Short Story: “Culture” By C. A. Brown

Vicky had never seen a real, honest-to-god goth club before. It wasn’t what she’d expected. For starters, there were people who weren’t wearing black. And, the music! It was some kind of strange groaning, droning, mumbling dirge that sounded like it came from an old vinyl record. Even the walls of the club just looked ordinary, they weren’t painted nail varnish black or blood red. They were magnolia. Magnolia!

It wasn’t what she’d prepared for. And, how much fun it had been to prepare! She’d cranked her Evanescence playlist as loud as the computer speakers would go, she’d re-read random passages of her favourite Shaun Hutson novels and chosen the darkest and gnarliest Cradle Of Filth top in her wardrobe. There was a feeling that none of this could be real. Like all of the movies she’d seen over the years actually existed, like there were actually other goths and that she’d finally get to meet them.

Because, dammit, there had to be. In every Hollywood comedy movie she’d seen when she was growing up, there was always a goth or two. Even in Podunk, Arkansas – there would be a goth who wore eyeliner, talked about death and hung out with a few other goths.

On one level, she knew that was Hollywood. In Britain, things were different. She’d never met another goth in all of her two decades. Sure, there had been skaters, nerds, that emo guy with the floppy hair who had run a mile when she asked him if he was a goth and even a few friendly stoners. But, no other goths. Such things, apparently, didn’t exist in towns over here.

So, she’d had to work it out as she went along. She’d bought every gnarly-looking vintage monster, zombie and werewolf-themed horror novel she’d seen in the charity shops – the grislier the cover art, the better. After all, she thought, horror is awesome and therefore I must be a goth.

Ever since she heard “Going Under” on the radio, she’d bought and worn out two copies of Evanescence’s Fallen album. Then, after they were mentioned on TV, she’d picked up more Cradle Of Filth clothing than she could shake a stick at. Their music, she thought, wasn’t bad either. It was angry, it was about death. And the lead singer looked like a zombie from one of her horror novels. She loved it. So, of course, it must be as goth as goth could be.

And, of course, there wasn’t a single episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer that she couldn’t quote from. Every frame of every episode had been imprinted in her mind ever since she’d first seen it on TV and stood there in catatonic amazement until the credits rolled.

And, finally, thanks to an off-hand comment from a guy called Garth who had moved into the flat next door, she’d learnt that there was a goth club in town. Ironically, she’d walked past it more times than she could remember and had always thought that it was some grim old working man’s club or a run-down community centre or something like that.

But, after Garth offered to meet her there and she’d asked around, it was apparently a goth club. It had been there the whole time and she’d never noticed. It was like something from a vampire romance, if she could ever lower herself to read such obviously non-goth things.

And then she’d put on some eyeliner, picked up her leather trenchcoat and got a taxi to the club. And Garth wasn’t there.

Maybe, she thought, it was the wrong club. Maybe it was all an elaborate joke on Garth’s part. More to the point, where the hell was Garth? She checked her phone again, the amber LCD screen showed that she had one new message. She read it. Garth was running late. At least he’d texted.

She stood nervously beside the entrance and watched the people. They almost looked like a crowd from an ordinary pub. No-one else was wearing a trenchcoat. A couple of bearded men were even wearing Indiana Jones hats. The few people who were dancing to the dirge were dancing too slowly. She didn’t recognise anyone.

Remembering a line she’d seen in a comedy on TV, she nervously walked over to the bar and – putting on her most serious voice – asked if they sold absinthe. They didn’t. She bought a bottle of Vodka Tropical instead, and stood near the end of the bar sipping the bright orange liquid and staring out at the club.

Maybe, Vicky thought, she wasn’t a goth. But, that didn’t seem right. She always wore dark clothes. Songs about death were her background music. The horror genre was her genre. But, why did her supposed home look so different? A flush of fury spread through her chest. Where had these people been when she had been growing up? Why was she left to come up with her own version of what a goth was, pieced together from whatever she could find, only to discover that no-one else had had the same ideas?

Vicky felt alienated. And, suddenly, everything around her made a lot more sense. A smile crossed her face. She was, she realised, more of a goth than everyone she saw around her.

8 comments on “Short Story: “Culture” By C. A. Brown

  1. babbitman says:

    I’ve always had a soft spot for a bit of goth. My musical & fashion tastes trod a somewhat warped route along the fringes of Mod, Ska, Punk, Goth & Indie (including the baggy t-shirt phase of the Stone Roses & Happy Mondays, but I drew the line at baggy jeans & flares).
    Never went full Richmond though…

    • pekoeblaze says:

      Cool 🙂 My musical tastes at the moment are probably something like 50% heavy metal, 20% goth, 20% punk and 10% other stuff.

      I’m glad that you spotted the Richmond reference in the story too LOL! Although I’m kind of surprised to find that he actually has a surname though (I’d always thought that he was just called “Richmond” LOL!).

      • babbitman says:

        Ha, I thought that’s where you got the Cradle of Filth TV reference from! Yeah, I was surprised about the surname too.

      • pekoeblaze says:

        Ah, surprisingly, I didn’t realise that the Cradle Of Filth reference was actually another Richmond reference until after I finished the story (I initially included it because Cradle Of Filth are frequently mistaken for being a goth band [even though they’re actually a metal band] and because I think that their lead singer was on Never Mind The Buzzcocks or something once).

        The only Richmond reference I’d planned to add was the part about absinthe near the end of the story LOL!!!

        Yeah, I’m not sure if it was ever actually mentioned during the show or not.

      • babbitman says:

        Pretty sure absinthe got mentioned somewhere in the show by Richmond 🙂

      • pekoeblaze says:

        If I remember rightly, the line is “Do you have any absinthe?“. It’s certainly one of his more memorable lines…. apart from the Cradle Of Filth-related ones (seriously, I can’t believe I didn’t remember these until after I finished the story LOL!).

      • babbitman says:

        I thought Cradle of Filth was a made up name until I came across it online sometime later!

      • pekoeblaze says:

        LOL!!! I can’t remember when I first heard of them (probably sometime between 2004-6, I guess) but, yeah, I can see why it would sound like a made up name.

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