El Hombre Invisible shivers at the edge of the room as an outline. Static rolling in an ocean to a sculpted lip, like a glitch art whisper. People here don’t resolve themselves into one form. A swimming pool of genderfluid, with all the non-binary super-positional folk shuttling between possibilities.

AIM looked magnificent in his suit – it was requirement according to rumour. Haymon was kitted out to look like he really meant business. Hinge was freshly groomed. As they walked into the room they felt like they may have been misled.

‘Ah, look at the kitteh.’

‘Fuck you, pal. Put that mitt near me and you’ll lose a damned finger.’

‘Dude, can you dial it down? I’m here to try and find someone and you’re going to get us kicked out with all this Thundercat shit you’re pulling.’

‘Ho.’

‘Did you call me a …?’

‘Look, you don’t even need me past this point. I got you in – you wouldn’t even have seen

this Time Isolate if I weren’t here. Look, there she is.’

‘Why the hell is she sat on the floor like that?’

‘Low hanging fruit, Dragon. Those Mugwump’s are hung.’

‘I threw up in my mouth a little.’

‘Wait until you hit the tripwire and receive that fucked up telegram.’

‘Hinge, you are a foul mouthed kitten.’

‘Peace out, dude. I’ll be here to fold you out throughout the tesseract, when you need me.’

Olano, for a second stood before him, and then she wasn’t. A guy in bowler hat in front of a Moloko Bar.

‘You fagged? To begin, matey, let’s govoreet. I need to viddy your yarbles. Time for some ultraviolence, young chelloveck.’

AIM smiled. This was the level of banter that this narrative shell was capable of? Basically it wanted to fight – he supposed it was the only defence that an addict might be able to mount. He had liked Clockwork Orange but this facsimile wasn’t going to be as full of depth as the book any any means. In fact it was going to be a one punch fight if he was any judge of tough men.

‘Choodessny, let’s drat, my droog.’

The guy game at him with a crowbar, and he kicked him in the nuts, and for a second AIM thought that he had to fight by the rules of this place in order to beat it. Can I burn this guy to a crisp was the thought that flew across his mind as he opened his mouth and the furnace erupted forth. He was surprised as the blackened corpse span from the force of the blast of the fire pouring forth from him. Wow, a kinetic responsive adaptive environment … what a shame it was slaved to such boring purposes as this.

In spite of my rage. Room 101 accreted around him, as did the cage around his head and the rat too. It wanted to gnaw on him. And the bad reparsing of a character from 1984 wanted to torture him, or kind of didn’t, and was hardly capable of mustering up the energy to do anything else. He fried this bad facsimile too.

How had this Olano got the reputation she had? What was this? A bad joke? Or was it that she had once been something and this addiction to Mugwump jism had driven her down a spiral she could not climb back up from.

And there she was in all her ragged glory. Or the screensaver version of herself – it took a second longer for the Interzone interface to kick in. She looked terrible.

‘Who are you?’

‘Wow, someone that doesn’t know, who I am.’

‘I am generally preoccupied.’

‘Yes,I had heard.’

‘Well, it’s not like it’s hard to find out. You have a problem with it?’

‘I really don’t care. I have my own problems. I’m looking for Nimue, but I can’t find her by myself. But I was told that you were the person with the best idea of where she is.’

‘She’s buried. Obfuscated by knot-work. She is a bass note disappeared into a Capital Letter. Tied up and undone.’

‘Where?’

‘When?’

‘In the black and white. Blanc et Noir – The L’undone Boys. Travel through The Black Star Gate. Draw the map with a cut up; write the script with a cut up. Towers Open Fire, and the world disintegrates with The Yellow River Car Park falling into its own footprint; with The Pinnacle falling into its own footprint. You are a cracked actor at this stage of the game, trying to piece the mirror back together. There’s a camera watching; there’s a looking glass; The Kingdom In Reverse. Alice. A louse; Jeffgar Proop at the interstice will beckon you in, and Nimue will reveal something to you which you have forgotten. Something that leads you to the torn map. Something that might help you extinguish the fire, and turn AIM into hitting the target.’

She collapsed into hysterical laughter, rolling on the floor. They were in Interzone.

‘You are always in Interzone, because it is in you. The snake swallows its own tale.’

Haymon sat there, his sword drawn in front of him. Hinge sat there, an engine purring.

Olano swallowed the snake. The snake swallowed Olano. Ouroboros.

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