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Sometimes a small pneumatic combustion cannon is the right tool for the job. At least when the job is spraying blood and gore into a fine mist, anyways.

FUNK brs @FUNKbrs

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The Cutting Garden: Chapter 11

Posted by FUNKbrs - January 10th, 2008


Chapter 11

Mrs. Black stared at the figure in the chair just as she had stared at others in that same chair countless times before. This chair, always this chair. Decades passed, generations passed, but always this one chair. Even as a child, she remembered the simple unpadded ladder-back chair from its days of service as the dunce seat in the local one room schoolhouse. What it represented to her had changed over the years, but the shame of being seated in that chair transcended everything.

The stillness in Mrs. Black's gaze was easy to mistake for ageless serenity, but it wasn't. Neither was it poise, or for that matter even the mild opiate intoxication inherent in many arthritic seniors. The stillness in Mrs. Black's gaze was always her secret focus on that same rainbow static that Caroline could see, that rare substrate that even The Glass could not. Demons share their omniscience with angels, but certain abilities required a mortal human soul. There were dark rites under which a demon might acquire such a soul, rites that Caroline was ignorant of that every demon by definition was well versed in.

An uncharacteristic shiver crawled up Mrs. Black's spine as she sipped increasingly tepid tea and searched methodically for the telltale green shimmers in the static that revealed a demon at work. One of the things she'd learned in her studies was that demons have a certain kitten-like viciousness; they attack any target presented given enough time.

With that knowledge, Mrs. Black's unease only increased when instead of that faint green over saturation she saw Caroline's face shine through her hood in bright, unmistakable pink. She was actively scrying, a technique Mrs. Black had not even suspected she had mastered yet. Yogic masters had spent lifetimes in meditation without mastering the technique, and yet there Caroline was after a brief stolen lesson flawlessly opening her third eye.

Finally The Glass proved true to his nature, green bits of static coalescing to form an avatar in front of Caroline's naked pink one. In this element any demon is on home ground and even Mrs. Black had to be careful to defend against the demon's allure. If she used a human avatar, she was just as subject to the demon's powers of suggestion as Caroline was. Hiding your true identity was the first rule of scrying, a rule The Glass had of course omitted in his instruction.

The Glass was fully capable of hiding whatever it was telling Caroline from Mrs. Black. Caroline's words, were clumsily obvious. Mrs. Black was disgusted. How dare this girl trust a demon more than her! And to immediately suspect her, despite all she'd done to be circumspect and gentle with her. This girl was too smart for her own good, and the bitter kernel of shame Mrs. Black felt for abducting her only added to the force of her angry indignation. Bees were too good for this demon. Dogs were too good.

A kraken, now, that sounded about right.

In the realm of dreams, in the space below the mind and above the soul, in that rainbow static of the seers, there is a different type of physics. The mind is finite, bound by focus and physicality, but the soul is by nature infinite. It could be said that the soul is a splinter of God, undilutable and split from the soul of Adam himself.

Therefore, for the human soul in the realm of dreams, the only limits exist in the power of focus the mind can bring to bear. A seer's avatar only defaults to the mind's image of self. The Glass has no real physical form, so his avatar is only a hollow contrivance. The only mind he has is one that he emulates in the dream world.

Mrs. Black, however, has a splinter of God, a soul. Her avatar or avatars can be any from she can sufficiently imagine and control. This is all by way of an explanation of how she was capable of keeping an eye on the world of dreams without forming any avatar at all, and furthermore the giant black-tentacled monstrosity desecrating the corpse of The Glass's now headless avatar.

Gruesome. Bloody. Excessive. These are the hallmarks of Mrs. Black trying to make an impression. Caroline was such a novice; she didn't even notice when The Glass's will dissipated and Mrs. Black's will recreated the avatar so she could continue to destroy it. Caroline still didn't understand at any time in this world she could merely get out of that chair and leave, although she would still be bound in the real world.

Mrs. Black took ruthless advantage of Caroline's ignorance, pulling coil after coil of black tentacles out of thin air until the head of the vile kraken appeared. She allowed the avatar of The Glass to dissipate and focused dinner plate sized eyes on Caroline, who was paralyzed by fear and naïveté.

The giant squid's two long grasping tentacles wrapped around the defenseless girl, this time binding her in a way that wasn't just a trick of the mind. The chair Caroline had imagined herself bound to disappeared as the sheer brutality of the even striped it from her consciousness.

The kraken's eight holding tentacles withdrew into its conical fin-tipped head. The entire mass shrank saving for the two grasping tentacles that still held Caroline in thrall. The finned cone thinned and stood upright, the fins themselves fragmenting and lengthening to form Mrs. Black's waist-length hair only to coil itself back into a bun as a white face emerged from the kraken's inky skin. The dinner plate eyes shrank as they slid up the body, reaching human size only when they crept over Mrs. Black's blank eye-sockets.

The tentacles continued to hold Caroline in their grasp; exiting Mrs. Black's avatar just below her should blades and bracing themselves against the ground as they held her feet mere inches from any solid surface. Mrs. Black herself no longer wore he school marmish attire, but now wore a skin tight glossy black dress that put Morticia Adams to shame.

In contrast to Caroline's frumpy frame, Mrs. Black was a stunningly beautiful woman despite her abnormal lifespan.

"Mrs. Caroline Parker!" Mrs. Black announced, her anger only betrayed by the icy cold sharpness of her voice. Caroline's mouth was still covered by sucker studded gripping pads that denied her the ability to answer. She struggled imperceptibly against Mrs. Black's will, only to be rendered motionless by her iron grip.

"You have been caught in the act, soliciting the favors of demons, practicing forbidden techniques, and worse, acting under direct orders from a know demon against a fellow human." Mrs. Black paused, allowing Caroline time to think about the accusations before uncovering her mouth to hear whatever frail defense she could offer.

Caroline even surprised herself when she sent the patterns away, amazed at how easy it all was. She was back in the chair, still wearing the hood, still feeling the restraints on her wrists and ankles, but no longer held at arms length by Mrs. Black's tentacles. It was then that her hood was violently ripped from her head.

She barely had time to register Mrs. Black's flesh and blood face before her delicately boned hand left a resounding slap across the right side of her face, shaking her head like a rag doll.

"You can't run from me, Ms. Parker. If tying you down in a dream was sufficient, I never would have risked having Thug bring you here." Mrs. Black continued with frank severity.
"And why did you bring me here? Caroline countered, "You knew I'd come if you called. Why should I trust you, if you won't even trust me?"

For the second time, Mrs. Black wavered uncertainly. Had she overstepped? Was she so used to dealing with strippers and prostitutes Thug dragged into that chair that she'd forgotten how to respect other people's boundaries? There was more at stake than Caroline's life here, but if Caroline realized how strong her position was, there was no telling if she'd cooperate.

"This isn't about me trusting you, or even you trusting me. What part of The Glass being a demon don't you understand?" Mrs. Black said, her haughty mask dropping as much as she dared.
"The part where he teaches me things. All you ever do is break into my dreams, break into my life, and break apart my sanity. The Glass makes things make sense. All you ever do is make me feel weak, make me feel ignorant and confused." Caroline stuttered flatly.

"What about that scar on your hand? Has it even healed all the way yet? How about the other one on you stomach?" Mrs. Black reminded her, "It was The Glass that first intruded on your life with the dream about the plane crash, not me. Those scars are from The Glass's influence. He wants to have you so wrapped up in pleasing yourself you forget that he's controlling you."

"And what do YOU want from me? The Glass is a demon, so you say, and that explains why he came around, but what about you? Aren't you a witch?" Caroline reversed spitefully.
Mrs. Black sighed and answered, "Yes. I am, technically, a witch. And I do want something from you. I want to train you to be a witch. The Glass is the one that wants to steal your soul."

The Glass, however, had other priorities.

Berry sat alone in Raz's apartment, drinking a lukewarm bottle of Schlitz Malt Liquor on the third day of a bender. Raz's ability to stay up for days had at first attracted her to him, but now that same ability meant coming home was a marathon of isolation. It was disturbing how much vehement, spiteful will they could muster against each other just to avoid sharing a bed.

Berry's lack of a job, her lack of motivation, her lack of everything saving a pretty face and whip-like conversational ability drove her to depths of depression lonely ugly people could only dram of. She KNEW what it felt like to be wanted, to be handed everything on a silver platter, just for being herself. Entitlement, luxury, she'd been raised to be a princess her entire life. What had it gotten her, though? A dinky ass little apartment and a boyfriend who'd rather type hastily written messages to complete strangers in an imaginary world than talk to her.

All those ugly single girls she'd made fun of in high school would be rolling in the floor laughing if they could see her now. Hell, even Caroline's life was more exciting than hers. Weird dreams, meetings with witches, Todd, even her job gave her life flavor despite her saggy ass and tiny tits. "Why not me?" She thought angrily through her drunken and sleep deprived tears.

Little did she know how interesting her life was about to become.

Sleep deprivation is it's own special kind of trance state, and just like the dram quests of ancient tribal shamans, it opens the mind to the influence of other-worldly powers. Thanks to Caroline's carelessness, in this case those otherworldly powers knew exactly where to find her.

Despite what evangelist would have us believe, not every human being has a soul. Berry was such a sad case, although her condition is quite common. The Glass's options are different with such an individual, especially one that would willingly choose demonic possession. Berry would never be able to scry, or to be contacted through spiritual means. However, as a hollow, vapid, willing empty shell, she was almost as good as being able to create a real living avatar.

Like a mushroom popping up out of mycelium-cultured earth, The Glass formed a different kind of avatar to creep into the empty place inside Berry where a soul should be. In a way, The Glass became her soul, making her more than she was on her own, making her BETTER. Once in control of her mind, The Glass was able to focus it in a way Berry had never experienced before.

Illusions are the stock and trade of demons, and it could be said with some accuracy that all a demon really is is a series of illusions based around a single malevolent law of human nature, created alongside of the speed of light or nuclear physics. The Glass started slowly, unfocusing Berry's eyes on the suds of her cheap imitation beer until it had enough room to form an image.

Once Berry's eyes were suitably disabled, The Glass created a single point of focus in her vision. Like an artist carving a figure from marble or wood, The Glass sculpted from the raw substrate of unfocused light the rough shape of a figure in a chair first, taking its time to give Berry's grain alcohol addled brain time to recognize the illusion. Then The Glass added shade to contrast the blank image, defining straps holding increasingly discernable hands and feet bound to the arms and legs of the chair. Finally, it defined Caroline's face to Berry's zombie-like consciousness.

The Glass pulled from a stock book older than literacy itself a single phrase: Burn the witch. To give it strength, he put it in a pattern of threes repeating in her head, with a silent pause between them.

Burn the witch.
Burn the witch.
Burn the witch.

The phrase contained three one syllable words, the three repetitions adding up to nine, the number of division and separation, and the opposite of indivisible one.

The Glass added the detail of a single, fraudulent tear running down Caroline's face and repeated the phrase in triplicate again:

Burn the witch.
Burn the witch.
Burn the witch.

In sharp contrast to the way The Glass conjured Caroline's image, he imposed Mrs. Black's figure slapping Caroline's face with whip-like severity and repeated the mantra again.

Burn the witch.
Burn the witch.
Burn the witch.

Three sets of nine, adding up to twenty seven, purity and couples, adding up again to form nine, making division once more and reinforcing the message by an order of magnitude.

The Glass's possessing avatar relaxed inside Berry's intoxicated brain and waited for pseudo-sobriety to do its sordid work.

Berry's eyes slowly swam back into focus. Was what she had seen a hallucination? Or was it a prophetic dream, like what Caroline had been having? None of that mattered, though. It was if she'd had a religious experience, lying on that couch. Her problems with Raz didn't matter anymore; all that mattered was her own internal influence. What an epiphany! She'd lived her entire life trying to sum up to others expectations of her; now, she no longer cared.

Raz's bottle strewn apartment was no place for a focused mind such as hers. She hit it full on, cleaning with a frenzied energy only known to habitual meth-heads. Normally she'd spend more time putting off such menial chores than actually doing them, but right now she felt just like she did that night with Caroline when she'd tapped Raz and Todd's veins for blood. Who'd have though her spurious collection of medical paraphernalia could have done such a thing? Normally she would just fantasize about that kind of stuff, but that night something had come over her, just as it had now.

Maybe she and Caroline shared a special bond since that night? The vision she'd seen HAD to be real. There just wasn't any room for doubt. Caroline was in trouble, and this dream was her only chance to get help. Still, she had no idea where she could be.

Berry placed two fingers on her temple, like a child imitating a television psychic. From inside, The Glass answered: 646 Cottage Church Lane.

How exhilarating! She couldn't remember her own phone number half the time, but now she could remember the address from the flyer from so many days ago! Whatever was going on had to be her subconsciously developed skills coming out when they were needed most.

Berry took Raz's keys and closed the door quietly, carrying the trash with her uncharacteristically. She thanked whatever spirits there were that Raz was fully immersed in that stupid game he was playing.

"Don't worry," she tried to project toward Caroline. "I'm coming."

Every aspect of The Glass capable of emulating human empathy winced at Berry's ego-driven hubris. Such a weak mind would be little defense against Mrs. Black, and such a weak body could never be a match for Thug physically. Did this girl even know that her naïve fantasies only made it easier to use her as a tool? Other minor demons of vice had already all but destroyed her fragile life.

Still, if The Glass could get Mrs. Black to kill this girl in front of Caroline, there would be no chance of Caroline ever trusting her again, and that was all the success it needed.


Comments

I'm really enjoying it. Good job!

Couldn't think of a better name than Mrs. Black, could you?

ACTUALLY, based off a real woman, whose REAL NAME was MRS. BLACK. Mrs. Mary Black, to be precise, of Hometown Pentecostal Church in south Memphis, right off of 3rd street on 61 HWY south with a right on the first residential street after the car lot, just a mile or two before the state line. Follow that past the baptist church, and make a right on the next street after that. It should be right on your left.

She's not really a witch, though, just a a very devout pentecostal.