19. jun. 2010

In Other Wor(l)ds - Three stories from London

Three stories from the collaborative writing workshop in London! As we agreed before we started writing, all stories include a character called Michelle/Michel/Michael who has a retractable, turtle-like head. Written by Red, Will, Jen Claptrap, Miriam, Katie, Golden Beetroot, another girl who had to leave early and me on May 29th 2010 at the London Zine Symposium. 

Michelle languished in bed

Michelle languished in bed. As she awoke her aching head suddenly emerged from her body, turning she looked out of the window. A glittering queer sheet of golden cloud had settled over the city. She was dreading going to work that mourning as she pulled herself up out from under the covers, which still smelt of that man who had stayed two nights ago. Just three more months of this work and she’ll have enough money to pay off Taylor.

She’ll be free. You would think it would be soothing, this thought of freedom. The places she would go, the opportunities she would grasp. But instead it filled her with a sick restless impatience, one that could only be cured by ingesting Zarkuous, purchased cheaply from the Somalian street sellers.

The bitter taste of the pills had often brought about a strange sense of nostalgia in her. Something from her childhood, those innocent days before the overseers decided which of the three genders she should become. The memories washed over her and the dullness settled as the drugs metabolised inside her bloodstream. Her head sank slightly into her body as the pills took effect.

At work she would look out of the window with an envious eye on the carefree children as men, women and woms passed by with the weight of their responsibilities clearly etched upon their faces.

Greg the Somalian street vendor stood outside ringing Michelle’s doorbell. “Surly she’s in” he deliberated. Greg had no ambition to carry the under-the-counter drugs he was attempting to supply all the way home again. He tried her mobile number. There was still no answer. “Where the hell was she?” Looking up at her window Greg could see it was open; he decided to go up the fire escape and to force his entrance. Pulling the curtain to one side Greg was shocked to discover a large pile of vomit, sitting in place of Michelle.

The pile of vomit eyed Greg from across the room. It mumbled, oozed, spluttered, and sucked. “Give me my pills,” it commanded. Greg moved from foot to foot to foot. He scratched at the back of his neck then dug his hands into his pockets. After all, a deal was a deal, he thought.

Willpower Pills

In a world far away and most definitely in the future, retractable heads were feeling slightly out of date compared to the new, fully removable & flat packed versions. Michel didn’t care, an escape was planned and if you were the latest model you’d be far too easy to track anyway. If the plan was to go well and not to end in the permanent removal of a head, retractable or not, Michel was going to have to use technologies that were mainly forgotten, data and programmes that had been left to gather dust in the foundations of the current system. Michel was planning, it was nearly time.

“Time for what?” From the back of the room, a cautious, worn out voice asked.

“Who is this?” replied Michel.

“It’s Who, Dr. Who, perhaps you’ve seen me on the telly?”

“What is a telly?” asked Michel who obviously had never seen a Dr. Who nor a so-called telly.

“Ah, never mind,” sighed Dr. Who. He scratched his ear and asked Michel if he needed help. He certainly looked like it. His outdated head was rusty and it screeched at Michel’s slightest attempt of moving towards the unwanted visitor.

It wasn’t exactly what you would call a nice way of meeting anyone. All it could hear was noises coming from a sort of background and nothing had much sense.

“How many pills have you taken today?” asked Dr. Who. Michel, surprised, answered, “What pills?”.

“Obviously the pills are wearing their effect off you.”

“What pills? Who are you? Who’s Dr. Who?”, Michel asks with a horrid high-pitched voice…

“Oooops! It seems that you definitely ran out of them…”

What Michel didn’t know was that in order to survive in this world, its willpower was determined this 3 little pills given to it every morning in the breakfast. All this was leading Michel away from the plan.

“Look mate, I’ve got a plan, yeah? I don’t need you messing it up with your mumbo-jumbo. Michel retorted. “I’ve got some serious digging to do in the foundations of the current system, yeah?”

“Well, if that’s how you greet your visitors then I really can understand why you’re so lonely,” said the doctor.

“Lonely? LONELY?!”

“Look, we do really need to talk about the withdrawal from the willpower pills and how it’s affecting you. You might start to slip in & out of consciousness, of reality.”

“Can you just leave me alone? You’re giving me a headache,” complained Michel.

“That’ll be it, are you ready to fight, Michel. If you want to stay in reality, you have to fight.” Feeling woozy Michel sat down on the floor. “Like I said, I’m busy making a plan, I don’t need you…”

“But are you ready to fight, Michel?”

With that, Michel’s eyelids lolled shut.

The Great Effulgence

Some months after the Great Effulgence, Michael the turtle headed proconsul for the Intergalactic Space Federation was happy making lunch, when all of a sudden she came to the understanding that every other turtle headed person in the solar system had disappeared, leaving her world and that of many others in complete chaos.

Who now would clean the streets? How would normal turtle head life now resume? She had no answer to these vital questions. But something else was bothering her, growing deep into her sinews and nerves. What was the Great Effulgence? Why had it happened? Why was the retractable turtle headed clan so disposable, or indeed, why had they been targeted? Was it a direct attempt to wipe a whole species out?

Lunch no longer seemed so appetizing. Questions, doubts and accusations were flooding her mind and she felt uneasy. Where and how had the retractable turtle headed people disappeared to? Her mind ran over the details of the previous few days. Have there been any clues as to what might happen? She began to recall all the events of the past 48 hours. Seemingly normal interactions were analyzed until they became distorted and sinister. At the corner shop Maki from whom she bought milk every day had offered her some fresh dates. Although she had taken them, they were left unopened in the cupboards. What if they were contaminated?

Everything was now not as it seemed.

Maki had mentioned a few times how frustrating it was that the turtle people never bought food from the Angolan shops. But despite this she never felt he resented her. That he would be part of the silent group that sought to annihilate turtle people.

But in the end it wasn’t the dates she should have been worried about. Opening the cap from the milk and taking a big slur she noticed a slight off colouring. Instead of the usual deep green there was a tint of blue in it, and what was that strange taste? …but too late. Whatever it was it took control of her and pulled her to the floor. Beautiful dreams ensued, swirling feelings of great freedom and liberation and then a “click” and a bright light.

Waking up – woozy she realised she was surrounded by turtle headed people again. But something was wrong. As the haze cleared, she saw row upon row of turtle headed people. Their heads clamped at full extension. Unable to move like this they would soon become permanently stuck and lose this beautiful ability altogether. People with fixed necks walked amongst the rows checking for signs of life in the turtle heads but otherwise dismissed their cries for help.

Michelle’s neck was also fixed and she knew that her destiny was fixed. Whilst she would still be able to reproduce, she and the rest of her people would forever lose that beautiful and unique way to make love amongst themselves that the fixed people had always been so jealous of.

10. jun. 2010

New I.O.W. zines

The stories from my London Zine Symposium workshop In Other Worl(d)s are going to be published on their website as soon as we manage to decode our handwritings and transcribe the stories. In the meantime, here are two zines you might be interested in reading: old stuff, collected for my English speaking friends, especially those who prefer to read in this garden, bus, bed and toilet friendly format (all stories are also available online, on this blog).

In Other Worl(d)s

A6, 60 pages, b/w with colour cover
1€ (Slovenia), 2€ (EU), 3€ (world) or preferably trade!

The stories published in this zine were writ­ten at In Other Worl(d)s workshops which discuss and practice collaborative writing in the genre of feminist-queer Sci-Fi. The participants were invited to write stories that relate or transform gender vari­ant human characters to aliens, fremdsprachenmons­termavens, robots, mechanoplants, dodots, levitating broomsticks and other queer creatures.

Half of the stories were written by Anne, Anouk, Brigitte, Caroline, Diny, Nina, Sara and me in Amsterdam in 2008. The other half was written last year in Salzburg by Cristiane, Christian, Debi, Dušan, Imre, Jenny, Nikoletta, Paul, Red, Sarah and yours truly. The stories are accompanied by prints of exquisite corpses drawn by Alen, Dare, Gašper, Janna, Jure, Lina, Red, Špela and me.

3 Stories
A5, 32 pages, b/w
1€ (Slovenia), 2€ (EU), 3€ (world) or preferably trade!

This zine includes the English translations of two stories (Explication of the Great Muddigger and The Storm) and a comic I made in collaboration with David Krančan entitled Confidence Per Person. The Storm and the comic were previously published in comics magazine Stripburger.

To order, write to: tea.hvala at gmail.com