The moon burned in the dark blue sky. It seemed to grow. It had a pinkish aura.

In an alleyway that often comes alive at night with people in costume; fish, penises, fiery birds, dancing among candles in many-coloured glass jars., a young girl resides. She had a skinny masculinity, a slight hunchback, a plain prettiness.
Her small arms strain with a bucket of water from the plaza well, gritting her teeth and swinging it along. Maala, her mother, must work all night, entertaining men in her room as her daughter takes care of the house.
 She falls asleep as the sun rises.
Maala stabs pigs out of the corner of her eye.
A boy runs into her house, drowning the day, confused during a game with the pushy locals.
The girl wakes first, lips smacking – their eyes meet – then her mother screams. ‘Cuuuhngt – out! Out!’
The boy tries to get out in as few running leaps as possible.
‘Did you bring him here?’ Her mother was already donning her clothes.
‘You don’t need to get ready ma.’
‘Tell me what is going on!’
‘I – only woke when you did.  A second before, only.’ It was best never to seem to stray from the truth.
Maala went into the kitchen and made bangs. Starfish closed her eyes.
‘You know how much I need my sleep!’ Maala made sure the volume was high enough for the admittedly short distance between them. ‘I give my body for us to live and I’m drained of energy when instead I should be getting my beauty sleep! We can’t always be young you know.
Am I being unreasonable? Please tell me if I am!’
    She grabbed wine, poured it into a pot, poured that into her mouth, then threw the pot across the kitchen with another wail of rage. ‘Do you know?’  Incomprehension filled the air as she screeched wordlessly once more following these unsatisfactory words.
    Starfish silently entered the kitchen, having learned that her presence was marginally more likely to help situations like these. Her mother was sitting on a stool, with her head bowed. She alternately bonged a new pot down on the stone floor, and then upwards to her forehead. Her eyes flickered open and she noticed her daughter, causing her to jump slightly.  She let out a soft laugh. ‘I can’t even bang the bloody… pot… I’m so tired…silly isn’t it…’ Her shoulders shook.
    Starfish swiftly went forward to put her small arms around her. Squeezing as helpfully as she could, weathering the convulsions of bodily sobbing, she dreamed of the strange boy.
He had come from outside, when the sun was high in the sky. And his skin was blue, bluer than hers, blue like some of the candle lights in the alley. No. Like a…warm… pool under pulsating fire-brown rock.

She waited in the living room. A man came through the kitchen and leaned on the side, smiling at her. She had never seen him before, but did not react. Visitors were visitors. They were best avoided, for varied reasons.     This one was a blocky man in a loose shirt, the sweat from the day’s work still noticeable. His black hair frizzed up fluffily. Starfish reacted to his staring.
“Hi-”
“Hi.”  There was a self-contained smile on his face. She felt compromised, an escapee not yet begun.
“Are you going to tell me your name?”

She considered answering but there was no point.
No point. It’s just a stupid game.
She walked away, hair prickling.
“I asked you very nicely little girl. Are you trying to be rude?”
She was past the kitchen, almost at the back door. He pulled out a knife from a drawer.
”I’m a guest here. Not very nice.
 Don’t you walk away from  me.
 Don’t go any further. Get the fuck here!”
 She ran out the door, and sprinted round the back alley. He had followed her this way, she wouldn’t be cut off.
“Virgin fuckskirt! Where is your momma? She’d pay me to break you in! You know that?”
    Starfish smelt the market produce, she was in the street, he was behind her, there was no-one in front of her. Except the town fuckskirts.
Star had walked out here into more tension.
    The fuckskirts were sidling over, all together, in their long tight sashes, swirling ribbons and short, knickerless skirts. A bunch of men milled, drunkenly, unpleasantly., attempting to incite conflict. The newcomer slotted himself into the scene.
    The village men burned, one clenched his fists. A young skirt who’d caught an eye broke away from its gaze.
    She led all the girls further away from the men. Perhaps the male newcomer’s violent eyes were contaminating, she thought.
    The newcomer hissed past his bottom lip. Seeing a new thing to pursue now, he broke into a run.  Grabbing the young skirt by her neck and hair, he forced her to the ground. Her companions let out much noise, like human-sized birds. They saw what he was doing to her. They jumped on his back, kicked at him, scratched at his eyes. The men shouted – incited in contrasting ways – sand and glass flew back and forth and splintered, flesh was shot in streaks. Some girls held limbs down, some flew at his neck, belly, tore at his skin. The newcomer’s blood ran from their mouths.
Starfish slipped away.

Starfish wandered the bright stinking, sweating world.
    The blue boy is sitting atop a small bundle of tyres, themselves atop a mound of waste. Small fishbones, rotting stuff in rotting plastic bags, cracked plastic, rusting antennae stuck pointing at the sun. He saw her, gave her a small warm smile.
“Hello.“
“Hello.”
“I’m Starfish.”
“I’m Martin.” Meeting eyes and talking slowly about simplistic things it was as if their heads collided, brains became made of light and squashed together. Seeing each other’s soul squeezing out through the cracks of themselves, they simultaneously decided of the other, that’s what I want.
    Martin took her hand and showed her the scrap yard.
It went on for quite a while, tracks leading through the great piles of junk went down and up and finished abruptly. Gulls collided like hot atoms around rusting diggers on bridges overhead. The hot, forgotten mess dirtied like sweat the smooth skin of the underpasses. In the cool under there, moss gathered on dripping stone.
After hugging carefully, the two young ones played carelessly, scraping themselves on appliances and wires and getting smeared in pollution. Giggling awkwardly, they burned with the desire to be free in themselves.
Martin got his dick out. Star was half disappointed, half fascinated. It rose like a pink mushroom, balancing itself erect. He thrust blue-black hands towards her as she neared, laughing, covered in ooze herself. “Don’t touch  it!”
Instead she wiped her hands clean on his face, and he coated her hair.
“Stop”, she cried at last, “I’m too hot and sticky.” She spat showily.  “Yeck. Let’s get washed.”
The river stank worse than them, though a blonde stray lapped at the water, stopping to stare and pant at the two freak-young.
  “I’m still fucking horny”, Martin murmured. Star beamed somewhat shyly, massively proud. He was hers, she was his, and they were both covered in shit and wanted to play with each other’s arses.
Instead they just lay down in the underpass, tired out like melting collapsing ice creams. They fell asleep.

They were woken with a shove.
Martin raised his head off the damp sand. A man stood in front of them wearing a boiler suit. In the moonlight, his glasses made him look like he had big silver eyes.
‘Can’t sleep here,’ he said, barely moving his mouth.
Star looked at him, then at Martin.
‘Oh. Sorry,’ said Martin.
‘Hm. Hurry please, thank you.’
‘Sure,’ said Martin, rubbing his legs. He watched Star make an exaggerated effort to bring herself vertical.
‘Er – do you like your job?’
The man showed no expression. ‘Yep,’ he said.
‘Ah right. Cool. You’re the manager aren’t you? I haven’t seen anyone else round here.’
The man shifted his feet. ‘Yes and I want to go home, thanks. How long’s this gonna take miss?’
He looked nonchalant, comfortable with his nonchalant-ness. But then looked awkward, as if it had been an act. Martin found this very interesting and wanted to ask another question. But the man was sighing and looking away as Star raised her arse high in the air, on all fours like a new born foal. He walked away, and they began to follow at a distance.
    Star spoke as they walked.. ‘Having a baby would be… horrid.’
Martin turned his head towards her. She continued. ‘It would be like having worms only bigger. Don’t you think they’re parasites? Would you like one? They’re like little aliens.’
A snail crawled along a pipe in some slimy junk. Martin got closer to peer as it attempted to get over the zincky rim.
‘Ant eggs are weird,’ he stated by way of answer. ‘Did you know, some beetles or something, they creep into the hive and put their babies in the ant eggs. They eat the ant babies and put theirs inside instead.’
Star wrinkled her nose, but her gaze showed interest.
‘Then when the beetle babies hatch, they eat the ant babies around them. And the ants give them more food!’
‘God,’ said Star. ‘Isn’t life strange.’

When the sun rose, they managed to find a public toilet and both entered the ladies, balancing each other on the sink and squealing.
A fat lady Star knew of came in. She invariably pretended at wealthiness – whatever that stood for nowadays. She looked absolutely disgusted, then simply gave them a wide berth and closed the cubicle door behind her.
“What a stupid cow,” Star said as they were leaving. “She knows me as the whore’s girl like the rest of them. But she just carries on as her boring self. I think I’d have more respect for her if she put me in jail or something. Upset me – proper.”
Martin was silent for a bit, then said, “I could see that.”

Underneath the bridge leading out of town, there clung a big black pipe. Martin gracefully helped her onto the bridge side, at the corner where it was possible to squeeze past the spikes. “You alright? There’s a foothold in the stone at your left.”
Star let go of his hand and climbed down until she could see the big pipe underneath. She readied herself, then after one beat, lunged. She landed on all fours on the pipe, crouching still more for balance. Then smiled up at him, though he was out of view. He put his foot in the foothold, slipping once, then viciously jamming his foot in. The black, day-time water lapped motionlessly like newly cooled plastic polymer. He swung out, backwards, reaching behind for the bridge side. Only air was clutched, so he went back to the wall. when
Starfish laughed. “What you doing?”
Martin opened his mouth, then closed it again. He tensed his arms, swapped feet in the foothold, and bounced over onto the pipe.
Reddened, he turned and grinned at Star. They widened eyes at each other and dug their claws in.
Dark clammy dripping
    Starfish killed a rat, smoothed its fur down, the little mouth widening slightly in shuddering sleep. She stuck him in her. Then bit off its head. Martin got excited and ripped off her pants grabbing at her from behind. She stuck out her tongue and sucked and bit at the surroundings, growling and screeching as he came in her arse. “Fuuuck!” They both smashed each other’s heads against the concrete walls till bone showed. Star scratched at her breasts, clawed her clitoris, came in bubbles. They lay together, beating the floor with their fists till the last bit of energy was wrenched out. Martin coughed, took her ear in his mouth, and closed his eyes.

Martin dreamed of pouncing death. Going totally mental. Licking out dead ravens, digging up graves, ambushing young men as the summer sun of their fabricated heaven sets.
He thought to himself upon waking. I am only dreams, day actions aren’t mine. Ghosts in the day.

Grey dust and a yellow sky. The two lovers clawed at each other, bit each other’s heads as moles are wont to do and out of affection for their furry killer cousins. Martin rubbed at Star’s queynte because the idea satisfied him that she would walk around with a sore queynte. Star licked him saliverously and spat in his eye viciously.     The liquidly waking sun made them feel nauseous; they held each other close, so close, and every step tripped on each other’s feet.
Martin drank from a bottle of cider that stood topped with black leaves and threw up a little bit, Star cackling away with her head thrown back. Martin kind of hated her in that moment because she looked so like her yet such a different character. “I’ll give you tennis-elbow!”, he snarled, and they chased each other through streets filling up with shuffling scum staring.

Walking through the square, Star kicked the little grey stones on the grimy sand. A crowd had gathered at the entrance to the town hall. A fat bald man strode onto a platform. Behind a brass eagle he exhorted them to churn their hearts with a rhythmic tenacity.
‘The government struts around toward our little village. They think they are right! They think we are small and misguided! They think they can bully us! They are wrong!!
Martin grinned sadly and Star kept his gaze, eyes twinkling.
“What are we…  …to do?,” he asked, smearing mucus away.
Star looked thoughtfully at the sky. “Uhm…” she said.
The bald man was screaming now. ‘They send their dogs toward us! These villains, these unprincipled, landless opportunists! We will make opportunity out of them!’
The crowd roared.
 Martin frowned for a while, then suggested contentedly, “You could make a sculpture of me with my head enclosed in a tree.”
“And then kick your bollocks in ‘til they burst like over-ripe fallows!” she hissed back.
“If I ploughed your field, let there be crop rotation, sweet?”
“Oh – shut up. Yeah, the tree is good. Let’s go to the forest. Fuck it all. That’s where we should be.”
Martin stared at the ground with lactic eyes. “I don’t know if I have the…balls… to deal with… any ineventualities…”
“Then we’ll die together, pretty pea!” Star glared, stroking down his thighs.
“Oh…ivy and grass and…suchlike…”
“Yes! Fuck yes!” Star bunched her fists and batted her head against the wall with vigour. A man in a raincoat had begun to stare, it was lasting a good while. Martin was even about to say something, but the man spoke first.
“Too much time on your hands – that’s your problem.” Then he turned and walked off.
Martin screwed up his face. Star stood seething with rage.
“Come on love“, said Martin. “Let’s not…over…analyse this event… we were immersed before…immersed.”
“Fuck this fucking….” Star whispered. “I can’t even exit with dignity!… Guuurkh!  I’ll attack them with style! The brutes…!”
“Yes sweet – perhaps the boutique in the city… we could rob…arm ourselves with hand grenades…and…”
“In the current social climate?…Well yeah, ok.”
‘First off let’s get back to mine. My dad will look after us.’
‘Whats his name?’
‘Er, Marabout.’
‘Ok.’
‘Star.’ Martin said. ‘I’m experiencing a male fickle interest. But – I’m not just a penis.’
She laughed. He was about to add ‘see?’ but just stared into her eyes, giving a little smile as he watched the amusement of her face.

As the afternoon went on, Martin got to his house, opened the door, led Star in. She came into a hexagonal room. Sexual organs floated in jars, hay lay scattered on the floor. Tinkling music played softly somewhere.
 A stairway spiralled up the wall in front. Martin held the rail and started to climb. Starfish followed, slowly.
At the top, in a room of velvet dark, lushness and asceticism, a man in silver stood. He turned to them, smiling, letting his robe twinkle its stars.
‘Hello my lovelies!’, he Marabout greeted his son and his friend.
Their eyes, met briefly.
And, quietened close to a whisper, he asked ‘What can I do you for?’
Martin shifted his eyes. ‘We’re going on an expedition.’
‘Mental or otherwise?’
‘I don’t know – we’ll start with that,’ Martin said, smiling to show good spirit.
‘Come, have a seat, both of you‘, he said. ‘You look tired.’

‘We’re just getting pissed off with these people.’ Star was saying.
Marabout nodded. ‘The lax morality, the mental knots these people are stuck in.
I think you’ll come to calm down soon though, and accept it just, as it is.’ He walked over to a veritable greenhouse in the corner of the room. Picking up a purple-flowered bush by its pot he walked over to them, peering at it. ‘I like to cultivate plants. It is a pure, beautiful expression of the higher path, the ascent to the other realm. The journey through the earth’s darkness… You have to accept the darkness… good things grow out of there, though you can’t see.’

The house wound to silence. Outside the olive-trees took on shades of greyish colour.  Martin and Star gathered food and clothes. As darkness fell, they set off.

After the lights of the town, it was like having one’s eyes shut. Martin and Starfish climbed over hedges and came to a field. It was ploughed and brown. They walked steeply up. Star felt it terribly boring, in a way. It was a boring journey but she felt things so strongly – in the back of her mind. Backstage somewhere it was living above the world.
And then  her perceptions were forced to realign. Above them, strange noises came, and the shadows of the trees flickered out.
They strained their calves up the last rise, the smell of soil turning to the smell of propane, incense and the farmyard.
The trees seemed cartoonish in the half light, like the underground comics, the ones with paedophilic drawings in. Inside there was a big clearing.
    The circus was coming to town through the forest. It seemed to Star like the things her grandmother used to tell of, in her stories of the night elves and the four kingdoms, the sleeping shamans and desperate royal siblings. Except far more.
    Conjoined girls in tear-stained petticoats and insectile women that crawled or limped, honouring their deformities. Vibrant costumes and  painted animals. A man greeted them who milked a small shimmering cow, surrounded by small children covered in bows and sequins.  Over excited dogs barked, the sound echoing over the moon. A golem seems to manifest from a small valley below.
Semi-naked people swirled in waving material, embellishing the beat of drum skins struck and flutes with the bells on their bodies. Gathering their worn bodies, summoning their strength, they ejected it in to a feigned display of over exuberant performance. Spices burned, lamp-fire flickered. Demented-looking dwarves with wispy hair opened their small mouths and sang with a painful beauty.
The smell of wood smoke filled their sinuses as stall holders warmed their hands.
    Feeling welcome, they sat down next to an elephantine boy and tried to take in everything, the fire flickering on their faces.
A man with a wooden head was being tormented by giggling maidens in white, he ran and tripped and bumped into things as they prodded him and jumped around.
Pots of foreign flowers stood in lines or hung from the trees. Star saw on the floor an animal skull. Its jaw was wired open, a little figure of a nude woman on an oyster shell inside. She appeared to be grasping at her sex with both hands, mouth widened.
Figures passed, going into the shadows about their business.

Drink, fire, dark. Starfish let each overwhelm her. A thronging dance absorbed the crowd as it travelled in from nowhere. She found herself led in. Martin watched cautiously. As the hours flew by, Star came out of herself, and Martin went inside himself. Something wasn’t right.

She came back to him with big blobby eyes, some strange glasses on her face, hair slick with sweat. She told him of a boy, Stalfom. She had learnt a circus skill. ‘What circus skill.’ Martin murmured.
‘You should meet them,’ Star enthused.

Their tents had peaks which dipped in blue, silver stars dotted.  Inside the walls were caked with searing images and screaming manifestos, philosophical entreaties to carve brightness out of a dull world. In a wicker basket were many smooth round things. The sign on the basket read ‘Explosives’.
Star reached down and held one. ‘Can I have some?’ she asked with a sweet smile. Stalfom smiled back.

Next day Martin and Star woke up together. They lay in a small tent. Star opened the flap at the front, and saw under the purple pinkish afternoon sky. The gathered community of yesterday. She gave a big smile.  ‘They want me to join them!’ She looked at Martin. ’I’m never gonna see this shithole again!’

She raved about her new ideas and remembered new interesting things from the night. Martin phased out from following her words.
He wanted to destroy himself utterly. Not just stab himself but break every bit of his body, smash it, grind it, crush it down.

Starf – will she travel about, finding her obscure old friends in alleyway shops? NO> she will be fuckin miserable. Physically trapped because mentally trapped. If I could just concentrate enough here, I could maybe be optimistic about escaping into another’s world. Besides, I don’t wanna be affected out of principle.

The day passed happily for the others. Captivated with the remote, mysterious and beautiful surroundings, the circus stayed overly long.

    Star loved Martin, but god could he whine. What is he doing, she wondered. The boy is trailing behind me now. I feel like the old man with his brainless little dog.
‘I’m going to be fantastic now,’ she announced, lighting a new-found cigarette. ‘You do what you want. I wish the best for you., but. If you don’t want to partake in this then I can’t let you affect me.’
Star looked pleased with herself, or simply amused. Martin cried and threw things at her.
‘I’m just being honest’, she said.
Her eyes glinted. Martin tried to move in to see better but she turned away. Martin sat down.
He looked at the floor, hands in his lap. ‘Fuck. I think I’m gonna throw.’
She turned her head back, breathing smoke away from them both from the side of her mouth.
Martin looked at her special glasses.
She shook her head. ‘No, you can’t break my glasses.’
‘Goodbye Starfish!’ Martin shouted.
‘Where are you going?’ she asked.
‘To the other side of the forest! Away!’
Rabid fucking radioactive leech, he thought to himself. Sewerous…
He threw up as he walked, instantly dropping to his knees. His tears fell into the steaming mess.
‘You hate me now don’t you?’ he manages to say.
‘Fucking christ Jesus…’ says Starfish.
Martin stared blankly for a bit. ‘Right. Motorway,’ he said. ’I shall walk down the fucking motorway – until I get somewhere, or I rip some fucker’s head off.’
She stare at the ground, fag hand limp. As if woken from a trance, she said, ‘Uh-k. I’ll come.’
They walked. Martin wiggled inside, kept it there.
Both of them noticed the relative beauty of the environment. Black puddles with orange buzzy jewels in them. Lozenges perhaps, thought Martin – not very hygienic though.
‘I’ve been here couple times before‘, he said. ‘A guy jumped off there’, he said, pointing to the overpass.
‘Wow’, said Starfish. ‘Did he die?’
‘No, but he couldn’t walk for …such a long time.’
    They walked over mud, grass, stepped over the kerb, crossed the road and cars were shooting past them on the motorway. Extra cold night air blew at them.
    Star had found a workman’s safety lamp of yellow and orange plastic. She threw it in-between the motorway lanes. The cars sighed louder. Beeeee yeep. Seemingly caught out by this eventuality, Star scampered back into the shadows, cradling her cigs.
‘That was…’ Martin began. It was on the tip of his tongue.
‘Mmm.’ Star said, knowingly.
They sat on the earth. The sighing road blocked their thoughts, so they just sat and let time be active in their place. Even over the vehicles, they could hear the circus.
They were making more noise now. It trailed on the wind – voices raised, cut off, extended.

The campfire continued to burn in its steady crazed way.
    But all around was chaos – the state had come.
    In the dark circus folk darted for a way out of the trap closing between the trees – thick black-uniformed men. They fell over each other as this black line surged forward – stopping as soon as it began. The men quietly elated in the further contrast they brought – between these confused people and their own steadiness. Like waiting for the greater orgasm that comes with patience, they lashed out to bloody the few, and watched the many dissolve into panic. There would be time enough to work on these characters individually once they were broken – as quiet and still as the black line.

The misfit couple trudged, thinking prickly thoughts, when they heard a muffled explosion. They stopped to stare stupidly towards the forest. Not long after, a wailing sound came from far down the motorway.
    It increased in tempo until it hurt their ears and forced their attention toward it. It was a dark van, red and blue lights flaring, and it speeded past them. Star watched it pass suspiciously. It had begun to slow.
‘Ah – shit. Martin hurry up! Trouble!’
He began to catch up with her. Uniformed men had began to pile out and run towards them.
    Martin really felt sick now. But in deciding to flee them, he switched himself to an aspect he found more favourable. He gained determination from this, and physically tried to help Star run faster. Cars raced past them in their direction on the road, some sounding their horn again as they went past. Star laughed nervously as she tripped in some mud. It was so narrow on the dirty verge. Martin felt his eyes widen as he ran. Then he stopped abruptly, grabbing Star as he did so.
More men in front of them.

‘My name is Luis Blanco-Artiga.’
A swarthy man regarded her silently. Star sat in front of him in a little grey-green room that smelt of stale piss and antiseptic.
‘Your village… it thinks it lives in another place. You’re all infected by some other dimension entirely.
I don’t pretend to know what’s sane, but clearly you have long left that. Did you think we would just let you multiply the madness?
Star felt lost for words. They massed together and hugged behind her tongue, not daring to come forward. ‘I hate my town…!’ she cried. Her face reddened in her hands, she let her head bang the table lightly.
After what seemed like forever, she looked up into Luis’s face. It hadn‘t changed.
‘I’ll be frank. You’re fooling no-one,’ he said. ‘We found explosive devices in that bag of yours. Tell us what’s going on and you can go and live in the city. Get something constructive done. Lots of… freak types there. You’d love it. And we’d forget this ever happened.’
He continued to stare.
Star said nothing.
‘We have the circus people all in custody. And your little boyfriend of course.
There has been a lot of anti-government feeling.’ He managed to make this phrase sound like the most contemptible thing possible.
  ‘Tell us everything you know.’
‘No.’
He grabbed her by the neck, pulled her in close with an angry look on his face. Then he grinned, and rocked her around, trying to mock her, though she struggled violently and his idea was damaged.
He half-strangled her, and turned her belly-down on the table, holding her down with his bulk.
‘Some bottoms are… asking for it,’ he said, feeling hers. ‘You’d like to pinch and grab them, but it won’t satisfy, so we move on. What is wanted is to grab harder, crush, take a bite right out.’
There came a knock on the door. ‘Come in’, the officer said., standing only to appear to be holding Star down with more ease. Martin was shoved in, falling to the floor. Two other officers came in, closing the door behind them.
“We can make them fuck. “ The larger of the two said. The man next to him was lankier, with straw coloured hair. He said nothing, stood mesmerised by the young people in front of him.
They made them undress at the point of a gun, saying things to them they didn’t know what. Their minds were racing.
“They’ll not hurt you. So don’t be shy, grab each other!”, smiled Luis, casually avoiding the tension in the air. Star  squeezed her eyes shut in response. Martin just looked at the wall, holding his blue arms around himself.
What was going on in her head?, the lankier man wondered, pawing at her experimentally.
“You ain’t moving.”, said the other. A large ungainly man, he leaned forward, making a swift motion towards her. She flinched, and he leaned back., bubbling chuckles eventually leaking out.
His lanky companion contorted his face into an angry leer.
 “Stubborn like donkeys.”

Star was naked, Martin next to her. Allowed to hold her, he tried to cover up her nakedness without seeming too much to be going against their wishes. Blood streamed from the side of his head, black and blocky in places. He was pulled away.
Now every eye could see every part of her. She shivered, goose bumps showing, and shifted on her stool. There was a squeak as of something slimy being squeezed between the seat and her moving skin. The folds of her lower regions pulled away from each other.

She caught her breath and started to cry. Martin slid over to sit  on the floor next to her chair. He seemed to make a choking noise, she looked up to see him studying the ceiling. He frowned, glared, snarled at the ceiling., composed his face. Tears came to his eyes, hers met his. He looked back upward, a tear left his eye. One corner of his mouth ascended,  following his eye.

The fat man made a crude remark about Star’s attractiveness, leered, and laughed. The lanky one pushed
the pressure point just under Martin’s ear, holding on as he tried to punch and kick behind him. “Stop or
I’ll push harder!” he shouted. “Get on the floor.” Martin did so.
“Take your trousers off.”
He put his hands under his belly as he lay there. But it was soon clear Martin wasn’t doing anything. Lanky took a piece of smashed glass from the floor and held it to Martin’s eye.
“Do it. And don’t close your eye or I’ll take your eyelid off. Would you like to attack his balls sir? Could use your heel.”
‘No, I think it’s my turn with this bitch.’

 Star’s body flopped lifelessly as they carried her through the dark, stinking of alcohol. Her blood had begun to clot as it rolled down her head and neck, like the watermarks that gather on a beach or a sink. Scabrous dark browny-red covered her skin and hair, seeming to shade even the whites of the eyes. They dropped her, the fat one laughing, the other two falling on her body, punching it out of some unknown frustration. Luis produced his sword, and her neck began to be sawn off, breasts sucked, then immediately sawn off.
    Her nether regions were noticed, so they sawed below her ribs to split her in half.. The two halves were carried into the forest by the two men, covered in sacking. Eyes shut, her mouth could be accessed by the eye in her broken teeth. Fresh blood rivulets meandered out. Her body having ceased its earthly struggles, the men felt mostly satisfied. They reached down to the earth, shaking from their excesses. Mud was smeared over her face and  her eyes, black dirt and dead leaves mixing with her long hair.
    Spent, the men were yet only content after sawing off her hands and feet. Lanky gazed at her broken face – it was still enchanting. He felt like an outcast of the land – it was thrilling, frightening. He felt his hair stand on end.
Luis touched her cold skin with his long blade, almost reverently. Then, with some calculation, drove it through her throat and through her brain. They  Then all three quietly left, each wanting to hold the other, but letting the feeling stay looping inside their gullets.

Star bobbed slowly, subtly, on the surface of liquid mud. A delicate scum collected around her shape, then wobbled apart, giving her an ancient kind of halo.
She is watched. An ageless woman with tangled hair,  and a face of a fantastical landscape.
    Slowly she folds her body closer to the black water girl. The water is not freezing. It lumps around her skirt as she enters, like the muscles and guts of a night-beast. The crone reaches under in the murk, steadies her drifting parts, rests her forehead on hers. She takes the large rag from around her neck and winds it round the girl’s body. With surprising strength she moves her legs through the complex life of the bog  and lifts her up. The water’s sound crashes melodically behind her, bubbling like pagan bells under the surface of the world.
    The amalgamation of biology in the person of the crone travels away, through secret pathways and thick green tendrils woven resolutely fast. Her bundle is lifted up and down along rocks and moss. She relies on stamina and determination , not without a certain care.  Dragged as the crone crawls, up slippery mud slopes, and down to her passages.

She cooked the womb, sperm inside, very gently, for many months.

Underneath the bustling, madcap progression above, different cultures flourish. Gods from the time before men ruled cities are worshipped intensely, all-consumingly. Their greatest minds are sacrificed in hellish communications stretching past the stars you can see, past Haley’s bright, age-cycling orbit, past Marduk’s ancient, spasming victory-march, to lands of unimaginable vastness and maturity among the maddening dark depths of Nox’s curves. A few notes, of a kind, of that land’s cascading, waving song, reach the ears of Toril’s communicators – enough sensation to send many past the edge of sanity’s location.  Strange art and garbled words are hurried to a dizzying, lurching podium and borne aloft.

Every month she releases dead eggs

A piece of our death splattered around like tyres in a canal.

In the apocalypse, we’ll all drift on boats under the moonlight.

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