A short story by Leigh Wright originally published in the very first issue of Wyrd Daze, a one-off print version limited to 50 copies, released on The Ephemeral Man‘s 1st Birthday: 6.6.2013.
Inspired by Michael Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius stories.
Intrepid flâneur Arthur Chance has been summoned by King Tarquin Spurious to rescue his daughter, Lucretia, who has been possessed by one of four chaotic invading entities, the Chymos.
Contains a Beefeater, proboscis sex and atonal avant-garde choir drone.
Arthur drove the Silver Ghost up to the golden gates of the palace and honked the horn.
A humourless Beefeater in the indigo regalia of House Spurious approached the car, expertly twirling his short staff with a practiced nonchalance. “State your business” he commanded.
“Tarquin requested an audience. The name’s Arthur Chance. Don’t be a bore now, let me in, there’s a good chap.”
The Beefeater clicked a button on his staff and it began to glow “If His Majesty has requested your presence, your appointment will be logged and it’ll only take a moment to check. Keep your hands on the wheel while I call it in.”
Arthur sighed, but complied. The Beefeater spoke into his comm unit, eyes flickering disappointment as Arthur’s legitimacy was confirmed. He pointed with his staff toward the golden gates as they swung open.
“Keep calm and carry on,” said Arthur. He drove into the palace grounds, past a green lawn distastefully scattered with statues and flowers beds. The western wing of the palace complex was overshadowed by the immense baroque Cathedral of the Third-Eye that pierced the low grey sky authoritatively. To the East, the gardens continued around and behind the palace. Beyond all that the City loomed: abysmal, vibrant and teeming.
The palace itself was impressive enough, with a grand central rotunda and four floors of rooms in the main building. It was not the only palace in the City, and Tarquin Spurious was not the only king; Arthur was at least vaguely acquainted with several of them, though he made no particular effort toward socialising with royalty.
A pompous butler led Arthur into a grand receiving chamber garishly festooned, tapestried and furnished. Arthur made a beeline for the decanter and poured himself a large stiff one while he waited. It was almost consumed by the time the King entered.
“Arthur, thank you for answering my call so swiftly…”
“You threatened to have me proclaimed heretic by your supercilious Sisterhood of the Third-Eye.”
“Not my Sisterhood, Arthur. I am effectively subservient to them. Without their patronage my territorial sovereignty would soon lose its legitimacy. Why else do you think I insist my subjects are subjugated by that foolish creed? Fifteen years of twice weekly musique concrete and atonal avant-garde choir drone services has quite taken its toll. But the abstinence from sex is intolerable and has directly resulted in my daughter’s heinous possession by the dread Chymos! So please forgive my crude method of summoning you, I was desperate for your help and couldn’t risk delay!”
Arthur raised an eyebrow and poured himself another. “I do not take kindly to threats, Tarquin, but will let it slide for now. Forgive me for asking, but do you know for a fact that your daughter is possessed and not just acting as daughters are wont to do?”
“What I would give that it was just a princess’ tantrum giving me grief! No – my poor Lucretia has been taken. Possessed, she taunted me, telling me how damagingly suppressive her life has been, that she had finally taken to masturbation despite the law of abstinence, but guilt and shame overwhelmed her and allowed the glorious revelation of Chymos intervention – not my words, obviously! Then she flipped me the finger and told me she was off to live a short life of vice. I tried to stop her, but she shot six of my guard with my own Uzi micro and rode off in a jeep. You have to help me, Arthur!”
King Tarquin had begun to lament about not confessing the truth to his daughter about the clandestine flexibility of the abstinence from sex creed of the Order of the Third-Eye. Indeed, his own sexual exploits with Sister Murphy of the Order apparently included bondage, flagellation and cross-dressing roleplay. He sobbed quite pathetically into a silk handkerchief, whining that if he had only let Lucretia in on the secret, she wouldn’t have had to feel such guilt and shame whilst exploring her own desires, and so would not have left herself open to possession. Quite true, of course.
Arthur excused himself as quickly as he could, promising to make every effort to find the princess, but being sure to carefully articulate that a successful outcome could not be guaranteed, no matter what rumours of Arthur’s abilities the King might have chosen to believe. And there would be reward no matter the outcome. Tarquin agreed.
There are four strains of Chymos; some call them Gods and worship them as such: Sanguina, Chole, Melancholy and Phlegma. Arthur knew that it must be an aspect of Sanguina that had possessed princess Lucretia, for its motivations are principally experiential and amorous. There had yet been no indication of any Chymos agenda other than expression of their inherent nature in manifest form, since the first outbreak of possession six years ago. Arthur was the only person to have crossed into the Chymos realm and returned.
The Silver Ghost glided into a lift lane and braked in the appropriate zone. That segment of road then descended four levels, and the Ghost continued on its way. Arthur had some idea as to what kind of places the possessed princess might visit, but The City was vast and intense. A single body could get well lost with ease. He rolled down the window and deployed a hundred thousand spymites, then made a few calls.
He eventually tracked the princess down to an establishment called Dreams of absent-minded Transgression. Face recognition software infiltrated the entrance surveillance cameras and confirmed that the princess was inside, spymites locating her within a pleasure dome on the second floor of the building. Arthur made his way inside, the security scan registering his Modulator as exotic tech, but not recognising its potential application as a weapon.
The ground floor was the main club area, pulsating beats with psych-haunt undertones thrilling the crowds on the hologramatic dance floor, spectral hard-light formations enticing flesh. Ramps led down to subterranean levels, spiral staircases seemingly the only way to ascend. Arthur took one of these, squeezed past the loiterers who craved random bodily contact, casually snapped the finger of a rube who tried to pick his pocket, then paused at the top to look over the balcony. From above, the throng on the dance floor looked like a writhing pool of primordial alien matter striving for sentience. Arthur felt a pang of desire to join in the blissful oblivion, then turned and made his way down the neon corridors, turning left into Noviol Gold. He accessed the real-time feed from the spymites of the princess indulging herself with four other people, two of them quite heavily modded with proboscises and other stimulation implants.
A right into Seacrest, then left into Coral Pink – manic neon grins from the roisterers tripping to or from pleasure domes, sensorium-tanks, anti-grav zones, pleasure/pain pods, whatever. Arthur reached his destination and overrode the lock. Ethereal orchestral drone emanated from rows of speakers set into the floor, mingling with sounds of sex. Kaleidoscopic psychedelic images were projected onto the domed walls, whilst hard-light fireworks burst sporadically into the air.
Arthur drew his Modulator and approached the bedded centre of the dome, where five bodies intertwined: proboscises, cocks, caruncles, fingers, lips, and tongues all engaged in princess Lucretia’s pleasure. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to cease and desist of your possession of the princess, Sanguina.”
Lucretia gazed coquettishly at Arthur, her body moving rhythmically. She removed something from her mouth and said, “There’s no need to be afraid, Arthur. Why don’t you join in?”
Arthur smiled. “We engaged at our last meeting. I wouldn’t want to give you the wrong impression; I’m not looking for a relationship right now.”
Lucretia’s eyes rolled, her body shuddering orgasmically as the ambient projections and music crescendoed sympathetically. It took her a few moments to reply. “I was a thirty-two year old man then. Now I’m a peachy nineteen year old young woman. Are you quite sure you won’t indulge? You can have me to yourself, if you prefer…”
Arthur brandished his Modulator. “If you refuse, I’ll use this.”
A proboscis lashed out in an attempt to swat the Modulator from Arthur’s hand, but he evaded and squeezed the trigger. The modded individual fell to the floor, spasming. The three other mods decided it was time to leave. Lucretia’s glistening skin shimmered, her form becoming indistinct. “Oh no you don’t,” said Arthur, adjusting the Modulator and pulling the trigger again.
The princess re-materialized and screamed, her hands clutching her head as if it might explode. “You’ll kill her!” she wailed.
Arthur took his finger off the trigger. “Sacrificing one life in order to cause you inconvenience doesn’t seem too bad a trade. Either way, you’re not taking her.”
The last remaining mod recovered from their spasming enough to stagger out of the dome. Arthur sighed. “Looks like it’s just you and me, Sanguina. Leave the girl, come to me, and let’s get you home.”
Lucretia raised herself up on her elbows and pouted. “I was so enjoying this body. It really is lusciously vernal…”
Arthur had to admit that it was.
Lucretia’s face became vacant and a haze emanated from her pores, drifting towards Arthur. He tucked the Modulator into his jacket pocket and mentally prepared himself. Possession felt quite odd indeed, his inner being expanding as Sanguina merged with him. He could only imagine the terrible suffocation suffered by people who couldn’t retain their sense of self whilst being possessed, which was everyone else, as far as Arthur knew. His ability gave him a unique relationship with the Chymos that was regrettably no longer secret, hence his current predicament.
When he felt Sanguina’s sentience awaken within him, Arthur said, “Right then, shall we go?” Lucretia, slowly regaining awareness, stared aghast as Arthur shimmered and vanished, leaving her naked and confused in the psychedelic dome.
Arthur/Sanguina manifest on a chunk of barren rock with a diameter of about forty metres, floating within a lacuna in the Chymos expanse. Sanguina hazed out of Arthur and coalesced into a Scylla: long undulating serpentine body with humanoid female torso and bestial head. “My siblings and I find you fascinating,” it hissed. “We were wondering when we’d see you again. They’ll be so jealous that it was I who brought you here.”
Arthur tried to will himself back to his own reality, but nothing happened.
“We believe we’ve found a way to keep you from escaping; our little lacuna. I hope you can appreciate all the effort we’ve gone to. You must feel quite special.”
A lightning-streaked maelstrom swirled into being in the void above them. The rock cracked open and an obsidian three-headed dog leapt out and barked once, volcanically. A giant materialised before them and stared down at Arthur despondently with its one rheumy eye.
Sanguina gave a razor-tooth grin. “Ah, here they are!”
Arthur was perturbed. He had grown presumptuous of his ability to escape the Chymos expanse and would pay the consequences. Melancholy grabbed him with its giant hand, and Chole secreted three small granite boxes from within its maelstrom, which fell to the rock below. Phlegma bit off Arthur’s hands with a snarl, then his feet, then his cock and balls. Sanguina filled each of the granite boxes with parts, then manifested a pike and a sword, piercing the rock with the pike so it stood upright. Finally, she grabbed Arthur’s hair with her left hand, chopped off his head with three swings of the sword, and impaled it on the pike. Melancholy threw what was left of Arthur’s body into Chole’s maelstrom. Satisfied, the Chymos divvied up the boxes (Sanguina taking cock and balls) and returned to the expanse, leaving the barren rock spinning gently in the lacuna breeze.
“Bollocks,” Arthur gurgled glumly.