The Chocolate Raven pours another glass of red, lights another cigarette and lets a mouthful of smoke streak away into the desert night. Thinking on what she’s just seen up there in the Hajar Mountains, she recognises that the Platinum Raven and those others would seem to be in some kind of decadent nightclub.
There on its isolated hillside outside any city limits, this place became the epitome of such urban sophistication and sybaritic urbanity as to feel quite vertiginous, certainly for anyone stepping into it for the first time, but even to many of the assorted international party monsters who already made regular pilgrimages from New York, London, Los Angeles, Shanghai and European capitals, in search of the most fantastical and transcendent confluence of subcultural energy anywhere in the world. For here was where white rabbits not only conquered telephone cubicles, but made those cubicles scream and bleed, for the damage they’d inflicted on a million Ravens globally.
Sometimes the whirl of flesh and lights and hazy sound seemed to slow for a moment to a still frame, and eyes of experience would then be caught on camera, in a face amid the swirl—a face you’d half-recognise from before, when you’d seen it on a big screen perhaps, or in a memory seen through champagne upon a terrace under heat-lamps, while the music span forever on that summer night before—wide eyes, prominent and grey, camera-frozen in a face soaked in way too much experience.
At this point the fabulousness of the denizens grew so indefatigable as to become ferocious. The dance-floor was a cat-walk, under little fluffy clouds where the skies went on forever and the clouds would catch the colours—purple and red and yellow and … on fire. And every night the anorexic models floated through, beautifully drugged-out and weak and untouchable, forever down the runways of their airport lanes, each expressionless in damage through the night-lit clouds, with their make-up flashing soft in the lights, like perfection, clad in shreds of lightest silk that concealed the needle-marks.
The clientele’s long-standing ambiguity of male and female began to become more concentrated, as the rest began to diminish by slow degrees, leaving an increasingly hardcore population of fabulous monsters whose very gazes seemed intent on drawing blood. Soon the club came to be running almost 24/7, still profitably open to passing trade from around the world during regular nightclub hours, but in reality the permanent realm of a loose cadre of what can only be called transsexual death-ghouls—the global elite of that disparate band for whom this natural direction coincided with the means never to have to think of such dirty considerations as money, work or food. The mad-faced tower had become, in effect, a drug-den in nightclub drag.
And onwards it barrelled through the months, with its own unique momentum, pulling world-class DJs in and world-class spending in their wake. With all volume limits removed, the pumping of this building’s music and the flicker of its sky-sweeping images came to populate the whole grand space: over the desert, in between the aeroplanes in Sharjah, over the labour camp at Sonapur, up through the night-time city sky, and up and out above the Gulf.
Within the air came the echo of a tower-spike to match the Burj Khalifa, made of giant plinks of light and shafts of sound branching upward, hard and colour-smooth and perfect—like the dream of a thousand-storey Dubai skyscraper, pitched like a rocket-launch upon a draftsman’s screen with a mega-project soundtrack, to haul in investors. See the tower-spike sprout like an inverse water-spout, up among the mountains; and helter-skelter round its shaft at breakneck speed through the whistling air of night, via software magic, all set to the soundtrack’s stunning flash and burst of perfection and echoes… Two voices glance through this world-circling flash and cool of music: first, a yearning woman’s murmur rises through a howling wind, “Noémi … Noémi … Noémi…”; then that dead, passive, flat super-model voice again, weak and beautiful and affectless and Arizona-damaged, with her fluffy clouds and skies that went on forever, and the clouds would catch the colours—purple and red and yellow and … on fire. You don’t see that—you might still see them in the desert.
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