Babylon Dreams

Michael Clarke, 1997

It had been a good night so far. Him and Rozzer and Baz. Three mates, out for a few beers and an oggle. They hadn't scored, but he'd got the number of a real nice bird they'd met in Kinrays. Now, though, it seemed cold, dark and quiet.

How the hell had they got here?

They were in a tunnel. A small, narrow tunnel that ran somewhere under the city. They'd been in Kinrays and Baz had said he knew a shortcut back to the station. They'd slipped out of a back door and across a parking lot. It had been bitterly cold outside. Then they'd gone into the underpass.

Yeah, right. The underpass. A small city down there. Cardboard boxes stacked around and over each other, each holding some poor homeless bastard. And the smell. Jesus. How could people live that that?

They'd asked them for money, for food, for anything. Rozzer had told them to fuck off. Then the old woman had appeared. She'd called them bad boys and said that they should mend their manners before something nasty happened to them. They'd laughed and called her an ugly old bitch and a slut. She'd started muttering them, a crazy, insane stream of jabber, but a few of the worlds had seemed somehow, familier. Even now the names were rattling around his skull, lurking in his subconscious. Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Tsathoggua, and, for some reason, Elvis, the King. Crazy old lady.

Maybe they'd got turned around up there, or Baz was more pissed than he looked. They'd turned left, amongst the boxes and walked. Then run. Why had they run? Well, Baz's shortcut be fucked, they were well and truely lost now.

The tunnel was maybe 10' wide and 7' high in its center, where its arched walls met overhead. The walls appeared to be made of stone. Rough cut stone blocks. So this was a part of the old city. There were intermittent electric lights strung along it and it stank of garbage, urine and worse. Strange green stuff was growing on the walls. Still, drunk as they were, they staggered onwards.

A while later they reached the last light. Darkness beckoned ahead. Behind them, far behind them, was the underpass. No way they were going back there to be laughed at. None of them could remember seeing a turn anywhere either. So onwards they went.

As they walked they became aware of a chill in the air. A deep, unnatural, subterranian chill. A chill that sent shivers rippling up their spines. They stopped, nerves and senses alert. Roz lent against the wall and noisily threw up. They moved on.

Soon they could hear music, a deep, electric, tribal rhythm. As the got closer they could make out flashing lights, neon signs. Thinking they had reached the far end of the tunnel they rush onwards.

The tunnel opened into a small plaza. One wall was occupied by what looked like a massive cinema, the Babylon. With flashing lights and pulsing music it lured them within. Just before they entered, Jimbo had a look around. The plaza was still undergound and the rest of the buildings around it had a strange, unfinished look. Feeling a little uneasy he went in, after his mates.

Inside they walked up to the ticket booth. Big signs advetized 24 hour continual screenings. They all got tickets, at a tenner a piece. Expensive. Whatever they were showing it had better be good, or there'd be some split heads around here before they were done.

Around the corner they were met by a tall, black girl, clad in a tight, short leather dress. She was very tall and in the red light her skin looked like burnished ebony. She smiled, crimson teeth in scarlet gums. 'Tickets please?'

They gave her their tickets. 'What's showing?'

She smiled again, slowly tearing their tickets in half. 'I'm sure you'll like it. It's the greatest show ever.' She gave them the ticket stubs back. 'Follow me and I'll show you to your seats.' She turned and walked deeper into the building.

The followed her, chatting and talking, making suggestive remarks about her. They walked for quite some time, her alluring figure always ahead of them. They didn't pay much attention to where they were going, for their eyes were watching the roll of her buttocks and the ever so short bottom of her dress. There seemed to be a tatoo on her inner thigh, a strange pattern with seven coloured circles, somehow overlapping. They never got a good look at it.

Eventually hey reached a theater. She held the door open and gestured inside with her torch. 'You seats await gentlemen.' The filed in past her. 'Enjoy the show.' The door closed behind them.

In the flickering, crimson light of the screen they looked around. Most of the seats were occupied, but there seemed something a little strange about some of the figures. So still and glassy eyed. Rozzer found some empty seats. They sat.

They looked at the screen. They saw beyond it. Azathoth.

The swirling, complex patterns of the firey, burning chaos beyond filled their minds, twisting and contorting their thoughts. Dimensions beyond sight contourted their minds, warping them beyond all hope of repair. The sound of crazed piping came unto their ears. Open mouthed, drooling and gibbering they sat there, watching the insantiy that was the universe unfold before them.

Outside the door the tall, black girl laughed, stars like diamonds glittering in the infinite depths of her eyes.