Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Chapter Nineteen

Celia stared from the living-room window at the afternoon sky.  Louise handed her a burning cigarette and she pulled deep on it. 
     “I know I told you all this last night, but it was so insane…they just cut his throat, his eyes were still open.  He’s probably still lying there now, cold and stiff.”  She glanced at Louise.  “He was lying on his back, on the damn kitchen table.”  Louise said nothing, simply staring at her hands.  “God knows what they’re doing to Ryan.  He said they ate children, his sister, him too probably.”
     “I remember.”
     Celia laughed, “That’s like the most horrific thing I could ever imagine.  I can’t wait to end this.”  She opened the window, tossing the cigarette into the wind.
     “What are they?”
     She grinned.  “Don’t know, baby.  They’re old.  Ancient, I think.  He said Arcadia.  ‘Remember Arcadia.’”
     Louise nodded, “The fields of heaven.”
     “He said I was writing this, all this suffering.  He said I loved stories, told me I was fascinated by the dark side.  I think he was trying to imply that my soul was somehow creating all of this.  My madness is in the real world now.”
     Louise stared down at her hands again.  “Not your madness.”
     “The madness of mankind then, played through me…given form through me.”
     Celia wanted to be responsible.  She wanted the pain of that burden because then it meant she was in control.  But she didn’t really feel responsible.  She didn’t believe she was in control of any of this.
     Louise shook her head and picked up the diamond from the coffee table.  “He really put it inside you?”
     “Yeah.”
     “As some kind…of ritual?”
     “I guess so.”  The gem was obviously priceless.  She was rich, Celia realised with a certain ice-like amusement, richer than she’d been before.

***

Beneath the Silent Gallery, beneath the black hall, they stood before the vault door; at the Mouth of Weavers. 
     Miss Renn watched Namahey pass his hand across the sigil.  The gilded metal thorns on its surface interlaced and the vault opened.  He stepped inside and she followed.  The room was lit by a pink half-light that seemed to have no source.  In the centre was a hole that plunged deep into the ground, more a window than an opening.  It was ringed with small stones.  They called it the Wishing Well.  The place where she often spoke of fears and desires, her voice carried down into the City of Lights.
     “Not long yet, my love,” she said.
     He smiled as he placed the old silver coin in her palm.  “You do it for me; I don’t have the resolve.”
     She went to the well’s edge, glancing back at him.  “Prince of lies,” she said.
     He glanced at his feet, looking for the briefest moment like a boy.  “I want to see you graceful.”
     “Hopeful you mean,” she retorted quietly.
     “It’s the same thing.”
     She laughed, “No, Namahey, it’s not.  It’s never the same thing.”  The coin fell from her hand and she watched it turning, falling, deep into the well. 
     Softly, Finn said, “Mr Haven didn’t come back.” 
     She turned away from the hole.  “Are you certain?”
     He nodded.  “He’s dead, I think, ruined by mortal will.  The girls will have no bedtime stories now.”
     Miss Renn sighed.  “I’ll read to them.  Don’t worry, baby, there’s bigger things.”  She hugged him and he pressed his face into the curve of her neck.
     “I’m tired, Lillibeth.”
     “I know.”
     “Tired of this isolation.  I’m a monumental fraud, as are you, my love.”
     She held him tighter.  “Yes, I know.”
     “These reflections hurt my eyes.”
     “You have no eyes,” she told him and he laughed softly.
     “Yes, of course.  I forget.”
     She kissed him and peered blindly, into his blind gaze.  Her voice was a coaxing whisper.  “When I look I see you at peace, even amidst all this theatre for the dead.  And it’s why I love you, Namahey.  I see you as you really are.”
     “I’m blushing,” he said with a smile.
     “I see us returned,” she whispered again in his ear, “I see us beneath the bluest sky, and when I look at the earth that we’ll walk upon…I see that it is luscious and green.”  He took her hands and nodded silently.

***

Dusk was drawing translucent blues and indigos across the canopy of sky, and the night was slowly painted into life. 
     In the dream Alice Gray stands at a window.  Behind it the sky is splashed with red and black.  She is writing intently upon the glass.  In a darkened doorway, Celia is watching.  She is a girl.  She struggles to read the words on the glass.

…everything…shares…one soul…even the imagined beasts…of the dark places…you…my daughter…are a…seeker…of ages…you have done this all…before…you have only… to remember… 
    
Alice turns from the window, looking down at little Celia, mouth moving.  -you have only to remember-
     Celia steps forward, watching her mother’s lips.  I’m afraid to remember.
     -it is a false fear-
     Celia nods; dark eyes like Alice.  I know, but still I’m afraid.
     -everything dies…there is no death-
     Celia falls quickly to her knees, silently pleading for her mother to cross back through the circle, to join her in life again.
     -I am no longer human.  My love is to leave you-
     Celia doesn’t want to believe this, she cannot.  It is too cruel.  Please come back to me…I’m blind without you.
     Alice Gray kneels suddenly at Celia’s side. 
     -you have only to remember…daughter…hero…villain…you are-
     No…mummy, stop.
     -lover-
     No…I want you back, come back to me.  Her mother strokes a quick hand against Celia’s cheek but she cannot feel it.
     -a child’s false hope…my love is real but I shall not return to you-                           
     Celia looks up at the window; at the words there, at the black and red sky beyond.  I fucking hate you. 
     Alice leans close.  She whispers in her daughter’s ear. 
     -suffering aside…it is put upon you to remember-
     Celia screams, tearing herself back into the waking world.

Her arms and legs were twitching.  She shivered in the bed, beside Louise, who was deep in sleep.  Celia swallowed and pressed a hand to a forehead slick with cold sweat.  Her stomach was churning, as though there was something hot swirling rapidly inside. 
     Jesus Christ…  She pressed her head against the pillow, taking long deep breaths.  When her mind and body had somewhat stilled itself she turned, nuzzling close to Louise, who absently drew an arm around Celia’s waist.  With their bodies close, in the dark, Celia felt the heat inside her begin to cool and fade.  Her fear did not.  She moved yet closer to Louise, and listened to the silence. 

***

In blindness they speak, of eyes.  In silence they ask, of voices.  In longing they take, of blood.  Bright shadow, burning beneath a waning moon, wanting of its home again, the green earth, no longer its empty sphere of bitter dust.  Appellation and rebirth, into flesh, watchers no longer.  In such promise, children of Man, inheriting a ruined world.  It is the war they speak of.  A War of Miracles.  Bright shadow, calling to me, a princess, a taste of angel wine.  I am the girl; a child, the place of ascension.
     Rising back towards the green and blue.  Of eyes, of voices, of blood.

***     

Last night the handsome Paul Drazer had taken an axe to the corpse of Mr Haven, dismembering him.  It was a long process and he sweated in his basement, placing bits in clear plastic, wrapping them, storing them in bin liners.  He drove to Hollander Green with the bags in the boot of the car, and buried them.  He wasn’t fearful of being stopped by police, or of any other man-made law.  In fact a strange calm descended, not unlike hearing the distant sound of the ocean.  It was like the time with the homeless teenager, except this was even more sating.  The bunker was his hidden place, the touchstone for his faith.  But he had murdered Mr Haven at home, a place previously separate from his supplication. 
     It was strange; his surface life and his secret self had now blurred, crossing over, sharing deeds and energy.  He felt switched on, vital, as though his life, his initiation, all his naïve fumbling with darkness, had been only a prelude to this defining experience.  He hadn’t killed a child, or an animal, he had killed a teacher of the supplication.  His mentor, a cleric.  Such things were forbidden in the literature he’d read.  So yes, he had truly crossed over.  Mr Haven would rest well beside the bones of the Carriers, knowing they were forever patient. 
     Of course, he had removed Haven’s ink-black eyes, for his own consumption.
     Now, in the night, as he lay in his bath, Paul Drazer wore an odd smile on his lips, pouring water onto his back from a plastic cup.  Richard Hobbes had been a romantic, a modern renaissance man; profoundly intelligent, but also to Drazer the old man had been a fool.  Confounded, he shook his head in the darkness. 
     He twisted the tap and let the hot water flood into the lukewarm, caressing his toes.  Hobbes often told him about his dreams of angels; the prayer ones, he’d called them.  Drazer laughed silently in the bath.  There were no angels.  There were no demons, therefore angels were unnecessary.  There were only things that seemed to be one or the other.  Nature didn’t give names to its creations, no, that was the predilection of Man.  There was only the infinity of energetic interplay. 
     Power, in a word. 
     He nodded to himself and sank into the water up to his neck. 
     Richard had been brilliant, possessed of a natural genius that Drazer admitted was lacking in himself.  But his gifted imagination had also been something of a curse.  His mind had been cinematic, epic.  He saw things in sumptuous colours, heard lilting memories that echoed off his soul.  But poor Richard had never understood real beauty.
     The Clock did, and Drazer believed that he did too. 
     Complete, terrifying freedom. 
     No need for the fanciful dreams of a child in the inhuman cosmos…no need for angels at all.  But still the old man would wax lyrical about them.  Drazer would see the hope in his eyes.  Hope blended forever with suffering.  He pitied Hobbes, never revealing his disgust.  All these names, these labels, they were loaded with mythical allusions, but they didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of these priests of men.  The language of children exposed the arrogance and the intellectualism.
     Monster.  If monsters walked the earth alongside men – and they did – then it was next to men who were occasionally more insidious than the monsters themselves, monsters that crept into the councils of earth because men found them fascinating.  Dark things wore masks, allowing Man to imagine that it was his own face beneath the mask.  Monsters were, by their very natures, ingenious. 
     The unknown; often discussed, little explored, the place where divine light didn’t seem to reach.  Paul Drazer wanted to touch these places.  He wanted to embrace the monsters and force them to turn to his gaze.  Hatred kept him strong.  It wasn’t glamorous, but it kept him attentive.  The promise of violation; it was a knowing beyond all doubt.
     All evolution, spiritual and otherwise, was a form of rape.
     In his mind he saw Celia.  There had been a time when he had got so close to her, so close to simply forcing himself inside her.  He wanted to touch and taste her, but to do it against her will.  He held his cock gently in his left hand and felt it swell, stiffening as he thought of her.  To get the monsters to listen to him he would have to hurt her.  He couldn’t bare the charade any longer.  He would have to hurt her so badly; throw away the mask of his life, discard all that was weak and served anything other than him.  He would bleed her just a little, enough to taste, then he would take her, over and over and over.  He could do that now.  It had been a personal initiation of nearly seven years, but now there was no fear of living his life.
     Paul Drazer wondered what Angel Wine would taste like.

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