The Witch And The Robot
I was lying face down in the mud of a nameless field in Northern France. The year was 1918 and the Great War was coming to it’s bitter conclusion. As the aftershocks felt by the next 100 years of European history would attest, no-one won.
I had fought before and was no stranger to the slaughter. The depths of degradation that human kind could plunge itself into no longer came as a surprise – we are a bitter and twisted people, broken in oh so many ways.
I pulled myself together and stood up. “C’mon Men!” I shouted and four figures emerged from the ubiquitous sludge, their profiles lit by a cacophony of mortar explosions. We started towards the enemy’s bunker, the machine gun placements were spitting fire like a novice dragon not yet taught to roar. We were roaring though, we were dragons; single-minded killing machines and we flew on the wind of impending victory.
I raised my pistol as I caught sight of a German infantryman attempting to fix a jammed rifle, but as I pulled on the trigger all that came out was a small flag, with the word “Bang!” written on it. At that precise moment I felt myself caught in what can only be described as a whirlwind, my feet left the ground and I was taken higher and higher, surrounded on all sides by a multitude of rainbow bright colours.
The theatre of war stretched out below me, I could see beyond the front lines, beyond the visible stench of death to the villages far behind the trenches, the villages where a dissemblance of normality still existed, save for the constant stream of foreign troops pouring through the Guesthouses, Cafes, Tabacs and Brothels. Some local girls had found love with these soldiers in the midst of this, the most insane form of human madness.
As I flew up further into the air and the war torn land became no more than a brown spot on an otherwise luscious green and deep blue planet, thoughts of doomed love encompassed my very being. Young peasant girls left alone as their sweethearts were summoned to their death at the frontline, leaving nothing but some chocolate, empty promises and an unborn child. But for their exquisitely brief moment, both lovers were in bliss of calm, surrounded on all sides by the sights, sounds and smells of war.
The whirlwind that lifted me from the field became a warm, protective cocoon, shielding me from the icy vastness of space. The Earth grew smaller and smaller until it was merely another ball of reflected light encircling the Sun. Never had I imagined that a human eye would be able to witness such beauty! But little did I know, my eye was no longer human and the inter-stellar symphony being played out in front of my face was being conducted by a Witch!
The whirlwind took me deeper and deeper into space. It was made up of trillions of Nanobots, which were changing my entire physiology, replacing my flesh and bone with circuitry, pistons, and a new, mineral based exoskeleton. I was later told that this process took almost 200 Earth years but time meant nothing as my consciousness had been suspended a mere 10 minutes into my galactic flight – as soon as the Nanobots entered my brain.
By the time I arrived at my destination (‘Caraltutumbog’, a small meteor about 20 light years from Earth) I was a very different creature. My only remaining memories were those of doomed love. I was moody, like a teenager who’d just been kicked to the curb by a more experienced girlfriend, plagued by poisoned recollections of saying the wrong words and doing too little, too late…
Caraltutumbog was home to The Witch, once the proud figurehead of a violently matriarchal South American people who banished her some 4000 years before the first shot of the Great War was fired in anger (strangely enough, not a shot fired in Europe but an artillery round fired across the bow of a German Freight Liner leaving Melbourne harbor in Victoria, Australia). As their ruler, The Witch was seen as a living god, which was all fine and dandy until they found out about space flight. Then the shit really hit the fan.
These were a people who lived in pre-historic squalor, open sewers swamped the streets of their mountain home. The only way to cook food was on open fires and there had not been sufficient advances in agricultural sciences to provide a sustainable farming system. These were Hunter Gatherers, reliant on chance as much as proven techniques for feeding and clothing their families. This is why their knowledge of advanced space travel technologies seemed such an incongruity. The Witch of course had always had this knowledge, it was innate within her being. But she couldn’t tell them that could she?
This was not the only time she had been worshipped thus, for The Witch had existed since the dawn of time. She was part of the fabric of the universe, existing simultaneously in countless dimensions. All knowledge learned and yet to be learned was hers, and she saw nothing wrong with imparting the basics of alien spaceflight technology to some crude tribe she’d found herself knocking about with.
As it happens, The Witch’s arrogance backfired. In the dead of night the tribe decided they’d had enough of this bossy Witch and set about building a rocket to shoot her off into space where she could no longer complain that her “FUCKING TOAST IS BURNT”!! This posed it’s own problems as The Witch was taller and heavier than the average woman. She was at least 20 foot high from the tips of her toes to the top of her pointed hat and her arms were unusually long, at least the same length as her height. She used them, as a Gorilla would, to walk on. Her hands were made of semi-precious stones, the result of a self-inflicted cosmetic operation. Whatever The Witch wasn’t, she certainly was vein.
The simple tribe got to work. They constructed the rocket around where The Witch lay sleeping and at sunrise they pressed the big circular green button marked “GO”. The Witch shot off into space and ended up here, on this meteor, unable to do anything but sulk.
She had two choices. Either use the collected debris of the rocket to fire herself back to a planet with some dissemblance of society (not even The Witch was able to teleport), or use this debris to construct millions of Nanobots to send back to Earth to find a suitable candidate to turn into a humanoid killing machine with which she could exact her revenge on all humanity!
The Witch, being a proper spiteful bitch, plumped for the second option, and here we are. The Witch And The Robot, sat together on a deserted rock, hurtling through the cosmos, planning our revenge…
The Witch And The Robot are a band. They grew up together in the English Lake District. Their self-produced debut LP, ‘On Safari’ is out now on ATIC Records.