Monday, 11 February 2013

Hero Worship Part 1 of 4: My Skull the Vocal Booth

Stephanie Penny Tent Presents ...

    My name is Spiderfingers and chaos has a way of following me. It's best that I stay away from people. And so, I live in a disused toy factory with no running water, electricity or any other mod cons.

When your mind allows the dirt and stink of your body to shovel themselves over you, your every movement caked in the grime and smell of yesterday's exertions, it’s yesterday's failures and thoughts that control you. So I don’t deserve a stereo. Murderers don’t deserve Iggy Pop on tap, do they? They deserve to sleep on a mat in a shit-hole. I repeat, sleep on a mat in a shit-hole. Forget the wailing of your teething child, that selfish ball of flesh, because there’s nothing more unsettling than the private feral roar of something un-dead and angry.

    Maybe it’s a poltergeist woken up in a house being restored by a new family? Or maybe the fuckers just realised that it’s body is decomposing, never to eat, jerk off or go travelling again, I dunno. All I know is that my skull has become the vocal booth for an extremely expressive ghost with an overly familiar howl.

After long moments of wishing it away (as if self-exorcism is ever that easy) I decide to start an investigation. I’ll need the internet to confirm the ghost's identity, so I’m forced into hitting the street.
My Skull, the Vocal Booth
    Out in London's autumn chill, one cautionary glance follows another, and I decide the screaming really is a private torture. The scanned faces of most commuters scream ‘kill me’ but that’s just Camden in the early hours, man - my headache isn't a shared experience. Thankfully, my flaming fringe is also an exclusive phenomenon dependent upon my invitation.

See unless I wish it, your human eyes only see the half-dreads, the matted Afro that is my hair. Not a celestial spark in sight. You only see the black man in a Superman t-shirt, red Doc Martins and faded matching leather trench coat making his way to The Smart Camden Inn. This hostel has twenty four hour internet access which unfortunately doesn't come free. I'll be needing money then.

    Inside, I dart toward the first wide eyed German backpacker my droopy eyes can target. Her name’s Ingrid and her soul sees only primary colours. The subtle hue of bullshit that shades my every word is invisible to her. I open my mouth and free the dazzling marigolds, indigos and violets.

    ‘I need to contact my mum. She hasn’t got much time...’- I say forcing a tear.

    Ingrid must be from a rich family or maybe she doesn’t quite get the currency because out of her pocket comes a fiver! Maybe she thinks I’m homeless? My yellow belt is actually dirty olive; my red D.M’s and leather jacket faded to burgundy an age ago. My blue jeans are grey.

If I still ate food I’d be more grateful for Ingrid’s money but I feed on the continual breakdown of systems now. What would I like to order? Feed me subversion, the occasional Cultural Revolution with a side dish of chaos, please.

    Squeezing my aching temple with my left hand, I use my right to pay the old guy at the counter, so that slumping back down I can commence my cyberspace safari. And soon, Bingo. Thanks My private lion roar is identical to Cobain’s primal bellowing on secret Nevermind track, Endless, Nameless. 

    What do you want in my skull man?

    I’ll dump my vocal booth metaphor. Why? Well, vocalists that I've heard screaming take, after take, after take grab a time-out every couple of try's but Kurt? This jungle-cat's devilish yawning just keeps raging. 

    Give me a gun, somebody.
My Skull, the Vocal Booth
    Death by gunshot is one of the many futile, suicidal thoughts that continually blast through me as I unplug and exit Smart's arcade of computer terminals. And of course these man-made oracles are only consulted in crisis or genuine wonder of the world they occupy...


    Of course I do my damnedest to ignore the key-tapping throng of human waste, the headsets pouring idiocy into their souls. Their A to D list celebrity-fevered brains so much more repugnant than the probable rat shit smell of my ‘home’. I say probable because these days my nose is useless.

    I manage to avoid eye contact with as many of the enemy drones as I can, weaving in and out of the crowded club that is Camden High Street on what feels like the early hours of Saturday. The names of days don't really apply to my 'lifestyle' but judging from the mix of drunken teenagers and the suits with their cases, it's still Friday night to some whereas to others, to those mortgage-fixated-soul-sucked mortals rushing past me, a 'messy Friday night out' doesn't quite exist.

    Anyway, time for me to get back to nature. Wires and plastic and Google search can’t help me now. I need to know why Cobain was let through customs. I need to know before he splits my brains open. So, I head towards St Martins' Gardens well-balanced mix of yellowing trees, grass, shrub beds and wild flower borders, and it's funny. It's hilarious that I lied to Ingrid about needing to contact my mum. Now I really do need to ‘call up’ the Earth Mother. She’s dressed in the marmalade palette of her fast approaching autumn. 

    The children’s play area is surrounded by her wild flower meadow, which would make me nostalgic for youth were it not for the angry wildcat roaming the jungle of my brain. No matter, I’m the stare-at-a-school-photo-weepy-apologetic-type anyway.

Reaching into the crusty mess that is my pocket, I yank out a Polaroid of a young British African, aged seven? Maybe. I pity the shy awkward kid who’s trying to smile back at me...he never deserved me as his future y’know. He never deserved this lion-fuck of a headache, its jaws clamped round the head, refusing to let go.

    Time for Gaia’s bush or bark, her grass and flowers, shit, anything that’s growing out of her fertile ground because success really is all about who you know, you know. Take being a chaos god for example, very little talent here, just a case of right place, right time.
My Skull, the Vocal Booth
    A little bit about me: Earth’s my asylum, my refuge after a long, horrific cross-pantheon war which nearly ended in genocide. My side, the losing side, constituted of demigods. I'm the only one left.

    Gaia, Earth Mother, reckons gods threaten human ascension and I being half human agree. If it wasn't for Gaia's stories, her continual harping on about my history well...Sometimes even I struggle to believe in my existence. 

I am a nomadic soul surviving through symbiosis, penitent in my protection of the God-Hex, a wall to keep out deities that would force us into captivity. Hmph, idols. 

They seek out race upon race to rule over, never being satisfied until their whims and pleasures are at the forethought of anything that breathes. They can't help it. It's the natural order of things. I'm not big on order, not when I've seen what happens to those at the base of the pyramid, so to speak. Sometimes I get lucky in my mission. Hell, if it wasn't for their servants finally breaking through the God-Hex, I'd still be Boleraam, sleeping far beneath the Earth's crust. 

Yes, the divine are able to send blindly devoted minions to Earth with instructions to kill me. Why? Well, If I die, no more God-Hex.

    Damn it, look at me here, hugging an oak tree in St Martins Gardens at stupid o'clock. What is it, two, one? I should be asleep.

    ‘Hey miss world.’

    That’s what I call her. She likes it.

    ‘Hello chaos.'

    That’s what she calls me. I deserve it. I don’t know what your mum sounds like but I know on good resource that Gaia sounds identical. Gaia is the mother-mind you see, the prime aspect of femininity.

    ‘One of Eros’ trophy gods has returned to me,' she says, 'It’s your fault...somehow.’'

She’s probably right. I ignore Cobain’s pounding tantrum as best I can, rubbing her bark just the way she likes it. I can’t say it’s completely unpleasant.

    ‘Yeah, that’s why I called,' I reply, 'I haven’t slept. It’s Cobain that’s escaped. He’s inside my head. Screaming.’

    ‘Not quite,’ She says correcting me, 'He’s taken possession of a human living far away from here. You didn’t know that bit did you, chaos?'

    ‘Stop. Between your allowance of minions through the hex and your mad stories - I've had enough. So stop. No riddles, no mythos, just tell me straight Gaia, what do I have to do to get some sleep?’

    ‘I don’t know chaos. But all this is probably your fault. I suppose you’ll have to go convince Cobain to rest in peace?’

    My hands are to my head now, and I was doing so well at playing it cool. I half think up a joke about this place. It was once a cemetery. But I’m wiping away sweat. I’m locking my dentures, cos the animal howl is eating away all my ability to concentrate.

    I have to ask her, ‘Where is he? How did he get through the God-Hex?'

    ‘How much would Herculia have learnt about herself had she an all-seeing oracle to hold her hand? Your trophy god is far far away. Should I take you to him? Should I help you?’

She wonders aloud, so detached.

    ‘Yes, yes! Take me to him, for fuck sake - enough with the crazy?! My head feels like it's gonna explode and I'm no good to you dead!’ 

I’m not exaggerating, though I don’t think she knows just how painful his screaming fury really is.

    'Chaos, would you like to hear a story during your journey?'

    Miss World is so detached.

    'The Season of Muzzling? I don't think I've told you that one, have I?'

    So in need of therapy...

    'There was a young boy who had to rescue an old crone from horrible giants...'

    You would be too if mankind had been slowly destroying your body for centuries.

    '...But to defeat them the boy would need help. He would have to travel beneath the howling waves of the sea, the Sea of Wolves.'

    No, I can’t expect her to quite understand my pain.

    'He would have to retrieve the were-mask from its sea bed. And so he begun his traveling, unaware that the adventure would...reveal him...'

    She’s not like me. Not. One. Bit.
My Skull, the Vocal Booth
    No one’s like me. No one can survive what Gaia does next.

The Earth Mother swallows her flowers and her sepia painted grass from underneath me, so that inch by slow inch I sink into her warm brown body. I haven’t needed to breathe in years but I close my mouth as soil circles round my neck and my eyes search for the sun hiding in the smog above. She guides me in.

I’m dragged down her dark tunnel, pulled along by subterranean roots, irritated by her prattling on and on. I don't care if her inane fairy-tale is supposed to teach me something. I need straight answers to my dilemma.

    ‘I just don't get why he'd leave Aphrodisia? Why return? No offence but Kurt Cobain spent a whole chunk of life hating you.’

    And Miss World denies my unfeeling statement a reply. There is only her spiteful silence. I'm such a dildo. 

    'C'mon Miss World, I'm sorry? C'mon, keep telling me your story? What did the boy have to promise the wave elder in order to win the were-mask? I swear, I want to know? I need to.'

    No good trying to appease her, not in her black mood. Truthfully, I could do with the silence. My thoughts turn to you, Kurt. Who’ve you possessed and why? I remember in the jams how afraid you’d be, how scared you were, scared to pluck a single note in front of Jimi (at least you picked up a guitar). You weren’t like the others, happy to frolic with whatever melon breasted girls your imagination could recreate. How could you tire of Aphrodisia? Leave a land brimming with eternal sunset? Each endless ray more potent than any heroin shot to the arm. Eros is a jealous queen and warps the minds of Aphrodisia’s citizens. She skilfully interferes with their recollection of place doesn’t she? So, you compare her sky to memories of Thailand or the South American rainforest and she floods your blood with her endorphins. Lucky for me I’m a bloodless deity.

My heart pumps a sort of non-compatible goo about my innards. It's glow in the dark, phosphorous, and if I'm being honest, looks just like spunk.
My Skull, the Vocal Booth
    When I awake I’m lying face down in dry flaky earth but the weather is warmer here, wherever the fuck here is. How long I’ve been out, I don’t know, but I can’t believe how I’ve managed to sleep through this wailing.

I’d kill for an aspirin strong enough to mute ‘the voice of a generation’ growling, snarling, on my grey matter plain. Turning over, squinting through unwelcome solar beams that shard from the sky above, I grab some unearthed roots to my left, so I can bellow at Gaia.

    ‘Miss World! He’s louder!' I scream, 'I can barely hear my own thoughts!’  

    A silence. And then...

    ‘I brought you closer and your trophy-god screams louder...interesting.’

    She says this like a doctor viewing the X-Ray of a special case.

    ‘Should I send you a minion?’

    ‘A minion’ll help my headache?!’ - I howl turning over, ignoring mum’s logic.

    ‘Dear chaos, you’ve forgotten the power of your own history.Your proximity to anyone remotely aware of your existence will ease your discomfort. Minions are vitamins.'

    She sounds just like John Clay's mum. I wonder if she’s still alive...

    ‘Uh, of course, O.K, O.K,' I say, ' send help.'

    I feel the wriggly unsettling texture of an earth worm crawl over me.

    ‘Any preferences?' she asks, 'Any particular pantheon? I’ve got Norse, Japanese, African minions? You have always profited well when coupled with Anansi.'

    ‘Any! Just get some help here now!'

    I grip the roots in my palms.

    ‘Well, the only ones I can presently locate may only walk upon me at night.'

    ‘I can’t wait that long!'

    'So long as you're sure?' she wonders, 'It's very important you remember all those tales I've told you about how to survive creatures. Monsters such as Rooenn -

    'Quit jabbering and save me!?'

    But I don't hear her reply. No, Miss World's gone, leaving me in agony, the frontal lobes of my brain subject to incessant howling. I thrash around pathetically and I spot something.

    A landmark I’ve only ever seen on T.V. 

    Fucking hell, I’m in America.
How Did Cobain escape Eros’ collection in Aphrodisia?
Why is he a tormenting presence in Spiderfingers' brain?
And why after his suicide would Cobain return to Earth?
Be sure to follow Stephanie Penny Tent's Spiderfingers on his wayward mission in 28 days.  
Click here to continue