Shrieky Girls

March 22nd, 2005 | brainjuice

She opens her perfect mouth and the sound of a modem pours out. The long shriek of signal, and then the radio-static-and-rubber-band song of connection.

And then another. She looks up, opens her mouth, and the electric scream beats up into the night. Another two, three signal-songs harmonise. More. A row of Shrieky Girls, all in black and hazmat orange, standing outside the club, looking up and dialling in.

Inside the place, there’s an ozone pressure from the mass of Shrieky Girls beaming internet whispers to each other. Shrieky Girls dance, turning slow circles on the floor as the DJ plays tripped Bristol beats spiked with Shrieky connection-sound samples and tranquillised by sibilant female voices whispering about sex and vodka in the dark.

Shrieky Girls lock us out of their world. Their shared gaze darts around the room in flock patterns, homing in one on one guy’s piercings, one woman’s shoulderblade brand. People still flinch when they see twenty, thirty girls all turn around to look at them at exactly the same time.

In the back, picked out in stopmotion by strobes, a Shrieky Girl stands against the wall and pulls a boy in to her. She unzips him, closes fingers around him, pulls him inside sharply. Her lips part, and you expect a sigh, but you hear connection hiss. On the floor, twenty, thirty Shrieky Girls stop dancing, and all their backs arch in exactly the same way. Heads thrown back and mouths open in modem screams.

It’s not that Shrieky Girl who finds someone worth going home with. But, when morning finally comes, it’s all of them who share the modemed sensation of a warm arm closed softly around them. It’s all of them who see him wake up and smile at them and look at them, and see him keep looking and smiling at them even though the make-up’s half gone and the hair’s been smashed by the bed, because it was them he wanted to be with, not the look.

Two, three hundred Shrieky Girls smile just a little bit and hold an invisible hand for a while.

Shrieky Girls are never alone. They live in an invisible web of constant secret conversation, transmitting raw feelings like they were texting notes.

Twenty, thirty thousand Shrieky Girls smile just a little bit and turn away to dance.

(A fragment, written 2003. (c) Warren Ellis and all that.)


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  1. You can find Warren on Twitter: @warrenellis