April 27, 2008

The Weeping Maw (10 of 11)

Thread: Mission

‘I’ll be down in a minute, Mum, okay?’ Henry shouted from his bedroom.

There it was, sitting on YouTube. Brenna, you bloody bitch! A mobile phone video of a real live dead body.

He lost his job, he’d angered Mum and now the internet knew that he’d let his friends see a dead body before he dialled 999.

If the police didn’t call on him again soon, someone else surely would. He started typing an e-mail to YouTube, to ask them to take the video down. He would use words like ‘insensitive’ and ‘offensive’ in the e-mail.


‘Alright! Alright!’ he shouted back. In panic, he kicked the power off button on the beige PC under his desk. The e-mail vanished, along with games of both Minesweeper and Spider that he had not finished.

‘Oh shit shit,’ he moaned aloud. Henry started the PC up again, waited for the usual messages and rubbish to get displayed as it loaded Windows. A blue screen appeared, complaining about his hard drive being corrupt. Brenna had told him many times not to hit the power button to switch off his PC. Always tell Windows to shut down. You might get a blue screen saying that your hard drive is corrupt, she had said.

There would be no e-mail tonight.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1509

April 19, 2008

The Weeping Maw (9 of 11)

Thread: Mission


‘I’m supposed to be the strong one here,’ Tom said with a constipated smile. ‘It’s your life that was dashed against the rocks, not mine. Look at me. Perfect health. With a beautiful eye for terrible cardigans.’

Colin pulled a bit closer to Tom. ‘Rrrreally, ‘sokay. I wuh-wuh-wanna help. Paaayback. You jus’ name.’ He took a deep breath. ‘Whasss problem?’

‘Did you watch the news recently? Oh no, of course you didn’t. Silly me. You wouldn’t have known. There was this American tourist you see…’

Colin knew immediately. ‘Missshell Norf.’

‘Yes,’ Tom said, turning to face Colin, puzzled.

‘I ssssaw pick-pick-ture in Metro. I… rrrremembered. You talk… long time.’ The effort to get these words out was grinding him down. Exhaustion was creeping up on him. He wanted to go back to the multi-coloured jigsaw; it was more restful than this.

Tom smiled. ‘Actually she did most of the talking. She preferred to be called Mizzy. She was a strange girl. Happy and blessed with opportunity, but unable to deal with success. I’m glad you remember. I saw you skulking about at the back.’

Colin felt aggrieved. ‘Not sssspying. No, no. My firssst week an’ an’ wun’ned to ssssee-‘

Tom grabbed Colin around elbows, almost restraining him. ‘Colin, Colin, don’t get so agitated. I’m not trying to attack you. I’m your friend. Always remember that. Calm down.’

Colin nodded but shook out of Tom’s grip; touching was uninvited and unwelcome. ‘Whassit? Wha’ you… wan? Fr-fr-frrrrom me?’ His mouth was the wrong shape for every syllable and consonant, mutating them into grunts and slurrs. He wanted Tom to get to the bollocking point.

‘I went to see the police. They… they don’t have a clue. She died in a bad way. They did not tell me the truth. She deserved better. She had come unstuck in her own life, drowned by events of – of her own making. She had such pretty eyes that looked so sad. She was-‘

‘Tom!’ The point, get to the bloody point.

The reverend couldn’t quite look into Colin’s eyes as he made his request, his gaze fixated on Colin’s neck instead: ‘The police won’t do it. So I want you to. I want you to find out who did it. She deserves that.’

Colin saw the deep honesty in the young reverend’s eyes and was compelled. Even though what Tom was asking was huge, Colin was overwhelmed with a sense of duty. He waved his arms towards his chest, imploring the reverend for information. ‘Al-rrright. Tell. Tell meeee. All.’

Tom began to tell Mizzy’s story. When Tom was finished, dawn was piercing the skin of the horizon.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 0917

April 6, 2008

The Weeping Maw (8 of 11)

Thread: Mission

From the balcony that circled the spire, Colin had expected to see the sparkling web of a city at night, the glistening vibrancy of a London after dark stretching into an unknowable horizon. St. Paul’s Cathedral. The London Eye. The Houses of Westminster. The frayed edges of the suburbs. In fact, the view was bollocks. Office blocks and modern buildings cut out dark, towering silhouettes, swallowing chunks of the vista in their hungry jaws.

‘You see this?’ Tom said, standing beside him, looking out into the cluttered cityscape around them, smiling. The wind blew through Tom’s blonde, stiff locks, disturbing his usual tidy and clean facade.

A crisp packet drifted through the air, hovered briefly before them. Ready Salted. It continued on its journey.

Colin didn’t want to offend and glanced around a bit before answering. ‘Uhnmmm, yerh.’

‘Looking at it… what would you think of God, if you were a believer when you saw this?’

Ugly. Wrong. Dirt and grime and fake hope. A broken palace, decorated with pretentious grandeur and corpses on trees. An economic engine that took no prisoners and made a handful of mega-winners. This was what he saw.

‘Come on, speak to me,’ shouted the reverend, still smiling.

Colin didn’t want to speak, but he forced the words out. ‘Yerh, well… would ffffink, why? Why werd he do such a thing?’

Tom didn’t respond.

Had he answered correctly? ‘Erm, ‘sraight?’

Tom responded, ‘Personally, I find it magnificent. He allows us to build such grand dreams. Many fail, of course, many fail. But he won’t stop us from trying. Keep making new dreams, perhaps better than before. Perhaps… worse…’

The reverend’s eyes were empty, but his smile was implacable.

‘Making new dreams is like making new beliefs, and belief can be a terrible curse as well as a blessing, Colin,’ the rector continued, an empty grin straining his lips. ‘Just intensely believing in something, doesn’t make it true. It can be made into a trap, like a web. Reeling in victims. London itself is a trap, which is why I came here, really.’

That was exactly why Colin had no religion; take your pick of arbitrary beliefs. Anything that wasn’t provable could be made true through belief. It reminded him of some rule from higher maths that reflected the same idea, God’s theorem or something like that.

Colin wanted to believe in a just god; but a just god wouldn’t have trampled over his life on a whim. Suddenly, the anger was back. Colin stared out at the offices and the drunken wanderers frightened to go home to an empty flat, or worse, to a flat with someone there, waiting and judging. Unaware, blissfully ignorant of the fine line between their inconsiderate existence, and the end of everything.

Bollocks. Snap out of it. Poor, poor me.

‘Tom, uhnmmm, whassron? Rrrrong?’ He was flustered, unable to get the words out he wanted. He sounded stupid. Like an idiot. Like idiotic bollocks. People judged him all the time. People thought he was an idiot. He wasn’t an idiot. Tom, concentrate on Tom. Something was wrong with Tom.

Tom turned, facing Colin head on. He stretched his smile as far as it would go; it now looked surreal, like a sad clown. ‘Oh, nothing, really. Nothing, well… I just… just need your help.’

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2105