Pulling Back

Super-8 sound. 4 minutes.

The sequence has been shot on VHS with a relatively high degree of professionalism. It has then been duplicated through several generations and replayed on a slightly malfunctioning Phillips portable TV set to maximum colour and contrast, and this filmed in closeup by a hand-held Bell and Howell Super-8 ciné camera. Focus and exposure are correct. There is no noticeable screen-reflection.

The soundtrack consists of a man reading from a prepared script in a tinny, grating monotone: there is no change in pitch or rhythm, save that his voice cracks at points of emphasis. Sound-effects are cleanly overdubbed. This basic track is is intercut with sound-bursts from the original video shoot, rerecorded from the speaker of the TV and fouled by a babble of background voices, male and female, raised in argument, the actual words of which are indistinguishable.

The flickering, static-hazed image trembles and wavers on the screen, and this is exaggerated by the process of projection.

* * *


(Motherly, hushing sounds. The rasping slither of soft, warm, talcum’d skin.Slipping crackle-crust. Soft, cool hands roll me over and a knee crunches into the back; sharp-edged carbon steel biting into wrists as hasps lock with quick precision: snick, snap.)

And fade up to:

A clean bare room: cracks and patches of plaster crumbled off the lath. Scrubbed floorboards. Abstract and vaguely totemic designs are scrawled on the walls: black and primitive and complex. Bright sunlight outside and a simple Japanese paper screen across the window. Black plastic bags of clothing strewn across the floor. Scattered clothing, male and female.

A mattress lies against one wall. A radiator pipe and broken radiator. A small pile of various unused condoms in their wrappings by the bed. A ceramic bowl containing four used condoms beside it. There is menstrual blood on them; smears on the mattress.

A MAN, naked and face-down on the mattress, legs splayed and tied by ankles to steel rings bolted to the floor. His left wrist is handcuffed to the pipe. His right hand grips the pipe tightly. He wears a number of heavy rings. There is a wad of bundled clothing under him, raising him slightly. Well defined musculature.

Scratches fresh and half-healed on his back. A tattoo on his shoulder and another and another on his upper arm. A solid-black Cocteau design. Longish, fine and off-blond hair. His face is pressed into the mattress. Straddling one splayed leg, on her knees, a WOMAN: mid-twenties, punkshock hair, face intent and childlike-serious as she straps on a six-inch silicate dildo.

(And in the Calibrian region of Italy, women saved a few drops of their menstrual fluid in a small bottle which they carried wherever they went. It was believed that when such drops were secretly administered to the man of their choice the man would be bound to them forever. The Elixir Rebeus!)

She smears her palm across her mouth. A slick film of saliva.

She smears saliva on the head of the strap-on, then rolls a condom down the shaft. She pinches the teat with one hand. Gently, secondarily she brushes outer labia protruding from the base of the strap-on with a fingertip.

She falls upon the man, gnaws gently on the back of his neck.

(And the weight on top of me, pressing on me, and a mouth pressed to my ear and murmuring:

'She finally passed out. And when she finally passed out I hamstrung her, dislocated her hips and shoulders. It was vital that she remained immobile, absolutely still. Saline drips and bloodpacks. I inserted a catheter and I fed her through a needle. I kept her alive for months. It was quite difficult. Slaying skin and muscle and glucaea a single tiny shred at a time. A fragile tangle of veins and arteries and lymph ducts. Lymph and bile and cephalic fluid stored in individually-labled bottles and refrigerated. It’s. You have to believe. Have to believe I never ...

'Her voice is cool and monotonic, matter-of-fact flipping someone I don’t know called Susan from vanilla fem to ritual butchered meat. In that instant I don’t know if she’s making it up or not.')

She slithers down. Teeth clench lightly, momentarily over the anus and release. A tongue slips inside.

('There’s a black iron engine hanging in a hot red sky and the machine is me and as I try to comprehend its vast and churning maze of internal conduits my mind shifts and slips like shale and suddenly I crazy-move to:

'Sand dunes under an azure summer sky. A salt breeze ripples samphire. A blonde and beautiful child, a girl, offers me a clump of tiny, pale blue flowers. It’s not, she shays, it’s not - and the light, the crushing light comes down, washing out my field of vision with its flat blank white. Hooknails bite into shoulders and rake down. Slithers up: slugtrail tongue.')

She smears lubricant into the anus, working it apart with circular, splaying, stretching movements.

('And we stumbled through the tunnels ‘til we found the husk of Nail: wasted and flaking and propped against the wall, crumbling into papergrey ash. The Strata Angel was there, a construct now, like gelid glass, shot with wormholes filled with lambent fluid. Shadowplay on translucent surfaces, macroforms splitting and flickering and pulsing. Somewhere somebody was shrieking, clawing at his face in a room of broken machinery …')

She half-smiles, catlike.

('She pirouettes in mid-air, screaming tactile subsonics from her eyes and mouth and cunt, down corridors and catwalks and vast brick vaults with chessboard floors and halls hung with shredded membrane and the false backs of cupboards and skylights and holes in the wall. A dark room hung with burning kites. The death of the hollow age.')

She shoves into him, digging nails into his back to afford purchase, and gouges down.

('An exquisite awareness of a slight mass under me. She’s slipping faster now and I’m shuddering and I want to projectile-shit and -')

And later, he glances back, and speaks, softly, and for the first time he uses her name.

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