Silence. Blessed silence.
All of the sounds which had harangued my ears and battered my senses earlier in the day were gone, and I was left with nothing but the numbness of silence, the tranquility of peace. There were no more screams for mercy, no cries of pain, no pleading to be let free again, no begging for death. It had indeed been a busy day in the torture chambers at Holbrook Towers, but the day was ended, the heavy oaken doors locked once more for another night and I could start my evening with a period of peace and nothingness.
All of my senses had been deadened. I could see nothing, I could hear nothing and the only thing I could feel was the warmth of the salted water on my skin. It was a grand day indeed when I had installed my flotation tank, and I cherished each precious moment that I spent in the darkness.
On this particular evening, however, there was a problem. A problem which suddenly appeared before my eyes, lit by a tiny torch, I was not alone in the tank, there was another.
"Hello." He said.
I screamed. He screamed.
I'm not sure if you've ever had the displeasure of screaming at the top of your voice in a Flotation tank but I can assure you that the sound is quite deafening. Like a knitting needle being forced at speed into each ear. From utter silence came utter cacophony.
I reached for the handle and opened the door to the tank, an action which brought further pain, as the bright light of my spa room came flooding into both of our eyes. I leapt from the tank, my wet feet slipping on the stone floor causing me to drop to my backside with a thus which further set free all of the senses which I had spent the last hour attempting to shield. I was a little angry now.
I dragged the intruder out of the tank and dragged him out of the spa room and down the stone steps to my dungeon. This would not be allowed to go unpunished.
My intensive torture session with the intruder, is recorded as follows;
Take a comfy seat in the Iron Maiden and tell me a little about yourself, be quick man, your life hangs by a thread!
Oh, hi! Sorry, er, my name’s Niall. I thought… is this part of the conference? The lady said the panel discussion was this way. I’m supposed to be talking about my book and- sorry, I can’t… I can’t see you. It’s very dark in here.
The conference was last week. You're late. I killed everyone that attended as they displeased me. You are not doing so well, either. Luckily for you I love books, and am looking for a good read. What’s yours called? Sell it to me, make me desire it!
I - yes. Let me just sit - ouch. Okay. Er, my book’s called The Second Death of Daedalus Mole. It’s a very weird kind of space opera where a failed historian in a rusty spaceship tries very hard not to get into any adventures, while his fugitive passenger tries very hard to do the opposite.
It’s a black comedy of sorts, and really it’s about losing people, and about the horrible things that happen to men who let their feelings just fester away, thinking they aren’t turning themselves into ticking timebombs. It’s also about space lesbians debating whether you can bring into being a galaxy-wide socialist paradise through violent revolution without incurring an irreversible personal cost. This chair feels weird. Do you have another one? I think I’m stuck.
So your book is set in space, eh? Would you like a trip up there? And if so what would be the first bit of zero gravity high-jinx that you would involve yourself?
I’m not joking. I think I’m stuck. Space? Er, I mean, sure. Did you know you can survive in the vacuum of space for up to twenty seconds and afterwards just be basically fine? After that all sorts of bad things start to happen. My top tip for surviving in space is to exhale completely and immediately, otherwise the pressure differential will cause your lungs to rupture.
Also, I know zero-gravity sex is the first thing most people think of, but trust me when I say the novelty wears off fast and it soon becomes more frustrating than anything else. Even disregarding the momentous clean-up, the act itself is kind of like spinning around on a desk chair, upside down, trying to catch eggs being fired at you from a tennis ball machine. I’d much rather try my hand at zero-gravity rock climbing. You know, get some impressive-looking pictures for facebook, convince my old school friends that being a writer means more than just sitting in the dark drinking gin and hating yourself.
Death. It’s a funny old game. There you are one minute rewiring your castle so you can get Wi-Fi in every torture chamber, the next minute you’ve fried your internal organs, and you’re meeting some tall geezer with a scythe.
If you came face to face with the angel of death, how would you try to dissuade him from taking your soul? (BTW chess isn’t allowed)
An excellent question. Obviously I would challenge him to an extensive and devious series of drinking games of my own design, each more elaborate and confusing than the last. I expect to die again of alcohol poisoning after about ninety-five minutes, which will hopefully cause another ghost-instance of myself to appear and continue the challenge. I will repeat until I have enough concurrent ghosts that I feel confident in physically overpowering Death and escaping through the window.
Ok, your plan failed and you’ve been sent to another plane of existence. What would be your ideal destination in which to spend eternity? What kind of daily activities would you find most heavenly to do until the end of time?
I would like to be placed inside a hermetically sealed cube with a computer and a copy of Rollercoaster Tycoon.
I give to you the gift of animorphication (is that even a word?) You can turn into any animal you like but only for a twenty four hour period. A bit like Manimal from the 80s with Simon MacCorkindale. Which animal would you choose and why?
Have you ever heard of the ogre-faced spider? Dinopsis spinosus. Their name means something close to ‘the prickly one with the terrible visage’. Spiders in this family are nocturnal, because they have two huge eyes that are extremely sensitive to light. Every morning the sun comes and burns away their retinas, and every night they spend an hour rebuilding them.
They’re net-casters, which means they throw webs to catch their prey. They need good night-vision to track their prey, hence the eyes, but it still seems like an awful lot of energy to expend for a quirky hunting behaviour. That’s not the interesting bit though – the interesting bit is that their eyes collect light from a wider frequency range than ours.
Our nearest galaxy is called Andromeda, and doesn’t emits enough visible light for most of us to see it with the naked eye. The eye of dinopsis spinosus, however, has just the right properties. I choose that: an ogre-faced spider that can look at the night sky and see invisible galaxies.
Don’t you find phobias interesting? I love them. My favourite is Globophobia – the fear of balloons. What are your top three phobias and which phobia do you suffer from? Also if you could invent one, what would it be?
Tropophobia: the fear of moving or being moved, but also the fear of change. Most people with tropophobia don’t realise they have it until moments before they die in the same town they were born in.
Trypophobia: the fear of small, irregular patterns of holes or bumps. Trypophobes have strong aversions to honeycomb, anthills and coral; but what they fear most is photoshopped images online created specifically to trigger trypophobia.
Astrapophobia: the fear of thunder and lightning. This is one of a few phobias we see replicated in animals. Dogs are most likely to fear thunderstorms, and cats only very rarely. It’s also one of the rare phobias for which exposure therapy is considered effective.
I myself suffer from milleniophobia, a proposed new term referring to the creeping dread felt in response to rising global fascism.
If I could invent a phobia, I wouldn’t. Are you insane? What kind of monst- wait, I’ve got one. Anagnosidikobibliodaedalophobia – the fear of not reading a specific book with ‘Daedalus’ in the title.
That reminds me: if you’re one of my old Greek lecturers coming across the transcript of this interview: please stop sending me hatemail. I can’t read it.#
The world is doomed!!!!
An asteroid the size of Bristol is heading towards the earth at high speed. It is envisaged that it will impact in the Atlantic Ocean sometime next Tuesday (around mid-morning). There is no escape, we must accept our fate. What are you going to get up to? (Other than building a shelter under your kitchen table out of blankets and cushions).
Luckily I’m answering this on a Tuesday, so I’ve got a full week. Here’s the plan: I empty my bank account and buy a red velvet suit, a bottle of champagne and a violin case. I put the champagne in the violin case. Later that night I fake my death by livestreaming a mannequin being thrown off a bridge and get on a sleeper train to Paris; when I wake up I spend the day rolling around fine perfume shops and high-class boutiques, buying nothing, so the smell of wealth rolls off me when I enter a room.
That evening I inflitrate the Philharmonie de Paris, walking in like I belong there. I go backstage with my violin case, blending right in, and go after the renowned First Violinist, Viscount Heinrich Giles-Bowyer. I tempt him with champagne and he invites me to the sleaziest afterparty in Europe, to which we immediately abscond after the performance. In the morning I steal some fineries, some leftover champagne and Heinrich’s wallet, board a train to Berlin and do the same thing there. Repeat until Tuesday.
The New World Order have taken control of the planet. We now live in a totalitarian world where every part of our lives are controlled by our new benevolent father like leader General Farage. In one of his first moves cementing his status as world leader and greatest human that ever lived he has banned three things, with immediate effect;
• The Internet
• All television and films (other than state produced media)
What would you miss the most? And what piece of music do you think should be used by the resistance as their battle cry?
I would miss Twitter, which gives me the opportunity to be called a ‘cuck’ by teenage boys from all over the world. The resistance battle cry would have to be Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Cut to the Feeling’, because fascists can’t dance and are easily intimidated by clubland bangers.
You have entertained me. I may let you leave here with all your limbs intact. Tell me where in the World Wide Web I might find you? Do you Blog? Tweet? Insta? Snapchat? Any other sites or places where I might be able to stalk you when the mood takes me?
For briefer, more bearable snippets of the stuff I’m giving you here, follow me on Twitter @Niall_Slater. It’s my sad duty to tell you I also have a terrible website I made myself at niallslater.com, which features a mailing list so that I can send people long-form nonsense at far-apart intervals.
His novel certainly sounded like my particular cup of tea, and I would encourage you to give his campaign your support and pre-order your copy today (if only so that I can get my copy).
I let him go on his way, with the warning that if he wished to visit me again, he should try not hiding in the flotation tank, as my heart could not take another shock like that.
The link to his campaign is here - https://unbound.com/books/the-second-death-of-daedalus-mole go visit it, have a read, and give him your support.
If you have enjoyed this interview, and the others which I publish every week, then please support my own project at www.unbound.co.uk/books/domini-mortum
If you would like to enter the torture chamber yourself, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org