Sunday, 24 June 2012

Foley, His Sister Sarah and Other Parasites

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    The Audi released itself from Saul's control. Spinning, Steph tried to keep upright as the car flipped over and over. Before she blacked out, Steph was sure she saw a violet bus brake alongside her cracked passenger window.
Sarah moved the mouse over icons that reformatted Foley into a variety of colour washed mutations. The Sunday afternoon photo-shoot kicked around her head.

Caramel coloured Foley stretching and contorting in response to her considerations, the fringe celebrity swaying in the bath (a heavy drinking marathon in Soho’s Mohida Club still pumping around his skeletal frame), whilst Sarah swept his dripping dreadlocks, those spider-legs out of the way.

Mustn't conceal that vacant stare of his.

And Sarah remembered vividly how Foley’s hand pushed the spider-legs right back over his furrow. Foley opted for profile shots, his self-worth funnelled through the prism of a media that valued small white noses, and lips. If he could just purse his lips close together enough. Brother Foley had a determined eye on the prize. To be truly loved by those with the real power, He would most definitely feel alive, so utterly and properly thrust into a higher existence. A media presence was not enough; Foley desired a sustained invasion, his image ballooned here there and everywhere. 

    Sarah continued musing upon her brothers image whilst she manipulated her shots on the computer. She likened her brothers craving to Pinocchio’s fabled yearning. Alas, Sarah Edwards was no writer. The analogy of a puppets quest to become a real boy lodged deep in her frustrated creativity. The correct wording to release the idea to the outside world were keys she could never possess.

    Steph’s laptop was lying on the sunroof of the overturned Audi. Saul took it anyway, stashing it in the hold-all attached to the side of his latest stolen transport. So far nothing had gone according to plan. He thought of Vicky. His hands white knuckled the handle-bars of the police bike.

    ‘Hold on!’ screamed Saul as he and Handy Andy roared into the black.
    Where had the cold spring night of Surrey disappeared to?

    'Oh yes,' said Steph aloud to herself,

    'The bus, it came to save me...saved me from Zombie-Boy. But I had to get out of the bus...had to escape He Who is Red...Woof!'

   Steph struggled in the walking, the cut in her leg disrupting her poise and fluidity. She looked about in her trance-like state, pondering nonchalantly at what this lands strange corona lavished upon.

Rodents she would catch sight of but only momentarily; always at the corner of her eye, dashing about in their fuzzy need-to-stroke-them coats, with speed, each and every fur-ball evading easy identification. That couldn’t be blue hairs sprouting out of them, could it? This alien place was simultaneously welcoming and foreign in its presentation. Just like last time Steph decided.

    'Woof! Woof!'

Wet greenery underfoot except the grass seemed otherworldly, cobalt, the colour hinting over all shrubbery so that in fact thought Steph on a whim, the term greenery couldn’t apply here, not really. There were large birds up in the firmament (or at least creatures that resembled such, for like the groundswell of scurrying mammals, these flying animals were too far away for classification). Steph batted away insects. Each and every flying speck was a supernatural blur, as if the life-forms here were in some way hiding from her, somehow shielded from full comprehension. Soon she came upon tall rocky structures, ruined stone monoliths towering high and they too shared the atmosphere's theme of eerie navy. Steph looked up at the sun. It seemed coated behind all of this, her surreal environment. The unreachable star seemed to glow bright and wonderful but as if it were outside of Steph’s immediate reality – like a torch attempting to shine through heavy shaded limousine windows.

Steph clutched at the painful area on her lower thigh and attempted to keep moving.

Not far ahead she could see what she was really looking for: The vastness, Steph could see a great lake and she knew when she hopped into the boat beached there it would be to no avail. She would row-row-row her boat toward the twinkling lights on the other side and they would remain distant. Whatever that thing is beneath the water would put paid to her reaching any civilisation that she could recognise. Beneath the liquid surface was the way in.


    He Who is Red? He was her shepherd and all of this place, the surreal ecology, the trees, the bus? These elements all belonged to Spiderfingers and now they belonged to her. The iron pillars of reality that Dr Capgras and Silberman and erected in her mind? Steph broke them down now, she rendered the safety of psychiatric precepts molten. Redundant. She clung to this brave logic in the hope that the blue man could confirm everything. He had to, and there had to be an order - a sense to things, even in this chaos – how else could she map her eventual way out?


    ‘Awake in a dream.’ she muttered and she yawned realising her fatigue. She ought to be reading a bedtime story to…Gideon, because that’s what mothers do.

Steph allowed the influx of memories, numerous instances of tending to her boy, her spending time with him, she permitted these warm images to wash over her mind’s eye as she walked nearer to the gravel strewn coast. Such times of old were blurred, like bad photographs. Each inner snap was accompanied with a gross unfamiliarity. Her reminiscence of walking through Mothercare to buy his first buggy may as well have been via the shops CCTV footage. Steph may as well have been a droopy-eyed security guard constantly checking the snail pace of the monitor room’s clock. So far removed was she. So distant was that simple time.

    As she ambled hurtfully along, closer and closer through the undergrowth (whipping wild and looping above her head now), Steph removed her wallet from her green sea overcoat to stare at the mixed race boy in the photograph. Her legs hesitated as she remembered the smoke and lasers of a club and the laughter of drunken men. She recalled leering eyes, darkest brown. She saw her arms wind around a thin black man’s neck and that the party sounds were muffled now, because she and this man were separated from a mass of young people. A small cubicle. A private chamber big enough for two strangers, both of them terribly drunk, unreservedly inebriated.

    ‘So you want to see brother blue.'

    Steph screamed out as she span losing her footing completely. Before she met the blue leafy surface a red hand shot out. He Who is Red had her caught and firm. His Scottish gruff speech rumbled out of his mouth,

    ‘Answers my brother has, endings to questions.’

    Steph would be in control this time. She shook herself free of his grip and edged away. She took deep breaths. He Who is Red continued his riddle-speak,

    'You haven't seen Mr Lime about here have you?', he said poking his grey hat up to reveal his third eye to Steph, 'Wee man, Einstein-type hair? Has a knack of slipping between universes?'

    Steph remained silent and preferred to instead retreat, shooing him away with flicking hands,

    'Keep your distance if you see him,' warned the red coloured man wagging his finger, 'He's figured out the who and the what of this place. If you come across him just run and find me Steph, for your own good.'

    She left the well-suited man standing there, his forever-smile so very much like Spiderfingers’ own.
    Sarah faced the laptop screen but her thoughts were flying through the stratosphere of her ongoing fantasy novel, a fiction set on a parallel earth, an alternate reality where the African's imposed their empire upon unsuspecting cave-dwelling Europeans (because gold, diamonds and cheap labour was theirs for the taking).

In the world according to Sarah Edwards, twenty first century attractiveness was measured differently – darker skin tones plastered every skincare billboard, noses that might otherwise be considered too spread-out or ogre-like were the top choice in a plastic surgeons menu book. In Sarah’s fantasy realm the green skinned Shrek looked more like Tom Cruise than George Foreman.

    Sarah’s imagination had factored in more than the one concession for the people that would read her work (as if she could ignore the geeks and the comic nerds that formed a good segment of Stephanie Tent’s readership?), For instance, a mediocre superhero called White Stag, a king in a fictional land located on some remote and impoverished isle called Gaeland was the token Caucasian on the popular superhero team, The Protectors. In Sarah’s alternate universe, The Protectors had a movie based on their exploits that omitted the blonde haired White Stag from the mainly black cast. 
    Steph's stumble into the boat was miserable and served to underscore her anger regarding the casting off process. Her footwear began to fill with water and she started to sneeze.

Steph felt let down. No disturbance rippled under the lake surface. Her wooden transport floated undisturbed and she was still safe and dry within it. Maybe she would manage to paddle her boat to the opposite side after all? The Buchannan house and Spiderfingers' Alice felt unreachable. 

The lurch of the boat was frightening but Steph calmed herself immediately for this was this land’s version of a door opening. This near-drowning was the way in to that place – the great unknown...
    Early morning but still, the darkness, the relentless shadow of the night before isn’t done with its covering, its rolling spooling self. 

How it cloaks around London’s skyline.

Bare hands and bare feet pound along pigeon-shit-stained roof tops and the man that these feet belong to is fast asleep.

In his future alertness, when the day has fully returned, he will consider the snatches of blood pools, the vague and distant memories of ritual murder as best-forgotten nightmares.

This man will consign the clicking and clacking chimes of a silver chain to dreamscape's eccentric plotting.

Up he goes, leaping gaps between buildings, his body possessed by a dead god's stray minion. The naked man’s brain is captained by a dark force of nature, one that has commanded his innocent hands to bind a metal chain over its face.

    The monster within has been careful…it kills far away from its hosts place of rest.

It has inscribed a message into the abdomen of a security guard of an industrial estate in Northern Ireland. The night watchman’s remains scattered throughout the compound... 

...and now the creature is using its considerable will to grant inhuman strength to a vessel it must keep safe, shielded from the blood swilling actions that it lives to carry out.

This man is a means to slaughter - a weapon whose preferred signature is the ruinous cadavers heaped in its wake.

Yes, behind manacles drooling wet crimson life force, a man somehow hisses out an internal mantra, his meat strewn teeth gritted firmly shut,

    ‘Twelve from twenty six equals eight of eight.’

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    ‘This guy I’m in is an actor called Lance Caesar-Young,’ shouts Kurt,

    'He's playing me in Nirvana the movie -.’ his voice trails off. He’s seen Rooenn.

    When Kurt returns to his place on the bed his face is expressionless.

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(N.B The comments posted below pertain to an extended version of this story, truncated due to issues of pace).


  1. This is a really interesting addition to the story - I like the frenetic energy created by the short, sharp cuts between scenes. This really gives an excellent sense of pacing and I feel like the story is moving along, hurtling towards something unpleasant and exciting!

    Am I right in thinking that it is Rooen (not sure of the spelling) who has possessed Foley, rather than Spiderfingers himself? It's an interesting concept, and ties in nicely with the idea of Spiderfingers as parasite, as the title suggests. This theme of parasites also crops up in the references to Foley's quest for celebrity - it seems as though the parasite, in this instance, has become the one to be preyed upon. It's a very interesting concept, and it actually makes me think about Steph and her relationships with other characters within the piece. She always seemed to be someone who only dealt with people from whom she could gain something, and this is also emphasised by her difficulty in relating to her son. Steph as parasite is a new twist - but now you've made me see it, a lot of her previous behaviour takes on a new light. Although she was always lifting the stories from Spiderfingers, it was not until now that I viewed their relationship as parasitic. I think what I'm trying to say here is that this is great, nuanced character study of Steph, her personality reflected in the mirrors of Foley and Sarah as minor characters.

    Your sense of voice, particularly in the conversation between Sarah and Foley in the first part of this piece, is very strong, and their speech patterns are markedly different from those of your previous characters. It's great that you can give the characters a separate entity in this way.

    However, if it were up to me, I'd take out the three or four 'Sarah thinks' or 'she thinks' references that crop up in the first scene. I think they are superfluous because, although you're writing in third person, we're viewing events through Sarah's perspective. The explicit references to her thoughts are unneeded and feel clumsy.

  2. There are also a few sentences that I think might need re-wording:

    1. Very first sentence is very confusing. Consider changing it to 'It is in the wee small hours of the morning, in her Gloucester Road flat, when Sarah Edwards decides on a title. Hiding in the Open. Pleased to have finally named her masterpiece, she saves the file.'

    2. 'He let's his awareness latch onto the constant spin of blue police lights, the bike they're attached to on its side.' It is not at all clear that this is a police bike that the dead copper was riding. Maybe try: 'Andy lets his awareness fall onto the police officer's bike, which now lies at the foot of the mangled corpse. The constant spin of blue light issuing from the handlebars is strangely comforting.'

    3. '...knead away, his massaging the now sobbing Discordian, whose crying.' Sobbing and crying? One or the other. Try '...knead away, and massages the knotted shoulders of the now sobbing Discordian.'

    4. This part has a bit of confusion between the subject and object in the clause: '...said Steph upping and limping to the wheel, still swivelling of its own accord.' It's not clear whether the wheel or Steph is doing the swivelling. Try instead '...said Steph, limping to the wheel, which continued to swivel of its own accord.'

    5. 'Her footwear filling with water and she had begun to sneeze.' there's some tense confusion in the sentence - maybe try 'Her footwear began to fill with water and she started to sneeze.'

    These are all just suggestions though, feel free to discard them.

    I thought the relationship between Andy and Saul was tenderly described by a single image, that of the disembodied hand brushing the hair from the zombie's neck and rubbing his shoulders as he cried. That's some great emotive writing, right there!

    I'm also really glad that we're still in the dark about the bus and the landscape - I really want to know if Steph is in a real netherworld, or if she's in her own mind, or if she's dreaming. But the suspense created by not giving us that information makes me all the more anxious to read on.

  3. Yeah, the pace being fast is important to me, especially since Ashley reckoned that not much happened last time. My mission this month was speed, speed and speed – proof reading slipped big time! May keep the cut scenes and limit the episode to having no more than four places to focus.

    Rooenn has possessed Foley (glad that was clear)! In the past Rooenn has affected Spiderfingers morality and but not out-right possessed him (see Hero-Worship).

    Steph can be viewed as a parasite, using Spiderfingers for a celebrity life. Were he alive what would he think of this? Are you interested in finding out? Hmmm….

    Glad you can see that I can write other voices but what I really need to be careful of is Sarah becoming another Steph. I’ve set her up but it’s time to give her something to do before…hey actually, I won’t spoil it.

    ‘The explicit references to her thoughts are unneeded and feel clumsy.’ – Crimson Eblog

    You’re SO right. I can’t tell you how much I’ve let my writing schedule slip this month…bloody music/being in a band again! I love it but damn!

    ALL your suggestions are SPOT ON.

    The 'she thinks' bizz I shall sort out later....waaaaay to knackered now and I ought to be in bed dreaming/having nightmares to augment this here tale!

    Aside from having the bike at the foot of the mangled corpse (the bike is in the road and I’ve stated that Saul has dragged the policeman to the side of the road next to a tree trunk), I’ve used your more considered approach so that it is clear the bike belonged to the dead copper. I’ve made all the changes – thank you!

    ‘I thought the relationship between Andy and Saul was tenderly described by a single image, that of the disembodied hand brushing the hair from the zombie's neck and rubbing his shoulders as he cried. That's some great emotive writing, right there!’ – Crimson Eblog

    Glad you see the emotions in the scenes between two essentially comedic characters, there for the light relief (O.K, this is me we’re talking about – I don’t do much for light but I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge my love of the Short fat guy, tall straight guy comedy shtick…think Abbott and Costello, Laural and Ahrdy…..C-3P0 and R2-DT….god I can be patronising)!

    ‘I'm also really glad that we're still in the dark about the bus and the landscape - I really want to know if Steph is in a real netherworld, or if she's in her own mind, or if she's dreaming.’ – Crimson EBlog.’

    Are we still completely in the dark about her whereabouts? I thought I’d let the cat outta the bag this time? Maybe Brother Blue can sort us out with info in the next issue which for now is called For the Woman Who Had Everything.

    What did you think of the issues pertaining to race and beauty? What do you think of Sarah’s thoughts?

  4. I'd like to see Sarah evolve into someone a little bit more well-adjusted than Steph. It makes sense to have light and shadow within all your characters, but there seems to have been a lot of shadow within Steph's character particularly, and it would be nice to have a more positive female character in Sarah. It sounds as though she isn't going to last very long anyway, I hope she doesn't mean too nasty an end (who am I kidding, a nasty end is almost compulsory for your characters!) Am I right in thinking there may be some sibling on sibling violence to come?

    I'm very interested in the notions of race and beauty that were thrown up by this episode. It certainly does seem that there is a very White Western notion of beauty and other races/ethnicities have frequently been coerced into reaching for the blonde hair blues eyes aesthetic. Examples of which include weaves and chemical straightening to make afro hair look straight and 'beautiful', and the strange culture of skin lightening products in India and Pakistan.

    It's an interesting theme, but my concern is that you do already have a lot of themes and issues running throughout the narrative. You need to do them all justice or the narrative will feel cluttered. So far, I haven't felt as if your work has been crowded by too many IDEAS - you've balanced theme and plot very well - but you will need to keep this in check as you add themes. Ask yourself: Will this be relevant to the plot or sub-plot? If yes, then you must develop it, and if no, then maybe the theme could use some pruning?

    I'd be interested in your views on this, and the views of the other circle members. Please don't take it as a criticism though, merely a thought to consider. :)

  5. No criticism taken! This is the kind of comment I like to get back to asap!

    I won’t write a positive cast member for the sake of balancing the plot but I will introduce not one but two females that will counterpoint Steph’s personality and indeed, affect her character arc drastically.

    As regards to sibling violence to come I will say nothing except that your mind has been polluted extraordinarily by my works! If you ever care to come up with some nihilistic Spiderfingers short story, send it to me and I will incorporate it into the current strand. And now for talk about theme’s and the numbering of them…

    There is one theme for the entire run of The Russian Doll Stories. I can’t confirm what it is as it would spoil your reading pleasure, but I can assure you that it has been present since the very beginning and that every character plugs into each theme in a way particular to them. You see why I can’t tell you? This one unifying force of any well-written story will render your perusal to merely academic and I want you to experience SPIDERFINGERS as entertainment through and through.

    ‘I'm very interested in the notions of race and beauty that were thrown up by this episode. It certainly does seem that there is a very White Western notion of beauty and other races/ethnicities have frequently been coerced into reaching for the blonde hair blues eyes aesthetic.’ – Crimson EBlog

    Don’t you find it interesting that this world’s history has given birth to beauty as a commodity, each racial characteristic being a different currency? The bullshit that people say ‘Oh yeah mate, and she was Swedish!’ and insanity like, ‘She’s Chinese? She has a twin? No way!’ Even out of context these wayward perceptions are based on movements made by imperialists so long ago, such perceptions of what is desirable are interesting to me and thankfully have found a place in Sarah’s wonderings.

    Hope this piqued your interest and hey people, check this out:

    A 1 B 2 C 3 D 4 E 5 F 6 G 7 H 8 I 9 J 10 K 11 L 12 M 13 N 14 O 15 P 16 Q 17 R 18 S 19 T 20 U 21 V 22 W 23 X 24 Y 25 Z 26

    1FROM26=7OF 8

    Latest death mark is: 12FROM26=8OF8


    Get your thinking caps on!

  6. Well. I have to say this is is better written than your recent posts-sharp, focused. I really enjoyed it.

    Finaly we are seeing the various narrative threads weaving together, different story arcs that may overlap are set against the more current story lines in a tantalizing manner. The pacing is great, lends a sense of momentum and inevitability...and yet still retains enough mystery as to what, exactly, is to follow. We stil have that big chunk of time that is unaccounted for (except in brief and aftermath) and yet its reprecussions are felt through out.

    The cuts to diff perspectives really works to give the sense that a lot is happening. If you only examined each section, or each was a normal post, then it would be rather drawn out around not much (as per my earlier critisms) but becuase we switch between them the idea of the greater action, if you will, screams through and carries the reader along.

    I feel that another critism of mine has been adressed her too-wonderfully. That of SFs voice tening to permeate and overshadow everthing, so much so that other charas are overwhelmed. You've cut this out and given each chara their own voice, balanced well with the narration in third. AND you still have your chaos god demanding and dangling his bits all over the place. So you get a Fuck Yeah! For sorting your shit out and sticking to your guns all at once. Bravo.

    Sarah and Foley. I like Leanna, was hoping that she may prove to be a more positive (or hell even neutral) portrayel of a woman-horrible death or no. Yet the interaction between the two is interesting. Her intelligence to his vapidness. Though when she squatting beneath his penis taking piks it did get a bit inbred :S. Nudity for art, cool, but that coupled with her almost obsessive way of living through him, and his images not sure. Havent seen enough yet.

    I rather liked the juxtoposition of their perpectives-specially becuase Foleys is unspoken. He covers his nose ect and she views this as a race vs beauty theology. She is very much grounded in the 'real world', with its issues, concerns and traits-which she comphrehends and helps Foley take advatage of, even if she does not wholly approve of some aspects. (Or is this why she is happy to take advantage? Her tit for tat book idea (which annoyed me as in the section before she said she was NOT a writer, and just felt to Steph-ish) shows a rather extreme mentality. But then again that could change in the excecution....LOL. She seems to give him a depth that is not their...most of the time she struggles to get past his zoolander face.

  7. Then we can glean (and tis confirmed) that he is Rooens puppet. That part of this entails him covering his face in chains. Which changes his covering of nose/face etc into something much more sinister...that of his Rooenness seeping out even when not fully posessed. Mmmm.

    Steph. So youve sneaked in some of her life as mother (which is good, whether she wants it or not its part of her life and cant just be a token mention now and then) and have also woven it with some more development...and possibe alluding to more of whats to come. Earlier you made a point of describing Foley as dark skinned and skinny. Then Steph remembers Gideons father and the night she got pregnant-againt dark skinned and skinny. Are they one and the same? Her comment on 'having control this time' coupled with her drunkeness (and ealier bits and bobs) also implies that it was not consensual.

    Did Foley rape Steph? And is this connected with Rooen then later posessing him? Already having some of his nature lurking within...does steph realise who he really is? Or is it a drunken haze? You make a comment that it was surpriseing Foley took on the SFs gig-is this becuase he th, remembers her, she him, or both? Does the sister know? Argh to many questions.

    Why didnt steph travel across the oma before, why just straight in the underwater house? Or was that just not necessary at the time?

    The oma, steph, is this the same lake thing as in why is wigloo?


    And what are you implying with your jumbled up ARSUL which, to me, is phonetic for arsehole!?

    Oh and the survive lyrics are getting very, very tiresome! ha.

    Ramble out.

  8. Sharp and focussed hmmm? I thought you would have hated it since you want the story to move along even faster.

    ‘Finally we are seeing the various narrative threads weaving together, different story arcs that may overlap are set against the more current story lines in a tantalizing manner.’ – A.Fox

    I am really into the idea of Spiderfingers being a soap opera now. More narrative overlapping shall occur! That unaccounted time and Spiderfingers’ absence have given birth to A LOT of the sub plots that will reach fruition over the course of this year although, they are launch pads for the final volume out in 2014. 2013 will be a period in which to write it properly as I think endings NEED proper time to deliver my best. This volume is all about foreshadowing…

    I feel that my ability to cut between scenes is at a level now where it will be a mainstay for most of the time. Aronson’s entry into the narrative may be a little different but there will be a time when seven or eight different scenes will feature in the narrative. I hope you get it now, this really is an epic…war is on the horizon.

    Spiderfingers like any other god has a way of living vicariously through those that follow him.
    In a creepy and sinister way, the face of chaos really can’t die.

    ‘Sarah and Foley. I like Leanna, was hoping that she may prove to be a more positive (or hell even neutral) portrayel of a woman-horrible death or no.’ – A. Fox

    I introduced a new Discordian into the part that follows this (A Doll Inside). Her name is Lilith. Lilith is VERY different to Steph. As for Sarah (much more similar) I LOVE that you find her interesting in relation to Foley. Her relationship through him is something we’ll explore a little bit more later.
    Remember, they were mentioned as conjoined twins (Why is Wigloo?) so we’ll learn about that experience as a way of understanding their characters.

    So happy you spotted the hand over face thing that Foley does as some sort of subconscious echo of Rooenn’s chained face. Yay for you!

    Very very interesting take on Foley being the man that Steph was with. I won’t confirm or deny any of what you said although to be fair, Steph’s memories are part of a sub plot that will be eeked out slowly over the remainder of this volume AND the next. You won’t have all your answers regarding that fateful night until the end of 2014! By which time your deduction will have other more sinister variables to consider. Spiderfingers gonna get more than dark on you. We’re talking pitch black with spikes…

    ‘Why didn’t steph travel across the oma before, why just straight in the underwater house? Or was that just not necessary at the time?’ A. Fox
    Don’t get your question but Steph’s whereabouts are…well I won’t spoil it – read A Doll Inside.

    The ‘lake-thing’ you’re talking about occurred in The Show.

    Regarding your answer for the riddle, why would Rooenn be sending out the message surreal? And can the Terrorsmith reason like that? We shall see.
    You’ll kick yourself when you get the answer. Yes, I have complete faith in you that you can work it out before the bigtime revelation!

    ARSUL Is the order in which the letters were introduced (via the relevant murders).

    I hear the song I Will Survive whenever I write those sections. I know your pain.