FICTION: Maleficium

CC image courtesy of theilr on Flickr

… Oh bugger, Weavers’ up and faced with a blinding, burning dawn. Confronting the most head-splitting, world ending hangover. Soon he’s out the door, down the street and queuing up at the co-op local. Oh but whats this? He’s stuck behind an old man paying for a rack of lamb with a jar of pennies, and all sorts of violent thoughts are welling up in him. But don’t worry, he’ll never act on them… not ever. Or so society hopes. But shit! Don’t act all high and mighty, they’re right there in all of us, just simmering beneath the surface tension of our subconscious and ready to burst forth at the slightest infraction…

… She’s red faced and muttering under her breath, looking back at the trendy glass doors which such a grimace that you might think she had committed the most heinous act in social history. And well… she may have done, you see Zoe had just farted in yoga. I mean really trumped one out when shifting into downward dog. They all turned and looked across the mats, glaring at her with eyes that must have glared at potential witches during the era of Hopkins and the Maleficium. But her response was quite simple really, stood up, walked out, swiftly got changed, out past the reception and the trendy glass doors, then into the pale afternoon. Again it’s quite simple, she’ll never go back to that yoga class ever again. Perhaps she’ll never practice yoga ever again. Life’s like that, the expulsion of gas can change everything.

… The mushrooms twist above their heads into the march drizzle, kaleidoscopic caps sheltering revellers from the rain. They gather there, below the little bridge of flats over the road, grouping amongst the rainbow colour scheme and hooka smoke. There is half-dancing to muted tunes of Roots Of Chicha in the cut dark between mobile glare and vapour haze. In all this Ray sits and takes a long drawn out drag on an obese joint. She cuts a diagonal glance into a broken mirror by the DJ’s booth. All in all, she’s got the look of some kind of near genderless proto-hipster, yeah… more like a teenage boy then a woman approaching thirty. But fuck em! that’s what she’s going for. After this brief moment of introspection, she digs her chompers into a vegan double cheeseburger slapped down in front of her by a cute hippie looking chick. The concoction contains neither cheese nor burger. She would later learn it was soy and fungus. Amazing what they can do with soy and fungus. Anyway, she leans toward her best friend Howl, who’s bald head is glinting somewhere near the dance floor, he appears to be walking away from a sweet looking guy he’s failed to chat up.

‘You know!’ she says with a mouthful of fungus patty. ‘The government reads your e-mails before you even send them.’ And he just nods, rustles her hair and wanders off into the night.

… You ever get that feeling? When you’re watching someone in the street, or just when you’re out and about or whatever? You’re watching someone who’s caught your eye and you just know that something’s up in their life? Something big? Well Alex notices this. First day in student halls and she’s popped out to the Co-op Local to get milk. There’s this guy, middle aged, receding hair, he has burns and scars… the obvious red face of alcoholism. Anyway, he’s stuck behind some old guy counting out pennies. She can see he’s about to crack and high tails it out of there, picking up milk from a distant looking Indian guy at the corner shop, he looks as if he’s only half there. Lotta weirdos in this town. And as she emerges from the corner shop she sees the guy from the co-op being dragged into a police car, little splash of blood on his shirt. She almost skips with excitement and nervousness, clam down now! This was it! The first day of uni, and she feels unsettled with nervousness at meeting her new flatmates for the first time. She makes a cup of tea, smoothes down her clothes and begins to wandering around the worn, old uni halls. When are they getting here!? What’ll they be like?

Fuuuking ellll! Lookadat super-hyper lezza over there!’ Murs points in an ape like manner. His extended finger aimed at a rather masculine, hipstery girl eating a gross veggie burger. ‘Mate don’t make a scene.’ Bennnerz slaps his hand down like a boxing coach. ‘In the fukin’ city ehh? Being a real yokel you are.’ But Murs just sort of doubles up and starts giggling. Eventually he stops after much frowning form Bennerz. He is chewing his jaw off due to the “legal” Chinese made synthetic cocaine he’d just had two lines of, and is about to burst his personal surface tension. He jumps it up and starts shaking and giggling. One day he’d quit, but not today. He’s having too much fun.

The woman stumbles in carrying some kind of sports kit and looking like she’s done something she shouldn’t have. Akhil isn’t there though, he is dreaming of home, as always. So, he mechanically takes her money and swishes out the correct change by rote. If he applied such rapidity to other endeavours… he could have… never mind. He scoops some change she’d left behind into the till drawer and slams it shut. But he is only half there, he is dreaming of the streets of home. Of the gentle flow of the water, of the early morning smell of fried potato cakes, of mum and dad. Instead he is here, working seventy hours a week in this shop and hardly making ends meet. It almost feels like it was hardly worth it. But can it! No thoughts like that…

‘Fanks’ Miss… gonna do art at uni, save our civilisation innit.’

‘Uh huh… yes.’ Lea says as she unconsciously ticks the student’s artwork. If she’d looked, she would have seen that it was actually pretty good. An abstract rending of a flower-covered archway in a nearby park. It gave hints and suggestions of a lazy summer stroll, and evoked uncertain memories and subconscious traits as to what could lie beyond the archway, where the abstraction faded out into unknowable green figures. But that’s by the by as she didn’t look at it. What she sees instead is a young girl, who looks a bit like a uni student, sit on a fence and sigh her little heart out. Lea could spot the loneliness right there, and every bone in her body wants to go out and mother the living shit out of her. But what advice would she give? After all this teaching lark was her supposed “career as an artist.” So she swiftly leaves the class, hoping no one would notice and sits next to the girl on the wall. She lights a cigarette and stares at whatever it is the girl is staring at… which is a couple of really wired guys, on some legal high or other. She hands her the cigarette which the girl takes, drags on and coughs a little.

‘What’s your name sweetheart?’


‘At uni here?’


‘What the problem? Looking glum little miss.’

She laughs at the little miss.

‘First year… guess I’m lonely.’

‘We’re all lonely dear,’


‘Want a drink tonight?’

‘Wont you get fired for… like hitting on kids?’

‘You’re not a kid, or at my school.’

‘Ok,’ and she walks off smiling.

Iris Drewhouse: Deceased

Muriel Birdman: Deceased

I do this all day! He thinks and stamps the stacks of death certificates with a busted boxer’s hand.

Charles Johnson: Deceased

Ray Goldsmith: Deceased

And so on, and so on. And who for, and what for… I dunno. Nine to five in the hall of the dead. All day, all day. The dead must be archived for the convenience of the living. I suspect if we were to consult the dead they would say this was unnecessary. He ponders all this in the gloom of the basement strip bulbs. The walls lined with racks of death certificates like a catacomb of information. They are digitising you see, and they want this bizarre relic gone. He rests those busted hands on the small table they’ve given him. Through the little basement window he can see the rain thrashing down, the trees across the road swaying.

It was ten months ago he took the decision to swipe that laptop from the posh lady in the shop on Gloucester road. The whole scene plays out in his head, remembered from some bright summer day. He made it back to hostel, stepping over the previous nights puke as he held the device under his coat. The fat Labrador lolling it’s tongue on the screen, the pages and pages of an unfinished novel. He felt like shit. And he would have gotten away with it if that little girl hadn’t seen the whole thing and pointed him out like in a horror movie. And then bundled into the cold concrete cooking pot of prison. Stabbed twice, almost bled out on that cold concrete until a guard found him and even then the guy had a look that suggested he didn’t give a fuck. And when he was out? Well then they offered him this work scheme, but he buggered the first one up, sneaking a joint as he whitewashed a wall. Whitewash a wall, whitewash my life. Finally, finally the death certificate gig was offered. And he laughs to himself now, thinking it sounded cushy. But here in greyscale gloom he is alone in the basement, scratching at his thinning hair. Alone as he ever was his whole life. Suffering that peculiar male loneliness which will lead him to inevitable conclusions. Through the little window a couple of women pass, coffee in hands, one older than the other, leaves in their hair. They look happy, they could be a couple. Who the fuck am I to judge? He thinks, and smiles. Happiness for some ehh?

Muriel Birdman: Deceased

Charles Granger: Deceased

Wilson Torse: Deceased

And so on and so on, and who for, and what for… I dunno?

It’s cold cold cold out here. But at home, home home… the city’s all shattered concrete and the spines of steel beams like natural briars from the earth. He rattles the cup, they shuffle by, off to work presumably. Ignore him of course. Please please. But his English isn’t so good. They promised it would be better!

The soul dividing crack of a bullet past your ear. It’s a small sonic boom you know? Depending on the rifle. The directionless roar of a jet. The actual explosion comes from nowhere! You never hear a whistling noise, or see a device fall. It’s just a bang and suddenly everything is dust. They came, with signs of wealth. Rolex on the wrist, probably fake but hey, nice car. Shuffled documents in front of us, passports, euro visas. Said they could get us there and the son said NONSENSE he was always so bright. I trained as an engineer I did and now-

And so as he sits shaking the cup, spilling out a couple of pence he wonders how they can just walk past him? But they do, sloshing the gobby floor, tramping past the subway on their way to work. He thinks what they think, ‘fucks another tramp in world! worrin’ me own worries.’ Alongtheycomealongtheycome, whogivesafuckwhogivesafuck. But then again? He jams the Sainsbury’s cheese and onion roll in his gob. He came here by all sorts of illegal means. And who-could-blame-them?

The rain scales from drizzle to downpour, so he sidles along into the underpass protecting his cheese and onion roll. He consumes the rest of the pastry, brushing some cheesy crumbs from his ragged beard. Watching the thick sheet of rain he is reminded of his Odyssean journey across the Mediterranean… the winedark sea… the fish infested sea… mare nostrum. How many of them were lost in those winedark depths? For the line he even remembered from the university… well before it was destroyed.

Yea, and if some god shall wreck me in the wine-dark deep,

even so I will endure…

For already have I suffered full much,

and much have I toiled in perils of waves and war.

Let this be added to the tale of those.

But who else was lost in the those (fish infested?) depths? For one, for one… my beloved and child. Drowned in the deepblue among a storm much like this. And now he feels the cold whip of the rain, the consistent damp of Northern Europe, and he feels like he has become some kind of non-human to people here. And perhaps he’s right, as they pass and pass. Alongtheycomealongtheycome whogivesafuckwhogivesafuck

He’ll die here instead of the nostrum’s depths.

The room rattles, old plasterboard rocked by a passing double decker. She’s sitting… nah turning on her side, watching the thrashing rain on the little garden. The garden was such a little joy, a place to wile away the long hours between when her children would visit. But out there now her little bench between the ferns is drowned by biblical floods, or so she imagines. There, on the rain-blemished window she considers her ghostly half-reflection. She has the skeletal drooping face of… of an old lady! But [BUGGER] when I was young it was literally yesterday! And the little thin women here looks sad and can’t POSSIBLY BE her. She tries to get up but is confronted with all sorts of aches and pains. And so she gives up, someone would respond at the push of a button but she never was one to bother people.

If I need to piss… then!

Through the mud-wet filter she see’s a middle aged man. A damn Paki! Here to steal jobs from my son no doubt…wandering through the rain. But also, but also trailing an essence of such incurable sadness he can’t quite be…


She can’t really breathe and… sorta actually. But it feels like her head’s moving backward and the whole world’s spiralling in on her and: my tickers’ going! Withered hands reach for the button, but they fail to respond to commands form the ol’ brain up top. And this is… so figure.

Sumow… sumhow she’s also on out in the garden and it’s a beautiful sunny ol’ day and Darren and Vicky are here and the dog! And it’s endless joy. Which—no wait, the greyscale autumnal shower rat-a-tats the window. And the assumption is dosing off. But it felt real, and well they always feel real.


Something is still off. Creaking old bones resist locking and she manages to sit on the edge of the bed. The rain on the window is acting as… some bloody weird lens… or filta’ and she can see them, marching past, thousands of instants in this bloomin’ ol’ city. Everyone’s little troubles and thinkins’. They march past between the rain drops as little figures… and she figures DAT this is the ape’s brain and she accept that. The ape’s brain struggling as its flickering connections spark-off like that old cathode ray TV in attic.

She swears that whatever is happening to her right now is something-to-do-with death. Something UHH psy—che—de—lic? But she aint’ never touched a drug in her life. Remembers a song though. From kiddie days.

Tomorrow has been cancelled


Due to lack of interest


Sanjay Bheenuck is a writer from the UK. Tweets: @BheenuckSanjay



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