Archive for drugs

Candyflip Memories

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2017 by ofherbsandaltars

I miss the crystal mayhem

The music like a velvet band

Like lace

Stretching with every movement

The writing on UV lights

It would change

A mobile phone like a puppy dog

The 20p on the bathroom floor

I still have it

Because I watched the walls vibrate

While playing Snake

On a Nokia 3210


Then the club burned down

And it burned my memories too

I got sick

And it’s all gone

I’ll never drop another Shuriken

Not even a shitty Mitzi

It’s all gone


But I remember the neon and beauty

I remember seeing the afterlife

Zinging purple and white

Souls without boundaries



It has to be the Glis remix – it brings me up every time

It’s better than wine

Not as good as a decent pill


Assemblage 23

They meant so much to me

Let Me Be Your Armour –

It spoke of everything

I still need armour

But my armour sucks

I suck

I lost everything


Neon Midnights

I still miss them

I just write about them now

Sing about them

But they’re gone


Just the dust of memory

The residue on scales

It’s gone.


The Opium Sanctuary

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2015 by ofherbsandaltars

2nd September, 1865:

I think that I like being immortal – it suits my temperament. I always thought I had the right temperament for wealth and power – I certainly had the right face for it, but a face will only get you so far unless you’re prepared to throw your arse into the deal as well, which I most certainly was not. Well…not usually. Only for the right price. And not for anybody hideous, stinking, or syphilitic, which of course rules out the majority of London. But anyway, those days are behind me. Now that I’m immortal, and in possession of a whole slew of fiendish talents, my lifestyle has finally begun to suit my temperament.

Look around you, for instance. This is the sort of place in which I was always supposed to be living. One could almost call it obscene. Vast and sprawling, most certainly, with the lovely dark wood panelling and the Oriental rugs covering these age-worn floorboards, trampled into a warm patina, made silken underfoot by the aristocratic soles of two centuries of Lords and Ladies, the last of whom I confess I ate in order to secure the property. Their disapproving oil-painted likenesses scowl down at me daily, and I smile back up at them, relishing their annoyance. All that power, all that wealth, all that blue blood, and I swallowed the very last drop of it. I was a little disappointed to discover that it wasn’t actually blue – I even took a short trip to Windsor Castle to sample one of the lesser royals, as an experiment into the colours of blood, so I can tell you without any doubt at all – it isn’t true. Not a word of it. They didn’t even taste any different, really – a little richer on the tongue, a little more complex, a touch spiced, but that has nothing to do with breeding, and everything to do with diet. If you want a truly exquisite dining experience, you have to try seducing that enormous homosexual who always presides over the best dining houses – he is vast and ruddy-faced, an elegant brandy glass in his bejewelled fist, his little finger pointed to the sky like a prim old aunt. He will be bedecked in glorious satins like an obese peacock, forever drunk, reasonably amusing, and always receptive to the attentions of someone such as me. And this man, I tell you in no uncertain terms, has the finest blood in all of England. It’s the things he eats, you see. All the spices, the duck fat, the expensive port and the fine cigars – all these things, all these delicious trappings of wealth and finery, they are distilled into the thick red potion of his blood, and it is quite the experience. So much so, in fact, that I never kill this sort of man – I like to keep him alive and friendly, so that I might experience him again and again, and every time is a little different, for he is just as much the intrepid dining connoisseur as I am.

Anyway – I digress. Not that it matters – one is allowed to digress when one is well-dressed and wealthy. People never interrupt their betters, and everybody sounds more interesting in a well tailored suit. I am learning all sorts of things about life these days, which is ironic, when you consider that I am really dead. The details of that event, I do not care to dwell on. It was traumatic, and violating, and unpleasant. I often wish that I could have appeared as an elegant spectre to the slovenly pauper I was before, and told him, “Don’t be so bloody silly about the entire affair! There’s no need for all the screaming and howling and praying to a nonexistent god that we never believed in anyway! It will be over and done with in the space of a few hours, and after that, you will look like me, and your life will be splendid. So don’t be such a wet blanket about the whole affair!”. But of course, I can’t. Time travel and spectral haunting are not amongst my new boudoir of demonic skills. As for the downsides to immortality, well…there aren’t any, really. I can still drink wine and brandy – thank the gods! I mean, what aristocratic figure would be seen to be an abstainer? Wandering about the best ballrooms with a cup of steaming tea? Nobody would take me seriously, and they would be quite right in their mockery! So, I still have all the pleasures of a human.

I don’t have to concern myself with my family either – it was clear from the outset that they had every intention of leeching away my newfound wealth, so, naturally, I ate them, and then the matter was quite solved. As for my new family, my immortal family, they number just two. Obviously, there is the demon who created me, in every possible sense of the word, and he is quite pleasant enough. I only see him perhaps twice a week – he bought me this house, and set me up with a bank account, as he likes to keep me in the finery to which I have become accustomed. For him, I am quite willing to bring both my face, and my arse, into the bargain. His name is Byron. The second of my demonic clan is a rather spoiled and objectionable female named Matild, who is old enough to be my…god only knows what, to be perfectly honest, but you wouldn’t know it to look at her. Captured in the body of a pouting teenage concubine, and quite aware of her own good looks. Byron likes to fuck her on occasion, hence the reason for her continued existence in London – he often appears in my bed drenched in the poisonous stench of a whore’s bed-linens, and I refuse to present my posterior until he’s bathed himself clean. I do not interact with Matild. Because I’m jealous? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I suspect that Byron has more of us, to be honest – his appetites are insatiable and yet he only troubles me twice weekly; it is evident enough that he is fucking others in this city. But jealousy is an ugly emotion – I refuse to sully myself with it, and besides, it’s not as though I don’t have other people that I’m fucking. Byron isn’t jealous – it’s one of his many fine qualities; there are really no drawbacks to our little contract. I gave him my mortal soul, and he gave me…everything. Forever. So why should I be jealous?

My favourite thing in the world though, my favourite thing, in the midst of all this splendour, my oil paintings and rugs, my gleaming horses, my young, beautiful, obscenely shaved fucking-boys, my bottomless wealth and newfound social status – of all these things, there is one I love the most. I have many vices, and all of them delight me, but opium is the finest of them all. I am rarely to be found in an opium den, because they are foul places filled with foul people, and one’s reputation can be ruined in an instant if seen in such a place too frequently. But reputation doesn’t unduly trouble me – it’s the squalor that does. When one goes to an opium den, and smokes there, one is forced to sprawl out upon stained, stiffening pillows that reek of sweat and vomit, with dirty straw and rat droppings beneath one’s feet, and worse than this is the company. Opium ceases to be remotely enjoyable when one is forced to endure the inane babblings of the deformed, demented, frothing halfwits that frequent those places. Mortals in the depths of an opium dream are hideous to witness, sprawled about with strings of drool hanging from their slobbering mouths, groaning horrifyingly and scratching their filthy crotches, stumbling about like impinged ogres with their eyes gone crooked – it truly is the stuff of nightmares, and I strongly suspect that opium tar’s bad reputation is solely due to these scenes. But opium itself, is quite a different thing. Opium itself, is elegant and warm and beautiful – I think, in fact, that it is my favourite thing in the world. There is nothing about it that isn’t beautiful, from the fields of flame-red poppies whence it comes, to the intricately carved splendour of my pipes, to the warm golden light of the lamps and trays, and finally to the state of perfect contentment it invokes.

I realised all of this some nine months after Byron made me what I am. I rapidly set about transforming a room of my house into the most splendid private opium den I could manage, with gloriously coloured Oriental silk draperies and cushions, all the necessary setup created from hammered gold and copper, so that in the light of my lamps the whole room would become a glimmering paradise, a warm smoky heaven of my own creation. I purchased a selection of pipes in bone and silver and wood, all engraved and inset with fabulous stones, glittering opals and gleaming tigers-eye, so that I would always have things to touch and look at and wonder over. I brought in a variety of instruments from across the globe, and would spend whole nights hypnotised as I ran my fingers over the strings of a lute, or tilted a crude tribal creation back and forth to make the sound of falling rain. I installed a small library of my favourite books, complete with quills and ink and rose-scented paper, that I might write letters to my lovers from the true depths of my heart, with all my cynicism, all my mortal hindrances, washed clean by the opium. I employed two small Chinese slave boys, who were well versed in the preparation of opium tar, the loading and upkeep of pipes – of course one can do it oneself, but it’s such a bore; the whole point of wealth is to separate oneself from the mundane tasks of mortality, so that one has all the time in the world to pursue loftier and more valuable pastimes, like actually smoking the opium. It took several months to complete, but finally my opium room was perfect, and I loved it more than anything else on Earth.

It was my slave boys who made the trips down to those sordid dens on the river, bringing me back my opium. They get it for a far better price than any white man ever would, and despite their helpless youth, their own people would never beat and rob them – they’re quite safe out there. I feel a strange affection for those boys, borne of so many long, drowsy nights, when they would share my glistening sanctuary, silently loading my pipe and watching from a corner, still as statues, their dark eyes gleaming in the lamplight. They speak a little English, and sometimes I converse with them, just to hear their charming accents – so strange that their voices should sound endearing in English, when their own tongue is so harsh and jarring, a gibbering of wide, incredulous vowel sounds. The other servants I keep here, I confess I often feed on. Several have vanished mysteriously, having succumbed to my appetites and been dumped into the reeking mud of the river, but my opium boys I would never lay a finger on. Recently I have been teaching one to read, and encouraging the other to learn to play my piano. At first they stared at me in horror with their huge dark eyes, convinced that it was some trick – grubby little Oriental children, laying their fingers upon the ivory keys of this gleaming grand piano? It was blasphemy! But finally I convinced them to try, and so they did. He likes to play with two fingers only, picking out strange disjointed tunes that flow in their own odd way like early morning birdsong. I am considering having the piano moved closer to the opium room, that I might hear it while I dream.

Of course, there are plenty of other pleasures in life – often I think that life has become nothing more than an endless stream of perpetual pleasure, and I revel in every second of it, from the simplest to the most indulgent. Small pleasures are usually the product of Byron’s wealth – clean, luxurious bed-linens, to sprawl out upon, drunk and naked. Scented handkerchief water, and elegant cologne – for that matter, my marble bath, in which I might have each of my conquests cleansed and perfumed before we fuck. I still remember with distaste how foul fucking used to be, when I was just as foully poor. No matter how beautiful the boy or girl, I would kiss them and the taste of their mouth would make me recoil, or when they parted their legs, the stench that arose would be ungodly. Of course we would still go about our business, because in those days we knew no other way. People were all smelly creatures, weren’t they? Nothing to be done about it. How pleased I am to be taught otherwise! Tooth powder and brushes were quite the revelation – to kiss people whose mouths tasted of peppermint or pine, and then to perform orally on genitals that taste of nothing more than soft, fragrant skin; these things are pleasures in the utmost.

Another of my favourite pleasures, or perhaps vices, is pride. I always knew that I was beautiful, but there is no pride in that when you are poor, and your soon-to-wane beauty is the only thing you have in the cold, cruel world. These days, I am far more than just beautiful. My eyes were a sort of warm, trustworthy brown before, I was told, whereas now they are filled with light and dimension – gold glimmers and a deep, velvety violet lurks in their depths. The power of my eyes is also a benefit, that I may bewitch the minds of mortals, and have them do my bidding, but often there is no need to wield this advantage – my beauty alone undoes them. I am pale, and youthful, and my eyes are shocking against my white skin, my long dark hair. When I enter a ballroom, everyone turns to stare, and I stare back at each of them, drinking in the adulation in their eyes, assessing it, feeding upon it…working out who I shall fuck tonight. The most beautiful virgin girls in London allow me to deflower them, and then I make them thank me. And so they do. And I adore it.

In my bedroom, I keep an entire cabinet of absinthe – I am currently sampling a new one each night, or sometimes for a succession of nights, as an experiment into the pleasures of dreaming. Absinthe in the correct quantity produces splendid, vivid, and frequently erotic dreams, but you have to get it precisely right. Too little and you will be overly excited for sleep, too full of thoughts and fancies, but too much and you will close your eyes and be overcome with nausea. Yet with just the right quantity, combined with a touch of opium – for this I use the tincture, and add it to my drink – you will fall into a long and blissful sleep, full of awe-inspiring visions and depraved acts. These dreams I will often wake from, and yet strangely find that I may close my eyes, and return once more to the same dream, continued. Occasionally I am even visited with power and lucidity in these dreams – aware that I am dreaming, and then of course, I behave as no man may ever do in reality. In these rare lucid dreams, I have slain entire ballrooms and fucked the corpses as the orchestra played on with abandon, gore spattered across their faces. I have flown across otherworldly purple jungles as though I were a swooping bat, and above all, the things I have seen in these dreams are beyond all comprehension! In the depths of a normal dream, one takes all as reality – one never notices the absurdity. And yet, when one is dreaming, yet aware, one sees all – the people on the streets I walk down will have tongues for eyes, their heads on backwards, the scenery grotesquely, obscenely distorted, and when I awake, I try my best to draw the scenes I have witnessed. The art I create is depraved beyond words, and I never show it to anybody, or rather, I haven’t yet. I am still honing my skills, and I want the moment to be perfect, but I know for a fact that when I show it to the world, I will be lauded and despised as a pervert genius, and I shall love every second of it.




23rd August, 1872:

I think I am becoming bored with life, this summer. So many balls, so many garden parties and picnics, endlessly fucking brainless youths under oak trees, and all I can think is fuck it all. I’m so frightfully bored. And I listen to the brainless drawling of those brainless youths, and I think, Oh, do shut up. Just shut up, and put on your bloody clothes, and bugger off! The boredom never seems to leave me. At the moment of my very orgasm I am bored – it just never fades! And I can tell you why, as well. It isn’t that I am a boring person, as so many claim – that infuriating, petulant adage that only boring people find themselves bored – I am most certainly not a boring person! The reason for my perpetual boredom, is that Byron has spirited me away to this ungodly countryside shithole, just one of many – we travel constantly from house to house, and ball to ball, but always it’s the same, trees and fields and tedious bumpkins. It’s just intolerable!

Byron’s stated reason for this ghastly exile is that he tires of the maelstrom of London society, and yearns for the unchanged landscapes of his youth, which is a very pretty and poetic way to put it, so like a fool, I fell for it. It seemed such an elegant notion, to be reminded of the spectacular creature who is my lover – to be reminded that this youthful face and perfect form contain a being that has walked the Earth for centuries, alone and unchanging. It’s such a romantic idea! I was swept up in it, wanting to walk those ‘unchanged landscapes’ by his side, and to hear all these glorious, impossible tales of a time centuries before my birth. He is far older than any mortal man alive today, and every single one of them from his own time has died out – isn’t that a thought! What a thing he is, I thought. I will go with him, and I will learn more, for perhaps one day I shall be just the same, ancient and elegant, a powerhouse of hidden secrets and unfathomable depths. So I went along with him, and for a time I was entertained.

When I became bored by our exile, however, and I spoke my mind to Byron, begging for a return to the city, even for just a week or two, he became evasive, and even manipulative. I rapidly began to suspect that everything was not quite what it seemed. He had brought me here under false pretences, and he kept me here under still falser ones. His reasons, I cannot wholly fathom, but I have my suspicions: Byron is beginning to deeply disapprove of my vices, particularly of the opium, and of the absinthe, and above all, of the painting. He was the second person I showed, when I decided that my art had reached a high enough standard. The first was a drunk young boy who I’d just finished fucking, and he was so appalled and speechless that he began laughing hysterically, to the extent of vomiting – right across the bed! This I took as a very good sign. My art was truly as depraved as I hoped! And so, I showed it to Byron, believing that he would be awed, and pleased with me – he is, after all, an immortal demon who has slaughtered thousands, and who taught me everything I know of decadence. And yet…he was not pleased. Not in the slightest. He seemed deeply concerned for my mental state, and the look in his eyes was of one gazing into the drooling face of a lunatic! I was quite insulted, actually! And barely three months after this, I am dragged off to the countryside, bereft of opium or absinthe or paints.

And I tell you, in no uncertain terms, that I am intolerably bored with life!




17th October, 1889:

This year has been a sad one. I suppose it was all coming for quite some time, but I never truly noticed it. Things, to me, seemed as though they were perfect. My opium boys, once so small and silent, had grown into men, and through necessity had been told, in the strictest of confidence, what I am, and why it is that I have not aged in all this time – they appear far older than I do, now. They never came to view me as a demon though, instead I seemed some sort of god to them – the Orientals have many odd beliefs, and peculiar deities; they seemed to idolise me, rather than cringing in fear, as all English mortals do, if they discover my secret. Although, in general, those English mortals are right to fear – I rarely reveal my secret to anyone who is not destined for a prompt execution. But my opium boys were quite different – I had brought them up into men, and had taught them many things they should never, in the natural course of things, have learned. One became adept at writing and mathematics, and is now employed in accountancy, doing very well for himself and often coming to visit me. The other – who as a young boy adopted the name Stephen, having found that for Londoners, his given name was quite impossible to pronounce – continued in his studies of music. He rapidly learned to use all his fingers to play the piano, and I engaged the services of a tutor for him. He was a fast and adept learner, and I spent many happy nights in my opium room, listening to his songs drifting in through the open door. From there he studied a little with the violin and flute, and was very soon in constant demand as an entertainer at London balls.

Stephen was the one who never left me, despite his many engagements. He lived under my roof always, and although I had employed new boys to service my opium requirements, Stephen seemed to take pleasure in his old work, loading my pipe, then bowing politely, and slipping outside to begin playing for me. I loved him in a wholly parental manner, a wholly clean and platonic sort of love – they are beautiful, the Oriental boys, but Stephen had become a son to me; I would never have dreamed of fucking him. I don’t fuck many people, in truth, these days – I often wondered whether it was simply my age, that although my body has not begun to sag and wither (for it never will), my mind had perhaps grown old and weary, calmer and less filled with lust. But Byron met these views with scorn and anger – it was not the case with him, nor with Matild, nor with any other immortal he had ever known. “We do not age, Lucas,” he stated, rather tersely, “not in mind, nor in body – you are wasting everything I have given you.”

He blamed it on the opium, you see. He blames everything on the opium. He doesn’t like it at all, my love for it – I believe he thought that I would grow weary of my infatuation, and it would begin to wane, but it truly never has. I love it just as much now, if not more, than I ever used to. My love for opium has not changed in the slightest, but I find that my love for many other things has. The theatre rarely amuses me now – I go, on occasion, usually on Byron’s insistence, but by the middle of the second act I begin to feel restless, unsettled, and the whole scene commences to irk me. The stench of sweat and perfume and orange peel rankles in my nostrils, the stage lighting hurts my eyes. My seat feels impossibly uncomfortable, and I begin to feel that I might scream or attack somebody or leap across the room in a terribly inhuman feat, if I don’t escape immediately, and yet no matter how eloquently I try to explain this, Byron always seems exasperated, if not furious. And yet…it never troubles me for long. I feel simply awful as I hurry out of that palace of stinging lights and perfumed flesh, and the carriage journey seems impossibly long – nauseating and horrid. But when I arrive, and I slip into my little sanctuary, and the boy prepares my pipe, everything is instantly alright again. More than alright – the miseries I suffered beforehand seem to amplify the peace I then feel. The silence of my glittering haven washes over me with the soothing hands of angels, my lamps glow all the warmer, their golden illumination seeming pure and holy and angelic, and I feel that I have entered some religious trance, and that can’t be wrong, can it? It can’t be wrong to feel so good, so pure, so holy.

Over the past few years, there have been a number of…unpleasant scenes, between myself and Byron, when it comes to my love of opium. Many of them I have dulled and blurred memories of, having been intoxicated during, or immediately afterwards, but nonetheless, I feel their sting. Sometimes he seems despairing, saddened, pleading with me, and on those occasions I confess I feel the most guilt. I will always try, for him, thereafter, to appear more normal, more outgoing, more jovial. I force myself through theatre outings, through balls and writhing orgies, but always the strain begins to tell – always it exhausts me in the end and I can no longer endure it, and in the depths of some hellish semen-stained dawn I burst into tears and confess it all and everything descends into a sort of blind, deaf chaos, and I never know quite what I have said or what has happened, but always I find myself back in my opium room, and everything seems alright again, until I next see Byron’s face, and the fury behind it. And after that, the pleading and the sadness give way to a terrifying anger, and he storms about my sanctuary like a terrible god of destruction, smashing my pipes and my lamps and horrifying my slave boys, but this only makes me worse – it makes me hate him, for days at a time, and so I throw myself all the more violently into my love of opium, in order to spite him, and to comfort myself, all in one fell swoop. But I never thought that he would take it as far as he did. I never thought him capable of what happened next.

It was three months ago that the tragedy befell me. Our tired old routine had played out once more – Byron pleading with me, despairing of me, until I launched with renewed vigour into Trying To Be Normal. Trying to give up opium. Trying to separate myself from the thing I loved most in the world. It was doomed to fail, just as it always is. Every moment of every day, in every theatre and bedroom and brothel, I found myself bored and restless, never fully present, never truly able to be there, in the room, with everybody else. At balls I would only feel myself when I slipped away to the bathroom, or slunk into an unused bedroom to smoke a cigarette, for in there I could sit down, and be silent, and be sad, and think of my loss and my misery and my overwhelming sense of ennui. But eventually somebody would find me, and I would be dragged back out into that appalling, dazzling chaos, and I would have to smile and laugh and make clever anecdotes, and it felt as though my whole body, my whole personality, was some sort of elaborate but artificial machine, and I was simply fuelling it with the guttering flame of my tired soul – curled up in the back of my brain, exhausted and defeated and depressed, and desperate to escape. That was how it went for three whole weeks, and it never got any better. It came to the point that I saw no reason for my continued existence, and began to think lazily of suicide. It became my entertainment, my salvation, in those ghastly situations, at balls and brothels. I would clutch onto the thought of suicide like a drowning man to a raft, holding it in my mind like the golden key to a final door of escape – escape from all this awful futility, this tedious, exhausting pretence.

Would I really have ended my own life? I don’t know. I don’t like to think so – it’s a little bit weak – isn’t it? I am only 47, and I have the possibility of eternity before me, which so many mortals would give up a limb for. I soon resolved that it was not death I truly lusted after, it was simply that I couldn’t endure the circumstances I was trapped in. My ennui was not inexplicable, incurable – I was not some deranged depressive poet. I knew perfectly well what made me happy – a mere three weeks ago I had been perfectly, blissfully happy, and the solution was simple enough. Opium was my salvation, just as it had always been. Opium makes me happy, above all things. More than happy, it makes me content, which is the sort of happiness that lasts forever – contentment is something purer and deeper and truer than the fickle nature of ‘happiness’. I understood that Byron disapproved of the opium, but the simple truth of the matter was that we would have to agree to disagree, when it came to this particular subject. I had tried it his way, and to put it bluntly, it made me want to kill myself. So, that was that, I thought. I had given it a fair shot, I had turned the matter over in my head at great length, and this was the way of things. I would explain it to Byron, and he would understand. Surely he would understand, because he loved me, and he had created me, and we were family – immortal family, forever and always. I may have some quirks of character that displeased him, but that is the nature of reality. Byron would understand.

As it turned out, Byron did not understand. Not at all. I explained everything very lucidly, and logically, and with – I thought – a reasonable degree of eloquence. I had been carefully compiling my words for some hours, that they might be well received, but…it was as though I was spouting gibberish. He made me feel that I was spouting gibberish, when I knew that I was not! I knew my own soul, didn’t I? Had I not suffered in silence for weeks in an attempt to placate him, to please him? I had tried so hard and suffered so much, and yet he made a mockery of it all. He didn’t understand, and he wouldn’t understand, and I got more and more emotional as he mocked me and belittled me and twisted my words into knots, until finally I could endure it no more, and I picked up an entire desk and hurled it at him. It missed, of course – Byron is far faster than me, a result of his increased age – but it infuriated him, and as I raced into the night I heard him cursing me and damning me, and the whole thing was a terrible mess. I’m sure you can guess where I went, directly. My opium room was the place I had fantasised about for all those miserable weeks, my little haven, my glimmering oasis of serenity. I was so upset by Byron’s words that I didn’t even take a carriage – I leapt up onto the rooftops and sped across the city in a matter of minutes, hurling myself in through my own bedroom window, and racing down the stairs to my opium room. I didn’t even take the time to call for my boys – I loaded my own pipe, heftily, and lay down to smoke it.

It was not to be the joyous reunion I had hoped. The opium soothed me, as it always did, but my distress at the terrible mess I had left behind, the awful chasm that now gaped between us, it tugged at me and it hurt me, despite it all. And so I loaded my pipe again, and again, until I was so intoxicated that the pipe slipped from my fingers and landed on the tray with a horrible clatter, and I just lay there like a depressed worm and stared at it. And then Stephen came in, my beautiful Stephen, and he seemed to sense my distress automatically. He knew without me saying a word what it was that I needed at that very moment, and so he fell back into his comfortable old role of opium boy. Just as it always used to be, he lapsed into silence, and busied himself with my pipe. And that is when Byron found us.

Before I could speak, he had grabbed Stephen about the neck, and hurled him into the wall. Byron had destroyed my sanctuary so many times before, but this time his rage was direct, and it was white hot. All of it went into Stephen – he didn’t merely kill him, he obliterated him, destroyed him – tore him apart and trampled him underfoot, and what was left would have been unrecognisable as a human being. Brains and gore and entrails were strewn across my sanctuary, until it was as if Stephen had never existed – he had been dismantled, and I could not grasp it in my mind. I had been too intoxicated to move, to intervene, even to rise from the floor, and now I could not wrap my mind around the enormity of what had just happened. Stephen had been here, with me, just as he always was, just as he had been for thirty years, and then he had been terrified, and in pain, and now…he was dismantled, into the base components of his physiology, slippery purple sleeves of intestine, a blood-clotted porridge of brains and hair, crunching shards of ivory bone – how could this mess ever have been a person, a living thing? I felt that Stephen’s soul had been torn into bleeding shreds before my eyes, and burned into oblivion! Byron stepped through the gory wreckage, and told me,

“I want you to think of his death and his pain, every time you pick up that filthy pipe.”

And then he was gone.



After Stephen’s death, things went on as before. Byron visited me the very next day, and he was clean and polite and charming, and he spoke as if it had never happened. I began to feel that it had all been an illusion, some hideous bloated opium dream, but the stench that lingered in my sanctuary for weeks told me otherwise. But Byron would not let it come between us, did not give it time to fester – did not give me time to think in a sober state, and resolve to truly despise him. To Byron, I believe, it was a just and level punishment. It was as though I was a misbehaving child, and he had spanked me, and broken my toy, and I had learned my lesson. And that was that – the lesson was over, and life moved on. I do not understand it, if I am truly honest. I do not understand why I don’t hate him, why I can’t hate him. He is the one who created me, and these days, he is really all I have. And the most painful thought of all, the thought that shreds my throat like razors to speak it aloud, is that I know Byron believed his intentions honourable. He perceived Stephen to be the instrument of my destruction, crouching there with my pipe in his hands, he perceived Stephen to be hurting me, and so…so he tried to help me. To save me. This knowledge has the taste of bitter bile – it would be so much easier, so much simpler, to despise him forever more, but I truly cannot. The memory of that awful night is too terribly muddy, and I haven’t the strength to turn away from him. And so, life continues, without my Stephen.

But I do think of him, just as Byron threatened – I do; I think of Stephen always. I think of him in life, and I am haunted forever by his ghastly end. But it doesn’t turn me away, why on Earth would it? It saddens me and it hurts me, and that makes me want the opium all the more. I can drift back then, and remember him. Sometimes I would swear that I can hear his thin brown fingers racing across the keys of the piano, until I remember that Byron took it away too, and burned it, another punishment for my love of opium. I don’t know why he cares so much. I admit there was a period of a few months where I found it impossible to summon any physical arousal, when he would kiss me and suck me and there would be a shameful lack of response – it wasn’t that I didn’t want to, not precisely. I was just quite content with the opium, and I wanted him to simply lie with me and stroke my hair. I would always submit, and let him fuck me anyway, but my flaccid cock seemed to annoy him, as though it was a personal insult, and on the night during which I fell into a deep sleep with him still inside me, I awoke to find a very unpleasant note upon my pillow. But after that I really did try – I went to the apothecary, and to the Orientals at the opium den, and with a combination of Mariani’s coca wine and a pouch of Chinese herbs, I became quite well able to stay awake and perform to my best, but Byron still seemed displeased. He said that I looked different, that my eyes were glassy and that it wasn’t the same – the vin tonique made my hands shake and I would often find myself talking for hours, as though the conversation were a blossoming flower and I could see every potential root sprouting from the last one and it became an obsession to follow each tangled root down into the dirt of truth and experience, and it fascinated me, but Byron said I was gibbering like a madman.

And yet, life goes on. I suppose this is how it will always be – I am finally learning the truth of immortality. Things can befall you, things so awful, so horrifying and traumatic that you feel the very Earth has ceased to spin, that life cannot possibly go on…and yet it does. Life goes on, eternally, no matter how bleak and gruesome it becomes.

Life goes on…




10th May, 1905:

I feel very uncertain today, very uncertain indeed. Life seems far more daunting and perilous now than I have known it for half a century. I never realised how entirely I relied upon Byron, my tie to the world, my eternal guardian, until it seemed that he was no longer there, and I cannot truly tell you how it happened.

I have a new opium boy, who is barely eight years old, at a guess, and speaks not a word of English besides ‘sorry’, which he pronounces in the most comical manner – I am very fond of him already. But it is deeply unfortunate that this was the boy I had employed, on that fateful, terrible night. All seemed as it should be, when I awoke from my dreams, and gestured for my pipe to be loaded anew. All seemed wholly tranquil when I lapsed back into sleep, but when next I awoke, the tiny boy was sobbing in a corner, and could not tell me what was wrong. I sent for my second opium boy, some years older and fairly competent now in English, to translate what had distressed him so, and I learned from him that Byron had appeared mere moments earlier. Had he been violent? I asked. Did he hurt you? The older boy said no. “He seemed…” It took them a while to seek out the fitting English word, and finally he told me, “Weary. But…not so. More…failed. And…going. Weary, but…going. He was…done with his weariness.”

At these words, I grew quite cold, and asked them if he had spoken. Yes, they said – at length. There had been rage in his tone, more and more so, and this was what had upset and frightened my boy. But only he – that tiny child – had heard the words that Byron spoke, and to him they held no more sense than the sad and slowing bumbles of a dying bee. His mood was all they could give me. I arose as soon as I was able, and went to search for Byron, but his house was empty, as was Matild’s. I truly fear that Byron has gone. I fear that he has left me.

He didn’t even wait for me to wake up – didn’t care enough for a goodbye, to even tell me where he was going! Just gone – just like that! Gone for how long? I haven’t the slightest idea. But it has a terrible feeling about it, a terrible feeling of permanence. Particularly when I spoke to my bank – Byron would always transfer my allowance on a Thursday, that I might have ample funds for any weekend activities I cared to partake of, which is something we often laughed about. What did the days of the week matter to creatures such as us? Still, it seemed to amuse him, this little private joke, where we would pretend to be hardworking peasants who must respect the grim sanctity of a Monday morning, so I always remembered – Thursday is the day. The money day. I would usually send my opium boys out on a Friday – my whole existence revolved around Byron’s schedule. And this week, no money came. Byron isn’t absentminded – even in the midst of travelling to wherever he’s gone, he would have remembered me, and made arrangements for me…if he still cared. I can’t bear to think of him not caring. I wish I knew what I’d done wrong. I wish I remembered. The last few weeks are such a blur. I mostly remember being quite happy, quite tranquil. I didn’t leave my opium room too frequently, but that isn’t unusual. If I think very hard, and enter the realm where memory meets imagination, I believe I can see Byron lurking in a corner of my room, wearing a face like thunder. My opium boys feared him. He does look so disapproving, or…no, perhaps not disapproving. Bored. Bored with me. How terrible…




2nd November, 1930:

It is such a cold winter this year. I know not whether winters were always so cold, and I just never noticed before. Finances are becoming problematic – I can no longer afford to fuel the fires. I have held it off for as long as I can, the dwindling of my resources. The only thing I have left is this house, and I am clinging onto it by my very fingernails. I have tried as best I can to get by – I sold off the furniture first, then the oil paintings. When I can find tenants I let out some of the rooms, but the economy is bad, I am told, and nobody wants to live in this draughty old house, with its bad plumbing and no furniture or telephone. We have weathered so much together, this house and me – I never left it during the war. I couldn’t bear to leave my opium sanctuary – the thought of leaving it and it being destroyed by a bomb, never to be seen again – it was all too much. I felt safest here, no matter how illogical that may have been. If there were bombs, I knew that my sanctuary would protect me. And there were bombs – I heard the sirens, I saw the whole of London blacked out, in utter darkness, as never before. It had become a ghost town, steeped in a clinging fog of perpetual fear, those sirens rising up like the cries of the dead – so many nights I shivered, alone, in my sanctuary, listening to those terrible wails, the distant explosions of falling bombs. My house was lucky, in the end – it passed the war nearly unscathed, with only mild damage from nearby explosions. It protected me, just as I had hoped. But this only pains me more, as I watch my resources dwindle – I know that some day, and some day soon, I will have to leave this house, to abandon my sanctuary, and I will be lost and alone as never before. I have used my demonic powers to their fullest extent, in protecting myself from being dragged from this house and tossed onto the streets, but I do not understand the ways of the world now, and it is becoming ever more impossible. When the men come to remove me, I bewitch them into leaving, or even kill them if they come alone, but always there are more, and more – an unstoppable tide of beastly men bent upon my ruination. I know that I cannot stem these floods forever.

The world has changed now, in so many terrible ways. I truly never thought that my opium would betray me, but it has. The horrid schemings of mortal men are meddling in my business in the most heinous of ways – opium has been made illicit, even to the very tincture sold in apothecaries. For a time it made almost no difference; I had to be a touch stealthier in my acquisition, but I paid it little heed. And then…everything began to fall apart. The ground on which I walked commenced to crumble beneath my feet. First of all it was the quality – the opium I bought was always of very good quality, in both consistency and strength; it was easy to smoke, good-tasting, and highly potent. Over the years I had experienced very few problems, and when problems arose, the fury of my threats were more than enough to rectify the matter. But now…all is in ruins. I began receiving opium that was packed with straw and dirt, and no amount of threats could alter it – it was truly the only thing reaching these shores. I began smoking it nonetheless, but I barely felt its effects, and it tasted of filth. And then, in a heart-stopping instant, it was gone altogether. Days stretched into weeks, weeks into months. My lover had deserted me, after all these long and blissful years.

When I went in a fury and a panic to the Orientals, they sold me morphine instead – it was the new thing, they said; nobody was smoking opium anymore. And so I returned home, anxious and bemused, but desperate to try it anyway – desperate to find some comfort in this stark and lonesome world. The Orientals had furnished me with everything I required, and had taught me by demonstration precisely how it was done. The boy who had given me my lesson had been barely conscious by its end, which gave me a small flaring of hope – hope that perhaps there was still bliss to be found in the world; that the beating heart could be restored to my sanctuary. Nothing had been more painful than to dwell there without opium – every surface was coated in the memories of my love, and I felt its searing loss all the more keenly. It was horrid, truly, for my sanctuary to have become the barren pit of my newest hell.

And so it was that I came to be back there, with the equipment I had purchased from the Orientals. It was strange to me, and not at all as elegant as my shapely pipes and glittering lamps. I possessed a peculiar tool of the mortal physician, a syringe of glass and steel. My new drug was a clear liquid, contained in a number of slim glass vials. Finally, they had equipped me with a worn old belt, nicked all over with teeth-marks, its end looped through its closure. And so, with dread and hope in equal measure, I began the act.

I shed my shirt, and slipped the belt about my bicep, pulling it tight and biting down on it as I had been shown. I took the vials and syringe, and drew up the recommended dose, then I turned it in my hand, and began driving the point into my own flesh, into the soft skin at the crook of my arm. The pain was not so bad as I had feared, but the act itself was gruesome. I was seeking in the depths of my flesh with this insectoid silver needle for the elusive vein therein, and I rapidly found myself nauseated, coated with a film of nervous sweat. When the needle met with my vein I felt it – there was a rubbery resistance, until with a loathsome muffled crunch, the point tore through the casing of my vein, and slipped within. My hand had begun to shake, and the metal in my grip was cold and slick. It was with great difficulty that I forced the plunger down, until finally the thing was emptied, and I yanked it from my arm with a groan of exhaustion. For some seconds I stared at the floor, shaken and unable to compose myself, and then, from nowhere, everything had changed. There was an intense and breathtaking wave of tingles across my entire body, and I felt it – the morphine! The world had in a single instant grown warm and soft and golden, and the glimmering trays of my little sanctuary were glowing just as they always used to – the colour of late autumn honey, the colour of safety, and I felt that I was sitting upon some long ago hillside, watching the sun set, with Byron’s hand in mine. Everything was alright again – I was home.

I lay down and slept.




18th June, 1951:

I truly despise the world of late. There is almost nothing left that I do not despise. My beautiful house has long gone, and with it every memory I ever had, of love and bliss and happiness, has been taken from me and forever destroyed.

I am living now in a small and horrid flat – much of the money from the sale of my house went directly to the bank, but through many stealthy bewitchments I managed to keep for myself enough to live on for a time, and enough to secure my present dwelling. At first I felt that I would warm to this abode, eventually – life had been horribly uncertain, for so very long, as I constantly fended off my angered creditors, that teeming army bent on my destruction; there was no peace to be found anywhere, not even in my sanctuary. And so, once I had the key in my hand to this little flat, I felt that perhaps I would be at peace here – I would be left alone, I would not be bothered by all those meddlesome people. This property was legally mine, and I would be safe here. Perhaps in time I would grow to love it. But it has been many years now, and I truly have not. It is so dingy, so depressing, and there are always hideous children shrieking in the streets outside, drunkards brawling in the evenings, and on occasion I even have bricks hurled at my windows. There is no peace here, and I fear there never will be.

The world continues to change, and more than this, it continues to strip from me all that I love. I had begun to grow comfortable with the morphine – it was never quite as glorious as the perfumed elegance of my beloved opium, and I never ceased to abhor the grotesque ritual of self-injection, but nonetheless, I had adapted. I had just about adapted, when the same hideous cycle befell me! Morphine became scarce, and then vanished altogether. Once more, I was forced to beg and plead with strangers, until I was sent home with another unknown drug. They call it ‘heroin’, the substance I take now, and I loathe it to its core. When first I heard its name I felt so hopeful – it sounded so elegant, so aristocratic, a relic of better days. And yet its name is nothing more than a sinister, filthy lie. Heroin is a grim and slovenly drug – truly it is – it tastes entirely too disgusting to smoke, but injecting it is just so thoroughly vile, this ‘cooked up’ soup of reeking chemicals, always leaving a foul residue of mysterious origins in the spoon. With every needle I poke into my vein I respect myself a little less.

Worse than the nature of this grim synthetic drug is the people I am forced to buy it from. How I yearn for the days when I had my boys, my beautiful, kind opium boys! When they would make the trips for me, to those gruesome dens by the river – when I was never forced to tarnish myself with these horrid people! The men who sell me heroin are peasants, truly, in the worst possible sense of the word – they are lowly and unpleasant to their very bones, mean and stinking, and con-artists with it. I never know what I shall bring home – sometimes it has been nothing more than dirt mixed with sugar, other times I will inject it and be visited by a heinous chemical stench, a mirage of a scent, coming not from the air, but from the chemicals within my veins! It will linger in my nostrils for several seconds, and I shiver all over as I think of the poisons that run in my bloodstream. Yet more than this, I despise the constant uncertainty. I despise being at the mercy of these criminals. Much as I detest it, heroin is the closest thing I have to safety, to happiness, in this cruel and changing world, and like a pathetic beaten dog I crawl back time and time again to my loathsome, peasant masters.

Even when the heroin I buy is of good quality, it is never the same as my lost, beloved opium. The most purely refined opium was not a stupefying, narcoleptic thing, you see – history has mangled this fact, in all its vulgar depictions. I know this, for I read every book I can lay hands on, in the hope that it may convey me back to those wonderful times, but always I am sorely disappointed. They paint my beloved opium in such a cruel and tarnished light – it is clear that the authors know not of what they speak, these idiot scholars wishing only to court favour by regurgitating tired moral cliché! Am I not living proof of the beauty of opium, the perfection of opium – that it was the drug to end all drugs, free from the sins and filth of this gruesome modern era? Look at how my life has changed, beneath the sordid whims of the law-makers, the politicians, who know not of what they speak! It is their laws and their sins and their idiocy that has driven my downfall, and with it that of so many others! In the days of freedom and rational thinking, this filthy peasant underclass did not exist, these wretched criminal ‘junkies’ – each one of them, and the miseries they inflict upon society, is a product of nothing more than the idiocy of their political masters! When opium was traded freely, in dens and apothecaries, people had their dignity still! In the glorious days of opium, blissful intoxication did not bring about such utter ruin. I had my dignity, and I had my house. I had my beautiful sanctuary. And I had Byron…

Opium was a beautiful thing, in truth. If ever I chose to leave my little sanctuary, after I smoked, to take a walk through the darkened streets, I would see beauty and magic in all creation – in the eyes of the mortals I passed, in the cloud-veiled face of the crescent moon, in the reaching leaves of trees. Opium blessed the entire world with her elegance, and within her cradling arms I wondered at each miracle of existence. Heroin is not like that. Heroin sucks me down into a heavy stupor, and I feel no compunction to do anything. I simply lie there, and listen to the wireless, and stare up at the watermarks on the ceiling, watching the dust motes swirl. Watching the light fade into darkness, until I am left in gloom, sprawled across the mouldering dust of these old rugs. It sounds terribly depressing, when I say it like that, but I suppose it isn’t quite so bad as it sounds. Or rather, it is not so bad, because I have known far worse. My greatest fear is that I will be conned once more by those reeking, peasant criminals, and the heroin I buy will be useless. When this is the case, life becomes simply unbearable – I am lost and alone in this terrifying modern wasteland, and there is no escape from my loss and my pain and my sadness! And so, when the heroin is good, it is never truly depressing. Though it feels heavy, and though it makes me slow and sleepy, and I merely lie sprawled across these dusty rugs, in a small way, I find myself content. I am wrapped up once more in the velvet arms of opium’s love, the ghostly arms of my long-lost Byron, and I am safe here once more.

At these times, I have come to realise that my sanctuary was never truly a place. It was never about the golden trays, the exquisite lamps, the Oriental hangings or the beautiful music of the piano. The opium sanctuary was in my heart. The opium sanctuary was the opium itself – do you see? Anywhere could become my home, my sanctuary, so long as I had my opium. My sanctuary was in the opium, and in my own heart, and it protected me from everything. Until it was taken away from me forever.




4th September, 1982:

Looking into the mirror is the most painful thing, of late. The reflection I see is the oldest thing I possess, the only thing that remains to me of everything I once had. I was forced to pawn every beautiful garment, every glittering diamond ring, many decades ago, until all I have is memories. I have no pictures of Byron, nor Matild. But my own face…it remains with me. And yet within it I see every moment of the pain and loss that I have suffered.

I do not even have the miserable solitude of my flat anymore, not in the way it was. Money became so scarce that I was forced out into the strange and ghastly world, to seek employment for myself. For a time I was surviving on my demonic wits, bewitching mortals into giving me money – just enough to buy heroin, for what else is there, but it was exhausting – so exhausting. Every night I had to go out, like some desperate, low-paid whore, dredging the streets for blood and money – it was endless, and it was exhausting. And lately, I am finding that my powers do not always work. It made no sense to me for a time – from everything that I learned from Byron, my powers would increase as I aged; my speed, my strength, my demonic abilities. And yet they have not. I am very strong, and very fast, when I am not intoxicated, but my power of bewitchment seems…faulty, of late. I fear it must be the heroin, or perhaps some loathsome chemical therein – I never suffered these pains with opium, because it was so pure, and so good, and so natural. But heroin…it is filth, truly, and all the more filthy by the time it reaches these shores. It nauseates me often, I become shaken and sickened – on occasion I even vomit, bringing up the clotted, blackened remnants of the last blood I drank. It happens enough that I keep a bucket in my bedroom, and it is all so grotesque, so awful. So far removed from my opium sanctuary – its glimmering beauty, its elegant library, the gleaming eyes and kind smiles of my opium boys. All I have now is this cold and squalid flat, with its peeling wallpaper and threadbare carpets. Though I do love the invention that is the television. I am no longer alone, you see – not truly. I feel that they are my friends, the miniature humans who speak to me nightly from that happy little box. I have company again, and entertainment.

But my employment brings me no pleasure. I am working in a prison, and it is a grim and godless place. Each day I don my ugly grey uniform, and as I regard myself in the mirror I feel a little sadder every time. Seeing myself in these clothes is like seeing myself eroded. Everything I loved and valued in myself, every ounce of pride I had, it is eroded by this thing I see in the mirror. I feel so lost…so lost in this new world. Some days it feels as though everything I once knew was nothing more than a blissful dream, and now I have awakened into the cold, harsh light of this relentless reality. The heroin is my only escape, my only respite. I put on my uniform, and I stare at myself in the mirror, and I smoke a little heroin – not from an elegant silver pipe, but from the loathsome surface of a cheap piece of ‘kitchen foil’. It tastes of filth, and I despise it, but it numbs me enough to manage the day.

At the prison, the convicts and officers alike mock me. They mock my long hair, though I tie it back, and they mock my manner of speaking. I know not how to change it. I try to imitate the way the tiny humans in the television speak, but it feels so artificial, and I often get it wrong and provoke further mockery. The convicts I am allowed to hit with my stick, which is deeply satisfying, and I do it often – it is the one part of my employment that I enjoy. I frequently find myself taunting them, not directly, but vaguely – I will speak in my most archaic manner, so that they will begin taunting me, and then I hit them about the head with my stick until they bruise and bleed, and I immediately feel a great deal better. When I am hitting convicts with my stick, I feel almost alive.

At the prison, I often feed upon the children who come to visit their fathers. The minds of children are easy to bewitch – I do not kill them, as this would provoke great inconvenience, but I feed upon them a little, to keep myself warm and comfortable, and the blood of infants is sweet and vibrant. Yet even so, it is all so grim. A grim and godless existence, night after endless night. How I long for my oil paintings, for my Oriental rugs, and for Byron. Above all, how I long for my opium. I have nothing left but memories, and all they do is haunt me. Night after night, as I pace back and forth in front of the cages of imbeciles, poking them with my stick, I think of opium, and opium, and opium, and it makes my soul sick with longing. And every night when I roast the putrid heroin over a candle flame, and it releases its ungodly chemical stench into the air, I think of opium, and opium, and opium, and I remember its sweet narcotic perfume, the seductive spice of its smoke, and I feel my soul shrivel a little in the cold, bitter air of this vulgar century.




24th December, 1996:

The heroin I was sold last night was rather strange, but not unpleasant. I lapsed into a deep sleep for many hours, the drugs overwhelming me so suddenly that I fell into unconsciousness with the needle still hanging from my vein, and I found myself dreaming of Byron. He was here with me, in my little flat, peering down at me where I lay. His face was pale and smooth in the darkness, his hair as long and luxurious as it ever was, and I felt tears rise up in my eyes at the sight of him. I wanted to reach out and embrace him, but I found myself paralysed, unable to rise from the floor. His face was sad, a worn and weary angel, as he said to me,

“It appears that nothing has changed.”

“Everything has changed,” I told him. “Everything has changed…”

“I am so sorry, Lucas,” he said softly, as he knelt to brush his fingers across my cheek. The scent of him brought back a thousand memories, a thousand bedrooms, a thousand ancient midnights, and I wanted to weep. “It was wrong of me to make an immortal of you, when you were so young, so wayward. I would take it all back now, if I could…”

And then he was gone.

I dreamed on, and grew quite peaceful. When I awoke, there was a pan of freshly cooked pasta on the stove. Was he really here?




2nd September, 2015:

Some days, I feel that I am coming to terms with life. There are still the days when I weep and moan for all I have lost, but they are becoming fewer. I am no longer struggling through my accursed employment at the prison – some three years ago I made a concerted effort to give up heroin for a period of five weeks, and my experiment was bountifully rewarded. My powers were returned to me – greater than ever before! I was quite well able to bewitch every necessary individual at that reeking gaol, and ever since I have been on early retirement, which means that I no longer have to go there, and am instead paid to simply live my life with freedom. What I am paid is a pittance, but nonetheless, I am rather happier than I was.

I could not endure to live without heroin any longer than was vitally necessary, but when I have recouped my mental energies, I intend to undertake a second crusade into sobriety, in the hope of bewitching myself a more pleasant abode. I know not how to go about this, as yet, but I have been visiting the local library, where a helpful lady with shiny hair has become my friend, and helps me with my enquiries. I pretend that I am a novelist, and as such, my strange and disjointed questions about the intricacies of modern housing and banking law are not viewed with suspicion. She is very good to me, and I like to see her smile. I think that even after I have made sense of the modern world, and bewitched myself into a comfortable house in the country, I shall continue to pay visits to her, and ask her more questions. She seems to find joy in seeking the answers for me.

In the meantime, my retirement money is sufficient, enough money to live on – I only spend it on heroin, I don’t eat mortal food anymore, so what else is there to buy? I did buy myself a friend. I suppose all of my life that’s what I’ve been doing – buying my friends. My latest friend is a ferret, a sort of lovely mottled brown with a black snout and tail, and I have called him Byron in an attempt to sweeten the memory of my abandonment. He is warm and furry, and always filled with joy. He makes me feel a hollow memory of joy as he bounds around my poky flat, making wonderful chuckling noises and pouncing on my feet. I take Byron for walks every day, on a lead. Right now we’re sitting by the park – Byron is tired of walking and has clambered onto my lap. He likes to roll over like an otter in a stream, and I stroke his long belly. He reminds me of a fox scarf I used to wear, all those centuries ago, and this shames me a little. In those days, no doubt I would have made Byron into a scarf without a second thought. Were we all so cruel, in those days?

I am rudely jerked from my musings by a raucous chorus of voices, howling again and again, “FREAK! WIERDOOOOO! OI, YOU WEIRDO!”

I know they’re talking about me. I suppose I do look eccentric. I could never bring myself to cut off my hair, and even if I did, it would grow back within a few nights. I like to wear green velvet trousers, and a jacket of some futuristic fabric which gleams like a river, slick and bright red and wholly water resistant. People think me eccentric. People think me homeless. People think it odd, to cuddle a ferret in broad daylight. The voices continue, and they are bothering Byron. I gently lay him down, and turn to see who is mocking me. It is a small van filled with school children, nasty little rotters. Their adult driver is temporarily absent. Even as I face them, they continue, and something about the mocking in their eyes drives me out of my wits. I have just enough forethought to tie Byron’s lead to the bench before I cross the street in a single bound, moving far beyond the capabilities of a human. Some of them don’t notice, others show fear, and it thrills me to my core. I seize the handle of the door, and rip it from the vehicle with a crunching groan of tearing metal, and then I’m inside, in the warmth and heat of eight pulsing bodies, and they’re breaking in my hands, blood gushing into my mouth. Behind me I hear Byron chuckling in delight – ferrets are quite vicious, you know. Once they are mostly dead, lying bleeding and shattered across their seats, I return to the bench, and untie him, carrying him to the vehicle. He laps at the blood, paddling through it and leaving wonderful little red pawprints everywhere he goes. One boy-child is not quite dead, and stares at me with terror and confusion in his wide, gleaming eyes, wordless choking sounds sending delicate sprays of blood from his gaping, stupid mouth. He will mock me no longer – this is quite certain. Smiling, I lift Byron, and we return home. There is some pleasure in the world, it appears, even now.

Life goes on.

The Sticky Cat

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2015 by ofherbsandaltars

If there was one moment when you knew your life had gone to shit, Sam thought, this had to be it. Washing methadone out of an angry, sticky cat. Sam had sucked spilled methadone out of his carpet in the past, and for a few seconds he’d contemplated doing the same thing to the cat – 50ml of fucking methadone, and every drop of it was absorbed in the shaggy tabby fur of that ungrateful fucking cat. Which meant that he now faced a day of feeling unpleasantly twitchy, followed by a full night of climbing the walls, constantly yawning and nose blowing, and taking more shits than the average person managed in a week. And all because of this sticky green bastard of a cat. Sucking bitter methadone out of the cat’s fur had been deeply unappealing, and Sam’s attempt at wringing the cat out hadn’t gone down a storm either – it had merely yielded a few lumps of moist, sticky fur, and an even more furious feline.

This, he supposed, was why you weren’t supposed to get an animal while you were a junkie. Get a fucking pot plant, they said, that’s all you’re good for, even you can’t fuck up a pot plant, surely! Sam hadn’t fucked up the pot plant, well, not exactly – at least, he hadn’t meant to. It had just seemed so fucking judgemental, that pot plant, probably because it was a gift from Sam’s mum. She’d obviously read the same book about recovery, telling you that the first step was a fucking pot plant. So there it was. A great big flowery pink thing, sitting on the windowsill, and every time Sam shot up gear in the living room, happily nodding out to Depeche Mode with a cigarette burning holes in his jeans, he would suddenly notice that ghastly bloody pot plant sitting there, watching him. Judging him. One night when his dealer had been feeling generous, and gifted him with a ten-bag of crack, which Sam had duly dumped into the syringe along with the brown, he’d become deeply paranoid about that fucking pot plant. Was it more than just a pot plant? More than just a metaphor? For days he’d felt the thing watching him – what if it wasn’t just familial guilt that was prickling at him? What if his mother had actually bugged the fucking thing, and every time he shot up in front of that beastly pink plant, his mother was watching his every move, weeping into her gin and tonic and plotting to have him carted off to rehab, or even a lunatic asylum?! That was the night Sam tore the pot plant to shreds in search of a hidden camera, frantically apologising to his mother and making wild promises of sobriety as he clawed through handful after handful of mud and compost and roots.

So the pot plant wasn’t a success. It clearly wasn’t time to move onto anything bigger, like a hamster, or a relationship. But then, along came that fucking cat.

It was a great big shaggy bastard of a cat, hairy and tabby with a ripped up ear, and Sam had absolutely no idea how it got into the house, the first time, but when he came home it was sitting on the sofa like it owned the place. Since he had three newly-purchased bags of gear in his pocket, which would do significantly more than his three sweaters to warm up a shitty winter’s day, he ignored the cat completely, and got on with the task at hand. Before he knew it, he was sprawled out on the floor in the blissful embrace of the best batch since October, and the cat was curled up on his chest, purring. It was so fucking furry, so fucking soft and furry, and its deep rumbling purr-vibrations ebbed and flowed like the sea, as if the cat was sharing his high and loving every second of it, and at that moment, Sam became quite attached to the cat. The next day, he went to buy it some tins of fishy cat food, and the cat became a permanent resident.

That had been three months ago, and Sam and the cat had been getting along just fine, until today. He’d put the opened bottle of methadone down on the coffee table for five seconds, while he went to grab a cup of tea to chase it down with, and when he came back, that fucking cat was drenched in the stuff, blinking its big yellow eyes at him with an expression of smug amusement. The cat wasn’t quite so amused now though, since Sam had taken it upstairs and dumped it in the sink for a rudimentary washing. He might be a dysfunctional smackhead with an irrational phobia of pot-plants, but he was still aware that the Cat Situation needed to be rectified – if he ignored it, the stupid bloody thing would lick itself clean and get high off its furry little tits, and then probably drop dead.

Unfortunately, there was no explaining this to the cat. Maybe because the cat had wanted it all along, had wanted to be slurping up Sam’s methadone and getting fucked off its furry little face. Maybe the cat had planned the whole thing! That fucking cat was always watching, when Sam shot up gear, perhaps growing curious, growing envious, but cats didn’t have thumbs – there was sod all a cat could do with a needle. The methadone though, that was fair game, for a scheming, plotting, deviant feline…

By the time the cat was more or less cleaned of sticky green methadone, Sam’s wrists resembled those of a disenfranchised emo teenager, hashed with shallow, stinging scratches, and he got the strong feeling that his pleasant relationship with the cat might well be over for good. Finally, he gave it a bit of a rub with a towel, and the cat dealt him one final hissing, snarling gouge across the back of the hand, before it shot out of the room and vanished completely. Sam muttered a rude word, rinsing his torn-up arms under the tap, and plodding down the stairs to survey the remaining chaos. The carpet wasn’t too bad, so he ignored it, but the cat had done a thorough job – not a drop of methadone remained in the brown plastic pharmacy bottle. Sam frowned at it for several seconds, then he checked his watch. It was barely past one in the afternoon – that left a very, very long night ahead of him…

Well… said the insidious little voice in the back of his head, it doesn’t HAVE to be that way…

He felt the beginnings of a tantalising nervous-excitement tingle in his stomach, urging him into junkie autopilot – grab your phone, grab your wallet and your keys, dial the golden number and get down to business – what the fuck are you waiting for?! But then, with a heavy sense of crushing defeat, he remembered the precise reason that this Methadone Cat debacle had happened in the first place. The Dreaded Piss Test. Usually, his consumption of methadone was lazy at best – he generally just chucked it in the cupboard for a rainy day, and shot some smack instead. But not today. Not this week. He’d already fucked up the last one, and if his piss wasn’t as pure as the Virgin Mary this time around, his worker had informed him in no uncertain terms that There Would Be Consequences. Which meant that he’d spent the last four days so sober, so bored out of his skull, that he’d resorted to drinking every last drop of stashed methadone. It had been better than he’d expected, actually, but now he was double fucked – no stash, and still handcuffed to tomorrow’s piss test.

Well… said the voice, there are always options…

Frowning, Sam picked up the empty methadone bottle, screwed on the lid, and experimentally shoved it into the pocket of his jeans. It fit well enough. Bit of a bulge, but nothing that wouldn’t be fixed by a baggy sweater. He stood motionless for several seconds, staring at the empty bottle, frozen in an agony of indecision. If they caught him, he would be absolutely, completely fucked…

Microwave, said the voice. Put it in the microwave, make it nice and hot…

Three seconds later, Sam lost the battle with temptation, and launched into frantic movement. In the kitchen, he yanked the top off the methadone bottle, gave it a perfunctory rinse-out, whipped out his dick, and filled the whole thing with Grade A dope-free piss. After screwing on the lid, he held it up to the light, feeling proud of his creation, as though he had personally brewed an exceptionally fine batch of vintage champagne. Four and a half hard-fought days of boring sobriety, distilled into this priceless golden solution. It seemed such an achievement, in fact, that he went delving in the cupboard, and when he found a small Tupperware box, he pissed into that too, and when he could piss no more, he put all of it away in the fridge. Hiding his precious fluids behind a jar of pickles, he suppressed a snigger, feeling like a deviant genius. This fridge-full of piss was more precious than gold – Sam didn’t see a bottle of lukewarm urine, he saw absolute freedom. Grinning, he shut the fridge, and went over to the sink to chug down three large glasses of water, before he shot into action, snatching up his wallet and keys, and dialling That Number as he hurried out of the door.

By the time he got back, forty minutes later, he had a pocketful of heroin, and a bladder ready to rupture, but he was armed and ready, a two-litre bottle of cheap lemonade purchased from the corner shop. He poured the fizzy contents down the sink, and gave it a thorough wash, before he grabbed an old jug, and stood proudly in the centre of his kitchen, unleashing the piss. Soon enough, he had enough piss in his fridge to sail through piss tests for months to come. The latest batch he was particularly proud of – it was so pale in colour that it barely resembled piss at all, and from previous urinary experiments, he knew that this was best. Watery piss would never begin to stink, no matter how long you kept it. If you presented your drug worker with a cupful of stale old piss that was orange as marmalade, thick with sediment and reeking like a blocked up sewer, your game was up. Sam gave his creation a proud nod, and continued into the living room with a smile on his face.

Sitting down on the rug, he started cooking up, but as soon as he dumped the gear into the spoon, he felt the unpleasant creepings of his conscience. Scoring was one thing – the chase, the mission, the uncertainty – it was so tense and all-consuming that there was no room for doubt. But now that he was here, in the safety of his living room, teetering on the brink of a Stupid Decision, the doubts flooded back. Though he was reasonably confident that he could get through the Dreaded Piss Test without being convicted of illicit piss-smuggling, there was the morality of the thing. Though it baffled Sam, some people were proud of their piss tests. You could even get a fucking print-out to take home and hang on the fridge – an official certification of your pristine, saint-like bladder. And although Sam had no desire to give his mum a Piss Certificate to hang on her wall, as a matter of personal pride, wasn’t it a bit shit? A bit of a wankerish cop-out, to find yourself incapable of surviving five miserable days without smack? It was the sort of thing that was supposed to kick you into recovery, that – looking around yourself at the feebleness of your willpower, and going Well Shit, I Guess I Have A Problem…

Despite his doubts, Sam’s fingers had been deftly running through the familiar and beloved ritual, and he found himself staring at a fresh syringe half filled with warm amber liquid. As always, it was the most beautiful sight on Earth. Fuck the Grand Canyon. Fuck California sunsets and lunar eclipses and Kim Kardashian’s juicy great greased-up ass – this was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen in his life.  The doubts continued their grumbling unabated – you useless, wankerish, pathetic little junkie – but as Sam surveyed his loaded syringe, he remembered the cat. That fucking cat, drenched in his methadone. None of this was Sam’s fault! His morality and will-power remained proud and unblemished, for he had had no choice. The fucking cat made him do it!

Spurred into action by this cast-iron excuse, and the glowing feeling of utter vindication it gave him, he snapped the belt around his bicep, and drove the needle into his favourite vein. When he’d forced the drugs into his bloodstream and dropped the syringe on the carpet, he stared into space, swaying slightly as the rush enveloped him, savouring every second of this lover’s reunion, after four long days of lonesome separation. The warmth, the golden tinge it gave the sunlight, the way his sense of smell seemed to cloud over with a subtle dusty scent as everything was turned down like a volume slider on the radio of existence, smoothly gliding from the too-bright, too-sharp ugliness of sober life, into the honeyed treacle bliss of his heroin reality.  The air in the room, the blood in his veins, it all became as thick and golden as warm molasses, the ticking clock of life slowing into stillness until all that remained was the languorous dance of dust in the afternoon sun, spilling through the gap in the curtains.

As he gazed across the room, he saw a movement in the doorway, and the cat came melting out of the shadows. Its pupils were the narrowest of slits, turning its eyes into vast, glassy golden lamps – he’d never seen a cat look so smug, or so wasted. Whatever methadone he’d left in its fur, that fucking cat had gladly devoured. Sam smiled at the cat. The cat smiled smugly back, beginning to vibrate with a low, rumbling purr. Drowsily, Sam wondered whether, just maybe, the cat wasn’t such an intolerably fiendish bastard after all – maybe it had had his best interests at heart all along. A cast-iron excuse to get high, with no guilt at all, and then a furry little friend to curl up and cuddle with afterwards. What an awesome cat. Those recovery books, he decided, sprawling out on the rug, were total bollocks. Fuck the pot plants – what every junkie needed was a plotting, scheming, dope-fiend of a cat…

The Forbidden Things (Dope Holiday)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by ofherbsandaltars

There were those frequent moments when Adrian began to wish that he had never touched the Forbidden Things, because each one left its scar on his soul, burned in for all eternity. He often wondered what his soul looked like by now, whether it was lacerated and scarred all over, singed black and scabbed brown, not hardened by the flame of experience but corrupted by it forever, pierced eternally with wounds that would split open and gush fresh blood when it was least expected. The fruits of the poison garden, once tasted, could never be forgotten. A man who had eaten only bread would never hunger for steak, would never thirst for wine, would never crave the slow, crackling burn of heroin as it rolled in thick black trails across tin foil, the acrid spice on the tongue and the numb warmth that followed – he had never tasted those pleasures; he remained simple, remained pure.

When they warned the children away from those fruits, they told them all the wrong things. Those adults who spoke against the poison fruits had never tasted their sweetness – they knew not of what they spoke, and all they could pass on were dry, moral lectures, facts and statistics and nonsense, which would only kindle the curiosity of those innocent bright-eyed children. The poison fruits, they were told, would kill you dead in a single bite, would drive a man to madness and ruin, yet within each group of children was one a little wiser, one with a brother or sister some years older, who had sampled those dark delicacies and lived to tell the tale. It was a tale of ecstasy and decadence, of swaying moonlight and swirling neon, and it rang far louder in the hearts of the children than all those dusty lies, all those tepid warnings.

The truth of the poison fruit was not death, for death would be too easy. The truth of the poison fruit was that they lived on for an eternity, burrowed into the souls of their victims and nested there like writhing parasites. The first bite could be harmless, but to feast on the poison fruit, to come to know it as intimately as any lover, those who strayed this far into the garden would never truly be free. For the rest of their lives the honeyed poison of those fruits would wind its black blood through their veins, would burn searing scars into their hearts and minds, for the poison fruit could never be forgotten. The simple life of innocent children, of men dining solely on bread, this life would lose its colour – the bread would have no taste. The world would forever be dull and stale, a stagnant puddle of boredom and ugliness, never able to rival those neon swirls, the moonlight and ecstasy and velvet oblivion that dwelt in the garden of the poison fruit.

The afflicted would suffer a thousand hungers, would starve for lost sensations, every moment of every day until they died. If they sought to cure the ache in their soul, the burning thirst of paradise lost, with a desperate return to the garden, they would find themselves a prisoner there, for there was no such word as enough. The fruit could be stacked high enough to block out the sun, to cast the world into everlasting darkness, but the stack would always dwindle. Some chose this path regardless, dedicated themselves to the garden until it sent them mad, until the poison fruit thickened their blood with its toxins, until their organs failed and their corpses rotted in the shade of those fruit trees, putrescent liquids seeping into the dirt. Others turned away, lived forever in devout starvation, suffered the gnawing of the scars on their souls, the hungry mouths of ancient wounds, which hungered forever for the poisoned blood of a thousand poison fruits.



Adrian liked to torture himself with those memories, liked to spend whole nights lying awake, ripping open the scabs on his soul, until they gushed toxic blood that burned through his veins and made his brain throb with longing. All those endless neon nights, those reeling blacklit 4am moments when the music had seeped into his bloodstream and tingled through every vein, when he had fallen out of the doors of clubs into the cool night air and stared for hours at the leaves of autumnal trees, the graceful arc of their silver branches framing the sparkling eternity of the midnight sky. Those moments when the daylight world, the world of tasteless bread and tasteless sanity, had slept in its bed and he alone had possessed the night, had felt the darkness and moonlight coursing through his bloodstream in a sizzling torrent of endless possibility – the moments when he felt alive, not merely existing. He remembered those glorious Sundays, still flying high on the drugs of the night before, when he would hoover up a cold white line of speed, and drive across the city just for the hell of it. The sky would be a perfect sunlit blue, and he would soar through its endless bright expanse on wings of chemical fire, the windows open and the wind in his hair, music turned up until every drumbeat shivered through the marrows of his bones, pounded in time with the unstoppable rhythm of his heart. The singer’s raw, primal screams would shred through every atom of his brain, supercharging the chemical soup of his blood, sending his skin shivering into euphoric goosebumps – swigging Redbull and snorting speed and powering down those endless blue sky highways, caught between the summer sun and the open road, his heartbeat roaring like a V8 engine.

Sometimes he taunted himself with those memories, other times he chose the opposite side of the coin, seeking not life itself but the peace and warmth of life-in-death. The elegance of the slim syringe, the hot amber syrup it contained, the sudden rush of blood into the barrel, snaking through the golden solution like a blooming ruby flower, before the tide turned and his hungry vein devoured it all. Then the count of a single heartbeat, two, three…before the rush of velvet and cobwebs and blissful nothingness enfolded him in a lover’s embrace. He saw again the image of that innocent white envelope, folded with illicit origami, its contents a thick snowdrift of soft brown powder – while the envelope was full, Adrian had been invincible, untouchable – whatever happened in the cruel and meaningless world outside, it could be fended off, ignored, destroyed, with the delicate sting of a fresh syringe.

He would torture himself with holidays from the past, not those filled with childish laughter and wholesome fun, but the ones spent locked away in a dilapidated hut in some godforsaken German wilderness, crouched over the glow of a single lantern. He remembered the old-fashioned patterning on those dirty piles of overlapping rugs, the monstrous spiders that scuttled about their secret purpose on the edge of the pool of lamplight. It had been a hut intended for avid hikers, or yogic vegan hippies, with their clean blood and pure minds, but Adrian had found his own dark solace in its simplistic isolation. He had arrived with a suitcase full of syringes, sterile spoons, cigarette filters and all the other flotsam and jetsam of addiction, but most importantly of all, that strangely folded envelope, fat and heavy with its bottomless bounty of heroin. Inside the flimsy walls of that dilapidated hut, in the golden pool of lamplight, Adrian had immersed himself in the idyllic fantasy of his addiction. There were no unreliable dealers, no waiting around in the cold and the rain, scanning the horizon for a familiar grey car. There were no patrolling policemen, no empty wallets, no meddlesome friends knocking on his door. Outside the small, grimy window of his hut, moonlight bathed the countryside, wind whispered through the pine trees, and on those dirty rugs, Adrian found his own utopia, let his sleeping mind dance through the gardens of the poison fruit, in pure, blissful abandonment.

He remembered his time in Paris, in an apartment high above a busy courtyard, when as the sun set he would open the windows and let the jaunty French music drift in, on warm summer air scented with the mingling perfumes of baking bread and roasting meat. Adrian would sit by the window, high above the rabble of diners in that city of romance, cooking up his shot with as much care and finesse as the Parisian chefs below, sucking it up in a fine syringe, delivering the precious load into his bloodstream, then closing his eyes and drifting away on the music, on the sunset, on the warm summer air. Eventually he would stumble to his feet, stand at the window with a slow burning cigarette, watching the crowds come and go, watching them laugh and sip their wine, feeling as though he were an angel looking down from heaven. Sometimes he would drag on his leather jacket and go down to walk amongst them, to reel through the city streets, warm and weightless in the velvet cocoon of opium’s golden lovechild.

The memories he tortured himself with drove him slowly mad. There were nights when he didn’t sleep at all, when he threw back the tangled sheets and paced around his room, smoked endless cigarettes and stared out of the window at the empty darkened street. The moon was a flat dull orb that held no silver secrets. The stars didn’t shimmer, the trees were brown and dead. The night held no magic, and Adrian was not an angel looking down. He walked with feet of clay, sucked into the same stagnant mire as the rest of the muddy world, never soaring in exultation, never basking in opiate bliss. Every second that passed was as dusty and slow as a torturous ticking clock, which counted down the rattling breaths of a putrid, sluggish eternity. The poison fruit, once tasted, could never be forgotten. Adrian had gorged himself on every fruit in that garden, had touched every one of the Forbidden Things, and they had polluted his soul for all time. He tortured himself with memories, because even the pain of his bleeding soul, of the ravenous mouths of hungers unfed, were better than the emptiness of the daylight world, the sane world; that yawning eternity of saltless bread, and stale sober life…

Biohazard (I Hate You, Dr Penaranda)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 17, 2014 by ofherbsandaltars

John was used to the scorn of doctors, was used to being treated like a second class citizen, but Dr Penaranda took the fucking piss. John had been going to drug treatment agencies for five years now, pissing in cups and watching as dishevelled ex-junkie counsellors scrutinised his urinary offering, dipping tester sticks into it which would then decide his fate. He was used to being rejected from blood drives for the dual crimes of drug abuse and fucking other men, and he was used to the bi-yearly blood tests from fat snooty women in latex gloves, sucking out vials of his blood, which was deemed toxic before it was even tested. He had spiked his veins with shared syringes, taken it up the ass bareback on numerous occasions, had even stuck dirty needles directly into his dick a few particularly unpleasant times, when all his other veins had gone into hiding, and between the choice of his dick or his toes, John had chosen his dick – there was something far more wince-inducing about toe-veins, somehow. But after all of these dances with death, all of these sordid encounters, a dick up the ass or a needle in the arm, John had escaped unscathed. It had been a year since he last shot heroin, almost as long since he let anyone fuck him without a condom, and his blood was still as pure as Mother Theresa. But to Dr Penaranda, he was nothing more than the scum of the Earth.

Though John had emerged from over a decade of drug abuse without HIV or hepatitis, there were other, stranger and more subtle side effects. Before he got into heroin, he had enjoyed a long and euphoric, but ultimately exhausting fling with intravenous speed and cocaine. Sometime after he knocked that on the head and transferred his affections to the more sympathetic embrace of smack, his body had developed a profound hatred for all stimulants. Coffee morphed over the course of a year from a friendly, legal, Morning Drug into a sinister black nightmare which would induce near-death heart palpitations, sweating, and the strong desire to vomit. John’s friends found it hilarious, that they’d witnessed him shooting gear directly into his dick but he couldn’t stomach even half a cup of coffee without getting the shakes and vomiting into the nearest bin. These insidious symptoms grew over time, and before long nicotine caused the same disastrous effects, much to John’s dismay, after a wonderful lifetime of daily smoking. His much-abused body was fighting back with a vengeance, by taking away from him all those minor vices that he held most dear. Soon afterwards, heroin with all its sinister cutting agents was firmly removed from the menu too, and John found himself forced into the ghastly world of sobriety and healthy living. He very quickly found that he hated it, but that didn’t stop his vengeful body from complaining.

By the time John had been clean for a year, his spiteful fuck of a body had banned items from his diet as diverse and peculiar as Weetabix, tea, skimmed milk and supposedly-healthy vegetarian sausages. If he wanted to survive the day without attacks of shaking, heart palpitations and that exact same feeling of terrible, nauseating dread that came after a long night of injecting cocaine, John was forced to subsist on rice and vegetables and potatoes, in an endless ribbon of sickening monotony. When he took these woes to the doctors, he was eventually prescribed valium, which muted the symptoms enough to make suicide less tempting, because suicide was sometimes very tempting, for a man who had been violently stripped of all the loves of his life within the space of a single year, cigarettes replaced with celery, junk swapped for fucking potatoes – John was hanging onto his sanity by the merest thread.

But then, along came Dr Penaranda. She was Indian, with a polite manner that thinly veiled an ill-educated, junkie-hating cunt, as John quickly came to realise. His valium prescription was stripped down to a mediocre 28 pills, never to be refilled again, and the stupid bitch sent him off to see a counsellor, as if he could talk away his heart palpitations and visualise those vomited meals right back into his stomach, and by the time John left the doctor’s office, he was burning with existential fury. He strode into the nearest off-license, bought a packet of cigarettes and a lighter, and then lit five in a row, purely for the purpose of stubbing them out on the scarred flesh of his left arm – a small and bitter act of vengeance against his arsehole of a body.

When he had finished with this pointless ritual of rather expensive self-mutilation, his head felt slightly clearer. He began to realise that although his body was a traitorous cunt of the highest order, the real enemy here was Dr Penaranda. She viewed him as a drug-seeking scumbag, never to be trusted with pills again, never to be treated like a human being, let alone shown the most basic compassion, and for this, she had to pay. John spent the better part of a day turning over in his mind all the ways that a doctor could be harmed – professionally, emotionally, physically. It was three days before he had concocted a scheme that would hit at the heart of all three. His body was failing him – that much was undeniable. Did he really want to live for another forty years in this arsehole of a body, on a drug-free diet of celery and potatoes? Not fucking likely! And that knowledge – it gave him power. The man with nothing to lose, has everything to gain. His failing body would become his ultimate weapon, a walking nuke aimed directly at that snooty, moronic bitch of a doctor. John had work to do.

It took him longer than he expected to track down a local participant in the bug chasing scene – a small subset of the gay population who sought to contract HIV. He had read about it years ago, had found it fascinatingly self destructive and insane, and had noted for future reference always to check sexual partners for a biohazard tattoo – in this world, it wasn’t just a cool design, it signified a ‘gift giver’, an infected man wishing to pass on his sickness. It was two weeks before John managed to arrange a meeting with one of these elusive creatures, during which time he had spent three days shivering and vomiting as his treacherous body added white chocolate to the ‘never eat again’ list.

He met his Gift Giver at a nondescript apartment in the city. The guy looked healthy enough, attractive and muscular, a biohazard tattoo proudly emblazoned across the rippling, shaved expanse of his chest. The entire experience took John back to his youthful days of speed and meaningless sex – a stranger’s apartment, minimal conversation before the fun began. During the foreplay, his partner was rough, and when John protested at the stinging pain in his asshole, the guy explained that it was good to rip it up with your fingernails a little – helped the bacteria to get in there, raised your chances of contracting the bug. John nodded, frowning slightly, and crawled onto the bed to await that greased, toxic cock.

Half an hour later, John was on the train home. Three stops into the journey, he visited the bathroom to shit out the rancid ooze of his partner’s semen, having given it a good fifteen minutes to work its magic. He emerged from the bathroom with a wide grin on his face, and sat back down, feeling elated. Take that, he thought smugly, You cantankerous, vengeful SHIT! Think you can take away my smack, my cigarettes and my coffee, do you, you rotten-hearted little fuck? Well, I hope you like what’s coming! Enjoy the AIDs, you son of a bitch…

John was well aware that this vengeance plan was to be a slow one. He had to endure three months of potatoes and boredom before he got his blood tested, but he put these months to good use. Wearing a wig, a cap, and a pair of sunglasses, he spent every waking moment stalking that bitch of a doctor, observing her habits, getting to know her routines, finding the perfect opportunities to strike, whilst growing a spectacular beard to hide his identity. Finally, in mid August, John’s blood was tested, and he found that he had hit the germ jackpot – John was now HIV Positive, in all senses of the word. He walked home beaming sunnily at everyone he passed, feeling all-powerful, godlike – he had become a walking biological weapon, an avenging angel with poison for blood – John the almighty Bringer of Death, never to be underestimated again.

From his studies of Dr Penaranda, he knew that she went shopping after work, almost every Friday afternoon. She would always park in the same corner of the car park, before browsing the shelves of Primark and River Island, and then moving on to Sainsburys. This was where John would strike. At 11am on Friday, he borrowed a car from a friend, a nondescript blue Ford which would attract no attention. At noon he visited his familiar old needle exchange, and picked up a bag of 1ml syringes, with their orange caps, their slim barrels, their needles so fine you barely felt the sting. By 1pm he was at home, poking around in his arm for the ruins of a vein, from which he extracted half a syringeful of dark, toxic blood. Once this weapon was prepared, he donned his wig, his sunglasses and cap, his smartest suit and cleanest shoes. Then, he got into the car, and drove out to the car park, to lie in wait.

Dr Penaranda arrived at 2.47pm, in her familiar maroon Mercedes. John slouched in his seat, and waited for her to enter the mall, before he got out of the car, and hurried along behind. He endured almost fifteen minutes of browsing in Primark, by which time the queue at the checkout was building up. Finally, Dr Penaranda emerged from the changing rooms, and joined the end of the queue. John straightened his sunglasses, pushed down his hat, and removed the cap from the syringe. As he walked across the room, carrying a pair of blue jeans, he assessed his target. The doctor was wearing her typically boring attire, a smart-ish suit with black trousers. He zeroed in on one of her meaty thighs, and slowed his pace to a casual stroll, fighting to control his elated grin. As he reached the back of the queue he tripped over his own foot, tossed the jeans onto the floor, and bent down to retrieve them. As he stood back up he stumbled again, bumped lightly into the doctor’s right thigh, a quick stick of the needle, thumping down the plunger with his thumb. She jumped slightly, turning to frown at him, and John mumbled a drunken-sounding apology, wandering hastily away across the shop.

He dumped the jeans on the nearest table, and exited Primark, glancing casually down his sleeve to confirm that the syringe in his hand now contained barely one unit of blood. Beaming, he recapped that toxic vessel, and made his way back to the carpark. This day had been a glorious win for junkie science, for the hair-fine tip of that slim syringe, loaded with its cargo of poison blood. Who’s the scum of the Earth now, Mrs Fucking Doctor, he thought, as he drove towards home. Let’s see how long you can keep your job, keep lording it over us peasants, now you’ve caught the junkie fag disease. Let’s see how YOU like being treated like an untrustworthy retard riddled with plague, you stuck up snot-nosed shit-eating cunt… These thoughts were making him cross again, so he turned on the radio, and sang along loudly and cheerfully with Huey Lewis, whilst imaging his filthy blood, thick with pearly dollops of infected semen, writhing blackly through the puritanical veins of that supercilious bitch. By the time he got home, he felt on top of the world.

Over the next few months, John kept an eye on Dr Penaranda. He witnessed the frequent colds, the absences from work, then finally the hospital appointment that ended with her sobbing pathetically in her Mercedes. That night, he ate his potato with more enjoyment than he had been able to muster in months. Within another week, she was no longer working at the surgery, and John had a brand new doctor, who was sympathetic to his plight. It seemed quite natural that a dying man should be anxious, and as such, John was given his valium prescription again, so that he could live out his final years in peace and tranquillity. It certainly wasn’t smack, but it made all those endless potatoes a lot easier to face…

The Placenta of Dorian Grey

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2014 by ofherbsandaltars

By the time he was 29, Dorian’s name was synonymous with decadence and corruption. Almost every night of the week, music could be heard blaring from his sprawling villa, the pool area strewn with half-naked youths – a temple of debauchery and fornication. Inside the house, on a gleaming glass table, lay a rich cornucopia of illicit wares, spread out like a buffet of intoxication. Dorian with his angel’s face and his scandalous reputation had an uncanny ability to find and collect recreational substances, and though his disciples had never even heard of some of them, they were nonetheless keen to indulge. Most of the drugs came from a mysterious dealer known only by the alias ‘Lord Henry’, and Dorian delighted in sharing every substance, revelling in each new sensation. There were chunks of crumbly black opium, whole dishes of heroin laid out like spices at the market. Shimmering rocks of Colombian cocaine sat proudly on gilt edged mirrors, and a rainbow of rich velvet pouches lay scattered across the table, each concealing a treasure trove of neat plastic capsules, filled with tiny pinches of the latest synthetic chemicals.

Frequently youths would be found dead in the morning, floating facedown in the sunlit water of Dorian’s pool, or crumpled in a corner with a mouthful of curdled vomit, but these hopeless corpses were never enough to end the party. Anyone entering Dorian’s house did so with willingness – willingness to gamble away their life in pursuit of the ultimate high, and all were well aware that the price of a single night of boundless ecstasy could be higher than any mortal could pay. But despite his life of constant excess, Dorian burned with an unquenchable flame. No one had ever known him to suffer a hangover – no one had ever seen him vomit with drunkenness, run screaming into the hills on a terrifying acid trip, or express any morning regrets. Even after days without sleep he remained ethereally beautiful, and his lust for debauchery never waned. To the drug-addled youths of Hollywood, Dorian was an icon, a deity of perpetual excess. It was said that Dorian was 29, or even into his thirties, but no one knew for sure. He didn’t look a day over eighteen, but his legendary parties had been running for the better part of a decade.

To be allowed entrance to Dorian’s house was a badge of honour in itself. Only the beautiful, the young and the debauched were allowed past the gates, for Dorian considered ugliness to be the ultimate sin. No one with imperfect features was allowed to enter his presence, and any revellers who overindulged in the tawdrier delights of life and became offputtingly fat, they would be cast out forever. Dorian sought pleasure in all its forms, and to look on the faces of the beautiful, to make love to the exquisite, this was his ultimate right, and to be chosen as Dorian’s lover was the highest honour imaginable. Within the gates of his villa was a reeling drunken world, a world of neon and ecstasy, belonging to Dorian alone, and ugliness in any form had no place inside it.

Tonight, Dorian’s chosen disciples were a thin boy with tangled purple hair, and a topless girl with gleaming ebony skin, perfect breasts and full red lips. He led them into his bedroom, sprawling out across satin sheets and plucking the waiting syringe from his nightstand, its barrel already filled with rich, amber liquid. He lay back amongst a scattering of bejewelled pillows, and the boy crawled onto the bed, tugging down Dorian’s jeans, his innocent young face dominated by eyes as wide and black as the night sky, his pupils dilating until the corruption of his pure soul could be witnessed through those gleaming, vacant orbs. The girl was dancing at the foot of the bed, running her hands over her glistening, oiled skin, and the boy closed his lips around the head of Dorian’s pierced cock. Dorian smiled an angel’s smile, slipping a belt around his left bicep and snapping it tight. The needle pierced through his flawless skin, gliding easily into a vein, and Dorian allowed the honeyed narcotic to slip into his bloodstream, sprawling out amongst the glittering pillows with a soft sigh of bliss. The empty syringe slipped from his delicate fingers, and the warm rush of the heroin enveloped him as he came into the hot wet mouth of his lover, his ice-blue eyes blissfully glazed.



Daniel was awoken by searing nausea, and he fell out of bed, his head throbbing, stumbling desperately into the bathroom. He barely made it to the toilet before he threw up a rancid cocktail of whiskey and bile, shot through with pearly trails of semen, their origins unknown. As he crumpled into a shuddering heap on the bathroom floor, he winced at the pain in his rectum, and with a groan of despair he yanked down his boxers and examined himself. His cock was now sporting a small genital wart, and his stinging asshole was slightly torn and bloody. Dorian had really outdone himself this time.

As he rinsed the rancid taste from his mouth, Daniel fearfully examined his reflection in the mirror, and was appalled to find, amongst the blonde tangle of his hair, another cluster of grey. His ice-blue eyes were bloodshot, his pale skin tinged with nauseous green, his cheekbones becoming ever more gaunt from the constant vomiting. Although he hadn’t seen Dorian in almost a decade, Daniel knew only too well that they were far from identical, these days. He looked almost twenty years older than his twin, a fact that was rubbed in his face every year on his birthday, when a rose-scented envelope would await him in the porch, and inside it he would find nothing but a photo of Dorian. Every year, a new photo, and every year, Dorian’s face remained utterly unchanged. Even when he had hacked off his hair, dyed it black and styled it into a mohican, his face remained smooth and flawless, a mirage of innocent youth, but for the evil that burned behind his ice-blue eyes.

For five years Daniel had tried to track his brother down, had buried himself in occult studies, constantly seeking the answer to this curse. He had tried rituals beneath the full moon, voodoo dolls and blood sacrifice, but nothing had made the slightest difference. Whatever obscene, debauched activities Dorian partook of, Daniel was the one to suffer the consequences – every hangover and every STD, every grey hair and wrinkle, endless mornings retching up the semen of strangers. And lately, he just seemed to be getting sicker and sicker, and he no longer had the energy to scour the Earth for his demonic twin. He stared bleakly into the mirror, watching the blood drain from his face, before he dropped to his knees in front of the toilet, and retched up another torrent of semen and stomach acid.



Dorian’s biggest secret was his twin brother Daniel, his shadow self, the source of his limitless power. Though the youths of Hollywood were forever entranced by Dorian’s British accent, it was well known that he would never speak of his origins, and this fact only increased his air of mystery. Some said that he was the bastard child of British royalty, cast out for his sins, his villa paid for with the coin of the realm, but Dorian would never tell. For the whole of his childhood he had lived in Daniel’s shadow, had been nothing more than a pale, jealous caricature of his successful, popular, witty brother, and for eighteen years the resentment had festered within him. Daniel had been given a scholarship to Oxford University, and Dorian had been left behind, his pitiful A Levels granting him access only to the local university, a school for fuckups and imbeciles, and at every single lecture he was haunted by the image of his doppelganger, walking regal corridors, treading in the footsteps of the richest men in England.

Dorian’s only friends at his new university were a pair of drug-added wasters, and it was they who supplied him with the wares that would forever change the course of his life. A bar of unlabelled chocolate, shipped direct from Amsterdam, packed with a hefty dose of dried magic mushrooms and supposedly blessed by a powerful shaman. Dorian had eaten half of it while his mother was out of town, sitting alone in his living room, dully flicking channels. When the drugs kicked in, he found his gaze drifting from the TV screen, to the photo that stood above it. His mother was at the centre, Dorian on the left, Daniel on the right. Though their faces were identical, delicate features and golden hair, Daniel’s smile radiated confidence, while Dorian’s was a forced grimace, tension and fury in every line of his tight posture.

As Dorian scowled at the photograph, the drugs building in intensity, he realised to his horror that he could feel the connection between himself and his brother, no matter how far apart they might be. It was a shimmering golden umbilical chord, stretching between them, and he could feel it pulling at him, could feel Daniel draining him of vitality, taking away from him everything that should rightfully be his – his face, his family, his place in the world, leaving him nothing but a dried out husk, a pale imitation eternally in Daniel’s shadow.

In a rage, Dorian snatched the photo and broke open the frame, tearing the image into tiny fragments, but it made no difference. He stormed through the house, a rising sense of panic overwhelming him, until he found himself drawn towards the attic as though by a pulsing siren song. He climbed the steep steps, and in a trance began riffling through a dusty suitcase of his mother’s paperwork. Beneath stacks of faded photographs, showing her and his father with their long hippie hair and obscene bellbottom flares, Dorian found the certificates of his and Daniel’s birth. Alongside them lay a small plastic baggie, containing a shrivelled brown lump. His mother’s childish script labelled it a piece of her placenta, the thing that had nourished them equally in the warm embrace of her womb, a bizarre, desiccated hippie keepsake.

As Dorian held the bag in his hands, he was filled with a strange, dark compulsion. The dried chunk of ancient meat seemed to thrum with unearthly power, as though it had been awaiting him for all those long years, as though he was standing at the crossroads of his own destiny. The attic was so still and silent that he could almost hear the beating of his own heart, a single rhythm, where in the womb it had always been doubled. For the first time in his life, Dorian stood alone, his own person, a whole individual. He opened the bag, and shook the lump of shrivelled flesh into the palm of his hand.

As soon as the placenta touched his skin, Dorian knew what was required of him. He lifted his hand to his lips, and took the placenta in his mouth as though it were the holy sacrament. At first it was tough and tasteless as ancient leather, but as his saliva soaked into the dried out meat it softened, like jerky, tasting of iron-tinged blood and musky fluids. It slipped down Dorian’s throat, and he was immediately filled with a sense of boundless freedom. Although he could still feel the connection to his brother, the shimmering golden chord had withered, turned black as tar, a one-way street. No longer could Daniel leech Dorian’s power, no longer did they share their identity – Dorian had been strengthened, purified, and Daniel became nothing more than a garbage receptacle for every putrid ounce of Dorian’s darkness.

Ever since that night, Dorian had not suffered a single illness or hangover, had not aged by a day. When he was spotted on the streets of London by a modelling agency, and moved to America to begin his nights of wild partying, it was Daniel who became sick, Daniel who was forced to drop out of Oxford, while Dorian shone on like an indestructible star. Some nights, when his brain was reeling with whiskey and cocaine, he would take a razorblade and etch angry words into the flesh of his forearm, knowing that by morning, his skin would be flawless once more, and Daniel alone would bear the scars of his wrath.



When Daniel walked into the doctor’s office, he could tell that it was bad news. Dr Patel looked even more world-weary and resigned than ever before, and as Daniel sat down he let out an exasperated sigh and asked in his thick Indian accent,

“Have you been trying to make yourself sick? Are you one of these people, these ‘Bug Chasers’?

“No!” Daniel protested. “I don’t want any of these diseases, it’s just…very… complicated…”

“I do not know what more I can tell you! I have offered you counselling on a hundred occasions, and always you say no, I give you free condoms, whole bags full of condoms, and still you come back here with yet more Chlamydia! I do not know what more words I can use with you!”

Daniel ran his hands through his hair in exasperation, knowing full well that if he tried to explain that it was Dorian having unprotected sex every single night, Dorian’s germs and Dorian’s genital warts, he would be thrown into the asylum for the rest of his life. Dr Patel’s eyes drifted down to Daniel’s exposed wrist, and he demanded,

“You have been cutting yourself again too? This one, it says ‘twat’ – why? Why are you carving the word ‘twat’ into your own skin?”

“I don’t know,” Daniel muttered, yanking down his sleeve. “I don’t remember.”

The doctor let out another defeated sigh, and asked,

“Will you not accept counselling this time? It is clear to me that you are a very sick man, with all of this drinking and this sex, and I cannot keep handing you out antibiotics like they are sweeties! And for you this time, I have very bad news…”

Daniel stared at him in bleak silence, and even before Dr Patel opened his mouth, he knew that it would be the one he had been dreading for years.



When Daniel got back home, he had an entire bag full of pills, several information sheets, and the doctor’s reassurances that HIV wasn’t a death sentence anymore, that he could still live a full and active life. But Daniel knew the truth. For years he had been researching, in a constant state of apprehension, as he battled bout after bout of Chlamydia and gonorrhoea, knowing that it was only a matter of time before Dorian hooked the biggest, baddest fish of all. He knew all too well what would happen to him, that it wouldn’t be AIDs, that he wouldn’t waste away to nothing and die in a hospital bed, looking like a prisoner fresh out of Auschwitz. It would be more insidious than that – the drugs he took to save his life would sap his strength, poison his liver and kidneys, put a strain on his heart until it gave out with no warning.

But in a way, Daniel felt as though he had been waiting for this news all along. Because now, he had nothing left to lose.

It was time to find Dorian.



Beneath the eternal rays of the Californian sun, Dorian was spreadeagled on his hands and knees, a thick black cock thrusting deliciously into his backside while the purple-haired boy lay beneath him, Dorian’s cock sliding in and out of his warm wet mouth. Between waves of all encompassing pleasure, Dorian leaned down to snort a line of coke off the shaved groin of his lover, sniffing it up hard so that some of the cool white powder hit the back of his throat, numbing the membranes. He took the boy’s cock in his mouth, and let it glide all the way down his numbed throat, the three of them writhing in perfect rhythm. The ebony-skinned girl with her perfect breasts floated around the pool on an inflatable phallus, watching them as she pleasured herself with an exact rubber replica of Dorian’s cock.



It only took an hour and a half of Googling before Daniel came across the whispers of Dorian’s location. Photographs were strewn across the internet, of beautiful young men and women in obvious states of intoxication, and in the depths of one such album, he found a picture of Dorian himself, sprawled out topless across an Oriental rug, an antique silver opium pipe in his hand and a dazed, glassy smile on his flawless face. After a further ten minutes, Daniel traced these parties to the Hollywood hills, and thirty minutes after that, he had bought himself a plane ticket to LAX.



Los Angeles airport was the most obscene creation Daniel had ever borne witness to, miles of sprawling concrete and deranged pillars of neon, towering into the glittering California sky. Something about the warmth of the night air, the constant buzz of life in this vast, lurid city, told him that he had come to the right place. It seethed with manic energy and seedy corruption, an insomniac city that lured you in with its glittering lights, and swallowed the souls of all it touched. As the taxi drove him to his cheap hotel, he saw Hollywood’s zombies stumbling the midnight streets, all those who had arrived full of high hopes and sparkling dreams, all those with stars in their eyes, who now traipsed the boardwalk on five dollar heels, hookers and pornstars and vacant eyed hobos. It had to be Dorian’s city, this glittering wasteland with cocaine and poison pumping through its veins – Dorian would feed off this city like a fat black leech.

In the morning, Daniel vomited up a litre of whiskey and semen, took his pills, and wandered out onto the streets. After talking to three hobos and a hooker, he got the approximate address of Dorian’s villa, and with a little more persuasion, the number of a local dope dealer. Daniel was nervous about meeting him, as he loitered in the sweltering sunshine, the asphalt of the hotel carpark shimmering in the heat. When the car pulled up he climbed nervously into its air-conditioned interior, but none of his pre-rehearsed lies were necessary. The guy flicked casually through Daniel’s five hundred dollars, and passed him a battered blue rucksack – the gun was inside, fully loaded.

Daniel clambered back out into the sweltering heat, and let himself into the hotel, shivers of nausea in the pit of his stomach.



As the sun set over the Hollywood hills, Dorian was sprawled out on a sun lounger, watching the flaming pink sky fade into twilight. Five minutes ago he had inserted two highly potent ecstasy pills into his rectum, before inviting his chosen disciple to fuck him all the way to euphoria. He watched lazily as his partner’s muscles rippled beneath ebony skin, each thrust of his thick cock grinding the drugs into the delicate membranes of Dorian’s colon, until perpetual waves of electric energy were flowing through him, the sunset sky beginning to shimmer and sparkle.

Once his lover’s semen was warmly dissolving the crushed remnants of Dorian’s drugs, he stumbled into the house, his vision vibrating with chemical surges of pleasure, his cock throbbing with lust. In the spacious living room he found the purple haired boy awaiting him on his knees, offering up a loaded syringe. Dorian sprawled out across a red velvet couch, sliding the needle into his vein as the boy wrapped his welcoming lips around Dorian’s cock. Throughout the house, revellers were awakening, snorting their first lines of coke, wiping off the smudged traces of last night’s makeup and soaking their semen-stained underwear in the warm water of the pool. At the gates of the villa, fresh new faces were eagerly waiting, ready to enter the temple of Sodom, to lay their lives at the feet of the sainted Dorian.



Daniel waited until 1am, when he hoped that the party would be in full swing, before he got a taxi to Dorian’s villa. The driver knew immediately where to go, and after several miles of winding roads and starlit darkness, he pulled up outside a pair of vast, golden gates, a muscular bouncer standing guard. Daniel paid the driver, and climbed out of the cab, the warm night air throbbing with pounding dance music and raucous laughter. The cold weight of the gun was tucked into his belt, hidden beneath a leather jacket that was making him sweat. As he approached the bouncer, the guy watched him with a curious frown, commenting,

“You’ve got eyes just like Dorian. You related or something?”

“I’m his cousin,” Daniel replied, trying to sound calmer than he felt. “I’ve come all the way from London – I’ve got a present for him.”

“Hang on,” the bouncer said, pulling a phone out of his pocket. “Let me check with the boss…”

“Don’t do that!” Daniel blurted out. “I want to surprise him – you’ll ruin it!”

The bouncer ignored him completely, holding the phone to his ear, but after several seconds he hung up with a resigned sigh, stating,

“Dorian’s busy. Since you’re family, I’ll let you in.”

He yanked the bolt out of the gates, and swung them wide.

Daniel passed a poolside, heaving with drunken children, the waters of the guitar-shaped pool lit from beneath, phasing slowly through rainbow hues. Dorian was nowhere to be seen, so he continued into the vast, sprawling house. Three couples were having noisy sex around a table strewn with drugs, a young girl sprawled out on her back on the floor, staring vaguely up at the ceiling with a blissful smile. Daniel asked her if she’d seen Dorian, and she pointed into the house, mumbling,

“Second door on the right…”

Daniel thanked her, and continued on his way. Outside Dorian’s door he took a deep, shaky breath, and shoved it open. A vast bed stood against the wall, covered in glittering cushions, and at its heart Dorian was expansively sprawled, a girl with tangled blonde hair sucking his dick. Dorian’s eyes locked with Daniel’s, and for a split second he looked shocked, but he quickly controlled it, tangling his fingers into the girl’s hair and forcing her into a faster rhythm. Dorian stared fixedly at Daniel, his ice-blue eyes narrowed with bliss, a sly smile on his lips, until he let out a shuddering moan of pleasure, and the girl sat up, laughing. Daniel loitered awkwardly in the doorway, but Dorian stated,

“My brother is here to bore me – leave us alone.”

The girl nodded, and slithered off the bed, casting Daniel a curious glance as she hurried out of the door. Daniel closed it behind her, slid the bolt across.

“You look terrible,” Dorian commented, picking up a black cigarette from his nightstand and lighting it. “What do you want?”

“You know what I want!” Daniel snapped, scowling at Dorian’s lithe, nude form, his flawless, unscarred skin. “I’ve put up with your crap for ten years and I won’t do it anymore – take this fucking spell off me!”

“Can’t be done,” Dorian replied carelessly, exhaling a plume of opium-tinged smoke as he lay sprawled out amongst the pillows, his cock still halfway hard. “And even if I could do it, why on Earth would I bother?”

Daniel snatched the gun out of his belt, flicking off the safety and aiming it at Dorian’s heart, but Dorian just laughed.

“Take the spell off,” Daniel repeated, “Or you die right here. You’ve given me HIV, you fucking cunt, I’ve got nothing left to lose!”

“Pity,” Dorian sighed. “I always did hate condoms…”

“Take the fucking spell off!” Daniel repeated desperately, the gun shaking in his hand. “Right now!”

Dorian burst out laughing, and Daniel’s fingers tightened convulsively around the gun. It jerked in his hand, the gunshot so loud it hurt his ears, and the centre of Dorian’s flawless chest erupted into a gaping, gory hole.



Dorian felt the bullet tear through his chest, a white-hot agony so intense it blinded him, but as quickly as it arrived, it was gone. Daniel was swaying at the foot of the bed, the gun slipping from his fingers before he crumpled to the ground, blood saturating his shirt. Dorian ran his hands over his smooth bare chest, but there was nothing there, and he crawled out of bed in curiosity, crouching down next to his brother. Blood was spreading across the carpet in a dark, sticky pool, Daniel’s haggard face utterly lifeless. Dorian smiled an angel’s smile, and left the corpse where it was, wandering towards the door.

The mirror caught his eye, and he paused a moment to marvel at the youthful perfection of his own face, so very different now from that of his twin. He smiled at his reflection, until he noticed the cluster of grey hairs, and he gasped in horror, leaning closer to the mirror. As he watched, lines began to creep into his skin, beneath his eyes, across his forehead, around his mouth, his cheeks sagging as bloodshot veins marred the beauty of his eyes. Within seconds he was barely recognisable, had aged by thirty years. Someone was pounding on the door, shouting his name, a panicked crowd drawn by the gunshot, and before he could reply the door burst open, and a cluster of youths stumbled in, dropping to their knees beside the body.

“He’s dead!” a girl wailed. “Dorian is dead!”

“You’ve killed him!” the purple haired boy howled, hurling himself at Dorian. “Why did you kill him?”

Dorian stared in horror as one of girls produced a phone, started calling the police, and he protested,

“But I’m Dorian! That’s just my stupid brother, he doesn’t matter!”

The purple haired boy was hitting him impotently as tears shimmered in his dilated eyes, but Dorian shoved him roughly out of the way, dropping to his knees beside Daniel’s body, and a wave of horror flooded over him. He ran his hands in fear over the wrinkled wreckage of his own face, the alien sensations of exhaustion and nausea overwhelming him. The corpse on the floor had the face of an angel, flawless skin and clear blue eyes, not a day over eighteen years old.