The Aan Tribal War

Music by Steve Kilbey, Peter Koppes, Tim Powles, Marty Willson-Piper
Words from the book Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer

Appears On:

The words on this track are from Shriek: An Afterword, Part Two, Chapter 6, 6th section – p. 336 (Ltd. Ed. p. 325), wherein Janice Shriek exacts some revenge on Mary Sabon for all she had done to her brother Duncan, by slapping her face, then forcing her to wear Duncan's unusual glasses.
Aan Tribal Wars are mentioned in Part Two, Chapter 4, 8th section – p. 277 (Ltd. Ed. p. 265): Mary Sabon's 2nd book is titled The Inflammation of Aan Tribal Wars.
The glasses are described in detail starting in Part Two, Chapter 5, 13th section – p. 314 (Ltd. Ed. p. 302).


She stumbled
Caught herself
Blinked twice
Stopped screaming
But no
She was still screaming
It was just soundless
A look had come over her
Destroyed unity
Between mouth, eyes, forehead, cheekbones

Before me she became undone
Looking through those glasses
She fell to her knees
Now grappling
They didn't want to come off
She still couldn't close her eyes
She still couldn't close her eyes
She still couldn't close her eyes
She still couldn't close her eyes

Original Text from Shriek: An Afterword:

"What is it you really want, Janice? she said, smiling through her pain. "Would you like the past back? Would you like to be successful again? Would you prefer you weren't a washed-up has-been with so few prospects you had to agree to assist to help out with a party for an artist you used to agent?"

But I had nothing to say to her.

Instead, I turned to look at the assembled fawners and sycophants, the neophytes and the desperate, to make sure they were watching. Then I took the glasses from my pocket—and flung them at Mary's face. I didn't know I was going to do it until the instant it happened, and then it was too late to un-wish it.

In midair, the glasses opened up and, like some aerial acrobat of a spider, attached themselves perfectly to her face, the arms sliding into position around her ears, the bridge settling on her nose.

Mary was staring at me as the scales of the lenses filled with that amazing blackness—and she began to scream as soon as the top half of her pupils disappeared, a scream that grew deeper and more desperate as it continued. It was as if she had forgotten she could close here eyes. All she had to do was close her eyes, and, after a time, I began to hope she would close her eyes.

She stumbled, caught herself, blinked twice, stopped screaming—but, no: she was still screaming, it was just soundless. A look had come over her that destroyed the unity between mouth, eyes, forehead, cheekbones. Before me, she became undone looking through those glasses.

She fell to her knees, now grappling with the glasses, but they did not want to come off. Her precious flesh necklace didn't know what to do—it dithered, came forward, retreated, unable to reconcile this moment of Sabon's life with the last.

Raffe and Sonter were the first to recover from their shock, pushing through the crowd to come to Mary's aid. Sabon was slack-jawed, moaning, and saying a word over and over again. It sounded suspiciously like "No." Sonter tried to pry the glasses off while Raffe comforted Mary. But they still wouldn't come off.

Finally, mercy flooding back into me, I stepped forward and plucked the glasses off from her face; they scurried across the floor and rolled up into a ball. Sabon's face went slack, and I saw a momentary flicker of pain—the ghost of regret, perhaps?—and then it was gone. Her eyes rolled up into her head and she fainted.

The flesh necklace, now adding their cries to the growing cacophony, parted to let Raffe and Sonter carry Mary away, Sonter cursing my name. Even in unconsciousness, a look of utter terror and helplessness marred her face.

No one else wanted to pick up the glasses, so I did. After all, they were mine. I folded them and put them back into my pocket. They were still warm.