a glimpse of her face as she looked his way.
It looked dirty, like she had smeared ash over it;a direct contrast to the clean collar of her beige raincoat.
Once they had reached the opposite side of the road she trotted off, on high heeled shoes the colour of grass, in the
direction of the post box, and beyond to the flyover presumably.
Coyne watched her until it felt like he was staring, and then ducked into the supermarket out of the downpour.
It felt wrong he noticed instantly, something was wrong in the yellow aura of the aisles and the preoccupied faces of
the shoppers. He didn`t know what though and put it down to the dope. It made everything wrong, that was the point
wasn`t it ? How wrong could things be before they ceased being what they were and became something different
altogether ? He pondered this as he untangled a wire basket from its clones and continued to ponder it as he strolled
down the tinned produce aisle,watched by the security guard who looked incapable of stopping anyone from stealing
anything they wanted to steal.They always kept an eye on him though so he let the irritation drop. A cheerful tune
crept into the gaps of his thoughts from hidden speakers in the ceiling and distracted him with its sudden beauty. He
was smiling as he stared at the peas and carrots and then at the meat all safely squashed into their tin homes.
He was forming a moment he realised, one of those moments that would be remembered all of his life, for no solid
reason. An insignificant treasure, accidently born from a quids worth of dope, a well lit supermarket shelf
and a tune designed to make him buy. But what else ?
Was this a sign of something more ?
Coyne picked up a tin of marrowfat peas and dropped it into his basket. He moved onto the freezer section in search of
a cheap pizza, a bulge of emotion forming in his gut that called to be quelled by a few more pipes worth of ganga.
"This could be a three pipe problem Watson."
Nick had said something like that a couple of times; he liked those old films.
* * * * * *
What is the future for THE EFFECT
Once the initial awakening of THE EFFECT has reached the physical plane of the recipient, a cooling off period begins.
This may be a natural safety mechanism that allows the host to absorb the information he has been endowed with in
THE EFFECTS growth into our world. After all, a human is not used to having his favoured reality so strangely and so
fantasically altered. This can be a rough time for even the most seasoned experimenter.
Equally as rough is the period of normality that ensues once THE EFFECT has made its unusal introductions and taken
to relaxing on your prized sofa, showing no signs at all that it intends to say another word or perform another act.
You know it`s there, yet it may as well have never come.
Have you gone mad ?
No, for THE EFFECT has not forgotten you, indeed it has thought of nothing else.
For now THE EFFECT begins a more personal stage of your education.
* * * * * *
As soon as Coyne had himself comfortable in his armchair, he set about forming a recollection of the ash faced woman
in his prized notebook. Every detail had to be carefully and lovingly recorded before it lost its way and stumbled into
the darkness at the edge of his mind.
"Green shoes, grass green shoes." "Clean, beige raincoat and a black umbrella.""Hair ? brown, no, dirty blonde."
His writing wasn`t neat at the best of times but now it was positively unreadable, at least to anyone else; his secret code
"Calm down, have a pipe."
It sounded like bad advice, dope would distract him completely, wiping out any memory of the woman. He had to pluck
the very finest details from the experience or it would teach him nothing. There was a message for him and it was the
one he had been waiting for.
His head swam, blurring his words into pale smears. The more he saw the ladies face the worse it became. What could
he do but let the image go ? Maybe, he pondered, he had seen something that wasn`t meant to be seen by him ?
All the more reason to claim it as his own.
" Ashes ? Cinderella ? Penance ?" What did that have to do with his ascension into Godhood ? Fairy-tales and Christian
ideals surely represented the illusions he had cast off, in favour of truth. And what else ?
"The American way." he joked pinching the bridge of his nose, feeling a tightness there between his eyes.
He found his pipe resting where he had left it, by the white dish that served as a gange bowl. The small gauze lined pit
of the wooden pipe still had a fair amount of cannabis left in it, and it looked welcoming. He lit it and sucked up the
hot smoke into his lungs, it felt more than welcoming, more like wonderfully hospitable.
The green high heels kept on striking the tarmac and the quivvering slate gray puddles in his thoughts. His mind took
a white float to the colourless dinosaur of the flyover, which she had climbed and now descended, jagged black circle
of her soaked umbrella keeping the ash on her face from running, and staining the spotless envelope flaps of her coat.
The room turned a turbulent white, all the smoke his lungs could contain set free. He was going to puke, he could feel
his stomach clenching as if gripped.
Still the womans bright heels struck the pavement like two hammers, silenced by the sickly black whirr of the traffic.
"Fuck !" He managed to say before dropping his pipe.
Something was happening. Something was appearing from the thick aromatic smoke.
It wasn`t the lazy simplicity of his flat taking shape, although that still formed a backdrop to what had entered his
Part of him tried to push its impossibleness back into some kind of sense, to name its geometry, to number its ever
shifting identites; it was a task too heavy to fulfill, no matter how much he pushed and pulled; he had no choice but to
let its shimmering colours remain unchecked and unrememebered, to allow it to tease, terrify and enrapture.
No sooner had he accepted his madness ,than it had gone, taking the form with it.
Nick was glad to see Coyne again so soon. He was always saying he should stay over a few days. So long as he brought
his own `supplies`. Seeing him standing there on his flooded doorstep brought out the mother in him. He had quickly
shuffled him inside.
"What`s up then ?" Nick felt like saying. Instead he asked him if he wanted tea or coffee.
" Have you ever wondered what we made at the lab ?" Coyne said, ignoring the offer of a drink. He had a childlike look in
his eyes that Nick had never seen in the five years he had known him, from workmate to slacker.
" It wasn`t Tea or Coffee I know that much." Nick joked, hoping for at least a smile.Then he held his arm out.
"Here, give us your coat, i`ll hang it up in the kitchen to dry. Tea or Coffee ?"
"Tea, please."Coyne answered, slowly sliding his sodden coat off as if it was either very delicate or causing him pain.
"I`ve been a bit lonely Nick, that`s why i`m here."
The words sounded dark somehow, Nick didn`t like to hear them, suddenly he was back in Manchester, fighting his
way out of a street that had once bordered a slum. A house which had become part of the slum.
He glanced back to Coyne as he strolled to the kitchen, where he hung the coat up on the top of the door and set about
filling the kettle.
"Can we put the telly on ?" Coyne asked, his chin hidden behind the pink curve of a steaming mug of tea.
Nick reached over to his tv, perched on the end of a tall table, and fumbled for the on switch.
"The remotes bust again;, i sat on it."
The tv came to life with a click, and a slight hum that transformed into the voice of a woman. Her head and chest lit
"The news ?"Coyne wondered unnecessarily.
"Yeah, no news is good news."
Nick sat back into his armchair and found the small box where he kept his pipe.
Coyne watched him for a few seconds and stood up, putting his mug down on a coffee table covered with jig-saw
"I brought my own, as you suggested."Coyne proclaimed happily as he slipped something out of his jeans pocket. It was
his wooden pipe and a parcel of gange, wrapped up in clingfilm.
"Stay as long as you like."Nick offered."You can sleep on the couch."
Coyne smiled and divided his attention between his pipe and listening to the news. Nick did pretty much the same
but kept an eye on his friend. It wasn`t the first time he had acted oddly, just after the incident at work he had suffered
somekind of breakdown, possibly caused by the supposed accidental poisoning. That time he complained of seeing
things, and being watched.
A fear crept in to Nicks thoughts: had he brought on this new relapse with his talk of the woman downstairs ? He
hoped that wasn`t the case. But of course he had been acting weird for a long time, due to the dope most probably.
"Shall I change the channel ?" Nick offered as he positioned his lighter at the tip of his pipe.
Coyne was already holding his breath, his eyes bulging slightly, thin wisps of smoke trickling out of his tight lips. He
managed to nod without spilling anymore gange.
Nick took a quick puff himself and leaned over to change the channel. Flicking the silver buttons he replaced the news
reader with a momentary view of a gray battlefield, a bright golf course and then sizzling static.
"BBC ONE is out, it`ll have to be..."the static vanished, and now they were watching cars fighting throught the rain,
bumper to bumper, like somekind of mad train. Nick didn` t feel like watching a traffic jam, but he couldn`t be
bothered to switch it over again; besides, he decided as he sat back and re-lit his pipe , when you were stoned
anything would do. He had once stared at a test transmission card for an hour and found it to be quite amusing.
"Do you remember the time we found that dead dog ?" Coyne suddenly asked, his face hidden by spent smoke.
"Yeah, it stank really bad."
Coynes face reappeared, blank and lifeless, as if the smoke had taken him with it.
"Do you remember Sally ?" Coyne said now, staring at Nick."She worked at the Lab, a typist with yellow hair."
"Nah," Nick said sadly ."If she was good looking I doubt I would have known her. Why ? did you have her ?"
The sudden shriek of a car alarm intruded, shaking them both.
They realised it was coming from the tv. Something black and mis-shapen was in the act of peering through a car
window. To Nick it resembled a puma, but with a mans face.
"What`s this ?"Coyne wanted to know.
"I forgot to buy a tv times so it could be anything really."
"Might be Cat People or something."
Nick knew it wasn`t but let it pass; he had seen Cat People plenty of times to know it when he saw it.
The cat man trotted off into a dark abandoned building and sniffed around, looking for something, Its human eyes
turning yellow. Scanning the trashed and stripped rooms it made its way up a flight of stairs at top speed. Nick
marvelled at it`s acting ability, as if it really was on the prowl, hunting someone down.
Coynes chair creaked back into its original shape as he got up.
"Just gotta` bit of business in the bathroom to deal with." he offered as explanation.
Nick watched the catman prop his front paws on a glassless window frame.The street was then seen through its yellow
vision; a series of untidy facades with gaping holes for windows and doors. A figure stepped out of a dark archway and
the theme music began; a threatening series of drum beats to reflect the beating of a heart. It was so corny that Nick
thought about turning it over to watch a bit of golf instead. He didn`t however, something stopped him, maybe it was
the cats man face. It was a brilliant bit of special effects for something that was clearly made in the early eighties.
It wasn`t computerised that was for sure, but then neither was it a camera trick or latex.
He heard the toilet flush and Nick came back with a tired look on his face.
"How do ya` reckon` it`s done then ?"Nick asked."It can`t be CGI."
"What`s that then ? The cat ? maybe it`s a dream or a trick or something."
Nick chuckled and filled his pipe.
The catman was now following the figure, a woman, through a car park. Its long tail flicking against shiney bumpers.
Nick sucked his pipe in readiness for the kill, not far off if the rapidly increasing heart rate had anything to with it.
He took in the warm smoke and held it , feeling only a slight burning at the base of his lungs.
He felt on top of the world again.
"She has to die I suppose." Coyne admitted, his own pipe smoking at the tip."She`s got victim written all over her."
Nick switched his attention back to the tv in time to see a flash of black and then red. A lot of red.
Claws like curved knitting needles were tearing through clothes and flesh . Bones too white to be real showed through
a mass of what looked like uncooked steaks. Nick was impressed.
"Not bad for an old one."
Coyne couldn`t answer, he was holding in the smoke again, eyes bulging and turning bloodshot as he stared at the tv.
Nick watched as they slowly turned his way .
"You would have thought she`d have screamed a bit wouldn`t you." Nick said.
The kill was over. Now another figure was striding through dark streets, long coat flapping as he turned a corner to be
met by the freshly savaged streaks of flesh and clothes lying at the edge of the car park. A shriek of a ambulance took
the place of his scream and the adverts came on.
"Nicely done." Nick judged getting up to see what he had to eat in the kitchen.
"Let`s go to the pizza shop." he put to Coyne, who smiled and stood up immediately as if on strings. He looked around
the room with smoke leaking out of his thin lips and gave Nick a look of puzzlement.
"Your coats in the kitchen if you want it. It`s stopped raining I think."
Nick found the streets strangely flat now it was night. He never liked going out after sundown at the best of times, but
especially not when he was tripping on the gange. Still, hunger was the boss and he wasn`t alone. Coyne was right beside
him, saying nothing, staring at everyone he passed. He stepped in a few puddles dong this so Nick had the idea that he
should say something to get his attention.
"What would you do if you found out you were sterile ?" was what came out of his mouth. It sounded daft as soon as it
Still, it caught Coynes thoughts. He gave a smirk and shrugged.
"Who`s bothered really, too many sprogs about anyway these days."
The pizza shop was way ahead, a tiny quivvering square of orange light in a mess of darkness. Thin shadows flitted
across the bright shape.
"I feel great."Coyne exclaimed."Like something is about to happen."
A car growled by, black and shiney. Nicks hand brushed something that felt like wet leaves, leaving a smear of coldness
across his knuckles. He found the lack of street lights a little exciting he realised. The urge to run quickened his pace.
Coyne kept up.
"I feel pretty good myself."he admitted."It`s good stuff, it`s not Colombian but it`s not bad."
Coyne chuckled at that.
"Does some wacky stuff to you if you`ll let it."
Nick laughed too, it was good to have someone with you when you were well stoned. Especially someone equally as
stoned. They had had some great times since they lost their jobs.
"If it wasn`t for the lab we couldn`t get so stoned." he dared to say. "If they didn`t give you so much money you couldn`t
buy so much off me, and I couldn`t buy so much for you."
Nick listened to the silence that his words had provoked. He felt too happy to believe that Coyne was now sensitive
about what had happened at the lab, he had never been too bothered about it before; In fact they had always joked
about it. His attention was distracted by the squelchy noise one of his trainers was now making. Soon he would feel the
rain coming through. He hated that.
"Did you see that film about the ufo ?" Coyne said at last, jangling coins in his coat pocket. His voice was excited, and
contained not a hint of anything but.
Nick thought for a moment.
"The one last Tuesday ? with the robot ?"
"Nah, missed it."
"Twelve inches of pepperoni please." Nick told the kid behind the counter. Then he pulled a fiver out of his jeans to pay.
"I`ll have a can of coke while i`m waiting too, I think."
He walked to the rain speckled window of the parlour as Coyne made his order. The street was even darker seen from a well
lit shop. All he could see was his own thin face floating on a slab of black ice. Even the shops across the road had their
lights off he noticed as he prized the ring pull off the top of the can with a metallic fizz.
Supping the stinging sweetness he watched Coyne counting out change for the expectant assistant. He seemed to be having
trouble with it, staring at the money as if it was foreign currency.
"Not trying to get rid of those pesatas again are you ?" he joked.
Coyne gave him a bleary smile and resumed his task, plonking silver and bronze down onto the plastic counter decisively.
He walked over to Nick giggling.
"I`m utterly mashed me."
Nick laughed through his nose, his mouth bulging with cold coke.
"I`m starving." Coyne revealed happily, rubbing his hands."I can`t wait to sink my teeth into that meat."
A loud bang drew Both their eyes to the window as something dark struck it.
"Frickin` what ?" Nick exclaimed, rearing back out of the things way. It was stuck to the glass and seemed to want to
come through. In a split second of madness he believed it would. The way it was straining and the way the window was
warping ever so slightly.
Coyne seemed to be less shocked by the thing he noticed, he just stood his ground, a blank look on his face. If it crashed
through it would hit him dead on.
"Get out of the way then, silly lad." he found himself growling.
Then the thing was gone.
The shop assistant was at the door in a second, peering out angrily, looking up the road and then down again.
"Bloody nutters!" he shouted bravely.
"Looked like a black bin liner or something." Nick offered helpfully, then wondered how a bin liner could have such
"Phew." Nick said remembering his half finished drink."Might have spilled me pint that."
They began to pick at their pizzas as they walked back to the flat. Nick prising off pepperami discs and delivering them
to his waiting mouth as Coyne struggled to halve the size of an entire slice of chicken and mushroom. They
communicated in sounds of satisfcation and appreciation, and the odd barely understood adjective.
When it began to spit with rain they closed their carboard lids and and trotted excitedly to Nicks front door, cheeks
bulging with soggy bread.
"Well that was weird." Coyne said as Nick balanced his pizza box on a brick wall and began to rifle his coat pockets.
"Bloody keys keep moving around in my pockets, i`m sure they were in this pocket." He pulled a jangling flash from
his jeans."And somehow they have travelled, by the power of teleportation to this one."
"What would you do." Coyne said "If a bin liner was waiting for us in the hallway ?"
"Err, I think I would fill it with rubbish and chuck it away."
A click and the door was opening by itself. Nick still trying to find the right key.
Nick recognised the female voice just before the slim face appeared from the floral scented gloom.
"Alright Annie ? Meet my pal Rich."
There was a slight awkward dance as the strongly perfumed girl and Nick exchanged positions on the doorstep. She
giggled as Nick grabbed his pizza before it vanished into the next door garden. Then she was facing Coyne, her long
nailed hand held out.
Coyne took her hand and joined in the shake. Nick saw something drain from his friends face as if Annie was pumping it
out of him.
"Rich used to work with me at the lab Annie, I`ve know him years."
"Oh right, well, glad to meet you."
Their hands slipped back into the shadows and smiles relaxed. Nick heard a police siren in the distance, wailing as it shrank
away into a mere shrill buzz.
"You smell familiar." Coyne admitted.
Annie chuckled crossing her arms around her belly. She was looking at Nick as she did so.
"You`ve probably smelt my perfume before, it`s pretty powerful stuff. Smell it a mile away when you down wind from it."
Coyne made a few glances at Nick and let The girl pass by him., scraping his coat against the low wall.
"Sorry, i`m in you way."
"Seeya later then."
Coyne and Nick watched her vanish almost instantly into the lightless expanse. Leaving a series of unanswered questions
in Nicks mind.
"She`ll be off to some club with her bloke I expect." he informed Coyne sadly."Lucky bastard."
"You sound like a cliche Nick, we need more dope I think."
"We always need more dope Richy."
Nick poured hot water into their mugs and watched the tea bags darken and begin to bleed. The warmth of the steam
lapped at his chilled face and he closed his eyes to savour the sensation. Somewhere someone was shouting, muffled by
brick and distance. He didn`t care. Let them take care of it themselves, whoever they were.
Once the drinks were milked and sugared he carried them through, careful not to spill any of it on his nearly new
carpet. Coyne was looking out of the window and holding his breath, Still wearing his long coat.
"Fetch me my pipe and my bowl and my fiddlers three." Nick sang jovially, setting Coynes cup down on the cluttered
coffee table, by an ash tray and the last of the pizza.
He heard Coyne exhale with a contented sigh.When he looked up his friends head was swathed in thick white smoke. His
pipe held between finger and thumb.
"I think i`ll have a bit of what he`s having please waiter."
"I just saw a man who looked like you Nick." Coyne revealed as he turned and made his way to the couch.
"Was he crying ?"
"Nah, why would he?"
"If he looked like me he`d have to be crying."
It earned a dreamy smile from his friend and a red eyed look. Rich always looked like that when he was fully stoked.
He sat down in his armchair by the tv and set about getting the same way.
"She is familiar to me you know, I bet I saw her somewhere. Wherever she had seen me."
"What ? Annie ? She gets about."
"I`m sure she does."
Nick lit his pipe and sucked the heat in deep. The rush was like opening a christmas present.The tranformation was
blatant. The room beginning to draw in closer. The posters brighter. With his lungs filled to capacity he could only
take in the colours on the walls, with Coyne sat amongst them like a hole in the canvas. He took it all in, Coyne
included, and welcomed the change.
It was only then he remembered Coynes earlier state. The worry ? It had been all to obvious as he had stood on his
doorstep. It had lifted hadn`t it ? He certainly looked more comfortable, lying back on the green couch. A couch
that he couldn`t even remember buying.
He put his pipe down on a pile of scifi books and noticed the tv screen. What appeared to be a naked woman crouched
amongst leaves and branches proved to be a statue advertising soap. It tickled him to make mistakes like that.
"There must be something to watch at this hour." he decided aloud, flicking a few switches. Even that simple act made
him feel entertained. The metallic give of the device and the sudden alteration of the imagery gave him the urge to talk
for some reason. Coyne looked ready to nod off however.
"I`ll dim the lights I think."
He got up with difficulty, laughing as he made for the light switch, his head suddenly crammed with daft ideas that seemed
to be related somehow yet clearly weren`t. The switch clicked under his finger and the juddering glow of the tv became a
beacon, etching out Coynes vague face and little else.
"God, I wish I hadn`t done that."
He giggled as he picked his way past where the coffee table just about was, and dropped into the armchair with relief.
A voice crept out of the gloom.
"Can I light a candle Nick ? I think my lighters just about empty."
"Sure, you know where they are."
Nick heared him fumble around in the box by the couch. He kept all sorts of useful stuff in there, which he could now
identify by the sounds they made against one another. The metal pencil case full of biros, a tape or two.
"Got it ?"
Yep, i`ll be able to light my pipe with it, if i`m not too battered."
Nick watched a dog dance around with a cat as a mouse in a tiny car skittered around singing a tune that was no doubt
catchy enough to make thousands want to buy their insurance. He leant over and adjusted the volume so he could hear
Coynes lighter scratched into life and gave some of its fire to the candle. Coynes face illuminated and then vanished as
the candle floated away from it and landed softly on the coffee table. Nick felt another surge of ideas. He bathed in
them for a time, that he would have a lot of trouble gauging. This is what it`s all about he decided.
"Now where." he wondered. " Is the rest of my lovely, lovely pizza ?"
A flash from the tv almost rendered the candle useless and he found the angular corners of his pizza box. It still felt
heavy enough to enthrall him.
"Come to me now and die in my stomach."
Coyne chuckled in response, mirroring the comic villains throaty effect that Nick had just adopted.
He did it so much better.
A woman on the tv laughed haughtily and began to wonder if their hair was as it should be. Nick felt a strand of his own
greasy hair and wondered if he cared. Then the tv turned black and silent, signifying that the main programme was
"Aw great, Moonbase Alpha. I thought i`d missed it."
The titles flew down from space and began to glow radioactively, before crumbling into ash. The star cast of pretty
boys and bitter looking aliens manifested momentarily in a flash of CGI battleships and barren moonscapes. Eventually,
after an ear splitting howl from some trumpet the moonbase appeared, looking like New York city in chrome and
smooth white plastic.
"They are definetely on something Richy boy, those American tv people... things."
Coyne made a lazy noise in agreement and followed it by a deep intake of breath.
Nick took another toke from his pipe too, just to make sure the feeling lasted until at least part three.This was his
favourite programme and he deserved it for being such a good mother hen.
"Last week they were over run with these sort of nanomachines that invade your body and alter your DNA."
Nick glimpsed into the barely visible orange mask of Coynes face, to see if he was listening.
"Mordred developed breasts, it was hilarious."
All the new limbs and abilities filed through his mind one at a time; Spartans extra legs, Jarkoons magnetic vision and
things he wasn`t too sure had even happened at all.
The tv screen was now full of Captain Jarkoons thoughtful face. His dark glasses reflecting studio lights.
"Get me Haskins on the comvox, Smith."
Nick woke in agony, his legs feeling like two wooden replacements. Blearily he looked around, taking in the unmistakeable
glowing dashes of early morning sunlight on the green carpet. It took him a few moments to allow his brain to warm up.
"Bloody hell, you frickin` chair, i`ll have a deep vein thrombosis if i`m not too careful."
The couch looked pitifully empty. Coyne had probably nicked his bed he realised.
He strained to stand and noticed Coynes pipe still lying on the arm of the couch. The candle had been put out, he
judged, not long after being lit.
Making his way to the bedroom he listened to a news reader, mumbling panickedly in the living room.
"Hello, sleepyhead."he said testily.
The door was open a crack and he eased it wider, the bed still had a copy of MagicMan lying on it from yesterday.
Coyne was not there.
He figured Coyne must have just left early and, after grabbing the stray comic he slotted it into a clear plastic bag and
went to find a bowl of cornflakes.
Coynes front door hurt Nicks knuckles as he rapped three times. The kitchen blinds eased up a few dark inches and then
promptly dropped. The bright jangle of keys preceded the opening of the door.
Coyne left the door wide open and turned his back on Nick as he strolled to the living room.
"You left your stuff at my flat." he explained, shutting the door behind him." I thought you might want them."
A black cobweb lingered on the ceiling above the living room door. Nick was sure it had been there for quite some time.
"Where did you get to then ?"
Coyne was running his fingers through his hair as he peered through a crack in the curtains covering the bay window.
He was still dressed in his long coat.
Nick took the brass pipe and the ball of cannabis from his pocket and put them on a space next to his prized Computer.
"It`s been a while since i`ve been here. Shall I make a cup of tea ?"
"God yes, I need it."
His voice sounded strained, almost painfully so. As Nick set about filling the kettle in the kitchen he heard it resounding
in his thoughts. It reminded him of the time he indulged in a karaoke session one night a long time ago. His voice had
sounded just as rough. He doubted that was the reason. Coyne never sang anything as far as he recollected.
Soon the kettle was rumbling gently and he went back into the living room.
"You must have left early Rich." he said jovially. "You left my door unlocked by the way, no matter."
"Oh, yeah, sorry about that I must say."
"I suppose you must have just been too stoned to stay awake." he said, still seeing the barely melted wax of the candle.
" I left as soon as you fell asleep Nick, had to go and do something important. I was going to come back and wake you
but I ended up here."
Coyne looked at the Computer as if to make sense of what he just said.
"I had to record a few thoughts before I lost them."
"Oh, right, anything interesting ? You writing a book then ?"
Coynes face seemed to wobble slightly as if mounted on a loose bearing. Was it a nod or a shake ?
"I`m getting things straight in my head. As straight as possible."
Coyne picked up the pipe and gange and sat down in the kitchen chair by the computer, which was as silent and
secretive as its owner. Nick recalled the day he had bought the thing, he had been jealous. He could never afford some-
thing like that.
"Are you hooked up to the web yet ?"
"Got any good games ?"
Coyne began to look around in an open drawer of a scruffy cabinet.
"Can I borrow your lighter ?" he asked, scrutinising an object that shone like metal.
As Nick got up, fishing out his lighter, he recogised it as a surgical blade.
"Here you go chummy.I think I just heard the kettle click off."
Coyne took the cheap yellow disposable and heated the blade with its tiny flame. Nick watched him for a moment and
then strolled to the kitchen.
"Now then, where is your sugar ?"
"Did you catch the news yet ?" Coyne wondered as spent smoke spewed from his mouth and headed for the ceiling.
Nick shook his head.
"Nope, why ? Who are we at war with now ?
"I daren`t tell you Nick."
Nick frowned and glanced at his friend under a confused brow.
"You daren`t tell me what ?"
"That would be telling."
"Not ourselves surely ? We`re the only people left to bully."
Nick took a deep breath, savouring the taste of the air in the room, which was faintly tinted with something floral.
"Do you like the new air freshner I bought ?"
"Yeah, I suppose, not my kind of thing really. I prefer the natural odor of my dirty socks pervading through the
"You`re quite clever aren`t you Nick."
Nick had to laugh at that.
"I suppose, clever enough to smoke as much as I want when I need it."
"Which is always."
"Yep, well a guys gotta` have a hobby when he`s on the dole. It`s not all sleep and tv."
"The waking hours that shimmer and shine."
Nick found his confused face again, all too easily.
"Is that a poem ?"
"It will be like a poem when i`ve finished with it."
So that was what he was doing, writing verse for old ladies.
"You know the chicks don`t really go for that stuff, it`s a phallacy spread by the greetings card manufacturers."
Coyne laughed loud, sounding like he meant it.
"Your voice is back in one piece then ?" Nick said.
"Yeah, it`s a shame Annie isn`t."
"And the man she was with." He began to count on his fingers." and the two punks i found dossing in a smelly
derelict council house, the blonde in her bed with the smeared blue lipstick, the fat black lass i pushed out of her
twelvth floor window, God who else ?I can`t quite recall all the details I was too busy enjoying it."
"Very funny, tell me another."
Nicks back had stiffened, his mind was cold. The words issuing from Coynes mouth hit him like freezing ten inch
nails, piercing him to the couch.
"...I liked the one Idropped from a great height the best, she split open like a water balloon."
"Wow." Was all Nick could manage.
"I fucked her first of course, high up in the twisting black miasma of the sky above the sleepy, sleepy streets."
"Is this your poem ?"
He felt sick, weaker than he had ever felt. And sad.
"I tore Annie apart on the top of some high rise and she came apart like wet bread Nick, WET BREAD."
He was now pulling something white from his coat pocket, it made a slippery sound as it flopped open. Nick recognised
" I wore this mask as I did it Nick, so don`t worry."
"Why ? So you could scare them more ?"he dared a glance at the living room door, left wide open.
"No, so that I wouldn`t scare myself. I`m terrifying in my transformed self, flying over the rooftops, soaring so high
through the smashed volativity of the early dawn nightmare."
He slipped the white skull mask on and gripped the sides of his head laughing horribly.
" Fucking hell man, you need to see a doctor or something, you`ve lost it."
His words were lost amidst the screeching that was now emanating from Coyne.
Nick saw his chance and somehow got his legs to carry him to the front door. Coyne was right behind him, he could feel
his presence like an electric shock.
The door opened, thankfully, with little effort and he was racing out into the sunlight, swearing.
He looked back for only a second as he reached the main road and the safety of other pedestrians who gave him a look
that he felt he would soon be wearing himself. The sight of Coyne stood at the end of his garden consolidated it.
The mask was now straining to cover the bulk of his head, which was writhing under the thin, pliable skin of the rubber.
* * *
The gifts that are on offer
THE EFFECT is a generous patron to those willing to deliver it`s message, to further it`s ownership of this outdated world
that we inhabit begrudgingly. This fact will become obvious to those lucky enough to have the patience and fortitude to
travel the less trod path of this magnificent order.
The gifts that are on offer are perhaps more than any man could hope for. And are most assuredly beyond any amateurs
ability to wield without temptations cruel tide pulling him of course to the black and sucking depths of his futile mind.
Madness is after all the guardian of enlightenment.
But have no fear of such far flung climes, for THE EFFECT is all approving of those who test themselves on the
jagged incline of its influence.
THE EFFECT has use for those who fall foul of their own base desires in service of its name.
* * *
Coyne waited until it was dark before letting go of his old self yet again, feeling his mind alter first, as a precurser to a
more physical transformation.The change followed the same beautifully subtle pattern as the night before he noted;
first the doubt, doubt of the solidity of the world around him. This was the trigger, a vital suspicion that turned walls
into thin sickly paper, walls that trembled as if aware of his overwhelming power.
Once this step had become tiresome, the next became apparent.
A feeling of uthoria that threatened to drag him laughing into the dark streets in search of someone to share it with.
This was no temptation to Coyne, no temptation at all. Share ? why should he share what he himself had bled for ?
Died for ?
No. Even though he allowed himself to weep with love and joy for all that existed, he did not run outside into the real
world. Not yet.
For he knew all too well what was to come next.
At the peaks of heaven are the doors to death. Death not of the soul but of the joy of the soul. The joy of love.
It was here, stood in his bare living room, that he burst through into a state that began to inflict its bitterness, its vile
retribution upon his physical frame.
It is here that he begins to change.
The rubber skull mask crackles and this is the only means by which he is able to gauge the onslaught of the re-creation
that he is undergoing, in the service of a higher cause.
But he knows he is terrible.
The screams and the looks of insane horror that he had caused the night before, that wonderful night, had told him so.
He was a faithful servant of THE EFFECT but he could not bring himself to look upon the monstrous imagination of his
all powerful master. Not yet.
The mask had been hidden away in his flat for so many years, a foolish remnant of some Halloween prank that now seemed
holy in comparison with the acts he had commited and would again. It now had a second life, as he did, in service of
a force that would one day lay its influence upon every soul in the world, and render reality the long lost dream of some
Once the mask was tight on his head, as tight as a layer of skin, he knew that he was ready.
His mind bulging in all directions, eager to tear and rip its way out, he left the ground.
It wasn`t like flying. It didn`t feel like he was moving away from the dismal insult of the carpet.
It was more like he was moving the ground away from him. Moving the entire house, the entire world away from his new
and terrible form.
As he glided to the back door it felt like he was shrugging off the burden of his hallway, casting it off as if it were a spent
carapace that had squashed his wings and given him the curse of gravitys lies.
A lie that he now wielded to his benefit.
The backdoor he had left open, in readiness of this moment; no fool was he, not like those who wormed their wet way
through the blackened aortas of the street in search of intoxication. In search of flesh.
As he took himself outside he promised them all that they wanted, and more.
He promised them the time of their lives.
Nick left the safety of the library once it came to closing time and had no choice but to make for the nearst pub. It was too early
for a nightclub and he had to be around the mundane, around the normal people that now seemed so very much more like he.
The streets were dark. Oppressively so.The shops dark behind a series of shutters.The only light that of the tall lamp posts,
that seemed to have only enough power to demonstrate the thinness of their concrete necks. Figures shared the gloom as he
made his way to the nearest pub; figures that betrayed nothing out of the ordinary, outside of the expected Saturday night
gaudiness, which was made all the more noticable by their alchohol strengthened voices. He couldn`t help but hear what
was on their minds. The near fights outside pubs, their ability to swear without repition, and other things that almost came
close to what dogged him.
He heared police sirens as he took a left at the rear of the library, and wondered where they were headed.
The Chanticleer was his destination. It was slightly upperclass and that meant something today. He didn`t allow himself to
ponder why. He just didn`t want any trouble. And he wanted to be surrounded by people. Lots of people.
"Pint of sweet cider please."he told the student behind the bar. Who quickly furnished him with his drink and took his
Nick swept the interior of the pub with his eyes, admiring the girls as he always did when he came here. It wasn`t too full
tonight. But the ones who were here made up for that. There seemed to be somekind of girls night out by the drinking
booths. Students making the most of it he reckoned and saw his own days as a student. Which had earned him nothing but a
place at the lab and...
The cider dribbled itself down the back of his hand and he took it to a stool by the end of the bar, where the odd couple
were laughing, chatting, drinking. Doing everything normal people did well.
He recognised none of them. Maybe later he decided. You couldn`t help but pick up friends when the booze was flowing.
It took finishing his pint and half another for that hope to sink in for real.
People came and went but gradually the place filled out with bodies. The laughter of the girls by the booths caught his
attention more than anything else and he scanned their downplayed attemtps to look dolled up; the slighty flared jeans and
make up that contained more than a hint of glitter. All tempered by the standard rock t-shirts and trainers.
He loved them. And relished the idea of loving them.
He finished his second pint of cider and checked his pocket for change. He was down to his last few quid. He stared at the
golden coins in the palm of his hand. They refused to multiply, as per usual.
But he did have his pipe, and a lump of the brown stuff, still waiting to join the party. He touched them in his coat pocket
and then made his way to the toilets, hoping the cubicle would be free.
Pushing the door open he caught the smell of sick and held his nose. He shared the tiled brightness of the toilets with a man
who was bent over a sink, his long black coat drooping down to his ankles. He was washing his face and groaning.
Nick ignored him and made for the cubicles, recalling that they were usually quite clean, and not being disappointed.They
were all empty and the end cubicle looked to have been recently disinfected.
He quickly locked the door behind him and relaxed. He laid his pipe on the cistern top and inspected his gange lump.It had
a nice wedge shape to it so he simply tore the thin edge off , bit by bit, and filled his pipes gauze lined pit. Once he was
happy with the amount he got down to it, taking a piss to diguise the first snap of the lighter. And then flushing the toilet to
cover the next.
It worked wonders.
The man was drying his hands with the blower when Nick finally ventured out, shocked at how stoned he felt. Realising he
should have taken it easier with the booze.
"Too late now." His mouth said without warning him first.
The man laughed and continued to dry his hands as Nick went back to the party, just audible through the thick door.
The girls had vanished he noticed sadly. Their seats and tables taken by an assortment of scruffy looking men with rugby
jerseys and wide heads. No doubt the girls had gone on to the Nightclub. He wonderd if he should join them and remembered
the coins in his pocket.
He had enough for one last pint.
But he did have his bank card.
The girls had beaten him to the cash machine. Not caring he stood behind the gang of tittering, smoking students and
waited for them to finish, the beeping of the machine sounding like a flat toned dance beat, filtered by their bodies.
He thought about singing along to it but the idea was shaken out of him by a near collision with a pigeon, or somekind of
bird, too dark to see. He had felt its wings and heard the rush of air. The girls had felt it too.
They patted their hair down as they strolled off in the general direction of the bus station, leaving Nick with the
glow of the machine.
It was his turn at last. He felt good.
He slipped his card into the slot and provided the thing with all the info it needed to provide him with enough money to
have a good night, and a good morning if he was lucky.
The machine coughed up his card and he pocketed it. Next the cash.
The girls had begun to scream.
It sounded horrible.
Nick looked over to where they were performing somekind of uncoordinated dance, beneath the inquisitive glare of a street
light. Most of them seemed to be peering up into the blackness of space as if waiting for something to drop from the
"OH MY FUCKING GOD !" One of them bellowed. And Nick took his money from the machine. And stared up into the night
sky, expecting to see nothing.
"BECKY!"Another girls seemed to screaming to the sky. Then the girls scattered, displaying faces slashed with fear.
"What the fuck is going on ?" Nick asked one of them, who had seen him and backed away into a side street, beyond the
reach of the light.
Before she could sink away with her look of terror she screamed once, and then began to fly. To fly up and up, defying
gravity and Nicks thrashing mind.
"FUCK ME!" He screamed, hurting his throat."WHAT THE FUCK?"
Fear was the least of it. What he now felt was an emotion beyond all his experiences added together.
He didn`t have time to fashion a suitable name for it however.
The girl was coming back down to earth.
He leapt instinctively and stumbled to one side, feeling his hip knock hollowly on the pavement. Hoping that he had
reached a safe distance. He needn`t have worried. The girl was now swooping back up and away into the darkness, and she
He had to laugh. What else could he do, faced with such a ludicrous notion ? So he laughed. And the dry sound earned him
Spinning away, his mind collapsed. He felt the cold slap of the ground on his face and then the darkness of the night began
to reach for him. To merge with the darkness in his mind.
"Wakey, wakey." someone was saying."Wakey wakey rise and shine."
He realised it was himself and set about following the good advice. He was alone now. Alone in the dark with the cash
machine glowing nearby. If he owned a watch he could have asked it to work out how long he had been out. But he didn`t
so he headed for the Bus station. It was deserted. A strong wind sending paper sailing, slowly into the dark.
Their was a taxi firm in the next street and he took himself to it. He didn`t recall talking to the man who drove him home;
what would he have to tell him that he wanted to hear ? Life is just as it always was ? Simple yet flawed ?
What did he have to tell anyone anymore ?
Nick paid the man and didn`t notice how much of a tip he gave.
He went into his flat and turned on the tv.
Then he waited.
Get used to it? No, you never get used to it.