The Smoking Moon

by Toby Vok

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  • Quite recently, or perhaps sometime soon (I can never recall exactly the correct directional flow of time, in the same way as just telling me to GO EAST leaves me confused as to whether I should turn left or right or some other direction betwext), I was/will be contracted by the government/a private contractor to investigate/instigate an anomaly upon the moon. This album tells/will tell the tale/told of this extraordinary event/apocalyptic horror, both in the dimension of musical sounds and, in an unauthorised account by an understanding bystander, the written word (with 11 original illustrations and a postcard).

    Yours in shock,

    Toby

    PS: The accompanying pamphlet also contains highly accurate lyrical transcriptions; a chronicle of further adventures (never musically acknowledged); extracts from my fortnightly job search diary; 2 recipes; 3 interviews; 4 spelling mistakes; and several mysterious holes.

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about

recorded 2013 - 2016 in assorted locations

credits

released February 8, 2016

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Track Name: The Smoking Moon
the telephone rang and the machine awoke and after the beep, a grave voice spoke
saying my assistance had been requested. I pricked up my ears, interested.
the voice asked for me by my full name and implored me to pick up, if I was game.
I did, and asked why I was required? the simple response: "the moon is on fire."
I dropped the handset, slightly scared, drew the curtains and up I stared.
binoculars hung by my side, but I could see with unaided eyes...
it was exactly as I feared; a smoking ball, with no atmosphere.

I turned on the radio, checked the news. scientists were quite confused:
how could the moon's surface burn... with no supply of oxygen?
I understood now why they needed me; I know the moon quite thoroughly.
my expertise was quite unique; I travel there once or twice a week.
I'm usually the first to know if something changes on that dusty globe,
if anything stirs beneath the crust then I'm notified by people I trust.
for something this big to go unspoken informed me that the system was broken.

I picked up the phone, lowered my chin
closed my eyes and said
I'm
coming
in
Track Name: Summoned to Pan Nedrex
I couldn't get a taxi
I couldn't get a train
I had to use a crowbar
to open up a drain
the set of steps inside
led down to a room
where scuttling things concealed themselves
and still things made their tomb

the offices of pan nedrex
aren't easily located
asking for directions
can get you assassinated
I spoke a hundred passwords
I recited fifty codes
the office of pan nedrex
is at the bottom of my road
Track Name: The General
he greeted me with shifting eyes and twitching hands
and asked if I had had time to formulate a plan
I lacked the information to confidently respond
but nodded my acknowledgement and walked on.
he stumbled along behind me and struggled to keep up
offered me a beverage from an old, stained cup
pointed at a whiteboard, with scrawled formulae
where tired men muttered, faces grey.

I saw it in an instant
the source of their confusion
if fire cannot burn on the moon
it must be an illusion
these were men of science
their minds had become withered
the cause of the phenomenon
must surely be a wizard

I sketched them out a diagram, a man in a pointed hat
brandishing a cane, conversing with a cat
their eyes bulged from their sockets with bafflement and rage
at the suggestion that the moon was being controlled by a mage
they said "there's no such thing as magic", the ignorant fools
well that might be true on Earth, but the moon has its own rules
they said "where there's smoke, there's fire", it's indisputable fact
when I continued to dispute it, they cracked.

the general led me away
the scientists had broken
they could not comprehend
the ideas that I had spoken
but he knew, of course
he had known since the beginning
and when he looked up from the floor
he saw me grinning
Track Name: The Space Elevator
a pioneering scheme in the late seventies connected the earth to the moon
the machine was constructed in great secrecy from blueprints found in Egyptian tombs
nobody was sure if it would work, so it was highly classified
especially after the test subjects returned without their eyes
empty sockets, dreams of rockets, but no real brain activity
they couldn't work out what went wrong... until they spoke to me

I turned the project on its head with the things that I suggested
I demanded that I be the first when the device was tested
I battled against gravity and I knew I couldn't fail...
I was the thirteenth man on the moon, and lived to tell the tale.

the changes that I made were cleverly chosen, they were based on certain special qualities
things I had noticed that made me unique, things specific to my biology
by the time I was done, the budget was exhausted, further plans were left on the shelf
there was no money left to generalise, to make the mechanism work with anyone else

so, with a little planning and a little trickery
I fixed the device in a way that suited me.
unless the scientists worked to create a clone
the space elevator was mine alone.
Track Name: An Ascent
having ascertained the smoke was a smokescreen
all that remained was to prove it
though the elevator door was blocked by a crate
I needed no assistance to move it
so eager was I to prove myself right
that my hand shook as I pressed the switch
and as the space elevator rose into the sky
my eyeballs began to twitch

I felt my skin tighten over my bones
and my hair retract into my skull
I had made this trip so many times
that I no longer suffered at all
I closed my eyes and felt my brain
rattle around in my head
safe in the knowledge that anyone else
who tried this would end up dead

there's no better feeling than leaving the earth
knowing you can't be followed
there's no piece of knowledge that I keep better hidden
than this: THE MOON IS HOLLOW
Track Name: Arrival
felt feet finally find firm floor
time stops in the space elevator
legs land loosely, land-locked at last
seconds turn into hours when thrusters blast
heart heaves haltingly, hurts like hell
but levels out and all is well
brain begins to bloom, back to basics
arrival quicker than any spaceship

eyes open
windows clouded
smoke surrounded
surface shrouded

switch should switch, shields should shrink
but nothing happens, locks won't unlink
capsule can't cope with a confident kick
doors shriek open and I step out quick

elevator open
hatch destroyed
smoke surrounded
fans deployed

the smoke blows away to reveal a hole. a hole that I installed.
from here I can descend below, to the sub-lunar halls.
if I am right - and I AM right - this is where I'll find
the source of all this mystic mist, and interrogate his mind.
Track Name: The Subterranean Castle
I let my eyes adjust to the gloom
and cast my gaze around the room
an entrance hall, a passing place
a doorway on the wall that faced
through door, to stairs, and down a level
an open chamber, "what the devil?"
standing in the low-lit hall
a subterranean castle

the turrets reached the chamber ceiling
giving my head a spinning feeling
but to give the castle plaudits rightful
the design and build was beyond delightful
the drawbridge spanned the empty moat
a coathook beckoned for my coat
a welcome mat, to brush my feet
...the castle-dweller expected me.
Track Name: Wizard Meat
I slowly let my head rotate to take in all I saw
I stood on patterned carpet on an expanse of stone floor
if this castle was old, and it was old, I'm sure,
then why had I never seen it before?
from the central staircase, a figure descended
my explorations were swiftly apprehended
I stepped back, into shadow I blended
I suspected I was not about to be befriended
the wizard appeared, in a flowing cloak
he turned in my direction, and spoke
his voice was low and dry, a croak
vocal chords cracked from inhaling smoke

I can see you
step into the light
I can see you
step into the light

I stepped out warily at the wizard's suggestion
and prepared to ask him important questions
but there was no need, it was his clear intention
to tell me his plans without me needing to mention them

let me tell you
what I'm doing
let me tell you
what I'm doing
let me tell you
what I'm doing
let me tell you
why I'm here.
Track Name: His Plan Unfurls
"come with me", he said, "to surface level"
"I'll flick a switch and clear away this smoke"
I followed him back the way I had come
and he performed the actions he spoke
as the clouds billowed backwards I shook my head
in disbelief at what I saw
a web of wires and connected machines
stretched out from the moon's hollow core

"I'm bringing him back to life", he said
"I'm waking the cosmic beast"
the implications of what he said
were grave, to say the least
I knew the history, of course
I'd studied the moon's cave art
I knew that once, this dormant orb
had been God's colossal heart.

"with these machines", he said to me
"I'll electrify the planet"
"send power surging through his veins"
"re-awake the giant"
"he'll re-align the stars", he said
his voice loud and insistent
"he'll kill every man and beast"
"and I will be his assistant"
Track Name: Cease, Wizard
I knew I had to stop him
I knew I had to act
so, when he reached for the power switch
that's when I attacked
I pushed him down the moon-stairs
I chased him underground
I pushed his head into moon canals
until he was half-drowned

it wasn't an easy battle
he fought back with great skill
his magic made him very strong
and he moved in for the kill
but as he tried to blast me
the water that he took in
made him cough for just long enough
that I regained my footing

wizards may be magical
and possess reserves of power
but this wizard had left his staff
in a distant castle tower
without that ancient artefact
relying on his mind alone
I was finally able to knock him down
and beat his brains out with a stone
Track Name: The Space Elevator (part 2)
my return to earth would not be easy, for the elevator was broken
the capsule hung limply from the supports, something deep inside was smoking
I climbed inside but the door was stuck, it would only close part of the way
if I had not known the things that I knew, I might think it was time to pray
but instead, I held the door as closed as the door agreed to close
and hammered on the panel until flashing sparks arose
I jumped on the elevator floor and felt it swing and rattle
using up all the energy I had left from the wizard battle

as I leapt and shook and pounded
fearing I was stuck forever
a panel came loose on the elevator wall
revealing a release lever (or "lever")
I licked my lips and checked my pulse
and pulled, with all my might
and as I fell, I did not scream
I smiled, and went towards the light
Track Name: Thanks But No Thanks
I woke in a smoking crater
the remains of pan nedrex
a small crowd stood and stared
as I emerged from the wreck

slow applause began, at first
and then a wave of cheers
the general stood at my side
his eyes awash with tears

"we saw everything", he said,
"using satellite video"
"you saved the Earth AGAIN", he said
"how can we ever repay you?"

"I don't need any thanks", I said
"I only did my part"
"besides, any excuse to kill a wizard...
and eat
his
heart"