Article: 288540 of talk.bizarre
From: "Nikolai Kingsley" <>
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: the Implement
Date: Sun, 1 Dec 1996 00:54:24 +1100
Organization: anarchartists
Lines: 430
Message-ID: <01bbdec5.fe60c920$>

The Implement

for artemis and pumpkin

"It's a strange feeling you don't get from wielding knives."
 - after I first held a replica pistol


Being one of those alternative types, I didn't pay a lot of attention to
the media, so perhaps I missed some subtle warning signs; even so, the
rapidity of it surprised me. My friends used to joke amongst themselves
that we never were living in a democracy, but when they started arresting
us simply because of the way we dressed, I for one was somewhat jolted out
of my complacency. The old joke of "Don't blame me – I didn't vote for
them" became less funny every day. I carefully modified my behaviour to
escape prosecution and watched with an increasing sense of unreality as
the trappings of a police state suddenly sprung up around us.

It didn't help to protest, either. I was going to take part in a rally,
and if I hadn't been delayed by a broken-down tram, I would have been
arrested along with the rest of my friends. I watched edited highlights on
the television that evening. No mention of what happened to them; if you
called the police and asked, you were told not to waste their time and
hung up on. None of us dared to complain in person.

Jonathan Beffrey seemed to be behind it all. A government minister; a
fundamentalist christian evangelist, a homophobic, misogynistic racist gun
enthusiast. I'd once joked that he only needed to start selling plutonium
to the French to complete his set of undesirable characteristics. I shut
up when he started doing just that a few days later.

It had gotten to the point where I couldn't stand to watch the man on
television; his smile seemed (to me, at least) so fake that if he shook
his head it'd fall off. I would have thought that a child of six could see
through his lowest-common-denominator appeals and arguments, but it was as
if he had hypnotised everyone. You didn't even dare criticise the man in
public unless you wanted to be verbally abused, or even physically
assaulted (as I found out once, the hard way).

I couldn't help thinking of Jello Biafra as they started putting the gays
in camps, "for the protection of the community". Armoured personnel
carriers were parked at major intersections. Random house-searches were
conducted without warrants. I saw people being dragged off the street into
police vans for no obvious reason. Certain book stores were closed down.
New laws were passed every week, increasing the number of things they
could put you away for. Certain parts of record stores were suddenly
empty. Certain radio stations went off the air without warning. I didn't
dare think "Well, all we need now is TV cameras on every street corner,
watching us all the time" for fear that they'd do it.

I watched as the closest thing to an anti-Beffrey movement was
"disappeared", the leaders arrested and given media attention as
"terrorists", the lower-level cadres simply vanishing, supposedly to the
concentration camps. They actually called them that. Beffrey went on TV
and explained how they weren't executing dissidents and these camps
couldn't be compared to the ones run by the German Socialists during the
second world war. No-one dared make jokes about it as every copy of Pink
Floyd's video, "The Wall" vanished from video libraries, along with a lot
of other films. All this in the space of about six months. I couldn't
believe it; I would have gone to see a psychiatrist about it if the public
health service hadn't been more or less scrapped.

My few friends who hadn't been arrested – those clever enough to disguise
their non-mainstream natures – would meet every so often under the guise
of "prayer meetings". We were praying, all right; praying that they didn't
start forcing people to attend church at gunpoint.

There were five of us. Me, a part-time employee at the Post Office; Gary,
a very carefully disguised homosexual television technician; Jennifer, who
was his legal wife but who was passionately in love with Emma, a goth
Wiccan priestess who worked at the local newsagent's (now that the holes
from her many piercings had closed – fortunately, her many and elaborate
tattoos were hidden by her clothing) and Paul the Discordian (who
alternated his attention between me and Gary) and worked in a local bar,
one of the few officially sanctioned releases allowed to straight

We'd drink beer, listen to our alternative CDs at very low volume (in case
the neighbours should complain and call the police) and argue about what
we could do. The system wasn't set up to give the overwhelming impression
that resistance was useless; they didn't need to. They weren't concerned
with putting the fear of God into dissenters; they simply arrested them.
After seven such meetings, the best we could come up with was to move to
another country, if they'd let us.

"This doesn't help the people already in the camps," Gary pointed out.

Paul (currently the drunkest of all of us) retorted hotly, "There has to
be some legal means of… um…" His argument dried up when he saw the look
Gary was giving him.

I glanced at Emma. She'd been silent all evening, occasionally taking sips
of tea but seeming lost in thought. She noticed me noticing her, leaned
back in her chair and said quietly, "Full moon tomorrow night."

I raised my eyebrows to indicate that she should continue. "I thought I'd
do a ritual… ask the Goddess what to do."

"You aren't going to do it here?" Paul asked nervously – we'd been meeting
at his house.

She smiled and shook her head. "In the privacy of my own bedroom. Although
I'd like one of you to be there if you can."

I'd never been to Emma's place before; a two bedroom flat on the first
floor above a christian youth resource centre. I could appreciate how
galling it was for her to have gangs of pious teenagers singing banal
pseudo-pop hymns below her, four times every week; I hoped she had a good
set of headphones.

The main lounge-room looked decidedly normal, as was only sensible; couch,
television, stove, refrigerator. The only non-straight touch was a large
poster of k.d. lang next to the 'fridge. Her bedroom, on the other hand,
looked like a cross between a goth nightclub and the Sybil's cave,
black-painted walls with arcane posters and a small altar in one corner. I
inhaled the aroma of incense with pleasure. She sat cross-legged on the
bed, one black-stockinged knee poking through an uneven rent in her long
black dress, mixing something in a small black ceramic bowl. I approached
and sniffed; it was dizzying. It smelled like smoke and forests and
rain-damp soil and human sweat. The aroma became more prevalent when she
added a pinch of the stuff to the top of a broad white candle to her left.
She shuffled back on the bed until she was sitting up against the wall,
framed by an air-brush-art poster of a dark-haired goddess metamorphosing
into a panther. They seemed to hang above her, as if she were part of some
equation: Goddess times Panther equals Emma. With a gesture, she invited
me to sit on the other end of her bed, and after removing my shoes, I did

She took both my hands in hers, gentle touch of cool fingers adorned by a
variety of rings with dark stones and smiled at me warmly. I smiled back
uncertainly; she closed her eyes, her smile grew broader and she laughed.

"Do you trust me?" she asked.

"Oh, implicitly." She opened her eyes again and the pupils seemed huge,
candle-light glimmering in their depths; hypnotic. The rest of the room
seemed to fade from my peripheral vision, and I hardly noticed when
something jabbed into my arm; almost absently I looked down and saw that
she'd made a deep cut in my inner forearm, directing a stream of blood
into the bowl, mixing it in and passing me a dark purple scrap of cloth to
staunch the wound. I sat and watched silently as she mixed it, stirring
first one way and then the other, pausing every so often in concentration,
as if she were multiplying large numbers in her head.

She put down the pestle and held the bowl out towards the window with her
left hand, staring at me intently. Somewhat unnerved by her attention, I
closed my eyes and inhaled the heady scents around me then looked at the
bowl; moonlight was streaming in through the window and falling onto the
bowl's contents.

Presently, she replaced the bowl in her lap, murmured something too quiet
for me to make out then lifted the bowl to her lips and gulped the
contents down. She dropped the bowl, spilling some of the stuff on her
bed-quilt, then retched and flung her body back against the wall, gasping.
I grimaced in sympathy; whatever it was obviously tasted dreadful.

I sat there wondering if I should get her a drink of water or hug her or
clean up the mess when she looked straight at me… and it wasn't her. I got
the impression that she was a carved ivory figurehead at the front of a
huge, ancient ship made of black wooden beams, bearing straight for me;
for some inane reason, a line from the Sugarcubes' song "Cold Sweat"
popped into my head:

This side of the blackest meadow
I'll make my winter dwelling…

My eyes widened and I swallowed nervously.

Again, she took both my hands in hers, brought them up to her lips and
brushed my fingertips against them. "This is going to be very dangerous
for you if you don't succeed," she said in a hoarse voice (yet
unmistakably her own). "Do you want to risk it?"

I thought about the things I'd seen in the past few months, of the people
I'd known who were probably in camps; that image kept coming back to me,
my friends pressed up against cyclone fencing, their fingers poking
through, their eyes pleading. "Whatever it is, I'll do it."

She held her arms out; somewhat awkwardly, I swivelled around to kneel
before her. She placed her hands on my cheeks, brought me closer and
kissed me, passing some of the stuff to my tongue with hers. It had just
made her gag; it hit me like a truck.

I spent the rest of the night there, sprawled on her bed somewhere between
waking and dreaming. The few times I got anywhere near consciousness I
wanted to crawl off to the toilet and vomit. She knelt next to me the
whole time, occasionally wiping my forehead with something cool and damp.
At one point I feebly tried to push her hand away under the delusion that
she was daubing my face with the bloody scrap of cloth; I imagined that
people on the street would see me, see the blood on my face and know...
"I've been marked… you're marking me…" I repeated over and over

"Hush… they won't see. They won't know. This is between you and me and the

I laughed with relief and lapsed back into black dreams where three
shadowy shapes told me what had to be done and how to do it.

I awoke abruptly some time the next morning with that vile taste still in
my mouth, lying on Emma's bed, the quilt wrapped around me; a dull pain in
my forearm and odd phrases at the edge of my perception. I lay there for a
while, blinking, deliberately not straining to hear them (knowing that, as
with dreams, chasing them would drive them away). Emma had wrapped a
corner of the quilt around herself and gone to sleep. She looked like a
small kitten; innocent and defenceless. I was taken with a desperate urge
to wrap my arms around her and keep the outside world from harming her
(which was weird, her being four years older than me); at the same time,
something started nagging in the back of my mind, as if I'd made an
appointment with someone, forgotten it but knew it was scheduled for

I was staring off into space, trying to remember whatever it was I'd
forgotten to do when Emma woke up and hugged me tightly. She whispered in
my ear: "There's some things you have to do today."

I shivered and rubbed my forearm. "That was a very dark ritual."

She shrugged. "These are dark times, dear."


An hour later I was in the local gun-shop. I'd never been in one before;
it had the same slightly wrong, forbidding feeling as an x-rated bookshop.
I stared open-mouthed at the racks of dull metal things that had no other
purpose than killing things. Hundreds of different kinds of killing
devices. I looked at a gaudy ammunition chart and thought of that old
joke, "Guns don't kill people – exit wounds do."

Somehow, it wasn't as funny in here.

I'd imagined that people might wonder what someone like me was doing in
here, but I saw that there already was a complete cross-section of society
browsing the aisles; everyone from baby boys to grandmothers. I watched as
a mother (with three small children hanging onto the hem of her
windcheater) selected a shotgun with a disturbingly practiced air. When
she sighted down the length of the barrel and smiled in knowing
appreciation, I shuddered.

I went down to the back of the shop, past the "eight items or less"
counters, to the specialty section. I casually dismissed the pimple-pocked
twenty-year old youth and asked to speak to someone who knew something
about antique weapons. He fetched a balding, unshaven man in his forties
with the cautious look of a suspicious small-town sheriff.

"I'm looking for an action," I began, speaking calmly, no idea where the
words were coming from or what they meant, "either an 'O3 Springfield with
a non-rotary hook extractor," he looked surprised, as if a mouse had
entered his store and wanted to buy a cat, "or, preferably a '98 Mauser."

"A… a Mauser?"

"Yeah. An old production technique one if I can get it. With the inner
shroud cleared on the right only, not broached on both sides." What the
fuck was I saying? It took all of my concentration to stop myself from
laughing out loud. Balding sheriff stared at me like I'd just grown two
extra heads and they were both poking their tongues out at him.

"Bolt action?" he asked faintly. For some reason, his asking me this made
me feel indignant.

"Of course."

He stared at me for almost thirty seconds, counted off by the
almost-painful hammering of my heartbeat, then said slowly, "I think we've
got one out the back somewhere…"

I smiled thinly and placed an uneven stack of twenty dollar bills on the
counter. One magickal principle that even I knew; you don't haggle when
you're purchasing your tools.

I took it home and examined it, an ugly squared-off lump of metal with
some engraved curlicues along the sides, a sad attempt at decorating a
killing thing. I saw now that "an action" was the business part of a
rifle, the bit where the bullet went in, that other bit that you pulled
back to load the bullet in and the trigger. I'd purchased twenty-three
bullets and a gun-barrel to go with it, refusing the first two that he'd
shown me as inappropriate for my needs. I was distantly impressed with the
fact that I knew how the pieces fitted together despite the fact that I
knew nothing about guns. While going through the phone-book for a place I
could rent a small truck from, I was humming the chorus from that U2

"She moves in mysterious ways…"

Late the next morning I drove the truck up onto the footpath and over the
thick wooden cross outside the local church, snapping it off at the base.
I dragged it home, hacked it apart with a hatchet and carved a rifle-stock
from the upright, occasionally pausing to test the rifle action against it
for size and fit. My bedroom floor was covered with wooden shavings; I
took it as a sign that I'd gotten it right first time. I thought about
joining a rifle club and getting some basic lessons on which end of the
gun the bullets came out of, but I didn't feel any particular urge to act
on this thought.

We met again the next evening at Gary's place – Paul had been "officially
detained" because someone at work had asked him why he was wearing a
soft-drink can ring-pull tab on a string around his neck, and he was
stupid enough to say it was a Discordian thing. He was busy trying to
explain Discordianism to the local police without sounding like a mad
terrorist. I wished him well.

At some point during the evening, I took everyone aside separately and
asked them for some small, personal thing made of metal. Gary gave me two
earrings, one of which had belonged to Paul; Jennifer gave me a Celtic
design key-ring decoration; Emma smiled at me knowingly, slipped a ring
off her middle finger and handed it to me. I prised the amethyst from the
ring with a kitchen knife, handed it back to her and added the bar post
(that I'd planned on putting in my nipple piercing when I'd gotten up
enough nerve to have it done) to the collection.

Gary was watching television in the living room; I wandered past and heard
(but didn't really hear) that Jonathan Beffrey was going to be opening a
shopping centre nearby in two day's time. Just enough time to cast one
bullet-head from the combined metals of our personal objects.

For the next forty-eight hours, I continued to live my normal life.
Occasionally odd memories surged up within me, but I dismissed it,
thinking that there would be plenty of time to remember whatever it was I
was supposed to be doing. I certainly didn't plan on turning up to the
shopping-centre opening, and I know Emma hadn't planned on being there; we
just happened to be passing, and I just happened to have my home-made
assassin's rifle with me.

There was a sizeable crowd of people around the wooden platform that had
been set up for the opening ceremony; typically, the whole thing was a
cross between an overblown American political convention and a demented
Baptist revival meeting. They even had a choir.

There were armed police everywhere, and after a while I had to wonder why
none of them asked me why I had a rifle slung over my shoulder; it was as
if they couldn't believe or take in the fact that there was a
seventeen-year-old girl with a gun wandering around. It made me feel like
Bilbo Baggins wandering through Mordor. I was moving through a fog, the
other people in the crowd reduced to distant silhouettes. I walked past
Emma; we made eye contact briefly, and there was a hint of that presence
I'd sensed in her room, reassuring me, lending me strength. Goddess knows
I didn't feel that I needed it; this was all seeming very easy.

Suddenly I was standing before the main podium, with only a few people
between me and the place where he'd be standing. I lowered the rifle,
holding it by the stock, the fingers in my left coat pocket occasionally
feeling for the single bullet, to make sure it hadn't slipped out of a
hole. I just stood there, successfully emulating the sheep around me,
occasionally shifting from one foot to the other.

There was a bustle of people behind a row of helmeted riot police, and all
too suddenly, there he was. Television didn't do him justice; he looked,
if it was possible, even slicker and less trustworthy in real life. He
approached the podium, put his hand over the microphone; turned to say
something to one of his cronies; he laughed nastily and turned back to the
crowd with a look that (to me, plainly) said, "What a bunch of suckers."

I didn't wait for him to start speaking; I took the bullet out of my
pocket, fitted it into the breech, made that "ka-chunk" motion with the
bolt and raised the gun. He was less than three metres away, the spot
between his eyebrows framed in the notched sight at the end of the barrel.
I took a breath and my finger tightened on the trigger –

– and he looked down and saw me. We were two people in a forest of
department store mannequins; no-one else moved; no-one else breathed or
made a sound. We were joined by a line that began just under my right
cheekbone and ended between his eyes. He didn't look evil or threatening;
he was just another politician with more greed than morals.

I thought of my friends in the camps. I thought about Paul's easy laugh
which I probably would never hear again. Most of all, I thought about what
would happen to Emma if they ever found out about her bedroom and what she
did in there. Beffrey's camouflage fell away and his true nature flared
through; he wasn't just another politician and he wasn't an Evangelist; he
wasn't even a christian. He was something else, something completely
outside the sphere of human existence, some alien saboteur whose sole
purpose was to keep us ignorant and frightened and submissive for a
council of unknowably distant overlords. He was something that H.P
Lovecraft's villains would summon, not knowing the folly of their acts.
And he knew who I was and why I'd come here today. Suddenly the gun felt
impossibly heavy in my hands and my body temperature plummeted. He sneered
down at me, sensing that he'd won.

It was that sneer more than anything that gave me the strength to bring
the rifle back up. The ugly lines on his ugly face seemed to flare like
neon as the implications of that sneer burned into me; he was saying,
"You're only a girl. You're just a weak girl and there isn't a damned
thing you can do to stop me."

My eyes widened with rage; in the hush around us, I snarled at him, "You
arrogant... patriarchal... old fuck," and pulled the trigger.

The shot was startlingly loud. It woke them all from their daze; they
glanced about with the same half-frightened, half-bemused look of
sleepwalkers who find themselves wearing their pyjamas out in the street.
I almost panicked, then; the spell had been broken, and here I was holding
a smoking rifle –

Someone stepped forward, took the gun from me and handed it to none other
than the balding man from the gun-shop (and he looked just as dazed as
everyone else) It was Emma. She grabbed my arm and took three steps back,
positioning us behind a lost-looking policeman cradling his riot helmet in
his arm. People around us started moving again; someone shouted for an

Emma snorted. "Ha. That'll do him a lot of good. Like they need an
ambulance to scrape his brains off the ground."

I stared at her, wide-eyed, breathless. "Did I… did it –"

She gave me a flash of her smile – the one I'd first seen the night of her
ritual – before resuming the mask of concerned and slightly scared
citizen. "Oh, yeah. You did, and it did. Hey, just before – I mean, just
as you were lining up… did you get the feeling that he was a kabuki mask
with no-one behind it?"

I nodded, still shaking from the rage I'd felt. "Oh, yeah. 'Touch the
Puppet Head'. Jeez, that's scary."

She hugged me openly, not caring if the people around us noticed. "I get
the feeling that things are going to change for the better."

She was right.