Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

Terminal Transit,

Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’

Verse 5.

‘Your father told me that he had uncovered something so terrible that it meant the end of all existence as we know and understand it,’ said Mac as he rummaged among the folders on the top shelf. Mac pulled an envelope from the folder, opened it and pulled out a single sheet of paper.

‘Here it is,’ he said to himself.

Mac slipped his glasses on and started reading.

‘The NotBeSpeak will not be spoken of. They are the space between the words. Not the words themselves. The pause before the sentence. The sigh that follows. The NotBeSpeak are ancient. Timeless. Dangerous. Alien. The NotBeSpeak are shapeless. Always shifting. Drifting outside of definition. Beyond boundaries. The NotBeSpeak are not evil. This is not a word for them. No words really are. The NotBeSpeak need shape now. They need form to form their dismal plan. The NotBeSpeak seek a host. Like a vacuum needs a vessel to empty. Blood needs a wound to drain. Darkness needs a light to extinguish.’

Mac stopped reading. Inteachán shivered as she thought about her father writing this crazy-sounding stuff. What was he talking about?

‘But what does it all mean?’ she asked Mac. ‘I really don’t understand.’

Mac smiled and put the piece of paper back into the envelope. He then put the envelope back in the folder and the folder back on the shelf. He walked stiffly back to his armchair and slowly sat down. He looked at Inteachán.

‘Here’s what I think I know,’ he said hesitantly. ‘Or what I think I think, if you see what I mean.’

Inteachán waited quietly for Mac to carry on. He duly did.

‘Every infection needs a host and the NotBeSpeak need the biggest host of all, the world.’

Inteachán looked confused.

‘Blood, and wounds and infections,’ she said. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘I have absolutely no real idea,’ said Mac truthfully, ‘not even the slightest notion but I do not doubt the cataclysmic severity of your father’s discovery. If it is true that the NotBeSpeak do exist it would then follow logically that they are looking for a form that will allow them to engage with the world.’

Mac smiled sadly.

‘If we knew anything about this likely form then we might have some idea of how they could be stopped.’

Mac paused and Inteachán shivered again.

‘But, I have no idea what form this likely form will take.’

Mac coughed. The shadows cast from the fire leapt around the room. A spurt of gas curled from a coal and hissed its dying pyrolysic breath for a tiny moment before vanishing forever. Mac readjusted the blanket on his knees. Inteachán was still very upset and began to cry loudly. With no thought to comforting the child, Mac continued.

‘Every civilisation has its own names for spirits and faeries and demons and balrogs and wights. In this country we have always tended to use the word ‘Fomhóire.’’

Mac smiled.

‘We have always known them this way but, and thanks to your father, I now know them as another – the NotBeSpeak.’

‘But what are they?’ asked Inteachán. ‘I still don’t get it.’

She really didn’t understand anything that was going on. All she knew was that her father had killed her mother and tried to kill her because ‘They’ told him to. That didn’t make any sense.

‘How could you ever understand?’ said Mac kindly.

He cleared his throat, picked up a section of his Miscellanea which lay nearby and started reading.

‘Fomhóire means ‘from the sea’ and is the name given to the divine powers, or gods of night, death and cold. The Fomhóire were misshapen and were believed to have the heads of goats and bulls. They also were believed to have only one leg and one arm each, and these grew out of the middle of their chests. The Fomhóire were the ancestors of the evil faeries and, according to legend, of all misshapen persons. The giants and leprechauns are also said to belong to the Fomhóire.’

Mac looked up.

‘This is the standard history, so to speak, the approved version that we peddle to tourists and schoolchildren when we speak so fondly of our quaint customs and traditions and superstitions.’

Mac paused somewhat dramatically, as if he was back in the lecture hall after all these long years.

‘But what if these tales and creatures and histories and versions stemmed from a different source, one far more foreign and outside and clearly much less quaint and more deadly?’

Mac looked at Inteachán and the flames from the fire caused his eyes to shine momentarily.

‘One not attributable to the life and legend of this planet in anyway whatsoever?’

Later that evening, and with Inteachán thankfully finally asleep, Mac sat in his chair and watched the fire die down to almost nothing. He remained deep in thought for what seemed like the longest time and then he looked out into the night that now gripped the world and began to speak.

‘Listen’, he said fearfully. ‘I need to speak to all of you out there about a matter of great urgency.’

He looked out into the expectant darkness.

‘I am a dying man and I need to tell you some really important things straightaway. Otherwise the events you are about to witness will make very little sense.’

He paused.

‘If I tell you all everything now then I won’t have to go through everything ever again. I just don’t have enough time to keep repeating myself.’

Mac started to look worried.

‘Inteachán’s father stumbled upon a plan to destroy the entire country and, indeed, the world. I have absolutely no idea how he came about this knowledge, as he was certainly very secretive towards the end, perhaps afraid that my knowing would place me in danger as well.’

Mac exhaled ruefully.

‘From what little information I was able to glean from him, this terrible plot has always been in existence – hence my thoughts on the Fomhóire – but the very recent and extremely well-documented man-made disasters endured by Ireland’s economy have created certain metaphysical and, indeed, metaphorical conditions by which the architects of this terrible plot have been able to revive their dreadful ambitions. Or had their ambitions revived for them? As you can hear, I am still not totally clear.’

Mac looked out into the darkness.

‘I fear that I may not ever know everything but I do know enough to know that it is now time for you all to find out about the NotBeSpeak.’

He picked up the folder.

‘Here is the final ‘research’ paper written by Inteachán’s father. I didn’t want to alarm her earlier but it doesn’t make pretty reading.’

Mac grimaced.

‘Clearly, the poor man’s discovery caused him to lose his mind.’

He winced.

‘See for yourself.’

Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Terminal Transit Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

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Terminal Transit,

‘Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak’’

Verse 3

Following the inquest, the Coroner’s Report confirmed that ‘Dr Butler F. Temple killed himself and murdered his daughter by leaping from Wexford Bridge after first stabbing his wife to death while she was asleep at No. 23 Wolseley Street, Dublin 8 with a double-edged ‘sacrificial’ dagger that he had recently purchased by mail order. Dr. Temple’s 1972 Volkswagen Beetle was found abandoned close to the bridge. Dr. Temple’s body was discovered the same evening but his daughter’s body is still unaccounted-for.’

‘A terrible misadventure,’ reported the Coroner, ‘likely brought about by a combination of overwork and chronic depression. This tragedy is further compounded by the fact that the child’s body still remains unfound at the time of writing.’

Everyone agreed that it was a dreadful thing to have happened and for a few days it was the talk of this tiny town – especially considering it involved an academic from Trinity College, itself the very site of controversy. But, as is the nature of tragedies, however terrible, they happen so often that the next one leaves the last one in that special but dreadful place where the memories of every single tragedy ever to have befallen blur as they coalesce around the faded inches of discarded newspaper print and occasional visits to graveyards.

As far as everyone was concerned that was pretty much that and the sad affair of the gifted Trinity lecturer who lost his mind was consigned to the pages of local history but Mac, being Mac, had certainly never considered himself to be any part of ‘everyone else’ and in any case he knew for sure that something else lay at the heart of this tragedy.

Inteachán’s arrival at the flat that had been in her family since the 18th Century made Mac even more sure that there was something afoot, so sure in fact that it never occurred to him to report the fact of her being alive to the authorities. Mac was desperate to get to the heart of what happened and so it was that he soon found himself unable to wait any longer and growing more and more anxious Mac began to question the poor child.

‘Can you tell me what happened on that awful night? asked Mac getting straight to the point as gently as he could.

‘Did your father say anything? Think carefully.’

Inteachán thought carefully and began to sob.

‘He was upset, so upset, more upset than I had ever seen anyone ever before.’

Inteachán shuddered as the memory fell upon her once again from on high and afar.

‘He said that They had trapped him on a dark desert planet and that a black sandstorm tormented him for days by whispering in his ear that he needed to help Them in order to get back home and that the only way he would get back home was if he sacrificed me as an offering to them.’

‘They. Them.’ repeated Mac.

He hissed softly.

‘Fomhóire! Or should I say, the NotBeSpeak.’

As was his particular wont, Mac looked glum.

Inteachán felt a chill descend upon her from somewhere else and she duly shivered.

‘What are the What-Be-Speak?’ she whispered through her tears.

‘Not What,’ Mac replied carefully, ‘but Why.’

He continued to look glum and stared off into the dingy distance.

‘I have spent a very large part of my recent years searching for an answer to that question. Sadly, I am no closer to the answer than I was when I started.’

Mac fumbled for the handkerchief he kept in the breast pocket of his green tweed suit and blew his nose vigorously.

‘In fact, I’m probably further away today than I have ever been.’

Mac prodded the coals on the fire. The chill showed no sign of leaving the room.

‘Despite my grand claims to knowledge and understanding it was actually your father who first alerted me to the danger.’

Mac pulled the blanket off his lap and walked over to a dusty bookcase full of lever arch file folders. Every wall of his flat was lined with similar bookcases and Inteachán could never work out how Mac knew instinctively where anything he was looking for could ever be found. A glance on any shelf revealed the rich and brumous nature of his collection.

There were the thirteen volumes of Sheen’s Pamphlet, an obscure tract published cheaply, regularly and anonymously between 1911 and 1961, with only the twelve editions from June to November 1946 missing. Next to this stood Lois Pengelly’s Wolseley Trilogy; Once a Valley (1932), Through the Trees (1942) and Forever Once More (1952). These were Sibeal’s favourite novels and Mac loved to watch her read them over and over again.

This very rare trilogy told the story of St. Matthew’s House, a beautiful Edwardian villa sat on the seafront in Bray that was home to several generations of the Wolseley family. Once a Valley told the story of the family coming to the area and having the house built. Through the Trees saw the family undergoing hard times with the Second World War as a backdrop. Sibeal’s favourite volume, Forever Once More, showed the Wolseley family in final dissolution as the eldest daughter, Cecily, refused to marry and thereby ended the family bloodline.

The Third Edition of Ogilvy’s Observations was Mac’s favourite and he loved nothing more than reading out loud from it as he and Sibeal lay in bed. The bedridden Oswald Ogilvy devoted his sickly adult life to completing a volume of ruminations and asides on topics of little or no connection to the world and in 1958 the Third Edition appeared. No one could ever explain what had happened to the first or second edition or if they even existed. Mac liked to speculate that Ogilvy was punishing the world for his ill health by making a publishing mountain out of a vanity molehill. Only twenty copies were ever printed before the plates were destroyed in a fire. Ogilvy himself had actually passed away two days before the fire and so died knowing nothing about the destruction of his life’s work. Ever the obscurist himself, Mac liked to quote from this flimsy volume whenever he could.

‘Ogilvy’s reminds us,’ said Mac, ‘that hope and despair are natural bedfellows. Indeed, he goes so far as to speculate whether or not they were originally the same impulse altogether that has simply been erroneously divided over time.’

A large pile of Pendeltons’ Periodicals lay gathering dust on the floor by his side of the bed. Edited between 1954 and 1958 by the noted mid-century chroniclist August Borne, Pendeltons’ was the model for occasional observationism, as it became known. Sadly, the public had very little taste for such an esoteric offering and so Pendeltons’ went the same way as any other small-run journal without an audience.

Gerard Denyer’s Model Villages: Their Occurrence and Occult Significance, published by Turner Press in London in 1924 was another influence on Mac’s own scholarship. Denyer travelled the length and breadth of Britain noting the similarities and differences between the model villages he came across. Maps and charts were drawn and laid side by side for comparison. This was fairly standard for the field but Denyer’s original contribution to the body of knowledge came through his use of the Begleys, a fictional family of aristocratic refugees whose struggles for social survival were used a device by Denyer to account for the seemingly small shifts he detected in societal responses to folk beliefs around the country.

Mac reserved a special scorn for the Reverend John Webster’s Trestles, Treads and Other Joins: My Life Among the Sawdust. Published privately in 1965 at great personal expense to the author, Turtles, Threads and Other Jokes, as Mac liked to call it, told the story of the Reverend Webster’s three years of missionary service in Nigeria. Written as a series of clumsy homilies and asinine anecdotes loosely connected to Christ’s alleged career, Webster always managed to attribute every piece of good luck to God and misfortune to the Devil. Despite its appearance, this literary folly was actually one of the most acclaimed of the so-called casualist texts and was therefore extremely valuable to the right buyer. What made this even book even more valuable to Mac was the fact that he found it buried at the bottom of a cardboard box full of ripped road maps he spotted in a skip.

Mac ran his finger along the second shelf from the top until he found what he was looking for.

Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

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Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as it’s starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

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Terminal Transit,

‘Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak’’

Verse 2.

It was Professor Mac an Bhaird who woke one rainy night from his lonely dreams to hear sobbing in the flat beside him. The professor had been drifting in his sleep, wandering in some half-remembered part of the city that he couldn’t quite place. Sibeal was with him and at first they walked hand in hand but Mac’s eyes were soon drawn to a wooden notice board outside an old newsagents. The board was full of handwritten postcards advertising various wares, offering all manner of services, as well as the usual births, deaths and marriages. He stopped, let go of Sibeal’s hand and began to read each card in turn, marvelling at the huge variety of historical styles, cases and forms -cursive, print, looped, Vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift, ascenders, Secretary Hand, descenders, Getty-Dubay, Block, Kurrent, and D’Nealian.

Mac ran his finger tenderly across each postcard in turn, checking for sense and general significance. He marvelled at such an extraordinary discovery on such an ordinary street. The noticeboard was unlocked and with a greedy wipe of his hand, Mac was able to sweep all the cards into his coat pocket. Duly delighted with his haul, Mac carried on walking but it wasn’t until he had found his way back to the Father Matthew Bridge that Mac realised that Sibeal was no longer beside him.

Mac woke with a start, half-expecting, as always, as ever, that Sibeal was asleep beside him. From the day she died until now this was the way it was for Mac. The sound of sobbing was loud and came from the rooms beside his. These rooms had been empty for so long that Mac imagined at first that it was simply a nocturnal illusion but the sobbing was insistent and eventually the old man carefully climbed out of bed, put on his dressing gown, picked up his umbrella and went out into the narrow hallway. The front door was slightly ajar and though he feared the perfectly reasonable fears of anyone who has been woken by unexpected sobbing in the middle of the night, the old man opened the door and stepped inside. In the dimness, a small figure lay crying on a dark and dusty sofa.

‘What is the matter, my child?’ asked Mac softly in the darkness.

‘What can have happened?’

But the small child did not reply.

Knowing that the child was familiar to him but wholly unprepared for such a nocturnal visit, he went to leave.

‘I am next door and will be there when you are ready to speak. My name is Professor Mac an Bhaird but you may call me Mac.’

Later that next morning there was a knock on the door. Mac looked up from his work.

‘Come in,’ he said and the girl stepped inside. Mac cleared a pile of papers from the footstool.

‘Come and sit by the fire, my child.’

He smiled.

‘Or should I say, Inteachán.’

Barnaby Taylor, Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as it’s starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

glitch 1

Terminal Transit,

‘Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak’’

Verse 1

Professor Amhalgaidh Mac an Bhaird is elderly now, almost ancient. He is an Honorary Fellow and Professor Emeritus of Trinity College and has lived in rooms overlooking Front Square for the last forty-seven years.

Professor Mac an Bhaird has devoted his adult life to the study of what he likes to call the ‘small things that we forget to remember very quickly.’ The Professor’s work is part-chrestomathy, part-analect, and wholly singular in its peculiar ambition. When he wasn’t teaching Professor Mac an Bhaird would spend all his spare time poring over maps and manuscripts and pamphlets and postcards and timetables and booklets and brochures and tickets and notices and newsletters and invitation slips and certificates and all the other truly wonderful ephemera that accumulates when the world isn’t really paying attention.

His wife Sibeal, herself a leading authority on Teutonic textile design during the feudal period, used to joke that the most overlooked thing in all his dealings with the world was undoubtedly her.

‘I fear that one day the only way that you will know that I am still here is when you see my name included on some long-lost list you discover scribbled on a dusty envelope. Only then will you remember to look up and there I’ll be, waiting forlornly in the corner for my turn.’

She slipped her arms around his waist.

‘I love you, Mac.’

‘That will never be the case, my dear,’ said the very-certain scholar as he kissed his wife on the neck.

‘We are simply not fated to end up as forgotten entries in another person’s ledger.’

He pulled her closer.

‘We will fade beautifully towards death together like the most pulchritudinous love letters scribbled on the comeliest of Victorian Christmas cards.’

But Sibeal was taken whilst in labour at 11.03am on September the Sixteenth 1973 and it was at exactly 11.04am that Professor Mac an Bhaird retreated into the deadly safety of scholarly solitude.

That was all those years ago. Now, following a lifetime of lectures and lonely meals in Commons, he sits in his armchair all day indexing his life’s work, Mac an Bhaird’s Miscellanea: Towards the Proposing of a Taxonomy of the Not-Noticed, Oft-Forgotten and Un-Remembered.

Currently standing at over three hundred and thirty-three thousand words Mac an Bhaird’s Miscellanea is a testament to the determination of one man to catalogue, chart, outline, and unravel the seemingly innocuous connections between matters of apparently such little importance as to there being little or no connection between them in the first place. But before we consider a lifetime’s work to be simply pointless and therefore without value we mustn’t forget that generations of academic discourse have depended entirely on exactly the kind of specific pedantry demonstrated here by an elderly Professor. If nothing else this in itself would be a suitably fitting summary of one man’s contribution to the body of knowledge but Mac an Bhaird’s Miscellanea goes much further here because it also exists as a wondrously moving monument to the prodigious properties of paper.

Three hundred and thirty-three thousand words have dutifully wended their way across nearly five hundred and ninety pages and after decades of hermetic handling each page now bears the delicious hallmark of any handwritten document that has aged naturally over time. Many pages are beautifully curled at the corners, as their repeated turning over time now causes them when stacked to fold like the pulpy petals of some ancient, thought-veined bloom. Other pages are torn in places; the longer tears carefully repaired with stamp hinges, now brittle after years of determined gripping. Shorter tears have been left alone for now, borne in mind, or occasionally, overlooked entirely.

All the pages that comprise Mac an Bhaird’s Miscellanea bear the accumulated marks of a lifetime of close attention; stained in some places by the sweat of a thumb; yellowed and coffee-ringed; the sweeping smudge of the back of a hand; ink whirls; curlicues; crossings-out; pencil; ball-point; fountain; wondrous water marks and the arcane collection of proofreading marks unknown to so much of the modern world today – ][, eq #, wc/ww, lc, sp, ||, s/v, first ref., half title, ligature, and stet.

One can read the history of the man in the history of his handwriting and so the bold decisive strokes of a confident young academic gave way to the angry slashes of someone widowed far too soon which then gave way over time to the precise and rigid emphasising of a man obsessed which then give way to the eventually slowed and resigned notation of a dying gentleman battling to complete his life’s work before he passed away.

Yet across the entire length of this turbulent history, one thing had remained a steady constant, Professor Mac an Bhaird’s handwriting was terribly tiny.

Terminal Transit, Book I, ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’ Verse 5

Terminal Transit, Book I, ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’ Verse 5

 

‘Your father told me that he had uncovered something so terrible that it meant the end of all existence as we know and understand it,’ said Mac as he rummaged among the folders on the top shelf. Mac pulled an envelope from the folder, opened it and pulled out a single sheet of paper.

‘Here it is,’ he said to himself.

Mac slipped his glasses on and started reading.

‘The NotBeSpeak will not be spoken of. They are the space between the words. Not the words themselves. The pause before the sentence. The sigh that follows. The NotBeSpeak are ancient. Timeless. Dangerous. Alien. The NotBeSpeak are shapeless. Always shifting. Drifting outside of definition. Beyond boundaries. The NotBeSpeak are not evil. This is not a word for them. No words really are. The NotBeSpeak need shape now. They need form to form their dismal plan. The NotBeSpeak seek a host. Like a vacuum needs a vessel to empty. Blood needs a wound to drain. Darkness needs a light to extinguish.’

Mac stopped reading. Inteachán shivered as she thought about her father writing this crazy-sounding stuff. What was he talking about?

‘But what does it all mean?’ she asked Mac. ‘I really don’t understand.’

Mac smiled and put the piece of paper back into the envelope. He then put the envelope back in the folder and the folder back on the shelf. He walked stiffly back to his armchair and slowly sat down. He looked at Inteachán.

‘Here’s what I think I know,’ he said hesitantly. ‘Or what I think I think, if you see what I mean.’

Inteachán waited quietly for Mac to carry on. He duly did.

‘Every infection needs a host and the NotBeSpeak need the biggest host of all, the world.’

Inteachán looked confused.

‘Blood, and wounds and infections,’ she said. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘I have absolutely no real idea,’ said Mac truthfully, ‘not even the slightest notion but I do not doubt the cataclysmic severity of your father’s discovery. If it is true that the NotBeSpeak do exist it would then follow logically that they are looking for a form that will allow them to engage with the world.’

Mac smiled sadly.

‘If we knew anything about this likely form then we might have some idea of how they could be stopped.’

Mac paused and Inteachán shivered again.

‘But, I have no idea what form this likely form will take.’

Mac coughed. The shadows cast from the fire leapt around the room. A spurt of gas curled from a coal and hissed its dying pyrolysic breath for a tiny moment before vanishing forever. Mac readjusted the blanket on his knees. Inteachán was still very upset and began to cry loudly. With no thought to comforting the child, Mac continued.

‘Every civilisation has its own names for spirits and faeries and demons and balrogs and wights. In this country we have always tended to use the word ‘Fomhóire.’’

Mac smiled.

‘We have always known them this way but, and thanks to your father, I now know them as another – the NotBeSpeak.’

‘But what are they?’ asked Inteachán. ‘I still don’t get it.’

She really didn’t understand anything that was going on. All she knew was that her father had killed her mother and tried to kill her because ‘They’ told him to. That didn’t make any sense.

‘How could you ever understand?’ said Mac kindly.

He cleared his throat, picked up a section of his Miscellanea which lay nearby and started reading.

‘Fomhóire means ‘from the sea’ and is the name given to the divine powers, or gods of night, death and cold. The Fomhóire were misshapen and were believed to have the heads of goats and bulls. They also were believed to have only one leg and one arm each, and these grew out of the middle of their chests. The Fomhóire were the ancestors of the evil faeries and, according to legend, of all misshapen persons. The giants and leprechauns are also said to belong to the Fomhóire.’

Mac looked up.

‘This is the standard history, so to speak, the approved version that we peddle to tourists and schoolchildren when we speak so fondly of our quaint customs and traditions and superstitions.’

Mac paused somewhat dramatically, as if he was back in the lecture hall after all these long years.

‘But what if these tales and creatures and histories and versions stemmed from a different source, one far more foreign and outside and clearly much less quaint and more deadly?’

Mac looked at Inteachán and the flames from the fire caused his eyes to shine momentarily.

‘One not attributable to the life and legend of this planet in anyway whatsoever?’

Later that evening, and with Inteachán thankfully finally asleep, Mac sat in his chair and watched the fire die down to almost nothing. He remained deep in thought for what seemed like the longest time and then he looked out into the night that now gripped the world and began to speak.

‘Listen’, he said fearfully. ‘I need to speak to all of you out there about a matter of great urgency.’

He looked out into the expectant darkness.

‘I am a dying man and I need to tell you some really important things straightaway. Otherwise the events you are about to witness will make very little sense.’

He paused.

‘If I tell you all everything now then I won’t have to go through everything ever again. I just don’t have enough time to keep repeating myself.’

Mac started to look worried.

‘Inteachán’s father stumbled upon a plan to destroy the entire country and, indeed, the world. I have absolutely no idea how he came about this knowledge, as he was certainly very secretive towards the end, perhaps afraid that my knowing would place me in danger as well.’

Mac exhaled ruefully.

‘From what little information I was able to glean from him, this terrible plot has always been in existence – hence my thoughts on the Fomhóire – but the very recent and extremely well-documented man-made disasters endured by Ireland’s economy have created certain metaphysical and, indeed, metaphorical conditions by which the architects of this terrible plot have been able to revive their dreadful ambitions. Or had their ambitions revived for them? As you can hear, I am still not totally clear.’

Mac looked out into the darkness.

‘I fear that I may not ever know everything but I do know enough to know that it is now time for you all to find out about the NotBeSpeak.’

He picked up the folder.

‘Here is the final ‘research’ paper written by Inteachán’s father. I didn’t want to alarm her earlier but it doesn’t make pretty reading.’

Mac grimaced.

‘Clearly, the poor man’s discovery caused him to lose his mind.’

He winced.

‘See for yourself.’

Terminal Transit, Book III ‘The Free State of Phoenix’

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Hi Everyone

With the Papal visit rapidly upon us this weekend, I thought I would share the section of Terminal Transit where Dublin’s Phoenix Park is taken over by a group of cosmically-inspired malcontents and declared a free state.

Terminal Transit, Book III ‘The Free State of Phoenix’

Verse 1

It all began with the plumes of black smoke that started to be seen in the vicinity of the zoo, plumes of black smoke bearing pink feathers that caught on the evening breeze and fell gracefully to earth across the puzzled city. A delegation of city officials and armed officers were despatched to investigate and discovered that the zoo was now under the control of an army of squatters, refugees, the homeless, the curious and anyone else who had gained entrance.

‘Welcome to the Free State of Phoenix’ said a badly painted sign on the front gate. ‘Trespassers will be fed to the animals.’ A huge berm had been raised around the perimeter with freight containers and cars stolen from the surrounding car parks used to further strengthen the perimeter. Occupiers armed with a huge array of weapons including shotguns, pistols, crossbows, swords and hunting knives manned the barricades. The road that led to the main entrance was now lined with tour coaches parked end to end on either side with a series of roadblocks leading up the gate. These roadblocks were busy night and day as more and more refugees sough to gain entry to the Free Republic and violence was a regular occurrence as anyone deemed suspicious by the guards would be savagely beaten or shot. The bodies of the dead were shoved beneath the coaches to fill in the gaps.

Mac watched in horror as television images from a traffic helicopter showed the zoo ablaze at night, with huge bonfires roaring upwards and hundreds of people dancing and chanting with an abandon that seemed perfectly in keeping with the times that they were now living in.

It was the domestic animals in the petting farm that were the first to go because people were far more familiar with how to butcher a cow or a sheep than they were a gorilla or lion. Each animal was killed by a spike being driven through its head and then slaughtered the Republic’s team of resident butchers. Huge fire pits were dug in the grounds of the farm and the smell of meat being cook over open flames was noticeable for miles around. In many ways, this initial slaughter was a logical response to the need for a new state to marshal its available resources in order to feed itself but needless to say the national media was up in arms about what it tagged to be ‘an army of militant malingerers callously working its way through your children’s’ favourite petting farm.’ ‘Who are the real animals?’ asked the headlines. All of this outcry belied the fact that the zoo was originally created so that members of the medical profession could get access to primate corpses with having to rob graves. Nevertheless, the People’s Republic of Phoenix became a very emotive subject.

An early television interview with the anonymous leader of the occupation revealed to the watching world that the zoo was now a separate state from the rest of the country. The man used the nom de plume Jodocus Meaddowcraft.

‘This country sprang from the loins of a declaration and today is no different from then.’ Jodocus looked into the camera. He wore the skull of a hornbill as a helmet. ‘The time is right for those who care to stand up again and make new choices for themselves and their families.’

‘But what about the animals?’ asked the concerned interviewer looking at the hornbill helmet. ‘What is happening to them?’

‘They are safe with us,’ lied Jodocus. ‘With there being no need for them to be on public display anymore we will put them to good use. They will feed and clothe us and we can trade livestock for other necessities with anyone interested.’

The interviewer was mortified.

‘But you can’t do that,’ he spluttered. ‘These animals belong to all of us. They are not yours to eat and skin.’

‘They are now,’ said Jodocus. ‘There is always blood to be shed in the founding days of any new state and things are no different here. We might call the denizens of this fine zoo casualties of war but I prefer to think that they are to be feted for the sacrifices they are making on behalf of us.’ Jodocus smiled at the camera.

‘Look at my beautiful crown,’ he said. ‘You can’t tell me that the death of a single bird wasn’t worth it for this. I look regal and magnificent.’ Jodocus stopped smiling.

‘Now get you and your cameras out of my sight before I feed you all to the lions.’

Verse 2

Over the coming days endless reports of the ill treatment and slaughter of animals kept appearing on all available news platforms. Armed units of the Garda surrounded the perimeter of the zoo and the stand off began. Mac had always a particular fondness for the zoo, having visited it as a child and then returned to it years later as a graduate student. He spent six months combing local newsletters, pamphlets, footnotes, tracts, brochures, opuscules, bulletins, lexicons, monographs, periodicals, and ecclesiastical circulars for references to the Royal Zoological Society of Dublin. Mac wasn’t particularly interested in the establishing of the society itself in May 1830. He was more interested in the rumour that some of the anatomists who helped found the society, and hence the zoo, were involved in occult practices related to animal sacrifice and saw the zoo as the perfect place to practice their particular predilection.

One anatomist in particular, Aurelius Hamson, had long been surrounded by rumours of depravity and had been thrown out of his local branch of the Hellfire Club as a result of unsubstantiated stories of pelts and bones being found in his lodgings. Everyone knew about the hunting lodge built on the site of a Stone Age tomb but Mac was more interested in another subterranean lodge that had allegedly been built beneath the zoo’s entrance lodge in 1833. Following his banishment, Hamson set up his own breakaway club for evictees like himself and this rumoured lodge was where the members of corpus delecti met regularly.

In 1844 the zoo received its first giraffe but three weeks after its arrival the poor creature vanished overnight and though it could never be confirmed, Hamson and his followers were immediately suspected. In 1897 when preliminary work on Haughton House began, workmen uncovered a partially collapsed tunnel and were stunned to find a small box covered with richly melanised hide containing three cervical vertebrae and an ossicone. Hamson had died penniless and drunk in 1873 and though the box became an object of intense fascination for many people it was never formally connected to the anatomist.

Verse 3

An intense debate began to rage about the Free State of Phoenix. In keeping with the rebellious spirit that underpinned the country’s original constitution, many people saw the zoo’s occupation as a radical response to the intense overcrowding and homelessness on the streets of the city. Previously, buildings standing empty due to bankruptcy had been claimed by activists and used as emergency accommodation for the homeless but these were sporadic and short-lasting acts that could never be properly sustained. Now, the occupation of the entire zoo was a different prospect altogether.

For many other people the Free State of Phoenix represented the collapse of law and order and signalled society’s descent into total chaos. The arrival of the NotBeSpeak had thrown the country into a new kind of socio-political orbit and previous democratic traditions were rapidly disappearing as the innate hucksterism and land-grabbing that lay just beneath the society’s surface began to make its reappearance. It was simple greed that created the climate suitable for the initial incursion from beyond and this greed now began to flow free and fast again like the sewage that ran beneath the streets.

Scheme after scheme after scheme was announced to allegedly tackle the current housing crisis and every available space in the city was soon became a construction site for apartments. All planning permissions and regulations were effectively suspended and the developers who had helped cripple the country previously were now given free reign to have another go. With so many people on the streets manpower was not an issue and, indeed, became the answer to the country’s rapidly rising unemployment figures, and so it was that shoddy, unsafe tower blocks and other unregulated buildings sprang up everywhere, sporing like a new crop of architectural fungus. There was serious money to be made in this new chapter in the city’s history and so the usual speculators and regulators and government officials and non-governmental agencies and bailiffs and tallymen and civil servants and agents and reeves and procurators and middlemen and lobbyists got rich. Once more. Again. Even richer.

Verse 4

On the thirty-fourth day of the zoo’s occupation an interview with one of the zoo’s staff was aired. A young girl had managed to escape by climbing over one of the fences and, visibly shaken by her experience, tearfully told her story live on national television. This is the transcript of the interview as published in all the papers the same day.

‘My name is Eleanor Nolan and I am seventeen years old. I come from Drimnagh and still live at home with my ma and four younger brothers. I left school last year and after months of looking I finally got a part-time job in the zoo’s shop stacking shelves and helping out at the till when things got busy. It isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life but with everything getting more and more expensive the money is handy at home.

It was a Thursday afternoon just as the zoo was closing that I suddenly heard shouting and loud bangs in the street outside. At first I thought it was kids letting of fireworks but when I heard people screaming I realised that it was something more serious. My manager looked really worried and told me to wait in the back room while she went to find out what was going on. I crouched down behind some boxes and heard her speaking to someone over her radio. I heard her shout ‘No’ and ‘You can’t do this!’ I also heard another bang, this time much louder, and my manager screamed. I peeped out the window and saw her on the ground with a pool of blood beside her head. A large group of angry looking men and women were shouting and cheering. I was petrified and crawled inside a stationary cupboard. I heard lots of people run into the shop and start grabbing things. I heard things being hit and broken. Someone came into the room where I was hiding and I thought they were going to kill me. They were snooping around but left in a hurry when someone started shouting. I was so frightened that I wet myself.

I hid in the cupboard all night but I couldn’t get any sleep as all I could hear was shouting and screaming. I could also hear the animals howling and crying. I also heard loads of vehicles outside revving their engines. It was terrifying. I finally found the courage to crawl out of the cupboard and tried the phone on the desk but the line was dead. I crept into the shop and saw that everything had been broken or stolen. The front door was off its hinges and there were loads of people gathered around big bonfires in front of the lake. No one paid me any attention and I started to look around for anyone I knew.

I saw two lads I knew from the maintenance team sitting to one side and went over to join them. One of them had a black eye and the other had a ripped shirt. I smiled but they were too frightened to smile back. We didn’t speak. Just then a crazy looking man wearing a hat made from one of our dead hornbills came down from where the tigers live, dragging another man behind him. ‘A spy,’ he started shouting. ‘A bloody, bastard spy.’ The man being dragged was terrified and was looking around desperately for someone to help him but no one did. We all just sat still and tried not to look. The crazy man forced his victim to kneel down and then pulled a pistol from his belt.

‘On behalf of the Free State of Phoenix,’ yelled the man, ‘I sentence you to death for the crime of treason.’ He put the pistol to the poor man’s head and I heard a bang and then the man fell forward onto his face.

Verse 5

‘The days that followed just got worse and worse and worse. Anyone who wasn’t part of the security team manning the barricades was forced to work during the day. I was lucky. I ended up cleaning the places where everyone lived. It was filthy, dirty work and I hated every minute of it but it was far better than looking after the animals. See, what had happened was that all the keepers and other experts had been killed in the takeover. They had all tried to protect the animals from the intruders but couldn’t fight off the mob and so they were killed. This meant that the animals still needed to be looked after, even if only to feed everyone, but there was no one left qualified to manage them. It was fine with the flamingos and that’s why they were the first to be killed and eaten but gorillas and tigers and elephants are a different thing altogether. In the time I spent there the bigger animals killed six people; two were crushed by the same hippopotamus as they tried to move one of its young, one was strangled by the big silverback and another three were severely mauled by the lions when they went into the Asian Forests section.

The night times were even worse because every evening at ten o’ clock nine prisoners being held in the Reptile House would be forced to fight with the animals.

‘Just like the games of old,’ Jodocus roared. ‘You can win your freedom or die trying.’ The gathered citizens of Phoenix cheered and jeered as the petrified prisoners prepared to meet their fate.

‘Tonight, for your absolute pleasure,’ yelled Jodocus, ‘we present a streak of nine hungry Asian tigers.’ He raised his arms above his head. The crowd fell silent.

‘Prepare the gladiators.’

Each terrified prisoner was handed a litter spike and dustbin lid and one by one were dropped into the enclosure. The tigers pounced straightaway and tore into the first four prisoners, ripping and rending them apart. The next five were lucky in as much as the tigers were preoccupied with their existing catch to begin with as they gorged on the corpses. This gave the rest of the prisoners at least enough time to orient themselves within the enclosure. It wasn’t long before an inquisitive cub whose blood was up began to walk towards the cowering prisoners and started to menace them. To begin with they were able to fend the tiger off with their litter spikes but sensing that one of their young was in danger the rest of the streak advanced on the prisoners. The crowd roared its approval as the tigers attacked again. Jodocus turned to the assembled audience. ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’ he began to chant and the crowd followed him.

The prisoners were no match for the blood-frenzied tigers and the screams of agony rang out in the dreadful night. During the melee one badly mauled prisoner managed to drag her wounded self up the nearest tree where she clung precariously for the next forty minutes before her blood loss became too much and she lost her grip and fell onto the ground. The tigers engulfed her with a roar.

Verse 6

The testimony of Eleanor Nolan and the public outcry it caused finally forced the authorities to act and the Army was mobilised. Two battalions from the 2nd Brigade supported by the 1st Armoured Cavalry Squadron advanced on the zoo and threw a cordon around it. The country’s media joined them as the battle lines were drawn. To begin with, the Army sent an expert team of negotiators to try and resolve the siege peacefully but fourteen hours of tense discussion were abruptly ended when buckets of dead rare birds were hurled over the fence by impatient occupiers. Jodocus Meaddowcraft smiled at the negotiators.

‘My apologies, everyone. It appears that you have your answer.’

Under cover of two armoured cars, elements of the 2nd Brigade got themselves into position by the old entrance. A fire support team commandeered three of the houses that overlooked the zoo and two sniper units set themselves up with a clear view of the central area. They were ordered to hold fire. Fourteen armoured cars and a bulldozer from the Cavalry Squadron moved up through Phoenix Park and took up a position in the car park. Six mortars were set up behind barricades in front of the Tea Rooms and at 5.48am precisely began to launch 60mm Red Phosphorus mortar rounds over the fence. At the same time the bulldozer ploughed its way through the fencing south of the African Savanna, followed by the armoured cars. The sniper units were told the fire at will and the assault began.

Attacked on all sides at once, the defenders of the Free State initially sought to block the assault by burning the huge piles of tires that they had assembled at key entry points. However, the thick black smoke combined with the smoke rounds and made it impossible for anyone without the proper training and equipment to fight. As the troops advanced and the shots rang out, the defenders resolved to make their last stand on Chimpanzee Island that had been specially fortified for the purpose.

The Free State’s ragtag army was no match for the regular soldiers and their assault weapons and very soon it was only Jodocus and a dozen of his most fanatical followers left to fight for their independence. Despite various entreaties and promises of amnesties the final battle was ended quickly when a salvo of high explosive mortar rounds decimated the defenders. Perhaps angered by the destruction of such an emotive landmark or inspired by the cosmic evil that now clearly permeated all aspects of this island the first units to reach Chimpanzee Island proceeded to violate the bodies of the dead defenders. One of the solders removed Jodocus’s head with their combat knife and placed it on a fencepost.

‘See how you like it!’ shouted the enraged soldier.

Terminal Transit, Book IV ‘The Million’

Hi Everyone

Here’s another excerpt from Terminal Transit. An elderly academic uncovers a cosmic plot engineered by the NotBeSpeak, a race of intergalactic entities who wish to destroy the world. With only a young child to help him, the two race against time to save the planet from oblivion.

In this chapter, the dread influence of the NotBeSpeak causes havoc on the streets of Dublin.

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Terminal Transit, Book IV ‘The Million’

The repercussions of the liberation of the zoo shook the city for days afterwards but before anyone was able to properly settle a further cosmic tragedy took place when the now-doubled presence of the NotBeSpeak caused Glasnevin Cemetery to give back all those who had ever been buried there since its opening in 1832 and a million dead people suddenly found themselves reanimated and as the television cameras cast their digital eye on this new phenomenon so this army of shuffling, staggering, crawling, limping, ambling corpses started to make their baleful way back to find those who had buried them in the first place, flowing, as they did so, like the rot-crested froth of some awful cadaverous stream.

The first problem that presented itself regarding the Million, as the media dubbed them, notwithstanding the general existential terror created by the dead coming back to life, was the inevitable chaos that their presence caused on the streets. With the city now changed beyond all recognition and generations of people having lived (and died) in buildings and at addresses that no longer existed, vast numbers of these returned relatives were able to do nothing more than hang around in the approximate areas they knew when they were alive. Great herds of the hideous soon began to congregate as small groups of lost and dislocated corpses flowed into each other, swelling as they did so and accumulating momentum with a tomb-blasted dreadness that became one more thing to sicken this already revolted city.

For some this tide of dead people became an opportunity for fun to be found and it wasn’t long before hundreds of illegal firearms were being fired at the animated corpses from windows and passing cars. Braver people formed small crews and set upon the cadavers with sticks and gold clubs and hurls, beating already broken bodies into a further pulp. Unlike the undead in every film ever made the Million had no desire to consume the living and so made easy targets for their attackers, who stalked the edges of their crowds like cunning lions looking for stray antelopes to kill.

The second problem with the Million was the anger they brought with them from beyond the grave. These particular undead were not driven by a lust for living flesh but were rather animated by the need to confront the people who had buried them and thereby confined them to an eternity in the grave. Though he was now way past being shocked by anything that was happening Mac paled the morning he woke up to find Sibeal standing shrieking in Front Square. Her corpse seemed remarkably well preserved for someone who had been buried for forty-odd years and knowing that he had no choice Mac got dressed and went down to speak to ‘her’.

‘So there you are at last!’ Sibeal shrieked. ‘I’ve waited a long time to have this out with you.’

Mac was stunned.

‘You are dead, Sibeal,’ he said, ‘and were it not for some infernal cosmic will, you and your new kind would have stayed that way forever more.’

Sibeal’s rotten face formed a partial smirk.

‘So now the truth is out,’ she snarled. ‘You couldn’t wait to get rid of me and now I’m back you want me to go again.’

‘But that simply is not true, my dear,’ said the widower. ‘The day you left me I thought that my life would end also.’

Sibeal interrupted.

‘But it didn’t, did it?’ she said. ‘Mine did, and that of our son, but yours didn’t. How fair is that?’

‘Fair?’ asked Mac. ‘What do you mean by fair? What’s fair about losing your wife and child in the same dreadful moment?’

‘You always were a selfish man,’ croaked Sibeal. ‘Always focused on yourself and your silly research. I bet you have never once put yourself in my shoes and wondered what it would be like to be dead, have you?’

Sibeal raised a rotten fist to Mac’s face.

‘The guilt of leaving loved ones behind pales very quickly in the face of an eternity of resentment about a life ended early.’

Sibeal began to shout.

‘All us dead are always angry. All we know is stolen time forever more.’

For every hour since the day she left him Mac had wanted Sibeal to come back to him and help rebuild his broken heart but now she was back the way she was he simply couldn’t bear her being around him and longed for her to return to the grave.

‘After all these years,’ Sibeal continued, ‘I care very little for your loss as it is nothing compared to the things that I was forced to relinquish the day I died. You still had your future even if you chose not to see things that way. Me, I lost my everything.’

Mac didn’t reply. How could he? There simply were no words to counter Sibeal’s undead anger, an anger that had festered in her rotting heart for the last forty years beneath the headstone Mac had lovingly chosen for her. But buried no more, Sibeal’s anger was now the energy that coursed through her broken veins and caused her worm-filled mouth to speak.

‘Enough,’ said Mac at last. ‘Stop your keening and your crying. The simple truth of the matter is that I have spent every lonely minute of my life from the day I lost you wishing you were back here with me; beside me at night, smiling when I come home, walking with me in the city. But now that you are here before me again I wish you had never come back. The dead are not supposed to feel angry about being dead, they are not supposed to feel anything ever again, they are simply supposed to be dead. It is only these cursed cosmic interlopers who have upset the world’s natural rhythm and caused poor lost souls like yourself to experience the very state that supposedly brings an end to all experiences.’

‘But what about the bloody bastard baby?’ shrieked Sibeal wildly. ‘The rotten fruit of your reeking loins.’

Mac reeled as he remembered how excited they both were the day Sibeal came home to tell him that she was expecting. They had been trying for ages and they were just resigning themselves to the fact that maybe one or both of them were infertile when Sibeal made her announcement.

‘This will complete us,’ said Mac as he drew Sibeal close to him. ‘This will make us whole.’

Her hair smelled amazing and the scent was something that had always stayed with him, even long after she had gone. But there was to be no completeness for either of them, nothing whole, only everything broken and empty, only nothing.

‘You had me buried with the baby, you bastard!’ Sibeal’s shrieking grew shriller. ‘A forever reminder of my life now ended as I was forced to cradle the cause of my death until it rotted to nothing in my angry arms.’

‘But that’s what I thought you would have wanted,’ said the tearful Mac. ‘It seemed …’

Mac’s voice trailed away as he realised that his justifying would simply serve to enrage the corpses of his dead wife even more. He knew that there simply be nothing he could say.

‘You thought! You thought! You thought of no one but yourself that day. I can picture you now, standing by the grave, selfish tears falling down your foolish face as the earth is dropped on my coffin. Then a hug and a handshake, a kind word here and a small drink there.’

As her anger boiled and boiled so small parts of the remaining flesh began to fall from Sibeal’s skull.

‘And all the while I just lay there, cradling my murderer for the rest of time. I bet not even one thought of how I was feeling crossed your mind.’

‘But how could it have?’ sobbed Mac. ‘You were dead and therefore not meant to feel anything any more.’

The hateful logic of Sibeal’s argument began to make him dizzy.

‘There is no sense to any of this,’ he said pitifully. ‘There is simply no sense at all.’

Sibeal began to beat her broken hands on his chest.

‘For you, maybe, but not for me,’ she shrieked. ‘I only knew the crawl of time as it pressed upon me and held me in place forever until that moment when I climbed free from the grave.’

She hit him harder.

‘I only knew the crawl of worms as my flesh fell away and I watched myself disintegrate until my eyes themselves were gone away and I could see no more only feel.’

Eventually the Million became too much even for this put-upon city and so the cull began. Like rabbits or badgers or kangaroos or any other vermin that threaten to overrun their environment, it became necessary to trap and snare and corner the corpses in order to start disposing of them. For small groups it was a simple affair for Army units with flamethrowers to set the corpses on fire and cremate them where they gathered. However, for the rest, something more drastic was required.

The city’s fire appliances were mobilised and drove slowly through the city looking for large groups of corpses to gather together. Slowly, and as if they were herding sheep, the fire engines drove these groups before them using their water cannons. Any stragglers were simply incinerated or crushed beneath the tracks of a unit of Scorpion tanks deployed to support the round up.

North of the river the corpses were herded onto the motorway and then forced towards the airport. Three of the runways had been commandeered for the cull and as the corpses were pushed onto the runways they were sprayed with aviation fuel from a line of tankers and then incinerated from a safe distance. The fires burned for a day and a half and the plumes of smoke were visible in all directions, hanging heavy in the air like mournful clouds.

South of the river the remaining parts of the Million were driven down to the quays and then along towards the docks. Helicopters hovered above the streets and the images on the television showed thousands and thousands of angry corpses shouting and berating as they headed towards their second doom like some perverted public parade. Once at the docks, the corpses were forced down a funnel made from containers, sprayed with fuel and then ignited and driven into the water.