The drumming had
THRUMM TOM TOM
DUM DUM DHUMM
been getting louder
The ship had been moored off the beach for a few days now. Like a spirit vessel, it sat rippling amidst the tides. And when the sun rose or set, it sat bathed in blood like an ominous mirage.
bbbzzzzzz……. kkrracklle……. bbbbzzzzzz (frequency half-way between flies, a crackling ship analogue radio and slowly rising through it all the sound of drumming)… dhumm da daa dhumm, ba bba bhumm tatta thumm
The cliffs themselves of a soft hazy red, that mirrored the bleeding sunset, had been home to jinns since before Islam had conquered these lands. It was hard at times to distinguish which was mirage and which not. Events, like our breathing, had moved past the real and made us aware of our contingency as spirits, ghosts… we moved through the holes, and crumbling edifices of spirits throbbing and penetrating through the echo chamber of day, touching and caressing us as we pass. Their frequency only increasing as day abruptly gives way to night. And in the night the sheer emptiness of the canopy of stars reflects our atomised brilliance. Like shooting stars our evanescence forced by the hand of universal mind. That oppressive weight that either pushed down into submission, or against which we fought and fucked and raped and killed. Were not the mighty and half-remembered shape-shifters ours to command?
ba da boom, daa daa ddhhummmm……. fffzzzttt, crackle, zzzttttt, weeooooooeee…… ba boom
Maybe it made it easier to bear. What we had lost, what had been forgotten…. surprisingly quickly when faced with the pragmatism of survival. My daughter, my treasure, I wonder what became of her. I barely remember her face. At moments I screw up my eyes and concentrate really hard, as if constipated and still nothing! I don’t know whether to feel shame, but am perhaps more frightened that I feel nothing at all. It all seems like a haze now, the dust swirling in the erratic wind coming off the sea a metaphor for the contingency of our being.
ba ba bhumm ta ta thooom…. bubbazzzzzz……. kkrracckel……. bbbbzzzzzztttt……. fffwwwhhhiissshhh, oooosshhhhh
Those damn drums! I wish they’d stop. For fuck’s sake I used to be a schoolteacher, with a lousy drunk of a husband who preached religion to keep his wife and child in line, and then disappeared most evenings to get drunk with his derelict friends….. hahaha, he was one of the first to kill himself, fucking worm, like most of the ballsacks around here!
dadadadad daaa dhoooommmm….. babababa dhoooommmm
Bouchra and I ran what was left of things. She used to run a cafe. For my sins I taught French – the language of the second coloniser. Our husbands were no great loss. We mourned our children for a time. Now there were just four of us. We sit and watch: both roads and sea, waiting for that slight stirring of particles of sand or deviant flight-path of birds that indicate a slight shift in the energy, a stirring of life other than ours. Our happy four-some: me, Bouchra, Moncef and Bilal.
Men, ah men. Typically the men were useless without the old order of things that had kept small-minded pieces of shit in power for so long. They went like meek little lambs, dicks in hand, with any direction we gave them. They were content with each other most of the time.
Was the drumming even real? I couldn’t really tell any more. The haze that lingers over the horizon, seems to linger over all.
Like a pack of demons we stalked the shores, of this our last playground (cut to shot of grunge surfers riding waves off the coast from Legzira beach) before we too melted into the earth? Clay returns to sand, no?
We are less real! bumm ba ba bhhoonmm tata thhooomm. Old shit, new shit, brown shit, dead shit. We live in makeshift dwellings, made of the shit of the old and the shit of the new. New, old, what does it really matter to ghosts.
Lurking around the edge of the town in which we used to live our lives, we had become like flies around the shit that those lives used to be. A lingering presence, refusing to let go, even though we were blank slates in body and mind. Like ghouls lurking in the empty spaces around human habitation, feeding off the spirits of the departed. Our men and children were all gone now. In one crazy week it had happened. ba da dhummm ta tha thummm. Bilal had been a teacher too, all his class had one by one taken their own lives, through the mist of tears and rage something in him had snapped, or maybe it had never been there to snap. fffzzztttttt, snnnaaooooo, veeeooooooo, cccrrrrrssshh…. Now we just raped and killed anyone who came through. As if in asserting our most primal drives we might assert our continued existence, or the illusion thereof. It also allowed us to focus our rage, impotence and unknowing outwards onto these poor souls foolish enough to wander into our former lives. As if they, and not we, were responsible for our descent into chaos and madness, as if we could displace the cause onto anyone blown this way by the wind. The Suerte Loca, that penetrates and fuels the horror of our landscape, which was horror before this all begins. Millennia of coastal erosion and rock formation had made this a land of spirits, animism and death well before the page had turned on the current chapter we were living…… It was an acknowledgement and acceptance of the horror of this terrain that had made us survivors, horror is contained not just in nature but is an extrapolation of nature into all human habitation….. cities no less than rocks…… but I am indulging in philosophy, and promised myself I wouldn’t.
bhhhoooooommm bbaa baa boom
The drumming is shifting register – a warning. People are coming. Good! I was in need of a distraction from myself. I was needed, I had purpose. If I lost sight of that I would be the next body found on the beach below. We were four now, admittedly we had killed a few ourselves because they were so damn irritating. But did it matter that much if they jumped or were pushed? We were after all just so inconsequential….
bhhhooooommm bbaa baa booom
They came crawling up the rock towards me, like agile lizards stalking a hidden grub (check! And expand). Moncef had already scouted from the water….. these new visitors were not from the ship that had been moored there for some days now. They were coming from inland!
bbbbaaa baaaa daa baa ddhhhuuummmm………. fffowwooeeeeeoooo……… dddzzztttttshhhhhcccrrrrwwwoooooeeee……….
‘Let’s rape and kill them before the ship’s passengers come onshore. It will give us something to do to pass the time’ Moncef called, in his childlike way imploring for pleasure to fill the vacuum of what had been there once. Nothing really, something, the idea of something at least…… how terrifying it is to conjecture around emptiness….. like a black hole receding and expanding simultaneously in time and space, like flakes of skin and hair that we shed without even meaning to….. matter returns to matter, like an eternal looping prism into which we park our dark and deviant fantasies…. I don’t mean the rape and murder of passing strangers, that is entirely in keeping with evolutionary biology (cut to dead carcass of seabird on rocks), more the deviant fantasy that any of this can be said to exist: mammals, earth, sea, shit…… at least the shit smells to remind one of the pungency of being, and the same with killing. A good kill is something wholesome, in that it reminds us of our attachment to the material universe around us. The smell of decomposing flesh whether of animal or man, is always such a reminder, a votive offering. The spirits are appeased for a time, and do not come for us today. Tomorrow is another story, when at any moment we might simply sink back into non-being. Into the formlessness of rock, ether, air, before vanishing altogether to take our place among the stars….. forgotten dreams of a forgotten people.
Surely not the first, and surely not the last. This last some crazy kind of optimism, the fetish of continuity, rather than the silence of the grave of the species.
Ok Moncef, do your thing, why not….. this is our television after all…..
A narrow cloud. The immense size and complexity of our galaxy and hardly being able to fathom how far away it lies…….. bhhoooommm, badaboom thraa-ta-ta toooom
The man screams as Moncef emerges from behind a rock and takes him by the throat. Almost like a piece of contemporary choreography, he spirals him into the cave formed by the mouth of an open crevasse. He resists, he is punched, kicked and beaten. He submits in fury as Bilal holds him down, and Moncef takes down his worn pants and performs fellatio on him while Bilal holds a small rudimentary fire-arm to his head. Bouchra has the woman, a dark and busty, more voluptuous vision of ourselves. She retches as she is beaten to the rocky ground, and writhes – it is hard to tell whether in rage or in heat – as she watches her pale ghost of a man be disabused by Moncef. But, who was subjugating who? In terms of desire subjugation is always a fluid entity. It ebbs and flows like the water, lapping at the shore of cock-filled rocks.
We matter little now, less if that is possible than we ever did, carrion slowly weathered away by time and scavengers. What we do, we do as if whistling in the wind of time – asserting our subjectivity and our desire to exist against the odds and all rational possibility.
Bouchra screams, as if into the void at the end of time, as the shaft from a spear-gun penetrates her breast-plate like a shark caught on the end of a line. One vicious predator is overtaken by another. I want to scream, as something inside me aches for release……but it is too small a thing and remains alone in the echo-chamber of my inner world, its overly-timid squeaking reverberating off the sides of my stomach walls, as all feeling and colour leaves me.
booooooom ba da boooommm ba da boooooommm
booom booom booom ba da booomm
But this is not our familiar drumming, it is another call from another place. I see the African, he is from further South. Where did he come from, he and his band of holy retribution – a cosmopolitan crew if ever I saw one. An Indian man slits Moncef’s throat, even while the man keeps performing, as blood sprays over his back. His blood mixes with his hair, congealing and glistening in the sun. But how am I even recalling all this? Is it possible to inhabit two states at once? For on the beach I can see myself running, my heart pounding out of rhythm with this new imported beat, running for self-preservation – what madness, with which we cling to a life that has long since passed us by……….