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Good Night From The Vale Of Tears

And as Mr Radishes from the market garden stalks his rows with a urine-stained cricket bat, beating his grotesque testosterone-sprayed crops into unconsciousness for the night… the light grows low and the sky bleeds pink like the naked albino with two and a half penises that Miss Underdunn slashed to death in the women’s changing rooms with her inter-uterine device, at the end of that awful summer of dangly terror at the Public Baths…

…and the sun goes down over the Vale Of Tears, twilight’s last gleaming shining in the cracked glass eyes of Inspector Kriegfick of the local constabulary as he commences his nightly stalk of the village, blind as a bat but guided by the unmistakable musk of Crime. Not for him the transfixing, blood-flecked beauty of a Vale sunset. For him, there is only the spoor of livestock-fiddlers, wife-covetors and the murky pheremonal fog of furtive masturbators and their night manipulations…

And the sun slips under the unwashed blanket of Night, pulling the woollen covers up to its round little chin, as the men of the village drink fresh beer, the justly famous Vale Ale, from the skulls of Taxmen and Young Folk… and the landlady of the Vale’s single pub, Mrs Horrobin of the Womb And Coathanger, wriggles on the age-smooth seat of the barnacled and innard-streaked staff toilet, drinking water and making more Vale Ale for her hated, hated customers…

And the sun sinks down into the sea of black like the vicar the townsfolk caught sniffing old ladies’ bicycle seats… the only moment of true dignity the man ever had, they say, lowering manfully into Tearstain Lake with a car tied around his neck. Though he did start screaming when the Colonel’s ducks got him. The Colonel’s programme of eugenically weaponising common wildlife was the glory, awe and unutterable private shame of the county.

And the sun goes down on the Vale Of Tears, and the were-men in the forest turn themselves into ferrets and hungrily shove themselves up the back passages of the unwary, and the vegetables sing laments of the days when their mothers and fathers were uprooted and used as sex toys in dodgy videos shot in the Community Centre, and a strange, brittle and frightened peace falls across the land… and this little piece of green and pleasant England slept the kind of sleep known only to the perverted and the doomed.

Good night, children.

Good night.

((c) Warren Ellis 2004. I wrote a few of these “Vale Of Tears” pieces, and only in this last one did I nail the tone I was after to my satisfaction. Many many years ago, I’d listened to a “Lake Woebegon” piece that had this elegaic, end-of-the-day feel to it, and I was trying to glue that together with a very English kind of ugly surreality.)

Published in brainjuice


  1. Tijmen Tijmen

    Man, hate to just suddenly speak out pro/con something, but this just bites on the most fundamental level. Warren, your poetical cynicism is easier translated into minimalist, engaging dialogue, not this befuddled and showy prose. Even when taken as a literary pin-up bursting with style more than substance, it still lacks even the rudimentary basics that would make us care for even one of these marvelous little phrases you concoct with such obvious delight. I can empathize intensely with such wordplay, but an accomplished writer such as yourself must realize that context is vital for sustainability of concept. Also, but that’s more of a side thought, how is it that us men of letters of the progressive kind keep relying on the shock value of the same fetishes and extravagancies we resent contemporary society for repressing and/or exoticizing?

  2. You’re not getting that this is deliberate, specific pastiche, then? And that the context was that this was the last of several?

    Incidentally, try to be a little less up yourself. “Men of letters of the progressive kind,” jesus christ…

  3. Tommy Tommy

    Actually this is far superior to a vast majority of stories he has done. It is hilarious, firstof all, and second, it is so short. How many stories exist of this length that are actually worth reading and are not just silly little intellectual exercises a writer does to get thejuice flowing. This story is serious, intentional, and hilarious. The ideas are so bright and expressive, and therefore, brilliant. Fuck dialogue, I’d rather hear
    about were-men turning to ferrets and forcing sex upon unsuspecting english tossers who write
    letters of the progressive kind. This is far superior to the piece on women and the man without
    sun, although that piece has the difficult distinction of being about the crux emotions of a man
    who has spent his life running from them (therefore deviating from them and devastating them/him)
    although it never specified it was a man…

  4. Tommy Tommy

    I was wrong. So many good stories of that length at that link. I was refering really to his Excalibur, a similar exercise in intentional crafting that worked the same effective playground as say Red Riding Hood or Harry Potter.

  5. It’s people like you that are the problem in this country.

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