Archive for vampires

ET VOILA!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2018 by ofherbsandaltars

This is not a story, though I suppose it could be…

“Once upon a time, there was a young girl-shaped boy, who had a vampire in his head. The vampire came everywhere – it ate hashcake in Amsterdam, it wandered up and down lurid neon highways through warm Floridian nights. It tried to tell its story in hot, dingy Spanish internet cafes, but the boy and the vampire couldn’t reach an agreement, couldn’t communicate, and they both got pretty pissed off.

The girl-shaped boy stopped travelling, because there was no money left, and the vampire refused to lend a hand, so instead they both ended up at a crumby little university in the the Shitlands of England. For several months, the boy and the vampire endured tedious lectures that weren’t about writing at all, and then they drove home very fast and engaged in their mutual passion for heroin. But then, one day, on a dusty blackboard, the vampire saw a picture of something it recognised, and got very excited. The boy wrote it all down, and the vampire said Yes – like that! Well, more or less…something like that, anyway…

Together, they barely bothered attending the crumby university anymore – they had far better things to do, like talk in the same language finally, and of course, shoot up heroin and smoke so much weed that the boy’s fingers turned yellow and he always found his bony elbow in the depths of an ashtray. The university was so crumby it gave them a degree anyway, largely due to the vampire’s self-proclaimed genius; he, and his friends, because by now there were several vampires, introductions having been made all round, they taught the boy to write their songs, and tried not to be too rude when he mangled them horrifically into life with his shiteous guitar playing.

Over the years, they wrote seven books, seven, in rapid succession, never able to say goodbye to each other, but that didn’t matter, because the vampire had been alive for absolutely fucking ages, so he had a lot to talk about. The boy tried to understand the vampire better, spending hours walking and driving around the city at night, suffering through endless, tedious nightclubs, surrounded by humans, who weren’t anything like as scintillating company as the vampire was; it was always a relief to get in the car, to put on the old, old music they both enjoyed, and cruise home through the night, the vampire reaching out a thin white finger to distastefully prod the dashboard, stating that One day, we will drive something FASTER than this! I’m going to make it happen – I’m going to CONQUER THE WORLD, and you’re coming too! The boy was rather dubious about that, by this point, but it didn’t matter – even if they drove around in slow cars forever, and even if none of the humans he met really interested him, he had the vampire, the vampires, and that was really all that mattered.

One night, the boy had gone out to The Pub, with some humans. It was ghastly…it was worse than ghastly, and then on the train home, there were so many obnoxious drunken humans, he couldn’t even hear the voice of the vampire in his head, which made it even more awful. So he started writing, just so that he didn’t hit anybody, but not about the vampires. He wrote about something else, for the first time ever, and that Something Else turned into several Somethings. The vampire didn’t mind – it gave him some time off, because vampires have a lot to be getting on with too, like killing people and playing volleyball with their decapitated heads. He and the boy kept working together, along with all the Something Else, until the boy hardly went anywhere at all because the entire world, or all the parts that mattered, were either in his head or in his computer.

Some humans would have been miserable, but the boy was actually very happy, in general. And eventually, it came the time to round up some of those stories, about the Somethings, and about the vampires, and send them out into the world…

So he did. The internet made it possible – scary, confusing, but possible. Now those stories are floating about in cyberspace, like embryos bobbing about in the electro-amniotic currents of data, waiting to be adopted and taken home.

The End Beginning”

…that would be it, if it was a story. But the real stories are actually on Amazonas of today, and you can read them! Most are horror stories, or dark erotica, but The Vampire decided he had plenty to say too, so he wrote a whole novella and then threw an enormous tantrum until it was added to the book. And all of that, can be found right here!

The boy and the vampire hope you enjoy them, and promise not to spend the money on smack 😉

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The Summer of ’22

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 30, 2015 by ofherbsandaltars

In general, Zed thought that John was a bit of a pussy for his retreat into the coffin, following the New Year’s Eve of 2013. As time went by, however, he began to occasionally, reluctantly, understand. It had been Gangnam Style, that godawful trend, that had sent John tumbling over the edge from drunken fury into absolute terror, at the fact that he could no longer understand the modern world.

“I have no place here!” he’d moaned into Zed’s neck, in the back of the taxi home. “I don’t understand these people! Why were they all dancing like that? Why is the whole fucking world dancing like that?!”

Admittedly, Zed hadn’t really helped – though he was a lot younger than John, Gangnam Style was utterly lost on him too – all he could point out was that it was just a trend, another fleeting trend, over and done with in a matter of months, and what did months mean to an immortal? But John had groaned in despair, replying, “Just a trend…that’s even worse! Trends following trends, and don’t you see them getting more completely insane with every year that goes by? I can’t bear it anymore! I can’t bear another fucking second of this repulsive planet! I’m going to sleep! I’m going to sleep forever!”

Zed had been pretty sure, initially, that John was just being his usual melodramatic self, when he’d threatened to sleep “forever” – as soon as they got home, John had stomped into the kitchen, drained three bags of A-positive, then stormed off upstairs, crawled into the coffin that had previously been nothing more than an artistic coffee table, slammed the lid into place, and after an hour of quiet sobbing, it all went silent. Zed had peeked inside the next night, and found John utterly dead to the world. When there was still no change two weeks later, he’d given John a hopeful poke, but John might as well have been a corpse.

After that, Zed resigned himself to a bit of a wait, but just a bit – six months, maybe. A year at the absolute most. But the years had rolled past, and if Zed had been told in those early days that it would be near enough five decades before John finally returned to him, he probably would have staked himself. Sometimes it was better not to see the future.

In the year 2022 though, Zed had managed to rouse John from his slumber, albeit just for a groggy hour that John would later write off as nothing more than a surreal dream. The catalyst behind Zed’s decision to drag his tormented lover from the grave had been – ironically – another mortal trend. In 2022, Zed began to feel that John might have been right, drunk and slurring in the back of that long-ago taxi. Trends stacked on trends, slithering into a yawning abyss of absolute madness. The humans were going completely demented, and he felt that he might finally be losing his foothold in sanity.

Back in the 1950s, when Zed had been made immortal, rock n roll had been the trend that terrified the old folks. Elvis Presley’s sexual gyrations were the most lewd and dangerous thing they had ever seen in their lives, and preachers all over America, that foreign land he was washed up in, were decrying the satanic blackness, the End Times, brought on by nothing more than lively songs with mild sexual undertones. Zed and John had surfed that wave with abandon – it had been a good time to be alive, and an even better time to be alive forever. The music had flowed on, sometimes becoming interesting, sometimes appalling – but the human trends had just gotten weirder and weirder.

By the time John retreated into the coffin, leaving Zed to face the world alone, there was really no such thing as music anymore. Occasionally Zed came across a rockabilly band that warmed his heart, but in general even these seemed so recycled, so artificial, or worse, a depressing reminder that those days were forever gone. Even the young mortals of this awful new millennium knew it – all over the internet they bitched and whined about their shit luck, in being born now, in this vacuum of plastic-wrapped crap, when all the real stars, made of blood and sweat and drugs and fury, had burned out in the sky or drowned in the chemical soup that had become the world’s toxic oceans. The ‘End Times’ those ancient preachers had prophesised really did seem to be upon them.

But the thing that did it, the thing that really drove Zed over the edge, in the summer of 2022, was the fucking noses. Over the past decade, facial features had been getting bigger and bigger. First it was the eyes – women were blinding themselves with huge plastic contact lenses that made them resemble sad little anime characters, their artificially enlarged eyeballs fringed with a million false lashes. Then it was the cheekbones, injected with fillers, contoured and bronzed and highlighted until they looked like David Bowie had mated with a sexual alien. The eyebrows came hot on the heels of this trend, bigger and bushier and angrier, and then along came the lips, a million children bruising and slicing up their mouths as they attempted some ridiculous charade known as the ‘Kylie Jenner Challenge’. Even the teeth were getting bigger – Zed spent many a horrified evening drinking whiskey and watching grisly Youtube videos of veneers being fitted, a person’s perfectly decent-looking teeth filed down to tiny, painful, useless stubs, before being stuffed into vast, neon-white porcelain tombstones. By the end of the 2010s, humans barely looked human anymore. And then, in the early 2020s, there came an abrupt parting of the ways when it came to noses. For many years, noses had been getting narrower and narrower, almost disappearing in the midst of those swollen, accentuated features, the huge round eyes, the bloated lips, glowing white teeth and furious werewolf brows. But finally, as with all trends, this look became cliché, it became so basic bitch, as they all used to say, and a new trend sprouted in its place.

By 2021, you could hardly find a single adult human who didn’t have fillers somewhere in their faces – in their cheeks, their wrinkles, their lips, and finally, the humans seemed to decide that their noses had been overlooked for way too long. The anime look was out – the manatee look was in. Some of the humans went for a perfect, wide triangle, bloating out their rounded nostrils and applying a perky blob of pink blush to each swollen extrusion. Others went for the ‘Roman dignitary’ look, and had fillers applied to the central bridge, to give a haughtily downward-sloping nose. And then, of course, as always, there were the kids who just wanted to be the next internet sensation, and they went the whole damn hog. Their entire nose would be filled with up to 50ml of Juvederm filler, until it was the size of a baby’s arm. For maximum effect their lips would be blown up to similar proportions, and painted royal blue, a jaunty pop of colour peeking out from beneath the vast, dangling sausage of their oversized nose. Fashion bloggers of the time raved about the sexual connotations of this cosmetic enhancement – these vast, blubbery noses often turned mildly purple and veiny, resembling an engorged penis. Just like Elvis’s hips, it made you think of sex, and sex always sold. More than this, it was a status symbol – these kids were carrying around near enough $6,000 of liquid filler in their faces, and the kids of this era, Zed had long since learned, liked to flash their cash in the most grotesque of manners.

Zed’s horror at the ongoing mutilation of human faces continued to grow, day by day, week by week. By 2022, John had been asleep for nine years – Zed had long since moved the entire coffin into a dusty storage room, and resigned himself to living life with the awkward, tentative freedom of a guy whose partner had as good as authorised him to sleep with other people…but not without crippling guilt. All Zed really wanted was John back – they’d been together for over half a century, and Zed was stuck in his ways almost as much as John had been – a creature of habit. He loved nothing more than listening to Elvis and watching Lonesome Dove on an endless repeat, and he loved nothing more than being with John – the one person on Earth who he could reminisce with endlessly, about anything. Their whole lives had been shared, lived together – until now. Until the point that John had got so crazy, so infuriatingly irrational, about nothing more than that stupid goddamn song, he had abandoned Zed completely, sulking in his coffin like the worst vampire cliché on Earth. There were a lot of times that Zed got seriously pissed off with John, late at night, all alone, drunk on whiskey, adrift in this crazy human world. At times like these, he often found himself storming out into the night in his most melodramatic trenchcoat, and disappearing into the humid embrace of a gay club.

The first nose-related disaster Zed suffered, happened at a gay club just a few blocks from his apartment. Already a long way past drunk, Zed was rapidly befriended by a young, cute guy with bright purple hair, who had offered him a small white pill. Zed was too pissed off with the world to even bother asking what it was – he just swallowed it, and rolled on top of his new friend. They’d ended up on the dancefloor, and for a modern-day club, Zed was reasonably satisfied with the music, but the boy, who had introduced himself as Fish, was getting sulkier and sulkier, until finally Zed allowed himself to be dragged out into the night, and into the back of a taxi. Everything had taken on a mildly surreal tinge by the time they reached their destination, the sweaty neon-lit depths of another gay club – the décor slicker, the music even louder and more obnoxious. Fish had gone to the bar for a round of drinks, and Zed had lost him completely. By this point, he was definitely feeling weird, and he couldn’t make his mind up yet whether it was a good weird, or a bad one – he felt a bit like an alien spy, slipping unseen through this demented Gomorrah, and the feeling was pleasingly mischievous. At the very least, it made a change from feeling like a depressed, abandoned vampire whose boyfriend had been replaced with a fleshlight.

Zed began taking a tour of the club, slipping through the shadows, quietly making spaceship noises to himself, becoming more and more convinced that he was a sinister, invisible entity, sent to discover the culture of these peculiar young mortals. When the bass dropped and the whole place went insane, he’d managed to strand himself right in the deepest depths of that awful place, and this was when it all went wrong. Suddenly the strobes were going crazy, the flailing bodies jolting between beats of light, and Zed was equal parts hypnotised and terrified by their faces. This club, it turned out, was very, very hip, or swag, or on fleek, or whatever the fuck all the jumped up internet tossers were saying these days, and that meant that every face in the room was down with the manatee trend. Zed found himself staring into a glowing sea of hideous, mutated faces – bulbous, veiny, dick-like noses bouncing wildly up and down, until he felt as though his mind was under attack from a dangerous colony of aggressive neon penises. Artificial teeth were glowing under the blacklight, and the music sounded like the scraping of a million dental drills, grinding Zed’s teeth into terrifying raw-nerved stubs, his mind flashing up gruesome images of dental surgery, plastic surgery, syringes stabbing into swollen lips, plastic lenses being prodded horribly into the jelly sacs of eyeballs, the strobe flashing madly and the purple penises bouncing and the alien race he was studying had seen him now – they knew he was an outsider, and they were going to get him, going to mutilate him, chop off his dick and staple it to his face – for all eternity he’d be trapped in this godforsaken hellpit with stumps for teeth and a dick for a nose, and what came next, what came next, he didn’t know, but he had the ghastly sensation that his nuts were trying to crawl inside his body cavity and he was pretty sure that he was about to puke everywhere, and the lights were driving him crazy, and those faces, those fucking faces!

Zed had no idea how he got home, that night – it was all a hideous blur of vomit and headlights and warped, swaying faces, but finally he was home, with a blanket over his head, watching Lonesome Dove and alternating between a sense of soaring peacefulness at being safe in the sanctity of his flat, followed by sudden waves of paralysing dread that those nightmarish creatures would find him and come for him and crash down his door at any second.

After that, Zed avoided the gay bars for quite a few weeks, but inevitably the loneliness returned, and the resentment returned, and out he went once more. He managed a few quiet drinks this time, and a bit of a dance, before he was aggressively hit on by a guy whose once-attractive features were now marred by the most monstrous of dick-noses. It was a bizarre experience for Zed, being chatted up by this absolute mutant, whose self-confidence was sky high purely because of the monstrous abomination he had grown on his own face. Finally, when all attempts at subtlety failed, and Zed couldn’t get the guy to just go the fuck away, he told him flat out that manatee noses really turned him off. The guy watched him with a calculating gaze, whipped out his phone, and snapped a picture of Zed. Before Zed could be entirely sure what was happening, the guy had tapped and swiped and tapped some more, and then he flipped the screen around to show Zed the result.

“You’d be so much hotter!” Dick-Nose yelled over the music. “Big is beautiful, man – ain’t no need to be jealous! I can hook you up, yo – I know this guy, works strictly on the down-low from a hotel car park, and he’d do you a pretty sweet deal! We’d put in 20ml for starters, then-”

To Zed, his words filtered through a red haze of disbelief, fury, and nauseous dismay. Glowing from the screen in front of him was a picture of himself, looking mildly shell-shocked, with the most gigantic dick-nose he’d ever seen in his life. Worse than this though, it was so realistic – the image was burning itself into his brain forever more, until the ground seemed to sink beneath his feet and he had the horrifying sensation that he was staring into a mirror, and it was all too late, too damn fucking late. The strobes were flashing again, the guy yelling in his ear about prices and sizes and internet-purchased self-injection kits, and Zed just about managed to pull himself together enough to shout,

“I HOPE IT ROTS RIGHT OFF YOUR FUCKING FACE!” before he whirled around and stormed out into the night.

As he strode furiously through the rain, Zed’s phone vibrated in his pocket, and when he reached the shelter of his apartment building, he pulled it out to find that the hideous picture was now saved to his phone, complete with the message,

“2-for-1 deal on 2mrw, bring a friend. Back of Red Lake Motel, noon!”

Zed snarled at his phone, feeling another wave of horror and confusion – he certainly hadn’t given that dick-nosed wanker his phone number, but the stupid devices came with so many apps installed these days he couldn’t keep track of what was possible anymore. Apparently dick-nose could now harass him throughout eternity with nose-job deals, and this really was the final straw. Zed marched into his apartment, grabbed a bag of A-positive, and crashed into the storage room, flinging off the lid of the coffin and staring down at John. Something inside him relaxed immediately, just a tiny bit, at the sight of that sleeping face. John’s black hair was a tangled, dusty chaos, his pretty young face smooth and untroubled, over a foot of empty air between the top of his head and the end of the coffin. Seeing John’s face was like coming home – always, but tonight it was particularly soothing to Zed, to gaze upon the one face that would never change, a face bereft of bizarre mutilations, a face that had never been stabbed with syringes and pumped full of crap. The face that was reflected in every one of his favourite memories… But as Zed sat there, that sense of peace rapidly faded into loneliness, just as it always did. John was nothing more than an empty shell, just like he’d been for the past nine years. He might as well be a faded photograph, the urn of a loved one’s ashes, for all the comfort he brought. And as Zed sat and stared, the unfairness boiled inside him once more, that he had to deal with this shitty, shitty world, all alone, while John sat it out completely, nestled inside his satin-lined coffin, stubbornly oblivious. As this thought crossed Zed’s mind, John smiled peacefully in his sleep, and Zed lost his shit completely.

“Wake UP!” he hissed, grabbing John’s shoulders and violently shaking him. “Wake the fuck up you lazy little arsehole!”

John remained limp and lifeless, still smiling, and Zed shook him all the harder, snapping,

“If you do not wake up this fucking second so help me god I am going to piss all over you! You can spend all eternity in a coffin full of PISS for all I care, you lazy, self-centred, obnoxious, selfish little shit! I AM GOING TO-”

“Wha’ th’fck…” mumbled John, beginning to frown sleepily. “Wha’…wha’?”

Zed stopped shaking him, and attempted to pry John’s eyes open. Finally a bleary green eye stared back at him, and John mumbled,

“Wha…whass…goin’ on? You gon’…piss on me?”

“Yes,” said Zed, grinning widely. “If you don’t wake up right now and keep me company, I am going to piss on you. Right in your hair.”

John let out a grumble of disgust, opened his other eye, and stared at Zed with a bemused frown. When the silence stretched on, Zed broke open the IV tube on the bag of blood, and stuffed it into John’s mouth. John sighed happily, and drained the entire thing in seconds. When it was gone, he clumsily tugged it out of his mouth, yawned, and mumbled,

“’s a bit early…f’me…”

“It is not fucking early!” Zed snapped, “You’ve been asleep for nine years!”

John shrugged, and closed his eyes, lapsing back into corpse-like stillness. The sight of it sent a shiver of absolute terror down Zed’s spine, another nine years of abandonment crashing down on his head, and he pleaded desperately,

Please, John – just wake up for a little while, just for an hour or two! I need you! Everything’s so horrible, and I can’t bear it anymore!”

John opened one eye, and surveyed him like a haughty cat. Finally he let out a dramatic sigh, opened his other eye, and sat up, giving Zed a hug. Zed wrapped his arms around John’s small, dusty body, and never wanted to move again, but finally, John asked,

“What’s so horrible? Are they still…doing that dance?”

“No,” Zed told him. “It’s the noses… I just can’t stand the fucking noses anymore…”

“Think…” said John, “You’re going to have to explain…”

.

.

Over the next half hour, Zed sat John down in front of the laptop, and took him on a tour of mutilated human faces. John stared in quiet awe at the whole thing, then demanded a cigarette. Zed got him out an old stashed-away pack of Luckies, which was probably stale and revolting by now, but John sucked up the smoke delightedly regardless. Zed showed him the grisly Youtube videos of veneers being fitted, and John wrinkled his nose from within a cloud of smoke, before carefully poking his own teeth as if to make sure nothing terrible had happened to them during his absence. Eventually, when John seemed to be more or less up to speed, sniggering at an Instagram feed of one of the darlings of the manatee scene, a dark-haired boy with a veiny purple sausage-nose dangling right down over his lips, Zed sighed, and asked,

“Are you ready to see the thing that really fucked me up tonight?”

John glanced at him with a frown, and said,

“You mean…there’s more? More than…that? What else can they possibly do to themselves?” He paused, apparently considering this, then went on in speculative tones, “I think toes could be quite interesting, really. I think they might be the next big thing. These people are going completely crazy, but they’re definitely being innovative. So…what about toes? Lots of people in the world have foot fetishes, don’t they? And everybody has more toes than they need, probably. So…I think the next thing will be cutting off a toe, and just…sewing it onto your face. And then, instead of kissing, the people of the future will just suck on each other’s nose-toes…” He trailed off, and they both shuddered in unison.

“No,” said Zed, trying to banish that gruesome visual from his mind, “Nobody’s sewing toes onto their faces. Not yet, anyway. But…a few weeks ago, I took some…well, fuck, I don’t even know what I took, it didn’t exactly feel like acid, but no one does acid now anyway, it’s all this synthetic crap, but I was depressed, and angry, so I took this stupid pill, and I ended up in this godawful nightclub full of these dick-nosed wankers, and I was tripping hard, and it really…it just…scared the shit out of me, and then, tonight, I-”

“You’ve always been fucking lousy on acid,” John interrupted, lighting another cigarette. “Why haven’t you learned that yet? We don’t trip, or, well, you don’t trip, without a pocketful of valium and antipsychotics in case of an emergency. And in a gay club? On your own?” He shook his head in despair, exhaling a cloud of cigarette smoke.

“Yeah,” Zed muttered, cracking open the nearest whiskey bottle, “It was stupid. But as I might have mentioned, you’ve been asleep for the past nine fucking years, and you’re the one with the mysterious ability to summon up any drug known to man at a moment’s notice. I can barely get weed without you…”

“Apparently you can get synthetic LSD. That sounds interesting…”

“It wasn’t. I mean, it really, really wasn’t! It was even worse than that time in ’69 when we tripped with your ‘harmless hippies’ who turned out to be the Manson family. Worse than that.”

“Bummer,” John mumbled, yawning. Zed watched him with a frown – his eyelids were drooping and he looked half asleep. How in hell a person could sleep for nine years and still be tired was absolutely beyond him, but he could feel his time with John slipping away by the second.

“Look at this,” he commanded, pulling out his phone, suppressing a shudder as he brought up the edited picture, and thrusting it under John’s nose. “Just look at this fucking thing!” John stared at it in groggy bemusement for several long seconds, before asking,

“When was this taken? You…you did that thing? To your own nose? Ohhh, it’s hideous, Zed, thank god it’s gone away now!”

“I didn’t do that thing!” Zed snapped, rolling his eyes, “I’m not completely fucking mental! I went to a club, tonight, and this dick-nosed wanker started hitting on me, and then he…I dunno, he photoshopped me into…into this, and now he’s trying to make me get it done for real! He wants you to get it done too, this ‘two for one offer, bring a friend, you can both get mutilated into total twats together’ thing! This is what I’m dealing with, John, every fucking day! This is what life is like now, and you’ve just left me, to deal with it all by myself! It’s not fair, and I can’t-” He broke off as John’s head nodded forward, and just before he fell off the sofa, John woke himself up with a jolt, beginning to blearily rub his eye. Zed watched him dubiously – John had had the occasional dalliance with heroin since the eighties, and this was an all too familiar sight. But when John met his gaze, his pupils were perfectly normal, and besides, he hadn’t left Zed’s side for a second since he’d stumbled out of the coffin…

“’m really sleepy…” John mumbled, by way of explanation, flopping over and burying his face in Zed’s chest. “The noses’re…awful, but…’m jus’ really sleepy…”

How?” Zed asked. “How in fuck’s name can you possibly be sleepy?!”

John just sighed, but after a long silence, he dragged himself upright, and mumbled,

“I toldjoo ‘m not ready to…wake up yet. ‘m sorry, but…’m just not. So…put on some…Lonesome Dove, or somethin’, ‘n just…hold me, for a while… before I go back to sleep…”

Zed frowned, torn between misery and sexual frustration – nine damn years he’d been waiting, and apparently he wasn’t even going to get a five minute fuck before John sodded off back into his coffin. But John was crumpling sideways onto the sofa, and Zed sighed, grabbing him and hauling him to his feet. They plodded a weaving path into the bedroom, where Zed zapped on some Lonesome Dove, and curled himself around John’s slim body. John tangled his fingers into Zed’s hair, rolling over and sleepily biting his neck, mumbling,

“’m sorry… I guess y’could just…sleep…with me, in my coffin, f’r a…few years, or somethin’…”

“I can’t,” Zed said quietly. “I can’t just…crawl into a box for decades, wake up not knowing what’s going on. One of us has to keep up with the world…”

“S’pose…” John conceded. “Sorry ‘m so shit…”

Me too, thought Zed, but instead he kissed John on the forehead, and they lapsed into silence. Zed tried to soak it up, every second of this – every slow, steady breath John took, every tiny movement of his fingers, lazily stroking Zed’s hair. John was still here, and still himself, even after nine years in a coffin. Dead to the world, but not dead. Never dead – not really. However long it took, Zed decided, he could wait it out, keeping up with all the demented trends of the mortal world, until finally, some day, when John was ready, every night would be like this, just like it used to be – John’s small body nestled into Zed’s, Lonesome Dove on the TV. No more loneliness, no more depressing masturbation, no more soulless gay clubs. Someday…

Even the noses didn’t seem so terrifying, now he’d shared them with John. Everything he went through, battling this hideous modern world, he would store it up in his mind, nothing more than a strange tale to tell John, when he finally emerged from the coffin. Whenever that might be…

Zed had just about resigned himself to this fate, when John groggily raised his head, and said,

“Make me some coffee, Zed… N’one’s fucked me in…nine years…or somethin’…”

Zed laughed, asking,

“Really? I think it might traumatise me for life if you go into corpse mode with my cock in your mouth…”

John gave him a serene smile, and promised,

“I’ll stay awake…prob’ly. I’ll risk it…f’you will. Coffee?”

“Coffee,” Zed agreed. “Strong fucking coffee.”

“For fucking with,” said John, sniggering.

 

G.O.D

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2014 by ofherbsandaltars

 

For the second time in 140 years, Zed was beginning to despair of his boyfriend’s inability to cope with immortal life. John had previously spent half a century in self-imposed exile, comatose inside a dusty coffin, until Zed dragged him out into the modern world of 2063. And although John had been enraged by Beef Elvis and all the other horrific inventions of that vulgar age, he had finally come to terms with their new way of life, and they had spent a blissful decade together, catching up on fifty years of blood-drinking, whiskey, grainy old westerns and spine-tingling blowjobs.

But all too soon, their happiness had been cut short – by 2075, John had lapsed back into monosyllabic misery, spending whole nights lying flat on his back on the roof, drinking whiskey and gazing mournfully up at the lurid ruination of his beloved moon, now home to the hideous Lunar Resort, a-swarm with crass, obese tourists. He refused to leave the house, burst into tears if the TV was turned on, and even the arrival of a newspaper filled with daunting inventions and alien culture could send him into a state of total catatonia for up to a week. Finally, one night in July, he quietly informed Zed that he was going back to sleep, back into his coffin, because he just couldn’t bear it anymore. He looked so hopelessly dejected that Zed didn’t even try to argue with him – instead, he vowed to join him in exile, and John managed a sad little smile in response.

Two days later, Zed had paid the rent on his apartment for the foreseeable future, and procured a coffin built for the fattest of fat people. After a ceremonial last supper of Type O Positive, he followed John into its spacious, satin-lined darkness, curling himself around John’s slim body, and making a silent but fervent wish that this time, he wouldn’t sleep for quite so long.

At first, the years passed quickly, and Zed enjoyed the vivid, intricate dreams that would unfurl inside the brain of a hibernating vampire. He drifted happily through a swirling gumbo of memory and fiction, finding himself wandering through the world he had once known and loved, the bustling dancehalls of the 1950’s, the scents of whiskey and Brylcreem and cigarette smoke, as Elvis and Johnny Cash gyrated on stage to twangy guitars. This was the rose-tinted world in which he had first met John, a fellow Brit washed up in Tennessee, when he had become entranced by his pale, flawless skin, his pretty face, his bright green eyes and bizarre sense of humour, when they had loved nothing more than to drive his vast old Cadillac out into the hills, parking up and gazing out across the city lights, sharing a bottle of whiskey and talking about nothing at all.

The decades that followed had flown by in utter contentment, and Zed had barely noticed the gradual reversal of their roles, as John began to fear and distrust each new invention, began to tear his hair out in despair and hopelessness at every song on the radio, every strange new cultural fad. Suddenly Zed was no longer the protégé, the baby vampire who must be taught – he became John’s eternal guardian, patiently explaining to him how to use a mobile phone, what the internet did, what hipsters and hashtags and 3D cinema meant. It had amused Zed, John’s increasing and endearing eccentricity, until in 2013 John gave up on life altogether, and disappeared into his coffin for an eternity. Zed had found himself abandoned in that hideous 21st century, an ancient creature lost and alone in a terrifying world, and finally, he had begun to understand the reason for John’s despair.

 

 

Zed wasn’t sure how many years had passed, when the vivid colours of his dreams began to fade, and slowly but surely, he found himself waking up. John was motionless beside him, and at first he buried his face in John’s chaotic black hair, tried to will himself back to sleep, but sleep would not come. Boredom arrived first, then a hunger so intense he felt sick. Finally, he shoved open the coffin, and crawled out, stumbling weakly into the kitchen to devour the blood supply. There was a thick layer of dust on all the worktops, and though the blood settled his stomach, it tasted musty and strange, well past its best. Zed stuffed the empty bloodbags into the bin, and wandered cautiously into the living room. He picked up the black credit card that lay on the coffee table, blew the dust bunnies off it, and pointed it at the wall. A vast screen burst into life, and he flipped through to the news channel. The date, he discovered, was Saturday, March 2nd, 2097. They had been asleep for more than two decades, and this fact disturbed him. Zed had never before given in to existential despair, had remained a conscious, functioning part of the world, every single day of his extended lifetime, and now he felt horribly lost, as though he had been tossed into the future against his will.

He frowned at the TV screen, his sense of bemusement increasing as a newsreader in a neon-lime zebra-striped suit held forth with enthusiasm over ‘GOD Day’. Zed had no idea what this meant – before he went to sleep, religion seemed to be dying out, but now, GOD was on every channel he could find, always written in those imperious, demanding caps. Soon there were rapid clips of bizarrely attired humans, each one pleading with the camera, with GOD, for things they desired to be granted. Each one of them spoke with an intensity of obsessive zeal that made Zed question their sanity – they seemed wholly convinced that GOD was listening, was watching this very broadcast. After staring at this perverse spectacle for ten minutes, Zed sighed despairingly, and fired up his trusty purple laptop. It was time to decipher this sinister new decade.

 

 

For the next month, Zed drifted back into his old routine, tirelessly researching the hellish inventions of humanity, sifting through alien information until his brain throbbed and the words blurred before his eyes. Frequently he discovered things that appalled him to the depths of his vampire soul, and when this happened, he sought his oldest comfort – an entire bottle of whiskey, followed by a lengthy session of furious vomiting off the edge of his roof, until he felt soothed and exhausted enough to wander back inside for an all night viewing of Lonesome Dove. On some of these occasions, he found himself drifting into the storage room and opening up the coffin, where John still lay, smiling serenely in his sleep. Zed would watch him for hours, sometimes stroking John’s tousled hair, kissing the cold softness of his lips, yearning to wake him up, to share his confusion with the only person on the planet who would understand – the only person on the planet who remembered the world as it used to be, a world that had once made sense. But always, Zed stopped himself – he knew he couldn’t do it, not yet, not until he had made sense of the world himself. If he couldn’t explain everything to John, in words that John would understand, he would be overwhelmed completely, terrified beyond endurance by this alien environment, and Zed couldn’t bear to see that hopeless look in his eyes, all over again. And so, he would quietly close the lid over John’s sleeping face, and plod back to his laptop, where he would sit for the rest of the night, striving to understand all the things he never should have lived to see.

 

 

There were many inventions and cultural fads that baffled and infuriated Zed, but there was one he found oddly seductive. He had been surprised to discover that Facebook’s successor, Facenet, was still running, that his and John’s profiles were still live, though hopelessly outdated and all but abandoned by their human friends, now in their forties and fifties. But the very nature of Facenet’s continued success, with its aging population moving perpetually towards death, had provoked the creation of a programme that stood on the border between genius and blasphemy. It was known as the ImmortoBot, and its stated purpose was to comfort the grieving, its lurid banner adverts declaring Now there really is life after death! With ImmortoBot, your loved ones will never leave you. For just $899 a month, you’ll never be lonely again!”

The purpose of this strange piece of software was to keep a person’s Facenet profile live and active following their death. By combining information on the deceased user from Facenet, Google, and other major players in the information-for-sale business, ImmortoBot could devise a realistic but fictional plotline of the person’s continued existence, allowing them to post new Facenet statuses every day, and even to reply to the statuses of their friends and family, as though they had never left. The humans had not yet conquered death, but they had managed to deceive themselves out of grief – death was no longer final, no longer silent, instead it had become nothing more than a joyous extended vacation.

Zed pondered the ImmortoBot for several days. He was, without a doubt, the programme’s target market – lonesome and abandoned, desperately missing the boy he loved more than anything else in the world. Would it really be so wrong to bring him back, to allow himself this one tiny comfort – John’s online presence, thriving once more, for him to talk to late at night? He was wholly aware that John – the real John – would be appalled by the idea, and this knowledge held him back, but it was quickly eclipsed by stubbornness. Why should John have a say in it? Why should John have a say in anything when he had chosen, for the second time this century, to entirely abandon him, to lie comatose and useless in a box while Zed faced the world alone. If Zed had to cope with this sinister neon wilderness all by himself, the very least John could do was allow him the one small comfort of his demi-fictional online presence. Finally, Zed’s repressed irritation, combined with half a bottle of whiskey, pushed him through his initial resistance – he got out his credit card, and signed John’s Facenet account up to the ImmortoBot.

It took Zed a number of weeks to fully understand the mystery of GOD, the strange religious fervour he was now surrounded by, but all too soon, GOD became a continual blight on his existence. After many nights of brain-aching internet research, he had finally managed to delve into the history of GOD, discovering that this seismic shift in modern religion had taken place just three years after he and John retreated into the coffin. In 2078, a group of Texan evangelists had threatened to nuke the entire United States in a violent effort to bring about the second coming. The rebellion had been quashed with only moderate loss of life, but it had brought the eternal problem of religious warfare to a head. At an international summit in Berlin, it was finally agreed that the issue was the sheer impossibility of reaching a consensus, where different religions were involved. Even the early 21st century rise in atheism had caused problems, spawning a generation of suicidal children taught to believe themselves nothing more than soulless lumps of meat, existing in a world where nothing mattered – so many of these children had hurled themselves to their meaningless deaths from the tops of skyscrapers in the early 2030s. It was clear that religion was natural, even essential, to the human mindset, but was it logical to base one’s beliefs on perverse, antiquated texts, to pray to a God who hadn’t been seen in millennia?

After much debate, an innovative solution was reached. Humanity would take religion into its own hands – make it literal, make it profitable, make it work. Immediately following the summit, there was an ugly scramble by global corporations to seize world control of religion, and over the next eighteen months, many gods were born, and died their lonely deaths. One victor emerged, unstoppable, from the chaos – G.O.D, the Google Omnipotent-love Deity, powered into existence by the most powerful, all-knowing company on the planet, easily able to answer simple prayers before they were even spoken, via an exhaustive knowledge of the user’s internet browsing history. Google already knew the world’s deepest, darkest secrets, and now, Google had been reborn as the One True God. Within ten years, GOD was everywhere – on every single phone and computer, in the form of the PrayerStation, which beamed the desperation of human souls directly into the stratosphere, bouncing off satellite dishes and rerouting to GOD’s Island in the middle of the Atlantic, a floating ecosystem of nuns and monks who worked tirelessly to shepherd the lost sheep. Lonely people would install GOD’s Eye cameras in their homes, and it comforted them to know that they were no longer alone, that GOD was truly watching, truly listening to their every word, and even responding with messages of comfort and salvation that would flash up on their computer screens.

Above all, the constantly evolving strength of GOD was driven by the fervent success of GOD Day. By the time of Zed’s awakening in 2097, every Saturday had become a minor GOD Day, with additional bi-annual celebrations of vast decadence. Humanity would be whipped into a frenzy by the promise of prayers granted, not with mere words of wisdom, but with cold hard cash. Every GOD Day, 150 people in the USA would have their greatest wishes granted. Every GOD Day, the TV stations portrayed endless sob stories of families in need, until 10pm, when the chosen wishes would be granted, and the victors were paraded before the nation, weeping tears of joy, as the world poured out its love and thanks to the eternal goodness of GOD.

Zed watched much of the GOD Day coverage in a state of speechless bemusement, but it was when he stepped outside his flat that the true horror hit him. Everywhere he went, humans were dragging around vast neon crosses, wearing wreaths of luminous peas that dripped realistic phosphorescent blood. They were gathered in groups with their phones held aloft, falling to their knees and weeping in the streets as they poured out their desperate pleas to the PrayerStation. Wherever he went, shopkeepers asked him what he had prayed for, or who was his choice of this week’s TV darlings. Everywhere, the nation was awash with desperate obsession – Zed felt as though he were surrounded by children frantically awaiting the coming of Santa Claus, except that it never, ever ended. Every single week he had to endure the same frantic insanity, until he refused to leave his flat at all on weekends, but still the 10pm fireworks and cries of joy and despair drove him slowly out of his mind.

There wasn’t a single programme on modern TV that Zed understood or enjoyed, but GOD Day was by far the worst. He had even been known to flip the channel onto reruns of the Dump Diaries to avoid it, and Dump Diaries was the lowest of the low, the inevitable depths of the reality TV barrel, wherein normal people recorded their most trivial and pointless thoughts whilst sitting on the toilet in a specially made Poop Confession Booth. By the eighth week of this routine, Zed was truly beginning to despair, finding himself, once again, voluntarily and avidly watching nondescript mortals pondering their shopping lists, or moaning about their boyfriend’s toenails, punctuated by the soft splashing of faeces hitting toilet water. Was this really what his life had become? Had he truly survived 166 years on this planet to rot away in a lonely apartment, his sole entertainment a fat man taking the longest shit in existence? Zed didn’t know whether to laugh or cry during these moments of ghastly introspection, but inevitably he would whip himself into an existential fury, and end up vomiting whiskey and bloodclots off the edge of his roof, interspersed with howling insults at the GOD Day revelers in the streets below.

Yet another source of consternation was John’s ImmortoBot reincarnation. Zed was beginning to suspect that the ImmortoBot was slightly homophobic. John’s online persona had explained its twenty year absence with a rather lame tale of amnesia, brought on by a freak windsurfing accident in Benidorm, which didn’t particularly impress Zed – John despised hot countries, despised the culture of British people on holiday, burning themselves lobster-red and balancing cans of TitWhizz on their wobbling beer-guts – Zed found it impossible to envisage John ever wanting to go to Benidorm. Grudgingly, he made allowance for this initial error – presumably the ImmortoBot didn’t often have to contend with the peculiarities of a vampire gone missing for decades. Nonetheless, the ImmortoBot’s inaccuracies continued to spiral out of control. Within two weeks, John had made a heartfelt confession that, for the majority of his life, he had been ‘confused’ about his sexuality, which downgraded their 140 year relationship to a mere teenage fumble. Three days later, John was excited to be going on a date – with a woman. Zed watched these events unfold in a state of increasing bemusement, but somehow, he couldn’t bear to look away. Next, came a disturbingly convincing photograph of John on a beach, his arm around a pretty blonde called Miranda. What Zed found most horrifying of all, however, was that the ImmortoBot had taken the liberty of ageing John as though he were human. Zed’s pale, pretty-faced boyfriend was now rotund, greying, bizarrely sunburned and developing a bald patch. That night, Zed vomited off the roof for three straight hours.

Zed’s state of ever-growing disgust finally peaked on Friday 24th June. It had been impossible to ignore the building atmosphere of delirious excitement that was sweeping the nation – tomorrow was Midsummer GODmas, one of the two major religious holidays, and the humans were going crazy. Tomorrow, 2,000 Americans would have their most lavish prayers answered, and a further 1,000 would be given the power to smite their most hated enemy. The result was an intoxicating cocktail of greed and wrath, and everywhere Zed went, mortals were drooling over luxury hover-yachts, private rockets and permanent rooms on the Lunar Resort, interspersed with violent imaginings of their troublesome neighbours being lynched, their bosses being castrated, that dog that never stopped barking being throttled with its own tongue. Even on the Dump Diaries, the ponderings from the Poop Booth ran on similarly vicious lines, and for the past three nights, Zed had vomited off the roof until his throat bled and stars danced before his eyes, but still the horror wouldn’t leave him. On Friday 24th June, he sat on the sofa in front of Lonesome Dove, and cried into his bottle of whiskey, overwhelmed with despair, until in the desperate hope of comfort, he logged onto Facenet. John’s chubby sunburned alterego popped up, happily declaring that Miranda was now pregnant, and Zed howled with horror, hurling his whiskey bottle at the wall, where it exploded into a million sparkling fragments

As Zed stared blankly at the mess of whiskey and broken glass, he knew that he couldn’t bear it any longer. It was time to wake up John, whether he liked it or not.

 

 

In the storage room, inside the faded satin luxury of his oversized coffin, John was still sleeping. Zed brought in an armful of blood bags – he knew only too well that John had perfected laziness into an art form, could sleep through earthquakes and gunfire; kick-starting his metabolism with a bag of blood was the only thing that would rouse him. Crouching down next to the coffin, Zed broke open the IV tube on a bag of blood, and poked the end into John’s mouth. John smiled in his sleep, beginning to quietly drink, until the bag ran dry, and the smooth skin of his forehead puckered into a bemused frown. Zed removed the tube from his mouth, and gave John a poke in the chest, saying his name.

“No…” John mumbled. “Go ‘way…”

“Please wake up,” Zed persisted, beginning to gently shake his shoulders. “I want to talk to you…”

“Nooo…” John groaned despairingly, “They’re mine!  Jus’…jus’…leave ‘em alone!”

Zed laughed, and shook him harder. John’s mumblings became more and more irate, until his eyes snapped open, his pupils dilating with fury, and he launched himself out of the coffin, landing on top of Zed and violently punching him in the ear as he howled,

“GIVE THEM BACK, YOU BASTARD MOTHERFUCKER! YOU SCUMBAG FUCKING-”

“It’s me!” Zed protested, trying desperately to grab John’s wrists before he received another fist to the face. “Stop hitting me!”

After several seconds of violent flailing, the manic light faded from John’s green eyes, and he went limp, staring at Zed with an expression of confusion. Zed shuffled out from underneath him, grabbed a second blood bag, and held it out, suggesting,

“Drink this.”

John regarded it suspiciously, but eventually accepted, biting into the plastic and slurping up the blood, still looking decidedly bemused. When the blood was gone, Zed asked,

“Why did you attack me?”

“Thought you were George W Bush,” John said thoughtfully. “I’d found the last pack of Lucky Strikes on the entire planet, hidden inside a fat man’s beard. But just as I was about to light one, George called them terrorist sticks and started tossing them into a puddle…”

“He’s dead, remember?” Zed replied, grinning. “He’s been dead for ages. And no one says terrorist anymore, they’re evilists now.”

John rolled his eyes, and bit into the final blood bag. There was a rapid explosion of fireworks from the night outside, and a chorus of human voices yelled,

“WE LOVE YOU, GOD!”

John took the bag out of his mouth, and frowned at Zed, demanding,

“What the fuck’s going on out there?”

Zed stood up, and dragged John to his feet, leading him down the corridor and into the living room. He mutely zapped the TV onto the news channel, where the pre-GODmas build-up was well underway. John dumped himself down on the sofa, and frowned at the screen. An obese woman was promising to commit the life and soul of her firstborn daughter to the eternal service of GOD, if she could be granted a BMW Supersonic with a luminous rainbow paint job. Next came a red-faced man with tiny piggish eyes, who was begging for the opportunity to smite his cheating wife – he wanted to heat up her curling iron and then sodomise her with it. John shuddered at this idea, looking horrified. Glancing up at Zed, he asked fearfully,

“Is this a thing now? A new sexual kink? Have you tried it? It sounds awful!”

Zed laughed, sitting down and sliding his arm around John’s waist.

“It’s not a thing,” Zed reassured him, “And I definitely haven’t tried it. This is what happens tomorrow: GODmas – people get stuff they want, or they get to do horrible things to the people they hate – all legal and government sanctioned. And then the rest of the world watches it on TV and gets really excited.”

“God…does this for people?” John asked, glancing nervously over his shoulder. “There’s an actual God now? Since when? Is he scary? What does he wear? Does he still hate gays?”

Zed laughed, leaning over to give him a kiss. John pulled away, casting another fearful glance at the ceiling, until Zed told him,

“God can’t see us here. He’s not a real God – it’s just this ridiculous new Google stunt. Hang on.”

He opened the laptop, and flipped to the most succinct page he had yet found on the GOD phenomenon. John read it with a frown, before snorting with laughter and muttering,

“Google Omnipotent-love Deity! That doesn’t even spell God! It just sounds like a terrible sex toy for kinky Catholics!”

Just then, the laptop let out a gleeful ping, and Zed’s other tab started flashing. Before he could intervene, John had flicked over to Facenet, where his own aged and bloated face was staring back at him, once again depicted on the beach with Miranda, holding out a pregnancy test as both of them smiled soppily at each other.

WHAT”John exclaimed, his eyes widening, “The fuck is this! Is that supposed to be me? What the fuck have they done to my face?! And who the fuck is that woman and WHY IS SHE SMILING AT ME?!”

“Umm…” said Zed, feeling his insides freeze with shame. “She’s…she’s your girlfriend. She’s pregnant. But…but it’s not real!” he added hastily, as John fixed him with a horrified green glare. “It’s just this computer programme that pretends you’re still alive and happy, and I only did it because I missed you so much!”

“You missed me?” John repeated hysterically. “You missed me so much that you decided to turn me into a fat red balding HETEROSEXUAL?!”

“I didn’t mean to!” Zed protested. “I didn’t get to choose what happened, I just paid for it!”

John fixed him with a long and withering gaze of total disgust, before standing up haughtily, and stomping away down the corridor. Zed jumped up and ran after him, pulling him to a halt outside the storage room and pleading,

“Don’t go back to sleep, John! I’m sorry – I’ll get it shut down tomorrow, I promise, just please don’t leave me again?”

John slowly turned around, drawing himself up to his full height, and scowling up at Zed.

“I’ve got some whiskey?” Zed offered nervously. “Have a drink with me?”

John continued to scowl at him, his lower lip sticking out in a sullen pout, but Zed took his silence for assent, and wandered into the kitchen. There was only a quarter of a bottle left, now that he’d smashed the other one, but it would have to do. He led the way up the stairs to the roof, and John followed along behind, grumbling under his breath.

When they emerged into the night air, John’s eyes immediately flicked towards the moon. Its glittering belts of red, white and blue were flashing on and off, and across its middle it declared in luminous green capitals “WE LUV GOD!” John shuddered violently, and snatched the bottle out of Zed’s hand. As he wandered around the rooftop, swigging from the bottle, he stared out across the neon-lit city skyline, his eyes finally coming to rest on a nearby rooftop, where several blazing crosses had been erected. Pointing an imperious finger at this bizarre spectacle, he demanded,

“What the hell is that? Who the fuck needs four burning crosses, isn’t one enough to make a point?! And there’s a…there’s a…” he peered into the distance, before exclaiming, “There’s a fucking black guy standing next to them! Who do the racists hate this time?!”

“It’s not racist,” Zed explained, “Not anymore. You know what modern people are like – if they can make something glow, they’ll always do it. At least those bloody luminous peas are dying out now though, I hated those things…”

John sighed, and went to sit down on the edge of the roof. He hesitated, wrinkling his nose, and sat down on a different spot.

“You’ve been puking off the roof again,” he said accusingly, “haven’t you?”

“Almost every night,” Zed admitted, sitting down next to him. “I’ve only been awake for three months, but it’s been awful…”

John said nothing, frowning at the whiskey bottle, but Zed could tell what he was thinking.

“I know you didn’t want to be woken up,” he said, taking John’s hand, “Not when everything’s so terrible, but I just couldn’t bear it on my own anymore. You made me what I am so that you’d never have to be alone – don’t I get to ask the same of you?”

John glanced up at him, sighed, and took a large gulp of whiskey.

“Haven’t they invented time machines yet?” he asked despairingly. “Can’t we just go back? Can’t we just go back to how the world used to be, when it wasn’t awful?”

Zed shook his head. “That was one of the first things I looked up. They invented a time machine twelve years ago, but it turned people inside out. After it totally eviscerated twenty volunteers, the inventor smashed it to bits, burned all his notes and then shot himself in the face. Sorry…”

“Hmm,” John conceded gloomily. “I suppose I’d even rather be here than turned inside out…”

He drained the whiskey bottle, and Zed suggested,

“Come for a walk with me? It’ll be crazy out there, but there’s no more booze in the flat…”

John blew a pessimistic raspberry, but nonetheless stood up, and plodded towards the stairs.

 

 

As they made their way towards Walmart, Zed kept hold of John’s hand, towing him along as he stared around himself in a state of speechless disgust. The night air was thick with the stench of rancid cinnamon, belching out of the exhaust grills in a glittering line of Honda Godspurs, several of which had been fitted with blazing orange crosses that towered into the night sky, American flags fluttering in the breeze. As they continued up the road, they passed a group of teenagers, one holding up a phone while the others threw themselves about in a crazed, violent jig to a tinny rendition of ‘GODmas Vengeance’. Gangs of fat, shirtless men were reeling past, swigging from cross-shaped vessels of obscenely luminous yellow liquid.

Why,” John hissed in Zed’s ear, “Is everyone drinking radioactive piss?!”

Zed burst out laughing, dragging John into a nearby doorway to kiss him. When they finally broke apart, John gave him a reluctant smile, and they continued on their way.

“The radioactive piss,” Zed explained, “It’s called BlessedBeer – it’s the official drink of GODmas, and one in a thousand caps wins you a year’s supply.”

Wonderful,” John replied sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “How did I ever live without a year’s supply of nuclear urine! Have you ever fed on these people? I bet they taste revolting!”

Zed opened his mouth to reply, but a deafening rumbling interrupted him, as a vast gleaming BMW Supersonic came growling past, three fat drunken men hanging out of the windows, hollering,

“TITS OUT FOR GOD! YEAHHHHHHH!”

“Oh, will you just FUCK OFF AND DIE!!” John shrieked at the retreating car, leaping up and down in a furious wardance, and Zed laughed, taking his hand and pulling him away from the road.

“It’s much better now that you’re here,” he said, smiling.

John glanced up at him with a frown, retorting sulkily,

“There’s something wrong with you. You’re only happy when I’m suffering!”

“I’m not happy that you’re suffering,” Zed disagreed. “You haven’t been here the last few months. Do you know what I’ve been doing, since I woke up? I’ve been watching people sitting on the loo, taking awful shits and talking about nothing – every single day! That has been the highlight of my day for the past three months. That’s how bad my life’s been, without you in it.”

John glanced up at him, and Zed could see him trying very hard not to laugh.

“Watching people shit?” he repeated. “How? And…and why?”

“It’s a programme called Dump Diaries. I haven’t literally been lurking around in toilets, getting my sexual kicks from fat men shitting…”

John sniggered, and wandered off into Walmart, looking happier than he had all night.

 

 

They passed the wall of PrayerStations, where people were making last minute drunken demands on GOD, and made their way to the booze aisle. Most of the shelves were weighed down with luminous vessels of BlessedBeer, but Zed managed to grab two dusty bottles of whiskey from the back of the shelf. As they turned towards the tills, John stated,

“I want something to smoke. I can still see George Fucking Bush tossing my Luckies into a puddle.”

“But you know that-”

“I know, I know,” John interrupted irritably, “Anti-Tobacco Act of 2036, this century’s biggest blight on my life! Don’t they sell any of those things anymore though, those pretend cigarette pussy-sticks?”

Zed laughed. “Yeah, but they’ve gone a bit…GODly…”

He led the way up another aisle, and plucked off the shelf something that appeared to be a cross between a crucifix and a cigar, the words Halo Haze scrawled down its length. John eyed it with suspicion, clearly reluctant to partake in anything GOD-related, but eventually he sighed, and took it from Zed.

 

 

When they emerged into the night, John took a dubious drag on his holy cigar, and blew out a cloud of phosphorescent golden vapour. As he stared at it in horror, it began to swirl around his head, as though he was wearing a shimmering halo.

“Fucking hell,” he muttered. “There really is nothing left that they can’t make glow…”

Zed smirked. “You can even get an implant put in your dick that glows – you can have a hard-on for hours, a massive, purple-glowing boner! I was actually quite tempted with that…”

“Don’t you dare!” John exclaimed, gaping up at him in horror. “Don’t you even think about it! If you get your dick sliced open and turned into a…a…a fucking lumo-dildo, I’m going to be celibate forever!”

Zed laughed, and John took another irritable drag on his cigar, turning back towards the flat, when something stopped him dead in his tracks.

“Do you hear that?” he asked, glancing back with an expression of sheer amazement.

Zed paused to listen, and his eyes widened. John suddenly beamed widely, grabbing Zed’s hand and dragging him up the street at top speed. An alien sound was filling the air, completely at odds with the throbbing electronic bleep-and-squelch of ‘GODmas Vengeance’, the drunken prayers, the blazing crosses and the stench of rancid cinnamon. The sound was Elvis, and he was belting out Hound Dog, raucous and joyful above the bouncing riffs of a twangy guitar. John broke into a run, laughing with disbelief, and Zed had to restrain him from leaping right over a car in a decidedly un-human manner. Soon they came upon a vast glowing sign, declaring,

“Granted by GOD, on June 1st 2097 – Axton’s Antiquity Bar!”

John barely paused to read it, before dragging Zed around the corner. On a gloomy, deserted sidestreet, stood what appeared to be an old fashioned cinema, the dully-lit sign above its steps announcing,

“TONIGHT: ELVIS, LIVE ON STAGE!”

John beamed ecstatically, and towed Zed up the stairs. Inside the darkened room, it was hot and humid, the air thick with a scent that Zed hadn’t smelled in half a century, a scent so nostalgic it brought tears to his eyes. It was cigarette smoke, and beer, and sweat, and at the front of the room, a young, beautiful human boy with a voice like roughened gold was still howling out Hound Dog.

John had gone bounding across the room before Zed could blink, dropping to his knees in front of the stage and staring in open mouthed wonder at the boy. Zed made a quick detour to the bar to buy a pack of illicit brand-less smokes and a lighter, before joining John at the front. As he lit a cigarette for John, then for himself, they stared at each other in silent ecstasy, inhaling the half-forgotten poison, feeling it burn down into their lungs, until John’s lips were on Zed’s, his mouth tasting dirty and smoky and alive just as it had in those long ago days, before the world went directly to hell. The boy on stage segued into a hectic, bouncing rendition of Blue Suede Shoes, and John broke away from Zed, snatching a bottle of whiskey out of his hand, flicking off the cap and leaping manically around the dancefloor, gulping from the bottle and sucking down vast lungfuls of smoke, his green eyes glittering behind a film of tears. Zed just stood back and watched him, smoking his cigarette and feeling as though his heart would rupture with joy – feeling as though this moment could sustain him through a hundred years of torment, that whatever the world might throw at him tomorrow, he would always have this moment

He was broken out of his reverie when John came leaping across the room, hurling himself into Zed’s arms, and dragging him towards the bathroom. The bottle in his hand was as good as empty, and as he pushed open the bathroom door he tripped over his own feet and Zed had to grab him before he hit the concrete. Undeterred, John hauled him into the nearest bathroom stall, wriggled out of his jeans and began clumsily fumbling at Zed’s fly. Zed pushed his hands away and dropped to his knees, taking John’s cock in his mouth, until John shivered and mumbled,

“No…not like that… Just fuck me, Zed, right here – just fuck me…”

Zed stood up, surprised, unable to remember the last time this request had been made, and he pointed out,

“I haven’t…got any lube though…”

“Then spit on it!” John retorted imperiously, sprawling out across the closed toilet lid. “Fucking spit on it, and then fuck me with it!”

Zed tried not to laugh, as John drunkenly snatched the cigarettes out of his pocket, and lit himself a new one, closing his eyes and inhaling deeply with an expression of utter bliss. Zed spat into his hand, smeared saliva over his cock, and knelt back down on the dirty tiles. John still had his eyes closed, and appeared to have passed out drunk, but for the fact that he was blowing out a vast plume of cigarette smoke. As soon as Zed started cautiously entering him, his eyes snapped open and he beamed drunkenly, grabbing Zed’s hips and grinding against him, sucking up cigarette smoke and letting it out in a blissful moan. Through the wall, they could hear Elvis slowing the tempo, crooning out You Were Always On My Mind, and soon, they were softly singing along, clinging to each other in the dirty, smoky little stall. The neon wasteland outside the walls of this dingy old bar had faded into nothingness, until all that remained was that golden voice – was John’s slim body against Zed’s, the burnt-out taste of his hot wet mouth, and just for a moment, the world was alright again.