Thursday, January 9, 2014

12/28/12 - The Master and Mother!@#$er - pt 2

Strange eyes fill strange rooms
Voices will signal their tired end
The hostess is grinning
Her guests sleep from sinning
Hear me talk of sin
And you know this is it 

"Strange Days" -- The Doors (1967)

* * *

Moscow - The Beehive
April 30th, 1966

"Prepare the lectors!" Colonel Bulgakov -- leader of SQUASH -- screams from his wheelchair, parked by the dais in the center of the cavernous, domed room: "Activate the final sequencing! Prime the materials! The Supreme Equation shall have its solution at Midnight!"

As his grating voice echoes around the massive room -- bouncing off the curved wall and rebounding back to where it came from -- his many, dark-suited servants rush to obey.

Functionaries clear away the ladders and stools and make way for a large number of tall, deep-voiced men and women, who walk to equidistant parts of the dome and stand ready. Thaumathematicians run along the walls of prisoners in the human labyrinth and make certain the grey box attached to the back of each victim is active and running. Apprentices ensure that no noise-making machines or objects remain within the Beehive -- nothing that could interfere with the accurate transmission of sound.

Nothing must go wrong, here in this moment, or else there will be worse than Hell to pay.

Bulgakov's pale and simpering lackey, Sharik, stands directly behind the crippled Colonel, holding a special, modified timepiece in each hand. One is a stopwatch, the other a large pocketwatch, neither of which makes so much as the slightest sound as they tick away the seconds. And, as each section within the Beehive is secured, as all extraneous personnel flee through the black door, and as each group leader stands with his hands raised to indicate that they're ready, Sharik prepares to offer them to his master.

At last, all is in readiness, and not a moment too soon. The seconds count down, and then it's thirty to twenty to Midnight.

Colonel Bulgakov gestures to Sharik, who bends down. As he bends down, Doctor Rokk turns on the computer on the dais behind them both, and then stands ready for any last moment adjustments -- an AK-47 in his hands in case something mindless comes through.

The dais silently but quickly rises up, so that its strange, almost-alive apparatus is at the direct center of the chamber, where all sound must converge. The second it gets there, its many lights burn bright, and a blast of white sound floods the Beehive. All noise, no matter how small, is cancelled out. It is as though everyone there has gone deaf for exactly three seconds.

And as soon as that deafness ends, at exactly twenty to Midnight, the equation begins.

The deep-voiced Thaumathematicians begin to sonorously recite the equations written on the walls. They do this in perfect rhythm with one another, so that their words overlap, echo, and enter the computer at the exact same moment. 

As the computer registers their words, it sends signals to the grey boxes affixed to each of the people within the human labyrinth. Small groups of them come out of their drugged lethargy -- just enough to realize their predicament -- and then die in extreme pain and agony as their bodies are flooded with poisons that stop their lungs from working, turn their blood to fire, and liquify their brains.

They claw weakly and writhe, unable to scream, and then are still -- blood and white goo leaking from their eyes and noses. And as more and more of them die, and the voices complete more and more of the equation, the lights on the computer glow brighter, and flash on and off faster and faster.

The minutes count down as the slaughter continues. The equation is half done, then two-thirds. Three quarters. The bodies fall to the floor, the Thaumathematicians drone on, the flashing become a strobe light almost too powerful to bear...

And then, just as the silent timepiece Comrade Sharik holds in his pale and clammy hand strikes Midnight, the sound stops, and the final body strikes the floor -- eyes brimming with melted memories.

And then the computer shivers, and clicks, and its lights begin to explode one by one, up and down the length of the tubes and fronds.

The lights in the dome's sides follow suit, blowing out one after the other. The grey boxes attached to the landscape of fresh corpses fizzle and smoke. The two watches in Sharik's hands stop and crack, and he gasps as he drops them, finding that they are suddenly too hot to handle.

The echoes of that gasp echo around the room, and for a moment Colonel Bulgakov is ready to scream at his lackey for possibly screwing this up, too. But then he realizes that, in spite of all the lights in the room having been destroyed, he can still see everything perfectly.

Doctor Rokk turns around the room and gasps, dropping his clipboard and gun. He follows them to the ground quickly, hitting his knees as his features are illuminated by a flickering, pale-pink light from a point between the dais and the nearest wall.

And as he struggles to regain his composure, and the Colonel's chair is jerked around behind him by his extremely-frightened servant, something begins to come through that point of light.

Six somethings, in fact -- strange and terrible, one and all. They seem a jumble of unfortunate anatomies, their surreal facial features underlined with glowing red. Arms, legs, and other, less-identifiable limbs twisting in the inter-dimensional breeze as they coalesce, taking shapes much less harsh on the eye, and yet somehow... wrong.

The flickering light begins to subside, and in its place stand solid objects. A man in a checkered jacket with a pince-nez and a sly smile. A red-haired, burly fellow with a wall-eye, a bowler hat, and a long, misshapen tooth poking out of his mouth. A tall, thin man in a grey suit with dark glasses who seems to wish he was somewhere else. A lovely, pale woman with red hair and a dress so sheer she almost looks naked in the light and shadow. 

And before them all, a man dressed in a black suit and top hat, his mustache a work of art. He cradles a large, black cat in his arms, and looks upon those gathered there with some measure of amusement, or perhaps contempt.

"You have called us," this one says, his voice a warm and slickery thing: "And so we have come."

"Master," Colonel Bulgakov says, rising from his wheelchair as best he's able: "You're... you are just as I imagined you to be..."

"Indeed we are," he says, putting the cat down on the floor: "You may even call me Voland, if you so desire. If it will aid in the quickness of things...?"

"Of course," Bulgakov says: "I have a list of things we would like to barter for. We can offer you world full of souls, all ready for you to take back. All we ask for-"

Bulgakov stops as the black cat approaches, walking on its hind legs. It walks over to where Dr. Rokk lies prostrate and looks down at the man.

And then, in one swift motion, it snatches up the AK-47 from the ground and shoots the scientist full of bullets, laughing and cursing as it does.

"You may ask what you like," Voland says, smiling as the man who summoned him turns paler than normal: "We may even give it to you. But you must know, Colonel Bulgakov, that your actions here this day are not that of a supplicant, but that of a well-tended mechanism."

"I... I do not understand-"

"You owe your life to me," the woman hisses, her mouth a crazy nest of sharp vampire fangs.

"And I'm the one who told you how to make that !@#$ing thing up there," the man in the bowler hat snorts: "Whispered it in your sleep, I did."

"No, you've been doing as we wanted right from the start," Voland says, gesturing to him to move aside: "So if you don't mind, we'll ask someone else for terms."

And all their eyes turn to Comrade Sharik, who picks that moment to be violently, noisily sick, much to the amusement of the fat, black cat with the gun.

* * *
It's Noon in the deserts east of LA, and the party is going on.

It's a love-in, you could say. Dozens of beautiful people, all out in the sands and the sun. Nothing to do but be, nowhere to go but here. And the best sort of company for such a journey to the beginning.

There's music and wine, love and dancing, Suzy and Mary Jane. Higher thoughts and lower urges. And the profound and the shallow, the high-minded and the profane -- all have come together to make love and music from now until the Moon rises, and then beyond.

One place, one people, living one immortal day.

But then the wind changes direction, just for a second. And when it does, Jim Morrison cocks an ear and looks to the west -- leaving the campfire and its ring of dancers to get a better look.

He's there for quite a while, just staring off at the west. And then he lights up a cigarette, takes an appreciative drag, and grinds his heel in the sand.

"Time to go, Ray," he shouts back to one of his handlers: "We're gonna get the call."

Ray Manzarek (DOD Agent) comes up to him, trying to see what he's seeing: "What's going on?"

"Strange days have tracked us down," Jim answers, offering him a hit off his cigarette: "The war's about to get even weirder. You up for it?"

"Sure," Ray lies, wondering why he didn't just go into film. No one shoots at film people.

* * *

It's 3 in the afternoon in Old Deerfield, Massachusetts, and the streets are lined with tourists, all agog at the living museum they're walking through.

It's a piece of history, this town. Streets 350 years old, houses just as ancient. All around, people dress, work, and act as they once did, centuries ago. And the well-paying public just laps it all up.

There's a few places in town that the visitors don't tend to go, however: areas left off the maps for sound, if secret, reasons. 

Well behind Main Street, and almost on the banks of the nearby river, there's a stone structure no one can see unless they know what they're looking for, and even then only partially. It looks like a tunnel, leading into the Earth, but the angles are all wrong, somehow. Its stairway could be going up or down, and its door could be open or shut.

To see it is to invite madness, and this is why few can really perceive its presence. 

The bells of the village chime Three, and a man steps out of the stairway to anywhere. His beard is full and black, his coat is long and grey, and he carries a wooden cane chased with arcane, silver squiggles that seem to move as he does.

"The idiots have done it," he says, looking off to the East -- far, far away from here. 

And with that pronouncement, and a scowl sharp enough to cut stone, Doctor Power vanishes. 

* * *

 "Bollocks," the drunk in the back of the scummy, dark bar burbles into his ale: "Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks."

"Ah, shut it, Randal," the burly, mustachioed barkeep says, trying to listen to his radio program: "I'll refill your glass when you've paid for the other ones."

"Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks," the drunk keeps repeating, scrawling something into the newspaper from the patron before the patron before: "Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks..."

"I think he's having a !@#$ing stroke or something," an unhelpful fellow at the bar ventures.

"I'll have whatever he's not having," someone else jokes, and there's some laughter.

"Do you want me to spit in your beer, !@#$hole?" the barkeep asks the two of them.

"Knowing you, you already did," the unhelpful fellow says, grinning. 

That's it, then. The barkeep grabs the baseball bat from behind the bar -- the one he bought just this morning "for muggers" -- and smashes the !@#$hole's skull. Pieces of his jaw fly out of his mouth and litter the filthy surface, and when he swings again, from the other direction, the man's head spins around on his neck and he falls down dead.

The other man yelps in surprise and tries to get away, but not soon enough to avoid getting his hand smashed flat. While he's cradling that, the bat speaks again -- on his forehead, this time -- and then he's down with the other dead man on the floor.

Of course, the barkeep's not nearly satisfied with those two. Now that he's blooded, he wants more. So he goes wild and starts smacking everyone he can wrap the bat around -- here there and everywhere. The two at the booth by the door, the three in the back, the one guy who was just going in for a !@#$ in the dangerous bathroom...

Before long the bat's slick with blood and gooey with things that don't belong on the outside of a person, and the wounded and hurt are trying to crawl away, but unable to escape. 

All but poor, brainsmashed British Randal, who started the whole thing. He's just sitting there, scrawling on the newspaper with his fingers, writing in his own blood. And for some reason the barkeep has not seen him since he started seeing red.

Someone else has, though: a man seen yet not seen, there but not, no-one but well known. This human cypher stands right by the poor old fellow, looking down down at the paper. He realizes that whatever the man's writing is in Cyrillic, which he's pretty sure the man never learned.

And he's also sure that while he's saying "Bollocks," he really means "Bolsheviks."

Satisfied, he turns up his coat, grabs an opened bottle from the less-bloody end of the bar, and walks out of the Black Rat of Armagh just as New York's finest are arriving in force. If he hurries, he can just catch the last flight for Frankfurt.

And if he's lucky, he can be behind the Iron Curtain by this time tomorrow. 

 * * *

Puddock Manor lies some distance due North of London -- a sleepy and crumbling edifice, wrapped in a forest no one dares to enter, anymore. 

Its walls are high and protected by ornate, iron spikes, its towers have mostly fallen in or down. Its windows are boarded up, its gardens have run riot. A skeleton lies half-in, half-out of a cracked fountain full of rainwater.

And as the decaying clock in the main hall chimes Eight O' the Clock, something that has not moved in years is stirred to some semblance of wakefulness.

It creaks its joints and stumbles from the chair it's been gathering dust and cobwebs in, all these seasons, and shuffles to the closed, moldy drapes. It casts them aside and looks out its window -- black and hollow eyes scanning the landscape to the south and east.

"At last..." it mutters through lips as dry as parchment: "You are here."

And with that, the revenant in black motorcycle leathers turns and heads for the grand staircase, ready to finally meet its' makers.

* * *

The trick to making silver bullets, as any vampire hunter will tell you, is to forget about a full silver cast. That's time-consuming, expensive, and may attract the wrong kind of attention -- especially here, in the People's Republic of Poland, where one is not generally allowed to walk around with enough guns to fell a rampaging horde of Vampiri. 

(This goes double if the government has an "understanding" with you. Such an understanding can be taken away at any moment, leaving a former ally a current jailor.)

No: the best thing to do is melt silver, and dip only the tip of the bullet into it. The coating will hold, the silver will be introduced deep into the body, and whatever you lose in accuracy -- given that the extra weight throws off its spin -- is more than made up for in extra damage. Besides, one rarely gets a chance to do long-range damage to a vampire.

This kind of fighting has always been up close and personal.

Which is why, right around 9, Dr. Krwi pauses from his lonely, repetitive task and looks out the window, feeling the hairs raise on the back of his neck. His dog is not growling, and the various things he's set up to detect and respond to the presence of his mortal enemy are not screaming or glowing. But he can tell that something has appeared, closeby.

Something truly terrible.

His dog snorts in her sleep, and while Krwi goes back to making silver-tipped ammunition, he does so knowing that he's going to have to change his plans for the night. He's not going to roust the bad parts of town looking for the monsters he's been fighting all his life. 

Instead, he's going to get ready to leave town, tomorrow, provided his contacts in Moscow can confirm what he's hoping is just a bad feeling, but knows too well is anything but. 

* * *
"Gaah!" SPYGOD shouts, holding his head in his hands: "What the !@#$ was that?"

He's all alone on the rooftop of the French embassy in West Berlin, drinking a bottle of the local brew while waiting to see if the costumed moron he was going to ventilate tonight actually does go to his apartment, five blocks away (and well in sight of his new eye), when suddenly every bone in his head feels as though someone's hit it with a hammer.

When the pain subsides, he grits his teeth and looks around, wondering where the !@#$ that came from. The eye feels like its moving inside the socket -- a !@#$ unpleasant feeling, to be sure -- and he lets it position him, if only to be rid of the !@#$ pain for a second.

There. East of here. And he doesn't need a !@#$ map and a compass to know where the !@#$ he's looking, either. At times, if he "squints," he can see the onion domes from here.

"Moscow, huh?" he says, getting another pull off the beer just as a nearby clock starts striking Nine: "Well, guess I better check that out."

And so he does, after he's filled his costumed target full of enough !@#$bullets to kill a herd of rampaging elephants, anyway. 

(SPYGOD is listening to Symphony 5 (Tchaikovsky) and having a Behemoth Blonde Barleywine)

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