war

The Shah's True Love

I was playing a computer game with my friend where we had to invade a Nazi stronghold, and we could never get past the final stage, a train station full of guards in turrets and behind barricades, the air full of bullets. Finally I dived into the water of an open stream that ran parallel to the tracks, the bullets making tracks all around me as I stared back up at the helmeted soldier whose machine-gun was pointed at my face. I spoke to him through the water, marvelling at the fact that the AI of the game was so well-designed that the soldier seemed as complex and real as a character in one of my dreams. To get away from him, I swam deeper, searching for an exit. Finally I saw one,

and surfaced in the swimming pool of the Shah of a hot and isolated country. The Shah has wonderful gardens in his palace all ringed around with pools and vegetation and gifts and dedications to his ladies - he looks like Burt Reynolds with a fake tan - I am a visiting prince petitioning him for a bride from his harem and to show the intensity of my intentions I water the flowers from a can into which I draw the water with my own breath. He guides me from garden to garden and shows me where the names are carved in stone: her who he loved and left, her who he worshipped and discarded. I swim in the pools and water the plants until finally I let my guard down and fall in love with the only woman he has forbidden me: the wife of his heart, small and dark and full of gravity and electricity like the black sister of the sun. I painted white and orange flowers for her on the side of the pool, and when they were seen the Shah and his servants were full of anger and recrimination, and I had to make explanation and reparation, but behind her dismay I heard her soul singing back to me.
 

Wedding From Hell

I was meeting Liadain  and my mother in a gigantic shopping mall, after a play I'd been acting in, in which I had forgotten almost all of my lines. The play was being held in my old school and all the actors were my classmates, my teachers the directors, my friends' parents the audience. After the first act they didn't even fucking applaud, it was so bad. I was so embarrassed and angry that I walked out.

Liadain had written a song for me, and I sat down to read it. I wish I could remember the words. A friend of mine from Leeds, R, arrived and we started to talk about our personalities. I got really superior with R when he asked me to describe him, and I said something which offended him. I wish I could remember what it was. Anyway, he got up, hugged Liadain goodbye, and said there was "dissent" between me and him. I followed him to the elevator and told him I was sorry. He said that I had no right to say things like that to him after what happened between me and his girlfriend a couple of years ago. We hugged and made up.

For some reason, when I returned there was a wedding party in full swing. Liadain and my mother had gotten into a conversation with a real asshole, someone I knew and didn't like. He had long, curly dark hair. I kept trying to explain what had happened with me and R, and he kept interrupting me, so I stormed off and sat on some railings outside the building in a big huff. Liadain and my mother came looking for me. When Liadain couldn't find me, she turned around to the dark-haired asshole and started to kiss him. I was shocked, and I thought she must have forgotten about me completely.

When I went back inside to go to the toilets and splash water on my face to help with the shock, Ariel Sharon greeted me, handing me a fake cardboard dress shirt and a black tuxedo jacket. There was also a letter which began "I am a member of the Nazi party," and went on to describe his plans to cleanse Palestine. I looked back at him, and I saw that he and Yasser Arafat were leaving the party together! It was obviously a conspiracy. I raced back upstairs to see Arafat heading towards the car park. He glanced back at me, and all I could see were small, beady, gleaming eyes which told me I was going to die. I knew I was in trouble, and I started trying to show the incriminating letter to people: "Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat gave me this!" Someone said, "They're going to get you."

I had to find Liadain. When I tracked her down, she was different - her face was oriental-looking, and she was dressed in a black leather skirt. She seemed older. I asked her why she kissed that asshole. She didn't want to look me in the eye, and I suddenly understood what was going on around me: this whole party, the wedding, was for her! Her marriage was being arranged to someone she hardly knew. She told me that she felt "freer" now, and that she had discovered that she didn't need me any more. I said "Liadain, I feel like my life is coming to an end. Are you joking? Please tell me you're joking." I knew that once I left the building I was liable to be shot by Sharon and Arafat's troops, but I didn't care because all the stories of my life were over now anyway.