Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Another Perfect Day in Fucking Paradise — sample read

Cover of Another Perfect Day in Fucking Paradise — a novel by Chris Page

1

The commute is bloody today.

The raffish young bloke standing in front of me is chewing on the head of a young woman, who in her smart, dark suit looks the office worker type. He is dragging his black teeth through her scalp, which rucks and flakes like old carpet. You can see his teeth scraping on her exposed skull. Her hair is coming out in clumps and sticking thickly in the dark gore around the man’s mouth. The woman doesn’t seem to mind or notice, just keeps on playing Candy Brain or Soul Crush or whatever on her phone. 

Behind the happy couple, a balding oldie in a naff mac sneezes and his whole face falls off onto his shirt front. The pig doesn’t even try to use a handkerchief. An aerosol of decaying blood and nasal mucous diffuses in the air of the crowded train.

A middle manager type makes an impatiently ostentatious gesture to look at his gold bullion watch and accidentally punches out half the rib cage of the rake chewing on the girl’s head. The rake obliviously continues his absent–minded mastication.

To my left another nondescript office drone is digging for gold, jamming his finger as far into his nose as he can, wedging out maggots, bits of his own sinuses, and popping them in his mouth. One incautious jab later and he has poked his own finger through the soggy, rotting skull into his own frontal lobes, and he just stops and sags to the floor, properly dead now. 

The train pauses at a station. Yet another office stiff gets some protruding coil of his intestines caught in the jamb as the train door slides open, yanking out his insides, which spray all over the indifferent commuters trying to get on. He spends the next three stops trying to reel in his guts and organs, and stuff it all back inside himself. He makes some temporary repair by buttoning his jacket really tight before getting off, but he loses it all again on the platform in the scrum of travellers trying to get on. 

Arsehole!

I try to keep my head down on my phone, avoid eye contact so no one will notice me, but we are all packed so tight I can barely move my thumb on the apps or even see the damn thing properly. And the girl in front of me, the one who is having her scalp chewed off, begins to leak all over my screen. 

It is not a good start to the day. But then, it never is. ‘Start to the day’ and ‘good’ are strangers. They cannot exist in the same place at the same time. They are matter and anti-matter. 

My fellow commuters are all pressed up against each other, faces flattened against the train windows and doors, gnawing listlessly on each other, gawping at their phones, absently pulling off their own ears or noses, breaking each other’s bones as they jostle for seats. 

I’m just stuck here again, as I am every fucking day, cheek by rotting jowl, all the way to my stop, where the door opens and disgorges me and the commuting dead in one river, one torrent of rotting flesh and grave slime. 

And this goes on day after day after day. I don’t know how I put up with it.

2

Hmmm. Dinner is black tonight. Black for dinner. Again. Yum. 

Dinner is mostly black these days. Black with blobs and piles of toxic green, streaks of vivid rot. Or there might be some notes of placental red or mucous yellow. 

I fork some of the grey part of dinner to my mouth. It sort of falls apart, slithering and sliming through the tines of the fork. I try to spear it but my prongs find no purchase, and I’m sure one bit of the meal is still undead and slithering around the plate out of the way of the fork. I spoon some more gloop from one of the serving bowls onto my plate just to look engaged, but as I do so, I seem to dislodge some pocket of marsh gas that hangs over the table like a malodorous wraith. 

This is enough to distract my daughter Ariana from the TV. ‘Smells good,’ she sibilates, before going back to the goggle. 

‘Smells good,’ wheezes my son Bon, ever a one for the stiletto-sharp one-liner. 

‘Smells like home,’ hisses the wife, Barbra. 

Funny. Death seems to suit the family. They have taken to it rather well. It hasn’t made any obvious difference to their lifestyle. Possibly death has enhanced their lives since they are now one hundred per cent suited to their inert preferences, habits, and proclivities.

Each night, the wife potters in the kitchen stewing something that has already stewed in its own putrefaction on the shelves in the supermarket. I crave some real food, something not rotted and fouled, but everything has the same blight of death now. 

Each evening, I hope my wife doesn’t include any of her own fingers in the dinner as she has accidentally done before. Bits of her just drop off without her noticing. This is a feature of any human interaction, of any activity, nowadays. Someone or other will prop themselves against your desk for a chat, or the bar at the pub, and when they’re done they’ve left behind, fingers, stains, sticky gloops of skin that have adhered to the wood surface, or scuttling beetles, writhing worms. It’s just normal now. That’s the way it is. 

The preferences, habits, and proclivities of my family begin and end with the TV, the phone, the shopping mall, the convenience store — the brightly coloured turds excreted by the anus of pop culture; of poop culture. 

The kids are doing their thing right now: they are watching the television. They are sitting a bit close. Don’t sit so close to the television, I want to tell them, it’s bad for your eyes, but their eyes are all walled up with white goo, so I don’t suppose there’s any point. It’s bad for your brains, I want to tell them, but their brains are already endearing little dollops of cold offal that slosh audibly inside their craniums when they do kid-like things, like run or jump or laugh. 

There is a loud explosion and a flash of lurid pink on the TV. A guest on whatever show they are watching has necked half a litre of cola on top of eating a whole packet of Mentos and has exploded. The effect on a decomposing body is quite emphatic. The force of the blast has blown his innards out through his belly and rib cage, and removed pretty well all clothing and flesh from his bones. Poisonously coloured mucous, fats, and flesh dribble down the camera lens while the contestant, essentially now a skeleton with popping eyeballs, tries to preserve some dignity by holding his fleshless hands in front of his exposed pelvic bone. The studio is alight with jollity. 

‘Dad, did you make this one?’ asks the youngest pointing at the TV. 

The kids are very impressed, you see, that I work in media. 

‘No,’ I say. Except that, ‘Yes, kind of.’

‘How about Britain’s Got Encephalitis? Did you make that? How about The Puke Factor? Is that you?’

‘No,’ I drone. Except, yes, I’m guilty there too. I am, in the end, horribly responsible. I facilitate all content because I help shape the infrastructure environment at Paradise TV in which the content can be effectively created. That’s what I do. Or that’s what it says on my box.

‘Yes,’ I help make the stuff on the goggle. 

I’m not an actor, I’m the archetypal backroom boy. I am systems. I am enabler. 

I hunker in front of a computer all day, computing; crunching numbers — bloody big numbers, and there are all sorts of them, and I crunch ‘em, and crunch ‘em good. When I crunch a number, it knows about it, and it stays crunched!

The numbers are telly-metrics, and, as we all know, these numbers are money.

Telly-metrics are data that the marketing boffins have scraped off users — audiences, viewers, people, or, these days, festering corpses — that watch the shows we put out, and by crunching this data on the way people watch the shows we put out, the company hopes to make the shows even showier, more compellingly showy, to get more people, regardless of their state of decomposition, watching them. 

The more punters we have arrayed in front of the goggle, the more data we can scrape, which we can use to optimise content, which will, in turn, lead to yet more punters staying in front of the goggle for longer periods, in an apparently infinite and exponential data curve. 

And all that data we scrape can be sold to advertisers, who will persuade the same punters whose data we have monetised to go out and spend their own money on the stuff that advertisers have deemed they want by parsing the data we have scraped by dint of these people sitting in front of the telly long enough for us to capture the metrics of their souls.

And so we all hope that our revenue and the income of the advertisers will imitate the same rocket-like curve of viewer numbers. 

The punters will be entertained, they’ll buy all the fun stuff they need, while the manufacturers, the advertisers, and Paradise TV will all make buckets of dosh. Win, win, win, win, win, ad infinitum, et cetera. 

So we crunch numbers. We crunch the correlations between time spent gurning at the camera and revenue flows, between strikes to the head with a rubber chicken to revenue spikes; on-screen tantrums, numbers of tits and nipples per hour, ratio of skinny models, absolute number of songs, bongs from gongs, fart jokes, fart noises, hairy chests, appearances of cakes (and which kind), and tight trousers to net profits. 

That, essentially, is how I facilitate the creation of the televisual entertainment that enthrals the planet. I quantify fun so it can be turned into dosh. 

I am, in other words, one of the unsung without whom none of this (waving appropriate award) would be possible.

However, I have problems explaining that to the kids. Or to myself, come to that.

And I am very curious that all this has continued, more or less uninterrupted, despite the apparent universal death of humanity.

On the TV there is another wet explosion, a loud fart, a clang, and whoops of joy from the audience. 

‘Dad, did you make this one too? It’s really, really, really cool!’

3

And so it goes on day after day after day. Or so it doesn’t go on day after day after day. Everything is animated by the stasis of the grave. I get up and go to work. I go home. I sometimes go home by way of the pub where I may drink the fumes of something that forgot to stop fermenting when it left the brewery, where I may moan jollities with the boys, or just stare at the walls, rapt at the flaking of the paint. 

At the weekend I do the normal weekend things. All the time I think of two things: staying alive; and getting the fuck out of here. 

It is all dead time. Humanity was not the only casualty when everyone died. Time died too. 

4

The universal death of humanity has not improved my working life in any way. It certainly hasn’t raised the intellectual tenor of the thing. Nor lowered it any, come to that. Just as death suits my family it suits my place of work and my colleagues. The office is no more nor less a high-rise mausoleum — grey, desiccated, barren, horror-filled. My co-workers are no more nor less animated by death, no more nor less prone to anything meaningful happening between their ears. No more nor less fucking morons

No, I take that back: the maggots wriggling in their sagging lobes represent a peak of brain activity in both their working and private lives; the maggots feeding on their grey matter is without doubt the most mental stimulation my colleagues have ever experienced.

Like, today. Nigel Mildew comes, sits down on the edge of my desk, tells me about television for at least thirty minutes. 

Nigel fucking Mildew. My workgroup task facilitator. 

His head is mounted on his neck sideways. He looks as if at some point in his life he was decapitated and an indifferent mechanic reattached his head by inserting the spine through his right ear. He wears glasses so thick his eyes appear to be caught in holes in the space-time continuum. Eye contact can cause vomiting levels of vertigo. These eyes and this head are attached to a frame that is toweringly lanky and disjointed to the point it is permanently on the verge of collapse. Clearly the distance between his tiny putrid brain and the joints in his limbs is beyond the range that nerve impulses can travel uncorrupted. This means that at any moment his limbs are all doing different things to each other. Dinosaurs had a similar problem due to their size. Many of the bigger species had brains so small they couldn’t control their own bodies and evolved sub-brains at strategic locations throughout the bodies to boost the nerve signals and keep everything together. Mildew is similar but has not yet evolved the sub-brains his physiology demands. That’s right, he has not yet evolved even as far as an extinct lizard. His disfigurement is not the result of any horrific post-death accident. He was always like this. If anything, death has improved his personality.

I’m so demoralised with even being at work, I just want to get on with my spreadsheet so I don’t have to think about anything. You know, get the morning done, get to lunch. But Mildew just fucking plants himself there. At the next desk to me, my alleged wingman Kevin Wosisname wets himself with delight. Not only did Mildew have a captive pair of ears (me) but had a willing accomplice (Kevin) with whom he could bond with recollections and quotes about the televisual feast of the previous night. Wosisname burbled and gurgled and simpered in counterpoint to Mildew’s plangent, epic, recap. 

The camaraderie attracts Nora Gobb like a worm to decay. Nora Gobb: second primary group line facilitator; three bands above Mildew, seventy-six below anything meaningful. She’s a blob of green with a lot of the personality and all the appearance of Jabba the Hutt. Paid presence in the workplace is her only chance of having human relationships, and the hierarchy is the only way she understands of relating to people.

‘Nigel, Kevin, Ben — are you enjoying nice conversation?’ she asks. When she is engaging with people in a non-supervisory role she has the simpering mien of a dog that has at some point in its life been severely beaten and is now uncertain of who might turn their hobnail boots on her. 

So Mildew tells her exactly what he has already told me at painful length. Exactly the same. Word for absolute bloody word. And while he is talking, he pops out an eyeball, breathes on it and polishes it on his shirt front in a gesture of such smugness, I would strangle him if he weren’t already dead.

‘So on Kill or be Killed last night Dick and Prick were playing football … ’

‘That’s nice.’

‘Yeah.’ He pops the gleaming eyeball back in. ‘They got together two celebrity teams, all the best people, and instead of a ball they used Dick’s head.’

‘That’s nice.’

‘Yeah.’ He pops out the other eye and begins polishing on his grey, grave-soiled tie. ‘I was just telling Ben who didn’t see it, they put one of those mini cameras in Dick’s mouth so you could see the game from his point of view, his point of view being the ball’s point of view, yeah?’

‘That’s nice.’

‘Yeah.’ He screws the polished eye back into its socket, and takes out the other again. ‘It was hilarious. They all took turns having their head used as the ball. It was hilarious when anyone scored a goal because you could see the goal from the point of view of the ball going into the net instead of from the point of view of the spectators, which is what you usually see, you see.’

In the ecstasy of the story, Wosisname chews on his pencil, which causes his front teeth to buckle and fall out.

‘That’s nice.’

‘Yeah. And every time they kicked the head like a ball it screamed. You could hear it clearly. It was hilarious. And when there was a goal, it screamed twice as much.’

‘That’s nice.’

‘Yeah.’ Rubbing both eyes on his shirt in a two-handed masturbatory gesture. ‘There was a scream-ometer too.’

‘That’s nice.’

‘Did you see it?’

‘Yes, I did. All of it. I started watching at the beginning of the show and watched all the way through the middle to the end. It was hilarious,’ said Nora.

Wosisname couldn’t contain himself any longer. ‘Hilarious!’ he squawked and an eardrum ruptured ejaculating black slime on to his shoulder.

‘I thought it was hilarious when Dick said to Marianne Scary, “You hid be on by dose!”’ Nora and Mildew laughed loudly and agreed that bit was hilarious.

I didn’t see the thing. I was having a good session of repeatedly slamming my willy in the car door, which is much less painful than watching the stuff I help to make. But I don’t explicitly tell them that because there’s no knowing where it will end. It’s like the more I tell them I don’t watch television, the more the dribbling arseholes want to tell me about it. Do you suppose when I say I don’t watch it, they interpret this to mean I’m missing out, and that they feel it a sacred mission to fill me in on whatever it is I’m losing in life? Do they think they are helping me out by offering me a bite of the nutrition I missed? Or do they keep telling me about whatever was on last night because they feel it’s some kind of failure of professionalism that I enable television without consuming it? Or do they keep babbling on about it because they are congenital wankers with lives so empty they create a perfect vacuum?

Whatever, whatever. At bottom I don’t watch TV because it reminds me too much of real life and I am already living too much dead time. 

So, Nigel Mildew just sits there with his bum on the end of my desk cataloging every pratfall and rubber chicken assault I missed last night. And after a further minute of dissection of the angry “slag” on the Puke Factor, he finally tells the three of us, ‘Well, you don’t want to speak to me — I’ve not had my coffee fix yet this morning, which makes me a very dangerous person.’ Wosisname and Nora laughed at this until their jaws unhinged.

Dangerous? Nigel Mildew? He’s about as dangerous as a cold fart in a jam jar, him. 

And when he finally gets up and wobbles off, I see his anus has indeed dribbled, leaving a black soggy stain that, even as I watch, seems to be dissolving the wood of my desk.


All books available in paperback from Amazon, and ebook from Kindle and Apple Books — or direct from the author(email link).

Buy a paperback and you can download the Kindle of the same book free. Have both physical and electronic versions of any Chris Page publication. Buy one, get the same one free, as it were!

Amazon/Kindle North America

Amazon/Kindle UK

Amazon/Kindle Japan

Or try your preferred regional Amazon/Kindle.

Apple Books [No, the sporty books on the Apple Chris Page page are nothing to do with me but have become conflated by name!]

Or read short samples of each book:

Weed

Sanctioned

Another Perfect Day in Fucking Paradise

King of the Undies World

The Underpants Tree

Un-Tall Tales (Will open separate site in new window)