Orpheus: How Far To Serve?

Written by alcoholandaphorism

It has been one month since the last mission. One long, busy month.  Orpheus’ official stance is that the three projectors should undergo counselling after encountering what has now been classified a Shadow Red class entity, or what has become referred to as a spectre.

Tim Scot’s answer is a simple “Fuck Off”.  Michael sits quietly in a session, speaking little and answering no questions that probe further than the immediate. There is no second session for him.  Still in deep sleep projection Geoffrey is appointed a special Projector councillor to which he speaks, following on from the more mundane treatment  that had been dealing with metaphorical ghosts from his path, Of all of them it is Geoffrey who faces most that which happened at the hospital.

Orpheus still have nearly no idea what these Spectres actually are, but Intel gathering operations are numerous.  The questions are being asked in high places. Can these things be rehabilitated. In quieter corners they whisper, should they be? Or can they be an asset to use, to expand Orpheus operation.

In the casual relaxation rooms of Orpheus Sanji has an opinion on the matter.  He looks years older than the projector they met at the recruitment event, perpetual bags lining his eyes now.  His crucible met another shadow class entity.    A skeletal creature engulfed in fire, flickering between steps with stuttering speed.  His crucible mate Donald Williams is now in intensive care with severe burns as a result of attempting to negotiate with the entity, and latest reports indicate he is unlikely to pull through.  “They should be fumigated on sight” Sanji states, simply.  Geoffrey nods “Agreed. Completely” Only Michael hesitates, if not much “We’ve only met two.  We may have just seen the monsters, the criminals.   If they are all like the ones we have met however,  then we take no chances. They must be put down”

There has been a crucible dedicated to the things at Kings Cross. Things believed to be older than ten years and possibly not even ghosts therefore. The agents assigned are Anna Harpers crucible, hotshots even amongst Orpheus agents. No unnecessary risks are being taken here. These are the trailblazers, the people the manuals are written about. If anyone can find out the truth it will be them.

Some other events relate more closely to Timothy’s crucible though. The Owner of Crest View Care Home, the site of their first mission, has been found dead. A suicide after the systematic abuse at his care homes was revealed. Nearly overnight Prime Minister David Cameron’s rhetoric turns from lambasting him for his negligence to describing him as a fine man who got caught up in events beyond his control, and that he should be exonerated posthumously. Meanwhile the extension of private companies into the care industry continues unabated.

Of the rest of Britain’s news the cycle is dominated by an upsurge in celebrity ghost stories. Everyone wishes to be associated with the new in thing. The only interruption is the story of a missing 11 year old girl, Sarah Catlyn who disappeared in Catford. Police are currently mounting a manhunt.

The crucible however is heading out of London.  Their smart phones rang earlier today indicating the arrival of first class GNER train e-tickets to York, and a video attachment that made up their briefing. Their handler, Andy, apologises for not being there in person and goes through the attached  briefing notes.

Orpheus Mission Brief 76

The recent media furore over the incident at Crestview Retirement Home has predominantly been a blessing to our business interests. Whilst we are still a long way from realising our primary goal of generating leverage within Whitehall sufficient to lobby for our political interests, we have managed to raise significant public awareness of Orpheus Group to enter the national consciousness.

While this has brought us much needed publicity and the associated benefits one expects, we have also learned lessons from Crestview, especially with regards to negative media coverage. We must therefore be extremely circumspect with our dealings with the press, a caveat which explicitly applies to crucibles in the field. Do not, under any circumstances engage with media representatives without having been thoroughly briefed beforehand by Sales & Marketing or the legal team. This is especially important with regards to those missions where Shadow-Class PLE’s (read: Spectres) are identified. We have no idea what these things are, but they seem to be hostile. We are awaiting further intel from Annie Harper’s team’s investigation into the King’s Cross hauntings before we decide company policy on these entities. As it currently stands management suggests a policy of observation and containment. It is our hope that these PLE’s can be reasoned with in some way or controlled.

On that note, Andrew Abboh has suggested that we allocate a mission to your crucible that will take advantage of your particular talents, whilst giving you all a chance to wind down from your recent exposure to the entity designated as SCR1 (Shadow Class Red: 1). We also recommend that you take advantage of our internal counselling services following your recent series of hostile encounters with PLE’s.

Our client is a Mr Solomon Birch; a record company executive who is known in the business as ‘Count – Fucking – Dracula’, presumably due to his portfolio of artists (uniformly extreme heavy metal and gothic rock artists) and his reputation of driving a hard bargain from his clients. He has hired us to look into a series of supposed hauntings pertaining to the lead singer of one of his more flamboyant acts: ‘Manger of Shit’. Their lead singer; Samuel Daley (or Samael Shit as he is known to his fans), has been plagued by apparitions, whispered voices and strange messages. Daley is apparently obsessed with the occult, gothic horror and vampirism. His recent album: ‘Angels Raped Asunder: Dark Faerytales from C*%t-paethia’, featured such lurid song titles as: ‘Sodomy Bought Thee Roses (From the Rectum of the Pit)’; ‘Funeral in Phallustein’ and ‘Blood Countess Rises’. Daley is, by all accounts, a deeply colourful individual, who maintains an almost permanent persona of an Eastern European vampire aristocrat. His manager, Mr Birch, assures us that this is all part of their current promotional campaign to boost album sales to their core market. Please ignore all Mr Daley’s frequent references to blood, orgies and necrophilia.

Your mission is to spend time on tour with Manger of Shit as they prepare for the Whitby Goth Festival and attempt to ascertain the truth of the alleged hauntings. Mr Daley and his Manager Mr Birch have made it explicit that they do not want us to fumigate the PLE’s – if indeed there are any. They would rather use the hauntings as part of their marketing campaign. The only danger that we predict here is spending too much time having to listen to Manger of Shit’s so-called music.

As a final note he pleads with the crucible not to be intimidated by Samuel “Shit” Dailies’ stage persona. A well know Goth musician and lead singer of Manger of Shit, he stays in character throughout his promotion of his new album and stage festival at Halloween. They are to meet him at the Black Swan in York.

The train leaves from Kings Cross. Despite the well know incidents there recently the projectors manage to reach the train without a sign of trouble. Nervous energy bleeding off them as they sit in their plush first class carriages they glance around once more at the bright lights and yellow stone that make up Kings Cross. As the train pulls away the view slowly changes from Gothic buttresses to city landscape to the open English countryside.  A veteran of such journeys, Timothy Scott is already fast asleep by this point, grabbing the rest where he can get it.  Effectively alone, Michael turns to the incorporeal form of Geoffrey “So, you can tell me to get lost if you like, but you holding up ok?”

They both know what he’s referring to. The death of the young boy in Hospital a month ago at the hands of a spectre. A death that in part happened as Geoffrey chose to try and warn it off rather than strike to kill.

“I’m in once piece” Geoffrey says

“That wasn’t what I was asking” Michael replies

“I know. I should have taken it down when I had the chance. Not my first mistake and it wont be my last. Won’t do the same again, if I see one”

“Nobody can just do it first time” Michael says in his quiet voice “Not a bad thing.  Taking an existence shouldn’t be easy. You wont hesitate next time”

“Everything you said makes sense. Doesn’t make it easier”

Michael pauses “When you do, when you cross that line. It ain’t easy either. When you cross it, you need to talk. I’m here”

The conversation is broken by the arrival of a camera crew and a minor celebrity. They set up recording a piece on Art History and Supernatural Mythology. As he stares out the window Michael hears them talking about York, the most haunted city in England.  Car headlights flicker in the darkness out of the window and Michael tunes out the rest, something about haunted pubs. York. How long has it been since he was last there he wonders. How long since he came down from the North. Ran down from the North.  His hands shake, that tight knot of hatred back in his chest. Hatred and fear.

In but a few hours later the bone white steeple of Minster Abbey is visible in the distance as they approach York.  Darkness shrouds the rest of the city, the yellow orange glow of street lamps whisps on the darkness.

Under sodium banks of lights the train pulls in, near eleven at night. Iron bridges cross overhead past the train tracks and a clock face shows 12 eternally.  Rested Timothy steps out, holdall bag bulging over his shoulder, looking for a coffee house to rise his spirits. Instead he sees a spirit, a young woman standing atop the bridge across the train tracks staring into the distance with an expression of sorrow. Long hair, dyed red and purple tumbling loose over her indistinct hooded top. She doesn’t react as the three approach.  In spirit Geoffrey walks to her “Hello?”

The woman doesn’t react at first, but an unseen wind rises her hair exposing a deep neck wound, her throat nigh torn out, blood still seeping out into her hoodie, hidden in its darkness.

“Hello” Geoffrey says again” Are you all right?”

Memories dance across the woman’s face, hope, excitement, the pain and joy of unrequited love

“He’s gone” She whispers “Where has he gone? He said we would be together forever. Why has he left me?”

A movement to Geoffrey’s left makes him realise that Michael has joined him in the spectral realm, his body now slumped against the bridges railings. Just another tired commuter

“Mam” Michael starts “Are you waiting for someone? Someone coming here by train”

She shakes her head “I can’t remember. He said he would love me forever. He was beautiful and when he kissed me…”

“Mam, did you meet him here or had you know him for a while”

“I think he’s here “the woman says, fading away to nothing

Dropping back to his flesh Michael joins Geoffrey and Timothy in surveying the train station. Only a few are still around. Young men, stella cans in hand and young women braving short skirts despite the freezing temperatures, but no one who catches their eye.

“A murder in a train station” Geoffrey says “Would have thought that would have made the papers”

“Especially as it would have happened past ten years” Michael adds

Tim shrugs “Could have been covered up as an accident”

As Tim takes the opportunity to grab a coffee and a smoke in a small café in the station Michael tries to work out how to use the smart phone.  He just can’t put the image he has seen out of his mind.  Geoffrey watches over his shoulder, and after Michael accidentally closes Firefox for the fourth time, offers advice on how to use the search facility.  There is little information to be found from the pained searches.  Reported suicides, but none in the station itself.  A missing woman, Jess Hanley, a student at York’s Saint Johns, studying to be a primary school teacher.  The photo confirms it, the same person. Disappeared a year ago in the company of young men in black jackets.  The images on them are blurred and out of focus, and no clear cctv footage was ever found.  The next page is what haunts Michael, a facebook page dedicated to the girl, asking for help in finding her.  With Geoffrey’s help he bookmarks the page,  he doesn’t know what he can do, but he can at least make sure that they get a chance to put things to rest.  He notes also to talk to his friend in the police, see if there’s any way he can report this to get it treated as a murder rather than a missing persons. Little things but all he can do.

When Geoffrey finishes drinking Michael suggests they get a taxi from the rank. Unstated is his lack of wish to see much of York again, and the ghosts within.  His accent slips slightly, his native Leeds accent coming to the fore as he remembers why he fled the North in the first place.

Thankfully no one objects and soon the three are in a taxi,  heading past the earthen embankments around the city’s old walls and past the small graveyard that guards the entrance to the city proper.  As the taxi driver natters to them,  he looks curious for the moment. He can see two fares, but in the darkness, just for a second, he could swear he saw a third.

Ignoring the strange feeling he natters on again about the cities history, asking if they are just here to visit.  The flow of facts and tales helps pass the short journey across the river and down towards peashome green.  “More pubs here than days in the year” the driver says proudly as he drops them outside the Black Swan a Tudor era pub, white fronted and sunk low into the pavement, back beams marked out across it. A deep bass thump sounds from within.

Heading inside the three and confronted by pealing white paint, congested thin corridors and numerous leaflets advertising metal bands. Such delights as “Offal Christ” and “Death To Babies” present themselves alongside images of nuns sodomised on crucifixes and an elfin looking Caucasian man with devils horns and prosthetic fangs. Another leaflet proudly declares that no less than three ghosts haunt this tavern. Upstairs there sounds a noise half way between a tormented cat and a drum being kicked down the stairs as tonight death metal band plays.

Tim pushes his way to the bar and Geoffrey tries to harmonise his gauze to the crowd lest he is torn to pieces by their passing.  By the time he pushes to the bar Tim has passed numerous old men sinking cider and black,and an equal number of young men and women in tight goth garb. For a moment Tim’s eyes fall on a man in classic Dracula style garb, red lined cloak, ruffed shirt and goatee, beautiful young goth woman lying across him. His attention is quickly grabbed again by the bartenders greeting “Now then lad, what you having?”

After a quick look at the lacklustre spirits at the bar Tim says “Double whisky, and line up another double”

“No problem, Two twenty please” The bartender says causing Tim to blink “What, are you hard up?” the bartender asks

“No, just been on a long journey and thought I may be hallucinating here have one yourself” Tims says as he hands over a tenner.

“Nice to see generosity isn’t dead in these times of austerity” the bartender smiles

In the corridor Geoffrey and Michael attempt to discern Samuel Shit’s location amongst the thronging crowd “He will blend in here” Geoffrey says “His manager probably less so. Frankly we stand out more in our suits, maybe we had best stay in a high traffic area. He’s expecting us and we will stand out”

Thus they do, and shortly after a paunchy mid thirties man comes down the stairs, standing out in his shabby suit.  Sidling up alongside Michael he proffers a hand “Ey up. Hows you?”

“I am doing well. Mr Birch I presume?” Michael replies

“Aye, aye. You the Orpheus guy?”

“We are here to deal with your request” Michael says, shaking the man’s clammy hand.

“I don’t want to put you off, but Samuel, he has a habit of staying in character. Sipping blood from glass chalices and the like” The manager says as he leads Michael, and the arriving Timothy, upstairs. As they crouch to avoid clocking their heads on the ancient buildings low ceiling  they are confronted by a  heavyset skinhead in leather jacket and mirror shades. At near six foot five he leans ominously over the crouching men and growls.

“Ey, ey. Andy, the lads are with me” Birch says, causing the man to step aside.

Upstairs the crucible are confronted by a scene of debauchery of epic Roman proportions. A table sagging low from the weight of the rider that has been laid out for the band. Glasses of red wine. Goth girls semi conscious slumped against the tables. A skull marked by horrible congenital bone defects watches from position of pride over the proceedings.

In the centre of this a short man, in leathers chains and spikes.  Tattoos and nipple piercing visible below his translucent fish scale shirt, Make up runs from his eyes and a crown of thorns adorn his head.  As goth groupies fondle his faux gore showered body he looks at the new arrivals through yellow cat slit contacts. With heavy fake Transylvania accent he talks to the groupies

“So, I suffer, turned to eternal darkness by my mistress, my suffering never ending”

The other band members seem content with drinking heavily and groping whatever comes near. Drugged figures copulating in the darkness for their enjoyment and a band member, dressed like a defrocked priest purges heavily filling the corner with vomit.

With haughty grandeur the central man, Samual Shit, turns to to the crucible

“Velcome to my domain, and do you enter freely of your own will, to debase yourself before me”

“A pleasure to meet you sir” Michael says diplomatically

“The pleasure is all mine, it has been aons since I have met those of your kind?”

“My kind?”

“We are gifted with the same dark blood”

Michael crossed his arms, unimpressed while Timothy surreptitiously draws forth his light, a heightened feeling of unease keeping him ready.

“Will you drink” Samuel says offering a glass of red liquid “I don’t drink…wine”

Michaels eyes linger on the glass, since escaping the streets he has not drunk, with Orpheus aid, but he has never officially given up, and the glass looks so tempting “I don’t drink on duty” he finally says.

“and what of this scene, do you not feel Diana rising in you with all this nubile flesh available,thronging before you”

“It is certainly a sight to behold” Timothy Scott interrupts, sparing the soliloquy

“Ah yes, and you sir, do you like my music?”

“There is certainly nothing else like it in this world” Tim says diplomatically

“Ah yes, we have tried to catch the sense of the children of the night. The howling to the moon that lets us stalk the prey.” Samuel pauses “So you are here to help me with my ghosts?”

“We call them post life entities”  Michael says

“Tell me, do they hunger for the warmth of the flesh? To be fellated in their graves?”

“It’s not high high on their list in my experience” Timothy says with deadpan expression

The manager places his hand on Samuels shoulder taking him to one corner “What have we said about this?”

“ya, I know. But I’m init, trying to promote the tour innit” Samual says, accent suddenly radically transformed

“Yes I know but these guys are professionals.”

“yeah, but I’m the guy innit.. Need to get those mugs to believe I’m an undead lord” With that said Samuel returns to the crucible “Looks sorry gents, been on a bit of coke binge half the night. Been a  cracking gig. Need to keep up appearances and all that” Hearing the mention of drugs and seeing the coke stained blood drip from Samuels nose Michael pales, a hunger rising in him again.

“I’m sorry” Michael says to Timothy” I need to go. Now” then stumbles out into fresh air, way from temptation. With Michael gone Timothy offers handkerchief to Samuel who blows on it noisily, depositing large gooey goblets of blood within.  Absent mindedly Samuel licks upon it before speaking to Timothy again.

“Anyway, I seem to have a got of a problem, which is why Samuel said I should contact you geezers.  Got three ghosts mad about me. Think their chicks, which normally I wouldn’t mind to be fair but despite what my t-shirts say I’m not into the dead and that shit”

Pulling out a notebook Tim points with his pen “Can you describe them?”

“Fucking hell. Yeah,saw first one when I was on the shittter. Last thing you need then is a love letter written in blood, Even if I hadn’t been shitting it already I would have after I saw that. Liked the thought of it a bit though, having them watching as I’m doing a groupie, frigging one off from the other side. Ya know, James Jonestown thing’s he’s the king of Goth metal, so I thought if we could prove this shit was real I could prove I’m more evil than he ever could be. Get some more cash, save shitload on special effects, save up and get a place in Chelmsford. With a pool an shit.”

“I see, so you think they are following you personally?” Tim asks

“Well, I don’t like to big myself up, but check out this rack” Samuel says indicating to his chest muscles.

“Indeed” comes the deadpan reply

“First time they turned up, three of them, all glowing and shit. Well I was off my tits on acid so I thought I was hallucinating. Then one of the roadies saw it, thought they were having a les off session. Watched the tapes, but they weren’t copping off with each other, just crying, saying the love me and all that shit, but , ya know, I’m only interested in women I can actually fuck, right!”

“When does this tend to happen?”

“Usually we see them after a gig. Listen, we got a vid shoot in Whitby soon, we get them in that we won’t have to pay shit for special effects. So you can sort this right, they’ve been perving on me checking me out when I’m in the shower and that shit isn’t on”

Tim takes a slow deliberate look around the room, at the barely conscious women groped and leered at . At the couples fucking for the bands amusement “Yes I can imagine that would be quite the violation”

“Well yeah.  They want this shit and they aint even buying my records. Not like they haunt their grandma and tell em to buy a few thousand copies, so I figure that must be hurting my record sales, might as well put em to some good use”

“So when is your next gig occurring” Tim asks

“Well, we’re doing Halloween,  but we need the vid before that. Thought we’d bring you guys out there, catch us some performances. Listen, we got booze and shoot, if you like one of the birds, they’re so out of it they wont give a shit if you take em up the arse”

Mentally constructing fantasies of unloading a 9mm pistol in this man’s head Tim declines “I’m sorry been a long train journey”

Seeing a girl looking at him Samuel mutters “Shit, need to get back in character” taking once more the elaborate faux Transylvania accent he scoops a woman on his arm, dragging her to the back room.

Just as Timothy is about to leave for the night an ear splitting scream cuts from the room Samuel had gone to. Three Caucasian women, savage bite marks around their throats, dyed black hair and revealing black velvet outfits float through the wall. Diving after the three ghost Geoffrey passes through the wall to find Samuel stripped to the waist, drinking blood from a cut on a half naked woman’s breast. Wide eyed the woman screams as Samuel dips his head to lap once more.

The three ghostly women float, watching in admiration. Silvery tendrils float from one, scrawling messages in blood along the woman’s breast. Another leans in, pushing the woman’s hand to drag Samuels head closer. The woman’s eyes looks frantically across the room, settling n the three women as they materialise in the air “Help me” she whispers.

Geoffrey lets out a small, shallow cry, a wail that soothes fears, calming the situation as Timothy finally manages to wrench the door open and join them.  The spirits shudder, turning to face Geoffrey before fading from view.

Timothy crosses the room in two strides, Yanking Samuel from atop the girl revealing a livid red gash on her breast. Mouth full of blood Samuel hisses lunging at Timothy who side steps easily. Not stopping Samuel barrels out the door and through a confused crowd. As Timothy tries to stem the flow of blood Geoffrey approaches “Do you need me here?”

“No. Follow him” Tim barks

Geoffrey doesn’t need to be told twice, racing down the stairs and out after Samuel as he flees into the tour bus behind the tavern.  After a moments hesitation Geoffrey follows him inside to see Samuel sitting hunkered and cowering on the floor, licking blood from his hands and glancing around furtively. Occasional mutters of “Fucking bitches” can be heard. After a moment, slightly calmer Samuel reaches under a drawer and drags open a compartment underneath, a padded bed which he lies upon. Pressing a button withdraws the bed back under the drawer, leaving a bemused Geoffrey alone again.

Leaving the tour bus Geoffrey runs into Michael who is looking at a text sent my Timothy.  Spying Geoffrey he says “Ok, I hate to ask, but what exactly is gong on here?” As Geoffrey explains Michaels face scowls in anger.

Meanwhile above, Timothy tries to keep the woman calm, lifting her in his arms to take her out for an ambulance. His way is blocked however by the minders from before.  Lifting the woman easily from Timothy’s arms they pause  “Don’t call an ambulance, we will handle this”

“Excuse me?” Tim states, his voice hard

“Your contracts say that you don’t talk to anyone about what you see here, so unless you want to be in breech of contract you shut up, let us handle this and then tomorrow you turn up and do exactly what we say, like a bitch. Bitch“

Tim smiles a friendly smile “Well, I would appreciate the girl being looked after well” then turns away. A stony expression returns and he promises himself he will kill this fucker.

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