Tuesday, February 7. 2012
Oblivion roiled. Its spiralling power whipped and twisted, propelled by winds unknown. Coils reached out and brushed the edge. The amphitheatre groaned, tilting slightly. The shadows had long since fled, even they could not stand its gnawing on their souls. Yet toward the heart of nothing something moved. The crow soared from the tunnel, lunging toward the stage. It landed beside a shattered door and pecked at the wood. A tiny glimmer of light fell from a crack. The crow snapped it up immediately. One beady eye lifted to a towering figure who had not been there a moment ago.
“Thought you'd be down here,” it croaked.
The figure gathered its robe about it. Sequins shined in Oblivion's black light like stars of rust. Its angular mask bowed, the curved beak extending almost to its waist.
“I find myself in need of a favour. But one simple request,” parroted the crow.
The birdman spoke “To absorb without losing. To portray but not overshadow. To play and then to fade,”
The crow ruffled its feathers. “Yeah, yeah. It was pretty good, if you like not making sense,”
One jewelled eye looked down. “I find myself in need of a favour. But one simple request,”
The crow's beak opened then shut.
The birdman turned away. “Perhaps you are busy,” It glided away, toward the tunnel entrance.
The crow hopped after, wings aflutter. “Hey now, I didn't say that. I'm already in to me neck with the bosses. They're gonna throw a fit when they hear you let a live one down here,”
“No more alive than they themselves,”
The crow caught up the birdman, careful never to touch the robe. “Yes well, that's a point of view. Now what ya need?”
It stopped, jerking to a strange halt. The head twisted until the mask faced behind, looking right at the stumbling crow. “You are a carrion crow,”
“Can we fast forward to the job?” the crow interjected.
The mask tilted to one side, perhaps put out. “I have need of an eye,”
The crow leapt into the air, flapping the few feet to land on a step before the birdman. Its mask turned to follow. “My speciality. What you want it for?” the crow asked. It did not expect a straight answer. It was not disappointed.
“What is the difference between comedy and tragedy?”
The crow pondered a moment. “Like, funny haha?”
The birdman spoke only to itself. “Something to do with the ending,”
Sunday, February 5. 2012
It rained. It poured. Red rivulets ran down twisted sculptures of steel. The ground was riven with craters, in which the waters congregated. The rain blotted out out the sky, the world, everything but the next few meters of tortured ground. Angela stumbled over a jutting of black tarmac and jerked to a halt. Unbidden, visions of tumbling into the stained waters rushed through her mind. She wiped the wet from her face and looked for something to wash such shadows away. He loomed out of the rain behind her. Even beaten by the rain Orpheus glowed. He walked right into her, zombie-like. Angela grabbed at him but her footing was lost. She went over the side, reaching for him to no avail. The waters reached out to swallow her.
Angela sat up. Rust lapped around her ankles. She looked up at sodden Orpheus. He seemingly awoke and slid down the side of the crater. She refused his arm.
Continue reading "Chapter 7: Exeunt Omnes"
Sunday, January 22. 2012
Angela's head jerked. The darkness faded, taking the dream with it.
"Visiting hours are over soon miss," The nurse smiled down at her sweetly. Behind her the ward lights flickered, their sterile light illuminating a row of beds. The nurse had such strange eyes. Heterochromia she supposed. The nurse moved onto the next bed. A monitor beeped. One of those strange machines they kept in hospitals, it had pinged every moment she had been here. How long had she been here? Angela wondered if the machine would keep going even unplugged. Blearily she followed its wires. They led into the patient seated before her.
The patient's thin voice jolted her fully awake. “Overdoing it again,”
“Mom?” Angela said.
“You dozed off on me. Have you been sleeping properly?” She was a thin woman, though perhaps that was what hospital food did to you.
“Mom I...” Angela puzzled over how to complete that sentence. Then her mouth gave up on her brain. “I'm fine mom,”
“Fine people do not nod off while visiting their parents in hospital. It'll be that Isley girl keeping you up all night,”
“I haven't seen Natalie in weeks, mom,” Not since Natalie had got a job, thought Angela privately.
“Hmm,” Lips were pursed and Angela was treated to a disapproving look. She always tried not to look guilty. She always failed.
Then her mother Rachael smiled. “It was good to see you dear,”
Angela bit her lip. “I'm glad you're doing well,”
Rachael sighed and the moment was gone. “Though I wish you'd talk to Uncle Vinny about that placement,”
“I'm planning to next week,” Angela lied. She rose from the chair. The ward was quiet. There were no other visitors and the patients were settling in for the night. One of them noticed her staring. He waved, his lined face lighting up in a grin. Angela gave a surreptitious wave back, feeling awkward.
“I should get going mom,” she said, returning to her mother's disapproving glare.
Rachael nodded. “I suppose,”
Angela embraced her in a hug. Her mother felt frail but also cold. She leaned back with concern.
“Are you alright?”
“I'll be fine, dear,” Rachael touched her daughter's cheek. Her hand was like ice.
“Holy- you're freezing,”
“I'm fine,” Rachael insisted
“Let me ask for another blanket,” without waiting for another stubborn reply Angela moved away in search of the nurse.
The old man winked at her as she passed. “Lass,” he called out but she merely smiled back, walking on.
The other patients did not look up. One was deep in conversation with a doctor who, for reasons beyond Angela's understanding, wore sunglasses. Some people. Angela passed blacked out windows, fighting an odd pang to see outside. The nurse busied herself at the final bed in the ward. It was set a little apart from the others though the curtains were not drawn. The final patient was not like the others. He was laid out like a cadaver, shrouded utterly in a body cast. Signatures were scrawled on one of the arms. There was a window left in the plaster, so he could look out. Angela peeked but his eyes were squeezed shut. A faint murmuring could be heard.
“Excuse me,” Angela said.
The nurse left down the chart, hanging from the end of the bed “Yes?”
Angela could only make out the number on it. Patient #667. “It's my mother. Could she get an extra blanket?”
“Why of course,” the nurse moved toward a cabinet. “It can get chilly these winter nights,”
Angela followed, lowering her voice. “What happened to him?”
When the nurse looked nonplussed she indicated the plastered patient. The nurse sighed.
“Oh,” she pulled out a blanket, turning it over as checked it. Then she led the way back down the ward. Angela chased after her.
“You don't want to know,” said the nurse suddenly. The doctor looked up as they passed. He gave the nurse a nod. She returned it.
“You know when you say that it makes me want to know even more,” Angela said.
The nurse smiled “Nothing wrong with asking questions, I suppose,” Then she let Angela draw closer “He played with fire,” She whispered conspiratorially.
Continue reading "Chapter 6: Passion"
Sunday, October 23. 2011
Will’s voice faded into the distance, carried off by rattling carriages. Orpheus bestrode the platform, the slightest of hitches in his gait. He waved Angela off every time she tried to help him. The bare outcrop of concrete could barely be called a station. There were no turnstyles, no buildings and no staff. Only a single post sprouted from the mass of grey and perched upon it sat a clock. Angela looked beyond, to gravelly slopes that led into the maw of the mists. The desolation felt almost beautiful.
“Cheerful,” she announced.
“For the dead,” Orpheus replied, eyes fixed upon the clock. The second hand skimmed round, inflicting a noisy ticking upon the station. He limped toward it, metal in hand.
“So do we wait here or try to find the dock?” asked Angela, eyes upon the roiling fog.
Orpheus said nothing or rather nothing distinct. He lifted his hands, lips voicing a language Angela could not place. The metal spun from his fingers, webbing about itself. Angela watched him weave. When he was done an assemblage of cogs clicked erratically. It didn't match the clock's time at all.
“The dock,” he said.
She couldn’t help herself. “Couldn’t you have just brought a watch?”
He grunted. “Time works funny here,”
“Then how does building a clock help?” she asked flatly.
“Will gave me train time. Syncing this with the station clock'll give a point of reference so that, no matter what time we end up in on the road we'll keep to the right time once we get there,”
Angela jumped off the edge of the platform. She barely felt the impact and the gravel did not displace. She called back up “That made so little sense it killed me,”
Continue reading "Chapter 5: Theatre of Dreams"
Wednesday, August 17. 2011
The windows rattled as the carriage heaved around a bend. Orpheus lay on one side of the cabin, his limbs slack.
The conductor stood back. “There, he’ll sleep for a while and be the better for it,”
Angela looked uncertain. “Does it work on someone who’s alive?”
He tapped his cap. “Do you believe it does?”
Angela didn't know what to say to that. The conductor looked her up and down.
“So where are you going?”
“Um,” Angela said.
Like he tells us anything.
The conductor frowned. “Voices again?”
“What? No, I’m fine,” Angela stared studiously out the window. They were passing a strange pit around which were great fields of barbed wire. When she looked back the conductor was fixing his cap.
“Don’t trust everything you hear,”
Continue reading "Underworld - Interlude"
Friday, April 22. 2011
They saw the banner before they saw the station. Draped across the building it shone through the mists. The symbol emblazoned across it was unfamiliar. Indeed it shifted uncomfortably under Angela's eyes. The station could not match its splendour. Did not match its splendour. When more than just the frame became distinct. The frame was all that was left of it. What had once been a fine red brick building was a bombed out wreck. The surroundings were scattered with debris, half sunken into the grey soil. Closer still, Angela could see it was alive. People worked on the walls, clearing junk and repairing cracks.
“Did a storm hit?” she asked.
“Probably,” Orpheus grunted back.
Guards lined the entrance. They were nothing like the men of the outpost. Their armour matched, their guns were maintained and their eyes followed the pair endlessly. One held out a hand to Orpheus as he started up the steps.
Orpheus took a step back, drawing further beneath his cloak. He thrust a hand out, offering a scrap of yellow paper to the soldier.
“Here,” he said gruffly.
The soldier took the page and gave it a thorough reading.
“What about her?” he said, pointing at Angela.
She was getting good. All it took was a glance to know Orpheus was swearing silently.
“You reaped her?” The guard's tone went from flat to suspicious.
“And you have a permit for that,”
Orpheus mumbled something she didn't catch.
The guard looked up the steps. “Get Adameus down here,”
They hung there on the steps watched and surrounded.
Continue reading "Chapter 4: A script torn"
Tuesday, March 29. 2011
The road wound into the mists. It wrapped back on itself several times. In fact at one point it ran parallel to itself. All that time it went in a straight line. Orpheus seemed unperturbed, munching on beef jerky. Angela was beginning to accept the weirdness. It hurt not to be hungry though. Her hand touched her mouth, searching for breath that never came.
What use is food to the dead?
Those weird thoughts too, that seemed to just arise from the dark recesses of the mind. Like the urge to thump the noisy chewer ahead of her.
Continue reading "Chapter 3: Broken Props"
Monday, March 21. 2011
It was cold though Angela felt not cold. It was dark though Angela could see. And always, always the mist accompanied them. It wrapped the world in a shroud, sapping colour and light. What little there was to begin with. There were buildings sometimes, hollow shells that crumbled in stillness. Sometimes there were the shapes of trees, black outlines that stretched skyward with a thousand fingers. Most often was just featureless, grey clay that crumbled in her hand and sank beneath her feet. It rolled on into eternity, destroy all sense of direction. Not that that stopped him.
Continue reading "Chapter 2: Toward Carcosa"
Monday, March 7. 2011
Angela floated through dreams. She drifted peacefully through memories. She nestled in heaven. She did not know how long she had been at peace. There had been an outside once. She could peer out through the walls of her cocoon at vague buildings and noises. They didn't matter though. Her thoughts did not move, drifting through lazy fog. She saw an image of herself, lying peacefully on the ground. Her hair lay spilled out around her, skirt rippling in the breeze. There was blood, nothing like the liquid that now submerged her, warm and safe.
Something moved in the world beyond. A black shadow loomed overhead. Angela gazed up at it dreamily. It seemed of little consequence. Nothing mattered outside the cocoon. The shadow struck. Her cocoon rocked. It attacked again. The cocoon tore open. Fluid gushed from the hole. Angela gazed up at a great hooked beak and screamed.
Continue reading "Chapter 1: Lines are forgotten"
Sunday, March 6. 2011
“Sometimes, when an actor forgets their lines, another must fill the void. Sometimes, when a prop goes astray, a stage hand must restore the scene. Above all else, the show must go on,”
“No mom,” Angela sighed into the phone.
“Yes mom,” She held it away from her face. Then brought it close enough to say “I'm not,”
Cars rumbled outside.
“Look, I really have to go,”
The door swung open to a blast of bustle outside.
“I have to meet Drew. Not for what you're thinking,” Angela patted down her dress.
“I'm sorry. I promise I'll get to the hospital tonight,” She clicked the phone closed.
From across the street Angela noticed him. Despite her hurry she slowed down to watch him. He moved with easy confidence that belied his dress. Goggles, packs, leathers. Was he on his way to a convention? She spied herself in a shop window and checked herself. The dress didn't seem to go quite so well with her hair now. Her gaze moved back and he was still there, strolling through the crowds. Other people threw glances but such strangeness was not out of the ordinary.
Angela paused on the curb, then crossed the street. A car roared at her but she was out of its way before it came near. One man crossing the other way gave it the finger. She loitered at the bus stop, waiting for him to pass. When he did it was disappointing. He simply passed and that was it. She couldn't say what he was looking for, and the contraptions poking out of his bags were mundane close up.
Without another thought for him she turned back the way she came. Her phone rang and she yanked it from the bag. A man driving a pram started on the road towards her. She had just raised the phone to her ear when she heard the screech. The world slowed down. She gazed placidly at the car skidding out of the way of the pram. Then it hit her.
Angela tried to gulp but could taste only blood. Someone far away was screaming. The asphalt felt warm and soothing. Hands touched her chest.
“She's fading, get her on the bed,”
The screaming sounded like her phone alarm. She tried to ask if anyone had found her phone but the words were bubbles. Her eyes didn't seem to work right either.
“I'm her boyfriend,” It was a handsome voice. A little rough around the edges. Angela tried to turn her head to see the speaker. I'm dying said a little voice but it too was far away.
There were more hands on her chest.
“Sir, step out of the way,”
Someone whispered in her ear. “Sorry about this,”
She wondered what such a handsome voice had to apologise for. She wondered until her breath stopped.
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