Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Carrion – Part 1

The rain scudded across the city as Martin sat at his desk, the glow of the screen illuminating him in a ghostly white light that made his already pallid skin translucent. His fingers tracked across the keyboard, tapping out sentence after sentence, pausing occasionally to stab a nail-bitten fingertip at the Return key. After ten minutes’ frantic typing, Martin sucked in a huge breath, his chest puffing out like that of a prizefighter who has suddenly realised his opponent is bigger and stronger than he’d been led to believe, and he reached over to click his mouse, to send the email he’d been crafting the past hour.
“Touch that mouse and you’ll regret it,” a voice said, its command stopping Martin’s hand as it hovered above his mouse, a trembling finger poised to push down. “Don’t do it Glover, we’ll slice you in half from here before you’ve even finished the thought it thr…”
The voice was interrupted by a cackle of laughter. “Too late for that, Scott, that thought took place a long time ago, way before you considered me a threat. The email has already gone. You’re too late. I was just about to delete it.” Martin began to turn in his chair, to face the interruption. As he did so, he used his elbow to click the mouse, an almost indiscernible ‘tick’ as it did his bidding, sending the email out into the ether.
Suddenly, a bright sweep of light sped towards Martin, slicing his prone body across his torso, blood squirting in an arc of red, splashing as it met walls and floor. Moments later, four bodies were leaning over Martin’s quivering form; he was still alive. Just. His laboured breathing a sign that soon, his life would be ending.
“Why Martin? Why? It could have all been so different. Now, well, now you’ll know the suffering you’ve brought on so many others by your recent actions.” A smile flickered across Martin’s face, but his eyes betrayed his fear. He tried to spit at his assailants but the wound in his chest burbled blood as his lungs tried to expel the air. “Sorry Martin, did you have something to say? I didn’t quite catch that remark.”
When he said nothing, Scott raised one hand. It was the sign that they could begin feasting – and they did. Four hungry, sucking mouths pulling at the fleshy edges the lesion on Martin’s chest.

You have one message. Message one, Tuesday 21st April at 9.40pm.
“Hey Martin, you there? Pick up if you are. It’s Scott. Okay, ten seconds says you’re not, so call me when you get this. I’ve discovered something and we need to move fast. Cheers buddy.” Beep.

You have one message. Message one, Tuesday 21st April at 10.05pm.
“Help, fucking help me. Maaaaarrrrr…” Beep.

There is no time left, it’s happening. It’s gone beyond the concept of what we thought they had in mind; it’s taking things too far now. Run. Hide. Do whatever you can to save yourselves. Take weapons, you’ll need them some time later. Speak to no one. Trust? Not even yourself. This email is the last communication; we are being monitored and believe there is little time left. Hope to see some – or all – of you at the designated meeting place. You’ll be informed where that is in the usual way. Best, Martin.

First days, they’re always boring. Time spent in queues, writing my name on a list for subjects I won’t take, meeting people whom I don’t want to meet again. And for what? To be seen to fit in. Well, it’s not for me. All I need to know is: where’s the bar and what time does it open?
It’s weird to find myself here; happened because it was pissing with rain, like someone was spraying the world with a pressure hose, and I wanted to escape a drenching. Ducked into this hall, handed a clipboard and pen and led to a chair. A few ticks later and I’m accepted on a course. Some minor college, this place; a musty smell emanating from the cream-coloured walls and green-tiled floor, as if no one had opened the building up to the outside world for centuries. I’d just left a series of dead-end jobs and wanted to re-educate. This was an opportunity and I took it by the hand and practically raped it in the bushes, so glad was I at not having to trawl the cards in the Job Centre for some God-forsaken existence cleaning bogs, picking up litter, kissing the ass of some idiot in a suit. Besides, I’d already been there more than once and wasn’t up for another visit.
Around me, milling about like bees in a hive, were the other students. Mostly spotty kids, a few tasty female specimens I’d like to acquaint myself with later, but no one that seemed to on my wavelength. A tap on my shoulder and I spun around, prepared to get weighty with whomever was behind me; I didn’t like being tapped by anyone. Stood in front of me was a wiry young man, blond hair gelled to a series of peaks and light stubble across his chin. He was about my height, but I reckoned I could take him in a fight if it came to it.
“Reckon you could ‘ave me in a scrap then do ya?”
I was taken by surprise that he been able to read my thoughts so well. I said nothing, stared at him while trying not to give too much away in my face. It was too late for that I was about to discover.
“Rethinking are we? Well, while you’re standing there wondering let’s get a fucking drink, I’m parched.”
This was my introduction to Scott.

To Be Continued

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Evening That Changed Everything

It had been a long day, one of those punishing schedules that crushes the spirit, drains your mental faculties until the only speech you’re able to emit sounds like an unintelligible foreigner trying to teach you the Theory of Relativity.
Just one of those days.
The sun was dripping into the horizon, traffic was light on the streets but the bars and restaurants were full of people starting their weekends early. I wanted to hit the sack, get my head down and recover.
I climbed the 15 steps to my apartment, key in the lock. Then I noticed it, the paper pushed under my door. It said in a hurried scrawl:

“Listen to your answer machine.”

I got into my apartment, let the door swing shut with a thud, the lock clicking back into place. I held the paper in my hand, trying to place the writing – whose hand was responsible. I thought of many people – the kid who hangs around outside and says hello to anyone that comes in or goes out the apartment block; the deaf old lady from number 6; the grocery store manager. It didn’t look like any of them.

What intrigued me most was the suggestion of listening to my answer machine. I glanced over, the red light was flashing. I didn’t know who or what was waiting for me on the magnetic tape spooled to catch callers’ messages, details, needs and wants. I pressed play. A female voice crackled through. She said:

“1) Post rules before you give your facts
2) List 8 random facts about yourself
3) At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they've been tagged
then the facts.”

I tried to ignore it. Days and days I left it, not looking at the note (even though I’d taped it to the refrigerator) and I wiped the message from my machine. But each day, on returning to my apartment, the same message was always waiting for me, a new note pushed under my door.

I took to hiding out in my room, listening for the shrill ring of the phone, the sound of footsteps on the parquet flooring, but there was nothing.
Still the notes arrived. And if I ventured outside, I’d always come back to another message, as if someone was watching me, waiting until I left the apartment before calling.
If I hung about outside my own door, trying to catch the phone ringing, it never happened. Still there would be a message for me, the red light blinking an announcement. So, in the hope that these will stop once I follow the instructions, here are eight things about me.

One: I lost my hair at age 22. Early. I was still at University, finishing my finals. Previously, I’d had hair I could sit on, then nipple-length dreadlocks. So, I began to shave it, with a disposable razor, so that only skin would be visible. I grew a small beard so my face wouldn’t look so circular. That was 1995.

Two: I have suffered from an eating disorder for about 10 years. I have it under some sort of control and I self-medicate, mainly because doctors assume it’s about thinking I look fat. It’s not. It’s as far from that as it could be.

Three: I like an occasional smoke of the herb. Enough said.

Four: I love fashion and have, in the past, spent huge sums of money on clothing, shoes and bags. This has led to people questioning my sexuality. Idiots.

Five: I have been arrested once in my entire life: about six weeks ago, I stepped off the train and someone walked into me. I held up my hands in an apologetic way and he said, “Oh, you’re one of those.” Upon asking what “one of those” was, he preceded to abuse me with homophobic statements. I phoned the police, they arrested me. Go figure. The case was dropped after reviewing CCTV evidence.

Six: All the stories I write have an element of the truth within them; either a personal experience or one that has been related to me through a friend or a newspaper article. This one has eight truths and they are easier to spot.

Seven: I once spent two months of my life living in a tree as part of a road protest. It’s not recommended, but we did save some trees and sites of scientific interest. For my sins I appeared in several documentaries and one Coldcut music video. I also attended several public demonstrations, most notably the Criminal Justice Bill and the Poll Tax demonstrations. I was probably classed as a rioter, even though I never broke anything.

Eight: I don’t know eight people that I can link to who would have the time (or inclination) to do this.

I only hope and pray that this will be the end of the messages, the notes under my door, the intrusion into my life. Please, I beg you. Stop.