THE BALLAD OF BORKIN GLISS

This is a work in progress: I keep hacking way at it when I get time…I’m not really sure where I’m going with this one- apart from the fact that it’s a bit like a Mills and Boon novel gone wrong. Poor Borkin, they called him “The Tripod” at Primary school….you know what they say about a phallus that long..

The Jam-Jarr shield came down without warning. It covered a radius of thirty miles under it’s shimmering haze. It barred the way, no living thing could pass through the Jam-Jarr- It was the first stage in the elaborate hunt ritual, and it meant no good to all trapped within. This was all the bad news rolled into one, and things would get vulgar very, very, quickly.
Wildlife fled, panicked, to them the invisible crackling wall smelled of fire and danger. There were no words of warning, no emergency transmission, no declaration of hostilities, red important telephones labelled “hot line” all over the world failed to ring- in any case nobody was there to answer.
A grey ghost hung above Terra, and within its glistening hull Borkin Gliss and his men made ready for the days tasks. They’d been skitin’ doonhill for three days solid, and it was taking it’s toll: half the crew couldn’t see the need for the rush, and the other half of the crew didn’t give a fuck but wished they could live life on an even keel for maybe half an hour- just to get the essentials done, like having a shite for instance. The entire ship was unsettled to a sharp 45 degree angle, even the simplest task like walking down a corridor became a mammoth task requiring military precision and forethought- it also took an unearthly amount of faith in the maintenance crews ability to keep the grab handles that dotted every surface of the ship in functioning condition. God help the man trying to get along the 500 metre stretch between A and B deck and one of those handles came off in your hand.
Borkin’s second in command Kizzmitic Dammage had already scribbled out a rough to do list, carefully prioritised and meticulously colour coded using his special management issue five-pens-in-one-Biro. Which as it happens he guarded with his life, he had already seen a few envious glances from the squad commanders; the bastards….he knew what they planned…. forward planning his weekly stationary requests and organisation had served him well in his rise through the ranks, as did his yawning vacuum of a non-personality, he floated like shit in a cesspool, right to the top- and know-one seemed to notice him. Good. He planned it thus, he even had the basic sketches complete with vicious blood bath battles rendered in felt tip pen from his officer training days. He played the long game, and would bide his time. Every dog would have his day. Nae doubt of that.
A massacre took some doing, an ethnic cleanse takes more gumption, a pure full-bore bloodbath takes passion, organisation and the efficiency of a well motivated enthusiastic bureaucrat. Borkin’s crew were hardened campaigners in intergalactic Pogroms, the pay was good, the hours were okay and the job was satisfying compared to others within the the new Roamin’ Empire. The tax rates were a killer though. Still, they hit target every single mission: so the bonuses kinda bumped up yer’ take home pay. Money in the bank right enough.
A thudding, bruising cacophony quite out-with the limits of human hearing heralded the slamming down of the Jam-Jarr shield, To some humans with the right kind of hearing it was a barely noticeable absence of a certain frequency: if anyone had been born with the benefit of the hearing of a Cat and also an enthusiasm for antique forms of music they may well have compared the sound to “ AC/DC tuning up their guitars on the bi-polar blasted plains of ancient medieval Buckie”.
Cats and dogs knew the score, all around they chased their tails, burbled and shat in the wrong place. A humourless cockerel from Kennethmont caught a glimpse of something he couldn’t describe, he dismissed it as “shite”. Nonchalantly he pinged his Lambert & Butler Menthol into the corner of the shed. Back in character he shifted his considerable weight on the shit caked roost, went back to watching Grampian CSI….which was a pile of rectal refuse as well.
Maybe if you had seen one afore it would be obvious. The Jam-Jarr produced a clouding of the vision, a distortion of perception. A hair on the lens of life, a sliver of blood in the butter..seeing something that ye should’nae. A thing easy too dismiss, but it would unsettle you.
The jam-jarr technology had its genesis on Earth, invented by a long standing correspondent of infamous Gothic novelist and loser HP Lovecraft, a man seriously bad at life- and even worse at picking his friends.
A hardened Biker from Dufftown thought he saw a goat with an alba personal stereo standing in a field as he ate the road up astride his two wheeled petrol guzzler. He didn’t really give the vision much credence, dismissed it as the aftershocks of tooting whisky and ketamine at the bothy the night afore. Stupid biker boy, he should hae ran. Still cunt-struck with that Swedish bird that he had nailed in the bothy- he could still smell her if he fingered the base of his cock. And he did, a lot. All day he had been checking. At every stop along the route- and whilst in transit too.
A farmer out feeding the beasts almost thought he saw a tag on the lug of one of the stirkies that said “ nae bothered” , instead of the usual catalogue number. He shook that off, a twisted vision that meant shite to a bairn…
Ah well, ye live and learn. Some folk live and learn fuck all, others think they know it all, others know fuck all-ever. That’s life. It’s the cataloguing that’s the cunt of it. The acres of archive boxes mouldering somewhere deep and dank.
In a thirty mile radius within the fizzing shield only one living and breathing human soul housed in yielding, perishable meat, flawed and cancerous: recognised the phenomenon. Auld Paul, kicking ninety and out of his box on valium, pish stained troosers and all, had seen it afore. Years ago, when he was a young man..He was senile though and couldn’t remember a thing.
He tried his best though…
He tapped care assistant Marcy Greene’s shoulder as she roughly shoved and kicked him into the stinking wet room of his cell : His voice was low and raspy, they had left him unattended again in the cleaning cupboard, this time for three days- and he had gotten in a fairly bad way- quite dehydrated. His mouth was dry as the golden sands of Balmedie.
“ Borkin Gliss and his lad’s are back, block yer’ cludgey quine..”
she had no idea what he meant. She was still mentally eyeing up the specials of the week from Aldi, the glossy leaflet still fresh in her brain box, biding her time- there was nae way some bugger was going to do her out of that bargain DVD player. Auld Paul was fucking crazy, and he smelled funny, even after they managed to hose him down, which was a rare occasion even with three of them on him. Nah, she paid no attention. She fixed him with a cold pitying stare and lashed him hard across the face. Spots of fresh blood splattered the tiled floor, Auld Paul folded like a deckchair and concentrated on whimpering quietly. Probably for the best.
In the centre of the Jam-Jarr there was much activity. From the Hull of the Bourbon Explorer all could be seen. The small town had swollen for the show, a myriad of small tents had appeared almost overnight. Throughout the preceding week slowly the animal enclosures had appeared, for all manner of livestock, dotting here and there, hospitality enclosures and beer tents. In the last three days activity had reached fever pitch- as the giant main stage was erected- all steel scaffolding and tubular monstrosity. The massive black P.A speakers stood like gigantic dominoes on either side of the stage. The lighting rig teetered crazily. Stage crew and roadies bindled about furiously, never getting over just how funny this “erecting” business really was. Huge seating platforms fifty foot high formed a large circle, with the stage cutting into the lip of the circle at the north most point. The night before the show, and two nights before the Jam-Jarr came down all preparations were complete, and the arena was finished. For the annual CraigieBuckler Agricultural show. The poor fuckers hardly new what was in store for them. Borkin Gliss and the crew of the Bourbon Explorer would cut a bloody swathe, and teach a mean lesson in creating a helluva red-up.
It was the first day of the show, and Bobbie McBelter was eventually getting into the swing of things, last night had been pretty good- nae the sort of thing that he was used to but still, he had grudgingly enjoyed himself. Bit by bit small nips of whisky had thawed his icy resolve- by the end of the night he had been reduced to a glistening puddle of good cheer, accepting this new style of show and making a tonne of new friends that he couldn’t remember the following day. Chopping up huge lines of Heroin in the hospitality tent. Hot-Knifing Vodka down the front of the main stage.
Putting bands on at night after the judging of the beasts had initially wrankled with his sense of tradition, but youngsters nowadays were different. They wanted and they got. By hook or by crook. They had a sense of entitlement that disgusted his protestant ethic. He also thought that most of them were cunts. He looked down from the judging box, surveying the scene with grim satisfaction, the beer tent was a swirling mass of bodies, sales reps, local officials, farm hands and neer’ do wells from the town all enjoying themselves and it wasn’t past mid-day yet. Kids ambled about, clutching over priced balloons, candy floss and severely unhygienic slabs of beef in bap’s, steaming with heat and rancid ketchup.
As Bobbie announced the upcoming attractions of the day over the crackling PA, including the infamous reed arra’s- a competent and slightly dangerous quad bike aerobatics group ( a treat for all the family scheduled for the main arena at approximately 2 pm) , a parade of the most highly thought of dogs in the area, and selection of the best male sheep of the show- the coronation of the “Flash Ram”, he realised that there was something different about the sound. It didn’t really make much sense, but yesterday his voice was blown far and wide- the fizzing old mixing desk behind the commentators booth bumped his whining old croak and threw it loud and distorted through the giant speakers and out into the broad arena where it was buffeted and blustered by the wind. Today there was a strange difference: he felt that he was speaking into a smaller, somewhat enclosed space. He felt like he was shouting into a very large wardrobe.
“That cannae be right..” He mused, he presses the cut-off switch on the mic, and pushed the fader up- sending howling fiddle music out into the arena, leaning over he caught the attention of Ian the sound engineer- looking swish in his neat new white t-shirt and awesome pony tail.
“Ian, hoy Ian!- fits going on with the sound, It’s nae like yesterday, that wis fine and dandy… have you been buggering about with it? It sounds like I’m inside a mart, ah, echoey and shite?”
Ian looked puzzled, then tried to look professional which came across as constipated- then returned to looking puzzled…he hazarded a wildly ill-informed guess, anything to shut the old fart up:
“mair folk in the show the day Bobbie, kinda dampens the sound waves and that, I dinnae want to blind you with technical jargon because you won’t really understand- but basically down to them there returning nodes and what-not…did you ever dee that experiment with water waves in Physics at school?” he winked, grinned then just concentrated on looking professional again.
Bobbie wasnae convinced. Ian was a menace, nae old school- he’d been brought in at the last minute to handle the sound mainly for his experience in doing sound production and engineering for live rock music in Aberdeen. Bobbie thought rock music was dire and didn’t really see the point of paying some guy to make crap bands just making a noise louder. He also thought that Aberdeen was a horrible place with far too many seagulls and that smelt badly, chiefly of rotten fish. It seemed pointless, and he missed his sidekick Jim who was back in the studio at radio NEEP.
Bobbie sucked air in through his mouth disapprovingly, and rolled his eyes.
“Some kiddie”, he huffed under his breath, and got back to the job. He slapped the fader down and resumed his havering outline of the days events, adding little personal insults in a jokey-jokey way about members of the fast growing crowd that he thought looked like weirdies fae the toon.
On board the Bourbon Explorer the crew were slavering with relief. Back on an even Keel things were easier to get done. Coke cans had built up in the control room, piled clinkily in the far corner along with the unconscious assistant steersman who’s handle had come off in his hand two days ago. Borkin Gliss unstrapped himself from the heavy metal commanders chair, eyeing the others shiftily, he broke wind violently- it smelled of death. He blew a foul wind, there was worse to come. He threw a shoe at a cowering junior officer- not his shoe, that would be fucking stupid.
He watched Kizzmitic Dammage of all the crew the most intently, he’d never liked him, never trusted him. He was too nice, no wait, nice wasnae the word- he was grey and dull but there was something about him, something conniving and sleakit’. He thrust his bundle into a drawer in his brain box. They would never know. As far as everyone on the ship was concerned and the upper ranks back in new Aberdeen this was a routine mission to a long forgotten planet out in the back of nowhere. The only eyebrows that were raised were his direct senior mission plotter, who had initially been puzzled by the target- very low gain stuff, especially for such a tight out fit as Borkin’s. The Bourbon Explorers hull was decorated with various medals and lurid murals- testament to hardcore campaigning and a solid “dinnae give a fuck” attitude. Borkin had countered the eyebrow with the vaguely plausible idea that this was a bit of a tourist run, a bit of a light hearted fuck about-combined with a bit of a break for the lads. He had been believed, or that’s what it looked like. The orders came through with the official stamp with no recommendations a few days after the meeting anyhow. Even when he pinned the orders to the ships light-box barely a mumble of derision was heard.

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