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Fossil Circus

an extract from the novel
by John Kaiine

Fossil Circus by John KaiineThe insects whispered.

He could hear them lined up in the pews. Flies. Spiders.

The many legged congregation, waiting.

He stood, arms outstretched, feeling at air filtered sepia through leaded, pale glass. Feeling aromas through fingers, dry scents: mothballs, damp church backrooms. Sensing the stink of new asylum.

Two hours he stood there, arms outstretched, the subconscious scarecrow, the unconscious Christ soaking up the shapes, sounds. Shadows chattered, coldness giggled, they told him of the church, its ruined state and failed history of fund raising. Jumble sales. Bring and buys. The bad joke of Save St. Saviours. Underfoot, discarded bodies of broken dolls and advanced Meccano sets. In the corner of the confessional a dead magpie wasted away.

Listening without ears, hearing dustmotes shift, settle, hearing yellowing of Bible pages, here in the Church of Rust, he understood. He had escaped. Had run away through a field of corn in a suit two sizes too big, grain in his pockets, dead crickets in his shoes. Days ago, a different life. But here now, in London, this quiet town, he could begin again.

Jerusalem, muscled carcass in a baggy suit, blood slipping from his fingers, rigid in Calvary pose, allows dust the purchase on his shoulders, allows a crane-fly to land on a lapel.

Jerusalem Lamb: Mad man. Born awkward, pulled from the womb; forceps were used. An untimely movement leaving him with a dead mother and a hole in his head.

He could hear the crane-fly droning, could hear many things. Cut his own ears off once to stop the sounds: The Voices. But it did not stop them, it only hurt. There are a lot of words for 'hurt' and Jerusalem knows them all. All the sounds, all the voices, every word he has ever heard, carried in the sack of his brain.

Every word.

All talking at once, telling him of right angles and rain and death-by-suspension. He could hear the crane-fly breathing, heard transparent bones floating in its gossamer blood.

He had broken into the church, found a window of easy glass depicting the Nativity. He had head butted it out, picked his way through. Now three wise men lay in shards upon the sandstone floor. A dried sanguinary seam inclined towards the nave. The crucifixion suit and the maniac just listening to insectoid contemplation.

The crane-fly shivered. Jerusalem heard the chill move through its fragile anatomy, heard parasitic tics, mites gnawing at the invertebrate. Heard unicellular organisms on their bodies, heard microbacteria, sensed the very hexagonal shapes of viruses they bore.

In the Church of Rust his thirteenth summer screamed through the blood of memory, as he heard with clarity, the words, "Swimming in pork". The crane-fly lifted, frisked in the air, a frail dance. Jerusalem spun, seized, swiftly rolled the flimsy thing between dry, raw fingers. The Voices screamed, "Died! Died of clay and never coming back!" He heard the synthetic machinery of the bug break down. Familiar lament. Observed the dead stain within his hand, crumbling limbs, tiny wreckage.

Beneath stone slabs of the altar, a thousand earwigs scuttle psalms, a solitary bluebottle greases its throat, joins in creepy crawly adorations.

Jerusalem hears their song, senses a cockroach scrape his soul.


© John Kaiine 2004, 2005.

Fossil Circus was published in June 2004 by Egerton House Publishing; ISBN: 0954627563.
Fossil Circus by John Kaiine

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