Thursday, September 08, 2005

the feathered serpent

it seems like only yesterday, or a million irretraceable yesteryears ago that i looked out from my balcony to see what was making the building shudder and creak so ominously, to discover our nasty smelly block had been wrapped about by the vast plumed serpent from the fifth heaven, the building groaning like a ship in sail as it's huge coils flexed with latent muscular power. oh christ this block is shitsville itself, nothing to send a postcard of after all it's just one of many, almost designed to be bland and indistinguishable, why did this draconian beast choose our yard as it's roosting post... well naturally the morning conversation in the lift was all about the loch ness monster, the xfiles, raining frogs you know the the sort of stuff which people like to decorate their otherwise drab realities with only this time it was real, there's this huge f*cking monster wrapped around the building. the local press came over to take a few snaps in between covering children’s parties and charity fun days, snapped up a few soundbites then drove off in a flurry of confusion getting stuck anxiously in a bunched up group like nervous horses at the bollards that cut this estate off from the nicer end of town. well we have to have some amusement, and the confused blinkered expressions of the journos trying hard not to catch anyone’s' eyes whilst grinding their gears in steadily rising panic as the morning risen zombie crack-troop opportunist lifters shuffled towards them almost made the day worth it. on the way back from the shops i encountered the duty caretaker mark, he's a nice bloke, well not exactly nice, nobody here is nice, but he's real and trustworthy and seems to genuinely care about the people here, a rare talent for a caretaker, and one that will probably take him out one day and mangle his head before the block has finished having it's awful way with him, but i digress.. mark the caretaker, slightly drunk from an early morning conversation at the grove.. staggers into the lift with a distant but vaguely benign smile on his distant but vaguely benign face, he breathes deeply, noisily, unconsciously.. 'alright mate', i say with fake mockney roguery, 'nasty business with the dragon eh?' i said... he sighs and remarks 'well it wouldn't be the first time, i've logged it with the council but they say there's not much they can do since anything that is larger than 60ft tall is beyond their jurisdiction and suggested that i contact the council for upper beings and gardening procedures who might or might not follow it up with a report within the next financial year depending on the parks and gardens overspend.' so it doesn't look like anybody is going to take much notice of it really, it'll be left here hanging about for a long time till it decides to bugger off itself. typical council i say, if this had happened in a posh area like ‘upper’ kingsdown they'd soon be on the case, the residents committee would be up in arms ranting about it, they'd be reading questions to the house about it in parliament and generally they wouldn't just bloody ignore it like they usually do. so now there's this ridiculous blitz spirit going on in the lifts now that we all have something in common to moan about, like how the scales are scratching the windows, how it's blocking out the sunlight in some flats altogether, it's 'singing' is keeping us awake at night.. what the hell is it singing about anyway? or is it snoring? eventually a few lost looking second-rate tabloid journalists turned up looking like they wanted to leave as soon as possible, asked a few disinterested and unimpressed residents some questions that inevitably tailed off into diatribes about how the council hadn't fixed their leaking water pipes yet or some suchlike minor gripes. the hacks ended up getting thoroughly exasperated by the whole idea and so slunk off to kill the rest of the day in the printers arms with their peers, to end the night mumbling about the crappy stories they have to cover, laughing at the thick attitudes of the inner city pocket of deprivation, we're just a joke anyway, just waiting our turn to be evicted to the outer-outer beyond burbs, where the native inbreds pick on townies like us as ready prey… divide and conquer or something. the guy on the 12th said he saw a cnn crew here the other day and sure enough we were the 'and finally' story of a dozen news channels for 25 minutes but another tube bombing sort of pushed us out of the way and now we're just an embarrassment, our predicament is ignored, and you'd think a 400ft high anaconda with bloody rainbow feathered wings wrapped round a block would be pretty hard to miss, but it just doesn't add up to the picture of cheerful touristic visitation that the council would like to promote in this city. after all, it's going to scare the tourists away isn't it? It’s just not bloody normal is it? I’m just amazed at people's lack of imagination and dullness though sometimes, maybe it's a great human fault, or merely a virtue that lets us continue to exist in the face of madness.. but i swear nobody seems to notice it anymore, they scurry along the ground level to the shops and back with scarcely a glance upwards at the monstrosity that sways high above the roof of our sky-rise kennels. pushing open the balcony door today i was greeted by the hysterical whoops of crazed children sliding down the balustrade spine of the feathered worm, twirling it's candy-cane coils in a lazy artful spiral round this scruffy artless monumental shaken fist of a tower block, insulting the very sky with it's graceless gridlike functional pointlessness... the dull transported to the inspired as it points it's way into the giddy skies, well, there it was this serpent coiled around it like it was nursing the block like an egg, looking up at it produces a vertigo lurch, realising the scope and scale of those powder blue, gold and emerald plates rising in twirling stripes, provoking the angry thunderous skies into cracks and flashes as it's swaying neck rubs the bullying clouds in cool reptilian slinky arcs. the scales glittering in the burnishing heat, as songbirds nestle safely by it's shady underbellies, bees scud across it's sun-baked armour following it's faint but overpoweringly heady exuded sweetness on meandering never-ending one-way missions, as it shimmered all along it's glassy skin in the hissing heat as it slowly creaked with the slow and barely perceptible throb of life energy, a huge engine just purring quietly at rest. it's feathered rills trembled and thrummed in the hot distant sea breezes carried over the rooftops, a clamourous drone of reeds and piano wires, Aeolian harps, windchimes, the heat swallowing the sounds into humming silence, the tuneless whistles and moans as the feathers jump and whip, jolly as harbour flags, comforting our sad dull block in it's liveried hug...anyway, today was one of the first days that you really feel that summer has properly arrived, there was that continental smell in the morning of heated air lingering from a sultry night, the tang of solarised diesel fumes, cooked grass, ozone, baked tarmac, it's a sort of indefinable haze in the air that promises on it's life that today will be a scorcher. i blinked out of the balcony at the wince inducing flashes of white hot sunlight refracting off of the car-bonnet smoothness of the snakes long scales, and heard the tinkles of childrens' laughter from above. turning i was amazed to find children of all ages hurtling down it's glossy sides in a helter skelter ride, mad contorted faces twisted with inexpressible glee as they shot past at alarming speeds. god some of these kids couldn't be more than five years old for christ sake, can't their parents take more care of them? it's about 120ft high up here and they are sliding all over it like it's a swimming pool ride. it's going to hurt... i stand transfixed by the spectacle, feeling that if i lose faith in their ability to not fall off then they will just slide off the glistening scales, off the edge and a long way down, my loins twinge as i think about it, the broken child lying limp and bent like a discarded doll, and shudder to imagine it as if my imagining it would make them falter and fail, and make my vision become real.. i was paralyzed now, how could i turn my back and not feel that i was the one responsible for the inevitable carnage that would follow.. i must believe.. and yet i am a rational being too, so another part of me was laughing in derision at the stupid train of thoughts that had led me to this place, how could i possibly believe it to be so, who am i to influence fate in such a way? but suddenly, the fear and concentration riding me, such a cruel jockey, yet fixed in place as if locked and pinioned.. well, suddenly i knew what was happening... this snake which had seemed inert and dead, like an architectural carbuncle, like some nasty scaffolding, this edifice became alive to me, i knew it was aware suddenly, and could feel it latch onto my awareness with the intensity of a moth that sees a flame jump into life in the darkness of unknowing, i could feel it's achingly slow breaths, shallow and panting in the shimmering morning haze, could feel the baking energies radiating from it's nuclear core, see the ripples of bunched muscles as they twinged so subtly and slowly. Knowing inside for the first time the life force within this beast, i felt not indifference, but a strange benevolence coming off in waves like an aura. those children would never fall because it guided their mad descent by miniscule adjustments to the hundreds of muscles that cradle and weave crisscrossed across it's mighty spine. finally i felt i could understand, this creature was like an elemental guardian spirit, born from the earth, summoned at a time when we are destroying our gene pool, a huge warning trying to redress the balance that we so precariously seek to destroy. the leviathan is here to pass on a message to those that dare to traverse their hearts and travel across their minds to meet it, not that you can meet the gaze of a reptile or bird let alone such an inhuman being hundreds of feet tall, but it has it's own language, it's own history and it is indescribably ancient, indescribable since we just can't grasp any such length of time. I felt myself being locked into a fearful statue, rendered immobile and speechless by such a cold glare of illumination, and now knew that I was aware of it’s existence it wanted to annex my mind so it could use me as it's own cctv camera, willing me to gaze and report on the needy, to monitor every flex of it’s ancient dancing sinews. i have a responsibility here that is pressing me flat like a ghost image, i can feel it's breath on my neck, my neck no longer moves, my eyes creak with strain to see into the clouds as it's proud snout twists to glare down, frozen in it's headlight stare i shudder inside with a cold slab in my stomach, my insides are gasping like i've just hit the apex of a mad bigwheel as it's vertiginously lofty head sways and swoops down toward me in a targeted plummet my frozen limbs tear at themselves to flinch from the incoming impact but i am made of stone now, and that movement seems like a distant dream, the snake almost skids to a halt just seconds from my eyes, wavers then tilts bobbing to line his side glance straight at me, it's the oldest eye i have ever seen, beyond pity, beyond cynicism, beyond care, beyond time… but full of infinite sadness for the children who cling in deadly terror to it’s flanks, skidding helplessly on a deathly candy-striped helter skelter, faster and faster as it’s sides steepen gleaming in the flashing sun, their peals of laughter peeling away into howls and sobs as the height and distance become real to them again.. and that terrible single yellow eye just buns itself through my eyes deep into my brain, i feel the waves of crackling energy soar up his scales to the heavens, fertilising the turgid earth below so strewn with rubbish, like atlas holding up our sky it labours at a terrible and thankless task, performed out of instinctual need, it's huge fatigue bourn with hive-like singleminded devotion to duty, and now i see it’s brothers and sisters hissing round the trees and steeples and lamposts and buses, all of them seeding the earth with the sparkling dust of life, but this energy is too awful to see, we can't let ourselves know it, i have seen, and now i must be removed before I can tell, i can feel my fingers harden on the balcony rail in fossilised tendrils, my feet becoming part of the slab of concrete that supports me, my last thoughts as the stultifying matter spreads to my brain is, could i be wrong? maybe it isn't actually here, maybe it wasn't filmcrews at all but bin-men and council surveyors, maybe i was imagining the news reports, seeing what i wanted to see, i think how my only hope might be my intelligence, if i could grasp the situation for what it really is rationally i might be able to unlock myself from this puzzle-locked mental straightjacket of my own making before i convince myself i am really made of stone, but it's too late i feel the dry tundra creep into my thoughts as the grey slate invades the corners of my mind, i can feel my very thoughts setting into stone, a petrified forest of frozen dreams, maybe i could have thought my way out of this, but now i know i glimpsed the solution too late, that it's fading into the rockface losing it's definition, i am... i... i... ...


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