Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Death of Spiderfingers


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
Chains draw him into the bubbling pool, 
the darkest mass, the blackest tool.  
This song is sung for the people of Po, 
Blackest black has come for you.
___________
‘Hello father,' said an old voice. It filled Spiderfingers with terror,
'It’s been seven years too long.’
__________
It should have been easy. 

One mirror trip to The Oma to see if the effigies had been abused or neglected in some way would have confirmed why the Buchanan’s were sick. But easy and Spiderfingers were mutually exclusive propositions. The chaos god found himself baffled and anxious as to the arrival of Aronson and the dead creature skulking beside him.

‘Nat!’ screamed Florence as Handy Andy’s fractured limbs gripped into her shoulder, shivering.

Nathaniel Buchanan was dead and yet there he crouched, squatting at the right side of the hunched wraith with the dark fire cane in his hand. Nathaniel...seen by others. Spiderfingers felt a pang of relief that he wasn't hallucinating again. Only a pang.

Nathaniel wore the suit he'd been in when he died. It was ripped and torn like a beached survivor from a plane disaster movie. Emaciated, hair bedraggled, no expression in his eyes at all, Nathaniel Buchanan seemed more like an obedient statue than a man. A statue awaiting the order to spring to life should it be called upon, instructed by the old man hunched beside him, the man holding the long rod covered in black flames…

Lilith raised her hands to her head,

‘I trust you value the life of your family over your ability to command birds?’ said the figure standing next to her undead brother. He said this, gesturing his fire staff toward Vicky as he did so.

Lilith not being stupid placed her hands by her sides.

‘Good,’ His free palm waived in and out of the flames of his eerie sceptre, ‘Good little bird-girl.’

Aronson sounded like an old man, but a man buried beneath a tall twist of gloomy fabrics that rose and fell with even the slightest of breezes.

His clothing combined with his great height gave him the illusion of seeming like a tree made of smoke. Aronson, an old man whose face was walled off by the dark of a large hood, only his long white beard trailing down to his knees was a clue that there was some trace of humanity under all his shadowy rags.

‘You want me to tell you what this is?’ said Aronson pointing his dark fire cane at Nathaniel, ‘And this?’ He pointed his gloomy staff to the puddle of bubbling black stew steaming on his left side, ‘You want me to tell you what I want, yes?’

Although he was mesmerised by the dark blue grey tunics that obscured Aronson’s skeletal form, Spiderfingers’ eyes were drawn into the void stare of Nathaniel. The blackness in his eyes, the flies that swarmed round them, these were the same rotting features that Ungumpo had. These were the sights he’d hide from himself should he escape this event alive. 

I’ll sit here with a smile on my face, thought Spiderfingers,

I’ll wait for Aronson to do what I programmed him to do.

‘Telling you my plans never ever helped the cause, did it, father?’ said Aronson striding close to Spiderfingers and Vicky.

‘Get away from her.’ said Nightingale pointing her fingers at Aronson’s back.

‘Her?’ said Aronson, ‘You were never good at this game Florence.’ 

Aronson walked towards Spiderfingers. He leaned in, as if looking for a kiss. There it is, thought Spiderfingers, Aronson's grey haired elongated face, so full of twisted devotion; a singular emotion that I etched onto it years ago.

‘I love you, I only want what you want,’ said Aronson searching his creators face,

‘You killed my brother, you psycho.’ said Lilith.

‘To harden you,’ replied Aronson talking over his shoulder, turning to the lady in the yellow biker gear,

‘To test you. And it worked! The gods fear you now more than ever.’

‘So they sent you back here to finish the job.’ said Spiderfingers.

'I'd never let you die father,' replied Aronson massaging his hand across his fiery staff.

'You could have fooled me.'

'I only hurt you so that you might better protect Gaia. This - all this - it's always been about her.'

'I'm sorry Spider,' said Vicky, a lone tear streaming down her red cheek, 'I should have stayed out of your head. Now I've brought you back here and - '

'It's not your fault Vicky,' said Spiderfingers. He knew full well that Vicky contacting him in Bellevue was one thing. The corner he was in could only be blamed on his ego and sentimentality.

'C'mon Aronson,' he said, 'Out with it. What fucked up deal have you struck with the High-Father? Tell me, I know you want to. It's the way you think, you can't help it, so get on with the fucking monologue.'

Aronson became mute.

‘Are you holding Po’s adults hostage? That's how you got their kids to do your ‘testing’ for you?’'

‘I have a death ray in Minneapolis!’ announced Aronson raising his black staff above his head and turning to the room, looking about at the young Dilfs who cowered away from him. Every musclebound Po Villager jostled away, jumping abruptly with every movement he made.

Here we go…

‘I have an earthquake machine set to go off in Greece!’ He bellowed raising the smoking cane higher still, its black swirls rolling across the masonry above the gathered heads.

So he’s pushed the boat out.

‘I have a nuke aimed at the sun!’ and with this statement, Aronson stood straight, no longer hunching. The back of his neck grazing the ceiling.

That’s when my smile drops. My creation has evolved past the weaknesses I gave it.
‘Oh, the old days, the rambling monologues…the small dreams.’

I need to be sure, but my mouth won’t work.  

‘What have you done to Ungumpo?’ asks Vicky.

Aronson is still. Silent. As if he hasn’t heard her question at all.

‘And what is that black stuff?’ I chip in pointing at the rippling shadow muck that ripples on Aronson's left side, ‘It’s your new weapon, right?’

‘I think I’ve said quite enough.’ says Aronson, his lips pursed. His eyes narrowed.

Behold! The new and improved Ultimate Super-Villain! No telling me his fiendish plans. No help in my foiling them.

Steve walks into the living room from the kitchen. His eye is swollen and his limp makes a thudding sound that shakes the debris on the ground. Ungumpo is nowhere to be seen. His fur is however all over Steve.

‘Is that you son?’ says Steve, his eyes fixed on Nat, who should be dead, 

‘Can you hear me? Fight him son, fight his will to come back to us!’

Nat registers none of these words. His is an expressionless face. His eyes see everything and nothing.








‘Apologies for Erasers condition,’ says Aronson, his smoky tunics lifting with the air as he hunches back down to my height,

‘But the tarn here,’ and he points to the gloomy sludge on his left,

‘Well…the tarn’s exceptionally hard going on male humans. Hopefully it will be kinder to the Buchanan women.’

‘Tarn?’ I say, hoping, praying to demigods long dead.

‘Oh, I’m sorry. Again with the old habits. Old me. Let’s try something new, shall we? Nathaniel?’

Nat stretches out his eraser arms for Nightingale, but Object Girl runs between the both of them.

The tragedy of what happens next is so unimaginable that I barely believe it takes place. I’m on my knees with a mother, both of us crying over her injured daughter. A hand print of blood on the side of Vicky's face. And Nat’s standing over the both of us, his bare feet next to Vicky’s severed arm.

‘Victoria!’ screams Nightingale as Handy Andy leaps from her shoulder, charging at Aronson…who catches him, and grips him. Aronson crushes him until he bleeds falling. A broken twisted tangle of defeat, Andy twitches on the carpet.

Spiderfingers isn’t sure what stops him from throwing himself at Aronson. He wants to be like Steve but he lacks the ability to lose himself to the passion. He just watches Steve in action.

Steve failing. The sobbing father’s chest slashed open by the villain’s black fire cane.

Nightingale…Florence, she holds her hands to Steve’s chest.

The rage in her eyes. Such rage. Spiderfingers hasn’t had that look in his eyes since before his birth. Since Boleraam rebelled against his divine family.

And I sob like a grieving idiot as Aronson yanks Nightingale off her ex-husband. His throwing her into the black puddle shimmering by his side. She sinks into it, like the bubbling mass has some unseen depths to swallow her up in. Aronson doesn’t give anyone time to react. He stabs Vicky in the chest. Gaia needs me to see the game board and its pieces, fast. All I see are family I can’t save.

Florence eaten alive by that living black swamp. Devoured. Andy, he’s hardly moving now.

I look for chess pieces, but my ability to switch off my humanity -well - it has its limits. 

Steve’s mumbling in pain, clueless as to where he is. Lilith flinches forward, and then she stops. Just frozen with incomprehension. I don’t know where Saul is.

Everyone becomes an incidental character. They all fade into the background leaving just me to focus on Vicky. It's just us in the room.

'Ignore the pain. It's not yours, O.K? Imagine this is happening to some other Vicky, in a book - a comic.'

She's closing her eyes tight adopting my words as her own. A downed warrior unquestionably following the commands of her superior.

'You're not going to die. You've given up more than enough for the cause, so you get to live. It's the other Vicky that gets to die - say it!'

'The other...Vicky gets...to...die.'

'That's right O.G, that'as right. I'll get you out of this. You don't get to die today. No more family deaths, you hear me?'

'Death is the...answer.' she says, 'Operation Genie...Bottle isn't full-proof. Not if...ugh..'

I struggle to understand what she means by this for a second figuring that the poor girl is confused. Tired. Broken. My head feels numb, like it’s been shoved into a deep freeze.

‘Look,’ says Vicky, pointing at my face.

I stare at her confused, with my mouth open. Like an idiot I feel at my head trying to understand her last words. My skin, it feels like ice.

‘Aronson’s...changed, but so...have you.’ croaks Vicky as I realise the fire in my hair is dying. It's been dying all day...I was just too proud to do anything about it. Did Florence see this? Did Saul? Were they too afraid to spit it out? Were they just being good soldiers, keeping me strong despite the truth? A balding deity, too young and too damn proud to acknowledge the onset of mortality.

'Good soldier,' whispers Vicky, my little O.G,


'Good soldier...'


Object Girl closes her eyes forever.

I drop to my side. My eyes latch onto the arrow that shot Vicky earlier. I pick it up saying, ‘Good soldier.’

‘What are you talking about?’ screams Aronson.

‘Oh, sorry. Old habits. Let’s try something new?’

Spiderfingers bites his tongue as he uses an impossible strength to dig the arrow through his throat. If this were a comic, if this were a movie, had Spiderfingers the time, he’d say, ‘Old game, new players.’

Then Spiderfingers, he would imagine himself laughing through the killer line.  

But this is not a comic. This is not a movie.

In real life death does all the talking.

The new technique had worked. Using a different typeface had helped Steph clarify her thoughts. She could read her words with the fresh eyes she'd need to complete her new story.
____
____
____
The time had simply flown and Steph was oblivious to how many hours she'd been at her computer. A cocoon of early evening had wrapped itself around her, prompting Steph to turn on her bedroom light and think - although just a little - about the necessity of food. She considered going for a meal with Milo.

Should she bring the laptop with her?

Steph would ask him to read the blurb; ask him to consider a mad viral marketing campaign of hers and to marvel at the hard work creating the perfect book cover. A tale about the one true god’s final mission, how his death adversely affected all those that believed in him. All those who didn't. It was a bleak story, but artistic in its honesty.

Well you'll figure out a more cohesive theme later, she thought,

Something worthy is in there, somewhere.

She caught the reflection of her face on the screen of her phone. She picked it up and shoved it into her pocket. One day, she fantasised, my life will be a biopic...staring some A - lister. Keira Knightley playing me.

Another lapse in concentration. Steph gave herself a little correctional slap to the face. No theme? Fine. A bleak relentless tragedy would do, for now. She just needed to give this skeleton idea some flesh. A proper beginning and middle wouldn’t hurt either. She would subtly illustrate Spiderfingers' utter contempt for himself and what his existence had done to the Buchanan's.

His damning the world via his suicide would need a better build up. Maybe, but subtly was absolutely key. This was the second time she had come up with a story from her dreams and she was going to make it work.

She took another look at the rough idea she had for a cover.

Her skills with photoshop had been improving, but it took so long. For some silly reason Steph decided she hadn't much time to launch her work. She made a promise to finish one of these new oddities as soon as she could pry away the unnecessary waffle, the ill thought out from yet another masterpiece.

She would present something near-finished to Milo in the next week.

A bee sound travelled from her pocket; a buzzing creeping upon her thigh. Steph ignored the irritant in favour of perfecting a mental note:

Her phone began to vibrate in her pocket; she felt it, still on silent because it might be the Thomas the Tank Engine ringtone. Steph needed to be just a woman for a while. No secondary characters right now, typed Steph, immediately feeling cold and hard and that the armies of the world should conspire to take her out – striking out the sentence not being enough to atone for this manifestation of her selfish imagining.

You’re a mother. Stop thinking like a bitch.

To refocus her mind, Steph read her blurb again, this time out loud:

Believing himself bound to the God-Hex - a barrier between divine and mortal-kind - Spiderfingers walks London as both warden and vagabond. He actively maintains a distance from humans lest they be caught amidst the crossfire of his secret war. What would it take for the disorderly one to interact with people again? Come, join Stephanie Penny Tent - his latest fly - on a reality bending quest like no other...

She felt a little odd placing herself in the fiction, but it felt right, true to the genre she felt drawn to perfecting. No part of her shied away from the indulgence. And so, Steph gave herself a present for today's drafting. She grabbed at Spiderfingers' journal. Just one read through today, that would be all.

Steph couldn't help herself; the notes for Spiderfingers' tale Hero-worship - they were more understandable now. As if deep inside her, some significant microscopic event had altered her vision, liquidised invisible scales from the surface of her eyes.

'The Death of Spiderfingers is my Electric Lady Land,' muttered Steph,

'I need to write my Are You Experienced first.'

She had been doing this a lot in the last few days. One pop culture reference following another, as if someone more knowledgeable was working her mouth and brain.

Steph whisked through the pages of Spiderfingers' scrap book, positive that her new appreciation of its contents would lead to a much more cohesive tale. A work that would become popular, much more palatable than her fragmented tale of a dying god.

The Death of Spiderfingers is a self-indulgent distraction, Steph thought.

There is no way I'll abandon my real mission. It's time for some hero-worship!

Such was Steph's flight of fancy.

She all but leaped toward the keyboard.

'Are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced?'

Though there was no real hurry, Steph began typing fast, referring to the heavy annotations in the blue notepad that lay next to her laptop. The book shifted in its place as each wild keystroke hit gave the blue journal the illusion of life. Hit after hit, key-punch after key-punch, Steph worked with a silly notion in mind:

I will have something for Milo to publish in the next three hours, or I'll never write again. Perhaps it was too on the nose, or maybe she hadn’t been blatant about him, but Steph’s literary creation needed more indicators of motivation. She continued her note taking:

‘If I can be more than I am now people will love me.’

The words on her laptop screen were John Clay’s words via Steph’s imagination, words she knew would give her version of Spiderfingers that extra layer of believability.

‘If I can be more than I am now people will love me.’

Her fiction resonated for the girl inside Steph, the one who desperately needed her class mates to pay attention to her and not her twin sister.

It didn't matter how tired her body felt, she worked determinedly toward her deadline. She worked as though her life depended on it. She gave herself three hours. This way she would be in bed by sunrise.

The labour ended two hours and forty five minutes later. 
Spiderfingers: Hero Worship part I: My Skull the Vocal Booth.

Now she could rest. One blurry eyed scan of her room dissuaded her. With all these notes and pie charts and character specs on her walls, how could she sleep?

The ex-teacher dragged her aching body to bed, laying her head back down upon her pillow. She stared at the character she and Gideon had made out of Play-Doh. It was Gideon's idea to dub the figurine ‘Danger-Man’.

Steph hadn’t spoken to her son all day.

She remembered her phone, still on silent. Alas, guilt wasn’t enough of a motivating factor to ring him.

Steph wanted to close her eyes to the action stance of ‘Danger-Man’ and his long and pointy red hat. But somehow, she couldn't. It was if the doll was staring right back at her, egging her on with her self-involved mission...

'Am I being indulgent in putting myself in my own story?' She waited on Danger-Man to answer her with vocal chords he didn't have. She chuckled to herself, promising that after a little bit of brainstorming, she'd sleep. She really would. After dead ends and convoluted, awkward, pretentious jottings, Steph gave up on forcing herself in front of her art. She was just too small.

N   E   X   T      T   I   M   E      I    N
S   P   I   D   E   R   F   I   N   G   E   R   S

    ‘We invented nuclear weapons – the metaphor for that danger was the Hulk. We invented gods – the metaphor for their danger is Spiderfingers’ – Stephanie P Tent


The comments posted below pertain to Why is Wigloo?, removed due to issues of pace. WARNING: THESE COMMENTS INCLUDE SPOILERS.

19 comments:

  1. A fascinating tale, as always Mr Clay. The narrative structure in this particular piece really compliments the story as a whole, and serves to show the chaotic nature of Steph's mind. The threads are well-defined and more interrelated than in some of your previous pieces, which means that the twists and jumps flow more naturally.

    As well as giving us insights into how each thread of the story is progressing (ie the algebra murders, Steph's whereabouts and the progression of her career) there's also a few interesting bits and pieces that I wanted to ask you about:

    Steph's monologue mentions that she's never had consensual sex with a black man. Does this mean she's experienced rape? Could Gideon be the product of a violent and forced sexual encounter? This would explain the fact that Steph has never yet been seen in the company of her son, as if she's afraid of him, or that there's a certain sense of revulsion or guilt there. Am I on the right track?

    Also, were your references to Allah, faith and Steph's faith in particular, deliberate? I feel like on the one hand you're trying to show us that she is feeling vulnerable, as someone with Steph's attitude to religion would only call upon a god if she was feeling particularly exposed. On the other hand, this emphasis of Steph's faith nicely ties in to the idea of the chaos god and all of the other theological entities that litter her's/Spiderfingers' fiction. Faith has been a background subject until now, and I wonder if this marks a turning point? Will it become a major theme of your subsequent work I wonder?

    Some wonderful images in your work:
    nightmares being more real than the room in which she finds herself.
    I also loved the image of stories having to be 'Tethered down' with a pen, lest they escape. This happens to me ALL THE TIME!

    I found your breaking of the fourth wall and having the narrator directly address the audience quite a witty concept - I know you've done this before, but the abrupt switch worked well for me and was a nice way to divert the action.

    A few criticisms:

    1. In the section where the psychologist is speaking into the telephone, she says "You should have heard her father over the phone to Doctor Silberman. I’ve imagined Greek gods to speak less arrogant." In that last sentence, the syntax is a little muddled. Maybe it would be clearer if it read: 'I imagine even Greek gods are less arrogant.'

    2. When the narrator is addressing the audience and says "I'm the boss of you." I think the sentence might carry more emphasis if it were to say 'I am the boss of you.' instead.

    3. In succubus Steve's section, the sentence: "there’re twisted roots snaking out of the fog heavy air that obey him." The subject of the sentence is a little unclear. Maybe try 'there're twisted roots snaking out of the fog-heavy air, roots that obey him.' (Side-note, is Steve in control of the landscape somehow? Some sort of psychic forest that becomes more dangerous as his anger swells? I do hope so!)

    4. In John Clay's diary, he says "Keeping out of human’s way..." Is human plural? If so, it should read 'Keeping out of humans' way...'

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  2. As you know I started Steph’s adventure/nightmare a year ago and so I felt compelled to pay attention to the story as a whole rather than just the episode at hand. There will be more like this though I think this episode wasn’t quite ready for posting (although my style is often like a jigsaw with a few erroneous but nonetheless missing pieces I wanted more flow ).

    I’m glad the progression of her career seems O.K for you. I think I’ve related it quite sketchy and through Steph’s unreliable narration. Stay tuned (I love how saying the word career sounds an awful like Keira. I hope that the lady actress is an apt metaphor for Step’s estimation of her worth. Yes?).


    ‘Steph's monologue mentions that she's never had consensual sex with a black man. Does this mean she's experienced rape? Could Gideon be the product of a violent and forced sexual encounter?’ –C.Eblog

    Good insight on Gideon’s conception here pal. No, I won’t spoil the tale by giving you the answer; for the most part and on this second highway, get used to the dark of the story – I’m gonna play a quieter backseat driver.

    I’d say faith has been a tangent subject, an offshoot from the main trunk of my tales…up until now. Soon the story Hero-Worship will reveal more of this offshoot and how vulnerability, survival and faith inform Steph’s sense of self.

    The break of the fourth wall via Mr Lime began as mere padding; a joke to erase before posting. And then after I read the piece as a whole I HAD to keep him in. Look out for Mr Lime.

    I prefer the slang way that Joel speaks and so was initially reluctant to heed your first criticism. Then I bumped into a good compromise between both.

    Changed I’m the boss of you to your version. Good work dude. Thanks.

    Wasn’t too thrilled by Steve’s bit and the sentence you mentioned has been altered to make more sense. Again, thanks – you rock. I’ve also handled the human plural bit in John Clay’s diary.

    I’m surprised you made no mention of Foley Edwards and the news that Steph can’t avoid. Leaving stuff for others to comment on yes? Anyone wanna critique Steph’s foray into children’s stories? I think she’s onto something though I may be a little biased…

    Here's a blast from the past for you detectives out there: http://talesfromworldsunseen.blogspot.com/2011/01/stephs-gold-medal.html

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  3. Ok im going to go with the dilineal flow and comment on each section as I go.

    1)Steph is Doolally

    A nice tight start, setting the timeline unobtrusively and clearing up Stephs (literally) mental processes. A nice little awknowledgement of the audiances perception of her. Her progress makes sense as a chara and we've gtten over the mystery stage of trying to peice all these fragments of her chara together-odd, considering. You have also bought back some of the feeling of being unsure as to how truthful the perception we are presented with is true. Which is nice. I think the ast time that feeling was here was when SFs was abruptly and apparently just a homeless guy. ;)

    " Car honks, the drill of road works, unrelenting engines far and near – she hears the howl of mechanics, a forever-din of London swirling around her head. The cacophony of progress has followed her into her room; this institution of recuperation. "

    This is just bloody great, good clear, evocative imagery and love the juxtapostion of progress/mechanics with recuperation. Consequence follows action. Nice.

    "Him leaving is the same as him being in the room. " To me his instead of him reads better.

    "(which never sits in her lap without the constant stretch out, an inclination to wiggle into some better held posture)":D

    Ok. The barking. Totally get this as a device...but Shameless had a chara who went a bit mad, inc a scene where she barked back at a dog, rather persistantly and crazed. So thats what pops into my hea everytime i read the barking bit, and it jolts me outa the naraative. This clip is als still used in the title sequence, which doesnt help! lol. Maybe changing her tic to something different but equally signifing her mindfuck.

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  4. Commenting on my pieces backwards from here through to Yellow Baby and ending with The Show? Crazy. I don't get to call you that considering what I write but if the shoe fits...

    The tick is part of her characters mind fuck and to change it from barking to something else would eradicate the 'tying up' of a plot thread we have all but forgotten about.

    Like your changes regarding "Him leaving is the same as him being in the room."

    You know, I think I'll go change them now.
    Anyone care to remark on 'Why is Wigloo?' or is Steph as bad at children's stories as she believes?

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  5. 2) The Milk Maiden

    Oooh i do love subtext. I mean we can draw parralels to Steph, right? We get to play therapist here?

    "Prostitution and for nothing." Clear parralel to Spteph selling herself, selling out and her fall. This can be taken further in comaring the woman in the story and Steph. Each is whoring out a part of themselves in search of a goal, each wears a costume-the woman a different cultural identity, Steph her religions and the accesories that go with them. Both descend into a type of madness when their stories become difficult. But here Stphs fantasy comes to the foreground, as with Kiera, the milk maid knows exactly what she wants and has a clear goal. Steph does not, or at east will not admit what it is to herself.

    Bacuase it relates im also going to bring up your general representation of women. Which is not good. Seriously. Steph is well, a numpty. Arogant, selfish, fragile etc she buckles under pressure bigtime. The Milk Maid is a desperate woman who can only solve her problem by spreading her legs-even with a male pimping her out. No bond style espinage for her, she has a vagina, who needs gadgets? Eros is a self centred bitch who is also defined by her sexuality (Yes I get the God reference-but the God has power over that area-does that really mean they are a slave to it also?. Gaia is Mother-and not a very good one according to SFs opinion. The Discordian girl, was some light relief in her scenes, but thats all weve seen and apparently shes dead....

    So abdul. The Man. The Suppressor. The means to an end. Milo is a big bloke, they sleep together, he enables her to write/be successful. Does she then resent this?

    "When we’re finally over – again, Abdul " Perhaps consider; "When we’re finally over (again) Abdul " as whilst a braket of commas would be more logical ",again," the brakets seem more Stph-like to me.

    We have been led to believe that Stephs stories are her linking to the oudise world, to what SFs wants her to see. But is this what he wants to see, or is she now in control (somewaht) of the babbuska narrative flow? Is this what connects the stories? Relevance to the narrator? If not ho does this section link to thr greater plot arc?

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    Replies
    1. I've read time and time again how male writers can get the female psyche wrong. In many ways we are witnessing how a damaged mind like Steph's (and she was messed up an age ago) handles various negative feminine tropes. So desperate is she to acquire a voice, she has submitted to the amoral and pretentious ramblings of a homeless man/chaos god.

      Is Gaia a thinly veiled character assasination of John Clay's real life mother? Does he have the guts to write it now that he is no more/Spiderfingers? He's dead. We'll have to wait till someone who knows him best enters the plot...

      Don't think I had this idea from the start. It merely fits into my exploration of self. Thank you for putting me on the couch as it were...tis been sometime since a friend felt themselves bold enough to see passed a certain t-shirt/ambassadors posture.

      Need I discuss that damaged people seek out the most horrendous and self-destructive relationships? O.K, maybe, just maybe, you'll get more of the spelling out of Milo's role in Steph's life via someone with the objectivity to display it. Maybe via Mr Lime. Maybe by someone he introduces us to.

      I am grateful for your pondering in that last paragraph of your comment. I will be a good buddy and answer none of your questions therein.

      Delete
    2. I think it's interesting that Ashley has highlighted an apparent lack of positive female characters. It seems to me that all of the characters in this particular story arc (male and female) have very negative characteristics and are riddled with personal flaws. It seems to me that there is a lack of positive characters in general. This appears to be because the narrative is focused on how the damaged and the dispossessed feed off one another and I think it would be wrong to single out one gender over another and assert that the characters of that gender are getting a rough ride. All the characters are getting a rough ride, at least, that's how it feels to me.

      However, I can't completely let John off the hook here, because Ashley is right when she says that the females in the story seem to embody the very worst traits that are traditionally seen as feminine flaws. What might fix this is for us to see more of the peripheral male characters displaying similar negative traits. This would serve to balance the roles and could also provide the metaphorical mirror to reflect Steph's behaviour. Just a thought...

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  6. Ok these are all the notes I jotted down whilst reading - will try my best to elaborate on them.

    Right lets start at the beginning:

    "Institution of recuperation" - such irony! Loved the juxstaposition between an institution like a prison or a school (yes I put them in the same catagory) and somewhere which is supposed to be restfull like a spa or something other then that. I felt like this described how Steph felt about the place she was in even though it was the "out unit".

    "secret keepers" - curtains - brill

    I actually cringed at the end of "milk maid" so graphic.

    like the convo btw "doctors" very realistic and offhand. Steph is just another patient/nutcase to them.

    IDEA: mad ramblings of spiderfingers "infects" Steph. she slowly becomes the mad rambling figure and before she can "infect" someone else she's picked up on the street. - too far? This is what I got from reading the 1st part of the story. Don't know if I'm way off base but it's what popped into my mind when reading about her being on the street and the interaction between the "doctors".

    Is she ashamed/guilty abt her begging? It seems like shes trying to make it seem like someone else did it and she was as always the spectator.

    Question: How much do you know about mental illness? Is it something you've researched? If you had to pen down Stephs, what would it be?

    Now fav bits:
    "because remaining stationary makes you easy prey to the black hole of sadness that sucks from the inside. When walking is not enough you lose yourself in the recall of stories you have stolen."
    AND
    "I’m not sure about the merit of this story since parts of the original have disappeared to wherever stories go when you’ve no pen to tether them down."

    Like the Wigloo stories, could actually see them as real children stories even though they have come from a twisted, tired mind. Loved the idea of the different coloured fruit and that each of them needs something different to get them going. Very imaginative.

    If something doesn't make sense (coz it prob won't and I think I've missed out bits I wanted to comment on as well) then let me know.

    Oh just remembered - I agree with everything Ashley has said regarding your characterisation of females. I think it comes from a deep seeded problem/issue/misunderstanding with the female gender. Especially those who come across as strong or who are meant to be in a position of power or responsibility. But this is only my opinion. I could be completely off base. You have the right to shoot me down if I am. Rachel Out!

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  7. 3)Doctor, Doctor

    So anther one-sided convo. Argh. These bug the hell outa me. I get caught up trying to make up the other half of the convo and can never make it work. We have too different voices. Makes me wonder who that other person is too, with their questions seeming to probe the reality of Stephs illness. But these sections to tie in nicely with the thematic of perspective and hidden agendas.

    "I’m just postulating. Pass me the milk? Nice." considering the last section very tongue in cheek (patriarchal) Generally this Dr is quite condescending in his assuptions of reality. This contrasts well to Stephs breakdown, she, of course starting this journey professing (if not wholly believing) this same attitude.

    "Yeah, some family trauma no doubt that she blames herself for or believes daddy does anyway."
    Steph/sister/forget-supernatural? ultra reality

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  8. And so the rather unwholesome findings of Ashley's subtextual analysis bear more thought and opinions. Good!

    Thanks for diving into what I'm calling the 'couch issue' as I find that drawing me up on my internal view is just as important as helping me clarify my writing. Keep with the probing - it makes me more whole. Not sure about intentionally bringing about a balance. I LOVE writing these broken people but then, I love a challenge. Can I stay true to the tale and practice writing a strong woman? Florence Buchanan A.K.A Nightingale, the audience is baying for someone like you!

    Like your theory about the 'infection; Rachel. It's interesting that everyone is looking for the one thing that ties everything all together. Enjoy the ride, we'll get to the destination faster than you think.

    'Like the Wigloo stories, could actually see them as real children stories even though they have come from a twisted, tired mind. Loved the idea of the different coloured fruit and that each of them needs something different to get them going. Very imaginative. ' - Rachel M

    You are bang on regarding the 'deep-seeded' issues Rachel but as I've said before, I am writing with an awareness of them. It's like watching half of Malcolm X and deciding that the movie director is racist before considering that the movie is not over and the main characters journey is over.

    Cheers for the above Rachel! I want to turn the Wigloo stories into actual books. They may seem arb but I'm sure you've read into Steph's ramblings to note that her children's tales are perhaps coming from a more genuine place than her Spiderfingers tales.

    Spiderfingers began as an ego trip to draw attention to my band and then when that broke up I used the poor voodoo doll to draw attention to myself. After completing Hero-Worship I decided to use the meta aspects of his tale to understand myself via a damaged individual (Steph). There is a heck of a lot of ground to cover but in general I'm rather proud of the way we can figure me out and help me address certain wayward representations that although (Leanne) are non-gender specific I find derogative female qualities interesting to write. Maybe I'll write my own girl interrupted. We shall see.

    I rather like the gauntlet being thrown down and you're all co-authors in Steph being 'more interesting'. Let's see what I can do to explore this great imbalance as creating a balance in my mind means sanitising the immediate state of play which is EXTREMELY important for the end of this volume.

    The hook is the place for me - skewer away.

    It's rather revealing that we take Steph's perception as my own and considering some of the unsavoury characters we have dribbling blood over the ruined horizon, you guys are gonna hate me. Rachel, Steph hears the conversation of the doctors and decides they don't care about her - remember we're reading her words. You're right about my attraction/revulsion to women in power but it will only serve to further my understanding the psychosis and giving depth to my writing some of this volumes more heavier parts. As I said, I became aware of these issues a year ago but admittedly, I only started funnelling them into Steph (and her creative writing) around April. Go read The Killing Moon for evidence of this.

    ASHLEY! You've mentioned Steph's sister! Chase that backstory alert, chase it like a steaming locomotive! Now, time to go check out Rachel's comments on part 6 of 'JOE'.

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  9. 4) Furiously awake.

    This section is generally tidy, however the picture and "Furiously awake, our villain/heroine is re-reading Spiderfingers online.
    http://www.spiderfingers.co.uk/ " seem a seperfluous and brake up the narrative flow.

    "what will happen when people realise I can’t write him anymore" needs a ?

    The exposition is interesting, seeing the folk that surround Steph and her 'fame'. Have we met Foley before? Coz he's ringing vagu bells...

    So Gideon. A product of rape? we know that Steph indulges in suppressing uncomfortable memories. Perhaps SFs is the father? Is Gideon going to be SFs new body ("the time came for Boleram to choose another human body"), or is he dead for good? Or is Steph actually black herself and has even more serious self image issues than we imagined? Would make her choice of Keira even more interesting. Anywho a tantalizing clue...though if you are trying to draw the reader into a conclusion it is very ambiguos!

    Ah Stephs sister. Now this is interesting, and something this chara desperately needed to bring her various componants together. A memory long suppressed, something that she has tried to escape from all her life. Through her varius religions "he dark blood splashed reverie is shoved off of her and an Arabic song of praise is streaming out of her mouth". Through her stories, which were pure escapism before SFs reality intruded with hers. Through her urge to walk, to apply a littleral sense to the metaphorical walking away from her problems.

    In that last ep she is confronted with severed heads (and other various body parts). On initial reading it seems like the trauma of this, and the confrontatin with the Stories being real, drove her barking mad. But was it? Or was it the fact that such a sensual confrontation triggered the memories of her own sisters severed throat? Was it that that drove her mad? A bitter circle. Embracing escapism via her stories, only to have them turn vicerally real and evoke the very thing she was escaping from.

    So who slit her sisters throat? She is 8, it is implied that her sister is younger as her body is described as 'little' in comparison to Stephs own.
    "should they display emotional problems via a violent act, can all eight year olds feign guilt, or am I different?" This impies that it was Steph, and that she feels no guilt, yet...
    "she has not been to the beach nor seen her sister’s throat cut in well over a decade." implies that this was something she whitnessed, rather than commited. Curiouser and curiouser.

    "Off with her head!" The Alice motif is maintained. Reafirming the link between the last ep and Stephs memory of this her sister.

    Is her sister dead? It seems safe to assume that she is...but...well...this is you :/

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  10. I like the picture as ‘Foley’ looks like he has been caught in the line of photojourno fire and to have an image depicting intrusion muscle its way into the narrative was a chance I was willing to take. Anyone else find it effective/redundant/unnecessary? Or did it help lodge Foley Edwards in your sub-conscious? The website is something that is forever at the forefront of Steph’s mind so even when the chips are down, her ego is constantly in the need of nurture.

    Glad you appreciate the exposition and regarding Steph’s workforce; I just had to use these unseen secondary characters to illustrate some of the ramifications that Spiderfingers would have concerning their role in birthing him into the media. And no, this is our first introduction to Foley though I did mention him in my FaceBook ‘Why is Wigloo?’ folder.

    Gideon a product of rape? I want to tell you the answer, but I do like the consensus you’re forming with Leanne regarding where you think her backstory is heading. You will all be rather surprised as to Gideons’ role in the saga. Spiderfingers can’t have sex (a point covered in Heroworship) by the way. A new body for Spiderfingers? Interestingly enough I watched a Youtube vid about how the death of Superman forever broke the sacred suspension of belief that when you die in a comic, you can’t come back to life. Sure, characters in comics die and come back, but before Superman kicked the bucket superheroes would wake up from the death experience via a dream, magical spell or be revealed to be an alternate version of the hero from another dimension. You all seem to think that Spiderfingers is coming back. Check on my comments Steph’s Gold Medal. I promised death in its finality.

    ‘Or is Steph actually black herself and has even more serious self image issues than we imagined?’ – Ashley Fox

    I was toying with this idea for a dream sequence in last Aprils Oma adventure (Spiderfingers: Blackest Black) but it felt laboured and sensationalist with no true emotions attached. Steph is most assuredly white. Her son however…

    Ambiguity is my second favourite weapon in writing. My first is a habit of subverting expectation for B-stories that have been there from the very beginning.

    Ah, friends, family, Facebook; we’ll see how all these components help/hinder Steph’s sense of self. We’ll see more of her family soon but for now we begin with the outer cast (how her mates are who they are and why they are few and far between).

    Yes her urge to walk when homeless…you are onto something there. For a stubbornly coward of a character she is awfully mobile these last few stories. I was getting restless with her via your frustration with her and crikey, maybe she is on the verge of some awakening? I guess she must first realise she’s asleep. Hmmm…

    Who slit her sisters throat? Reads like it was Steph and d’ya know, I was given a Babushka doll by one of my band for my birthday and somehow, the shells opening and closing made me think of the ‘off with her head!’ bit from Alice in Wonderland. Then I remembered how Lewis Carrolls’ works inspired the first Spiderfingers story arc (Hidden Lives).

    Now, what was I saying? Oh, yeah, looks like Steph could have been a child murderer. Or did (and if she did slice at her sister), did Steph’s sister survive? Where is she now? Any ideas people? And hey, it’s suggested that Steph may have just witnessed the violence but then, Steph is good at the whole distancing herself trick. Like gods, Steph seems to slip into third person a hell of a lot.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

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  11. To clarify: it was not the Foley pik I took issue with. That works.

    It was the Why is Wigloo? advert and qoted line. These seem out of place. The qoute could be reworked into the naratie more smothly. The sections preceding and following make sense without the interuption.

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  12. Ahhhhh, I get you now. I liked the juxtoposition of the line before the pic,

    'How sad it is that our counter-cultural literary belle has tried and tried and tried to write down her life story and become bored mid process; so utterly nullifying is our rising stars’ time on earth that she’s wondering how to spice up past truths.'

    ...and the following monkey pic/poster she saw in the bric a brac window. Considering what I want to focus on in the plot at this point and the relative priority of Steph's wading into childrens stories, I'd say the pic is on the right place.
    However! If you who reads so deeply into my work (and often emerges from its inky black depths with anything but Red Herrings) reckons that this little picture placing isn't helping...well I'll just have to place the pic further up in the tale...I'll do it in five mins. Cheers! Looking forward to being on your doctors couch again and also, your views on The Show? Maybe comment on that or/and Big Yellow Baby next month...don;t want to burden you. Honest. My ego has some bounds ;)

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  13. First section rolls on nicely, keeping you intrigued by this already slightly disjointed and disconnected woman's descent into madness.

    "Black on white syntax lego bricks" such an awesome line, delicious on the tongue, somehow sexier to me than the previous sentences eroticism. Perhaps add the word cascade to that though, or some verb, as action is suggested but not define (eg those lego bricks, they be movin'!). Also, could do removing the preceding as with a full-stop after easynote.

    You've really stepped up the quality on this piece. The Milk maid story reads languid and sedate, the wording and phrasing very different to your (and Stephanie's) usual style. I can hear a woman's voice when I read it, which is exactly what you're aiming for.

    The bitter/resigned revelation that all is not, perhaps has never been, rosy in Steph's 'meteoric rise' is welcome and intriguing. To see the pointedly chaotic underbelly, the ripples caused by her 'success' and action and the turning, dirtying, subsumation by the cultural gestalt mirrors Steph's own psychotic break and realisation that her world is dirtier and darker than its seemed before. It lends further credence that what we saw was not reality. Or was it. The weird balance of acceptance of the nature of her fantasies, willing engagement of them, but also denial and confusion of differences between what was before and what is now - All good, all intriguing, all engaging.

    The breaking of the '4th wall' and address of the reader directly, whilst fitting in with psychosis and fantasy, is a little uncomfortable as we segue from the 1st/3rd person style monitoring Steph's thoughts. I get that this is the point, this is the twist, I just feel that from a stylistic point of view even the smallest break, even if it happens on Steph's waking, would have left me less confused and more engaged. As was I had to stop, go back and re-read, which is always a warning sign. I do like the use of almost an errant writers tool breaking free of the narrative, again, fits well with the chaos, psychosis and general reality uncertainty of the piece. I just think it needs a little forewarning or forethought before the switch is made.

    The Discordian interlude after the plot device's mad rant is a little awkward. Not that the writing isn't good it's just that it feels like we've already had one bizarre interlude, now we're jumping to another. And even after discussing the basis and reasoning for the Discordians with you I really don't know what's going on.

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    1. Wigloo section is very good, I can imagine it very well as some kind of weird yet engaging kid's book. Chewable pages. Good times. One thing: Sopposed. This on purpose? Only ask 'cos it happens twice. It's supposed.


      I've kinda run on to the end now so I'm going to give summations and final thoughts.

      I really don't know what the hell is going on. As ever, this is the Chaos, this is the break down, this is the reality at right angles that you do so enjoy. I see some patterns, but then they're broken down and switched and I'm uncertain again. I feel like I've read so, so many words, been engaed, but not really moved on anywhere, like I've been frantically pedalling only to find I'm on an exercise bike. The piece, this piece specifically but echoes into all others, is just too big. It's too much. It's taken me so many sit downs and attempts and re-reads to actually come to any kind of valid conclusion. And it's not just the word count, it's the fact that concepts, realities, agreed upon story facts can change every few hundred words. Flights of fancy are nice and good, but it's so difficult to nail down anything, trust anything, FOCUS on ANYTHING that the reader gets lost. That's the issue, your writing is good, you have proved one of my concerns wrong, in that the milkmaid section was written with a coherently different voice from your main texts, you have the flexibility and skill. It's just bogged down amongst the wash of words. You lay out your pieces like a scrap book, using pictures and font changes to divide your sections, but I really suggest taking that further - Go for pages. Take a breath, take a break that isn't some dots or a couple of lines. Change a scene, set the scene, give the reader a chance to digest and breath. I know the blogpost is the milieu your aiming for, but a little bit of formatting would go a long way.

      Anyway, that's my main rant. Looking forward to reading the next piece in the hope we get to focus on someone other than Stephanie's madness (which I shall read now as I'm refreshed enough and ready).

      Let me buy you a drink some time, I think I need to discuss all this in person - You know, so I can listen to your reasons and slap you hard around the ear!

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  14. It would be great to list my reasons for the chaos of this episode in person and hey, you'll have seen bits and pieces for my 'promo' for the next part and that it revolves around other people. Had to give Steph a break.

    You say the quality has upped itself this month but you've never sounded more frustrated or confused. Still, and like I did after a good episode of Twin Peaks, you sound eager to tunnel on through the madness and find out some concrete answers!

    Will adjust the lines surrounding the lego brick text!
    I'd say - AND THIS IS A PLOT SPOILER FOR THOSE READING THE COMMENTS FIRST AND NOT THE STORY - that although this episode was spent inside a mad woman's head, a few events have moved us on plot wise. You feel we're peddling in the one place? Consider:

    1) Steph's buried memories unearthing themselves
    2) The media have revealed Steph's plagiarism
    3) Steph's foray/return to writing children's stories
    4) the model who poses as Spiderfingers may or may not have logged into accounts on Facebook and Myspace belonging to John Clay
    5) Saul has shown up to visit Steph

    Don't get me wrong. I like a good balance between internal and external events but in the three episodes before this A LOT of action and movement has been achieved and although The Show and Big Yellow Baby can be excused as internal madness I'm sure I don't need to tell you that Saul visiting Steph is an exit point from the ambiguity of Spiderfingers tales being harmless stories, that their characters only float up and away from the page via Steph's imagination.

    It's O.K to get lost now and again in my brand of surrealism, really - that curiosity that makes you read a paragraph more than once is a staple point of such a genre.

    You're not in the mainstream now. No map awaits your detection.

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    1. I agree with the plot signposts you highlighted, they are there and I did detect them. It's just that a few of them I think got a bit lost, became a bit incidental. My point isn't that nothing happened, it's just that I found it difficult to keep my feet, as it were, swept along forcibly rather than by choice. All I'm recommending is that you split it more obviously. This piece clocked in at about 8000 words, with not real respite. In a printed book that's 32 pages of text without only perhaps 3 strong scene changes, all of which jump back and forth with little or no pre-ample. As an example, grabbing the book I'm reading at the moment, 3 chapters at random are 10, 16 and 13 pages long, each with scene and POV changes without, giving you reasonable break points within.

      I say this piece is really strong, and I mean it. The literary styles you have embraced and demonstrated, the word lexical choices you've made, the clever references and asides, and yes, making the reader work for their reward is all great. I just don't want you to get in your own way.

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  15. Appreciate the love man!
    I honestly think that if I only gave 13 pages a chapter over each month, the mystique of what I've got on offer wouldn't survive that waits between.

    This is not a book. This is episodic and I'm working my own rules out as I go. With a book you have the luxury of knowing reaching the end whenever you want...maybe even skipping ahead to see where it all goes. With each month od Spiderfingers, who knows where we might go? Losing yourself is no bad thing if you are still up for the mission and to be honest, there are far too many questions we want to have an answer to before giving up.

    Mysteries such as:

    1) Hero-worship: part 4 (what will happen in it? Can Steph complete it?

    2) The Algebra Murders (will Steph figure out the murderer is Rooenn the Terrorsmith? What is Rooenn spelling out in the 'tattoos' he's branding into his victims?

    3) Why is Wigloo? (what will happen to Wigloo in the Big Unknown?)

    4) The Discordian’s (Who the fuck are they, and what do they want?)

    5) The He Who Is Red/Blue Man/Big Yellow Baby scenario...

    6) Steph’s fathers' visit...

    7) The Russian Doll Stories main theme is...?

    I know you mean well and keep being Green Arrow to my Superman (Justice League Unlimited versions) as I am dealing with a work that would probably benefit from two people handling it. When you finish God World, you're helping me write VOLUME III!

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