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ŒIDENTITWO


by

Richard Marshall



The dogs were all filled with air then they exploded. Someone's doing these things. They were not accidents. -You want an account?

 

 

-There's something here about dolls. 

-Dolls? 

-Yea, apparently there's been a reported 30 break-ins in this area over the last 2 years and nothing missing in each case except the doll. 

-You kidding me? 

-It¹s all here.

 

-This place strike you as being strange? 

-It's a normal place, nothing strange. 

-Yea, that's what's so strange. 

-ha ha.

 

-You want to know what tastes funny here? The water. It's a kind of mint flavour. 

-The water? -You taste it. 

-I can't taste anything. You're letting yourself imagine too much. -Maybe.

 

-You seen the old coking plant just a mile off? That's where they found the dogs. 

-All of them? 

-Yea. 

-Suppose we should check it out. 

-Check it out? Jeez!

-You actually know what breed of dog? 

-Every kind. No favourite. Big, little, fat, thin. All kinds. They used some air pump and a small generator. 

-They found them here? -Everything. Including fingerprints. But no matches with our files. 

-This place is big. I suppose no one heard anything. 

-No one's come forward. 

-Maybe that's something we need to follow up. 

-Yea.

 

-What kind of dolls are we talking About. One kind or many? 

-Many. There's no favourite. Just like the dogs. 

-Just like the dogs. Any of them been found later. 

-Blown up? Nothing found. 

-Just a thought.

 

-The water's off. I can't drink it. I'm boiling it before I have any of the stuff. 

-Stick to coffee and tea. And not mint tea. I can't taste a thing wrong with it. 

-So sue me.

-You want to know why police here are not tremendous & helpful? It's they're embarrassed. They feel foolish having lost so many dolls. I mean, it's as if someone is just extracting the piss right? 

-But the dogs, that's no joke. And there's young so wonderful children concerned with these dolls right? I mean, this could one day it all gets out of hand so we lose not a doll but one of the kids. That's the shadow here. It falls over all our damned ugly heads right. Oooh weee.

 

-You heard the stories round these parts? 

-Stories? 

-About the experiments? About people having things done to them and then escaping and running all around like cannibals and killers. Out in the woods. Everyone's scared. It's a load of bollocks but we need to keep them in mind. They could suggest something happening here on a level lower than the usual. 

 

-Lower down? 

-Yea, you know, kind of collective amnesia or hysteria or projection or fantasy that kind of stuff. All I'm saying is, there could be something indirect in these stories. Not everywhere has them. 

-Lower, as in arse?

 

-Look at this. 

-I'm trying to sleep. 

-Come and see. 

-What? O my God. 

-Yeh, what did I tell you. The water. Glows in the fucking dark. I mean, it fucking glows. Shit. I been drinking that stuff neat. I been drinking it without any precautions. Yea.Woo hoo.

 

-They say the lab boys won't come down and touch the stuff. They say we're raving. They say if we push they'll get us off the case. -Someone's got to them first? 

-No I don't think so. I think they don't want this to get smoked out at this stage. They want us to stay low for as long as we can. 

-We on our own? We can maybe rig something of our own and see what we see. 

-Here? -In the hotel. 

-You crazy. I'm a scientist not a magician. 

-You'll do it. 

-I need some things. 

-Try the hardware store. 

-And you? -I'll go check out a few of these addresses. Dog lovers. Now in mourning. 

-Righteo.

 

-You say you heard nothing on the night your dog was stolen. Is that unusual? 

-He was a big dog mister. Anyone come along he would have made a big noise. German Shepherd. Been with me four years. He knew the ropes. He must have been drugged I guess. I don't know how. But I was sleeping inside. He was just under the window where I was. Nothing ever got close without him being onto it. He was trained. He missed nothing. But this time they just spirited him away. Like in a puff of smoke. 

-Like magic. 

-You been funny? 

-No I never even try that stuff, even as a kid never. 

-Get out me face. 

-Yes siree.

 

-Every damned one of them said the same thing. The dogs went without a sound. Without a clue. No sign of struggle, nothing left behind. Tethers just slipped. Like they were turned into air and vanished. No noise either. Each one reckoned the dogs were drugged but couldn't really explain how it was done. One of them had seen the dog only a matter of minutes before it was gone. No explanation. How about the water? 

-Don't ask. 

-What's up? -Everything. I can't get anything to work. I get just completely weird readings of what the water is. They just don't make sense. I must have some really faulty equipment and with base giving us no backup at the moment I can't tell you anything about the stuff. -How weird? 

-Oh lord, off the scale. Don't even think about reading anything into what I've got. It would be too weird even for you. 

-OK.

 

-That rumour you talked about, I got some more on it. I was in the bar just listening in on conversations and there's these two very serious looking women, blue rinse brigade and all that 

- cat lovers my guess 

- and they start talking about this Georgie. 

-Georgie? 

-Yea, seems she was someone used to live round here. She was a hooker and some sort of porn actress from what they were saying. They most definitely did not approve. Seems she disappeared couple of years ago and the whole thing's a scandal but noone's done anything because of what she was. Everyone knows the details about everything except the way she died. I checked the details. She was in the flop shows like they said and all else attached but as to how she died it's all a bit vague. There's an account of her being found on a railway track, head cut off by the train. Then I went and dug out the doctor's report and there¹s a mismatch. Head still on the body. Intacta.

 

-Get this grinning partner. Georgie was someone's daughter. 

-You trying to be philosophical? 

-No, here, in this place. Some of these people, they know her. One's her mother. ----The father? 

-Zip. No one says a thing about fathers round here. 

-It figures. 

-It does. 

-Who ever knows their fathers, jerkhead? 

-You doing it again? 

-What? 

-Philosophy, egghead. 

-O jeez, whatever.

 

-You noticed the poached eggs taste funny? 

-No. 

-You noticed how they kind of get to be kind of green? 

-No. 

-You should look harder. You're missing stuff. 

-No. 

-I never asked you that time. 

-I just thought I'd get it in before you asked. 

-You're a negative guy you know that? Has anyone ever told you that? -No. 

-See.

 

-You seen the equipment they use to blow up these dogs. They go up like balloons. 

-You think just dogs? 

-You think people? 

-I don't think a thing. But these houses seem to be full of secrets. -You got more on that Georgie woman? 

-No, there's nothing. 

-That's a help. Someone trying to hide things. Trying to put us off the scent. Sniff sniff, I'm a bloodhound. 

-You need to be careful. You know what they do to doggies round here? Ka boom! Whippee.

 

-ŒMonster' has its root in Œreveal' or something. 

-I don't care. 

-No, but maybe all this talk about hidden things gets me to wonder. Reveal, conceal. Daughters hiding their mothers and vice versa and just good ol' vice. -------Who's the daughter, who's the mother? -Mammy, mammy. 

-Hush, you'll wake the neighbours. 

-Ah, but who is my neighbour? What is the truth? 

-Go wash your hands. 

-Not likely in this fucking water. The drip could cause blisters. Keep to the bottle and stave off the temptations of such devil crack. -Straighten up, people will be talking. 

-They already are. They're talking about how the fuck they can keep our noses out of the trough before they have to cut them off. Us off. All of us off, snout, head, the whole bollox. 

-You think there's a danger? 

-You kidding. This isn't about fucking dogs now is it? 

-Dolls? -

Yea, more likely. 

-More likely? 

-You had a doll when you were little? 

-Everyone with a cunt had a doll. 

-Exactly. Find the doll and you find the daughter and you find the mother. Then you find the dads and then you find everything that's wrecking this place. Everything. ----Lock stock and bollox all. 

-Jeez.

 

-The last guy I spoke to, he's playing with the wrong stuff. 

-Say again? 

-Wot? 

-What stuff? 

-The wrong stuff. He's playing with the little daughter and the little son and he shouldn't be doing that to my mind. Not theirs neither. 

-You say that's the heart. 

-Play with your doll. Play with your kiddies. Bad play or good play? You want advice. Stick to good play. Leave out the bad play. 

-You want to make clear what you're talking about? 

-I want to say nothing. I want to be blind. I want my eyes to be sewn up. I want that my ears too, needle and thread. I want too they sew up my arse hole and all other holes. I want to have no more holes. That's what he said. The interview was terminated at five this evening. I have it on tape. It was a significant breakthrough. He's an old old man. He never left the area except once to fight a war or something. Then he came back. The same old places. Familiarity and contempt. He was looking to get both. I still say, in all honesty, it's whatever they put in the water. 

-They? 

-Exactly. 

-Jeez. O gosh.

 

-We got a problem here with water with dogs with dolls with old Nazis with whatever? 

-Yep. 

-So what we do with the problem, with all these things? We just put them in the pot. We just stir. 

-Stir and fry more like and we the ones going to fry. Well and truly. I say keep out our nose our snez our snout. 

-You know the coking plant? -I know. 

-Well then, let's see what you know. You sure that's what it is? You want to check? 

-I want you to check. 

-Crazy goon, it¹s too big to hide. 

-Sure its hiding. It's right there in front but it's hiding nevertheless. Maybe we're looking straight at it but we see jack. 

-Hmmm, your theories, they drive me crazy. 

-So prove me crazy and I'll sign me in. 

-I go.

 

-I used my snout to good purpose, to glowing purpose, to puss in boot purpose. 

-Get on with your crow. 

-Ascension pipes, coal falling by gravity through holes in the roof, rams in the oven at the narrow end, evidence of the W-D Becker Underjet Coke Oven, mixture burns, coke wharf and the rest of the baggage 

-And the stink of it, the senses steered backwards. 

-So its no mirage? 

-It's a coking plant. Defunct. A former coking plant. Heavy duty stuff. Condemned actually. 

-Condemned? By the end of the last three years it'll be gone. Landscape artists already on the job and then finished. You'll never guess in future times, you'll not see anything. 

-Ah, the lost days. 

-Ho hum. 

-Jeez, always the last dying breath!

 

-What we have here is what we thought we had here ages ago. 

-Ages ago? 

-Before we came here. Before any of it happened. 

-Whenever was that now? 

-Oh, whenever there was the scar or the glistering white in the skin of the flesh. The Coking Plant looks like a battleship, a grey wolf cruiser low slung through the channels of water, but instead of water there's grass and a heap of stones couched together where the very beasts themselves have life. 

 

-You on something? 

-I on nothing, I just taking a good deep look that's all. 

-I guess you got something in your sights then? 

-I stare out and then it occurs. 

-What? 

-Nothing. I see nothing. That's what occurs. So I'm left out of it. All these nutters round here, they just waiting for us to get out so things can revert, fall back again to normal. 

-You kidding? 

-There's no normal here. Dogs. Dolls. Water. This Georgie character.

 

-I have a theory. 

-Run it. 

-We have two parts to the brain, twin hemispheres. They connect and learn from one another. They connect and learn, but don't use language. Language, let's say, is just one dimension of something that's five or six dimensions. So to trust in language and believe that a theory of learning's just a matter of describing  how language works, even down to its deep structures, that's way off the point. So you see, there's a need then to plug into the way the hemispheres do it with each other. Some sort of connector's needed so that we bypass the language stuff completely and tap in to the deep thoughts. Then start to connect brains to brains at that level rather than rely on language to do it for us.

 

-We got dolls, we got dogs, we got Georgie girl, we got Coking Plant, we got brain hemispheres. Do the dolls talk to dogs to Georgie to Coking Plant to brain hemispheres? 

-Doll doggy stuff, sounds like we're into something here very weird very kinky. 

-I've got a new dimension here. 

-What's that? The dolls? 

-Yeh, the dolls. 

-What? 

-They're not kiddies dolls. We're barking up the wrong tree with kiddies. 

-You reckon?

-I know. 

-So what are these dolls? 

-Not kiddies dolls. 

-Not kiddies dolls? So what dolls? Who's dolls? 

-The grown ups. 

-The grown ups? 

-Some. 

-Some? 

-Yeh. 

-Ah ha. 

-So much human misery and hate may be compressed into a few sentences spanning the years. 

-Eh?

 

-Here's the new idea. In the fibre of these people something has been inprinted. Something chemical and basic. The logical constraints of the biological structures. Sex becomes thrown off centre. Everything becomes rewired. Some old wires are even disconnected, removed. Ancient information is rerouted, decoyed, mugged, scrubbed, wiped, messed up, reordered until they become new people. They are not what they were. They are not who they are. Have you seen the insects round here? 

-No. 

-There are none. 

-There are none? 

-They've been eaten or just failed to reproduce. Either way, or even another alternative, they're not here anymore.

 

-There are other changes. Way back there were changes in the trees. Many have died, some are already coal. 

-You kidding me?

-I did samples. That's what I've been up to. That's why the coking plant's here. 

-Say again. 

-The coking plant's been shut down for years according to records. According to records it's not even here. 

-Not here? 

-Straight up. They flattened it years ago. Along with the mine. 

-So what is this? 

-Ahha. There's the question. Curiosity, free mind play and all that, disinterested, at cades in the wilderness of Zin... 

-Eh?

 

-We got people turning into trees and then to coal. That's what we got here. 

-We got really all that? 

-We really do. 

-And the dogs? And the dolls? 

-Dogs part of something like a reaction. 

-A reaction? 

-A reaction against. Some sort of experiment sequence. There's a desperate people out here. Something's got to be tried. So pump air into systems and see if that does any good. It does no good. It leaves everything pretty much as it was. I find other traces in the soil. Someone's trying out anything, everything. 

-Example? 

-Phosgene, Diphosgene, Distilled mustard, Lewisite, Tabun, Sarin, Hydrogen cyanide, Adamsite. And cannisters in one of the storage sheds out by the plant. 

-Wheew. 

-Ay.

 

-The coke plant's been sabotaged. The whole town¹s in on it. They've slipped in new papers saying the thing's not there but of course, there it is. Roads have been rerouted, lead to heaven, anywhere else. There's no way in, no way out. On the maps this place isn't an address anymore. We're in a ghost and all the roads curve away. They've been using the saturator, using the water sprays to cool down everything and slow down the process. They were presumably hoping they could perhaps separate elements in the air, in the gases that were being sent through the feed lines, wherever they are, desperate to stop it all, to call a halt.

 

-Dolls? 

-That's what we¹re missing all along. The dolls weren't for kiddies. They were adults. I mean that. Not dolls for adults, but adults, the real purple cord at the window. 

-Subtle riddles, fuck them. -There's a simple literal sense  whose light the owls cannot abide. Government agencies pore over certain things, day and night, tithes, morturies, offerings, customs and other pillage. Runagates all. Ay. 

-Jeez. 

-Adults were dolls. They were turning, each one here, even now. The wooden dolls were the people hereabouts. 

-You kidding me? 

-Soon to be coal. The plant's open to process them when they're too far gone. The process takes place over a mere couple of years. Human flesh become wood. They appear as dolls. They walk stiff all around and everyone's shitless scared at first light. In the night you're just a wreck. They stiffen and become lifeless. They calcify and end. And the remains are wisked away. The memories of their neighbours hover everywhere. Eating habits change, politics, domestic arrangements, the lot. 

-Jeez. 

-Jeez is right. Too fuck right.

 

-What we have here is a constellation of circumstances. Hrumph. 

-One pest and bridges and playthings. 

-Exactly. The sketch needs filling in but yes, that's the thing, pests, bridges, playthings. 

-You feeling weak? 

-The water I guess. The strain of crawling these streets. 

-We mortuary walkers. 

-In the days between Dan and Bersabe, to the threshing place of Areunah the Jebusite. 

-You think some sort of plague sydrome, all other factors surrounding here. 

-Secrets and epidemics, the perfect marriage. Hohum. 

-Any progress on who wrote the cover up info? Any progress on who wrote our invites? Someone wanted us here to see the childish things before they get put away. There's someone here who likes us. 

-Or playing double bluff. Some elaborate trick. 

-Paranoia. 

-I prefer that someone likes us. 

-I prefer safe than sorry 

-I prefer the fact, whichever way up. 

-But there's been no contacts from either direction. 

-Fingerprints? Handwriting? 

-Blanks. I've managed a little bit on the side but there's nothing coming home to roost. 

-And back home? 

-They still refuse to help. They insist we stay heads down but breathing. 

-Gee thanx.

 

-There's a house out on the west road about a mile out.  There's a body. 

-So you investigate. 

-I investigate. There's the smell of something sour, a fruit mix all through the house. So I'm there with the local bobby and he's saying I should leave this to the local units and I show him my pass and he frowns but can't do anything. So I stay. This van arrives and they put the body in and drive off. I follow at a discrete distance. There's a small infirmary. They take the body inside. 

-The body? 

-Retired guy. Used to be a miner. Coal still in his skin, wears it like mascara. In his late sixties. 

-Foulplay? 

-Doctor signed a certificate saying cancer. 

-You get to see? 

-I ask. They say there's no reason for outside agencies to have any part in the routine. They stress this. Routine, they say and there's a group of heavies suddenly in the background I haven't seen in these parts before. 

-Stranger and stranger. 

-Suits. Greys. There's one I have seen before though. 

-Complex guy? 

-Malano. 

-You sure? 

-It's a face you know right? 

-So he's running something out here. 

-Seems. 

-You say anything? You think he knows what we are? You think he saw that you'd recognised him? 

-He was in the shadows, behind the others. It was a mere drift, a glance, nothing more. He can't have seen I saw. 

-So what does that do? 

-Confirms some things and complicates everything. 

-We should tell someone? 

-Yes but not yet. We should find out more as to why the Complex has sent down its top architect to supervise this stuff. This must be bigger than we were thinking. 

-You think our side knows how big? 

-Could be the reason they are keeping out for the time being. Maybe they want us to foul things up a little here, barge in and make a mess before they ride in from the East. 

-Then we're between mob and law you saying? 

-All I'm saying is don¹t drink the water! 

-Geee. 

-Yeah, hey.

 

-Followed the trail like a sniffer dog. 

-Round these hinterlands, dog isn't good. 

-There's a radio van in one of the fields out by the wood. They're sitting around waiting for something. They didn't see me but they were on red alert. There's definitely something going down these goons know all about. I stayed with them for what, hour, two? I ain't say exactly but long enough. The dead miner, all wrapped up, delivered as the sun went down. I saw them tiptoe out into the field but couldn't get close enough to see what they were doing. 

-Malano there? 

-Standing back and sometimes dipping into the radio van, twitching nervous throughout. If you ask me they were scared. 

-Scared? What they got to be scared about? I thought we were the one's facing the hornets. 

-There's gin, there¹s whisky, whatever you want but stay clear of the water. Out in the corn, that's where it is. 

-What? 

-The body. They left it there. There's something going to happen. 

-I got vaccine, I got beer. 

-Let's try the coking plant first, see what we see, then see what we're missing. 

-Malano and his crew armed? 

-For sure. 

-And we got? 

-Vaccine and beer. 

-Oh wow.

-We saw something in the roof. There's a fire escape like a strand of jungle way overhead. Something moved quickly from right to left. We both saw it. We shouted to whatever it was, we thought someone was up there but then we saw that the ladders were twisted and broken. No one could have made it. So we guessed it was a trick of the light, something we had to shrug off.

-Doll head, splintered wood, painted face, no mouth, oval eyes, myclonic jerks and spasms. We both had our theories , all neat and tied up and then this, spitting shavings and dust from way off. It was like  splicing  ape with tree. And jeez it was watching our every move, our each and every twitch, it had us in its sights, it had everything in its sights, it saw everything that could be seen that night and we were just blind. So there's a fall of coal dust and still we don't get it and then there's a kind of gravity failure and we're starting to feel things floating towards the roof and then we realise everything's falling down and we're buried under.

-The removal of the coking plant should have been picked up by the recorders and scanners we were using. Standard issue. But no shots picked any of it up. We never checked. So the blanks at the end were a complete shock. Like dream sequences of landscapes we'd never seen. All that flat grassland, all that horizon.

 

-After the operation I thought we'd both make it but of course....

 

-After the operation  there was the business of the body in the field to follow up and of course the sighting of Malano. You say he'd been dead for years but he was there even though we've no recordings. If you cannot believe the reports there's little we...I, can do.

 

-If Malano was in the frame in this then there must be other stuff which connects. 

 

-I have told you everything I can.

 

-This Georgie woman? 

-File a departed inheritance.

 

-Malano? 

-You want this? 

-Ah ha. Yup. 

-OK then. Me, right hemisphere: you,  left. Same brain. Malano's. You get the picture now?

 

-Oh wow. 

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Marshall has written poetry and short stories for CQ. He writes plays as Frank Beat. His latest play, Hedgehogs, was performed at The Man in the Moon (London) last year. His nom de plume as a novelist is Dick Marsh. GM Mutant Baby Plague, Go Fanny Go, 8 Billion Vinnie Jones’s and Dirty Manga Bastards should all be published by Attack! Books (). Richard edits an education magazine called English In Education which he has managed to keep “spinning towards the dissenting point of view.” His ambition is “to keep making scummy noises that one day will bite.”


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