Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
By Set Sytes
Mr White was searching for a peephole into the adjacent room. There had to be one. Whether for voyeurism, plain paranoia, or for use as a gloryhole, all these dirty old hotels had them in the rooms. He combed the wall with his fingers, feeling a little frantic as he heard the noises coming through. The place was better than their last dive but it couldn’t be that classy, could it?
Just when he was finding himself truly worked up, on his third sweep of the wall, his eyes darted towards the hallucinogenic painting slap bang in the centre of the wall. Of fucking course. He lifted it up and threw it on the bed and immediately glued his eye to the small round hole that had been hidden from view. He thanked some misplaced deity that there wasn’t a picture covering the other side.
The porthole view looked on the side of the bed, right on the two bodies. Mr White whipped down his trousers and underpants and kicked them away and he fiercely held his erect member in a vice like grip.
Red was naked except for, as always, a couple of never-identifiable pendants, one on a thin silver chain and one on black thread. Red’s daughter was on all fours, still in her clothes, even in her heels. Her microskirt was pulled up and Red was rutting away at her.
Mr White took sharp, ragged breaths. His head swam like an ocean with this terrible knowledge, and he felt unable to keep it to himself, and so it drained out of him like a tide, finding its exits: the watering of his eyes, the saliva of his mouth, the leak of his penis.
There was such an enormity to what could be observed in others. That was the real sexuality, he thought. The evidence that came into your possession. Your very own. You could keep it as locked up as you want, in chests within chests, but you couldn’t stop it bubbling out. It ran from the bolted off recesses of your brain into the rest of your body. Into your lungs, so you breathed it. Into your gut, so you were sick with it. Into your genitals, so you fucked with it. As though everything you knew was some great black beast that whispered in your ear and grew and sat on your shoulder and grew and put its arms around you from behind and grew and cloaked you, covered you like a wretched second skin.
Knowledge wasn’t power. Knowledge was lust.
The witnessed scene took on a new turn to disgust. As though a test to any watcher. The filth was intimate in its perversion. Red stroked the girl’s face and held her close and murmured spicy nothings into her ear, whispered encouragements with hot breath, asked her rhetorical questions and delivered unto her insults and compliments in equal measure. She was red-faced and clenching her jaw and grinding her teeth. Her eyes tight shut and then open, searching his, finding something within his gaze to hold onto. A stardust connection, fizzing with electricity and the universal wonders of space and time.
The sheets became soiled, the bodies fouled. The girl wept and moaned and Red held her close, slapping her face. Her blonde hair tossed around like a sandstorm. Their limbs twisting and writhing like tentacles.
There are some things so ridden with abasement, so indefatigably corrupt that, should one become suddenly privy to such secrets, a strong moral effort has to be entertained in order not to become entranced. Hypnotised by the damage. It is not a love of evil that spellbinds them. Certainly, the open-eyed Mr White could see no evil, hear no evil in the other room. It is a love of the transgression. A falling apart of the natural order, a shredding of the rulebook, the pages disintegrating into the furnace of secrets and flying up into hot specks of ash to breathe in and ingest.
For good or for ill, what other people did was godly. It was fiction come to life. As long as he was party to it. There had to be an overseer, a scribe, someone to take the minutes of the breaking of the world.
It was his duty. His only duty. But to take on board such things, such terrible devilry, required an exorcism of self, a necessary cleanse. Too much within oneself was uncontainable, agonising to the mind. And so a siphoning off was required, to all that wicked excess.
He pumped his hand harder on his cock, nails breaking the skin, and as Red’s daughter slapped him, stinging, again and again on the cheek, Mr White made a gargling noise and fell to the floor, drowning his leg in a desecrating current.
There is an idea. The idea that there is something beyond your life, something hidden, something inexorably and ineffably corrupt. Ridden with it, pestilent, a dilapidated world shrouded from your eyes, lurking like a foul beast in the darkness. The idea that there are worse things out there than you. Infected things, crawling and dying. An end of times, the last days of Rome.
Behind every locked door acts of the most illicit kind are carried out with secret impunity. There was no need to be afraid, for the world was falling apart. There was no whole anymore, just edges, a world of edges, tattered and fraying into the endless void.
The idea that there was something wrong that would exist no matter what, that no matter what you did neither you nor anyone could have any effect on such an underbelly of disease, that the worst of things ran like sewers under the world.
This was beauty of the most scabrous kind.
Red entered Mr White’s room a while later, showered and clothed once more. Mr White avoided eye contact. He blushed when Red moved past him, and felt a pang of irritation at himself for it.
Red thumped himself down on the bed causing it to painfully usher a trio of squeaks. He put his feet up and lit a cigarette.
How is she? said Mr White, wincing when he realised the innuendo.
Red grinned, and then dropped it. She’s alright.
Are you going back to her or staying here for a bit?
She’s okay by herself. She ain’t good for conversation.
Your daughter’s not good for conversation?
I, uh, heard you before.
Red looked up innocently. Why, what were we doin?
Mr White looked at Red and raised his eyebrows and Red broke into a chuckle.
Um. Mr White tried to find the words, but he had no idea what to say.
Do you think this is . . . fair on her?
Red rolled his eyes. Fuck man, she’s more of a devil than me.
But, I mean, you should be a father to her. You should be doing, well, good. I don’t know.
Red put his chin on his hand and his elbow on his thigh as he smoked. He seemed to be thinking. Doin good, he said.
Yeah. You know. Good. The world isn’t all filth and obscenity you know. There is cause for other things. A need for them. Other ways of going. More . . . a more ethical approach, perhaps. To raising her. And all manner of things. You can’t treat everyone around you as playthings. Do you not care about her? Care about people in other ways. Real ways.
This is real.
You know what I mean. Sometimes, even if we don’t want to, we have to make moral decisions Kidd.
Mr White gestured impotently.
Red stubbed out his cigarette on the bed, burning a black mark into the sheets. He looked up at Mr White wryly. We think different amigo. These little moral decisions of yours are, well they’re nothin. Soundless creations without substance. They’re all over the fuckin place and you can’t walk to the fuckin shops without trippin over one. They try to pull you in but you can turn away from them if you want. People don’t think you can but you can. Whenever I’m faced with a moral decision, like not a huge one but a small one, like something where I got vested cock interest in, like, for example, this girl wonders if she should cheat on her partner cause of all these desires and whatnot . . .
He clasped his hands together, pulled his face into a frown and affected femininity. Should I fuck him Kidd? What about my poor husband?
He dropped his hands and his voice went back to normal. You see, not even fuckin me, just fuckin anybody else. Just fuckin. An increase in the level of fuck in the world, in one more person givin in to desire and ceasing to be some high-minded planet-fuckin philosophisin genocidal ethical shitbag. I ain’t even involved, I just know about it. I’m an overseer of all the shit that’s been drained from everbody, and that sounds like some kinda Hell I know, but hell it’s good to get dirty.
Anyway yeah, whenever I’m faced with a choice like that, where I have a clear desire for it to go one way and an ethical consideration for the other, I just ask myself this. I ask myself Kidd Red, do you give one flyin fuck about humanity? And I say fuck no. And I say Kidd, is a more sexual world what you want or a more moral world? And I say the first man. The fuckin first. And I say Kidd, what exactly is the problem? And I say fuck off. And I relish that little act of sexual degradation like it was a goddamn cheeseburger.
He grinned and leaned back, pleased with himself as Mr White nodded silently, and then he lurched forward with uncommon urgency. That reminds me, I’m goddamn starving. Let’s get takeout, yeah?
Okay, said Mr White.
Hell-fuckin-yes it is.
What will your daughter want?
Red waved his hand airily. She’s fine. She don’t eat much.
Uh, are you sure?
Yeah. She’s probably asleep anyway, don’t wanna wake her.
–fuck, let me the fuck go, what are you doing, why are you doing this, please stop, please, I’ll do anything, let me go I won’t tell anyone, fuck, fuck, please, oh my god, I’m sorry if, please, I swear I won’t tell, I’ve never done anything, why are you doing this, who the fuck are you, what the fuck are you going to do, someone will hear me, you’re going to rot in prison, you’re going to die, please, I swear, I swear.
They never came out with anything new.
Johnny opened his case and took out a tray of implements. Where the woman was tied she couldn’t see, but she heard the scrape of metal on metal and she screamed again and repeated her demands and offers and apologies and questions, even louder, screeching as though some kind of broken machinery.
He stood up and looked into her eyes, fearful and tearful and taken to the very start of the extreme. You don’t need to worry about any of that now. He closed his eyes to a fresh wave of screams. They never did listen, but he supposed that was part of it. Soon the noises would change to a new level the woman may have hitherto thought impossible to make.
He moved close to the woman, and the tip of his knife touched her cream skin and lightly scratched and grazed it. She made an animal noise and sobbed afresh.
Sssh my queen, he spoke softly, gently. This is just the beginning.
Red came back in the room carrying an ancient television, the wires trailing behind him.
Where’d you get that from.
He lugged it in and dropped it on the end of the bed. Mr White jammed the plugs into the dusty sockets on the wall. He switched it on and it crackled into life. Such an ancestral object did not look like it could have ever worked and yet it did.
It was like stone age tools to them, but after a stretch of fiddling Mr White managed to get the channels working. There were two and they were both movie channels. One of them was playing a porno, the other was playing a torture horror.
They watched the porno, laughing at the bad acting and dialogue. After half an hour an oiled and half-naked male cyberdoll knocked on their room door with their pizza and fizzy drinks. He looked confused when Mr White answered the door, but gave them their goods and took their tip graciously with a muscular hand.
Mr White shut the door and Red lay on the bed laughing. He musta thought you were gay on the phone. That or a gal.
Mr White rolled his eyes and sat down on the bed with the food to watch the porno with Red.
There’s no TV, just films, remarked Mr White, swallowing a mouthful of cheese. Strange, don’t you think?
Less effort on their part, said Red.
Not even the news?
‘Specially not the news. What the fuck they gonna report in a place like this? And why? It ain’t like anybody here cares.
What about crime?
What about it? There’s nothin but crime. Even a twenny-four-seven show couldn’t handle it. Let the cops worry about crime and ourselves worry about these pizzas.
Why do you not fuck anyone? Red asked, playing with a ball of string, wrapping it around his fingers until each one went white and then unwrapping them. The pizza boxes lay upside down on the floor, completely empty except for the grease. The last porno had ended without plot resolution and now another one was on and the people looked the same.
I don’t know.
You don’t even try man. You got a tiny cock?
Mr White bristled. What is it with people always assuming that guys like me have to be poorly endowed? You can’t just reduce me to that, explaining everything in my mind and my sex life by pointing at my trousers.
Is that a yes then? It’s okay if it is man.
I know it’s okay Red, Mr White sighed. I don’t think it matters that much. But it’s not a yes. I must be the only guy who’s actually more than happy with his size.
Now it was Red’s turn to bristle defensively. Hey, I’m like a goddamn stallion down there!
Mr White looked him in the eyes and raised his brow. And are you happy with it?
Red slouched. Well, I could always be a bigger stallion. He scratched himself, and then added, There’s no such thing as too big.
I think there is. You could tear a woman in two.
Red grinned, helping himself to the last slice of pizza. Almost worth it.
Maybe more than almost.
What do you have to live for?
The woman didn’t say anything and so he repeated the question, sterner but not unkind.
Nothing. The woman looked to the wall through blurred eyes as if it might cave in from some rescuing force, as if it might disappear entirely and she find herself dreaming.
Nothing, he repeated softly. Nor do any of us. Nor do I. He paused and added, Apart from this. Making people see.
Red had gone back to his room and returned a few minutes later, saying he’d given his daughter full use of his room, that she needed her space, that girls will be girls. He said she needed to recharge, and smirked. He had moved into Mr White’s room without argument. Mr White was just glad not to spend the rest of the night at the bar. They hadn’t seen Johnny since and Mr White wondered if he was walking the night alone on another sadistic duty.
And so the two of them holed up in a room together, as the late hour grew later still and the moon advanced its pale rays through the snags in the curtains. Red stole a spare mattress and blanket from somewhere else in the hotel and took one of Mr White’s pillows, and he set them up on the floor beside Mr White. That was enough for him.
The two of them lay on their respective beds and looked up at the ceiling. Red was contemplative as he stared and he pursed his lips and opened his mouth a few times, trying to put words to his thoughts. Do you think . . . he began, and Mr White opened his eyes. Do you think there’s anythin wrong about what we’re doin here?
None of it is anywhere near right. In fact, sometimes I think it’s worse than us doing it back home.
How’d you work that one out.
I don’t know . . . it’s a feeling I get. I mean, there’s so little consequence here. Back home there’s all this stuff stopping us, and we convince ourselves it’s our own conscience. We can pull these things off here too easily. It’s like . . . like stripping our consciences bare. Seeing who we are. And we’re not good people.
There’s cops here.
And what good do they do? Even if they caught us, what then? Do we really know? I mean for God’s sake, we treat it like a – a joke!
But it ain’t the same as back home. You do still realise that don’t you man?
Mr White looked away. I guess. But that doesn’t mean this is right. We’re causing too much harm being here.
Don’t talk shit.
I don’t mean harm to others. I mean harm to ourselves.
Red paused for a while, and then snorted. PC garbage. The mind is a playground. I mean, people out there want to think we’re all ladies and gentleman in big fuckin hats and dresses drinkin afternoon tea outta dainty china cups and never saying boo to a goose. They don’t realise that humanity is a bunch of fuckin pigs. We’re still beasts, but we went a step further. Our imaginations evolved but our moral compasses didn’t. At least not inside us. Maybe on the outside we pretend we’re fuckin oo-de-lar to each other but inside are stinkin cesspools, foul sex and extreme bloody violence. This place is just an adventure theme park for the fucked up fucker in all of us. Right or wrong don’t exist here.
Then why ask?
Red sighed. Forget it. Just runnin through things in my head. Spoke without thinkin.
What kind of things?
Stuff. Nothin really. Girls.
Mr White fiddled with his hands and turned and looked down at Red, who had his arms stiffly crossed and was looking fixedly up at the ceiling.
She’s not your daughter is she? Mr White asked quietly.
Red’s head jolted up to stare at Mr White. What?!
Mr White held up a hand and smiled, a little nervously. It’s okay, you don’t need to act it up. I won’t tell Johnny.
Red settled down and turned his gaze back to the ceiling. Fuck, if you know then he’ll know too. He just ain’t mentioned it, for some reason.
For what it’s worth, this makes you a better person.
I don’t want to be a better person! Red snapped. God knows I’d rather be a devil than an angel.
That’s just the way it is.
I figured she wasn’t real. I wanted to think she was, I made myself think she was. I don’t know. I didn’t let myself doubt it. I don’t know why. I just wanted to think there was something that was real and honest here for once. Horrible, but real.
She is real. Well -
I mean that she’s not human. She’s an X-bot. A cyberdoll.
Yeah. A good model. Custom programmin of course. I ordered her from District Two before I met you, and just had to wait for calibration and delivery. Course, she’s goin tomorrow. She’ll just walk outta here and go back to be recalibrated for some other fucker.
Did the incest taboo not faze them?
Red rolled his eyes, although Mr White couldn’t see him. Of course not. This is Rule. You should get yourself one.
I’m not into that.
No, I know what you’re into. You’re into what other people are into.
Mr White bristled. Not precisely.
I just meant you should get yourself a girlfriend man. I can tell you’re lonely.
Mr White was silent for a few moments. Then he took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly out. I am very lonely. But I already have a real girlfriend.
No, I do.
Where, back home?
Well fuck me. Sorry, but I didn’t take you for it. Is that why you don’t fuck nobody here?
Maybe. I don’t really have sex back home either.
What, why not?
She has sex with others.
Oh . . . Red thought for a bit. I see. I remember Johnny Black saying he thought you were a cuckold.
Mr White said nothing.
It’s good of you not to fuck anyone here.
Is it? You do it.
I – I’m not – Red started, awkwardly.
You have someone too, don’t you? Not your “daughter”. A real person.
Red stared above him. I guess so.
You guess so?
Yeah. I do.
Mr White whistled softly. He didn’t know why but he felt a bit more confident between the two of them, just him and Red lying on their beds, talking about things more sensitive than just cocksure filth. He wished this bonding could happen more often. It was something that, if not completely new to him, at least felt new enough.
She must really be something special to be with you. He smiled to himself.
Hey! Red spoke sharply.
I meant it as a compliment.
I know what you meant it as, Red said, now sullen. He didn’t speak for a while, and just blinked slowly at the off-white plaster of the ceiling. The silence loomed through the room as each struggled with his own thoughts and tried to stop them coming to their mouths.
After a few minutes, Mr White spoke up again. Why do you cheat on her?
It’s not cheatin, Red muttered quickly and quietly, as if he had been expecting the question.
What is it then?
Fuck, this stuff is just . . . I don’t know. It’s not cheatin. Not really. You don’t understand.
Try me, murmured Mr White.
Red sighed. I need this shit man. I need the escape. I feel like I’m in a cage, like I’m some bird with its feathers clipped. If I didn’t get to play like this I’d go fuckin insane. I need a space my mind can exercise.
I understand, but I don’t think it’s right.
I never said it was. I’m not a “right” kinda person.
I don’t think you’re that bad.
I think you’re lonely, Mr White said timidly, after another stretch of silent thoughts.
How’d you work that? I’m in a goddamn relationship.
So am I. I think there’s different types of loneliness. I think you’re lonely for the world. For what’s outside the cage, as you put it.
Okay, so I’m lonely then. Great, thanks.
Mr White said nothing.
Only the dog who trots about has a bone to bury.
I think you’ve been burying enough bones in enough people.
You’re wrong there. This is who I am man. My mind is . . . my mind is fuckin crazy. I mean really. It’s like a bull on a leash. It just wants everthin, all the time, good with the bad. You don’t know. Despite the bluntness of Red’s words his voice was soft and a little cracked, and his eyes were watering slightly.
I don’t think you know what’s in mine either.
So we’re just two lonely guys playing about.
I’m not going to fuck you.
Good night Red.
He picked up the largest knife from his tray, and the edge gleamed in the cold light. I’m afraid our time has come to an end, he murmured, fascinated more by the knife than anything, how the point seemed almost to cut through the world, teasing that there was some kind of hope.
Why. Her voice was tiny and fractured and he barely caught it, but they all asked the same things anyway.
Why? Why must you now die? Or why in general, why all of this?
Why. The voice was like a ghost, as though it was the wind where there was no wind, an imaginary draft, and the only real thing in this room was him.
He leant in to her, laying and then pressing the knife at her throat, blood spots popping up like a ruby necklace. He whispered into her ear, and to her he seemed some spirit beckoning her into a new world.
The answer to all things lies with Death.
THE RED DREAM
There were curtains of fire. They swayed and billowed with a deathly breeze that smelled like burnt blood. The ground was a compost heap. Every few feet were muddy squelches, little pools of sewage. There were two heavy boots that went up. And down. Up. And squelch.
The boots led up to thin legs in jeans, and then they led further up to him.
He stamped forward through the fire. It opened to let him pass. The ground got softer, sludgier. All mud and bog. The breeze lost the smell of blood and thrust up the stink of excrement. He choked but held back vomit.
He approached a wooden house held with stilts out of the mud. He peered through the ground floor window. There were pigs there dressed up like humans, in suits and dresses. They were sat at a table eating a meal. One of them swivelled its head and it moved at a right angle in a split of a second as though it were on some shocked mechanism. The pig was in a top hat and stared at him with shining black eyes.
He stumbled off and squelched along, the sewage running nearly over and into his boots. He saw figures squirming out in the muck, on their hands and knees crawling out from under the bottom of the stilted houses. They were naked humans but they appeared more like pigs or cattle. Their body parts were engorged. The women were obese in all the best parts, their udders hanging like great sacks, areolae like flattened apples, dripping into the mud thick white stodges from their fatly ripe nipples, more like unskimmed cumcream than milk. The men were stretched out and muscles all tangled, long wiry bodies like trees with heavy roots stiff or drooping down like pink snakes with the inflamed heads buried in shit.
The figures stared at him with the mildest of interest through dull and unflickering eyes. The women on their fours tried to claw their way closer but their hands slipped down deep into the excremental ground. The ones that stayed put had those twisted root-like males bucking away at their backsides, fat branches stuck out from their groin soft and hard slopped into cavernous holes that convulsed and farted around them. Some of the women were driven into by two males, always from behind, one raised up coming down from above and the other’s face gnawing and gnashing into his back. The males took a hole each or one hole for both, and they were easily accommodated for, the entrances and exits swelling open happily.
He shook his head and moved on. He found the house he was looking for. It was white and raised high out of the mud and it glowed brightly like a gemstone. As he reached up to the ladder his boots sank down and shit slopped in and over his socks. He climbed up to the porch of the house and around him the curtains of flame seemed to back off and the smell of the place diffused into something clean and fresh with black pine and the sweetened juice of a lemon.
He knocked on the door which had windows like crystals and it swung open at his touch. He entered quietly and the hallway was carpeted and decorated with soft lamps and frames of polished old couples holding hands. He tried to stamp the dirt off his boots but it clung all over like it was part of him and if there was any foul smell left in the world it was stuck to him. He thought that all the muck and sewage outside had maybe not been coming against him but coming out of him, drooling and spurting like a shitting cock out of his very bootsteps.
He moved along the hall which stretched and bent like a living snake and the floor bucked as though the house was a pirate ship on the high seas. He finally reached the end of the hall although it seemed like forever and it was the same as how he had come in. He opened the front door and was greeted by a whiteness, nothing but whiteness as though the whole world had been painted over or erased. In the centre of the white was a girl with red hair and he stepped towards her. They embraced and they were the only things in the world. His spine felt like it was a rod of protection and he would use this sanctified artefact to love and hold her and keep her safe from all things although the only thing here was himself. His heart beat like an indian drum and it seemed to break up inside him as though it couldn’t hold all that blood.
She pulled away from him and asked him what the smell was. He said he didn’t know.
She stepped back. He looked down and his boots were leaking out filth. It oozed out of the sole, out of his very soul, and there was a pervasive sense of unfairness, and the whiteness of the world shrunk and creased like paper and seemed to acknowledge the unfairness and he nodded back sadly.
The girl cried in front of him and kept moving backwards as the muck spread out from him and ran like plasma towards her. It twitched and bubbled and out of the mud poked what seemed like fingers and then hands, snatching, all splayed out and webbed.
The fantasy is everthin, he murmured quietly. I’m sorry. The fantasy is everthin. Always was. Always is.
The girl sobbed harder and he fell back into the sewage, his eyes closed and his face calm and almost expressionless, as though all the peace in the world was just something to cover yourself with like an old coat that was never yours. The mud closed up around him as though a sheltering mother beckoning him back to the fold and the curtains of flame blazed up once more into the whiteness.