Saturday, 20 September 2014

Heroes and Villains S3 -III - Tender

Strapped up in the dark, voices came from different angles. Depth perception lost, he couldn't tell where they were. Another fist slammed into his chest. Unable to tense beforehand, he was defenceless. Just as the pain raced through his neurons, another fist made contact. Some of the hits felt like bats. Bodyblow after bodyblow, softening him. Tenderising the meat before interrogation. It had been like this for several days. An occasional splash of water across his lips to keep him alive.

"Are you ready to co-operate now, Anchor?"

The taste of iron filled his mouth as the cloth was removed. He spat blood as far out as he could, only to hear it splatter on the floor.

"You do realise that insubordination will not go unpunished?"

"Fuck you."

He'd been to the Punishment Hall before. Her voice was familiar. They'd forgotten to use the scrambler this time. Must have rushed things in their excitement at the recapture.

He remembered her soft handshake when he first met her.

"Bex Cartwright, I'll be your caseworker."

A friendly face, if a little tight lipped. He'd figured it went with the job, maintaining professional distance. Not hiding venom, like a cobra in the shadows.

"The other voices... pre-recorded... but you're really here."

"Anchor, what difference does that make? You are bound and blindfold, powerless."

"I think you may have misread the gravity of the situation..."

A speck of dust dropped onto the blindfold.

"You shouldn't have come here alone, Miss Cartwright. Not this early. Observation deck doesn't open for another twenty minutes."

He didn't bother waiting for her spiel. The boring stuff about her bodyguards, how everyone at the facility was armed, how escape was impossible. He'd done his research. Pre-recorded messages with variable volume and depth field playback. Machines used for silent attack, hence the lack of footsteps alerting him to direction of attack.

"I can touch the floor. You didn't strap me up high enough. Cutting corners again? Funding dry up?"

No response. She was doing pretty well so far. Until the ceiling fell. As his hands dropped to his sides, he rushed toward her, removing his blindfold.

"Guess they forgot to tell you I'm fast for a fat boy eh?"

He held her at his side as his fist tore a hole in the wall.

"Call off the tranquilliser snipers. Do it now or I'll snap your neck. I know you're a telepath, Miss Cartwright. You seem to forget, I know the best. Where the hell do you think I got all my information? How did I know they sent you in for interrogations to prevent corruption of the pre-recorded messages?  I got my head repaired when I got out last time"

"Where are you taking me?"

"For interrogation. If you behave, I'll kill you quietly."

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Heroes and Villains Series 3 - II - Feargiver

"So that's his name..."

"Yes. Massacre."

"Not a supervillain I've heard of. He a new guy?"

"No, but you'd be forgiven for thinking that, Ellison. He hasn't been seen since the last time I was a superhero. Feargiver."

"Feargiver was a supervillain…"

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Ellison. It is a longer story than you realise. Before the infiltration, it was decided that we needed someone to rally the troops, as it were.

The villains weren't scared enough, and we weren't strong enough for an all-out war. Hence, Feargiver. Created to strike fear into the hearts of villains. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of thinking we were winning.

The Unfinished Man infiltrated the Council of Superheroes. Things changed. All superheroes seemed to be assigned specific villains. You had your arch enemy. It fit in with all the comic books. Propaganda to stop normal people panicking. We were never far from genocide. The Government let us have our games, but let us know in no uncertain terms that just one misstep would lead to war. So… back to enemies. Everything came back to your arch enemy.

A vendetta system was created. You are bound to your enemy. It ends when one of you dies. Massacre was offered the gift of a realignment if he was able to kill me. He chose single combat, where he cut off my face with a sword and left me to bleed to death. Only I didn't die. As his punishment he was told he would never again be considered for realignment."

"So you think this is an act of revenge? Him lashing out like this?"

"I'm unsure if he knows that the Unfinished Man is dead and that we have regained control of the Council, but he is trying to bring me out into the open."

"As he did once before…"

"We'll get to that… for failing to end the vendetta, I was stripped of my powers, and they were given to an ignorant fool. I believe his words were 'This power is so cool!' No sense of responsibility. He terrorised indiscriminately, once even attacking an orphanage. A theme in my life, it seems. Is it not bad enough that these children have been abandoned? He became 'Average Man', and of course, we know what happened to him. Most unfortunate, though not entirely undeserved. I hope you don't think me too cruel in saying that, do you Ellison? Oh well, not that it matters right now anyway. You wanted to know about the showdown in the Plaza, correct?"

No response.

"It was much the same as this, really. I'd arrived too late to stop him. Dead bodies everywhere. All I had to do was kill him, and it was over. Thing is, I had learned something about him that stopped me."

Manifest's face shifted and began to appear smaller. Within moments it was the face of a baby.

"Remember now?"

No response. Blood began to drip down Manifest's face. Ellison's eyebrow twitched. Manifest clicked his own jaw and removed the face plate.

"That look again. I thought it was disgust at first. It's frustration isn't it? First you couldn't kill me because we were in the car. Too risky, too much potential for collateral. Got to follow protocol. Now? You can't attack me because you work for the Government. An act of war, right? That would lead to another massacre, wouldn't it?"

No response. No request for a lawyer. Right to remain silent observed.

"Good thing the bad cop brought back up this time, isn't it? Massacre, meet the Misery Eater."

She crossed the room effortlessly, as though the piled dead bodies weren't there. Veiled, clad in black, the epitome of style, even amongst the chaos.

She whispered to Massacre, and embraced him with a long kiss. Breaking away, she turned to face Manifest, and laughed as she spat Massacre's lower lip to the floor as blood began to stream from his face.

"I'm not taking his soul, it's contaminated. Just let him die."

After a few minutes, Massacre fell to the floor, and Misery Eater lifted her veil.

"Gotharella?"

"No, Manifest. Not any more. They granted me a new identity. Things have changed. It's time for me to swallow your misery."

"That wasn't part of the plan."

"Oh, not like him. Relax, I'm going to consume your misery in a different way. Follow me to the car. It's far too creepy to stay here, we need to get away from all these bodies. I know somewhere quiet, where we won't be disturbed…"

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Heroes and Villains Series 3 - An Ending And A Beginning

"What a mess. We should have been more thorough."

They picked their way through the mass of bodies.

"No, Ellison. You should have been more thorough. What on Earth do you think I'm paying you for?"

All of the staff were dead too.

"He was here, and he caused no harm. We assessed the intent of the suspect."

"People can lie, Ellison, surely you of all people know that…"

"I know he didn't do it."

A steely eye. Changing faces again. It always freaked him out. Dealing with a human chameleon was never simple.

"Who writes his column, Manifest?"

"How is that relevant?"

"Just answer the damn question."

A flicker in the eye. A slight colour change.

"He has an editor who transcribes everything."

"You know why? He's a quantum being. He can't hold things. His fingers pass right through solid matter."

"And?"

"Look a little closer, Manifest. He may have been able to start a fire, or disrupt the electronic systems somehow, but to wield a sword with such precision? I mean, this wasn't an accident. It was a massacre."

Manifest stopped, suddenly, as though visited by a shadow of a past life. Stooping to examine one of the children's faces, his breath stopped for a moment.

"Oh shit. It's him."

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Journals

I've not been journalling every day. Partly I've been lazy, partly (and more importantly) I think I've not been willing to confront emotions particularly ones I find negative as though they're somehow indicative of me being a failure, a fuck up, a bad person. That's only a reaction though, isn't it? Just how I'm choosing to assess the situation. If all things are transient, so our miseries must be as fleeting as our joys. So I am neither failure or success. I am caught somewhere between the two. Struggling and maintaining the same position. Why struggle? Why strain to be liked or loved by people? If their affection is given, good. If their affection is chased, how low are we willing to sink our status? Even this status game is fleeting too. So it must be.

*

When I was a kid I used to pretend raindrops were racing one another as they slid down a windowpane. I used to be excited at the idea of one drop beating another. It shows how we can create a situation and mould ourselves by it. There was no winner. It's just a thought. We create such elaborate bullshit. It's quite amazing really. We think that's the way things are. All we've done is pick an arbitrary point and stuck to it. We don't have to always stay with that choice. We don't have to beat ourselves to a pulp emotionally because of any of these choices either. Of course, we could choose to if we wanted...

*

I have, like many others, attached such emotional weight to ephemeral circumstance. Like the bad goth poetry of my teens, I've clung to what I thought was more than reality was giving me. In relationships, pushing aside for a moment my faults and failings, I've been with people who've gone on to (for want of a better phrase) bigger and better people. Not necessarily using "better" here as any value judgement, but better for them, their circumstance. At least it seems that way, or seemed that way at one point. Should I be sad then, knowing that what they gave me as a person wasn't meant for me? Or be happy knowing we shared something special despite me being the wrong person for them? Maybe a bit of both, not fully keeping either. No clinging this time, just a shifting equilibrium, dependent on brain chemistry I have some control over but not absolute control. I can choose not to be sad about it all though, and that's what matters to me as I write this.