Written by alcoholandaphorism
The view of the Abbey is clear from Timothy’s hotel room, but that it is of little interest to him. The subdued atmosphere and dim lights of the hotel bar call, and more than that the self medication that whisky offers. The medication that has held him through the year and a half since his coma. In the midst of travelling salesmen, illicit lovers in the first steps of their affairs, and lonely businessmen he sits, drinking away the memories.
Despite his incorporeal nature a room has been booked for Geoffrey. To him the hotel is awash with the dregs of old emotions. The foyer stinks of age and runs with deep shadows. The walk to his room interrupted by cold breezes that blow from under doors, bringing with it a haze of sweat and blood. Even in his room he cannot find release, the spirit life of the projected one of eternal waking, dormant discorporation or waking surreal nightmares. The hours pass slowly as he waits for light to return once more.
Michael sits alone in his room, the hard back torn from the Gideon’s bible in his hands. He lifts a coffee cup for a moment, looks at it, then drops it to shatter on the ground. Picking a particularly jagged piece he goes to work fixing the items together. He already has several small sharp implements like this one upon his person, but the act of creation is soothing. After time has passed creating his latest craft work, his latest shiv, sleep finally claims him.
Morning brings light and the promise of food. Hotel breakfast ticket in hand Michael is confronted by the rubberised egg, vulcanized sausage and watery juice. Old habits die hard, and amongst the bustling hotel crowd he piles the plate high as if unsure of when he will get the chance to eat again. Sat back at the table Timothy holds a stoic sleepless demeanour, coffee cup clasped in hand Geoffrey watches from the distance, unwilling to risk his ghostly form in the human melee of a crowd.
Timothy breaks the silence first “I’m going to be leaving in fifteen minutes to meet the staff sergeant”
Michael nods “Hope you don’t mind me saying but I think we should have a word with Samuel today. I’m worried about what Solomon said – Not again. This has happened before and I think if we can get Samuel alone we can get him to talk. I’m not going to fumigate a ghost who is just someone who got wronged by the band. I’d appreciate it if you have my back on this, you have a way with people”
“Yes. Sometimes not the right people” Tim replies.
“Also, do you think it’s worth putting someone on the tour bus. We could seem to sleep in the transport on the way over and send two of in so we don’t have anyone alone”Michael says
“I don’t know” Tim pauses as he runs the idea over” I’m not sure if it’s too dangerous”
“Well if I go, I can always ripcord back to my body if there is a problem” Michael says, referring to the ability of skimmers like him to be able to return their projected form to their bodies at a moments notice,no matter what the distance. A useful, albeit painful skill.
Geoffrey finally joins them as the crowd thins “Based on the oddity’s I saw last night I think it’s worth it”
Timothy considers it again “We may have to think more what we are able to do rather than what we think we can do. If we are going in I want at least two of us, and if things go wrong get the hell out of there”
Decision made Timothy rises up, a text message has alerted him to Scotty’s arrival. He is nearby in a cafe on Rougier Street. The journey isn’t far. Walking past the world war memorial obelisks and the earth works that line the street calls his memory back to their time together in the service. The cafe itself watches out over the bridge into York’s city centre and Scotty sits within, bacon sandwich in hand and battered paper on the table. Eyes flickering from one exit or entrance to the next.
As Timothy enters, Scotty watches every step with a grim façade, matched by Timothy’s own. It is only as Tim reaches the table that he finally cracks, letting a smile slip loose, and offers his hand. Scotty glares back, but breaks as well, a grin slipping forth “You ugly mother fucker. I thought you were dead, unlike me, still looking like I’m twenty five”
Tim pauses at Scotty’s comment. The years have not been kind to his friend. Portlier under his tattered leather jacket and faded cameos, Scotty’s face is lined with new creases from years of seeing things that he should not, and his hair now gone, shaved down to hide any previous loss.”Alright, whatever you fat fuck” Tim retorts before being engulfed in a bear hug greeting
“Fat? Fat? I can still tab 28K with a full burden you fuck” Scotty says
“Yes. That was always your problem. I took the jeep” Timothy says, disengaging from the hug
“Fucking hell boss. I thought you’d bought it. That shell? How did you walk away?”
“I didn’t “Timothy replies “I was carried away, spent over a year in a coma”
Scotty shakes his head, to clear it rather than disbelief “Shit. Long time. Ok. Work now. What’s the op? Who am I working for?”
“A private company. Big money and influences. Have you heard of Orpheus?”
Scotty pauses, calling to mind everything he has hard about the company before answering. A short exhalation of breath through is teeth then speaks “Yeah. Heard a lot mentioned about them recently. What the fuck have you got yourself mixed up in?”
Timothy smirks “A year and a half in a coma gives you perspective on things. What they say, it’s not bullshit mate”
“Hold on, I heard they were mixed up in ghosts, are you telling me…”
“I’m not going to lie” Is all Timothy needs to say. Scotty leans back, taking this in. He doesn’t question it, not from Tim. “Ok. Listen mate” Scotty says “There are some heavy fuckers looking into this company. Bad shits going down and I don’t want you in it. I don’t have anything concrete, but there’s whispers on the underground. Got approached by a group called Black Mercury. American funded group. Now I’ve been in Iraq, Afghanistan, done some shady shit, but these guys made me want to put 9mms in their eye. They’ve been contracted for something to do with you guys. You need to be far away when shit hits the fan”
“If only it were that simple mate. Believe it or not some good comes from all of this”
“I dunno” Scotty says, unconvinced “ When I slot a fucker he stays dead, but from what I hear from your lot that aint the case any more. There’s a lot of dead men who aren’t keeping secrets no more. Anyway, the job, keep half your six k, mates rates”
“No thanks. No need” Timothy says with a smile
“Oh look at you all high flier now. Listen, don’t forget what I said. I’ve done some shit I’m not proud of, contract work since I left the forces, but Black Mercury? Shit, your not meant to want to shoot your employers”
“What makes them become the people we slot when we get up in the morning?” Timothy says ”Bosnia? At least there was an ideology. This is just money”
“Always is underneath things”
That done Timothy goes over the details of the mission, promising no “X-Files” shit would be needed of him. They want him to watch their bodies while they are out of them. Keep everyday normal threats away.
“Let’s face it” Timothy smiles “You’re an intimidating fucker”
“Hey. I’ve worked hard to keep this baby face! Right, lets look at these notes you made up. Then head back. I need to give this group of yours a look over, you’ve probably gone soft on them. Started meditating and shit”
Timothy smiles at the unexpected accuracy of that statement and passes a thick envelope full of maps and plans to Scotty. Holding the cafe door open he indicates that it is time to leave.
“Oh what a prince charming” Scotty says “What you going to do, buy me meal and slip me a roofie”
“Just making sure you can get through it you fat fuck”
It doesn’t take them long to get back to the hotel. The two scope out the rooms occupants as they enter, watching for threats and finding none. Michael is sat in the lobby, Geoffrey watching over his shoulder. He hasn’t been wasting his time. With Geoffrey’s aid he has been looking into the two women ghosts he has met. The missing women, looking for a link. Following from the face-book memorial page of Jessica he flicks through friends walls, looking for signs of contact to the “Manger Of Shit”. He doesn’t have to look long. The time of her disappearance coincides with a Whitby festival the band was at and her interests include the band itself. Sifting through the curses and catcalls of trolls and griefers who insult the memory of the dead girl, calling her a whore slut who they killed or sold to sex slavery,and the misery laden replies of relatives and friends who try to defend her he comes across a photo. The festival. A face stares out at him.. The woman he saw at the tour bus last night. The ghost with the shadow class double. The tag on the photo gives her name “Poppy”. Linked to her facebook page he finds she went missing from London two months ago, just after a Manger Of Shit concert. The metal and plastic of the smart-phone bends as Michael reads on. His loyalty to Orpheus running up against what has happened to these girls, and Manger Of Shit the connection in the middle. Before his clutch can inflict permanent damage on the phone he is interrupted by the arriving Scotty and Timothy.
As Timothy introduces them Scotty looks Michael up and down, sizing him up. In return Michael casts a wary eye over Scotty, analysing the risk. Gentlemen like that he had seen from his time on the streets. Low likelihood of attacking, but if they did they were dangerous. “How do” Scotty offers. “Been worse. Pleased to meet you” Michael says, shaking his hand. Scotty stares for a moment and turns to Timothy “Eh, He’ll do”
Bringing out the smart phone, Michael looks to Scotty, then to Timothy who gives a nod to say it is safe to talk “Found this” Michael says “the two missing people. Both dead. Both band fans. I don’t like this. If I wasn’t up for the plan I am now”
“Take care of yourself” Timothy advises. “We’ll be all right” Geoffrey replies. As Timothy looks over to Geoffrey Scotty follows his gaze to an empty space. “X-files shit?” Scotty mutters.
“Yeah, but on our side” Timothy says
Scotty glances back at the empty air “Not pissed you off have I?”
“Nah, We’re good” Says Geoffrey, his voice coming from millimetres away from Scotty’s ear.. “Fuck me!” Scotty barks in surprise, holding back the urge to jump”Yeah. Well, you too pal. Fucking hell, is this your intel and recon Tim?”.
Tim just smiles then says “Beats shitting in a plastic bag for three weeks”
Scotty looks at the air again “Mate, you ever thought of working for MOD, GCHQ?”
“Its a bit different” Geoffrey’s voice comes from empty air again “We need Orpheus resources. This may freak you out, but physically I’m actually in London right now
“Well, I’m glad I’m on your side lads. Ey, you don’t think and of those Bosnia guys are coming back do you. Don’t want them watching while I’m banging the missus” At Scotty’s statement Tim goes pale, and seeing that Scotty goes pale as well “Fuck”
Michael speaks trying to reassure them ”That war was over ten years ago, we haven’t seen anything that old. If it’s ancient history it’s going to stay ancient history”. Timothy looks unconvinced, the memories of the seemingly ancient nurse ghost they encountered in a mission before still fresh in his mind.
A heavyset SUV rolls up outside their hotel. The groups smart phones vibrating as a text alert informs them of it’s presence. Michael is the first to get in, dumping his bags on the back seat and resting his head down “It’s been a busy day already, hope you don’t mind if I get some rest”
Scotty and Tim exchange glances as they notice the driver. Caucasian, shaved head man, full suit that bulges from the muscle below. The man looks over at them, his eyes guarded behind mirrorshades “Orpheus sent me Andy gave me a few extra items you may need. They are in the boot” Tim and Scotty quickly come to the same conclusion. Professional in the killing business. Orpheus has sent some serious muscle. Flipping open the boot they find duffel bags, MP-5’s and ammunition stacked within.
Michael raises an eyebrow and speaks closely to the two “Considering what we face this seems an odd choice to send”
Scotty grins “it’s like a johnny. Just in case you find a middle east tart and want to do her in the arse without catching anything, Better safe than sorry”. Michael face at this comment looks less than amused but he says nothing.
“So what do you make of that fella “Scotty whispers
“Eastern block maybe” Tim says
“Yeah. Dunno, but he knows what he’s about. You noticed. The gear, serial numbers filed off?”
“Aye. I think Black Mercury have bit off more than they can chew if they are messing with you guys. Be careful though that when you wrestle with monsters you don’t become one”
The car sets off on it’s short journey to join the tour bus back at the tavern. Michael’s head dips into seeming sleep as he projects from his body, joining Geoffrey in the ethereal. Fishing some radio headsets from the bag Timothy fixes one around Michael’s sleeping head, just in case. At the pub, the bar manager still shows signs of the trauma from the night before. The band members however merely loiter, haggered from lack of sleep, one clutching tea in his hand to try and rouse him from half sleep. Michael looks across the scene, searching for a sign of the woman he now knows as Poppy, but can see no hint of her presence. As the band load up the tour bus the ghost forms of Geoffrey have no problem slipping in, to spy upon them on the coming journey to Whitby. As they wait in the bus they realise there is no sign of Samuel yet, even as the tour bus sets off. They consider searching the hidden bed compartment but decide to save their energy. If Samuel is present he will be showing himself when they arrive at their destination anyway.
In the SUV following Timothy tries to pry some details about their newly arrived protection from their driver “So, how long have you been working for the company?”
The driver keeps glancing at the mirror, checking for tails, when he finally speaks it is with an accent, but not one Tim is able to place.”Long enough”
“Been in the business longer I take it?”
“Long time yes” the driver keeps to short answers
“Wonder if we crossed paths”
“You’re British army yes? You carry yourself a certain way”
“Yes. You? Ukrainian?”
“No Estonian” The driver replies “I trained with some of your soldiers. Before that I was a bad man. For money. Hmm, these men. They don’t we are following them. Who are they?”
“They are our erstwhile employers who we aim to please” Tim says “Also the centre of most of our many complications” Slipping on a threat mike Timothy taps it a few times “We’ll be on channel three” As he speaks his smart phone vibrates, a text message from Scotty “How much do you know about this guy”
Tim texts back “Just that he was sent by my employer”
The phone vibrates again “Any way of verifying that”
Tim pauses then replies with a final text “No. Lets stay on channel four for now then”
The vehicles pass through the Yorkshire moors in silence, Past bleak but beautiful landscapes spotted with churches and malnourished sheep. In the distance a chalk horse it etched upon the hills. A haunting air seeps in through the silence.
Upon the tour bus Michael is at the front , Staring out over a familiar landscape filled with ill memories while Geoffrey keeps an eye on the band. As Geoffrey watches a sylph like figure slides, intangible from Samuel’s sleeping coffin. Hair dyed blue, striped tights and a horrific gash down the inside of her neck and arm. Hunched on all fours she slides hand over hand into the open space of the tour bus, then stands with a mix of clicks and pops. Necrotic energy and freezing flames her signature as she stands, eyes upon Michael’s back. In a moment Geoffrey realises what she is, Poppy’s spectral clone. The Gemini.
The creature throws itself at Michaels back, intent on rending him limb from limb. It’s rage spilling forth as acid spit and flame. Geoffrey had barely time to shout “MICHAEL” before it is upon his ally.
Turning, Michael manages to throw a kick at the knee of the approaching creature, and trys to grab her to throw her against the bus’s side walls. His fingers melt to the bone as he grabs for her, plasm dripping from them at the energy that roils around his assailant. Struggling to break free Michael shouts “Hit it!”
A silver thread links between Michael and Geoffrey, Michaels chained anger let free to burn through his ally, bolstering his force as Geoffrey opens his mouth and lets loose a scream that tears the very walls of reality. Caught in the side of the scream Michael is flung back, stunned and easy prey as the Gemini’s fingers wrap around him, tossing him through the tour bus’ walls onto the road below. Then the full blast of Geoffreys scream hits her.
The spectre is tossed like a rag doll back. Flesh flayed from her bone, Screaming and tearing at her own flesh, feeding on her own loathing the creature stands again. One step, then another striding through the onslaught towards Geoffrey. She nearly makes it. One step before her target her legs fail and she too is blasted from the bus to crumple on the road below.
From the SUV Timothy sees as the woman falls through the bus, clutching desperately at it before falling, tumbling under the SUV unnoticed by the driver. As Michael tries to regain his sense, crawling to his knees the spectre rises once more, diminished but still intent on her target. Beside Timothy Michaels physically body arcs in pain, blood breaking forth from sympathetic wounds and splattering upon his clothes. Tim barks “Keep driving” and goes limp, his spirit projecting out onto the road to accompany his ally. From the Tour Bus Geoffrey leaps, gliding to the ground and sprints to join the distant Michael, who now stands alone facing the Gemini.
“Little Orpheus man. Thought you could stop me did you” it mutters, circling him.
Silent, No point in talking during a fight Michael flicks plasm from his injured wrists before leaping at her once more. He finds nothing but air, reality folds and she is gone.
“Damnit. DAMMIT. It was her. The Gemini” Michael says, fuming to the air. Moments later the other two join him “Are you ok” Geoffrey asks, out of breath,
“You didn’t delay this time. Thanks” Michael says, nursing his wounded hands
“I wasn’t taking any chances this time” Geoffrey replies.
“Right. Well I’d best get back to the flesh and get the SUV to pick us up, we have an op to complete” Timothy says
Michael nods” I’ll stay here with Geoffrey in case the Gemini returns”
There is a moment of dislocation as the silver tether yanks Timothy back to his body inside the SUV. Confusion. The vehicle is ridden, bullet holes everywhere. Still, shattered glass upon the roadway Scotty bleeding, desperately grasping for consciousness. The driver, pistol drawn, turning upon Timothy’s physical body. At the last moment Timothy changes his target, returning not to his body, but overlaying his form upon the drivers, trying to take control of his assailant. As his soul seeps into the drivers, the drivers fingers flex, arm jerking, trying to throw the gun through the window. Sweating, with a will of iron the driver pushes through the impulses not his own and fires. The bullet slamming at point blank range into Michaels body’s shoulder. Suddenly upon the driver, Timothy coalesces from the air manifesting, throwing his weight and fists upon the driver, keeping him from his body. Slipping back, rolling with the punch the drivers pistol barks again.
Pain racks Timothy’s soul. A darkness seeping in. His eyes look upon his body, half of it’s head exploded under the round. He is dead. Nowhere to return to. For a moment he is frozen as whispers of the pointlessness of it all paralyses him. His gauze waivers for a moment then solidifies at a final thought “He cannot hurt you any more, but you can hurt him”
Behind the driver a ghostly form solidifies. Michael, who had heard the gunshot and snapped back to hovering above his body. He looks upon the scene, the body of his friend and his ghost looking upon it. The driver, lifting his gun again. Silver threads drop from Michael, hundreds of them. He doesn’t say a word, no threat, warning or tell. The driver lifts his gun again and Michael releases the frustration that he has kept held down for so long. Hundred of glass shards impale into the drivers head, neck and face. The shoulders riddled and the head nigh decapitated before falling soundless to the ground. Michael’s expression betrays not a thing.
Grasping at Scotty’s hand, Timothy drops to one knee, willing him to hold on. Delirious from shock Scotty looks up at the manifest ghost above him “Orpheus. Under attack. They’re going to kill everyone. Save yourself”
With that Scotty’s eyes roll back and Timothy pushes his hands to Scotty’s chest, and uses his dead lips to try and blow life into his fading friend. With desperate attempts at CPR he tells his friend to hold on. In the distance Geoffrey runs to try and catch up with them to help, but it is too late.
Scotty is wounded, Timothy dead and Orpheus is at war.