“Dubmisstep” by Marc Nash
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Marc Nash discovers death on a South London murder mile.
by Marc Nash
South London, England
Every South London borough has a murder mile. A stab alley. A no-man’s land patrolled by kids steeled with knives. Hermetic borders marked by spray-painted runes. All Ten Commandments boiled down to the cardinal sin of urban trespass. Thou shalt steal, covet, false witness, and murder in order to purge the adulteration of your ends. Thou shalt have no other master than that of the gang, nor take its name in vain. Thou shalt honor thy gang. For the gang is your mother and father.
Innate retinal scanners trawling for unfamiliar physiognomies scarce different to their own. Kids from the wrong block. Indelibly marked by their postcodes though they have never received a letter through the mail in their life. Instead they communicate digitally. Posting messages on video, calling one another out to play. Rap braggadocios, stamped and sealed with hardcore criminal poses. Criminal because they’re cliched. London intonation, US gangster lean.
However, for the soundtrack of the streets themselves, the sonic sculpture of Dubstep. Uniquely capital city crafted. The sound of slow strangulation. Sawn-off beats and serrated reggae rhythms low in the mix, barely hanging on within the sub-base void. Biblical preachers and modern apocalypsters bleeding from the crawl spaces between the reverberating silences. The music of ketamine nightmares that has seeped out into the day. Pirate radio pillaging of the airwaves, blaring and booming from quaking cars’ sound systems. Ratcheting up the decibels, giving the diesel bus engines a run for their money as they idle at the labyrinth of red lights.
Police tape billowing in the breeze. Memorial flowers lashed to the railings inert in their lifelessness. London’s streets no longer paved with gold, instead they now demand payment. A weekly blood tithe transfused from its youth. Trying to stem the tide of its own ignoble decay. The motorized street cleaners hose down the plasma along with the discarded fried chicken legs and meat-juiced kebabs. Pedestrians and shoppers further effacing the lividity under the heels of their feet, in their rush to get home before the youngers’ curfew drops on their heads like a guillotine.
I raised my head above the parapet to chronicle this in poetry. Became something of a celebrity. A known face in the locality. So they came hunting for me. Cut me off at the knees. Culled before the age of majority. To aspire to anything a surefire idolatry.
Now the railing flowers are for me. The crime scene tape delineates the parabola of my declivity. My exsanguination has been pressure blasted from the concrete. I have given of my best to propitiate London’s rapacious maw. I see now appetite always surmounts aspiration. My friends grieve for me, reciting my own callow verses. They light sky lanterns and release them into the ether hoping to intercept my hitchhiking soul and float me up to heaven. I wonder how their paper doesn’t ignite and serve for my spirit’s funeral pyre? The elders tear at their faces and wail and demand that youth cease smiting youth. There is no book of remembrance, barely even a passing mention in the fatigued local paper. Who can say whether my memory is commemorated in one of the bass drops or outros of the next Dubstep track recorded in a basement studio? But my reaping is immortalized on video by my killers. A digital notch in their assassins’ knife belt. London slays me.
MARC NASH has published four novels and five collections of short stories. His fifth novel, “3 Dreams In The Key Of G,” will be published in 2017 by Dead Ink Books. An excellent live performer, he collaborates with video makers to turn some of his stories into kinetic typography videos. After nineteen years in the music industry, he now works in the Freedom of Expression field and lives in London.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Feb 1, 2017