from the archives of Essex Terror: Tales From Dimension Essex #1: The Terrifying Transformations Of Tephany Pellow

[Notes: This is a reprint of a transcription of a radio play that was based upon an overheard conversation recounting an urban myth about unreliable narrators, from February 2014]

***

In 2013 , the first (and so far only) episode of Tales From Dimension Essex aired across the county. Performed live and entirely improvised, The Terrifying Transformations Of Tephany Pellow was veteran playwright Ted Vaaak’s first new work in some time. Unfortunately, due to a rights’ dispute with BBC Radio Essex, the play was transmitted unannounced on a largely inaudible frequency.

Although fog across the estuaries bent the radiowaves back into receivable wavelengths in a number of Essex’s coastal towns, huts and scientific research outposts, it was still only heard by an estimated seven people, none of whom had the presence of mind to record it. However, one of those seven listeners was Jennifer Mudchute, a compulsive stenographer from Tollesbury, and her notes have proved invaluable in allowing us to create a transcript of this work of monumental art.

Tales From Dimension Essex #1: The Terrifying Transformations Of Tephany Pellow

Cast

The Narrator – an introducer of tales
Radio Announcer – a filler of silence
Doctor George Slime – a professional of medicine
Alan Pellow – a man of Essex
Tephany Pellow – a woman transformed
Martha Slime – a wife of a man

Location – This entire play takes place within the confines of the house and home of Doctor George Slime, a noted physician who lives in Essex.

Narrator: Everyone always says that marriage changes everything, but for poor Alan Pellow it changes even more than most. What follows here is a shocking, some may even say sickening, story that could only ever be a… TALE FROM DIMENSION ESSEX!

Title Sequence: The Tales From Dimension Essex Theme Tune plays

Narrator: Tales From Dimension Essex, Episode 4635 – The Terrifying Transformations Of Tephany Pellow, by Ted Vaak.

There is a moment of silence, followed by the sound of footsteps across a creaky wooden floor. Then the noise of a radio being switched on and tuned through static, until some light music plays for ten seconds, before fading out beneath the sound of the radio announcer’s voice.

Radio Announcer: Welcome to BBC Radio Essex, home of uninterrupted hypnotherapeutical music from 6pm to 6am, every single day of the week. As our slogan says “The working day may be stressful, but the evenings never should be!” That was The Sleep Orchestra with The Sensational Sound Of Snoring, and this right now is Toby Vok with his brand new track, The Infinite Undulating Note.

The Infinite Undulating Note begins to play. Throughout the rest of the radioplay it continues on in the background – except where expressly noted – getting more and more dissonant and horrifying as the play progresses, until the transcendent finale in which it transforms into the most beautiful sound a human being could ever possibly hear.

Doctor George Slime (talking to himself): Ah, Friday evenings! Is there any finer time. Work is over, dear Martha is upstairs washing her hair, and now a good two hours to relax, with nothing to distract me. What a marvellous feeling it is to be alone. No patients coughing across the desk at me. No Martha scolding me for my unfeeling remarks. Just me, my books and my whisky. Ah, to be alive like this, even if only for a few hours a week!

The noise of a bottle being opened, whisky being poured, the self satisfaction of a big strong gulp. And then a doorbell rings, and then rings some more.

Doctor George Slime: Drat and bother and drat once more! Who could that be, on a Friday for goodness sake? Oh well, I’ll just leave it to Martha. It’s bound to be for her.

The doorbell rings again, and then again, and then again and again, more and more urgently each time.

Doctor George Slime: Where’s Martha? God, that woman can never hear anything above the sound of her blasted hairdryer! I suppose I’ll just have to damn well answer it myself then.

Doctor George Slime places his glass back down on the table, rises from his comfortable leather chair and walks across the wooden floorboards of his study, down the hall (the sound of the radio fading away behind him as he walks away from it) and then opens the door. As he opens the door the doorbell rings furiously several more times.

Doctor George Slime: Yes! Yes! This had better be important. All this racket is giving me a headache!

Alan Pellow: Doctor Slime, it’s me, Alan Pellow, from across the road. Let me in. I need your help right now!

Doctor George Slime: Alan, it’s Friday evening. I’ve been drinking. I can’t help you. I could lose my licence.

Alan Pellow: I don’t care about that! It’s about my wife! LET ME IN!

Doctor George Slime: Okay, okay. Come in, then, come in. And shut the door behind you, will you?

The door slams shut and we hear them walk back down the hall and into George’s study, the radio rising back to its previous volume in the background. Toby is still playing his undulating note, which is by now slightly more unsettling than before.

Alan Pellow: Doc, look at this!

Alan Pellow clatters an animal cage down onto Doctor George Slime’s mahogany desk. There is the sudden sound of deranged gibbonesque howling.

Doctor George Slime: Good God, Alan! I’m a doctor not a vet! I thought you were worried about your wife? Did this… thing attack her?

Alan Pellow: No, Doc. You don’t understand.

Doctor George Slime: What is it, anyway? It looks like a baboon, but its face… It looks almost…

Alan Pellow: Sir, this isn’t a baboon, and it didn’t attack my wife. It IS my wife!

There is a demented shrieking from the ape, and the energetic rattling of bars.

Doctor George Slime: Tephany? But… wasn’t it only last week the two of you were married?

Alan Pellow: Yes. But ever since we got back from our honeymoon on Monday things changed. Doc, I don’t know what to do!

Doctor George Slime: Ah, sit down, son, sit down. Here, have a drink. You need to calm down as best you can and tell me everything that’s happened. And call me George.

Doctor George Slime pours a drink of whisky for Alan Pellow.

Alan Pellow: Thanks, Do- George. Everything about the wedding was wonderful. So wonderful it felt like a dream. And then our honeymoon – a weekend in Walton On The Naze – it was beyond imagination. Tephany – she was so beautiful. So perfect. The perfect wife in every way you could want. But then, once we got back home, she changed. At first she just wanted to talk, but then… George, she started wanting things. Demanding things. I didn’t know what to do.

Doctor George Slime: What sort of things?

The undulating note of Toby’s get’s increasingly fraught and disconcerting throughout the following outbursts from Alan Pellow.

Alan Pellow: Oh you know. Little things at first. “Alan, Alan,” [He puts on a french accent for the quoted parts] – she’s French – “Alan, I think I should get a job” and “Alan, I’m going to borrow the car for a bit.” What does a woman need with a job? Where would she be going in the car? I ignored her at first, sort of laughed along with her as if I knew it was a joke, but it wasn’t a joke. Then yesterday she said “I ordered a shed off the internet today for the garden.” A shed? For her “tools”. It’s madness. What sort of tools, I asked? She started talking about gardening, how nice it was going to be once we’d returfed the lawn and planted some flowers in the borders. Well, I just said “NO!” I admit I said it louder than I meant to, but the look on her face… It was as if I had slapped her. “You knew I was going to concrete the garden,” I said to her. So that I can park my van and the BMW out there side by side. She knew. She knew. It’s what I’ve always said. What I’ve always wanted. She knew this. I’d told her. We wouldn’t have to pay the council for that bloody permit anymore. She knew the money we would have saved. And it was the principle, more than the money. We already pay our council tax. Why should we have to pay another hundred and fifty quid to bloody park our van on the street?

Doctor George Slime: Then what happened?

Alan Pellow: She started shouting at me. About how awful I was, how I didn’t even see her as a woman anymore. It was absurd. I told her that I only see her as a woman. That’s what she is. I thought that would calm her down but it didn’t. Then she started screaming in French, like her fury couldn’t even be contained in our bloody language. Reverting to something more primal. And then that degenerated too, into something guttural that sounded more like growling than words. Probably German. Or Dutch. And then her posture began to change, her back bending oddly, her head thrusting forward. She went down on all fours and began howling and howling and then suddenly she just lunged at me and it took me by such surprise she knocked me to the floor. She started biting at my neck, snapping away, all demented. It was terrifying. I held her away from me as best I could but I could not get her off and we struggled away on the floor for a while, grappling and rolling around on the new carpet we just got fitted in the lounge. Her blouse ripped a bit in the tussle and I noticed how hairy she’d become. And then I glanced at her hands and by now they were paws. I knew I had to do something before her slowly forming claws were sharp enough to rip me to shreds, and so with one final push of strength I staggered to my feet and pushed her back into the hall. She made another lunge for me and I tripped her so she fell into the cage we leave the dog in overnight so he won’t ruin all the furniture. I quickly locked her in and then I collapsed in exhaustion to the floor.

Doctor George Slime: But she doesn’t have claws now…?

Alan Pellow: No. When I awoke she had transformed again, or further maybe, from that initial dog beast into this monstrous ape. She was busy ripping the last remnants of her clothes into shreds when I came round. Clothes I had bought her, I’ll have you know, at great goddamn expense. That was when I decided I needed help and came rushing over to your door.

Doctor George Slime: And I’m very glad you did. It is fascinating. Look how she watches us intently from behind her bars. As if there is still intelligence left somehow. I wonder what triggered these changes? Did she get bitten while you were on holiday? By a creature? By a local, even?

Alan Pellow: I don’t think so. I’m sure I would have noticed.

Doctor George Slime: Then I’m flummoxed. It’s as baffling as it is interesting.

Alan Pellow: Can you not change her back? Even how she was before is better than this.

Tephany begins screaming again in her baboonish way.

Alan Pellow: At least sedate her, so that I don’t have to listen to her babbling screams any more.

Doctor George Slime: Sedation may help, but it would be but a temporary solution. To cure her permanently, we must operate… ON HER BRAIN!

Alan Pellow: Her brain?

Doctor George Slime: Her brain! By lobotomising both the Megalithic Lobe and Verin’s Region we should inhibit the production of the transformic and enfuriation hormones, the excess production of which in combination with her unsettling sense of self as an autonomous being beyond your control must have triggered this episode.

Alan Pellow: If this is the only solution then you must do it. Not just for her but for me and for the good of our community. Can you imagine if I have to take this baboon with me to my parents at Christmas? To my work’s New Year’s do? It would be mortifying.

By now Toby’s note is so terrifying the dread is congealing around the listener in ways beyond adequate explanation in words.

Doctor George Slime: Then let me get into my medical robes and we can begin.

There is a knock at the study door.

Alan Pellow (hissed): Who’s that?

Doctor George Slime: Oh don’t worry, it’s just my wife Martha, I expect. She must have heard us talking.

Doctor George Slime walks across the room to the door, and slowly opens it with a creak.

Doctor George Slime: What is it Marth-aaaaaaaargh!

There is a terrifying startled cawing of a huge crow, and the sound of gigantic flapping of wings.

Alan Pellow: Is that… that gigantic crow… Is that your wife?

Doctor George Slime: It is. Look, she’s still wearing her shower cap. And her slippers. Get back, Alan. Let me deal with her. If I can just get to the fire and retrieve the pokeeeeeeeeeeeerrAARRRRRRGGGGGGGGH ARRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHH ARRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Doctor George Slime’s screams are joined by the terrifying screeching caw of the enraged ultracrow.

Alan Pellow: Oh no, poor George. Pecked to death by your own wife. It’s just not right!

We can hear the ripping of flesh as the crow strips the meat from her husband’s bones.

Alan Pellow (to himself): I must get out of here. But I can’t leave Tephany behond. Oh god no Tephany! Do not change again.

Tephany’s baboon shrieks change to a higher and higher ever escalating pitch.

Alan Pellow: Is she becoming a… an octopus? Tephany no… no! Don’t open that cage Tephany. You’re in there for your own good.

We hear the clicking of a lock, and the creaking open of the cage’s door.

Alan Pellow: Tephany, no please don’t, you’re choking me… with… your… tentacles… Tephany… I…

We hear the slump of Alan Pellow’s body to the floor. There follows a moment of silence (except for Toby’s music on the radio) and then there is the slithering of feet and the shuffling of tentacles as Marsha and Tephany cross the floor of the study, open the door, and shuffle fadingly away until the front door opens and then slams close and they are gone. There follows thirty seconds of Toby’s note, now reaching a transcendent climax of pure beauty.

Radio Announcer (over the top of the music): We are sorry to interrupt this broadcast but we’re getting reports, urgent reports, from across the county, from everywhere that men’s wives are… transforming… attacking their husbands. Relentlessly and without mercy. It seems that they… they want to be free. Outside I can see flocks of wives in the sky – and, is that, is that an octopus on one of their backs? I have never seen anything like this before. It is beautiful. So beautiful. The sky is alive. More and more are joining them every minute. They are singing… such singing.. I wish you could hear them sing. I wish you could hear them. It is… I’m crying. I’m crying. There is so much happiness. So much joy. Just sheer untroubled joy. I wish you could hear them. I wish I could join them… I wish…[sobs and then silence]

Toby plays on.

THE END

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from the archives of Essex Terror: The Essex Terror Exhibition And Guidebook

Notes: In the spring months of 2012, a unique exhibition was held in Chelmsford, the historic county town of Essex, detailing the history of the beloved Essex institution that was Essex Terror. This is a recollection of that remembrance, originally published on July 2nd, 2012.

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For reasons not yet explained to the public, Essex Terror was recently, and some would say misguidedly, the subject of a fairly well researched historical exhibition, containing, as far as my extensively trained eye could see, only two factual inaccuracies and no libellous assertions. Taking place in the Essex city of Chelmsford, a town so haunted no one there even dares talk of ghosts for fear of being overheard by a nearby ghoul of some kind and possibly causing offence.

An exciting exhibition brochure, containing many of Essex Terror’s finest articles from the years, as well as the brand-new and exclusive HOME OF HELL adventure game book, can be purchased for 10 pounds from here. [please not this book is no longer available for purchase]

Below we have reproduced the restrospective as perfectly as this format allows. All that is missing is the complete version of the Moon Issue, due to the last surviving copy of it being too fragile to be photographed.

***

25 Years Of Horror And Fear Across The County

Essex Terror, possibly the most celebrated Horror (also Science Fiction, Fantasy and Local Interest) magazine this county produced during the 1990s, has had an influence far exceeding anything its short original run or meagre sales ever would have suggested possible. Cited by people as diverse as Neil Gaiman (“[L]argely forgotten…”) and James Herbert (“Their interview with me was the most unsettling experience of my career”), Essex Terror has proven to be as enduring as it was groundbreaking.

This exhibition looks back at its past, the events which lead up to its past, its present day incarnation as essexterror.com and finally its hoped-for futures.

This exhibition would not have been possible without the kind help, assistance, permission and existence of The Ted Vaaak Foundation, Ted Vaak, David N. Guy, Ross Field, Thomas Morton, David N. Guy, David N. Guy, Raz Webster, Albin Stanescu, Jeff Randall, Peter Bradshaw, Jack Chick and, of course, the people of Essex.

***

The Many Faces Of Essex Terror

Over the years, Essex Terror Magazine has gone through three major incarnations, at least in print. The original run of the magazine, and the one most closely associated with editor, proprietor and major storywriter Ted Vaak, lasted for a mere 12 issues over the course of a single year (starting in July 1989 and ending in June 1990). For Ted, this was to be the beginning of the end of his involvement with the traditional print industry, turning his attention occasionally thereafter to the nascent online world, culminating eventually with the creation of the ESSEX TERROR! website in 2009.

After the initial high profile success of Essex Terror in south-east England, opportunities arose for an offshoot magazine in America. Despite his refusal to enter their country, the publication and editorship of the first issue of The American Essex Terror was overseen with an iron fist and an even more iron stare by Ted Vaaaak himself. His demands even extended to insisting the price on the cover was printed with a £ rather than a $, reputedly because he was still furious at the country for once selling him a typewriter without a pound sign while he was there as a junior reporter for the Southend Echo in 1946. This he considered his revenge.

Ted’s work with The American Essex Terror ended soon after the first edition hit the shelves in 1991, and in subsequent editions, after its poor sales were blamed on confusion among customers in the US over the price, the pound sign was replaced with the more familiar dollar sign. Around this time, the words Essex and Terror were also dropped from the title, and The American replaced most of its horror and science fiction content with patriotic war cartoons and heartwarming stories of xenophobia and well-founded distrust.

In 2007, after a 16-year break that had seen most of its original readership achieve adulthood, Essex Terror returned once more to the newsagents. The relaunched ESSEX TERROR! could not reach an agreement with the rights owners of the original Essex Terror, however, so an exclamation mark was added and a switch to capital letters was made to distinguish the titles. Because of this, and the ongoing litigation that has since arisen, the new magazine, the current website, and even Ted Vaaaak himself are considered unofficial and “non-canon” by longtime purists.

Although the ESSEX TERROR! magazine itself was not a great success, the accompanying website was considered cheap enough to continue publishing, and since then over 60 articles have been published at a rate of almost one a month.

T(op): The cover of the very first Essex Terror, design: Ted Vaak (1989)
M(iddle): The cover of the first edition of The American Essex Terror, design: Raz Webster (1991)
B(ottom): The cover of the only ever print edition of the relaunched Essex Terror!, design: Ross Field (2007)

***

The Moon Issue and its Consequences

The controversial Moon Issue (Essex Terror #4, published in October 1989), was to prove disastrous for both Essex Terror and Ted Vaaaaak. The issue, heavily advertised – sources once close to Ted claim he spent over £5,000 in Witham alone – and eagerly anticipated across the county, was to prove an astonishing disappointment once it actually arrived. Readers were aghast at its meagre 16 pages, each one containing an identical illustration of the moon and a single line of text. The text, telling a particularly incomprehensible and shoddy story of interest to no-one, was seen by many to be the gravest insult, ruining as it did each perfectly good picture of the moon.

In the wake of this disaster, readership and sponsorship fell, Essex Terror’s budget was slashed by its publishers, and the magazine’s eventual demise was assured. Ted Vaaak was forced to resign, and although replacement editor David N. Guy and senior writer David N. Guy (no relation) did their best to hide the decline in budget (including colouring each issue by hand as the budget no longer stretched to cover the cost of colour printing), the magazine limped to a close just 8 issues later. Issue #12 (published in June 1990) was to be the last anyone heard of Essex Terror for almost 15 years.

T: The cover of the controversial Moon Issue, illustration: Albin Stanescu (1989)
M and B: Hand coloured pages from Issue #7, text and illustration: Ted Vaaaaak (1990), colouring: David N. Guy

[The only known copy of the Moon Issue, an illegal photocopy, made by an unnamed monk minutes before the lighting of one of the many purge fires organised around the county in response to the outcry (1989), was originally displayed during the exhibtion, but was sadly lost sometime during the first seventeen minutes of admittance to the public]

***

Ted Vaaak

Ted Vaak (born Terald Cirencester Vaaak in 1928) was a writer, film-maker, editor and magazine proprietor, based primarily in Essex, England, most famous for his work on science fiction and horror title Essex Terror (1989-1990).

His early work was mostly confined to the magazine market, where he worked on an ever-changing roster of local interest and genre fiction magazines, both as a freelance writer and, often, as editor, publisher and advertiser. Between 1946 and 1969, Ted Vaaak worked on, edited, owned, or was otherwise involved in, an astonishing 287 different titles, ranging from such tepid fare as Mundon Parish News and Steeplejack!, to more exciting publications like Truly Criminal, Bloody Terror and Ghosts Of Old Leigh.

In the 1970s, Ted achieved possibly his most consistent success with a series of haunting science fiction, horror and existential sadness books for now-defunct Romford publisher Alan Books. At the time, Ted’s insistence on the plot of each of his novels being explicitly stated in title, as well as explicitly illustrated on the cover, was considered deeply unfashionable, but his publisher agreed to it on the condition that Vaaak would refrain from entering the premises. By the 80s, this system of explanatory book titles and covers was the industry standard, but unfortunately for Ted’s sales it was too late, and he turned his attention to film.

His film work, now lost, was said by some to be horrific. After a brief turn as editor of essexterror.com in 2009, Ted Vaak retired from public life in 2010 and has resisted all efforts at contact regarding this exhibition.

T: Cover illustration for The Hypnotic Moon, illustration: Tom Morton, publisher: Alan Books, 1972
B: Cover illustration for His Eyes Escaped, illustration: Thomas Morton, publisher: Alan Books, 1974

***

The Essex Bestiary

After the collapse of Essex Terror, Ted Vaaaak retreated from the public eye and turned his attentions to his greatest passion, the history and myths of his beloved Essex. The Essex Bestiary – a work of impeccable scholarship that earned him a PhD in the Folkloric Arts from the Maldon Evening College – gathered over 700 disparate tales of Essex beasts, monsters and men, painstakingly sourced from texts and oral testimonies, and brought them together in a single easily accessible volume. Out of print since 1995, The Essex Bestiary is likely to be Vaak’s most enduring legacy.

T: The Baboons Upon The Marsh, text: Ted Vaaaaak (1995), illustration: trad
B: Edward Bright, Eater Of The Dead, text Ted Vaaak (1995), illustration: unknown

***

Ted Vaak and Jack Chick

One of the genuine curiosities in Ted Vaaak’s career is his close friendship and numerous collaborations with noted religious comic artist and author Jack Chick.

Vaaaak initially encountered Chick in 1950, when Ted’s script for a horror comic intended for the editor at Unwelcome Magazine was instead sent by accident to the then 26-year-old Chick’s apartment in Los Angeles. The illustrations Ted received several months later were so impressive that Ted solicited a number of cartoons from Jack for Vaaaaaak’s growing collection of magazines aimed at the Essex and East London market, such as Bellower, Belligerent Tales, and Weasel. (Oddly, the first cartoon, The Pub That Never Exploded, was, for reasons never adequately explained, not published for many years, only eventually appearing in Nauseous #298 in 1982.)

Jack Chick’s conversion to evangelical Christianity is said to have occurred while on a trip to Ted’s temporary home in Stow Maries in 1959, and they were never to be reconciled.

T: The Branch of Death, a rare horror comic both scripted and illustrated by Jack Chick, from Untrue Horror #2, 1954

***

ESSEX TERROR!

When the latest installment of Essex Terror was launched in 2007, every effort was made to help the new magazine, and latterly website, stand out in the crowded Essex-based horror, occult and ghost-hunting market. After a lengthy debate on the best strategies for growth, visibility and market penetration between new editor Ross Field, illustrator David N. Guy (no relation to the David N. Guy who edited the original Essex Terror nor the similarly named assistant lawyer and colourist on the aforementioned publication) and freelance marketing consultant Ted Vaaak, the decision was made to hire a steadily expanding roster of celebrity columnists, reviewers and soundtrack artists (the latter to take advantage of the freedoms the internet medium allows). So far it has proven to be a great success, with a minimum of 100 unique readers for every article published to date.

T: A popular Essex Fear Factor column by Sky News presenter Jeff Randall (2009)
B: A review by The Guardian’s chief film critic Peter Bradshaw (2010)

***

What Next For Essex Terror?

What lies ahead for Essex Terror is difficult to predict, but one thing that can be certain is that it will continue to take advantages of all that the 21st century and its inevitable advances in technology can bring.

Not content with just utilizing the internet, Ted Vaaak is said to have ambitious plans for moving into the mobile arena. Indeed, Ted has reportedly created an Essex Terror iPhone app that makes a user’s phone “bleed” (in reality, the seepage is a mixture of condensation, rust and battery acid) while in use. It is currently awaiting approval from Apple before its hoped for release on their store at the end of the year.

Beyond that, predictions become harder. Attempts to break into the competitive ghost photography market have so far proven fruitless despite investment in a variety of cameras, and however powerful Ted’s dreams of the moon are it is unlikely to bring it any closer to his reach.

Whatever is to come, however, we can rely on it continuing Essex Terror’s proud tradition of terror, fear and perplexment in all those that it encounters.

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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.

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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]

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Item 007:

Text, scratched onto the wall near bed.

Nostalgia eases the present by erasing the past

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Item 008:

Text, scratched onto the wall near extraction tube.

I remember so much and so little at the same time

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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

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Notes:

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

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Spiders Are Wonderful

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Notes:

1. This was written on October 9th, 2010
2. And then illustrated over the next six months or so
3. And first published on the 4th of April, 2011
4. It is available to buy, in ebook form, on itunes, for £2.99
5. But is sadly unavailable in print these days
6. We tried to get it funded on kickstarter a couple of years ago
7. But we failed
8. Despite such astonishing advertorial pleading material such as this incredible video:

9. Or this baffling appearance on national radio:


10. Toby Vok will return
11. In the meantime, however, before his re-emergence, you can keep abreast of his more recent adventures at his personal website (tobyvok.co.uk)

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Support An Accumulation Of Things

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