March 21, 2007

The Crane (11 of 19)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Mr. Alpha pretended to be daydreaming into his latte whilst listening to Mr. Omega’s conversation with Supply.

‘Sorry, Supply, could you repeat? My signal keeps cutting out,’ Mr. Omega said into his mobile, a large, black mussel shell against his ear. Perhaps he could hear the sea.

Realising he’d been staring at his latte for far too long, Mr. Alpha jerked himself upright as if snapping out of a daydream and then surveyed the other customers.

Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf on a weekday. Most of the people here were just escaping their skyscraper jobs for a few minutes to talk to friends. They would trade grubby thoughts of career, self and sex to make themselves feel better, feel that someone else understood them, that they were not alone. A weekly shot of normality in the arm and then carry on with their sinner lifestyles without the inconvenience of regret. He wanted to tell them all that no one forgave them, but they wouldn’t understand. Living with invented gods or, even worse, delusions of a cold, atheistic universe caused spiritual atrophy.

Eastern European accents barked across the counter, trying to top the volume of the background jazz, making up orders that resembled the fragmented request they had heard. Suits lined up waiting for their conveyor belt coffee, assured of familiar tastes. Sometimes a backpacked student or a mother going out for a giggle with the gals broke up the monotone queue with a thin dose of colour. Tables filled the rest of the space, each one with customers in orbit, flirting satellites that never overstayed their welcome.

What did these people talk about? Did any of them realise that a couple of Clothmen sat in their midst? Mr. Alpha then realised he had no idea whether any of the other attending customers were also Clothmen. Maybe the frumpy woman with a woolly, jade cardigan in the far corner sitting with a man, her head thrown back trying to charm the last dregs of foam out of her cup, a caffeine tit. No, definitely not. She was demonstrating a dependence on the material.

Mr. Alpha approved of the sanitised structures of Canary Wharf around him. It was only the people that seem to dirty its purity. There was far too much chaos and scum in the human psyche. Too many paradoxes that were only maintained through force of will. There were the City mothers who were well-dressed in sharp suits and revealing necklines, pretending to be anything other than a mother. There were those who hated their job and talked about nothing but finding another job, as if it would be an improvement, failing to realise that they were actually carriers of a contagion of self-oppression.

He saw this and acknowledged that they had a long way to go before The-God-To-Be could be made manifest. Another voice, buried deep in his head challenged him with the words: this is what we made, know that we are terminal.

‘Truth is ghost,’ Mr. Omega said and closed his mobile.

Mr. Alpha cursed himself, having pretended to ignore Mr. Omega’s conversation so well to have actually ignored it.

‘So what’s the story?’

‘Weren’t you listening to anything I said? Observation is root, Mr. Alpha.’ His monotonous, nasal-inflected speech felt even more irritating than usual.

He glared back without emotion for a moment. The anger passed, an asteroid just glancing the atmosphere. ‘I was observing our surroundings, Mr. Omega. What’s the word?’

‘It’s highly possible that Morgana’s going to look for her parents. There’s only been a handful of renegades, but nearly all of them went looking for their past. We’re going to find her parents and wait.’

‘That’s it?’

‘It’s a fucking good plan, Mr. Alpha.’

‘Well, how are we supposed to find her parents? If a Clothman talks about the time before we entered the Cloth, we get sliced.’ He clicked his fingers. ‘Just like that.’ He added a cutting motion across his throat.

Mr. Omega sighed. ‘The Cloth remembers for us. They’ve sent us some details by e-mail.’

‘Really?’ He leaned forward over his half-empty latte, keen and interested. ‘We’ve got details of another Clothman’s history?’

‘Yes, don’t get too excited about it, you fuck-knock. I have to report to Supply if you get suspiciously interested in illegal information.’

‘Jesus, what can you tell me?’

‘We’re off to Colchester.’

‘Never been there, sounds like a fucking horrible place. Coal-chester.’

The frumpy woman pulled the coffee cup away from her face to reveal foam smothering her nose and mouth. She licked her lips and stretched her tongue up to the tip of her nose, wiping away the creamy bubbles as best she could. She experienced pleasure, grinning through the stain on her face. Her tongue seemed unnaturally long, managing to reach across her cheeks like some hideous tentacle. Her coffee partner, a male in a taupe suit, reached over and wiped the remaining foam with his fingers. He wasn’t wiping it off, though, he was just smearing it around, making the mess worse.

Mr. Alpha noticed the man’s index finger pop into the woman’s mouth for a second. Sickening. Just sickening.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2319

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