Destroyer: Chapter 6

Jun. 25th, 2017 01:53 pm
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Posted by Andrew Hickey

In the tiny house in Torquay in which he resided, the Great Beast 666, To Mega Therion, Frater Perdurabo, or, as he was known to most of the population, Aleister Crowley, was making breakfast – a single boiled egg, toast, and a cup of tea. He told himself that his meditative practices would make this a sensory feast as great as any orgy, the texture of the yolk on his tongue as exquisite as the finest opium, but he still faced it with a weariness born of age.

Crowley had, in the past, been an imposing figure, a great hulk of a man whose bald head and piercing eyes could intimidate the most fearless of men into submission. He had been a mountaineer of the top rank, and a practising yogi who could bend his body into asanas which would have caused agony for even the most flexible of non-adepts. Now, though, he was sallow, his angular cheekbones showing through sagging skin. His head, no longer shaved, was fringed by tufts of white hair stained yellow by tobacco smoke. His digestion was permanently destroyed by his herculean intake of opiates, coca leaf, and absinthe. While he railed against the privations rationing caused him, he knew that in reality his diet would not be much different even were he to dine at the Savoy every evening. He never had been much good at self-deception, though that would never stop him trying.

He placed his egg-cup, toast-rack, butter dish, cup, saucer, and teapot on the tray with an exacting precision, then picked up the tray and shuffled over to his dining table. He placed the tray on the table, pulled out a chair, and sat down. He buttered his toast slowly, treating the rhythm of the knife strokes as a yogic mantra.

There was a pile of post on the table, which he had collected earlier. He opened the envelopes with his butter knife, and flicked through the letters desultorily. There were the usual missives from admirers; one from Lady Frieda Harris talking about the stultifying details of an undoubtedly tedious, but potentially lucrative, exhibition of her art, would need his attention at some point. He put it to one side and looked through the rest.

There was little of interest there. He sipped at his tea and winced to himself. There had been a time, not so long ago, when he would have disdained utterly a cup of tea made from what tasted like dust sweepings and mouse droppings, but that time had passed. This was his life now; soft-boiled eggs and flavourless grey liquids. He sighed and picked up the next letter.

Bills. Bills from the Gas Board, bills from the grocer, bills from all sides. And nothing to pay them with except a meagre income which came from public speaking and the decreasing sales of his books. Crowley could remember a time when he could have his books printed in tasteful, unique, editions for initiates only. Now, they were a commercial proposition to be sold like jars of mustard, and to an audience that could not even tell that they were being insulted in every word. And yet they still didn’t sell enough.

He sliced his toast into soldiers, each strip as thin as possible in order to prolong the meal. He picked up one, dipped it in the egg yolk once, twice, three times, timing his breathing to match the dunks, and took a bite. At least the egg was good, even if the bread was the cheap, nasty, stuff that was all that could be obtained at present.

Let the yolk settle on the tongue. Feel the sticky, viscous, texture. Taste the sulphurous yellow liquid, and then let it slide down the throat along with the bread before the taste of the bread reaches the tongue. Maximise the pleasure, minimise the discomfort. Treat it as a yogic practice.

He continued looking through the letters. Quite a mountain of post he’d collected today – if not an Everest, then at least a…no, best not think of that particular mountain. Some things were best forgotten, and into that category he put most of his correspondence as well.

One letter, however, did have something of interest about it. It was from Naval Intelligence, addressed to “Mr. Aleister Crowley”, and he thought about casting it aside then and there without reading further, given the British Government’s stubborn refusal to use his proper title. He relented, though, and decided to show the usurper’s lackeys the grace and magnanimity they so obviously refused him. He glanced through it, and saw they were asking for his assistance in the matter of Rudolf Hess.

He chuckled to himself. In the last war, half the press had been convinced he was a German spy, but now he was being asked to perform a similar task for the usurper’s Government. How times had changed.

Only a few years ago, the same newspapers that had called him “the wickedest man in England” had been printing headlines like “Hurrah for the Blackshirts!” and praising Herr Hitler’s wise governance. He wondered if, should the German invasion succeed, Rothermere’s papers would once again become the arse-licking lackeys of the German Führer. He suspected so.

Crowley had no great love for the Government headed by the supposed King, and the chaos and disruption caused by war were distractions from his meditative practices. He composed his reply bearing these factors, and others, in mind:

Sir,

If it is true that Herr Hess is much influenced by astrology and Magick, my services might be of use to the Department, in case he should not be willing to do what you wish.

Col. J. F. C. Carter …, Thomas N. Driberg …, Karl J. Germer …, could testify to my status and reputation in these matters.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your obedient servant Aleister Crowley.

After writing his response, he carefully burned the letter he had received, while chanting under his breath, before heading off to the post office.


This is an excerpt from my novel, Destroyer. If you like this chapter, please buy the book. It can be bought in hardback from Lulu. The Kindle and paperback editions are available from Amazon (UK) and (US). For non-Kindle ebook versions This Books2Read Universal Link will give you links for your preferred ebook retailer.


Tagged: destroyer

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Jun. 24th, 2017 09:55 pm
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One Year On: Thank You

Jun. 24th, 2017 10:56 am
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Posted by Andrew Hickey

A year ago yesterday was the Brexit vote. Which means a year ago today I had a breakdown. A year ago today was also my last day working a day job, for that reason.

My wife is a disabled, bisexual, immigrant, and one reason we chose to live in the UK rather than the US is that the rights we have under the European Convention on Human Rights made this a much, much, safer place for her than the US. When I brought her here, I was protecting her.

So when the UK voted to leave the EU (and staying in the EU was the one reason that our current Prime Minister, then Home Secretary, Theresa “hostile environment for immigrants” May had for not leaving the ECHR, so we *will* be leaving that), that meant that I had failed to protect the person I love most in the world. This was a direct, personal, failure on the deepest level of my being — whatever else I thought of myself, I was someone who protected his wife. Now I wasn’t.

I’ve never had the best mental health in the world, but that plunged me into a depression unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I spent literally two months having suicidal thoughts every single day. I spent huge chunks of the first fortnight just screaming. For the first time in my adult life I was too ill to work — yet I also wasn’t provably ill enough to claim disability benefits. I had to become a freelance writer.

(If people think I’ve been too obsessed with Brexit on my Twitter in the year since, this is why — I essentially have PTSD (undiagnosed but I think real) which is triggered regularly by mentions of this ghastly decision).

And the intervening year has had two more giant disruptions which have affected my mental health — the Trump election, which did to Holly much the same as the Brexit vote did to me, and the neverending election (which started for those of us in Manchester Gorton in *February*). I am only now, a year on, recovering my stability — hence my recent spurt in productivity.

But I have managed to survive as a freelancer thanks to knowing good people. Just before my breakdown my friend Jennie pointed me to someone who would commission the occasional script for a YouTube video from me — those scripts have paid the mortgage and utility bills, just about.

But everything else — food for me, Holly, and our dog, any occasional luxuries, emergencies like replacing my computer when it broke — has been paid for by the readers of this blog, either through buying my books or backing me on Patreon.

So I’d like to thank all of you who’ve donated money, or bought books, or posted links to my posts on social media, or done anything else to make this blog the difference between me, my wife, and my dog eating and us starving. I’d especially like to thank Jennie for her getting me the freelance work. I’d also like to thank the person who knows who they are, but who I won’t name here because I don’t know if they want their act of generosity publicised, who increased their Patreon donation *massively* after my breakdown. That person was already someone I liked and admired, now they’re someone I will literally do *anything* for.

I’m aware that some of the kinds of posts that many of you most like — the complicated, idea-based, comics and Doctor Who ones in particular, have been lacking for the last year. Those require a kind of mental state from me that it’s been impossible for me to get into while I’ve been unwell. As I’m getting better, I plan to have them return to this blog over the next few months. I hope it’ll prove worth the wait.

I also have a lot of bits of work I’ve been doing piecemeal over the last year, all of which are nearing release. I hope that the deluge of stuff that’s coming up will be a big payoff for those of you who’ve been so generous.

So, one year into my life as a freelance writer, thank you all. You’ve literally saved my life. Thank you.


Bizzy Baksun

Jun. 23rd, 2017 11:43 pm
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Posted by Andrew Hickey

Currently working on finishing Beach Boys Book 3 (out next week with luck), the Basilisk novel (out in the next fortnight with luck) and a short story (off to a more-patient-than-I-deserve editor early next week), a bunch of freelance commissions, and editing Holly’s book. I tried to put together a linkblog, but frankly I haven’t even been looking at enough interesting links to fill one recently. Normal posting should resume soon.


Friday 23rd June 2017

Jun. 23rd, 2017 08:07 pm
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