Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Directly Outside 4

Directly outside my window, a figure comes shambling through the rain.

It’s humanoid — I think — but I can tell no more than this. I lean as far forward as my chains will permit, craning my neck like a vulture. And I watch.

It meanders, occasionally stalling. Sitting or squatting perhaps. But it’s direction is clear. It’s coming this way.

The rain swirls in the wind — the silver hair of some old unhappy god — and as the figure draws near, I make out arms and legs, a head lollopped to one side with the weariness of misery.

It’s a man. Whatever it is, it’s a man one, and it’s dragging something behind it. Hauling on a rope and dragging something.

I wait.

Below me, the junk of the dead lies sprawled in mud and rust, unchanged since I can’t remember save for the rain splashing hard against its darkness.

The man winds his way through the mangle of metal, limping like a wounded spider. His face is grey and blotchy, his features sunk deep or protruding awkwardly, all swathed in a flurry of rags. Behind him, his sack rolls and tumbles through the mud and he turns to look at it. Turns and walks and turns.

He collapses onto a barrel, his head pulled fast between his knees by gravity’s unyielding tug, and for a while he does nothing. Nothing but pulse from shortness of breath. I look for the sack, but he’s dropped it somewhere out of sight. So I wait, again.

The rain beats harder and he sits half upright, clearing the water from his eyes with his bony hands. He hauls the sack from beside him and plucks at the rope binding it tight. It’s eerie: he could be an old woman knitting a sweater.

The sack, I see now, is more like a blanket, and as he unfolds it between the puddles, there are limbs and heads and chunks of bone stuck together with scraps of torn fabric, all in a heap in the centre. His fingers play across the rotting flesh like millipedes, and I wonder if he plans to eat it — but he does nothing. He is not alone.

Suddenly, he stands, and I step back till my chains swing free and rattle. He draws the rags from his arm and licks his tongue along it, spitting into the rain. And from somewhere, he pulls out a saw. It’s small and oddly curved, but there’s no mistaking its function.

He sits again and lays his arm across his legs — and I snigger. I’ve done this with wood and I know what happens next. First, his arm rolls around on his legs as he tries to saw close to the elbow. He saws into his leg and snarls. Then, he grips his wrist between his knees, but he can’t hold it tight enough, and the saw bites jagged X shapes into his skin, and severs nothing —so he stops.

He licks away the blood and slumps on the barrel, his eyes darting back and forth through the junk.

I see it a blink before he does: a bent spike of rusting iron, jutting from the debris. He races over and paces round it, examining its angle meticulously, and WHAM, he brings his arm down hard on the tip, impaling it a good ten inches. Now, he saws. His back is turned, but I can picture his face, twisted as he stoops to cut.

A spray of blood, and he steps back, leaving his arm to flex and shudder on the spike. He runs to the opened sack and squats, sifting, this time, for arms. One is clearly rotten. He sniffs it and casts it aside. Another, he holds against his shoulder, shrugs and tosses back. The next is the one. It’s small and slender, like a child's and he tests its fingers for movement by holding it close to his face and brushing against them with his nose. Was that a smile? I can’t say.

I sense something equally marvellous and sickening is just about to happen.

But he’s seen me, I know it: he’s stopped.

I can’t see his eyes but I know he’s searching for me. He’s sat, as he was, with the arm held up in front of him, but he’s still, as if he’s dead. The only thing moving is the lifeless white fingers, trilling the air to the rhythm of the rain.

He jumps up, bundling the sack and clutching it close with the urgency of a mother protecting her young and before I can see what he’s done with the arm, he’s gone.

I watch for as long as I can bear it, but he doesn’t return. The rain falls on the junk and the mud as if he was never there at all.

I want to run outside and call to him, but I’m trapped in this place. Doomed only to witness as the world spins by, directly outside...

(Horrific ,/—/:/; blindness, as ever — but this is ver 1.0 of 1)


Whirlochre said...

Cripesey Yipesy — parts of this suck for me already like gnats armed with vacuum cleners hovering over my manly whiskers.

Where you, with this, mes canards?

Robin S. said...

WO - this is disturbing - like the plague is disturbing.

May I have some background, please?
Year? Prisoners? Disease? Is the narrator human?

Kiersten said...

Oh be nice. I like it. But I wonder about the poor, chained POV. Is it a dog?

And were the fingers on the arm moving of their own accord, or moving because the rain was pounding them?

And why, oh why, was that man removing his own limb?

I am intrigued.

Whirlochre said...

The narrator is myself, staring out of the window.

It's that horrible moment when you're working on something and you can't make any headway — but you've got to write something.

So — DO is a series of unrelated one-off scenes in which my role is merely to watch.

There are three others in the labels list — and none of them are about zombie types.

K — yes, it was the rain.

Robin S. said...

Hey Miss K,

I was being nice! I find it disturbing- and being disturbed is a good thing - I just needed some background to feel, well, grounded.

WO- may I link to you, please?

Whirlochre said...

Robin - of course.

et tu?

I notice your blog has appeared in your profile so I'm guessing you're slumming it with Joe Public.

Kiersten said...

Oh, Robin, I hadn't seen your comment! I was telling WO to be nice to himself! Your comment wasn't posted yet when I wrote that. You're always nice ; )

I thought it was disturbing in a good way, too.

blogless troll said...

I think that guy's my neighbor.

I like this. I was figuring zombie, mostly because I didn't want to think he wasn't a zombie, but either way, vivid and disturbing.

Robin S. said...

Hey, Miss K - not to worry - I never think badly of you- ever.

I know you're a sweetheart!

OK-WO- you're gonna be linked then, laddie. I still have mine un-Googlable. I'm tiptoing into this thing.

ChrisEldin said...

I thought it was a zombie too.
And yes, great writing and mucho chills factor...
(have to attend kids..)

Robin S. said...

Hey Whirl-

Just saw your comment on EE's.

Hope you had a nice trip away- glad you're back! It was weird with you gone.

Whirlochre said...

Very weird. Weirder, in fact, than...

But no — just to say that I missed being connected to what's going on. Reminded me of childhood holidays when I spent the journey home desperate to catch up on all the stuff I'd missed.

I guess that probably means I'm going senile.

writtenwyrdd said...

I like this. Not a big horror fan, but it is very compelling. Very. Bet you could sell it.

writtenwyrdd said...

Oh, and as a short short story it stands alone very well. Don't think you need to add anything.

Bernita said...

Splendidly wicked and brilliantly wicked, Whirl.