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pen Ecanus•net :: Stories

This page was intended as a home for news about ‘the great unfinished novel’ which as the name suggests never quite got finished. Fallen Angel (in part the reason for the naming of this site) was started many years ago, back in my college days (I'm not going to admit to how long ago that was) and over the years has changed a lot. Its orginal inspiration was from a Stephen King short story "Strawberry Spring", but it's nothing at all like that now. Now in its fourth incarnation there's a totally different plot, location, characters...in fact it's nothing like the original. And one of these days I will get it finished. One of these days...

I have decided...2008 will be the year of Fallen Angel...I am gonna put some serious work into it, honest...

In the meantime you'll find some of my short stories here. Some have been seen out in public before; others have been hidden away for a long, long time. I figured it was about time to give them an airing. Words are for sharing, after all.

Porky

The morning was crisp and bright. Peter King walked briskly, his arms swinging at his sides. Just because today was a Saturday, he told himself, there was no need to be lax. Good physical deportment was important at all times, and a good brisk walk never did anyone any harm. Peter's mood was light-hearted. Even the colours seemed brighter this morning, the drab city coming sharply into focus. He paused, coming to the company's entrance. Before him the red brick of the main building rose impressively, beyond the car parks stretched away into the distance and the assorted out–buildings. The plaque by the gate proclaimed the building's purpose. Herrank Lloyd – Headquarters, and below it, "Where the customer comes first". The lettering was neat and modern beneath the company's logo. Bill Hunter had adjudged a more technological look was in keeping with today's modern world. Whatever his idea of that might have been. Beneath Bill Hunter's words of wisdom someone, in thick black marker pen had scrawled "Bullshit!" Peter made a mental note to write a memo to the maintenance department, reminding them to get someone to touch up the sign. Pride swelling in his chest he turned into the company grounds, making his way across the gravel frontage to the main door.

Being Saturday, there was no earthly reason why Peter should go into work today. It wasn't even as though there was a lot to do, but, Peter reasoned, if he cleared all the paperwork over the weekend he'd have more time next week for the important things. Peter was slightly irritated to find that the front door was locked and ringing the buzzer brought no response. In his haste to get out of the house this morning he'd forgotten his swipe cards. There should be a caretaker around somewhere at least. Sighing, he stomped off across the gravel, skirting around the low crouching bushes that clung to the building. Under the gloom of the bushes the smart façade of the building fell away, the paint–work peeling, damp bricks crumbling away and cracked panes of glass. Emerging into the inner sanctum of the company's grounds, Peter re–joining the path, made his way to the blue door to an old wooden painted blue door. It was a door the company's makeover had forgotten, a throwback to the building's former days.

The door opened easily and Peter entered the darkened entrance hall, pushing the door closed firmly behind him. He made his way through the maze of corridors, noticeboards fluttering in his wake. Without the flickering overhead fluorescents the building was plunged into a semi–nocturnal gloom. Alcoves faded into the shadows, colours draining together, inseparable in the gloom. Reaching his own room eventually he turned the key easily in the lock and pushed the door open. He stooped to pick up a crumpled note which lay in the doorway, a scribbled note from Reprographics that the six copies of his stock report for next week's management meeting were ready for collection. He'd get Kate to collect them on Monday morning and get the rest of the required papers together. He tossed it carelessly onto the desk and turned to retrieve the computer print–out of staff flexi hours from the armchair.

Peter was old–school management, born into a corporate world long before the millennial craze of buzzwords, management bonding weekends, and performance management hype. His personal style was of the seventies, and his office too reflected a time gone by. It was more a cluttered academic's office than a go–getting top executive's hang out. His desk had disappeared under a mountain of envelopes, books, and copies of the company's annual report to its shareholders and in the corner of the room an overstuffed thread–worn armchair, adorned by a cushion with a crocheted pig cover, took pride of place.

Amongst his many eccentricities were Peter's collection of pigs. Peter's room was lined with shelf upon shelf of books that looked as if they were the original parchment copies. Obscure titles on company and employment law jumped from the spines. Piggy bookends propped up drunken books, pig coasters, pens, pictures, and ornaments were everywhere, and tucked away in the far corner yet another battered armchair was overflowing with stuffed toys, all pigs.

Porky the flying pig was gone. The gleaming pink inflatable suilline which had until yesterday swung in the breeze from the ceiling was gone. Only his string remained, turning slowly in an unseen draught. Instinctively Peter kicked aside an untidy pile of management journals which had fallen to the floor. Beneath them lay the pig, crumpled and slashed, now no more than a plastic bag. Around the slash marks the PVC was smeared red.

"Who would do such a thing...?" His words hung heavy in the air.

Cautiously Peter moved forwards, his heart beating wildly, and bent to his knees. Fascinated, his eyes would not leave the slain creature. Reaching out a hand he ran a finger through a pool of the liquid and rubbed it between his thumb and forefinger. The liquid was thick and viscous, almost like...blood.

Peter staggered backwards, retching at the sight. He rubbed his hand ineffectually against the rough industrial carpet and arched back, moaning low, screwing his eyes shut in a desperate attempt to blot out the horrific image of the pig. The room seemed suddenly very cold, his skin cold and clammy. His breath came in short gasps, inexplicably condensing and forming clouds with each breath.

The sane, rational part of his mind told him that this wasn't happening. It couldn't be happening. But something deep within him ringed away, knowing that what he had seen had to be real. Something primitive within him screamed out in primeval terror and he was overcome by an urge to run, to get away from this place. He pushed himself to his feet, his knees cracking loudly, and staggered to the door.

Standing in the corridor he turned numbly left and right. The mind, reacting with animal instinct had closed down. He followed his instincts, the only guidance he had, and ran, staggered along the corridor, his hands reaching out, clutching at purchases on the smooth paintwork which did not exist. He clutched frantically at the notices and posters on the boards which lined the walls. Paper ripped from the pins which held it, fluttering to the floor. The corridor branched to the left. To the right, almost hidden at the back of an alcove, narrow stairs lead upwards, disappearing into darkness. The instinct told him to stay in the light, to the corridors he knew and loved, to the way out. He veered to the left, his foot sliding out from under him with the suddenness of the turn, and wavered, his arms cartwheeling for balance, panic rising in his throat. He knew if he were to fall...he knew not what, but something, something bad was coming...

This corridor, like all the rest was uniformly green, distant through the gloom. His footfalls echoed dully back and forth, soft against the cushioned vinyl floor. Peter was spinning, sucked down into confusion. All the corridors looked the same, all the same but leading in different directions. All these corridors now seemed deadly. Peter sighed, gratefully. The door to Reprographics stood closed, twin wire baskets on the floor outside proclaiming, 'orders in' and 'orders for collection', and his sense of direction returned. In the manilla envelope pinned to the door, pink requisition forms riffled in the draught. For a moment they were still as he passed, before they exploded in a flurry, slicing through the air, drifting down before rising up again. Peter shrieked in terror, clutching at his head, covering his face, bowing down. The rectangles of paper now alive attacked him mercilessly, slashing at his exposed neck, wheeling around, cruelly cutting into his hands, making him cry out. Criss–crosses of cuts, starkly red, bright against his pallid skin began to swell, covering his exposed neck, the backs of his hands, chopping at his hair in a frenzy of fluttering paper.

He was hardly aware of the stinging cuts the paper made or the trickle of warm blood where they cut deep. The rustle of the paper and a whistling as they sliced through the air filled his consciousness. He was only aware that he must get out. Get away from this nightmare.

And then as soon as they had come they were gone. Lifeless slips of paper littered the floor. Whimpering, Peter stared down at the confusion of paper. Time had no meaning and despite his horror his was transfixed. As the seconds ticked invisibly away something stirred in him, breaking the spell and again it was imperative to get away, to escape this building. The air, despite its chill, seemed suddenly cloying, pressing down all around him, the walls suddenly clamping down, the corridor before him drifting away before his eyes.

Retching, he staggered off again, weaving drunkenly, crashing against the walls, gasping in breath. He was oblivious to the pain, the dull ache where his body crashed against the walls, the spear of pain where bone struck, and another, more intense pain...

The place was moving, spinning. The room was moving around him, spinning now, everything a blur. Peter was pulled along with it, arms and legs flailing, his body independent of him. And then he was falling, falling down into blackness, smothered in its inky darkness, choking, the blackness everywhere, filling his mouth, filling his senses, draining him. Nothing was real any more. Things had no place. This is all a nightmare, the rational part of him, deep in his mind insisted, but the blind terror which drove him pushed away the thought.

And then he was running, his breath hitching in small gasps, the pain radiating through him, burning, racing through his body and the world dissolved into pin-pricks of light, dancing before him, lights exploding, the crackle of November sparklers and for an instant there was hope. The burning pain drove him, blood coursing through his veins, his body pushing forwards automatically. He really could escape this nightmare. The building which for thirty years had been his, his domain, his life, would guide him. These snaking corridors would lead him out, away from the nightmare. Out into the light.

And then the corridors which he knew so well were gone, blank walls in their places, stairs rising incongruously into darkness, passages branching away where there was nothing, leading into blackness so deep it seemed there was nothing. Earth, and life, and time, ceased to exist. Peter shrank away, but the unseen force pulled him past, ever onwards.

His hand was suddenly on cold metal; his fingers closing gratefully around the gleaming door–knob. In the instant the glistening sphere was everything in the world. Hope. Through the pain and the fear the image was clear. His escape to the real world.

And then it was alive, pulsating and writhing beneath his fingers. His arm fell to his side, leaden and his breath wheezed out in a silent scream. The revulsion was no longer a part of himself. He slithered to the floor, his shirt rucking up around his chest, hands scrabbling for purchase against the smooth glass of the window.

The floor was moving, coming alive, waves rippling across the room, peaks and troughs, rising and falling. The whole room was undulating, rocking with a unseen force. Peter shrank back against the wall, whimpering. And suddenly the carpet exploded into showers of concrete, cracks racing across he carpet to his feet, ridges breaking open, the floor raining down all around, leaving craters, huge gaping holes which seemed to be endless. Chunks of concrete protruded, twisted spikes of reinforcing metal rose, gleaming in the sunlight, but every surface was coated with a thin sheen of dust, white and deathly.

Still the surface undulated, sections of the floor heaving and rolling in the throes of some terrible agony, craters spewing out chunks of concrete, and the dust. Slowly the movement settled, soothing to a low rumble and a slight tremor. And slowly, motes of dust rising up out of the craters, shining in the sunlight took form, drifting together, glowing ethereally but without solid form, growing, then shrinking, pulsating faintly, and all deadly white.

His heart raced, beating wildly within him. Something deep within him cried out in terror, shrinking away from the crater but drawing him towards it with an icy fear, engulfing, knowing the very sight of it was evil, but drawn still, and yet somewhere, he was drawn to his destiny.

A single piece of paper corkscrewed down, down through the whiteness, slowly to land on his body, a small white square, crumpled and smoothed. Seven words, large and wavering, heavily indented scrawled across it, almost the look of a child’s...

Go lightly at most or under raid.

Sightless eyes bulged dilated while a corkscrewing vein in his temple throbbed. His mouth hung open wordlessly, his lips the grey, barely cooked colour of cheap meat. A single runner of saliva ran from the corner of his mouth, hanging suspended on the point of his chin.


© Fallen Angel/Bliss Carrington, October 2001

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