P R E V I O U S L Y I N
Saturday, 10 January 2015
Rise of The Unmaker
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
A body he associated with innocence and naivety cannoned through the entrance to his home, hurling into him, knocking him over, bludgeoning him out of his psychotic break. He rolled from underneath the boy, Samson, his body filled with fear, trembling on the floor, Samson's face covered in blood. After the violence that followed, all he could do was write it all down.
Entry Four Hundred and Four
Spiderfingers crashed to his belly, his face meeting Samson’s battered nose, missing teeth, cut forehead, the boy’s one good eye puffed and purple. Mine stood swinging fists overhead, punching the air like a heavyweight contender over a fallen, broken, disgraced champion.
“Take a look at your worshipper?” said Mine pointing, “Take a look at your clergy. He told me where you were before the first punch.” Spiderfingers listened, without the usual formatting of a plan in mind. There was no fight left in his arms or in his brain, not after his dealings with the body-hopping minion, and the confrontation with his imaginary doctors. Mine had picked the perfect time to strike.
“You ... You know ...” he wretched in pain, struggling for breath, “... know my name?”
“You’re no fellow-breed. You’re the High-Bourne. You see, I follow my nose.” A scaly finger tapped his long pimply pencil of a nose. “Lord of chaos, isn’t it? Oh, I know who you are. My father used to tell me your story, like his father before him. I thought you were something he made up to give me hope that I might visit the old country, use your severed head to curry favour with gods I’ve never seen. After you sucker punched me off the roof and I woke up on a car’s hood, my nose caught a whiff of Jasmine. I looked up and saw you running away. Saw your hair. All that fire billowing the scent of sweet Jasmine. This rag –” and Mine opened his luminous jacket to reveal a grubby maroon patch of torn leather, the material hung from a necklace of small bones. “– This was shoved into my face for as long I remember, which isn’t long, as you know. Before my father died, he told me of your hair, your fiery long hair. You’ve left your scent all over town. It seems father’s stories are true.”
“You have no idea what killing me will do to this world do you?”
“And I don’t care. I thought High-Borne’s were clever, not idiots that mingled with mortals, anointing them with your trust. Your scent. Ha! After I slay you, I’ll kill your boy follower. Or maybe I should teach you a lesson and flay him in front of you? What does it matter? I, Mine of The Free, will drag your dead body into the Oma, where they’ll crown me, offer me your lands to rule over.” Spiderfingers could only look across at Samson. Those disgusting teeth of his, teeth that ought to be forming a smile, quipping in that thick Ugandan accent of his, relentlessly recommending Taoist philosophy:
“Not saying you should just sit there like a buffoon. Trick them. Tell your monsters lies.”
Spiderfingers began chuckling through his mumblings: “Violence doesn’t have to be your way.”
“What was that?” asked Mine, “Have my blows destroyed your mind?” Spiderfingers stifled his maniacal gassing, shoving aside any redundant martial strategies. The only muscles in his body that weren’t pulverised by fatigue and injury were in his face.
“Oh, Spider, the best weapons you have are in your mouth.”
A grin seeped from ear to ear.
“You haven’t thought this through.” Spiderfingers smiled through his words, his eyes unflinching from inspecting Samson’s teeth.
“What do you mean?” said Mine standing over him, branding iron raised high up.
“When you tell the High-Father that you, a minion, who follows no one has achieved what he couldn’t, what then?” Spiderfingers propped himself up, head in hand, laying vulnerable on his side, “What do you think the king of the gods will do to you after you embarrass him?”
Mine blinked. His branding iron wavered in anticipation of a strike.
“I don’t understand?”
“It’s a fix, mate,” smiled Spiderfingers looking the minion in builders’ gear straight in the eye, “None of your kind ever get the way this little gig works. The second you step foot in the Oma is the moment The High-Father’s minions kill you.”
Mine snagged the chaos god’s dreads in his balled fist whilst the branding iron in his other palm drew itself up, as high as it would go.
“You’re lying,” spat Mine, “Lying through your dead man’s teeth. I’ve heard stories about your kind.”
“Mine, the scam on your kind is a joke the gods tell each other during Peace Season.”
Mine raised his clobbering arm. Spiderfingers merely smiled.
“The High-Father has been trying to kill Boleraam since he was a boy. Boleraam fusing with John Clay to create me, the barrier between him and Earth, well, it’s made a fool of him – for eons. The last thing he wants to do is hand his victory to one of you.” Mine lowered his branding iron, but gripped Spiderfingers’ dreadlocks tighter about his knuckles:
“How do I know that this isn’t a load of bullshit?”
“Shit, don’t lie to yourself Mine. You know.” He felt a little sad for himself. No Samson to play audience member, the one-eyed boy sprawled unconsciousness on the floor.
“Then, the life of my father, my father’s father, my entire bloodline, it’s a lie? They travelled here under the banner of Apollo. Apollo!” Mine released his opponent’s hair and rammed his branding iron into the floor. Walls shook. The ground rumbled. Spiderfingers cleared his throat:
“Apollo and his kind are waiting for a minion like you to kill me, just so they can claim the victory for themselves.” He sat up, cross-legged, praying to fallen brethren for more time as the half-truths danced out of his mouth, “Killing the great elusive Spiderfingers means more than just admission to conquer Earth. Go on, ask me what?”
“The idol who kills me will use their newfound celebrity to rally creatures in the Oma to overthrow the High-Father. Don’t you see? You’re one small part of a bigger event you can’t hope to adjust. Unless …”
Spiderfingers stared at the unfinished diary entry, this event that had plagued him for most of the day.
There was the truth of what happened between himself and Mine. There was also the fiction. How could Mine right the wrongs his father’s masters had wrought him? What does Spiderfingers have to do to save his neck? NOTES: 1) Remember to edit all the I’s out of Mine’s speech and replace them with ‘Mines’. 2) DON’T FORGET to redraft with references to Mine’s milk body odour. How the fuck could you leave that out? He forgave himself instantly when he remembered just how frightened he’d been. How his mind patched a link between the stale whiff of Mine’s odour to his greatest fear, a terror he’d unthinkingly erased from his latest draft. His brain filled with tangential ideas, distracting him from Vicky tripping the bell above the shutters he’d recently replaced the door with.
“Well, that was one fucked up morning. You alright?”
… That door that Mine broke down, merely hours before. Mine, and his violence. Mine, with his short term goals.
“Hellooooo? Anybody home?” Vicky peered over the shoulders of the fast-scribbling vagabond.
Think big. Think army.
Yes, he beamed, inking inspiration to the page.
“Mine,” Began Spiderfingers, raising himself up to his knees, punching his fist upwards, like an inspired counsel to his beleaguered king, “you could spread this story to all the minions you meet. Rouse them to anger, then bring them back here. Together, we could venture back into the Oma and take out the High-Father’s daughter, Herculia.”
“Can’t the diary wait?” said Vicky, “I’ve turned down teen sex, drugs and joyriding to help you save the world, dude.”
“Kill Herculia? What will that achieve?”
“Herculia and the High-Father have unresolved father daughter issues. We could rob him of a chance to atone for his bad parenting. Now, that’s payback.” Spiderfingers smiled hard as he thought:
Tell your monsters lies.
Mine thought for a moment.
“How do I know you’re not just telling me this to save your own hide?”
“You don’t. That’s what true faith is.”
Mine appeared to take a moment to think again, before stalking toward Spiderfingers with the glow of his branding iron. Spiderfingers kept his eyes wide open, smiling the way he’d seen Samson smile, all his faith funnelling into a way of being he had to count on.
“I’ll be back with minions, lots of minions. Be ready to leave for the Oma.”
“Good. We’ll unravel the High-Father’s mind. We’ll unmake him.”
As soon as Mine left, Spiderfingers crawled his way over to Samson. He slung him over his back and commenced his long walk to Euston Hospital.
“If you’re gonna be rude, you’d better make it up to me by giving me abs, O.K? Wouldn’t mind being a blonde. Tall.” Vicky asked this halfway through the door, exhausted. Vulnerable. “Couldn’t stand here saying hello to your back, so I went to the corner shop for a sandwich. And before you say it, I know you don’t eat,” Vicky chucked a bag of crisps onto the diary in his lap, “But then I thought, you can eat. Can’t have you forgetting what it means to be human and all that.” The black humour revealed something of himself. Vicky acted like a reflection: this is how you look when you put so much energy into playing yourself. Has she ever been relaxed around you?
“I’ll eat later, but I’m not writing you having abs. Just wouldn’t ring true. And don’t ask me to include the Coat-Hanger Men again. Tempted as I am to mention your private militia, we can’t have history reflect my weakness’, now can we?”
Mine’s early dawn attack should have been enough to finish a debilitated Spiderfingers. There was no guarantee that Samson’s philosophy of smiles over swords would work. It did however buy time, a stalling for the metal wire doll in his pocket to send an S.O.S to Vicky. He expected her to arrive with her family, not a troop of Coat Hanger-Men.
“Soooo,” Vicky kicked her feet lazily over the smoking imprint of the long departed minion, “Mine’s a band? Ha! If it wasn’t for my own private army – who by the way – have been watching your back since the park, you’d be dead. Anyone attacks you with me around, and splat! Death by my Coat-Hanger guards.”
“You created these things? To defend me?” His question earned him a curtsy as she began pulling at her golden gloves. Sequins, sparkling in the light of the dying sun. “And when you say defend me, do you also mean defend you from me?”
“Look, Mr-turn-up-outta-the-blue-and-expect-the-world, I’ve been hearing terrible shit about you since before I was ten. How long did you think my memory of you could hold up to what Mum kept drilling into me?”
Coat-Hanger Men, she called them. Her secret troupe of bodyguards that she DIDN’T FUCKING TELL HIM ABOUT!
“Aw, man, don’t go off into your ... c’mon, please? Put the pen down?”
Clothes hooks bent into tall humanoid shapes that stabbed and slashed at Mine, till the minion fell away screaming, taking a wall out in his desperate anxious escape. An ambulance provided the base material for her next trick.
“Don’t get pissy with me for keeping them a secret. Look Spider, we really need to talk about the grey man with the chain mask.”
Vicky, at the floor, hands sweeping around in the dust as she shouted instructions for the hijacked vehicle to deliver bemused medics to the factory. Spiderfingers? Well, the chaos god took more than a moment to acclimatise to Vicky’s display of her telekinesis. Why did she keep it a secret?
“You always preached caution for us, never for yourself, but for us. In a way, me not telling you everything is your idea.”
Spiderfingers shifted his resentment to the side. He mustered the power to struggle up with Samson semi-conscious in his arms, dump him on the ambulance duo. He whispered his promise down Samson’s ear:
“I’ve been having sexy thoughts about you.”
“Finally. Wanna stop writing now, or am I gonna have to chat more bullshit to wake you up? I’m baring my soul here.” Spiderfingers said nothing as he proceeded to tear out Vicky’s heroism and ingenuity from his journal. Why he’d written them down eluded his questioning.
“You’d better be off Vicky, it’ll be night in a bit.”
“Let’s talk about the night stuff.”
He looked up from the page. There was a glint in his eye:
“Better go home O.G, unless you can convince your mobile to get working again?”
“I do the psychic thing, the telekinetic thing. You’re gonna have to cover the whole unpancake mobile thing.”
“I’ll look into it. Now get lost, before your mum sends your crazy sister to come find you. Not like she’d understand us, her not being a genius, right?”
“Go on, get out of here.”
“Your wish is my command.” She pulled the metal shutter open, and skipped out of the factory.
“Spider? Did you hear me? I just can’t do this anymore.”
He thought for a second: “It’s fine. Now you’ve done your bit, I’ve been meaning to tell you to stay away.”
“Stop writing – for fuck sake – when are we gonna talk about Hollywood?”
He looked away.
“One in four people suffer from mental health issues.”
“I’m gonna admit to suffering intense panic attacks since Bellevue. Now, can you please go?”
“No, no I don’t think so. Not until you admit you need help.”
“Find me the address of someone qualified to help a demigod, please?”
“Granma is –”
“Not all the time, Mr Serial killer. There, I prodded the elephant. I think it’s high time I did the whole tough love thing and “Spider! Can you put that bloody pen down?”
He took a deep breath, “So far I’ve only killed the enemy.”
“We used to lock the bad guys up in the safe-house.”
“Oh, how I miss those death trips through the Oma to preserve the lives of minions.”
“They’re innocent people that share those bodies. Possessed humans that you now kill with that thing of yours.”
“I know what it looks like, but I’ve not lost it. I can’t afford to go mad.”
“And I can’t afford to keep playing, I’m-not-afraid-of-the-chaos-god.” He juddered at her words, instinctively glaring down, a burning in his eyes as he scrutinised his written life, lost for the words, the great lines to ferry him away from his real one. His pen hovered over the paper, useless.
“If I second guessed myself, I’d be dead by now, and you’d be a concubine for whichever minion claimed the knife in my chest. Bellevue was rough, but I’m getting better.”
“At lying to yourself. At showing me how to lie to myself. Mum’s right, you are dangerous.” Vicky fled, yanking the exit open with a thought as he tried to scream for her to return. He could only manage a whimper. “Please believe in me, Vicky.”
She scampered back inside:
“You’re a mentally ill superhero, until we find a psychiatrist whose clientele includes gods, I’m gonna be here for you.”
“Before Bellevue, we stopped the bad-guy, now we kill the bad-guy. You can’t be here for me.”
“You need a side-kick.”
“I need a soldier. You’re a superhero, and in my world your kind, they get killed.”
“I’m not Nat. Y’know, your biggest problem is you get lost, between this world,” Vicky pointed him straight in the face, “and here,” she pointed at his chest.”
“I think I can find a balance between my head and my heart, Vicky. I’m asking you to leave, aren’t I?” He replied.
Vicky trailed her finger down the S on his hoodie. She leaned in for a kiss.
“No!” He tore the page out, stuffing it down his throat, eyes bulbous, both pupils skittering here, there, everywhere, afraid that someone or something could be lurking, watching morality’s walls topple apart in his entries.
“Never!” A stray ran in, yapping. He glared at the skinny mutt before returning to his journal on the floor.
“Shut up!” he raged at the dog, a creature startled by his innate supernaturalism.
Bloody canines, he thought as he checked himself for a pen, good for nothing.
He wanted to chase her, but he couldn’t. Out there were enough variables for him to mix together. Create that masterpiece of mayhem starring him, saving the day, righting the chaos that the human ego in him desired.
He glared at the dusty floor, the imprint of Mine’s branding iron stamped into it. He deserved more than Mine. He needed to have a full-scale war with a sea of minions, like he used to. He crushed the pen in his hands, before searching his back pocket for another red biro. Writing would be his escape.
Entry Four Hundred and Five
Factory Int: Spiderfingers is kneeling down over a metal doll in Vicky’s hands. He appears to be whispering at the doll.
SPIDER: For a moment, let’s just pretend that I don’t have all the answers, that I’m O.K with you asking how I am.
VICKY: Will you give me an honest answer?
SPIDER: This is the only time I’ll give you an honest answer.
VICKY: Okeydokey, how are you?
SPIDER: Professionally I can’t really complain. The A plot is going rather well.
VICKY: You mean Operation Genie Bottle?
SPIDER: Yeah. Personally ... I just don’t think I’m gonna make it through the year. I’ll tell you one thing ... actually, I really don’t have the character. Ask me anything else. Anything.
VICKY: Why do you do this?
Spiderfingers appears to think for some time.
SPIDER: If you were seven, I’d sit you down in a field and talk about the beauty of Mother Nature. I’d tell you what the gods will do to us and how our corruption will destroy the planet, unless we do something to protect it … unless we become superheroes.
VICKY: Now I’m not seven, what would you tell me?
SPIDER: Well, you wouldn’t buy my bollocks about birds, deer and wonderful flowing rivers, would you? That’s just not my character, is it? I’m doing this cos I’m afraid to die. Gaia didn’t pick a demigod for no reason, y’know? Gods transmute into different aspects of themselves, but demigods die.
VICKY: Seeing as this isn’t happening, mind telling me about you being nuts?
Spiderfingers appears to think for a minute.
SPIDER: What day is it?
VICKY: How can you not know what day it is?
SPIDER: I’m a homeless genius. I’m allowed to avoid your questions or put my shoes on the wrong way round, or not know what day it is, just so long as it’s some world-saving device that’s got me side-tracked.
VICKY: Saturday. You sure this is gonna work?
Vicky holds up the metal doll for the audience.
VICKY: This aint gonna work.
SPIDER: Er, Vicky?
Spiderfingers indicates his nose. Vicky whips out a hanky to wipe the blood from her nostrils.
SPIDER: Our patient is responding to her surgery just fine. It’ll work. It’d better. If it doesn’t, I’m blaming you.
VICKY: How is that fair?
SPIDER: We can’t have history remember a genius for his faults, now can we?
VICKY: You’re a god, not a genius.
SPIDER: You’re neither.
VICKY: I’ve got my socks on the wrong feet.
SPIDER: Oh, no – not even genius’ are allowed to –
A dog trots onto the factory floor.
SPIDER: Vicky, what did I tell you about closing the door behind you?
VICKY: I closed it!
DOG: Spider, it’s me – Hara.
SPIDER: You’re not Hara, you’re a dog.
VICKY: You speak dog? A dog saying it’s Granma? O.K, I want my money back.
DOG: I merged with Gaia so now Gaia can inhabit animals.
SPIDER: At last! Quick, give me the low down on the divine in the London area.
VICKY: I’m just gonna trust you’re talking to Granma, who’s now become a dog.
SPIDER: Says the girl who created a wire doll in the hope it will turn a single white Muslim mother into a demigod’s most powerful priestess. Yeah, I’m talking to Granma the dog.
DOG: Better ask her to leave. She’s affecting our psychic link.
Spiderfingers stares at the dog.
DOG: What is it Dearie?
SPIDER: No, it’s nothing. Just ... (he leans in to whisper in the dog’s ear) I spent the first two weeks out of Bellevue calming myself down from panic attacks, full blown seizures sparked by traffic noises and road works. Now, I’m confessing it to a dog.
DOG: Do you want to talk to Vicky about it?
SPIDER: Hell, no.
VICKY: What’s she saying now? Dibs on buying her food and throwing a stick, but pooper-scoop duty’s a job for Superman.
DOG: Spider, I need her gone so I can complete my mission.
SPIDER: Sorry O.G, she wants you out. You’re bad for the psychic link.
VICKY: You want me to go? I’m saving the world here. May not look that eventful, but this is what it looks like in real life. No guns, no explosions, no death-defying leaps to save a baby in a pram – just me – sitting in an old abandoned toy factory on standby in case the doll needs repairs.
SPIDER: No good if a whole battalion of minions attacks us right now. Hara can give me their positions, but not if you’re in the room. Bye, bye O.G.
VICKY: What if you need someone to swap your shoes over for you?
SPIDER: Your god has spoken.
VICKY: Tell you what day it is?
SPIDER: Vicky –
VICKY: Alright, alright …
She gets up and heads to the door.
VICKY: … just remember I called dibs on stick throwing.
SPIDER: Out …
SPIDER: O.K Hara, I want updates on all new species and all known entry points in and around the capital.
DOG: That can wait. My link’s fine, I needed Vicky out of the room to tell you something far more important and far more dangerous than minion invasions. It’s Doctor Chimera. Spider, he’s back on Earth.
N E X T T I M E I N
S P I D E R F I N G E R S
Follow the blood of your friend to my new surgery. One must not keep the doctor waiting.
(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.