Of the Calibrator I had said, he is entirely imbued with a sense of his own mythology. If he had a sense of humour he'd be dangerous. Much had we travelled in the realms of Outside, a place I did not know at all, but things had happened in recent times that made it an imperative, and called upon to find Blue Markinsson for the Calibrator, I had no choice neither.
Look here, said the Calibrator. Let us sodomise them and then let them go, for this is the Way of the Book.
No Book I have ever heard of, said I. There is no book that recommends this.
No, said the Calibrator. These are bad lands and in them we create what is increate, in our own image. I have no time for the pullulating stench of western piety that sweeps over these violet lands - at least i think he said violet it may have been violent - like a gloomy tide of shadow, like sitting under a partial eclipse where the birds stop singing. It irks me also that they start again. The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence -
What's that? I said.
What's what? said the Calibrator.
It came again, a thin scream on the wind, and this time the Calibrator whose hearing had been damaged by years of horrified screaming if the truth be known heard it.
A man was behind the scream at some distance. He pounded towards us down the desert trail from those high reddish rocks ahead of us his gait sure footed as though he had long since run mountain trails and his demeanour as cheerfully demented as any i had ever seen.
Who are you, said the Calibrator as the man stared up into his face.
I am Catferret, said the man. I bring - glurk.
For the Calibrator had seized him by the throat with those world-ending hands of his and was inspecting him close to, eye to eye which in this case meant Catferret's heels bobbed several inches above the ground. There was a stink of blood on the air.
Good news, said the Calibrator. Of a world so newly made. I suspect this of you.
I wondered often if the Calibrator was all knowing or whether he was simply very finely honed, a near superhuman intelligence allied to well over six feet and six inches of muscular frame. Had he rolled me over in the night and been on me, as many had in the past, I would have had little defence.
The Calibrator put Catferret down and the wiry little man scudded along the path in front of us. The blood stink grew stronger as we came to a dip between grey rock, those spiky antediluvian crests still impassive on our horizon.
In the dip several figures lay or hung as if at rest.
Two who must have been male were spread out across rocks, a huge red and black hole where the genitals of each had been. The rocks were red even if they had not been so before.
Three more, who would have been female, hung from thorn trees, their guts in pools on the ground and their lower bodies streaked with red and brown.
The Calibrator stood arms folded for some time. I noticed that no birds had settled to the corpses. Perhaps he had made good his threat against them.
We give more account to the death, he said, of a woman than to that of a man. I wonder why. Perhaps it is that we see our mother in each woman. But men too have lives.
He walked over to the charnel and inspected it, walking round, arms still folded, his hat tilted low over his eyes.
I have slain thee in thine high places he said. We must take the road onward.
I stood facing mine eyes away from Catferret who seemed agitated as though he felt the Calibrator was about to kill him.
Why should I do that, asked the Calibrator. Let us proceed.
And we took the winding trail onward, upward, on foot, among the rocks and the mountains and the distant peaks opening up to our view like the arms of a young girl in flower. The sky was a blue so intense I could hear it.
Blue, I thought. Blue Markinsson. I wondered if he really existed. If the cats lied, for all knew that the cats lied, that the aerial cats would say anything to be fed and then vanish and pretend that it was some other cat that had spoken thusly. I found their lack of consistency disturbing.