Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Chapter Fifteen

All things fed.  Everything consumed.  Some things ate their environment, others ate themselves.  The blood tasted like everything else he’d tried, slightly sour.  Standing in the basement, in the square of twilight from the small strip of window, the handsome man watched the blood run down his left arm.  He’d seen the image many times in movies, but this was darker than movie-blood.  He placed his hand inside the dead cat. 
     He’d cut its belly wide open.  Strange…it got so cold so quickly.
     Cats could often shift their attention into the astral plane.  He’d seen them do it, staring into that fabled chaos.  He’d watched them affect peoples dreams, seen them alter brain-wave patterns in sleeping children.  Their abilities were vast and not well understood.  There were legends in satanic literature, themselves based on earlier pagan myths of Carriers.
     Carriers were said to be divine messengers, covert agents of other realms living within this world and acting as a bridge between the natural and the unnatural.  The earliest references to Carriers that he’d been able to locate spoke of the Cat, the Crow, and the Wolf; a trine of living symbols, guardians of the worlds of dream and death.  But they were cold to human suffering.  Carriers were not part of mortal illusion, they only appeared to be.  It had taken him a long time to truly understand this about them. 
     They were much like Celia, in a way.    
     In his dream he’d seen a vision, and he wasn’t one prone to such things.  Thousands of crows in the sky, as if the night itself were boiling and shrieking.  Hundreds of cats weaving through an abandoned London.  The howling of wolves; filling the city, the world, touching the moon.  It spoke to him of holocaust.  The Carriers came in such numbers because many would be taken at once. 
     He suspected Celia was a key to this.  He tasted the blood on his hand again. 
     It was what he wanted.  It was what the light-bearers of the true Church demanded.  However, many had seen The End and had been deceived.  But regardless of whether the dream was prophecy, delusion, or a blending of both, he knew that eventually the dragons would escape their bondage and the precious priesthood would no longer be needed. 
     In truth, he had little power.  There were those within the Clock possessed of power that could numb the human imagination, power through which societies, entire worlds, were built.  But when the serpents bled the stone he knew that even the Clock would stop.  Even the priests would die, falling prey to the Carriers.  The priests knew this though, and they were waiting for the glorious promise of self-destruction.  Such was their love of the snake.
     The handsome man had wrapped the dead feline in tarpaulin and left the basement, left his large, plush home.  He drove to Hollander Green, walking through the overgrowth to where the old bunker was located. 
     The bunker was a forgotten relic from the First World War, the location of which had been given to him by his friend Mr Haven.  Inside, the handsome man kept tools and icons of his secret faith.  A unique series of ritual daggers, goblets and talismans, gilded symbols designed to focus psychological energy.  That was the key, of course.  That was the key to all things; the vigour of psyche.  It was the ground-spring of all manifest phenomena.  Icons and talismans themselves contained no inherent occult power, aside from an attendant cohesion pattern.  It was the intent of consciousness, the desire of the supplicant, that connected them to the hidden levels of the energetic world. 
     Once he had murdered a teenage boy in this bunker, a homeless runaway he’d seduced with the promise of food, money, and a warm body to take away the chill.  He had cut the boy’s throat from left to right, and then gutted him.  He fancied that he saw signs in the boy’s entrails.  And then, after the rites had been cast, he’d watched the boy’s blood roll around the floor of the bunker in patterns and movements that seemed geometric.  He’d been entranced.  It was a sight that he would never forget and he’d realised in that moment, without doubt, that there was an intelligence that listened to his prayers.  It provided him with proof that night.  He had wept for hours, with gratitude.
     As the handsome man buried the dead cat just outside the bunker, the last smears of twilight were leaving the darkening sky.  The bones of eleven other cats were buried beneath this patch of overgrowth.  Some of them had been kittens he had raised to maturity.  Others were strays and missing pets.  There were six crows buried here too.  No wolves, he’d obviously been unable to get his hands on a genuine wolf.  There were two dogs however, in homage to the third Carrier. 
     He pat down the disturbed earth and stabbed his shovel into the ground. 
     He lit himself a cigarette, smiling.  The Morning Star.  The Mourning Star.  Prince of the Air.  Shaitaan.  Only names, fictions of a newer age.  There were older fictions too; Moloch, Belial, Set.  Unless one was a supplicant one couldn’t even begin to fathom the intricate web of deceptions.  There were serpents in the astral, yes, but they were beings, not deities.  They were entities that could think and feel, and they were not abstractions, not entirely. 
     People thought they understood but they knew only echoes of a thing beyond perishable climes.  The faces shown were never the true faces; for man or beast or god.  Nothing had ever openly revealed itself.  One had to look beneath the surface to truly understand something, and to do that was to become a part of it.  Knowledge, real knowledge, could not be gained from a distance. 
     Thus, the dark had always placed its priesthood posing as keepers in the halls of light; during the Crusades, ancient Rome and Greece, Kehmet of the Nile, Sumeria, all the way back to Arcadia.  It was simplicity so transparent as to be invisible to a ‘rational’ mind. 
     Circles within circles; as only madmen, children and fools could grasp.
     The handsome man chuckled and yawned in the cold November air, spectral breath climbing high on the wind.  He wondered how much Celia suspected.  It didn’t matter in the end.  He had the awareness to control his perceptions; in hatred he felt more freedom than he’d ever done in trying to ‘love’.  And so it was simple.  He felt anointed to know of the invisible eye, the bright shadows.  He would act and play as though he were like other men if he must.  But they didn’t believe what he believed.  He didn’t fear what they feared.  And they could never love what he loved.

***   

In his dream David Myers was pinned to an altar, looking up into the misshapen face of his childhood friend.  With a ritual dagger, Christopher cut open his chest.  He removed David’s heart, sliced it open, and a large black spider crawled out.  Christopher ran around blindly, trying to catch it in a jar.
     The building was once a house that had been converted into three separate Highgate flats.  Now it stood condemned after a fire had broken out, burning through it all.  The council hadn’t yet torn it down.  The smell was thick, as if it still smouldered, clinging to everything.  There were blackened walls, scorched floors.  Just like his parents house had been.  Here there was no scent of burning flesh, but when he closed his eyes Myers could make believe that he could smell it.  His stomach knotted horribly and he placed a hand on his belly.
     He had never seen their bodies, thank Christ, but he heard them screaming and then later he smelled them burning, even amidst the smoke.  Smoke in his eyes, his ears, his lungs.  He thought he was going to die, and later still, for a long time, he’d been unable to speak properly.  Now every time he lit a cigarette he fought against remembering that night, and the other nights of numbness that followed it.
     He was in the ground-floor flat.  Structurally it was the safest place to stay.  He’d salvaged a mattress from the third floor and now sat cross-legged on it.  Removing a small tub of decongestant from his bag he smeared some under his nostrils, dampening the foul scent.  He checked the chamber and pin on his Beretta, pressing the gun quickly to his forehead.
     Mr Finn and his glass eyes…dolls eyes. 
     Myers doubted that the bald man was dead.  That was what scared him; his doubt.  If he could doubt that a man could be gunned down twice and survive…how was he supposed to protect himself from something like that, from a knife-edged world? 
     He was staying for Capable Celia.  Not because he’d slept with her, nothing so obtuse.  She was alone and blind to the real world.  Nobody else would care.  Maybe he could at least give her a running chance.

***

Louise had locked the bathroom door.  She lay fully clothed in the empty cast-bronze tub, gently rubbing the ugly scar beneath her left breast.  God, she was tired of trying and reaching and waiting and trying again.  And for what?  For this?  This joke they’d both let themselves fall into?
     She pulled on the burning cigarette and coughed, pulling again, deeper.  She could hear Celia pacing around on the landing outside the door.  There was a bruise rising slowly where her lover and only friend had punched her, the right side of her face swollen.  She had no more tears left to cry.  It was too far to reach.  In the beginning she’d been thrilled, so happy and hopeful, that she let herself believe all sorts of ridiculous fairy-tales. 
     Love, and such.
     What hurt the most was that she had tasted Celia.  Miss Gray let it happen.  It was better to never know how close you were to something good, so that you didn’t torture yourself with what might have been, taunt yourself with what could never be enough.  But Celia had let Louise taste her and now she wanted to cut it out.  Cut out Celia’s taste, and the memory of it that still lingered on her lips.  Louise would rather starve.

Celia paced the landing on the other side of the door, chain-smoking.  She didn’t have the courage to call out to Louise.  She sat on the top of the staircase, staring at Lola in her hand; the tiny black doll with the white crosses for eyes.
     Baby Girl…I don’t know who I am, let alone what I do…
     The bathroom door opened and Celia glanced hesitantly at Louise standing in the doorway.  She was smoking too.
     “Didn’t mean to attack you like that,” Celia said quietly.
     “Yes you did.  It felt good, didn’t it?  Didn’t it?  Why do you…want to hurt me when you know how much I…?”
     Celia pulled quickly on the cigarette.  “I don’t want to hurt you.  I want to hurt myself.  Hurting you was just the easiest way.  Not glamorous, I know. ”
     Louise sank to her knees in the bathroom doorway, watching Celia through the wooden railings of the staircase.  “How the hell can you be so cold…?”
     Celia gave a laugh that was almost a sob.  “I’m not cold…babes, I wish I was.”
     “Sometimes I think I understand you.”
     “Sometimes?”
     “You make me crazy, Celia.  Make me want to die, and then…and then you hold me, you kiss me and…”  She sighed, unable to continue.
     “Maybe you should go,” Celia said bluntly.  She flicked her cigarette butt to the bottom of the stairs.
     “Maybe you should fuck yourself.”
     “How?”
     “Bananas, cucumbers, broken bottles…”  Celia laughed at the suggestion.  “You messed up my pretty face,” Louise added quietly.
     “Still prettier than mine.”  Celia held out the black doll in her hands, through the wooden railings.  “Here, take her, I want you to have her.”  Louise reached out and took it. 
     “Does she have a name…?”
     “Lola.”
     “Scary,” said Louise, staring down at it.
     “You need to be gentle with her.  She’s old and fragile.”  Louise nodded silently.   “I have to tell you something important, Lou.”
     “So tell me.”
     “I cheated on you.  I slept with someone.”  She watched as Louise grit her teeth, inhaling deep and nodding slowly.  “While you were in the hospital…”
     Louise pressed her eyes shut.  “Was it a girl?  I couldn’t…handle that.”
     No…no, it was a guy.  David.  I was scared.  I just needed – I needed to be weak.”  Louise pressed her palms against closed eyes.  “I’m so sorry, Lou.”
     Louise laughed, “I’m sorry Lou, I’m sorry Lou, Lou, I’m sorry…”
     “I was scared.”
     She opened her eyes and stared tearfully at Celia.  “Was he good…?”
     Celia stared back and then nodded.  “Yeah, he was okay.”
     “His cock…inside you…was it better than these hands?”
     “No, Lou…No.”
     “Don’t fucking lie!” exclaimed Louise, hurling the tiny black doll over the banister and down the stairs.  “Just stop lying, Celia!  Please!  It’s what you want, right?  To be filled, plugged up good and proper.”  She climbed to her feet, glaring over the banister at Celia.  “With me it’s not right, doesn’t feel right…”
      “That’s not true.”
      “I make you feel hollow…”  Celia leapt to her feet, shaking her head.  She reached out, trying to embrace Louise who pulled back and spun away.  “Don’t fucking touch me…”
     Celia whispered, “You rather I never told you?”
     “Yes!  Should’ve kept it to yourself!  What the fuck are you doing to me?”  Celia said nothing and Louise pressed her hands to the wall, turning her back.  Louise’s voice was tiny and tired.  “It disgusts you, how I feel about you.  Does it seem wrong to you…?”
     Celia reached out and touched Louise’s back.  She flinched.  “It doesn’t disgust me, Lou.  It doesn’t feel wrong.  Doesn’t feel like much of anything.  But I love you, baby.”
     Louise remained silent.  There was a sudden thumping at the front door.
     “Better answer that, Cee; it might be the Devil…”
     “Lou…”
     “Go answer the door.”
     Celia hurried down the stairs, into the kitchen and took a knife from the sharpening block on the counter.  She went back to the door, wiped at her eyes and peered through the spy-hole.  She turned and saw Louise at the top of the staircase.  “It’s the boy.”

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