Oh I remember what this is all about now…i saw this as a child, perhaps ten or twelve… on a children’s television channel… every week THE CAPTAIN leading his undead ‘firate’ crew on their mission to capture a young orphan girl, tonibell…. the ‘firates’ always called her THE BOY… they wanted her… why? something to do with the moon… i don’t know…. it would start on their ship each time as THE CAPTAIN gave a grandiose speech to the crew, the first mate giggling and making moronic remarks, the worm who lived in THE CAPTAIN’s eye socket would sometimes interject, breaking the fourth wall, cracking wise to the viewer at the ‘firates’ expense… THE CAPTAIN would finish and they would all cheer, chanting “cheese! cheese! cheese!”… always the same animation, a cheap cut-and paste job, cutlasses and flintlocks raised to the night sky – then off on their latest scheme… one week in disguise as merchants, covering their bodies with expensive clothes they tried to lure THE BOY into a trap from the marketplace… another week they kidnapped her faithful pet pug emmie from her bedside, planning to capture her at the ransom spot… another time dressed as women who ran a bath house, a prospective adoptive family… always the schemes would be foiled, THE BOY always too smart, lucky, elusive… it troubled me only emmie could see through the ‘firates’ disguises…. no wig or costume could plausibly cover the flayed rat skulls they had for heads, their bony eyeless faces, green flesh, the bodies perpetually aflame… cartoon logic… he frightened me though I admired THE CAPTAIN – he had style… a smooth purring voice, aristocratic, gentlemanly… such clever wicked schemes… so smartly dressed, his flame was handsome and bright… beside the short and round first mate… a ‘smee’, always stupid, bumbling, preoccupied with food… his incompetence often led to THE BOY escaping… in the end THE BOY would get safely to shelter at one of her kindly uncle’ s homes… she seemed to have endless uncles, each one with a different idiosyncrasy, played for laughs….

i remember now… looking up at THE CAPTAIN stood over me… viscerally real cadaver dressed in only a crumbling bandolier… the stench of burning flesh thick in my nose unbearable i wanted to vomit … his deep blue gas-fire luminescence, bursting into gouts of orange flame in the wind … something dark and like gristle fell from his crotch, landing beside me… I squirm-rolled backwards to avoid his lunge, his grasping claws of black bone… missing me the blow hit the deck, splintering the partially carbonised wooden planks, sending up a cloud of ash and charcoal dust… small things shaken loose from his skull fell over me, in my hair, mouth… maggots… he howled then… howled? a screeching chittering rattling squealing…. that noise…. no… I can’t… I scrambled away, out of the cabin, onto the open deck…. the crew were out there, gathered… a conflagration of decomposing flesh, black, purple, green, rancid meat chattering, squealing in mindless anger, coming toward me….. i don’t know how i evaded them all…. it doesn’t seem real…. I remember, one lunging for me, half-chewed and abcess-ridden flaccid breasts trailing … i struck at her then but she was like stone… unbalanced me falling backwards into the open galley, expecting them to follow…. crouched on the edge, looking down they did not … why? fear, of something huge, something terrible hungry…. the first mate, lumbering aberration of gluttony lurking in the dark… the gigantic ‘smee’ took me in his fist, dragged me towards his mouth i expected to die then I could feel things writhing under his flesh… then angry barking… EMMIE appeared biting at his thick ankles… it dropped me… THE BOY was there, leading me away by the hand… looking back I saw the first mate rip poor EMMIE in two… greedily sinking his fangs into the still living dog’s guts…

how did we escape the burning ship? in my mind… there’s a jump-cut here… doesn’t make sense…something I must have forgotten – i remember later that day, going to bed, safe at the home of one of THE BOY’s elderly uncles… a stately stone building with heavy wooden doors… we had eaten well then gone to our separate rooms for the night…. yes that’s it…. before I slept there was banging at the house door… heavy iron door knocker thudding urgently…. i went to fetch THE BOY so we could see who was there… she was naked, bent over a bed while her “uncle” frigged her roughly from behind with his thick digits… something like that…. she dressed and came with me… as we approached the door then I knew it was the ‘firates’ come knocking for us…. i tried to warn stop her but she would not listen… reassuring me it was safe unlocking the door to a masked ‘firate’ crouching there, freshly skinned human face hanging loosely over its own, a long curly blond bloody scalp for a wig… she tried to ask what it wanted before it pounced, pinning her to the floor….. the door flew open and the crew poured in, dragging the two of us out onto the moor… in the dark they ripped away her dress as she screamed and screamed… I remember now, THE CAPTAIN lifting her thin body with one blackened paw as with the other he grabbed her genital cluster, digging in his claws piercing, pulling hard… fleshy tubes torn away from the body snapped like weak elastic…silenced… throwing her limp body to the floor he held the severed penis and balls up to the heavy moon… in silhouette, glowing blue.. he howled, as he had before now the whole crew in chorus, this time triumphant…. such noise i… no… i tried to cover my ears to look away couldn’t move couldn’t break the grip they had me in… when they finally stopped howling THE CAPTAIN turned and looked at me… stepping over THE BOY’s still body, stalking closer….

i woke then… shivering cold in sweat-soaked bed… unfamiliar heat between my legs

First published in Issue One of Ideology:

Audio & Video by William Guppy: