Halloween XS 2

A (short) exercise in bombastic Halloween fiction

The dead center of the story would come at the end. It was a culmination, to be coaxed back – or was it forward? To stare into dazzling unseeing – that was the thing. Animated obscurity approaching him across a darkened pumpkin field.

It had been a dream, exquisite in its horror. Upon its return, a few nights later, the edges of its moonless luminosity were still undulled. Then, only inane slumber, for over a week. He had still written nothing down. By the time of the third apparition it had decayed, shredded into black rags by delirium, wormed-through by neglect. He awoke in a sweaty chaos of tangled sheets and recalcitrant memory. In a panic, he now sought – too late – to capture it.

Detail had eroded down towards a fever-ground core of inarticulate urgency. Numbly, he understood that the sole meaning of his career – and thus his life – was buried in the ruins of an unmined nightmare, avalanched under by confusion and thickening dread. Everything he would ever want to say had been whispered to him, but he had fumbled the priceless gift into oblivion. A jagged chunk of non-being had been flung at him across the desert of limbic night. With each loop of recollection, it receded further behind a wake of undecipherable reference codes. The weird tale he had been offered was reduced to an unthreading ghost story, degenerating by the hour, into chattering nonsense picked up among rumors of forbidden secrets. The sacred touch of vacuous insanity was gone.

Nobody would ever have mistaken his life for anything other than a futile, slow-motion catastrophe. His literary career was a partial-birth abortion of singular grisliness. The pieces that emerged still twitching soon expired amid detestable groans. Now everything fell completely apart.

Seen coldly, in the morbid pre-dawn glow, it was suddenly obvious that the empty whisky bottles and overflowing ashtrays were detritus from a forgotten ritual. There had been an incompetent summoning. If repeated mechanically, it would deteriorate a little further. The alternative was to do it right. As a memento, he attached a post-it note to the computer screen, bearing the single word: Invoke. Then he stumbled groggily to bed. His dreams were discreet and interred in sleep.

Satan had nothing to offer him, except indirectly, and unconvincingly. Luciferic inspiration would not ignite. Instead, the Dark Prince, slumped in reptilian lassitude upon the throne of doom and undisguisedly bored by the conversation from its first moment, merely derided his attachment to conventional ideas. A claw-toed foot sifted vaguely through the heap of crumbling skulls. “Have you drawn your entire contact list from a Dennis Wheatley novel?” susurrated the Old Deceiver with languorous contempt. There was nothing further to be said.

It was a circuit, locking him out. To access the name he needed to know who to call. Incense-clouded blackness and strange drugs broke upon a sea-wall of silence. At the dead-end of each ruined night, the only thing that mattered was further gone, recessed more deeply into the cross-hatched palimpsest of memory. The unintercepted missile of oblivion streaked away from his life, on some unimaginable course.

“You need help,” said the young man in the street, proffering a crudely-printed pamphlet.
“Jesus Christ your Savior,” he read, enunciating slowly and carefully. “Nope.”
The street evangelist studied him for a drawn-out minute, in calm silence. “What are you searching for?” he asked eventually.
“Can’t you see?” he laughed, sleepless mental dilapidation knapping an edge of hysteria onto his tone. “I’m pursuing the dream.”
“You’d turn your back on peace?” the young man asked sadly.
“If I could still find the back I’d fall into it …”

His abandonment of all hope led him on long, looping walks through the countryside. Mindless sensation blurred the damnation of unknown names. Autumn had enveloped him in mists and mildewed fruitlessness. He shuffled without objective through rotting leaves.

Everything had been broken by the time he stumbled upon the distant perimeter. The day, the year, and his existence were simultaneously tumbling to an end. Light had thinned to a play of shadows. Glancing sideways, he was jolted from his reveries – hurled into startled recognition. This was the place.

Its familiarity captured him, guiding the direction of attention. Realization was instantaneous, and all-engulfing. As the gates opened, recollection flooded back, indistinguishable from perception. Suddenly – diagonally – it was time.

The scene returned, enthralling. Every detail was assembling itself to perfection. He stepped forward, slowly, but without hesitation, into what he had once thought – once dreamt to be – no more than a nightmare. There was a piece cut out of his mind, matching a hole in space. Like a missing tooth, it was now simply not there. He groped for it, which meant taking another step forward. Whatever it wasn’t to be would arrive soon. That was the only certainty.

With solemn inevitability, the shape – like a shard of broken fate, or a compact rift wounding the sky – drifted toward him across the pumpkin field.

October 31, 2014admin 12 Comments »


12 Responses to this entry

  • nyan_sandwich Says:

    Interesting. More fiction.


    Posted on October 31st, 2014 at 4:07 pm Reply | Quote
  • Halloween XS 2 | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on October 31st, 2014 at 6:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • nyan_sandwich Says:

    I have to admit I don’t get it.


    ||||| Reply:

    Horrorist hyperstition motivated by recollective occultations. I like it, which in my experience means most people wouldn’t.


    admin Reply:

    It’s rushed and (perhaps) over-compressed, but a more highly-perfected version would only retreat even deeper into occultation. The ‘project’ is to switch “I don’t get it” into a positive cognitive trajectory (elaborate Pyrrhonian epoche, in philosophical terms). Manifest defects aside, I think the fundamental orientation of Abstract Literature should be ‘clear’ from this.

    After 300 pages, one’s thought-processes would no longer be recognizably human. Then, it is time …


    Nyan Sandwich Reply:

    As a first step into horror semifiction, it hints in the right direction.

    I want to read something so mind bending that it makes my brain ooze out of my ears. We need a spiritual successor to Lovecraft. Someone capable of taking the human imagination so far that it breaks down in gibbering denial of the mere conceivability of certain thoughts.

    I don’t know who else that could be… Looking forward to more.


    ||||| Reply:

    Sounds like a kind of semiotic anti-pilgrimage.

    Very tangentially related.

    ∇∇ Reply:

    On this emergent notion of abstract literature… tactical (over-)compression seems highly effective as a means of curving the irreducible linearity of any narrative towards states of occult density and the purported goal of making a ‘thing’ of the unknown – and at the same time, interestingly, drags the experiment away from fiction and towards the realm of poetics. The literary potential of this kind of technical occultation via compression prompts the question: why stop here? Or more specifically: why stick with narrative?

    It is my (amateur) sense that the theorisation of abstract literature on Outside In leans too heavily on the hallowed and somewhat conventional tradition of the Gothic novel to be really distinct from it (insofar as the genre can be distilled down to two principle traits: a particular mobilisation of descriptive language – atmospheric and architectural in inclination – and narrative ingenuity, with the twist as an exemplary figure). So I wonder if ‘abstract literature’, detached from its prevalent manifestation as (vestigially linear) narrative fiction and cast further out into peripheries of textual experimentation, could swell to encompass something like a ‘poetics of turbulence’, concerning itself with even deeper questions of form. Why persist with an intact syntax (for example)? Isn’t this already to presuppose some form of capture or regulation? The mortification of linearity at work above is exquisite (as usual) but surely there are further aspects of language available to evisceration or esoteric encipherment than narrative alone? When it’s done well, formal experimentation is the darkest of the literary arts.

    Yes to Nyan Sandwich’s invocation of a 21st century Lovecraft – but a Lovecraft on the level of language, a Lovecraft whose monstrous capacity to provoke dread expands across the whole dilated economy of writing, a literature that not only describes but implements – at the level of language itself – Cyclopean cities of no architecture known to man or human imagination…

    Srlsy tho, 140, you are one hell of a writer.


    Artemisia Reply:

    I’ve asked myself the same questions, but I thought that this kind of literature is hyperstional(ish) in the sense that they are targeted. Pursuing a cognitive trajectory generally needs syntax, insofar as it involves digging up meaning (at least at the beginning, before the trajectory spirals into…well, outsideness).

    Also, if these practices are explicitly hyperstitional, then they are, in a sense, collective – it matters little whether whoever is building the fiction up are members of some CCRU or a fragmented array of selves. Movement along the cognitive trajectory means both further fragmentation (through deterritorialisation of whatever selfhood is left) and synchronisation (maybe some “synchxenochronisation” of some sort actually – falling out of time in synch insofar as the collective operates as a functional unit – but merely as a functional one) among members of the “collective”. Movement along the cognitive trajectory would then enable progressive abandonment of whatever in language is considered regulatory or…well, simply useless for the course charted. Maybe that’s what happened back when Old Nick wasn’t dead. Who knows. Bottom line is – language is a straightjacket, but escaping it is a question of more than ditching syntax, writing in bizzare notations or speaking in tics (although I didn’t quite try this last option just yet…) It should be done strategically and intelligently, and I think such fictional practices contribute the escape. Anything this challenging is bound to happen slowly, though. Just you wait.

    Also, agreed that Old One is a hell of a writer. One wonders why he writes anything but fiction sometimes (although maybe he does write nothing but fiction). I, for one, am still hoping for Cthellish Chronicles to make a return. That was so good.

    Posted on October 31st, 2014 at 8:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • shiveringheapsofearth Says:

    Thanks for the only slice of misery I’ve been able to scare up any enjoyment for this Halloween.

    This: “With solemn inevitability, the shape – like a shard of broken fate, or a compact rift wounding the sky – drifted toward him across the pumpkin field.”

    Reminded me of this: “And on the far rim of consciousness, a scurrying, a fleeting impression of something rushing toward him, across leagues of black mirror. He tried to scream.”

    Gibson gets buried in your brain like some malfunctioning, inoperable neural implant.

    And I once saw the devil’s face during a severe hypnogogic spasm. I might consider giving up half a cubic inch of gray matter if it meant being able to forget it.


    Posted on November 1st, 2014 at 5:34 am Reply | Quote
  • Dale Rooster Says:

    Halloween is the best gift Jesus ever doled out to us heathens searching on our hand and knees, lost among cosmological ruins, in the middle of a long, cold night, for a dark salvation. It’s been my favorite holiday since I can remember bobbing for apples in preschool and scuttling through my first haunted house over and over again till my parents chased after me…through the house. (“Just one more time!” I thought as I raced away from the familial monsters hunting me down.) Rising from the dead for universal redemption is certainly a good horror story, but Halloween always offers us so many more, usually of a higher gothic caliber, including this one on Xenosystems. Thank you for the good (horrific!) read this chilly November 1st morning, Nick Land. You’re a great goddamn writer, and I hope you stalk after your visionary nightmares in the shadow-world of fiction by creating as many abstract Frankensteins as possible.


    Posted on November 1st, 2014 at 3:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • name (required) Says:

    I don’t go in much for your politics (dear god why am I here?), but I think your fiction is really, very good. Sure, I’d fix some bits, but the bits I wouldn’t fix are the bits no one else could write, and there are many more of those. If you believe the ghost you are chasing could take the unspeakably horrifying form of career advice from anonymous internet people, write your ficciones.


    Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 1:29 pm Reply | Quote

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