Sunday, 25 September 2011

RING RING RING


P   R   E   V   I   O   U   S   L   Y      I    N 
S   P   I   D   E   R   F   I   N   G   E   R   S

He'd written out characters, amalgamated others, bent rules of his world to heighten the drama, the untamed fiction now in Steph's possession.  Pages regarding his plans for Steph torn out.  Eaten.  Inside, she would find a reanimated Kurt Cobain and a handy reference guide to animals from lands far, far away from Earth. 
__________
“Fuck!”

Steph caught her foot and pulled it towards her, squinting as she inspected the red mark on her left sole. The flesh throbbed painfully and she cast her gaze around, eager for something to blame.

Steph scowled. The malicious, skin-stabbing item stared up at her from the carpet. A small plastic S from the 'Alpha-Phone' that Steph had bought Gideon, the kind that teaches kids how to recognise the alphabet. She sighed and knelt down amongst the debris, half-heartedly tidying with one hand, while the other continued to rub the bottom of her injured foot. Seeing Gideon's toys reminded Steph that she had lost her temper with her son during his last visit. Of course he hadn't meant to destroy the Dictaphone, she could see that now. And to be honest, the sleek gunmetal grey shape of the small machine did look very much like a submarine. However, unlike a real submarine, the Dictaphone was not waterproof.

All the tapes had been destroyed.

Steph only wished that Gideon would understand that Mummy wasn’t cross any more, the recall of the Russian Doll Stories being weighty translucent ideas. They all paled in comparison to the hard-boiled works she had found in a crazed tramps diary. And so, with Howard taking care of Gideon during the week, Steph had her evenings to herself. Perfect.


Despite thinking about him at every waking moment, Steph had not seen Spiderfingers for months. She missed him. Well, she missed him as much as it was possible to miss someone you barely know.

In truth, she did not really miss the man himself, as much as she missed the idea of him. Steph's unpolished 'Death of Spiderfingers' story idea was yet more evidence of her obsession with the man as a character, rather than that of a living breathing human being. If a person is only as good as his best anecdotes, then this bardic tramp was as much of a god as he professed to be.

She had used all the stationary in the house during that first week, pages and pages in every exercise book, the clear plastic carcasses of ballpoint pens littering the floor of her bedroom. When all supplies had been exhausted, Steph ransacked Gideon's drawing kit in a desperate bid to satiate her imagination. His coloured paper and crayons had all been press-ganged into serving her obsession. Occasionally, Steph would apply her rekindled creativity to something that vaguely resembled a Russian Doll Story:


Fathers Love Letter – By Stephanie Tent
    The old lady hands Spiderfingers one of her brochures. She tells him to read it, that god can help him. The kindly pensioner looks genuinely concerned, but Spiderfingers is annoyed. He takes a look at the gold and white leaflet in his homeless hands and begins with the reading:

God has written you this love letter.

A message of hope and healing penned from the hand of the One who created you. He is not distant and angry, but closer than you could possibly imagine.

Wherever you are on your journey, we hope this love letter will encourage, comfort and guide you.

    ‘No,’ says Spiderfingers, ‘The High-father is very distant and he is very angry. The expedition into the outer reaches of reality are ongoing, and the High-father will captain the mission for as long as it takes. Zeus doesn't write love letters, y’know? He just takes you up in his arms...’

    ‘High-Father? Expedition? Whatya mean by Zeus?’ asks the old lady, crooking her neck to the side, taking Spiderfingers by the arm.

The god of chaos sighs, why did he start this conversation? Besides, the name Zeus has a useless connotation here. He is tempted to tell this old woman all about him, that the High-father knew that in order to control the mortals he would have to control their perception of his family.

But no one wants to hear that Zeus commanded the Goddess of Confusion to create Pseudologoi. Who wants to believe in these male daemons, constructing poems, literature and plays that would give man an alternate history of events? The Pseudologoi, they exist. They will always be masters of the lie and the falsehood. These wisps took on the form of Homer and Ovid and other story men, loyal only to the most high.

Spiderfingers wants to show this woman so much. He doesn’t. She’ll only think I’m Satan or something, he thinks.

He resumes his walking, keeping on the move from minions small enough to get through the God Hex, and big enough to cause him woe and heartache. Zeus may be distant, but his minions are always at the heel of chaos.

These loyal servants are forever-bound to clear away battle debris that might lend credence to Spiderfingers' power-set. Gaia grants them the right of way, for she shares Zeus' view that Earth dwellers must never become aware of Spiderfingers' claim to power.


She is a wise mother who knows that her creation would find it impossible to resist abusing the trust of worshipers.

...And occasionally, Steph's creativity would crack to reveal surreal erratic concerns:

Something is missing. If only I could sleuth the theme of these shitty stories. I'm gonna need more clues Mr Fingers!

...Theological concepts that crashed in out of nowhere:

Spiderfingers is like any other god, in that he likes to write about himself or have others write about themselves, how their lives are enriched by acknowledging him.

Deformed tales like this provided Steph's impetus to concentrate on assignments less ambitious. Her skin was marked with paper cuts and ink stains. These were the battle scars of her own private war.
She needed to finish the current Spiderfingers adventure. Only then would she be able to rest.

“It's not a selfish thing,” Steph reminded herself aloud. “There are people relying on me!”

________
________
________

Steph had printed out the first wave of comments from the website, the ones that praised the 'Flight of the Martlett' novella. These anonymous, bodiless voices believed in the cause and moreover, they seemed to love her for it. She'd received fan art.



Readers had emailed her their own illustrated tales.



Wonderful dark modern fairy tales inspired by Spiderfingers and the missfits that patrolled his reality.




Steph made a mental note to thank Milo the next time she saw him. It was Milo who had suggested a website and blog updates to chart the story of Spiderfingers, to get him out into the world. She had quit teaching at Palmers Green to take a chance on selling the chaos god to the masses. Milo had set her up with a good launch pad. A small distribution deal. The results nothing short of meteoric.

Now Steph desired more, She would disprove anyone thinking of her as a fluke. Milo didn't need convincing. He worshiped the ground she walked on. He always had.

“Steph, I think you could punch a hole into pop culture with this stuff, and I know just the fella to help!”

Reggie: Website Designer, Guerilla Marketer, Deadline Creator.

With another sigh, Steph paused in her quest to tidy Gideon's toys. Her responsibilities were overwhelming.

When the toys – and the trip hazard – had been safely pushed to one side, Steph moved back to her desk and attempted to resume the day’s work.

Steph had been working on the next installment of Hero Worship since seven a.m. There were dark circles under her red-rimmed eyes, and when she moved, she could smell the faint aroma of mold on her clothes. She couldn’t remember the last time she washed. She considered checking the fridge again, but knew that the three brown cucumbers and the half bottle of ketchup would still be there, and there would be no pasta bake or shepherd’s pie. Not until she went out and bought it herself.

Spiderfingers' diary lay stretched out on the table beside the computer, a compendium of tales all told in the tramp's elegant copperplate handwriting. Highlighter lines streaked across its scribbled surface and folded strips of paper marked pages of interest too numerous to count. Steph guarded it jealously, like a monk defending an illustrated manuscript. Her own notes, written in pencil in the margins of the book, looked remarkably similar to Spiderfingers' own writing. They had the same haphazard Es, and the same long-tailed Ys. She took the calligraphic similarities to be evidence of her great effort. She allowed herself a smile. So many of it's stories for her to cradle. Tales featuring an unpredictable yet solid rotation of characters.

Steph couldn't think of any literary fiction that might introduce the more discerning reader to the wonderous world of comics. She was utterly convinced that she had created something new, and she had done her homework. She had imbibed a sloth of new influences: Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Mark Waid and many more graphic novelists. They were all keys to understanding the comicbook fantasy that she had rescued from a forgotten unpublished future in Spiderfingers' tatty notebook.


Steph couldn't wait to share her knowledge of Spiderfingers and more intriguingly, his relationships with the family that he'd lodged with.

She reached out to pull the book towards her but clumsily knocked over her coffee cup, sending its cold contents flying out across the open pages of her precious text. She quickly dabbed the diary with the sleeve of her jumper, until the coffee spill was nothing more than an artful sepia stain beneath the words. Her eyes skittered back to the computer screen, and she sat down once more, her fingers hammering at the keys, as if lives depended upon the completion of her masterpiece. She had no time to worry about coffee – she was creating!

It took her face's collision with the laptop for Steph to succumb to her body's need for a screen break.

Her gaze refocused, and her eyes fell on the television sitting quietly in the corner of the room. As Steph switched on the set, the brash primary-coloured graphics of SKY NEWS flashed across the screen. In the feature that followed, a reporter and a police chief stood outside the revolving New Scotland Yard sign discussing the facts of the latest ‘algebra-murder’. Steph looked down at the floor and caught sight of the alphabet telephone toy. Then she looked back at the TV. The two men on the screen had been replaced with a long string of symbols: the clues to the case.

Steph stared.
1FROM26=7OF8
Another long, hard glance at the toy and something clicked inside her head, like the teeth of a lock churning into place. The detective in her was filled with amazement.
1FROM26=7OF8

There, stark on the TV, a new mystery had appeared, a code that she had managed to crack:
18FROM26=3OF8

Since April, the killings had risen to a level of infamy occupied only by the most depraved of murderers. The newspapers, almost delirious with terror and with macabre fascination, named him/her the ‘Algebra Killer’, a reference to the cryptic clues that were carved into the bodies of his/her victims.
The torso of an infant, the face of a young woman, and now, two more butchered innocents bore the markings. Steph’s TV screen gleamed with all four ciphers:

1FROM26=7OF8
18FROM26=3OF8
19FROM26=1OF8
21FROM26=2OF8

The answer was staring right at them – why hadn’t they figured it out yet? She transcribed the letters and numbers from one screen to another, her fingers flying across the laptop keyboard as she committed the murderer’s message to Random Access Memory.

RING. RING. RING.

The sudden noise made Steph’s heart leap in her chest. 

RING. RING. RING.

“Go away!” Steph yelled in the direction of the door. “No one’s home!”

RING.

A long, piercing chime, as her assailant held their thumb over the button and the noise reverberated around the inside of Steph’s skull.

Supercharged by righteous indignation, Steph swept down the stairs, taking the steps two at a time, rattling the rickety banister as she pulled herself downward.

At last, she stood before the heavy Victorian door, peering through the spy-hole to find…

Nobody?

Once again, the ringing had stopped. Steph growled at the hallway ceiling.

The bastards had run away!

Fuming, she flung the door open, half expecting – and half hoping – to find a cowering salesman crouched on her porch. At least then, she would have something to kick.

But the tiled step outside her house was entirely unoccupied, and the street beyond was equally deserted. A heavy shower soaked the tarmac and the sky overhead was laden with dark clouds.

It was the quintessential English summer’s afternoon.

“Wh...?”

Steph stepped outside, and peered up and down the empty street. The rainwater soaked through her socks and she sneezed hard before stepping back over the threshold. The door, ancient and wooden and well passed its best, was much heavier than usual. Steph struggled with the handle for a few moments, before noticing the junk mail wedged against the door frame. She stooped and picked up the small magazine that had been caught between the outside world and the hallway of her house.

Carrying the bundle through to the recycling bin, the cover caught her eye:

Watchtower – the Jehovah’s Witness magazine.

It was a well-meaning gift, Steph conceded as she flipped idly through the pages. A gentle warning of impeding doom from western suburbia’s other unexpected visitor. If the moral fibres of London life didn’t bind her own wrists quite so tightly, Steph would have taken every opportunity to annoy Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’d love to stay and chat, ladies – and your floral wear is great – but I’ve got a severed goat’s head on the stove, and the Dark Lord gets ever so impatient when I’m late with my incantations. Would you mind? A great idea, and she always meant to follow through with her fiendish plans. But the Church were on to her. They sent elderly missionaries on purpose! And Steph didn’t have the heart to shoo away senior citizens. So, about once every few months, Steph sat in her own living room – surrounded by religious strangers – sipping cold tea and trying not to fall asleep. At least Steph had tried Christianity. She'd even been a Jehovah’s Witness! How many other doorstep parishioners could say that? (In fact, she’d been a regular attendee of Kingdom Hall for six months, three a half years, and five conversions ago.)

But wait. Something was still wrong. She looked out into the rain again and could see that the road wasn’t completely empty. There, at the top of the street, just by the florist on the corner, stood an old lady. Her hands were resting on the shoulders of a younger man, an amputee in a wheelchair. They both looked so familiar and they seemed to be waiting for something. Thier faces turned toward her house, looking directly at her. Steph paused. Would it be sensible to follow two people just because they reminded her of characters in a tale told to her by a mad man?

What would Shakespeare do?

The amputee and his companion turned away from her, rounded the corner, and disappeared from sight. It was now or never. Steph rushed her hand over her face to rub away any fatigue. She jumped into her Wellington boots, pulled her coat across her shoulders, and bolted out into the downpour.

________
________
________

...There was something odd about that old lady, and the disabled man too. For one thing, they were moving incredibly fast.

Steph wheezed and gasped as she tried to keep up, clutching at the stabbing pain in her side as the strange pair disappeared around yet another corner. Steph turned to follow them, when a line of posters, stuck to the side of a boarded-up building caught her eye. ‘Who is Spiderfingers?’ each one read, yellow lettering on a ruby background, with the website address emblazoned beneath in blue. Steph smiled. The Spiderfingers street team was worth its weight in gold. Ego boosted, her mind filling up with a wild fantasy of Keira Knightley playing her in a biopic, Steph sprang back into action, increasing her speed just in time to see her prey turn down another side street.

Her long coat was sodden through, her feeble umbrella a poor protector against the rain. The winds picked up, threatening to fight under her brolly and ruin it with fierce elemental force. She realised then; she had once again left the house burqa-less. Doesn't matter, Steph thought, one day soon I'll be Keira Knightley on the big screen. I'll be a goddess.

Steph discarded the wreckage the gales had made of her brolly into a bin. That's another one I'll have to replace, she thought, ten quid...for fucks sake. She glanced down the street with the intention of crossing. Her eyes were drawn to a bizarre vehicle, crouched in the street like a giant, glittering insect.

A purple bus.

Purple!

As she watched, the bus lowered its suspension in an odd mechanical curtsy, and the man in the wheelchair wheeled himself on board. His companion – nowhere to be seen – was presumably already inside. Steph’s phone buzzed in her pocket, and she glanced down to see Milo’s name emblazoned in blue letters on the display. Whatever Milo had to tell her, it could wait.
N   E   X   T      T   I   M   E      I    N
S   P   I   D   E   R   F   I   N   G   E   R   S
    The inherent camp of my Superman gear becomes painfully apparent as I suspect the locals take Rooenn and I to be flamboyant lovers. My lover the gimp, he has a whisper, not a singing voice,

    'Come come, time to go below,
    Down, down into the smoke filled bowl.
    Purple planets heart chakra covered in cold,
    Grows on trespassers, will swallow you whole.'

    My lover the poet. With its teeth locked like that, Rooenn shouldn’t be able to pronounce properly. Consonants should be hellish - but the shithead isn’t human.

RING RING RING has been dramatically reconfigured due to issues of pace.
The comments posted below pertain to the extended version.
WARNING: THESE COMMENTS INCLUDE SPOILERS.

12 comments:

  1. I really feel like screaming, 'No Steph, the Jehovah's witnesses must be a trap!' I think it's the way you describe them as standing at the end of the road, as if patiently waiting for her to follow them. Something about that really creeps me out. And the tension built up by the persistent ringing of the door bell really adds to the ominous feelings I'm getting from this situation. Yikes!

    I'm glad we're getting a bit more of Steph, though I'm still not overly keen on her as a character, I can empathise more with her and I do care what happens to her. She's the perfect image of a self-involved writer and I particularly like it when she states that 'one day there will be gold underfoot.' That is a line that could have been plucked from the mouth of anyone who thinks that the world owes them something. I feel that this misplaced pride is sure to come before an almighty fall though, which again makes me uneasy about her going out into the rain like that! Argh! I'm genuinely nervous for her!

    Seriously though, there's some great character development here, so I'm really pleased about that. We get a sense of Steph as conflicted: she's got an ego that's obviously been massaged by the interest in her blog/internet novel yet there's a vulnerability there too. A sense of utter confusion that's particularly blatant when you suggest that she has dabbled with a lot of different religions. There's a real sense of Steph as, not necessarily a victim, but as a lost soul and that helps the reader to develop a sense of empathy for her that perhaps wasn't apparent before. The subtle way you've achieved this in this piece is really commendable.

    The fact that you've stated that she 'couldn't wait for the next few deaths' is pretty interesting too, like she's become detached from the murders themselves, instead viewing the carnage as a exquisite plot twist to be unravelled. I wonder, is this a comment on Steph's increasing introversion or a comment on a wider societal ill?

    One small comment from me would be this: in the eighth paragraph (the one just after the police officer's direct speech) you have the sentence 'She must have missed this one in the clear up and the detective in her was filled with amazement because there, stark on the screen, flashed new pop culture mysteries, secrecies to all but her:' I know this is a small point, but I think you should refer to the TV screen rather than just the screen because it took me about four readings of the paragraph before I realised that there wasn't a screen on the child's toy that had suddenly flashed up the killer's equations. The position of the equations just needs to be more explicitly stated.

    I'm really pleased that we're finally getting to crack the coded message, and it's so obvious now that the encryption has been revealed! (Easy when you know that answers!) Though I'm a worried this may be another twist, one where Steph thinks she has the answer but is actually completely wrong in her assumptions. I think that might be a twist too far though – don't toy with us this way!

    I was also thinking the other day about your work. There is a tendency among authors to write about characters who are writers or publishers or journalists - in short, people write about what they know. But I wonder if this serves to alienate those readers who are not writers or involved in the business of stories? Do you think this is the case? Or is it more important to communicate how characters react in the situations in which they are placed, rather than using their background and job descriptions to define them? I'd be interested in everyone's thoughts on that one. You don't get many novels where the main character is a scaffolder, for example.

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  2. I HATE GOOGLEBLOGGER, I HATE GOOGLEBLOGGER, I HATE...I -oh hang on- the comments are working again? Right then, let's answer your comment, put a comment under your Service Station tale and then resume more flat searching (yeah, I'm moving house again and that's why this post nearly didn't get done)!

    I’m enjoying the revealing of Steph’s character and I’m glad you’ve noticed that she is more than a vessel for Spiderfingers  Maybe it’s about layering even the most hard to love characters with a sense of history? I think so, as it the further back we go, even in a villains time line, well it makes it so much easier to see their innocence doesn’t it?

    ‘The fact that you've stated that she 'couldn't wait for the next few deaths' is pretty interesting too, like she's become detached from the murders themselves, instead viewing the carnage as a exquisite plot twist to be unravelled. I wonder, is this a comment on Steph's increasing introversion or a comment on a wider societal ill?’ – Leanne Moden

    I would say the answer is both though, the wider social ill is something I covered briefly and quite consciously before (remember that bit in Dangerous Beginnings? Y’know, when commuters are reading the horrors in the paper as information rather than emotionally connecting to the events?). Thanks for noticing because until you pointed it out I wasn’t aware that I’d made this social comment again!

    I’ve taken on board your comment regarding the T.V and hey, in the combing over of this issue I noticed little spelling mistakes that might throw people off. You let me off easy dude! Not cool!

    HAVE we cracked the encryption? Steph is celebrating the capture of four letters. When she calms down and thinks about it, well – the bitch has jackshit. Consider knowing a few words in another language; just how good is your conversation going to be? NOW I’ve said too much…

    Writers are stuck in that unusual place of alienating people, not jobs but people. If someone were a brick-layer (and the inference is that a tradesman doesn’t read) they have little chance of becoming involved in murder, fantasy, sci-fi because they by job description are not ‘looking’ for anything besides their next contract. So the subject really is access to plot rather than elitism.
    It is so much easier to have a character continually reaching outside of their comfort zone (cue Lois Lane – yes a comic reference but get over it!) whose job is investigative by nature. The irony is that I’m sure there are many readers who are not in fact journalists and aspiring writers and they’ve accepted the convention then, that their lives are seldom used as source material for endangered protagonists.
    However, conventions are made to be broken/subverted. For some reason I can see a shoddy ITV Sunday night detective show starring Robson Greene as a joiner in hard hat and boots…by day that is. By night, the man is a stocky and rather prolific Sherlock Holmes!
    Cheers for the comment and beware He Who Is Red…

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  3. Steph-diff religions

    Stephs writing-need better hook.

    Exposition. Toy-clear out unessary

    So this is an interesting piece. The opening of a horror movie and a plot crossroads.

    Steph is a far cry from her previous cardboard cut out chara', her development has led to this part feeling like a natural progression for her. Her changing religions so many times in such a shor amount of time really underlines the fickleness of her nature, and raises questions as to what exactly she is looking for. A need for something greater outside herself, something to give up control too. Easy to draw comparisons to her lack of belief in her own writing ideas, relying on those of SFs. (Even more so considering some of the themes in our certain somehing :D )Will SFs be her new face of God? Does she hold enough true faith to enable this?

    I fund it amusing how Steph's self absorbtion nearly negates her experiance of actually becoming part of the adventure, and her arrogant denseness ensures that although she see's herself in the role of victem, she follows through anyway.(with no preparation or thought of Gideon)

    Stephs writing-For me this was unessary and I found myself skim reading. Yes its changed from the older version, I get that. But not really in any significant way. This led me feel that it was inserted to up the word count. Now, what I think you were doing was trying to lead us into checking out Stephs website. You have told me that there are significant changes there, including things directly linking to this plot arc inc the Discordians. I knnow you like each piece to be accesable to an audiance who hasnt read as much as we have, but you also need to bear in mind those that have!

    So. Here, it would be much better if you showed a piece of the writing that was recognisable as an older ep, but one that has those significant changes.

    The toy clear out-this screamed Duex ex Machina to me, and an unbelievable one at that. Or well, overly complicated. Why bother with a sudden clean out? Specially when you are also stating that her place is a mess, implying that she is somewhat oblivious to such things."The mess of her reasonably furnished bedroom had been quite formidable and for some months now. "

    It would work a little better if you had her shoving the toy out of the way much earlier, so the image of the alphabet is already in her mind when she sees the news reel, then she can flit between the two, making that intuitive leap. She has a child, her place is a mess, its not unreasonable that such things would be laying around, without adding extra justifaction. But this would still be a bit DEM, but i suppose that is the nature of a CSI like crime clue leap. A ha!

    Whilst i found these elements rather clunky the cloak f the classic horor opening works well to introduce the supernatural into Stephs life. The device of the RINGs gives it flow and a steadyily building tension-it connects Stephs musings to the plot (something I now realise she lacked before). Stephs dealings with SFs have so far been with him as a crazy bum, the unreliable narrator...this tale takes Steph into SFs reality. Its be interesting to see how she copes.

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  4. Glad you see the character development as this is one of two attempts to shore up some long requested emotional value in Steph. As I said in my comment to Leanne, I had to hint a few ways to suggest that like anyone one of us, Steph wasn’t born the self-regarding uninspired plagiarist she carries herself as. She is indeed ‘a lost soul’.

    I’ve scrapped a HUGE chunk of Steph’s reading of the Hero-Worship storyline and replaced it with that short story featuring the old biddy in Spiderfingers’ tales (Invisible/Man is the Meal). Ashley, you’ve read it before but in this context I’m sure you can appreciate it even more. What do you think Leanne?


    ‘The toy clear out-this screamed Duex ex Machina to me, and an unbelievable one at that.’ – A.Fox
    A definition on meta-fiction is called for then:
    Metafiction is a type of fiction that self-consciously addresses the devices of fiction, exposing the fictional illusion. Metafiction uses techniques to draw attention to itself as a work of art, while exposing the "truth" of a story. Exposing the truth does not require facts and actual events in order to reveal the truth of pain and impact that a situation may have caused. Truth is all about the experience and concluded perceptions of an event or story. It is the literary term describing fictional writing that self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in posing questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, usually using irony and self-reflection. It can be compared to presentational theatre, which does not let the audience forget it is viewing a play; metafiction does not let the reader forget he or she is reading a fictional work.
    I’ll let you people choose where and when I’ve stuck to these very interesting guidelines and please consider the merit of using Deux Ex Machina in a metafictional world starring a caricature of yours truly. There is more than meets the eye here…
    Another thing:
    One person’s unbelievable circumstance is another person’s miracle.
    Ooooooo…the clues you’re able to elicit from me. Bad Foxface, bad girl!

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  5. Ok, so this is progression. I didn't didn't find Steph annoying. I found her angst, smugness, frustration and self-deprecation all worked to balance her as a proper character, rather than an eponymous 'narrator escaped from the pages. I liked the unraveling of the mystery, I kicked myself when I saw the answer, but obviously there's more information to come. I liked Steph's view, echoing my own, balancing humanity squeamishness and regret of the actual murder's, without the niggling frustration of a puzzle or the need to unfold a story, an apt reflection of a reader rather than a writer, highlighting her own frustration and procrastination with her work. Perhaps this should tell her things are quite right with her chosen course, but I'm sure it won't.

    I enjoyed the stream of consciousness here. With no outside forces (beyond the bell and the TV) and no other PoV's, the flow of Steph's thoughts worked really well.

    One thing though, and I'm sure you have a good reason for it... BUT WHY THE HELL DOES SHE KEEP IGNORING THE RINGING?! A few times, yes, fine, if you've get better things to do. But perhaps she could try and look out of her window, or have a more obvious distraction, but (for example) in the section just before 'Fathers Love Letter' she gets all agitated by it, I hoped for a vengeful storming to the door... But no, she opens another file... YAY(!)

    On that note, really liked the Fathers Love Letter section. It's an excellent little homily (if you pardon the phrase) on Spiderfingers past, and the reasons for his flight and constant abruption (is that a word) with the world.

    Overall, a really nice piece. Still want some proper Spiderfingular action, but am beginning to warm to Steph.

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  6. So glad to have your (as ever) consistently worked observances that (and you ought to have figured this by now) help shape/co-write the narrative. I really did push my sentence structure and variations in descriptive words in this piece. Did anyone notice, or is it all in my head?

    Steph was fun to write and more rewarding simply because she had more to actually do in this part of the plot - get used to this guys ;)

    Sooooooo glad you commented on Fathers Love Letter as it was the least edited part of the Spiderfingers' stories so far and nearly wasn't included. I'd actually sent it off to Ashley to do some work on it but the bitch didn't do shit!

    Anyway, your need to read a 'proper. Spiderfingers tale is taking place right now on Steph's website. Rumour has it that a big fight sequence involving the Discordian's will feature in her upcoming and concluding chapter of Hero-Worship...

    Oh and Steph not answering the ringing? I think she was doing what she though her heroes would have done if an impending deadline was scarily coming into view - the woman is a slave to her preferred perception. The truth of her will be unsheaved. Slowly.

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  7. I found Steph to be less whiney this time, but that could be because she had no time for that what with all the pondering she was doing and all the research into the riddles and victims. I like her character development in this chapter. I am glad that she seems to becoming integrated more into the adventure, the few that I’ve read have made her feel like an outsider. Although I’m still not sure how I feel about her in general. I guess only time will tell.

    Unlike Leanne, though, I wanted her to follow the Jehovah's Witnesses. Why are they there? Who sent them? Are they working for someone? The air of mystery surrounding them is ridiculous. I love it. The incessant ringing of the doorbell suggests that they really want her to follow them or to talk to them.

    “HAVE we cracked the encryption? Steph is celebrating the capture of four letters. When she calms down and thinks about it, well – the bitch has jackshit. Consider knowing a few words in another language; just how good is your conversation going to be? NOW I’ve said too much…”

    I’m so confused. Well, I’m not, your comment on the encryption makes sense, but I’m confused as the encryption in general. DO we know? Can we actually work it out or is this another John Clay twist ploy and your gonna yank all we know right out from under our feet stating that Spiderfingers is actually Steph or OG, fucking with the public cause they’re insane and bored.

    And the constant ringing reminds me of:

    RING, RING, RING, RING, RING, RING Banana Phone

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  8. I am happy you got a kick out of following Steph this month and yeah, give a character something to do and with a little embroidery, you have someone worth following. Yeah she is more part of Spiderfingers’ world and you mentioned character development? In what way? I’ve tacked on a few things and revealed others so I’d like to know more of how you feel she’s ‘developed’.

    The witnesses are acting like messengers of a sort aren’t they? We technically only know one of them is a witness though, the guy in the wheelchair only happens to be an associate of the olde lady. I’m answering NONE of your questions!

    Don’t worry, Steph isn’t Spiderfingers. That would be motherfucking lame;)
    I would have liked to have hinted more clues about the encryption so that you guys could have tried to solve it but honestly, people seemed more focussed on Spiderfingers machinations and Steph’s motivations to solve it. I guess my homage to that often overlooked genre, the murder mystery was apt: You never have a hope in hell of solving anything before any detective so just sit back and watch those short Belgians or kindly old ladies and men in Batsuits do their job.

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  9. I found this one a lot harder then the others to read. I found the ringing of the doorbell increasingly annoying and like Sim I didn't understand why she didn't just do something about it after the first couple of rings? I know she was completely engrossed in her work and the figuring out of the murderers puzzle but still? Wouldn't you scream and angry fuck off towards the door or out the window? Or turn the music up louder so she wouldn't hear it and could continue with her work?

    However saying that I honestly thought the murderer was the one ringing the doorbell. I was so sure she was going to open it and be the next murder victim. I did feel a little let down when he wasn't there. I also don't understand the inclusion of our names? Was that to represent her being in our world and not a seperate self contained "other" world?

    I'm guessing the JW's have something to do with a further story? But why would she follow them? Is it the writer in her wanting to know more? Or is she just a noisy so and so? If she was so concerned with doing her work before, how can she abandon it now? Are the mystery people so important? I know she's following an instinct but why?

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  10. Sorry you didn't like it dude.
    Steph turns the T.V so as not to hear the ringing - she is a passive and would rather run than confront...this is obviously changing in this issue as she decided to psche herself up to go down and gave words.

    The name inclusion was a doff of the hat to you, my colleagues and pals. Thank u for your guidance :)

    Regarding the JW's, have you read Invisible? Maybe you should ;)

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  11. It's not that I didn't like it I just found this one difficult to get through.

    Yeah after a while I figured that's what the name inclusion was about! Sorry if I came across a bit short.

    Haven't read invisible - when I have a spare minute I will.

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  12. When you read Invisible leave me a comment? I'd love to know how you see Spiderfingers' origin story...

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