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St. John stirred sexily in his sleep, the satin sliding from his sleeping shape. Mimsy was restless, despite their reciprocal rapture. Sweat still slicked her skin, stinging the scrapes she’d suffered in the psycheverse. She kissed and caressed his chest, creeping from the cot so as not to concern him. Naked she nimbly nipped across the nest and knelt, lotus natured. A backward look at her languid lover and she lidded her lamps, leaning into the lunatic land of luminosity. She felt the world whirl away as she went, wilful to seek the wickedness within.

The psycheverse here was hers and her mind was filled with the scattered remnants of recent thoughts. St John’s face, massive, carved into the red rock of her imagination, contorted in remembered ecstasy. This island in the void smelt of sweat and sweetness, butter and incense, a low note of old spices, warm and christmassy. Her mind was never the same landscape twice, wide open to the world this island in the void was always hers but always different. Her fears were manifest here too, a tinge of yellow – primrose rather than mustard – laid here and there. Cracks in the firmament beneath her feet, a chill wind of disquiet fluttering her diaphanous salwar kameez around her body as her unease made her manifest clothing.

If the deaths were to stop, if Mr Mustard were to be stopped, she would have to sacrifice herself. Her mind, her essence, her energy, her vril, her prana was stronger than others. Her third eye a blazing beacon in the psycheverse. If he took her mind he would have to take no others. He would be real and it would only cost her, not however many others he killed in his quest. It was a worthwhile sacrifice.

She turned out, towards the teeming sea of minds and opened her third eye wide. It blazed as the prismatic light shone out deep into the psycheverse, a beacon, a line of rainbow light that slowly tightened down to yellow, calling her enemy.
There was a creeping sense of dread, of terror, she swallowed it back knowing the sacrifice that she was going to make – assuming that he took her up on her offer. She felt him approach, the world around her turning yellow, save for a little patch under her feet. A stink like a Friday night stairwell, rot and piss and nicotine smoke and he appeared again, riding on a tide of jaundiced light until he alighted at the edge of her mind, wary, flexing his mental muscles, a yellow steam wafting around him as she shuffled closer, step by step, that hideous face snarled into a contemptuous sneer.

“You called?” The laugh that accompanied the comment was grotesque and utterly humourless, it was the laugh of a boy plucking the legs from a spider one by one and watching its hopeless struggles.

Mimsy nodded gently and inclined her head, looking humble, even though her stomach was convulsing in terror. “I have an offer for you.”

His greasy fingers cupped her chin and lifted her eyes to look into his mustard glare. It stung all three of her eyes to look at him that closely and stroboscopic tears crept down her cheeks from the pain and the fear. “I can eat you up the moment I choose to. What can you possibly offer me?”

She wetted her lips with her tongue and tried to close her eyes, feeling his ragged nails scratch as he tightened his grip, stopping her. “My mind is more powerful than most. If you take me you can become real without having to kill anyone else. You can leave, through me, enter the real world and it’ll be over. You’ll get what you want.”

The disgusting tulpa raised his other hand to his own chin, mirroring the way he was holding her as he scratched and thought, flakes of dead yellow skin falling like snow and clinging to her, making the bile rise in the back of her mouth. “Maybe I like killing. Maybe that’s the way I want to do it.”

“Can you wait that long?”

The creature pondered a moment longer and then simply nodded. “I accept. Open wide.”

Mimsy’s two eyes closed and her third eye gaped wide, blazing with light, wider and wider, brighter and brighter. Mr Mustard laughed over and over and over, louder and louder, his paper clothes rattling in the wind as the portal grew wider and wider and he was reduced to a sallow-edged silhouette.

Through the coruscating light her room could be seen beyond, the vague shape of St John, asleep in the bed, not that Mr Mustard cared. This was his promised land, the really-real, a place to be physical, set, to experience everything first hand through his own senses rather than through anyone else’s. He began to shuffle forward, into the light, closer and closer to the other side.
A burst of cardamom scent and an inverted flash of darkness behind him and he was caught between two Mimsy’s, one blazing light, the other blazing dark, hauled in two directions between them. “What? What’s going on, what are you doing?”

The two of her spoke as one. “She is my self image, that is a memory, a recent one, a short term, forgettable memory, a night of passion with a man, one night of many. Forgettable in its detail, part of a continuum, a memory that will not last. Once you’re in there and its forgotten, you are forgotten.” The two of her began to slowly pace together, sandwiching him between them.

“You forget Miss Burogrove… am I stronger than you.” His own yellow light began to glow anew and he began to grow, bigger and bigger, reaching out his hands to deflect the light and dark in scattered rays from his tawny, stained fingers.

“Anywhere else in the psycheverse you are stronger than me, but this is my mind and you came here willingly. The more real you become, the more like me you become. The playing field is levelled and here, in my mind, my memories, my dreams. I am more, I am stronger.” The mirror twins grew as fast as Mr Mustard, faster, dwarfing him, rejoining, flowing into a swirling taijitu as her palms closed together around the fading yellow light. “I’m sorry, you deserved a chance to be real, but not like this… I love you.”

And he was gone.

Mimsy stood, shakily, a single shed tear shearing from her chin and sliding down the slope of her breast in the shadows. Timidly she tottered across to the trundle and tipped into it. St John stirred and stared as she slipped against him.

“Everything alright luv?” He murmured.

She nestled her noggin in the nook of his neck and nuzzled at him. “It’s over. He’s gone now. I dealt with it.”
His hands hold her, hug her, her hips hove back and she hooks her heels behind his shanks. “Make me forget,” she says.
Eyes meet and for a moment he has misgivings, a merest mote of yellow in her gaze, but lips meet, bodies move and immediately all is marvellous, magnificent and mean Mister Mustard, but a memory, melting away.

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Mimsy trod the chequered ground beneath her feet and raised her hand to shield her eyes from the blazing sunflowers in the sky. She couldn’t fly here, the world was resisting her, the traumatised woman didn’t want her here prying into her secrets and the yellow man didn’t want her here either. He hadn’t left – yet – but his influence was withdrawing, like water slowly flowing backwards, back to where he was standing, barely visible in the far distance.

The landscape curved and undulated, it was sculpted and lined as if made by brush strokes, colours alongside one another to give the illusion of a third colour, rather than mixed. It was rough going on Mimsy’s feet and where it wasn’t abrasive lines it was soft, squishing like wet mud between her toes and leaving a trail of multicoloured footprints across the landscape.

Here the ground was cracked open and crumbling, like two halves of a mint cake, snapped in half. Beneath the post-impressionist landscape the ground turned to shreds of torn canvas but here, where the land was torn apart, a river of blood, tainting the air with a coppery scent, flowed down in a roaring torrent. Mimsy turned, brushing an errant strand of glowing hair from her face and looked to where the blood was coming from. A man’s head, his face, gigantic in the landscape, twisted in pain, bleeding from a terrible wound in his forehead that gushed down his face and made the river.

Mimsy tried, again, to unfurl her wings but the world, the mind, the imagined reality of this place resisted her. There was a brief flicker and she rose up to her toes, but that was all she could manage. There had to be another way to cross the river of blood, there had to be, time was running out tick by unrelenting tick as the yellow stain withdrew. She cast around, looking, desperately for something, anything that might help her across.

One this side of the river of blood stood a wilting stand of trees, up, closer to the bleeding head, pink and brown with hear-shaped leaves that were fluttering in the wake of a sudden autumn. She could see the leaves wilting and drying before her eyes. She sprinted up along the crumbling banks of the crimson flood and into the trees. They smelled of sweat, of sweetness, of salt and resin. She ran her hand across their smooth bark and felt them tremble, the surface breaking away in crumbs, the wood beneath fading, failing, rotting.

Mimsy wrapped herself around the trunk and laid her cheek against the bark, her body pressed to the quivering, disintegrating tree. It solidified, became stronger, more real again as she held it, bleeding a little of her own reality into it, murmuring affection into its bark, caressing its desiccated, vascular, leaves. A push, a kiss and the tree shuddered again, leaves falling around her as it leaned over, over, over until its crown of branches struck the other side of the divide and, with another kiss, she was able to walk her way to the other side, arms outstretched like a tightrope walker, the bitter-sweet taste of the bark upon her lips.

The ground on the other side rose up, a hill, a mountain, a cliff, abruptly reaching up into that inky sky and the blinding sunflowers so steep and sweeping that to look in any direction was vertiginous. Up and down, left and right, the moment Mimsy looked up at this cliff they lost all their meaning, like laying on your back in the grass and looking up into the sky when the panic seizes you that you might fall off the world.
Here, that could happen.

Mimsy clung, desperately, to the surface of the wall, six hands and two feet digging into the surface with desperate strength, clinging to the ridges of the paint and the hanging strips of canvas. Looking around her now every single direction seemed to drop away into infinity, but she could see the yellow stain, withdrawing in each and every direction so she simply closed her eyes and scrambled, like a spider across the impossible cliff, an ersatz Arachne in an impossible world.

It seemed like hours that she climbed, eyes closed, refusing to see the strangeness around her until, finally, one of her many hands came over the lip of the cliff and opening her brown eyes again she hauled herself over the lip onto the xanthous crown of this place, the redoubt of the yellow man.

She’d seen him before, but now they studied each other. He seemed more powerful, more real, bigger than glimpses she’d had of him before. He was a vile, sulphurous yellow, skin, clothes, hair, all of it the same eye-bending shade, a colour so strong it made her face sting as though she’d eaten a spoonful of mustard, making her eyes stream and her face screw up with near physical pain. He was hairy, naked, his face twisted in a mean smirk, eyes blazing with hatred and contempt for anything, everything, everyone. His face was lopsided, a monstrous carbuncle disfiguring his nose on one side, painful looking and suppurating, another reason looking upon him was a pain.
Mimsy found her voice. “Who are you? Why are you doing this? What have you got against these people?” She tried to keep the outrage out of her voice, tried to stay calm, loving, respectful even though the man was such a frightful shock, simply to look at.

When his voice came it was a chafing, snide, whine, nasal and whistling around that unsightly growth. “Me? I’m nobody, and who are you exactly to be asking, to be pursuing me or trying to stop me?”

“Mimsy, Mimsy Burogrove and this is my job, things of the mind, the imagination, the strange, things that don’t make sense.”

“You’re real.” He groused, raising himself up on his arthritic toes, the yellow landscape contracted now to mere veins that bled into the painted landscape. “You come here from the real world and interfere with this one.”

“The psycheverse, I’m a guardian.” Mimsy took another step towards him, all six hands palm-up, talking low and calm and quiet.

“You’re a doorkeeper, a prison guard. You are real but I am not. I am from here, from the rambling imaginations the people you seek to ‘protect’ and oh… they imagine such terrible things, such strange things. Things like me.” He reached out to her, his ragged, cracked, parchment nails scratching with a rasp against her cheek. “I want to be real. You come here from there, can you really deny me the right to go there from here?”

His touch disgusted her, she couldn’t help but recoil, his nails on her skin made her think of maggots, of turned-over stones, of the gunk in the plughole, anything and everything that made her flesh crawl. It was the touch of insects, the clammy paws of an ‘uncle’ and it turned her stomach. “You’re killing people.”

“And you, my dear Mimsy, are an interloper in my world.” He stretched and flattened, like a giant paper cut-out, enormous and terrifying, a lutescent tower of parchment that reached for her with paper-cut hands that writhed like flatworms, making her gorge rise just to look at them.


Curving blades of bilious disgust sprang into her hands as she went to battle with the murderous yellow spectre, the knives of her abhorrence for the very essence of him slashing and swiping at his fingers as he reached for her. It was in vain, they struck from the surface of his papery flesh in a shower of sparks and his ribbon-fingers bound her up like a mummy, bringing her up to that leprous maw as she struggled and twisted in that grip, paper-cuts opening on her skin where it was bared between his fingers.

He was too strong.

“I will become real little bug, little spider, my dear Miss Burogrove. You cannot stop me, you’re not strong enough here. You think this is your world, you think you’re special, but this is my world. Not yours.”

He squeezed, tighter and tighter, crushing the breath from her body, her bones began grind together, she couldn’t breathe, her breasts were crushed flat, painfully, to her chest. Not a single arm could move, about all she could do was to clench her toes, some small action to relieve the pain.

The world rocked, abruptly, stars exploded in the sky like fireworks and both of them looked up, a snarl of anger on the yellow man’s face. “No!” but it was too late, she felt his grip loosen, his fingers fall away from her body as the pair of , them faded away and the really-real replaced the psycheverse before her rheumy eyes.

A perfect paragon of perplexity and perturbation, St. John stood, sentinel, over her as the slumped in the slanting drizzle of the street. His gun was gripped, held high in his hand, the woman unconscious, unfeeling, unseeing on the ground. “I had to knock her out, something strange was happening, the way you were grasping each other, the yellow light in her eyes. I hope it’s alright.”
She smiled, sapped and sickened by the scrap within the sister’s sentience and simply nodded. “You did the right thing St. John… but I don’t know what we’re going to do about Mister Mustard, I can’t beat him.” She hung her head, humbled by the hurt.

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The scene of the crime was a sad little studio mere steps away in Soho, superimposed above a salacious store front whole seductive stock stimulated the shopper with synthetic sexiness and skin, stripped starkers. Above this gaudy Gomorrah the gutted gudgeon of the latest grotesquerie was laid gaping on the ground in his garret.

St. John helped our heroine into this horrific home and held back, leaving her to hem, haw and hash out her hunches.

“The previous victim was a businessman, is that what you said?” Mimsy leaned her three-lensed Lennon’s back upon her locks as she looked.

“Yeah, that’s right luv.” St. John poked in a perturbed process at the piecemeal possessions of the person (now deceased), placed on the parquet.

“Well, this one was an artist.” Mimsy certified, confident, conspicuously so, in her certitude.

“How on Earth do you know that?” St. John saw no reason to reach such a robust result in reasoning so readily.

“Poor, but honest. Dressed shabbily, but carefully repaired. Cheap food to eat, cheap accommodation to live in, surviving on sugar, caffeine. I can smell the clinging smoke of marijuana all over the few furnishings that he’s got.”

St. John sighed, surprised and stirred by her show of solid speculation, saddened by his own slapdash study.

“If I get shot of the constables here, can you work your particular brand of special magic to find anything out?”

“On a dead man? It’s a bit dangerous but if you really want me to do it, I can have a go at it.” Mimsy crouched, catlike, concurrent to the corpse and considered the conspicuous crater in the cadaver’s cranium. “Stabbed in the head again, same spot.”
St. John shooed away the shower of sheriffs intent on showing their own skill and stood sentinel for the sorceress of the street.

Mimsy sank with great delicacy into the remnants of the mind of the dead man, following the drifting piano-key steps, ebony and ivory, down into the man’s wilting subconscious – or what remained of it.

The brain’s cells starts to die off a few minutes after the flow of oxygen stops, but bits and pieces, dribs and drabs, a few scintilla of mentality remain for some time and it was into this storm of Escher shapes and fragmentary memories that the less wise call ‘near death experiences’ that Mimsy stepped, flitting from crumbling dreams to hard and glassy regrets in her search for any trace that remained of the man’s memories of the brutal attack upon his person.

Everything was flaking away, disintegrating into the darkness of death like the burning edges of a film in a grindhouse projector fire as she tried to stay one step ahead. Lévy curve wings sprouted from her naked back in plastic-fantastic black and white as she leapt the gulf of death to the last bastion of the dead man’s naked consciousness; the fragmenting memories of his childhood home, scorching away with a scent like burnt toast and petrichor.

Soft, bare feet touched down upon the grey-scale grass and the rings on her toes glittered in the light of the nostalgia-sun that beat down from the herringbone-clouded sky. She could hear the desperate sobbing of a child within the crudely recalled house and folding her wings behind her like a monochrome ladybird she turned the decomposing door handle and stepped within.

The inside of the house smelt of plasticine and daffodils, mingling with the meaty undertone of something delicious cooking in the kitchen oven. The man, the boy, all that there was that remained of him, sat in front of a half-remembered television, staring at the flickering screen and crying. The tears streamed down his face and ran away in a river, an image from Alice in Wonderland that had, apparently, made a lasting impression when he was a boy and lingered even as the light of his mind went out, inch by inch.

Mimsy trod gently forward down the luridly patterned carpet of the hall but before she could get close to him a monstrous, spidrous thing, all limbs and scissors and chattering, broken, teeth, blindingly yellow came juddering and stuttering towards her. Canary, mustard, jaundiced, sickly, painful to the eyes in this place without colour it was a thing pieced together from childhood nightmares and given life, a creature designed to stop her, shadows and sharp edges and a desire to snip and cut.

“Snicker-snack.” It said, and went for her thumbs with a clamorous snipping that rent the air.

Mimsy fell back before it’s assault, surprised and terrified to find such a thing here, lurking in his mind, so powerful when everything else was fading.. Everyone had personal demons, she’d fought many, cured people of their afflictions, addictions, hang-ups and madness. This helter-skelter creature was something new, something worse, something unnatural; empowered by some other force from outside this mind.

“Snicker-snack.” It said. She bled paisley from a dozen cuts as the thing span around the corridor, chasing her back towards the front door like some crazy Meccano gecko, leaving ink-bleeding marks in floor, walls and ceiling in its manic, crab-like gait. Hissing with pain she reached into her belly through her navel and drew forth her roseate uterine pistol, arming it with the mother-load.

“Snicker-snack.” It said, again, the great curving shears of its hands surging forth for the killing blow.

She fired.

The nightmare was engulfed in a warm haze of kisses and hugs, of soft bosoms, of the reassuring warmth and sweet smell of a mother’s arms. It shrieked and shrank as it fought, growing smaller and smaller and smaller until it was nothing more than a shrunken, angular foetus, a glimmer and then nothing at all.

Wary now, Mimsy kept the gun held tight in her hands, warily covering herself with the three-pointed weapon as she crept closer to the boy. Already the outer walls of the room were crumbling, the fight had done more damage to the dead man’s mind and there was little left.

She drew the sobbing boy to her breast as she looked past him to the television, there in black and white, flecked with snow, were the last things he had seen. His girl, his lover, his truest one, eyes mad with hate and lust for something other than him, striking at him with her scissors, a yellow gleam behind her eyes that was now disturbingly familiar. The Snicker-Snack had been this thing’s familiar, it knew she was onto it, it was protecting itself, trying to ward her off.

She held him into his tears stopped and his body crumbled to ash, leaving her hanging, alone in the darkness and then she went back to her body, sadness dogging her every metaphorical step.

Mimsy felt febrile, her flesh factually flensed, as well as in the fantasy of the now completely dead. She held up her hands in horror, hesitant as sanguine humour ran down from her hurts.

St. John’s hand found her fingers and fetched them close. “You’re hurt. I’ve never seen that happen before. What happened, are you alright?” His eyes were effusive with empathy.

“Bad trip,” Mimsy whimpered, wiping away the blood with a washcloth “But I think I know a few things more about our murderer now. I just have to be sure and that means we need to find this man’s girlfriend, before the killer leaves her.”

“I have, absolutely, no idea what you’re talking about.” St. John fumbled a fag into his face and fed upon the fumes, drawing fortitude from the feeling it gave him.

“The murderer isn’t from this world, it’s something inside them, in their minds. It left a blue meanie to try and stop me. It’s powerful and dangerous, a native of the psycheverse. We’re going to have to be more careful and can’t hurt the girl, or the other ‘murderers’. It’s not their fault.”

Together the tenacious twosome left the tenebrous tenement, tracking the terrified sweetheart. Mimsy could smell the fear, like a fog, rising from the filly and in fleeting time they found her, frightened and frenzied in a foxhole. Surrounded by rubbish and wracked with regret, bloodied, blubbering and batshit she was not the best beholder to the battle.

Mimsy held St. John back and bit by bit beseeched the barmy bird to becalm herself. Jaundiced eyes gaped at her. The lemon light in that limpid leer made her leery. Fingertips touched and in a solitary second Mimsy was transported for a second time.

Disoriented, blinking, Mimsy found herself in the ruined landscape of the poor woman’s mind. Everything was yellow and red, the yellow colour draining out of the landscape towards a distant Dali landscape, rendered the sickly colour of stale piss by the corruption of the presence, squatting in her mind and growing stronger, yes, definitely stronger than it had been before. This was Mimsy’s world, her playground but the yellow man in the distance, the power he had, not knowing what he was, made her… scared.

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