Video & text teasers for the 3 chapters of Hallucination in Hong Kong
In Hallucination in Hong Kong by Rohan Quine, sliding from joy to nightmare and back, a plane-flight frames a journey into Jaymi’s and Angel’s polarised identities and perceptions, where past and present merge in an obsessive fantasy of love, death, horror and apocalyptic beauty.
1 So here is the horror, to sicken the sun
On my left the oval porthole, and in front of it, you—your face in profiled silhouette, framed in sunshine through the cirrus. You turn to me. Soft brown eye-shadow’s streaked across the tan skin around your dark bewitching eyes: your gaze, which I know so well, still melts me from so close. Our hands are almost touching. Your lips part; I feel I’m sliding down between them, warm and sleek. I murmur, “I could eat you!”
Your eyebrows jump a fraction as they sometimes do unprompted and you laugh, while your eyes flicker down to my lips. “Me too!” you say.
I panic, as towards me, with inexorable slowness and a constant whine that cuts the clotted atmosphere around it with the metal sheen of lipstick laid on whale-flesh, rolls a dark ball-bearing denser than a star, in a hollow on a time-grid that yields to its passage as a mattress to a stone. The tunnel warps at its approach—becomes a giant dome upon whose underside I hang, gummed. Across its giddy vault I see you swaying on a balcony. Your tongue twitches out from your mouth like a bacon rasher poking through a letter-box. I dip to bite it off; but the thought, when my own tongue lolls on my teeth, of a hippo sliding open down a razor blade prevents me. Lazy, you jump from your perch. A silent roar of waters yawns around you; writhing hands and staring eyes are pawing as you fall… Rushing air, grinding rocket smear of fire on blistered sky—then with a thud you land impaled on jagged railings, shriek and rock with maniac laughter like a puppet in a box at a fair on the pier.
I see a close-up, shafting out across the multitude my singing mouth, my eyes, my leering face, my open head and gullet, shrieking guts and arteries. Yelps of guitar shoot up the corners of the sky in branching clumps and flower in umbrella sprays of yellow. Bass shakes the bones in the boulders of the sea, while the hills blaze hollow eyes and groan! Heads and bodies bubble in the distance all around me. Don’t you hear me now? Don’t you feel me down inside you, you before me, every one of you? D’you kid yourself that you’ll escape the damage I intend? I think you do! So watch me now… Lights weave and lash. You are rapt, you are stunned, you are limitless and legion, tier on tier as up the sides of a satellite dish. Through screens and speakers round the world, I control, hour on hour, centre-stage—your collective fascination’s poisoned cynosure. I drink the lurid limelight as a desert gasps for fluid, while a billion spotlight eyes are drinking me. My mesmeric voice resounds and soars and swoops, and softly lacerates (omnipotent, relentless, for a night).
2 Love among the spires and the fountains
Round it hung a livid sky, ill, stagnant, dying, seeping out a sickly radiance. A faint blackish light full of bits of floating matter cast a nauseating dullness on the colours round about: Claustrophobia crept around the marches of the field—snuffled through the hedges—pulled them nearer me, pretending not to realise it was noticed. Once again, dark silence… Or was it? Had I heard a noise behind me? I turned; for the first time noticed, in a section of the hedge that seemed to rustle as with hidden wings, a cave; wheeled to face it then, and froze. Dark-bodied meat-flies buzzed in a stream from the cave mouth, collected and danced in the air. It seemed that voices soft as thunder sounded far below: grave chthonic bells, fiery harmonies, and muttered incantations echoed dead and harsh in deaf and timeless labyrinths of stone … then they vanished, leaving nothing but the buzzing of the meat-flies, swelling now in gouts. —No, there was more. From the coolness of the cave depths, a noise from a bad dream; a hum, corroding sanity as acid eats a walnut. Gulps, drips, squeals and glutinous dread, growl of worms in egg-slimed earth…
This was the first moment anyone had broken through the bubble I inhabited. I felt it was my bubble rather than yours that had broken. Your bubble touched me now, the unsheathed me. What if your bubble broke as well, to leave us touching? Would I weep, would I tremble as I clung to you? You lay your head face down upon my chest. I kept preparing words, kept seeing how inadequate they were, and always stopped myself from speaking. How to better “I love you” when it’s all there is to say but still a shortfall? I think I murmured it in any case, deliberately controlled, to stop you raising up your head to seek my eyes out with your own and draw me into them—to mask from you as well the agonised imploring face I shot around the room while I hoped (fearing to search) that there was not some dark coincidence of mirrors where you watched me and wondered what the hell I felt. What was happening? Where were you? Should I break through or not? How I wanted to, but knew I didn’t know what I would find, what reception I’d be given—didn’t know the risks involved. To melt your bubble open, or to seal them both again? It could still go either way…
Another second, then I chose. Chose to shift; and shifting, broke the spell. One move sufficed to seal me up again and leave you sealed: the victory of survival over grandeur.
“Then above us,” I continued, “on a rock beyond the sand, is a figure, plucking gently at the strings of an instrument the shape of half a pear—you know the one I mean. A hermaphrodite with dark blue eyes is planted on the promontory, the focus of the bay, as at the bottom of an amphitheatre, singing, as I see now, the siren-song that shines around us all—unearthly as that one castrato’s voice we have on record—wordless and effortlessly powerful, enclosing all the world, reaching out above the billow of the fountain into countries full of sea-fire and devil-fish and dragons, where the sun-blast is golden and the she-lions are white! And I realise that this singer, like the saddest statue coppiced in a garden unremembered in the forest of a continent long-lost, has sung forever and to nobody its rapturous lament: this song, ambassador and abstract of humankind’s achievement, offered up unbidden and unheard to the heavens, just in case—a jet of feeling poured across a bay without an audience—a music playing, as it were, through headphones to a corpse.”
3 Oh, my Angel
Your face is gentle, smooth, expressionless, calmly divine in its tranquil hub. Now it grows to fill the glass, a metre wide, pinning me down as the room revolves. The voices round me squirm, boiling up to a crescendo of growling and screeching. The walls and bodies sway beyond control. Helpless, I am floundering in the ocean of a single eye of yours, which has grown to fill the mirror. It is as if I am now the grain in the cylinder, while soft and wide above me through the spy-hole the monstrous wet eyeball of my owner drinks my image as it twiddles the kaleidoscope. It stares through and past me, without communication. A whisper booms, from deep within the earth: “BLINK!… BLINK!…” I try to obey, but cannot. I try to scream “Stay! Stay! Stay!” but am frozen. If I don’t speak now, I know you’ll go. The entire mirror’s width is now your iris—now the event horizon of your pupil—now a black hole. My vision pulses light and dark in time with my heart, as it does before my eyes cry.
I breathe again and peer around. A bed, a chair, a basin. Where’s the light from? Looking up, I see it then. One internal window, near the ceiling. And through it?
Through it is a ceiling. Painted bloodless orange, in a liver-blotched light…
I sit on the empty bed and wait, in case of further footsteps. None. No sound; just the click through the wall, every minute, from your clock.
The more I concentrate, however, the more there is to hear. I freeze again, cock my head and listen hard, as if by hearing what you’ve heard so long I’ll know the vegetations of your mind.
A light buzzes blandly in the yellow rubber corridor, cutting through a sad-voiced duct in a wall. A distant cough, through many walls. Then some tiny shred of sound unidentified and odd, like a twist of cellophane across a valley… And underneath it all (to my excitement and discomfiture and growing fascination) the microscopic pipe-line of my bloodsong through the darkness of my head!
Both of us are silent.
Are you ready?
One thing I had not foreseen: being unable to face forward without toppling back, I shall have no chance, until I have shattered the glass, to make out any more than an empty corner of your room—from the rest of which I know I must be all too visible, framed here as if on television.
My right arm is trembling.
I raise my left fist carefully behind me and launch it forward as hard as possible. The pane explodes; glinting shards hit the sink with a clatter that is deafening and somehow unreal. I grip the sill on your side, to steady myself … and look.
I jolt, for there’s a shock: you are alone and still on your bench, but have been turned around to face me. Discoloured pin-pricks of light from your eyes transfix me, accusatory. I look away but feel them on me still. I narrow my eyes and frown at the nauseating orange all around me. The light in here is worse than ever, like a bad dream: grainy, clotted, teeming, sick, and seeming now to worsen by the minute. If you are in there, it must have turned you mad. On the ceiling, out above a point beside the bench, towards the door—a convex disc.
No sound, but the dripping of a tap.
The above teasers of the three chapters of Hallucination in Hong Kong are also in the Vimeo playlist “Hallucination in Hong Kong—samples of the 3 chapters”:
1i, 1ii, 1iii, 2i, 2ii, 2iii, 3i, 3ii and 3iii.
Table of Contents of Hallucination in Hong Kong
1. So here is the horror, to sicken the sun
2. Love among the spires and the fountains
3. Oh, my Angel