Abel held his breath, closed his eyes, and counted backwards from 10. When he opened them the machines were still looking at him. Big, metalic, shinning creatures, he wasn’t sure where their eyes were, but they definitely had eyes.
Was it his boss spying on him? New company policy to monitor staff ? Or the government tracking him? All seemed very possible, yet there was something else, something in the machines themselves, that knew him.
At first he’d thought he was delusional but now he knew it was more real than anything else he’d ever experienced. Not only were they looking at him from the outside, they were inside him as well, they could see his thoughts, they could taste the ingredients of his being.
He was coming to the end of his 40 hour shift. It hadn’t been so bad, though he’d had to take another one of those Spletzer-Martins. They were meant to keep you going for 40 hours no problem, but he always found he was flagging after 35. Not that it was tiring work, just rotating those huge machines, but failing to do it properly could muck up the whole network which would be catastrophic. Yes, better that he sneak an extra bottle of Spletzer-Martins from the office pharmacy now and then, than risk the whole network going down.
Elsie had told me he’d been feeling rough. To be honest I didn’t care. I didn’t know Abel that well, but I was developing a certain curiosity for the dramas surrounding him.
He is a friend of my friend Elsie. I chatted to him via Facebook and met at gigs occassionally. He’d always seemed quite pleasant and cheerful until that time I saw him in Clapton. It was late at night in a small venue off the main road, he looked so tied and old then, and nervous. He’d seemed a very confident almost arrogant man before, but now he was uncertain, shaky in his speech, and with the guilty look of a man whose just rummaged through your underwear.
Elsie told me he was worried about debt, working long shifts to pay it off. It is a relief that one can do that now, what with these new tablets, just keep working and working till you pay off all your debts, as long as you resist the temptation to get new ones come pay day.
Today has been a bad head day, and my brain is now all over the place making connexions where their are no connexions. The temptation on these days is to talk about it. I try to avoid having much to do with people on these days, try to stay in and out of trouble, but sometimes the connexions seem so important its difficult. I just must make contact with…
Today I did some gardening and the plants knew me. Their electric greens and blues crawled inside me. They had a beat to them like a heart. They knew I couldn’t separate myself. I was weak and they were everything. My head clings on to hundreds of half remembered stories, something very very important, but what?
So maybe now is a good time to end the Derek Story, for Derek is very real in many ways and he knows me as the plants did today. I dream of sharing that with another human, but so far, although I have imagined friends have understood, Derek is the only one who I can be sure really knows.
Have you ever been convinced of something even though you know it will sound like madness to others? Have you ever tried to cling on to your sanity whilst doing some serious tango with the alternative? Knowing for certain that there is something there that is vital to you? People ask me about Derek when they hear the song or the poem, they ask me what he symbolizes. He symbolises nothing. He is Derek. And I have a cunning plan for if he should ever venture down from the loft.
I’ll sit him in front of the TV and feed him on oranges and custard creams, on semilena pudding and rice crispies, on cucumbers and baked beans and mashed potatoes and monster munch and ice cream and apple pie and yogurt and more yogurt and more custard and cheese. I’ll feed him up till he is big and fat and huge. I’ll feed him until he is enormous! Then I’ll squeeze him into the tiny gap underneath my bed, so I can hear him SQUEAL whenever I go to bed at night.
I imagine you who have followed this Derek story think it to be just a story, a made up piece of slightly odd fiction. It’s not though. It is all true. Or at least was at the time to me. To the left is a photo of the Derek heads I made, out of old bed sheets, pillow foam and strands of my own hair. They were made to protect me from the real Derek in the loft. Fifteen of them in all.
I am a coward. I pretend to be brave. I do all sorts of stupid and humiliating things to pretend to myself and others that I’m brave, but I’m not.
I don’t have my brain operated on, not because I’m brave and can live with the alien, but because I’m absolutely terrified of some bloke rummaging around inside my head with a glue gun.
I deal with things by turning them into stories, jokes, games, things not to be taken seriously. I couldn’t tell anyone I was really afraid there was a man living in my loft, they’d think I was mad. So I turned Derek into an odd poem, which I performed on stage whilst wearing a large blonde wig. I then turned it into a silly song I recorded on an old children’s Fisher Price tape recorder. The guitarist from the Rude Mechanicals created a riff for it and it became the song that the band now play. All to deal with Derek.
No one knew how really scared I was of him.
So the Derek story had to have an ending where I somehow dominated Derek, turned him from the large dark presence watching me from the loft, to a silly lovable character I could deal with.
When I started telling you this story I said it would be the truth about Derek, and I am trying very hard to tell you the full truth. But it’s slippery. My memory has wobbly parts. I remember when I came round I didn’t know who I was, I had to piece myself back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Remembering what a bath was, remembering how to get out of it, remembering that there was a world on the other side of the bathroom door. So much stimuli hitting me, using me as a punch bag. Such a strenuous and desperate process fitting each piece into the correct space, and knowing which pieces to ignore because they’re part of a different jigsaw altogether.
How long did I lay in the bath? How much water did I cough up? How long did it take me to open the bathroom door? Truth is supposed to be “in accordance with fact” as it says in my computer dictionary here. Me on my own alone in my flat, entirely dependent on subjective experience percieved through my own battered senses, ordered in my error riddled brain, how can I ever be in accordance with fact? How can I alone ever tell the full truth?
It is just as well then that I was not alone that night, for the fact is I had a man in my loft.
After that I noticed lots of tiny little holes in my ceiling. Whoever or whatever was up there was obviously spying on me. Watching me eat, watching me sleep , watching me get dressed, watching me…
One evening I was lying in the bath and noticed a hole in the ceiling directly above me. I was sure I could see an eye staring down. I tried to get out of the bath but couldn’t move. I was paralyzed, naked, lying there in the bath.
For just a moment it was fascinating, everything suddenly made sense. The bath water and I had a deep, intense love for each other as we swapped atoms, and everything was going to be wonderful.
Then snap – the sound of the radio playing in the next room. I didn’t have the radio on. No it wasn’t the radio, it was people in my flat talking about me, I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. Suddenly the walls came alive and were walking towards me. The ceiling started collapsing, crumbling into the bath. Then the part with the eye came to float just above my head. I was staring directly into the eye. It was reading my mind. It knew my guilt.
The walls were laughing at me now, almost deafening laughs, the people’s voices had turned into a huge black raven, swirling around in the sky above.
“Remember me remember me remember me” came the voices
White white white bathroom walls, holes and cracks and yellow stains, breathing, everything breathing, all seeing, all knowing, remembering everything ever.
The other day there was someone banging at my door and ringing the door bell all night long, but the battery in the door bell is dead and when I peered through the blinds there was no one there.
I’ve increased the amount of Lamotrigine I’m taking – the number of hallucinations and seizures was getting ridiculous.
Now my heart keeps having moments of awkwardness where it forgets what its supposed to be doing and then remembers and starts again in a hurry. Are heart jolts a side effect of Lamotrigine? I dare not look at the information leaflet as I’m likely to pass out just from reading it. I feel faint in supermarkets if I read the effects of vitamin tablets!
As well as being an anti-convulsive, Lamotrigine is used as a mood stabiliser. Yet when I was last on a heavy dose I got really aggressive, even started a fight in the street for no reason!
Its curious how ones mood can be controlled by drugs. Even more curious when you require drugs to stay sane. Reality is such an awkward thing, can slip through the fingers. The senses take in so much stuff, so much information, its a constant struggle trying to work it all out, what is relevant and how this should be interpreted. A tablet that makes that easier, slows it all down to a reasonable pace, can only be a good thing, right? So why do I feel uncomfortable when I take lots of them?
Have I seemed different? More aggressive to anyone over the last couple of weeks? Have my blogs been extra violent?
I’ve felt a compulsive need to watch the comedy Green Wing, and am now seriously worried that I may bare a striking character resemblance to Sue White, the lunatic staff liaison officer.
I’ve failed to panic over the imminent deadline for the Library sculpture, which is worrying.
Didn’t mention the ghost dog to the lady from Battersea Dogs Home. She disapproved of my garden (too overgrown) but warmed to me once she saw the Icon pictures on my wall. She thought this meant I was a Christian, which I imagine she is. I didn’t correct her. Like the ghost dog I don’t think the visions would have gone down well, and everybody feels the need to convert an Agnostic. My dad saw the Icon pictures and was very worried that I might have joined the Church. The very best way to rebel against my parents would be to become a practicing Christian, or even better a Born Again.
Well just so its clear, I’m not a Christian, though fascinated by the subject of faith, and I’m not a lunatic. My brain just has wayward tendencies. It has visions (and since they are more real than anything else I experience they cannot be ignored!) and it likes to make connections that aren’t there. So if there is a fan going it will hear it as voices, if there is a repetitive noise for a while it will keep hearing it even once the noise is silenced, if there are dog bones and doggy people about it will create a dog ghost. So I’m probably saner than the rest of you put together, but reality is an awkward thing.
Funny how blogs lend themselves to mentioning nonsense, “bollocks” as my sisters would say. Most of the time I do everything I can to hide it. I’ve taught classes in colour theory whilst thumb sized beetles roamed across my body. Despite my need to drink endless cups of tea no one noticed anything unusual.
Stars. They’re useless! Up there in the sky with that know it all look about them, that “I can tell your future” twinkle. But they can’t! Hot Passion, huh! I had a bad cold and the electricity men hitting things with hammers in my hallway. Rubbish! Then there was that greasy good-for-nothing guitarist Mr Cos, coming round here stealing CD’s, thinking he’s got the right just because they’re his. The cheek! Mr G Avern, my reliable bassist and Other One, has hand lurgy so he’s no good, he can’t protect the CD’s from Cos. All useless!
At least I have my ghosts:
I made the box for the bones found in my back garden. I have only drawn a dog’s skeleton on the top because I don’t want to think of it being a murdered wife or anything. I like this flat I’m now in and love the garden so don’t want them to turn bad against me. It probably was a beloved dog whose flesh has fed my garden, yes I like that. When I die I want to feed other things, to rot, to be eaten, to have the roots of nettles and sycamore trees creeping through my bones. I say sycamore trees because my garden is full of them, the garden must have been a tiny sycamore forest till they were all chopped down, now they’re growing back again with avengence which means at some point I might have to do some gardening.
Interestingly I’ve been having a good hallucination of late. There’s a dog in my flat, a mongrel, very friendly wagging its tail , I bend down to stroke it and it’s gone. I like it though, beats the usual insect and bird monster hallucinations. I did consider that it might be the ghost of the dog whose bones I’ve put in the box. Possible. Or it might be that dastardly part of my brain that does things without my consent deciding that it wants a ghost from the bones and therefore creating one. It does that. The dog vision isn’t as strong today as it has been the last few days, I kind of miss it. I’m still trying to get a real dog though, the lady from Battersea Dogs Home is coming round to inspect my flat on Friday. Worrying. Do they give dogs to people who hallucinate dogs? Perhaps I shouldn’t mention it.