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, his brain dragging the final door open, anything is possible. Operation Genie Bottle is possible.
Entry Four Hundred and Three
The late evening had begun like many a night before: frosty, as one would expect from the dusk of February, a month doing its level best to ape the chill of the yuletide season. All the cold with none of the X Mas frills. A jealous lover, unable to stand comparison to Winter rivals, lashing lightening overhead, dashing England with unrelenting downpour.
Oh, the terror-wind, such fierce gales forcing empty aluminium waste to clatter along wet pavement, the noise playing out as incidental music for murder in the steel heart of the kingdom. Lowly scum that pledged allegiance to none erupted out of shadows, only to be torn to pieces by an animal of the dark, a creature that took pleasure in allowing its prey to believe itself to be anything but. More rolling cans clanging, the sound close to laughter, a roaring joviality at the expense of creatures sent to assassinate the chaos god. A cardboard box laid high-five’s to the road, each slap a joyful celebration of triumph as signs outside shops careened over to applaud the beast, the pet of the defiant – neigh – the unstoppable, Spiderfingers.
He disregarded unbridled screams of his would-be hunters as they tore their finger-tips, monsters dragged unceremoniously along wet streets into the blackness that they’d mistaken as sanctuary. Those cracks in narrow desolate alleys, those places dripping with fright, smooth pebbled groves running with the blood of lifeforms invisible to the mortal eye. Occasionally, he beat his enemies for information concerning the huge expedition to Europe and Eastern Asia:
“The High-Father commanded many regiments to cross the oceans to find you. He couldn’t understand you staying on this island. Tell me why, before you kill me?” Spiderfingers whispered the name of his pet
More command than name, a summoning, to silence the jabbering of foes, all those unheeded questions. Rooenn: A nine foot long withered humanoid with a heavy clinking shackle mangled over its face. Always on all fours, always hungry. His pet appeared with a swiftness, its skin of grey decay, its face mummified by metal links, the monster, erupting out of nowhere, slashing and barbing the minion to death with six inch talons.
“Rooenn …” whispered Spiderfingers, “Rooenn the Terrorsmith.”
Once Rooenn completed its mission and slid back into the kennel of dark imagination, the sky began to rumble, as if on cue from some hidden director. Down came the rain as Spiderfingers shrugged off the paranoia of being watched. Focus, he told himself, just because you don’t have back-up, just because you’re doing this show alone now, doesn’t mean you have to completely lose it. Of course you’re being watched, that’s why it’s good to have your little terror on its leash, always ready to play fetch.
For Spiderfingers, the play had just begun. And so, the idle wandering. And thus the marauding for more foolish idolaters. And then, the mistake, his strutting into a bad place, for all his interrogations warned him to steer clear of West London, its minions being as unpredictable as they were powerful. Feral mutants, wild descendants of Abu-San, enchanted fighters who swore allegiance to the many houses of the desert idol. They were a proud army. One of them tussled with Spiderfingers in the fruit and veg aisle of a supermarket.
Hopping from one body to the next made for confused combat, the nimble killer sifting from checkout assistant, to ineffectual security guard, to manager-phoning-police, to random customer and back again. Spiderfingers paused for a second, chuckling against the body he propped himself up against as the light rain fell. How many times had he hit people as the Jinn flew out of them? How many jaws had he crushed in his attempt to thrash that non corporal bastard, flitting from one host to the next? He couldn’t be sure. He giggled to himself, his pen taking to the page once again: Somehow, without laying a blow to innocent men and women, Spiderfingers tackled his sprightly antagonist into a trolley.
“No more body hopping for you, not where you’re waking up.”
Out the entrance he pushed his prisoner, into the deluge, driving his shopping cart through the car park and out onto Acton High Street. Then? Then, the walking, the long trek to Perivale. He realised the significance of his movements. West London meant something to John Clay, almost as much as Camden Town meant to Spiderfingers, Acton being the location of John Clay’s schooling. Perivale was a field the school used to host football competitions. A big stretch of green where he’d learnt how to sit on the sub bench, watching bigger, more able athletes win attention, respect and trophies. Tonight, Spiderfingers rattled his shopping trolley along (One meat product. Knocked unconscious. Ready to be served hot or cold), over muddy fields, far into the trees at least fifteen minutes’ walk from the road to Ealing. As he pushed his snoozing adversary, shoving the wet steely contraption through waterlogged mush, he grabbed the device from his pocket, that wire doll Vicky had tailored to his touch.
The twisted spokes interpreted the movements of his mouth and the sounds filtering out of it. His words transmitted through his body, out through his coat, into the trolley, out through the paving slabs and into the network of London attuned to Vicky’s unique and invisible dominance. His words blasted at the speed of sound through the chain of objects ‘talking’ to each other:
“The Babushka Doll Stories are my invention.” He ran through the line, over and over, his intent spooling round a receiver that in turn deposited his mantra into the mind that slept next to it. A mind far, far away. His words made a home inside, infecting the brain with one singular idea.
After much trekking, he reached Perivale’s far end, dumped the comatose body into a particularly swampy area, then waited, patiently, standing sentry over his ‘shopping’ as the deluge soaked through the hood of his top. He waited, watching his enemy stir. Lines fit for a slasher movie snuck out of his gritted teeth:
“Where the fuck am I? Those are the words you’re looking for.”
“Who are you?” replied the minion, all confused holding his head, trying to peer up past the fall of the heavens.
“Playing dumb is not a good start. We’ll discuss your BS in a moment. Now, Forrest ... it’s time for you to run.” The man didn’t need another prompt. Up he stumbled, nearly keeling over in his clumsy dash for safety. Thunder boomed and lightening chased its terrifying clap of doom.
Spiderfingers felt the surreal tickle of Deja-vu. Some dream he’d had many months past, perhaps a year ago? Him, running as a boy, afraid of ... something. Something big. Determinedly, he returned pen to paper, steadying his diary in his hands as his back slouched a little more into the dead body behind him.
The darkness will not hinder my stalking, I can smell him, thought Spiderfingers taking his time in the pursuit, like a cat with its scurrying helpless food.
“Please, oh god, please, I don’t want trouble.” Pleaded the man, “Take my wallet and I swear I won’t go to the police, I swear it on my daughter’s life, I swear –”
“You’re not reading the lines right,” replied Spiderfingers keeping his stalking distance, “See, this is where you spit and shout and call up to your gods. Rooenn!”
The rainfall stopped, almost instantly, as if an unseen stage hand had shut off the sprinkler backdrop far too quickly, setting off a chain reaction of abruptness applicable to the operator of sound and lighting, actors nimbly following suite. The bewildered man expressed utter confusion only to be pushed out the way by something grey and slick. From his falling place, the man twitched, looking in as many directions as possible. The rattle of the heavy chain had no discernible source, for terror desires its victims to realise its territory is worldwide. Under his hands, above his head, from behind his ears, the terrible shivering of metal rustled everywhere. Up he pounced, like a cornered rodent, all pathetic on his knees, staring Rooenn in the eye. Rooenn bit a thumb clean off the man whose noiseless unimaginable misery was identical of that moment. That horrible top of the rollercoaster moment new parents discover when they witness their new born receive brutal injury for the first time. The baby never cries straight away and the wideness of the infants mouth seems to suck all air out of the area. There’s always that horrifying gorge of a pause that sucks the courage out of those nearby, drains noble people of bravery before the room fills with suffering. A wailing without end.
Spiderfingers grimaced at the horror he’d painted across the face of his fallen foe. A dark comprehension streaked the brow of this helpless pawn, unnecessary flourishes in all the shades of torment. He inspected his victim’s line of sight, twitching eyes which tracked the length of the blood spattered cord tied around Rooenn’s face. The tether trailed down to the grass, then along, upward; the long lead of metal links drawn tight about the left forearm of he that must save the planet. The divinity who would do anything to save his adopted home world. Rooenn prowled to his master’s side, one ice cold eye peering out through his halter-mask. The eye bore no pupil and resembled the look of an ice-cube.
“Why me?” whimpered the hapless abductee, body-frozen. Death-bound.
“Why?” Spiderfingers knelt down to face his victim at eye-level, “You still wanna play dumb?” He pointed at his head, “See this?” The fiery bonfire that crowned his head spurted with new life, “You still wanna pretend that you don’t have the scent of my birth right? Your forefathers at least had the balls to admit their compulsion to help their gods ruin lives. But they believed in their divine leaders, didn’t they? You? You spend your years’ worth of life on maiming and killing your kin, for fun. Many generations of minion-kind, the majority completely unaware of why they’re here. As a wise-man once said, I find your lack of faith disturbing.” Rooenn pounced from his masters heel and began to savage vulnerable human flesh. Abdomen, left ankle, an ear, great bloodletting hunks chewed off both his thighs. Soon – the hands. First fingers, then the palms themselves. Spiderfingers yanked the chain of the creature to keep his hostage alive.
“There was a time I’d have a big problem with this. There was a time I’d venture into the Oma to imprison you in a secret cave beneath my honorary village. I’d have done anything to protect the body you’d stole, even if the soul inside had permanently disappeared. My followers demanded this altruism of me, and I can’t deny it didn’t feel just. But the sun set on that way of being a long, long time ago.” Spiderfingers quit writing in his journal, spat on the nearby remains, and got to his feet.
He wiped blood from his boots, scuffing the guts against a tree trunk.
He walked away from yet another murder scene.
The trek along the High Road bored him and so his gumption to reopen his diary took hold. The cold bellowing breath of nature threatened to flip the pages, but he kept them pried still as he read the recent entry. He discovered reasons for redrafting. Soon, the light of dawn began to swell and slip ups in tense and a lack of clarity in his record-making shrivelled in priority. His soul returned. Morality. The recollections of what he’d somehow enjoyed only an hour or so before became a dark preview to a show he couldn’t sanction. He raced back to Perivale, shocked at what he found there: carnage now viewed with all the mental doors of amorality slammed shut. The upturned trolley; the dismembered body parts scattered around it. He wondered about the logistics of burying evidence, a macabre reality that Hollywood had given him the power to create. Only the noise of a tractor woke him to action, not to mention his feeling of being spied on. His running away felt a little more dignified in its execution, but only a little.
“Your death seals the fate of billions.”
He wouldn’t be caught by authorities unable to grasp the intricacies of his crime. No prison time for him. So, he ran, an impossible run, a journey totalling in hours. A venture of herculean requirement. Upon reaching Cromwell Toy Factory, he crumbled into a pile of aching bruises. The heap he collapsed into vowed to never again permit its brain to rouse his feeble limbs to movement. He surprised himself with the sprinting, how there were no pit stops, no rests whatsoever. He lay spent, his back pressed against the uneven dirt of the concrete floor. He drank desperate fatigued breaths from the arid atmosphere of his squat. His eyes closed. He fancied never opening them again, not unless he heard the weep and sorrow of weaklings that needed a hero, one prepared to sacrifice his very soul for the greater good. However, there were no cries for help, just a voice. The patronising tones of Doctor Kwame.
“Oh, John, we really ought to get you back to Bellevue.”
When Doctor Kwame pulled him off the floor, he knew, somehow, after all the years of resistance, the dam of sanity he’d fought so desperately to maintain had caved.
“I know you’re not real.” He hated himself for the idiocy of his statement, and he despised Doctor Kwame’s arm support. No matter how much he tried, he couldn't perceive lifting his wrecked body to its feet, not without the helping hands of the psychiatrist.
“If you want to impress me, tell me why? Why conjure me?” Spiderfingers laughed at the audacity of his hallucination. What could my mind possibly say to me next?
“We’re here because you need us.” Doctor Kwame motioned across the factory floor to Silberman’s hunched presence. His note taking so frantic that Spiderfingers put his hands to his ears to shut it out. “Living in Bellevue – despite it being better for everyone – was sending you round the bend. Crazy is not conducive to survival, is it John?”
“It’s Spi-der-fin-gers. Now, fuck off, so I can go back to saving the world.”
“What, with this?” Doctor Silberman held up his notepad, “This, Operation Genie Bottle?”
“Put that down! Wait,” Spiderfingers laughed, “I’m talking to myself.”
“It’s all here: Operation Genie Bottle, the revised version, apparently. Here, it’s even got a copyright symbol.”
“You’re not here.” He pulled his hoodie down, closed his eyes, poking his fingers into his eardrums. You’re not here.
“To make Operation Genie Bottle, one must first gather ingredients. One Hyper-fiction, one Grapple-Worm, one artist – preferably single with no kids. They must have an unhealthy desire for world adulation. One of their possessions twisted into a transmitter of consciousness. Interesting.”
Spiderfingers slapped himself, “Stop seeing them.”
“I think you’ve had enough of a vacation. Hara was right, time to head back to Bellevue and think of others, not your ego. Time for you to stop ruining lives.” He slapped himself again and again.
“You can save the world just by locking yourself away. Not showy, but safe.”
“I’m not going back to the loony bin. You can stick your padded cell up your – what is it? What now?” Spiderfingers, shook Doctor Kwame by the neck.
“You were never in a padded cell, John. They just don’t use them anymore.” Spiderfingers received quick images of himself at a writer’s desk.
“You have fantasies of screaming in a straightjacket, but we don’t use those either.” More images of his note taking sliced through his mind.
“I don’t wanna hear this. I’m a little messed up, but I was there. I …”
“Why don’t you stop writing and start reading your diary, John?” Silberman walked across and observed silently as he handed the faded aquamarine book to the now kneeling chaos god. Spiderfingers snatched at the book waggling in his face, his writing hand rushing sentences onto a blank page.
“Why don’t you stop writing and start reading your diary, John?”
“I’m in Bellevue still, right? Under a trance that’s gone wrong?”
“Don’t be a Neanderthal. You summoned us here because you want to – need to – get better. There’s a planet dependent on you for survival. Need we remind you of the last person you killed? He wasn’t a minion and yet you killed him anyway. Stop writing, start living. You can begin by reading your diary.” He chucked his pen away, closing his journal in one fluid decisive movement.
“But I know what’s in there.”
“Then there’s no harm in a little review, is there?”
He moved away from the apparition of Doctor Kwame, floating a few inches off the ground. Unreal, and yet, it spoke clearly without malice. Spiderfingers opened the book at the middle.
“No!” hollered Doctor Kwame. “You never read your early entries. John, stop trying to escape the truth. Start at the beginning.”
Spiderfingers did so, worried as to the truth opening up in his palms.
Midday solar naturalism replaced by the familiar scrutiny of the overhead strobe as the psychoanalyst stood close by the locked entrance.
“I ... I don’t understand what you’re trying to prove.”
“Oh come on, try to remember?” He moved back a little as Doctor Kwame sidled up to him “You had a window, a beautiful view. But you hate the memory of your stay, how humane your quarters were. That’s just for starters, what do you make of this?” Doctor Kwame ran his finger along a paragraph.
From day one, his violent episodes predictably resulted in immediate protective solitary confinement; performances without violence could have easily fallen flat, regardless of his white robe of a costume, despite his rational delivery of his fantastical worldview.
“You imagined wearing a white robe, because that’s what you’d seen in movies, comics, television shows that acquiesced to public fear of minds gone terribly sick.”
One act followed the next until the internal investment wore him out, barely cognitive for real-life entrants to his insignificant apartment.
“Six attendees, never three, the nurses remaining outside the dorm. Always leaving food and drink on the floor. No chance contact with a resident as violent as you. It’s only in the movies that staff make the mistakes you’ve taken for facts, so the persecuted hero can make his breakout.”
“I suffer hyper-persecution. An unhealthy – ” Doctor Kwame tilted his head and placed his finger between the pages of the diary, then flip them over to reveal:
No flicker of the eyes when the term Hyper-Psychosis was coined. Addictive Subscription to Childhood Trauma.
“These are terms I made up.”
“Embroidery for your make-believe.” replied the doctor.
“No,” Spiderfingers began to pace, “I went into the Earth, right?”
“Past all that molten rock, yes.”
“The gasses down there messed with my mind.”
“Did you visit Gaia before writing these fantasies? Before seeing us?” He held his diary to his head, clasping his dreads in a protective grip whilst his legs quickened their march up and down the factory floor.
“No John, Gaia’s vapours merely twisted your warped sanity a little more. Oh, come on, read your delusions and be free.” He watched helplessly as his doctor pulled his journal down back to eye level.
“I should be so lucky – he read the madness of yesteryear, tears streaming from his eyes – lucky, lucky, lucky!” But, Vicky’s insistent tones rung about his head, clearly, throughout the seclusion of his padded box.
“In the novelisation of your ordeal, you up the level of adversity. I tried to tell you in Rowberry Park: there are no padded cells anymore. John, they only exist in the movies now.”
“Stop calling me that. There is no more John Clay.”
“I can’t call you anything else, I’m sorry.” His eyes twitched through the tears, glaring through cracked glasses at Doctor Kwame. Of course he called him John. The representation of his therapist would never be able to call him Spiderfingers.
“Why, Doc? I don’t remember why I did this?”
“Let us remind you. Look at us.”
Spiderfingers stared at the Specialists. There they floated, twin projections, two imaginings conforming to his narrow and childlike version of authority. He remembered writing words:
A cream shirt and a lab coat. He rammed a fake moustache under his flared nostrils and cupped a smoking pipe against his hip.
The truth: Plain shirts, plain shoes, understanding faces, but also tiredness, a true earnest nature shining through fatigue. Undeniable professionalism, a quality that his fantasy doctors had not exhibited. That was not the way his imagination had created them. A god could not be in thrall to such good men, better for the demigod in question to see them as villains.
“I thought I deserved it, the experience I mean. I think … I think …”
“You can recover, John. You’ve already chosen to see me without that silly Bond villain smoking pipe. Complete your rehabilitation, head back to Bellevue? Begin a life of peace and noble solitude and –”
A clinking of restraints rattled throughout the room.
“What are you writing? Show us, don’t lock us out.”
“My stay at Bellevue was mundane. I understand and accept that now. I don’t need you anymore. In fact, I deserve something else.” A hissing rose between the walls before a voice spoke through gritted teeth:
“Can hope escape Smoke Filled Bowl? No. Chains lock, keep the black whole. When dark holds, High-father, see! Terror breeds. Evil, ignite, ignite, ignite. Rooenn damned Terrorsmith has bite, will bite, must bite.”
“John, Rooenn’s a fiction, a compartmentalisation of your anger and ill will. You –”
“– Ruin …”
“You call on him to take on the form of the world’s darkness, but now it’s time to stop. You are not a maniac, you save people’s –”
“– Lives.” The drag of metal upon concrete rumbled into the factory space.
“You aren’t a maniac, you save innocent people. You can do it right now, if you want? We could do it together. Wouldn’t you like to save someone?” More metallic rustling. The instrument of terror’s harbinger grew in volume.
“Nice try Doc, but I’m cured now. Come, take your medicine so I can be on my way. There’s a fight out there with my name on it.”
“Talking in action movie clichés? Would you take a look at yourself?” Something in one of the disused offices threw a chair into the main area. The missive narrowly missed Kwame’s face, “Look at yourself!”
“No need. I know exactly what I look like.” The clinking grew loud as the air filled with smoke. Spiderfingers grinned as the chinking of shackles rustled over his shoulder blade. “Come, come time to go below. Down, down into the smoke filled bowl. Purple planet’s heart chakra covered in cold. Grows on trespassers, will swallow you whole.” Doctor Silberman ran into Doctor Kwame sobbing, the smell of piss undeniable.
“Call him off, please, John?”
“Rooenn.” The blood from the swipes and cuts flew into his face as he smiled, towering above the mangle and mess that Rooenn made of doctor’s Kwame and Silberman.
“John ...” the chilling dialogue of death convulsed from the slit throats of both doctors. Vowels all twisted, hacked in half as the odd stop! machine-gunned out, each blurt shooting fourth in staccato yelps. Rooenn’s chain snagged tight about the arm of his master, the demigod now cross-legged on the cold factory floor. He flicked his diary open, pen in fist:
“From the new land of lights and magic, terror crosses the big sea. Kings of illusion, whores of the screen, your dog now kills for me.”
His pen drove across these last sentences, the names Kwame and Silberman wiping out his warped poetry, cutting through them, the stab of the nib puncturing deep. KWAME and SILBERMAN, stark black tattoos on the inside cover. Re-reading it a few times helped him crack a smile. He tore it out, and proceeded to rip the hardcover to pieces, driving the mess into his mouth. He swallowed, smiling. He used sunlight to create a shadow puppet, his wall-bound creation laughed at humour only he could hear, bellowing an attempt to drown out the banging. Boom, Boom, Boom, at his front door, Boom! Boom! Boom! 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.
N E X T T I M E I N
S P I D E R F I N G E R S
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(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.