The murdered dead return as ghosts
Steele burns scientist husband alive while gardener love-toy reduces Solange to skeleton form by draining the blood
in seven minute tour of black and white mansion-scape
Lexi watching rapt
me not far behind
stretched out on our own sides of the bed naked duvet on her not on me
then not on Lexi either as she’s up
hand pulling hair to the left trying to make it stick failing but still trying
if I was back in the 60’s that Italy, she says, I’d have a chance a gardener’s chance
it won’t go left and stay there keeps bouncing back
just wanna show one eyeball
B of no fluent Italian, B of-
maybe it’s the green parts weight of the dye
maybe I need a wig of some kind clip back the under hair then pull left if they have that kind of thing on this base probably not yet
on the screen Steele’s eyeball grew cultivated effortless
attracting me on some level away from Lexi and her Lavinia G Of Death t-shirt
pink and neon
hologrammatic to the promise of
Day four…four or five…embedded fossil-like in the Humanology Wing, I sat with my back against the wall without plasma conduits running behind and tried again to finish the infinite long march that was becoming Moon Prison.
Or allow the ending to intercept, as Bōl put it.
How I thought she’d put it.
To be honest, I wasn’t really sure, that module was a long time distant now and the articles on BBB were currently inaccessible due to the lack of on-base internet, which made sense as it wasn’t a human thing we were lodging in.
Not a human structure.
‘The problem with Eris is it’s full of Erisians…who aren’t even from there.’
I paused, tapping the page.
It was the thirteenth time I’d read that line and the block paragraph right after it…and I just couldn’t be bothered. The whole act of reading…seemed pointless somehow. Absurd on some level.
I closed the book, then opened it again, flicking through the remaining pages.
If I forced myself, I could get it done within an hour. Then make a start on chapter three of Yellow Muon Blob. Then have some form of viable defence when Reshmi appeared later…out of the plasma conduits…and asked why I hadn’t done anything yet.
But I couldn’t do it.
Not this shit.
First hundred, hundred and fifty pages…correct. A prison on the moon.
The rest of it…freewheeling, chaotic…a picaresque crawl through the colonies of the Kuiper Belt…if picaresque meant what I thought it did.
What was I doing with this thing?
I put the front cover flat on the floor and slid it over to the slim metal cylinder that Reshmi claimed was the positron modulator…modulating the positrons to levels safe enough for a human to tolerate.
Typed out Kristeeeeeeeeeeva on the padd.
Picked up the new book that materialised out of nothingness.
‘Powers Past Horrorr r.’
Opened it up to a random page and read the tenth line down.
‘And yet, in these times of regurgitated solutions, what is the point of emphasizing the lack of horror beyond the horror of being?’
Paused, re-read, fingered the vaguer terms – lack, beyond, being – attempted a guess at the theory without going back to the introduction or requesting NOTES ON KRISTEVA LATER YEARS, failed, tried again, gave up, thought of Lexi on our bed, naked, the look on her face as I pulled out, tissue already in hand to catch loose cum, half an eye on the TV screen, Barbara Steele, Barbara Steele, one eyeball, so pretty, so blank…
Was this something that could be stretched out permanently?
For a whole year?
I got up off the floor, picked up Moon Prison again.
Found the right page.
‘The problem with Eris is it’s full of Erisians…who aren’t even from there.’
Me in here.
Her with the holograms.
Nightmare Castle after hours.
Sex once a day, once a week, once a month, four times a year, whenever moons happened to collide or align, threaten.
And then what?
I turned the page, determined to finish, shrieking for a match
Moon Prison, Moon Prison, Moon Prison Moon Prison Moon Prison
If I couldn’t be found in the Humanology Wing, I was most likely in the lobby, planted on the same stool I’d picked out on the first day, viewing the ice-scape, listening in on the holograms, guessing what drink I had etc. etc.
This time I was eavesdropping on Lexi, who was going through broken Portuguese with the Thai-looking hologram [the other responding bizarrely in Japanese], and occasionally shifting left, prodding Assta to reveal Reshmi’s language, just a few words or phrases, something to startle her with.
‘That is beyond your limits,’ was the initial response, followed quickly by, ‘that is not a good idea,’ when Assta realized the first line wasn’t really applicable.
‘I think she’d like it…someone attempting to learn her tongue.’
‘Not a good idea.’
‘The psychology is beyond your limits.’
‘Focus on the human language catalogue, it is calmer.’
Lexi clearly wasn’t done, judging by the way she launched up out of the couch, but the act was too slow as Assta had already dematerialized and this time she didn’t refashion herself over by the white splashes of post-decay star, she didn’t refashion herself anywhere, just purely vapourised herself, gone, traceless.
Staying half-launched for a second, Lexi glanced over at me, saw the pile of books on the counter [not all Moon Prison], then returned to the guy in the yukata [stroking a metal tube on the adjacent couch].
Ah, my Japanese not good enough/thank god she’s speaking Japanese to him not me.
She looks a bit tired today.
Don’t wanna fuck on the bed, maybe the Steam Lab.
Six episodes or four?
Bingeing gives me a headache even if it is Doctor Who.
What is this, Baudrillard?
I blinked, re-examined the book laid open in front of me.
‘Rationalism returns, briefly. The narrator is no longer looking for anything, and has no intent of discovery. In awe of retrograde, activities progress. The building, fearing a surge towards the outer void, begins to slowly absorb the narrator. Gives itself an old name: mausoleumm.’
No, not Baudrillard, something else.
That I was also unequipped for.
Frustrated, and with the odd sensation that Reshmi was about to appear, I stared out the window at the nitrogen plumes.
Reshmi did not appear.
Maybe she was still in the Forbidden Room?
That didn’t even have a handle, or password padd.
That she’d laughed at when she called it Forbidden.
‘Only in the sense that you can’t get in there…not that you shouldn’t.’
‘Can we go in there?’
‘Then it is forbidden?’
‘Wah…only three days and already this casual. Maybe you need a reminder as to what the hierarchy is around here.’
Neither Lexi nor myself knew exactly what that meant at the time…I suspected another strop, maybe some pyro-kinetics…but when nothing [terrible/glaring] happened we realized that she just wanted to scare us, give the idea that something might happen. Which it still might, if base life got boring enough for her. Based on her previous behaviour…back on Earth.
Back on Earth.
Still felt strange to say it…to think it.
A plume outside got my attention, pulling me right.
Wah, there was Juana…in tight next to the containment shield, only a few yards from the re-installed djinn corpse…legs crossed like an amateur yoga instructor.
What the hell was she doing?
Dipping her finger into the shield?
It wasn’t that close, but that’s what it looked like.
Maybe not actually touching, but-
I folded up the book I didn’t really understand and pushed the stool back, then stood there caught between two missions.
Go out there and pull Juana back a bit.
Walk into a random corridor and stare at the plasma conduits.
And then a third.
Read a different book. Non philosophy.
And a fourth.
Find Reshmi, barrage her with questions about her home world, physiology, life over the last century before she met me, base operations, Assta.
And then a reiteration of the third.
Sit down, read a different book.
Finish the last twenty pages of Moon Prison, brain willing.
I sat down, tucking the stool in close.
Stared out the window and watched Juana in the near distance.
Poking the blue flecks with her finger.
Holding an open book in the other hand.
Hopefully not Sadia’s poetry again.
Or that Norse mythology thing…the one white supremacists liked.
The plume died down, the containment field mellowed, and the Yaqui appeared to sense that I was observing her as she dropped the book and looked over.
For some reason I said, ‘hi.’
She may have said hi back, I didn’t know, it was too far to make out her lips.
‘You think this mess just makes itself?’
I shivered, turning to face the lobby.
‘A whole hour I’ve been doing this…and not one of you came over to help.’
Reshmi was standing there, a black apron with NICK in red letters skewed to one side, a pan of fried something in her left hand.
‘Well? Excuses? Anything?’
I looked over at Lexi, who was nodding at the guy in the yukata, trying to catch his faint Japanese.
‘Don’t conspire, I’m asking you direct. You who has been sat here all morning. Why did you not come into the kitchen zone and help me?’
‘Sorry…I didn’t know it was-…didn’t see you.’
‘The sign with KITCHEN ZONE…’
‘Didn’t know you were making breakfast either. But I’ll help next time, I promise.’
‘… … … …’
‘Come to the table if you want to eat something.’ Reshmi added a growl and then switched eyes to the Viewing Platform outside, growling again. ‘Kuso. I’ll go and throw a fucking net over Juana…’
‘I can go and tell her.’
‘…drag her back in. No, you’re going to the table. But no eating until we’re all there. And don’t let Lexi talk to that yukata guy so much, he’s a pervert. In fact, go get her now, tell her brunch is ready. Drag her off that couch.’
‘Unless you’re feeling bored again. In which case, do nothing.’
I nodded and repeated okay, then took the pan as she strolled over to the lobby exit and, a minute later, walked out onto moon terrain.
Breakfast/brunch the next three days was again cooked by Reshmi, a different dish each time, but later, after we’d cleared away the plates and the cook had gone off to the Steam Lab, we found out from a whispering Assta that meals weren’t made the human way on base, they were simply conjured up out of lapsed matter
which was actually my original suspicion [based on sci-fi memories]
minus the lapsed matter terminology.
Busy throwing moon dust at the containment shield, interrogating the dead djinn, her words.
None of us said anything to Reshmi about the cooking, of course.
Out of fatigue, not fear.
We were too tired to be scared.
Maybe even numb.
Why bring guests to your home and then turn on them?
Didn’t make sense.
Não faz sentida.
Even for her.
‘Is it half the same as human physiology?’
‘Forty per cent?’
‘Does she need to eat, drink, have sex, sleep?’
‘Is the brain more rational than ours?’
‘Is it they or she or he, the original form?’
‘Are the others really on base somewhere?’
‘Do they know about us?’
‘That we’re here?’
‘Have other humans been here before, stayed in the same rooms?’
Neither Lexi or I expected much of a response from Assta beyond that is beyond your limits, so it was a mild surprise when, after saying nothing for almost half of lunch [and checking that Reshmi was still outside playing UNO with Juana], she sat between us on the couch and said, ‘there is a graveyard on the eastern side of the base, it is forbidden to go there.’
‘That definition is vague. If you mean humans, then yes.’
‘People are buried there?’
‘Previous guests. Correct. The last one was an actor named Keith David. I believe he died of heart failure.’
‘Err…and the others?’
‘A variety of ways. Old age, lung cancer, axe, laser burst, sudden fall down the rock slope over there, near the expired djinn, poison, knife, table.’
‘Wait, you mean…they were murdered?’
Assta tilted her head at Lexi, her expression matching the grey state of nothing. ‘The majority occurred during Reshmi’s petty era. Almost half a century ago. You do not need to worry excessively.’
‘She actually killed them?’
‘With an axe?’
The hologram’s face turned to pixels, then to residue, then to average lobby air. Somewhere behind, a familiar voice sounded out, telling us to stop asking the same fucking questions, it was exhausting.
‘And as for Keith David…’ Reshmi added, arriving at the couch, arm in arm with a blank-looking Juana, ‘he was with me to the very end. On amicable terms.’ She paused, studying the table. ‘No, correction: he was on base to the very end. I was actually in Quetta when he died. But still…amicable…a good friend. Almost never complained…about anything. Helped with meals. Smiled every once in a while. Unlike you wretches.’
Instinct said smile, maybe to Lexi and Juana too, but it didn’t translate.
‘Gods, I love humans. So confused.’
‘Like apes next to a graviton emitter.’
The three of us confused apes lay slab-like on the bed, trying the director’s cut Lexi had found a few minutes earlier.
The Long Hair Of Death // Margheriti
Barbara Steele masturbating with a twig before her stake burning. Then, as the reborn seductress, masturbating again in her bedchamber. And again in the passage between the walls. And again on the ramparts of Castle Schweiiiiiinschweiiinstein. And again in front of the Count’s elderly mother. And again in the studio pool. And again on-
‘There’s no way any of this is real…’ said Lexi, during each new scene.
‘Probably not,’ I agreed, frowning.
Was it beyond Barbara Steele, the actress?
Was it beyond Reshmi?
‘I remember the original filmn,’ started Juana, hand a faint yellow colour similar to that of the base caretaker, fingers hovering close to her knicker line, ‘Barbara Steele came close to showing her breasts for the first time. I was quite excited about that. Happy that she didn’t really show them also. I think it’s-…the tape of this is in the video caffe. If we ever go back. I think I will. Another week or two, then I’ll go. Ask Reshmi to drop me back in Fresno. Sì, this base is okay. A cold feeling sometimes but okay. Have you talked to the Thai hologram? She’s quite pretty. Based on a real actress too. According to Assta, the base has a huge archive of historical human figures to interact with. With a high degree of autonomy. I may look for Isabella Adjani later. And mi querida Varo. Maybe a younger Kristeva, if I have time.’
I shuffled right, trying not to see Juana’s fingers dipping between her own thighs.
‘To do what?’ asked Lexi, eyes on a masturbating B.
‘…on a spiritual level, as equals. Sì. That too.’
There was no further masturbation, only rubbing of thighs, and when Juana had gone and the filmn had ended, I turned to Lexi without physically turning, more like staring at the witch burning on screen as the film looped back to the start again, and asked if she wanted to interact with anyone famous and, after waiting for the flames to die out, she replied, ‘Bava,’ then pulled up the cover and pretended to sleep.
Pretended cos her breathing was too clear
her body too stiff
same way I had pretended to be sleeping that time, with Nick in my room, before we’d gone to the US and
back in Liverpool
Charlie and her mania, paranoia, hockey stick attack
knowing I wasn’t really Mark
the Japanese face
Ryu in the