by Darren Francis

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when i was a child my pretended parents taught me how to see the stars. i preferred the sounds of the names to the stars themselves; deneb, altair, capella, aldebaran, words you could swill in your mouth, swallow and make a part of you. elsa is a photograph. super eight of pale arms arcing across a dance floor as the berlin wall falls to dust. in a hamburg hotel room we fuck on an aching mattress, the happy static of the television making it a threesome. onscreen, et is sodomising president clinton. he cycles to a world where greys caress under red skies circled by orgone bioforms, their translucent bodies shining within foreign suns. i like the television screen. it is mutable. can contain me. elsa's face bending out of shape until two teardrop-shaped eyes peer down at me as i lie on the receptacle of the bed. our relationship is perfect. her english almost as non-existent as my german. like oceans i convect into clouds, watch the grey stunted soil of europe beneath me. my mother was a pleiadian, my father a draconian. i am the bastard child of star-crossed lovers. 'i was just there tonight,' elsa says in her stuttering english. 'you would have gone with anyone.' i have learned to read her thoughts, to translate them into matter, to dip my kirlian fingers inside her brainpan, let them merge with her cells, bristle through synapses and neurons. 'the english are such a guilty race,' she says, 'they are forever burdened by history, they can never accept that what is done is done and that they no longer need to worry for it.' and i know elsa is right, that we can never understand ourselves until we learn to view ourselves as global. elsa has a car. we speed autobahn to autobahn, watch the sky turn black in the rear view mirror. the world shrinks to me, to earth and moon struggling within one orbit. as elsa drives i sit beside her, rub my itch-red skin and wait for the buzz of another city on the horizon. hanover, dortmund, essen, dusseldorf, pass us in a concrete mess of light and dead skin cells. the smog and sunken rivers and bloated fish and squandered grass are new friends for us. every tree we pass makes me want to soap and condition my hair until it reeks offorest fruits. each realm, each shire we move though has hotels and beds and televisions. it's startling how long a relationship without words can continue. our lack of language makes sex and empathy so easy; we can dispense with culture and conversation, focus on the proscribed incentive. i stare at the road until tarmac is my eyes. my axons dilated to the point of absolute elsewhere. inside the meat of her car i feel at ease. in a cologne bar we are proffered bed-partners but know each offer is as stupid as coins, as money. elsa is the chosen companion for me. we shake out of the clothes that contain us, push our bipedal mammalian bodies into shapes of pleasure. want to fuck inside a crop circle. want to mutate her flesh, resolve her into pixels until she is nothing but a digital image. i rise out of the trembling shell of me, look down at us. the human form is such a quaint and archaic design. elsa stands in the doorway now; bonn. one hand on either side of the frame, her body in the shape of a cross. she opens her mouth and speaks unfamiliar words. i meet her lips and they taste of ashes. when her mouth is all i can see she is perfect. we share cigarettes and i watch her fingers spider through the air between us. one eye open and one eye closed; her skin is sunyata. i wait for every hotel room to assume me. to deliquesce with my cells until elsa and rooms and me are a single symbiotic organism. the mothership is upon us. art bell taught me my true inheritance. though hale-bopp skimmed our skies in a flash of neon and then passed on, i know my flesh will be vindicated. some nights slender aliens graze my skin with white light, absorb me into the belly of their mothercraft and watch as i mate with their kind, their sallow heads bobbing with recognition. lately i have been watching the stars again. if i watch a particular star for any period of time it swells out at me, picks on me, absorbs me. i add it to my repertoire of stars.
here is the story my sometime-lover diana my seed of my seed my love my dove told me about where she came from. 'there was a creator', she says. 'we call them the watchers and they come from far away and they are the guardians of this planet and they've always been around and they built the pyramids and avebury and all that stuff on mars. and they look after us and they've seen the mess we've made of everything and they've decided to step in. they made us and like all parents they only want what's best for us. they only want us to be happy and they've seen that we're not. that's why there's been so much ufos and weirdness building up. but we're afraid, and all our belief systems and instincts tell us to be afraid. throughout our galaxy are the ruins of vast races that didn't make it. and they want to get us ready for the coming age, the new jerusalem, my friend isabel told me. they're coming to take us to the next level above human. it's the key,' diana says, 'it's the gateway and it's coming for us.
'here,' danny says, turning the car off the road and into a farm track. 'i've used this spot before.' we glide to a halt under the cover of trees and he shuts off the lights. i look at the clock on the dashboard. it's a few minutes after midnight. 'are you ready?' he says. i nod. 'have we got everything?' he reaches over to the back seat, pulls out a bag. 'of course. let's go.' outside the car, he slings the bag over his shoulder. 'this way.' the first thing that surprises me is how dark it is. i can see the silhouettes of trees and hedgerows against the sky, a hill ahead of us, the glimmer of a town ten miles away. danny starts walking, and i do my best to follow; slowly, unable to see my feet, testing each step before taking it. 'don't worry,' danny says. 'your eyes will adjust.' he's right. soon i can make out his head and shoulders well enough to be able to follow them, to not have to rely on the sound of his boots. looking down, i can even see where i'm stepping. 'i've hit this location before,' danny says. 'we shouldn't have any trouble.' i've only known danny for a few weeks. we met online, arranged to go for a drink. he outlined his plan. 'are you sure you want to do it?' he said. i nodded, and over a few pints we worked out the details. he sketched diagrams and made notes. 'when do you want to go ahead with it?' i asked. 'we can do it tonight, if you want,' he said. 'i've got all my equipment in the car.' 'okay,' i said. we drove out of town, to a pub by a canal, sat in the beer garden and watched the sun set over summer fields, waited for darkness. we walk along the track in silence. i'm amazed at the sheer volume of stars that shine down at me. am used to orange and soupy city skies, can't remember when i last saw so many. a crescent moon slides behind the horizon. 'it's a beautiful night,' danny says. we soon pass a turn-off leading to a building with a solitary light on at the upstairs floor. it looks like a farm-house. 'this is where it gets interesting,' danny says. 'the weekend before last, the place i was going to hit had a dog. it heard us, and barked its head off and woke the whole house up. we had to abort. too risky. we shouldn't have that problem tonight, though.' at the end of the track, we come to a gate. my eyes have adjusted well-enough now, though i still see only in monochrome; wheat fields stretching away into darkness, a hill ahead of us. 'get down,' i say, 'there's somebody up on that hill.' 'it's a tree. anyway, even if there was somebody up there, they wouldn't be able to see us. you can see them because they're silhouetted against the sky. to them, looking down, they see only darkness. you do see people sometimes, though. ramblers, people out walking their dogs. once i came across a guy completely starkers, lying on his back in the middle of a field and looking up at the stars. i nearly tripped over him. the last one i did that i was telling you about, last weekend, we did have a couple of people on a hill above us. i think they were watching out for ufos. the guys i was working with were getting off on it, i think, the idea that we might be spotted. they thought it added an edge to the proceedings. anyway, we ought to get started.' we climb over the fence and into a wheat field, follow the perimeter to a tramline. take it, walk until we can only see crop around us. 'let's do it,' he says. 'you remember everything i told you?' 'sure.' 'we're keeping this one simple, since it's your first time and there's only two of us. seven rings, then we alternate the standing and the flattened bits, then the two circles on the edge. about two hundred foot. i need you to hold this for me.' he hands me the end of a tape. 'stay there,' he says. 'hold it tight, and don't let your arms move about too much, or our circle will end up wonky.' he walks until the tape is taut, then steps in a loping sideways gait through the crop. marks out a ring around me, returns to where i'm standing. we walk to the perimeter of the ring he has trodden. 'same,' he says, and marks out another ring around me. we move to the point where the two rings intersect, trace a third ring, then another where this meets the inner ring, another, then another. we return to the centre point. danny opens his bag, takes out a length of board with string looped around it at either end, hands it to me. 'you know what you're doing with that?' he says, taking a second board from the bag. 'you take that bit, that bit, and that bit' - he points into the crop - 'and i'll do these bits. remember the design? you know what bits you're leaving standing, don't you?' i nod. 'good,' he says. 'i'll meet you round the other side.' i hook the board beneath one foot, hold the rope like reins, step forward, flatten a swathe of crop beneath me. i'm amazed at how loud it is, a deafening crunch as the stems go down. he'd warned me about this; 'it sounds loud because you're standing directly above it. to anybody on the edge of the field, it just sounds like the wind rustling the wheat-heads.' as i stomp my way through the crop, i'm not convinced. by the time i start flattening a second segment i'm beginning to feel like i know what i'm doing. i strive to make the edges as precise as i can, then lay the rest of it in a loose spiral from the centre outwards. as i work, my adrenalin surges. i keep glancing over my shoulder and down the tramlines, expect to see a shotgun-wielding farmer advancing towards us. somebody must have heard us, i think. best just do this as quickly as possible, and get away from here. danny looms out of the darkness as i'm completing my third section. 'i've done the rest,' he says. 'we've just got those two circles on the outside. we'll take one each.' he's finished before i've barely started, it seems, and stands in the tramline watching as i work. i flatten the last of the circle, collapse exhausted and sweating. my arms ache from holding the board, and my legs are sore from stomping. 'let me just catch my breath,' i say, gulping down the water he hands me. 'it's tiring work. a lot more so than i was expecting.' 'we don't have time to hang around,' he says, tucking the boards back into his bag. 'let's go.' we don't speak as we walk back to the car. once we're inside, and navigating narrow country lanes back to danny's flat, he says 'so how do you think you did?' 'i don't know. how do you think i did?' 'we'll see tomorrow.' i look at the clock. 'we weren't in that field for two hours, were we? it didn't seem that long.' 'it never does. let's go and get some sleep. we'll come back and have a look tomorrow.' back in danny's flat, i stretch out on his sofa. flick through a book of pictures of circles, try to work out how they were made. they all look far larger and more complicated than i imagine mine was. i want to ask him about it, how he thinks ours will compare to the pictures, but i fall asleep with the book still in my hands. the next afternoon, we drive back out. park in the same spot as the night before, walk up the farm track to the field. i feel like a murderer. stalking plants by night and taking them down, then going back the next day to survey the crime scene. 'i don't usually visit them after i've done them,' danny says. 'i just wait for the pictures to appear online, and see what people have to say. but since it's your first one i figured you'd like to have a look. there it is.' at first i can only see a dip in the crop, but as we make our way up the tramline toward it, it opens out, getting bigger, and i can see the overlapping rings and flattened segments we'd made the night before. we step inside, walk from one section to the next. 'your first circle,' danny says. 'what do you reckon?' 'it's bigger than i was expecting. and not as messy. this bit's quite messy, actually. i think it was the first bit i did. who are those people?' a middle-aged couple walk barefoot towards us. the woman holds dowsing rods in front of her. they quiver as she walks, cross when she reaches the centre of the circle. 'i like this one,' she says. 'very gentle energies. subtle but most invigorating.' 'hello,' the man says. 'what do you think of it? it's a good one, i reckon.' 'it's a bit messy,' i say. 'yes, but there have been quite a few people in it today,' the woman says. 'the broken stems were probably caused by them tramping about. look at that bit over there.' she points behind us, to a section that danny flattened. 'what a lovely, flowing lay. this is the real thing, definitely. there's no way anybody made this.' 'and it's aligned to that ancient site,' the man says. he points to a distant hill, where a group of megaliths stand silhouetted against the perfect blue sky. 'did you know that was there?' i ask danny. 'of course i did,' he says. 'anyway, we have to get going,' the man says. 'there's another circle on the other side of the hill we want to look at. have you visited that one?' 'no,' danny says. 'but i've seen pictures. it's a good one. enjoy.' danny and i walk away from them, stand at the edge of the formation and watch the wind ripple through the wheat-heads. 'don't mock them,' danny says. 'they can believe whatever they want.' 'but they're wrong.' 'are they?' 'of course they are. i know where this circle came from.' 'can you prove it? and even if you could, where would that get you? you'd be prosecuted for criminal damage, and the mystery would be gone. best just leave things as they are, don't you think?' 'don't you feel guilty for deceiving them, though?' 'i haven't deceived anybody. it is what it is. flattened crop. those guys are the ones who are saying it's more than that, not me. it's a bit like those standing stones on that hill. people have wondered about that for years. who built it? what's it for? they're still wondering. they come and see it and they marvel at the precision, at the geometry. i marvel at it, too. but somebody made it.' i run my hands through the crop, feel the stems brush against my skin. 'it's addictive,' i say. 'i want to do another one.' 'you know how to now,' danny says, by which i sense that he doesn't expect to be there the next time i'm in a field in the dark. he's just passing on knowledge. and i do feel as if i've entered into a secret society of sorts. the moon and stars chart our forays. we skirt out under their cover, make our names in wheat fields. by day, nobody knows we were there. i glance back over at the couple. the woman stands with her arms outstretched, chants rune names. 'come on,' danny says. 'let's leave them to it.'
here they come. i can see them all. the starchildren the watchers for the mothership the thelemites the followers of crowleyanity the alexandrians the gardnerians the neopagan the sisters of isis the chemognostics the cereologists the aetherians the contactees the perennial philosophers the whisperers in darkness the harmonic convergers the crystal gazers the mirror scryers the turners of cards the technoshamen the human potential the new militia the starry wisdom the grand wazoo. here to greet the golden dawn to gather in the spaces between to meditate on the giza plateau to meet the pleideans the sirians the reptilians the greys the andromedans the lyrans a herald of seraphim trumpeting the breaking of sequential seals the four beasts of the apocalypse the great dragon that eateth up the universe. i gaze through the fog of the world and into the fractured garden . red love spills from the wounds in the body of christ. you so eager for entelechy. for the sky to go out. waiting for a destination an end or another sun. i await the ascension i know is my right. know there are two things that can happen. two ways i can evolve. two fates two private futures. i can become the sun or i can watch the world burn out. sometimes i prefer one notion to the other. sometimes a squalid ending seems so apt. want to eradicate all manunkind. want the whole sorry mess to cease with me.
'i saw lights,' laurie says, pulling herself out from sleep, legs bent up, knees to breasts, kicking at the duvet. 'there were lights, here in the room. i had no control over them. they were leading me somewhere and i had no control over them.' i hold her until stillness spreads through her again, until sleep takes her back inside its space. watch over her through darkness. tuck the duvet under her chin, brush stray hair from her forehead, smooth her frown-lines and goose-bumps. i can feel every thought her mind creates, transmitted through her skin. there's a red door at the end of a hall. laurie's room. paper flaking from the walls like burning skin. sounds of dead days hidden beneath the floorboards. unslept-in bed scattered with stuffed toy animals. red hole through the carpet. she was made here. the dust of old skin is everywhere her bare feet tread. carbon perforates the air she breathes. she closes the door. we met at a fancy dress party where everybody came as aliens. the hosts, a crusty couple from stoke newington, were hand-in-hand greys. the walls painted with stars and spirals and goatsuckers and greys and double helixes and fractals. i was mork. laurie was wrapped in bacofoil and chatting to a man with a television aerial sellotaped to his head. 'i slept with kali once, when i was tripping,' he said, 'best shag i ever had.' laurie and me stood on a balcony; we talked and passed joints between us, watched the city spread out beneath the sky, sky endless and broken with clouds and meagre stars. 'the stars know who we are,' chewbacca said, putting an orb tape on. laurie and i went home together, and a month later she moved into my flat; 'before i moved out of my place i piled all my furniture and things up in the centre of the room,' she told me later, 'i wanted to set fire to it but i couldn't. i took a photo of it instead.' that photo is thumb-tacked to the vacant wall between two fly-smeared windows, alongside photos of our kisses and of laurie's family. distant lawn of cakes and chequered cloth and grandmothers and sandwiches. her mother holding her against the sky. her father swilling coca cola from a dented can, cigarette squeezed between his yellow-stained fingers. 'where do you think the lights come from?' i ask. 'i don't know,' laurie says. 'my dad always claimed to be a master of lights. he said he could control them. he'd be sitting in his room and they'd appear, at first they'd be moving at random but he reckons he learned to guide them with his mind. sometimes i'd imagine him putting all his thoughts inside them, then sending them out through the window, out over the world to do his will.' she walks across the room, hands spread over the round of her belly. 'and he was obsessed with aliens. even though he told me there was no such thing. he said he'd studied the whole subject thoroughly, and... and that they weren't aliens, that they didn't come from space.' 'did you tell him about you and what was happening to you?' i say. she laughs, moves over to the window, gazes at rain hung on the pane, at the hundred tiny lauries reflected back at her. 'well according to him they've always been here. people once called them fairies or thought they were gods. then when people were obsessed with religion they called them demons, and now we live in an age of technology we call them aliens. that's what he said, anyway. of course, i didn't really believe him. i've learned to take most of the things he said with a pinch of salt.' her body briefly tightening, before sleep loosens her. i hold her and her skin tingles under my fingers. bed warm to us. i chart the dreams that roll behind the orbits of her closed eyes. hold my mouth to her forehead and breathe her thoughts. 'the red room fills my dreams now,' she says, soundless lips parted to sleep, 'i can hardly close my eyes without being there. i don't dislike the red room, i guess i admire... it was always the lights that led me there. at first the lights were really exciting, like seeing fairies or father christmas, or having your toys come alive or something. but... sometimes i feel something, can almost hear breathing, think i see movements in the corners of my eyes but when i turn to look and see what it is there's nothing there. i don't know what's going on. sometimes i remember things, like... i can see a figure standing over me, i'm lying down, and... i'm so small, i wake up in the night, and i can't move, i try to lift my arms but i can't. there's something kind of dewy dripping on my eye-lids. three drops. i hear a voice, calming, and... then i see the lights again, try to control them like my dad could, try to guide them away from me, sometimes it seems like i can, but... i don't want to go on with it but something compels me. i can't control it. i can't control the lights. i have to let them guide me. they lead me through the red door, and...' 'where are you?' i say. 'i'm lying on a table,' she thinks, 'there's metal on my wrists and ankles. i'm bleeding. it burns. the room is very bright. i look but i can't see. i see metal. it's so bright in here, but... metal. it's against my skin. there's a hard heavy feeling, my... belly... feels so full. something's crushing down on my chest, like someone's sitting on me. i see a pair of eyes, dark eyes, so big... a tiny slit for a mouth... there's something bitter-tasting in my mouth, and then... after that i don't remember. a face trying to smile that doesn't look like it was designed to smile. the next thing i know, i'm lying in my bed again and it's dark, blacker than blindness, and...' 'what else?' she's awake now. 'i always thought that as i got older, the red room would go away,' she says, 'but... things kept happening. i told my parents but they just said i was probably imagining things, that all children imagine things, they told me that having an imagination was probably a good thing as long as i didn't let it get control of me, but... and then... one day when i got home from school there were two men in long black coats sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee. they asked me lots of questions. i told them i didn't know anything. they were strange. they didn't blink. their movements were jerky. one had a drop of spit hanging from his lip which didn't fall the whole time. the other one had really long nails, flecked with grey, like the nails of a dead man. and when he took his hat off he was completely bald, even his eyebrows were shaven. they got into this shiny new car and drove off. later, after they'd gone, my dad told me not to tell anybody about those people or about what was happening to me. he said he didn't trust them. i didn't trust them, but i didn't trust him, either. i decided i needed to get out as soon as i could. i left home when i was sixteen. as i got older i met other people, who said, "don't worry, you're one of us. it's okay. we've all been through the same thing. in a way it makes you special." but that still didn't help. there's always another shadow.' 'what happened to your parents?' i ask. 'my mum left my dad while i was at college. she lives in ireland now. my dad shot himself.' i wake up from sleep without dreams. laurie's skin smells of dead rooms and nicotine and static electricity. 'come with me,' she says. 'i need to go back to the red room, but i can't do it on my own.' under a swollen sky, a house in a street like any street, repeating to the limits of the horizon. boards nailed over doors and broken windows. sounds of children playing, the buzz of cars, flies in sticky puddles. scraps of paper flit through the air like giant moths. power-lines bisect the sky. we prize a board from a window, the rust-heavy nails twisted against our strength but eventually they give. we climb through into a hallway. globes of light lead us as we move from room to room. we find nothing but the motes of long-stilled years. newspapers from the seventies, a single silver bracelet, bare boards and scratches in dust. we open a door to a flight of steps reaching up into darkness. hear a sound like the speeded-up voices of children. faint scent of vanilla. 'this way,' laurie says, and we move upstairs, are greeted at each step by slight whispers of forms, shapes and contours too vague to delineate. they filter down the bent wooden steps, become scarce-visible vapours as they brush past our faces. i turn, caught in cold air, watch them disappear into the room from which we had just stepped. hallway of shadows. two doors to the left and two to the right. 'there,' laurie says. the door is ajar. a shadeless bulb hangs lightless over a red-walled room. peeling posters of seventies bands stuck with yellowed sellotape. wooden frame of a single bed. dismembered dolls scattered on the floor. a rotted half-eaten chocolate bar. our eyes draining away the darkness. 'i can't go any further,' laurie says. 'i feel sick. sickness fills this place.' she curls on the floor outside, knees up to her face. i look at her then turn away, step into the inner skin of the room, stand at the end of the bed. see tiny rapid movements at the fringe of my sight; i turn, try to focus, see nothing there. i practice not focusing, not looking, letting the room reveal itself to me. the walls blur. foundation shifts. the shadows are transparent. there's a ghost against the wall, a milky grey-skinned hologram of a little girl on grazed knees and a man standing over her. her clothes on inside out and backwards. her body curling out of him. he holds a finger to her lips. snakes of blood wriggle between their bodies. her skin flakes away under the scalpel of his fingers. splinters of light shine inside her wounds. coca cola and semen seeping through her veins. nothing inside his eyes can understand. white light flowing from his fingertips, swelling to a halo that surrounds them both. i turn and laurie is beside me. the man stands tall, arms stretched at his sides. the girl falls to the floor, fades to a dull smear of calcium carbonate. laurie's lips move before i hear any sounds; then twenty-five years pour from her, a deluge of half-shapen syllables. the light expanding over him, consuming him, growing to the torrent of her words, reclaiming her skin of stars. then it is just a bedroom and laurie and me, and the white stains of memory that seep through bare wooden boards.
and before i close my eyes i see her pale and freckled arms, one hand at her neck, the other at her chest; heart beating, breasts rising and sinking. her veins tap in rhythm to her breathing. see moon milk pooling silver around her, see it well to her gravity. i remember reading about a man who started hiccuping one day, hiccuped for forty years, then hiccuped himself to death. did he think, i'm hiccuping now, i'll wait and see if it goes away? i've been hiccuping for two weeks, i'll wait and see if it goes away? i've been hiccuping for twenty years, i'll wait and see if it goes away? did he forget the catch-all hiccup cures i've learned, that banish it forthwith? twilight descends, meets me halfway. out there, beyond the window, past mist and monochrome leaves. stars slide. galaxies knock. sarah sleeps beside me. she is blood and salt, time and tide. i press my mouth to her forehead, kiss, draw her memories into my lungs.


Exit earth now! Alien abduction mythologies, UFOs, crop circles, occultures, trance beats, ambient tones, industrial drones; what more do you need? Free (or donation if you're feeling generous) download.


released April 30, 2016

Text / Voice on all tracks: Darren Francis

Soundscape on Black Diamonds, Ancient Sands, Aeon this, Exit Earth: Darren Francis (incorporating creative commons / public domain samples by danielsilveira321 and klangfabrik)

Music on Binary: Darren Francis / Logos

Music on Circulating: Manmademan

Music on Red Room, Here To Here: Darren Francis


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Darren Francis London, UK

Writer and musician. Alice Dee, All Things Left On Earth, Belong, Left At The Luna Mansion, Open The Dog, Uforia, Future Ghosts, Skin, God Thing, Spell, Logos.

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