Written by alcoholandaphorism
Halloween, bare hours since the encounter at the festival. Worn down, world weary and on their last reserves of energy the Orpheus crucible hide out in the deserted caravan park that has become and improvised home. Karen, the girl they rescued is asleep on a bed in the back. Geoffrey’s projected gauze walks from room to room invisible as Michael tries to catch a few short hours sleep. He cannot rest long though, a thought nags at the back of his mind. Rising Michael looks over to Timothy who huddles in the corner, brooding. Timothy has finally had a chance to reflect on his recent death and it weighs on him.
Lifting the blackberry phone they took from their attackers, Michael offers it towards Timothy “You think you can get past the lock on it, with that thing you can do? Possessing objects?”
Tim looks over and nods solemnly “I can. I’ve lost so much. So much of everything I held onto. We can use this. Find a chance to get back at these people, but we need to be smart about it. We need to survive first. Need to be careful. This could open up a can of worms, but I’m not going to stop until I find out who ordered this and I bury them”
Tim’s hand reaches out, sitting lightly on the phones locked display, his gauze bends and shrinks, sinking into the phone until he cannot be seen at all. After a moment of silence the phone jerks, wrenching itself from Michael’s hands and crashing against the wall. Smoke pours from it, electricity flickering. A face, Timothy’s face pushes against it’s screen. Screaming. The phone blackens, discharging this way and that. A second face, through Timothy’s becomes visible on the screen, screaming also.
A ear punishing explosion cuts off all sight of the faces as the phone explodes. Michael falls to the ground, a chunk of plastic embedded in his cheek. His body locks in spasm and electricity grounds through it. Within a moment Geoffrey is in the room looking for signs of danger.
Chunks of broken phone are embedded everywhere, the smell of burnt hair fills the air. Timothy’s ghostly body lies unmoving while Michael jerks on the ground, blood dripping from his cheek. Smoke pours from the wreckage of the phone, filling the air, becoming shape and form. Becoming seemingly human. A emaciated figure of smoke, twin pinpricks of nothing for eyes. Lifting a finger it wags it in front of its face, a warning of chiding. A spectre.
From Michael’s debilitated body his projected spirit rises to beside Geoffrey,ready to face this thing. The Spectre looks at them both “Someone wants a word with you” it says. Geoffrey rises ready to scream at it, to tear it to pieces with his voice but Michael places a hand on his shoulder. Timothy is directly behind the Spectre, in line of fire. Drawing a thin shiv from his plasm Michael falls back to the caravans main opening, trying to lure the spectre towards them. Geoffrey holds a moment before speaking in a cold voice “Talk fast”
The spectre glides forwards, desire for pain on its features, but it jerks back as if dragged by the neck. Frustrated at being denied its face shows a struggle between a wish to torture and to do what is needed of it. It points behind it “Him. Outside. He wants to speak to you”
“Who? Where?” Geoffrey says
The spectre just gestures to Timothy’s prone body “Him outside, he wants to speak to you. He waits”
Falling back to beside Michael, Geoffrey looks over “It’s claiming something is outside” Michael glances up, the Spectre shows no sign of approaching them, nor of attacking Timothy, for now.
“Well, lets find out” With but a thought Michael pushes his face through the caravan wall, staring at the landscape outside. Stretches of caravans in the night. Cracked tarmac heading towards the coast. The bleating of sheep in otherwise silence. A frozen patch on the tarmac. Eyes drawn to it, adjusting to the dark, Michael spies a figure. A figure of hollow and burnt out eyes, head torn with a gaping whole, a mark of how he died. Timothy’s spectral twin, his Gemini. Clad in World War two era great coat and trench boots both caked in mud and blood, the Gemini stands. From behind barbed hooks and chains that tangle it’s mouth the Gemini speaks “Hello boys”
Fading back into the caravan Michael mumbles “We may have a problem” The spectre hearing them laughs horribly “Yes. Yes!”
Gemini Timothy’s voice seeps in from outside “Boys. Oh boys. I haven’t got all night you know. It’s time for a little chat”
Michael glances once more at the prone Timothy’s body inside “Geoffrey, keep an eye on the spectre here please, make sure it doesn’t hurt Timothy. I’ll see what I can do outside”
Geoffrey nods, holding the spectre in a cold gaze, one move and it dies. The spectre looks back, chained, it wants to make them all burn. Make them all scream. Slipping through the walls of the caravan Michael palms the shiv in his hand. As he feel touches the grass below him he sees the Gemini, mere meters away now.
“How’s my old friend Scotty doing?” The Gemini smiles “Terminal I hope for what he did to me”
“What do you want? You haven’t attacked us yet when you could have without us knowing. So you don’t just want us dead. What is it?” Behind his fear Michael tries to keep his voice level. His body aches, and if it comes to a fight he has little left to give.
“You have a clever mind. You could be in the military you know. Why not join us? You would be different of course, your mind is so limited. Its a limited time offer. No? Well, your right we’re not her to kill you…yet. You are still alive and that gives so many opportunities for fun. The same with your friend in the cryogenic tomb, wherever that is now. They’re hiding in there aren’t they. It’s so touching. Loyalty. Like a family”
“I’ve never had much time for family” Michael growls “Bar one. Why are you here?”
“Why I’m here to make you scream. To make you choose between survival and not seeing everything you hold dear torn to pieces. I’m here to tear the scales from your eyes. I’ve got a friend just dying to meet you. You know, when I woke from my coma I found the pathetic Labour government had banned fox hunting. I had a friend who loved hunting, chasing poor battered things across the dales, not unlike these ones. To see pathetic creatures fleeing be..”
“Yes, you intend to hunt us. I get it” Michael interrupts “Get on with it we don’t have much time”
“Oh you have plenty of time before we flay you. Fifteen minutes then Wilberforce will be here and he will bring his pets. I know you haven’t mastered that trick your friend pulled to get away, and trust me, we will catch up with her. I know dear old Timothy is frightfully wounded. So run. Run like you did on the streets.” Gemini Timothy pulls a rusted black pocket watch from his pockets “Tick. Tick. Tick. That’s the sound of your life running out
Fading back into the caravan Michael looks at Geoffrey “I may have underestimated what I said before. We have a large problem. Timothy’s Gemini is here and he has friends coming, unless he is lying. He wants us to run. We don’t have much time.”
The spectres face melts replaced by Timothy’s “No you don’t have long. Oh, and how’s the girl?” The spectre flickers, falling to electric shards that soak though the floor, down to where the gas canisters are stored below.
“Get Timothy” Michael shouts as he shoulder barges his way through to where Karen is sleeping, scooping her up in his arms. The gas tanks ignite “Move! now! He shouts.
Kicking the door from it’s hinges Michael tosses Karen into the air moments before the caravan is consumed by an explosion. Timothy and Geoffrey, still inside, feel as it pushes through their ghostly forms, painful but mostly unhurt. Michael is thrown meters through the air, chunks slamming into him. Ears shutting down from the noise of the blast. His skin feels on fire as he slams into the ground. His side numb, a jagged chunk of caravan impaling him to the ground.
Screaming through vomit spilling out Michael tries to crawl away, unable to feel his side, each attempt tugging on his impaled ribs and causing him to scream again, his body rapidly going into shock. Meters away Karen lies unconscious, Michaels attempts having spared her the worst of the blast
Rushing through the hail of debris Geoffrey slides to Michaels side “Michael are you all right?” Seeing Michael still pulling himself against the structure that has him pinned Geoffrey rests his hand on his shoulder “Don’t move, it will make it worse”
Timothy’s voice barks out from the smoke “Geoffrey. What’s happening/ I need a sit rep, where’s the spectre?” Stepping through the smoke Timothy sees where Geoffrey is staring, and matches the gaze of his Gemini twin “You!”
“Hello Tim” The Gemini replies with indecent glee.
Tim kneels by Michael “Hold in there old friend. You’re going to get through this. I don’t leave a man behind” Timothy looks To Geoffrey “Take that bastard down with extreme prejudice”
Feeling Geoffrey preparing his destructive horrors even through his pain Michael digs deep into the suffering he is in, tapping into that and joining his bitter energy to Geoffrey’s own, boosting his rage.
A moment passes between them, a memory of Michael’s, brought forth by the moment they are in. A cold street, garbage bags pulled over him for heat. Voices outside. The feel of liquid pouring down, seeping through the bags. Cheap rot gut liquor. The sound of a match striking. Burning agony, plastic meting to his skin as Michael tries to push his way out of the blaze his nest has become.
The memory fades, the anger does not as Geoffrey lets loose with a bellow “YOU DARE?” A scream of primal rage. Not just fuelled by the pain inside as before, but now a direct conduit for it. Feeding the darkness inside directly out to destroy. Debris from the caravan is shredded in the air, the storm wall between realities bends before the screams power. A furrow digs through the landscape. The Gemini roaring in pain as it’s plasm shreds. Chains burst forth from beyond the storm wall tangling around the screaming clone. Beyond the storm wall screams of hatred for all that live echo, spilling forth into our world. The Gemini Timothy screams in defiance “TIM. TIM. YOU WON’T STOP ME, YOU WONT TI…”The chains drag back behind the storm wall and the Gemini is gone.
The landscape is littered with debris from beyond the storm wall between realities. Scattered playing cards. Old newspapers and rusted metal. Fleck of human skin float on the breeze along with the smell of charnal house smoke and cheap sex. For a moment there had been a glimpse of hell itself and then it was gone. Geoffrey smiles “I’ve got more where that came from, what about you?”
Timothy fades back into view. The metal pole through Michael snapping free from Timothy’s ghostly possession of it. He’s done what he can to stabilise Michael, but the injuries are in dire need of processional medical attention. Looking at the damage done by Geoffrey an expression of horror crosses Timothy’s face for a moment “Nicely done…”
“I think we need to move” Geoffrey says “What’s the plan?”
“We need to get him to a hospital, or at least stabilised. These wounds are life threatening” Timothy kneels before Michael, gently trying to rouse him “Do you now anywhere that would take you in and not ask questions?”
Michael blinks through the pain. A memory of his life at twelve years old, new to the streets. Beaten black and blue in a mugging. A backstreet doctor in Scarborough. He mumbles the address before falling back into unconsciousness.
Timothy stands “Ok, I haven’t got enough juice to posses someone, but I think I can take that” he waves his hand at a nearby car “It can’t be that different to a British Mastiff” slipping his gauze into the car, the engine starts rumbling and the doors click open. “Well, don’t just stand there. Get in”
Geoffrey looks to Karen, slowly coming around on the floor “Karen. My dear, I am going to appear in a moment. Don’t be scared I am here to help” that said Geoffrey manifests from the air before the numb girl who just stares in shock “We’ve all come under attack “Geoffrey continues “Something very nasty. Worse than the abbey. We need to get moving now”
As if to confirm what he has just said a sound, like a trumpet, echoes across the moors. Like a trumpet except for the sound, something of a human scream, maybe a woman’s, maybe a child’s, that resides at it’s core. The sound rises along a mobs chanting, and the barking of creatures that hunt. Geoffrey and Karen stagger to the car, Karen collapsing sobbing as soon as she is on the back seat, her mind still rebelling from what she sees. Geoffrey slips into the driving seat as the car unfolds in an unnatural fashion, scooping Michael from the ground, dragging him painfully with seatbelts and unfurling chairs.
The middle of the car flattens, becoming an improvised table, with the belts strapping Michael securely to it. “Well that took a lot out of me” Timothy’s voice comes from the radio “We need to go. Hold on gentlemen this is going to be bumpy ride”
As the sound of hounds gets closer and closer the car sets off “So how are we holding up. Everyone present and correct?” Timothy asks
“Present, not sure about correct” Geoffrey replies
“I’m not dead yet “Michael mutters”sorry…no offence intended”
“None taken” Timothy says as the drive through the night. A broken alone girl, a manifestation of a clinically dead man from miles away, a lone soldier’s ghost in the body of a car and a living man on the edge of death. The drive is less than thirty minutes but filled with pain, confusion and fear. Driving past isolated pubs and hamlets. World War two ragtime music coming from the radio mixed with whispered communiques from the Bosnia-Serbian crisis. Bleak half remembered tales of Timothy’s life inadvertently exposed. Michael shivers, lost in hallucinations, years on the street, the boots of football hooligans rising and falling. The car hurtles through the night, testing speed limits at every turn. The baying gets louder and louder, but breaks off just before Scarborough, leaving silence in it’s place.
Slowly now the car creeps alleys and roads, looking for the address. It takes about ten minutes to find it amidst a run down set of terraced houses. Victorian architecture, the building’s windows boarded up. Spray paint still wet on the surface “Pakies go home” daubed next to a swastika. The EDL logo daubed further down beside broken holed in the boards. This is the home Michael remembers from fifteen long years ago. The home of Dr Jameel Abreer, a British Asian doctor, who assisted Michael before He had been struck off for malpractice in the mid 90’s but always maintained his innocence. He still worked medicine off the records, could not keep away as one of the members of a Muslim charity group that saw care of the homeless as their duty. He had been in his 40’s last Michael had seen him, in this one of the few areas that had given him aid.
Michael, awake once more, pushes himself out the car. Remembering the other moments, The women from Bangladesh who had brought him food, tried as part of the charity to aid him off the streets. Michael’s shoulder bounces off the side of the car as he slumps again, then drags himself along the side, step by step painfully towards the door of an old friend. His eyes spy the signs daubed on broken wood and for that moment the cars contents shake, externalising his anger in the vibrations of glass and plastic. Another step,a tumble and near fall.
Suddenly Timothy is below his shoulder helping him on “Nearly there. Don’t give up now” Timothy’s eyes follow Michael’s gaze to the signs “To think, they fought and died so idiots could daub this on their descendants doors. This is how it starts, this is always how it starts”
Painful steps later, Michael bangs twice at the door to silence in response “Jameel?” Michael coughs blood up onto the step and speaks again “Jameel? I was here before. Fifteen years ago. You won’t remember but Jameel…I need help again”
A woman’s voice can heard inside, brooking no disagreement. Moments later the door opens, Jameel, baseball bat in and clad in pyjamas. Hair grey now, eyes squinting through his glasses “Michael? Michael who used to come here? Is that you? My god, what happened to you?” Jameel turns to the stairs “ Mashallah, it’s Michael”
Dragging himself in Michael spies Jasinta, a small woman, hair grey and with a thick brown dressing gown wrapped fiercely around her “Michael? What have they done to you?”
Stepping in after them Geoffrey says “We have a girl in the car, she may also need medical attention”
Jameel sets to work quickly,clearing books and implements from the desk in the back room “Michael. Michael. What have you got yourself into. Last time you were here we thought we could find you a woman when you grew up. Now look at you, burned, metal in you. What happened to you”
Looking up from the table Michael just mumbles “I got a job”
“Allah preserve us, you were better on the street. This will be difficult, I need you awake while I feel around the wound. Who dressed this wound?” Tim raises hand “You did well sir, left the metal inside very sensible. Woman, get these men teas. They have done a hard job, they will be thirsty”
Jasinta replies in rapid fire Urdu, Michael can not understand every word but the gist seems to be “Don’t talk to me that way if you want something done”. Timothy waves his hand anyway “I can’t drink tea any more”
“Are you on a diet?” Jasinta asks “ Masala Chai is my speciality, you would not want to miss out”the conversation is derailed as Karen starts shivering “The girl is in shock, what happened to her? Don’t lie I have three sons and a daughter, I can tell lies”
“We were trying to help her” Michael mumbles “We managed for a while”
“You were always too good a man. I’m going to boil some blankets, that should help her”
As Jasinta is away Michael whispers to the others “Keep watch. We bring nothing to these people’s door”
With acute hearing as always Jameel hears and says “Nothing can be worse than what they did here. Thirty years I worked here, I wanted to make a difference. Schooled at Kings College in London. I’m an honest man and this what happens” He pauses “Well the good new is that you did not hit any major arteries. The bad news is that you will not get any prettier, but looking at you that will not be an issue. You are going to rest and then you and I will have a long chat. You will stay in my home until you are well, then I will find you a nice woman now you have a job”
“They, they..” Michael pauses “They went out of business”
Night passes as Michael sleeps, Geoffrey on first watch, Jameel working way at sewing up Michael after the operation. Timothy looks over at Geoffrey “This may sound like bad taste, but you look dead on your feet” Geoffrey doesn’t disagree.
Another day, mid afternoon.. Michael comes to, a drip in his arm. Jasinta starts to see him awake but soon composes herself, rushing to bring Jameel to his side.
“Good, good, you are awake” Jameel says “How are you?”
“Significantly better than I remember. I’m sorry for bringing this to your door” Michael says
“I’m sorry too, it is bad out here. My friend, his house was firebombed. Tensions are rising everywhere. I’ve landed you in it by bringing you in my door. Scarborough is not safe. My friend. Michael. I have been watching the news. Tell me, is it true, what they say you did?”
“They have footage of you. We saw it on the news” Jameel looks with concern
“It’s lies. Karen, the girl we were helping, is she ok?”
Jameel nods “She is fine, gone home now. I had the police asking after you. I know it is a difficult time, I I know what it is for people to look upon you with suspicion. It happens to us because of our ethnicity and religion. I did not tell the police anything. I know you are a good man at heart. You must hand yourself in to the police. Not here they are linked with the EDL, but you must hand yourself in”
“I can’t” Michael says “Orpheus saved me, for a time at least. There are others out there, others in danger because they are linked to Orpheus. I cannot abandon them”
“The news say the attack was an Islamist movement. They are a blight on my faith, If you are with them I cannot help you. Cannot be connected with someone who represents them. When you are well you cannot stay here. I will tend you to health but a man accused of being connected to terror groups. You cannot be fond here, it would bring great harm to the community. They showed pictures on the news. Pictures of mothers, children and men who were killed. Michael tell me please, you are not involved with this perversion of my faith?”
Michael thinks and says “You have heard of Orpheus, yes? The things we have seen. I could not hold to any faith after that. Even if I were a terrorist like they say and I am not, I could not be part of such group. These men here, those who attack you. We can help you”
Jameel shakes his head “No, I am a man of peace. They told me I was a fundamentalist. They told me that we ant to be apart. No, You will stay here until you are fit and healthy. To repay me you must be a good man, the best you can be. Find the people who did this atrocity. The people who attacked my religion. Show the world that what they say is not true You are a good man, you can do this”
Michael looks down, speaking quietly “I spent fifteen years on the street. Fifteen years just surviving by whatever means. I can’t call anyone a good man after that long”
“You have to listen to the path of light, listen to the voice of Allah. You cannot give in to what you have done in the past”
“Sometime I can’t find a third way” Michael says, recalling the acts of violence of the past few days “A way between doing evil or letting evil be done by inaction. I don’t have faith. I envy you for yours but I do not have it. I wish I could, but I can’t”
“Just listen to the voice. It is Allah speaking in you. If you see your friends, also, please tell them to drink tea. There is plenty here but they do not seem to touch a drop. Now rest, you have been sleeping three days but you are healing, you need more. Now if you will excuse me I need to board my windows again” That said Jameel, walks away, a slight limp in his step that was not there before
Timothy and Geoffrey have been keeping watch the last few days. There have been attacks at night and it is not hard to see who is responsible. The local youths don’t seem to see any need to mask their contempt. Threatening and harassing people as they do their groceries. Shoving kids down as they play football on the streets. The English Defence Leagues influence can be seen everywhere over these youthful thugs. Timothy’s been keeping an eye on the local police as they move around. Doing low key surveillance of the area looking for the crucible. Having inhabited their computers without their knowledge Timothy pulled off all the data they had.
“You know. I’m starting to draw up a pretty clear picture of these people and I don’t like what I’m seeing. What concerns me is their ties to London, to South London to be exact. They have been in contact with the chief inspector at Bethnal Green. Their using some GCHQ and MI6 encrypted channels and working with MET counter terrorism group. They keep referring to some specialist that will arrive in the next twenty four hours. One who has, quote unquote unique talents and operating parameters. This worries me I believed that the local police are just corrupt and siding with the BNP and EDL, this link to London suggest otherwise. I managed to find the contact details of this chief inspector in the phone of the man who murdered me. I also found contact details of a job centre in East London, in Walthamstow. I don’t think we want to go back to London, it looks too much like the kind of trap I would set up. We still need to find what happened to Scotty, to Poppy, we have too many loose ends. We need to work out what we will do next and quickly. I don’t want to leave people in the lurch but I need a second opinion and I need it quickly ”
Geoffrey thinks then speaks “We are in a tight spot. Scotty will be getting good medical care. I don’t know if we can do much for him now. Correct me if I’m wrong but without us around I don’t expect him to be a target”
“I don’t know” Timothy replies “If the people are tied to us then they are all targets. Orpheus competitors had similar skills to us, and they must be thriving right now. Whoever is against us is well connected and powerful. Something doesn’t add up. There were people at Orpheus with skills like ours and they didn’t see this coming. So whoever did this can neutralise or kill projectors”
“Looking at options..”Geoffrey starts “Well, finding Poppy is not one of them. We have no idea where she is”
“That thing, the spectre. If it got hold of her” Timothy says “No, I need to be pragmatic. Since this happened to me, my anger, my emotions are stronger. I don’t trust my judgement. I need you to second guess me. We need to get out of here but the ramifications for the people here.. Michael would not be happy if we cut them loose”
“We could unnerve them, and follow the trail back “Geoffrey says “I like that idea of getting back on an even footing. We need some clue to what is going on here. If we are dealing with someone as powerful as you suggest then we need to play divide and conquer”
“You would have made a good army man” Timothy says
“”I think I’m starting to turn that way. I always did consider myself somewhat of a pragmatic”
“Well I think we need to talk to our patient upstairs. Listen Geoffrey, we have two advantages, the lay of the land and that gift of yours. Can you see what is coming around the corner?”
Geoffrey nods, placing his hand against the boarded up windows. Silver thread run from his hands, creating a mirror in front of his eyes. A glimpse of events to come. A room shrouded in darkness. The three crucible members standing over a bleeding, dying Jameel. A woman in the darkness, Jasinta, head severed from her body. Things in the house. Things hunting them. Fear in all three faces. The door erupt with bombing sounds and lights. The bark of gunfire. That is the events to come, in less than twelve hours. Tonight.
Geoffrey and Timothy congregate upstairs with Michael, explain what they just saw.
“Well” Michael says “ We need to make sure they are not here tonight. If they aren’t here then they can’t die like you saw”
“Can we face them” Geoffrey asks
“We don’t face them if we don’t have to. We don’t have anything to gain and a lot to lose” Michael says
“Thing is, with the people smearing us. This plays right into their hands” Timothy says
“Well if we have to fight, then we do whatever it takes to survive. If we aren’t going to do that, then we run” Michael says “That’s the choice. Timothy, Jameel was limping what happened?”
“That isn’t the mission” Timothy replies “We can’t allow emotions to interfere here”
“Then just answer this” Michael asks “How do we get them out of here? How do we keep them alive?”