Friday, 17 October 2014

The Gallery Of Mirrors


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

I greet the old couple on the doorstep, but in my mind it’s not me standing there. It’s a character. We just happen to share the same name.

Spiderfingers jogged towards the chime of the bell. He opened the door to set his vision upon a happy-to-see-him old couple, dragging upon the drug of inner resolve, binding himself to a ruthless tunnel vision that would prove addictive and dangerous.

My life is a book and I’m somewhere far off turning pages. I’m not the calculating divinity that must commit itself to stark evils for the greater good. I’m just a witness reading.
__________
    Spiderfingers’ demise meant the God-Hex tumbling down, and he couldn’t have that. Regardless of what humans did to one another, they didn’t deserve to be left vulnerable to slave driving sky-lords.

Spiderfingers had to take the Buchanans to Po Village; there was no escaping the logic. My plan to secure us safe passage is sound, he decided,

Inviting a newly-converted old couple to join the expedition to Po? Perfect!

‘Perfect?’ said Florence from the first floor landing, her hands clutching the sides of her face,

What if you found god near the end of your life? What wouldn't you do to please him? Faith was Spiderfingers' chief concern and senior citizens possessed the fuel by the gallon. 

‘No, this is where we draw the line. We’re not doing this. You heard me, show them out.’


Spiderfingers stood in the hallway next to a wheelchair-bound old lady and her husband who had his hat removed, held close to his chest. Awkwardness spread the scene. 

‘There’s no way we’re bringing converts with us.’ said Florence, avoiding the eyes of O.A.P’s waiting silently, obediently.  

‘The Oma is dangerous; we can’t take you,’ said Steve sitting on the steps, his eyes meeting the guests directly, ‘We…we just don’t work that way anymore. Remaining humane, it’s the most important thing isn’t it? Otherwise, what are we fighting for?’

'But dad,' said Saul, 'we can't afford to be human right now. If we want humanity to survive, we need to start living with the tough choices.'

‘Our lord didn’t tell us what we’re fighting for,’ said the woman in her wheelchair, her hand gripping the hand of her husband. Both their palms quivering, ‘he just told us to meet him here, so we did.’

‘We don’t care what it is,’ said the old man standing next to her. His voice was full of dread terror failing to pass itself off as devotion, ‘We will do anything to serve you my lord…anything.'

Steve’s hands gripped his knees. He looked into the floor, for some answer to unearth itself there.

'I don't know what method Spiderfingers used to recruit you,' said Florence, 'All I know is, I've got a fifteen year old daughter upstairs who equates the idea of making friends to handing out death warrants on the innocent. I'm not going to stand by and watch anyone else go through hell to save the world. Certainly not an old couple.'

‘Mum, we don't have a choice,’ said Saul on the landing next to his mother, ‘You know how much I hate Spidertwat, but if he dies, we all die. We need as many soldiers as possible.’

Spiderfingers crumpled a little into the wall of the hallway. The bonfire that crackled above his brow burned brighter than the sunrise as he struggled to attack Steve’s ode to humanity.

Remaining humane, it’s the most important thing isn’t it? Otherwise, what are we fighting for?

The man-god bit his tongue.

‘Your mum and dad are right Z-Boy,’ Spiderfingers said as his eyes gauged the family, realising the shift in mind-set, ‘It’s one thing to convert them, but a blind old lady and her husband are not soldiers.’

‘It is one thing to convert them.’ said Lilith as she sauntered down the flight of steps winding past Steve and up to the place where Spiderfingers had slumped into the hallway wall, ‘It’s another thing to invite them here, eh, my lord?’

She disappeared into the living room to reemerge into the hallway with Ruby and Flints silver pail of chopped liver in hand,

'Did you invite a cross section of demographics, or did you just want to give the disabled and the elderly a chance at worshiper of the year? Seriously, I wanna know.'  

‘Mum, dad…’ sang a little voice from upstairs, ‘Cooooome ooooon! You’re missing the lights!’

‘Hold on Vicky,’ replied Steve, ‘Be up in a minute,’ he hefted his great hulking weight up the stairs, slowly. The wood creaked beneath him as he turned about to face the old couple, ‘Best you people stay on Earth. You’ve got an effigy?’

The old man produced a Superman doll from the inside pocket of his blazer. The figurine's face had been blacked out. His wife’s feeble hands began their search through the purse on her lap. Spiderfingers’ teeth sank into his own flesh.

‘Good. Use your faith in him. My family will need it out there, now more than ever.’

Steve carried on up the creaking stairs. Lilith waded past Spiderfingers following him.

‘Wait, take us with you,’ said Anthony D’Angelos clutching the Superman doll in one hand, his hat in the other. Spiderfingers couldn’t meet his eye. He bit his tongue.

‘We see the fire in your hair,’ croaked Celia D’Angelos clutching a wood carving with an S painted on its chest, ‘whatever you need my lord, command us, we’ll do it.’ But her flamed haired god continued wheeling her out through the short corridor towards the front door.

Her belief in his eternal paradise would have to fuel him from afar.

Spiderfingers thought of Gaia's warning.

Do not show your face. Do not spread your faith. Protect humankind from the shadows. Gods bring suffering to the apes

He remembered how he had argued that the Buchanans would be the few exceptions. He needed protecting so why not allow him a clergy? If only he wasn't so persuasive, he thought.

Gods need people to see their faces, don't they? They can't help it, and they'll use any justification.

They'll need...abilities Gaia. Special ways to protect themselves. The gods will try to use this poor family to get to me 

The creature that invited the D’Angelos' here – aint me. I'm no longer the manipulative fucker who converted these old folks, deep underground, just concrete and no constant stare from Gaia. No Pseudologoi around to gas the couple's memories of my existence to death. I’m just reading his story from far far away. I’m devoid of empathy, and my tongue’s been bit so many times I’m deciding on a new portion of my body to take the sufferance.



It had been a long seven years since Spiderfingers had stood in that gloomy space. The Gallery of Mirrors. Like any other attic, the place was overrun with boxes and cases and cases on top of cases, all of them filled with the junk that families never properly catalogue let alone throw away.

What made the Buchanan attic special was its size.

The space was almost as large as the living room thanks to the ‘refurbishment’ Spiderfingers had taxed out of reality-shifting minions years ago. What made the area doubly special were the four mirrors that adorned the walls. Each one being at least six foot in height.

Spiderfingers couldn’t shake the eyes of the old couple from his mind. That look they gave him, they could see the fire in his hair. The adoration had been almost too potent for the demigod to resist.

He tried to distract himself by standing with the Buchanans, watching Vicky run a circuit round the large attic, rubbing her fingers across the six foot mirrors that lined the walls.

Vicky Buchanan was as sassy as she was diminutive. Sporting long gloves under her dad’s old school jacket and wearing over-sized specs to check her heavy boots for scuff marks, Vicky Buchanan massaged each mirror with gusto.

She paused now and then to wipe the bleeding of her nose, bleeding that Spiderfingers' existence had indirectly caused. 

Gods bring suffering to the apes

In each of these four mirrors, reflections of herself and her kin disappeared. The sheets of glass began to swirl with colour, not dissimilar to the way sunlight breaks down when shone through oily water.

‘Presto!’ said Vicky smiling at Spiderfingers.

The smile was odd. There was something she wasn't telling him. He ignored his hunch reckoning that as the comic relief of the group, coupled with her age, Vicky was just under too much pressure. He offered her a grin in return, though he suspected it looked horrible.

There was no amount of teeth scrubbing that could fully eradicate seven years of abysmal dental hygiene. 

Spiderfingers reckoned Vicky calling the attic ‘The Gallery of Mirrors’ was her way of colouring out its mundane drabness. But there was no way she would ever admit to coming up with the name now.

Soon, one after another, the shiny surfaces revealed themselves to be portals to an identical looking room waiting on the other side. Each piece of dusty luggage, every folded rug and raggedy doll was no longer reflected in the golden frames. The mirrors were now doorways to identical houses, and these residences were not Earthbound. 

'Not bad after all this time, yeah Spider?' said Vicky using a tissue to wipe some blood from her nose.

Only Saul’s jabbering could ruin the majesty of the moment.

‘Look,’ said Saul checking and double checking the straps on his football helmet, ‘what if Spiderfingers is an alien? A terrorist alien. What if we’ve been fighting off Interstellar cops sent to take him out?’

‘Saul,’ said Vicky spinning from a mirror to face him, lowering her large rimmed NHS specs down her nose, ‘you’ve sooooo taken my escaped mental patient alien idea to some like, random place? Leave the walking tent alone?’

Spiderfingers laughed a little, but it was true. Now he’d changed into the ceremonial crimson of Boleraam, he looked like an abominable tepee. Even though he’d rather wear his trench coat. Although, it didn’t bother Spiderfingers when Vicky teased. When he left all those years ago, Vicky was the only Buchanan to shed tears. 

‘It looks like a dress.’ said Saul picking at Spiderfingers’ robes.

‘This dress is gonna help pass me off as Boleraam,’ said Spiderfingers his hair flickering out at Saul, ‘A little respect please?’

‘You’re nothing without your powers,’ said Saul patting at his knapsack, the knives clinking inside, ‘So don’t try to scare me. It’s pathetic. Bad enough we have to follow you into Po.’   

‘Don’t pretend you haven’t looked forward to going back,’ said Lilith scooping more raw meat out of the bucket, ‘we’re celebrities there. Being a superhero is better than clocking in and stacking shelves. Your words Saul.’

‘We’re not superheroes Lils,’ he replied tightening his knee pads, ‘We never were, right dad?’

Steve shook his head, as he rummaged through a trunk of throwaways and trinkets.

‘Don’t listen to him Andy,’ muttered Spiderfingers patting the severed hand on his shoulder, ‘You know more than anyone else that Saul’s only an authority on masturbation.’

Saul looked dumbfounded as the detached palm on Spiderfingers shoulders speedily hopped up, leaping into the air so Spiderfingers could slap him a high five.

The hand had seen better days.

The paleness and the two remaining finger nails were evidence of such. But still, if the Discordians were attacked on the way to Village Po, Handy Andy would prove invaluable, especially with enemies that mistook the errant knight’s size for fallibility. In fact, Handy Andy's only weakness was that he hadn't a mouth. And gods love mutes.

Spiderfingers was sure that Handy Andy loved him.

Handy didn’t treat the existence of Spiderfingers as a problem or a tool.

That’s why Spiderfingers let Andy perch on his right shoulder.

‘Not being funny, yeah,’ said Saul moving around the front of the group between himself and the mirror directly in front, ‘But if your god hadn’t bothered to visit your village in seven years, you’d go barmy. The Dilfs might have turned their back on his almightiness here,’ said Saul smiling his gangrene humourlessness at Spiderfingers.

‘Guys…’ Lilith pointed out at dark humanoid shapes clouding the mirror in front.

Steve raised his fists. Lilith placed her hands to her forehead as Vicky backed away from the mirror to hold her mother’s hand. Saul rummaged his holdall settling for a meat cleaver. Spiderfingers moved a little closer to Steve, a man surely bracing himself for violence. A sickly father forced to battle past the pain of a debilitating condition.

'Dad,' said Vicky pointing at her god, 'You should stand in front of Spider.'

Steve didn't budge. His face equal parts fear and shock.

'Well if you don't,' and Vicky let go of her mother's hand to join him. She didn't get far before being yanked back,

'I don't think so young lady.' said Florence not taking her attention from the shapes moving toward the mirrors.  

Unable to find some other part of his body to punish, Spiderfingers forced his front teeth down upon his swollen tongue.

Gods bring suffering 

‘Spider, this place is a secret, right?’ Vicky asked as Florence undid Saul’s helmet and strapped it to her daughters head.

'No mum, give it to Spider.'

‘I don’t know what mess you’ve got us into now,’ said Florence as she pushed Vicky further behind her, ‘But when this is over I won’t be held responsible for what I do to you.’ 
N   E   X   T      T   I   M   E      I    N
S   P   I   D   E   R   F   I   N   G   E   R   S

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Lilith


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

‘Aronson’s changed, but so have you.’ croaks Vicky as I realise the fire in my hair is dying. It's been dying all day...I was just too proud to do anything about it. A balding deity, too young and too damn proud to see his transformation. Did Florence see this? Did Saul? Were they too afraid to spit it out? Were they just being good soldiers, keeping me strong despite the truth?'

__________
Throughout the fantastical lands of the Oma, there shines only blue light, a pale cerulean shading to be exact, and there has been no day nor any nightfall here, not since the gods were banished from walking the earth, not since Rao was cast down into the Oma’s magma, his planet core cage.

So then, upon the zenith of Mount Ekul, under the sallow azure commandment of Un’s absentee High-Father, Lilith struggles with her task...

Beneath the borga-skins that insulate her body from sub-zero harshness, the tattooed wings on Lilith’s well-developed back glow a luminous light bulb hue.

There overly resplendent incandescence creeps through the woolly layers, such a ghostly light spreading across Lilith's black coffee skin. To see these skin grafts shine out their supernatural force is a wondrous sight, especially for those oblivious to their significance.

Lilith’s hands are rubbing at her forehead and the result of such meta-ignition drives the swooping animals of The Oma from neighbouring summit crevices, their skyward vistas. The mighty dragons, the quick and darting martlets, the graceful spows, and all those roaring griffins competing with the shriek of wispy eagle-spectres, all these unruly circling wonders coalescing above Lilith’s withered stance.

They respond to her psychic signal, swooping down, using their beaks and their claws to fly mortar, poles and other construction tools before the snow-capped feet of well-muscled workers. All of these slaves, captive creatures freezing under the duress of flaying barbed lashes.

Conversations on this icy mountain-peak must survive above piercing cries of gathering sky-high cattle. The sea wash sound of multitudinous cracking whips makes talking a problem.

    One voice however easily rises above the sound of enforced servitude.

    One booming voice decides which row of backs must be punished.

    Aronson’s dark task-master,

    ‘Call them!’ screams the mighty Ungumpo.

    Ungumpo's mouth is serrated with many teeth but to see him is to notice first and foremost the insects that fly out of his face. So many bugs and flies have made a home inside the shaggy giants undead mouth.

Ungumpo is a Dilf, and like all his kind Ungumpo stands on has hind legs, a whopping ten feet in height. His shaggy fur is blackened and out of his insect ridden mouth he screams,

    ‘Call them all!’

…But Lilith’s concentration has become weak...

…Sometimes, without any warning, the young warrior loses countenance…

    And airborne wildlife release themselves from psionic bonds…

    They retch yellow bile before returning to their senses…

    Some fly away from Mount Ekul's foggy climb, beating their wingspans in the direction of home. Other renegade sky-monster’s exchange blows with the many Dilf’s that labour down below.

    A dragon wrestles its way out of Lilith’s invisible instruction, vomiting its fire-breath, transforming a battalion of Dilf troops into molten misshapes, a gross incendiary mess, wastes of meat toppling off the side of the rocky elevation.

Observing the catastrophe, Ungumpo snaps his whip over Lilith’s head, as he bellows,

    ‘Control your beast’s she-human! Construct the coliseum. Do it fast or your father will die!’

    ‘Dickhead.’ mutters Lilith.

    ‘You dare speak ill of me again?’ shrieks the rakish hairy warrior, scrabbling insects crawling about his decaying face.

    And so, Lilith replies, ‘I dare an undead has-been to go against his master’s wishes. Whip me again; put me out of action for another week and let’s see what Aronson thinks of that – fart-knocker.’ 

    Ungumpo’s fist crushes his whip handle and so he gestures to the Dilf sentry on his right, a signal the sentry has responded to more than once this last week.

    Ungumpo leans his ten foot skeletal shagginess down towards Lilith’s height, ‘Maybe I should go pay your father another visit and finish what I started? How will you fair if he dies, hmmm?’ whispers Ungumpo into Lilith’s ear, ‘yes…or did you think Nathaniel shared only battle weaknesses? hmmm?’

    Lilith inclines her face away from her enemy as her hands clasp in their futile arrangement against the bitter wind, and she says,

    ‘Just when I thought life couldn’t get any worse, I have to suffer your shit for breath.’

    Ungumpo leans in closer so that his diseased snout momentarily graces Lilith’s sleet-flecked face, ‘Silly little Discordian, you cannot hide your fear from Ungumpo.’

    ‘You don’t scare me, fucker.’ replies Lilith, ‘and call yourself Ungumpo all you like, but the animal killer is dead.’

    Ungumpo smiles humourlessly as he accepts the long-whip his foot-soldier has returned with. He spits a globule of fly swarming goo onto Lilith’s back.

    He laughs but with a caution. Ungumpo fears nothing, however, the omnipotent rolling of an avalanche...

    ‘We’ve come to know all your filthy secrets. We know why Aronson grants you leave to visit your - ’

    ‘Shut. Up.’ hisses Lilith.

    So, Ungumpo grins a ghoulish grin stomping his giant self to another part of the quick rising compound. Lilith closes her eyesHer shivering hands return to her head.

    And she works them, the Discordian pushes the mechanics of her telepathy, once again heaving her odd employment to levels that she has only recently become aware exist.

The white heat radiance pouring out of the wing patterns that chaos has etched onto her shoulder-blades, it is too much for the elderly avian breeds and in the hollowed living chambers of many a nearby apex, senior brains burst open.

Scaly, furry, and feathered craniums explode fluids over their once peaceful habitats whilst their young take notice, but without the weight of sentimentality. They only live to respond to Lilith’s super-mental dictation and thus, the mindless younglings become consumed with an unhinged survivalist’s streak. They scavenge the carrion meat of fallen kin.

    The journey to Mount Ekul is a tremendous one.

    All must eat copiously for the journey.

    With each clairvoyant prick-of-death, Lilith hesitates. But she cannot afford to draw out the rebel in her.

Lives depend upon her discipline now. Her tattoos must carry on in their act, paranormal guiding lights for fearsome winged goliath's that pervade hot secret caverns, nestling places far beneath the crust.
________
________
________
    Lilith ignores the choral entreaty of animated blackened entrails, the feisty horrors that masquerade as stringed lilies floating around her, rotting rings bobbing at waist height. In this dank hell beneath the Oma’s crust, the warped insides of the long forgotten dead paddle upon the rippling murk, each wave riding bud chiming out their deceit,

    Wear us for we shall protect you.
    Own us and you shall survive here.
    Love us to know painlessness forever.
    Ignore us and we shall never let you go.

…Lilith keeps marching along through this underground dankness, a flooded place for the eternally nightmarish and forgotten. This is the Necrosphere and Lilith’s life depends solely upon her safe passageway through it. Aronson's minions follow behind her, their lanterns aloft, light spreading around.

Had these un-dead Dilff warriors the common sense they would wait for Lilith to return from her mission – but what do the dead know of this dreaded space, the world that some call the Smoke Filled Bowl? And this is why Aronson prefers his subordinate’s sub-human, so unquestioning – so utterly moronic.

Necromantic followers will do anything, fight anyone and indeed in Aronson’s case, they will go anywhere simply because they have been instructed to do so.

    Wear us, we shall protect you...

    ‘Do me a massive favour and Fuck off.’ mutters Lilith as she treads through this putrefying and shadow-dripped hollowness.

    Above her head there is no sky, just the gloomy spire-rocks that dribble the noxious goo that one must wade against. Around her there is thick steam emanating from iron works that chug and splutter underneath, the High-father’s ancient unseen metallic contraption, it clanks in its forever function – the subterranean bondage of the light bearer…Rao.

Lilith journeys on until she reaches the supernatural space, a forest of dying and twisted trees. She spies the hut in its middle clearing and just like the last time, Lilith Buchanan heads straight for it. The key to her survival waits inside…she can hear it, for it wails in the agony that Aronson’s lackeys have been commanded to inflict upon it.

    Hard to believe these are the screams of a man.

    Inside she sees the exact same scene from her last visit: Nathaniel Buchannan A.K.A Eraser running his glowing fingers up and down a bleeding limb, shaving the skin muscle and sinew of her father’s arm.

    ‘Hello Lilith, come for more have you? Don't think Steve's up to it but sod it - mind if I er, watch? Heh, I forgot, of course you don't...’

N   E   X   T      T   I   M   E      I    N
S   P   I   D   E   R   F   I   N   G   E   R   S

I call on all black devils until one answers…

Click HERE to find out what happens next.

Monday, 2 June 2014

ENDGAME


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

‘I don’t know what mess you’ve got us into now,’ said Florence pushing Vicky behind her, ‘But when this is over I won’t be held responsible for what I do to you.’ 
__________
Ungumpo yanked his head out of the tarn.  He fell on his back.  He could barely breathe, and if he could talk he wouldn’t want to.  He wouldn’t need to.  He knew if he had the strength to look, to really search, he’d find his paws were bare and skeletal.  Ungumpo needn’t feel at his face to know that it was withered with misspent time.
“Great Ungumpo: the only creature that could have defeated me.  Now you’ve no strength to defend your villagers or warn them of my weapon.”
Ungumpo thought of his children and all he had not yet taught them.  He thought of his ninth wife’s bloated belly and he cried out as he thought of his village and all he had promised to protect them from.  The mind-pool had erased all gumption to carry out his blood oath to protect Po.  He could merely let slip the name of the ghost sorcerer that had bested him,
"Aronson?"
The ghost answered with a slow nod.  Poor Ungumpo.  He had let his god down.  It was then that the winds of Un began to blow, something atonal.  Something new.  He couldn’t shut out the winds new tune: Chains draw him into the bubbling pool, the darkest mass, the blackest tool.  This song is sung for the people of Po, Blackest black has come for you.
__________
    In they came, one hairy surprise after another, their hooves their shaggy manes, their grizzly lethal bulk, the tusked Dilf warriors bearing teeth. Spiderfingers was wearing the fire crown of Boleraam and yet their axes were flying his way. Now was the time to inhale hard upon the shisha of ruthlessness. Those that refused the toxicant faced death.

He grabbed out to the left of him, gripping Saul by the shoulder padshauling the screaming coward into the oncoming horde. They preceded to batter the young man down with their clubs.

Like bears but with hind legs bent inhumanely backwards, these mammoths had either forgotten or didn’t care that turning their broad swords, axes and archers onto Saul was a complete waste of time. Regardless of their imposing six feet of height, their heavyset shoulders embroiled with fur, these Dilf’s were the smallest Spiderfingers had ever seen.

Children, realised Spiderfingers, the elders of my holy ground have sent their children to kill me.

He bit his tongue, hard. He felt a welling up of liquid inside his mouth. He noted Florence and Vicky running out the attic door, the girl's finger singling out the heap of Coat-Hanger Men, four of them left after battling Mine. Her indication wakes them from their resting place, the corner of the room they don't move far from. They fail. Not one of them gets to poke out the eye of the multitude of enemies that overrun the attic. If not for Steve, Vicky's Coat-Hanger Men would have prevented her death, but only for an insignificant short time. Down goes another wave of Po’s countrymen. Down under the hammer fists of this father of four, one deceased.

To witness preternatural strength outside the world of cinema, comics or animated features always took Spiderfingers’ breath away. In the beginning, it had been a laughing point between Steve and Spiderfingers that the Dilf warriors had named children after him. If there were days and nights in the Oma, Steve’s name would be put to more profound use. The fantasist in Spiderfingers secretly hoped there might be a little war-trouble, although he didn’t expect anything like this.

Children.

Spiderfingers bit deep into his tongue as he watched Steve punching and kicking them. 

‘Wait, they’re kids…Steve,’ said Spiderfingers behind a crate of junk, ‘they might be mind-controlled or - ’

And Steve Buchannan’s stab of a stare killed Spiderfingers’ speech.

So, thought Spiderfingers, the hippy hates me now too.
His teeth sank into his god flesh. It was all Spiderfingers could do to put distance between what his existence had turned Steve into. Each snarl that Steve let out was an indicator of the ache in his bones, suffering that had come about because a god had shirked his responsibilities, for years.

Handy Andy sprang into a well-aimed flight from the relative safety of Spiderfingers’ shoulder. As a well formed fist, he caught a shaggy Dilf in the eye. He had little time to recover as reinforcements pointed him out as they plowed their woolly frames into the gallery.

It appeared Andy’s reputation had marked him out as special priority as no fewer than three sword bearing Dilfs attempted to squash him where he’d landed. They stomped and kicked manically with their large hooves. Spiderfingers watched admirably as Andy scuttled out of the way with the nimbleness of a ballet dancer.

The man-god watched the abominable hand leap about the place, disallowing his diseased condition to inhibit his groin crushing heroics. Each Dilf scrotum Andy missed out suffered Lilith’s rage.

With her palms pressed to her forehead, Lilith commanded her hawks to gruesome work, both pets swiftly pecking out the eyes of creatures that shouldn’t be in her home. When she slept, her pet eagles Clint and Ruby were charged not to let ANYONE within a meter of her, not without pecking something off. Sometimes Clint and Ruby were not enough.

An innumerable flock of London’s pigeons crashed through the skylight and began to kamikaze every Dilf in the attic.

Spiderfingers ducked low because he’d had enough experience to know that Lilith wasn’t one for warnings. Every Dilf in there was a flapping bleeding tornado, unable to see him as he followed Florence and Vicky downstairs to the living room.

He joined them downstairs...just as the kitchen ceiling fell through.

Vicky’s bedroom, Steve, and two Dilfs tumbled into the sink and other kitchen mod cons.  The racket would have drawn unwanted neighbourly attention, but the Buchanans had used their powers in a subtle haunting campaign to scare people into moving years ago. Indeed, the people that remained on their road were not exactly people anymore...

‘Dad!’ yelled Vicky as both herself and Florence sought to understand how badly hurt he was underneath the rubble of the kitchen.

‘He’ll be alright,’ barked Spiderfingers huddling them away from the disturbance, ‘Take cover!'

Object Girl chose to hide behind the widescreen television. And her idea was so good that Spiderfingers had to join her in the makeshift fort.

His strategy had not gone unseen.


________
________
________

Spiderfingers hadn't noticed Florence's look of utter disgust as she stood between them and the enemy. He was enjoying the warfare. He couldn’t help it. He began to list the names in his head:

Lilith a.k.a Black Dragon,
Florence a.k.a Nightingale,
Vicky a.k.a Object Girl,
Handy Andy,
Saul a.k.a Zombie Boy
And Steve a.k.a Bone-Crusher.

Behind the plasma T.V Spiderfingers and Object Girl watched Nightingale’s hands outstretch to engage the Dilf warriors. They watched with awe as she split apart and disorganised limbs, organs and bony parts.

'Wanna do your thing?' He said his hands like claws hooked to the back of their makeshift shield.

'Moving stuff is tougher than talking to stuff.' Vicky kept her head low, visibly shaking, 'The Coat-Hanger Men are like the metal doll. You can't rush these things.'

'Of course, your powers work like relationships.' he said, an arrow narrowly missing his ear, 'We're in big trouble.'

He turned his attention back to Nightingale, worried. He couldn’t help but notice how off she was. Every worried glance back at the T.V was aimed at Object Girl, not him.

For Spiderfingers, Nightingale was a chess queen that had confused the rules of the game.

‘For fuck sake John,’ said Nightingale as she collapsed a Dilf’s jaw, ‘hide somewhere else.’

Spiderfingers bellied the need to remind her that he wasn’t John Clay and that he only wore her ex-lodgers face,

‘I’m alright here, thanks.’

‘No – you’re not alright there – be a coward somewhere else.’ She shouted back.

‘Nightin - ,’ he caught himself, ‘Flo, if they get me its game over. It’s best I hide behind you.’

‘Victoria up,’ said Nightingale, ‘get behind me.’

‘I don’t get it?’ said Object Girl running her hands on the carpet, ‘How come the Dilfs are so small?’

Spiderfingers shrugged.

‘Victoria!’ screamed Nightingale, ‘get behind me, now!’

‘This calls for espionage.’ Said Spiderfingers pointing to an arrow lodged into the wall behind them, 

‘Time for you to interrogate some weaponry, eh soldier?’ Object Girl nodded and yanked at the arrow…as another spine whistled out of nowhere to pierce straight through her arm.

‘Mum?’ Vicky fell into the arms of her god.

'Forget the pain,' said Spiderfingers holding her close, 'the pain belongs to some other Vicky far away from here. There is no Vicky here to feel it, O.K? There is only the good soldier. Are you a good soldier?'

The girl nodded. 

Nightingale – to her credit – only took a quick look back to her daughter. She held her position. If she ran back to heal her daughter, another Dilf might aim true.

'Better me than you eh Spider?' said Object Girl.

'Don't say that,' said Spiderfingers cradling her, staring over the jagged brokenness of the makeshift fort of a television. He didn’t know how long Nightingale could concentrate on keeping enemy archers from loading and releasing, or if Handy Andy and Bone-Crusher Steve could gallantly backtrack from the kitchen to bring the straying warriors down.

Realistically, Nightingale was an emotional misstep away from allowing a quick and easy endgame to occur. 

‘Take my hand!’ said Spiderfingers stretching out to grab Nightingale’s fingers as he used his other to clasp Object Girl’s. Nightingale worked her healing through the circuit Spiderfingers' arm had provided.

The arrow in Object Girl's arm began to pull itself out till it rattled to the floor. He then huddled her behind the barrier that they’d made of the telly,

‘Good soldier,’ he said hugging her shuddering body close, ‘Good soldier.’

That’s when he noticed the arrow in his leg.

‘The Dilfs are scared Spider,’ whimpered Object Girl stroking the arrow that Nightingale had squeezed out of her arm, ‘the arrow says they have to attack us to save Po Village.’

‘Save Po Village? Save it from what?’ said Spiderfingers staring at his leg doing his damnedest to keep the injury pain at bay.

That’s when Ungumpo arrived. Spiderfingers had heard a stomping and a crashing upstairs, he knew something big had managed to squeeze its way through.

Ungumpo was a full-sized adult warrior Dilf. He had an axe attached to his back. He didn't use it. The other Dilf's swung and parried with their own axes, as well as knives and archery gear. Ungumpo preferred hand to hand. The giant hairy Dilf had captured Bone-Crusher Steve in a headlock and had proceeded to swing him round and out of the kitchen.

'What's Ungumpo doing?' shouted Vicky attempting to run out and reason with her childhood friend.

'How about we ask the big scary monster later?' replied Spiderfingers holding her back.

‘Ungumpo’s not  a monster!’

Bone-Crusher’s short flight ended with him slamming into the living room wall where he slumped down into unconsciousness.

Bishop takes knight. 

‘Steve!’ shouted Black Dragon as she rolled into the living room. 

‘Steve?’ mouthed Nightingale incredulously.

Shooting arrows and sword slashes helped invade the tension as both Nightingale and Black Dragon brought their attention back to the then and there.

Nightingale clapped her hands at the air in front of her…and the Dilfs surrounding herself and Ungumpo began to explode.

I remember when there was more Florence and less Nightingale, When fighting the enemy meant handing them a coughing fit via the flick of the wrist, or lifting a finger would result in a bad guy rolling around with uncontrollable itching.

Now this mother whose life I've infected whips her arms through the air, dolling out stomach infections, permanent blindness, final stage cancer symptoms and rickets. I'm trying to ignore the Florence and only see the Nightingale. I must only see her war value. Her blood-lust makes it easy but that's because I'm a good soldier.

I look at Vicky and consider the innocence the kid has lost fighting my war and accepting her mother's transformation as a necessary dehumanisation. I'm not in a room and neither is she. 

They're both on the game board and they will sacrifice anything to win.

S is for sacrifice. 

Black Dragon commanded pigeons to take out a window. Spiderfingers looked on, confused as she threw herself out the window. She rolled into the garden. Gone. 

Spiderfingers gaze fell upon Handy Andy, now completely covered in the pulpy orange blood of Dilfs, jumped onto Ungumpo’s back. He appeared to scrabble about, skilfully avoiding Ungumpo’s paws.

Then one snatched at him. Andy was caught. Then he was thrown through the air, flying until he hit the side wall. Spiderfingers winced as he heard the bones crack in his knight’s tiny frame.

Knight takes knight.

‘Po!’ roared Ungumpo beginning his march towards Spiderfingers, Nightingale and Object Girl, and with every stomp, Spiderfingers heard organs and bones pop and crackle, yet still Ungumpo charged forward, apparently feeling none of Nightingale’s attacks.

The best thing about Lilith ‘Black Dragon’ Buchanan wasn’t that she could control anything that had wings. No, it was her natural flair for banter during battle.

‘Hey fuck face,’ she said grinning from her standing place outside looking in through the window, ‘Look what big sis found in the garden?’ 

When the wasp nest hit Ungumpo’s face it was Black Dragon's smile that underlined their snowballs chance in hell.

To see her slink to the side of the room was to see a master strategist in action. Black Dragon's avian based power-set favoured attacks from a distance rather than close quarter skirmishes. Not to mention her arthritic pain surely being a factor in her hanging back.

Ungumpo was blinded but still, a wave of pigeons lead by hawks Clint and Ruby crashed into the room to assault him, disorienting his senses so that he was a rolling mass of chaos and ill temper.

Bishop takes knight.

Bone-Crusher Steve wrestled himself to his feet and grabbed the swirling mass of Ungumpo, jostling the wasp covered, bird pecked beast back into the kitchen. The agony in The Discordians' joints was seemingly non-existent as he roared through the registering of it, unloading blow after blow as he careened with the mammoth shagginess of Ungumpo.

A wounded Dilf tried to stop him but Steve threw Ungumpo to the side so that he might dismember his new attacker. With the arms of the Dilf cast to the ground he grabbed at a confused Ungumpo, reigning fists upon the shaggy warriors body.

The dining table was carved out of their way, snapping against the wall, narrowly missing Handy Andy. The broken hand limped into a corner. Spotting this, Nightingale ran to his side to place him on her shoulder, her palm healing the Discordian whilst she held out her free-hand in front of her.

She brought down a one-armed blood covered Dilf who had run from upstairs to turn the corner into the front room.

‘Children? They’re…Oh wait…god it can’t be, it can’t be him,’ shouted Vicky, her gloved hands caressing the floor for information, ‘No Charles, you’re wrong…he’s gone.’

Spiderfingers threw a puzzled look across at Black Dragon, slumping against the wall now.

‘New carpet’s name is Charles.’ She said breathlessly.

The chaos god had long decided that Object Girl’s use of inanimate objects was a child’s way of sublimating the shock of her profound psychic abilities.

Even before the nosebleeds, I’d twisted her life into something wrong.

‘What’s Charles telling you Vicky?’ asked Spiderfingers.

Maybe he didn’t hear her reply, or perhaps he didn’t want to listen to the name Object Girl uttered, but Spiderfingers was lost watching the oddity of the great rippling ooze gush from out the hall onto the living room floor.

It was as if this pool of darkness had a life of its own, and the Dilf’s stopped their firing, each warrior standing back against the circumference of the room. Each of these children had their eyes transfixed on the sludge. All of them, wheezing with heavy fatigue and trepidation.

This blackest black, this darkest substance that he’d ever seen, it triggered Spiderfingers’ memory. It could only have come from one place.

The Necrosphere.

Part of that place has somehow followed him here, decided Spiderfingers, this monster whose voice echoed throughout this once peaceful house.

‘Hello father,' said an old voice. It filled Spiderfingers with terror, 'it’s been seven years too long.’
N   E   X   T      T   I   M   E      I    N
S   P   I   D   E   R   F   I   N   G   E   R   S
7. During final battle, Cheerleader is hurt/dies which lends emotional glue to the team.