posted on Jan, 16 2015 @ 08:03 AM
“AH’M GONNAE BOOT YER BAWS, YA WEE PRICK!”
Boots thudding on the damp pavement, he ran. Past the betting shop with the boarded window, past the hairdressers who sat gazing out through the
drizzle hoping for a customer, past the take-away where the smell of stale fat hugged the paint-scrawled walls.
What had he done this time? Breathing fast now, his lungs protesting from this unexpected workout. There was no point trying to figure out McCabe’s
motives. The man followed no logic, he was insane.
It was better just to run and hope McCabe forgot about him. He was nothing, a nobody. By tomorrow McCabe would have found someone else to vent his
chemical wrath on.
“I need to leave this place. I need a job, a life, a new start” he told himself. Through an open close door, through to the back court looking for
a way out.
He stopped. There was no back door. Swearing under his breath, he searched in the dim light for an escape; McCabe wouldn’t be far behind.
There was only one door on the ground floor. A plain metal door with a spy hole. On the wall beside it there was a wooden plaque with a black dragon
painted on, curling sinuously, its arms raised and its mouth wide open.
“Is this a club?” he thought. He had never heard of it, but that meant nothing. He wasn’t well connected, despite what he told people. He pushed
the door and it opened. Without a second thought he went in and pulled the door silently behind him. Along a short corridor, down some steps, another
corridor, down more steps. Passages led in different directions, all of them dark and all of them unwelcoming.
He had a vague memory of reading something, somewhere, a long time ago. Something about tunnels and rooms under this cruel city but he had never
thought any more about it. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, his breathing slowed and he began to feel the pain in his chest for the first time. As
he rested, he thought he could hear music. Faint and far away, familiar and yet like nothing he could recognise, he strained his ears to hear it.
It was music, he could make out the pipes and whistle and the rhythmic, almost metallic, sound of the drum. He couldn’t help himself – he
walked towards it. With a feeling of utter dread, yet unable to stop his legs from bringing him closer, he walked towards it.
As the music got louder, it seemed to get faster, drawing him in ever nearer to its source.
“Can I help you?”
An impossibly thin woman with long, black hair fell into step alongside him.
He stammered, his heart began to race again, tried to explain that he had made a mistake, was looking for the way out.
She cut him off as he spoke.
“Yes, of course. I’ll show you the way out.”
He began to thank her, but the music drowned out his words. It was loud now, pulsing through his brain and his body, it was a part of him and he was
part of it.
She pushed through a heavy curtain and led him into a smoke-filled room. She turned to smile at him, her black eyes cold and uncaring.
“This isn’t the way out” he thought, as his eyes darted round a lamp-lit, stone-walled room. Rugs covered the bare stone floor, faded silks hung
on the walls and the sweet-smelling smoke curled upwards in the soft pink light. He began to feel dizzy, and sick.
Black Hair laughed quietly to herself.
“Are you ok?” she teased. “Do you want something to drink?”
He shook his head slowly, still able to know that he would never drink anything she brought him.
“That’s good, I’ll bring you something,” she said.
“No, no” he muttered, feeling confused and tired, so tired.
The drums beat, faster and faster, the pipes soared and shrieked, he swallowed the sweet smoke deeper and deeper with every breath.
“Sit down” said Black Hair, quietly. He obeyed her, glad to sit and stop the room from spinning around him.
A younger woman came to him now, golden ringlets bobbing in the haze. He watched her approach, puzzled by her. She walked like a ballet dancer, up on
her toes although he couldn’t see any feet under her long green dress. She kept her arms out at her sides, helping her to balance as she hobbled
over to his chair. Her smile was warm and welcoming; she looked delighted to see him.
“Here!” she said softly and passed him a bottle. He drank from it, not caring now, not knowing what to do anymore. A warmth spread through his
body, along with a gradual euphoria. The music kept swirling and the nausea began to subside. He gazed around the room again, feeling happier than he
had for years. Snatches of sentences reached his ears and he nodded or shook his head in response, hardly knowing what was said and no longer
He stared into an enormous gilt framed mirror which hung directly in front of him. Through the heavy smoke, he could just make out a vast shape
reflected in the glass. An immense black head raised itself up slowly and deliberately, restricted by its own weight. Two yellow eyes flicked open and
stared deeply into his own. A forked tongue flickered at the edge of two enormous, scaly lips.
Sitting up in his chair now, eyes wide he gasped. Black Hair turned to face him.
“You can see it?” she asked and by the expression of terror on his face she did not need to wait for an answer.
A man in an expensive suit knelt by his side. He spoke of bloodlines and family, betrayal throughout history, of misdirection and misunderstandings.
Most of what he said made no sense, it sounded bizarre and alienating.
As he spoke, the man unwrapped a syringe. He flashed a too-wide grin as he stuck the needle into thin, bare flesh.
The pain made him shout out and he noticed that the man was scraping a pattern into his arm around the puncture wound with the needle.
He reached out to hit the man, but missed and fell to his knees onto the cold stone floor. The music faded until he could barely make out the tinny
sound of the drums. He felt cold again and his head ached.
The three strangers huddled together by a table, reading from sheets of paper, taking a book from a shelf, examining his syringe.
The grinning man shook his head. “Not this time,“ he whispered to Black Hair. The girl with the golden ringlets put her hand over her mouth, her
eyes filled with tears.
Black Hair composed herself, and walked over to him.
“You were looking for a way out? It’s just over here.”
He followed her to a steel door at the back of the room, and stepped through as she held it open for him. He turned to speak but the door had closed
as silently as it had opened.
Confused and sickly again, he looked around. He was in a car park of some kind, people walked by on their way to work. The sun was high in the sky, he
felt its warmth and gulped in the fresh, clean air. Green leaves burst from bare twigs on the trees before him – it was Spring? He slid down the
wall onto his haunches and tried to make sense of the last hour. But it wasn’t an hour? How long had he been there?
All he knew was that he had to get away from this place. Was McCabe still around? Had anyone noticed he’d been gone? Clutching his aching arm, too
afraid to look at the art the grinning man had gifted him, he stood up and began to walk away.