Thursday, 29 May 2014

A Night in the Life


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
It is not important to understand why a magic man must feed his tarn.  That is for another tale. 
 
Even though his often seemed like it, Spiderfingers was sure: life wasn’t a comic book.  Heroes didn’t seek the sanctity of Bellevue and its rigid routines but were proactive role models, forever undertaking impossible missions, their struggles inspiring for lesser mortals.
Hara, if only you’d been able to speak to Miss World.
Her unsuccessful psychic link to the Earth Mother had prompted a dark eventful jaunt to the U.S.A.  Hollywood had changed him.  The return to England? Violent.  Exceedingly and perpetually vicious.
He found himself on his back, in a muck filled London side street, starring in the usual scenario.  Reeling, all swollen and beaten, bruised eye lids fluttering up at the dark violet sky, its hint of sunset about to be devoured by the October night, he battled against blacking out.  A fist crunched into the dirty frost of the alleyway concrete, bloody knuckles punching where his head used to be.  One quick moment to aim, and he seized his big chance, swinging his foot at the target.  Success.  He heard the pop of bone as his foe’s arm snapped wrong-ways.  Not bad for a guy losing his powers.  He stumbled up, dazed, fighting through double vision, reckoning he’d stepped into this role one time too many, the experience sometimes shining through the prism of déjà vu, and yet, when the arm wound around his neck, he felt no assurance he would survive the night.  His assailant’s brace clung fast.  Strong.  Like a python.  If only his cold fingers weren’t so numb.  The mystery of his drained super strength sucked upon his trickling confidence.  This is what it feels like to need a superhero, he thought.  The limb firmly constricting his throat proved unbreakable, yet he scrabbled, twisting to the jeers of his first challenger, the maniac shouting from the frozen street he sprawled upon.  He hadn’t felt this trapped, not since his nightmare in L.A.  As his ambusher’s embrace coiled tighter, he winced, rolling his eyeballs up to the gloomy winter sky.  He issued a warning at the stars.
“Let her go! Hollywood changed me, you fuckers.  Don’t make me show you how.”
“Me, let her go?  Oh, I don’t think so,” replied the female voice behind him, “I love this body.  I love how strong it is,” her voice so gruff, sounding greedy, as if every word she spoke was a bite into some huge well cooked meal under constant threat of thievery.
Idiot, he scowled inwardly, you had to stand and pose for photographs, didn’t you? Not enough that you saved a kid from a burning building, you had to be seen.  Well, look who’s seen you, idiot.  Look what’s found you. 
 “Songs will be written about this day,” said the parking inspector kneeling upon the tarmac, “statues of us killing you will be erected in the homelands, traitor!” Spiderfingers glanced down at him, this bastard who scooped his glasses from their falling place.  Putting them on.  Smirking.
“Those are mine, fucker!” Despite his terrible vision, Spiderfingers easily made out the eyes of his mocking opponent, how they bulged.  Scores of glowing blue veins acted as throbbing clues to their possession.  The look of The Taken.  He glared at the minion, impatient for the fire in his eyes to incinerate his enemy.  But no lasers emitted from his pupils.  Now that powers gone to, he realised.  If he were a superhero, if the side street he fought in were a scene cut from a graphic novel, surely he would find some non-lethal way to stop the creature, this animal that used the body of an innocent woman to strangle him.  But as his attackers’ vice-like grip threatened to crush the life out of him, the very idea of him out of existence, well, the heroes’ choice – if it was ever available – was surely gone now.  The only option that prowled around his head was cold and black.  A course of action drenched in pulpy bloody red.  A name escaped his mouth, a title whispered so quietly that he barely registered his lips quivering through the vowels.
He’d brought something back with him from the U.S.  Something non-corporeal, ancient and unforgiving now bridled to his soul.  Something uncanny.  An unearthly concept, smoothly carving itself free from his mind.  A wrongness birthed upon icy tarmac, its clicking and clacking sounds rattled from the heart of the alley.  Spiderfingers fell forward as the jutting forces ruptured from behind, shoving through his female attacker, her lock upon his neck loosening.  With the immediate danger of suffocation absent, he bolted, not bothering to inspect the damage of the lady crumpling behind him.  His self-preservation outweighed his compassion, propelling him away into the night.  He mumbled the awful truth, the serrated fact daggering his ego: “If I die then the gods will enslave the globe.” The justification of murdering the woman strangling him from behind presented itself as a logical decision, a judgement that swiftly made the only rational sense. “Her death instead of billions.”
He sprinted, nearly passing out to the interchange of screams made by his would-be assassins.  Their incessant hollering twisted his mindfulness as he fled across the winter frost, and it wasn’t just the slippery surface that wanted to pull him down.  Giddiness.  Nausea tugged at his wakefulness as he desperately gripped his hands to the horrible gunky rim of an open dumpster.  He was unable to think about the sludge he’d touched – just up ... and down he tumbled, hauling bags of junk out of the way, tipping himself fully into the stew of rubbish.  He was elsewhere, watching his hands, those large black palms of his as they folded the lid of the dumpster overhead.  Buzzing lives swarmed over him as he squatted.  He found it impossible to blot out the disgusting texture of the ooze his fingers grazed against, the sticky slime dribbling from the garbage bag he leaned into.  He steadied himself within the uneven black world of stinking refuse, a world for the blind.  Some unlucky fly buzzed up his nose as he bent over in the cramped void, shoving his head between his knees.  A big ball of him in the flight emergency position, head filling with regret for posing with the family his bravery had united: you idiot, he thought, pushing your chest out for the teen tourist to snap your picture, make you feel like a fucking superhero.  One rule: save and run.  Save and run, that’s all you had to fucking do.  He promised himself there and then:
Should I live through the night, I’ll change the rules of the game, forever.
“High-Father, save us!” He tried to ignore the outcries,
“Oh gods!” But he couldn’t help but hear every single blast of fear.
“Don’t forsake me!” Every hollow word, every rushed beg for mercy, each harrowing plea found its way through the dumpster.  Omeric language stabbed pictures in his brain.  His pet was so easy to see, that grey streak of a killer, a skeletal monster squabbling on the alley way filth creating uproar, devilish noises holding a needle to his imagination, inking tattoos of evil all over his consciousness.  
“I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky!” No amount of bubble-gum pop would wash out the crush, mangle and slice-work out there.  They branded his mind with murder.  The warmth and security of his padded room plagued him right there and then.  Listening to the prattling of a teenage girl in a mental institution was a relatively tranquil experience when compared to this.  Why did you hide in here, he thought, why hide in this rubbish dumpster instead of running away? Far off traffic blasts occupied the edge of his claustrophobic world of black bags and buzzing flies, every tire screech and ambulance wail meddling with the pleasure of his listening.  Oh, he thought, straining to hear over the persistent growl of a speeding motorcycle, I’m enjoying this.  I couldn’t leave, not even if I tried.  He sensed the construction of his morality melt all the way down ...
... until there remained the bloated sensation of a formless and useless sludge moving in his gut, the thick, horrible mucus congealing where the framework of humanity once stood proud, incorruptible.  The walls between right and wrong collapsed into a thick gloop of uselessness, waste matter sloshing in his belly.  He wanted rid of it, and soon, cackling laughter vomited the offending bile out of his system.  He became aware of a vast opening inside him.  An emptiness seeking black capriciousness: Cannibalise upon the flesh of wanted men.  Now anything seemed possible.  Burn down drug dens and cook the occupants inside.  His mind excavated black doors, entrances whose keys appeared in his hands through sheer will.  Through these doors lay the ability to haul the broken dying bodies of paedophilic priests, drag the fuckers screaming into the wilderness of the Necrosphere, where dog-men of unpalatable lust howl hungry and disturbed.  Yes, he realised as his brain dragged the final door open, anything is possible.  Operation Genie Bottle is possible. 
The lid of his dumpster creaked open.  He sought upwards, eyes squinting along a long bony grey skinned hand clawing out of the night time.  The protracted forearm of decay, probed close, closer ... seeking him.  Long-drawn-out blood ridden nails, talon-like; nearing his mouth.  Its fingers were cold upon his puckered lips.  He dared a glance beyond the skeletal arm, a bravery granting him the sight of something horrible – a face tied up in a large industrial strength chain – a familiar grin between the rusty links.  Spiderfingers mirrored the contortion of orgasmic satisfaction, reflecting the jaws of his pet corner for corner, remaining still, accepting the red rimmed glasses being hooked over his face.
It is not important to understand why a magician must feed his tarn.  That is for another tale.  This is Ungumpos’ tale, and if you were him, you’d be eager too.  You’d kneel at the rim of that still surface.
“You will like this,” said the magician. “My tarn is quite clear today.”
And when the sorcerer asked you to dip your head right inside, you’d do it too.  After all, you are Ungumpo, He Who Sleeps Where Gods Fear to Tread.
The pool was ice-cold, but no unpleasantness found him, just an odd tingling sensation around his face.  Then, he felt the wrapping of a large chain about his features.  Ungumpo shuddered at the ice-cold temperature of the pool.  He sank his head further, allowing the frozen depths to purge through his fur, permitting their negotiation of his skin.  Inside the tarn the village chief sensed a severe lack of isolation.  Something dark, watching, peeping on him until he saw life from behind its eyes, experiencing existence within its grey and scaly frame, padding along in a foreign world he couldn’t begin to describe.  People in iron boxes, iron vehicles pulled without horses, each one roaring, beast-like and hungry.  Above, attached to towers of oddly shaped stone he beheld fires, rich enchanting lights that created stirring imageries, living paintings that moved within large rectangular glass-work.
Ungumpo threw his shaggy dome back, wiping the water away from his face with shivering paws.  The northern gales of Un had not resumed – the immediate terrain was noiseless. “I’ll take my eggs and be going." Ungumpo rose to his feet, weary, lugging his large body in his battle-cart’s direction.
“Leaving? Already? What about my evil wizard brother? We must kill Aronson!”
“I’ve a village to feed my little friend,” The warrior Dilf, lifted his dragon eggs onto the wooden transport, “Bah, let your wizard-brother come, and find this killer, waiting.”
“But, wait! Aronson seeks it to overthrow all of Un! The tarn is yours if you help? My mind-pool, she’s different.  Unique from anything you’ve ever seen.  You have seen others, haven’t you? Or is this your first time?” The large brown eyes of Ungumpo slanted sharply.  He reached at his back, groping for his axe. “Do you mock me little man?” he growled, looking away at the Mirror Mountains.
“No Mighty Ungumpo! I serve you.  Who else can claim to grasp the rules of life and death? None such as yourself.  None! Please, mighty one, dip your head inside my tarn again, please.  I insist!”
“You insist?” Ungumpo sent him a fiery gaze, “Listen, I know how desperate men can become, so I’ll warn you once and once alone: do not follow me, or I’ll strip you for dessert.”
“Oh, but, you must! Your kingdom needs you.  Do as I say and together we’ll –”
Ungumpo raised his axe high above his shaggy mane.  He brought it down with a sickening thud.  The skin of the old man disagreed with him, but in his anger the Dilf wasted nothing.
“Po!”
“Like to know what happens next?” said Hara to the wall.  After a silent pause, she nodded solemnly to a listener only she could see.
Ungumpo, yet to see the flame gates of village Po, permitted tiredness to take him.  He could not endure it, and his aching joints persuaded him to rest against a tree trunk.  His long mane cloaked his head whilst his shaggy fur took care of his body.  Aside from the rasp of mating Sprites, the land was still.  And so, he settled down to sleep, secure of the battle cart’s safety by the roadside.  The family name of Gum painted across it in the purple blood of extinct Cyclops-women.
The warrior slept, and the warrior dreamt.
He dreamt of fiercely reprimanding his eldest son: the lazy and oafish Ungumzhoa, shunned by the rest of the village for biting the younger cubs whilst wrestling.  Eating one’s own kind, whatever the context, was anathema to the citizens of Po.  Ungumpo awoke from his fatherly duty, seized by an instant and stinging regret.  He backtracked through the path of green sides.  He stumbled upon the place where he had left the magician’s clothes, searching the area for the enchanted pond.  He discovered nothing.
“Oh magic man, if you can hear me in the afterlife: grant me a sign to lead me to your tarn.” With a flash, the spirit of the conjurer appeared before him, the dark fire cane burning in his left fist.
“You killed me!” said the spectre hovering over the heap of grey tunics.  Though Ungumpo felt a swell of fear, he remembered his name and what it meant to the many villagers who relied upon its authenticity.
“I am the animal killer.  You should not have affronted me.  Now confess,” he snarled, fever-stricken, “Where is your tarn?”  The wraith magician stretched his long translucent arm out, indicating the shimmering pool.  Ungumpo abandoned his battle cart and ran into the tarn, his face dunked deep below its surface.  This time, his hands were dark with dirt.  He discovered grit beneath nails and grids of scars across knuckles, the nubs of hands he experienced but did not control.  This vessel wore odd clothing: a red, yellow and blue outfit with a snake symbol upon its chest.  His hair was aflame, a wild flashing head full of fire.  To the left of him clinked the sound of a chain.  The warrior’s thoughts were dark, resolutely emotionless concepts he couldn’t process.  Outlandish torches, large and small, they surrounded him; snarling metal carts moving of their own accord; neither horse nor Dilf towing them along.  Ungumpo raised his head back, hugging his torso, his whole body shaking hard with the withdrawal.  He’d been under longer than last time.
The face of the ghost magician expressed worry, “Did you enjoy the tarn?”
“I ... I don’t know,” Ungumpo blinked droplets away as he climbed out. “At first I thought – because of the fire-hair – I thought it was him, but Boleraam loved humans, and this thing he’s become –” And then the words caught him, “Monsters.  Two monsters, and they were working together.  If I were able to, I’d slay them! One wore Boleraam’s fire crown; the other, its head was mummified by a heavy chain.  They were fantasising about murdering defenceless humans! That couldn’t have been Boleraam.  That couldn’t have been my god!”
“How ghoulish!”
Ungumpo shook his head and hauled his aching mass toward the tarn’s edge.  He pushed his head beneath the silvery depth.  Immediately, the warrior’s ears filled with the jangling of metal as potent horrible sights drivelled into his brain.  All were bloodied and crippled and his to remember.  Forever.
A child.
No limbs, no head.
Torso mutilated.
What terrible brain was this?
Your knight will take your mind and make it lie to you,
Your knight will hold your heart and break the other gift in two.
Ungumpo resurfaced, gasping for breath, disgusted by newfound sights and sounds.  He didn’t understand their meaning.  And so, feverishly, wantonly, he reached back into the tarn’s cold surface.  Once again, his awareness shared company with a darker one.  A chain-mask.  The ghoul’s emaciated body covered with the hoary skin of grey decline.
Your knight will ink your eyes and make them see through a prism of gold.
You’ll smile upon the sights be they beauty or evil untold.
Ungumpo resurfaced, his eyes stung as he wiped and wiped at them.
“It’s dangerous to use the tarn that much,” warned the conjurer, “We really ought to be hunting Aronson.” The magician sat cross legged accompanied by green Sprites, critters observing out and across at Ungumpo.  Some of them giggling, others excitedly chirping among themselves, pointing at the charmed waters, then at each other, and still, the land of Un remained an eerie windless space.
“One more look, just one more.” Ungumpo wheezed, his voice at half-strength.  Before his final dip, he inhaled as much air as he could, though it hurt his innards greatly.  He didn’t question as to why his paws were balding and crooked.  Down he bowed, a swift descent into the dark shallow of the tarn. 

“Mmm.” Spiderfingers inhaled the thick copper stench of death, the pungent fume rushing up his nostrils as he lolloped onto the tarmac, spilling a wake of cans, cardboard and rotten food.
He littered a murder scene, bloody dismemberment exposed by a failing street light.  Wiping the gunk off his hands against the dumpster’s side, he modelled there, hands on hips, surveying the slaughter from behind his red-rimmed spectacles.  Glasses so close to being useless.  The cracks were more like lines on a map than shatter points.  He stood amused, trying (and failing) to solve the great mystery: “What’s it like to feel bad?” He was practising his sad face when he heard someone catch their breath at the alley mouth.  Spiderfingers tracked an old man, a small crumpled codger scooting away from the crowded commotion of Garrick Street.  The pensioner rolled into the alleyway, his maroon buggy parading plastic shopping bags.
“Holy Jesus!” said the old man.  Spiderfingers observed the newcomers’ eyes search the bodies ripped and torn,  “Oh my god,” hushed the elderly witness, his voice a mixture of incredulity and fear, the cold air betraying shallow breaths, “What happened here laddie?” Spiderfingers offered no explanation save his full on impression of abject horror, bad acting rippling across his face.  Wham! The pedal of the old age pensioner’s motor cart raced at maximum thrust, rippling groceries jostling.  Out shot a ready meal, a bag of frozen peas, then a bottle of ketchup, several more items falling out the front basket as the pensioner recklessly exited Rose Street, an alleyway strewn with the hue of wine.  A display of mutilation.
“No way he doesn’t see his shit drop.  No way’s he gonna scoot back.  Dude is gone.”  There was just Spiderfingers.  Him, in his long red raggedy coat, his apple red boots, yellow belt and Superman top.  Bloodied meat strewn debris orbited his oddity.  He noticed a window, the dusty glass of a closed down wine shop.  Not too dirty.  He shambled up to it and spent time perfecting his depiction of sorrow.  No good.  His heart just wasn’t in it.
“Heart’s no good.” sang the man in the mirror, dreadlocks whip cracking forked spirals of red and gold.  Face twitching all crazy-like in the eerie limbo of the early evening, “See you in the morning.” he smirked.  The metal upon gravel sound of the creatures’ leash was down the way – and of course, he followed the disturbance.  He needed to be pied piper’d by the chain’s chink – chonk – clink – chack.  He walked omnipotent, snatching one final look upon victories’ torn disjointed clues.  I beat them, he smiled upon his barbed works, like a vain artist.  Without my heat vision or strength, I beat them both.  Superiority erupted throughout him, his matted spidery hair forked upward, erratic black follicles burning, a wavy bonfire in defiance of the cold winter darkness.
“Whooooose neeeeext?” his bassoon singing cut through the night rumble of the sleepless city, “Which one of daddy’s little helpers has the balls to track the smoke of chaaaaaoooosssss?”  Remembering himself, he bellied his arrogance so that his fire-hair might die down.  His long dreads began to fall, his hair settling obediently upon his back.  This is London, not some remote village in Surrey.  His beacon of immodesty would attract the worst of his father’s soldiers, not to mention the undisciplined hordes of The Free.
Don’t need another clash with a bastard like Mine.
Clinks of metal guided him back to the bustle of Garrick Street and further, the clanking steel of his pet’s chain leading him headlong, deep into the light and motion of the big smoke.  Cars, holidaymakers the ceaseless racket of Piccadilly Circus.  His eyes swallowed the gargantuan neon flare of advert upon advert, the multitude of logo’s stamping transport and high-rises with their undeniable presence.  Immortal products one and all.  Undying promises to countless consumers dwarfed any clandestine achievement that any noble deity could lay claim to.  Through cracked eye lenses, he glared about at the populace bustling through the city, a mere fraction aware of his existence.
I could tear down that billboard for Panasonic, but in an hour and all around the world, two hundred more would have already sprouted up.  They implore the weak minded to notice them and only them.  Banners of unfeeling idols to acknowledge.  They grant wishes.
He took a long hard look, a prolonged glare back the way he’d come.  He understood how small his comings and goings truly were, how little fruit such a life reaped. 
London might never know me to miss me.
The world at large would revolve on, never knowing his name, nor would it appreciate his ongoing nomadic actuality, so that in his survival, powerful faith-mongers would have their incursion denied.
“No. This will not do.”
“Walking around aimlessly is not a plan; it’s a ticking death sentence.”
So then, from within the urban nexus of buy and sell, Spiderfingers remembered a dangerous plan and made himself a promise.  The promise:  “I’ll become a better, stronger, harder idea to kill.  I’m going global.  I’m gonna become McDonalds.  Give up hunting me, you antiquated small-minded assholes, because I’m Spiderfingers.  I’m the new Coca-Cola.” Concern for the loss of his powers retreated further to the back of his mind, for he knew even then; he’d no longer need them.
N   E   X   T      T   I   M   E      I    N
S   P   I   D   E   R   F   I   N   G   E   R   S
“This is hardly orthodox, Doc.”
“Nothing about you is.” the Doctor puffed his pipe, “Don’t fret, a few more observations and we’ll be –”
“– Fuck your observations.  I’m not going back to Bellevue.”
“Wouldn’t you like to see things as they really are?”
“I can do that without a straightjacket and padded cell, thank you very much.”
        “Padded ...? What do you mean, John?” 

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