I’ve been a little busy lately, but I’m delighted to be able to do an official cover reveal for the inevitable sequel to Fifty Shades of Neigh. Fifty Shades Fatter is going to come with a readalong guide to Fifty Shades Darker (so that you, gentle readers, don’t actually have to bother with the wretched bumrag of a thing) and contains at least 20% more plot and toilet jokes.
Follow the more tag for a sneak looky-loo at the first chapter.
Chapter One – One Hundred And Twenty Hours of Sod Him
Hey. Hi. Hello. This is the Central Scrutinizer.
Well, sort of. As in ‘not really’. I just always wanted to say that.
So, welcome, Gentle Reader, to the horrible interior world of Hannelore ‘Mess of The D’Urbervilles’ Squeal. I’m the Inner Goddess, your beleaguered guide to this vast and windblown mental landscape. I’m not gonna lie – it’s pretty fucking awful in here.
We last left Hanna in the aftermath of a traumatic balloon huffing incident much like the one than finished off her beautiful but less than brilliant Dad some eighteen years previously. Even worse, her internet billionaire boyfriend Crispian Neigh had just been nabbed by the federal authorities, for numerous copyright violations and a rather ugly attempted bribery charge involving Hanna’s English professor.
And even worse? She’d just discovered that the amnesia he’d developed after a concussion sustained by falling against a bidet after an unholy disgusting incident with a tampon and…you know what. Fuck it. It’s probably easier if you just read the first book. Long story short – he was faking the amnesia and he was most assuredly still jacking it to porned-out fanart of My Little Pony, which had always been a sticking point in his and Hanna’s relationship, mainly because it was wrong and gross.
While Hanna had always been a latent hybristophile and would normally have been soaked to the knees by the mere notion of his illegal activities , the pony smut proved the last straw and she broke up with him.
Since she used to be Bella from Twilight (again, long story) Hanna couldn’t just break up with her boyfriend, get puke drunk and sing bad Gloria Gaynor karaoke like a normal person. Oh no. She had to chuck a quivering, partially catatonic shitfit in which she sat motionless for hours on end, making high, weird whining noises. Whenever anyone spoke to her she would gaze at them with tears welling in the corners of her big blue eyes and flutter her delicate fingers over the edges of imagined hole where she fancied her heart used to be.
Of course, this was at first profoundly disturbing to her room-mates, Kate and Jesús. They were both cradle Catholics and wondered if she’d gone off her rocker and was attempting some kind of beardless Sacred Heart tableau.
However, after a couple of days they concluded that she’d simply gone off her rocker and started using her as a pizza holder and occasional TV tray. She’s been sitting on the couch for the past five days, staring at the wall about a foot away from the edge of the widescreen TV. Nobody – least of all her – knows why she’s doing this, but at least she’s stopped doing the creepy Jesus pose.
It was me or the ponies. That’s what I said to him.
He actually had to think about it, so that was that, and now I am alone, an island state, a banana republic unto myself. The pain is like nothing else on earth – a gnawing emptiness that consumes me from the inside out. I will never love again – my heart has been broken by Crispian Neigh, entrepeneur, artist, bon vivant and Brony.
I switch on the television but it means nothing to me, nothing. A sneaker sails past my head but again, I am too empty to feel when its twin bops me on the back of the skull. I stare at the brick wall, numb to the sound of my roommate, Kate. She has been typing very loudly on her laptop for the past thirty minutes, occasionally pausing to sigh and crack her knuckles.
“Hanna, if you’re going to stare at the fucking wall all day can you do it with the TV off please? Trying to work here.”
I turn off the television, beyond tears, beyond feeling. Oh Crispian – why? Why were you so unassailable and handsome and rich? Why must you love My Little Pony more than you loved me? Why is there this insurmountable distance between us?
“Because he’s in the pokey for copyright violation and attempted bribery,” says Kate, looking up from behind her laptop.
I stare at her, wondering how she can hear my thoughts. “You were narrating out loud again,” she explains, by way of exposition. “Still, I guess it’s better than you talking to the voices in your head.”
“Voice,” I say. “Don’t say ‘voices’ like I’m crazy.” That’s also something of a sore point – since Crispian and I broke up my Inner Goddess has disappeared. Not that I miss her – she was a hell-queen bitch, a lousy friend and a terrible mime.
“Whatever, shitlord,” says Kate, and carries on typing.
Jesús comes out of the bedroom, wearing boxer shorts and a pink marabou trimmed robe. We had kind of a thing going on at one point but I’m not really his type – he likes girls who are more obvious than me. Girls like Kate.
He leans over Kate’s shoulder and bites the edge of her ear, his hands sliding up under her shirt, squeezing her breasts. There’s a smudge of white powder in her cleavage and I can guess what they’ve been doing – it’s all over the kitchen.
“What you writing?” he mumbles, his face in her hair.
“Skunk ape,” says Kate.
“That’s what I thought you said. What the hell is a skunk ape?”
“It’s like a sasquatch but it smells worse,” said Kate. “They have them down in Florida. They hang out doing your standard sasquatch stuff – posing for blurry photos, pretending not to exist, all that usual cryptozoology shit – except they have the added bonus of smelling like blocked drains.”
Jesús straightens up and frowns at Kate’s laptop screen. “Bullshit,” he says. “I’ve never heard of a skunk ape. You’re making shit up.”
“Of course I’m making shit up – that’s the beauty of writing for these supermarket tabloids. I got a hundred bucks for that article I wrote the other day – the one where I claimed Brian Blessed was a close cousin of the yeti. Nobody can say a fucking thing because who’s going to find a yeti to compare its DNA with that of Brian Blessed?”
What are they talking about? Look at them – just look at them. All they do is talk nonsense, play video games, have loud, meaningless sex and smoke illegal substances. And this is supposed to be love? They don’t have a connection, not like we did, Crispian and I. Our love meant something. Ours was deep. Complicated. We had issues.
I start to cry again. It’s been that way forever – work, cry, sleep. Not that I can escape him even in my dreams – at night I dream of brown eyes, loud shirts and five dollar pinstriped fedoras.
“Hanna, go do something,” says Jesús.
“What?” I wail, my heart in tatters. “What am I supposed to do?”
“I don’t know. Read a book. Do some cooking. Something you like. Just stop staring at the wall all day – it’s not healthy.”
I stare down at my hands. I watch the tears splash over my fingers, my thumbs. “I’ll try,” I whisper.
Kate sighs and folds down her laptop. “Look, Hanna – I know this is a big deal for you, first boyfriend, first heartbreak – all that shit. And yes, I’m fucking sorry about what I did at graduation, but you said it yourself – he was faking amnesia so that you’d think he’d given up his My Little Pony porn habit. Could you really deal with it if you found out he was still yanking it to dirty pictures of ponies?”
“I’ll never get the chance to find out,” I say. “But nothing can be worse than this pain – nothing.”
I go into the kitchen. Behind me I hear Jesús saying “Has it really been only five days?” I know what he means. Five days since I broke up with Crispian. Five days of emptiness, agony. I am cold, hollow, a shell of my former self.
The kitchen table is covered in flour. Jesús tried to teach Kate to make tortillas but clearly they ended up doing other things – there appears to be a butt-print in the flour. I go to the kettle and switch it on, meaning to narrate my way through the process of making a cup of weak tea, but I find Kate’s black lace thong behind the Twinings caddy. It reminds me of passion, of sex I will never have again, and I sink to the floor, weeping, weeping, torn and broken.
Kate wanders in to get a glass of water. “So, I was thinking we might get Chinese food for dinner?” she says, trying to cheer me up. It won’t work.
“I guess you’re sick of eating Mexican,” I say.
Kate raises an eyebrow. “Oh burn. Congratulations – that was almost cunty.”
“You might have cleaned the kitchen,” I say, getting to my feet. “It’s bad enough that I’m experiencing the depths of anguish without having to wipe your buttock-prints off the kitchen table.”
Kate frowns at the flour. “Dude, that’s not my butt.”
“Jesús’ butt then.”
She brushes flour from her cleavage. “That’s a boob print,” she says. “Those are clearly my tits. Look, you can even make out the nipples. It must be my tits because we didn’t do it in any kind of position to leave a butt-print – I was bent over the table and he was standing up fu…”
I beat a hasty retreat from CSI Tortillas, before Kate can furnish me with any further details. Thanks to the paper thin walls in this place I have learned that Jesús likes her to put her fingers in places I don’t even want to think about. “I’m going to visit Crispian,” I say.
“Yeah, that’ll help,” says Jesús, who has reopened Kate’s laptop and is probably looking at porn. He doesn’t have a job yet and says that was the whole point of getting a degree in English Literature, although I don’t know what he was talking about. I got a job two weeks after graduation – I was headhunted by the RIP Publishing Company. So much for me ‘failing college’. Turns out I was a genius after all. I’d point this out to Jesús but he’d probably drag being Mexican into it – he’s kind of a racist like that.
I don’t know why he keeps on about the plight and prejudices facing Hispanic Americans when my poor Crispian is languishing behind bars. Jesús keeps saying stuff about how prison populations feature a huge percentage of Hispanic Americans, but he must be wrong because almost everyone at the prison where Crispian is being held is white. I think that’s why they call it ‘white collar crime’.
My new car was impounded along with all of Crispian’s other significant assets when he was arrested, so I have to borrow Kate’s Beemer. Also they took my computer, claiming it was ‘evidence’, so now I can’t even e-mail him except from work. They took everything – his fourteen cars, his yacht, his cabin in Aspen.
Still, there was one bright side – when they seized his assets they also seized his My Little Pony collection, but not before they’d paraded said plastic equine trollops on TMZ. I could have died of shame there and then.
When I get to the prison a blonde warden frisks me a little too enthusiastically and I glare at her.
“No touching, no kissing and no passing objects,” she says, handing me a visitor’s badge. I put it on, reflecting that I hardly need it – it should be obvious I don’t fit in anywhere. I’ve never fitted in.
Crispian sits in the visiting room, denuded of his trademark hat and Hawaiian shirt, but even in his prison jumpsuit he is still compelling, still addictive as ever.
“Hey,” he says. “What brings you here?”
I stare down at my hands.
“Hanna, come on.”
I want to speak but the words that want to come out are all wrong – I want him back. My life has no meaning without him.
“Say something,” he whispers.
“Like what?” I daren’t look at him. If I look into his hot fudge sundae coloured eyes I will be lost.
“Anything. What are you thinking?”
My mind is a howling whirlwind of emptiness. My hands are clammy, my heart broken and my underpants are riding up the crack of my behind. “I have a wedgie,” I murmur, watching tears splash down over my wrists.
“Oh. Well, that’s…um…”
It takes all of my courage to look at him. I want him so much, but he hurt me. He said I was enough for him but I wasn’t – I never would be. The ponies would always come between us.
“Maybe you should e-mail me,” he says.
My heart stands still. “E-mail you?”
“Yeah. We can be e-mail buddies.”
I begin to cry. How can I be e-mail buddies with him when I want him so much?
Crispian leans forward. “What’s wrong? A lot of the guys have e-mail girlfriends.”
“Yeah.” He lowers his voice to its softest registers, fluffy and melting, like cotton candy. “You’re not allowed to send…you know…pictures, but there are ways to…uh…satisfy a man via e-mail, if you know what I mean.”
“Like…if I was your girlfriend?”
“Yeah. If you like.”
“But…we broke up.”
“I know,” he sighs. “I’ve been having flashbacks to my awful childhood ever since.”
“Because I left you?”
He nods. “It’s nothing to worry about, Hanna. I can handle my complex PTSD all on my own. Behind bars. You go – you have your own life to lead.”
Tears sting my eyes. I picture him, a helpless, barefoot child, thin and ragged like a Dickensian orphan. What happened to him in those dark days before he was adopted? He’s hinted at emotional damage before. “I’ll e-mail you,” I murmur, and stand up. Wow, it’s like I’m wearing a thong – how did they ride up so far?
“E-mail me?” husks Crispian, peering seductively up at me. “Or ‘e-mail’ me?” He fingerquotes in a way that he knows makes me weak at the knees.
“The second one,” I say, and when he raises an eyebrow back at me I can feel my Inner Goddess stir from her five day sulk. She sits up, runs her hands through her hair, giggles briefly and begins to bark like a dog.
Weird. She never did that before. Still, I guess it’s better than her calling me an asshole, which she used to do. A lot.
As I drive home she’s doing backflips and dancing the merengue. This is definitely unusual.
– I thought you didn’t dance?
i’m a dancey goddess whee. dancey prancey la de dah.
mackerel whisper to me in the dead of night. they sing of biscuits and dance to the music of ham.
– I’m really not following you.
follow follow follow follow we represent the lollipop kids. have you any ketamine, deirdre?
Oh God. She’s malfunctioned.
I haven’t. I’m fine.
– Oh my God. There you are. Where have you been?
– What? How does that even work?
I told you. I’m freelance. I’m a figment of other imaginations besides yours. Last week I was in the head of a lady who was nice enough to send me to Barbados, which is more than you ever did, by the way.
– Never mind that. Why are you acting crazy?
Me? Who’s acting crazy?
…like a rolling bagel in the hamster cage i breathe and fondle systems of fancy, whimsical pants…
I am grateful for the red light. My hands, on the steering wheel, are shaking. What in the hell is going on?
– Why are you babbling about mackerel, ketamine and pants? Are you doing this to annoy me? Like that time you took up mime?
My Inner Goddess raises an eyebrow. Oh. That – no, that’s not me.
– It’s not?
That’s your Subconscious.
– My what?
Your Subconscious. She’s been in here the whole time. Perhaps it would helpful if she talked in bold type from hereon in.
– No, no. No. You’re kidding, right? I never had a subconscious before.
no my only lonely single mind i know your tricks i know your treats i smell your feet and laugh
– This is not fucking funny. She can’t be my subconscious. She’s nuts.
Of course she is. She’s full time – no freelancing for her. She’s been stuck in your weird little noggin since the day you first figured out you existed. Twenty-one years, give or take – small wonder she’s as mad as a box of frogs.
Oh my God. I have a second voice in my head. Voices. Plural.