Days of love and E.F.T.P.O.S.

Monday, December 3, 2018
By: 
Anthony Riddell

To help celebrate International Day of People With Disability​, Write-ability is proud to publish 2018 Write-ability Fellow Anthony Riddell’s “speculative non-fiction” work Days of love and E.F.T.P.O.S.

A  prolific writer, Anthony's work is some of the most wildly energetic, seemingly nonsensical writing you will ever read.  As former Write-ability Project Coordinator Harriet Gaffney said when assessing Anthony's fellowship application “it’s a bit like applying an electric current to your brain the way it makes your synapses spark!”

We hope you delight in his genre and boundary smashing work as much as we do:

Days of love and E.F.T.P.O.S.

Paper Pupa:                            

    Quamp and Bacon-Petal gently gasped as they approached the sprawling cardboard monstrosity with Fcroft.

“Is it not beaut?” asked the latter, beaming.

“It’s…very…big,” replied a stunned Quamp. Bacon-Petal said nothing. She was tempted by some blue cat nearby. Being a disciplined dog she failed to succumb to the traditional urge. Bacon-Petal looked around. There were many blue cats, so many that she made sounds. Quamp looked down and followed her gaze. “Why are there so many blue cats?” Fcroft’s laughter held a deeper unease.

    “They were an experiment by my cousin Chaire. She spliced material from a regular sea squirt to the D.N.A. of a stray tabby. There were two iKittens™: one female and one male. They escaped and bred.”

    “And bred.”

    Bacon-Petal’s urge became overpowering. She rushed at the nearest iKitten. This did not play its part and run away. It waited until Bacon-Petal was within striking distance and expelled transparent fluid onto her. Quamp, suddenly alerted by the manufactured beast’s antics, was worried by a strong animal smell.

    “Did that creature urinate on my dog?” he demanded.  Fcroft chuckled.

    “Nah it’s a sea squirt mechanism that gives that animal its name. iTiddles seems to have expelled its entire payload on your dog. iKittens go to the sea for a refill about once per week.” Although Bacon-Petal was now extremely timid none of the other iKittens would venture near her.

    Quamp stopped and contemplated what he was climbing towards. An enormous cardboard creation crouched, never pouncing. He was but an aphid crawling on destiny’s rotting Frisbee™.

    “Fcroft!” he called. “If this building is entirely made of cardboard is fire a concern?”

    “Not really. The cardboard has been treated with something.” He seemed almost wistful when he said this. He thought about “that toxic flame retardant,” but said nothing.

As they came nearer to the structure Quamp noticed a few holes in what he had thought of as an unspoilt structure, at first like a huge inverted cardboard box. Detritus, however made, lay on the non-comprehending ground. A pale blue balloon with an absurd smiling face painted on it blew before them.

    It seemed time to attempt to gain access to the thing. Fcroft watched Quamp forlornly circumnambulate the thing a few times before abruptly stating the correct way. He pressed a thing. Part of the wall came out like a drawer. Fcroft motioned Quamp in. Quamp obeyed and after Fcroft’s own entry the “drawer” closed.

    They entered a vast space strewn with pieces of screwed-up paper and cardboard. Pictures of most (if not all) Roman Catholic popes had been attached to the walls. Cut into the far wall was an apparent motto: EVERY THING AND NO THING. Since no tools that would have been used were apparent Quamp concluded that they had been there for some time. Something groaned.

    “What was that?” nervously enquired Quamp. Fcroft did not appear flapped. He did not say anything. Quamp soon concluded that his relative’s continued silence meant that this was a frequently occurring noise. His relative. This building

                                                   


 

contained fragments of him – no matter how minute.

    Quamp maintained his exploration of this enclosed cardboard desolation. He encountered an empty pram. It had no wheels and was propped up on bricks. A closer look revealed that the pram did indeed contain something that was alive. Whatever it was moved with some regularity beneath a blanket. Quamp was not willing to see what it was. There was another groan. Quamp looked up and exclaimed.    

    “Please don’t exclaim,” cautioned a fearful Fcroft. “At least, not in this outside section.” He said no more, despite Quamp’s questions. “Too late. O. It’s only Lommercial.” He introduced Quamp to a smiling gent whose chief feature was a series of blotches similar to those adorning giraffes. These appeared to cover his body. He wore filthy blue overalls over an identical blue skivvy to Fcroft’s. Above these was a clump of utterly white hair.

    “Cuvvin?” The newcomer appeared to have some difficulty speaking.

    “Distant one,” explained Fcroft.

    “Sickled Mun?”

    “Cichlid-Munn.” Lommercial gurgled happily and roughly embraced Quamp. Where o where was Bacon-Petal? Quamp frowned. He did not think that he had seen the dog since entering the building. That special whistle that only Quamp could have made did not appear to summon her. Quamp paused. He heard her bounding – it was not the bounding of any large dog, it was Bacon-Petal. But the dog that appeared was RED – Bacon-Petal’s new shade was not the brown that gets called ‘red’. More of those blue cats came past. Behind them were some dark shapes that seemed disgusting.    

“Them?” said Fcroft in response to Quamp’s open-mouthed finger, “They’re turdles – faecal matter with carapaces. Another of Chaire’s efforts.” More groaning was heard. This time Quamp’s only reaction was to flinch. He looked at Fcroft. Fcroft was deep in chit chat with Lommercial. It seemed best to contemplate some (not all) of his fingers. He stood awkwardly – not here, not there, not anywhere.

“Certainly this building is impressive from the outside,” said Quamp mainly for speaking’s own sake, “And from the outer layer. But what about the far interior – is it squashed?” Fcroft and Lommercial exchanged glances. Quamp saw this. Fearing everything, he decided to mark his own progress.  

But no. He was family. Who would eat a cousin? Someone was heard walking. Baon-Petal growled. It wasn’t Fcroft. It wasn’t Lommercial. It was one of the ugliest persons that he had ever seen. I shall leave her appearance to the reader’s imagination in case her ugliness was not apparent – her ugliness was a spiritual one. Nothing more will be said about it. This was Cilia. On her sleeve was a design that Quamp could remember having seen “somewhere”. She also bore some marvellous scars.

    After introductions Quamp said, “And this is my dog Bacon-Petal”.

    “Why doesn’t she introduce herself?” snarled Cilia.

    “S-s-sorry. She doesn’t speak English,” shamefacedly admitted Quamp. Bacon-Petal snorted. Cilia wore a necklace from which hung tiny plastic heads. The design on her sleeve was a stylised fish leaping through a stylised hoop bearing stylised flames. Why was it so familiar? Quamp became so distraught about this that he closed his eyes and mewed. Bacon-Petal or Cilia growled. He did not wish to say

                                             


 

that his surname was Potashe.

    An interesting animal walked by. It could have been three stick-insects joined together, but there was no join. It seemed that every thirty seconds Quamp would rush over and look at the animal. Understandably he enquired about the beast. Fcroft looked at him, looked at it, looked at him again and grimaced. A peculiar scratching sound came from the part of the wall that the creature was passing over. When Quamp next looked a small depression existed in the wall. The sound of others could be heard.

    “So you’re back,” uttered an anonymous male in a grey hooded jacket, “But what have you got with you?”

    “Iain,” replied Fcroft, “You were never one for sensitivity. This is our distant cousin Quamp Potashe. Quamp, Iain Cichlid-Munn.”

    “Delighted,” said Quamp, offering his hand.

    “Likewise.” Iain whirled and set off up a cardboard staircase.

    “Don’t be dismayed by Iain,” claimed a woman with overwhelmingly sad eyes. She offered no explanation. Matters seemed tense.

    “And this,” managed a nervous Fcroft, “Is Aerobug”. The third member of the arriving trio came forward. She was extraordinarily thin, wore a sack and had sad, straight hair.

    “Hello,” she flimsily offered, “My name is Elspefingfingfingyludgepoppenz. But you may call me Foodfoot.”

    “Footfoot?”

    “No, Foodfoot.” She waved an arm. Simultaneously glass was heard breaking. Were these actions connected?

    “I understand,” came Quamp’s eventual comment, ”What is this…this place called? Fcroft never said.”

    “Fcroft wouldn’t know,” said Foodfoot, “It’s FLAP PLOT.” As she said this an unseen organist made a dramatic dissonant chord.

    Night stealthily approached or day was draining out from a hole. Lights were made active (sometimes they flickered on and flickered off). Now many signs of a NO SMOKING intent came to Quamp’s attention.

“Didn’t you say that fire was not a problem?” he enquired of Fcroft.

    “What I said,” proclaimed the latter, “Was that the cardboard had been treated with something. I didn’t say what.”

    “What has it been coated with?”

    “I don’t know. But smoking is bad for you.” And he grinned.

    Where was Bacon-Petal now? He whistled. The newly reddened dog’s

bark could be heard, but from where? Where was that animal? He had prepared some strong language for just such an occasion. Unfortunately he could only remember the word “margarine”. So he bellowed, “Margarine”. Little happened, but he felt clammier. Quamp pushed open a cardboard door. When his eyes adjusted to the lack of available light he saw Bacon-Petal. A closer hop revealed that Bacon-Petal had been strapped down. This strapping down extended to her mouth, so Quamp surmised that the bark that he heard was a psychic one. He rushed to the strapped dog.

    “What are you up to, distant cousin?” asked a previously unseen figure. He had just met her – what was her name? Her eyes…very sad. Of course! Aerobug.

    “Excuse me Ms Aerobug, ‘s me dog.”

    “I do apologise, Mr…”

    “Quamp.”

                                                        

“I thought that this dog was a worthless stray…”

“You thought that this dog…” Venom was in Quamp’s eyes.

    “I…don’t…care…who..you..are..or…what…you…are,” she hissed, “Just…don’t…raise…your…voice…in…here.” She fearfully looked around. Fcroft rushed in with terror engraved on his features.

    “What did I say about keeping your voice down?” he violently murmured, “If you can’t control your dog or your voice I shall have no alternative to asking you to leave.”

    “Fine!” spat Quamp, “All that’s happened in this…this inhabited pizza box is that me dog’s been turned red. Just saved her from abominable experiments.”

    “Abominable experiments?” asked an astounded Aerobug. “But things get improved here everyday.”

    “You and your improvements!” scoffed Fcroft, “You and Chaire and Caecilia. The three witches of Flap-Plot.” The dog (red) bounced away from the approaching Cichlids-Munn and bolted through the open door. Quamp whistled, but in vain. He ran quickly through the door. Seconds later, he was back.

    “Forgot this,” he mentioned sheepishly.  He referred to an item that was part sceptre, part beer can, part peppershaker and part dead cat. Quamp clutched this and fled, still before the Cichlids-Munn could react.

    “Evidently that dog is important to him,” said Fcroft. “We had better watch his progress. Who knows what he will find.” Fcroft had made a poor photocopy of the noisome wand. Now our attention was drawn to Quamp, who was scouring an array of cardboard passages in search of his dog. He passed many fantastic cardboard sculptures: stylised rabbits, fish and unheard-of animals. Small, violent animals lay in boats while twisted things hung from corners. Quamp was astounded to see such a multiplicity of uses for cardboard. Sounds that Quamp’s mind likened to Alpine horns being slowly digested decorated the journey.

    Once Quamp had to halt to allow a procession of what seemed to be cardboard sausages pulled by threads that were hard to see pass. Sometimes small and unpleasant knots of chewed cardboard (with saliva) lightly rained down on his back. At times his pace would slacken and he would gaze with open mouth at the spectacular cardboard bits. Then he saw a flurry of red in the distance.

    Quamp whistled. The red thing came slightly nearer then ran away. O – one of Bacon-Petal’s weird moods? Very well then. Just when he thought that he had lost her he would have a distant glimpse. Acting in this way meant that they saw many many many cardboard grotesqueries in all manner of difficult positions. Occasional signs of others appeared – some crumbs here, a dismantled camera there. The prevailing sounds now were akin to an electronically generated effervescent drink. This “fizzing” varied in intensity. On one occasion the “fizzing” was particularly strong. Quamp had halted for water and for air when he saw something that particularly disturbed him. Attached to a (cardboard) pole were pictures of mammoths and mastodons in erotic poses.

    Any ant was merely passing through. Quamp stepped back in moral confusion. Inadvertently his head struck a number of those tube-like poles that were arranged in a cluster. As he fell he heard something gurgle inside this. Intrigued, he picked himself up and listened to gurgles. He became lost in the sound of gurgling.

    What was the time? Who was in control? Where was obvious plant matter? That reprehensible canine! Bacon-Petal had been gone for a very long time. Had she

                                                                         

 

been grasped by someone bent on further experimentation?

    A series of tall box-like structures were. Maybe they were boxes. Some had lids, like vertical shoeboxes. He took the lid from one. Egad! It would have been tempting to crawl in here and sleep. Quamp was so very tired that it would take a massive effort not to sleep here. No! Something obviously slept here and Quamp did not wish to cross it. But tiredness made excuses and Quamp vowed to renew the hunt for Bacon-Petal in the morning.

    Rotting Frisbees™ bearing messages of penis enlargement were present for a reason that Quamp did not understand. Particular sounds emanated from one point.

“Great Scott! What are you doing here?” Quamp’s first impulse was to attempt to lick the quivering face above him, but he controlled that urge. What had awoken him from such a strong sleep? Whatever it was had little hair but for a greasy and blatantly faulty comb-over. Quamp struggled with a big blank spot before realising that this person was approximately one and a half times the height of a regular person. “My name is Snusque,” said the apparition, “What do you want?”

    “Me name’s Quamp and I’m looking fer me dog.”

    “Red dog?”

    “Yeah, name of Bacon-Petal. Have you seen her?”

    “Hours ago.”

    “Where was she?”

    “Just up one level. She was just leaving the stairs. I thought that she might have been one of Ckriz Ckraz Bic Boc’s experiments.”

    “Ckriz Ckraz Bic Boc? Experiments?”

    “A distant cousin. But where are you going?” Quamp had rushed out into the night. He soon returned, claiming total darkness. “That’s better. Who knows what’s out there?”

    “What’s out there?” Quamp was worried.

    “I don’t know. Will you have tea? It will be light soon.” Quamp gratefully acceded to this request.

    It turned out that Snusque was also a Cichlid-Munn. Quamp and he had an enjoyable time discussing obscure (to us) family details. Morning announced itself with a rude noise. Quamp said that finding Bacon-Petal was more important than chatting over tea. He left a crestfallen Snusque after promising that he would visit someone named Parrot-Drink.

    “To that dog! Find it and,” he was going to say, “Digest it,” but he didn’t think that Quamp would have approved. So he said in a lower voice, “Er...and find it well.” Quamp was too wrapped in thoughts of finding Bacon-Petal to notice. Not far from Snusque’s were some upward stairs. Quamp was not at all sure of cardboard steps. He idly wondered when he would next see a grasshopper or anything else that hopped. A closer look at the stairs revealed folds similar to origami. Was it true that the entire building had been folded from a single piece of cardboard?

    Quamp resumed his trek. Was Bacon-Petal still in a peculiar mood? Would he get to her before anything nefarious did?

    All things that Quamp could see on the next level bore dots. Even the air was dotted. It was not too long before he made that day’s first sighting of Bacon-Petal. He whistled. That dog and Quamp were clumsily reunited. He examined his furry friend for signs of interference. All that he found was a mousetrap attached to one ear. Blood was observed to have flowed from here and to have congealed in a number of

                                                  

locations on the dog’s body. Bacon-Petal yelped when she saw him describe a potato with his hands. She made a questioning dog sound when Quamp appeared reluctant to rejoin the others.

    “Sorry girl but that entire bunch makes me feel uneasy. They’re not straight to the point. Look what they did to you. Besides I wish to explore this place.” Perhaps this was Quamp’s justification for thoughts that he could not yet articulate, not even to himself. He thought instead of clocks. What determined the speed of time? Why did all clocks (unless faulty) operate at precisely the same rate? Was sleight-of-hand involved? Quamp saw a fluffy white cloth perform physical exercises.

    “What…oo.” It was still dark. Grains of a crunchy substance lay on Quamp’s eyelids. Some extremely tall person was moving about, clanging things. It looked like Snusque from his dream. From his dream. He had not found Bacon-Petal. He feared to alert “Snusque” to his presence lest the latter be hostile. There were some minute fragments of cotton wool nearby. These looked pink under the meagre light available. As it became lighter these still looked pink.

    “Snusque” eventually went away allowing Quamp to leave. The building was just as it had appeared in Quamp’s dream, with one exception. After every ten cubits was a tiny thing. Quamp was initially dismissive of these. After he had passed four or five he was tempted to look. They were tiny yellowed human ears. At the top – no it couldn’t be. Sure enough, it wasn’t. Here was a life-sized model of Bacon-Petal. It was still warm. Spots of an odd green liquid circled its feet. Radio crackles emerged from an area that Quamp failed to understand.

    Someone could be heard approaching. A despairing Quamp quickly sought somewhere to hide. He thought of the irony of hiding behind the fake Bacon-Petal. He hid elsewhere.

    “Do you ever feel that we’re all strapped to the legs of a giant flea?” Quamp thought that this was not directed to him. The question was repeated, this time with a menacingly endearing, “Little distant cousin”. Obviously he had not hidden well enough.

    The radio maintained its crackles. Without warning “Can’t Stop Excreting,” by The Rissoles appeared. Quamp knew this song. With desperate glances to the sound’s origin Quamp sank to his knees and attempted to enjoy the music.

    Quamp pulled out the part sceptre, part beer can, part peppershaker and part dead cat.  He held it before him as he passed beneath a substantial white cloth that hung from the ceiling and threatened to impede him. The sight now greeting him caused him to make peculiar noises. Large images of Bacon-Petal had been projected onto the pale walls of the vast room behind this curtain. After making several long howls he defiantly shook the noisome wand. This action seemed to provoke a disapproving chorus of groans. This action seemed to have limited shock value, as the second time that he brandished it at the images there was no sound at all. He felt faintly laughable.

    “Dire boat,” he called. This did not achieve anything but he felt better for having said it. Quamp brandished his wand at a cardboard column descending or ascending from the top to the bottom of the room. At least it gurgled. Liquid inside cardboard? He foresaw problems.

    In the course of his progress through the projection-smeared room Quamp had a cursory glimpse of some thing. Intrigue saw him move closer for a better understanding. He audibly inhaled. In two approximate semi-circles were roughly

                                                         

correct arrays of human teeth. A small thing landed on the floor (which seemed very strong for cardboard) near him. As he neared it a blue cat rushed past and deprived him of it. He did not have to wait long for whatever it was as soon another thing fell nearby. It also seemed organic. To the strains of a virtuosically played toy piano he moved towards the thing. It was a paddy melon. Quamp knew this item as stock fodder. He was hungry but did not wish to eat the same food as a sheep. Food standards were food standards. It would not surprise him if it had also been “interfered” with. More paddy melons arrived until the floor was veritably strewn with them. Quamp sought their source, but in vain. More and more arrived. They stopped after covering the floor.

    Quamp was on a boat with no oars. The boat was in the very centre of a body of water. Lavishly coloured birds flew past, some defecating. To Quamp’s dismay pairs of what could have been rabbit ears formed a rough circle around the boat. There was no movement. Quamp became more and more afraid. Obviously there was a signal that he failed to perceive as all of these “ears” moved slowly clockwise. Or anticlockwise – the direction frequently changed. Quamp found himself lying enclosed in a cardboard box. After fighting many two-dimensional cardboard shapes, he was in a position to peer from the box’s top.

    A myriad of small popping sounds emanated from sources close to and surrounding Quamp’s box. He peered and peered but to no avail. Suppressing a humph, he emerged from the box. He spotted something extensive and pale in a far corner of that vast room. Maybe here was some explanation of his peculiar plight – maybe even Bacon-Petal’s whereabouts would be revealed. He began to step towards this region. Much stepping later, he found that the pale area was just somewhere that had not had its colours filled in yet. Quamp looked at the white columns (or tubes) sprouting from the ceiling and descending to the floor (or vice versa). He thwacked one with a finger and confirmed that they were still made of cardboard. Some red fur was seen here, suggesting that a red thing had recently passed by.

    More cardboard stairs were at hand. Inspired by the red fur he strove towards them. Quamp speculated that Bacon-Petal had striven to avoid the site of her near suffering and had gone upstairs. Well, he did. The next level looked markedly different. Apart from a sealed off region at the far end it was a huge space with no things in it. It was entirely green. Quamp felt a twinge of dislike for this place but he had to find that dog. He stood there for an untold while as he didn’t know what to do next. He moved to his left and went back; he moved to his right and went back.

    The passage of time saw him walk slowly parallel to the left edge. He was thankful for having seen no red fur. He saw paintings (which he had not seen at the entrance to this level) of fat grinning babies of many races in white nappies and with white wings. As he was about to retrace his steps and walk near the right edge a shriek came from the sealed off section and bounced from one side of his skull to the other. He rushed towards here but was impeded by a door depicting another grinning baby. Quamp had never experienced evil – was this what it was like? It was not so much what he could see behind the door as what he could feel. What he could see involved metal staples inserted in a white wall. From each hole made by a staple slowly oozed a thick, dark fluid. An intermittent sound of fingernails being dragged down blackboards wafted into Quamp’s ears. There was a sharp smell of complex polymers – this was not to Quamp’s liking. With no warning he was in a metal cube that compressed him into an uncomfortable shape. He lacked light. Two white points

                                                                        

slowly traversed all walls. Whenever one of these struck a corner a small metallic sound was heard. Quamp came to enjoy this sound and to look forward to it. Eventually he realised that this sound was one word. The words formed an infinitely repeated sentence: what an unbearably crude introduction.

    A lot of strange gas came from apertures all round Quamp. He soon couldn’t see another thing. There came a time when he could see a small plastic bubble. He was lying face down in this…evil room. There was a rapid withdrawal that saw no pause until he reached the stairs. A panting Quamp realised that Bacon-Petal was too perceptive to have visited that level.  Was that Bacon-Petal’s will- the cheek of that animal! Good Lord! Was there no end to these stairs? From a gallows established in an unnecessary alcove grimly swung a Soap-on-a-Rope.

    “Distant cousin!” It was someone. Where… “I’m here.” Putting her fingers through the wainscot immediately above the stars was a woman with very sad eyes. Aerobug! He must have shrieked a little for she told him not to. Too late - horrible things came near.                             

    “Shoo!” claimed Aerobug. She waved her arms in an obvious sequence, taking care not to touch them. The turdles did not move.

    “What did you do?”

    “Something that the irreplaceable Ckriz Ckraz Bic Boc showed us – something to do with neutralising their vital currents. It only works,” she outrageously smirked, “If you’re a Cichlid-Munn. Have you found your dog?”

    “No. There’s a nasty thing.” And he pointed. Aerobug’s smirk was now almost tangible.

    “Been to the punishment level, have we? You are fortunate not to have been pulled to pieces in there.” She pointed downwards. Quamp obediently looked. She pointed to her left. A puzzled Quamp looked. She pointed to her right. A thoroughly mystified Quamp looked.

    “What?” he finally bellowed.

    “I am not going to tell you.” She pushed through the frayed cardboard next to the stairs. “No, don’t help me.  Since I refused to explain my recent actions the least that you could do is not assist me now.” Upstairs a drum machine began to click. It pursued an inane rhythm with ersatz handclaps. “Don’t ask for an explanation. You won’t be given one.”

    Aerobug could now be seen. She wore a number of layers of paper costume. Quamp’s eyes uncontrollably flashed to the design before him. You remember – the “fish” leaping through the “hoop” over the “flames”. A woman with an obviously false face clumped down the stairs in an unhappy way.

    “Good morning Parrot-Drink,” brightly announced Aerobug. Parrot-Drink maintained her joyless descent. Another level presented itself. Bacon-Petal? Little was here, with the exception of pigeon droppings and screwed up pieces of paper. The next few levels were similar.

    Similar, but not exactly the same. Quamp was exploring the third or fourth level above the punitive one when he heard an electronic hum. Moving stealthily he observed a makeshift altar. This was covered in what seemed to be a mixture of sausage meat and fragments of carrot. The hum emanated from beneath a tarpaulin covering the altar. No one seemed to be present so he approached the altar. A thought leapt like a predator onto his mind: where was Aerobug?

    “Finger,” claimed an approaching person. This being was clad in a wooden mask of the face of a fish and a robe made of many different garments. A terrified

                                                     Quamp tried not to move. The newcomer wore a cummerbund with a slightly rusted meat cleaver snugly encompassed. This was smeared in a mixture of sausage meat and fragments of carrot. Two others clad in pale gowns pulsated nearby. Upon the gowns more sausage meat and carrot fragments were spattered. Quamp’s eyes opened as he recognised Fcroft and Iain. Between them was a sack. This squirmed. An enraged Quamp decided that they were going to sacrifice Bacon-Petal.

    “That’s far enough, Cichlid-Munn,” he declared as he strode from his hiding place.

    “O it’s you,” said Iain.

    “Quamp!” said Fcroft warmly, “Did you find Bacon-Petal?”

    “N-no,” stammered a disturbed Quamp. He pointed at the sack. “What’s that?”

    “We are not permitted to tell you, distant cousin,” said the masked figure, “But this is not the mammal known as Bacon-Petal. Now you must leave.” Some authority within her voice made Quamp move swiftly away.

    On the cardboard landing of the cardboard stairs outside the cardboard room Quamp breathed. A blue cat looked at him. It slowly approached – he wondered what it was up to. There was a slight noise elsewhere, prompting Quamp to look. The cat attacked. Quamp was covered in unpleasant-smelling liquid.

    “BEGONE GENETICALLY WARPED WRONGDOER,” he managed. It was probably water and not digestive fluid or anything like that. When the iKitten had been successfully repelled it occurred to him that he had not seen any windows.

    He managed to stumble into a room with a dark blue ceiling, red floor and white walls. On the latter were many sequences of six green dots. Unnatural groans and screams emerged from an adjoining room. How did the pigeons get in? Were they pigeons? What was the place of liquid in an entirely cardboard building? There was far more to the structure than he was permitted to know.

    A soft chair was in the centre of this room. After ensuring that it was not in any way treacherous, Quamp sat . Sounds emanating from the next room abruptly ceased, thus puncturing the sleep-like state that Quamp had been in.  He imagined that large shapes composed of used chewing gum were creeping towards him. He opened his eyes. Everything was dark. Darkness pressed every pore.

    A small aeroplane seemed to fly towards him. A second craft did the same thing. Many such things were perceived. Could the walls have been moving as the light strengthened? Sighing slowly and subtly increased. As the light intensified Quamp saw that light was being emitted by each green dot. Each dot slowly moved. His mind gagged. He examined the junction between floor and wall. All dots on the bottom were slowly moving to the right. The dots immediately above were moving left at the same rate. Dots immediately above these travelled right. Dots above these travelled to the left, and so on to the very top. A loud and constant sound of the blowing of sacred instruments accompanied them. Every so often Quamp heard breathing. This made him think of silkworms. This display would not relent. It bored deeply into the skull and fondled his brain with unwashed fingers.

    Everything was as he had entered. Had anything really happened? A cardboard lavatory was found. Quamp looked at the dots and wondered why they were not glowing or moving. There was a microscopically fine division between magic and acting.

 

About Anthony Riddell

Anthony Riddell was born in Adelaide (Kaurna country), maimed in Sydney (Eora country), and is jolly in Melbourne (Wurundjeri country).

His books include: Putrid Canal; Thumb; Betrayed by the senses; Pain is a sign of life; Fingerprints on the surface of the brain; False head;  Tomorrow shall be punished;  Transparent skin;   A turnip in the shape of a human;  Animalcule; Recapitation; Make Your Own Brain;  dog god;  Touched by a mammal; Toothmarks on the sun; Appropriate breath plan; The sun is not fun;  Animals that grin (work in progress).

"Days of love and E.F.T.P.O.S." is from dog god.