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The Wake of Britannia: Part One

The Wake of Britannia: Part One

After five minutes of thinking Lady Mika moaned with defeat. Acting on instinct, Sir Lee extended a cigarette which the Lady gratefully accepted. Once it was lit, she took a drag, gleefully accepting the tickling sensations of its cancerous tendrils as they stroked the back of her throat. After a few more hearty drags Lady Mika turned to the Admiral.

“I’m really sorry, Smithy” she said, wincing at the repetition of the hateful word “I thought if I could recite one of the poems well enough, you’d know how much I loved your gift but-“

“Please, Lady Mika” interrupted Admiral Smith in a quivering voice “the fact that you tried…that you valued these poems so much…that is more than enough m’ lady!”

Lady Mika almost blushed at her friend’s gratitude. Almost. Instead she spat out a tobacco stained glob of saliva and pushed past Admiral Smith’s touching remarks.

“I’m bored. What do you fellows want to do now?”

Admiral Smith shrugged. He was too busy falling in love with Lady Mika for the third time that month. Sir Lee so chose the moment to speak:

“If you fellows don’t mind it” he purred “I really don’t want to call it a day just yet.”

“Sir Lee” chortled Lady Mika “don’t tell me you feel like another recital! That was some pretty heavy literature we just heard!”

Sir Lee shook his head. His quiff, dark at the roots but tapering off into rather attractive golden highlights rippled at the motion.

“Don’t think I could handle another recital” chuckled Sir Lee “but I don’t feel like going home yet. I feel like curling myself up on a good armchair with a cup of tea and a decent book. Maybe two.”

“Lee goes hard or not at all” giggled Admiral Smith until he was silenced by a sharp dig from the boy’s jagged elbow. Lady Mika arched an eyebrow at her subordinate.

“A cup of tea, huh?” grinned the Lady “not very subtle of you Sir Lee”.

Sir Lee returned her grin with a sheepish replica.

“It’s the way she makes it. Some Bookworm’s make their tea like a cup of hot milk, or overfill it with sugar so that after one sip I feel like I need to get my teeth checked out!” said Sir Lee wrinkling his nose in disgust.

“Are you talking about going to the Dame’s?” asked Admiral Smith. Lady Mika flashed her gang a wide smile.

“Sounds like a plan to me, boys. The Dame always has the best books on offer. She was the one who introduced me to Hamlet, you know that?”

“And her tea is just perfect” sighed Sir Lee dreamily. The Admiral didn’t look as excited as his fellow literary enthusiasts.

“You sure the Dame’s is safe?” muttered the Admiral “I thought she was having trouble with the Critic? His mates fucked up one of her Bookworm’s real bad over an overdue copy of Dubliners he’d loaned out. I saw it on the Feed. They nearly killed him; you know”.

“Fucks sake, Smithy!” replied Lady Mika in an exasperated snarl “that happened months ago. You need to keep your ears to the ground more. Dame Marion and Duke Clive sent a peace envoy to him, with the biography of Samuel Beckett. The Critic loves postmodern shit. It’s perfectly safe there now.’’

Sir Lee wrinkled his nose for the second time in as many minutes. He bit his tongue, the dramaturge in him desperate to highlight that classifying Beckett as postmodern was an overly simplistic literary analysis. He resisted the urge. Now was not the time and besides he didn’t feel like getting his throat cut over a playwright as dreary as old Sam.

“Oh, really?” smiled Admiral Smith “I was worried there. I mean, knives wouldn’t be much good against professional Librarians and Bookworms!”

Lady Mika rolled her eyes.

“Well, now that’s all cleared up. Shall we make our way to the Dame’s, gentlemen?”

The two gentlemen agreed. Although it was another five minutes before any of them actually left the Wasteland. The teenagers were too busy arguing over the fastest way to the Dame’s underground Bookshop. Admiral Smith was of the opinion that if they cut across the park next to the Wasteland, they would find themselves on Witherfield Road, which was the fastest route to the Dame’s. Sir Lee thought that was a fucking stupid idea. If they left the Wasteland the way they had entered, through the ally squashed between Marlowe’s Vape centre and the Brewery they could take the bus from Chamber Lane. It would take longer but there would be less chance of being spotted by any Oinkers. After a brief scuffle and a few hearty oaths, Lady Mika decided on the Admiral’s route. If they encountered any Oinkers there would be trouble: Lady Mika had her gang’s library card for all East- side Bookshops stuffed down her knickers, but a simple dress rarely managed to halt the wandering feelers of the Law. Then, if they found the card their zapzap’s would come out and Lady Mika could end up facing just under a decade in Federal Prison. On the other hand, Oinkers were usually nowhere to be found on Sunday afternoons and if they cut through the ally’s at Chamber Lane there was a good chance that the three of them would encounter Phillies which was not something Lady Mika felt like. At best, the Phillies were a nuisance. At worst, she would have to get her blade wet which would only lead to worse trouble with the Oinkers.

Norm life baby.

We’re quitters and we’re sober.

Our confessions will be televised.

It turned out to be a mistake to take the short cut across the park. Lady Mika heard the chanting of the Phillies before she saw them and swore under her breath.

“Fuck this” she hissed “Let’s just go Lee’s way”.

“I knew they’d be here” said Sir Lee with a smug edge to his lisp “I know this gang; they like to hold orgies out in the open. The Oinkers just look the other way, of course.”

“Well, good thing you mentioned that earlier” said Admiral Smith sarcastically “it’s nice to be able to make informed decisions”.

“Shut up, dickhead” snapped Sir Lee. Lady Mika frowned. She could see the Phillies now, about thirty of them. Sir Lee wasn’t wrong. They were definitely holding some sort of orgy. Half of them were naked and their pierced breasts and genitals dangled proudly as the teenagers caressed one another, running their tongues and fingers along their fellow Phillie’s bumps and curves. They resembled some grotesque Biblical organism rearing its many heads and screeching with pleasure. The remaining Phillies were either masturbating over the hedonistic display, smoking, drinking vodka or were defecating out in the open, their groans of satisfaction adding to the cacophony of perverse euphoria. If Lady Mika had been less well read, she might have called the scene Epicurean but to do so would only denigrate the good Greek. The Phillies weren’t philosophers in the slightest. They were the disciples of the Flake-Spinners that dominated every School and University and FeedSite in the Country. They despised philosophy and literature and morality as much as they adored noise and sex and drugs. Most of them were wealthy. She would bet anything that these radical Phillies, who were so shameless in their predilections, were birthed from the bourgeoisie tumour of society. Their parent’s wealth protected them from the beatings of the Oinkers and enabled their constant, self- pitying demands for yet more liberty to carry out their depraved pleasures. Lady Mika loathed the Phillies and their contempt for any form of art. When G. K. Chesterton said that: “we should be sorry for these who are morally homeless and who suffer from a philosophical starvation as deadly as physical starvation”, he probably had never met a Phillie. They were beyond pity.

“Keep quiet” Lady Mika ordered “if we go back now, they won’t see us- “

Another sound, different to the squeals and moans of ecstasy, interrupted the Lady. It was a scream, so harsh that it was almost metallic and shrill and agonized that Sir Lee recoiled as though he had been slapped. Lady Mika narrowed her eyes, ignoring the crawling sensation rippling along the back of her neck. The scream had come from within the mass of bubbling, naked bodies. The scream was followed by a chant, at first muffled but soon growing to a towering crescendo of cruel mirth that erupted from the playground.

It was a chant that brought a wave of scalding rage rising in Lady Mika’s chest.

“Butcher Butcher, Bitch Bitch. Murder Murder, Party Party. Phil-lies Phil-lies, time to get violent…”

About The Author

Rhys Clark

I am an English and Theatre Studies student at the University of Warwick. I particularly enjoy dystopian literature and political satire. My influences as a writer are George Orwell, Christopher Hitchens, Kurt Vonnegut and Harold Pinter.

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