Bad news in that How Not to Kill Yourself won’t come out in paperback this month as expected – the publishing company Microcosm found a load more zines to sell and figured to get through them before it came out. Good news is that gives us more time to get HNTKY shipshape.
Anyway, here’s the seventh lil part to the funny, sexy and bloody sci-fi/fantasy/western/adventure novel WULF.
A gush of warm blood soaked his hand. He twisted the blade deeper, felt a sickening snag, and ripped through it with the saw-edge. His hand was almost inside, and the blood, eager in its will to leave the body, ran all the way to his elbow. There was a foul smell: a symptom of a rended stomach.
The woman made a small imitation of a grunt, an echo of surprise. Her lips hung loose and her eyes were bright and looked right into his as she died.
With one aggressive pull his Rathian knife was free, and the woman slipped to the ground. Jay touched his side. He was bleeding himself; her sickle had been . . . provoking. Unlike her, though, he would certainly live.
He wiped his knife (Ugly was its name, carved into the handle, for ugly was its work) on her breeches, and started to look through her pockets. He found what he was looking for: a drawstring bag of yellow jewels. They shone like bright little suns of piss.
Jay placed the bag in an inside pocket of his jerkin, scanned the horizon, and walked back to his horse. Khyber stood like a shadow under a small stunted alacia. There was a light pink summer blossom in the topmost branches, and it had decorated the ground around him. Some of the petals lay on his back and adrift in his mane, but he made no move to shake them off. His body was sleek black velvet and very warm to the touch, and the hair poured down his shoulders like lava.
‘That’s three down Khy,’ Jay said as he hoisted himself up. He needed no stirrups or saddle. ‘Three down, eight to go.’
Khyber made no noise in reply, but he lifted his head and trotted towards the horizon.
He saw faces of all the people he had killed, faces of the people who had tried to kill him. They were mostly the same, but not always.
He saw many women he had lain with, many women he had hunched against, thrust against, pulled forwards, bent over, women whose cheek he had touched and women who he had stripped: all those creatures whose morsels he had tasted. Women who had tried to murder him before, or afterwards. The men who had interrupted, to their shame and anger, and often to their mortal regret.
He remembered why Sal at the bar didn’t like him.
He pictured his laugh: part of him cringed, and part of him didn’t care; only the parts were blending, sipping at each other and spitting back.
He saw perfection, and as he did storm clouds gathered and the lilac in the sky darkened to a bruised magenta, and she became shadowed and lost to him.
Under the Circle’s Shadow . . .
He saw horses rearing in fire and flame as guns cracked around him and cannon fire threw up volcanos of dirt. He remembered scrabbling, coughing, trying to make out the shapes in the smoke and the sprays of blood, and the endless, endless cries.
He heard the kill, kill chant that rumbled through the very soil, rising to bounce back and forth off the high yellow rocks that looked down on them. Kill, kill, kill from hundreds of the lizard like things, the Grey Ark warriors crawling stickily over the stones and splashing in the twin streams that wound towards him. He remembered a great brick of a man, dark red mottling covering his back in scenes of Hell, standing tall and beating his bare chest, screaming ‘KILL! KILL!’ back at them, raising fat double chambered guns wrapped in leather strips and firing slug after pounding slug at those grey-green fish-people that continued to chant, hurling spears like javelins and some firing their own guns: loathsome squid rifles and sharp anorexic weapons loaded with metal scrap.
He remembered hiding, waiting with a knife in his teeth and two cocked pistols pointing at the slip of daylight that broke the cave wall. Waiting for those filmed yellow eyes to block the light, the first reptilian gaze to be shattered into sunken yolks. Kill, kill, kill. As the others lay dead. Their Red Serant – his name was Babric Twofist, and he had really loved those guns, what had he called them again? That’s it: Bet Fist and Babby Fist. Bet & Babby, the Two Fists – his head was now no longer a part of his body. Not that he’d felt it: he’d already taken three harpoons through one way and out the other.
He saw Savvi, lit under the glow of a blue lamp, the light making her darker, and colder in that beautiful way, like an icicle. They were in a tent, drinking heavily, and it was warm, so warm, they had taken off their shirts . . . He saw himself pawing at her, leering and laughing and making crude come-ons into jokes, and jokes into come-ons. He showed her his new sword; a wicked thing, a saber as yet without a name, and perhaps too nice for one. He showed her his guns and he showed her Ugly. She seemed most interested in the knife, purring in his ear that she liked ugly things.
‘You won’t like me then,’ he’d said. She’d laughed at him and batted his hands away. When he came on too strong, pushing her to the ground, she explained to him, with a smile on her face, how very quickly and easily she could give his penis a snip – well, she added, serrated was a better word, or sliced.
The next day he had woken up with a saber without a name (he never did give it one before it broke, but then again nor did he with any guns; only Ugly carried the honour), two guns, his knife, some ammo, and a furious libido. He was minus all his money (and it had been quite a lot at that point), almost all of his food, the last bottle of vhiskat, and the tent.
At no point did Savvi appear to make him breakfast.
He dreamt, and he saw, and he heard, and he remembered. They were not pure memories, only their shades, their fragments – or more correctly their imprints, for they were left behind in the body, ghost copies for the new owner. Something inside was pushing them at him, aggressive but not hostile. He tried to grab at them, but there was so much, and all he could think was heat and sex and of two pistols thick with rust, chambers revolving slower and slower, never stopping. Then his mind saw a stream of gore, and of old friends with sightless black eyes. He thought The Eyes of Rath and he thought Grey Ark and he thought Alexia.
A ring of mountains, a swarm of peaks like the black hunch of crow wings.
Savvi the harlot that never gave.
A tapestry of fucks surrendered.
Cold winds and –
Much of what he had dreamt, much of those half-memories that had bubbled up from inside his brain (a brain that had long been used to another mind, and still carried its luggage, still had its pictures hung on the walls), in fact, almost none of it would be remembered the next day. At least not at first.
There was one dream that would keep coming, and it surfed around his other dreams, waiting for its turn.
Eventually it got impatient, and it swooped in.
He looked at his alarm clock after he’d put his book down and turned the light out. 3:32. The sheets felt unclean, just like they had felt unclean the night before. There was a faint glow in the corner of his room; he never knew the name of it, only that it didn’t need batteries because it charged itself with daylight. Tucked away as it was, away from the window, it never got much of the solar power it desired – but it was never going to provide enough light to read by, anyway.
Sleep came, as it always did, with excruciating delay. But, thankfully (and perhaps it had been that rare walk to the shops earlier), in an hour he was asleep.
There was a battlefield of broken cars, all used wrecks, all grey and rotting with weeds that cracked and burst like dust when the birds landed.
The birds were diseased ravens with gristly red veins that throbbed over white feathers, and all of them would fly up silently wherever the green eyed man appeared.
The green eyed man was –
‘Wait,’ said a voice. The voice of a young woman. ‘How do I do this . . . Oh, it’s on. Well . . . This is weird, but here goes.’
The cars were all gone, so were the birds, so was the man. There was just the sand, and the lilac sky, and the words that were written as she spoke.
Under the Circle’s shadow
Inside the happiest hawk
Beds the key that is hidden
The key that unlocks the door
The wind took up as she chanted. Something somewhere rattled.
When she was done, there was a pause, broken only by the wind. Then the voice laughed, and said, ‘I expect you want more than that, don’t you? No problem, I’ve been meaning to fix this . . . I mean a whole year, what a waste of time . . .’
There was another pause.
‘Shit,’ said the woman. ‘Sorry, gotta go. Good luck, please don’t hate me.’ There was a click, and then the world exploded.
Red, green, black, blue
White, orange, yellow, purple
Faster and further
Distance travelled in colour
Sound as picture
Light as thought
The key that unlocks the door
Red green black blue
White orange yellow
Over hill and under stars
We’re going on an adventure
RED GREEN BLACK BLUE
We’re going on a