Short story by Damir Rackov
It was late 2019 and throwing milkshakes at politicians had become the single most authentic form of political protest; the infamous Molotov cocktail had even slipped to third place on the list of most revolutionary concoctions, while the Venezuelan poop bomb and the milkshake held second and first place, respectively. It was also rumoured that a clandestine group of the so-called British Remainers was plotting a massive attack on CCHQ, the Conservatives’ headquarters, with thousands of litres of milkshake, illegally procured from cancerous fast-food chains. But such stories were just imaginative conspiracy theories drenched in the absurd and the unlikely. Nevertheless, a valid question was to be extracted from that hypothetical act of terrorism; why would people be so angry that they would release a deluge of the sugary dairy product onto the Conservatives, risking a lifetime in jail for the murder of those unlucky lactose-intolerant Tories who would perish in the milk tsunami? The answer rhymes with blatant ignorance and delusional arrogance… sort of.
Yes, Brexit, the mammoth process spearheaded by Theresa May, which was designed to remove the UK from the EU, overshadowed only by her party’s gargantuan failures and missteps. May’s government had been given an ultimatum by the EU to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement between the Conservatives and the Labour party on a Brexit deal before October 31. This would have taken the process to the next step towards the final exit from the European bloc, but with certain legal guarantees facilitating new trade negotiations.
As predicted, May gave a vague and meaningless speech on the last day of October, confirming everyone’s fears that an agreement hadn’t been reached. Labour was of no use in the cross-party negotiations. After Jeremy Corbyn left the party due to increasingly extreme accusations of anti-Semitism and started his new career as a Soundcloud rapper nicknamed Yung Jezza with regular concerts in the Gaza strip, the opposition was not able to put forward any constructive ideas of how to reach a compromise. Unwilling to extend Brexit any further, the European negotiators announced the end of talks and, by doing so, turned Hard Brexit into reality.
The following weeks were hectic for every level of British society, as well as for the Irish, who were also deeply affected by the UK’s sudden exit. The “no deal” outcome brought back demons from a bloody past tainted by decades of armed conflict. Having left the EU Customs Union without any plans of how to keep the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland open, a physical barrier with military presence was reinstated. This made both parts of the island furious and triggered an almost instantaneous avalanche of protests. Naturally, the New IRA seized the opportunity and used the furore as fertile ground for their violent ideology of guerrilla warfare. The spectre of the Troubles loomed over Ireland, awaiting a new Civil War.
The state of chaos forced political parties to grasp at anything in order to mitigate the situation, however, none of them had an actual plan, except for Sinn Féin. It turned out that the Republican Party did not pursue only revolutionary goals but delved into the occult as well. A side project that had been put on hold for years was brought back to life in those dire times, as a last resort. The party’s Occult Department, consisting of a group of retired modern-day druids and witches and a professor of Philosophy, who had been trying to translate Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra into Celtic Irish for five years, was revamped and given the task and a sufficient budget to find an adequate solution for the border crisis.
The group’s collective knowledge of ancient spells, curses, magic concoctions and obscure metaphysical theory was, indeed, quite formidable, yet every plan they devised seemed to be too destructive and rooted in a military-invasion type of tactic. The Department was instructed by the highest circles of the party not to fight the rising violence with even more violence, since that had been done before and had proven to be inefficient. Such restrictions automatically removed certain ideas from the picture, such as storming Westminster Palace with coked-up leprechauns and abhartachs (the Philosophy professor would have supplied the stimulant).
The professor, under the influence of Nietzsche’s Übermensch concept, argued for the introduction of a new leader, an “overman” to guide the Irish and British society into a new period of prosperity and tolerance. He understood the famous phrase “God is dead”, uttered by Zarathustra, as a reference to the current political and social climate: Brexit was the equivalent of “God” – the source of the moral system and values that people looked up to and believed in – and this idea died with a no-deal exit from the EU, just as “God” died when the Enlightenment asserted its dominance over Western society and scientific rationality and materialistic philosophy became the leading paradigm, causing the population to spiral into a state of nihilism, rejecting every value, ushering in an era of confusion and mayhem.
But who would be capable of causing such an immense shift and powerful enough to face the people responsible for Brexit? A name came to everyone’s mind, especially when considering a suitable candidate for the clearance of the border between the North and the Republic – Éamon de Valera. Only one detail impeded the plan: the former president of Sinn Féin and an ardent opponent of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which divided the island into two entities, died in 1975.
Fortunately, the occultists knew of a magical ritual that could bring de Valera back from the dead. In order to resurrect the chosen one, they needed to find a yew tree, the Celtic symbol of rebirth and longevity, make a fire from its branches, recite an ancient spell and throw a personal item that once belonged to the deceased into the fire.
First, a heist was organised: the Department travelled to Bruree, where they broke in the De Valera Museum and stole a pair of his glasses. Next, they infiltrated a local churchyard with an imposing yew tree, which had probably been used for pagan ceremonies by the Celts before vain Christians desecrated it. They made a pile of branches and set them aflame, one of the druids started chanting an incomprehensible spell and finally, the glasses were thrown into the fire.
The wind started blowing, producing a howling sound, similar to that of a Banshee, which can nowadays be heard crying around certain families’ homes, foretelling an imminent slowing of the wi-fi (an event even more tragic than the death of a family member). The yew tree started to shake violently and the ground cracked open, exposing a network of roots. Suddenly, the entangled formation of roots began to move and, while loosening, a body was revealed underneath. The semi-decomposed corpse crept out of the gaping hole, collected the sacrificed glasses, put them on and stood upright. Fortunately, magic did not obey the rules of logic and the Department was able to invoke de Valera in a random cemetery outside his actual resting place in Dublin.
A summit was held at Sinn Féin headquarters, during which they briefed zombie de Valera on the political and social havoc caused by the Tories, UKIP and the DUP, and how they wanted him to engage in a campaign designed to undo the wrongs of the Brexit movement.
To everyone’s horror, de Valera refused to act as a political figure, saying that he was done with negotiations, diplomacy and formal rigidity. While dead, he had learned a thing or two about life and how to solve even the most insurmountable problem. Oddly, the only sounds which could be heard in the dead dimension were guitars drenched in noise, bone-pulverising basslines, breakneck drums, and demonic gurgles and screams – Death Metal.
Éamon by Eva Melavc.
This peculiar music genre with its lyrical topics subtly alluding to torture, blasphemy, extinction of the human race, every imaginable sort of obscenity, et cetera, provided de Valera with a new perspective on how one should manage existence in one realm or the other.
Enlightened de Valera left Sinn Féin and disappeared into the night, leaving the entire party disheartened and hopeless. Some even feared that the almost five decades spent in what some called hell had turned their beloved leader into a psychopathic demon with bad taste in music and murderous inclinations. Everyone was preparing for the worst-case scenario: they envisioned every possible news outlet reporting on a mass killing of politicians in London the following day with gutted, skinned and decapitated bodies decorating Westminster Palace. But such news never came and all the politicians still carried on with their respective nonsense: Boris Johnson was still trying to calculate the price of milk, mumbling; Jacob Rees Mogg was still insisting he was a man of the people in Latin and Nigel Farage was still being covered in milkshakes. Sinn Féin was relieved, but it still had to locate and find a zombie.
Months passed and although the UK and Ireland were still engulfed in weekly protests, strikes and domestic attacks by a number of paramilitary groups, the population seemed to have gradually acclimatised to the new frenzied environment. Everyone was just waiting for the summer months and the festival season to begin in order to momentarily forget the state of their countries.
Of course, the biggest event of the season would be Glastonbury, attracting more than 200,000 people, and in 2020 it looked like the socio-political unrest would motivate the artists to give some of the most intense performances of their careers.
The Occult Department was abolished after de Valera left Sinn Féin and the party had given up on searching for him. Documents and evidence about the mission were destroyed and the party adopted the tactic of ignoring the problem until it was forgotten.
But de Valera did not intend to remain in the shadows anymore: while in self-imposed isolation, he devised a plan with which he would reveal his philosophy to the people of the British Isles. During his death, he had become quite fond of Death Metal, not because he agreed with the lyrics or fantasised about those topics, but rather because the extreme music genre showed him how tortured human souls were and that they needed a medium to express their ire and frustration. Through such music, he intended to channel the collective disappointment and fury and hoped to achieve a unified movement that would stop the degradation of society.
He got in touch with the Occultists, who became his backing band members, and through some connections they managed to get a slot on the Glastonbury line-up. Naturally, de Valera did his research and slightly adapted his music to fit the trend of 2020. The result was a three-hour conceptual Trap/Death Metal performance.
Fans stood motionless, some in awe, some aghast, but they were all listening to the music of Éamon and the Occultists, which was the official band name. An avantgarde mix of heavy bass beats, massive guitar riffs, embellished with sinister synths, accompanied by de Valera’s growling and screaming. Yung Jezza made multiple appearances on the stage as well, delivering sharp verses with which he called upon the audience to embrace solidarity and to mobilise against the political currents that tried to tear their countries apart.
Social media was on fire and so were the stage speakers. Moshing and wild crowd-surfing broke out. The pandemonium started to spread across the entirety of the festival area. The listeners, upon hearing the music, fell into a trance and started to spazz and headbang. The music spread across Wales, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland via social media, radio and television broadcasts. The violent movement did not seem random, though; a certain pattern started to appear, showing an obvious common direction of every person – London or, more precisely, Westminster Palace.
The biggest mosh pit in the world started to converge at the political centre of the UK – the place where it had all begun. At the time of the concert, a cross-party meeting between the Conservatives, UKIP and the DUP was underway. They were soon besieged by the frenetic crowd. Security forces did not intervene because they were part of the crowd which was moving into the palace, destroying everything in its path as a swarm of locusts, leaving nothing but desolation behind. The mass of agitated legs, arms, fists and torsos imprisoned the political elite in their own safe haven.
Then, Éamon and the Occultists slowed down, leaving only the guitarist chugging empty notes, as if he were a clock counting down the last seconds until the forthcoming end. Yung Jezza and de Valera instructed the entranced horde to split, leaving the politicians in the middle. They were preparing for a Wall of Death.
The drums and other instruments picked up speed and the two frontmen started a countdown: “3, 2, 1, go!”
The bass-drop produced by the speakers caused a small tectonic shift in the western and southern parts of England, which triggered a mini-tsunami that flooded parts of Ireland and France. The ground caved in and the stage plummeted into the crater, taking the band with it. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic collapsed because of the low frequencies. The Wall of Death obliterated Westminster Palace, sending a shockwave across the whole of London, shattering windows. The two sides of the berserk crowd slammed into each other with such force that it caused the atoms caught in the centre to implode. The group of politicians dematerialised.
The event was later named The Great Crowdkill, and the crater, located where Glastonbury had once been held, was preserved to commemorate everyone who participated in the movement. After The Great Crowdkill, people came back into possession of their senses and with an abundance of footage they reconstructed the events of that day. No one was held accountable and a new government was formed.
Britain was given the chance to rebuild itself and to renegotiate certain aspects of the Brexit deal. With this, the government aimed to appease both sides of the population. Éamon de Valera and the band were never seen again.
Originally published in issue XIX in December 2019.