Two Scenes from the Major Arcana

Two Tarot-inspired pieces written for a potential concept album.I was listening to Cream’s Disraeli Gears a lot at the time and ‘Death’ is basically me trying to write my own ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’. Cream also sneaks into ‘The World’, a story about embodiment and the borders between mind and body, real and virtual worlds. Could do with more space to breathe, I think, but it was already over the word limit!

Some of the other stories that were written for this project, including a very different take on the World, are available here





Do you fear the rising river flooding grey across the garden?
Or does the blind grasp of the seedlings cast shadows in your mind?

There comes a pale horse riding over rucks of regal satin
Its white mane gently blowing over thighs like ivory
And you want to stay and listen to that whistle through the ribcage
But you feel the roses growing in tangles ‘round your feet

Well there’s people as can fathom if a bone’s from man or woman
But you’re not that kind of pervert and all that you can see
Is the marks of hungry lions mar the music of her femurs
And the fracture in her girdle is a fissure in forever

Lie down before the body on its thorny bed of flowers
And let the water change you in the belly of the river

Bid farewell to the garden for the river keeps on flowing
From the end to the beginning, to the reaping from the sewing
But the roses go on growing

Lie down before the body on its thorny bed of flowers
And let the water change you in the belly of the river




The World

The sand looked so soft, but lying on it is a saga in discomfort. Leaden and hard beneath her, yet shifting to form these awkward lumps and hollows in the small of her back, beneath her shoulders. Rolling over gets sand all over the towel.

And now she can hardly read. The book’s white pages burn white in the sun, like a screen with the contrast too high, making her squint.

Mattea sighs, flops the book down in the sand and rolls back over. The sky is an unlikely blue, brushed with clouds and spangled with the bright green lights of the Wreath. Is that what we look like from here?

Lucy is still splashing about in the cobalt waves. Mattea waves:

“How’s the water?”

“Better now!” Lucy crashes up the beach, wrapping her towel around her shoulders. “Can’t believe how cold it was at first. Must have been a glitch – no one would ever have swum in that, it’s unrealistic.”

“I think this whole Outing’s glitched – this sand is like lying on the floor.”

“I could fiddle with the parameters?”

“Nah, that’s all right. I should Head anyway.”

“Okay.” Lucy sprawls over the book. “The Urge to Transcendence?”

Mattea shrugs self-consciously. “It’s one of Wings’. Body/soul stuff, you know? Anyway, see you.”

She Heads.


Returning to Headspace is like leaping into that ocean again. A freezing rush, overwhelming, exhilarating – and as Marcie Lions likes to say, unreal. Mattea basks in the eucophony of a million minds, letting the seaside Outing slip away.

//hey mattie//

//hey wings//

Wings’ Headspace handle is a multimedia punch of clapping pinions, specks launching skyward, piercing eyes and eagle screech. She has never told Mattea her real name.

//you down that text?//

//started. went Outing with Lucy though //

//lucys a cow//


//All meat no brain, graze graze graze. you joining the conversation now? it’s good, i’m mainlining it//

//not now, got to log off sometimes, otherwise…// Mattea flicks her a gliff of an unconscious body, drooling on the couch and drooping with excess weight, limbs grown weak and flaccid – a picture of ill health.

//kill the body, free the mind//

//youd die//

//yeah right. down that text, mattie, you’ll get it. its like the wreath project, see? the more of us they threw up here, the more they poisoned “mother earth”, the more people wanted to join us. now look at everything we’ve accomplished//

//i’ll read it//


It’s like lying in the bath while the water runs out, coming down from Headspace. Heaviness returning as buoyancy is lost; surfaces pressing against surfaces. A loss, yes, but there is almost something pleasant in the returning weight, an appreciation of your body’s heft, it’s thingness.

Mattea sits up easily. A song unpauses. Outside my window… is a tree / Outside my window…

One finger slides absently down the volume. Her eyes pass over the headsup, noting the time, trajectory, temperature. She thinks, and the air con hums into more vigorous life. She doesn’t notice as the music volume compensates. …there is a world of pain…

A message flashes on her desktop. She eases into the chair, glancing at her anglescreen, cursor blinking on page one of the Serenity manuscript. Glances back at the desktop. Marcie is on chat.

Hey Mattea, Marcie Lions here.

Hey Marcie, she types. She tabs over to Wing’s book, then back to the manuscript. She half reads. Marcie chats about airlocks and engines, building a little flyer so she can visit other habitats. Head in the clouds as always. Mattea tells her about the beach Outing, the blue sky and the green ribbon of the Wreath.

You can’t actually see the habitats from Earth, Marcie says. Not during the day. They add them so people feel at home.

That’s the kind of stuff Marcie knows.

Mattea looks up, past the screens and out through her window. The other habitats curve away around the Earth, the world below, brown and blue.




Okay, it’s getting sad how easy it is to choose these Buffy gifs. Guess why I was listening to Cream?

‘Band Candy’.

Courtesy of

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