Written by alcoholandaphorism
It is two thirty PM in the midst of Whitby abbey. The projected sleeper Geoffrey still reeling from the vision of violence to come here, later tonight. In the thickening fog the crucible of three can barely see the lighting rigs outlined around the stage. Muted thumps of music rise as a new band take to the stage nearby, Manger of Shit retiring from stage having completed their set.
Still feeling drained, his projected gauze tattered the skimmer Michael says “We know the kidnapped girl is held in a van. Projected as we are we can walk through them with little ill effect, between the the three of us we should be able to search the area quickly. If we can find the girl the vision is nulled”
None of the three feel ready to face another encounter with the Shadow class entities they know are in the area. Timothy, still feeling the pain of his recent death and becoming a permanent ghost, can feel most keenly the call of a darkness within, a promise of energy from the loathing of self. All feel it to one degree or another though, a promise to shore up their weakness if they just give in. With that hanging over them the crucible set off immaterial, searching the festival grounds for the missing girl.
Geoffrey starts with main parking areas on the outskirts while the others search smaller camp sites. Besides the discrete partaking of narcotics, and the unusual bat sacrifices of doom metal bands, they find little for their trails. This continues until Timothy spots a movement, near the Manger of Shit tour bus. The ghost Poppy they encountered before. Spotting Timothy Poppy smiles wanly “Any luck?”
“I saw the other one. The other guy who was with them. He went that way” as she indicates towards the stage a shiver runs across Poppy gauze “I think I saw her too, the other me”
“Thank You” Timothy says, before waving down his fellow projectors to join him. As Timothy and Geoffrey approach Poppy continues
“I saw him. The other one who did this to me, who helped him. I think the other me is with them, helping them”
“Well shit” mutters Timothy
“There goes the evade detection plan” Michael adds
“We’re going to have to take on the Gemini aren’t we?” Geoffrey says
“My guess is the Gemini already knows we’re coming” Timothy says
“There may be more than one of them as well. I’ve got enough for one good shout “Geoffrey says, alluding to his deadly banshee wail “but after that I’m empty”
“I may be able to help” Poppy extends her hands out in front of her. A thin ball of spiritual energy exudes, flickering across a variety of shades. As the crucible look upon it they can feel a calm falling over them
“I’ve been able to do this for a while. Been able to go where other ghosts can’t” Poppy says.
“How dangerous would this be for you?” Micheal asks
“I can’t fight off her, but I can escape. She hasn’t caught me yet, and I’m not letting what happened to me happen to someone else”
Micheal nods “If we split up, we can meet in a caravan park about an hours walk from here”
“You’re not going back to London after this?” Poppy says, surprised.
“I don’t know. I really don’t know” Micheal shakes his head as he speaks.
“Things have changed a lot in the last twenty four hours” Geoffrey says, as means of scant explanation.
“I saw other people who may need help. I don’t know if you care about that, but I’d like to help if I can. I don’t want to be alone, not with the specters out there. I just think I can help”
Micheal nods “I don’t know how much we can offer these days, but we do what we can. Guess the plan is, if you can distract the Gemini, get her out of there it may give a chance to go in unseen and get the girl out. If things go wrong Geoffrey is our heavy hitter, and I can take care of people in the physical world. Timothy, that work for you? You have more experience of these things” Timothy nods approval and Michael continues “We don’t need to worry about the bouncer. He isn’t with us anymore. Not in flesh and I didn’t see a spirit rise from him”
Poppy smiles with a look of feral hunger “Good, fucker got what he deserved”
The moment breaks as Timothy suddenly arcs back, shell protruding from his chest, eyes splitting to thousands like an insects. Fur covering his hands and back. Energy rushes through him. Anger. In his mind memories of a bullet coming towards him, of his friend bleeding out beside him. Of his death seen coming in slow motion and the impact of the bullet. Of the sound of his brain as it splattered against glass. The after effects and images flood over Geoffrey and Michael though their sympathetic link. To prepare for battle Timothy has called upon something within him, and it has consumed a piece of him in return.
Poppy is gone in an instant, screaming she throws herself as far away from this monster that has burst from her seeming ally. Micheal grits his teeth and calls on his own darkness, drawing a heavy moaning shiv from his gauze. Though small it screams with the touch of oblivion as Michael holds it out before the creature that was his ally. It whispers “Pain. Pain. Cut. Pain” the blade eager to take lives.
Raising his hands and backing away, Timothy hears a gibbering buzz where he voice should be, trying to explain that he is still their ally. As Micheal steps forwards nervously with his blade Timothy drops to one knee, arms open in supplication.
Unable to quite comprehend what he is seeing Michael mutters “Timothy? Is that you?”.
Timothy stares back, voices in his head urging him forwards “Hurt them. Hurt them. They were weak. They let you die because they are weak. Kill them”. Pushing down the thorns that have shaped his flesh, Timothy quells the voices and returns to an approximation of his normal semblance, albeit with a haunted hard edge that was not present before.
Michael’s relief at this is short lived as he looks at the blade he had reflexively drawn, powered by cast quantities of his own life energy “Oh no. They can tell when power is used. Timothy I think I just alerted them”
Timothy doesn’t answer at first, voices whisper from the fog “Life. Hunger. Cold. Feed” the words repeated over and over. Chains are visible first, rusted and promising of disease. Then three figures step from the mist, the chains woven through them. Joining them. Shackling them. The three women ghosts, now their skin punctured in ways obscene, their eye sockets hollow and metal locked through them. Skin leathery and thick. Spectres now. Their footsteps are flickers, moving without touching intervening space.
Timothy’s glock leaves it’s holster in a moment trying to draw a bead on the stop motion quick jerky motion. “Michael! Get the girl. We’ll deal with it here”. Power floods Timothy’s limbs, an unstoppable Juggernaut, moving like quicksilver. Round after round finds it’s mark. Some vanishing as they touch the spectres, others tearing though neck and plasms nigh tearing the head from it’s shoulders. The head lolls in the air for a moment then knits together once more. A blink and it is upon them.
Geoffrey screams, anger, pain and suffering. A wail that breaks souls and tears the world asunder. Dogs miles away scream in pain at a sound unheard. Waves of force pour over the spectres like tidal wave. Cracks run across metal and skin but the three move on. Chain whip around Geoffrey and Timothy, ensnaring them. Thorns grow from the chains digging chunks of plasm from it’s captives. In agony and screaming Geoffrey lets loose the loathing and pain inside, holding onto that where his will fails. The darkness dragging him back to consciousness, ready to fight. The three spectres battle on, like nothing they were before, an engine of destruction now.
Hearing the screams Michael pauses in his headlong run, torn between the girl and his team mates. He looks one final time at the stage and whispers “I hope you can hold on a little longer” before turning back to aid his colleagues and friends.
In the mist of the battle Timothy kicks repeatedly, trying to free himself. Each strike sends shock waves through his numbing form. It’s like kicking solid steel. The shell like carapace breaks forth again, spikes breaking through his knuckles again as he struggles. This time it is deliberate though, feeding the dark side to fight a worse one. Freeing a single shoulder he plants the glock against the creatures head and pulls the trigger again twice. Plasm explodes forth, but drags back once again. Not completely now, a fist sized tear in one woman’s skull remains. It can be hurt.
The spectre gurgles and tosses Timothy aside with a casual gesture that still slams him hard enough to bruise and leave him strewn on the grass. Mewling in pleasure the creature turns it’s attention back to Geoffrey, trying to pin him down. Still screaming to tear reality Geoffrey cannot turn to leverage this power against his enemy, instead settling for sheering the chains that hold him, freeing him to scrabble away.
The spectral three pauses, a outpouring of vitality behind it catching it’s attention. Poppy stands there, surmounted in a blaze of blue and green fire “Leave them alone you fucker” she shouts.
The creature barrels, chains dragging, towards her. Upon her in an instant. A flicker and she is gone, a second and so are the three, chasing to wherever she has gone. As the energy flow fades an eerie calm settles on the scene. Black blood running through his veins, hate keeping him alive, Timothy knits his wounded plasm together once more.
“Where the hell did it go” Geoffrey says
“I don’t know, but we need to get out of here” Timothy retorts. His eyes glance to Michael, who, having seen the creature disappear has resumed his charge to the stage to try and find the kidnapped girl. With a grimace Timothy continues “With what we faced here, Michael may be in for a surprise ahead. I’ll go help him, if you aren’t up to it I understand”
Geoffrey just smiles with evil glee “Let’s move”
Seemingly casting all humanity aside Timothy bends, Wings unfurling from him, pealing from the fur and carapace. As Geoffrey tries to swallows back nauseas at the sight Timothy indicates forward “I’ll go ahead” With leaps and bounds Timothy soon catches up with the running Michael.
Seeing the shadow coming from above, Michael spins, pausing just before thrusting his shiv into the approaching figure. Nervously he examines Timothy in his inhuman visage “Ugly I know, but useful” Timothy says
Michael nods warily. He had heard what Poppy said about Timothy having an spectral twin now, he is not going to be too quick to give trust. With a leap Timothy takes the lead, moving towards the stage at great speed.
When he reaches the backstage area he is confronted with the sight of a dazed and confused Samuel, pulling yellowed contact lenses from his eyes now his set is done. What catches Timothy’s attention though is a land rover parked in the distance. A bouncer leans against it, band t-shirt stretched over his muscles and piercings through his lip. The bouncers black berry held to his ear,an endless ring audible from trying to contact someone
“Eh, geeze” Samuel starts “What”s happening with Jim, he should be here by now?
The bouncer glares up ”Just shut up. Shut your fucking mouth. The boss will be here soon, night’s coming”. For a moment Samuel looks affronted, but falls to silence. He knows his place here. The bouncer is sweating now “Fuck. Where the fuck is he. I don’t want my arm breaking again”
Looking around Timothy sees a blur of movement as a small scared nineteen year old girl runs, sliding down behind a van. Trying to shield herself from the bouncers view. The girl from York. The bouncer spots her seconds later and a look of brutal joy leaps to his face. “Got you now you fucking cunt”
Slipping behind the bouncer Timothy lets his gauze seep into the phone, feeling it bouncing, hearing the keys jingle beside it. He tries to warp it, to turn it against its owner, but his spirit is tired and the metal and plastic resists, holding soundly to their normal shape. He has pushed too hard too long. From outside the pocket he hears a thud and a muffled scream followed by sick laughter. Returning from the phone Timothy sees the bouncer holding the girl under one arm, bruising across the girls face from where has been slammed against the van. Her eyes rolled back, she is still and quiet, no signs of consciousness.
In the distance people stare in shock. One man reaches for a phone prompting the bouncers ire
“You. You fucking touch that phone and you are fucking dead. You didn’t hear anything and you didn’t see anything” The man recoils at this, pushing his phone away and holding his hands up in surrender.
Turning back the bouncer comes face to face with Timothy manifest, looking like more human but like death itself hangs over him, gauze hanging from his wounds and poking around his skull, memories of his death
“Take your hands off her” Timothy says. Startled the bouncer takes half step back, dropping the girl heavily to the ground.
“Another fucking hero” the bouncer growls “Don’t look like you are in any state to start a fight mate”
“I’m your worst nightmare…mate” Timothy replies
“I doubt it, step up bitch” The bouncer says, taking a wild swing that Timothy easily slips away from. Laughing the bouncer slips into a loose boxer stance “Eh, you going to make this interesting then. Eh” The bouncer laughs and hawks a green lump of spit at the ground.
It’s almost second nature to call on his dark reserves now and Timothy throw a punch with unnatural strength into the bouncers nose . To his surprise the bouncer just laughs “Is that the best you can do” Timothy throws two hard knees to break the Bouncers attempt to lift him into the air and piledriver him into the ground.
As Timothy slips from him with quicksilver grace the bouncer growls “What are you?”
“Like I say, I’m your worst nightmare. Did you hear bout the man shot in the head recently near here?”
Around them people are calling on phones, their previous fear overridden by the events that unfold before them
“Just fuck off and leave the girl here” the bouncer says
“Leave the girl and I wont kill you” Timothy says “If you doubt me consider this. Have you talked to your mate recently?”
Snapping the bouncer screams “You killed him. You killed Jim. I’m going to fuck you up. I’m going find your mother, rape her with a screwdriver and then I’m going to fucking kill you”
“Weren’t you listening?” Timothy smiles “You can’t kill me. I’m already dead” Picking up a loose piece of scaffolding Timothy swings it at the man’s head. Nearly evading it the bouncer staggers still then is on Timothy throwing left and rights. Another swing of the scaffolding drops the bouncer to his knees, his jaw dislocating with a sickening crunch. On all fours and spitting blood the bouncer roars in pain and anger. Moments later Geoffrey and Michael arrive to find Timothy circling the fallen man, scaffolding in hand as he whistles a jaunty tune.
“Stay on the ground or you’re not getting up again” Timothy says before swinging the scaffolding into the man’s side, crushing his phone beyond use. The man screams soon turn to laughter, his jaw clicking back into place the Bouncer rises once more.
“Is that the best you can do, I’ve been supping at the masters wrist” the bouncer says before turning and running towards the Jeep. An arm manifests in front of his passage, Geoffrey materialising in front of him. It doesn’t even slow the bouncer who barrels through it like a freight train.
As the bouncer fumbles with his keys, trying to get into the Jeep an invisible Michael shakes his head “He is going to reach this master person if you keep this up. If you are going to kill him just do it” . Silver threads drop from Michael and toss the keys from the bouncers hands, back to below Timothy’s feet. The bouncers face turns ashen and he screams a roar of battle charging back towards Timothy. A final thump upside the head with the scaffolding and the bouncer flies back wards, hitting the ground out cold.
Manifesting from the air Michael looks to the unconscious girl who appears to be suffering from a mild concession from her wounds. Gently bringing her round Michael mumbles “It’s ok. We’re here to help. Everything’s ok now. We’re here to help”. The girl takes one look and collapses into tears, a mix of terror and relief.
Standing over the unconscious man Timothy seeps into him, possessing the bouncer, unlocking his secrets. Anger washes over him. Rage. A swirl of images. A litany of abuse suffered at Solomon Birches hands. Being forced to kneel and drink blood. To watch as Solomon took blood from women and dripped it into his throat. Into this, a word rises, ghoul. Solomon watching as he forced the bouncers to copulate with one another and to force themselves on young groupies. To murder the groupies once rape was not enough to satisfy Solomon’s voyeurism. Solomon, covered in blood a jaded monster, tearing throats with his fangs.
This has been the way of the bouncers’ lives for the past fifteen years, and little that can be recognised as human is left in the man Timothy possesses. Digging deeper he finds one last set of pertinent facts. Solomon Birch is within one of the coffins that slide out in the tour bus, hiding from the sun. A sun which the bouncer believes is capable of destroying him. Still in the bouncers flesh Timothy stands.
“Solomon Birch is the centre of what is going on with these girls. I’m going to deal with this”
Seeing her tormentor and kidnapper stand again, unaware that Timothy is in control, the girl they came to aid screams. As Michael tries to calm her once more Geoffrey asks Timothy
“Where is Solomon”
“In the tour bus, in come sort of coffin and it seems he is not human”
“There’s a switch on the side that causes them to slide out” Geoffrey says
Timothy acknowledges this “One last thing, I know everything this body knows. This may sound strange but I believe Solomon Birch is a vampire”. The girl whimpers as Michael looks, initially with disbelief, then after a few moment just a nod. After the events of the past day it doesn’t seem implausible.
“Don’t worry” Timothy says with a wry smile “He wont be around much longer”
Timothy starts towards the tour bus. Micheal helps the girl towards the jeep, scooping the keys from the ground “Geoffrey, if things go wrong we may need to leave quickly. Have you got enough left to manifest and drive this thing?” Geoffrey nods, and they prepare for a quick exit when Timothy has done his part.
In the tour bus it only takes a few moments to identify the switch Geoffrey mentioned. Another glance out the window, the sun is low but still in the sky. No time to waste. A small application of pressure and the coffin slides out, Solomon Birch seemingly asleep within. Within moments, even in the light diffused through the curtains Solomon’s skin starts to blacken and smoke.
Eyes suddenly open Solomon springs up, looking at the man who appears to be his bodyguard “What the fuck are you doing? Get this closed again you cunt!”
Tim smiles and speaks, a disjointed mix of the bouncers voice and his own “You’re not going to hurt any more girls”
Absolute panic coming over him, fangs sliding out Solomon shouts “What are you talking about?”. Skin wrinkling and breaking he stares straight into Timothy’s eyes and speaks with a voice that expects to be obeyed “Close the coffin and go to sleep”
Timothy just laughs “I’m not going to do that Mr Birch. You are going to die”
“Then I’ll take you with me you cunt” Solomon launches himself forwards, flames now leaping from him arms as his body ignite. Timothy’s arms smoulder against the flame as he pushes Solomon’s jaw back, kicking him into the curtains behind him. In the confusion Timothy leaps from the coach, slamming the door behind him. The flames run up the curtains within and within a moment the bus is aflame, Solomon slamming against the windows as the fire takes him to dust.
Turning to walk away Timothy is buffeted forwards by explosions behind him, the gas tanks of the coach ruptured. As he walks amongst a crowd of now screaming people he doesn’t even look back. It is over.
An hour later they are back at the caravan park. The Jeep abandoned by the roadside far away. Timothy’s possessed body had been dropped elsewhere with similar lack of ceremony. Michael could still remember it. That look that had passed between Timothy and him before they went out of the Jeep. That blank look in the man’s eyes as Timothy left his body, a look that lasted less than a second before Michael had dragged his blade across the man’s neck severing the arteries.
That wasn’t why Michael remembered it though. It was at that final moment as the man lay there, bleeding out. For a second Michael could have sworn the man stared back with the face that had haunted his nightmares for so many years. The face of the man that Orpheus had been searching for on his behalf. Whatever knowledge Orpheus had found was gone now, gone along with two floors of the Shard in an explosion.
In the caravan, far from the bloodshed they sit now. Geoffrey and Timothy in spirit, Michael back in the flesh, gingerly examining the sympathetic wounds that had opened in his body. The girl they had rescued, Karen Amstrong asleep on the bed. She had come from Essex to enjoy the festival. Still terrified she had taken a long time to finally let exhaustion take her to sleep. The room is quiet and cold, no one has much to say.
Slipping out the Caravan door Michael wends his way past the little security that remains at the park, out into the wilderness around. “Poppy” he says to the air “Poppy? Are you there? Please, I need someone who has been through something like I have, who I can speak to and would understand what it was like.” Nothing but the wind answers “Figures” Michael mutters before starting the walk back.
The television is on again when Michael returns. An image of a younger Michael on the screen, an image from years before and a photo-fit of what he might look like now. His name, along with Geoffrey and Timothy are listed as part of a terrorist cell wanted in conjunction with the Shard bombing. More names scroll by, other Orpheus agents, including the three who recruited them those months ago. All framed as terrorist agents. The video feed takes over, Police offers milling around the scene including Michaels old friend from the force. All now searching for the crucible. Prime Minister David Cameron appears on screen, a prepared statement denouncing this new wave of Islamic Extremism and the wave of religious motivated terror. A new act is coming, a heightened anti terror legislation that will curb the chance for such groups to move freely. The reintroduction of the once cast off Identity cards, and curbs on the civil liberties that these terrorists so abused.
Michael looks long and hard at the screen before taking out his remaining bank cards and cutting them to pieces. Holding them out he says “Are you happy now Timothy?”
Finally accepting his death Timothy doesn’t look up, just hunches broken and exhausted “No”
Michael slumps to the floor as well, card pieces tumbling from his hand “Back on the street. Back on the bloody street”
No one else speaks as the dark rolls in.