Thursday, September 28, 2006

A game of you... and sometimes me

One last drop in the ocean before I go to bed (or read more of Lone Wolf and Cub; whatever comes first).

I was originally going to post more preview pages from my forthcoming comic story Bad Luck Inc. to break up the large blocks of text that seem to be overtaking the blog, but realised that would probably be a bad idea. It's the closest project to being published and as such a publicity storm will likely start once the whole anthology it's in starts building. So there's plenty of time for that where I'll be throwing so much stuff at you about that story that you'll be sick of it before long.

Instead, I'll preview another work in progress, currently untitled. In fact, I'm not even going to say much about it and just let it stand alone for a bit. If interest persists, I'll write more about it (thus giving me more to blog about in the near future). If not, I learn an interesting and valuable lesson in promotion and style. After all, that's partly what this whole blog is about.

So, here you go, and as always, thanks for reading.

***
2


"You still don’t know… do you?"

The voice was harsh and raspy, like a serpent's tongue; the human language crudely ripped from the vocal cords of something not quite human.

"You don’t know…"

It crackled and tingled in the air, tensing everything around it with its softly bubbling slither. Then the words snaked into a cruel scraping laughter.

Anima struggled to block it out as she flicked through the afternoon newspaper's job sections, her eyes scanning rapidly down each column, mentally accepting and rejecting anything that caught her attention. Mortician? No. Paramedic? No. Midwife…
Why was it that she was so attracted to such hard, unusual labours that she didn’t have the qualifications for in the first place?

"You're lost, my child. Lost…"

The 20-something irritably flicked away a long fringe of brown-black hair that had settled across her eyes, trying again but never taking in the printed words. For several minutes she battled against the malaise, before eventually giving up and throwing the newspaper to the vacant spot on the settee. It was there she sat for several more minutes, captured by her tiny one bedroom flat's ceiling. It was dry, eerily white and slightly peeling. And the inexplicable tea stain that was there before she moved in was still festering. The small antique clock Anima's mother had foisted on her tick-tocked hypnotically.

"It pains me. It always has. I want you to awaken."

Anima instinctively reached for her coffee mug, unable to break the hold of the circular brown patch, but as soon as her fingertips touched the handle she realised it was empty. Picking it up, she strolled across the fire red carpet that she never had money to change and into the tiny kitchen. She took out the jar of instant granules, the milk and brown sugar, mixed them together thoroughly before pouring the still hot water into her weathered but favourite mug ('coff-ee who must be obeyed ') and stirring again. By the time she had finished, the coffee had matched her complexion; a perfect light brown mix. Next to the sink, wet with kitchen milieu disappointment, laid the most recent employment rejection letter. Anima shook her head and threw it into the bin.
And still the voice scratched through her skull.

"So much potential. So sad.

"Hm. Speaking of sad..."


The trill of the phone cut through room. Anima scowled, refusing to deviate from the warm hug of her coffee, letting the ring persist until the click-beep of her answering machine took over. "Hey, this is A," it recited happily, "I'm not here right now because I'm probably at your house watching your TV, stealing your money, drinking your booze and eating your food." It beeped again and a sheepish male voice was next.

"Erm, hey… Annie, are you, you know, there? No, course you're not, stupid, or I wouldn’t be talking to a machine… so stupid… umm… I just wanted to... you know. For last week. I didn’t mean to… well, I,…" there was a pause for a few seconds, filled with a growing tension in Anima's hands, her reflective eyes taking up the reddish tint of her carpet while she walked into the living room. "… it's just… I… ah shit." There was the swallowing gulp-click sound as the phone hung up. Anima looked at the machine with a blazing glare.

"You're isolated. Unsure. But you don’t have to be alone."

The rage in Anima's eyes increased and the phone started to tremble slightly, as if cooking on a hot hob. A small trail of steam began to rise from its black plastic trim, curling into an impossible spiral-shaped snake that rose to the top of ceiling.

"Oh… I like this… this is good… I do so enjoy your flashes of… rebellion…"

Anima's eyes widened suddenly, and the red evaporated with the sound of the phone clunking still. The patterns of the steam lazily spread into a more sporadic and natural formation. Anima sat back down on her couch and sipped her coffee.

Then the phone rang again, albeit, with a slightly distorted ringer. Anima let the answering machine get it, hoping her emotional excess hadn't damaged that as well. Once the answering protocol finished, the beep cut in and the male voice returned. "Christ… you must think I'm a total tool… I'm at work and… yeah, you probably don’t want to know about that… anyway… I erm, I just wanted to… the other night, look, I didn’t mean to not show up… and those text messages, they were… it's not like I want to stop going out… more… erm, you know, being able to see other peop… it's early days, you get me…? I… oh fer christ's sa-" Click.

Anima sipped her coffee. She ignored the burning on her tongue given that it wasn't as hot as whatever was burning in her belly.

"You shouldn’t fight it… Something big is coming. You won't be able to ignore it for much longer. None of us will."

A few words started to form at the back of Anima's throat, but she refused to release them, concentrating on the drink instead. It was starting to lose its taste.

"You father doesn’t truly know. Not since he was… tainted. But I know. The rest of us know. We can feel it. Things are changing.

"We are approaching the omega."


Again the phone rang. Anima gave it two rings before slamming her mug down, sloshing some remaining coffee on to the wooden desk beside the settee. She angrily picked up the receiver, not even registering the heat that was coming from it. "Stop calling me, you-"

"Ms Serap?"

Not male. It was a gentle mannered female voice. Anima swallowed back her rage as much as possible. "Yeah, hi… sorry, I thought you were someone else." She laughed nervously, hoping it was enough to disarm any potential annoyance. "Sorry."

"Ms Serap, this is City Hospital, Birmingham-"

A slight jolt ran through Anima's body.

"-your father wishes to see you. Can you make it sometime today before visiting hours close?"

Anima's voice croaked a little. "I… yeah, sure. Tell him I'll be over in a couple hours."

She said goodbye and put the phone down slowly. Then she picked up her coffee and started to drink again. It was still hot. "Did you know about that?"

"Now is the winter of our-"

"Knock that shit off already," she rounded irately. "I'm being serious now. No games."

The voice rattled as if clearing its throat. "It was… expected."

"A little warning would be appreciated. I'm not exactly on an even keel right now. As you've seen."

"Some things should always remain a surprise."

"Mm." She continued to calmly sip her drink, trying to disguise the shake that had developed in her hands. "Why is it that your stupid spooky bastard routine doesn’t freak me anymore, but the prospect of visiting Dad always has the opposite effect?"

The corner of the room flickered with a black shadow. "He is your father. He always had a rather… powerful, impression about him. Even after The Fall."

"The Fall." Anima took a large and final gulp of her coffee. "Seems like everything revolves around that."

"It was a defining event in our history. You are testament to that. Many may not know, but you are. In every way."


"And I'm reminded with every breath." She stood up and scooped her jangling house keys and purse off the same table her drink rested on. "If you're going to bug me all day, can I trust you to at least look after my shithole while I'm gone?"

There was another flicker in the corner of the room, but no answer. Anima, who was close to her front door, turned to see if there was anything there. Nothing. She sighed and opened the door, a dry mumble under her breath. "Fine." Then, even quieter: "I'm still wondering what I did to deserve a demon Godfather."

The door slammed behind her as she left.

Inside, a corner's shadow appeared again. And the voice remerged, equally as quiet as his Goddaughter's.

"You were born..."

***

[All the above is ©2007 ~ Corey Brotherson, unless noted otherwise and cannot be used without permission. Thank you.]

3 comments:

emma said...

Please do continue with this.

Steve said...

that's actually pretty bloody good. Apart from the last line, which is way too schlocky for the rest of it :)

Writing Gaijin said...

I was actually thinking about the last line alot - given this is a first draft (albeit edited for public consumption) it may not survive the final cut.
That line is fairly important to the story, but I run the risk of hitting people over the head with it, so by the time I do a few more chapters it may well be redundant...

Thank you both (and all the rest who've told me they've read it) for taking the time to read -and comment.