June 24, 2007

The Crane (19 of 19)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

The rod between his legs, hard and firm, poked the sheets. He opened his eyes, and saw the electric lines of the clock display. They told him it was 3AM.

‘Bollocks.’ Mr. Alpha couldn’t believe he’d made it to sleep only to have a nightmare break his slumber. Three hours left before the old man would be up and about, doing his morning meditation.

Mr. Alpha rubbed his eyes, disbelieving how much of an idiot he had been in the dream. The execution of Morgana’s parents had taken their toll, but he was no fucking crybaby. He had earned some more respect from Mr. Omega, having carried out his duty, no matter how dark it might be. Clothmen ruled their emotions, trusting belief as their rock. The orders of the Saints were clean and pure. The execution was without sin and he remained unsoiled, in the employ of The-God-To-Be.

No matter where this road took him, he was not going to abandon its course. A throat slit in the countryside. Distraught parents deceived into suicide. Morgana was not going down without a fight. Even if it took them ten years to hunt the tart down, he’d be there, every step of the way. Two bullets in the head, darling. Two bullets blessed with Cloth love for you.

He could make out a couple of hand prints on the window and, between them, another greasy smudge. The kind of smudge that a head might make. Had he actually got out of bed? He could see the crane from the bed; it still stood there, proud and unwavering, loaded with threat and menace. No fog.

Then he noticed the tip of the crane’s jib was broken. The last section of the crawlway dangled, swaying in the breeze, like something had spilled from its structure.

He reached for his jacket beside the bed and pulled out a small, shiny emerald green diary. He flicked through the pages quickly, wanting to check if he had imagined the last entry as well. It hadn’t been there when he’d recovered the diary from the Bolts’ house. Perhaps he had just imagined it. It would be better if he had. It would all be better.

As he reached the page he was looking for, he considered the crane’s purpose. It was unclear what it was trying to build. So far, there were only foundations, the dim, fragmented outlines of something sinister and alien that didn’t fit with the surrounding urbanwork. This was progress. This is what we make.

Mr. Omega emitted nasal snorts like a jammed machine gun. How comfortable he sounded in his sleep, his dream universe consistent yet incomplete. It lacked knowledge. The last entry of the diary, dated after the death of the Bolts, was just legible enough in the grim light from the alarm clock.

Tricked the Cloth into killing Mum and Dad. The handle turns.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1318

June 16, 2007

The Crane (18 of 19)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

‘What in fuck’s name do you think you’re doing?’ shouted Mr. Omega behind him, a gale overpowering his voice.

Mr. Alpha lay prostrate on the mesh, peering over the edge into the emptiness below. The fog had consumed everything. He glanced behind. Mr. Omega, his tie flapping like a yellow streamer, clambered through the jib towards him, red with rage. No surprise.

Turning back to the sea of fog, he felt its emptiness touch him. He sought a glimmer of understanding or perhaps hope that past events had some design, some just purpose. Doubt had poisoned him. Sin had stained him. The Saints knew what they were doing, didn’t they?

‘Do the Saints know what they’re doing?’ he said. He flipped over to see Mr. Omega grimacing down upon him, perched on the upper ridges of the jib.

‘Do the Saints know what they’re doing? Did you say that? Did you actually fucking say that?’ The old man shook his head in disbelief. ‘I ought to trade you in, right now, right bloody now. You could’ve got me killed pulling this stupid stunt, coming out here alone. Fuck you, Mr. Alpha. Fuck you.’

Tears emerged from Mr. Alpha’s eyes, slipping down his temples. He blinked at Mr. Omega but then let his head loll to one side. ‘We executed the parents of the chosen…’

‘Oh, fuck, boy.’ He blew out hard as a harsh, biting wind whipped them both, whistling and taunting. ‘Morgana is a fucked-up loser, she’s no Clothman. Her parents just can’t be afforded the same status.’

‘That means nothing.’ Mr. Alpha tried to focus on where the hotel should be, but saw only fog. ‘Whose fault is it that Morgana has fallen? Her parents who gave her life? Or the Cloth that taught and raised her?’

‘Are you thinking about your own parents?’

Mr. Alpha wasn’t stupid. ‘Of course not, Mr. Omega. I’m a Clothman, through and through. But we respect the parents of the adopted. They’re about the only characters that we do give a damn about. It feels like sin. We should never have to take them out. Only… only if there’s no other way.’

‘That’s the key, you bloody cockhead. It’s Morgana’s own fault. She made her parents a target. I didn’t want to harm them any more than you did.’ Mr. Omega sounded uncomfortable with his own honesty and hesitated before carrying on. ‘But we had no choice.’

Mr. Alpha turned to face his partner again. ‘Exactly, mate. Exactly right. She gave us no choice.’ Either the cold or his nerves made his teeth chatter . ‘Y-you haven’t seen her diary. You don’t know what she wrote. A little green book. A fucking little green book.’ The wind burrowing into his eyes had inflamed them, he kept having to blink.

‘What do you mean?’ Mr. Omega said, perturbed. ‘What diary?’

The mesh suddenly gave way with a clink and Mr. Alpha found himself flying through the air. Mr. Omega’s hands reached out but disappeared into the heavens, obscured by the fog.

For several seconds, the free fall felt peaceful. He couldn’t see anything save the ambient glow of the fog around him. Alone and without anything to feed his senses. A natural isolation tank.

His back smashed against the ground as a rusty post drove through his groin.

Shock blinded him to the pain at first. He stared in horror at the post that had impaled him. It thrust upwards between his legs, smeared in blood and loose flesh. Out of desperation, he grabbed it, thinking he could pull himself up. His hands slipped and rubbed across its wet and sticky exterior, unable to gain purchase.

His mouth quivered, trying to birth a scream.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1422

June 10, 2007

The Crane (17 of 19)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Mr. Bolt took the tablet from Mr. Omega’s gloved hand and placed it on his tongue like the body of Christ. A defeated expression crossed his face as he swallowed and his weary eyes fell away from the Clothmen.

Mr. Bolt shifted backwards and lay down beside his wife. He clasped her hand and whispered something; she whispered something back. Her eyes were closed but a contented smile remained on her face. Mr. Bolt shut his eyes too, wetness glinting beneath the eyelashes.

Mr. Omega dragged up a chair and sat beside Morgana’s parents, watching them.

Through the window, Mr. Alpha saw nothing but a few Clothmen wandering down the windy roadside, eating grease-drenched chips out of a basket of paper, laughing and jostling, playing their roles. Beneath the glossy veneer lay the knowledge of what was really happening. Part of him almost hoped for Morgana to make an entrance and rescue her parents. They didn’t deserve this.

With Morgana pressing in on his thoughts again, he pulled out his handgun for comfort. If she turned up, he’d shoot her down. No games with ropes this time. Shoot her down, good and dead.

‘Put that away,’ Mr. Omega whispered. ‘Show some bloody respect.’

The old man was right. Mr. Alpha slid the gun back into its holster.

He watched Mr. Omega, safe that he could stare at him from the window without raising the old bastard’s hackles. Mr. Omega’s sat motionless, dedicated and dutiful, observing the Bolts. Mr. Alpha wanted to know what was going on inside that brain of his; he let nothing slip. He knew that Mr. Omega had doubts as well, but demonstrated remarkable control over them.

Mr. Alpha approached the bed to peer at the two still forms lying there.

There were a few black marks etched into the wooden footboard that he didn’t remember seeing earlier. The marks moved; it was a shadow, crawling up onto the bottom of the bed. The shadow then drifted across its expanse until it blotted out Morgana’s parents. It was the shadow of a hand.

He turned to see if, somehow, his hand or another’s was obscuring the light from the bulb in the ceiling. Nothing. He looked back at the bed and the shadow was gone. A trick of the light, perhaps. Perhaps.

Mr. Omega reached over to check their pulses and nodded solemnly to himself. ‘They’re gone,’ he said.


‘Yes. Certain.’

Mr. Alpha took up position beside the body of Mr. Bolt while Mr. Omega leant over Mrs. Bolt.

Mr. Omega blessed Morgana’s parents. ‘Belief is rock.’

‘Truth is ghost,’ Mr. Alpha concluded.

Mr. Omega took out a manilla envelope from the depths of his grey jacket. The envelope contained the suicide note and he laid it on the dressing table against the wall.

‘I can’t believe we did this,’ said Mr. Alpha, unable to leave the bedside. He felt worse than he did during the build-up to the quarantine. His stomach was doing somersaults and his thoughts were disjointed, derailed. ‘I can’t believe this.’

Mr. Omega came over to him, without even the slightest hint of reproach and put an arm on his shoulder.

‘Mr. Alpha,’ he said. ‘One for the road, I think.’

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1913