The Sleepers’ New EP Porcelain Jaw Includes Ebook of New Fiction by Sarah Lotz, Charlie Human and Others (Plus: Excerpt)
Cape Town-based Alt-Prog-Rock band The Sleepers have released a new EP, with a literary twist.
The album, Porcelain Jaw, comes with an ebook of short fiction called Stories from the War, inspired by the title song, with contributions from Sarah Lotz, Charlie Human, Christine Emmett and Daniel Botha, illustrated by guitarist Adam Hill.
Depending on demand, the band is considering printing a limited physical run early next year.
Listen to the song:
The Sleepers have kindly shared an excerpt from the book:
by Charlie Human
The tension he feels in his head heightens with the rise of the sun, a throbbing in the temples, a pain behind the eyes that runs like a sluggish river through his face. He rubs at his face and looks at the mucus that drips from his nose into his palm. Dirty, but no infection. He laughs and lights a cigarette. The icy night had done its best. But not this time.
The bayonet’s cruel serrated teeth smile at him as he affixes it to his rifle, and then he stands to for the morning hate. Bursts of machine gun fire rattle across the top of the sandbags, chattering teeth that gnaw like cannibals at the living.
Michael Crulwich. That’s his name. He makes sure to repeat it every morning like some men repeat the Lord’s Prayer. Just so he remembers. Just so it’s out there in the ether. Michael Crulwich. Just in case today is the day.
His company assemble lazily. Even the lieutenant is lethargic. Word is, the chafing from his boots has gone sour and gangrenous. That’ll do a man. It’s sometimes the accumulation of small things; infections, cuts and bruises that drive someone to his death. Some prefer the riotous clarity of bullets.
The Lieutenant sniffs, clears his throat, sniffs. “One of ours went missing last night. Franklin. Over the perimeter.”
There are snorts from the men. Franklin. That lunatic. Better he goes tramping through No Man’s Land and dies on a German bayonet than he goes crazy in their own trenches and kills somebody. Franklin. A liability to them all.
Crulwich shakes his head and laughs with them, stamps his feet on the cold ground, sucks on his cigarette. Franklin, just last night that loon had been fascinated with Crulwich’s gold pocket-watch, like some kind of magpie.
Crulwich reaches into his pocket to feel its comforting weight. And grabs a handful of nothing. Frantic now, he digs further. He keeps it close to him, always. It’s a talisman, given to him, a ward against danger. Without it he knows he’ll die, knows it the marrow of his bones. Franklin.
“We’re sending out a patrol,” the Lieutenant says wearily.
“Command says Franklin must be retrieved.”
The company is not happy. Not at all. They are not brothers, war has not bonded them together. They are a ragged assortment of men thrown together by circumstance and the resentment at the thought of dying for somebody else’s stupidity boils from them.
“Volunteers,” the Lieutenant says.
“Over the perimeter, search for Franklin and bring back his body.”
“His uncle is a Colonel,” Littlejohn, a man with a twitching eye from the gas says. “That’s why. One of us over there and nobody would give a shit.”
There are murmurs of agreement but they’re not strong. Nobody gives a shit about them anyway.
In Cape Town? Catch the band at The Manila Bar tonight!
More from Sarah Lotz and Charlie Human: