P R E V I O U S L Y I N
Sunday, 15 March 2015
P R E V I O U S L Y I N
S P I D E R F I N G E R S
He blotted out the rationale of fleeing his room, imagining the oncoming explosion tearing him apart.
Notgoingoutthereyou’remadyoucan’ttrustwhatyouseeandwhatyouseeisallyouare, the eternal loop of thought hung tight about his neck, a devilish noose which proved nearly impossible to sever. He sought relief in slumber, a bubble of harmless nightmares. The most recent and enduring showcased him, outside, muddled and fatigued. A trembling figure bereft of the how and why he stood at the water’s edge. Confused, fully clothed, gawping into the muddy shoals of a canal. The water’s refusal to offer up a reflection to converse with irked him as he continued to strain his vision for his ripple-riding twin. That other him, laughing, dropping vague hints as to where he’d hidden a baby’s corpse. The baby’s corpse ... he began running.
He galloped through dawn’s light, jetting about like a fool, inspecting London’s streets for familiar shops, a road sign, a door, or some other indication of his arrival at the crime scene. His search delivered nothing. No landmarks from last night’s evil. And should his detective work offer success? Tell the parents of his supernatural schizophrenia? A minion of terror leashes itself to my will every night. I hope that’s O.K with you?
He stumbled confused, overrun by the visions, sleight remembrances of horror, memories of his dealings during the dusk. He snapped out of the trance when he realised something significant taking place, a gathering inside the electronics shop he shambled towards. His eyes peered deep beyond the display of cameras and fancy phones to watch the news hypnotising shop assistants and customers alike. A dam of T.V’s at the back of the store held their attention, fixing them to the spot, drawing attention from all aisles. He welcomed the compulsion to join the congregation, shuffling tentatively through the entrance, past the glass doors, creeping, till he stood a good few meters behind the huddle, aware of his status as the unwanted browser. He spent the whole time paranoid of some jobsworth showing him out.
Augustus Roux’s opaque gouging. 1FROM26=7OF8 blazed at the forefront of people’s minds, adorned their water-cooler conversations, pushed the circulation of broadsheets and tabloids alike so as to prompt a new talking point of media responsibility. The police were at a loss. ‘Cripplingly baffled’ pronounced the pundit on the screens. Somewhere within the hullabaloo of graphics and reportage the words ‘age’ and ‘fourteen’ filtered into his consciousness. His mind did not kill innocents, but his body ... Dizziness grabbed him. He leaned his weight into the unmanned sales counter. 18FROM26=3OF8 had been inscribed on the genital area of Catharina Chevalier, Augustus’ girlfriend of five years. The world focused on the couple’s mutilation whilst Spiderfingers double checked his own private deduction. Out of his dirt caked jacket he pulled out his journal and pen.
“These are the brandings of ‘The Algebra Killer.’” said the television.
Fucking L.A, thought Spiderfingers. The birthplace of Noir had so much to answer for. The thing that had followed him back to London shared the media’s taste for melodrama. Mere alleyway slayings were not enough to feed his pet. Now his minion craved limelight. The letters and numbers told him doggy’s taste was growing and in a few short hours, the moonlit night would glow over everything. Soon he wouldn’t have any lust whatsoever to put his pet down.
They’ll just feed him. He’ll just grow, and he’ll ... Christ, they’ve given doggy a name. The motherfucking Algebra Killer.
Up there, on the television altar, a reporter stood by the bank of a canal. She spoke to the world, announcing the breaking news. A new born, murdered in its home. Numbers and letters written all over it.
“This isn’t murder, this is marketing.” He whispered, though no one cared for his presence, all eyes locked on the drip-feed of ‘updates’. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt a part of a community this big and could only liken the shared communion with John Clay’s experience of adopting a new soap opera. The analogy triggered queasiness.
He lolloped back outside into the early dusk, glancing swiftly one way then the other as the shattering of breaking windows revisited him. A baby’s room ... with the head of the small little ... He thought he’d been so clever. Bad enough he’d killed people possessed by the enemy, butchering defenceless children was a little too Old Testament for him.
Little baby’s body in a loft.
Little baby’s stench finally informing grieving parents the search ought to be inside the house. He rollicked through his contemplation, allowing rubbery legs to navigate his path. His hands gripped his head, a futile attempt to ease the awareness. The last steel beams of right and wrong fell apart within his mind. Then they melted. Dissolved. Morality oozed under a secret heat as he chuckled at the horror of the Algebra Killer’s real name; a dark moniker which crawled the shattered moral flint of his subconscious, a cracked walkway leading down to his tongue. Rooenn, he thought, till his lips sanctioned the release of his trusted nocturnal monster-pet, “Rooenn the Terrorsmith.” He smiled before carrying on, “Blood, guts, and age aren’t important. The brand name becomes stronger with careful advertising, nothing else. One can’t rely on the product for success, uh, uh.”
His fingers mistakenly slipped down to his pocket. The metal doll, broken. Which fight led to its damage didn’t matter, because Vicky’s fear had come to pass. Time for Plan B.
He’d spent so many weeks tracking Steph’s movements. He knew her day to day, her hour to hour. He’d become more effective than any forties Private Investigator on a stake out, seeing as the dividing line between occupation and social life proved forever elusive. The true legends, they don’t get to have them. Relationships and all they involve, they’re for civilians.
When he finally arrived at Pratt Street, he only took a quick moment to reminisce at the bus stop, that first place where he’d told Steph wild tales. He snaked the corner down Gower Way. Milo’s building. Wednesday night.
Steph’s taxi always delivered her between six and eight.
He spied a group of youths walking his way.
Time to start a fight I can’t win, he thought, before pushing into them, puffing the sails of young pride with each casual punch aimed mere inches off target. He went down smiling, playing the scene back over and over, but from an imaginary external point of view, popping pretend popcorn down his throat as fantasy curtains closed in on the manic violence.
He awoke throwing blows at people he’d left behind in his head. Here you are still, he thought. You’re a naked mad god on a floor in a flat about to go kerblewy. You’re not the Algebra killer. That’s just something else you made up. He almost closed his eyes again.
Then he heard the music.
Flickering between the fixed points of despair and altruism, there burned a fiery cacophony of triumph over adversity. His mind required the steady torching of baggage in order to lighten him, help him levitate up, up and away from the dirty, cracked floor, a hard bed scattered with rat droppings. The music: unhinged strings sung to him. You’ve taken your rest, he thought. You’ve taken your break between acts. The unmistakeable transformative effect of sound spurred him into suiting up; once again compliant with the application of trust woven into his appearance; the insignia on his chest threading a subtle connection in his psychosis. Should it arrive, should his skulking one-armed nemesis plague him, he rustled up the bravery, prepared to jostle his creation to the borders of consideration, for the music in his head reminded him how much Miss World desired a hero.
And so it came to pass: his subconscious played the role of a supreme D.J, spinning the Batman Animated Series theme over and over again. A euphoric selection, spinning riotously, a nostalgic force which trumpeted between his ears, awakened the child in him, a boy able to see off evil doers despite their mass, weapons or powers. I’m more than this, he thought cracking his fists, I’m Spiderfingers, and I won’t die in here. Despite the sealed windows of his disused tenement, regardless of how little hair-smoke escaped through the cracks, he fought occasionally, smashing the skulls of creatures who’d tracked his scent to the hallway outside. They would sniff at his door, and he would invite them to their doom. But with each sporadic visit, his guests increased in size and number. Be proactive or die, he thought as the mantra sliced through his fear of the outside. Weariness concerning the re-emergence of Doctor Chimera lost out to the pressing impracticality of staying in one place. You’re not in Bellevue anymore, he thought, thrusting shaking legs through torn weathered jeans, besides, you’ve been lucky: this building is scheduled for demolition. Beating all your enemies to be killed by TNT? Ridiculous. “Be proactive or die”, he mumbled into the Superman hoodie, pulling the scummy top over his dreadlocked mess.
He bobbed and weaved down the high street with a colossal scheme in mind, the details revisiting him, towing him away from his time of nudity and madness. So many months inside his putrid flat, now free of his concrete cocoon – an unchanged beast – yet – recharged; a well-meaning monster exposed to the heat of the season. Men and women sported shorts, skirts, flip-flops and summer hats. Little humans licked ice-cream. He barely noticed this new environ. He only saw the plan his dream inspired.
When the brutal face punts and elbow drops ceased, he experienced only soreness and a ringing in his ears. This is what it’s like to be human, thought the demigod, smirking through the agony, comfortable with injuries he’d sought after, each bruise, cut and flesh wound cheaper than any prosthetic effect. Fake blood could never achieve this look, he thought, remaining on the concrete floor, curled up in a ball, the footsteps of passing strangers closing in before their rapid departure. He congratulated himself on escaping his hideaway. Stage-fright dispelled, he thought. Ancient history.
Unluckily, this drunk had taken the wrong bus home, and now she’d become lost in North London with no one to blame but herself.
...So she takes a short cut down an ill-lit underpass.