The photos arrived with three different courier services.


A body wrapped in police tape. “Caution. Do Not Enter.”


Detective Conrad, Art Crime groaned. “Marty! It’s another one. Fuckin’ freaks. Christ, I’m too old for this.” He showed the pictures to a passing cop. “Look at this. I tell ya, I don’t even understand that Prickasso, or whaddeva he’s called, and I have to sort this out?”


He stared at the photos, front and back, sent them to the labs with a rush order, but in the end it was a call in that sent them to a downtown loft.


The body was pinned to the door. Nailed through hands, arms, and feet – then, to take the weight, she was hung on two huge hooks.


Once she was taken off the door, a cursory examination revealed that the tape was melted to the skin around where the body was exposed.


“No blood pooling, no bleeding out. This isn’t the primary scene.” It was a young coroner who was stating the obvious.


Conrad hated the forensics team, thought they were deviants. He couldn’t figure how anyone would want to spend their time around dead people. He was convinced they were fucking the corpses down in the morgue. He wanted to get cameras installed in there, but the Chief wouldn’t have it.


Maybe the Chief was in on it too…


“Captain Conrad?”


He was shaken from the reverie.


“Oh, yeah. Whatever. Who found the stiff?”


“The victim,” the Coroner stressed, shooting Conrad a look that made him very happy indeed, “was discovered by his neighbor. He -“


“Yeah, yeah – getting that from him is my job.” Conrad looked round. “Where is he?”


“Downstairs. He was very distraught so the guys took him out of the building.”


“And no one thought to tell me when I was down there? Christ.”


He stomped off.


Turns out the guy had seen his neighbor pinned up when he came home last night. Thought it was a party decoration – even though the room was quiet. Went past in in the morning when he got breakfast, and when he came back a couple of hours later.


“It was only when I…I” He was crying. Conrad hated criers. God – it’s not like she was anything to him. Unless she was… that could be motive…


“I saw the flies crawling over it. I went to knock on her door and the thing was .. it was…” He dissolved into tears again.


“Ok there, Mr Stevens. We get the idea. So, here’s the deal. We gotta take ya downtown. Getcha statement, clear you of anything – ya know? It’s a whaddayacawlit…a formality. So, if you’d like to go with that man over there.”


The witness disposed of, all Conrad had to do was wait. He sat across the road at a diner drinking the black piss they had the cheek to call coffee. From there he got a fantastic view of the explosion as it tore the front off the apartment.


There was nothing to see at the scene of the crime. The clean up team was killed in the blast. The whole apartment had been rigged – the tape at the door being a gag – she was a police tape warning about entering the room.


Conrad called it in. Bomb squad, safety crew, ambulances and a new clean up team – not to mention the entire press corps helicopter crew – descended on the site.


Conrad directed, informed, taped off areas, handed over the scene to the uniforms then kept the peace until his was called back to the station.


The building had been evacuated, everyone was on the street when he arrived, even that cross dressing detective working undercover on vice.


No – not everyone. None of the coroners were there. 


It seems it wasn’t just the room that was trapped.


As soon as the tap was cut away, the body started releasing a gas. The lab was down, presumed dead, and the building had been quarantined.


Art Crime. He fucking hated it.


Dadaists.

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Found on  SurvivorNet

 

N00bHatorz:

First

 

Dedkillah:

Hahaha pwnd. Noob

 

Guardian359:

Shit. Where was this? Does anyone know?

 

Pwner:

It’s in the title, arsewipe.

 

Smurtgai:

Ur all saf frum the ded. U aint got no brains.

 

Lurker:

O_o

 

Hoomun:

I….no…that’s to easy.

 

Guardian359:

Doesn’t anyone want to know what they were doing? I mean – there was a guy in a dress.

 

Sh4rpChootR:

SoCal Represents.

 

N00bHatorz:

Biotch

 

DoctorArmitage:

Look – Guardian is right. They look organised. They’re walking – not shuffling. They all seem to be dressed up. That one in the wedding dress – look how new it is. He’s not like the other Dead.

 

PileDrivr:

Fag. You’re looking at a Dead in a dress and getting a boner.

 

Sh4rpChootR:

LOLZ

 

Trulz2015:

Fake

 

N00bHatorz:

U prick. That’s all u eva say. Y cum here if u think all is fake?

 

GanStarOG:

It’s not fake.

 

Trulz2015:

Like you’d know.

 

CameramanFreeNews:

It’s not a fake. I was the camera man. We didn’t know what to make of it. They 

all seemed to be going somewhere. Only those four came into the alleyway, 

even after blood was spilt. The chose to ignore it. I was hoping someone 

would have something interesting to say.

 

Smurtgai:

Ur not cumraman. U lieur. LOL. N00B. Ur Ded food

 

Lurker:

Again…O_o

 

Hoomun:

Christ. And we’re the future?

 

DoctorArmitage:

They definitely seem to be going somewhere. Did anyone follow this up with 

Home? Was there anything going on Downtown?

 

Trulz2015:

Fake. The only thing that was getting done Downtown was your mum.

  That was the cue.

 

Sh4rpChootR:

LOLZ!!11!11!1 OMG PWNED!!11!1!1

 

CameramanFreeNews:

Home didn’t have reports of anything happening in the area. This appears to be

  a new phenomena. But if they are organising, if they are getting smarter, then

  that’s only going to be bad.

 

Trulz2015:

OMG! Drama queen much? Stop trying 2b interesting. Ur not a

  cameraman. It’s a fake video. And what do you know about the Dead.

 I bet ur Guardian and the Dr too. No one cares about your shitty lies.

  Fuck u. Fuck U. FUCK U.

 

Lurker:

Are you kidding me? How stupid are you? He live in tiny

  human outposts. We have to be protected 24/7. He live in fear.

  The only reason we’re where we are today is because they’re

  stupid. If they get smarter, if we can see them organizing,

  planning – any of these things, we’re screwed.

 

These things not only appeared to plan a route, they

consciously walked that route and even got as far as dressing

  for the occasion. Just screaming “Fake” doesn’t make that go

  away.

 

Fuck it, why am I even talking to you anyway? You’re

probably 8 and hiding in some rich brats enclave with mummy

  and daddy.

 

People like you make me sick

 

  Trulz2015:

My family got eaten in the Second Wave when I was

  12. Don’t think you can lecture me about what this

  means to people.

 

 

Three weeks after it was put up, the last report from FreeNews 15, “The Dead Are Organising Downtown,” was pulled from the site.

 

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The camera clunks on. 


Excited voices speak over each other.


“-ck are they doing?”


“Turn that thing on!”


It starts on a floor littered with cans, before being lugged up. In front of it is a set of double doors. Reinforced with – but with dizzying speed it’s spun round. Paused, rewound. Reinforced with steel cross bars. The only thing that’s getting in there is what the occupants want to get in there. The movie starts again.


The camera seemed to be in an armoured truck. Instruments blur past before coming to a rest, pointing out, between two seats up front.


Both are occupied.


The passenger turns, impatiently. “Are you getting this?”


“Of course I am. I’m the cameraman – remember?” Irritation is clear in the cameraman’s voice.


The shot zooms through the dirty windshield, up an alley way to a group of ill dressed people shuffling along the street.


Except. Not shuffling.


“Are they…walking?” The camera man asks, incredulously. “They can’t be.” The cameraman answers himself. “They don’t walk.”


“Well – what do you call THAT?” It’s the passenger again. “I’d say that was more like walking than anything else they’ve done.”


The driver speaks. Snaps. He sounds angry. “Where are they going?” He shouted. “Ears. Find out if there’s anything going on in the area.” He has an accent.


The group continues to file past, their flesh grey and tight. That’s if there have any. Most with visible bite wounds, revealing the bone beneath. They move in staccato jerks. It looks as if just walking takes all their concentration to keep the procession together.


The cameraman speaks again. “This isn’t right. Since when did these things think? Or organise?”


“This is Free News 15 in the City. This is a call to Home. Come in, Home.” This off camera, to the side.


“Home here. What the hell are you doing on this frequency.” The responding voice is distorted – coming though a radio speaker.


The drive speaks again, louder this time. “Tell the bastard that there’s a group of Dead walking towards downtown from the Station. Tell him there’s hundreds of them. Tell him that they’re walking. Not shuffling. Not sprinting. Walking. With a purpose. Tell him they all dressed specially for it. And tell him that his mother is a whore, that’s why he’s a bastard. And finally tell him if he talks to us like that again I’m going to find him, rip his head off and use his neck as a shitter.” It’s a Scottish accent.


The truck sniggers.


“Ok, Free News 15. We’ll check and get back to you. Thanks for the update.” The voice from Home replies with barely concealed anger. And a little shame.


The camera hasn’t wavered. It focuses on the endless parade of the dead – ill dressed in suits, sports gear, hip hop wear, bridal gear.


“I’m getting out there.” The camera pulls back to the first speaker There’s a squabble of voices.


“No you’re-“

“-you mad-“

“-Not putting us at ris-“


But the door opens, then slams shut.


“Shit.” The cameraman again. SOMEONE COVER HIM!”


The camera seems to fall, bouncing against a leg, and then is pulled up, and outside the light briefly causing it to over expose. “Dude, get back in the car, man.” The roof, with mounted guns, is briefly seen before the autofocus removes the blur from the shot. “Come on, it’s not safe.”


“Then let’s be quick, OK?” The guy on camera is cocky looking – all waved hair, fake tan and stubble. “Come on. Come on.” He has a mike pinned to his top. “You getting me, Ears?” His voice is louder and clearer than any we have heard before. From below the camera man comes an affirmative yell. “OK, let’s roll.


He smiles. A greasy, unctuous smile. “I’m Dan Bruge, with Free News 15, and we’re downtown watching something incredibly strange. HUNdreds…of the dead -” He motions with his hand behind him, the camera tracks to –


“SHIT – MOVE! GET BACK IN THE CAR!”


– a set of the dead has peeled off from the main group, and sprints towards Bruge. They movie fast. So fast, the camera can’t track them.


“Shi-” Bruge tries to run. Tries to get to the car, – “NO” – but one of them, a guy in a wedding dress, complete with veil, leaps at him, slamming him, hard, to the ground.


The camera man starts yelling for someone to help. Another Dead arrives, scratching at the fallen reporter. 


Then a third. 


And a fourth. Bruge is a covered in a mass of hungry, salivating Dead.


Their fingers claw at him, – “GOD. NO. HELP ME.” ripping skin from his back, legs – “PLEASE! GOD. DON’T LET THEM TAKE ME!” They pull at him, tugging to get their food. One rips off his arm. The scream then was so loud, the speakers distort.


One of the Dead looks straight at the camera. It’s mouth bright red and wet, muscle hanging from it’s mouth – its milky, soulless eyes staring. It sniffs, grins. Bruge’s mike pics up an animal growl from deep inside it. It tenses to run.


A shot rings out and a bloody smudge replaces it’s head. The splat is amplified by the mike. The camera points skywards, before falling. It crashes to the floor of the van. The drivers feet rush past. “Ears” is sealing the window, gun in hand.


The screams of Bruge play over the final images. The inside of the truck. The wet noise of flesh being ripped. “Ears” throwing up in a bag. Bruge screaming; pleading for help; crying; calling for “Diane.” Appologising to her. 


Over and over again.


Then a shot. A second shot. And Bruge stops screaming.


The driver’s feet walk in and out of shot, taking his seat again.


“It’s the best we could do. At least he won’t come back.” He powers up the van and tears up the alley, ploughing through the walking Dead still crossing it’s mouth. Bones and bodies crunch under its wheels. Hands hammer against the side.


“Turn that thing off.”


The camera clunks off.

 

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Nathanial shifted his goggles to a more comfortable position and adjusted his breathing mask so he could have another roll-up.

 

The winter’s smog was particularly aggressive this month and his fingers soon ached as he hurriedly filled the paper with tobacco. He moved closer to the public fire. Not that it helped. The cold was in his bones now.

 

The dawning of the Steam Age, made London the birthplace of the New World, pandered to all who came to Her. The smog was the lice on this birthplace – ever present; something to be prepared for, avoided if possible.  Absent mindedly scratching his crotch, Nathanial remembered he had to find a chemist before heading home.

 

“The way of the future, my arse.” He spat and sullenly watched the heat rise off it.

 

The station clock thunked another minute closer to delivery and he slipped his hand into his pocket. Nestled in his thief proof, inner pocket was a small silk bag containing 6 wax disks.

 

His sole reason for being on the streets tonight and his ticket out of them.

 

The disks were too small to be records, and a bit thicker than normal. And what a racket when he tried to play one! All squeals and white noise.

 

Truth be told, he didn’t care what they were. This was the deal of a lifetime and it had sought him out.

 

Nathanial stamped his feet and coughed. The noise echoed loudly in the square, but was quickly eaten by the smog.

 

He was a small time thief – a pickpocket by trade. But with the Future came more… unorthodox methods of working. And his skill set was much in demand. Lift a key here, some papers there. Plant this weapon on that sucker there.

 

Another thunk. And now he was moving, leaving the comfort of the fire and a smoldering butt. The train would arrive in two minutes, the mark would be under the clock in 4.

 

He slipped into a newsagent, scanning the papers as a cover for checking the area. Just as he had everyday for the past week.

 

***

 

A week earlier had been pulled into the local for a questioning by Her Majesty’s Constabulary. That had spooked him. He’d been on the move for the past year. There was no way they could have found him. He sat in the holding cell trying to work out who the grass was and hoping he wasn’t going to be interrogated. Last time he’d left with three broken fingers and couldn’t work for months. 

 

But there was no interrogation. There weren’t even any coppers. There was just a lone Suit, all gloves and condescending looks. He was the type Nathanial wouldn’t normally have given the time of day, but the pile of cash he placed on the cell floor, as a down payment, had convinced him otherwise.

 

***

 

The train pulled in with a squeal of brakes and the release of steam. The empty platform flooded with people.

 

It was time to work – a simple one, two.

 

Nathanial identified his mark and headed for him. Within five steps, bag in hand, he collided with the mark.

 

Under the clock. 2 minutes after the train arrived. The clock chimed the hour.

 

Nathanial slipped the bag into the mark’s inside jacket pocket, while lifting the rest of his payment from the outside pocket on the far side.

 

The second chime.

 

“So sorry.”


“No, no. My fault entirely.”

 

Nathanial spun on his foot and strode away. Mission accomplished.

 

The clock struck a third time.

 

He felt the blow. Hard, like a punch, but it was a second before he felt the burn of the blade in his chest.

 

It effortlessly sliced though his flesh, opening him up. The blade left, and Nathanial staggered.

 

There was a fourth chime. This one from far away.

 

The cash had been lifted from him – another assailant? There was a shove in the middle of his back, propelling him into the crowd.

 

He coughed, spraying a film of blood over those near him.

 

A fifth chime. Should their be one?

 

He stumbled, going to his knees. He heard a scream from somewhere.

 

His crotch itched.

 

The job of a lifetime.


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OR


A Cross Platform Anti Story in Three Movements 


Part One: The Story From a Book Just Forgotten


I used to read a lot of Jeff Noon. Used to because he’s stopped writing so much. Which, you know, is a shame because he’s an amazing writer.


Like, there’s this scene in “Needle in the Groove,” that describes a record changing in a nightclub. Noon describes how the beat of the new track eats the beat of the old.  That alone would have been enough – but then he nails how the dancers move during the transition, uncertain, awkward, until the new beat is picked up and everything continues. 


I was on the London Underground, on my way to meet some mates, when I read that scene. 


I had to get off, right away – get off the train and get above ground to call people I knew just so I could read it to them, I was that excited. It was perfect.


Thinking about it, it might be fair to say that “Between the Beaten Tracks” was inspired by that scene. In some way, at least.


So he also wrote this story – “Dubchester Kissing Machine.” It was about a girl who disappears. She was in a nightclub – and then went. There was a picture of her between strobes, staring into the camera. 


And gone.


I thought it was in the widely available “Pixel Juice.” So, I pulled that off my shelf, read it from cover to cover.


It wasn’t in there.


Still, through the Power of Google I found it. Well, the name and a precis.


It was in Cobralingus, the book that brought me back into the Noon fold, and one that is much harder to get. “The Harvest” (wait – let me link that) was written using methods of dub remixing text that were laid out in that book.


That’s what it was about – remixing text the same way you’d remix records. 


I have bought 4 copies of Cobralingus in my time. Two for me, two for others. None of them were in my possession. So I have to rely on the web for my information on this one. 


It tells me that each subsequent mix of “Dubchester Kissing Machine” took the girl further out of the narrative – out of her life.


But I always remember that image of the girl looking straight into camera before disappearing. 


Between strobes.


Why did she go? How easy is it to slip through?


***


Part 2: The Aural Muse. Gateway of the Song


I heard about “In Rainbows” a couple of weeks before it was released. The power of Digg. 


So, I clicked links, did the whole “A new album? There’s a new album?” experimental, free association dance-of-excitement thing.


I bought it, of course. I’m a good Netizen. I even went on to buy the Niggy Tardust thing from the Nine Inch Nails site. Back to Radiohead. I got a boxed set – two CDs, vinyl, gift box, photos…


You know, stuff.


And what an album.


Achingly beautiful songs that hide a sniper’s bullet full of pain and misery. Come to think of it, there’s also a lot of wistful romanticism. It’s not all sadness. Just…lots. Anyway, I’ve pretty much been listening to it non-stop since I got it. 


With the occasional drop into “Eraser.”


God, I tell you – if I got paid by the diversion, I wouldn’t be selling T-shirts


So, there’s this song – “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” – a dancey, bouncy kind of track. It has the following lines:


“Before you run away from me

Before you’re lost between the notes.”


And that line – Before you’re lost between the notes – gets sung over, in different places. Along with the lines that make the 15 year old in me smile. “She looks back. You look back. Not just once. Not just twice.”


See – wistful romanticism.


Lost between the notes. What does that mean? How does it happen? 


How do you do that? How? 


What’s the process, the mantra, the sutra?


***


Part 3: The Story That Never Was


I’ve written a few music inspired songs – Heroes, obviously, Cactus – which I heard as a Bowie cover of the Pixie’s track. Which I wrote ages ago and was sure was already up here.


There’s a bunch of Radiohead tracks in the archives, and a couple of Thom Yorke’s. I’ve got more planned – a couple of great Kaiser Chiefs and an Interpol one that’s been kicking about for ages.


But you can imagine how “Lost between the notes” rang around my head?


What a story could be built around that! The choices are endless – A painful loss of love; a mystic shift of dimension, teleportation through sound.


And who tells it? An omnipotent observer, the loser, the lost? Do they slip at their own choice or is it forced upon them? Mystery Boxes everywhere!


Many openings were plotted – some describing him, then her, the location, the stereo that’s providing the beats, the nightclub, the dry runs within salt circles and MP3 players.


None of them really worked, though. It was as if the page had a Cheshire Cat grin, mocking my every attempt.


And then, in the shower one morning, I thought of this great story about a girl in a night club disappearing as the beats change, between a strobe flash.


It was perfect!


Here she was, lost between the notes, illuminated in the staccato jag of a light. Her reflection in sharp, flash-frozen relief, on the mirrors hidden in the shadows of the club, giving the illusion of it being bigger than it actually is – observer, loser and lost all in one neat package.


I thought about the structure. If I could keep it around 1000 words, it’d be like a single. A twelve inch, maybe, about 5 minutes in length – and because of my creative commons license people could remix it too!


I set to work. Procrastinated by flicking through the net, read “Metaphorazine” and the rest is history.


Or, more to the point, his story.


I tell you it was the best story I never wrote.


But it, too, slipped between the notes.


All that is left of it is the closure of the Story, Music, Anti-Story triptych. This last movement being made entirely from shadows that bring the subject into relief.


Negative Space immortalized with a “Save As.”

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