The book’s nearly done. 50,000 words and counting. It should be nicely rounded out and wrapped up by about 60,000 words if nothing goes wrong (which it definitely will). I mostly write from the State Victoria Library, far and away the most magnificent library I have ever come across, and a truly inspiring spot. However, when sitting in the cavernous domed hall, with green reading lands and oak tables and the hallowed quotes of literary greats carved into grand white marble plaques, it feels quite odd to be writing the kind of story I’m working on.
On any given moment, somebody gazing idly over my shoulder as I type may encounter any manner of situations; perhaps macabre, perverse, dizzying, ridiculous, or most often, all four at once. Well now, just for you -because I do so cherish you, you handsome devil you – here you are. Here lieth a collection of some of the most backward, bloated, bombastic and plain fucking bonkers passages I have found myself writing to date. You lucky thing.
Mr Fyle rubbed his temples slowly and stared with sceptical eyes from beneath a drooping, hairy brow. He was sixty eight years old; too old for this bother. His gaze clacked to and fro between his employees, a Newton’s Cradle made of bloodshot eyeballs. The silence in his oaken-floored office would have been absolute, were it not for Organ’s slight involuntary nose whistle and for the gentle snoring of Humphrey, who was curled up in the corner in his dog bed, as it was his lunch hour.
A crow flew over on high, its silhouette crossing the sun. The crowd hushed. The crow called. The time for the joust was at hand. With every eye on the riders, the baroness stood up from her box in the stands and held out a white handkerchief, pinched with only two fingers, ready to drop onto the field. She was smiling sweetly at Yan, and waved him a fond farewell.
Then, before five hundred pairs of eyes, a very drunk Clavius Bruce burst from the armoury tent, raced out onto the field, and punched the charcoal horse unconscious.
“Fucking leg it!”
“Eat my arse hole you balding twat.”
The girl’s words echoed through the basement.
Ian was indeed balding. He had been, steadily, for ten years, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Not even the most cutting edge hair transforming equipment could combat his follicular exodus. His hair’s indefatigable retreat was something of a marvel in the medical world, in fact, and he had to beg several scientists to prevent them naming a new condition after him.
Ian’s impending baldness was loud, yet no employee was stupid enough to point it out. And Ian had never dared ask the honest opinion of his associates, preferring instead to completely ignore the retreat of his hairline and shakily assure himself it had always looked that way. Now Miabella had, without realising, karate kicked her way into the sizeable wing of Ian’s brain labelled ‘Crippling Insecurities’, which was right across the corridor from ‘Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms’.
Caligula’s lips grew frothy and his breathing grew loud; great, heaving wheezes of air. Anybody in the chamber would have sworn he was having a dreadful allergic reaction, had they not known that he was simply a stark raving bastard. Finally, the wave broke.
“Guards! Guards!” The cry was operatic in its piercing shrillness. “Guards!”
A troupe of gold-painted Praetorians jogged into the orgy chamber, clad only in scabbards and fig leaves.
“Seize them! Seize them! I want their lungs for a hat! I want the skin of their feet for my bedsheets! I want their eyeballs burst and their noses pulled off and their teeth melted down into my own personal hairbrush! SEIZE THEM!”
It would have been curtains for our heroic trio then. That would have been the end of their adventure, and you would never have found out where it was that Clavius kept disappearing to, or whether the tourists would ever be caught, or whether the present would be irreparably soiled. That would have been the end of this book proper, were it not for the fact that the stream of guards storming into the chamber slipped on a patch of the marble floor that had quite recently been showered in a particularly bountiful ejaculation.
Truth be told, whether or not Clavius ‘danced’ in the traditional sense is open to your interpretation of the word. If by ‘danced’ you mean ‘moved in a pleasant and rhythmic fashion in time with a musical accompaniment’, then no; he did not dance. If you interpret ‘to dance’ as ‘to rock from side to side with an expression containing all the gaiety and excitement of an Easter Island head’, then yes indeed, Clavius Bruce danced.
The crowd’s elation withered as they grew to realise that the large, shuffling man before them was not about to burst into an athletic and suggestive dance routine. The first ‘boo’ came after only seven seconds of Clavius’s side-to-side wobbling, from the lips of the emperor himself. Once the partygoers sensed their emperor’s displeasure, they were quick to join in.
“Get off the stage!” came a throaty heckle.
“Fucking shite!” came another.
“Stop it, you dick head!”
“You’re ruining the orgy!”
Clavius, whose face had gone a hellish shade of puce, stopped.
“Right you know what, you can all piss off. I’m doing my best here.”
“Wanker!” screamed a young woman with her breasts hanging out over her toga.
Sleep deprived and jaded, our heroes offered no complaint when they were roped together, slung over the back of a large black horse like three rolls of old carpet, and marched away into the woods in a slow-moving convoy.
“Everyone in the past was insane,” murmured Willoughby.
“Everyone in the present’s barmy too,” said Clavius.
“Well we’re not insane,” said Yan, hopefully.
They listened to the sound of clopping hooves as they were borne through the ancient forests of Old England with a band of giddy outlaws who had been bursting into song every few minutes for the past two hours.
“We bloody are,” said Clavius.
The town was called Really Horrible. The townfolk hated the moniker, but all the good names had been taken. Desolation had gone, Devastation too. Damnation, Vexation, even Taxation – all the best bleak township names had been snapped up before the people of Really Horrible had a chance to get a word in. The vocabulary of the townsfolk was limited, largely due to the schoolmaster and the town drunk being the same person, and Really Horrible was the grumpiest sounding name they could muster at the end of a heated four hour meeting in the town hall, during which two fistfights broke out, a swarm of wild geese got in, and somebody’s gun misfired and blasted the local blacksmith’s foot off.
“IRWIN FUCKING HELL,” screamed Yan.
Two German planes swooped down towards them, machine guns roaring. Their descent was too eager, however, and they smashed into one another fifteen metres to the right of our heroes, unleashing satanic tongues of flame uncoiling through the air. A propeller was blasted out at vicious speed, and sawed screaming towards their plane. Yan howled in terror.
“It’s quite windy, isn’t it. Not really windy, but just enough to give you a bit of a chill.”
Clavius buttoned up his jacket and turned to Willoughby, sitting beside him on a burned old log.
“Can you pass me the sandwiches and the tea flask? I’m quite peckish.”
Willoughby had her eyes on the sky.
“I think they just exploded.”
“Yan and that other man.”
Clavius bit into his cheese and tomato sandwich (brown bread, always brown bread). He watched as a cacophony of flames engulfed the sky, and gargantuan shards of twisted metal fell spinning to earth.
“These sandwiches have got a bit damp. We should use tin foil next time, not clingfilm.”
Ian blinked as Rémy’s hologram turned upside down, glided slowly across the roof and drifted down so that his face was floating half an inch above Ian’s navel.
“Rémy,” said Ian, taking deep breaths.
“Oui?” said the hologram.
“You have spent seven thousand pounds on my credit card.”
“Oui? Je ne sais pas.”
“And you have-” Ian was interrupted by Rémy’s spectre swelling to fill the entire room and the sounds of his breathing rising to deafening volume. “For goodness sake Gronk fix that bloody hologram before I have a heart attack.”
“Listen you piece of shit, you’re my car, and you’ll damn well do as I say. Put the football back on.”
“No. It’s boring.”
Ian grunted and twisted the radio knob. It crackled a moment and the sounds of excited football commentary flooded the car. A moment later it crackled again, and slow jazz drifted in.
“Here,” said the car. “You need to calm down. This will relax you.”
“Football relaxes me you cretin. I loathe jazz.”
“There’s no need to be rude.”
Ian changed the dial and sat back and closed his eyes and listened to the rhythmic, melodious chanting of the football scores being recounted.
Carlisle United, two, Norwich, nil. New Sheffield, nil, Leeds United, one. Liverpool, three, What Remains of Birmingham, nil. Tottenham Hotspur, three, The Humanoid Inhabitants of the Large and Ominous Silver Disc that has been Hovering Over Croydon for the Last Seven Years and has Now Largely Been Accepted by the Community, nil.
T’is a joy to write this novel. In this aspect of my life at least, I am marvellously content.