A man appears to make an unusual exit from this mortal coil.
I wasn’t having suicidal thoughts: I wasn’t thinking about anything much at all, as it happens, but I probably appeared to be a classic case of someone in need of salvation. If I could’ve stood outside of myself I’d have seen a hunched up shadow of a man. A thirty-something, going on sixty, with sour, downturned lips that have forgotten how to smile.
I expect I appeared to be perfect convert material for those who are inclined to save your soul: the marauding gangs of Born-Again Christians, Hari Krishnas and numerous scary others. I probably even smelt of self-pity. So it was no surprise when Mr Mephistopheles introduced himself and offered me a healing balm for all my troubles.
Normally, I’d have just walked right on by, but nothing was normal anymore. Normality had ceased three weeks before when Karen, my wife of four years, packed her bags and left with the wee one in tow. There was a hole inside me where normality had been; a hole that would’ve been raw and sore were it not for the cocktail of downers I’d fix myself up with every morning.
When Mr Mephistopheles approached me I was all clouds and marshmallow. He sidled up to me in a fluid movement, half-blocking my path, so that I would either have to side-step him or come to a halt. Being as spaced out as I was, the former wasn’t really an option, so I stopped without really realising what I was doing.
He was a pretty ordinary looking bloke. In fact, he was so ordinary, I couldn’t tell you now what colour his hair was. His presence was only tentative; and at first, I took him to be a surveyor of consumers, although absent of clipboard. It wasn’t until he spoke that I had him pegged as a proselytiser.
“It’s an unhappy world we live in, friend,” he said, “and I can see you’re struggling under your burden. Sometimes you don’t know which way to turn. Isn’t that true ?” I nodded, like a dumb animal, lost to the spell of the diazepam, which was beginning to come on strong. I think he took this to be assent, for he continued, “I can show you the way to a happier life. I can help you escape the woes of this world...”
“Ah,” I said, half in dream, half in jest, “I’ve got plenty of escape.” I took a pill bottle from my pocket and rattled it in front of him, mindless of the shoppers passing us by.
“I’m not talking about drugs,” said Mr Mephistopheles, “I’m talking about real escape.” He put his arm around my shoulder and walked me around the corner, through a grey concrete passageway, known by locals as Dead-End Alley. As we walked past the alcoholics anonymous, the drug rehabilitation centre, the single mothers’ drop in centre, the bookmakers and the pub, he gesticulated with his free hand, taking in a sweep of our location. “Look all around you. What do you see but desperation and despair? Look at these people,” he said, as if nobody could hear him, “their faces are painted with bitterness and disappointment. They are but ciphers in a landscape of drudgery and pain. Everything is grey and bled of colour here. What hope has anyone of finding happiness amongst all this?”
“None,” I replied, although I guessed his question was meant to be rhetorical. At the time though I wasn’t thinking about happiness. I was being swallowed by wave after wave of diazepam delirium. I wasn’t capable of thinking. Since arising, early that afternoon, I’d been popping 5mg tabs at irregular intervals; and every now and then my body would lurch, like a boat on a sudden swell, as the chemicals dissolved and made their way through my innards, into my bloodstream and finally, through the cramped passageways of my brain.
Mr Mephistopheles droned on and on, losing me in a monochrome universe of hopelessness, which became increasingly abstract as we walked and he talked on. He led and I followed, both in speech and geography, until we were standing on the Western edge of a twenty-acre square of undeveloped, grassy wasteland, which was known as The Wrecks because twenty years before, a few old, gutted mansions had stood there.
When we halted, Mr Mephistopheles asked me to stop staring at my feet. Of course, I didn’t realise I’d been doing so. I looked up and saw that he was pointing at a huge, pink castle, standing proud and tall in the middle of The Wrecks. It was a classic Walt Disney caricature, straight out of an enchanted kingdom. It certainly didn’t belong here. I knew this to be a fact, even in my current state of mind, although I failed to register any surprise, for the registering parts of my brain were temporarily out of order.
As we drifted across the grass, Mr Mephistopheles asked me if I could imagine a world without poverty, inequality, hate and war. Normally, I’d have said an emphatic no, but under the circumstances I wasn’t quite so sure.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Well, let me imagine it for you,” he replied, guiding me towards the castle, which seemed to loom taller and taller into the overcast sky the closer we got. I let out an involuntary whistle when we got to the moat. There was a thirty foot drop down to sludgy, alligator infested waters. I had a pang of vertigo, despite my brain being chemically swaddled.
“My office,” said Mr Mephistopheles, beaming magnanimously, “but don’t be fooled by looks: it’s all a construct.”
“Eh?” I said, incoherently.
“It’s all smoke and mirrors,” he replied. Then he took a remote control device out of his pockets and pressed a sequence of buttons. Directly across the moat from us a cast iron portcullis was slowly raised. After that, a narrow drawbridge was lowered down, coming to a rest just in front of us.
“Careful of your step now, “ said Mr Mephistopheles, “we don’t want you ending up down there with the alligators. They can be mean mothers, if they’re suddenly interrupted.”
It was a rickety old drawbridge, right enough, but we crossed it without incident: Mr Mephistopheles striding confidently; and me floating behind in his wake. I followed him across an empty, cobbled courtyard and into a doorway opposite. Then he led me through a labyrinth of faceless, low-ceilinged corridors into the bowels of the castle until we reached an ornate banqueting hall. We crossed that, went through an archway and up a spiral staircase to the top landing where there was a door with a brass nameplate, which read: Roger Mephistopheles (BSc, MA, MPhil), Dept of Relocation.
“Here we are,” he said, smiling and unlocking the door. “Not very grand, “ he continued, as he ushered me in, “but there you go.” He was right. It was a small, extremely inconsequential room, considering its grand location. If you didn’t know better, you’d have thought yourself to be in a portacabin. The walls were a grubby grey-white and the room was illuminated by an overhead neon light, which made a buzzing sound and flickered intermittently. There was precious little furniture: a non-descript office desk, two moulded plastic chairs, a filing cabinet and a free standing screen, the like of which you’d normally see in a doctor’s surgery.
“Please, sit yourself down,” said Mr Mephistopheles, offering me a chair, “take the weight off your feet and relax.” He himself sat down behind the desk and proceeded to rummage through a drawer. He pulled out a yellow folder and passed it to me. “It’s just a few photographs, but I think you’ll get the idea.” I attempted to open the folder, but hand to eye co-ordination was disintegrating as another 5mg of diazepam hit base. I dropped the folder from my lap and – if I recall rightly – it seemed to be that a pile of three-dimensional photographs of mostly naked people spilled out. I too spilled out with them. That is, I lost consciousness.
When I came to Mr Mephistopheles was standing over me. He was holding some sort of smelling salt solution under my nose. Whatever it was it was extremely strong for I came round very rapidly and all traces of diazepam doziness disappeared in seconds: in fact I felt more clear headed than I had in ages; and I had a distinct sense of well-being – something that had been lacking in me for longer than I could remember.
In the few seconds that it took me to come round I noticed that Mr Mephistopheles was stripped down to the waist. I did a double take, because running from his clavicle to his navel was a hideous scar that looked just like a giant vagina.
“Whoa, what’s in that smelly stuff you just gave me,” I said, “because I’m tripping out of my tits here.”
“No,” said Mr Mephistopheles, “you’re not tripping. It really is what you think it is.”
“You’re trying to fuck with my head now,” I replied, laughing somewhat nervously.
“No,” said Mr Mephistopheles, “it really is a vagina. It’s also a portal.”
“Have you ever heard of the theory that there are an infinite amount of universes, all co-existing within the same apparent physical space?”
“Well, it doesn’t matter, because it’s a bollocks theory. There are only two universes, actually. There’s this sad, miserable, godless excuse for a universe; and there’s another universe where everyone’s unbelievably happy. This portal here is the doorway between them,” he said. Then, he grabbed the giant vagina’s labial lips with both hands; and with some effort, pulled them apart so that a bright, yellow-ish light issued out.
I slumped down in my chair, feeling suddenly faint.
“Yes,” he continued, “through this doorway is a parallel universe ruled by the great Goddess of Happiness. There are no tenements, high-rise buildings, slums or shanty towns there: everyone lives in a bungalow with a front and back garden. The flowers in the gardens are always in bloom because it’s always summer there. There’s no violence because everyone’s happy. There’s no theft because everyone’s got what they need; and nobody wants what they don’t need. It’s as near to heaven as you could imagine.” He paused for effect. Then pulling the giant vagina lips further open, he leered at me, “Wanna take a look?”
“How d’you mean?” I asked, sheepishly.
“How d’you think?” he laughed. Then he stepped up to me, so that the lips of the vagina were barely three inches from my face. I laughed nervously and asked him if this was for real. My head was swimming with it. My brain felt like mush.
“Oh, this is for real, alright,” he said. Then he grabbed my jacket by the lapels and with a lurch, he leaned down over me, so that my head was pushed in between those giant labial lips. I had a moment of utter frozen panic. Then, as if I’d fainted and come to in another place, my head burst through, not into a giant womb, but into an altogether different landscape. I found myself looking at a grassy meadow, dotted with blood red poppies. About ten feet away from me, three slender, naked blonde girls were sitting on a blanket, eating a picnic. They were unbelievably beautiful, like something out of a Botticelli painting. Unobserved, I watched them for several minutes. Then, behind me, I heard a loud slurping noise; and everything went black. Next thing I knew Mr Mephistopheles was standing beside me, holding out a towel. He handed it to me and suggested that I dry myself off.
It was more a shower I needed. I towelled myself dry as best I could, but my hair was sticky with cunt juice; and the smell... God, the smell was overwhelming. It was also very distracting. I found myself getting hard down below. Very hard. And before I knew what I was doing, my hands were playing with the giant clitoris atop the giant vagina. It was a sort of instinctive reaction.
“Doesn’t even tickle,” said Mr Mephistopheles, “It’s all smoke and mirrors. So save your energy.” I dropped my hands to my sides. I also let my jaw drop some more as my brain began to engage and take in what my eyes had just seen.
“Where have I just been?” I asked, perplexed
“England, or rather, as the locals call it, Angel Land.”
“Well, let me explain,” said Mr Mephistopheles. “Historically, their country wasn’t invaded by a warrior tribe called the Angles. Instead, it was settled by a peace-loving clan of hippie-types called the Angels. So England, in their universe, is known as Angel Land. It’s the same land mass. You can walk it from Land’s Beginning to Cape Peace and the coastline is the exact same. But that’s where the similarity ends. The people in Angel Land live in harmony with each other and in harmony with the land. It’s like one big, happy, eco-friendly, utopian dream. Love is free. Contraception is 100% effective. The drugs are out of this world. There’s no such thing as a hangover or a come down. Everything you could possibly desire is there for the taking; and at no cost whatsoever. There’s no monetary system, no barter system, no nothing. Everybody does a little work, doing something they like doing; and it all hangs together in a way that anyone from your universe would consider miraculous. Well, it is miraculous! So waddaya think? Wanna go through? Wanna make the great escape?”
He didn’t lie, Mr Mephistopheles. It is indeed as it was described, this other England. No sooner had I been re-born through the lips of Mr Mephistopheles’ giant cosmic cunt than one of the good ladies from the picnic came and received me; and I mean that quite literally. It’s considered a politeness here. For when you come through the door from The Sad World (as it is known here) you undergo a sudden and rapid transformation. In fact, you could describe it as transubstantiation: all the energy of you is totally re-arranged. You are wiped clean. You become a blank slate again.
One of the side effects of this process is that you are suddenly ravenously horny. I’ve never felt anything like it in my life before. It’s like the worst kind of hunger you could ever experience. But, God, when you eat your first mouthful of Angel Land flesh, it’s like having Ambrosia toast with Nirvana sandwich spread followed with a little honey-glazed Manna with a maraschino cherry on top. What Sarah, my Botticelli Angel, gave me was so much more than a mere fuck. We have a word for it here, but it doesn’t translate too well into Sad World English. The nearest I could describe it as is “to be completed”, but that doesn’t quite encompass the pure, undiluted carnality of it.
I’ve been completed many times since I arrived here. Each time, it has been delicious, delightful and surprisingly different.
It’s true : the love really is free. If you feel attracted to someone, it’s the law of cosmic return that they are attracted to you. If you feel the urge to have sex with them, then that urge is passing through them simultaneously. You don’t even need to talk, if you don’t want: you just go up to the object of your desire and take them, as they take you. There is no fear or awkwardness. It is unbelievably simple.
As for the drugs, holy sweet Mother of God: you would not believe the quality and the variety of highs there are to be had here. It’s not for nothing that this country is known as the Land of Angels. I’ve eaten the heads off the hopi flower and been transported beyond paradise. I’ve chewed leaves from the kolaba bush and seen everything with a sudden tremendous clarity. I’ve swallowed a veritable feast of mushrooms and fungi and experienced hallucinations I couldn’t hope to explain. I’ve drunk fermented brews that have had me laughing like an idiot at nothing at all. I’ve taken pills and potions that would leave a witch gobsmacked. And just like Mr Mephistopheles promised, I have been neither hungover nor depressed after the event.
I’m happy, it’s true : happier than I ever thought I could be; and yet, I am not entirely content. There’s a part of me that cannot help but pine for the old days, when things were difficult and unpredictable. I miss waking up, not knowing if I should wear a t-shirt or an overcoat. I miss feeling uncomfortable or angry or scared. I miss the mess of emotions, the roller coaster ride of highs and lows as you fly by the seat of your pants through failing relationship after failing relationship. I miss the intensity of misery and joy: the journeys to the top of the mountain and the bottom of the ocean. Everything here is too safe, too sure, too secure. It’s almost bland in contrast to the Sad World. Here, in Angel Land, even the most mind blowing of “being completed” fucks is somehow incomplete without some good old gut-wrenching, post-coital misery. I kind of miss the way things were. They seemed more real. Sometimes even, I find myself looking out for Mr Mephistopheles, hoping he’ll appear and take me back to the old world, the sad world. I miss my misery. I don’t think I can take too much more happiness.