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
Steph couldn’t help but let out a giggle.
‘What the fuck have you cast me in, Steph?' she looked defiantly across the room, deep into the reflection that the mirror wall afforded her.
'I'm sorry, what was that?' asked the Doctor. Steph just shook her head, her attention still focused on the slender figure in the reflection. A figure mimicking Steph's movements. Dr Silberman's calm and reassuring voice didn't stand a chance.
Her imagination typed up in Bold Times New Roman:
In her mind’s eye the scene was set in some hot tropical climate, and as her tale unfolded, as the black on white syntax became her monitors welcome infestation, Steph envisioned Keira Knightley wearing her Misty Rose gown and laying in a bed identical to her own. It was Keira's voice that Steph could hear and both women became entranced by private frantic shots of Miss Knightley's narration juxtaposed with the heaving sweating coupling of the tales characters.
Mckay called the target a swollen udder of answers. Said my mission is a milk maiden’s dream. Mckay is an old white man. He sees with old white man eyes and so I can forgive him seeing Abdul as a cow. I’m fucking this greying hulk of an ex-field operative, like I’d hump any dog the General would order me to, and I’m giving him a display of the feral in the hope that he might let his defenses down. Something in the bed breaks under my exertion because I’ve allowed him few moments of control. He doesn’t get to screw me at all. I avoid my mother’s face.
Just look at him – glacial white marbles where eyes should be – such vacancy in his grey. Those thick arms that lead to his hands, the long nails he’s grown there. I feel them around my neck still. Just look at him - the bastard, he puts his clothes on so slowly, so lazily padding through his post-coital bliss. All his talk of my breasts and I would have asked him but...
This mass-murderer, Mckay’s ‘cow’, he bends over for a kiss, inviting me to ask him again for the information that can allow my superiors to bomb small settlements that are not at all what they appear to be. He moves so slowly, so at ease, like a domesticated animal though it’s only depraved humans that loll their tongues over female cheeks like this.
How long have I been breathing through my mouth? Worse than the scent is the teeth, I see the flash of fangs my mother saw; the last on any face she and the women of my village would ever see. There is no one alive that shares my maiden name – all because of men, evil fucking dogs like this. I haven’t the intel and yeah, I should have taken my leave when it was offered. The psych-eval was doctored just so that I could be the one. Command saw to that. Of course I can’t prove it. And name me one agent with the right ethnic traits AND skill set for the job?
For some reason, I finally possess the curiosity to stare up at the mirror overhanging the bed. The she-wolf I find there glares back. Her shrieking fills my ear drums. I’ll tell my bosses one thing…
They never quite hear me, thought Steph, they are like newborn deities. They only hear themselves during conversation. They don't understand the value of listening, not really.
Like it? Interesting case isn’t she? You could build an entire career on such a water tight fantasy.
If she decides to talk.
No way. Coincidence. I think he was calling himself Saladfingers, right? Ask Kwame yourself, he's really proud of that one.
What are the odds? Like, a couple million to one? I mean come on. Persecution Complex by any other name is still a Persecution Complex. Psychofingers, Spiderfingers - whatever, you know? Different labels same can of hang-ups.
Maybe. I mean, you write a story based on the fantastical delusions of one of our ex patients, and the guilt over not sharing royalties - well - it's gonna get to you in some way.
Oh now, that is crazy. You're starting to sound like Mrs Carroll. So, apparently the Ceremony of Knives is at hand!
Alone, again, Steph/Keira briefly considered her surroundings. Her enclosure had three walls, movie cameras where the fourth should be. A movie star where Steph's reflection ought to have been. Keira had so much to say to Steph. So many ways to say it.
And time had no meaning here.
Steph's barking came and went like an unexpected visitor. She preferred to focus on her scent.
Steph's mind drifted outward and above. Looking down at herself, Steph watched her eyes close. The dense and rather damp waft of decomposition wrenched Steph out of her inner surrealism. Her undisciplined fantasising had suddenly become a weaker rival to the utterly existent pong hooking her nose, shunting the writer right back into her room at Bellevue with an unfeeling violence. She found her reality dominated by the scruffy and overly dank young man who Dr Capgras had shown in: Saul Buchannan.
Time’s ticks and tocks lazed into forever increments, as Steph began to analyse he that should only exist in a mad tramps fiction.
‘You’re a character, you don’t exist.’ said Steph her voice all nasal, muffled. Her statements seeping through her hand that plugged her nostrils. Steph carried on, ‘You just can’t be real.’
Dr Capgras glided politely but swiftly toward her patient’s bed,
‘Maybe family is a bad idea today?’
Steph was trying to look past her female doctor at Saul,
‘I won’t be long Doc,' said Saul, 'And she is my half-sister. Wanna know she’s alright, yeah?’
‘Yes so you said,’ replied Capgras wiping her brow unable to make eye contact, ‘If you could wait outside for a moment,’ She turned her back on the exiting visitor, her attention focused entirely upon her patient dressed in the misty rose gown. She whispered in Steph’s ear,
‘You do know this man don’t you?’ said Doctor Capgras.
Steph Tent was frozen, unable to move.
Dr Capgras took a deep look into Steph's eyes,
‘I’m buzzing Silberman,' said Dr Capgras, '…should have done that before -’
And Stephanie Tent's face became pure astonishment, the ripple of wide-eyed confusion had spread out across her arched eyebrows. She wanted to scream out at the trainee doctor - that Jean should quit fiddling with the intercom and look out - but it was too late.
Saul's elbow had struck the back of the young doctors head. Steph realised the cinematic lie of someone keeling abruptly over, that in real life and maybe only sometimes, a forehead makes an unnerving cracking sound when it speeds into contact with the floor.
‘Welcome to the chaos.’ said Saul inspecting Steph's face.
‘You killed her, you murdered Dr Capgras!’ screamed Steph, startled, both her pale palms covering her face. Storm hoary eyes peeked between the gaps.
This wraith in his early twenties had awful skin, pimples here and there, Steph couldn’t help but stare at puss swollen islands that thrust out upon both his cheeks.
Saul threw Steph a quizical look.
Saul sighed as Steph’s voice crunched up into a ball of silence.
‘C’mon then Missus, help us out please?’ he pleaded.
Keira walked up to Steph in her identical misty rose gown. The actress opened her mouth to exclaim with a fervent passion, ‘Trusting Saul will get you closer to all this.’
And Miss Knightley’s hands groped and touch her face, that marvellous regal chin that Steph hadn’t even a hint of. The apparition of Knightley massaged the cleft with the sensuality of a trained narcissist.
‘Jesus, O.K fine,’ spat Saul, ‘just stay over there and gawp at yourself then.’ and he dragged the doctor toward the bed, heaved her body onto it, making certain that the duvet cover reached right up to her face.
After he stood back and scratched his flaky chin, Saul asked Steph,
‘Are you Zomb -’
‘Seems he's neglected to bloody tell you how much I hate being called…listen, it’s Saul yeah? Just call me Saul and we’ll be cool.’
‘Who told you I was even here?’, asked Steph.
Saul produced a knife from his back pocket.
S P I D E R F I N G E R S
‘I eat ex S.A.S for breakfast.’ replied Saul.
‘Not these guys,’ whispered Steph, ‘They’re armed with tasers, nightsticks and years of beating up cowardly zombies.’
‘I’m not cowardly and I don't like being called a zombie, so shut up. And why are you whispering?'
‘Sorry,' spat Steph at Saul's decayed cheekbone,' 'I’ve never been kidnapped by a work of fiction before.
(N.B The comments posted below pertain to an extended version of this story, truncated due to issues of pace).
WARNING: THESE COMMENTS INCLUDE SPOILERS.