“Nathan’s real life is so unbelievable it could never be passed off as fiction. I hope one day he decides to tell his story.” – Pat Mills, creator of 2000AD, introduction to KHAOS PUNK
Inspired by Pat Mill’s encouragement, and the need to heal through reclaiming my past, I have been working hard on my autobiography Memoirs of an Accidental Antichrist. Now undergoing its final editing process we are aiming to publish the completed book this September in a limited edition hardback. Advance orders are now being accepted – write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
The following excerpt tells of my unlikely conception;
Memoirs of an Accidental Antichrist
I WAS conceived during a Black Mass. It was on a boat on the river Colne, just outside the garrison town of Colchester, Essex, sometime around March, 1970. The air thick with pungent incense, black candles on a makeshift altar casting twisted shadows around the windowless hull. Everybody sky-clad, tripping on acid, and chanting the names of the Infernal hierarchy. My father played priest. My mother, a sixteen year old redhead, was the altar and sex magick sacrifice.
As the ritual climaxed there came an almighty thump on the roof of the boat. Rasping, panting breath, and a low grrrowl.
“Shit, it’s the pigs,” said someone. “Dog unit. A bust.”
Everyone pulled on clothes and swallowed the remaining drugs; a half ounce of hash and yet more acid, gulped down with a bottle of wine. The bravest among them, probably not my father, opened the hatch. There was nobody and nothing there. Relieved but spooked, and about to come up on a shamanic dose, they refastened the hatch. The growling came again. Something moving around on the roof, sniffing them out. Once more they opened the hatch to find nothing there.
Three times this happened, convincing them the ritual had, quite unexpectedly, worked. They spent the rest of the night huddled together below deck, hatch secured, terrified for their souls.
The sun rose. They brushed off the cobwebs and sailed a little further along the Colne, mooring alongside a Tudor pub with a beer garden leading down to the bank. The old landlord carried food to their table and they got talking. Someone mentioned their experience during the night, presumably neglecting the bit about the acid crazed Black Mass.
The landlord blanched, “You’ve met Black Shuck, the Devil’s hound. He’s patrolled this stretch of river for three hundred years or more, vengeful for the rape of one of his witches..”
Shortly after, my mother discovered she was pregnant.
* * *
At least, that is the version of events she told Jasmine, who is now my wife. This was back in the summer of 2002, before we got together or anyone guessed we would. My mother could never have known that her story would later be repeated to me. Whether this makes it more likely to be true, or less, is impossible to tell. She concluded her unbidden confession by saying, “Of course, his father tells a completely different story.”
When I was growing up my mother told a cleaned up version, where it was just a party, with no Black Mass or LSD, but still Black Shuck. She was always saying things, then denying she ever said them, and I doubt she has changed much now, so I don’t expect her to confirm this story.
* * *
My mother’s maiden name was Ann Clarissa Honeybell, better known to her friends as Honey. She had wild honey coloured hair and honey yellow eyes. Her side of the family had a reputation as witches going back several generations. There were whispers of great aunts, great great aunts, and great great great aunts, who had been midwives, abortionists and poisoners. No boys had been born into the family for long as anyone remembered. If there had been, they had not survived.
My father’s name was Robert John Harris, also known at the time as Image. He wore mismatched coloured contact lenses, and high platform boots to compensate for his 5’2” height. More recently he has taken to calling himself Szandor Dashwood, and hanging out with the society Satanists of London. He must also have also been styling himself as a Satanist back in 1970 – it was in fashion back then, what with Charlie Manson, the Process Church, and the come down from the 1960s.
In any case their tacky Black Mass, and my conception, had more to do with the then recent publication of Anton Szandor LaVey’s The Satanic Bible and the release of Rosemary’s Baby than it did with any genuine witchcraft traditions of Essex. If I had been born a few years later they would probably have named me Damien.
It doesn’t sound so romantic when you put it like that.
* * *
It wasn’t until 2002 that I heard Robert’s version of how I was conceived.
In this version my mother held a séance, of the kind my Grandma was known for, in a house supposedly haunted by the ghost of a cunning man. Thunder rolling through the darkened skies, lightning throwing everything into stark contrast. Everybody sat with one finger resting on the glass, letters of the alphabet displayed on cut-out pieces of paper round the edge of the table.
The glass began to move, gently at first, then nudged at the letters, spelling out messages of anger, spite, and malice.
Everyone took their hands off the glass but it kept on moving.
“Begone!” cried my mother.
The glass rose in the air, hovered, then threw itself against the wall and smashed. Everyone screamed, running out into the night as the rain poured down.
It was a fun story, but quite how a séance was supposed to have resulted in my mother getting pregnant remained unexplained. My father is as much of a habitual liar as she is, and I am not saying I believe any of it, or that you should.
* * *
Whatever the circumstances, Robert denied paternity. During childhood he had been kicked in the balls by a horse and only had one, like Hitler. The doctors had told him he would never father children. I guess they neglected to factor in the possibility of witchcraft.
He and Ann split up.
She was hysterical, crying herself to sleep every night. In the grip of a nightmare she shoved her blanket in her mouth and swallowed it down, nearly choking herself to death. She had to be taken to hospital to have it removed.
After that they got married.
* * *
My mother had another story about being out one night with her flower child friends, everybody on LSD, which they all seemed to do an awful lot of. The party was busted by ‘the pigs’, who had no difficulty guessing what they had taken. Ann was dancing on the table batting thrown eggs with an egg-whisk and splattering yolk all over the kitchen.
The pigs lined them all up, turned out their pockets, and gave them a talking to. One got his snout right up in my mother’s face about the size of her eyes and the size of her belly, “That’ll damage the child, you know. It’s chromosomes. Give it birth defects.”
That gave her a really bad trip.
* * *
My birth certificate says I was born in Colchester Hospital Maternity Ward, Friday, 4th September, 1970. No record was made of the time. I was nearly four months premature, still in the amniotic sack, with a fleshy caul covering my face. My entire body was covered in red fur from head to toe, a double crown on my head causing the hair to stick up in devilish little spikes. Green eyes. Still with my prehensile tail, curly like a piglet.
Ann told me she had meningitis and can’t remember my birth. She talked about lying in hospital, delirious, when two figures came to her. A woman in a flowing white dress and a crown made of branches and flowers. A kingly figure with antlers sprouting from his brow like a stag. They were like the characters on playing cards, so that where there should have been legs they had an upside down double image, floating above the ground. As they spoke to her they turned about like wheels, talking with their alternate heads.
Many years later, Robert told me there had been no meningitis. The reason I was premature was because Ann had tried to abort me with a hot bath and a bottle of whiskey.
Either way, the weightless comfort of my mother’s womb was replaced by the hard, sterile box of the incubation unit. There were doubts I would survive. Less that 3lbs in weight, my bones yet to be hardened, gravity twisted my spine as it grew. This tilted the development of my hips so my knees point inwards. My feet have no arches and one has deformed toes. Instead of growing from the front of the foot, pointing forward, they grow from the top and point upward, or would if they were not curled in upon themselves. There is a large gap between the big toe and the one next to it, as if one is missing.
My medical records call it scoliosis, Latin for ‘crooked’. The doctors said I would never be able to walk.
* * *
Ann removed the sock draw from her cabinet and padded it out for my crib. They named me Nathaniel John Harris, my middle and last names shared with my father.
According to Ann she chose my name herself, interpreting Nathaniel, commonly interpreted to mean ‘gift of God’, to mean ‘gift of the Elves’; the Hebrew ‘El’ being cognate with the Old English ‘Aelf’, both meaning ‘being of light’.
According to my father my name was chosen by my aunts, who all insisted upon it together. If so it’s likely I was named after the archangel.
Between being either conceived in a black mass or being the reincarnated spirit of a magician of yore, then named after the most powerful of all the archangels, I think it’s fair to say I never lived up to my parent’s expectations.