8FOLD/ACRA: Speak! # 7
twopointthreefivefilmwerks at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 7 07:28:16 PDT 2005
DISCLAIMER: This series uses adult language and depicts morally offensive and sometimes sexually explicit acts in order to deal frankly and honestly with its subject matter: the moral decline of Gregory Dingham, a young man who finds himself in possession of an immense power. This installment in particular is much darker than most, and certain portions might make the reader extremely uncomfortable. This is an Acraphobe series, and so consider this fair warning about what is contained here-in.
EIGHTFOLD COMICS PRESENTS
Speak! # 7
by Tom Russell
"... A Drop to Drink"
YOU GET TO THE MUSEUM a little bit after twelve, as planned, and the door, contrary to Goodman's promise, is locked tighter than a Catholic's thighs on Ash Wednesday. Wednesday. You've always hated the word Wednesday, Gregory. Silent letters bother you. Especially in the middle of words.
Wednesday. Wed. Nes. Day. Wendsday. Better. Ah.
"Unlock," you say, and the door unlocks, the tumblers tumbling like tumblers tumble. Then: a squeak, a squeal, a siren: the alarm sounds.
"Off," you say, the instant it happens, and the alarm turns off.
"Son of a sea-horse," says Harry. "That's amazing. God damn."
"Let's just hope none of the guards on duty heard it."
They did; here they come, a bunch of rent-a-cops with guns pointed at you, shouting out freeze! and on the floor!, hands behind your head! and every other cliche that the rent-a-teacher teaches rent-a-cops at the rent-a-school.
"Drop your guns," you say, and their guns fall to the floor. "Sleep." And they do, swooning like Victorian maids. Rent-a-Victorians.
AN HOUR LATER. STILL HERE.
You check on the rent-a-Victorians and tell them to keep sleeping before you wind your way back to Harry, and his suit's exhibit. Harry and his suit.
"You sure it wouldn't be easier to carry it?"
He gets indignant. "It's two hundred pounds of iron, Gregory. Only way we leave with this suit, is for me to wear it."
Part of you doubts that. If it was so heavy, Harry wouldn't be able to have worn it and walked around in the first place. Part of you says, the reason we're still here is that for thirty years, Harry's wanted to wear this suit again. And that part of you is sentimental and says, let the old guy put on his suit. It's been thirty years.
Which is the problem: Harry Cash is thirty years heavier, and is having a great deal of difficulty getting into his suit. Which is why you've been here an hour. This was supposed to be in and out, like that (snap!), easy, like the bank.
The bank feels so far away...
But it still nags you. Shouldn't the police be looking for you? Shouldn't they have caught you by now? Are they looking for you, only you don't really know it? Why are you asking all these questions?
Maybe Harry's right, like Two-in-One-[*]: you robbed the bank, got away with it. You don't know how you got away with it, but so what? Leave well enough alone. Before you worry yourself sick. Or insane. Or you get yourself caught by snooping.
[*-- See Speak! # 6.]
But, maybe it's this: you don't like questions without answers. You're a cerebral guy. You want things to make sense. The pieces must fit. Your power is one that deals with definites, with logic, not abstracts.
And yet, you said one thing-- you told Cybill Shepherd to fuck Bobby De Niro and, voila!: the entire film changed, new scenes, new dialogue, new acting choices, new music, new shots, new locales. Where did it all come from? Did all this come from you? From your unconscious mind?
How powerful is that mind, then? What lurks deep inside you?
What are the limits of your power? You thought you had tested them, but you hadn't even thought of this. What if you bought ninety minutes worth of blank film and told it to be a great American masterpiece. Would a film appear? (Could be money in that...) Would the film play just one time, like your feel-good _Taxi Driver_ did?
Could you alter the pages of a book? Or music? Art?
Finally. He's got the suit on.
"How do I look?" His voice is muffled.
You lie. "Look good, Harry."
"I don't know about that." The voice is not yours; the voice is not Harry's. It's cocky, whiny. You turn around and see a blur coming your way. "Think it's way, way too retro."
The blur settles and comes into focus, takes a human shape. Tall. Lean. Fast.
Spandex. A superhero. Fuck. A superhero.
"A speedster," Harry says. "Fuck. A speedster."
His black costume covers his whole body, not even his face is visible, not even his eyes. Just a shadow. A blur. "Yeah, definitely out of fashion. What do you think, Pachy?"
>>From out of the darkness leaps a heavy, hulking gray mass with cylinders for feet. Another costume. A superhero. Fuck. Two superheroes. This one has big elephant ears, and a trunk, too, mechanical, whirring about, expanding, telescoping. "For the last time, Darkhorse, the name is Pachyderm, not Pachy. And I think this is definitely a job for the fashion police."
"But, since they're not here," says Darkhorse, "I guess we'll have to do the job for them, right, Mrs. Metronome?"
>>From out of the floor like a curl of smoke comes a girl with goggles slapped over her eyes. Maybe she's eighteen, nineteen. Young, though. Her costume is black, too, but adorned with a twinkling gold belt.
"It's, uh, it's Dr. Metronome."
"Sorry." Darkhorse turns to you with a shrug. "She's new. Just met her. She hasn't gotten the snappy patter thing down yet."
"Enough talk," grumbles Pachyderm.
"Yeah. Let's get down to it, then, shall we?"
Darkhorse. Pachyderm. Dr. Metronome.
A BRUSQUE, UGLY SOUND AND Harry's in the air, flying. Flying. Wow.
His arm's outstretched, he's throwing his weight towards the trio and starting to come back down, starting to attack. Darkhorse grabs Dr. Metronome-- who protests-- and speeds out of the way while the Pachyderm stands his ground. He does more than stand his ground: he takes the offensive.
His trunk telescopes and hits Harry's rust-encrusted head-piece, and Harry spins back, his heels wheeling up towards the ceiling before the whole hunk of junk comes down. Harry lands on his head-- his nearly eighty year old skull-- and then the rest of him plops down, belly-to-floor. Before you can even think of running towards him, you get the wind knocked out of you, and now you're the one flying through the air-- horizontal, not vertical-- Pachyderm's hit you with his trunk and your back is crashing into the...
Oh, Christ, here comes that god-damn trunk again. "Shove it up your ass!"
The trunk isn't under his control anymore. It turns on a dime in the air, telescoping, stretching, sneaking up behind him and shoving itself, well, up his ass, fast and hard and bloody.
Darkhorse thinks it's funny (he's a snappy patter kind of costume), and as you stagger towards Harry's prone form, you hear the speedster say, "Well, now you know how those girls felt in those tentacle monster flicks."
"Harry, are you okay?"
"Uh, sort of, yeah. Suit took most of it. Not enough of it, but most of it."
You feel something moving inside you, inside your arms, like wind in your bones. It's the girl. You forgot about her. Shit. She's got you in a full nelson. "He probably needs medical attention," she says. "I suggest you give up."
"You phase through stuff, right?"
"You become immaterial?"
"Then do it."
And, against her will, she does. You move like a tiger, or as tiger-like as you can, feeling her body breeze through you again. "And solid." And she does, solid as bone, and you punch the little bitch square in the nose, blood flying out, her hair billowing as she falls on the ground. You try to scramble away but now her feet are flying, and she trips you. Now it's your turn to fall. Flat on your face. And now your nose is bleeding.
Darkhorse is running towards you. Shit. But: "Slow down."
And he does. Not just to normal speed. But slow, moving like a woman with scoliosis, a walker, and a year of life left in her. And then you hear this scream, this god-awful scream.
The speedster's freaking out. (Why? Wonder what that's all about?)
But now Dr. Metronome has got you by the hair and is slamming your face into the floor. She does this again, and again, and again. She's a smart cookie; she's probably figured out exactly what your power is. If she knocks you out, you can't talk. So talk. Say something. Hurry.
Not that. Idiot.
"Menstraute. Heavy. Heavy flow. Cramps. Bad cramps. Migraine."
She lets go of your hair and crumbles to the floor, grabbing her stomach. As you get up, she tries to reach for you, still trying.
A swift kick to the face sends her reeling.
So: Pachyderm is hemmoraging from the huge freaking hole where his ass used to be. Darkhorse has been reduced to a simpering infant. And Metronome is having feminine troubles. Is this all you think of women, Gregory? Either cooing, orgasming sluts to be sated or bitches to be punished?
Strange. The way you use your powers, you sure act that way...
No time, though, no time for introspection. Harry's on his feet now, a little dizzy but able to walk. Better blow this joint.
"JUST TAKE THE COSTUME OFF."
"No," Harry says. "That will take more time."
"You'll have to take it off anyway. Before we get back to the motel."
"Let's not go to the motel. Let's move on."
"Where? What's next?"
"I don't know. But a different city. We got to find a hero to unmask."
"Why don't we just unmask them?"
"Okay, okay. Code of honour. Fine. Spectacle. Fine. But before we get to wherever we go, you've got to take off the suit."
"Then we'll stop along the way. It will take too much time."
"It's taking too much time now, Harry. I can't get you to fit in the car. The suit's too freaking big."
"I can squeeze in. Let me try again."
"Oh, Jesus Christ."
"Call me Gas-Man. When I'm wearing the suit."
"Just get in the car, Gas-Man."
AFTER THAT'S TAKEN CARE OF...
You drive. Harry lies down in the back seat, his huge power-boots hanging out the window.
"You did pretty good there, kid."
"Yeah? Yeah, I guess I did."
"Quick thinking on your part."
"A little too vicious for my tastes, you know."
"What do you mean? I saved our asses."
"I know. Quick thinking, like I said. But it lacked finesse." This from the man wearing the sewn-together flying trash can. (Though it did fly, didn't it?)
"That couldn't have been more than a minute, huh?"
"Like I said, quick thinking."
"Most of these things, Harry. Uh, battles or whatever. They take longer?"
"Uh, most of them? No. Most of them are pretty short. The trick, you see, the trick is to be adaptable, you know? Reason why all three of them went down for the count? It was on account of you thought quicker. Now, that Metronome girl-- that reminds me. That's weird. I knew a Dr. Metronome, back in the day." [*]
[*-- Both Dr. Metronomes debuted in JOURNEY INTO... # 1.]
"That's fine, Harry. But you were saying?"
"I don't know. What was I saying?"
"Uh, I thought quicker, but that Metronome girl."
"I don't know." He snaps his fingers. It sounds like a car wreck a couple blocks over. "Oh, right, now I remember. What I was going to say was, she was smart, she adapted. You did your first move and then she countered it. And that's the way it is, quick wits, powers, brute strength, etc., who tops who, and the only reason it ends is on account of person A or person B doesn't respond quick enough to the next challenge, and there's a new challenge every second. So, to make a long story short..."
"... yes, most battles are that quick. But you did good, Gregory. Only suggestion?"
"Don't be so vicious?"
"That, and you should maybe wear a mask, or a cape."
"Maybe a mask. Mask would be a good idea. But I'm not getting into any spandex, any capes or anything. I'm not a supervillain."
"And yet, you just fought three superheroes-- and well, I might add-- and won. Hell, you beat a fucking speedster, Gregory! Speedsters are always a pain-in-the-ass. Also, you should have a code-name."
"Why do I need a code-name?"
"Because. So you don't get caught when you're doing your civilian thing."
"So I wear a mask."
"But what do I call you when we're on business? Gregory won't work."
"Don't need to call me anything. I think I can figure out when you're talking to me. When it's, everybody freeze, this is a stick up, you're not talking to me. When it's, watch out for that guy, you're talking to me. I'm not stupid. I ain't going to get confused."
"I can call you Gas-Lad, maybe."
"That doesn't make any sense."
"Neither does Gas-Man. I mean, I used to use gases, but mostly I flew around in one of these suits. Damn, it feels good to be in this suit."
"I'm glad you feel good, Harry."
"Yeah. Feel better than I felt in thirty years. But I feel weird though, too. Like, it's all cold inside me. Feels like a breeze or something, but in my blood."
A hand springs out of your chest, and grabs a hold of the wheel, turning it off the side of the road. The arm is immaterial; the hand is not.
Shit, you're going to crash into something if you're not careful, you're driving on the grass, do something Gregory, do something!
You put on the brakes (even though this is what she wants) because you can't crash the car. The hand becomes immaterial again and pulls itself away from your body. In a moment, she's outside.
She opens the door.
"Step out," she says.
"Sleep." She slumps over. Why didn't you think of that in the first place?
"Now we got a hostage."
"No way, Harry. Let's just leave her here."
"I don't want her on our trail."
"She has no idea where we're going. Shit, Harry--"
"Call me Gas-Man."
"She has no idea where we're going. We don't even have any idea where we're going!"
"True. But I'd rather know where she is, and be in control of the situation."
"Okay. Fine. We got ourselves a hostage." Kidnapping. Wow, you're kidnapping someone.
"Glad you see what a smart move it is."
"But what do we do with her... Gas... Man? We don't have a hideout or anything."
"We'll go back to the motel."
"Go back to the motel? Why the fuck would we go back to the motel? This is ridiculous."
"Because we can fly in our window. I left it open. So no one suspects. I come in with a big metal suit and carrying an unconscious woman over my shoulder to register for a room, we're in deep shit."
"So take off the god-damn suit, Harry!"
FOR REASONS BEYOND YOUR COMPREHENSION, you drive back to the motel, and Harry flies in through the window. You take the stairs.
"Now, I knew the old Dr. Metronome," Harry tells you once you've locked the door. "He wasn't no hero, he was a supervillain like me. Not as good as I was. But still good."
The question is, is he not as good as Harry was, or not as good as Harry claims slash thinks he was? Questions, questions, questions.
"He phased though, too, and this looks to be the same suit. Maybe a little altered for her size. But about the same."
You know he's blushing behind his mask. God-damn stupid looking suit. "The suit is the source of the power, then. What makes her phase, makes her tough to keep in one place."
"And...?" You know what he's going to say. Why torture the old man, Gregory? What's wrong with you? Do you get pleasure from making him squirm?
"So it needs to come off."
"Then take it off."
"I can't, what with my suit, I don't have fine motor movement, you know?"
"Then take off your suit."
"I don't want to take it off just yet."
"Gas-Man, please take off your suit. You've got to be hot in there."
"I'm going to stand on the roof."
He's heading towards the window.
"Harry, we're trying to keep a low profile here."
"Gas-Man. Just for a minute. It's been so long since I've stood on a roof."
"You know, you're really scaring me..."
But it's too late. He's heading out the window, and up. "You better get the suit off of her and tie her up."
FIRST, THE BELT.
You undo the buckle and lay the two portions of the strap on either side of her. You start to pull it from underneath her and she begins to stir. "Stay asleep. Sound asleep. Sleep deep. Sweet dreams."
You get the belt away from her body and put it on the floor, near the window. You look out the window and up, craning your neck. Harry's standing up there like a god-damn rust-coloured beacon. What the fuck is going on, man?
THE UNIFORM'S JUST ONE PIECE, with a zipper that extends from the collar to her lower abdomen. Black is a slimming colour, and, like most super-outfits, this one is form-fitting. You can see the little bit of baby fat she hasn't quite managed to lose, and her breasts swell snugly with each deep-sleep breath. You command her to stay asleep and your finger grabs hold of the zipper.
It's so quiet now, can't even hear cars outside. What time is it? Only one-thirty? Shit. What an hour and a half this has been. So quiet. Not even cars. Or crickets. Or Harry. (Standing on the god-damn roof.)
Only sound is the zipper. Unzipping. Slow. Ly. Its tiny clenched teeth coming undone, it's metal lips parting. Open. Inviting. Ready.
She's fair-skinned; freckles begin to appear in the valley between the metal teeth. You notice now that she has freckles on her face, too. Like the redhead did. Redhead had freckles on her hands. You keep ahold of the zipper but stop zipping to look at Dr. Metronome's hands. No freckles. Huh.
You continue unzipping, and as you wind your way farther down, the river of flesh revealed by the unzipping becoming more a delta, flooding your eyes, you begin to see the freckles that adorn her left breast as just the barest hint of it becomes visible. No bra.
No undies, either. Your thumb, which along with your first finger grips the zipper, brushes against the first whisps of her pubic hair. Oh lord. Been so long. Since the redhead. Since Sandy. Since you even masturbated. Been so long.
You remind her to stay asleep as you pull the spandex off. You stare at her knees as you do so, because this is wrong. What you're doing in and of itself-- kidnapping someone, a superhero, undressing them-- is wrong. And it would be wrong to look at her body once you've undressed her.
But you look anyway. Been so long. So long.
God, she's good-looking. Her breasts are riddled with freckles, they're soft and fleshy. Well, you don't know about those last two. Those are tactile words, tactile sensations. Why not have a quick feel before you throw one of Harry's old shirts over her? Just a quick feel.
Harry's still outside. He'll never know. She'll never know. Sandy will never know. Just you.
It's cold in here. The window's still open. Her nipples are getting taut. So, just a quick feel. And maybe after that, a little kiss? A little suck? A little sleeping-beauty-blowjob? A quick fuck?
You see how this works, Gregory? Hell, you know how this works. You give a little here, it's so easy to give a little the next time, isn't it? Just a little more... a little more... and then, and then you've done something... something heinous. Something evil.
Are you evil? No. At least, you don't think you are. But yet, you're considering an act of evil.
A little feel isn't evil though, is it, not truly...
But, it can lead to so many other things. An example to prove this point: you're staring at her body now (well, at her breasts, which are part of her body). Why are you staring at her body, when you know it's wrong? No, don't go and look at her knees again. Don't be an ass. Don't be ashamed. Who are you being ashamed for? You don't feel any shame, you prick. It's a show. But for who? No one here, no one but god, who isn't fooled. And yourself. Don't fool yourself. Don't play games. Let's get to the truth, here.
You knew it was wrong when you started to stare at her body. But you said, hey, it's just a little gazing. A little aesthetic experience. Nothing wrong with that, is there? No harm, anyway. But then the next thought is, why don't I just grab one of her tits? What's the harm in that?
And the next question would be, what's the harm in kissing it a little, in sucking a little... etc. The fact is, even undressing her is a violation. Is it rape?
Not exactly, no. But know what the difference is, Gregory: it's not a matter of just a little looking or just a little grabby-hands, something relatively innocent versus something evil. That's the rationale you've used to not feel guilty about the redhead (but you still feel guilty, don't you?).
The fact is, the difference does not lie in one thing being (sorta) good and the other evil. Any violation is evil, Gregory. A willful act of malice. The difference is only a matter of degree.
The redhead was one degree. The undressing is another. The looking is a third. Feeling would be fourth. Et cetera. Each, just a little step, each step still capable of being justified or filed under mischief. But each is also a step closer towards the point where you can't justify it, and once you get to that point, you've already transgressed so much that it doesn't matter if it can be justified: it gets to the point where you don't even care. Where's the line, then, Gregory? You undressed her and looking was the line you would not crossed, and then you crossed it. Now the line's drawn at feeling. A harmless bit of groping.
You look at her breasts again. "Stay asleep."
God! God, they are soft.
Your eyes trail down to her pussy, still red with menstral blood. You tell it to stop. Been so long since...
No. A quick feel of her tits and that was it. Drawn the line.
You prop her up to a sitting position and, with a little difficultly, you put Harry's shirt over her, and some boxer shorts. "Keep sleeping."
You tie her to the chair with some rope.
HARRY COMES DOWN FROM THE roof. He doesn't take off the stupid iron suit, but instead clunks along, waddling towards the bed. He plops down and the springs cry under the strain, under the weight. He looks at her sleeping, at the rope that binds her to the chair, and turns to you. It's so weird, not being able to see his face. Especially when he's talking.
"That's my shirt?"
"Yeah. And your boxers."
"Huh. See you left her goggles on."
"Yeah." Code of honour and all that. He didn't have to tell you.
He's not as talkative as Harry is supposed to be. His voice sounds strange enough, coming through an inch of iron. But it's even weirder when the words are coming out clipped. He used to have oral diarrhea. Now it's diberticulitis.
Doesn't talk with his hands, either. Just sits there. Still. Like a robot. No. Like a statue. A computer. Feels like he's not in there at all, like the body before you is being controlled by remote.
"I said, what time is it?"
"How long was I on the roof?"
"Close to three hours."
"You been awake all that time?"
"She's been asleep all that time?"
"I'm tired, Gas-Man."
"Oh. I'm not. I want to do something. You want to do something?"
"Sure, what do you want to do?"
"I don't know."
"Not much to do. Not at four in the morning."
"Go fishing, maybe?"
"At four in the morning? Fish are asleep, Harry. Uh. Gas-Man."
"Hmm. Suppose you're right. You want to go fishing in the morning?"
"Like, dawn or something?"
"Yeah, like at dawn."
"Maybe ten o' clock. But... um..."
"We got a hostage, Harry. I don't think you're supposed to take them fishing, or leave them alone. We got to figure out what we're going to do next, where to, what to do with the girl. All that stuff."
"Yeah. You're right."
"I know I am."
"I would like to go fishing, though. Like... I never had anybody to take fishing, you know. And... Did, did anyone ever take you fishing?"
"Uh, off the pier a couple times with my dad. But not like a father-son thing, never out in a boat, you know, all that bullshit."
"Hmm. I want to go fishing."
"Well, let's get somewhere good, somewhere safe, get started on the next step, and then we'll go fishing, okay, Harry?"
NEXT TIME: Whirlwind
(C) Copyright 2005 Tom Russell. Dr. Metronome was created jointly by Jamie Rosen and myself.
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