from the archives of Essex Terror: The Barren Lands: The Horrors Of Essex In Literature And The Popular Imagination

[Notes: To commemorate the final passing of Essex Terror, and it’s brief but now obsolete resurrection on an accumulation of things, I post here an essay on the existence, and some would say persistence, of Essex in literature and the popular imagination. And then, we shall never mention Essex, Terror, or any other related commodities ever again. Good-day!]

***

The Barren Lands: The Horrors Of Essex In Literature And The Popular Imagination

It is not easy to feel sorry for Essex, but if you do it is likely to be for the way in which its very real horrors are ignored in favour of the (often wholly imaginary) terrors and the transitory transgressions of some of our citiziens, highlighted by a banal media incapable of self reflection – nor even at times self-awareness – and that for this the entire county is maligned, ridiculed and occasionally violently attacked [1]. Although there are a number of reasons why an untrue vision of the county is almost always presented to the outside world [2], it is altogether less certain why the real malignancies of the county do not seem able to travel along with them.

Even if the popular imagination is content to see nothing more here than a wasteland of retired criminals and talent show wastrels all choosing to remain trapped together in a vast bubble of garden centres and grooming parlours punctuated occasionally by roadside car crash memorials, occasional glimpses of the deeper actuality of our existence do seep beyond our carefully controlled borders, and an understanding of this is necessary to uncover the existential emptiness which fuels much of our more notable behaviour [3].

As with all essays that touch upon the hidden but persistent horrors of the world, our first point of reference is to HP Lovecraft [4]. Plagued by ominous dreams for most of his life, the vast majority of them depicted “a slimy expanse of hellish black mire which extended about me in monotonous undulations as far as I could see.” [5]

His description of these hellish visions – which continued by saying that “[t]he region was putrid with the carcasses of decaying fish, and of other less describable things [6] which I saw protuding from the nasty mud of the unending plain” [7] – were unmistakably Essex in origin. When a young fan [8] sent him photos of the marshlands of the Blackwater, Lovecraft was said to be overcome by a trembling fear that would never again leave his bones. “It’s terrible – monstrous – unbelievable!” [9] he said. “It’s too utterly beyond thought – I dare not tell you – no man could know it and live. Great God! I […] dreamed of THIS!” [10]

Lovecraft lived with the shuddering aftereffects of this revelation of the true location of his dreams for the rest of his life. Unsurprisingly, he refused all invitations to visit a place he had until then thought were glimpses of the true nature of hell.

“Perhaps I should not hope to convey in mere words the unutterable hideousness that can dwell in absolute silence and barren immensity [11],” he said. “There was nothing within hearing, and nothing in sight save a vast reach of black slime; yet the very completeness of the stillness and the homogeneity of the landscape oppressed me with a nauseating fear [12].”

HP Lovecraft was of course not the first to chronicle the dispiriting nature of the Essex landscape. William Hope Hodgson [13], however, knew well their horrors from first hand experience. The son of an Essex Reverend from the evocatively named Blackmore End, he grew up so disgusted by his surroundings that he joined the merchant navy at the age of 13 in desperation, but ultimately discovered that no matter how far away he sailed the tides would always bring him back.

In “The Boats Of The ‘Glen Carrig’” [14], Hodgson describes the first view of the county from the point of view of a first time visitor. “[W]e had come so close to it that we could distinguish with ease what manner of land lay beyond the shore, and thus we found it to be of an abominable flatness, desolate beyond all that I could have imagined.” [15] The only ingress is “a slimy-banked creek… the banks being composed of a vile mud which gave us no encouragement to venture rashly upon them.” [16] As they travel inland it becomes plain that the land is “a great plain of mud; so [great] that it gave me a sense of dreariness to look out upon it.” [17]

The similarities here with Lovecraft’s visions are remarkable, lending credence to all manner of theories about the powers of the mind and the origins of consciousness [18].

[As an aside, American interpretations of Essex are not always accurate. In “The Snow Goose” [19], Paul Gallico [20] reimagines The Crabbus Man [21], one of Essex’s most notorious nightmares, as a misunderstood, sensitive and altruistic recluse who carries in his deformed and monstrous breast the very best aspects of man. It is only the incredible ridiculousness of this transformation that saves it from becoming blasphemous.

In stark contrast, it is the calls of The Crabbus Man that first alert the adventurers in “The Boats Of The ‘Glen Carrig’” to the existence of life in the barren Essex wastes they find themselves approaching. “And it was at this time, when I was awed by so much solitude, that there came the first telling of life in all that wilderness. I heard it first in the far distance, away inland – a curious, low, sobbing note it was, and the rise and fall of it was like to the sobbing of a lonesome wind through a great forest.” [22] (This great weeping is echoed in the lyrics of “Crabbus Man” [23] by Vom Vorton [24], where it is declared that “Crabbus Man Crabbus Man With His Knowledge He Will Do What He Can Crabbus Man Crabbus Down In The Caverns He Weeps And Plans.” [25]) In the fullness of William Hope Hodgson’s vision, The Crabbus Man (and his offspring, or possibly corruptions) set upon the crew. “And now we saw that it was full of crabs; yet they were not all small, for in a while I discovered a swaying among the weed, a little way in from the edge, and immediately I saw the mandible of a very great crab stir amid the weed… [A]nd thus we had full sight of it, and discovered it to be so great crab as is scarce believable – a very monster… And further, it was apparent to us that the brute had no fear of us, nor intention to escape,; but rather made to come at us.” [26] This is the true nature of The Crabbus.]

The barrenness of the Essex landscape, both physically and spiritually, is difficult to comprehend for those not familiar with the terrain, hidden beneath a superficial void that barely hints at the infinities beneath. JA Baker [27] describes it most beautifully in The Peregrine [28]: “Farms are well ordered, prosperous, but a fragrance of neglect still lingers, like a ghost of fallen grass. There is always a sense of loss, a feeling of being forgotten. There is nothing else here; no castles, no ancient monuments, no hills like green clouds. It is just a curve of the earth, a rawness of winter fields. Dim, flat, desolate lands that cauterise all sorrow.” [29]

His conclusion that Essex is “a dying world, like Mars, but glowing still” [30] is probably more optimistic than these lands deserve.

Notes:

1 – Most recently The Battle Of Basildon (March 2003), The Canvey Incursion (October 2007) and The Great Big Argument (ongoing).

2 – See the upcoming essay “The Essex Illusion: 100 Years Of Manipulation And Misinformation From Within”.

3 – See “Essex Girls? We’re The Best”, by Germaine Greer, The Observer, 5th February 2006.

4 – HP Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an American writer who, with his interminable racism, misogyny and xenophobia, could well claim to be the foremost proponent of the Essex way of mind, even if he never dared travel to the county itself.

5 – From “Dagon” (paragraph 4, line 3), written in 1917 and first published in Vagrant in 1919.

6 – A reference possibly to metal shopping trolleys, which had not yet been imported in any meaningful quantities to North America.

7 – “Dagon” (paragraph 5, line 2).

8 – Ted Vaaak reveals his correspondence with HP Lovecraft in his memoir “A Scream Or Two Before We Go”, currently unpublished.

9 – Recounted in “The Statement Of Randolph Carter” (paragraph 12, line 1), first published in Vagrant in 1920.

10 – “The Statement of Randolph Carter” (paragraph 15, line 1).

11 – “Dagon” (paragraph 5, line 3).

12 – “Dagon” (paragraph 5, line 4).

13 – William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918) was born in Essex. His attempts to escape consumed most of his life, ending tragically in the even more hellish mires of the First World War.

14 – “The Boats Of The ‘Glen Carrig’” was first published in 1907 by Chapman and Hall.

15 – “The Boats Of the ‘Glen Carrig’” (chapter 1, paragraph 2, line 1).

16 – “The Boats Of the ‘Glen Carrig’” (chapter 1, paragraph 3, lines 3 and 4).

17 – “The Boats Of the ‘Glen Carrig’” (chapter 1, paragraph 5, line 2).

18 – Especially, but exclusively, the idea that the human mind exists beyond the physical dimensions of the universe and that our brains act as a conduit to this purely conscious realm, allowing seepages between closely proximous ‘pipes’. It is therefore likely that Hp Lovecraft’s brain pipe was closely pressed against that of an Essexman’s or Essexwoman’s, and that his visions were merely the waking perambulations of an entirely ordinary days journeying transmitted into the sleeping (and therefore, more vulnerable) mind of HP Lovecraft. The six hour time difference between Essex and Rhode Island adds further data in support of this supposition, as the early morning is the safest time to enter the marshes, and the only hours in which you are likely to be able to escape.

19 – “The Snow Goose” was first published in 1941 by Knopf.

20 – Paul Gallico (1897-1976) was an American novel writer, who, along with “The Snow Goose”, is most famous for the novel “The Poseidon Adventure”.

21 – Although for centuries it was considered impolite to talk of the creature, in more recent years there have been various attempts at writing histories of The Crabbus Man, perhaps the best of which are “Night Of The Crabbuses” (1976) by Guy N. Smith, “The Crabbus Man Scratches Out” (1997) and “The Crabbus Man Scratches Out Again” (1999) by Toby Vok, and “McBluebeard” (2009) by David N. Guy (no relation to Guy N. Smith).

22 – “The Boats Of the ‘Glen Carrig’” (chapter 1, paragraph 9, lines 1 and 2).

23 – “The Crabbus Man” was released in 2007 on Cowboy Democracy Recordings. The full lyrics (copyright Raz, Vom 2007) read:

“Crabbus Man
Crabbus Man
With all his knowledge he will do what he can
Oh, Crabbus Man
Crabbus Man
Down in the caverns where he weeps and plans

down in the caves his pincers clacking
he wonders why his life is lacking
despite his father’s financial backing

he knows he cannot leave his lair
he knows he’ll never breathe fresh air
but he doesn’t mind, he doesn’t care

he understands the reason why
he’s been forced underground to die
a single tear escapes his eye

he knows they were right to ban
his freakish limbs, unique to his clan
goodnight, sweet crabbus man”

24 – Vom Vorton (1982-thepresentday) is a singer, songwriter and chronicler of beasts, witches and werwolves. He one day hopes to travel to the moon.

25 – see note 23.

26 – “The Boats Of the ‘Glen Carrig’” (chapter 6, paragraph 11, various lines).

27 – JA Baker (1926-1987) was an Essex writer, who was cruelly forced to live and work in Chelmsford for most of his life.

28 – “The Peregrine” was published in 1967.

29 – From “The Peregrine” (chapter 1, paragraph 5, lines 1 to 5).

30 – “The Peregrine” (chapter 1, paragraph 18, line 9).

__________

Support An Accumulation Of Things

If you like what you've read here please consider subscribing to our patreon. Cheers.

from the archives of Essex Terror: The Crabbus Man

[This is a collection of articles and other media concerning, sometimes obliquely, the compelling Crabbus Man myth of Maldon, Essex. What the truth behind the legend truly is has never been ascertained]

***

The Crabbus Man

‘As any fool know, to walk after dark through Promenade Park is to walk in the shadow of death; for there the Crabbus Man lurks and scuttles, with his clacking claws and twitching eye stalks, ready to leap upon the unwary and clack at them, they whose souls shall know no peace for all their remaining days upon the Earth…’ Or so wrote the Reverend Joseph Arkwright in his diary for the year 1863. Arkwright never saw the creature himself, though his borderline obsessive documentation of the Crabbus Man, including many incidents of its manifestations as sundry simulacra throughout Maldon (be it a cloud that ‘rather resembled a crab’s claw’ or a shadow upon a grass verge that ‘seemed to scuttle most unwholesomely’) has become the go-to source for Crabbus lore.

***

The Ballad Of The Crabbus Man, by Thomas Morton

***

The Persistent Myths Of Maldon

The cultural worth of a town can perhaps be measured in its myths. As part of my research into the viability of Essex towns in this new millenium, I came across the following three tales repeatedly, uttered with barely any change through over a thousand years of paperwork and quilting.

The Crabbus Man was a child born with crab claws for hands and taken by the sickened residents to the river to be drowned. While the mayor was holding the child underwater it is said that he slipped from his grasp and fell to the bed of the river, but no amount of searching could yield a corpse. The whispered implication at the end of the tale being that he escaped down through the mud into the crab caverns below, where even to this day he weeps and plans and one day will have his revenge. To this day, crabs are caught and smashed to pieces by the townsfolk in the hope of catching and destroying him before he can return.

The Crow Child was a child born with the blackened skin of a crow. Thought to be a golem crafted from the muds of the marsh, he was hauled up into a tree and placed in the nest of a rook. It is said that eventually he flew away to the moon, and to this day the people of the town are afraid of crows and the moon.

Susan Swan-Neck was a child born with an exceptionally long neck, thought by the residents of the town to be the reincarnation of King Harold II’s wife Edith Swan-Neck. Still believing that Harold’s descendants were the rightful heirs to the throne, Susan was quickly made Ealdorman of Maldon. When next spring she laid several eggs of her own it was clearly revealed that she was an actual swan, and her and her adoptive mother were driven from the town by an angry mob. Their ultimate fate is unknown, but to this day swans are not allowed into the town hall while council meetings are in progress.

As can be seen above, there is a strange monotony to their legends which matches the drab uniformity of the town. It is with little regret that I announce here that the entire Maldon district is to be abandoned to the sea.

***

Dear Crabbus

The Crabbus Man Of Promenade Park has long been one of Essex’s most fearsome foes. Although no direct sightings of the Crabbus Man have ever been verified, he is known to be more than mere myth by careful observation of the aftermath of his actions. Periodic crab massacres litter the history of Maldon (but never Heybridge, almost as if the beast is afraid to cross the river and risk the wrath of the subhuman inhabitants of the northern bank); frequently the town wakes up to find the trundleways and amblepaths of the town are covered in trails of fresh gore dripped straight from his ever-bleeding claws; signs warning visitors to beware of the mud being gnawed upon with frightening regularity; all of these and more are all the proofs we have or need.

The atrocities and activities of the Crabbus Man ebb and flow, sometimes fading almost out of memory before coming crashing back into our reality in a storm of shattered shells and a puddle of rotting crab flesh festering in the sun. Residents have described the events of this summer as “intolerable”, with a new outrage at least once a week. Concerned locals, after a series of hastily arranged town meetings where they dicsussed ideas for combatting this menace, have now begun to post a series of notices across the town, beseeching the returned Crabbus Man to curb his rampages and display at least a modicum of respect and civilised behaviour.

The notices, written in the terse and economical Essex way –

[an historical aside: in 1990, Essex County Council, having been impressed with Microsoft’s fledgling Powerpoint software, and realising the superiority of its methods of communications, banned the use of paragraphs and words of more than two syllables in all internally produced memos, notices, signs, posters, leaflets and other forms of written communications, eliminating the wasteful use of language and distilling everything down to the most salient points. This lead to clearer communications facilitating an increase in decision-making time savings of over 95 man hours per person per year, as well as the reduction of ambiguity-based misapprehensions and confusions by over 40%, and 75% lower paper purchasing costs.]

– have been tied to several railings that mark the boundary between the town park and the hallowed crablands of the Blackwater. The notices, addressed directly to the Crabbus Man himself, read:

“DEAR CRABBERS [sic]

PLEASE BE NICE TO CRABS

DO NOT hurt or damage them

DO NOT leave them out of water

DO put them back in the lake when you have finished

DO wash your hands when you have finished

DO enjoy yourselves”

Although the Crabbus Man’s name has been mangled by the rigorous adherence to the council computer’s spellchecking device’s suggestions, scholars think that this notices clear instructions to the man could appeal to the creature’s better nature and help work in pacifying the beast, although it is possible that his dual nature as part man and part shambling horror (alluded to in the “enjoy yourselves” directive) could be beyond rational control. At this stage, however, it is our only hope.

***

Huge Horror Brings Terror To The Marsh

Residents in the Essex marshlands were shocked by the discovery of a huge crab said to be the largest ever seen by crabbers in Maldon this week. The terrifying beast (an artist’s impression of which can be seen above) was found scuttling around near a child’s bucket by the ruins of the town’s hythe, which tragically collapsed earlier this year in an unrelated incident which caused the death of 72 tourists.

“It’s utterly terrifying,” said unemployed localson David N. Guy (no relation to the reporter). “No doubt it has been feeding on the bodies down there, growing fat on their unfathomable flesh. I said at the time that we should send them back to wherever it was they came from, but did the council listen? No. They didn’t listen to me at all. They never do. Perhaps when it’s one of their children’s fingers getting savagely nipped they’ll finally start paying attention. But by then it’ll be too late.”

Councilw’mn Eliza Dredgeland dismissed this as ridiculous scaremongering from an ignorant oaf. “As readers of your site will no doubt know [cf. The Ballad Of Shitpant N. Guy], this man is a shambolic mess who can’t even control his own gastric functions, so it is no surprise that he has no understanding of this complex situation whatsoever. It would be a gross dereliction of our duties to the council tax payers of this district to allow the financial burden of the removal of these corpses to be placed solely on their shoulders, when it wasn’t any of them who died. Is it too much to ask that those coming from outside pay their own way rather than expecting others to pay for the consequences of their frivolous gallivanting?

“Coupled with this, the idea that the crab could grow to monstrous size on a diet of human flesh is a simplistic and naive one, with no basis in the physical laws that underpin our universe or any of the known processes of accepted biology. Furthermore, I would question whether this crab really is the biggest ever. Our records only go back to 1604, so who’s to say what size crabs you had back then. 400 years may seem a long time to us, but it is utterly insignificant when you think of the 700 million year reign of crabkind. Crabs of this size might be a perfectly natural part of the crab lifecycle, and therefore nothing to do with these corpses in the river.”

The previous largest crab, dubbed Great Big Barry by locals, measured 5 inches from claw to claw when splayed out like a paper angel. Discovered on June 16th, 1978, postcards of Great Big Barry laid out before his captors still do a brisk trade, selling for upwards of 30p at local kiosks. And some people hope that this new find – or fiend, as the Mayor has claimed – will bring much needed economic growth to the town.

The Crab – as it has so far been called by the shocked populace, the “The” said in an exaggerated fashion that suggests a mix of reverential awe, horror, incredulity, terror and even arousal – has not yet been accurately measured, although eyewitness accounts state that it was at least as wide as a pretty wide shoe. Indeed, official measurements may never be known, since under Dengie law the crab has been quarantined at the customs hut since discovery, and if tests indicate even a hint of rabies then it must be incinerated immediately from afar, untouched and alone.

***

The Crabbus Man (a children’s book)

__________

Support An Accumulation Of Things

If you like what you've read here please consider subscribing to our patreon. Cheers.

Our recent excavations

Our recent excavations underneath this site unearthed a sealed and untouched incontamination chamber, dating from sometime before the Shift.

The following documents are transcriptions of the text contained on the printed matter found within. Visual matter beyond the scope of words is currently being checked against the corpus for possible rights issues, and will hopefully be cleared for inclusion presently. Descriptions of any relevant visual material needed to contextualise the written contents are presented for illumination purposes only, and pre-suppose no claim to their ownership.

The physical artefacts from the chamber, including food receptacles, mechanical and electrical devices, clothing, waste products, are currently being scanned for reproduction and facsimiliation, and an exhibition of these items is currently planned for the endmonths of this year.

The desiccated corpse of the inhabitant of the chamber is currently under investigation by the genetics department and will be released only when the consent of itself or any cloned derivatives are able to be obtained. As forced maturation techniques are uncertain to work on pre-shift brain matter, if undesiccation of the body is not successful the obtainment of consent will be unable to be legally accepted for at least a further 19.54 years.

Item 001: The Racist Cop in The Zoo Of The Future (#8 in a series of 183)

Printed card measuring approximately 13.4yn by 8.93333333333333333yn. Full colour printed picture on upside, text on obside. Found on floor, although analysis suggests it was likely to have been affixed to the wall (picture side visible) near desk by an adhesive of some kind.

The picture on the card depicts a clothed humanoid individual hollering aggressively directly at the [holder of the] camera.

Racist Cop

Timespan: 19th – 21st Century
Area: Prevalent everywhere except Antarctica
Diet: Meat, Fish, Bread
Characteristics: Racist Cops were a common subspecies of the parasitic Cop organisms of the early industrial/commercial periods of human history, characterised predominantly by severe and extreme violent tendencies, allied with a strong herd instinct and a subservience to a rigid social hierarchy within their own populations.

Shorn of their uniforms and weaponry, and separated from their protective power structures, however, Racist Cops are revealed to be incredibly timid and cowardly creatures, although still obnoxious, as can be seen with our specimen here in The Zoo Of The Future.

Although likely to withdraw from the view of passing crowds, if the Racist Cop sees its chance it will leap from hiding and attempt to attack or abuse any isolated figure it deems weaker than itself. For your own safety, please do not linger by the enclosure unaccompanied.

There is some scientific disagreement as to whether the Racist Cop and the Sexist Cop (#9) were distinct subspecies or just slightly different variations of the same.

The Racist Cop in The Zoo Of The Future is card #8 in a series of 183.

__________

Item 002: The Forever Parade

Encyclopaedia article printed on a single sheet of yellowed paper (32.1yn by 21.4yn approximately), text on one side only. At the bottom of the page, text indicates that this was page 1 of 3, but the other two pages were not contained within the chamber. Found on desk.

The Forever Parade

The Forever Parade is a conceptual public gathering, consisting of a continuous, oblivious, and ever-changing grouping of pedestrians that, when followed through time on mapping sites, surveillance channels and other publicly available data, constitute the titular Forever Parade. The length of existence and the minimum sizing of the group for such a grouping to be considered a Forever Parade have long been under debate, but, at a minimum, a constant presence of at least two members must always be maintained.

Although the concept of a Forever Parade was first outlined (but not named) by the Descriptionist Ichid Naer in her book “The Poetics of NoSpace” (published in 2021), it wasn’t until the introduction of live image data to Apple Street in 2029 that a real world example could be shown and followed.  

As of today, the longest currently running Forever Parade is London Forever III, which has been existence for over 17 years. However, there is some discussion over the legitimacy of this, due to the tendency for it to be artificially maintained by tourists, sponsors, and other organised groups (see Controversies).

1. Conceptual Framing and Mathematical Underpinning
2. Real World Discovery And Naming
3. Records
4. Controversies
5. A list of current Forever Parades

1. Conceptual Framing and Mathematical Underpinning

In an aside in The Poetics Of NoSpace, Ichid Naer outlined a scenario thusly: “Given this density of humanity, there is, if we could only trace them, certain to be flocks of people that, viewed as a mass rather than as individuals, have been perambulating across the city together for some time now and will continue on for some time yet. It would be interesting to see whether there is any pattern to their routes, to find out whether these unknown, unaware, herds, constantly shedding and gaining new members as they roll onwards, loop back and forth between two points like the seasonal migrations of birds, or if they snake erratically through the streets at random in the fashion of a photon trying, futilely, to escape the heart of the sun.”

After much online interest and discussion of this passage, she, along with the mathematician Ogawa Naoko, attempted to set out the statistical like-

[article ends]

__________

Item 003: untitled poem

Handwritten poem, red ink on green paper (6.1yn by 6.12yn). Found screwed up on desktop.

Fractured heart
beneath shattered ribs
Crooked hands
around my throat
Is this enough
if its all there is

__________

Item 004: The Metamorphoses

Encyclopaedia article printed on sheets of yellowed paper (32.1 yn by 21.4 yn approximately), text on one side only. The article consisted of 4 sheets of paper, held together by a coiled loop of stiffened metal. Probable fifth page of article missing. Found on floor by extraction tube.

The Metamorphoses

This article is about the television show. For the viral infection, please see The_Metamorphoses(Virus) or The_Metamorphoses(2049_Outbreak). For the work by Ovid, please see Metamorphoses. For the work by Jean Michel Jarre, please see Métamorphoses.

1. Overview
2. List of Episodes
3. Controversy
4. Legacy

1. Overview

The Metamorphoses was a short-lived lifestyle and makeover television programme, created and produced by the BBC and broadcast on six consecutive Saturday nights between October and November 2037. The premise of the show was based around the contemporary fashion for transformational surgery. The programme’s unique selling point was the use of metamorphical designs created by some of the foremost visual artists of the day, as well as the lavish cost and large-scale scope of some of the resulting human-sculptures. Contestants/subjects were chosen by the producers, except in the case of Helen Shapiro, who was chosen at (longtime fan) Damien Hirst’s request.

On a per-episode basis it was one of the most expensive television shows ever produced. Due to the cost and its low viewing figures, it became a symbol of the decline of the BBC, and was specifically cited in the Jackson Report as evidence of the public service failures of the then tax-supported media network, and of the shortcomings of the public service broadcasting paradigm as a whole. For a more detailed look at the Jackson Report and its outcomes, please see Jackson_Report(BBC).

2. List of Episodes

Episode 1 – The Angel Of Hull
Broadcast Date – Saturday, October 10, 2037
Artist – Brian Froud
Subject – Fran Masereel

Fran Masereel, a primary school teacher from Hull, was given fully functioning fairy wings, granting her limited powers of “flight”.

Episode 2 – Aural Sensations
Broadcast Date – Saturday, October 17, 2037
Artist – Toby Vok
Subject – Toby Vok

The musician and artist Toby Vok finally transformed himself into his long-proposed “All Body Theremin”.

Episode 3 – For The Love Of God Again
Broadcast Date – Saturday, October 24, 2037
Artist – Damien Hirst
Subject – Helen Shapiro

In this episode Damien Hirst recreated his famous sculpture For The Love Of God by embedding over £200 million worth of diamonds into 90 year-old Helen Shapiro’s face.

Notes: During filming, Damien Hirst fell off his skateboard and broke his leg, hip and elbow.

Episode 4 – It’s What Inside That Counts
Broadcast Date – Saturday, October 31, 2037
Artist – Olajire Ojo
Subject – “Barry”

This week’s subject, appearing anonymously and pseudonymously, was a sufferer of extreme body dysmorphic disorder who had been seeking psychiatric help for his condition. In a collaboration with both his doctor and the artist, it was decided that his flesh and bone structure be removed and his internal organs placed in a series of crystal cubes connected by a complex series of osmotic membranes. The various organ cubes could be stacked in any order.

Note: This was the only episode where the basic human form was completely discarded during the metamorphosis.

Episode 5 – You Will Never See My Perfection No Matter How Long You Stare
Broadcast Date – Saturday, November 7, 2037
Artist – CHU
Subject – Desmond Tenpence

In a direct response to the previous week’s work, the renowned conceptual artist CHU took Desmond Riley, an extreme narcissist, and made him perfectly transparent by means of a cloaking device fashioned from an internal woven mesh of carbon nanotubes.

Episode 6 – The Averaged (Wo)man
Broadcast Date – Saturday, November 14, 2037
Artist – Armelle Bourgoin
Subject – Mary Rose Hannigan

Supermodel Mary Rose Hannigan, long-feted as the most beautiful woman in the world, wished to retire and live a normal life. To this end, the French artist Armelle Bourgoin gave her the “average” British face, which ended up being almost perfectly featureless.

3. Controversy

Along with public, political and press unease over the cost and quality of the programme, there was also a specific controversy concerning the use of private customer data in the sixth episode’s metamorphosis. Although it was later claimed by the artist that he had not actually accessed the licence fee payer’s database to create the “averaged face”, instead having used a simple photo-manipulation smear effect in a freely available software package, it did not prevent the corporation being levied with a record fine for data insecurity.

4. Legacy

A persistent urban legend has arisen concerning a supposed seventh episode (or possibly an alternate regular episode) in which a child’s hands were replaced by crab’s claws (some variants of the tale have them as lobster claws). However, no firm evidence of the creation of this episode or of its broadcast has ever been discovered.

__________

Item 005: Notes on reading dates, times and orders of magnitude in historical documents.

Large book. Dimensions approximately 33.3yn by 18.43yn. Cover only, all internal pages ripped out. Analysis suggests cover made of (unidentified) animal matter. Found in desk drawer.

__________

Item 006: Untitled placard

Mounted and framed placard, placed on the wall above desk. Dimensions: 35.99yn by 25.34125yn. The glass in the frame had been cracked (although not shattered), seemingly by a single blow.

For many years I walked across the earth, so as to encounter new things and thus gain an increased knowledge of the world. But eventually I came to the belief that constant novelty hindered the pursuit of wisdom, for it allowed no room for the contemplation of events, nor of meaning.

So I returned to my home and sat down in my room, and vowed to remain there until I truly understood the few meagre things contained within – the walls, the floors, the ceilings, the bed, and myself.

After many years of solitude, the only epiphany I experienced was that, when I walked the earth, I walked because I enjoyed it. And when it was solitude that I craved, I sat here. The reasons I constructed around these decisions were delusions constructed to create a mythology of purpose around my actions that they themselves did not warrant nor deserve.

Yet there was no importance in anything I had ever done, no purpose, and there never was in anything. And in understanding this I could live and die freely, however I pleased.

__________

Item 007:

Text, scratched onto the wall near bed.

Nostalgia eases the present by erasing the past

___________

Item 008:

Text, scratched onto the wall near extraction tube.

I remember so much and so little at the same time

___________

Item 009: fragment

Scrap of paper ripped from a larger sheet, found in corpses trouser pocket. Roughly triangular in shape, 8yn in length along longest edge. Text printed on both sides.

Side 1

is, Geo
y friends li
ereas your penis
ing disgusts them, you kno

Side 2

e monstr
nd said, “Lo
f it. It’ll never fit
she nodded and said, “That’
my problem, is it. It’s your anu

__________

Notes:

1. Written in January and February 2016
2. Although I think bits of it came from the year before

__________

Support An Accumulation Of Things

If you like what you've read here please consider subscribing to our patreon. Cheers.