The role of god is a maddening twenty four hour experience complete with overtime and few rewards. A job where there is no clocking out, no in house psychiatric care and no chance of early retirement. When the thing in the big chair loses the plot, whose job is it to save the world?
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
Hara, if only you’d been able to speak
to Miss World.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
save us!” He tried to ignore the outcries,
But he couldn’t help but hear every single blast of fear.
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
“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 ...
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
“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.
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!”
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
“Oh, but, you
must! Your kingdom needs you. Do as I say and together we’ll –”
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.
know what happens next?” said Hara to the wall. After a silent pause, she
nodded solemnly to a listener only she could see.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
No limbs, no
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.
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.
resurfaced, his eyes stung as he wiped and wiped at them.
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
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
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Don’t need another clash with a bastard
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
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
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.
will not do.”
“Walking around aimlessly is not a plan;
it’s a ticking death sentence.”
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
hardly orthodox, Doc.”
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.”
you like to see things as they really are?”
“I can do
that without a straightjacket and padded cell, thank you very much.”