The serving

I had made something. It wasn’t quite a cake, nor exactly a biscuit. More like an inversion of a cake. An uncake, perhaps, existing solely between realms.

I served it with a void of tea along with a couple of molecules of antisugar arranged in a complex geometric shape that was neither platonic nor solid.

I poured the tea into mother’s best cup and put the uncake and the nonsugar in a saucer I fed the cats their food on, and placed by the side of the cup a spoon with a hole in it a magpie once brought me, and once the presentations were complete I carried them into the anechoic chamber and handed the unternoon refreshments to Ted.

I hoped and prayed and laughed

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Amemorable news purveyor “The Guardian” have published a list of 50 “underground albums” that “you” have “never heard of” LINK FOLLOWS

A Guardian

Poring over the list for old favourites I note that they have
A) included several albums that “I” have heard of, and dismissed as one-dimensional or “phoney”
B) failed to include any of the best albums that I have not heard of, which I am unable to list here for the same reason

If I had heard of them, I suspect they would be as follows.

Edgar Winifred: The Egg is on Fire

This hard-to-find record by Edgar Winifred was only released via fax machine, the ink compressed so deeply as to form grooves that could be played on most readily available record players. Recorded during one of his fugue states, it contains eight brief songs, each made up of two distinct movements, which the liner notes record as “before” and “after”. Winifred could not (or would not) remember what any of it meant, and during at least two interviews utterly refused to claim responsibility for the album at all, although notably both journalists made record of the fact that he “left the room loudly humming his own melodies”.

The Underwater Seal Experiment: I Was Outside, You Were Hiding

This all-girl band formed in the 1920s but didn’t make their first recordings until they found themselves unexpectedly reunited in a nursing home, having lost many of their capabilities. Immediately returning to music, they recorded seven albums in as many months before all dropping dead from exhaustion within hours of each other. As each of them had willed the master tapes to another member of the group, they briefly fell into a disputed state, held on a boat that traversed international waters until their surviving ancestors could agree a deal. The subsequent release, which was only available via a costly phone line, was hailed as a masterpiece by all that heard it.

Hova Stanta: No Means, No (?)

The genderless, ageless Stanta compiled this late-period release by splicing together rehearsal tapes from their one-person band. Confusingly high on harmonies and polyrhythms, the result was instantly denounced by the Catholic Church, which led to a brief sales spike that independent record stores struggled to keep up with (only four copies having been made available, each hand-decorated by the artist and their small army of insect pets). refers to the album as “literally inaudible”, but it should be noted that the review was published during the deafness plague of ’08.

BRIIIIIIIIINE: Briiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine


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The transformer

The stone appeared in the middle of the town and anyone who touched it was transformed or at least improved in some way.

Ted touched it by mistake and his eyes regrew and a few of his fins receded.

A seagull landed on it and became a crow and a crow landed on it and become a raven and a raven landed on it and became a new bird that was exactly the same as a crow and a raven but even bigger again it was huge.

A man playing a trumpet leant against it and his trumpet became one of those huge tubas that wrap themselves around you and it wrapped itself around him and wouldn’t let go and also his lungs doubled in size so he he could play all day long he changed his name to Simon Fourlungs he was a great success.

A cat brushed up against it and was unchanged (cats are essentially unimprovable).

I danced and tricked my way to the front of the queue and looked up at the stone and then I touched the stone and the stone exploded and everyone was furious with me for the rest of the year.

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Toby Vok Reveals The Secret Secrets Behind His Successful Successes

“I got this lucky penny off a lad today in the hotel,” Toby Vok said, rolling the coin between his fingers then up and down his sleeves before it emerged from below the hem of his skirt. He picked it up and made it disappear behind his ear.

“A travelling merchant and his son came to me and asked if it was okay to take my soul. When he’d finished syphoning it off his son said: “Let me give you a lucky coin. It’s not cursed at all!” and then they went off with a chuckle that sounded a bit like a duetted scream.

“Here it is,” Toby said, revealing what appeared to be a sweet to the crowd, before closing his hand and then opening the other, from which a dove flew out. “I had it in my pocket, all along.” Then he withdrew it from his pocket and spun it between his fingers. It looked like the moon. It looked like the sun. It looked like a coin again. “I used it and I won and then I won again. It’ll stay with me forever now. It feels like I can’t lose.

“I’m not really superstitious, I just love coins.” he added. “Here, let me show you how it works.”

And with that he put it in the machine in the corner by the bar. A random assortment of shapes came up, and the coin was gone.

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The Hand

I showed them my new hand. It was much better than my old hand. This one could count up to six. It could also close itself into a fist both the usual way and the other way, which wasn’t much use I admitted to the crowd. But what use is use when you can do things like that I said. And like this!

A woman fainted and so did a man.

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The Market

There was food everywhere but none of it was as good as mine. I went up to every stall and told them so and showed them my wares, which I held out in front of me on a plate that was also better than theirs.

“Try it,” I said. “It is the new food.”

They reached out with their hands and took a small cube and held it up to the light and examined it carefully for defects and when the defects were not found they popped the cube into their mouths and gave it a trepidatory chew.

Not one of them survived.

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The Coin

He held his fist before me, tightly clenched.

“I have in my hand the coin,” he said.

“What kind of coin?” I asked.

The coin.”

“What kind of coin?” I insisted.

“I cannot show you the coin.”

“You don’t even have a coin, do you?” I accused. “Nobody has a coin.”

“I don’t have a coin. I have the coin,” he italiced.

“What kind of coin?” I re-iterated. “If it even is a coin.”

“It is the coin.”

I pushed him in the chest with two of my hands and he stumbled back but his hand never wavered nor unclenched nor even somehow moved and instead of falling over he was held up by his hand which held on to nothing except perhaps for the coin.

“How did you do that?” I enquired.

“It is the coin.”


I began to turn away but even as I turned my eyes stayed looking at his hand and the more I turned the more painful this became and so I turned back and looked at the hand straight on rather than obliquely through the translucent edges of my skull.

I stared at his hand for a while with a winning intensity and eventually my gaze unsettled him into a declamation.

“Behold,” he said. “Behold the coin!”

He began to unfurl his palm, slowly, so slowly. His huge fingers peeling away one by one like bananas opening up to reveal the pearl in their grasp.

The anticipation pricked at my skin and I jumped up and down and wobbled my legs around and leant forward then backwards then forward again and finally his hand was open and I could see the palm of his hand and it was empty and coinless.

“You may touch the coin.”

There wasn’t a coin.

“You may touch the coin.”

I leant in close and poked at his palm with the cleanest of my fingers.

I felt… something. Something cold. Something old. Something untold.

“What is it?” I said.

“It is the coin.”

I pressed the coin. You wouldn’t believe how I pressed it.

There was a click, a tick, finally a tock. His fingers sprang back into position. He turned and ran away.

And that is how I lost my hand and gained the coin.

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The Unnaming Machine

I was tired of my name and desired a new start, which was fortunate, because the government had declared my name a weapon of war and impelled me to remove it.

And so I had to enter the unnaming machine.

The Unnaming Machine, to give it its full name, is a big ovoidal structure that glows white while idle and then quickly pulses through all the possible sub-colours while unidle. Then finally it resumes its whiteness and the newly unnamed creature, person, or thing emerges. It is at this point that a new name can be picked, and indeed has to be picked, for not only has the creature, person or thing fully forgotten their name but also so has the universe at large (except for the government official on hand whose job it is to ensure the name has been successfully expunged).

Today’s government official was        , her name badge told me. Her face resembled          ‘s, which was disconcerting in some ways, not least for           who was here as a witness.

She said, “Name?”

And I said, “Toby. Toby Vok.”

She said, “Correct.”

And I said, “Do I need to take off my shoes?”

And she said, “No, it should be fine.”

And then I said, “What about my trousers?”

And she said, “No, it should be fine.”

And I said, “What about my silk shirt, crystallised cravat, and spiderweb hairnet?”

And she said, “No, it should be fine.”

I handed her my watch just in case and stepped inside.

Being inside the machine was strangely like being outside the machine and imagining you were inside it. There was a quick rumble and a prolonged pulse phase and then a pause for a second that you could easily have missed if you weren’t as aware of pauses as I am. Then the machine opened and I was ejected back out into the room.

“What is your name?” the government official said.

“Toby,” I said. “Toby Vok.”

“What?” she said. “That’s not right. It’s not worked.”

She looked over at     in the corner. “It’s not worked,” she said.

    looked concerned. “Toby what have you done,” he said.

I laughed and laughed and laughed. I had performed a reversal.

“I have performed a reversal,” I told them.

They were never getting their names back now. No one was.

No one but me.

Behind me the machine began a long and colourful explosion phase, which was, I hoped, merely the prelude to a much longer much less colourful dust and soot phase.

Before me,           wept like I had never seen him weep before.

As I skipped past     and         I repeated my name over and over again like a mantra (tobyvoktobyvoktobyvoktobyvokTOBYVOKTOBYVOKTOBYVOKtobyvoktobyvoktobyvok) and then with a wink I danced out of the room and into the newly beautifully nameless world beyond.

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The Herald

The Herald rode up on his horse and stopped by the garden gate.

“I am,” he heralded, “The Herald.”

“Hahaha terald,” I said.

“No!” The Herald shouted. “The Herald.”

“Herald Vaaaaaaaak,” I said.

“No!” The Herald shouted. “The Herald.”

The Herald rode off.

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Spiders Are Wonderful
















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