Nocturnette No.4 : Jupiter.
By Jan Lakowski.
Edinburgh, August 28th 2016. Myself and a photographer friend reconnoitre to allow him to photograph a distinct, highly unusual and likely unique St Cyrus agate. In focus, close up, its astounding intricacy, exquisite detail and locally unusual colours are resplendent. Much later, alone on the coast in the evening, in my mind's eye I envisage a series of situations in the worlds seemingly born of this stone....................................
.............. In late September, the dawn seems more like dusk. That melancholy that in bidding farewell to the day, reminds one of every other day lost and daily losing. It harbours that sense of futility, but then, in mere minutes, the sky brightens and you are fooled. A double of darkness each day. Twin nights promised, but only a singular period in delivery. A double exposure, twice a silhouette against the sunset, and divine in that moment purely because of the quality of light.
Jesus first drifted down, in the craft of a carpenter. Ash, ebony, oak and pine, dovetail swimming into dovetail. Powered by thought it was said, but no diagram was ever drawn. Moon sails and magnets, and a silk sash between him and the vacuum. Pulled taut between beams. Candlelit within, Jesus hirsute and feminine, wrestles in a nest of walking-stick levers. Every so often, a flash of earnest teeth.
Jesus drifted down, through various sunsets, settling just to stir, his instep wouldn't fit the crooked map.
Jupiter is the wood star. The planet most likely to be sentient.
Your heart is black earth, desolate until the settlers take.
Jupiter sings, shares a hubbub of its relations. A dread humming, the flesh flies frantically laying billions strong on Sioux, Tasmanian, Russian, Turk, Jew, and on. The ancient fever grown . All of us lain here masquerading in error as the planets revolve around a single dying star.
In days among the many hundreds of years behind our tread, Vikings set foot on Mars. In an Iron raven with claw feet and golden eye, lashed to the tail of a comet, two men were thrashed through light years. Epically unkempt, beards bred feral in the thrall of fly agaric nightmares, each sang to the other in the dark and none but Odin knew.
Though unsuspecting, Freya sang too.
The Greeks tried, manning a craft faced with medusa's sprawl. Legend does not gift us with more than a footnote.
Although forgive me, for angels talk quickly, and demons lie. Translating the mother tongue of a god is tricksy. It may be that much of what I note here is just fancy.
Saying said, Clancy Fraser, sets foot on Europa, in the year 2167, Dark Star by the Grateful god damn Dead playing in his suit as he fixes his crampons. Sure enough, the first sci-fi surprise for a real life spaceman appears , a claw-like appendage rises up some 6 feet about 200 feet away, and begins to accelerate towards him. At first it's a curiosity. Sliding through the ice easily like a warm spoon through ice cream. Closer, it's an abomination, composed of an undulating tar-like substance at least on the surface, rust red mottles like throngs of spider hung moth wings. It feels so malevolent merely to behold. The tip of a razor tendril perhaps, such as might belong to a predatory squid. He can smell electrical burning and feel something more than dread in his mind. A stab at Telepathy perhaps? Not good regardless. It's then that he realises his suit circuitry is melting, as a result of his proximity to this unsettling thing. As luck would have it, this leads to his retreat becoming horribly delayed, poor soldier. NASA have his death clip stored on a USB stick. He was gamely disemboweled in the cold brights of the capsule lamps and the unfamiliar sunrise. Facing the lense, his ribcage exposed above like an arrangement of dried flowers before a sweetbread slew of yellow and crimson. His mouth pouts, eyes wide and looking into an empty middle-ground. Then in seconds he is dissolved by some airborne acid. A transparent oil swirls about him, and very suddenly his shape becomes part of its shape, following a brief look of realisation, and swiftly disappears. All tinged with purple. Another fairly serious shock for him. Although he must surely have been trained to expect such treatment. It's not a gentile Arthur C. Clarke future out there babe, it's all cold equations. Quite a day all told. NASA switched the now derelict craft to autonomous travel and did not officially collect Clancy's body.
North of St Cyrus, at a particular location, a number of "Agate Ladies" occur. They tend to scour and dig one "honeypot", only a scant distance from their lodgings, and every find they have ever made, or ever will, is safely hoarded and hidden away in the shadows of a cellar, crawlspace or outhouse. Much akin to the rumours of Japanese businessmen who buy Van Goghs and squirrel them away in high-security warehouses where they can never be borrowed for exhibition, or the myriad masterpieces now buried under a mountain in a salt mine in Switzerland by the Nazis in the Second World War, or the great songs, poems and novels lost to heroin, Consumption, and alcohol. The hoarding of these wonderfully diverse gemstones is a great loss to humankind.
Today, I thought of the planet Neptune. The blue of that world simultaneously incites nausea and charge. It inspires me to cast off my inhibitions and realise my ambition, to become a sentient being composed purely of blood.
Moreover, I awoke mute, in that remote vial, in mountains bound by tongues of snow. A house kinetic with trauma that vomited me long after I had exceeded midnight. I followed slicks of blood and carnival gore, and trickled through acres of thorns to kiss your wounds grown wild behind your hair's head.
Speak you skull. I push a white wrist through a minute wormhole of rain in the hail, and touch you intimately, as if I was your love.
You whimper as we narrow in. I'll lock the moon in its bit. The windows fog. Listen, tomorrow morning I'll sweep and you scrub where our sneakers stick.
With that said, I cannot see where I am on the page. I can no longer translate my mother tongue to verse in my head, and so blame the wine. I break a bottle. I seem to be envisioning the holocaust and true love in the same line. These days are not so dark as wine, and how close fly to love?
Again, I awoke, the radio moll wasn't listening. I remember prayer shared between voids of static. Television lived in bursts of snowstorm. The interference of forgotten deities. Yet radio reverence reaches to men chasing lightning to catch a flame. We always talked of the old days. We nurtured our histories like fire, heard bells in the deep lakes, saw lights in the sky and elevated our experiences of dreams into poems and music.
I'm in the car and yowling along to the daily commute. Watching everyone waking up.
Angel of morning engaged in cigarette suckle until nicotine singes the blood. Witness a rapture in habitual succour. She's aloof. Talking about what happened to last night.
I sense the sun now lower in the sky. Winter in the northern latitudes, is the most violent animal. Absolute proof of a godless universe. Almost as cruel as humankind, but less perverted. If you follow the trail, and arrive in town a little before sunset, you're halfway to hell. The snowflakes kiss the back of your neck, the wind turns every tree to face you and the snow clouds kill the navigator. Yet some of us will make it home, the rest to be hopefully revived.
Some have met outsiders in such lonely places. Before the century turned, occasional drifters were encountered in the deep woods. Out of place and unsettled, but curiously unconcerned. Jovial even, in the most remote areas penetrated by the trails.
Esme', a mountain girl of 19 in the year of our lord 1887, had found herself late homeward, while shooting game in late September. This was the Lutzmann Trail, in New England. With two rabbits thrown over her shoulder, and the sun threatening to set, she was still 3 hours walk from the hamlet of Near's Cribbing. The ground had risen up on either side of the trail, and that was when she saw the figure leaning against a pine a little distance away, observing her. Startled, she called out: "Hello there stranger, are you lost?"
She approached and slowly the face emerged into the fevered sunset glow from the rising shadow. "Dear sister, how do you go? " She stepped backwards swiftly. The face was perspiring in a temperature of just a few degrees. It wore a smile akin to that of a carnival barker beckoning you in to the warm with air smelling of sawdust, frying onions and all under a candied pink moon.
Saturnine, the voice implored once again, with an unnatural liquid quality suggesting a vile electricity thronging through the figure's obvious bones. "Passing through, little sister, from whence to where?" The figure appeared lit from within, burning with a rabid fire. Old clothes, rags, browns, a red wristband. Slight in the shoulders, one shoe, the other foot bare. Balding, wide eyed, smiling and asking her where from, where to? This was wrong.
She did not reply. Instead she turned and rejoined the trail, not daring to glance again behind. She heard once, a little gargle. Somewhere between a snigger, the sound of a seabird swallowing an elver, and the happy gurgling of a baby at play. In the conspiring dark this was enough to give her a good deal more impetus to be closer to home and saved from the wilderness. She covered ten miles of difficult ground in under two hours. Crossed a great hanging deadfall of storm-shattered pines on the edge of a ravine she did not wholly recognise. An hour spent stepping between slick barked tree trunks and hearing water move far below.
She did not feel safe reaching home. Even with the door barred and the sashes drawn. She could feel his yellowed eyes on her everywhere. She could not bear it. That night she made her last in time.
The body was burned before anyone but her father had seen. Something had picked her over in the night. Had her dragged outside. It would not do to let word get around.
The ashes were strewn and spread, the first snow fell on the mountain, and that night there was no moon.
1887 was also the year that Jupiter left its orbit, and began to approach earth. Imperceptibly at first, but then suddenly it was much larger in the sky. A penny-sized orb, where before it had not even matched a pinhead. Within a month it filled half the sky. Scant weeks later the atmosphere of Jupiter began to merge with our own. Millions died screaming in worlds of red poison. Malevolent creatures composed of gaseous elements were encountered, briefly. Many people were dissolved slowly, conscious of the immense joy in violence these creatures portrayed.
In time, life was snuffed out altogether. Oceans boiled, the tectonic plates severed, separated and flew asunder. Jupiter's metallic, rocky core collided with what remained of the earth on the first day of the year 1888. We were enveloped in Jupiter's great red spot of storm. 1000 mile-an-hour winds, thrashing the grave lands. Everything gone.
The earth finally flew apart. Bright for an instant. Then there was a savage cut in the process. New film in the camera. Giorgio makes the splice.
New earth, and not one soul noticed. The Ripper's London still ripe. Every thing can be replaced. You fill a space. Chaos is all. Forget love unless you are a titan. Drown your dreams. Die rigid and lock-jawed in pain. You remember that summer, at Port nan Droighan, you espied her through the spiral of a whelk with the sun in her hair. Eating an apple sauced rice pudding. Her smile lifting your heart to fizz in the heavens. She's done with me but we're certain to never part. I'm not a man, but a wound. Gathering lint on the exuding bloods and fluid. Cannot be cleaned. Gangrene sets in. It smells of the seaweed rotting on those shores you walked long before. The rose apocalypse of your heart's sod. With rusted hammer and bolster you smash every nodule to dust.