I walk in the secret places at the bottoms of gardens. Daddy long legs glide impossible and gangly through the hedgerows. Horrified eyes of bird mothers defending their helpless young peer from thickets. My feet slip off paving slabs without a trace. Mud finds not whisper of my footprints. Text itself —- — —- — —–…
I watch the orange fox. He stares me down. Go away little fox. Go back to wife and kiddies in a hole somewhere. Scurry away unharmed and care for little wife and kiddies. Back to your wife and kiddies in your dirt pool little fox.
Windows are easy to crack in and in I slide. I knock things. I bump around downstairs and you assume it’s your neighbours. I slip into your fridge, into your cupboards, I sweep upstairs for only a moment and I’m gone. I kick the front door open and you are woken. Electrified by the howling wind. But I am long gone. Fluttering against the door is the note you left.
-Please we’ll leave whatever you need outside just don’t break in again.
Back in the den I was writing my memoir. It was a brilliant thriller-satirical roller-coaster. It was Joycean weirdness in the post-truth era of the hyper-real. It was a wild genre-mashing romp at times as much Jane Eyre as The Trail. I scratched it’s gentle yet occasionally stinging prose across the grey naked back of the cave wall. Rats blood dripped from my dirty fingernails. I smiled.
The stolen child lay in the corner. Eyes wild. Not moving.
The sky is piss the moonsun a hideous portent a red eye lidless and twitching through the ethereal clouds. The wind howls down drains. Air swirls and throws flurries of leaf litter. Birds are tossed erratically this way and that screaming like wraiths as they go along a long a, long…
The graven earth holds tight to its bones but it’s no use. The winds rouse a figure eons dead. An unfathomable terror. The lady lord of death and damnation.
The horrific wrath of nature frightens the quiet wisdom of animals. The stoic sheep in their gentle lying down and playing are sent shuddering for the security of trees and, when they prove ineffective, the all loving arms of Charlie the Master Butcher the protector the father for whom love is the only option as an alternative to terror. Nature is in disarray her notes scrawled on dead leaves scattered along the quiet green desks of her hills. The university was unbothered. The lecture in the little bolthole carved into the side of the metal and glass cliff festered on. It was about Hamlet. All the students there were aging. None were alarmed by this.
Some poor wretch was wandering along the boundary between the woods and the rottingcorpseyard. The poor creature spotted the hulking mass of scrawny skinless flesh and delicate bones too late. Her claws were tearing into it. It screamed out in terror and pity. The terrible woman strode on from its corpse, one hand bloody, the other clutching fennel and columbine.
The Unholy Lord, Tyrant and Master-Sovereign of the Void of Eternal Death- whose abhorrent form strikes terror into the hearts of its enemies and which dwelt within an unquenchable hunger for screaming bloody death, sat on its throne of skulls a thousand stories high with an endless stream of blood running down it. Below the masses stood in dumbfounded awe at the Tyrant somewhere between a savage Beast and a God. Their eyes were wide at the avenging armies who wrought screaming hot death on the soft bodies below.
From the seething frightened masses there was one man, one fine and heroic man, who clambered on to a soap box and addressed his kin. The thing on the Throne above payed no heed- far too engaged in the incomprehensible matters of the sovereign beyond mere mortal imagining. The heroic man spoke with ease as the people were all hushed into silence. The man saw from this soapbox more clearly than the rest the endless field of bones stretching right out to the horizon. He could see the gigantic factories of grim death. He could see the vast slave gangs already pressed into service building huge and horrible vehicles of the Sovereigns will. He saw all this and spoke.
-not to fear everyone. The Lord brings a lot of money in from his lands not to mention tourism you’ve just got to be a bit more rational…
I am a vast and terrible mouth. I consume but do not chew. The mangled bodies. The dried bones. The mud and blood. It all squelches and crushes and gurgles down my monstrous throat. What can a mere man do in the face of such a mass of cruel consumption. For I care nothing of the victims. I have no ears to hear the terrible screams glugged up with gooey blood. No sight to see the masses of horrified eyes and grasping hands disappearing into the terrible dark hole. I wander this land and I consume. I feel the swishing of bone scattered slurry between my vast granite teeth and grin.
Now I have a vast and terrible eye. I see the devastation. I see the mangled townsfolk and livestock. I see the fleeing mortal creatures. I see all with my terrible eye.
The mouth cannot shut and the eye hates it’s seeing. The furious hunger and the horror conflict and consume my wet body. The eating doesn’t stop. Despite my mouth I cannot illucidate noise or language. I cannot tell the people to flee. They can only scream and be consumed.
I scream as well now.
The old house squatted on the waterlogged earth mound. The wind shook through the barren trees untouched by the sun in this bleak land. Lightning crashed and smashed the mirror of the sky into a dazzling display. The detective stepped out of the car and ran up the hill. He payed no attention to the graveyard. Rotten arms sticking out of the near liquid mud tore up by the wind. He noticed not the howling of animals in the distance or the shuddering of the grand and monstrous old house. He had to get out of the rain.
The wind shook the rafters in their places. A vast and growing pool of water spread out from under the door and made the hallway floor splash underfoot. The detective would have knocked. But the wind had thrown the door open for him and his desperation to escape the ferocious weather had made him forget his manners. Now he could think more clearly. Somewhere out there was the missing girl and this old fool had the best chance of helping him find her.
There were candles everywhere lighting the room. They were all hardly touched by the flame as if they had been lit only moments before. They revealed a gigantic oil painting lording over the room. It reached high up into the dark ceiling spaces. On it a huge pale women peered down at the detective. She was beautiful but her eyes had the terrible cool demeanour of a Tyrant or murderer. The detective grew very afraid and yet strangely allured to the painting. He felt himself taking a step closer and then another. The wind wailed louder outside. The detective forget about the girl. This painting. Why, this was the most incredible thing he had ever seen. A shadow grew over the painting. The Dark background began to consume the figure. The woman’s unreadable face was now so obviously a smirk. A strange one. A cruel one. The detective felt himself shamble closer with arms outstretched.
The painting was pitch black now.
His fingers grazed the dry paint.
-what are you doing here?!
The house squatted undisturbed on the earth mound as the storm went on. The door slid closed.
The detective’s car sat abandoned. The engine was still running.
The second vice secretary to the third vice under-treasurer to the municipal building society was not a pleasant man. He perched on a fantastically tall stool and peered over the top of a gigantic desk down at his potential prey. What tiny infinitesimal insignificant snatch of power he held was irrelevant to the entire world. But to him it was everything. Machiavelli instructed him that it is better for the tyrant to be feared than loved. But the tyranny of the second vice secretary to the third vice under-treasurer was not the omnipotent one of a prince. It was the tiny awful hollowness of a man so emptied out by the demands of a world of other shuffling undulating selves that he simply was his position. As such he had neither fear nor love at his disposal. What this sad man had was a sort of cool misery festering in himself which he could gently sprinkle on the poor unfortunates far down there below him.
He took a deep libidinal joy in this insignificant torment. He had a single staff member. The unbearably wretched Clark. Clark was tortured by his master like an abused swine. Clark in turn turned this meanness on the only people lower than him, his own children.
The second vice secretary to the third vice under-treasurer peered down at the man who had entered to ask about a loan. This man was threatening to initiate the long and agonizing process of moving the vast bureaucratic machine into creaking motion. He had to be stopped.
I watch some young man whose stepped in one of the bear traps. He’s screaming out. He can’t see me. I am watching through an absurdly long thin slit in the entrance crisscrossed with a dense mesh of beams and bars to reinforce the gigantic door made of a thousand locks. Brambles and bushes coat the outside and make it totally invisible. I assess the bloody figure wailing into the cold evening air with a cool indifference. I remain as quiet as I can regardless. The last thing we want is this one scuttling back to civilisation. Telling them were we are hiding. Hunting us down and taking what’s ours. No. I’ve got plenty of guns if that’s what we need. This single slit, this single connection to the outside, is no risk to the security of the bunker. This little shack is merely itself the cover for the concealed entrance to underground. The slit doesn’t affect the security at all. It functions to effectively guard the bunker while remaining wholly inside it. I watch and wait. The boy better hope help comes before something else does. Wolves howl in the distance.
I always bring a book for these sorts of things. What matters if he gets his leg free and escapes I have to kill him. I have to. I have to. One less of those buggers. One less of those buggers.
The local wildlife is growing closer and closer. Insects hum in the trees. Bared teeth gleam in the darkness. The sunlight is draining away. The poor sod has barely kept the bleeding at bay. He remains trapped. It looks like I’ll be able to save on a bullet.
All the better.
I dropped to the hard rock with a thud. Dying was never an easy thing but the hallow points were the worst. People think being hit by one of the shells or burned by the pyrotex is the worst way to go- but their over in seconds and then your back in the game like nothing happened. But the hollow points took longer. War raged around me as I slowly slipped out of consciousness- the lines of tanks ahead of each infantry line were now completely gone and legions climbed over the burning wreckage and unloaded on each other. I felt a few of my dear brothers in arms step on me as I lay moaning; silent amongst the jarring din. Thanks guys. Eventually a shell landed besides me and I was out.
I woke up still burning; my skin peeled away as fast as the Undertaker could patch it. My whole body felt like it had been dropped into icy water- numb to everything. It took me a moment to regain my sense of where I was and then looked up to scream abuse at the undertaker- receiving nothing but an electronic chirrup in response. I checked my rifle, 412 slugs and both shockers still in there. I pulled myself up as another shell landed near my crater and half a dozen limp bodies landed around me.
I gasped in realisation as the Undertaker turned from me to start fixing the others and I felt my body again. I cried out at the top of my lungs whilst the searing hot pain followed hot on the heels of my reactivating sensation and flowed from my back down and across my torso and face. I bit it down and cringed until the pain started to die down into a background ache. After a few seconds one of the dead bodies gasped for breath and I held out an arm to pick him up. He must have been a rookie; couldn’t have been more than fourteen and he had that bewildered look from the first time you get zapped. It’s not a natural thing, finding yourself in the land of the living where you have no business being, and this kid fucking new it.
“Welcome back to the land of the living kid.” I grunted.
The room is vast with a forest of marble columns stretching in all directions as far as the eye can see. Between them shoot long slender sunbeams from a source impossibly distant. Water drips from the ceiling in places leaving the floor uniformly wet. Your shoes splash through it as your failing flashlight dimly illuminates the dark silhouettes in front of you. The sunlight has been dimming for the last hour. You don’t know what you will do when it finally dies out. Your splashing echoes around and through the pillars in little eddies of sound. How could something sneak up on you here.
Regardless of how you feel something hard and fast smack you around the head. You fall to the ground and turn. There is a figure there now running towards you totally silent. You pull off the ground, the flashlight falls into the water, and you run.
Out from behind pillars they emerge. Wide bloody grins and beady eyes and no noise at all. You want them to roar or hiss or something. They make no sound as they wade through the water on their springy grey-white legs. You scream. They make now sound. Those horrible wide mouths hang slightly open but release nothing from them.
As the last of the sun beams die away you turn a pillar and one is standing there. A single strike sends you to the ground again. This time several of them tower over you from all sides.
Those horrible silent smiles.
Danny sprinted along the metal walkway alongside the sewer. Rats and bugs scurried out of the way of her pumping feet as police dogs barked and jackbooted feet splashed closer. She had to get out of sight and fast. She turned a corner into a pathway totally unlit by the row of torches of the police on her tail. She had a few seconds to hide.
Kicking open an old rusty service door she climbed into the cramped closet and pulled it shut behind her. Her heart thumped painfully in her chest. She pressed her hand over her mouth forcing her breathing to stay quiet. The splashing slowed and torch beams flickered across the gap under the door. Danny listened as the footsteps of pigs and the panting of their dogs grew softer.
Danny let her breaths free. She sobbed silently and gasped for air. She thought she was in total darkness but as her eyes adjusted she realised a faint golden light was coming from behind her to illuminated the room. Turning Danny realised there was a small hatch behind her that hung slightly open. Pulling it more so Danny peered down the narrow passageway and saw a distant sickly yellow spot in the distance. Danny couldn’t discern what engineering purpose this hatch could fufill. At that moment the hatch slipped from her shivering hand and made an almighty echoing crash that swept out and down the sewer passageways. Danny froze. She heard the footsteps charging nearer again. They must have been already on the way back because they were much closer than expected. Danny had seconds before the door would be thrown open.
Acting without thinking Danny threw herself into the narrow passageway and slid gracelessly down its slight incline. It was too narrow for her to turn and pick up and replace the hatch making it obvious what she had done. Stupid. All she had done was delay the inevitable.
What suprised Danny was just how far this passageway went. What had been a dim spot was growing larger and larger as she slid down. The door was thrown open far behind her just as the spot began to show details. A floor, a aperture frame, the source of the light- a burning torch.
Danny fell out of the hole in the cottage ceiling with a hard thump. She picked herself slowly off the floor and looked around.
She was in a shabby sitting room of some kind. She could here somebody else. Down here in the sewers. They sounded like they were preparing something in the kitchen. Danny went to hide behind the tattered old armchair just before they would come back into the room. As she took a step towards it however she heard a gasp and the sound of a teacup smashing.