February 23, 2007

The Crane (7 of 19)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Mr. Alpha rose and headed into the bathroom, determined to get his hands clean. His pain strongbox was beginning to crack and some symptoms of his sickness were returning. You can’t keep a good cold down.

It was the kind of hotel bathroom he’d become accustomed to since he’d started working in the field. This particular style could be summarised as “Nothing Fancy”. Everything was a muddy white and the fatigued tiles and scratched taps would have been more at home in a disused asylum. An opaque shower curtain hung from a handful of brass rings on a rail, boasting repellent brush strokes of something brown across its surface that had resisted generations of cleaners; he had no intention of inspecting the bath that lay beyond it. Toiletries bullied one another over small plots of land on the tiny estate around the washbasin. Dull, weary light penetrated the room through a small square window above the toilet.

Cold. No one had taken a bath or shower in here today.

As he moved to wash his hands, he disturbed some of the bottles on the basin. A plastic bottle of Vitamin E enriched moisturiser slipped forwards and broke open against the edge of the basin, splurging its white, scented contents onto his crotch. He muttered a curse at his now Vitamin E enriched trousers. He tried to put the moisturiser back but it was like some nefarious Chinese puzzle, impossible to work out how everything had fitted around the basin in the first place. Puzzles weren’t his thing and he slung the broken bottle through the shower curtain.

He noticed two toothbrushes nuzzling against each other behind where the moisturiser had stood, their bristles entwined. So Mr. Omega wasn’t the only Clothman who thought pairships should share a room.

After washing his hands, he returned to the bedroom where Mr. Omega was still trying to contact Supply. Mr. Alpha dried his hands on a towel and started to wipe the mess from his crotch. Morgana started giggling. At first, it was a suppressed, embarrassed giggle but it soon grew into a shrieking laugh, like she was some hideous Australian banshee.

‘Mr. Omega,’ he said. ‘I don’t see anything funny. A Clothman is dead. Do you find anything amusing?’

Mr. Omega saw what Morgana was laughing at, frowned and then his expression froze. ‘Correct, Mr. Alpha. A Clothman is dead. Some people have no manners.’

‘Oh come on,’ she said, struggling through laughter. Tears were now sliding down her cheeks. ‘Fellas. Come on. Oh God, look! It’s just – just – look –’ She seemed unable to stop, like someone with food poisoning still trying to wretch even though |dust against the stone| there was nothing to bring up.

Mr. Alpha said, ‘Can’t we slip her the blade now? She most surely deserves it.’

Suddenly, her laughter stopped and she cocked her head to one side, looking at Mr. Alpha. ‘You can’t kill me,’ she said. ‘They want to know why.’ She nodded towards Mr. Omega as if she and Mr. Alpha were secret collaborators.

‘So tell me,’ Mr. Alpha said. ‘Tell me why. Then we can finish this. Tell me the fuck why.’ He felt hatred ripple under his skin, nerve endings electric, ready to expunge the sinner, this traitor, this blemish on the Weave.

Mr. Alpha stared into Morgana’s bruised and bloody face, daring her. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Mr. Omega step forward as if to intervene, but stop himself. They both wanted to know the answer to this question.

‘Do you believe I killed Mr. Mogdred? Are you fellas really interested in the truth?’ She closed her eyes and her head flopped forward as if one of her puppet strings had been severed, leaving her to dangle from the rope tied to the bedposts. ‘I’m not ready for you yet.’

‘Fuck this,’ Mr. Omega said. ‘I’m going to try to get a signal in the corridor. Watch her. And make sure she keeps her twat shut.’ He exited, slamming the door behind him.

Mr. Alpha wiped away the moisturiser and looked at Morgana’s open suitcase on the bed. It had been packed beyond capacity, a Jenga-like stack of clothes, weapons and folders ready for collapse. Maybe she had been rushing to get away, but the way she spoke… she didn’t seem to be in a panic at all. Something occurred to him.

‘Bitch. Are you working with anyone? Should we expect any surprise visitors?’

She looked up and offered a soft, sympathetic smile, the blood already drying around her mouth like misapplied lipstick. ‘No, mate, just li’l Morgana, that’s all. Is something |tongues curl and slaver| wrong? Is there something I can help you with?’

‘I don’t get this. You. This whole-’

She burst into song. ‘See the sky… the celebrated rainbow in your eye.’

He recognised the tune; it was a song by hippie band It’s a Beautiful Day. Her voice was serene, a surprising contrast to her ugly laughter.

The concentrated moon glow in your eye.’

‘Shut it,’ he shouted, but she continued |in shreds| regardless. He stepped forward |lusting and sexed| and raised a fist, ready to strike. He warned her one last |

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 0111

Leave a Reply