Sunday, 26 August 2012

Sacrifices




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She sits there waiting for the signs: The woman with rainbows in her hair; the ghost with the white Mohican. And there they are...there they step - two players from an impossible dream, they arrive at the desk in Hara’s mental home. Both moving along in the shoals of a passing that Hara can't help but feel. The Time of Tides.
    ‘What are you doing dude? She’s crazy?’ whispers Bimpe into Sarah’s ear.

    ‘She knew our names Bimpe,’ Sarah says looking ahead and away from the camera they walk past, ‘She knew our names.’
__________

    ...Outside... Sarah and Bimpe begin walking down the driveway. The January sun turning the winter sky a dark wine red,

    ‘Nothing happens in contradiction to nature,’ says Hara, ‘just in contradiction to what we know of it.’

    Sarah nods patiently.

    ‘Dana Scully told me that. Amazing what you can divine through the television.’

    Bimpe quickly shoved both hands to his face so that his laughing wasn't quite so obvious,

    ‘In the box...all sorts of info from…the source, all sorts of –

    ‘This is crazy,' interjects Sarah, '– look - How do you know who I am?’

    ‘My visions normally arrive after I get drunk. They won’t let me prove it here. Get me a JD and coke?’

    Bimpe closed in on Sarah’s ear still half-laughing, ‘Now she wants to get pissed? Seriously, what are we doing here?’

    ‘Not living off my brother,’ said Sarah under her breath, ‘What were you saying about my brother?’

    ‘The parasite works through him, spoiling him. Soon he’ll need replacing.’

    ‘Parasite?’ asked Sarah, ‘What parasite?’

    ‘The one from my vision. Spider and Miss World, they ushered the night parasite here so that it would save Spider’s life in L.A. It’s been killing people ever since, committing itself to atrocities because it desires fame. Its name is Rooenn the Terrorsmith.’

    Sarah just blinked.

    ‘Myself and a few others found a way to split Spider's consciousness throughout the entirety of humanity. When Spiderfingers died we made sure his story was given custody to someone that would mass produce it. It was Alice's idea.'

'Alice?' queried Bimpe smirking openly.

'Yes, Alice, my daughter. Spiderfingers as you know is linked to the barrier that protects Earth from the gods. The God Hex. If the God-Hex was a product rather than a single deity then the gods could never destroy it. We called the plan Operation Genie Bottle. The plan was sound but something went wrong.'

'Ooooh!'

'Quiet Bimpe!' Sarah shoved him to stop. The amateur writer in her desperately wanting, needing Hera's tale to make sense.

'Stephanie Tent was only supposed to distribute Spider's story along to the world but I've seen her...in my visions. She has inherited Spiderfingers' consciousness so grossly that the minions can track her. She believes that she has become Spiderfingers' avatar. If she dies, then the God Hex will crack. The gods will be able to come here and rule us.'

'What has this got to do with my brother?'

'When Spiderfingers' consciousness passed to Steph, Rooenn was passed along also. He...it should have been a non-threat in her brain but he got out. He's inside your brother. They both want to be celebrities.'

‘This is silly.’ said Bimpe under his breath.

'There are those who would kill for fame, if they could get away with it. Foley is one of those people. Foley invited Rooenn into his body. When Rooenn is done with Foley he’ll take you.’

    ‘I don’t know who you are, or how you know Bimpe’s name but Rooenn is a character out of Spiderfingers, he isn’t real let alone my bro -

    ‘Your brother is chaos’ single most powerful effigy and Rooenn wasn’t going to just disappear once Spiderfingers died. We should have known that. Listen to me closely now, go to Number 3 Forrest Avenue, Turnpike Lane. Go to the basement. You’ll find my Alice and she’ll help you find chaos' avatar – Stephanie Penny Tent.’

    ‘And so,’ began Bimpe doffing his trilby at Hara, ‘thank you for the insanity, see you soon. C’mon dude.’ and he began pulling his friend away.

    ‘Only Alice and Stephanie can marshal Rooenn…you don’t have much time at all. Rooenn is only an indulgence away from living off of you. Don’t go near your brother, not without Alice and Steph,’ said Hara to the fast departing Sarah and Bimpe, ‘Listen, you’ll be safe in my wide open spaces. Remember – wide open spaces!’

    Hara turned away happy although she is nobody’s fool - these two don’t believe in her but that wasn’t the point. She has given them just the right amount of information to remedy the blows of future violence.

Hara, she laughs. Return to her room? She has acted the part so well that even she has forgotten that it was merely a role to play, a means to draw Sarah into the game. She coughs up mud and worms as she heads to the lawn on the far side of Bellevue…
    The pain is too much now and the night that was supposed to flush it away has provided no salvation. Foley writhes in agony, so much so that he has given into screaming. Foley scrambles out of his bed to slap his hand upon the light switch. He heads for the mirror where the face that stares back at him has lost its Nubian colour. 

He stares in shock as he dry heaves, his belly forcing something up into his chest, he falls to his knees whilst gripping at his throat. His fingers detect the feel of metal beneath his greying skin, as his eyes bulge, his expanded windpipe spews out a long line of silvery links, a shiny gush mixed with phlegmy mucus – a horrid revelation for eyes that roll backward to face his brain. Foley is incapacitated, his body covered in grey skin and his palms jut out as his nails grow into talons,

    ‘Oh god!’ he yells, ‘Oh Jesus Christ!’ he screams.

    Of course, neither god nor Jesus answer his call.

    Before dropping to the muck and waste of his messy bedroom floor, Foley rips apart his Superman T-shirt. His jeans and jacket following suit…

    On all fours now, Foley is elongating, growing longer from five foot ten to six, seven, nearly eight foot as the black fire pools gather round his feet and palms. On goes the long chain, the halter slowly wrapped around his face by hands that smoke a black fume up to the ceiling…

    The Terrorsmith prowls out of Foley’s room and into the one opposite. Under the bed it awaits. Under the bed it hisses through jaws which only open to feast,

    ‘Nine from twenty six equal’s five of eight.’ Rooenn, a creature of mono-thought crawling in the darkness, the blackest smog spewing out of it's hands. Rooenn, the Terrorsmith pauses, for it hears the front door slam, a light switch is flicked on and the grey killer is unsure if Bimpe’s screeching is louder than Sarah’s.

    ‘Nine from twenty six equal’s five of eight.’ hisses Rooenn as Sarah and Bimpe turn to run out of the smoking flat.

    The flash of looping metal snags around Bimpe’s ankle and the Terrorsmith widens his grimace,

    ‘Shit! Help!’ screams Bimpe, as Rooenn drags his chain toward him using concrete colour hands, each long finger bearing a talon that smoulders a foul smelling fug up to the blackening ceiling, ‘Sarah! Come back!’ yells Bimpe.

    ‘Nine from twenty six equal’s five of eight.’


    Sarah Edwards dashes back into her flat with the umbrella from the downstairs pail. She takes a few precious seconds to acclimatise to the horror she couldn’t leave behind. The horror has escalated. In the short moments since her brief exit the warped event has taken a quick turn into a stark depravity.

    Bimpe chained to the radiator.

    Rooenn…and Rooenn is…and Sarah doesn’t want to think about what Bimpe is being subjected to, within all that smoke she can see enough of it.

    So, Sarah dives toward the gyrating grey violator, the umbrella aimed at the back of his neck. The umbrella is stilled, Rooenn’s hand catching it just before impact. His head twists right round to face Sarah as his body continues to rock back and forth drawing blood from the mumbling incoherence of Bimpe,

    ‘Nine from twenty six equal’s five of eight.’

    With a profound strength Rooenn forces Sarah’s whole body back. She sails across the coffee table landing face first into a far wall.

    ‘Nine from twenty six equal’s five of eight.’ hisses Rooenn, his face fixating on Sarah as his hips thrust in then out, sharply in then slowly, a snail’s pace out.

    Wide open spaces

    Sarah hears the voice, undoubtedly, a whisper emanating from the line of plants over-looking the garden.

    Wide open spaces

    A crash of glass shattering and the cold air rushes inside the living room. Sarah, she only sees the result of the muddy missive that has sent Rooenn scampering to the side. Chunks of earth layer the floor as Sarah sits frozen to the spot watching Rooenn prowl toward the window.

    The figure sitting amidst the jagged glass is hard to make out, with all the smoke funnelling out of Rooenn’s fingers nothing is easy to make out. Nothing but the branded smoking corpse that was Bimpe and the hiss...the snaking death-sound of Rooenn’s voice shivering out, ‘The pretender!’

    The figure at the window is woman-shaped, naked. She has soil and shrubs and crawling insects that maraud over her entirety. No condensation breath accompanies her speech,

    ‘Come out to the garden Sarah, you are safe in my wide open spaces.’ says the soil creature, the soil creature who speaks with Hara’s voice and stares with a featureless muddy face.

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    ‘Control your beast’s she-human! Construct the coliseum. Do it fast or your father will die!’

    ‘Dickhead.’ mutters Lilith.

    ‘You dare speak ill of me again?’ shrieks the rakish hairy warrior, scrabbling insects crawling about his decaying face.

    And so, Lilith replies, ‘I dare an undead has-been to go against his master’s wishes. Whip me again! Put me out of action for another week and let’s see what Aronson thinks of that – fart-knocker.’
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V    O    L    U    M    E    IV
The Great Book

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(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.

2 comments:

  1. Lots going on here, and some great movement in your prose – I'm particularly struck by the new characters Hera and Alice, and how they will fit into the unfolding narrative – I suppose the references to Alice in Wonderland are deliberate, so we're clearly going to fall further down the rabbit hole before this story arch is through.

    I'm also hoping for some redemption from Saul, his cowardice here, while not out of character, seems unnatural in the circumstances. He's the kind of person one would expect to avenge their family, so his reluctance to involve himself in the fight seems strange to me. Perhaps, like I say, he will redeem himself in a later piece. Also, it's interesting that his being in Steph's head makes her invulnerable – I hope this will be expanded upon in later episodes.

    There are some great set pieces here – I particularly like the Wigloo scene in which Steph and Saul are inside Steph's mind. Also found the transformation of Rooeen pretty unnerving, which is great – although I was surprised that your torture of Bimpe was quite so chaste, given the graphic way you portrayed some of Rooen's earlier killings. What was the reasoning behind this?

    A few grammatically bits and pieces (you know that's how I roll!):

    1. At the sentence “‘This isn’t happening, I’m dreaming, this isn’t happening…’ But Foley can’t lie to himself...” the tense changes from past to present tense – which I found quite jarring and really interrupted my reading pleasure. Maybe consider sticking to one tense or the other, at least within each scene. It's fine to switch tenses between scenes, but if you start doing it mid-paragraph, your readers will get confused.
    2. When Alice wraps her Sonic Youth t-shirt around Handy Andy (great touch by the way – I can really see her as a character!) your prose gets a little clumsy “to keep the blood from his pinky stump from pumping out precious blood.” Repetition of blood confuses the meaning of the sentence.
    3. In another part where you are talking about Alice, the phrase “Sarah patted her holdall saying,” crops up. At first, it made me think that Alice and Sarah are one and the same, but this doesn't make sense given your descriptions of them both. Perhaps a name error?
    4. This sentence really bugged me: “Its claws cleave open the arms and bellies of Aronson’s un-dead army, the shaggy beast completely obsessed with fighting in the direction it sniffs out at.” Never end on a preposition, man! Cardinal sin number one! Seriously though, the sentence itself needs some tidying up. Maybe try “Its claws cleave open the arms and bellies of Aronson’s un-dead army; the shaggy beast, completely obsessed with fighting, following its nose for the scent of blood.”

    I'm really pleased to see those disparate threads, the ones that I was worried about, now coming together, lending great cohesion to the story and subduing all my fears of plot! The pacing is still very strong, and, as ever, your description and character is excellent.

    One problem though: how does Handy Andy 'see' where he's going?

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  2. I’m so happy that you comment with praise and point out problems AND suggest solutions. I’ve remedied the sentences before writing this comment – cheers (it was a name slip regarding Sarah/Alice)!

    Alice Carroll appeared in the first few Spiderfingers stories and has quite a bizarre history and continuity that I wasn’t sure about bringing her in but she is interesting to write and is great for helping Alice to retain the proactivity she demonstrated at the end of A Doll inside although, rather ironically, Alice has become another element/character that has relinquished Steph’s control over her external and internal arc. Alice has –as I say – tons of baggage but if I play it right her history will push the plot and will revealed through action rather than exposition.
    Touching that you want Saul to do the right thing by his family! Saul is quite conflicted over his image of self and like many characters who find themselves with power and responsibility, Saul likes to learn his lessons the hard way, not that I can guarantee that he is the type of character that learns…For instance, check out the way Mr Lime chooses to comment upon Saul’s storytelling:

    ‘Now my captives, I could allow you to witness Saul telling you the deal but the Zombie Boy ought never to be in charge of delivering a story; he’s just too self-involved and a lot of the good bits don't present him in the most heroic of spotlights...’

    I had cut out little bits of flashback that illustrate more of Saul’s character, I even had him burn one of Spiderfingers’ scrap book’s that depict him as a coward. Could have kept that stuff in to ease us into the idea of Saul sacrificing his family for the relative sanity/safty of Steph’s mind…I’m happy I left it out as it’s important to remember that we don’t know as much about some of these characters as we would like, and that there is the charm of these people, like so many biblical players and indeed their god, they are canvasses to project our hopes and hate upon.
    The way Saul sees himself might not match up to who he really is as his opportunistic nature in Steph’s head has proven. Vicky dying did begin an arc but for us to appreciate it, we must first discover where Saul’s character really is. The idea of the self is a theme inherent within Spiderfingers' origin and misadventures so I’m happy that Saul echoes this in a story with a broad scope that will allow him to either grow or reject growth.
    We will discover more about Steph’s invulnerability courtesy of Saul, don’t you worry about that!

    The Rooenn scene owes a lot to John Landis’ film American Werewolf in London! Bimpe’s torture scene was an experiment (you know me, if it can be done in some other way – by jove I’ll do it for the fuck of it)! Hopefully the images/scenario I helped you paint were better than me forcing a fully rendered brightly lit oil painting of my own.

    ‘I'm really pleased to see those disparate threads, the ones that I was worried about, now coming together, lending great cohesion to the story and subduing all my fears of plot!’ – Crimson Eblog

    Which ones!?!? Be specific cos I’m reading back ALL of the stories so far and hope to finish this massive marathon by Sunday (gonna go read The Killing Moon right now actually).
    A story should work just enough for me the first time round and although I know what happens, I’m curious – I need to know what the secondary reading experience is like. So far, tiny bits regarding Alice’s relationship to Spiderfingers, Steph becoming his avatar, Aronson’s existence on the edge of things and the overall chaos make more sense with the recent events in mind. In fact, it is IMPOSSIBLE to read back without seeing some stealthy foreshadowing, something I thought I was lacking but then, only you guys can confirm. This writer doesn’t trust his subconscious one little bit!
    Cheers for commenting but lemme know about those plots strands…are you mostly referring to Wigloo?

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