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
Two female clowns were the first to catch Steph's eye; their lurid make-up smeared across their faces like all her childhood nightmares made flesh. Next to them sat a pair of twenty something girls, both white, both wearing turbans with matching purple capes. Located on the seats behind sat a rather rakish looking Goth. By his side lounged a middle aged woman in earth tone silks with sixties era flower patterns across her mini skirt.
Up front, stood a tall, curvaceous girl with dark skin and almond eyes, her body squeezed into a tight, pink body suit. She was holding hands with a bald man, about fifty, though perhaps older. His biker leathers screamed ‘mid-life crisis’. Over by a window, she saw a man in a giant furry panda costume locked in a heated debate with a short man with wiry Einstein-like hair. This cornucopia of surreal eye-candy had Steph checking the corners of her mouth for drool.
Once she reached the back of the bus, Steph sank into an empty seat and inspected the headrest in front of her. It had a number embroidered on to it, accompanied with a phrase. It could be you. She glanced up at the seat next to her, and the seats in front. All carried their own number, along with the same strange prophecy.
An incredibly short man with a slicked comb over had shuffled out of his seat. He hobbled a short way down the aisle. His wife (who was even smaller than he was) followed him quite breathlessly.
“They’ll do the switch soon any how.”
“You’ll love it. It’s such a nice surprise!”
'Come on,' shouted the green faced troll, 'get on with it limey. It's switch time!'
'Do you mind?' replied the small man, his Einstein-like hair shaking this way and that, 'I'm having a very important discussion with an endangered species!' he pointed to the passenger next to him. A person in a panda suit, the fur ripped, torn. The man with the Einstein hair went flying out of his seat care of the troll's pulling. The person in the Panda suit leaped up, rushing to the front of the bus. Steph watched the madness with a smile on her face.
In truth, Steph was actually enjoying the ride.
Thanks to Spiderfingers, the months of writers block seemed like a long distant nightmare. Steph had taken note of all the characters, filing away their appearances, the sights, sounds and even the smells, in her memory banks for use in later stories.
Watch the man-god waiting within those walls. He’s being digested, slowly. You’re watching through the optics that never shut. You are a fish. You cannot understand this and soon you will forget everything save your need to survive. Very very soon, the monster will not have existed for you, and were you another creature – a human for example – you’d question how the devil you got here. But you were offered a fish eye view, so be off! Go! Eat! Shit! Procreate! Survive!
The show was in the journey, and the similarities between her own writing and the red man’s story didn’t faze Steph. Spiderfingers was a truly mainstream phenomenon, and she felt pleased that an amateur theatre troupe like this could take inspiration from it. Steph's occasional biopic fantasy starring Keira Knightley had never felt more possible.
Steph noted a nineteenth century strongman. His muscles were rippling tight under sky blue tunics and the size of his red boots were intimidating to say the least. Steph observed how the strongman hauled the passenger in the panda suit over his shoulder, lowering him carefully in the middle of the bus.
“Pleased to meet you, my name’s Jane. Sometimes.”
She paused, then pointed up to the speakers in the ceiling. A male voice boomed out:
She rummaged in her pockets, desperate to prove her identity, and claim the praise she so richly deserved. But her purse, along with all its contents, was still at home on the kitchen table. She indulged in her dilemma. She imagined Keira Knightley looking through her coat for I.D instead of her.
“Who wrote this play?” whispered Steph.
“Yeah!?” screamed the invisible announcer.
“I’m everybody’s friendly neighbourhood chaos god and I get to break and enter a logistical barrier or two on that lovely eve of the first day of the year. Yeah, I’m on the warm side of a house that doesn’t belong to me and you can just see it – it’s written on my face – how genuinely happy am I to be discovered by some boy running around with his ray gun."
Steph checked her pockets for a writing pad she knew she'd left at home. She continued listening in both frustration and growing alarm.
"I'm the author of Spiderfingers."
"How topical! What else have you accomplished Stephanie?"
"I solved the algebra murders?"
"Yep. Well, not quite."
"Any family, Stephanie...penitent?"
None of this was making any sense to Steph. This was all too surreal.