Weekend Fiction: Oh, Horror Horror

The encore is a predictable number. The crowd is typically torn-shirted and jack-booted, ritualistically colliding with each other, conkering smaller Mohawks out of the clearing. All heads, all elbows - the entity revolves around itself, crashes into itself, destroys and rebuilds itself like an asteroid belt. Bored lumps of rock pumped full of energy and desperate for contact, impact of any kind.

Why won’t the pretty girl with the piercings smash me in the face?

Boys with no hair, clothed in tattoo, bang heads against invisible walls in time with the music. Their illustrated arms tell no story whatsoever, except that of a young life inked over with the word ‘REACT’ in mundane, faintly-nationalistic lettering. A history of fascism still glistens like sweat over the body of the crowd.

Onstage, the bassist is retreating inside himself.

‘If good and evil are constructions of a shifting human language system, where does that leave progress?’ - his thoughts drifting all out of sync. ‘Is it ever possible to tell whether a society is moving forwards or backwards without a determinable goal? If war is an unavoidable evil,’ (the broken inverted crucifix of a CND badge in the crowd), ‘is the peace we have so far lived without necessarily good? How can there be anything significant about murdering one human being in a population’s worth, or one species in a planetary ecosystem, or one planet in a universe of billions and billions of galaxies? If I am no longer in need of salvation from God or society or economic restraints, why do I struggle with the crushing irreversibility of my life?’

The movement of his fingers across the strings is an automated one, either instinctual or simply well-programmed. The song he is a part of interrupts him:

Gott ist tot!

Deader than Diana,

rigor mortis corpse rigid like a spanner...

The singer wears a t-shirt with an advert for nihilism across the cup line. Her sharpened screams wobble like a knife in a table around the key of the song - she is being beaten with a soft object which will take a long time to kill her. Her words are needles poking the eardrum, distorted in the microphone, too loud to be legible. The males in the crowd, those not fighting other males, are lying still and out of breath beside the singer on a bed in the front corner of their minds. In her own head, she is colonising the audience with imperial sweeps of the arm and ruffles of the hair. The metal in her face has been there longer than the beliefs on her t-shirt. She finds it easy being a punk - everything moves so slowly.

The simplicity glares outwards: bare ribs across a delicate chest.

‘Humankind cannot support itself in the collective scale it currently occupies.’ The song continues; the bassist is wandering... ‘Under such pressure, the democratic and non-democratic vanguards of our nation states are required to organise proportional levels of tyranny or advanced brain-washing. Freedom of expression in this context is either useless or non-existent, which feeds in explicitly to the impotency of the punk movement.’ (...Oh, horror horror horror horror...) ‘There is no point in trying to subvert power from forces willing and capable of utilising nuclear violence. Either the system does not exist - it is a product of adolescent paranoia - or it will win. (...I am all alone...) ‘Nobody will be saved because nobody needs saving.’ (...In a world that it not my own...) ‘The individual cannot come into existence in the midst of an infrastructure of billions.’ (...Not my home...) ‘It becomes punk: as pre-packaged as chocolates in a vending machine. ‘Punk’ as an ideological movement is a marginal definition in the cultural lexicon.’ (...Oh, horror horror horror horror...) The song is at crescendo. The crowd is tearing itself into small pieces. The bassist has lost himself; he is smashing his beautiful instrument against the amplifier. Wood splinters, strings fly loose, gut wiring is exposed. He picks it up again, brings it down hard. A mic-stand falls and comes apart. The crowd are whooping, screaming. He is smashing everything now, wrecking for the sake of wrecking. The guitarist is joining in; the drummer is joining in. The singer is amongst the crowd punching and kicking other human beings and getting sexually abused, insatiably and unashamedly in love with herself. There is violence and joy and a rampant sense of belonging.

A moment of composure; there is nothing left in the bassist’s hands. He looks around at the room erupting into violence and then down at his watch. He walks away, since the song must have finished, and leaves the broken instrument on the stage. Someone shouts ‘Fuck everything!’ and the tired young punk exits through a side door and goes home to have a cup of tea in front of the television.

He knows that at some point soon his panic attacks will have to stop.

Joe Bedford

Enjoyed this article?

Help us to fund independent journalism instead of buying:

Also in Disclaimer

After a Lost Decade, Time for our Leaders to “Raise Their Game”

Former minister Niock Boles has tweeted that Theresa May needs to raise her game. He is right. She is offering second-rate leadership and has no domestic agenda. Even worse, her opponent Jeremy Corbyn is not offering an alternative that answer fundamental questions. Britain is still ducking the challenges a decade after the banking crisis.

The Week on Planet Trump: Unpopular POTUS Celebrates First Year with Government Shutdown

One year in office and voters have given the president a failing grade. He is more unpopular than any president, one year in, since they started polling. Now his party - in control of three branches of government - has shut down the American government. Sad!

Obstetric Assault Is a Serious Issue

Obstetric assault is a form of medical malpractice. Obstetric assault can occur at any time during a woman's pregnancy, but some of the most egregious examples take place during childbirth. Verbal obstetric assault may include slurs, put-downs and humiliation. The best prevention is a birth plan.

Unnerving and Eerie Tales, Two Shorts That Become Masterclasses

The autumn editions of the now regular Nightjar Press short stories are DB Water’s Fury and Wyl Menmuir’s Rounds. Like previous entries, they continue the publisher’s tradition of unnerving and eerie tales. Both are interesting in their own right.

Shocking, and Darkly Enjoyable - The Here and This and Now

Whether a play is tackling scientific progress, outer space or the life of pharmaceutical representatives as they memorise medical jargon during an office away-day, the human condition - the meaning of it all - is always at its centre. The Here and This and Now, a play by writer Glenn Waldron, focuses on what its four characters are holding on to to keep going every day.