Transformer, part 1

↑ Jasmine at Cyberia, photographer: Pearl


Mocha was drunk again.

It was becoming a bit of a problem really and practically every week I would have to take her home. I mean it's not like I was stone cold sober either, but unlike Mocha, I'd not been downing every double dark rum and coke that the blokes at the club had been buying for me, smiling sweetly, and breathing, "mmm, that was nice. Can I have another one?"

Mocha was so pretty that she never had any trouble having drinks bought for her. In fact, that was our job, really. The club paid us both a bit of money every week to loll about looking tall and leggy, smiling at the guys and making them part with their cash at the bar. We were there to be beautiful, and to enhance the "class" of what was basically a fairly ordinary tranny club in the City, but it just meant we got pissed for free. Mocha quite a bit pissed...

And as usual, Mocha's beautiful night had turned a bit ugly as she drunkenly tried to beat off the imagined advances of some timid looking mouse of a bloke by the back bar. Perhaps he'd accidentally brushed her sequinned bottom as he tried to order himself a pint. It didn't take a lot to ignite her ire when she was like this. He certainly didn't look like the harassing type as he stood bewildered and blinking in the torrent of abuse, clearly audible above the pounding pop on the PA, that flowed from Mocha's perfectly made up lips. A crowd of gawpers, girls and boys, were gathering. I felt a hand on my shoulder.

I looked up at Mel, the club's matronly promoter and nodded. Time to go. Together, we marched up to Mocha and, with much "c'mon love,"s and general pacifying cooing, managed to extricate her from her one lady melee. Mel stayed to buy the baffled admirer a drink while I scooped up Mocha's left slingback, which had slipped off during the scuffle and manhandled her up the leopard carpeted stairwell that led up to the street from the dingy basement bar that housed the club. As we neared the top, I heard heavy footsteps clomping up the steps behind us.

"She can forget about coming back next week and all!" shouted Mel as she intercepted us. "I've had it with her! Up to here! All right?" Mocha was whispering something under her breath while grinning rather evilly at Mel's flushed and over made-up face. It was probably a good thing she was whispering, whatever she was saying. She reeked of the booze she'd spilt down her short dress and one of her fishnet stockings had ripped down the inner thigh.

"I'll have a word with her, Mel," I said, holding out my hand. She huffed and pressed five rolled up twenty pound notes into my palm. I smiled sweetly and said, "I'll call you about next week", pecked her on her sweaty cheek and hauled Mocha out into the relief of the cool street outside.

As usual there was a gathering of cab drivers outside and I managed to get Mocha back to her flat quite quickly. The driver waited while I dragged her inside, up the piss soaked stairwell and along the landing as she fumbled inside her little clutch purse for keys, still muttering to herself.

Once inside, I laid her out on the sofa in the living room, helped myself to a glass of water from the kitchenette, then left her snoring quietly in the gloom.

"Long night?" the cab driver enquired as I let out another massive yawn in the back seat. I nodded as I got my Silk Cut out of my bag.

I held them up so he could see them in the rear view. "Is it all right?" He nodded and I lit one up. There was bhangra or something playing softly on the stereo as we cruised up New North Road. We passed pockets of people staggering down, on their way home or to the next club. I got my mobile out. It was 4.20 in the morning. Two texts had popped in unnoticed. Both from Mel. I put the pink, flat phone away without reading them.

Winding the window down, I tipped out some ash, enjoying the breeze. At the red lights crossing Essex Road, a black cab full of boozed up young city types pulled up next to us. The blond boy in the window nearest me looked up and we made eye contact. I gave him my best smouldering look. Slowly the other three noticed me and soon I had their entire attention. I let a strap of my black dress fall off my shoulder and a lick of my straight jet black hair fall across my eyes as I exhaled smoke from my parted red lips.

The lights changed. As their cab turned up towards Canonbury, I stuck my tongue out and flicked them the V-sign, chucking out the spent fagbutt in their direction.

The minicab driver was looking at me with an amused look in his eyes. Suddenly self conscious, I pulled the dress strap up again and smiled back at him.

"They're fascinated because you're so beautiful," the driver suddenly said, "but they can't quite work out what's exactly wrong with the picture they're seeing."

"Yeah? Well, they should get a new telly then," I replied. I'm not quite sure what that meant, but he seemed satisfied. We drove up the Holloway Road in silence.

Some shops were open, most were closed.

I paid him with one of Mocha's twenties from the club. She'd be like "where's me fucking money" sometime over the weekend, but hey, "who got you home?" would be my retort.

The driver was rather cute. I'd only really noticed his big brown eyes in the rearview and spied his longish, straight black hair from the back seat, but as I paid him, I took a longer look.

Asian, in his mid twenties, probably, tall and lean, with a slightly hooked nose and slender hands. He was dressed in a black shirt, buttoned low, showing a taut, lightly haired chest, and dark jeans. Beautiful eyes and a full, amused looking mouth surrounded by some great stubble. He noticed me looking and smiled as he wrote me a receipt.

I brushed his hand lightly with my fingertips as he handed me the card receipt and I got out of the cab. As I walked up the steps, he shouted, "hey!"

I stopped and turned slowly. He was leaning out of the driver window, lighting a cigarette. "My name's J," he said, before smiling lopsidedly, starting the car and driving away.

Throughout my life I've suffered from various parasomnias. I just don't sleep well and haven't since my teens back in the country. But I'm not just a run of the mill insomniac. Back then it was active stuff - sleepwalking, tooth grinding and violent shakes and twitches that would hurl me awake.

Where I grew up was hideously dark and quiet at night. Well into secondary school, I used to prefer to sleep with a nightlight on but I'd still find the silence unsettling, probably because I was born and spent my early years in a very bright and noisy city.

My nightbird habits probably stemmed from back then. I'd often stay awake at night in my teens long after my parents were asleep, experimenting with make- up, reading or writing.

My sleep disorders took a turn for the bizarre when I moved up to London to go to college. I stopped sleepwalking but became a regular sufferer of sleep paralysis.

When it first happened, it was the most terrifying experience I'd ever had. Interestingly, it was the only episode I ever suffered while still at my parents' house and it happened about a week before I moved up to London, almost as though prefiguring the change I was about to undergo.

My parents were away for the weekend and I'd taken the opportunity to dress up and go for one of my dead of night wanders around the village, the little park by the station, or breaking into the grounds of the deserted sanatorium with a bottle of whisky or whatever. Silly stuff.

After I got back in, I must have fallen asleep with the little night light on. Sometime later I remember waking up. But as I came to, I began to have this vague realisation that things were not quite right in my bedroom.

For a start it was far too gloomy. The little nightlight usually lit the walls with a cheery yellowish light, but now it seemed frightened to cast its glow too far, and it flickered dimly in the corner, unable to help me as I lay, terrified, realising I was unable to move a muscle.

The rest of the room was swathed in a thick, greenish darkness. If I had been able to move my arms, I felt sure that the darkness would be tangible, like a thick mist, or like webs of dark green sticky silk.

I was terribly cold, though it was the height of a very warm summer.

Then the footsteps started.

Footsteps is probably a bit of a misnomer. These were muffled, dragging sounds, like someone with a limp was pulling a very heavy, damp canvas sack full of bricks up the landing towards my bedroom. Still frozen to the spot and only able to move my eyeballs, I waited in utter terror as the dragging footfalls got nearer to my door, which was slightly ajar.

As the shambling sounds reached the other side of the door, I started to feel a dead pressure on my chest, as though someone had put a pile of heavy leatherbound books on me. I was struggling to breathe. I thought I was dying. At the same time, I heard a ragged breathing on the other side of my door. Whoever was there was taking my breath away for themselves.

The breathing got louder as the green darkness coalesced into a thick curtain of mist by the door, which began to glow from inside; a dead, green glow. And a figure began to appear inside the glow. As I watched, the tall, gaunt shape of a man appeared, dressed in a spidery frock coat and spindly pinstripe trousers, a bowler hat jammed on his wispy, long white hair. Burning eyes, bloodshot, green and alien, gazed without blinking at me and a hideous rictus grin revealed broken, yellowing teeth.

Slowly, the figure raised its left arm to point at me. The weight on my chest became unbearable and I was pushed slowly down into a pitch black, dreamless sleep.

I woke with a start. It was bright daylight and the birds were singing in the bushes outside my window. I sat up and felt my chest, and looked over to my door. There was no sign that it had been anything more than a dream, yet I knew I'd been awake.

After I moved to London, I suffered occasional bouts of the sleep paralysis; the hallucinations are never as potent or as terrifying as the first, but nevertheless, they've always been deeply unsettling.

After I got in, I spent a while getting my outfit and make up off, then drank a couple of glasses of water and took some Valerian tablets. I unfolded my sofa bed and climbed in, turning out the light. The sun was making its way up, but I never have any trouble sleeping during the daytime.

I lay a while thinking about Mocha and Mel. Mel would have Mocha back next week, I knew it and she knew it too. Mocha was the reason a lot of men came to the club. And I certainly wasn't going to the club without Mocha. She'd introduced me to the whole scene and I felt loyal to her, fucked up alky though she was. I loved being with her as we arrived and sashayed down the stairs of the place. Eyes would light on us like laser sights. I'd grown in confidence over my looks since first stepping timidly into the bar - Mel wouldn't after all pay me to decorate her place unless I was very pretty - but Mocha was stunningly beautiful. Tall, Amazonesque, with flawless, dark milky coffee skin and the face of an angel and the most astonishing set of legs. Yeah, and a filthy mouth. Men loved that. Mel would have her back.

I drifted gently off, thinking about that gentle touch of J's fingers, that cheeky grin as he drove off. Fucking hell, I fancied a mini cab driver.

And I was asleep.

to be continued...


Originally published 3 August 2006 on draGnet 4.0, this is the first part of the novella, 'Transformer', which is itself part of the Transformer series, a loose cycle of semi-autobiographical, semi-connected short stories, which I am presenting again in its entirety over the next few weeks.

This part (1 of 5) is unchanged except for a few small grammatical and style changes.

'Transformer' was incomplete in the previous version of my site, with only the first two instalments of the novella completed. Having finished the story now, I'm very happy to be able to publish it in its entirety over the next few days. Enjoy.

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