THE OUTLANDS - we watch them going in a bubble of breath held -

THE OUTLANDS

ZINE 2

 

Six years ago, Fairweather and McBride began to build concaves for their two youngsters. Flat mirrors were placed to ensure that light was not reflected back into their eyes but off to the sides. Fairweather and McBride’s journey was about more than bricks and mortar. But just when they had gotten started, McBride discovered he had cancer and a few months later he passed away. Fairweather became obsessed by the mechanics of mirroring, convincing herself that there had been an error in the flat mirrors and their retro-reflecting function. Around the same time an old friend returned—by his own account “to find out if Fairweather’s was still striding”. There were rumours that he had been intending to take McBride’s place. When Fairweather and the old friend were married these rumours were given credence. The retro-reflectors of the conclaves remained an obsession for Fairweather. In time she ensured such quiet operation that they attracted birds. Her old friend reported to the assembled community that the birds were almost everywhere (carpenters’ tradition of carving representations of birds into joints was derived from these events). In more recent times serious architects have turned their hands to metal conclave suspensions, safety barriers, traffic islands and the painting of traffic stripes. All pillars are fluted with glass fragments in the high-up conclaves. Mirrors reach from floor to ceiling and are double-sided so that when visitors approach, along with the street they see a great flame masked by black shields. From a trestle on cables fitted with flat screens and solar panels, other complex structures are hidden in the trees disguised as birds’ nests. One is concealed in the forests of northern Sweden where the light shows itself around the edges of a shield-like sun.

 

Here is the list of objects retrieved each year from the body of the Supper Worm: coins, bones, stones, sticks.

Supper worm meat is known as fragrant meat.

The health benefits of the Supper Worm are listed in the Sun-Sentinel, the Supper Worm improves blood circulation and raises body temperature.

In order to calm horses, workers have removed the non-native Supper Worm from tree island and relocated it elsewhere.

We regret to say that the population of thunder-phobic dogs has increased in the Everglades, the reason being the Supper Worm.

Slaughtered and served, the Supper worm is a carnivore’s delight.

Taiwanese governments have imposed a ban on Supper Worm.

Vets may be herded into a narrow chute until their mouthpieces no longer move, as reported in the Sun-Sentinel.

Here, the cartoon Supper Worm is dressed in an elasticized shirt.

The Supper worm is pressed on both sides. Bought by people who enjoy exotic pets it brings comfort in the way pets bring comfort.

But the Supper Worm suffers vomiting and has difficulty defecating.

There is a domestic animal welfare lobby to check when wild game (upland birds such as quail, pheasant and dove) becomes the diet of the Supper Worm.

The Supper Worm primarily eats smaller worms and birds.

The Supper Worm has a ‘vacuum cleaner’ reputation.

The Supper Worm kills parasites.

Hug your distraught friend, commend to her the Supper Worm.

And swaddle it according to the guidelines.

 

 

To encounter the grey alien:

1. Buy some liver.

2. Dip your sweet-scrubbed forefinger into the blood and rub your finger on a square of cardboard cut from old packaging.

3. Go back and forth until the cardboard rolls into pulpy grey-green particles.

4. Dip your finger again, this time for colouration.

5. Bend the sheet into a smooth curve to mimic the under-legs.

Those who claim to encounter the grey alien describe its actual appearance as childlike, a ‘toddler’ with grey-green skin, hairless scalp, big red alien-like eyes, pointed ears, rows of sharp teeth with hairs like a monkey. The grey-green alien behaves like a monkey. It is animal-like and it climb. It will climb the trellis to enter a home.

 

A junior minister is stopped by a newspaper reporter, who, thrusting a Dictaphone towards him, asks for a comment on the minister’s meetings with a certain Afghani official recently implicated in corruption allegations. “You described the man mistakenly as the leader of the Islamic Liberal Reform Council,” the reporter puts it to him, “but is it not the case that the same official is a Persian who has concealed his real identity and has never been who he claims?” The minister takes a breath and holds it as if he might win for himself an extra moment to think. If he is not careful he will betray the fact that this reporter already suspects, which is his implication in the corruption. It is the moment every politician dreads. Then exhaling, he closes his eyes, banishes all tension from his body and looks the reporter in the eye. “Let me explain”. Just as he has brought himself to a moment of unlikely relaxation, so he must speak now precisely to avoid explanation. His words must map the grey zone that comes in advance of reasonable thought.  |•|  People have come from the nearby city. Their presence is unsettling. What does it mean? They hope to see a spaceship—or if the spaceship does not appear, at least to see the wall on which unusual marks have been found. It is the only part of the old boundary wall that still stands. There were marshes here in ancient times. They had already been drained when the city boundaries were built. Now that the area has been re-flooded for reasons of heritage, much of the nearby architecture has begun to collapse.  |•|  A small group of figures can be seen standing on the raised land known as Hindmarsh Island. There is a sign that says No Trespassing. It’s a place the adolescent boys like to gather. They are discussing rumours of an alien visitation. At least these recent events are a distraction that might keep them from more destructive pursuits. Their vandalism is a surge. Isn’t it enough already to be dealing with hostility from outside?

 

After the required quarantine and medical inspection (including a search for gold) one man is chosen, whose job is to ensure that the vulnerable ones are safe. There are 600 unaccompanied minors resting at Fort Still in the civilian warehouse, who will remain while the electrical fingers are counted. Each child has a bunch and each one is careful not to damage the more fragile parts. Under a little too much pressure, armatures can be squashed. The chosen man comes with his father dressed in tweed. They are housed in the musician’s block and looked after by a kindly Jew. This administration has come in a tidal wave of orphans. It’s good to see them shuttled. Although regimentation breaks down, at least more of the concrete paving can then be seen. In is a story of the kindly Jew, who introduces the man and his father to three musicians, a Jewish violinist and his two violin-playing brothers. All know by now that death is not the cruellest fate; a musician’s hands may be disabled. Previously they had thought it could never be so but have had cause in the meantime to think again. In fact, there are several fates worse than death, which those gathered discuss in ‘just-between-you-and-me’ moments while they think no others are within earshot. On the day I came to visit, the father rushed to find me a cushion and to grab some tea from the tent 81. “We used to have beautiful carpets,” he said. “And our beasts had ornate hooves. By the time we get away from this place both will be destroyed,” he said.

 

We have a big whereabouts database. It is organised in a series of nested, rotating, circular bins that operate to bring different artefacts into relations. Each is given its own place on the revolving tables. When the bins are spun they come to rest in unpredictable place and thus the things are lined up. The database occupies the centre of the laboratory. Its repositories are colour-coded and the lab also contains the cold store, in which is found a ghoulish exhibition of plastinated corpses arranged to show how the people die when fire spreads quickly through the building in which they were occupants. The interiors of a one-story wood-frame structure are reconstructed around the figures in the style of a Northeast Texan working-class neighbourhood home. Flames are shown spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint, tiles and furniture in the process. Smoke rolls along the ceilings then banks downwards, seeping into each room through the crevices in the windows until is stains the morning sky.

 

The monks cast their minds back. Even as they fight, they remember, between blows delivered and blows received they pause, look heavenwards and for a moment envision their brothers, whom they were forced to watch executed while rendered powerless to intervene. The memories fuel their determination. They lunge, stagger back, regroup, advance again with steady resolve not unlike that they have learned through hours of prayer, it has been noted.  In preparation, their elder instructed them that they should repeat: ‘the knife is my friend’.

Feel how well the handle fits the hand, feel it between each thrust. Your enemies may have guns but just as these barbarians care not to caress their weapons, so their bullets will go astray. And in the meantime their flesh will find the arcs of your blades. Time is short. Strike once. Strike again then move on. Cut as if through a forest of demons. Cut them down and advance. If they rise again and follow, kick them back. You will hear the forbidden voices, the voices of lusts; veiled and removed, indecent voices. By your strokes those sounds will be clarified and transfigured. Do not press your fingers across your mouths, keep them delicately twisted around the horn of your bolo. Believe now in the flesh, the appetites: seeing hearing, feeling. These are miracles and each part the tag of you is a miracle.

 

In the courtyard at the front of the block of retirement apartments, in the shade of the building there is a better place to stand. Through the bay window a spacious lounge and dining area is visible. Residents sit on easy chairs arranged randomly (here, conversation is not a priority). At the other end of the room glass doors look out over a patio. “You can see that those responsible for the gardens take pride in their work.” A man with evident managerial responsibilities escorts a smartly dressed woman, observing details of the building and its uses. He gestures towards the exterior spaces. There are glasshouses. In one, a display of tropical plants is organised around a water feature. “Well equipped kitchens are shared with the nearby hospital,” he says. “They are adjacent to a heated pool used by our residents for water-therapies.” Where are the bedrooms, she asks. “They are at the other side”; the manager gestures again to indicate. The corridors in the building are lined with  storage lockers. In the reception area the manager and his guest come to stand by a 24 hour emergency call point and video entry system. One door leads through to the residents’ lounge, another to the laundry room. There is a shop selling newspapers, sweets and soft drinks. The 55 bus draws up directly opposite the building’s entrance. Some passengers disembark and a few people board the bus, which then heads off in the direction of the town centre.

 

 

The protagonists live in Northern California. They had been under the impression up until recently that they had no neighbours living in the mansion on the adjoining land. The boys spy from nearby trees and see people coming and going. They tease each other with frightening ideas. What if one amongst them were to be found the offspring of the local doctor? What if their parents were to die? The girls, they speculate, might be adopted. From time to time a character called Spoiler appears. He is a man with facial scars. Is it him they have spotted at the big house? What if he is buying the property? They watch. Servants are seen moving pieces of ornate furniture in the dusty courtyard, a chaise longue, a screen of Japanese design. One of the girls calls to the servants that they should come and speak to her. They do not respond and so she walks home alone, stopping occasionally to pick rushes. Her grandmother has servants too, has a butler called Amos. Amos lives a life troubled by disappointment. Recently he has made advances towards a woman ten years his senior. She did not show up yesterday despite agreeing that they could meet. “Dede was not at her salon in Zest Ville”, he repeats to himself bitterly. Dede is rich. Yesterday, she had seemed disturbed, behaving as if something was chasing her. He remarked but only elicited her dismissive gesture as she passed from room to room, her loose wraps trailing behind her like vapours.

 

 

The  Monk with No Name makes his own incense, cuts it into equally weighted blocks and sends his dog down the mountain with the merchandise loaded into wicker baskets and strapped to its back. The dog delivers the incense to the market and returns with money in a wallet. On the  way back the dog meets a woman. The woman uses a kitchen knife to stab the dog. She steals the money. But she gets caught. The incident is reported in the local newspaper and provokes outrage among celebrities. A fund is set up to raised for a bronze statue to be placed at the entrance to the market. In time, public recriminations extend to the Monk with No Name. Perhaps he should not have put his dog to work, they say. The monk has for many years been unwilling to come down from the mountain. His reasons are irrational but firmly held. He believes that for him, at lower altitudes, the laws of gravity do not exist. If he were to make the descent he would be unable to find his footing. The Monk with No Name has other dogs to guard against mountain drunks. But it is he who barks when the intruders arrive. He speaks to his animals: “Don’t give me affection unless I am calm and submissive,” he says. “Don’t give me food until I act calmly and submissively.”

 

Straightjackets, thrashings, head-straps: what are the correct response to those who break the rules? Should we simply give them what they want. Even if such a strategy were to reduce future violations, how would that be considered punishment? Now the men pray for things they should not. In the solitude of their cells they call on angels to bring them bread, to stand before them as images of the loved ones they struggle to recall. The chorus rails against such appeals. There is abusive banter in the corridor, angry cries. The prisoners are shamed. On account of their self-inflicted injuries—which occur most commonly through habits of picking and scratching with the fingernails (although it is we who direct their hands)—they become diseased. Derision, jest, ridicule: the sufferers do not die as they used to by being impaled through a vital organ. But neither can their wounds be judged as having suicidal intent. The men lie gasping. Even in these desperate moments they should be chastised, reminded to concern themselves always with prosperity. Nail-biting is only temporary solutions. But we acknowledge that their self-injurious behaviour is complex. To manage it involves both correction and psychiatric intervention. The damage is disturbing. Practitioners need to be aware of such presentations.

 

“My Father was a drunk, an indolent, loveless drunk. But he was no liar.”

The man in the bed next to Ariela was performing again. We never saw exactly what he looked like. During those three days he gave in to madness.
“I’ll admit something to myself,” he said. “I believe in the forest whip. If I were St. Peter I would lead my men in the opposite direction, take them to the ledge.”
I saw in silhouette the tubes sprouting out of his mouth, his limbs fragile under the cotton bed sheet. 
“The ledge will widen. Then men can walk four abreast  . . .  look down at the stalagmites rising out of the emulsion!” he interrupted, as if drawn into his own story. “The ground rumbles under our feet. The air becomes choked with dust and the scent of men. 
The man. Machines crowded his mind flashing neon numbers and graphs. Red light green light. Red light green light. His voice fell away and then become audible again as he took up his recitation.
“From rightly throats a single cry arises: Wolves! The sight of them awakens heretofore unknown hatred. We are revolted and run out into he night. We run for fear.”
Someone had taped a photograph side of the man’s bed, but the bed wasn’t close enough to the sliding glass doors for us to get a proper look. And we didn’t want to stare. Instead, we listened. 
“Grouped under the canyon, anger keeps us awake. Three days and nights pass. Then we hide to avoid the daylight hours. We creep into barns and outbuildings, steal eggs and ears of corn. We walk until our legs shake from exhaustion. We weep at the thought of our mothers. They have taken our mothers from us and we hated ourselves for being so small.”
There was another tube attached to a pump draining fluids and blood from inside the man’s chest. And another sticking out of his back. An oxygen sensor was taped to his foot.
“How shall we fight?” he shouted, then answer: “As a pack!”

 

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