Read The Urban Book of the Dead Online

Authors: Jonathan Cottam

The Urban Book of the Dead

The Urban Book
of the Dead


Jonathan Cottam

Copyright © 2010 by Jonathan Cottam.

Library of Congress Control Number:










All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


This book was printed in the United States of America.

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Cover page

The Urban Book of the Dead

Copyright Page

Urban Book of the Dead

Urban Book of the Dead

I floated above my body, I was a bubble fit to burst, I squeezed and struggled with my form, my clothes gripping and distorting my figure with their relative solidity, were the same ghost like material as the rest of me.

Down below my face stared back at me; distorted and grotesque as the spirit shapes on the bark of trees, I felt my ghost face and it was etched there too, deforming me, chiselled by a million molecules of heroin, I had my wings, hung as from a pin, spread and feathered, and spanning the whole nicotine ceiling.

I stared at the blue marbled arm; growing out like the gnarled branch of a tree, the fingers gesturing me towards it, and hanging from it, the syringe full of bubbles, blood and a quicksand of powdered death whirling like a vortex. A spoon lay on the floor and a small bit of cigarette filter in it, all having served a purely symbolic process. It seemed years of injecting powders and stuff flicked down to a dirty lemonade had paid off, perhaps a bubble could kill you after all.

I could still hear the drunken idiots through the wall, it had long been my aim to introduce them to quieter drugs, but contact disgusted me, I did not want to touch their plain of existence and its stupification and child like waste of energy, if you were going to be a waste of life, you should go quietly about it, not cause too much trouble, you are not essential to the running of anything and your arrogance will get you noticed and endanger others. That was the view of urban life that daily went through my head, where I had once loved my kind for my having conquered their ferocity, and their commitment to self entertainment over the values of work and money, I had lately only considered them a nuisance, an irritant of files of grudges boxed in my head, stuffing my mouth with paper protests that muffled my voice. Their constant need to make violent action, rape and robbery, with the tiniest excuse, always at each other, and never with anything in mind like honour, was now a source of great mystery to me, I could not understand them, they got in the way, and the police got in the way too, “We don’t want any police around here, we have enough unsavoury elements already.” I thought, then I remembered none of this concerned me and I was dead.

The noise got louder, but lower, rather than higher, so it travelled further and vibrated the walls. cracks appeared in the walls in the form of a hundred distorted faces of people I had known, adventured and suffered with. A fragment of glass from a picture of ‘Judith with the head of Hollofernes’ hit me in my eye, almost bursting my substance, which it settled in like a bloody monocle, magnifying the African tribal Fang mask in the centre of the wall, with its pale long wooden nose and owl like brow, its jutting chin; appeared to grow eyes that searched with the deepest hideous depth around my room and the dead body of me whose ‘nakedness’ I wanted to cover from the gaze. The mask bowed and came out of the wall, after it a huge body wearing the blue pinstripes of my wall paper and looking every bit the business man, come to settle my accounts, I was not about to make it easy. The scrambled voices became one, the word “Jonathan!” boomed.

This was God, this was the confrontation I had been waiting for my whole life.

God spoke “I am the unity, I am the morals and the law, think like me and my triumphs will be your triumphs because there will be no difference, surrender all self generated thought of conflict, all difference is imaginary, it is not held and is alien to mind.”

I replied simply, my head turned to him from my place on the ceiling, “I am my desire.”

A rope nearly as thick as my waist lassoed its self around my middle cast from below. I turned my head around to see my own dead body hauling the rope in towards him, the face had a child like simplicity but was alive, the head cocked and smiled to look at me. I did not know if I was to live again or if my soul body was to rot in my own dead corpse, but I resisted the pull, the knot around my middle pulled in to nothing and my soul body was cut in half, my substance splashed the room, my corpse and Gods face, whose tongue appeared and licked his lips. My body rejoined.

With haste I flew forward and stabbed God in the eyes with my fingers, which flattened against the harder substance of Gods eyes, I cried out “This is for poverty, this is for the atomisation of life, this is for your prisons and the police, for all my friends who are lost yet alive, and all those you sent to hell which is a place on Earth. This is for everything.”

God pulled me off and threw me back with one hand and such force my body burst and I was a flat stain against the wall, a painting of myself, only the wings remained, I noticed below me my corpse was lifeless again, the rope around his own neck, pulled up by his own motionless hand in the gesture of a lynching. I filled myself up with plaster from the wall and, more solid, made my return.

I floated to God again and knocked him down with my wing in a flurry of feathers, God got back up on his hands and knees and spoke “I am going now, consolidate your powers, gather your friends, but remember you are not the first to try it. I am a petty God and my vengeance is the stuff of legends.” With that he dived through the wall in explosion of brick and mortar, into the nothingness beyond my room.

Well, God was gone; for the time being at the least. My corpse had also rejoined its proper realm. What remained first of all was to make myself presentable in my spirit form and swallow some magic. I moved into the bathroom and looked at my face in the mirror, I looked through the glass monocle in my eye, which magnified my faults and made me look grotesque, I took it out and threw it aside, without the glass I still looked grotesque, I wanted to cry as I felt my face, wishing it better. A crimson tear fell down my cheek from where the monocle had burst my ghost skin, it crawled there like an insect, then it fell to the floor and walked away on six legs, I crushed it under my foot, crunching it and smudging it with my shoe, and as I stamped it out I was stamping out all my unhappiness and weakness, replacing it with the strength of the kill.

Feeling better I went to my living room and got a mask off the wall, that I had bought for its spiritual resemblance to me, although the features were negroid. I took it back to the bath room and pushed it against my disfiguring death mask of astonished pain. It set my features like a jelly mould and when I took it away my features were set presentably enough, as they had been before, but with a more fearsome aspect derived from the mask, which I discarded by throwing it in the bath tub.

I looked closely again at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I tore off my t-shirt, tore it to shreds to get it off my wings because the battle had made me hot. My skin had a translucent quality, a slight stretched look to the skin. This is what I was looking at; a body of slightly below average height but broad, very broad, with a fairly flat muscular developed stomach, could do to loose just a few pounds. Up from the stomach a quite developed chest with the tattoo in blue of a German imperial eagle, I shrugged my shoulders and the wings appeared to flap. The arms are developed; there are tiny creases in the sixteen inch biceps from this strange skin, blue dragon tattoos down the arms. The face is oval, the eyes are tough and fierce and the face stern and fiery. The hair is shortly cropped, almost non-existent. This is your narrator then, and this is what I will look like for the rest of this story. I am an angry, deicidal, megalomaniac. I look the part, this is me.

I came back into the living room and looked with desire at my couch against the wall and near the door leading to the living room and bathroom, the couch was an inviting tanned velvet, big and with over flowing cushions, it was my opinion that a couch was something you had to be able to fall asleep on when you were stoned, or a refuge should you come home drunk. Moving along the red chord carpet I now scuffed my feet along was an arm chair of the same material, I sat in it and picked up the remote for the small telly in the corner by the window, I looked up at the prison shirt stripes of my wall paper and the incredulous crumbling plaster shape of a large man cut out in it. The shape was half way amongst a picture of ‘Judith with the head of Hollerfernes’ and two remaining tribal masks. I pressed the remote button.

I looked at the old tube telly as it breathed fuzz and rattled its silver buttons with vibrations, asthmatic and empty. My imagination filled in the static with voices and the voices started to become real, but they just filled in my thoughts, “going to switch this off” and “does everything become real, real, here”. I switched the damn thing off, squashing my finger on the button with a stab of dull pain. Better to get things done than mess around.

It was now necessary to eat some magic, not having time to become adept. I went to the kitchen and put on the frying pan and put some lard in the pan, then some eggs and a sausage arranged in a face. The pan hissed and spat, and when you are a ghost it hurts even more to be spat at, the little globules passed right in to me as surely as bullets. There was no mistaking the frying pans contempt or the holes in my hand and arm. I now got a book off a shelf in my bed room, it was the books of thelema by Aleister Crowley, I tore some pages out and put them in the frying pan and they went brown and soggy. Having cooked my meal I placed it all on a plate and ate it in a chair in the living room. It was hard to consume because I was forcing myself to eat, which is always painful and gives a physical aspect to ones misery which the term ‘not being able to stomach’ suggests, also being a ghost of limited solidity it was very hard on the insides and almost passed through my stomach all together. But immediately having ate the pages I felt more powerful.

I went to the front door and opened it to look out on the twilight world I had entered. Immediately billows of choking smoke came through the door, fumes of carbon monoxide mixed with lead. The Sun was smothered in the sky and glowing red. It cast giant shadows of fearsome aspects fighting with various weapons from swords to Uzis, figures were slayed and fell to the ground, one lay its shadow head on my doorstep, turned and died. A procession of cars travelled down the street, the cars were hobbling along on wings in disjointed jumps rather than rolling on their wheels, they honked like geese. The procession was going through Avenham where I used to live, and it was being lead by God. God turned around and looked at me, drawing himself to his full height, just a few feet away, his wallpaper clothes were turning into a suit, a collar of torn paper hung out of the suit and flapped in the breeze, the mask had become fleshy. The figure smiled. I looked back with contempt and shut the door. It would not be possible to travel to the Prison that way, although it was just down the road.

I got a piece of pool chalk and went to my bedroom door and chalked a voodoo pentacle, which is more like an umbrella, I put various Thelema symbols on the door. Then I chalked the date 1997 and wrote ‘prison’. Then I opened the door.

Inside I was in a cell in HMP Preston. I was in front of my living solid self whom I will refer to throughout by my old slang name of Monster, and so try to avoid the mirrored complexities of what faced me in your mind, as I watched myself confusedly juxtaposed. I searched Monster’s familiar features ready to intervene. He was sitting at a table eating pie and vege with mash and gravy. Monster was aware he was right next the toilet as he ate; only a Formica partition separated him from the new unwelcome pad mates earlier turd. Monster felt as intimidated by the smell as he would be if the new pad mate had leaned over the table and screwed up his Goya face and breathed his hot halitosis in his face.

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