Urban Space

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jethro's picture

Urban Space - Chapter 3

The four lads were sitting back watching TV. It was a fairly quiet night. They had eaten dinner, and proceeded to get stoned. After they had cleaned up the equipment, they had played games on the TV for some time. Then they had passed a joint around as they sat back to watch TV. They didn’t pick a channel, but rather just turned it on and watched whatever showed. For some reason, there was an old documentary on about the Moving Rocks, the biggest rock band 15 years ago. As they watched it Chris noticed that the leader of the band was staring right at him. The leader suddenly stared directly at the camera.

“I am Darzzlegough leader of the Krecht,” he said.

“And I am Sryjan, second in command,” said the drummer. The camera turned to the bass player, who just stared and in a guttural voice growled, “I am your worst nightmare.”

Chris stared petrified. The other guys were all watching the TV blankly, but none of them had seemed to notice what was going on. As far as they were concerned, the documentary was simply showing a music clip of one of the band’s live performances.

The keyboardist was on screen now, and he said, “If you don’t join us we’ll get you.”

Suddenly, a news photographer was at the front of the band taking photos. His flash was mesmerising, and Chris just stared. His body was in stasis, but his mind was overloading. Suddenly, the photographer turned around, and pointed his camera right at Chris. There seemed an eternity before he pushed the button, and the flash exploded in Chris’s face, and the nightmare began.

The huge reptilian figure was covered in scaly plates of hard bone. There were a number of squat double-jointed legs around the semicircular base of the body. The body was actually oval in shape. It rose to a peak in the middle where four eyes bulged under a hard crest of bone. It looked more like a short centipede then anything else, but Chris was not noticing things like that. He was screaming harder than he had ever screamed before, long gut wrenching screams as he saw the four eyes just staring at him. In his peripheral vision, he noticed that he was lying on a cold wet sandy beach that stretched as far as he could see either side of him in both directions. The sea was sucking hungrily 20 feet behind him, and there were only low featureless dunes covered in a scraggly sea grass on the inland side – except for the creature. The sky was grey and featureless, he couldn’t tell if it was day or night or if there were clouds or any thing. He couldn’t move any part of his body except his face. He suddenly realised that he couldn’t hear his own screaming anymore, and then it occurred to him that no one else could either. The creature’s eyes all blinked suddenly. It was as if a piece of the hooded bone had shut; then as suddenly as it had gone down, the eyes were staring at him again. Although it didn’t move, Chris knew there was absolutely no way he could get away.

“Join us,” boomed a voice. The creature hadn’t opened any orifice, and Chris couldn’t see any remotely resembling a mouth. It still hadn’t moved, and then he knew that its voice was in his head. “Oh yes you are smart, but not for long.” Suddenly, an arm like tentacle uncoiled out from the body of the creature. The end was rounded and about the size of a pool ball. “Come on, we won’t hurt you.” The voice was seductively soft and sweet now, but Chris seemed immobile, unable to control even what his brain did. He screamed again, and realised that he wasn’t even controlling that.

“You’re not hurting our pretty one are you?” came a new voice. Chris’s eyes swivelled from side to side, but couldn’t locate the speaker. Suddenly a shadow loomed over him from behind. Looking back, he gagged, and then vomited violently as he caught a whiff of the stench of the new creature.

Roughly man shaped, although twice as tall as an ordinary man, this creature was menacing. His eyes were focused on Chris, and there was only hate in them. Suddenly Chris noticed the drumsticks in the creature’s hand, then realised that the clothing it was wearing, although ten sizes too small and ripped from stretching onto him was the same as the drummer from the Moving Rocks.

“Oh yes my pretty” it whined again, its honeyed tongue laced with menace. “Remember me? My name is Sryjan.” It reached out with its mind and Chris knew a moment of agonizing terror, as the creatures mind probe struck him. He caught glimpses of boiling mud, vast armies of similar creatures, fiery explosions, and agonising screams and through it all in the background, a maniacal laughter that grated every nerve in his body. Chris had no screaming left. He tried but there was nothing. The tentacle from the first creature started to caress his body. It oozed a substance that seemed to be acidic. As it touched his clothes, they dissolved in a small cloud of steam. The tall creature moved closer and bent his face over Chris’s, and this time its voice was all menace. “You have one choice, come willingly or we will make you.” Chris wanted to come willingly, he would have done anything, ANYTHING the creature asked, only to get away, but he seemed to have no control over his body, and with absolute terror, he felt his body hawk a lump of spittle up and his eyes saw it flung into the creature’s face. It never moved a muscle, but simply let the spit slide over its cheek muscles, and then it exhaled in a short sharp breath. Once again Chris smelt the fetid breath, and almost fainted as it passed over him. But his fainting would have been short-lived if he had fainted. Almost without moving the creature suddenly beckoned to the oval shaped one with the tentacle. The tentacle lifted up and the end morphed. From being a hard round ball, it suddenly turned into a pair of tongs, with crystalline knife-edges. They quivered poised above Chris’s abdomen, then with a single motion sliced into his skin, grabbed his right kidney, and wrenched it out. Once again it hovered motionlessly, the kidney glistening and viscera dripping onto Chris’s chest. There were no holes and no visible scar. Chris’s back arched in agony, and he uncontrollably thrashed on the ground. He wept and screamed, but his throat was so hoarse no sound came out, and then he retched. Vomit spewed up from his mouth and landed back on his face and streamed to the ground. The tall creature laughed unpleasantly. It reached for the kidney and plucked it from the tongs, which morphed back into the hard round ball again. Standing upright, the tall creature howled with maniacal laughter again and throwing his head back thrust Chris’s kidney into his mouth and started chewing. His every bite seemed to be agony for Chris; it seemed as if he was still connected to the kidney now rapidly becoming mince. “You are,” said the ovoid creature, and fresh terror swept through Chris as he suddenly realised what these two creatures planned to do.

Mercifully he fainted and the creatures and the pain faded away. With a sharp jerk he awoke in terror throwing the sheets off the bed as he realised it was all a dream.

jethro's picture

Urban Space - Chapter 2

At the same time Jord was stirring from his sleep behind the dumpster in the alley, Kat was stirring from her sleep in her bed. She lived in a 5-bedroom brick house in a wooded suburb of the city, in a fairly affluential area. Her parents had 2 cars, plus her car garaged in the 4-car garage, her brother had a dirt bike and there were 2 jet skis on trailers in a shed. She had her own room with a wide screen TV, sound system and her own computer. Her parents employed a cleaner, a gardener and a pool man to help with the maintenance of the property. Dad was a lawyer and Mum worked on charity events as an organiser and fundraiser. They were not socialites, but were fairly well known around town.

Kat was in her second year of university and at 19 had pretty much had life handed to her on a plate. However she was far from the model student and daughter she appeared to be on the surface and in public.

As she came awake to the dappled sunlight filtering through the blinds she could hear the noise of the leaf blower and guessed that the gardener was here.

She rolled to her side and reached for her organiser on the bedside table. Thumbing through to the entry for the day she remembered that she had to be at Uni early today for a tutorial before her lecture. The upside was that she had an optional afternoon session and had decided to go to the beach with some friends. Rising she showered and dressed in her bikini before heading downstairs. She would get the rest of her clothes later but for now she was hungry.

Opening the stainless steel double door fridge to get some breakfast she had a sudden sense of being watched and quickly looked around. Maybe the gardener was peering in the window at her. He was a tribesman and as much as her mother complained to her father about them, nothing would sway his decision to employ the man. No one was there however and she turned back to the fridge a little uneasy. She had never liked the gardener but she did get on well with Amy the cleaner. She was a robust woman, loud and cheerful and her presence made the usually cheerless house seem full of sunshine and laughter. Today it appeared that Amy was not here, but as usual she had left the house spotless. Her parents had obviously eaten out last night, as the only plates on the bench were hers from last night. Settling onto a barstool at the bench Kat spooned the yoghurt into her mouth morosely as she glumly considered the upcoming tutorial. She had not studied for it but that shouldn’t matter too much. No the reason for her glumness stemmed from her dislike of a classmate who had been assigned to work with her on the tutorial by the lecturer. Reaching for a banana she peeled it and bit into the top. Rising from the chair she put her bowl on the sink edge and turned to leave the room. A wave of goose bumps swept over her as she once gain felt as if she was being watched. There was no noise from the garden and looking out the window she could see the gardener just disappearing out the side gate dragging his equipment with him. What was causing her to feel like this? Silly girl she told her self – there’s nothing to be afraid of. Yet despite her forced courage, there was uneasiness at the back of her mind. Walking back upstairs she paused by her younger brothers room. Chris was sprawled on top of his bed fast asleep. He was younger than her by 18 months and as immature as a baby still in her opinion. He had dropped out of school in the last year and spent most of his time hanging out with his mates playing basketball, skating and surfing. He was growing his hair long and was turning into a right brat. Not that I am all that much of a goody two shoes she thought. While Chris was open in his defiance of his parents, refusing to attend school, look for or a job or stop bumming around as his Dad put it Kat was more secretive. Chris appeared to live to party with his mates and she was sure he was taking money from her room to augment his allowance. She could smell cigarette smoke, unwashed sweaty clothes and worse and wrinkled her nose as she headed back to her room. Slipping on a denim mini, fashion-t and low-heeled slides she headed for the bathroom to complete her makeup routine.

Looking into the mirror she spent a moment contemplating her reflection before busying herself with the routine of skincare and cosmetics. Looking back at her in the large mirror was a thin face surrounded by straight sun bleached blond hair. Her eyes were the only pretty thing she decided and she spent a moment making sure that she used mascara to enhance her eyelashes. Pleased with the final look her mind switched back to the upcoming tutorial and her unease returned. Maybe that was why she had felt as if she was being watched. She was sure that Mario had a crush on her. The way he looked at her when he thought she wasn’t looking. She really disliked the smooth faced teen with the charming Italian looks. He had shoulder length black hair in bangs and deep brown eyes and a way of charming the ladies that made her feel sick. The other girls in the class thought he was wonderful and he was always surrounded by a bevy of them giggling and hanging on his every word. But he seemed to only have eyes for her and that disquieted her. She had never had a serious boyfriend and was not sure that this smooth Italian stallion was the type she wanted. She certainly was not going to fall in love with him she told herself sternly. Concentrating on the tutorial would be hard with him there but she just had to do it.

Completing her self-analysis Kat grabbed her keys, her handbag, her book bag and her personal communicator before heading downstairs. Passing the linen cupboard she grabbed a beach towel for the afternoon. Heading for the garage she once again had the uneasy feeling but this time convinced herself that it was nothing but the thought of today’s tutorial. Her mood brightened momentarily by thoughts of the beach and her friends returned back to the gloom that the upcoming tutorial caused.

Once in the garage she opened her car door and hopped in as she thumbed the remote door opener for the garage.

As the sunlight flooded into the darkened garage, she flipped her sunglasses down and looked over her shoulder as she reversed out. Hitting the street she thumbed the remote again. Kat never saw the dim figure standing in the corner of the garage watching her leave.

jethro's picture

Urban Space - Chapter 1

Sunlight sparkling off the crystalline facets of distant spires was not what roused Jord from his sleep. It would have had difficulty piercing through the murk to reach him anyway. Besides Jord was blind from birth and knew the sun only as warmth on his face. No, something else had caused him to stir earlier than usual. He rolled to his side and lifted his face to the morning air. Sounds and smells were his way of navigating through life. He had gone to sleep behind the midden, as usual, and at first his nose could only pick up the smell of rotting food. He concentrated on the sounds, but the distant honks and constant growling of the brutes as he called them were no different from usual. His keen ear picked other sounds. Lena and Marick were arguing as always. Lena’s thin voice drifted to him on the wind, cutting through the other noises. Judging from the distance she was probably out in the gathering place. Marick’s sonorous rumble could not be understood as words, it was more an attempt to placate the constant barrage of abuse that Lena fed his way. Jord realised that it was only Lena’s lack of importance in the tribe that caused her to act this way. No one took her seriously, except Marick, but then no one took him seriously either. Their arguing hadn’t woken Jord, but something unusual had and he felt uneasy. He cautiously felt his way around the side of the midden and out into the open. You never knew what the Whitefaces were going to have done to his place in the night. The tribe existed here but it wasn’t their place. It used to be until the Whitefaces came and made unnatural stuff. The tribe existed right in the middle of the Whitefaces and were largely ignored. Occasionally one of their enforcers would come and take one of the tribe away and there would be wailing and fighting. They usually came back days later talking in wonder of the places they had been. The Whitefaces had made straight caves and had wonderful food. But their hearts were with the tribe. Jord ran his fingers over the smooth edge of the midden, then twisted his body to the right and walked the three paces with his hand outstretched til he reached the edge of the canyon. Even these canyons were made by the Whitefaces. Before they came, the elders told around the campfire, this area was bush. Many of the young had gone to the bush, now far away, but for Jord this was not a journey he could make without help, and so far he had no life partner to help him.

Away from the stench of the midden, Jord's nostrils started to pick up other smells. The excrement of the brutes was acrid but not too invasive. Another smell began to permeate and his uneasiness grew. It was a smell that was harsh and oppressive, like the smell before a thunderstorm, only this was much worse. Something ominous was going to happen. Trailing his hand along the edge of the canyon wall, as he had done almost every day of his life since he could walk, Jord walked the few paces to the meeting area. This was a large open place built by the whitefaces for their open-air meetings. The tribe used a corner of it to meet. There was a sacred rock there. Jord knew why it was sacred but he didn’t care. It wasn’t sacred to him, but the elders said it was so he just agreed to keep the peace. All that stuff washed over Jord. Being blind made him more aware of reality than the others in his tribe. At least this was his belief. They were all so worried about the way it used to be before the Whitefaces came, and what they were doing to the place. To Jord, who couldn’t see, this was kind of irrelevant. He lived here now – not in the past and couldn’t understand the fuss. As a result he had never had any trouble with the enforcers, though he had once been taken to one of their healing stations. It was after the big fight. The one that had been included in the annals of the elders and its story was solemnly intoned with the rest of the tribal history every year at the big feast. Jord hadn’t been involved in the fight. That had been caused by the Whitefaces taking exception to the words of Arutha, one of the tribe’s leaders. He had protested the removal of the sacred rock from the meeting place, even going to the extent of binding his body to it. In the end both he and the rock were removed. The meeting place was filled with the hard smooth rock and the sacred rock was embedded in it, so Jord couldn’t see what the fuss was about. After all the smooth rock was easier to keep clean then the grass and dirt that had been there before. The Whitefaces said that they didn’t want to hurt the tribe, just clean up the meeting place. Anyway the fight had been long and glorious. Even Jord had gotten involved swinging a tree branch around is head and howling with delight at being involved. A Whiteface had dodged his wild swings and grabbed him pinning his arms to his side. He had been put inside a brute, and the animal had taken him to the healing station. Here he had been poked and prodded, made to lie down and stand up and had many Whitefaces talk to him. He didn’t understand most of what they said, but was able to tell them his name and his tribes name and they seemed to understand that. He did hear the word blind several times and guessed that was about his eyes. Eventually they put him back in the brute and he was magically transported back to the meeting place. The tribe hadn’t even noticed he had gone, but then they didn’t usually notice what Jord did anyway.

None of the other tribe members seemed to notice the smell the way Jord did. It burned in his nostrils now – growing stronger by the minute. Lena and Marick were still arguing; they almost never stopped. Arutha he could hear shuffling around the sacred rock mumbling to himself. He almost never left its side now and considered himself its guardian. That wasn’t true of course; the guardians were the whole tribe. They were left the task of guarding the sacred rock until the Owners returned from the sky. Some of the tribe had thought that the Whitefaces were the Owners but that had been sorted out at the big fight. The Whitefaces did come out of the sky occasionally, but they were mostly ground dwellers. No the real Owners were enshrined in the legends of the tribe as beings of light, able to move immense distances instantly and who communicated with you by voices in your head.

Old Rab said he talked to them, but no one listed to old Rab much. He drank too much of the Whitefaces poison and spent most of his day in a stupor. Jord could hear his snoring now as a rattle as he exhaled followed by a long shuddering intake of air.

The smell was now acrid like the smell that followed a lightning strike. Jord had never seen one but he had heard the thunder boom, and the exclamations of the other tribe members telling him what they saw as the earthlight leaped to the sky. It was a sign the elders said of the earth calling to its Owners. But none of the other signs of a thunderstorm could be felt. The wind was still and unnaturally quiet, there was no smell of rain, and there was no thunder. Jord was almost panicky now and called out to the tribe.

“What’s happening? What can you see? What is the smell? Is it the Owners?”

“Don’t be silly boy”, mumbled Arutha. “There’s nothing – you must have had a bad dream.”

Lena stopped her tirade at Marick to peer at the boy. Lena was shortsighted and her face was perpetually scrunched up, as she needed to squint in order to see who was talking. “Jord?” she asked. “What’s the matter boy?”

Before Jord could answer it happened. An immense wall of sound covering all the audible points of the spectrum accompanied by a sharp inrush of wind was felt rather than heard. Jord instinctively grasped for something solid to anchor himself against what he felt certain was impending doom. Not being able to see he did not turn his head toward the glow of light that materialised in the small meeting area. The remainder of the tribe members who were present, not so physically handicapped, did turn as one, and stood transfixed at the sight.

Jord felt only the screaming wail of sound fade away and be replaced by a gentle vibration, a nearly inaudible humming noise. He turned reflexively to the sacred stone, which appeared to be the source of the humming noise. What happened next was confusing for Jord as a large amount of it was visual and his normal aural and nasal senses were overloaded with strange sounds. What did go down in the tribal history was what Arutha saw. An ephemeral being, apparently constructed only of light materialised in the glow as it waxed to a brightness greater than the sun ever was. Suddenly the glowing light snapped out and the being flowed forward toward the stone. Arutha later described it as liquid light, as fluid as the tall grass rustling in the breeze.

The sacred stone increased its humming noise, until the being touched it, and seemed to manipulate it. The sound stopped. The sacred stone appeared to open and the view Lena had from her perspective was that of a large cavern dimly lit from an unseen light source. The disquieting thing was that the cavern seemed to be larger than the entire meeting area, when the sacred stone only stood 4 feet tall. The being flowed inside and disappeared. The doorway remained open. Jord had by this time felt his way across to the stone, unaware of the being or of the other tribe members who were still frozen in place. He had felt drawn irresistibly to the stone and simply followed that urge as if controlled by an external force. Upon feeling the opening, he also slid his way carefully inside and disappeared from the view of the other tribe members. The doorway instantly disappeared.

This action was enough to break the spell. Excitedly gathering around the stone they all started talking at once, yammering and gesticulating wildly to each other.

”Quiet” yelled Arutha. They fell to silence in front of the elder. Even Old Rab, who had woken when the being appeared could tell that this was an important event for the tribe. Arutha raised his hand over the stone and seemed about to talk when Lena burst into tears.

“Bloody women” he mumbled and turned away from the others.

“Where is my Jord? What’s happened to him?” she moaned.

Marick put a comforting arm around her shoulder but she shrugged it off. Dropping to her knees in front of the stone she scrabbled frantically at the rough surface trying to pry open the doorway that had swallowed her son.

Old Rab sighed. Out came a loud and deep exhalation of breath that caused more than a few to turn away due to the stench. He opened his mouth and began to recite.

From the realm of the light

Came the owner of the stone

Appearing to all

To one he would call

The least would arise

And take the prize

Though receiving the gift

He turned from his own

Yet through that same gift

He would claim the throne

The rest of the tribe turned toward Old Rab. Even Lena was stunned into silence. Arutha came round to the front of the stone and looked over at Old Rab. No one had ever heard him speak like that before. No one had heard more than gibberish from Old Rab’s toothless gums for many years.

Arutha grinned suddenly and stretched out his hands toward Old Rab in the traditional sign of the blessing.

“Old Rab tells the truth!” he cried. “For this is a tale from even before my memory. I remember now the elders told Old Rab and I stories as we sat around the council fire in our initiation ceremony. Stories of the Owners and how they used to appear to men. Stories too fantastical to be true, and in our long years we only dismissed them as fairy tales. But I have finally seen, and Old Rab has reminded me. We have seen a miracle!”