Vampiryirya, Acting Queen of the Damned

Vampiryirya, Acting Queen of the Damned.

1.

She flung her magnificent hair back and stood, her black eyes flashing as the moon rose, blood red, behind her.

‘I, Vampiryirya, Acting Queen of all the Creatures of the Night, I speak!’

The crowd behind her murmured and seethed.

‘She speaks, she speaks. Vampiryirya speaks.’

Many of them stumbled on the name, and the effect was somewhat dampened.

‘For now is the hour of Magicke,’ she called, her cloak billowing in the occult wind that had sprung up out of nowhere. The final ‘ke’ of magicke needed a slight emphasis to differentiate it from just ordinary magic, of which she was, naturally, superbly contemptuous.

‘Magicke,’ murmured the crowd of vampires, whose raven hair and jet cloaks were also billowing in the occult wind, but somehow not quite as convincingly as hers. ‘It is the hour of magicke.’

‘Friends!’ she called, and the word echoed around her. ‘Gather, for we have much to do. Soon, oh soon, I will summon the great Magus, of whom we are all daughters. Sons, also,’ she added hastily.

‘We await,’ they called back in ragged unison.

Her eyes became darker still, darker than night, darker than darkness itself, as dark as the shadows that creep in the netherest regions of the pits of the damned. Darker than that, even.

‘Now, oh now,’ she called. ‘Oh great Magus, whose bosom has suckled us, whose tears have cleansed us, whose, er…’

‘Blood,’ someone prompted quietly.

‘Blood!’ she yelled, sending waves of delirium into the crowd. ‘Whose blood is our food, our life, our passion and our despair!’

The vampires were an unquiet presence behind her, hungry, tumultuous, rapt.

‘I summons you! In the name of Osiris and Isis, Temperegrath and Bewilderwind, Peregor and Kallingernacht, oh hear me!’

‘Hear her! Hear Vampiryirya.’ Again the name proved troublesome for many.

‘From your timeless slumber! From the depths of your agony and delirium, your endless captivity in the caverns of damnation. Come forth!’

The crowd wept and swayed, all eyes on the great door before her, encrusted with ancient wisdom and antic runes. A moment passed. An antic rune fell off.

‘Come oh great one! Your servants await you!’

And another moment.

The moon was gibbous, hectic, and at the fullest. The time was the most propitious, the hour was at hand, the crowd wept and sang and surged, a great hunger driving them to beat themselves with whips and chains, the blood crawling over their pallid flesh like monstrous black worms.

Some more moments passed. No Magus.

‘Ah,’ she said.

‘Right, let’s have a look at this then,’ said Belloc, pushing through the demented hoard of hellish creatures. ‘Scuse me, ta.’ He stood, a man of little over five feet with wispy ginger hair and thick glasses. ‘Right well, you see what your problem is here love?’

‘Speak, oh Belloc!’

‘Yeah. Well it’s your Portal to the Netherest Regions of the Damned, sweetheart,’ he said, scrutinising the great door with a little torch on a keyring. ‘See, it wasn’t put in right.’

‘Not right?’ she called.

‘Dear or dear. What comedian put this in for you? See the render? No, sorry darling but it’s all going to have to come out.’ He scraped at it with a little blade. ‘I mean, call this a Portal? Dear oh Lord. The soonest I could have a look at is Thursday.’

‘Thursday? Is that the propitious day?’ she demanded.

‘Yeah, have to be PM love cos I’m all backed up at the mo. I’ll just take some details.’ He produced a small duplicate book and a pen. ‘Name?’

‘My name,’ she announced magisterially, ‘is Vampiryirya, Acting Queen of…’

‘Yeah could you just spell that out for me my darling? Bit of a mouthful isn’t it? OK. Daytime phone?’

‘Daytime? Phone? I, Vampiryirya, have no phone! I communicate by the winds, by the owls, by the fleet messengers of the underworld…’

‘Yes, I understand all that my love, but I will be needing a daytime phone,’ Belloc said with somewhat strained patience. ‘And I’ll be needing a deposit.’

To Be Continued…

Rattus (Feral Companions)

Launch at WHC10, Brighton.

Black Static #16 reviews Rattus as:

‘a painstaking account of somebody’s life and mental health going down the crapper, with each step along the way neatly catalogued and slotting into the larger picture…

it is grounded convincingly in the real, workaday world. Another joy is Maginn’s elegant, street smart prose, the picture perfect description of the characters and events, the writer establishing his credentials in this regard on the very first page…

an undercurrent of menace that grows until the impression is confirmed by an ending that is subtle and suggestive about the fate of David, and all the more powerful for that.’

Gary Fry’s The Invisible Architect of Psychopathy is ‘a polished performance from a writer who is growing in stature with each new outing.’

Feral Companions is available now. Click here.

Showing Off For Shy People

I am normally the kind of person who flinches when I see someone I know. I duck, hide, evade, avoid. I am – perhaps clinically – shy.

So why then this urge to write books, publish books, do interviews, publish blogs? What business has a pathologically secretive animal such as myself with the mechanics of mass-media self-exposure?

I suspect that it comes from birth order. I am the youngest of five, closely spaced, and always felt I needed to make a lot of noise to get noticed amongst the clamour. This has translated in adult life into the belief that no one is taking any notice of anything I do. I will be ridiculously rude to people, believing that they will simply not notice me doing so. I will ignore people, safe in the knowledge that they probably don’t remember meeting me in the first place. I once had a weekend of drug-fuelled passion with someone: I contacted him a day or two later, and was at pains to remind him who I was. He was insulted that I should assume he wouldn’t remember. I was surprised that he did. So it goes.

The pursuit of fame is, of course, the pursuit of notice. Status is just another way of saying that people take notice of you. Other people’s time becomes the currency: the more of it you can claim as yours, the more status you will have. In extreme cases, this will become something like a personality disorder, resulting in monsters such as Katie Price or Tony Blair, people whose only reason for existing, seemingly, is to be noticed, for something, anything. Big breasts, dodgy wars, the means are irrelevant: other people’s time must be captured and put into your status account. The minute people stop attending to you, you shrivel and die. More and more extreme measures are required to keep them attending.

For writers, though, it is an oddly double-edged situation, since a great many writers are, like me, essentially solitary cave-dwellers, occasionally peering out suspiciously at the busy world and vaguely wondering what all the noise might be about. For writers, the need for limpet-like seclusion is confounded by the need to have everyone in the world talking about nothing except your new book.

I was astonished when someone said they had read one of these blog entries. More than astonished: I felt invaded, pried-upon. It was the last thing I had thought would happen. Someone (David Mitchell possibly?) described a blog as ‘an invitation for strangers to be contemptuous of you’, and I had never imagined anyone would ever read it. I mean, why would you? You’re busy, surely?

Michel Foucault (no sniggering at the back please) says somewhere that ‘monster’ is derived from the French ‘monstrer’, (to show), the original meaning surviving in such words as ‘demonstrate’. But a shy monster? I think that’s what a lot of writers are. So speak softly when you next meet a writer at a signing: you wouldn’t want to rouse the beast residing unquietly in that evasive, timid breast.