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Nocturnette 10: Darkest, Deepest. By Jan Lakowski.

On septicaemia heels I drew blood through my bready valves, to vault the carcass over the low tide's muddled voids in sun and shadow.

      I looked out over the deluge to Norway trolls weeping in retreat. I never slipped, though I could feel that neither boot held any surface fast.

           January isolates a skimmed white face, in a mountainous electrical field of shadow, dark pipped with the spectres of stars and the moon's pale, fulgurous seed.

The sun so wild and hot, sweeping cliff tops with sulphurous radioactivity. Waves of insect messages hidden in static. The blue sky refuses to carry its religion intact inside the digitised photograph. So instead, he doffed his hat.


When he begins to ascend a field of frozen chocolate gateaux,he feels like a hired wedding gun. There's a grouse shoot in the next glen, and the haunted barn is surrounded with opalescent range rovers curvaceously mirroring the cold white sky.


Twitchers note this place as "unwatched", yet some presence within the body of land, exudes the suggestion of fascinated surveillance. A bogle in the blood. The resinous ichor of humanity a tincture of the red earth, that ascends his boots.


Doesn't this body feel like a hindrance to your passage? Not clean as a whistle, but a stoppered aorta, sooty with diesel fumes and raw with blood? You wheeze away mornings, attempt mountains that splinter every bone as if ground in the jaw of a tiger. You split sinews like crackling on a suckling pig. You cannot live long in this alien world.


Besides, you're already so goddamn damaged, your brain resembling a trussed up collection of prunes and assorted snail carcasses, that now, you would be unable to organize a satisfactory brew-up in a pissery.


Yet, beyond reason, you are still here, witness to what intricate horrors low tide puddles to reveal, mutant, violated and incandescent with agony and rage. Mercifully, most quickly perish. Yet, if only I could plumb deeper. If only the moon would hasten closer to the earth in thrall, and pull her waters from her like a beau her dresses. I could follow the gully and it's benighted fissure down, into the strangling deeps.


We began in Kinneff, yet here I am again in Usan, teleported in thought, which is the true representation of the magic of a mind.


So, the moon tonight fills half of the sky, appearing as a great expanse of porcelain skin, the shadows caressed in the mouths of the shining craters.


I realise, with a insurmountable joy, that I can follow the gully further than I ever had before, or expected would ever be possible. Though night washes over, consuming the thick illuminations of sunset. Buttercup yellow and fuchsia. Black shining forest slug of nimbus storms, and fluttering stratospheric cirrus. Crowning a scarlet hammerhead that's bruised and wounded in silver and blue.


Carefully descending, the narrow clutch of shingle falls away, between two hanging spires, their true loftiness only revealed in the water's absence.


They wish to fall.


The lank kelp, clammy to touch, hides horrible potholes here, their bottoms cloaked and distant. My gut weighs a knot of fear.

 I negotiate carefully, well aware of the savagery of such black water.


Then, I step down, welcomed by the assuring rhythmic rumbling, clattering, rattling, scraping and scratching of shingle underfoot.


Glancing over my right shoulder, I realise with a jolt, just how far I have advanced from the shore. Have I really walked all that way? My torch still blazes eagerly, like the blood that fires my heart. There is someone above the shore back there, their back to me, standing at the edge of the field. A fuzzy silhouette against the streetlamp haze of the nearby town.


I turn away, and know I am a part of this place. My hand cups a pert anemone, the livid red vulva of a corpse. I am stung, and it is heaven.  My skin swells suggestively,   gravid and tingling with poison. Venom is glamorous glitter, opalescent and clinging like oil. White sea lichen provides a splendid contrast, desiccated and crumble-crawling over the black rock, itself infested with quartz vesicles and veins like the fruiting bodies of liver flukes. The agates here secrete these same colours, and in the most ideal circumstances, all the way to their bubbling cores.


There are agates here like the heads of ancient Roman statuettes, buried with their noses clear of the mud and grit to breathe. Their bramble blacks, dandelion yellows, and seductive apricot oranges framed by plaster white that will not reliably polish. The venomous tide is only able to pluck headstones such as these from the deeps during a storm surge, Walpurgis or the Autumnal equinox. The harvest time is as brief as a glance, precarious, and confines one, spellbound, to tiny coves and ledges.


I hear the seabirds cackle in dream, I awaken the oystercatcher, and catch the hypnotic whisper of waking spume as the crooked tide turns. If the night is as tight and black as a colliery winze, then all these sounds, together with the scrabbling and bubbling of crustaceans, might make one believe he hears voices, albeit those at the very limit of audibility. Claustrophobe terrors, as the lurching water retches, the cobbles retreat from your bumbling heels, and your skulls berth meets the slot that fits the break. The salt of blood tasted with the salt of the sea.



It's night fishermen, I know, that talk. They can see me down here. The figure still observes from the crest of the grassy rise. I'm unconcerned. What's the time? The digital display swims before my retracting eyes.


I'm impossibly removed from that distant strand, as if I bestrode the sopping deck of a hulk of rusting trawler, skirting the coastal awning in a thrashing lightning squall.


The man that watches from the hill, the black squirming dot, is me. No longer inanimate, I see him saunter-off, climbing to the road. The phone's white LCD illuminates my face, as he begins to text his love, he smiles. I remember those days. All night blooms, nectars, laughter and promises for the coming age.


I turn to examine again, that buried alabaster skull, macabrely agatized along the ghosts of grey frown lines, roses at the cheeks, the eyes green spider holes in a sea-swallowed copper mine of ancient times. I recognise that it is mine.


Yellowed at the jowls, the glands, the gills.


I have a vision of the advancing, famished tide, as a vile abhorrence of stagnant and sulphurous rheum, reaching roiling worm tendrils in every direction. A medusa at the heart of the compass. Aligned to the sea charts and the stars in the night.


It laps at my feet hungrily, tetchily, and I choose not to turn. I remember you on Mull in that wonderful June. The blue limitless sky.


Anguish is evergreen, yet, I have drowned here countless times before. With you, I drown alone.

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