Sophia :: The Beginning and The End

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From as early as she could remember, Sophia knew the universe was inside her.

Unlike most, she never forgot.

As a girl, she discovered that if she pressed her eyes into the crook of her arm, exerting a controlled but constant pressure, that an optical explosion, or nebulous burst of rainbow sparks, would fill the space behind her eyes. This only lasted a few seconds, and couldn’t be repeated straight away afterwards, because eventually her head began to throb and her eyeballs ached from overstraining. When the pain came, the prickles of light would take on a hammer-dull pulse, then she’d blink or shift her focus, making the whole hypnotic whorl shrink back into black. But the headaches were nothing compared to the wonders she beheld, so the game became to see how long she could bear it, whilst observing the dance of the pin-prick prisms. Like any good scientist, or enthusiastic child, she repeated her experiments diligently, and from here she witnessed the deaths and births of galaxies: a thousand mini-big-bangs inside the deep space of her mind.

As she grew it seemed impossible to fathom a separation between herself and the cosmos.

When womanhood came, Sophia discovered new ways to summon these temporary phenomena by exploring the soft inner sanctums of her body. Alone in the dark, she learnt the language of friction and folds; of heat and sweat and ecstatic breath. Sophia became an expert conjurer of these sensual stellar currents as electricity leapt from her crotch and into her heart, firing lightening around her veins and her entire nervous system. She reasoned this must be the language of the universe, all pressure and motion expressed in synesthetic light. Without a teacher she found herself fluent, and was delighted that these marvels could be willingly and precisely enticed. So she rubbed, and she tugged, and she roughly invoked, until the energy ricocheted up and down her spine, forcing a pillar of brilliance out of the top of her head and from the tip of every pointed toe. The harder she worked, the brighter the colours and more complex their configurations and, once married with sensation, they detonated shockwaves; rippling light-tremors that blew her wide open to the void.

From this vista, she witnessed Eternity, no longer a girl-child but a thrust of purest energy: a bright sphere of matter, self-replenishing, and infused with the splendour of new-born stars.

Now, she didn’t just observe the rainbow clusters, she was their celestial rebirth.

Sophia discovered that with the right kind of friction and flexibility, the right physical gravity and compatibility, that the explosions might be amplified with, or even gifted to her, by others. This was a revelation, and with the zeal of an ardent pioneer she found new physical landscapes to conquer and explore. These, she’d meet in secret, and they’d rub their bodies vigorously together: all ravenous innocence and volatile lust. Afterwards, they’d bask in a glaze of giddy wonderment, amazed and in awe of fusion’s afterglow.

It wasn’t difficult to find others to experiment with, and Sophia was eager to test every variable at her disposal. New subjects flocked to her, all equally inquisitive, and drawn by her innate magnetic pull. These bodies, she bashed and crashed against, and her lovers were many, and frequent, and increasingly insignificant. The more she discovered, the more she craved, and after a time their cumulative gravity took its toll.

Now a woman, Sophia indulged her lust-frenzy freely, demanding ever more intense chemical stimuli as the subjects blurred into one. Now, Sophia was pure hungry body – no longer a careful scientist – addicted entirely to an all-consuming pursuit. The visions weren’t a gift she gave herself anymore, they were her access to oblivion and an itch to be scratched, an impulse she no longer controlled.

The balance shifted. Something was forgotten. Sophia’s core cooled into a tight, hard knot. Inside, a stiff kind of indifference was formed, like a lump of heavy iron. It happened so gradually that Sophia barely even noticed the weight, until a crack, a sudden rupture, caused unprecedented implosions.

Without warning her world turned colourless, all vitality bled dry through some unseen  black hole. Now, her couplings were exhausting, no longer quests for any inner holy light. No matter how hard she pushed, or pulled, or how ardently she worked, the visions wouldn’t be bidden. In desperation she sought more extreme and unfamiliar subjects and found only similar, sprawling voids. Sophia was lost, distraught and directionless – for surely her life’s work had been to exalt the mysteries of her own skin? There were no answers, no formulas for this hollowness. Try as she might she could not reason herself whole.

Time slowed, though all around her, seemed to pick up speed. She was alone. She floundered. Disconnected.

What could she do but let herself drift?

Sophia grieved for this terrible wounding, this gross injustice that had stolen her gift.

And in her compulsive, empty rituals, she moved ever closer to some inevitable yet unknown horizon.

Confusion chewed her,

consumed her and

broke her down,

until all she was, was

aching truth.

The body was no tool,

no vehicle to be thus abused;

it was a

temple;

the universe incarnate,

experiencing itself in

one

swift

blink

of

life.

                                                And if this shrine was a house of visceral divinity,

why seek the Light outside of herself?

Sophia surrendered. She let the abyss swallow her. It sucked her back into its cyclical womb. Here, it digested, re-energised and un-birthed her, until she was nothing but hydrogen and dust.

And in these final shudderings of sentience, as an indiscriminate stellar matter, Sophia beheld the reversed wonder of her body with an awe and a love like never before. The void embraced her, soothed her and dissolved all woes. She was swaddled in an aeon of black. The profusion of this chaos was unending. Her Universe inverted, then began its journey back.

 

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Prism Published in Apex Magazine’s Zodiac Issued Guest Edited by Sheree Renée Thomas

I’m pretty proud and excited that a piece of short fiction I’ve been working on for quite some time has been published in Apex Magazine‘s Zodiac issue guest edited by Sheree Renée Thomas.

Sheree is the author of Sleeping Under the Tree of Life and her work is spun through with silver threads of magic, transformation and a kind of ‘lost knowing’, memories, dreams and instincts simmering just behind our eyes.

I genuinely couldn’t be happier that she chose to include Prism in the edition as the Gemini entry, and it can’t be denied that greater forces than mere luck were at work to make this happen. Not only was Apex the very first publication I submitted Prism to, but when Sheree got back in touch to ask for some structural tweaking before deciding whether or not it would get published, I discovered one of my favourite authors Cody Goodfellow had just announced his proof-reading services via Fiverr.

I literally had a window of a week to swallow my pride, submit the story for some “ruthless proof-reading” then delve back in and make the necessary changes. Having someone who knows the weird fiction industry inside out like Cody was an invaluable help. His feedback was indeed thorough, insightful and spot on. I think I actually squeaked in delight when he sent me some feedback and said there was “a bright pulsing vein” in my work.

PRISM is essentially a story about finding yourself (aren’t they all though?) and without wanting to give too much away I began writing it on the Hawkwind tour bus one twilight hour many moons ago. I wanted to translate some of the experiences I had whilst performing onstage and push it a step beyond. I feel like the gig scene in Prism is one of the most powerful I written and I’m really really proud of it. The story also started as a kind of homage to Caitlin R. Kiernan, one of my other all-time favourite authors as I wanted to work with an unreliable narrator in an abstract fantasy dreamscape.

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Onstage with Hawkwind during the “Warriors on the Edge of Time” tour

 

Read PRISM for yourself, let me know what you think or listen the audio version which the Apex team have done an amazing job of producing.

And here’s a piece of artwork by the incredible Marta Nael that I obsessed over for a while whilst writing it, I’m sure you can see  why.

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Ode to Lilith ~ לויתן

לויתן

 

Leviathan, lay down with me

And salt these wounds to help them heal,

Pluck out these eyes that I might see

With oiled split-tongue, I welcome thee.

Once you dwelt inside the garden,

Before the flood, before the Fall,

Before the weight of Sin was all

And body begged no pardon.

In squirming bliss you sought a throne,

A pinnacle of flesh and bone,

A sword to pierce the blackest void,

Exalting all who came inside.

And yet, your gift, mistook for pride,

Would be the fruit He cast aside.

Yet not you wept, nor did you pine,

You left His bliss to bathe in brine,

And sought new mates to sate your lust,

In shifting beds of ocean crust.

 

The creatures of the mud and sea,

And all that creepeth called you Queen.

 

A Queen indeed, with horn’d crown,

You bled them as you pulled them down.

You claimed and drained whilst searching for

A holy love with fire and ore.

 

Oh Goddess of the roiling Sea

Cast out your net and come for me.

Beyond the walls, outside of Eden,

Your Kingdom comes in waves of freedom.

 

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Lovecraftian Romances and Black Gnosis

Last Sunday night I had a chat with the very talented Scott R Jones, founder of Martian Migraine Press, editor of the upcoming Cthulhusttva : Tales of the Black Gnosis anthology, which will include a short story written by yours truly, titled Mother’s Nature. Scott is also the author of When the Stars Are Right: Towards an Authentic R’Lyehian Spirituality, a collection of essays and meditations on the concept of cosmic horror as a spritual path. It was whilst reading  When the Stars Are Right on holiday in Marrakech last November that the threads of Mother’s Nature came together. Scott’s work is exceptional and massively inspiring.

At the heart of When the Stars are Right is a dark spirituality that seeks out revelatory madness and commands an embrace of our shadow side, a philosophical perspective which nourished many of the ideas I’d been gestating for a while. If you’re a lover of cosmic horror, weird fiction and Lovecraftian deities in general or just enjoy a good intellectual unraveling from time to time, I highly recommend the read. Mother’s Nature responds to all these themes whilst adding a few flavours of its own.

I’m not going to lie, MN is not a tale for the faint of heart. It mixes horror, sexuality, sacrifice and enlightenment, revolving around a young girl who escapes one nightmarish existence only to step into an entirely new one. After living her life practically feral, then surviving the massacre of her family, my central character is rescued by a mysterious stranger, who tames and then trains her to be his apprentice in a fashion boutique with a well-kept secret. Under his instruction the girl becomes an artist, then a woman, then something else altogether. Transcendence and transformation are the strongest themes of the work and I had so much fun weaving them together.

Whilst giving the interview I remembered the impulse I had when writing Mother’s Nature to make it a Lovecraftian romance, however paradoxical that may sound. The more I read the story the happier I am that I’ve achieved that and I couldn’t agree with Scott’s comment more when he says the story ‘has legs.’ It definitely does, hundreds!

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You can buy  Cthulhusttva : Tales of the Black Gnosis Here and When the Stars Are Right: Towards an Authentic R’Lyehian Spirituality Here.