Thursday, September 22, 2016


By Andrew Darlington

This night, stumble-bumming the kerb from the fast-food outlet, I slippity-slip on a vomit-pool just outside my apt, ripping elbows and both pants-knees beyond repair. Damn, the only presentable suit I got left, my job-interview suit, my court-smart suit. Wore this suit when Dennis married Richard, what a night that was, there’s still puke-stains on the cuff that only I know are there. But Kurt gives me the link to a tailor, a guy who’ll run up a suit quick, for less than off the hypermart display. It’s down the old town alleys, a basement dungeon stacked high in fibre-dusty half-light with bolts and spools of fabrics, a chrome stitching-machine and matte-black trouser-press. Even the cobwebs are furry with fibres.

Kurt stands back as I haggle with the dwarfish 500-year-old tailor. Run the material through my fingers, a heavy synth-rayon facsimile of a vaguely diseased and iridescent metallic blue sheen, the imprecise hue of a logged-out screen. Tactile with static energy. He measures this, measures that, pins in his mouth, tape-measure draping and dangling. Jots down notes in a pad with a pencil-stub. Sloping shoulders. Inside leg – Oops, sorry sir. Receding chest. Razor-edge scissors as big as garden shears. Me, I understand little of the finer points of tailoring – he’s quick, supernaturally quick, and ridiculously cheap, so it’s difficult to say exactly what it is that makes this suit seem different from other I’ve worn. The width of the skinny-leg, the hang of the lapels, the cut of the back vent. Yet it figure-hugs my contours with the slinky-snug exactness you’d expect from a second skin. A glistening shell.

Back in my room, fumbling to get undressed, I concede that it’s maybe too tight. The jacket won’t stretch enough to shrug off, the pants too tight to push down. Eventually flopping down on the bed, to sleep with it on. Inebriated dreams storm my head. A silent beach with a still, unmoving sea. Such a vast silence. A huge cool red sun fixed unmoving above the shore. This Earth no longer rotates on its axis. No moon, gravity loosening. This future is billions of years ahead. A city of tall termite-style columns, inhabited by slime, the only life remaining. With space-time breaking down, they seek escape into past ages.

Awake with a hangover. In the mirror, if I look smaller now, and maybe squatter, perhaps that’s how I should look? Like my previous suits’ve been yakking me fibs all these years? The muted colours too, take on new nuances. A metamorphosis taking place. I always had cloven hooves and homicidal tendencies… right? My skin, balanced against its sheen, seems paler. When I’m wearing it, things grow different. Trying to pull it off rips my skin raw, the fibres are growing into me. I’m melting, I’m melting. I retrace my steps, but the basement dungeon down the old town alley is boarded up, like it’s been derelict for a decade. Heading to my room again, rodents scrabble at the back of my brain. Predators lurk in every shadow, primal, unformed.

Kurt’s body is in the bathtub. The cold water red with congealing blood. His right arm is missing, where I hacked it off, the easier to devour. Soon, the suit will cellular divide, it needs protein to grow.

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I’ve had masses of material published in all manner of strange and obscure places, magazines, websites, anthologies and books. I’ve also worked as a Stand-Up Poet on the ‘Alternative Cabaret Circuit’, and I’ve interviewed very many people from the worlds of Literature, SF-Fantasy, Art and Rock-Music for a variety of publications (a selection of my favourite interviews collected into the ‘Headpress’ book ‘I Was Elvis Presley’s Bastard Love-Child’). My latest poetry collection is ‘The Poet’s Deliberation On The State Of The Nation’ (Penniless Press), while my new fiction collection ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets’ is now available from Parallel Universe Publ.


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