I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me. .. and the second; the loft is my domain entirely and home of the Wasp Factory, no less;. file:///F|/rah/Iain%20Banks/Banks%%20The%20Wasp%20Factory%20vtxt THE WASP FACTORY Iain Banks Abacus, ISBN. DESCRIPTION The polarizing literary debut by Scottish author Ian Banks, The Wasp Factory is the bizarre, imaginative, disturbing, and darkly comic look into the mind of a child computerescue.info Frank Cauldhame. if you want to download or read Aqualeo's The Book of The WASP FACTORY.
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Are you sure you want to Yes No. Be the first to like this. No Downloads. Views Total views. Actions Shares. Active Themes Frank was homeschooled by Angus, who taught him a mixture of facts and total lies.
Only when Frank grew older and was able to go to the library on his own was he able to begin to distinguish fact from fiction. Angus has done his best to control Frank in every possible way. Like most of his comments, this is an attempt to restrict the actions of his son, not a genuine inquiry.
However, it is ineffective, as Frank will stop at nothing to make sure his rituals go as planned. Active Themes Angus remarks that sometimes he thinks Frank, not Eric, should be in the hospital. Frank thinks that this once would have scared him, but not anymore. He understands that people in town consider him strange, but he knows better than to make his obsessions and deviancies public. Once again, Angus is simply trying to threaten and intimidate Frank.
Frank understands that the biggest difference between him and his brother is that his brother made his insanity public, whereas Frank keeps it private. The truth is that Frank has no birth certificate. As a result, Angus educated Frank himself, and provided all of his early essential medical care. Because Frank does not legally exist, he cannot go to school or work, and so is totally reliant on his father for food and housing, education, and medical care.
Active Themes Angus goes to bed. Frank suspects there is a secret in the study, but knows he cannot ask. Active Themes Frank hears the phone ring, and answers it. At first, Eric repeats everything Frank says, but eventually the two begin to have a conversation. Furious, Eric denies ever having done such a thing, and hangs up the phone.
He didn't have to tell me the rest. I suppose I could have thought from the little he'd said up until then that my half-brother was dead, or ill, or that something had happened to him, but I knew then it was something Eric had done, and there was only one thing he could have done which would make my father look worried. He had escaped. I didn't say anything, though. That was what Diggs came to tell us. They think he might head back here.
Take those things off the table; I've told you before. I waited until he started to turn round, then took the catapult, binoculars and spade off the table. In the same flat tone my father went on; 'Well, I don't suppose he'll get this far. They'll probably pick him up in a day or two. I just thought I'd tell you. In case anybody else hears and says anything. Get out a plate.
My father went back to stirring the soup, which I could smell now above the cigar smoke. I could feel excitement in my stomach-a rising, tingling rush. So Eric was coming back home again; that was good-bad. I knew he'd make it. I didn't even think of asking the Factory about it; he'd be here. I wondered how long it would take him, and whether Diggs would now have to go shouting through the town, warning that the mad boy who set fire to dogs was on the loose again; lock up your hounds!
My father ladled some soup into my plate. I blew on it. I thought of the Sacrifice Poles. They were my early-warning system and deterrent rolled into one; infected, potent things which looked out from the island, warding off. Those totems were my warning shot; anybody who set foot on the island after seeing them should know what to expect. But it looked like, instead of being a clenched and threatening fist, they would present a welcoming, open hand.
For Eric. He was being sarcastic. He took the bottle of whisky from the dresser and poured himself a drink. The other glass, which I guessed had been the constable's, he put in the sink. He sat down at the far end of the table.
My father is tall and slim, though slightly stooped. He has a delicate face, like a woman's, and his eyes are dark. He limps now, and has done ever since I can remember. His left leg is almost totally stiff, and he usually takes a stick with him when he leaves the house.
Some days, when it's damp, he has to use the stick inside, too, and I can hear him clacking about the uncarpeted rooms and corridors of the house; a hollow noise, going from place to place. Only here in the kitchen is the stick quieted; the flagstones silence it. That stick is the symbol of the Factory's security. My father's leg, locked solid, has given me my sanctuary up in the warm space of the big loft, right at the top of the house where the junk and the rubbish are, where the dust moves and the sunlight slants and the Factory sits-silent, living and still.
My father can't climb up the narrow ladder from the top floor; and, even if he could, I know he wouldn't be able to negotiate the twist you have to make to get from the top of the ladder, round the brickwork of the chimney flues, and into the loft proper.
So the place is mine. I suppose my father is about forty-five now, though sometimes I think he looks a lot older, and occasionally I think he might be a little younger. He won't tell me his real age, so forty-five is my estimate, judging by his looks. I turned round and looked at him, wondering why he was bothering with such an easy question. There was a time when I was genuinely afraid of these idiotic questions, but now, apart from the fact that I must know the height, length, breadth, area and volume of just about every part of the house and everything in it, I can see my father's obsession for what it is.
It gets embarrassing at times when there are guests in the house, even if they are family and ought to know what to expect. They'll be sitting there, probably in the lounge, wondering whether Father's going to feed them anything or just give an impromptu lecture on cancer of the colon or tapeworms, when he'll sidle up to somebody, look round to make sure everybody's watching, then in a conspiratorial stage-whisper say: 'See that door over there?
It's eighty-five inches, corner to corner. Ever since I can remember there have been little stickers of white paper all over the house with neat black-biro writing on them.
Attached to the legs of chairs, the edges of rugs, the bottoms of jugs, the aerials of radios, the doors of drawers, the headboards of beds, the screens of televisions, the handles of pots and pans, they give the appropriate measurement for the part of the object they're stuck to.
There are even ones in pencil stuck to the leaves of plants. When I was a child I once went round the house tearing all the stickers off; I was belted and sent to my room for two days. Later my father decided it would be useful and character-forming for me to know all the measurements as well as he did, so I had to sit for hours with the Measurement Book a huge loose-leaf thing with all the information on the little stickers carefully recorded according to room and category of object , or go round the house with a jotter, making my own notes.
This was all in addition to the usual lessons my father gave me on mathematics and history and so on. It didn't leave much time for going out to play, and I resented it a great deal. I was having a War at the time-the Mussels against the Dead Flies I think it was-and while I was in the library poring over the book and trying to keep my eyes open, soaking up all those damn silly Imperial measurements, the wind would be blowing my fly armies over half the island and the sea would first sink the mussel shells in their high pools and then cover them with sand.
Luckily my father grew tired of this grand scheme and contented himself with firing the odd surprise question at me concerning the capacity of the umbrella-stand in pints or the total area in fractions of an acre of all the curtains in the house actually hung up at the time.
Certainly not. It's all based on the measurement of the globe, you know. I don't have to tell you what nonsense that is. My father once had me believing that the earth was a Mobius strip, not a sphere. He still maintains that he believes this, and makes a great show of sending off a manuscript to publishers down in London, trying to get them to publish a book expounding this view, but I know he's just mischief-making again, and gets most of his pleasure from his acts of stunned disbelief and then righteous indignation when the manuscript is eventually returned.
This occurs about every three months, and I doubt that life would be half as much fun for him without this sort of ritual.
Behind it all
Anyway, that is one of his reasons for not switching over to a metric standard for his stupid measurements, though in fact he's just lazy.
I shrugged. Walking and things. Of course I was out killing things. How the hell am I supposed to get heads and bodies for the Poles and the Bunker if I don't kill things?
There just aren't enough natural deaths. You can't explain that sort of thing to people, though. Once, that sort of talk would have scared me, but not now.
I'm nearly seventeen, and not a child. Here in Scotland I'm old enough to get married without my parent's permission, and have been for a year. There wouldn't be much point to me getting married perhaps-I'll admit that-but the principle is there. Besides, I'm not Eric; I'm me and I'm here and that's all there is to it.
I don't bother people and they had best not bother me if they know what's good for them. I don't go giving people presents of burning dogs, or frighten the local toddlers with handfuls of maggots and mouthfuls of worms. The people in the town may say 'Oh, he's not all there, you know,' but that's just their little joke and sometimes, just to rub it in, they don't point to their heads as they say it ; I don't mind.
I've learned to live with my disability, and learned to live without other people, so it's no skin off my nose. My father seemed to be trying to hurt me, though; he wouldn't say something like that normally. The news about Eric must have shaken him. I think he knew, just as I did, that Eric would get back, and he was worried about what would happen.
Hm Are You a Human?
I didn't blame him, and I didn't doubt that he was also worried about me. I represent a crime, and if Eric was to come back stirring things up The Truth About Frank might come out. I was never registered. I have no birth certificate, no National Insurance number, nothing to say I'm alive or have ever existed.
I know this is a crime, and so does my father, and I think that sometimes he regrets the decision he made seventeen years ago, in his hippy-anarchist days, or whatever they were. Not that I've suffered, really. I enjoyed it, and you could hardly say that I wasn't educated. I probably know more about the conventional school subjects than most people of my age. I could complain about the truth of some of the bits of information my father passed on to me, mind you.
Ever since I was able to go into Porteneil alone and check things up in the library my father has had to be pretty straight with me, but when I was younger he used to fool me time after time, answering my honest if naive questions with utter rubbish.
For years I believed Pathos was one of the Three Musketeers, Fellatio was a character in Hamlet, Vitreous a town in China, and that the Irish peasants had to tread the peat to make Guinness. Well, these days I can reach the highest shelves of the house library, and walk into Porteneil to visit the one there, so I can check up on anything my father says, and he has to tell me the truth.
It annoys him a lot, I think, but that's the way things go. Call it progress. But I am educated. While he wasn't able to resist indulging his rather immature sense of humour by selling me a few dummies, my father couldn't abide a son of his not being a credit to him in some way; my body was a forlorn hope for any improvement, so only my mind was left. Hence all my lessons. My father is an educated man, and he passed a lot of what he already knew on to me, as well as doing a fair bit of study himself into areas he didn't know all that much about just so that he could teach me.
My father is a doctor of chemistry, or perhaps biochemistry-I'm not sure. He seems to have known enough about ordinary medicine-and perhaps still have had the contacts within the profession-to make sure that I got my inoculations and injections at the correct times in my life, despite my official non-existence as far as the National Health Service is concerned.
I think my father used to work in a university for a few years after he graduated, and he might have invented something; he occasionally hints that he gets some sort of royalty from a patent or something, but I suspect the old hippy survives on whatever family wealth the Cauldhames still have secreted away. The family has been in this part of Scotland for about two hundred years or more, from what I can gather, and we used to own a lot of the land around here.
Now all we have is the island, and that's pretty small, and hardly even an island at low tide. The only other remnant of our glorious past is the name of Porteneil's hot-spot, a grubby old pub called the Cauldhame Arms where I go sometimes now, though still under age of course, and watch some of the local youths trying to be punk bands. That was where I met and still meet the only person I'd call a friend; Jamie the dwarf, whom I let sit on my shoulders so he can see the bands. They'll pick him up,' my father said again, after a long and brooding silence.
He got up to rinse his glass. I hummed to myself, something I always used to do when I wanted to smile or laugh, but thought the better of it. My father looked at me. Don't forget to lock up, all right? I sat and looked at my trowel, Stoutstroke. Little grains of dry sand stuck to it, so I brushed them off. The study. One of my few remaining unsatisfied ambitions is to get into the old man's study. The cellar I have at least seen, and been in occasionally; I know all the rooms on the ground floor and the second; the loft is my domain entirely and home of the Wasp Factory, no less; but that one room on the first floor I don't know, I have never even seen inside.
I do know he has some chemicals in there, and I suppose he does experiments or something, but what the room looks like, what he actually does in there, I have no idea. All I've ever got out of it are a few funny smells and the tap-tap of my father's stick. I stroked the long handle of the trowel, wondering if my father had a name for that stick of his.
I doubted it. He doesn't attach the same importance to them as I do. I know they are important. I think there is a secret in the study. He had hinted as much more than once, just vaguely, just enough to entice me so that I want to ask what, so that he knows that I want to ask.
I don't ask, of course, because I wouldn't get any worthwhile answer. If he did tell me anything it would be a pack of lies, because obviously the secret wouldn't be a secret any more if he told me the truth, and he can feel, as I do, that with my increasing maturity he needs all the holds over me he can get; I'm not a child any more. Only these little bits of bogus power enable him to think he is in control of what he sees as the correct father-son relationship.
It's pathetic really, but with his little games and his secrets and his hurtful remarks he tries to keep his security intact. I leaned back in the wooden chair and stretched. I like the smell of the kitchen. The food, and the mud on our wellingtons, and sometimes the faint tang of cordite coming up from the cellar all give me a good, tight, thrilling feel when I think about them. It smells different when it's been raining and our clothes are wet. In the winter the big black stove pumps out heat fragrant with driftwood or peat, and everything steams and the rain hammers against the glass.
Then it has a comfortable, closed-in feeling, making you feel cosy, like a great big cat with its tail curled round itself. Sometimes I wish we had a cat. All I've ever had was a head, and that the seagulls took.
I went to the toilet, down the corridor off the kitchen, for a crap. I didn't need a pee because I'd been pissing on the Poles during the day, infecting them with my scent and power.
I sat there and thought about Eric, to whom such an unpleasant thing happened. Poor twisted bugger. I wondered, as I have often wondered, how I would have coped. But it didn't happen to me. I have stayed here and Eric was the one who went away and it all happened somewhere else, and that's all there is to it.
I'm me and here's here. I listened, wondering if I could hear my father. Perhaps he had gone straight to bed. He often sleeps in the study rather than in the big bedroom on the second floor, where mine is. Maybe that room holds too many unpleasant or pleasant memories for him.
Either way, I couldn't hear any snoring. I hate having to sit down in the toilet all the time. With my unfortunate disability I usually have to, as though I was a bloody woman, but I hate it. Sometimes in the Cauldhame Arms I stand up at the urinal, but most of it ends up running down my hands or legs. I strained.
Plop splash. Some water came up and hit my bum, and that was when the phone went. I cleaned my arse quickly and pulled my trousers up, pulling the chain, too, and then waddling out into the corridor, zipping up.
I ran up the broad stairs to the first-floor landing, where our only phone is. I'm forever on at my father to get more phones put in, but he says we don't get called often enough to warrant extensions. I got to the phone before whoever was calling rang off. My father hadn't appeared. It was a call-box. I held the receiver away from my ear and looked at it, scowling. Tinny yells continued to come from the earpiece. When they stopped I put my ear back to it.
It's me. Hello there! I could recognise Eric's voice.
Ha ha ha ha ha! Where are you? Don't you know where you are?
I said calmly: 'Stop being silly, Eric. I'm not telling you where I am; you'll only tell Angus and he'll tell the police and they'll take me back to the fucking hospital. You know I don't like them. Of course I won't tell Dad. Isn't that your lucky number? Look, will you tell me where you are? I want to know.
That's a letter. It's a transcendental number: 2. I meant an integer. You aren't getting it out of me that easy. How are you, anyway? How are you? I had to smile. If you are, please don't burn any dogs or anything, OK? I don't burn dogs! What the hell do you think I am?
Don't accuse me of burning fucking dogs, you little bastard! Don't do anything to antagonise people, you know? People can be awful sensitive I listened to him breathing, then his voice changed.
Just for a short while, to see how you both are. I suppose it's just you and the old man? I'm looking forward to seeing you. I thought Father was down to see you at Christmas. I shifted my weight on to my other foot, looked around the landing and up the stairs, half-expecting to see my father leaning over the banister rail, or to see his shadow on the wall of the landing above, where he thought he could hide and listen to my phone calls without me knowing.
I'm sorry, but I get this horrible feeling in my stomach, as though there's a great big knot in it. I just can't go that far away, not overnight or I just can't. I want to see you, but you're so far away. How far away are you? I'm still not going to tell you where I am. I'll talk to him later, when I'm a lot closer. I'm going now.
See you. Take care. I'll be all right. What can happen to me? You know; I mean, they get angry. About pets especially. I mean, I'm not-' 'What? What was that about pets? I was just saying-' 'You little shit! And I suppose I stick worms and maggots into kids' mouths and piss on them, too, eh? You little shit! I'll kill you! You-' His voice disappeared, and I had to put the phone away from my ear again as he started to hammer the handset against the walls of the call-box.
The succession of loud clunks sounded over the calm pips as his money ran out. I put the phone back in the cradle.
I looked up, but there was still no sign of Father. I crept up the stairs and stuck my head between the banisters, but the landing was empty. I sighed and sat down on the stairs. I got the feeling I hadn't handled Eric very well over the phone. I'm not very good with people and, even though Eric is my brother, I haven't seen him for over two years, since he went crazy. I got up and went back down to the kitchen to lock up and get my gear, then I went to the bathroom.
I decided to watch the television in my room, or listen to the radio, and get to sleep early so I could be up just after dawn to catch a wasp for the Factory. I lay on my bed listening to John Peel on the radio and the noise of the wind round the house and the surf on the beach. Beneath my bed my home-brew gave off a yeasty smell. I thought again of the Sacrifice Poles; more deliberately this time, picturing each one in turn, remembering their positions and their components, seeing in my mind what those sightless eyes looked out to, and flicking through each view like a security guard changing cameras on a monitor screen.
I felt nothing amiss; all seemed well. My dead sentries, those extensions of me which came under my power through the simple but ultimate surrender of death, sensed nothing to harm me or the island.
I opened my eyes and put the bedside light back on. I looked at myself in the mirror on the dressing-table over on the other side of the room. I was lying on top of the bed-covers, naked apart from my underpants. I'm too fat. It isn't that bad, and it isn't my fault-but, all the same, I don't look the way I'd like to look.
Chubby, that's me. Strong and fit, but still too plump. I want to look dark and menacing; the way I ought to look, the way I should look, the way I might have looked if I hadn't had my little accident. Looking at me, you'd never guess I'd killed three people. It isn't fair. I switched the light out again. The room was totally dark, not even the starlight showing while my eyes adjusted. Perhaps I would ask for one of those LED alarm radios, though I'm very fond of my old brass alarm clock.
Once I tied a wasp to the striking-surface of each of the copper-coloured bells on the top, where the little hammer would hit them in the morning when the alarm went off.
I always wake up before the alarm goes, so I got to watch. In the picture my father was holding a portrait-sized photograph of his first wife, Eric's mother, and she was the only one who was smiling.
My father was staring at the camera looking morose. The young Eric was looking away and picking his nose, looking bored. The morning was fresh and cold. I could see mist over the forests below the mountains, and fog out over the North Sea.
I ran hard and fast along the wet sand where it was good and firm, making a jet noise with my mouth and holding my binoculars and bag down tight to my sides. When I got level with the Bunker I banked inland, slowing as I hit the soft white sand further up the beach. I checked the flotsam and jetsam as I swept over it, but there was nothing interesting-looking, nothing worth salvaging, just an old jellyfish, a purple mass with four pale rings inside. I altered course slightly to overfly it, going 'Trrrrrfffaow!
I banked again and headed for the Bunker. The Poles were in good repair. I didn't need the bag of heads and bodies. I visited them all, working through the morning, planting the dead wasp in its paper coffin not between two of the more important Poles, as I had intended originally, but under the path, just on the island side of the bridge. While I was there I climbed up the suspension cables to the top of the mainland tower and looked around. I could see the top of the house and one of the skylights over the loft.
I could also see the spire of the Church of Scotland in Porteneil, and some smoke coming up from the town chimneys. I took the small knife from my left breast pocket and nicked my left thumb carefully. I smeared the red stuff over the top of the main beam which crosses from one I-girder to the other on the tower, then wiped my small wound with an antiseptic tissue from one of my bags.
I scrambled back down after that and retrieved the ball-bearing I had hit the sign with the day before. The first Mrs Cauldhame, Mary, who was Eric's mother, died in childbirth in the house.
Eric's head was too big for her; she haemorrhaged and bled to death on the marital bed back in I Eric has suffered from quite severe migraine all his life, and I am very much inclined to attribute the ailment to his manner of entry into the world.
The whole thing about his migraine and his dead mother had, I think, a lot to do with What Happened To Eric. Poor unlucky soul; he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and something very unlikely happened which by sheer chance mattered more to him than anybody else it could have happened to. But that's what you risk when you leave here. Thinking about it, that means that Eric has killed somebody, too.The snake was still inside the leg, and I couldn't even see it.
I made sure I had sufficient pellets in my jacket pockets, then headed out of the house for the Rabbit Grounds on the mainland, between the large branch of the creek and the town dump. As far as I could see, there were no rabbit sentries on the hill. The wave rose slowly between us while my father stared at me. Show related SlideShares at end.
My hands shook and the perspiration ran into my eyes.
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