Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Stories As Bait

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    ‘What about your family?’

    ‘I’ve given them enough.’

    ‘You can’t just sacrifice your…come back!’ shouted Steph after him. Saul kept with the walking, his long dark blue trench-coat flapping in the gust.

    ‘What about your family…Saul?!’ 
    Foley had been carried from his sister’s room – he was sure, and Bimpe - Sarah’s friend - had helped in the carrying. Foley’s eyes and inhalation dragged in the filthy state of his bedroom, the litter of beer cans and crusted plates.

How Foley had got to living in such squalor was a total mystery to him and the burgeoning embarrassment of his foulness never once transmuted into a cleaning day. He considered his job of mimicry, how it had become his life; the T-shirt and red jacket, the jeans and yellow belt that kept the intense January winter cold out well, that Technicolor garb was no longer uniform, it had long since graduated to Foley’s every day wear. The ceiling-bound man-size poster of himself may as well have been a mirror hovering over him. 

    Questions hammered and hacked at his chosen subject: Did Stephanie Tent visualise the Superman logo and think of the man of Steel, or did she – like him - think of Spiderfingers? Such torturous masturbatory daydreaming.

    ...Until a bellyache supreme ignited and fired upward to his chest...
 Bimpe had persuaded his parents for their air loom of youth, a forever-dusty black Volkswagen Beetle, a chugging quaint vehicle driving along the motorway, driven by Sarah.

    She considered taking the car as collateral for Bimpe’s unpaid rent (how Bimpe had convinced Sarah to pay for his rent for the last two months she didn’t know), not that it was in great condition – not at all – but somehow she had settled into the frequent commandeering of the car, always at a moment’s notice. She couldn’t lie to herself, the relish of inconveniencing Bimpe aligning itself perfectly with her belief in cosmic balance.

    ‘Serves him right!’ shouted Sarah as she pushed the accelerator, hands tightening around the freezing rough feel of the steering wheel, ‘Foley goes out and fucks himself up, on drink, on drugs, and wants to come with us, expects to pollute my day? I’ve had enough of it. Time to give it all up – lead my own life.’

    ‘What do we do when we get there?’ asked Bimpe sheepishly into the rear-view mirror.

    ‘I’m lonely he says – I’m in need. Fuck Bimpe, when are you gonna sort out the heater in this thing? Shit, I can feel the winter in here, I can see my breath and…shit, Sorry,’ sighs Sarah turning to face Bimpe’s understanding pink irises.

    ‘Sokay,’ said Bimpe, ‘Sarah, how are we gonna get to see Stephanie Tent?’

    ‘We don’t exactly look like family do we.’ agreed Sarah smiling without humour.

    ‘How the hell do you know she’s staying at Bellyhue?’

    ‘Bellevue.’ corrected Sarah, ‘People talk, bloodsucking journo’s, they chit chat in circles that have only turned up in their best clothes to catch up and spread bullshit, like they feed off the responses of others or something, their social lives confused with their over-hyped professional crap. So happens that most celebrity bullshit is true.’

    ‘If she agrees to teach you how to write I mean, wow…cool, afternoon well spent dude. What do you think she’s like in person? Reckon she’s just kooky or like bat-shit crazy?’

    ‘I think she’s alone B, her loneliness is all over her writing. Steph needs someone to be her friend.’
    Steph had chosen to dive into the sea of stars despite knowing nothing about it. The piercing ringing noise, the uncomfortable sensation of being shocked by static electricity again and again, and the powerful uncompromising sea currents, they jostled Steph into the deep waters. This was her aquatic hell. 

And there, something smoky and wispy, a liquid of darkest purple funnelled through the glittering water. Helpless was she in her resistance, the substance snatching around, strong as a wrestlers arm, yanking her torso into the glowing folds of the starry sea she had been swimming atop and only moments before. Down she dived, dragged down and under...deeper…and…further…and…then...The window. The opening to her below-surface house was wide open and Steph could barely comprehend the reality of the snaking purple liquid shooting out of it, muscling her inside, betraying her to the wooden floor of its front room. No, the room didn’t flood because this is Steph’s adventure - logic will not impinge upon its nature...

    The house may have been silent but the ruby splattered décor screamed volumes of murderous history. A chronicle, a happening, one that Steph’s eyes couldn’t evade, no matter how much she remembered to inhale mouth-ways, the stale miasma would siphon its reek up her nose.

She picked herself up, but the achievement took herculean effort, her arms and legs exhausted from her swimming. She staggered through an exit to a front corridor, a passageway scattered with Dilf bodies. The macabre sight didn’t surprise her.

    Speed was all that mattered now.

    Taking to the flight of stairs, opening the first door she came to, Steph stumbled into the enclosure, an unfurnished room, again, full of Dilf bodies.
    …and she noticed the mirrors across the walls. Mirrors.

    ‘The Gallery of Mirrors.’ she whispered.

    Each mirror offered her a choice. Each choice was an exact duplication of the attic she stood within. Except, the window in these 'reflections' revealed a differing climate. She could see the vague look of snowy lands behind one, sunny tropics shining out from beyond another, locations aplenty waited upon her choosing.

    ‘This is it, time to go adventuring into the big unknown…’

    ‘Do you even know where you’re going?’ said the croaky voice from behind.

    ‘Wha – who are you? Are you part of my head?’ said Steph spinning to meet the girl in the blue dress and white apron, rucksack slung to the one side.

    ‘Not part of your head Stephanie…you’re not in there anymore. Look around you,’ continued the girl with the cold and calm delivery, ‘This is the main HQ, Turnpike Lane, not just a remembrance but the real place. You’re powerful but you can’t just wish yourself into the Oma, your subconscious brought you here, to me.’

    ‘You’re Alice…’

    ‘Bingo,’ confirmed Alice, ‘We need to get Handy Andy to Nightingale,’ she said patting her bag, ‘where’s Saul?’

    ‘He gave up…the coward.’

    ‘Old news.’ replied Alice.

    ‘I wanted to believe, y’know?’ continued Steph looking around the room, its many bodies, ‘I read Spiderfingers notes on the Discordians and…I wanted to believe that because of Vicky he’d stopped being a coward…’

    ‘For the record where did you last see him?’

    ‘Up here,’ said Steph tapping on her temple, ‘Saul’s in my head.’

    ‘Good, you’ll need all the invulnerability you can get.’

    ‘Invulnerability?’ asked Steph running her hand through her hair still smouldering. Alice patted her holdall saying, ‘Handy here says you have Anubis’ hunting beast on your tail?’

    Steph began nodding frantically as her mind fixated on the recent sight of the huge wolf creature, the Goliath chasing her through the internet café,

    ‘You can kill that thing?’ asked Steph

    ‘Don’t be silly, I only kill gods.’

    ‘Er, sure,’ replied Steph, ‘like that makes complete sense.’

    ‘A sense of humour? Good, you’ll need it.’

    'Damn right I will,' said Steph, 'I mean, this place is in my head, but I've never been here before. Spiderfingers did this to me - I know it.'

    'Operation Genie Bottle.'

    Steph backed into a wall slumping with worry, 'Huh?'

    'You're a way to save the world,' Alice said approaching her, 'Spider always knew that he was eventually going to get killed one day, so he and a few others infiltrated the lives of artists, writers, directors, anyone with the ability to render his story into the market place. The gods wouldn't know where to send their minions. They wouldn't even be a target to kill. How do you kill a product?'

    'So, what...he wanted me to steal - er - to use Hero worship?'

     Alice nodded, 'Writing about Spiderfingers was only part of the alchemy. He's left an effigy in your house somewhere. Anything in your room that you care about? Something with fire for hair?'

'Danger-Man', Gideon's Play-Doh man on the side of my bed, thought Steph, the man with the red hat. It wasn't a red hat, it was hair, red flaming hair... 

    'What does the effigy do?'

    'With a Grapple worm inside it functions as a transmitter.'

    'How is that even possible.'

    'The world has rules that lay beyond what you used to consider...possible,' continued Alice, 'Spiderfingers is not at all as powerful as he'd like his enemies to know. Their fear of him comes down to the stories he's had his worshipers believe. Unfortunately, what we did to pass his consciousness onto you is not an exact science. You absorbed enough to protect yourself, because now the gods can see you.'

    'I know. Someone in my head told me. A man with blue skin. To convert me was pretty easy, right? All you guys had to do was approach me during writer's block with some bullshit about Babushka stories.'

    Alice's brow furrowed, and then it eased as though emotion was something she dared not explore, 'They took a long time for us to get right.'

    'You helped?'

     Alice nodded, 'Bradley the Boy Wonder is a perfect allegory for the masturbatory nature of gods, although, it's the construct of the tales that we used to reel you in.'

    'Red Herrings. Stories as bait. There was no main theme.'


    'What is it?' asked Steph.

    'Easy. What do gods want? What is it that they care about the most? The answer is sur - '

    A loud crash of wood and glass blasted from downstairs.

    ‘It’s here, c’mon,’ said Alice holding out her small hand, ‘Stay close – don’t let go. I’ll show you how having a crazed hunting minion chase you can double as an express ticket to the old country…’

N   E   X   T      T   I   M   E      I    N
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    ‘I know of the algebra-killer,’ pleads Hara as she is led away, ‘I know when it's done with your brother it'll seek to ruin you. Please, you and Bimpe are in terrible danger!’

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