The Book of Gana’Ot

I came up with the idea for The Book of Gana’ot as I was walking to town one day. I was crossing a road, and the meaningless word Gana’Ot suddenly popped into my head, as though out of nowhere. I don’t question my madness-inspired creativeness.

I thought about what would be such a book: an occult item, obviously. It was never going to be anything pleasant. I thought about a book which had the ability to transform the world in some manner.

The book is subtitled the Second Testament of Susan. This is a reference to the novel The Impossibilities. But this is not a sequel to that novel: it only points to the fact that, in both cases, the main protagonist is called Susan.

In this novel I warped my use of diction as much as I could, using the occasional rare or inexistent word: in the first three paragraphs are the words boardings; abandonments; armageddons; and unwasted. My spellchecker still doesn’t like any of them. But armageddon, in its meaning as a decisive confrontation is a noun which can be found in the plural. Boardings is obvious, and was used to rhyme with hoardings. And so on.

Extract from The Book of Gana’Ot

In the beginning…

The heroin ghosts stand in the drizzle-down, propping up the boardings that were once shop front hoardings; they haunt these abandonments, hollow eyes staring from skeletal sockets, seeking out the next hosts to fund their self-destruction. But they are invisible to the umbrella squad on their charity shop crusade, the blue rinse brigade and the perambulator cavalry, all seeking out some forgotten and forlorn grail.

And the town clock has stopped, unwilling to continue counting down the time to these personal armageddons, the hands held at two minutes to midnight. But it doesn’t matter, because no one looks up any more.

And you? You find it so easy, to find your path in this mortal maze; each step unwasted past the trash that flows to others’ lives.

The rain does not fall on you; your mascara does not run; you are forever the child of the sun. He has gifted you with hair of fiery red; your green eyes must be a moon-gift, though. But it does not stop your hating the freckles on your face. You wish that you could banish these blemishes to some other place. You lie to yourself that they stop you being pretty.

Skipping along the rain-stung streets, the scent of CO2 overpowering other smells. But few cars go into the centre of town, now that most of the shops have gone. The cars migrate like bees, always in search of the sweetest flower. It is left to the foot soldiers to scour the charity shops for deals. There’ll be another one soon, and the set will be complete, like in Monopoly.

You never liked that one as a kid; no one did. The games used to go on forever, descending into ennui, arguments, and lost pieces. Your mother gave the board away after your dog swallowed the dog, and had to be taken to the vet. You secretly believed that he was jealous of this metal gestalt getting all of the attention.

You stop in front of the carpet place. Everything is always 50% off. It always is. They’ve had a Closing down Sale – Everything Must Go – for the last five years now. Perhaps time itself has stopped, just like the town clock.

You carry on. The rain has stopped for the moment, but you don’t care. You never worry about life, and it has never bothered you. Not until today. Today is the day when everything changes.

Marks and Spencers closed its door exactly one year ago today, deciding that your town was no longer high class enough for it to grace you with its presence. Where it was remains empty, another hulking lack of bulk, more wooden boards with graffiti on. Rude slogans and misspelled adverts for racial repatriation mingle with street art and arcane symbols, of meaning only to some insane scribe. But you don’t read them. You’ve seen them all before.

You know where you’re going today – and how many others can say that – the little second hand bookshop that is unlikely to survive (like all the second hand bookshops that the town has killed before) has got your order in: Catcher In The Rye. You’ve never read it before. It was the book that Mark Chapman had in his pocket when he shot John Lennon. But that is not why you are purchasing it. You are buying it because Grant Morrison used it in St Swithin’s Day, and there have been times when you have felt like a Neurotic Outside too: but never a Boy. You never ever wanted to be anything other than a girl. But you know how others feel: it’s simple for you; you don’t realise how hard it can be for others to show compassion.

You step into the bookshop – Pages From The Ages – and you instantly know that something is wrong. It’s not hard – the old, white-haired owner is dead, a single bullet hole in the middle of his forehead, like some Hindu symbol of life. And the shop has been ransacked.

You become a statue of flesh and doubt. Animal instincts, your reptile brain, tell you to run, yet you remain rooted to the spot. The truth must unfold, like some poison orchid, until you know. The truth must come. Nothing else will do.

There are no alarms going off. With a dead body, you have always felt that there should be alarms going off.

Insanely, you wonder where your book is, as though that matters now. One wall is freckled with blood, and you still wonder where Catcher In The Rye is.

The taker of life could still be here, yet you feel no fear. Now, you only want to know why. Curiosity beckons you to the still warm corpse.

The cash drawer is open, and there’s crisp money in the till. This was no robbery gone wrong, but something darker still. And you look around, but you are alone, and people wander past outside, no one but you noticing the crime inside. And you want to scream to awaken yourself from this dream gone bad, but your lips are sealed.

The till is on a desk, an old mahogany one totally unsuited to the task at hand. You wonder if they will get the bloodstains out, whoever they are in such situations. You suppose that the old bookshop owner does not particularly care now, one way or the other.

As you stand there, victim of Medusa, a drawer in the desk snaps open, as though by magic. It must be magic, because you did not do anything; and the drawer was concealed. You would never have found it had it not decided to open up itself.

There is a book within. What else could it be? And a part of you knows that this tome is what the murderer desired, what he required, but did not find. And the illogical part of your mind tells you that you should take the book, and flee this place of gore and hate and musty forgotten works.

You take the book and flee with not a single backwards look. What else could you do?

Your name is Susan.

The Book of Gana’Ot is available as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle store.

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