Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Anyone for Fish - A Finn Story

 The Sector House 13 Blog has been quiet of late.  A combination of illness at the beginning of the year and a lot of time spent catching up on work for issue 3 of our Fanzine Sector 13.   We've some exciting posts waiting, including details of some of the strips you'll see in our next few issues.

As our first post of the year we bring you another short story from Chris McAuley.   
Artwork by Splash!

Anyone for Fish? : A Finn Story

David dry retched, his mouth gagging and opening uselessly, as he finally tumbled over into the darkened pavement street.  His nose plunged into the pile of vomit that he’d previously ejected.  His curiously boyish features splatted into a mixture of the partially digested Chicken Chow Mein that he hadn’t much enjoyed at lunchtime and the baked beans and toast that he’d had for breakfast.

But he had escaped.  He had endured horrors from beyond this world, literally tasting the excrement from a hundred, thousand nightmares and he had survived.  He pulled himself away from the dreadful smell with shaking arms and hauled himself into a more upright position in the alleyway. Using his one clean hand he pushed his dirty blond hair back from his face and forced himself to stop shivering. It was time to move.  He had to get to the ‘Taxi Driver’, he had to get to the ‘Warrior Beyond the Ages’.  His quickening footsteps echoed across the dark bricks as he tried to force recent memories from his mind.

He thought back on his once illustrious career, he had been Doctor David Easterton, archaeologist and a prodigy in the field of mythic history.  He had written passionate papers on the connection between the traditional power-base of the Christian Church and the Babylonian water deity, Dagon.  

The papers, his plea to the wider historical community not to dismiss this oft touted lineage as mere conspiracy theory, but to recognise a secret truth covered up over millennia.  But the arrogant tossers at the academic institutions has destroyed his career and reputation.  His hard work over previous decades excavating ruins in Baghdad and his credibility disappeared practically overnight.

But, he thought with a shudder, it had brought him to contact with them.

Across newspapers and civic centres the Ancient and Noble Order of the Freemariners were known for their charity work and their generous donations to various benevolent funds. Their deeds underlined by the famous individuals – actors, politicians, artists - who joined their ranks.  The movers and shakers of society, in other words the smug, seedy bastards who were venerated by the adoring masses.  Numerous books had been published on this strange ‘boys club’, tying them to the killing of JFK and the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.  Ludicrous stories that added flavour to the mystique of the group.

David had been working in a Fish and Chip shop.

“Yeah” he thought, bitterly, “The great intellectual Dr David Easterton, who had enthralled and enraptured students with tales of crawling through tombs, deciphering wall carvings and blending the Egyptian understanding of the mythical 'Shining Ones' and the Babylonian concepts of Angels.”

His thoughts drifted back to the present. His speciality was now serving battered sausages to Mavis, a particularly shrew like, cock-eyed bitch who hated Children and Battered Cod equally, and to any other drunken arsehole who stumbled into the shop.

It had been Tuesday 24th October, dark and stormy.  A perfectly shitty day in Cornwall.  The door to 'New Cod on the Block' opened and David had barely looked up from his hands, covered in the special 'secret' gravy used to smother the half cooked chips in.

A plumy voice, quite unlike the usual accent which pervaded around the northern coastline spoke

Dr David Easterton I presume”

A wry smile flickered across David's Lips – half in pleasure at being recognised by his title, and half by what was intended as a witticism

This isn't Africa mate and my name isn't Livingstone”

He looked up and saw a well-dressed gentleman in a bowler hat, an ornate umbrella curved around his arm and a gold watch-chain poking awkwardly through his waistcoat button hole.

Very Droll Dr Easterton, I must say I am surprised to see you here” - he gestured rather expansively with his umbrella around the vinegar and prawn stained shop.

Although” - he continued “Perhaps it's appropriate?”

David found the newcomers intonation irksome – no – he found it intensely pissy. Who was this guy who has just breezed in to give him shit over his job?

Listen Mate” He began, but was hastily cut off

It doesn't matter.  Look Dr Easterton, you have been noticed by a group which I am proud to represent, you may have heard of us, The Ancient and Noble Freemariners?”

And so it began.  A few months later, a few forms having been filled, David found himself blindfolded and taken to a secret address by an unknown chauffeur.  He was nervous, excited and strangely proud.   Try as he might he couldn’t avoid a certain swelling of the ego. 

He was no longer going to be plain David Easterton, Chip shop worker.  He’d become Doctor David Easterton again, a Freemariner, privy to all the secrets and mysterious truths which underpinned Western Civilisation – or so his brothers claimed.

As the car slowed to a stop, he heard his driver exit the vehicle and open the door, someone else was there.  They manoeuvred David out of his seat and led him up a series of stone steps.

David's pulse quickened with excitement and he thought furiously as to where he might be.
He must be somewhere in London, the noise of the traffic told him that.  
He had been travelling for most of the day, crammed into the narrow back-seat of the car. Each step felt like a huge achievement.  

He heard a door close and knew he had reached his destination.  Strong hands began to rearrange his clothing, adding to his disorientation as they discarded his sports jacket and opening his shirt

His mouth was dry “Hold on a moment, what the Fuck is going on?”

A familiar voice answered, the prick from the chip shop, he sounded like he was right in front of him, but somehow David couldn't be sure

Sorry Dr Easterton, there are ancient customs and practices that must be adhered to – we cannot deviate from them or the Great Lords would be displeased”

A door in front of him opened.  Heavily laden, creaking, and from within came a familiar smell.  A smell filled with brine, but with something else underneath the familiar tangy salty tinge.  Something that forced David to suppress a gag reflex as he felt an inexplicable terror rise within him.

He wanted to run, just run. tear off his blindfold and catapult himself crazily out into the streets.

It seemed mad, but at the same time totally sane-

Saner than meeting the source to that smell.

Those strong hands were back, grasping him and lifting his left leg, David almost fell but regained his balance at the last moment.

Hey, seriously now, this is beyond a joke” David tried to use some authority in his voice. The authority he used to have when teaching at university. But he was fooling no one, he had no control over what was happening to him.

His shoes and socks were taken off.  He thought of it as some sort of bizarre ritual striptease but could find of no trace of humour in his ‘joke’.

The familiar voice continued

I assure you, this is no joke, you are being prepared for an audience with the Great Architects of civilisation – those who offer us a chance at apotheosis”

David's head spinning, “what was all this nonsense?” he thought.

The now hated, rich, plumy voice continued “Godhood man, Godhood, the chance to become a Shining One with limitless power to do our masters bidding”

More nonsense, now something had replaced his shoe, it felt tight and uncomfortable, like a flipper – was he wearing a flipper?  David lifted his leg and allowed it to fall, it slapped on the tiled surface like a divers flipper. His mind reeled, half amused, half fearful.

“Was this just a crazy cult?  No great minds sharing discoveries, just bored businessmen playing the fool?”

He heard a door open and found himself surrounded by the unfiltered stench.  He tried to take a step back but found himself propelled forward by his strong armed 'friend'

He was in a large space and standing on a stone floor.  The stench made him retch and he tried not to breathe too deeply.  Any fucking thing other than smell the air around him.

Something touched his chest, something sharp and with three points, it dug in hard, he felt the tips of  ...whatever it was, pierce his skin just below his nipple.  He cried out

Jesus…Fuck...please let me out of here!” he screamed.

A voice spoke in the darkness, its timbre a bubbling sound.  David had the sensation of someone speaking while drowning.  As the voice burbled, the foetid smell rose into his nostrils, he struggled not to empty his bowels and failed.

You have entered the sacred Harbour, the place where all good fishermen pay due homage to the great Newts as they contemplate their journeys across the sea.  The Great Old Gods rose from the sea to teach and bring civilisation to our race.  They created commerce and brought us gifts of war to tame our enemies.  Take now a sacred oath that you will never betray humanity to the urges and desires of the land, the earth. The spirit of the soil, is our old enemy and she will be subjugated”

The pain intensified and David’s head began to reel.  Images of his muscles tearing and twisting under the pressure filled his mind.  If he assented would he be let go, would he be free of this agony?

He spoke, trying to reason with the person in front of him “Yes, please let me go, just let me leave, I haven’t seen a fucking thing”

Cold, stinking breath invaded David’s face and his cheeks felt a slimy touch for a second.

Ahh but you will see” the voice bubbled

Suddenly the breath moved away and David felt a rough tug at his blindfold.  He really didn’t want to see, he slammed his eyes shut, tighter than he had ever done.  This bogeyman was real, it had teeth and it was going to devour him whole.

Again strong hands gripped him and fingers tore his eyelids upwards, tears began to stream down his face and his vision began to clear.

For the second time that night, David shat his pants

At first he thought it was some kind of ritualistic mask, a totem, part of a grand play to scare the new guy.  But the Mask twitched and slithered and oozed.  It was grey and octopus like, covering the top part of a man’s head.

David could see the human lips as the thing covering the man before him reached to just under the nose.  Large eyes covered with a greasy film and a yellow gaze which bore heavily and hypnotically into David’s eyes.  The thick fingers hurt his eyelids as they held his eyes open while he struggled to close them.

Dark, inky liquid oozed onto the man’s mouth from the obscene creature.   He smiled showing darkly stained teeth.  He was dressed in a smart suit and wore a gold chain around his neck – like a town dignitary.  At the bottom of the chain was a triangular symbol with an eye embossed in the centre.

Now we grant you the blessing of true sight, the secrets of the ages, now you Dr David Easterton will see the true masters of mankind and feel their cold embrace”.

The fingers moved from David’s eyes and he blinked in relief, he didn’t want to close them now, he had to see the danger, he had to witness the horror which was going to be forced upon him.

The Octopus like thing was removed from the man’s head leaving an ordinary looking face, complete with slimy, short, black hair and a large bulbous nose.  He looked like a bank manager – he probably was a bank manager! He smiled encouragingly at David.

The twitching oozing thing was passed from person to person with great care until David lost sight of it.  Then he realised, it was being held, dripping and oozing, above his head.

He Screamed.  He wailed.  His whole body erupted in a feverish sweat, his face glowing red and hot.  Like a toddler having a tantrum.  But it was no good.  David Easterton’s hubris, his ego, had brought him to the brink of madness, but madness didn’t come.

The ooze dripped onto his hair and face as he felt the thing descend onto his head.  Small tendrils flapped at his face, and he heard a sucking noise.  He clamped his eyes shut, but could still see, he was suffocating and opened his mouth to breath.  Black gunk dripped almost slithered into his mouth, he tried to spit it out but there was too much.  It flowed into his mouth and down his throat. He couldn’t gag, in fact he couldn’t do much of anything.

Now, somehow, he was seeing through the things eyes, his eyes were covered and what he saw didn’t make sense.  Somehow, he was somewhere else…

A dark landscape with a red sky and twin suns.  He could hear moaning and screaming coming from all directions and there was water.  There were pools of green liquid and purple portals swirling in concentric circles above them.

He snapped back to the temple hearing a voice inside his head

“This is our Home, where your Gods reside”

David didn’t want to see any more but the dark gods of humanity had other ideas.  He saw images of large fish like warriors emerging from an ocean, the water a clear, beautiful blue.  Somehow he knew that this was Earth, his home, and these monstrous bastards were invading it. 

Some carried tridents, like the one that had recently tormented David’s flesh, one a gigantic broadsword covered with strange glowing symbols.  They marched and sloshed towards a luscious green island – Eire, a land filled with treasures and human women to impregnate.

He could feel their thoughts, their desire for unnatural copulation between their species and the slaves they took”, David could feel their lust for the sweetness of human flesh, soft and easy to scar, they enjoyed the deep penetration and the ripping of the human internal organs as they sated themselves with the females…and males of the species.  Bringing forth hybrids to rule the worlds they conquered.  Bastard sons and daughters of the watery void.

David could feel it all, taste the thoughts and memories of the thing covering his head.  They had been coming to Earth for centuries, molesting and murdering his kin folk, his revulsion had left him and now the seeds of burning anger began to replace his natural cowardice.  

He began to use the anger, to concentrate, to force these visions of long past history and many conquered worlds to show any way to stop these poisonous bastards.

He found a corner of the creature’s mind, a corner where fear dwelt.  Each world had a guardian spirit often long dormant and forgotten.   Machinery and commerce seemed to be the bane of the spirits.  

Commerce made men into easy and willing slaves, the people being fooled into working to purchase the resources which were naturally theirs to begin with.  Machinery helped the slaves work harder and silenced the guardian spirits as verdant land was covered in the concrete and metal.

This land, this earth had not yet been conquered.  Long ago the Guardian Spirit, Gaia, Mother Earth, the Great Goddess had chosen a champion.  A great high king, an axe swinger, the obscene Slaine.  Slaine had challenged them, held them at bay with the strange gift of the Goddess.   A natural mutation an ability to enter what he called a Warp Spasm.  It made him unstoppable in battle, he’d killed thousands of their kind – he did not think it many.

David smiled

Slaine had travelled through time and brought disaster to the Newts and their human servants throughout history.  They feared him, feared him more than anything else. 
He’d been reborn over and over again, rising from the legendary Cauldron of Plenty in various guises and with many names.

Always battling for the freedom of human spirit and the glory of the Goddess.  He had fought the blood God who hid himself in the lies of the Christ and obscured the truth of mythology through false Religion and doctrine. 

Doctrine that had delighted in persecution and murder, he’d seen hundreds of Cathars marching to their death willingly – flames cooking their flesh.  The mortal body was not something to be feared, but celebrated, celebrated through sex, drinking, eating…these simple joys were the root of the fears of the newt invaders. These were things which they couldn’t control.

David’s heart rose as he watched this Irish tribal chieftain slay one of the leaders of the invasions.  Slaine had battled Moloch, who had sodomised and murdered, his one true love, through strange dimensions defeating him in a final mighty battle. David felt a surge of pride and hope that his race had brought forth such a mighty champion.  But where had Slaine gone? 

David concentrated, asking for help from the Goddess, from the spirit of his world.

He saw it, a vision sent from the Goddess.  He saw a taxi cab, Cornish pasties and used condom wrappers littering the back seat.  The driver, a rough unshaven tool of the Goddess.   She loved this man and he her.  She had granted a new name to go with his rebirth– he was Finn. 

He fought the Newts and their Shining Ones with guns and black magic, a magic born from the hatred of the heart of the Goddess for these invaders.  Slaine had become Finn and now David had to find Finn.

David felt the thing on his face scream, this had never happened before, all previous entrants to the temple had been complicit in this transformative process, but this human was fighting it and he was trying to find out details about their enemies.  This was not acceptable!

David felt the heavy octopus thing drop from his head, his face was sticky and his hair plastered and matted against his skull and face.  He only had moments to act.  He kicked off the weird green, frog flippers from his feet and ran towards the still open door of the hellish temple. 

Shouts of warning and heavy footfalls followed him as he pounded across the stone floor on his bruised and cut feet.  He prayed to the Goddess and felt her answer, somehow he knew he would get away.

Out he ran, he found the front door easily.  Bursting through the doors he kept running, his lungs bursting.  He could run no more, he collapsed in an alley which was empty except for a few Garbage bins and the back door to a Chinese Restaurant. 

David dry retched….

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