Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Silk and Steel

Happy Halloween weekend! And full moon as well – woop! I hope you all have splendid plans despite the lockdown putting a bit of a damper on things! xx

Content warning – this post contains stolen words, phrases and philosophies pilfered from the pockets of well respected writers and thinkers and mercilessly mutilated out of recognition. It also contains a hidden lost poem by James Joyce and probably a lot of nonsense… I have no idea if it makes sense but hopefully you will enjoy it anyway as Vraxi enjoys his first taste of Church…

Deep into the rusky-dusky neon dusty where high cathexis reigned.
The petrichor struck him first – attar half-dreamed backwards. Lives overlapping. Tang. Saline and sour – the hot liquor that runs its corniche passage out to the ethereal sea – damned spot – Spyro may have teased him many times for the fiction he enjoyed but. He had read other things. He did have a library card after all.
Now. The primal scream of body fluids calling across the womb-world he was stepping into snatched at his senses; transcending the ineluctable modality of the visible until it brine-bleached him out and washed him up. viii
A husk. Longfellow’s wretched wreck.
Blood-boiling-sea-spewed and spineless and ready to receive the sacrament : The sound. The Demonsong that plunged unrelenting talons into intercostal space and tore.
Rent.
With ferocious delight the fabric of assumed reality.
Result? Strange gibbosity of chroma. Not the art of oracular contemplation – not thinking through the eyes – not thinking at all for his ears now perceived the waves of colour before his blundering matter grasped for purchase on a description.ix
Even then. All there was to grasp at was the tincture – vanished or obliterated the form. The form has left the building. Thankyou and goodnight. And jolly good luck. Like the long snot-green sari wraps of kelp which drag the mariner down or lash the frozen maiden from her grotesque vigil at the prow.x
The myriad layers which enabled sight were filtered now through the portals of his auditory lens…and so-spinning not transmuted but perceived with something like a third eye.
Eyes shut tight.
Looking in and seeing out.
Lives and worlds overlapping.
Hearing backwards and seeing scents.
Each cast then became. Not a component of some puzzle to be assembled into karoo, egg, brake, hominid, demitasse or walrus.xi Coo-coo-Ka-chooxii. But symbols to be read and understood.
Sigils of power; their purest essence now revealed in perfect, sacred, sublime simplicity.
Here was rust and silverbluexiii
icterine
sandy taupe
quinacridone magenta
ultramarine
and here was violet Caran d’Ache and violet and very light blue
isabelline
nadeshiko pink
titanium yellow
palatinate purple
eigengrau
rose madder
chartreuse
heliotrope
eggshell
deep space sparkle
ao
ecru
rubine red
ivory
emerald
oxblood
nyanza
timberwolf
hunter green
ecru
caput mortuum
razzmic berry
amber
gamboge
saffron
orchid
feldgrau
turtle green
inchworm
magenta
electric green
wild strawberry
harvest gold
eggplant
rojo
erin
telemagenta
honeydew
ebony
rhythm
umber
dutch white
eton blue
denim
indigo
neon carrot
old burgundy
fiame
tangerine
harlequin
india green
sepia
celadon
earth yellow
navy blue
tennè
ultramarine
rose pompadour
yellow
Carnelian
arylide yellow
nickel
teal
redwood
olive
upsdell red
bistre
lapis lazuli
eerie black
hot pink
Illuminating emerald
maroon
naples yellow
onyx
mindaro
olivine
richblack
electric lime xiv

And now here. He perceived himself; manifesting his resonance, and his companions – himself and all of them – grey in their unripe and pitted youth.
And now. Here. Here she came. A Goldmother, sweet like honey in the veins; bearing lightly that radiant maternal sheen of stars… her twin pronged crescent crown rising through the dark.
Chi-chi was demanding they seek council from the very capable somebody or other and it was explained, then, that Chi Chi was a Priest Of Dust and ever opposed to the ‘pestilent, boiling light’ of candles who would one day inherit the earth and bring about its destruction.
Everyone ignored him.
Everyone was a lost sheep who had found his own gibbosity to give a sermon from.
Gathering followers like a carcass gets flies.
Matti was talking seriously about the pinpricks of light at his feet. The pinnacles of grass blades. Bubble universes. Synchronicity. Feeling the feathers tickle his flesh through his boots.

And Klauda was weeping like Mary The Mare or Sara with nothing but her cloak to save the sinking vessel carrying all the Hope in the world…

crying the blades were steel and had stripped his flesh to ribbons. Rivers of boiling blood and not a rock to run to.xxi Crying “As the soil is that brought forth these, so the heart of this city – the heart of Man.”


Vraxi could see none of it. Not the grass. Not the blades. Not the rivers of boiling light and blood.


He saw the diaphanous haze, like a scrying screen, reflecting each object’s inner truth – each sigil-self, each signature of dust, imprint, riddle. Secret name… each code for adding up the dots of every chunk of matter… each idea, building on the other until he felt himself ‘The Master Of Those Who Know’xxiii and the truth of all the world prostrated itself before him like a red carpet as the diaphane slid, its limits shifting like the dust, or his consciousness, or the sand of a strip of lonely strand.


And there was the Goldmother. Coming towards him – sung by demons into bright and resonant form.


“Touch me?” He whispered. “Touch me that I might know I am real, and you are real?”


But the Goldmother laughed and shook her head. Her wax face began to melt. “None of us is real.” she whispered back. “We are just the memories of dust – and a poor memory it has indeed. But it matters not. Come through. There is still work that we can do, and the fates need us. Candles have seen your light. Candles have chosen you because you burn like them. Come and join us in the cult of candles.”


Nacheinander, nacheinander, as if to wake the clocks and remind them of their duty, he went with her; pious as a Jesuit scholar, trusting in the ineluctable modality of the audible – the song of demons and the voice of the wax melting Goldmother, the priestess of candles, one foot after the other, nebeneinander; side by side, through spaces occupied by the signatures of so many souls all merging into clouds of diaphanous coloured dust – one becomes the other – sound becomes vision, scent becomes sound, space becomes time, and still the clocks sleep on and the dust in its frustration and powerlessness pines for company and tries to remake the world with the petulance of a little Nag Hammadi not-god – so many stories – now nothing but shadows on the cave wall…


And now here it was.
The wall.
Wrought by the Demiurge no doubt; a last stand against this journey into eternity.
Strands of times and spaces. All woven into one. One. And not-One. In the End.
As if in confirmation – the image of a raven.
Carved into the stone.
And Goldmother struck it with her rowan staff, that grew into a persimmon tree and rooted itself to the ground.
She pressed the fruit into his palm and he opened it. Five fingers in.xxvi
Found in his hands a necklace of shells

To place around her neck. Something he had crafted as a child and now forgotten – lucky silver, saved up under boards / secret safe between himself and the accumulated attic dust.
Lucky silver to keep her safe on those dark nights, walking home in her honey-sweet dreams. She had two nights off a week to do as she pleased and always he was afraid he would never see her again.
So.
Silver bells and cockle shells – he’d heard the street birds singing of His delight.
“Is this the way to Deasyville, four score and ten , pray go up and pray go down and widdershins ye turn around, a jump to the left, a step to the right and ye’ll be there by candlelight, the triptogram the hare goes down, is this the way to Mulligan’s Town? Widdershins ye turn around and wade up to yer knee. For all the blood in all the world runs through the veins of that country.”
And the Church men.
The Old Church men.
Processed the goddess of life on their shoulders, where no woman or unclean thing was permitted to step.
On their shoulders into the sea.
White horses a-gallop in the spray.
Silverblue were her eyes as the fairy-flax, her cheeks like the dawn of day.
And it seemed a hundred lifetimes ago, and only yesterday.


“Close your eyes now.” she whispered.
He felt they had been closed eternally.
Only now beginning to open.
“Three, four, knock on the door, five the gate and six too late…”
And he reached into the warm fissure of his memories, of the memory of her memory, through the shadow-mimes on their rock-wrought canvas stage, hearing in his bones, the children singing on the strand below the gibbosity of his own firm plateaux.
For half
For a gasp
For half a heart beat he was afraid to wake, lest the world be gone away, as so it seemed.
Open your eyes now, do, no cliff-top plummet down for you, no slughorn knell.
See?
You are through. The victory of the adiaphane is not redeemed.
And there. Opening eyes. The world is returned. No black adiaphane of eternal nothingness but light!
Light!
Candles in their multitudes. Their stuttering a catalectic tetrameter of iambsxxxi – goo goo g’joob – pulsing back the diaphane, revealing the signature of everything.
And there she stood, his own goo goo goosth goldmother, mountain of femininity, Astarte in crystalline relief.
“I… I… I need four vials of demonsong.” he blurted. Anchored to that thought. Tears streaming down. On his knees before his Not-mother Mother : all Gold and Horned and Radiant perfection and melting before his eyes.

“I need four vials of demonsong, or… or else they’re going to kill me… the Colonel will, certainly, and when Ros and Spyro find out, perhaps they will too…and Keyja… Keyja has sworn that she will turn me inside out and…”
“Serve the light.” she whispered. “Serve the bleeding river and the boiling sea, serve the dust and the rock-mothers, serve the candles and the memory of me. Soon the dying sun will bring all things to an end – even eternity.”

7 responses

  1. Wow, Penny, you’ve out-done yourself. I had a huge crayon box when I was a kid, but I don’t think Crayola has half of those colors.

    Liked by 2 people

    October 30, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    • Penny Blake

      Tee hee! Thanks Icky – it did take a while to find all the right ones, lol, and if you read down the list of colours, the first letter of each colour when put together spells out the lost James Joyce poem… I think he was 9 when he wrote it? XD

      Liked by 1 person

      November 2, 2020 at 10:12 am

      • His quaint perched aerie on the crags of time where the rude din of this century can trouble him no more.

        Some things never change, hunh?

        You snuck that one by me, sister.

        Happy Trails!

        Liked by 1 person

        November 12, 2020 at 6:51 pm

      • Penny Blake

        Tee hee! XD I love sneakin stuff like that in! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

        November 12, 2020 at 6:57 pm

  2. ❤️💌❤️Wow❤️💌❤️
    I can’t sully this masterpiece with my wafflish, my scrumptious.😳 It’s incandescent. Sublime

    Liked by 2 people

    November 12, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    • Penny Blake

      Aw bless your enormous heart my treasure I don’t deserve such praise at all, your beautiful words always put me to shame, Thankyou with all my heart for bearing with my mad outpourings and I hope you are doing splendidly at your end 🥰🥰🥰🥰

      Liked by 1 person

      November 12, 2020 at 7:01 pm

  3. Aw…you deserve so much more! Tis a privilege and a pleasure to guzzle them, my precious. I am indeedy, thank you, and do so hope that life is treating you kindly.🥰🥰🥰🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    November 12, 2020 at 7:13 pm

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