May 3, 2006

Truth is Ghost (1 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Their relationship was the climate of Antarctica, frosty with only an outside chance of thaw within the next ten thousand years. Despite this, just occasionally, just every now and then, just once every sixth blue moon, there were brief, fleeting armistices. These armistices, as is the dictate of the human condition, were only brought on by extreme situations and were never to be taken seriously as an indication of progress in diplomatic relations.

Mr. Alpha raised his beer to his lips, a subtle tremor in his hand, and moaned, “Beer!”

His face was Adonis, perfect flesh in perfect angles, yet his hair was a dark brown bird’s nest, scrambled and chunky. His ash-grey business suit with a mandarin collar appeared pristine from the waist up but patches of mud and dirt they had acquired during the afternoon’s activities troubled his trousers. Even though he despised the suit and the pus yellow necktie he had been forced to don, he picked frantically at the muddy patches dried out like bloody scabs and thought of the inevitability of dry cleaning.

Paying no attention at all to his junior partner, Mr. Omega was focused on an elderly man in an alcove at the far end of the pub, apparently minding his own business smoking a pipe and reading a newspaper. Mr. Alpha had once called Mr. Omega the human mop out of earshot, an affectionately hateful description attributed to Mr. Omega’s rather too manageable molehill of grey hair that topped his gaunt, matchstick man physique. Mr. Omega stared at the old man through oversized square-framed glasses that even Dennis Taylor would have been fearful of. He wore the same suit as he had prescribed to Mr. Alpha but his showed a few signs of wear and tear, much like his face and his shitty god damn piece of shit fuck holier-than-thou attitude.

Mr. Alpha blamed Mr. Omega for everything simply because Mr. Omega’s response to every situation was to blame Mr. Alpha for everything. When Mr. Omega had once yelled at him about not taking responsibility, Mr. Alpha had replied that the student had obviously learnt that lesson pretty bloody well from the master.

The pair of them had never been to this particular godforsaken town before and after their foolish mishap, losing their one and only lead to stupidity, they headed straight for the nearest pub, a small retreat called “The Retreat”. It was stuck under a forgotten stone bridge like some unwanted gum that had long lost its fruity flavour. The occasional errant train would rumble over this middle-of-nowhere bridge and hurl cobwebs carrying dead spiders that had attained bizarre, mutant proportions at the unsuspecting punters from the pub ceiling.

It was 5 o’clock and there were only a few people in the drinking house, just drunkards who had ran out of options and had probably been there since lunchtime. That was except for one old man, bathed in nicotine-stained sunlight that had ventured foolishly through the soiled windows that he sat beneath.

“He’s watching us. He’s looking to get himself cured,” said Mr. Omega threateningly in his wheezy, nasal, high-pitched voice. To Mr. Alpha, his voice would have sounded just like Marlon Brando from The Godfather if the film had been set in London. And if Don Vito Corleone had been an annoying, irritating wanker, obviously.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2231

May 8, 2006

Truth is Ghost (2 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Mr. Alpha responded, “I really fucking hate beer. There’s no lager, fuck it.” He looked up at the sweaty blob of a man behind the bar whose vertical dimensions paled in comparison with his horizontal ones. He was a walking, breathing, nightmarish advert for the alcoholic delights available in his fine establishment, although how much longer he would be walking and breathing for would be anyone’s guess. “Why don’t you have any lager, mate?”

The bar man reached under the bar and pulled out a sea-blue cap like a rabbit out of hat. He put it on back-to-front, clashing with the lime green polo shirt that failed in its one and only task: to shield an unsuspecting world from his blubber. He leaned forward with his best intimidating face. “I was in the marines, lad.”

“That twat needs to be dealt with,” Mr. Omega said to Mr. Alpha.

With the conciliatory tone of a dictator armed with an arsenal of WMDs that could be launched in 45 minutes, Mr. Alpha said to the bar man, “Too fucking right he does. You don’t like the suit, is that it? It wasn’t my fucking choice, alright? Or is it you don’t like a couple of Londoners in your quaint toilet water of a town that no one wants to fucking visit anyway? What’s your problem, mate? An ex-marine, huh? What did you fuck up to get yourself kicked out of the marines?”

The bar man leaned forward even more, which was an impressive feat considering the enormous bulk of his belly had already invaded half the bar with such aggressive force that war crimes had surely been committed. “I did my time, lad. What have you ever done for your country?”

Mr. Alpha had been taught to apply the tools of implication and intent in confrontations whenever possible; action carried the possibility of unwanted exposure. He responded to the fool’s manoeuvre by staring directly into the bar man’s gaze while sliding the half-full beer glass aside with calculated deliberation that implied the potentiality of an event between them. His face seemed to harden and became like sculpted granite. Emotions were no longer in attendance.

“You don’t want to fucking know what I’ve done,” Mr. Alpha began coldly. “You really don’t want to fucking know. You want to mind your own fucking business, you fucking fat shithead. Truth is ghost.” He did not blink, but did permit himself a soft smile, knowing that this would not come to blows.

The bar man acquiesced and retreated with his own smile, a weak, conciliatory alternative to Mr. Alpha’s composed edition. He had realised, at last, that he was in the presence of dangerous urban legends made flesh. Tread lightly, Mr. Alpha had intimated, because it is thin bloody ice beneath your encumbered feet this day.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2121

May 15, 2006

Truth is Ghost (3 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

What had attracted Mr. Omega’s eye was the newspaper. The headline was at least a year old – Britain Gives In, Stubs Out: Smoking Illegal – and the old man had not turned a single page since they had entered the pub. He puffed his pipe, crossed his legs, uncrossed his legs and put on the best heartfelt performance bar none of “ordinary elderly gentleman #6”. While Mr. Omega knew his reaction would probably be mistaken by that young fuck for hair-trigger paranoia, he was merely well versed in the teachings of the fearsome Cloth pedagogues. Observation is root, it was said. The old man was feigning the bystander.

“That twat needs to be dealt with,” Mr. Omega said to Mr. Alpha.

Mr. Omega scanned his memory, wondering if he had seen the old man before. Was there something… familiar… about that hunched-over figure? That dull, navy mac that seemed as if it had endured many a bad day at sea. Those bifocals bent slightly out of shape, that a little money could easily have fixed. Those white threads of hair shooting out from beneath a cap like the fading smoke trails of a firework. It all came together. Mr. Omega was jolted with sudden, shocking certainty – he had never seen this man before in his entire life.

“I want to check him out,” Mr. Omega said, turning to Mr. Alpha who was engaged in uncharacteristically amiable banter with the bar man.

“I can get some in,” said the bar man.

“Don’t worry about it man,” Mr. Alpha responded, “we won’t be around these parts again.”

The bar man broke into a smile of relief, complete with missing teeth and bad breath.

Mr. Omega asked the little shit who was still playing with his half-empty glass, “Well, what do you fucking think?”

Mr. Alpha turned to Mr. Omega and responded with restrained eloquence. “What the pig god of fuck are you whittering on about?”

“Manners, boy. Why don’t you go wash your mouth out with some fucking soap? I am talking about Mr. I-am-so-fucking-minding-my-own-business sucking on a pipe over there. He’s watching us. He’s been reading the same fucking page of that paper ever since we got in.” Mr. Omega banged the bar with his fist, startling both Mr. Alpha and the bar man, to add emphasis that he thought necessary to ram the point home like a blunt pencil through an eye.

Mr. Alpha answered politely but a smirk piggybacked his words. “Well I guess he obviously needs checking out.”

“I’m going to check him out, mate.”

“You do that. I’ll be right here. With this fucking sodding beer.” Having apparently reminded himself of his difficult plight, Mr. Alpha suddenly yelled at the dead air in the pub, “I can’t believe you don’t have any bloody lager!”

The air appeared rather unmoved by his outburst, but the bar man began to waddle backwards with his hands clenched into incomplete fists against his chest, as if securing the remainder of his life within them, a valuable treasure that would never be recovered if stolen.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2253

May 22, 2006

Truth is Ghost (4 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

“Old man,” Mr. Omega said to the old man. When the pipe and the cap did not respond, Mr. Omega repeated without change in intonation or volume, “Old man.”

The old man extricated himself from a private world. He had not been reading the paper at all, he had been daydreaming. Without removing the pipe from his mouth he said, in a garbled Scottish accent, “What can I do you for?”

Mr. Omega swelled up his body like a balloon, a seemingly difficult task for a man who knew someone else had called him a mop, and asked, “What are you doing, mate? What’s so interesting in this paper here, eh?”

The old man’s eyes became wistful and moist. He took in a deep breath and sighed with theatrical gravitas; he had obviously been taking a lot of deep breaths and doing a great deal of sighing for someone’s benefit. He shifted his position to reveal the pages he had been engrossed in and his bone dry mac squeaked with every movement.

There was a big-fucking-deal news story about a local death; some woman in her forties had slipped on a toy truck which had the ability to change into a robot and fallen from a second story window to her death. The old man said something that Mr. Omega could not make out because his emotional theatrics had wrestled the words into inaudibility.

“What? What did you say? Speak up,” Mr. Omega demanded.

“She was my little niece,” the old Scot explained. “She understood when no-one else-”

Mr. Omega turned around without a second’s hesitation and strode back to the bar with an impressive aura of disinterest. Although slipping on a child’s toy to your death from only the second story window was embarrassing, and toys which changed into robots were not even fucking cool anymore, it was probably not as bad as dying in two inches of water, the absolute minimum requirement for death by drowning. Mr. Omega had a Viking-like fear of dying an ignoble death. Mr. Alpha, ever the cheeky git, had enlightened Mr. Omega that Klingons also shared this belief. “A Clothman with Klingon philosophy, that’s got to look good on the CV, man.”

Plus, he thought some more, at least your niece is dead. Be grateful for the small mercies that The-God-To-Be graces you with. Tragedy is final and comprehensible.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2048

May 29, 2006

Truth is Ghost (5 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Earlier that afternoon, they had found Grimmer. They had been told that Grimmer had been in contact with the renegade bitch, the foot-long thorn in their side. Of course, if Mr. Alpha had kept his fucking eyes on the ball in first place then they would not have needed to find Grimmer and they would still be assigned to the Weave as every Clothman is meant to be.

They dragged him out of his house by his hippy mane of hair, in front of his wife and children who Mr. Alpha, to his credit, shut up with a good, hard stare that would have made Medusa and her pretty sisters proud. They took him to the fifth floor of an abandoned block of flats, carefully decorated with graffiti and the colourful detritus of the broken lives of the homeless and the drug-bound. Strike one.

There were so many derelict buildings in the vicinity to choose from – it was more like the town itself had been abandoned, suffering from an unending economic quarantine after Thatcher’s government had put a bullet in the head of the coal industry. Grimmer had chosen his bolt-hole well. Or perhaps it had been that bitch who had done the choosing.

Mr. Omega strapped Grimmer to a faded sofa with a non-threatening flower design. Real flowers would have withered and died by now, but these flowers were consigned to a living death in discarded furniture, fabric trapped in a town where inconvenient lives had been conveniently brushed under the carpet. Mr. Omega used some aerial cables they had found lying around to lash Grimmer to the sofa in a makeshift arrangement that should have been sufficient to immobilise him. He asked Mr. Alpha to check the knots were tight. Strike two.

“My name is Mr. Omega. My partner here is Mr. Alpha,” opened Mr. Omega.

“Hi,” said Mr. Alpha.

Sniffing back tears and mucus, Grimmer said meekly, “Hello.”

“Where is she?” Mr. Omega asked.

Grimmer cried them a river, his unkempt beard becoming matted and salty in the process. “Please, please, oh my God, don’t kill me!”

“Where the fuck is the whore?” Mr. Alpha interrupted with a grandiose delusion of authority. Mr. Omega glared at him, irked because he told Mr. Alpha, in very precise and moron-proof terms, to keep his trap shut. They wanted to go back to the Weave and could not afford to screw this up.

“Please! I want to see my daughters grow up! Please! Please!” pleaded Grimmer.

Mr. Omega said, “We are of men of the Cloth. We do not hurt others out of desire, only need.”

“Not like you, you piece of shit,” Mr. Alpha spat, intervening again, rising so far above his station that if he slipped and fell back down to his station by some unfortunate mishap he would have broken his neck, and Mr. Omega would have been just fucking fine with that. “You probably want to see your sweet, pretty daughters grow up so you can touch them once they bloom. That’s what people like you do, isn’t it? When you’re not blaspheming in your hand, you’re blaspheming in your head, aren’t you? You fucking heretics make me sick.”

(Later, Mr. Alpha had tried to explain to Mr. Omega that he wanted to try out a good cop, bad cop strategy. Mr. Omega had glowered at him, retorting that they had higher standards than fucking cops.)

“Please! I don’t know who you’re talking about! Who is this woman you’re talking about? I haven’t done anything! Please, I love my wife so much! Oh sweet Jesus, please!” begged Grimmer, his face all sweat and tears. All he was missing was blood so Mr. Omega punched him in the nose.

Mr. Omega followed this with a kind request. “Will you please stop saying please?

Grimmer was extremely apologetic, his face all blood, sweat and tears, and switched to saying sorry profusely instead. They did not have time for a long drawn-out interrogation so Mr. Omega said to Mr. Alpha, “Time for needles.”

His younger partner got out his needle-case, took a brief peek inside it and admitted, “Shit. I’ve only got a couple left.” Strike three, mate, you’re out.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2108

June 8, 2006

Truth is Ghost (6 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Although he had his own batch to draw from, Mr. Omega cocked his head to one side in disbelief. “How the fuck,” he said quietly, “can you not have lots of needles left, you stupid bastard? Didn’t you stock up when you had the chance?”

Mr. Alpha replied, “Jesus fucking Christ, I’m sorry, alright! If you hadn’t been giving me the shittiest time on the planet about Morgana then I might have remembered! It’s always your fucking fault but somehow, some fucking how, you pin it on me! You’re a top bloke, I mean it from the bottom of my fucking scrotum.”

Mr. Omega primed himself to fire back a most profane volley at the whiney, young twat but a scraping noise like claws on a blackboard beat him to a reply.

The Clothmen turned towards their captive to see that Grimmer had managed to launch the sofa across to a balcony that was fucking missing a fucking balustrade while they were arguing about fucking needles. He said, “Sends her love, gents,” and then eased the sofa backwards off the balcony as if pushing away gently on a child’s swing.

But it was no swing and Mr. Omega ran to the balcony mouthing the word “no”, the lenses of his overbearing glasses filled with the milky whiteness of desperate eyes. He was stunned to discover that Grimmer and the sofa were nowhere to be found when he peered over the edge. Five floors down, there was no trace of Grimmer’s suicidal descent. No interrogation subject. No chintz sofa. No, just no.

They raced back to Grimmer’s home but what they found was an empty house that seemed quite different from the one they had evicted Grimmer from. It now had all the appearance of a disused property that had been uninhabited for some years. It was just like one of the many other abandoned buildings that were frequented from time to time by abandoned people. Someone had shat on the bathroom floor a few inches away from the toilet, as if the toilet was too much trouble to reach. Litter was sprinkled across one of the bedroom floors like evil confetti made of shiny crisp packets and used fluorescent condoms. A rotten window frame had invited a howling, cold wind into the house, which filled the forsaken maisonette with unsettling, disembodied whisper. A small gap, a break in logic, a mistake in process: that was all that was needed for something to enter and penetrate… or for something to escape and expand.

Head in his hands, Mr. Omega said in Grimmer’s living room almost tearfully, “Holy giant mother of cock, you had to go screw it up again, didn’t you?”

It was an unrepentant Mr. Alpha that shouted, “What the fuck? You know I’m not the knots guy, I told you again and again. I don’t do fucking knots, please listen to my fucking words, read my bloody lips. No more taxes, I don’t do knots. I don’t know the first thing about knots and shit like that. I didn’t go to fucking girl scouts! I suppose you did and got all the fucking badges.”

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2148

June 18, 2006

Truth is Ghost (7 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

“I suppose you checked him out, you paranoid piece of shit,” said Mr. Alpha. “And don’t give me that ‘observation is root’ crap. Your observations are not the most insightful, mate. Just take Grimmer today. I remember you said he was going to be a bloody pushover. Christ this tastes like shit.” He could not even bear the smell any more and plonked the glass down as far from himself as he could.

Mr. Omega did not reply to Mr. Alpha’s touching critique; something was wrong with the glass in Mr. Alpha’s hand. For all the hatred the young Clothman was directing at the hapless vessel, he had not let go of it, not even once. It seemed as if the glass were permanently attached to his hand, a new part of his body. And then: the penny dropped. For all his bluster and bitching, his junior was not taking their recent failures well. Mr. Alpha needed the beer all right, but not to drink and drown his selfish sorrows. Gripping the glass allowed him to control and conceal a secret, a rebellious tremble in his left hand. Observation is root.

Mr. Omega said, “I bloody hope The-God-To-Be, when we meet him, isn’t a bloody woman.”

“You what?”

Mr. Omega peered into the recesses of the cobwebs above, as if he was disinterested in the conversation. “A woman. That’s not my cup of tea, I can tell you.”

Mr. Alpha was confused. “So what?”

“Well, picture it, mate. I don’t want to be staring at the Almighty’s mighty jugs when I’m being judged. Do you think a mortal man, even a Clothman, could resist the perfect beauty of the divine bosom? What’s she going to think when she sees the rocket in my pocket?”

“I suppose it’s a good point, mate.” Mr. Alpha drank some more of the beer, without moaning this time, weighing up what Mr. Omega had said. “I wonder if she would consider it an affront if we didn’t have it upfront? Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me and all that.”

Mr. Omega chuckled, “You see! This kind of dilemma is exactly why The-God-To-Be has to be a bloke!” If Mr. Alpha had known about Ragnarok, the conversation would have taken a different turn. Mr. Omega would relate that particular open secret another day, when Mr. Alpha was neither so stressed nor so belligerent. Of course, he might still be waiting for that on his deathbed.

Mr. Omega continued, “Look, he’s not watching us, but I do think he’s in need of some cleansing.”

Mr. Alpha brightened a little and a smile seemed to be hiding behind his serious expression like sunlight threatening to peek through a gap in the clouds. “The old geezer with the pipe over there?”

“That’s exactly who I’m talking about. We have discretionary powers, mate. Time to apply a little of that magical discretion. The man has a pipe and that’s illegal. Illegal is immoral and that has to be seen to and cured. I think he had something going on with his dead niece, too.”

“Motherfucker,” gasped Mr. Alpha.

Niecefucker is probably more accurate,” corrected Mr. Omega, which prompted a natural guffaw from both of them.

Mr. Alpha released his glass with a steady hand and stood up, empowered.

“Belief is rock,” he recited, staring through the dusty bottles stacked behind the bar, beyond the mirror behind the stacks and through the ramshackle office at the back where the obese barman once force-fed the old man’s niece his tongue and far more while she tried to fight with overpowered arms and tearful screams that no-one had heard. Mr. Alpha saw only the Weave.

“Truth is ghost,” answered Mr. Omega who also stood up with the same intense feeling of empowerment. They were invested with divine authority to tackle the most noble of challenges – to sew the Weave and bring about the future. His skin prickled with that familiar, thirsty anticipation and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He was ready for fixing sin, the only real vice of a Clothman.

And they took the dejected, lost old man from the pub and marched him to a gloomy niche fragrant with the stench of piss at the far end of the bridge tunnel.

And in that dark place bathed in shadow, they cured him together.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1427

January 14, 2007

The Crane (1 of 19)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

The pattern shifted. He saw Morgana, then a fat tie that twisted and flowed like a Dali clock, Morgana again and then a banana. The top of the banana was peeling, its shy, yellow flesh peering out at him. Mr. Alpha shut his eyes. He couldn’t work out what the ceiling’s tessellated design was in the half-light from the hotel alarm clock. He didn’t want to know anymore.

Eyes closed, he again found his attention concentrating on the foreign warmth reaching across the bed towards him. He hated having to share a bed with Mr. Omega. The Clothman directives stressed that pairship partners should remain within fifty metres of each other at all times or face expunction; it was Mr. Omega who had imposed this stronger principle of sleeping together. Apparently it was something he had picked up from the previous Mr. Alpha, whose formidable boots the new Mr. Alpha was still unfit to fill. Why couldn’t he have been paired with someone else? Pairships were for life and not just for Christmas. He would be stuck with Mr. Omega until fuckfart died of natural causes or, perish the thought, unnatural ones. Mr. Alpha wanted to ask how his predecessor had passed on. Just out of curiosity.

He snapped open his eyes again and glanced at the clock: 1 AM. Mr. Omega had been sleeping for at least a couple of hours already and was likely to jump out of bed with a head full of focus in five. Frustration burned; he wanted to punch something. Mr. Alpha slipped out of bed and sneaked across to the window.

His own reflection was faintly visible in the glass. He had preferred to sleep naked before being paired with Mr. Omega; now thick, creamy pyjamas smothered with pink puppy dog shapes were the order of the day. All of the puppies were blissful, swallowing bones, doing little tricks, licking themselves, having a fucking laugh. His own visage was a gloomy contrast, strong yet troubled. He looked a bit like a peacock, the hair at the back of his head sticking out having been mashed against stiff pillows for a few hours.

Mr.Alpha put his hands against the glass and looked beyond. From the seventh floor, he saw streets and alleyways cutting out shapes in the city jumble, street lights aglow like the candles on an urban cake. More interesting, though, was the crane towering above it all. Tiny pinpricks of light illuminated the giant metal claw to prove that it was neither dead nor abandoned; it slept. Night flights kept their distance, lest they wake the beast that dominated the night sky. The crane’s malevolent power enthralled him.

He knocked his head against the cold surface of the window and let it rest there, cooling. Could he be any more fucked?

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1832

January 25, 2007

The Crane (2 of 19)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

After racing up the first few flights of steps he found himself out of breath. Climbing the metal stairwell within the crane was a lot harder than it appeared. The crane’s operator wouldn’t have treated it as a contest of speed, he knew that, but his impatience had got the better of him.

Mr. Alpha cast his eyes over what little progress he had made then looked up. Countless flights of steps crowded out the view of the cabin at the zenith, hanging over him within the crane’s dark blue stem like layers of overlapping metal cobwebs. Beyond the disciplined, straight edges of the mast, the yellow jib lunged out across the night, like the thrust of a great blade frozen in time. It was where he wanted to be right now.

He stopped and rested against an outer rail and his hands became numb against the cold iron. A fog was coalescing in the distance, smudging distant street lights into radiant orbs; Mr. Alpha hoped it would come to engulf them. The fog provoked a pleasant memory of flicking through photos of London smog in a library book when he was a youngster, prior to his enrolment into the Cloth. The people of London had had to dress up a la Elephant Man to survive it but he didn’t care about that. There was a smoky beauty to it, something romantic in its essence. It blurred the sharp edges of everyday, rendering reality opaque and dream-like. The tension in his shoulders diminished and his mind discharged some of its burden. Mr. Alpha realised, fifty metres rule or no fifty metres rule, he needed to get away from Mr. Omega now and again so he could have a bit of peace.

He wasn’t high enough to get a grand view of the city neighbourhood yet, but he could see the hotel where they were staying. His senior senile partner had not yet discovered his abandonment and the bedroom was still dark. He peered downwards and saw the chaos of a juvenile construction site.

Its destiny was not yet apparent. Diggers had been busy generating fresh craters across the site in a random fashion and bulldozers assisted by pushing the excavated debris into dirty mounds of indiscernible fragments of things. There were probably priceless Roman finds that Tony Robinson would squawk over on Time Team, but no one cared as the drive to build and reform overpowered. Progress always started with destruction but something new would be built from all this crap. Mr. Alpha spotted only a sliver of the future; a lattice of iron rods driven into the ground near the crane’s base, like a bed of crooked, headless flowers yearning for a night-time sun.

He shivered, wishing that he had put on that nauseating yellow tie to insulate his neck from the night chill. He didn’t want to catch another cold; it’d taken a few weeks to throw that one he’d had when they’d met Mr. Mogdred by Windermere.

Windermere. Complex memories reasserted themselves and attacked his mind like a sticky, poisonous smog, burning through his paper-thin composure, blurring the edges of thought. Nothing made sense when he was under their spell. He would go over the facts again and again and not come to a single conclusion.

The foetus in his left arm started to kick again.

He punched the rail with the edge of his left fist and it replied with a dull, hollow ring. The arm continued to shake. He clouted the rail a couple more times but it still didn’t help.

Things had been simple back in the school. Erect everything from the First Principle, the Cloth’s prime tenet: “God is not yet become.” From this, there was only one explanation for what had happened – bad luck. Why had he been paired with Mr. Omega? Bad fucking luck. Why had they ended up responding to the call from Mr. Mogdred? Bad fucking luck. How had Morgana escaped? Bad fucking luck… no. Nothing to do with knots or rope. The knots were a cover story for the inexplicable.

He resumed his ascent, ignoring the jerking in his arm, and thought about when it all started to turn to shit.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 0032

January 28, 2007

The Crane (3 of 19)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Mr. Alpha said, ‘We should take a boat. Commandeer something.’ He moved the handkerchief to his face, something was brewing.

‘We don’t need a boat, boy. It’s a lovely day,’ Mr. Omega said.

They stood on the northern shore of the lake and although Waterhead pier was within reach, it was clear they weren’t going anywhere near it. The pier looked lonely at this time of the morning, dark and uninhabited, reaching out on wooden struts into Windermere to support ferry passengers that were yet to make an appearence. The lake’s choppy surface reflected the deep blue of a nude sky and hills splattered with greens of varying shades caressed its lateral shores into the distance. Ducks congregated near the Clothmen at the water’s edge, assuming they might receive nutritious gifts from the humans. The selfish bastards were already quacking disappointment that nothing had been offered yet.

‘Yes, it’s very blue, very cloudless and hence very cold. Have you heard of “wind chill factor”?’ Twitching inside his face; any moment now. His teeth chattered and he wanted to go back to the Ambleside hotel.

‘Whiney fucker. Call yourself a Clothman?’

‘You–‘ Mr. Alpha started and then sneezed.

Rather than offering ‘bless you’ or ‘gesundheit’, the old man took a step back and glowered. Don’t you even think about sneezing in this fucking direction.

Mr. Alpha blew his nose into an already sodden handkerchief. He could not grasp why, at the ripe age of 23, he had still not learnt to take a dozen handkerchiefs out with him instead of one when labouring under a cold. ‘We’re going to be late if we walk it,’ Mr. Alpha said, his voice nasal.

Mr. Omega clapped whilst maintaining his skilled scowl. ‘Bravo, bravo. Smart argument, boy. But considering the reason we’re fucking late already is that you couldn’t get your arse out of bed, I think the onus is on you to keep the pace up. Yeah?’

Mr. Alpha tightened a fist in response to the abuse. ‘Look, I needed a Lemsip before we left. This suit of yours is not the best for this sort of weather. I wouldn’t be in this state if you’d let me wear something decent.’

‘Will you just shut the fuck up about the coat? This was discussed ad infinitum yesterday.’ Mr. Omega scalded him with a fiery glare. Although Mr. Alpha had been popular at the school for his own fearful stare of despair, Mr. Omega’s gaze always raised goosebumps on his arms.

‘Okay,’ Mr. Alpha said, ‘let’s go.’ Another sneeze blasted its way out and the sudden throb of numbness around his beleaguered nose felt like his face had been blown off. He blew his nose again and something thick and massive invaded the hanky; for a second, he thought perhaps his nose really had come away.

As his hanky was already too far gone to be of any use he was stuck. Clutching the hanky to his face like he was some sort of amateur highwayman, a congested Dick Turpin, Mr. Alpha looked to his partner with a hand out expecting help.

Mr. Omega’s expression switched from glare to disgust, but said nothing.

‘Mate,’ Mr. Alpha said through his sodden highwayman disguise, ‘have you got a spare tissue or something?’

Mr. Omega walked away. Once he had put several metres between them, he shouted back, ‘Use some leaves. We’re in the countryside, shithead, improvise.’

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1930
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