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.’ 
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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.
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    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.

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