March 6, 2007

The Crane (9 of 19)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

| fuck is she? Jesus fuck, where is she?’

Mr. Alpha opened his eyes and saw the sun straining through an overcast sky. The jittery silhouette of Mr. Omega jutted into his field of vision and then the sun became a light bulb and the white sky a featureless ceiling. Alarmed that time had passed, he sat upright, plunging into a vicious headache, and winced.

Morgana was no longer tied to the bed. She was no longer in the room.

‘I was only gone for a couple of minutes,’ Mr. Omega said. ‘How the fuck did she escape? How the fucking fuck did you let her overpower you? Didn’t you bind her tight and proper?’

Mr. Alpha was still disoriented and stuttered, ‘D-Don’t remember.’

Mr. Omega held his jaw, shaking his head as his gaze darted around the room. ‘This is fucking bad.’

Mr. Alpha felt woozy but tried standing up anyway. ‘I’m not sure…’ he opened and then started careening. Mr. Omega grabbed him before he fell.

Holding him up, the old man appeared to be wrestling with a decision – whether to take care of his damaged colleague or berate him for letting Ms. Judas Iscariot escape.

‘Look, just sit here on the bed,’ he said helping Mr. Alpha over to the bed.

The room was spinning and Mr. Alpha was at a loss to explain what had happened. He went over the events in his head in case he had missed something out. Morgana started singing. Then he was at a waterfall. Then Morgana was gone. Nonsense, complete nonsense. Reality was not a scratchy old record with a tendency to skip. She must have broken her bonds and knocked him out. Maybe Morgana had had a knife. Did they check her for weapons? Maybe that was the mistake.

‘How long were you out of the room?’ he asked the old man, starting to grasp the gravity of the situation.

Mr. Omega was on the mobile. ‘Oh now I’ve got a signal. Can you believe it? A signal. I was out of the room for only a few minutes, three at the most.’

Then he was talking to Supply. ‘This is Mr. Omega, Keswick South. Put through a priority call to the Keswick school. The renegade Morgana has managed to escape… that’s correct, I am contradicting the previously reported status… yes, of course I know it was just a few minutes ago, but she managed to down my partner… no, not dead.’

Mr. Alpha caught a scowl on Mr. Omega’s face when he said those last few words. Mr. Alpha then realised that all of the brownie points he’d acquired had been jettisoned through this incident. But what was the mistake? What had he done wrong? Was it really his knot skills? Why couldn’t he remember what had happened? And why the hell had Mr. Omega left him alone, a junior, with an experienced Clothman gone wrong? The situation had slipped out of his grasp and over the edge of a precipice. His chest tightened and, for an instant, he wondered whether a fit boy like himself could have a heart attack.

While Mr. Omega continued to spar with Supply on his mobile, Mr. Alpha observed the obese suitcase open on the bed. So she had been in a hurry to leave when they arrived, but where was she going? Frantic to find something of value, something to salvage from the fucked situation, he started going through the contents of the case. Apart from the clothes, he found a few folders stuffed with newspaper clippings, handwritten notes and photocopies; some cross-religion Cloth project she had been working on. No immediate clues and there was too much for him to go through right now.

To his surprise, wherever he touched Morgana’s documentation, dark red fingerprints were impressed like bloody footprints in snow. He was positive that he had washed his hands earlier, but they were wet with blood again. Focussing on something had eased the dizziness and he decided he could get up to wash again. But in the bathroom, the mirror gave him something he hadn’t bargained for – the blood was from his face. He had a bloody goatee just like Morgana had displayed, minutes earlier.

This time, instead of taking care not to knock any toiletries over, he whacked them all onto the floor in anger. He took his time washing, dabbing at his face with moistened toilet paper fragments, trying to find the origin of the blood, its painful source. When all of the blood was gone, he was perplexed. No injuries.

Suddenly, he realised where the blood had come from, and bent over the toilet, jamming a couple of fingers down his throat. Hot bile erupted, burning and scalding his mouth on its way out. The vomiting robbed him of the little energy he had. He coughed, trying to spit out the vomit that hadn’t made it out, cloying like some hideous, acidic rice pudding.

Mr. Alpha pulled himself up using the basin, unsteady, and his eyes stung from the involuntary tears. He leant down to pick up a hand soap dispenser that he had dismissed to the floor, moving in a lazy fashion like one of those funfair grabbers that never actually grab any of the prizes. He squirted all of its contents into his hand and stared at the off-white fluid, steeling himself.

Closing his eyes, he poured all of it into his mouth and started rinsing. He grimaced but bore the disgusting taste, sloshing the soap around. He used his tongue to ensure the soap reached into every nook and cranny.

Once he was convinced that he’d cleaned her away, he spat out the now yellow mixture into the sink. He held onto it for dear life; his legs were shuddering, unable to bear weight. Acrid fumes stinging his nasal passages, he whispered to himself, ‘Jesus.’

Morgana had kissed him.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2245

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