* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.

Nereus' Daughters

28 March 2002
Dan's probably trying to do a metaphor or something like that. Cunt.

The first time it happened was just an accident, or more correctly youthful high spirits. Some of the local kids had decided, in the interests of novelty, to go for a female guy one Guy Fawkes' night. You can imagine - summer dress straining over a child's burlesque idea of what constituted an acceptable level of inflation for two party balloons.

Well, it's a pretty small village, and a long way from anywhere sizeable. Generally, we make our own entertainment. At least the kids can play outdoors.

So, two bunches of kids set up their Guys on opposite sides of the street, by the stone bridge. There was bad blood there already - little John and Peter had been feuding since their first year of school - and pretty soon a turf war broke out. And, although nobody seems quite sure how it happened, Mrs. Guy went over the bridge and downriver.

Crying children, red-faced adults, some shouting, a little argy-bargy, and it looked like a few of the year's scores were going to be settled there and then, until somebody pointed out that they were only going to throw the bloody thing on the bonfire anyway. Henry's dad distributed loose change in lieu of lost earnings, and everyone went back to the preparations for the bonfire.

There was a second, maybe two when the bonfire burned green. Everyone saw it. At the time we thought it was copper, or some chemical in a battery. Who knows?

What we do know is that the dawn brought her in. Skin white as a dead man, freshwater blue eyes and hair the colour of silver sand, dripping wet. Wearing the same dress last seen disappearing down towards the weir. Not very practical for November. Not at all. Just walking down the high street, looking around like she was lost. It seemed like it was only the weight of the soaked dress was keeping her on the ground. But she wasn't shivering, and her bare feet weren't bleeding.

Tell you the truth, we were bloody terrified. Tales of the ghosts of the drowned, Davey Jones' locker, all that, at least until some bright spark pointed out that it was a fucking weir, not the salt dark depths. That calmed everyone down a bit. And, after a while of just watching her standing on the main drag, a guard of honour hovering under our lintels, John Taverner took her in, threw a towel over her shoulders and guided her into his house.

Tongues wagged? They practically broke. But Taverner was a decent man, an honest man, and, when it came down to it, a single man. It made good sense for him to sleep on his sofa. Took us a week to work out that the canny bugger didn't have a sofa. And by then, round about the evening of the third day, she'd started to talk and it didn't seem quite so much like taking advantage.

No. Well, why should I have? It was hardly my business. Let somebody else call the police if they wanted to. She seemed perfectly happy. Didn't talk about her past. In fact, didn't talk about very much at all. Answered questions, except about where she came from, made conversation, lisped a little. Her name was Lyssa, she said. I'm sure you've written that down already.

Well, it's a small village. Normally, everyone hears about one another's business down at the pub. But Lyssa and Taverner - well, you could hear them down the street. Every night, and every night it was longer, louder, more obscene. And in the daytime, even if he did look permanently knackered, his clothes were mended and his shoes were clean and that was a new look, to go with the red eyes and stupid grin. And the hair wet down.

You've heard the rest. A run on women's dresses at the local clothes shop - sizes 8 and 10, mostly, so I heard, big busts. What you might expect. Took a while before anyone actually tried it, but fuck me if it didn't work. And more of them than there were single men. All with the same eyes, same hair, same manner.

That's where the trouble started, if that's what you're calling it. The surplus - and they were very particular about one to a household, don't think some likely lads didn't try that on - set up camp in the woods to the west. And pretty soon all the girls in the town joined them. Dribs and drabs at first then all the others - maybe 70 or 80 - in a night. Camping out, like some girl scout pow-wow of the damned. You could come see them, talk to them, but never touch, and never stay the night.

Something you have to understand. They were accidents.

You don't believe me. But they were. That was how it went. An unfortunate fall. A lapse of concentration. And how many people die on the roads every day?

William said that the way they talked was learned behaviour - they imitated the way we interacted. Claimed they aren't really sentient.

Strange man. Never made much sense. No wonder he moved.

No, I don't know where.

Of course I regret it. It was horrible. There isn't a day goes by I don't think of her.

But Lyssa is very understanding. My own dear Lyssa, soft and as cold as the river in November.

The sheets dry. Everything does, if you leave it out for long enough.


This is the fucking archive

Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
30 October 2003. Dan writes: My only goal
9 October 2003. Dan writes: The Knot
18 September 2003. Dan writes: The Engelbart Elephant
28 August 2003. Dan writes: The Amity Index
7 August 2003. Dan writes: This Sporting Life
17 July 2003. Dan writes: Touch
26 June 2003. Dan writes: Metadata
5 June 2003. Dan writes: Street Mate
15 May 2003. Dan writes: Usher's Well
24 April 2003. Dan writes: Medicamenta
3 April 2003. Dan writes: Weapons of Mass Construction
13 March 2003. Dan writes: David Sneddon, Bukake Secret Agent
20 February 2003. Dan writes: Mary Sue
30 January 2003. Dan writes: Bait and Switch
9 January 2003. Dan writes: What Never Happened
19 December 2002. Dan writes: Sermon on the Mount the Face
28 November 2002. Dan writes: Ballroom Blitz
7 November 2002. Dan writes: The Photographer
17 October 2002. Dan writes: Diaphragmatic
26 September 2002. Dan writes: A life in the day
5 September 2002. Dan writes: Different Class
15 August 2002. Dan writes: Story and sequel
25 July 2002. Dan writes: Fellatious
4 July 2002. Dan writes: Skin Mag
10 June 2002. Dan writes: The Ibizan book of the Dead
16 May 2002. Dan writes: The Sissons Situation
22 April 2002. Dan writes: UpsideClown and Out in Hollywood
28 March 2002. Dan writes: Nereus' Daughters
4 March 2002. Dan writes: Diomedes
7 February 2002. Dan writes: Text Only
14 January 2002. Dan writes: Civil Engineering
20 December 2001. Dan writes: Nativity
26 November 2001. Dan writes: The Wedding Band
1 November 2001. Dan writes: what dreans mecum?
8 October 2001. Dan writes: Stop me if you've heard this one before
13 September 2001. Dan writes: Mother of the Muses
20 August 2001. Dan writes: I say I say I say
26 July 2001. Dan writes: Bigger, Better, Brother
2 July 2001. Dan writes: Hecatomb
7 June 2001. Dan writes: Dispassionate Leave
14 May 2001. Dan writes: Small Town Boy
19 April 2001. Dan writes: Maintaining the Driving Line
26 March 2001. Dan writes: Cut and Paste
1 March 2001. Dan writes: Redemption
5 February 2001. Dan writes: Blyton the Face of the Earth
8 January 2001. Dan writes: Smoke Signals
18 December 2000. Dan writes: The Loa Depths
23 November 2000. Dan writes: The Limits of Melissa Joan Hart
30 October 2000. Dan writes: Shiftwork
5 October 2000. Dan writes: Dawson
11 September 2000. Dan writes: Testing Times
17 August 2000. Dan writes: Onanova
3 July 2000. Dan writes: Roboto il Diavolo

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