WHAT IS MAPPALUJO?


CHAPTER 08

BACKGROUND. A lush, overgrown planet circles slowly around the inside of a sleeping man's skull. From a point of departure lost in the sky, a monorail snakes down towards a vast, gothic castle. Ravens fly high above the spires, singing the refrain of an old Negro spiritual.

MINOR ACTION. A train slides to a halt outside the gates of the castle. Its engine is made from bleached human bone, with the words SKULL GARDEN EXPRESS carved on the front. Seven weird-looking scorpions hop to the platform, arguing amongst themselves. One of them buys a magazine from the vending kiosk. The headline reads: CHARISMAXIMUS LAUNCH DELAYED YET AGAIN! The scorpion curses at the news.

LOOP. Legs and arms and a long pink tongue sprout from the magazine and it jumps down, to run off into the undergrowth. The scorpion chases after it a little way, and then gives up. He joins his six companions as they move toward the castle.

BACKGROUND. A crowd of chattering products bustle around the entranceway. Guard dogs flank the gates, wearing peaked caps and old mackintoshes. They each hold a clanking steel instrument, which they use to punch the tickets of the various items seeking delivery.

MINOR ACTION. The seven scorpions slip through the bleating crowd, unseen. One by one, they pass beneath a golden lamp. How strange they look, these creatures. The first is made of shining chrome, another of cut glass, a third of veined marble. The fourth has a body formed from velvet cloth, studded with costume jewellery. The fifth is made out of baked earth, with chicken feathers sprouting here and there. One more looks like some impossible origami model, with a carapace of folded paper. The last scorpion is constructed from iron, its many intricate parts making a dreadful noise as it races to keep up with the others.

LOOP. The seven weary companions crawl through a labyrinth of closed theatres and empty restaurants. Peeling fliers on the walls advertise extinct shows by Florenz Ziegfeld, Busby Berkeley and Albert Speer. The glass scorpion has to keep dodging the sudden amorous advances of the velvet specimen.

BACKGROUND. The creatures scuttle down a long dark corridor that leads to a hidden courtyard, where shadow-blossoms and palm trees flower amid landscaped pools and ornamental benches. Mama Lujo sits there in a rocking chair, her various books, instruments and chemicals fanned out on the ground.

LOOP. The scorpions look around nervously. One by one they come forward to present their tails, and the old woman fills each in turn with a special preparation.

MAIN ACTION. A New Orleans style march starts up, played by an orchestra of beetles. The scorpions are swinging their tails and clacking their claws together, all in time to the music. And then, around the sting of the first creature, the one made of chrome, a vapour is seen, floating upwards to form a pale swaying figure, a faltering ghost of Elvis Presley. And from the tails of the glass scorpion, and the marble one, vapours also rise. Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe, hazy blue, transparent, they join with Elvis in the dance. Nearby, a telescopic dragonfly extends its proboscis, on the end of which a video camera is growing. The fourth creature dances for the camera, with precise erotic steps, and from the tip of its velvet-covered tail, from the jewel that sparkles there, a purple mist is whispering. Sssss! Like a sultry breeze blown here from exotic climes, this vapour drifts around the courtyard. The music starts to slow down, to drag a heavier beat. Electromagnetic eels play the drums.

BACKGROUND. Old Mama Lujo, sucking on a pipe and rocking in her seat, smiles to see the handsome ghost that flickers now amongst the flowers and the trees.

TOP

 

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WHAT IS MAPPALUJO?