Enormity Excerpt #05: ‘Godiva’

'Lady Godiva' by John Collier, circa 1897.

Lady Godiva by John Collier, circa 1897.

There is a large house in Enormity called Godiva. The home takes its name from the 11th-Century figure Lady Godiva, who legend says rode through the streets of Coventry naked on a horse. She had bartered with her husband to ease his oppressive tax on his employees/servants. To ride nude was his demand of her – and she did.

History indicates that Lady Godiva did exist, but her horseback nudie run may be a work of fiction. Nevertheless, there are interesting ideas in the tale.

When Lady Godiva asks her husband to ease the financial burden on his employees, his compromise/punishment is to ask his wife to humiliate herself. It’s a response that taps into the heterosexual male psyche’s inability to conceptually distinguish between a woman and her sexuality. It is symbolic of male gratification. Exposing the forbidden. Violating the ultimate

To remove power from her husband, and in an act of martyrdom, defiance and protest, Lady Godiva strips off and saddles up. Disappointingly, she sends out a memo to the entire town asking everyone to stay indoors and avert their eyes. Would it have been a more powerful act if the whole town watched on?

'Peeping Tom' by Jean Carolus,

‘Peeping Tom’ by Jean Carolus.

One enterprising fellow drills a hole through his shutters and waits for Godiva to ride past. Purely from the novelty aspect of a naked chick riding through town on a horse, his enterprise is understandable. His name was Tom. This cheeky fellow has been immortalised as “Peeping Tom”, forever known as someone that violates someone’s privacy through deception. One of the first mentions in literature of a voyeur. He’s also the namesake of one of Mike Patton’s bands. Supposedly, Tom went blind and died.

So why did I call the mansion in Enormity Godiva? Well, firstly, I decided the house was a female. Indeed the AI system that controls Godiva is a lady (I wrote the Godiva chapters many years before meeting the sexy female AI, known as EDI, in the Mass Effect video game series). Secondly, Godiva is a cool word. Thirdly, Freddie Mercury references Lady Godiva in Queen’s song ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. Fourthly, Cameron Diaz sees Lady Godiva in the patterns on Jim Carrey’s tie in The Mask. Fifthly, the great Sylvia Plath mentions her in poem Ariel (1965): “White Godiva, I unpeel. Dead hands, dead stringencies.”

For those of you that have read Enormity (or plan to read it), the Godiva story and its themes have a lot to do with the overarching concepts in Enormity. Betrayal. Perversion. Voyeurism. Abuse of power. Desire. Female empowerment.

The look of Godiva, or at least how I see it in my mind (I probably didn’t describe it properly), is based on my uncle’s house. It’s up in the hills of Sydney and, from what I understand, is worth eight figures. When you see it, the price tag is not hard to believe. It’s literally the biggest house I’ve ever seen in my life. Imagine the biggest house you’ve seen and then double it. Nine bedrooms. Eleven bathrooms. A wine cellar that’s the size of my apartment. It’s a big place.

So, without any further rambling, here is an excerpt from Enormity – it’s about Godiva:

Nestled in the middle of nowhere, in this persistent, enthusiastic wilderness, in this expanse of nature, the air around Godiva is fresh and crisp. I’m at a high altitude. The breeze is spiced with floral aromas. Birds and insects argue in shrill, sporadic bursts of sing-song gunfire.

At the front doors I swipe a card that Brannagh gave me. The security panel ponders it for a moment before accepting. Then it asks me to stare into a small lens while it scans my retina. This form of security check isn’t uncommon on this planet. Every eye is a unique fingerprint of capillaries and microscopic arrangements. Once the intense red light has assessed the inside of my eyeball, I pull back, blinking, before glancing through the glass of the front doors. Unlit furniture creates odd shadows. Difficult to decipher.

Suddenly I hear Brannagh’s voice, emanating from the security panel next to these double doors. “Security approved. Welcome… Jack.”

“Thanks Marty,” I say, despite knowing the voice is pre-recorded.

Stepping inside, I drop my two bags on the white expanse of marble floor. When I take another step forward I trigger a sensor and a light blinks on above me, illuminating the foyer. I hear Godiva’s voice, sultry and feminine, appear over hidden speakers. “One guest,” she says.

“Am I the one guest?” I ask out loud.

“Yes, Jack,” replies Godiva, warm and inviting, echoed all around me.

“Do you remember me?” I ask Godiva.

“Yes,” replies the voice.

Strange occurrences take place in Godiva and it will come as no surprise that big empty homes are a fun setting to write about. In this next excerpt, Jack reveals a few of his past experiences in the home. I should mention that Godiva is owned by Jack’s boss, Martin Brannagh:

Once I’ve wandered for a few minutes, I return to my bags in the foyer. One of the numerous living areas stretches out in front of me, full of furnishings both antique and modern. To my left is the well-applianced kitchen and entertaining area. To my right is the mouth of the wide staircase that curls up to the top level, like an eager tongue. Behind the staircase is the entry to a corridor, which ends in a second staircase that leads to the basement level. Beneath me is an underground maze of more bedrooms, bathrooms and an impressive, fully stocked wine cellar.

I’ve been here a few times, but never on my own. It’s strange to see Godiva so dormant and at peace. I associate these rooms with frivolity and music. Dropped drinks. Attractive people sprawled over the historic artefacts that Brannagh purchases as lounges and futons.

On one occasion, Big Bang Theory came up here to record an album. Brannagh trusted us with his holiday house. Four guys, two engineers and a producer. What could go wrong? Nothing went wrong, as such. Depends on your definition of the term. Some people would say it was very wrong. We invited a number of girls up here. About twelve of them. It was all rather civilised until we started offering them drugs and then taking drugs ourselves. Part of the week was taken up with what could only be described as an orgy. It was rather prolonged. Almost casual. Perfectly normal. My memory of it is mostly of the overall act. Not individual females. I remember the young women who were here more as a collective. Their faces, personalities and voices detached from the parts of them that were entered into the arrangement. A blurred miasma of parted thighs and glazed eyes.

I look back on it and wonder if I was there. Who was there in my place if it wasn’t me? Who is Jack if he’s not the man that died in space?

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