It Is Poured Into Your Lap, Pressed Down And Overflowing! Ash and Dust, Part 11
September 15, 2011 § 1 Comment
Here it is! Good as gold, aren’t I?
Not too much to report, other than I’ve started listening to the Vinyl Cafe podcast. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Stuart McClean is a masterful story teller, able to inject charm, warmth, and humour into his stories, even when they’re about nothing in particular. I just listened to the September 6th podcast, and it was so damn funny I was laughing in the street. A kid in the audience started laughing at one of his jokes, which got Stuart laughing, and that got the whole audience going.
Want to know what a gentleman does in that situation? Ask the kid his name, and make him a part of the show. That is class.
In any case, have your second helping of the week. It’s fresh off the…press? Microchip? This is so fresh, the analogy for it’s freshness hasn’t even been made yet.
Chapter 11: By The Throat
The car was stuffy despite the size, and it was indeed sizable. There was a full hot tub, merrily bubbling away between two benches large enough to seat maybe two dozen people, and yet the three of us were crowded by the door. Depression had an excuse because he was trapped sitting bolt upright, completely wrapped as he was in the chains, and Compromise because she kept inching towards me. The long emptiness of the limo yawned at me and I yearned to move further away from her, but right now Depression’s body was conveniently placed between Compromise’s seductive shifting and my anxiety.
The limo rolled smoothly along, even as the landscape outside changed quickly. We rolled up a hill that looked almost vertical from the windows but didn’t even upset a single link of Depression’s chains. The driver must be good, I thought, but resisted the urge to make small-talk. Compromise just kept smiling her death head’s smile. She was more than willing to wait for me.
A small fridge beckoned to me from across the limo but it was firmly on Compromise’s side. It might as well have been a million miles away for all the good it did me, but my throat was suddenly parched and all I wanted in the world was a shot of something.
Of course, Compromise noticed that I was looking. Of course.
“Can I get you something, Ryan? Anything?” While she spoke, she leaned forward and squeezed her arms together to amplify her charms. She also drawled out the last word like it was molasses being poured from a jar. It hung in the air for a moment, so full of sweetness and promise, before crashing to the ground and bringing me back to the present.
“No thank you. I’m fine right now, ma’am.” I said, stiffly. Something else is stiff to, eh? I cursed my body that it would betray me right now. Hadn’t we been through so much together? Haven’t I been good? The least you could do is work with me here.
Son, it replied from somewhere near my belt, I am working with you here. A big part of you wants what she’s selling, whether you’ll admit it or not. I’m just a buyer, friend. The market has spoken.
Compromise laughed a polite little titter that managed to make everything jiggle so nicely. The skeleton teeth in her face danced about her lips and stretched wider when she smiled. Her eyes caught mine and I suddenly looked away, abashed and ashamed for some reason. My body was telling me to leap over there, tear off that jacket and have such ferocious, raucous sex with Compromise that we would break the seats and offend the driver. The good kind of fierce sex which is all nails and sweat and closeness, where there is only one thing that matters in the world. The kids these days call it “fucking”. It seems to fit the word very well.
And, in fairness to my body, my mind didn’t exactly disagree with that plan of action, especially with all the signals Compromise was sending my way. But there was something inside me that said “no”. It wasn’t even a fully formed thought, a complete reason to say it. It was just a ghost of a forgotten memory that said there was some reason why that would be wrong, some reason so strong it mattered even when it had been forgotten.
“So formal, Ryan. There’s no need to use words like “ma’am”, with me…unless you want to. I could be your professional woman, if that is more to your liking.” As she finished, her copy of Spes’ coat fell away. I reflexively looked away, but a half-second too late. Although she laughed at me again, I was in the clear. While a minute ago she had been naked, and I knew that was true without looking, under the coat, she was now wearing a black pencil skirt and white button-up shirt with enough buttons left open to show off her wonderful cleavage. Her hair was done up in a bun and small, horn-rimmed glasses were perched on her little nose. She had a pencil between her teeth, and my faithless friend enjoyed the scene very, very much.
Stephen King said there was no sight more ridiculous than an aroused man. I counter that there is nothing more ridiculous than a very visibly aroused man trying to hide it. I needed to get away from Compromise, if only so that I could think again. Trying to think around her was like trying to breathe incense. It sure smelt nice, but it slowly choked you to death.
“No, Compromise, I just…uh, want to ask you why you’re helping me.”
“Please,” she purred, putting a desperate edge to the word, “call me Maias. We’re friends, aren’t we?”
“Well, Maias, I don’t rightly know that, now do I? Depression mentioned your name as one of the big fish swimming around me.” She snapped her fingers and began taking notes on a pad that appeared in front of her. I couldn’t help but follow the motion of her tongue as she licked her pencil. “And, so not that we aren’t friends, but I don’t know if we’re working for the same goal.” It dimly occurred to me that this was the first person/concept/thing outside of Memnos to give themselves a name, before that thought was swallowed by the feeling of her hand on my knee.
It was warm, despite the pure whiteness of her hands. “Ryan, my only goal is to see you safely out of here and back to your body.”
I struggled to reply as invisible fingers worked their way up my legs, kneading and pawing. It felt so good, it reminded me of…the beach. I frowned and the feeling of the ghost fingers, even as they traced themselves up my back and behind my neck, diminished. The scraps of a memory flitted at the corner of my mind. A sunset on the beach, the taste of coconut, and the feeling of fingers on me.
Polka dot. Blue polka dot something. I didn’t know what it meant, or even what it was referring to, but the image of blue polka dots was strong enough to obviate everything else from my mind. The memory flew out of reach and into oblivion, but even the scraps of it put me back in control of myself. There was silent wailing from my groin as I focused on what was actually happening in the car, and Compromise’s charms relaxed ever so slightly.
“Really?” I asked, gently removing her hand from my knee. I had to remind myself that despite how warm and sweetly firm her hand might have been, she wanted something from me, and until I knew that I was completely in her power. “Because that would apparently make you unique. Depression makes it sound like everyone wants to use me as a one-way ticket to my world. And Guilt just wanted to watch me-”
The rest was cut off with a hacking, grinding cough. At the memory of the frumpy man that was Guilt my throat suddenly started working painfully, pulsing and squeezing to try and force something up from my stomach. My belly suddenly distended and my chest exploded into pain as a piece of engine that wasn’t there a minute ago suddenly appeared. I pitched forward, trying to cough and breathe and barf at the same time. A fan suddenly started whirring in my chest, pulping my lungs and sending me wild with pain. Gas, oil, and blood leaked from my mouth and stained the carpet red. I started jerking and saw the edges of my vision blur.
I heard Guilt’s voice in my head. “I am here to watch you die.”
Compromise swooped down and kissed me right on the mouth. Her tongue briefly entwined with mine and then, extending and writhing like a snake, pushed past my tonsils and down my throat. Startled, I reflexively tried to fight her off, but she struck, in and out, in a second. That second felt very, very long as I could feel her tongue push down into my stomach, rustle around, and only then retract. My throat bulged and writhed where he tongue moved and I felt cartilage being displaced. Once it was clear, I vomited engine pieces, nuts, bolts, screws, and lots and lots of oil. At some point, my regular stomach decided to join in the fun and the stink of stomach acid filled the limo. Wracked with pain, I could only writhe on the floor as my body ejected the material.
There was a drop of my blood on Compromise’s black tongue. She swirled it around before sucking it down with relish. Exhausted, but finally empty, I climbed back into the seat covered in oil and vomit. Compromise snapped her fingers again. A Coke appeared in my hand and a towel in hers, and she wiped the worst of it off me.
“Guilt. Oh Guilt, I should have expected he would be involved in this.” She slapped her forehead with her free hand. “Especially considering the conditions of your arrival…oh Desire, you great fat fool. Your plan won’t be so smooth now, will it?” She chuckled as she cleaned me like a baby. I was in no position to argue, and, I reasoned, she was doing a damn good job. In a minute I was practically sparkling.
Nodding my thanks, I lit a cigarette and took a sip. The smoke calmed me enough to stop shaking and the caffeine, or memory thereof, made me feel halfway human again. I don’t know what would have happened if I actually “died” here, but this was the closest I had come since waking up in the hospital bed. There was a pile of machinery on the ground that came up to my knee, all reduced to pieces and bits by Compromise’s tongue.
“So…you were saying about why I wanted to help you?” Compromise asked brightly, her clothing stark white and completely clean. My libido had been beaten down by my brush with death, but I certainly noticed the way the tips of her nipples strained at the fabric of her shirt.
“Yeah. No-one here seems to have any interest in helping me for free. Well, one or two, but even they don’t tell me why. It seems like it’s dog-eat-dog here, and I’m the bone everyone’s fighting over. I can’t help but think that you’re just waiting for your crack at the marrow.” I said, as feeling gradually returned to my extremities.
“Of course, you’re right my little morsel. We do so very much want you and I find it harder and harder to contain my…obvious need.” She raised her hand to her cheek as though she was blushing, but the black make-up (Make-up? It looks more like skin on her, I thought) of the skull on her flesh hid any feeling she may have been showing. “But I am different from those brutes, and especially that old scoundrel, Guilt. What I want is something that we both want. I want you to come to terms with the accident. I want you to accept what you did, and then go on to keep living in your patch of the world.’
‘The others are driven by baser needs. Despair is a hungry, hungry man, and wants to devour every bit of you before you return as broken and ruined as he is. Rage wants to ride you like fire on a burning brand, spreading more of himself through your world before you go up in smoke. Desire…simply wants you, and it seems like Guilt is determined to see you die here.” She waved her hand dismissively. “They are nothing and less to me. Unlike those pathetic figures, I am well-represented in your world. My influence goes long and far, and while Rage and Despair, though powerful, burn themselves out quickly in your world, my touch is felt for a long time.”
She licked her black lips with her black tongue. “That is what I want, Ryan. I want you to compromise and to keep on doing so. If you are enraged or torn apart by Guilt or Rage, then you can hardly do that, now can you? But if we work together, then when you and I are one, I can take you to the Throne and all will be well for us.”
It sounded good. Too good. Polka-dots at the corner of my mind told me not to trust her completely, and I agreed. But it was best not to show off too soon. First, I needed to learn more. It was starting to make sense, but too much still escaped me.
“Well,” I asked, jerking a thumb towards Depression, “what are we doing with this chump then? Why don’t we just throw him out the window and we can all go home?”
Compromise giggled and took my hand in hers again. “Patience. You men, be you living or souls, are all alike. Despair, first to the hunt, managed to capture an important memory and take it from you. I do not know what it is, nor do you, but without it, you would not be whole. You are useless to us both as a shattered vessel, not to mention the indignation you must feel at being violated, hmm?”
I nodded, understanding. “So we’re going to knock on Despair’s door, dragging his errand-boy behind us so I can get what we need?”
“Yes…except that you must go without me, Ryan Kazlauskas. Despair might be a weak little spider, but even so, the fly must spurn the web.”
“A strange analogy.” I said.
“But you will see how apt it is. In this situation, you have more power than I.” The limo ground to a halt within a garden of destroyed buildings. “Ahh, we’ve arrived.” She opened the door and with one stockinged foot brushed out the pile of debris and vomit right onto the steps of the hospital.
I stepped out of the limo and tasted the acrid scent of ash on the back of my tongue. Like a huddled corpse, the ominous bulk of the hospital seemed to crash down into me. Crows circled the sky in a black tornado, their calls furious and insistent. Fear played with the pit of my stomach but I patted my gun. I knew what was inside, and I knew the stakes that we were playing for. It wouldn’t be the same, I promised myself. Melissa, Sam, soon I’ll put this all to right. I just need what Despair took from me.
Depression stumbled to his feet, taking what steps the chains would let him. The crows exploded into a rage at the sight of Depression and began swooping lower and lower. They were furious, but for now, stayed out of easy range of my gun. Compromise, now dressed in a flowing, floor-length black gown that covered and yet revealed everything, handed me the end of his chain and brushed her lips across my cheek.
“Here you are, darling. He knows you are coming, but is blind without his crows. Take heart, and I will see you soon.”
She climbed back into the limo and drove off. Lightning flashed ominously in the sky and the filmy, fatty doors beckoned.
I eagerly climbed the stairs leading Depression like a slave. It was time to take back what was mine.
Whatever it actually was.