October 18, 2008

In the Hands of Others (15 of 20)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Tam said, ‘The handle turns.’

Ariadne opened her eyes. She thought she’d only closed her eyes for a moment, but her internal clock told her that minutes had passed. ‘Sorry Tammy what did you say?’

Tamsin’s young but indented face swelled before her, pock-marked through bad food and bad vices, breaking what should have been delightful feminine features into edged, masculine ones. Dark, lifeless hair fell around her ears. Her scratchy voice asked, ‘I asked if you’re okay love. What are you doing sleeping on the stairs? You should be resting in bed.’

‘Why didn’t anybody come and help me?’

Tam helped her up off the floor. Ariadne was a little giddy but okay; still exhausted. Tamsin said, ‘I didn’t hear you call or anything.’

‘Fay attacked me, she-‘

‘Fay? Fay’s not been here.’

Afternoon light was still streaming through the windows so she’d hadn’t dozed off for that long. ‘Fay was here.’

‘Ariadne, I swear to you, she ain’t been here. You must’ve been dreaming.’

Ariadne touched her face; it felt bruised where Fay had attacked her. ‘Someone hit me. My face hurts. I didn’t dream that.’

Tam peered at Ariadne’s face. ‘You do look a little swollen, but you’ve also been crying. Did Bobby…?’

Ariadne was irritated. Everybody seemed to bad-mouth Bobby. ‘Don’t be stupid, Bobby wouldn’t hit me. Listen to me. Fay was here, she was here. She said we had to do something. I didn’t dream it. She left me something by the bed.’

They both moved as one yet for opposing reasons; Ariadne wanted to prove Fay had been here while Tam wanted to prove she hadn’t. Beside the bed, on top of a cabinet, was a blue A4-sized ring bound folder.

Ariadne hesitated as if it were booby trapped. Tamsin picked the folder up without concern, unaware of what it contained. As she read some of the details, her eyes widened.

‘Ariadne,’ she said, ‘what the fuck did Fay say we were supposed to do?’

‘I think we should all talk about this together.’

Tam kept fingering the pages in the folder, but now her carefree attitude was gone. She held the binder as if it were soiled, fearful that something might come off in her hands, something that wouldn’t wash off with soap and water. She shook her head, shuddering. ‘Christ.’

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 0901

October 4, 2008

In the Hands of Others (14 of 20)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Morgana followed the downward curve of the street, moving around the shoppers as if she were one of them. She politely apologised when bumping into someone’s shopping bag. Amongst the sinners, like one of them.

Mr. Alpha hugged the left side of the street, trying to keep a safe distance. He glanced across at Mr. Omega on the right side; he was a little closer, a bit too close. Morgana might catch him in a reflection or turn a bit too suddenly, catching the old man in her tracks.

They couldn’t lose her again. Not this close. He could go back to finishing his twenty, go full robe, and earn the respect of his fellow Clothmen. Mr. Omega would stop giving him a hard time. He’d have a mobile to Supply. His heart pounded so hard with the thought that all the trouble of the previous months was almost at an end.

But he was too excited and was likely to make a mistake. He tried to calm himself, reciting the meditations of The-God-To-Be in his head, but it had little effect. Mr. Alpha was giddy. He was going to beat the living fucking crap out of the bitch and shoot her in the head many times, slit her throat and cut her goddamn head off, making sure she was dead dead dead. He’d do it right here in the street if Mr. Omega would let him. Fuck her! Fuck all these people!

Christ. Self-control.

Then he realised Morgana had sped up, her walk turning into a fast tango around each tourist and shopper. Damn; she’d made them.

Mr. Omega picked up his pace, trying to close the distance between them, dancing around the shoppers. He made a mistake and plunged into a group of kids of bright colours and elderly disrespect. His punishment for disturbing a hive of bees was obstruction. One of them barked: ‘Git out the way, you old focking tool!’

Morgana was putting more distance between them; Mr. Alpha accelerated from a fast walk into a short jog and crossed the street to take up Mr. Omega’s position. It didn’t matter as she’d seen them now. It might be time to wave his badge around and get the public to help him take down Morgana, but it was very risky. He was not to make decisions like that. The Cloth did not approve of mavericks.

From nowhere, shopaholics and tourists flooded into Grafton Street from side roads, completely blocking Mr. Alpha’s path. He pressed on, diving into a flood of inane multi-lingual chatter and beeping digital cameras.

The outer layer of the crowd was light and fluffy and Mr. Alpha edged his way through the sinners. As he pushed them aside one after another, foreign-accented apologies sliced through the air around him. He could still see Morgana. It was still okay. Still okay.

The crowd intensified, becoming more dense, as if he’d waded into hardening cement. A pulse rippled through Mr. Alpha’s left arm and his breathing became heavy and laboured. The crowd was crushing him, preventing him from moving at all.

Morgana was now just a speck in the distance. ‘Please,’ he shouted. ‘Let me pass. Let me pass!’

His words swallowed in the crowd’s white noise, the tourists constricted him even more, cutting off his ability to speak. They continued to crush the Clothman until he could no longer breathe. His legs collapsed, but the crowd pinned him upright, a puppet amongst the many. Mr. Alpha drifted in their tide for a moment, then he slipped through them to the road surface.

From the tarmac, he watched the tourists swirl around him like the mouth of black tornado descending. They rotated around him, cameras bleeping and clicking, chanting: ‘The handle turns! The handle turns!’

The tornado closed in.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 0955