“Get your heads down for tonight lads.” Ramol said.
The corporate concierge was a mixture of your best friend with just the right amount of certainty in his voice, and ease in his steps, to make you feel that everything was well. There was a calmness in his fleshed out face, not one trace of stubble, and only a small trace of trimmed hair, around his departing hair-line. The man led the new employees into a large stately room that had floor to ceiling high windows.
“I hope you don’t mind how things are laid out here lads.” The balding man said, turning towards them with an easy smile. One of the guests was way passed his prime and the other was fairly trim, but something in the butler – come tour guide’s body – told them that he could probably back up anything he said if he needed to.
“Anyways, I’m here to make sure any questions you have about the ‘simpler’ things here are answered,” he said adding a cockney smile to his words and turning around to them, “I’m basically one step up from a porter here guys. But I’ll help sort out anything to do with this place, any problems with your rooms or food, or anything like that, don’t worry about all this anyways-“ He said sweeping his hand out to the right of the hall where a large area was covered by a blue tarpaulin, much like a pool would be covered when not being used, but if this was a pool then it was shaped organically, the sides where the dark sheet drooped down showed how uneven the edges were, like a stretch of rock contained the pool at its sides, more like a natural geezer, than anything man-made.
“This place is just for you fellas.” The butler added next.
“You’ll be given a full tour tomorrow.”
Clarke felt wind coming from the opposite side of the room. The choice of lighting was only enough to illuminate small parts of the halls entirety; the side where Clarke felt the wind coming from couldn’t be seen in the light, but you could make out a type of tunnelled opening at the side of the hall. It reminded him of old a disused train tunnel that had been turned into an underground night club he had visited when young.
“It gets a bit chilly, I know, but don’t worry – it’s probably meant to be trendy or something you know.” The butler said in a confusing sentiment of courtesy with his own disinterest in the decor, turning away from them and leading them forward across the hall towards the windows spreading across the opposite wall.
“You guys’ll be sleeping just over here-“ He added walking over to the west wing of the hall beside the tunnel opening. The men were now shown two doors that appeared as they walked towards them, “Your cases’ are inside lads, name’s Ramol anyways, there’s an instacom unit inside if you need anything, I’ll be here before you’ve pressed it.” He said smiling.
Ramol removed his squat frame from the twin entrances to let the new employees through. The doorways suited the stately decoration of the wide hall better than the counter parts at either side of its wings: the tunnel, and the rock pool. The doors were rimmed in polished wooden frames and accessible via a snug chrome handle that was shaped into grooves for your fingers to grip.
The taller, more exhausted of the two men looked back at Ramol, “err cheers Ramol, the briefings early on tomorrow isn’t it? My heads finding it a bit hard to handle all this right now you know… Just the long flight and all”, “Understandable Mr Clark, very understandable… don’t worry about tomorrow son, you’ll be ready once you’ve rested, alright?”, Ramol said rubbing his balding head and lifting his chin up at the end of his statement, Clarke was uncertain if this was a personal mannerism of his, or a tick, “Ok, thanks a lot mate,” Clark said pushing his door open.
Clark looked over to the other man who he’d been walked in with and tried to share the last of his cheer with him, “Night mate.” Clark said to the younger man. He looked like the type of man his daughter liked to love. He had a tight look in his eyes that was more honest than Clarkes; a truer reflection of the warped layout of the room, or something else linked to the peculiarity of the set up. The tiredness was there too, alongside his casual black t-shirt and scruffy jeans.
His face didn’t bother returning Clark’s attempt at being nice ‘ah, the attitude to go with it too, he thought gloomily. Ramol departed waving in front of himself in a courtier fashion, and the two men entered their rooms. The sound of his formal shoes hitting the marble was the last thing Clark remembered before he threw a triple scotch down his neck to calm his nerves.
A man of fifty should be past any night fears he told himself. And anyone chosen from that many candidates for this company must have something more, and the scotch was good, and it was good, to be, finally, here…
Clark didn’t want to push open his daughter’s bedroom door. But eventually, he would have to. He knew that. In the patience of his own vast and customised home the anger at his daughter’s lack of respect for him tore holes inside his gut. Did she really think that she could just go out all night, on what was meant to be one of his weekends with her, and let some loser fuck in, and just go at it?
Five minutes passed. Ten. Twenty. Clarke sipped from his glass without pushing the door open; letting the thumps soar and dip of their own accord. He looked behind himself at his 2089 Mutumé; “Humid was the wine as drank from the iris” It was called. Luce had bought it for him on his fortieth birthday when things had been better, “To you, you melancholy old fuck, I love you Dad” She’d written in his birthday card.
Clarke wanted nothing more than to be beside that artist of Palomenia IV, as he sipped wine and painted in seclusion, by the artificial water fall he had had built into his home. Mutumé lived in constructed continent North of the upper parts of New Canada. Clarke would be quiet, he couldn’t paint or draw himself, he would just sit quietly behind the artist and sip his scotch. After seeing images of his home in a rare interview the artist, Clarke found himself going there in the evenings. He just wanted to see how a painting looks during its infancy when it links so well with so many future worlds. Clarke laughed, and regained some hold on himself, throwing open the door.
The room was cold where Luce’s window was still open from letting someone in. None of her silk sheets were still attached to her bed and Clarke was still laughing as he announced his humour by smashing his glass against the wall in the darkness. And there was the black-shirt and scruffy jeans lying on the floor amongst Luce’s. He flicked the light on and they both scrabbled out from each other and back against the head-board, exposing themselves in horror, and looking around for covering.
“Evening. Whom shall I begin with?” Clarke said gently. The bleaching whiff of class ‘A’ Exactica in the air had already affected him. He had probably been breathing it in small amounts as he had been waiting behind the door too. No doubt Clarke would check his potentia float the next day and find it several thousand credits lighter. Exactica was the pick of the elite and socialite classes. The secrete stim of anyone near the top, or in the company of them. 100% pure Nor-methonol-flourizine-oxytol. The inhalant affected Clarke immediately; but as he hadn’t taken the precursing stabilizer to the stimulant, which allowed one to still function without being shot into direct instinct too fast, he was gone.
“Faaaa.” Were the last things he thought of and said, as his head rolled like ghosts were gently nudging it to and fro. He stepped inside, then turned around slow. He flicked the lights off, and closed the door.
Leo knew that this was a bad idea. His doctorate was exemplary, titled ‘The Misjudged Growth of New Islands’, he was the youngest Phd in the history of academics to have his face shone across the lit boards of the drifting adverti-ships, he was the first academic of this level to have a place in the media whilst he did something serious, and christ, the scope was warmer than desert suns drinking cognac. But there is always the other gem that is required to keep things real, connected. Leo’s was Luce. Daughter of a senior developer in the higher regions of the worlds leading media controllers.
The Phd aloped and phaloped and skipped and unskipped to her tune. Leo knew who her father was as his driver gave him a leg up from outside the security walls of her home.
“Now come on fella, you’re not gonna get up there with that effort now are ya?” Ramol said, tiring of his attempts to launch the young man upwards to the first of the barbs on the wall, where Leo wanted to grab the small hand space between them, that were welded into the brick.
“Oh for great Hellia, is all this fucking worth it…?” Leo said slumping down outside the complex. The driver laughed through his chokes to regain his stamina and took his cap off. He always felt that same damn laugh when he saw his kid – or the young man whom he thought of with more affection than his own – and he always had a simple idea to help, “Ahhh. Ok. Tell me about her then…” The driver said stepping back from the high wall and picturing Leo grab the first of the barbs.
Leo laughed too. “You’re a gent Rammy. ‘Rammy’. Leo had watched the butler close a thick novel once, as they were stuck in heavy traffic, as he tore it in two like a single sheet of paper with his bare hands. At the time he was about to make a crack about how his servant still read the old things, but he didn’t after that.
“What am I gonna do when you’re not here?” Leo replied, already involving his body and minds strength with his friend’s question and aim, creating the steps of energy in his heart, then letting the question open his ribcage, in quietening and concentrating breathes, as his doubts were devoured.
“I’ll tell you later.” Leo said looking up at the wall again, as Ramol moved beside him laughing, and they tried again.
The shout of exertion was louder than caution permitted outside the complex, as Leo jumped again, catching the walls edge this time, as he willed a leg up slow, and around to his right hand, like a man who cannot decide whether he is a burglar or dancer or spider, onto a standing space only big enough space for two ants to lay back to back, and allow him to balance on the tight rope, spreading his arms and creating the biomechanical requirements of the leap and roll in his mind, as it occurred, and he stood upon the wall.
He made a thumbs up for ‘No, the performers shall not be slain’ in the night, before he jumped down and tumbled out, from the fifteen meter wall and collected himself, locating the entry point behind the wide and flat modern complex. The “() () () () ()(…)() () () () ()” facia of the front of the building was beautifully sculpted. There was a dissipating effect within the architecture of the entrance like vertical shells growing out from themselves in scores of white stone. The alarm matrix opened in Leo’s mind as he mapped out the motion detectors and places to avoid as Luce had told him. He let his hand die from the ‘thumbs up’ to Ramol, as for some reason, the driver gave the same sign back, driving away from the complex, and chuckling at the things his young employer asked of him, and he in turn, asked of the young man.
And Leo knelt down, moving quickly now over the lawn, dodging within specific parts of the security schemata that Luce had given him earlier, running towards the house, they lit like a bright network of flourescent worms in his mind, that he weaved himself in and out of the soil. But, Clarke knew as he watched Mutumé paint in his Palomenian studio, that something was wrong.
The artist thrashed at the canvas as it replied with his ex-wife’s slamming sound that was the sound of the door slamming as she left. Mutumé stood up, his squat balding features handing him the canvas as Luce did on his birthday. The torture spread through him like cancer, as he gripped all throats. His wife’s. His own. His daughter’s. And her Leo’s.
There were more executive meetings than love. And Clarke hated that. So he continued to explain what he was doing as he did it, as blood was released and gorged upon in the room. The eclipse frightened Clarke so deeply that he made a sound of wilderness higher and lower than anything a human can. And he needed help. His back ached like a wide thorn was piercing him through the mattress. He arched up and reached around upset; certain that he was awake again as always, and that it was over.
But the thorn was real, and coming from the middle of his mattress, dripping with two inches of his own blood.
“Holy fucking fucking fuck fuck faaa () () () () ()(…)() () () () ()” He screamed.
The young man next door hadn’t been very affable, but people don’t think in such ways when despairing. Clarke backed away from the bed over-loaded with the disgust of knowing that that – thing – that, thorn – had been inside him.
He walked back, step by step, until he knew that no more threat was about him and felt for the door handle behind. He opened the door, stepped out, and slammed it holding the handle tightly as if that would lock the panic inside.
He felt the very different air of the hall outside. It was cool against his skin, making his breath feel humid, and his limbs shake. His room and his neighbours room were side by side. Far behind him was the long reaching geezer pool draped in rubber tarpaulin. To his left was another creation that seemed more natural than man-made in the form of a tunnel entrance, that connected to the cold marble floor of the otherwise ornately decorated, and balanced room.
“You got pissed off eh?” Leo said leaning against the side of his own door near Clarke, smoking with one hand whilst tightly gripping the handle of his own door with the other, trying to hide how freaked he also was.
“Your your your your name’s Leo – but I don’t know that, I haven’t been told that, we weren’t introduced, HOW DO I FUCKING KNOW THAT? I know the flight here took ten hours from Palomenia IV, there was no one else on the plane, I met you at the entrance to this place-you’re scruffy-how the fuck am I working with a scruff like you I was thinking-you’re a wanker-we weren’t introduced
we weren’t introduced
we weren’t introduced
Clarke kept on saying shaking his head and holding the door while tapping his forehead.
“Easy…” Leo said as Ramol clobbed Clarke from behind, both hitting and catching him in the same movement.
Clark opened his bedroom door to the morning light, coming in from the windows at the north end of the hall way. He needed to find somewhere to wash up and he was surprised at how little concern he had for today’s plans. The night had taken a bunch out of him. Automatically, he reached behind himself and under his shirt feeling for the middle of his back. He scratched away a painful dot that was trying to form a scab, “Christ oh mighty…”
The estate’s ground curved outside for a few hundred yards of perfect lawn. In the middle of the patch a long tower stood about as wide as a female torso ten to fifteen feet high; beyond the lawn dense tress encapsulated the scene suggesting that the stately home backed out onto immediate countryside. Turning to take in the rest of the hall- Clarke’s eyes were drawn to the disturbance in the long organic rock pool that permeated through the middle of the hall and descended into the east wing, as far as an Olympic pool length wise, but natural in origin, or a very good imitation. The tarpaulin was removed, and the pool was in use.
A man’s head floated up and down through the spine of the water in casual breast stroke as Clark observed the hall’s new guest, and it wasn’t his moody neighbour, or Ramol for that matter either. The man’s eyes spotted Clark and sent him a ravenous smile in between his strokes through the rock pool bobbing up and down. Leo sat on the edge of the oversized geezer swinging his leg over the brown rock. The man Clarke would come to know only as: Termir, the caretaker; rose from the pool climbing on invisible steps below the water’s surface, continuing to shoot his smile at him.
Clarke had lived long enough in the peculiar spectrum of macho shows to know the type: hyped up on the limitless pleasure of his position, filled with gregariousness from the lack of boundary in his desires; built-in a similar fashion, maybe six eight, and still growing, a death filled god of grandeur, a self-made illusion of perfection so glowing and furious that you actualy felt it, “And it’s a good morning to you Mr Clark isn’t it?! Isn’t it best that we explain these large appendages that hang in our living hall and what exactly today shall cover?!” Termir said in strange baritone that lay heavy on intonation, delivering a peculiar drama and song to his voice.
The warmth of the day made Clark feel unclean. He craved to dive into the pool where the swimmer had just appeared from and cleanse himself from the twenty-four hours of sweat he had accumulated in his journey here. The ‘appendages’ that the large man was talking about as he motioned towards them were basically: the long pool he had appeared from, an old-fashioned blackboard that stretched from the floor and up to the marble ceiling that Leo was now walking towards- chalk in hand, in the corner of the east wing, and the tunnel behind Clarke beside the bedrooms.
“Definitely a fine morning FOR a… (briefing…?) Mr Clark… Here is yours, coming now…”
Clarke looked back towards the tunnel where Termir was pointing a straight wet finger. The black that Clark had looked into when Ramol lead him past the mouth, the previous night, had details now; circling rims inside, showing you the beginnings of the tunnel’s further details of its throat and shadow. Clark wanted to speak as he stared in. Words cycled in his mind to best hide his discomfort – checking where his feet were – he decided to walk towards the side of the room where the tunnel began to see what the strange swimmer was talking about.
Yeah, nothing should be unfamiliar to me, boss-boy is naked, and the little moody cunt looks like a rent boy. Lets play, Clarke decided as he walked towards the opening, choosing a relaxed persona that could handle it all. He slowed down the variables that were occurring around him, changed their size, space, and colour; which had a direct impact on his apprehension towards them, just as his P.P.A. (Perceived Path Analysis) counsellor had taught him when feeling nervous. Now, Termir’s commanding suggestion was a silly bird, flying away, in a black and white movie, that he watched in the perfect harmony of his last wife’s company.
The present was just five minutes of this scene. And the technique was easy, and made him laugh, which was the main thing. Of course Termir must weight over 250 lbs when thin, and Clarke was way past the point where he could match his physical presence himself, but hey- “Man I love this song,” Clarke said leaning into Jessica and walking towards the tunnel, for his ‘briefing’, but fuck you man, you’re a just a lil bird, he thought.
In one imploding dive that Clarke felt happen behind him- Tirmere launched back into the sweating pool. Clark realised the water was notclear like water should be, and must be sourced from somewhere far underground, due to its molasses red colour. Leo followed in a further smaller splash behind him beginning to swimming too. Mixed with the patting sounds of flesh, on water, coming from the pool- another came, distinctly away from the pool, pulling Clarke’s eyes back to the tunnel; as a smaller patting of flesh on rock came, or perhaps rock and sand.
It was the sound of a- flipping!, a small drag on sand inside the gaping crevice, and then a flip! And a draaag, every few seconds. A churn inside Clark’s stomach shot upwards, like an old root that had decided to shake its head unwelcomely near his oesophagus, and hold it. We only realise that we are paralysed, begrudgingly, when we are, we always know ‘consciously’ what to do next. To move is the ideal option, an option that may make us strike, run, scream, adhere to training, cry, or other variables that rise up from true character; but then there is that head-fuck world of two seconds where we cannot do anything, nothing, which Clarke was now in, watching what was coming out from the cave.
Clark watched the small un-limbed creature move towards him. It was the size of a small, debilitated cat, and a similar colour of flesh to the white rock sand cave that it crawled from.
A terrible, endless, creeping pity, tied Clark’s senses to the creatures struggle to move itself forward. It used its prominent thorn at the front of its soft cloud body to drag itself along. Since the protruding thorn from its sack (that appeared where its head should be) was the only movable appendage it appeared to have – – -“Come now little Lathe, DELIVER!… (divulge…?) THE briefing… hinggg hing heeeEEing…!” Termir howled behind Clarke from the pool – -– it had to put a lot of effort into using its thorn to move; and now on the marble floor, away from the sandy mouth of the cave that allowed it some proper traction- it suffered on the smooth surface. Its one shiney thorn scraped on the marble like a long feminine nail tapping impatiently.
It was blind obviously, but soon changed how it moved. Now the nail kinda curled down and withdrew below and under itself; just once, and it propelled itself forward at Clarke with sudden speed using its thorn as a spring board, meter by flying meter, flipping over and forwards in the hall. Clark’s mind emptied of all things apart from the rotten question of why it wanted: him.
“Don’t worry, she just wants to read you young Clark, we all need to be BRIEFED you see… sir?” Tirmere boomed as he made large flowing breast strokes gliding back in the pool.
Back, back, back and back out onto the lawn was the only possible way out. Clark’s survival assessment told him that nothing here could be right, as long there were caves with small creatures and rock pools with naked executives swimming in them in the morning.
The trees… Yes the trees, and through! He thought turning towards the light coming in through the tall windows at the side of the hall. The baroque panelled glass of the central door shot up to the roof, where another separate frame half way down provided a door and double brass handles to release it. Locked. Clark knew that if he looked at the creature again he would faint. So he focussed his mind on the task of opening the door.
Nothing. The glass felt like old style single pains that could be smashed easily, over and over, flip – the time before the pouch landed back in a sick slump on the floor, and then another. Clark looked down and realised the doors he’d been shaking were latched at the bottom, flip! – pushing the doors open he ran out, and the sun lit the dancing cherub statues that decorated the patio watching him flee.
Clark made good use of his treadmill hours. Sprinting into the lawn and passing the curved pavings surrounding the exit. He let out a mixed shout as his heels felt the company of the creature. It was now keeping up with him, and made small dog leap attempts up, to rise up his legs as he ran. If the animal that matched his speed so easily was a pet, this would have been playful, even the small dips of its thorn into his ankles would have been jesting bites. Clark neared the centre of the lawn where the totem pole stood.
If he stayed on foot for much longer – even at full sprint – Clark knew the creature would make its way up his legs, so he opted to jump the first meter onto the statue and depart from the wet lawn. The perspiration on Clark’s hands and the morning due made it hard to grasp, but the thought of that small sorry body touching him again helped him to drag himself up in clumsy monkey jolts. Tying his red silk dressing gown around himself Termir came out on the terrace and shouted across the lawn to the climbing executive.
“They’re called ‘LATHES’ – ELLL AE TEEE AIIITCH – (aitch?) – EEEEE ESSS ESSS ESSS ESSS old boy, don’t worry! It doesn’t hurt it’s faaan-TASTIC for the morning wind…” The large male said making his voice carry out like a chaotic song across the well kept landscape. And there was some use in the suggestion of the strange heavy weight’s words. It was damn cold. And there would have to be something done about it. It won’t involve me letting a small creature penetrate me with a thorn for a head, and it won’t involve me shaking up here like some damn fool, Clarke thought to himself.
Which film should we watch love? Clarke asked his ex wife. That one where everyone’s mouth is connected to everyone’s arse and nothing makes any sense? No. I don’t wanna watch that again either. Oh would you mind making this morning a lil less cold?- Fucking hell, thanks, bloody hell, I remember that heater, it was all we had in that first cheap flat we bought! But it did the trick didn’t it love? – – – relaxing, Clarke stopped shaking, and sat down on the totem pole, there was a good ten yards between him and the upper most limit of the things attempt to reach his feet – – – ok what have we got, this lumbering fool walking towards us on the lawn, that creepy guy from my dream behind him, something weird down there – – – Clarke said aloud, sending a large, slow, globule of spit down on the thing – – – yeah, yeah you’re right, if that things thorn can propel it that fast, and can leap that high, then it must have some pretty powerful musculature connected to it, and there’s no way I want a taste of that in my arse.
What? What—Yeah, yeah. That works. How come you’re helping you’re helping me out? Yeah, you’re right love.
Letting his body dangle from the top of the tower, holding himself against its side facing out with his arms stretched, and hands gripping, Clarke aimed his feet at the excited sack trying to leap up, and timed his drop in time with when the thing dropped back down, and retracted its black thorn back underneath itself, for another leap at him, and then – – – DROP. Clarke took some good time stamping on the thing after he landed on it. Punishing and spewing out a controlled set of hate into it, until its life was gone, and he concentrated on his next target, Termir, the smiling weight of Termir, standing near. Leo stood beside him, dressed in the same black t-shirt and jeans he’d seen on his daughter’s floor.
“K guys. I’ll tell you how this is going to go,” His adrenalin said, as the thing spat its thorn into his ankle finally delivering the ‘briefing’ with an after beat of its death. “BRIEFING MY FUCKING ARSE,” Clarke said ripping the thorn out from his ankle as a day, then century, then annexing eons became one thought booming loud in his lobes. Nah. Not today lover. Clarke forced the pain and time to walk away on all four, like the Dalmatian pup he bought with Jess as his ankle bled into the lawn.
He saw the thing’s that Termir called ‘Lathes’ journeying in sentient craft across empty space, where Termir was a dumb caretaker in a ship that changed as it moved without knowing distance, and Clarke knew the animals of the ark, Noah made decent coffee’s, and his girl had gorgeous thick hair and eyes waiting for him on the other side. And the credits smelt like their blood, flowing up the screen, warmly, and the drive home was a calm one as always.
“K. I know I’m not going to win here. I’m not even going to come close I bet! Haha,” Clarke said pointing a horizontal ‘V’ sign with his index and forefinger at the men.
“But one of you will lose an eye.”
“And one of you will have something bitten the fuck off before I am done.”
He howled, as the sentiment of his pulse turned back into humour. “K?” He said listening to himself, laughing, and getting ready to move. Termir opened his dressing gown exposing the multiple Lathes attached to his giant body that milked from his teats and all parts of his body, hanging off by the sucking thorn that protruded from their fronts, letting their bodies hang from him limp, like a clown selling joke chickens under his coat.
Clarke took his shirt off and began wrapping it around his left fist. He took off his belt off and began wrapping it around his right fist. Termir listened to everything that the fiftyish media exec said, nodding, nodding, “Yes YES! Why… we weren’t wrong here were we…” His face said with movement and nods as the animals milked, some dropping off, as if drunk by his boundless energy. Leo’s face was also content, although not showing it, agreeing with his boss.
“Lets all go back inside. This bit always bores me. Especially if you lose it. We don’t want anyone to get hurt.” Leo said almost completely without passion, but with honesty.
“Brom pom pom! Brom (pom?) pom POMM POMMM!” Termir was now saying aloud, as if a brass band was was trying to escape from him, and the Lathe’s dropped from his skin on command, exposing the small sucking sores where they had fed and began to poke into the dewy grass politely. The two men turned and withdrew immediately, as if familiar with such moods, walking back to the terrace, as the Lathe’s parted where they collected on the grass suggesting that they would not try and jump up at Clarke if he walked inbetween them, where they played and grazed amongst themselves.
Clarke stood there in breathless silence, still gripping tight on his shirt and belt, then lesser, and lesser…
As the morning and the stately grounds transmitted their quiet message to him.
And it was time to pop his shirt back on, and maybe do what Leo suggested.
And anyways, he was hungry.
“We call them Lathling’s (…do we? Silly SILLY name…?)” Termir said looking at one of them as it flipped itself back into geezer pool inside the large hall, stirring the water with his toe thoughtfully.
It was terribly off-putting for Clarke, the way Termir left his dressing gown open all the time with nothing underneath. But as the adrenalin left its usual deposit of relaxation in Clarke’s system he was able to ignore it to a fashion, “Fuuuck me. I’m off…” He thought to himself, wiping his hands on his shirt as if to try and remove invisible dirt and correct himself.
Leo made a cupping shape with his hand, as if holding a bowl, and brought his spread fingers towards his face with an exact motion. This brought the black board off the wall and into the middle of the room above the stretching rock pool. The chalk scribbles faded from white on black into hypnotising blinks of image, as analogue notes gave way to a crisp picture of Clarke’s home from his and Leo’s shared dream the previous night.
“They were probably here first, I dunno, placed here,” Leo said holding the viewing screen still with one hand and adjusting further parts of its spectrum with his other hand. Clarke watched the young man alter the density and time of its light and further data commands that were many times beyond his understanding, “What you saw, we shared,” The student said numbly, “The most powerful thing, is shared dream, we cannot do it alone, if you’re interested, it’s all in the briefing, the data is all with you now.” Leo said as if his words were disconnected to his heart.
“WHATEVER? (hmm…? I know? I know!…) ohh looook, they like it, awww…” Termir said butting in, pissing into the warm pool and enjoying a musical leak over the Lathe’s as they flicked like peaceful grey hands, “Whatever we are, when we interact, they release us, what you saw has not happened. We are the media centre of the world. You are tied to us now Clarke. Tomorrow, Leo’s face will be shot across the face of globe in the biggest scandal of latent years… We are where it happens.” Tirmere said, looking sad for a moment, in a straight tone more like his partners.
“I came here for a job, if you think I’m gonna sleep in a place with, with-“ Clarke said surprised at his ability to even speak, finding the proximity to madness a thing which wasn’t so mad, since here, it was so visceral, so in front of him, touchable, ‘kept’ somehow, almost: ‘average’, in its loyalty, almost… Yes, almost ‘mundane’, now.
“No. You won’t have to go through that again. My old man used to say ‘If you feel the bite first, the bark is never so bad.’” Leo said, border-lining on joviality, then switching it off again, “It’s the process here, I take the hits, I must have had two dozen ‘interactions’ with these things,” He said adding a mild tone of distaste, “Count yourself lucky you weren’t here before we had a system, Hieronymus Bosch actuality thought that he was one of them.” He said, unable to fight a small chuckle from finally appearing. Clarke couldn’t cut down Leo’s ability to out weigh his security system with gymnastic leaps around the unseen sensors; although he shook his head miserably and slow in how easy it was for him, as he watched the screen.
“Fuck.” He thought.
The next flick of fingers took them to the painting Luce had bought for him, and Clarke instantly remembered what came next.
The pain was the ecstasy of old and passed terror doubling itself in tight unknown XX’s and YX’s in his tears, and the suffering of boundless memory.
“If you bloody hurt my little girl…” Clarke said finally breaking down on the floor. All of his techniques of fighting gone, in the hovering and nonchalant viewing screen.
“If you…” He said weeping. Knowing why the screen was going black.
Knowing what was happening now inside the room, after he smashes the glass and finds his daughter with Leo, and turns off the light.
“If you… (oh no, no stop it…)” He said inaudibly.
“Hey hey Hayed, (- – – hi? ooohhh! later later, GO back go back… shhhh…)” Termir said kicking one of the excited Lathes back into the pool as they were summoned by Clarke’s tears to the surface, like an average unraked pool, with white leaves drifting upon a dirty thick red, appearing up from the bottom, “Knock KNOCK (um hm).” The giant said tapping Leo’s shoulder with his knuckles softly.
“Yeah yeah, I know I know.” Leo said, in his perfectly unexcited tone. Placing energy into the cupped set of fingers in front of his face, then grimacing for some reason as his hand shook before his eyes, the viewing screen linked to his gestures – – unable to turn it off.
“Tirm.” He said quietly, as Termir paid more attention to taking off his gown and swishing away the Lathes with his hand above them, where he wished to dive in next, “NO. TERMIR!” He screamed out, as the viewing board began to do another thing, as Leo gripped his wrist and he held it in front of his face. But instead of obeying his tight limbs, it began to rotate, only by an amount that could be noticed by delicate apparatus, but moving itself all the same, which wasn’t meant to happen. It was the first time Leo had experienced this, and it was the first time the hall, and the Lathe’s, and Termir, had witnessed him loosing his shit, as he continued to scream.
Clarke was over powering the screen, connecting, instead of viewing, it flicked back onto the visions of illuminated destruction he remembered from that night, “ Good evening. Whom shall I begin with?” Clarke said gently. Forgetting to be afraid of himself, as he rose from his turtled position on the floor, and stood speaking directly to the screen, as he smashed his glass against his daughter’s wall and entered, shattering all the windows of the hall and taking the sun out of service.
Termir jumped from where he was beside the geezer pool and tried to support Leo’s hand with his own as the viewing screen cooed with an excellent wax of projected reality in the hall. The singing giant care taker trying to aid the student, so fluidic and certain of his controls over the screen and the process, but unable to do anything more than place his large hand on his back and hold his wrist with him. The Lathes cowered as they felt their care-taker afraid, for the first time.
They weren’t so keen on Leo, he was a little mean, but they were scared for him too now anyhow. They asked between themselves in the sandy tongue of the tunnel where some retreated, and below in their geezer home, if their servants were going to succeed, or yet another era would die from the expanding thoughts provided by their wine via thorny drip; the Inuit’s use it well, they thought, dismerging down into the hot black safety towards their always home; the howling babes could use it well if we could be accepted by this era’s current trends, they would cause less pain to each other if we were introduced to them earlier; “Ah yes,” one of the drifting things said, more awesome ballerina with one leg, skilled in the silkened water, and not, horrific thing above surface.
One leg dancing in timeless cut through depth, “But we must not create another race in servitude to us, it has always failed before this way, we nearly found oblivion ourselves that way,” they said together.
“Clarke- CLARKE! It hasn’t happened yet, you stupid fuck!” Leo said, as Clarke accepted the fate of his future mind.
“K.” Clarke said wrapping his belt around his many fists again, as the world’s belt also tightened and billions of lives gave up, also, either dying from catatonia in the middle of rice fields mysteriously for no reason, slapping their children instead of speaking, men and women dancing to enslaving songs like marionettes sick of their strings and reaching for knives to cut them, instead of making long bows from them, and reaching for arrows.
And then even Termir bled. Even though he was as big as a cluster of bulls. Leaving Leo to struggle with the coiling screen where Clarke now accepted the dream the Lathe had catalysed inside of him. He put the last of his increasing frame into laughter, which attracted the Lathes from the hole in the wall and from the bottom of the dusky pool.
His lungs called them as he accepted every leap of their bodies upon him, each one piercing him fully, not milking, from him anymore, but injecting him with themselves until he became a seven, eight, twenty-foot mound of cumbersome agony, crying in laughter as they centralised their gift to this strain of humanity. And turning, turning back towards his friends, the being, now beyond size, wept gracefully from the Lathe thorns that now spoke in place of his mouth, like the flowing tendrils of a dead sea annenema speaking, on the lightless sea ground, saying:
“Listen Clarke, juhhs—HA (ha?)… haaa haa…”
And then it was too much, even for him. And it was hard for anything to touch Leo, but he felt the death of the care taker like someone de-boning him beyond his coldness, taking on the world that only Luce lit; it took his attention away from controlling the screen as Clarke lifted, arms raised and spread like a still doll in the static power of the hall.
“Look! Look you fuck, you’ve… Killed Termir! He controls them you dumb-” Leo thought, becoming an aching child as the effort of controlling the screen tore his hand down into a small, weed like thing of nothing, still aiming its twigs at his face as he gripped his wrist, and fell to his knees overcome.
By the by, why didn’t you listen to me when I told you you couldn’t bring Leo back? Clarke said sitting on the edge of the mattress as his daughter and Leo lay in different parts of the room. And Ohh. Don’t look at me like that. Clarke said stroking the head sitting beside him.
(I hope I get this job.)
Clarke thought drifting back down to the marbled floor.
In the large hall another day came; turning away from the mess of creatures lying around a large man’s corpse and perhaps his assistant.
The Lathes teetered near the tunnel to the west where they were always born, and pulled themselves over to the geezer pool where they would always swim, in need of a new care taker, to the east.
Ramol pushed the doors open linking the hallway to the living room, and walked in.
“You know how shit works around here?” Clarke said opening his 80’s filofax and making a note in pencil about hiring new staff inside it.
Ramol nodded once at the new employee, as he retired to his room, knowing that it was not a question. Beginning to sweep.