Jason Zodiac: What Time Is Love?

Taken from ‘The Jason Zodiac Files’ Volume One, by Jamie Carter.



The present day …

The main Fugue Magazine office was busy as ever, crowded with desks and shelves, partitions, bookcases, computers, plants, piles of paper, photocopiers, vinyl albums, CDs, DVDs, photographs and filing cabinets. I threaded my way through the maze, nodding and saying hello to my fellow hacks, who slapped me on the back and asked me how I was – after the nasty bout of food poisoning that put me in the hospital.
“Jamie,” Mimi said, looking up from her terminal.
“Mimi,” I said, sitting at my desk and squinting at the little yellow Post-Its decorating the side of the screen.
“They say our journalists are full of shit,” Mimi said in her hazy voice. “You’re the living proof, I suppose.”
“Your motherly concern is duly noted,” I said, logging onto the system.
“Your Deep Throat has been very busy, you know. He rang again this morning.”
I looked at the most recent Post-It. It said 10:00. That was about five minutes away.
Mimi got up and walked around her desk to stand in front of mine, a pair of reading glasses in her hands. “What’s all this about?”
“All what about?”
“These mysterious phone calls. I’m beginning to think you’re being headhunted by the other celebrity rags.”
I shrugged. “This contact seems to know where a lot of old Jason Zodiac material is. He may even know if Jason’s still alive. But he’s not giving it to me all at once, just in bits and pieces.”
“Hence the paper chase.” Mimi sniffed. “Did David tell you about the new commission?”
I sighed. “Yes, he did.”
“Then don’t waste too much time on this Jason mullarkey. It’s old news, a mystery with no solution. The millenium’s changed so fast that the Nineties are shrouded in mystery now. It’s piss easy, Jamie! All you have to do is to write for the target demographic.”
Peter looked up from his screen. “I’ve still got clothes from the Nineties.”
“You’ve still got clothes from the Eighties,” I shouted back at him, “especially your underwear.”
Mimi was about to say something else when the phone at my desk rang. An outside line. I picked up the receiver. The line was terrible; full of crackling static.
“Mr. Carter?” It was a male voice, sounding very cultured and refined.
“Yes. Is that Mr. King?” I felt incredibly self-conscious saying that. I hoped he wasn’t going to say yes, and you are my knight or some such bollocks.
“Yes. Listen, Mr. Carter, I have something new for you. I cannot speak long; go to the following location.”
“Go to …? Now, just a minute!”
“The A604. There is a telephone box just by the turn-off towards Clapham Wood. Be there at eight o’clock tonight. I shall call you.”
“Mr. King, that’s -”
“The A604. Telephone box. Clapham Wood,” the voice repeated. “I have names for you.”
The line went dead. I looked at the phone, and then over at Mimi’s grinning face. “More running around?”
“Yes,” I said grumpily, writing the information down on a memo and thrusting it into my shirt pocket.
Mimi winked. “Make sure you’re close to a toilet.”



June, 1988 …

Inside the warehouse, it’s mayhem. There are giant snow nets, camouflage nets and parachutes pinned to the ceiling and around the walls, rippling with trippy visuals from projectors somewhere. The walls are covered in florescent colored card and ultraviolet spray paint. The DJ’s behind a semi-circle of car tyres to keep the stage and turntable from being jostled by the dancers. Around the walls at floor level are cages and behind the bars are inflatable animals illuminated by the black light lamps – gorillas, dragons , Mickey Mouse.
I attempt to shout my feelings of joy to Mandy but with her usual flair for madness, she jumps onto a nearby window ledge. She proceeds to dance along the wall jumping and swinging from window sill to another. I can’t say it makes me feel very ecstatic, because my first rush has peaked and it’s time for another E, but at least it’s fascinating. A bouncer looms out of the smoke machine smog, but I shout at him “It’s only Mandy”, and he shrugs and lets her get on with it.
I’m throwing shapes in the air, no idea what I’m doing just knowing that it feels good, when a sampled vocodered voice rips through the warehouse, a voice modulated so low in the bass that it makes my whole body vibrate down to the bowels:
They say we are dead men …
They say we are dead men …

Then the beat cuts out all together and the computerized voice fills the air:
Everyone who has the mark shall live
Thousands of ravers put their hands in the air and this fucking mental howl from thousands of throats rocks the party.
Pete and Julie have disappeared into the crowd and for a while I dance by myself, feeling the beat surge through me and the sampled voices speak to me like messages from outer space, and I watch my hands make patterns in the smoke and the strobes and the laser light. My body feels so light, throwing my arms around, thinking of new and funky moves that the music gives to me.
The next time Mandy appears she runs up and snogs me and oh God she tastes like heaven, and she’s wearing a pair of bunny ears and shaking a pair of maraccas that she’s produced out of nowhere, dishing out her own musical insanity. Maraccas mixing in with Frankie Knuckles. A crowd gathers around us clapping and cheering. How sweet. She’s a nutter, that Mandy. She’s gorgeous.
I never realized life could be as good as this.



Picture courtesy of Boris Shenton


SCENE 20 Cornwall – ext.
JASON and YVETTE are in his Lotus Elan, driving down a sleepy country lane. They slow down and stop.
YVETTE: According to that puzzle you solved, this should be the way to Cadbury Castle.
JASON: I’m afraid it isn’t.
YVETTE: I think we zigged when we should have zagged!
JASON: No, we’re not lost. We’ve been detoured by the Church With No Name … they must have swopped the signposts around.
YVETTE: The Church? Those meanies you were talking about?
JASON: Yes. Look … those trees, the branches are waving around but there’s no breeze.
YVETTE: That humming sound … it’s like a bell, ringing deep underground. What … (screams) Jason, the ground’s moving! Is it an earthquake?
JASON: No, it’s something much worse.
A voice echoes through the air, and they look around to see where it’s coming from.
VOICE: By my troth, ’tis indeed Master Zodiac. The cunning man. The dark man from the dark house, and charming as ever.
JASON: The landscape is talking! Very interesting.
VOICE: Yes, I am the landscape, Master Zodiac, and you are but an ant crawling upon the dirt. Tarry, and I shall appear in a form more pleasing to you.
In front of the car, a mound of earth appears, like a mole burrow. A head breaks through and a face appears – a haughty, sharp, bearded male face. The body slides into view as if he is standing on an elevator rising up out of the earth. He is wearing an English Civil War Cavalier’s military uniform; leather jerkin, short cape, sword at his side.
JASON: Yvette, let me introduce Lord Muck. He’s a 17th century sorcerer who accidentally fused himself with the countryside when an Enochian magic ritual went wrong.
(To Lord Muck) So you were expecting me.
LORD MUCK: I have formed an alliance with knaves of my own kidney. They said you would be upon this road. I understand that I am to provide a diversion, and to stop you approaching the treasure, whilst they are making sundry machinations of their own.
JASON: In other words, you’re working for the Church With No Name. You do realize that whatever they promised, they’ll betray you and try to eliminate you when you’re no longer useful?
LORD MUCK (smiling): There is more than one Church, Master Zodiac, and many doings are hidden from you. I did not confess who my ally was. But all things tend towards the same end, sir; the muck, the rot, the dung-heap – and there are few indeed who will care a nutshell for them when they have gone. I cry you mercy! You are a smoky persecutor of nature, sir, and I shall see the worms feed upon your brains.
LORD MUCK raises his hands, and roots and long-buried bones erupt from the soil. The trees bend, branches reaching out towards JASON’S car.
YVETTE: Oh my God!
LORD MUCK: Do not speak of God, dear lady … for your abode shall evermore be Hell!


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About J P Catton

Speculative storytelling and skewed fiction: the blog and website of author John Paul Catton.
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