Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Witch’s Hat

Previously, on SubGrubStreet:

Convinced that the sudden weird snowstorm predicted in The Shoutyknackers File was proof of O’Mailer’s return, Nathan rushed out into the street only to be chased by the Old Man of Hoy. Hit by a car that just happened to turn up, Nathan caught sight of some strange mound-like person before he passed out.

Oh, swirling mists before my eyes.

In and out.


Recurring image from childhood. The witch’s hat in the playground, that rotating climbing frame thing that was so dangerous that Health and Safety had them all melted down by 1980. We used to pretend we were training for NASA.

Going round and round and the houses on the estate getting faster and faster around us. Off I flew. Bang. Concrete. Black. Like now. Keep thinking about that moment to hide from the pain in my legs.

The white ceiling.

The pain.

Witch’s hat.



I’m not in anything good, like Wanderer in a Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich. I am stuck in a clichéd description of a coma. Excellent.

The best things happen to those who get run over in the snow.

The car seemed to come from nowhere.

I don’t know how long this has gone on. A couple of days, maybe. Perhaps more. Every now and again I sense some shape beside me. Before I can focus there’s a jab in my arm.

I’m on the witch’s hat again, perched on its shelf-like seat, the tips of my school shoes skimming the reinforced concrete beneath (and this would have been the seventies, so there was probably a pit beneath the witch’s hat with lava, anthrax, rabies and Boat People living in it). I go round and round. Mists swirl.

Down, down, deeper and down and now I’m rising up into the sky and there’s a jab.


Everything plays at the wrong speed.

I come up good and strong. Spark awake. I am lying in a big brass bed with white sheets and pillows. It is light outside. I can see snow-covered fields. Mountains in the distance, though. I can’t be in Norwich. And then I realize. I can’t move my legs. I can’t move my arms. There are restraints attached to both. I drag and strain but I can’t move.



Riding the witch’s hat. It rises and dips as it spins and you sweep into and away from its maypole-like central pillar. It’s a retrofuturist maypole, that’s what it is. No love lost in the age of machines. O’Mailer’s on the other side to me, just sitting there, his stout frame distorting the orbit of the witch’s hat, spinning it out of control. Swirling mists.


A big white face looms over me. She is holding up a hypodermic syringe.

‘Hello there, love puppy, I’m your number one fan.’

Oh no … It’s Sharon Plum (*)

To Be Continued . . .

* See Touching the Starfish, pg. 11 and pgs 503 – 523. Most of Touching the Starfish really. There’s an especially upsetting scene on page 278 and another one on page 360.


Word Count – 3571

Sales – 0

Insults – 1

Next Week: Misery

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