Suggested Audio Jukebox
 Eric B. & Rakim “Follow The Leader”
 Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime”
 Enigma “Find Love”
 John Carpenter “Halloween II”
 Michael Small “Marathon Man”
 Pixies “Where Is My Mind?”
It had been a hard night’s grind at the recording studio and Bleeding Lotus couldn’t stop his weary eyes from flickering. That’s a tough fight you’ve got on your hands, battling against your body’s natural request for recuperation, and it was looking like he was about to succumb to his exhaustion and fall asleep where he sat. Fighting it seemed fruitless and this was an all too familiar feeling to him after being forced to attend endless training sessions during his day job and battling to remain awake.
I recall every pointless training exercise we suffered together and Lotus was usually the guy sat next to me with eyes glazed over, drifting in and out of consciousness. These drawn-out sermons were exercises in inhuman endurance, delivered with all the personality of a Mormon and, above all, deathly dull. Symptoms of terminal boredom included drastically reduced heart-beat, brain freeze, and throat drier than Gandhi’s right espadrille. A whole lot of mumbo jumbo with no enthusiasm behind them and zero meaning. I could be firing off wank bullets in the restroom with one soundly lubricated digit on my prostrate for Pete’s sake. Anything but stuck there with droll nonentities, listening to even more policy and procedures. Fuck your policies, stick your procedures in my ass-funnel and help my finger out!
At any rate, where was I? It had been a hard night in the studio and Lotus couldn’t stop his eyes from flickering. He was losing his fight and the Sandman was loitering with intent behind him, preparing to slyly administer his sedative. He had been forced to endure a three-hour training session earlier that day on health and safety protocol and his will to continue had pretty much dissipated by this point. The least troublesome option appeared to fall asleep and grab a quick forty winks just to refuel his engine. Either that or enter a chrysalis and exit a butterfly after a long and drawn out incubation process. Given that butterflies have such frightfully short lifespans, he stumped on a cat nap.
Most, myself inclusive, would’ve gobbled some Pro Plus, guzzled a few cans of toxic energy drinks and embarked upon a naked smoke in my back garden. That’s right boys and girls, there’s no finer feeling than revealing yourself in the comfort of your own back yard. I adore being at one with nature; it’s a liberating feeling and you’re never more alive than when feeling the nip in the air whistling past your Johnson. It’s my garden, my personal space, and therefore, if I desired wrapping myself in cellophane and performing the Macarena in the comfort of my own estate then why the bloody hell shouldn’t I?!
Lotus! Of course, focus Keeper. So anyway, he was feeling absolutely exhausted thus, powered down his equipment for the evening and span himself round on his stool to dismount. Bleeding Lotus is what I would refer to as a hardcore hombre. Reared on the street and down with the B-boys; if you unzipped this man’s face, it is likely that Isaac Hayes would be staring back at you, shades very much in tact. We worked together for a couple of years and he was undoubtedly the cool one. But no amount of street wise was helping him presently and that cat nap was becoming an ever more inevitable outcome.
Please allow me to clarify something before we continue. Should Bleeding Lotus be the reincarnation of Marvin Gaye, then my style is more akin to a Victorian poet with knee-high socks and buckled shoes, possibly busting out some lamb chops and a whisker thin ‘tache, perched atop a penny farthing, grasping a mug of Horlicks. Lotus is more Disco Inferno; whereas I’m more the Jive Bunny variety. Let’s not get it twisted folks; I was reared on Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and the like, so I know how to bust a move or three. Word up! But, where Lotus can recite Rapper’s Delight in one long extended breath, I sound more like that nice Mrs. Bayliss, you know, the dotty old dear that lives three doors along from the McCluskys, Edith and Ernie. In my defense, I’m something of a social chameleon of sorts; drop me in front of a posse of badasses and I can hold my own for nearly ten minutes before ultimately revealing my inner dork. But on the whole, I make a stormtrooper appear less white.
Tell you what Grueheads; I’m fully aware we are present solely to discover the whereabouts of a certain Bleeding Lotus and, I promise you, we’ll get to him in turn. But there seems no harm in a little harmless display of my flow does there? You see, I may not be the coolest cat but I have been known to drop a few bars from time to time while waiting for my cupcakes to rise. I’ll fire off some rounds and you can decide for yourself whether I’m worthy of calling myself “street”. It may seem mighty inconsequential when you consider we have a missing person to locate but what’s life without a dash of whimsy? I shall grab my crotch like MJ, puff out my chest to capacity, and nod my head like a senior citizen bearing the first signs of dementia, then see where that leads us. So, without further ado, I bring you The Crimson Chemist!
I’m dressed to impress
Firearm strapped to my chest
Smith & Weston no less
Fully loaded and blessed
Got some phlegm on my chest
To hack off for the best
Backing off ain’t my style
Jacking off makes more sense
Please don’t think this a test
Or commence to obsess
We can still convalesce
And no less I attest
Ride with me atop crest
Of this wave nonetheless
Then you’ll truly possess
All the tools for success
In my dreams I have breasts
And a great pair of legs
It’s obscene by a stretch
That’s just me, more or less
Fret not as I have yet to give up my day job. You see, if you were to place me alongside a bus load of pensioners, then I would instantly become partial to Earl Grey tea in fine white china and possess a hankering for a game of Backgammon with Les, you know, with the gammy hip. Perhaps indulge in one of those delightful buttered scones that Mrs. Percival baked for the village fete last weekend. Lovely old dear Beryl; never been the same since her cat Alan passed away.
I’ve done it again, haven’t I? I’m so frightfully sorry for the constant distraction. I’m supposed to be telling a story here and keep getting sidetracked. Back in my day; there was no such thing as ADHD. Woefully short attention spans were considered the norm and there was no medical term to elucidate such ailments. I head out with the very best of intentions; really I do. You see, I have this parable all figured out and it will make sense, provided you choose to persevere a little longer. Let it be known that I do tend to run off at the mouth when given the chance. However, I’ve rattled on enough for the time being and it’s high time we get to the crux of our fable, I feel. Back to beeswax then.
Bleeding Lotus span himself round on his stool, straightened his baseball hat, kissed both of his biceps in turn, and…
Well that appears to be all we have time for folks. Sorry old beans, but we shall have to wait a tad longer to find out whatever happened to Bleeding Lotus. Like you even care.
So we’ve managed to ascertain the whereabouts of Bleeding Lotus on that fateful day back in May when he mysteriously vanished without trace. We know of him powering down his studio for the evening but everything from that point onward is a little fuzzy. Like a super-sleuth it has been necessary to back pedal to around the time of his sudden departure, in an endeavor to locate this slippery charlatan once and for all. I solemnly vow that there will be no more procrastination from hereon in; it’s time to crack this case and return to the retirement village to finish my game of Backgammon with Les. By hook or by crook; I shall fathom out Whatever Happened to Bleeding Lotus.
His studio was left as you would expect; lights dimmed, sleeping temporarily as it awaited his scheduled return. There was even a half-eaten Waldorf salad left for consumption the following morning. He never did get to finish it off. I tried to suss out what Poirot would have done should he have been in my shoes and decided to search for clues or a visible trail to provide some inkling as to what foul play had occurred. Nothing; not so much as a chin whisker or the customary yellow vapor cloud hovering at nostril level as a result of his incessant cooped up flatulence. It’s as though he simply disappeared into thin air; was swallowed up in some wormhole and spat back out into a parallel cosmos. At this juncture, Scooby and Shaggy would’ve no doubt crept back to the Mystery Machine for light snacks, but the Keeper of the Crimson Quill never did concede defeat that easily. After dusting for prints and coming up with squat, I was left feeling soundly discombobulated.
In Lotus’ very own words he was admittedly a little shady. He had been known to disappear for lengthy periods before but never as long as this. No suicide notes, ransom demands, or traces of any kind of struggle. Even a small pile of blood-sopping organs in the corner would’ve given me a faint whiff of hope, albeit likely fleeting. So I decided to do what any man in my position would do given the circumstances: I took a pew on his small leather stool. What transpired next was beyond messed up! No sooner had my posterior nestled on his perch, than I came over rather queer, and everything begun to spin wildly around me like a whirling dervish, so I squeezed my eyes shut momentarily in order to regain my bearings.
On re-opening my peepers, I instantaneously jolted into a fresh state of unease, as my dubious new surroundings looked far from hospitable. Gone were the cozy studio, discarded tossed salad leaves, and aroma of man colon and in their place was a most suspicious looking chamber, packed out with dread and decay. The walls were decorated with bloody hand prints and jangling chains, whilst the concrete floor was awash with deep red, about an inch in-depth, and clotted in congealed clusters of cruor around the base of the stool.
Bizarrely my perch had made the transition with me, although that wasn’t of much consolation as my locale had otherwise taken a rather large turn for the more sinister. The sole audio was that of sniveling infants and the torturous groans of tortured souls, never the most comforting audio but even more disconcerting when your nostrils are stinging with the scent of putrid flesh.
All in all I had the distinct feeling that I would soon be drained of my bodily fluids and my pelt hung out to dry like a sullied body stocking. This was not the demise the Keeper had planned; I was supposed to be going out with chin held aloft, battling swarms of heinous creatures, and taking a fair few of them with me. Not like this; not in these pokey confines, alone and demoralized. I had to find the means for escape at any cost and refused to go out like some punk-ass bitch, whimpering like a mutt and soiling my hosiery like a prolapsed pensioner. Not Keeper, I couldn’t let this be the final verse. All of these thoughts raced rampantly through my subconscious as I surveyed my surroundings once again, frantic to flee this infernal prison.
On further inspection I noticed what appeared to be the outline of a door along one of the walls, barely noticeable as it was so heavily caked in grue. I leapt from the stool like a hopeful salmon, sensing hope, albeit diminutive and began to claw at the door frame in a similar manner to how an unfed vagrant would rifle through the contents of a dumpster. Chunks of compacted tissue fell away in my hands, revealing the frame of what was indeed a door and I exhaled with relief as I pushed my weight against it and it commenced to free up from its fleshy origins. For a moment I felt a little like Steve McQueen, ready to hop on that conveniently discarded motorcycle and rocket off to vault that prison wall. Instead I was greeted by something truly abominable.
As the aperture widened, it revealed the shadowy figure of a maniacal butcher, apron covered in brownish dried surplus and meat clever held ominously by his side. He must’ve been around the seven-foot mark and seemed the equivalent in breadth also. There appeared no conceivable way around this towering juggernaut and it seemed as though my cards were marked; thus I shuffled back forlornly and began to accept that this would represent the end of the line for Keeper. My legs felt leaden as the life-force began to drain from me and, upon the realization that I could retreat no farther; I seated myself once more on the stool prepared to finally meet my maker.
There was still a vague possibility that he would fumble the cleaver and, instead, decide to join me for a game of patticakes but, as he rose aloft the abnormally oversized blade which resembled a guillotine with a handle, my hopes seemed all but dashed. I winced, clenched my eyes tight and readied myself to become carvery fodder but, as I embraced the brisk breeze of it plummeting down towards my cranium, nothing happened.
Had he suffered cardiac arrest during mid-swing? Perhaps the weapon had become too over-encumbering and slipped from his grasp? Or maybe he had recalled his anger management classes, thought better of it, and spared me the brutality as a parting gesture of goodwill? I opened one eye and was beyond thrilled to drink in a far more affable environment.
I was still perched on his stool, although I appeared to have relocated to within a harem of sorts. As I rubbed my wide eyes to soak in the dozen or so well-oiled naked sirens from wall-to-wall, my first thought was “thank you Lord” and it was followed directly by a sizable boner as I would ordinarily be required to pay subscription fees in order to ogle at this much naked flesh but apparently I’d earned myself a freebie. After a good few seconds of snapping mental pictures for later, my next consideration was that I had somehow traded places with Quantum Leap. I looked around for Dean Stockwell but all I could see were bare writhing hard bodies. While this was no hardship after almost becoming the Butcher of Baghdad’s personal cut and paste tool, my objective still remained unfulfilled. I was still absolutely no closer to finding out Whatever Happened to Bleeding Lotus. However, right now, I wasn’t complaining.
So, by the skin of my gums, I had managed to narrowly escape the grimmest looking butcher I’d ever set eyes on, a dude totally focused on one thing, that being to cleave me into minced meat. Just as it appeared he would be afforded his wish, I was stolen away and relocated to a far less foreboding locale. A harem filled to the back walls with tantalizing middle-eastern beauties, squirming around lustfully, and covered head to toe in perfumed oils and perspiring the scent of sex. I cast my mind back to a few moments prior when a stupidly oversized meat cleaver was hurtling towards my burrowed brow and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I was merely a gnat’s pubic hair away from meeting my end in that odious chop shop. However, the worm had turned in my favor and, as I took another glance around this Amazonian palace, littered with hard bodies as far as the dense mist allowed my eyes to discern, I felt decidedly privileged. No toss-up really, it was for the best.
I lifted myself from the revolving stool which appeared to be the only apparatus to trek with me, and instantly felt overdressed. It appeared that clothing was not permitted in this hot house as there was not a stitch of clothing to be seen, aside from the customary row of flip-flops along the side of the baths. I counted what must’ve been fifteen pairs, although the tepid fog was just too thick to make out the exact number. Considering I was only in possession of a single penis; the 15:1 ratio of women to men appeared generous in the extreme and, right now, I would take any slice of good fortune afforded me. These weren’t your haggard middle-aged fishwives with cracked heels and sagging bosoms; there wasn’t the faintest whiff of menopause although these salacious sirens did appear primed for ovulation. That just made them even more ripe for the picking as I had never been averse to a little innocuous blood sport during the peak of the cycle.
Before me were two such disrobed beauties, one perched strategically amidst the Jacuzzi jets panting, eyes flickering with wanton desire, while the other watched on in a similar state of arousal, armed with nipples like fence posts. This appeared far too sensual to be anything other than exactly how it appeared. These two sultry vixens were about to embark on a voyage of forbidden discovery and I had been afforded fly-on-the-wall status. There was clearly stuff going down sub-aqua but I couldn’t quite make it out from my lop-sided vantage point so I did what any curious George would’ve done, had he been in my position: I shuffled a touch nearer to the hot spot and attempted not to pre-ejaculate in my jockeys.
As my arc of vision become more accommodating; there could be only one feasible reaction. I gulped, so conclusively that I damned near swallowed my tongue and let off a vague quiver of excitement. The onlooking harlot was evidently more pivotal to her friends state of arousal than I had imagined. Her long lustrous leg was stretched across the water with five manicured toes stroking the sex of the vigorously oscillating temptress #2 who appeared all set to climax at that precise moment. I squinted to make out what was making her so frightfully excitable and, as the frothing waters cleared momentarily, I was gifted my answer.
Her painted big toe was evidently steering this particular vessel, towards the rocks I might add, as it burrowed within the other woman’s shaven hub and jostled around, controlling every wincing flinch from her tag team partner. The Crimson Quill was filled with deep red and I began to feel a little light-headed, woozy even, feeling the overwhelming urge to find a perch fast before my vertical license was revoked. To my left was a wooden door so I stumbled straight for it and almost fell right through the opening created.
As I thudded onto a bench of sorts; the searing heat instantaneously became unbearable and the realization set in that I had unwittingly stumbled into the sauna. I attempted to breathe in what scant air was available but there simply wasn’t sufficient saliva for my throat to function so I slouched against the partition where I commenced convulsing, much like Arnie in Total Recall, minus the eyes on storks. Thankfully there were three buxom beauties sharing this sweat box with me and they all appeared content enough with my attendance which halted the oncoming anxiety attack as I started to acclimatize to my new sanctuary and consider the debauchery ahead.
This teasing trifecta were clearly concerned for my well-being as they all dashed over to my assistance. “How dreadfully well-mannered” I thought, as they began to strip me down like famished sexual coyotes. Within seconds, I was down to my underwear and rolling into recovery position to accommodate further decisive action. However, I instantly regretted that decision as the blood was all focused on one area of my anatomy, thus giddiness began getting the better of me.
The slutty sauna sirens then began tugging at my shorts, one of them licking my glistening buttocks and running her incisors along their supple flesh, while the others appeared to have designs on my rigid member. Just as I was preparing for launch, she slid her long tongue between the crack of my ass and flicked it towards my anus. Then, before I could say “sexual chocolate”, I was flipped over like an overcooked burger and all three turned their attention to the meat and potatoes. However, I could still feel that smarting sensation in my rump and, a cursory glance towards the bloody floor confirmed that the skin had indeed been broken.
A rivulet of deep red was dripping from the timber bench beneath me and, with that, the dizziness returned full-pelt. I was losing a disconcerting amount of fluid at a fairly alarming rate, probably unaided by the fact that my middle torso was particularly well-stocked with blood by that point. Through my blurred peepers I could just about make out two of the vixens’ faces, while the other was too busy tugging at the base of my shaft somewhat impatiently. While these birds of prey admittedly had fine feathers; something didn’t sit right with me. With the exception of any blood loss or dizzy spells, this all appeared way too good to be true.
Initially their eyes had appeared welcoming but, on closer inspection, they were ever so bloodshot and there didn’t appear to be a sheesha room on the premises to account for such red-eye. Still processing that data, I was then presented with an enticing glance of the razor-sharp fangs of my tormentors and it didn’t take a degree in rocket science to work out that I was in a spot of danger once again. On the plus side, I had always desired to meet my demise at the hands of the pussy patrol but, on the other hand, I still hadn’t the vaguest clue as to Whatever Happened to Bleeding Lotus and I’ve never regarded myself as a quitter. I simply had to see this through to its natural end and there seemed little organic about being torn asunder by raging succubi. I summoned all my inner resolve to ignore the alluring cry of these cannibalistic cronies and kicked them away as best as I could, freeing up my legs to make a dash back to the door. However, I returned back to my upright position a little too hastily, and the sudden return of blood to my head sent me careering to the right, face down into a stockpile of something decidedly dubious. I grabbed on for dear life and instantly felt something warm and sticky ooze between my fingers.
My face was pressed into this ominous silage and it smelled ghastly, decaying even. I used it as smelling salts and propelled myself forth and back towards the three bloodsuckers, who had now become five. A quick glance behind me confirmed my very worst fear. My icky launch pad was one of three dangling cadavers, hanging by their ankles and devoid of any epidermal blanket. Areas had been stripped to the marrow and bone jutted through appendages willy nilly but things only got more messed up the longer I gazed.
Their anguish-stricken eyes were fixed on me from deep within their scalped skull caps. No lips, just rows of exposed teeth and jaws callously ripped away with no regard for their comfort. It was beyond hideous; I’ve witnessed the sickness on a number of occasions but this particular sight cut deep. It left an instant scar which I knew instantly would remain with me to my eventual grave. This, in turn, encouraged a sudden surge of adrenaline which afforded me the strength to stagger out of the door before dropping onto the cold hard surface back at the baths. At 6’1, plus change, my centre of gravity did me absolutely no favors as I went down with sufficient force to prise any remaining oxygen from my lungs. Flailing like a fish out of the swim, I frantically endeavored to regain my composure but my attempts weren’t helped by the sharp pain in my upper calf. One of these caustic cunts had sunken her teeth into my tendons and a new benchmark for agonizing pain had been set.
Besides the fact that a dozen or so demons were closing in on my coordinates; my pressing concern was the one who had attached herself to my leg via talons. Using the wall to prop myself up, I dragged myself back to my feet, and commenced frantic attempts to dislodge my aggressor; but this kitten was nothing if not persistent. She was into me at least two inches and was gripping her prize like a championship bowler. The flesh on my leg was starting to separate from the bone and it was unbearable, causing me to convulse wildly. A few feet away was that stool, the only prop to offer any solace as I could use it as, if nothing else, it would provide a significant swinging weapon to batter my assailant with. I dragged myself along the wall but there was too much blood loss to stay upright and, once more, my equilibrium was compromised. This time I was more fortunate and landed back on the leather stool which then began to spin. The last thing I recall was a sharp twinge of pain before passing out slumped on the stool. When I awoke the agony had fully subsided.
I was now in much more hospitable surroundings, propped up against a headboard, surrounded by pallid walls and pinned between fragrant but restrictive bed linen. My primary calculation that I had relocated to an infirmary was confirmed by the antiseptic scent stinging my nostrils. No longer could I smell decomposing flesh, so I suppose that was a significant plus, and it seemed I had been taken good care of while I had been out of commission. I was however, still no closer to finding out Whatever Happened to Bleeding Lotus.
Bed pans and soiled linen; this was the aroma which filled both nostrils as I regained consciousness. Bearing in mind I had just vacated a harem heaving with oily naked Amazonian cannibals, hell-bent on sucking my marrow dry, it appeared to be a favorable exchange of surroundings despite any pungent odor. Moreover, I was tucked up tightly in my bed sheets, in relative comfort and mercifully pain-free, so I wasn’t about to complain. However, I still hadn’t made any headway in my mission to decipher Whatever Happened to Bleeding Lotus. Having twice already proven my coolness in times of crisis; it was now time to play detective and solve this crime before any more heartbreak or sorrow. Thank heavens that I’m a genius. What do you mean you don’t believe me? Here; I have a business card to prove it. Feel free to cut yourself a slither of humble pie but not before feasting your eyes on this bad boy.
You see. 100% authentic and even watermarked. Anyhoots; back to my story. My surroundings were clinical to an extent; although the elderly chap in the next cubicle along seemed to be emitting a not-so-faint hint of week-old urine, but at least piss is sterile. His face was not discernible from my somewhat obscured vantage; any movements were labored and it appeared as though he was in severe discomfort judging by the wispy groans he was releasing in short bursts. It was also apparent that others weren’t entirely enamored with their locality, as they writhed around in discomfort, providing ominous accompanying audio with their every vague whimper. I was reasonably assured that this wasn’t a private healthcare hospital; at closer inspection paint was peeling away and there were large rotted fissures right across the walls.
I decided it was high time I surveyed the ward a little more thoroughly as I felt restless and still perilously close to harm’s reach. Historically things took a turn for the worse about now, so I remained vigilant as I slid my legs out of my bed, placing my bare feet on the cold floor. Hoisting myself upright, a fresh scent teased my nasal passage. This was most discouraging as there was nothing lily fresh about the stench which I rose into, indeed, it damn near sent me into a voluntary coma.
Flesh. Putrefied, blighted and apparently charred; not exactly the aroma my sinuses had been hopeful of, but then, I had long since given up the notion of pleasant surprise. As my posture straightened the smell appeared to dissipate. It was probably still as potent but another of my senses had now been assaulted. I had seen some rare sights over the years, and a fair few back at the harem, but nothing could ever have prepared me for this. With eyes bulging; I cast my eye over the other suffering patrons and it made my fur go cold.
My widened peepers were inadvertently guzzling in a far less pallid vista now; regimented bedsteads were populated with patients appearing to be veering dubiously towards terminal. Limbs had vacated sockets and their stumps cauterized without a hint of anesthetic. Their bloodied linen had clearly never seen laundry day and were a brownish hue. Meanwhile, the venerable gentleman closest to my coordinates was mid bleed-out, ruby red streams gushing from a sizable aperture just below his abdomen. He appeared crudely hacked open with no tender loving care and discarded without even a whiff of any bedside manner. Clearly the wound had not been treated and, furthermore, it looked fresh. That wound was the only thing in this godforsaken place which could make such a boast.
This poor bastard’s entrails were spilling off the side of his bed like fleshy spaghetti and thrashing about in what would likely be his death throes. He muttered something back in what appeared to be Hungarian but, alas, I had never visited Hungary so I took it as a request for me to prod his intestines back in. I pondered for a second as to whether or not I had the mettle to grant this old man his parting wish, but the decision was taken from my hands as he finally surrendered to his hideous injuries. As he proceeded to release his final gasp; his bowel excavated before me. I’d heard somewhere that shitting oneself was the final action of a dying man but that didn’t make it any less distressing to witness first-hand.
It was then, as I witnessed death’s cruel process for the first time in my life, that I heard vague footsteps. They were presumably emanating from the next ward along and, disparagingly, heading straight towards my coordinates. Fate exactly hadn’t been kind thus far and my skewed trajectory had placed me in peril on each occasion, so I took no chances and crouched cowering behind my cubicle curtain, where I commenced my prayer for divine intervention. How foolish; God plainly had no hand in anything taking place under this decaying roof. Something truly unholy was at work here.
I figured that I was embroiled in some kind of Nazi experiment, which concerned me as I always carry my your donor card in the event that tragedy strikes. As the steps gradually became nearer, so his ramblings gained clarity, and this confirmed his German origins. My heart instantly sank to the pit of my stomach as I knew only too well of the shit that went down in establishments such as this, that being unspeakably nasty shit! I was going to be made to suffer in a way so horrendous that no living soul would ever dare to repeat it. Any hopes of survival were beginning to look well and truly dashed and my doom all but sealed.
Nevertheless I remained muted and statuesque behind that sheet of tarpaulin, nestled behind the bedside table so as not to leave the vaguest hint of a silhouette. This guy was about to teach me the true feeling of hurt. Hurt never before contemplated and administered without the slightest bit of remorse. It was my bowel now threatening to give away my location, my pouting sphincter was losing its battle to remain airtight, and even my bladder had started to seep.
He wasn’t alone either. Three shadows fell into my line of sight and my tentative grasp of German language was enough to recognize the gist of what was being conferred. An inventory of body parts was being listed, presumably to supply the resident surgeon with instructions as to which organs were required to be transplanted. The shuffling suddenly ceased. I know precious little German but I do know that “Augen” means eyes. That could only mean me; they had designs on using my polished peepers for some depraved purpose, likely with the aim of assembling a super soldier of sorts.
I’m not entirely sure why Bleeding Lotus popped into my head at the precise moment I was at jeopardy of being harvested but it suddenly dawned on me that I no longer appeared to be in possession of the leather stool. As well as getting me into this mess in the first place, that perch had saved my ass on two occasions now and was key to my fading prospects of making it out of this hellhole in one piece.
As I aimlessly pondered the whereabouts of said stool, the curtain was suddenly yanked from around me, revealing my exact position to the three rather diabolical tyrants. One was clearly a high-ranking officer as he was dressed to kill, while the other two were wearing scrubs, both brandishing bloodied bone saws in one hand and a half-necked bottle of whiskey around in the other, presumably the closest I would come to anesthetic. Alcoholism hadn’t calmed their jittery hands and I doubt either were licensed surgeons as I’d seen their handiwork a moment ago and there was nothing precise about that.
All three appeared marginally disgruntled by my lack of bed rest and the officer earned his stripes by shouting his primary order. I had no idea what “Erfassen Sie ihn” meant but the fact that it was promptly followed by “Snell” suggested it was time to make tracks before things turned really ugly for me. Thankfully, instinct kicks in rather swiftly with two Nazi war criminals looming over you wielding a serrated blades and this afforded me use of my getaway sticks.
I was like a greyhound out of the trap but, regrettably, didn’t make it not my feet as I felt the blunt edge of both weapons make contact, rendering me unconscious yet again. I was growing weary of this constant oblivion as every time I came around I was in an even more dire position than previously. Meanwhile, I was still no closer to sussing out Whatever Happened to Bleeding Lotus.
My eyes felt particularly heavy. It was as though some imperceptible force was holding them shut. This clearly wasn’t a simple case of conjunctivitis and it actually felt a little like they’d been sewn shut. The swish of what was likely embalming fluid behind my eyelids attested to this, and the notion of perpetual darkness was anything but appealing. I managed to prise my eyes marginally open then attempted to move my limbs but they felt leaden, almost pinned down to the spot. Voicing my anguish appeared fruitless too as both lips were conjoined and I appeared trapped inside my shell indefinitely. Meanwhile, every nerve ending positively burned like crazy.
As I gathered the strength to lift my head from the cold surface and prise open my eyes, the only greeting I received was of pure desolation. It was dark, there didn’t appear to be any light source and I couldn’t even make out my surroundings as I currently had no depth perception whatsoever. I continued to lift myself from my gurney and this provided twinges of pain which wasted no time spreading across my entire exoskeleton. But that wasn’t even the half of it. Aside from the pain, I felt a considerable sadness, as though my soul had been tampered with while out cold. The dull ache in my chest suggested something was absent inside of me, although I hadn’t the faintest clue as to what that may have been. Finally I plucked up the courage to investigate my immediate surroundings further. A quick glance at the intravenous drip to my right side instantly confirmed my very worst fears. I was still somewhere within the infirmary.
What did these Nazi fucks have planned for me? I had absolutely no recollection of what transpired while I was out cold and the next thing I knew I was in piercing agony, feeling as though half my insides had been scooped out without my prior agreement. I was starting to miss the security of being tucked snugly into white linen, waiting for the kindly orderlies to fetch me a tray of barely consumable sludge, and switch the channel for me so I wasn’t forced to watch yet another repeat of Columbo. Anything had to be preferable to feeling utterly empty. It would be necessary to solve the fucked up riddle which was holding me captive within this lonely place, locate my exit, and get the hell out of dodge before the Nazis returned to finish me off. I attempted to piece events together somewhat frantically. Bleeding Lotus; that’s right. I’d been trying to ascertain his coordinates before being whisked off on this devastating detour. The only constant appeared to be his revolving stool from his studio; the one he sat in whenever he made the magic happen. If I could locate him then maybe, just maybe, this nightmare would cease and, besides, other options were currently at a distinct premium.
There were the footsteps once again and each one brought painful memories flooding back. I seemed to be caught up in some sort of vile experiment whereby organs are donated unwittingly and crudely. The footsteps seemed to be gaining decibels so, deciding there was no time for hide and seek, I flung myself back onto the cold gurney and hurriedly pulled the sheet back over me. They stopped at the door and all I could discern was vague whispering; presumably as they decided which organ to excise next. Suddenly the door handle began to rotate and my aggressors entered the chamber. The next thing I discerned was the sound of a running tap and that alone sent a shock wave right through to my very core. Whomever that may be was scrubbing in preparation for their next surgical procedure. While I should have felt relieved by their cleanliness, ultimately it mattered not. The harsh reality was that I was next in theater. If I were to make a run for it, it had to be pronto. I peeked over from beneath my sheet and the surgeon has his back facing me, presenting a single fleeting opportunity to flee. It was shit or get off the pot and I’d recently seen enough feces to last me a lifetime so I chose the latter. Besides I was fairly sure they’d sewn my sphincter shut too.
When in a fix, quick thinking and actions are one’s closest ally, and this definitely constituted as a fix of sorts. As adrenaline kicked in all my aches and pains became vanquished and this second wind carried me to the open doorway before my antagonist could become privy to my escape plan. As I prepared to vacate the premises, the surgeon spotted my clandestine departure and sprang into action. Before he could arm himself with his bone saw, the sheer momentum of my fierce drive carried me through the doorway, and into what appeared to be a basement corridor.
There were no windows or regimented rows of beds to be discerned; just one long dank corridor which I traversed at optimum speed, body groaning but just about playing ball. I headed towards the questionable light source which appeared maybe forty yards from my current coordinates this offered all the encouragement I needed to commence my final push. Once there I could find that wretched stool, get back in the game, and find the elusive Bleeding Lotus or at least that’s what I clung to as I shot off like a whippet. To add a little extra peril to my already precarious situation; a slew of bullets then began to ricochet across the hallway behind my position. A swift glance to my rear revealed the surgeon hurriedly reloading his firearm as he prepared for round two of my cleansing. Fucking Nazis, a bone saw was one thing but nobody had told me there’d be guns at this party. I had almost reached the twin doors by the time the second flurry of shrapnel advanced towards me. This time his accuracy was far better and two bullets snuggled into my upper torso. The first was in my shoulder-blade and shards of bone splintered forth from the sizable exit wound. However, while this obviously hurt like hell, it was the second hit which appeared likely to donate terminal bed-rest.
The bullet pierced my chest from one side, missing my heart by no more than half an inch, and nestling into my rib cage as it began to overflow with blood. This was sufficient to knock me once more from my feet and my face hit the ground, shattering a fair share of my front teeth on contact. This was proving far too much to take so I fell unconscious for a second time and found bliss in anonymity for a few moments. However, not for so long out on this occasion. I began to come to as two men began to transport me back to theater. So intense was the agony that I could barely so much as move a muscle now; my body appeared to have virtually shutdown in preparation for my inevitable denouement. In true Nazi fashion, they decided it would be amusing to open the double doors using my already battered face as a battering ram of sorts. It didn’t take a genius to work out that they weren’t best pleased by my incessant escape attempts and that meant even more misery being heaped upon me. For my crimes, I would likely be made to feel every pain imaginable and a number unimaginable before my heart eventually ceased pounding. It was already severely compromised and my only scant consolation came from the fact that the torment simply had to be over with soon.
Back in the theater of nightmares; I was now surrounded by glaring hatred. Any hopes of survival had taken a significant knock as I now counted Nazi foot soldiers, in addition to the two surgeons restraining me. One of these delightful gentlemen had his filthy hand through my glaring shoulder cavity, gripping my jutting marrow and clenching tightly for that little added discomfort. Through morsels learned during my brief romance with the German language I ascertained that they needed a little time to prepare for the lengthy procedure. In the meantime the two men shoved me onto a seat in the corner and left me there slumped against the wall. Just then, the chair appeared to rotate beneath me. Then it hit me like a bout of Bird Flu. Of all the chairs in all the world; these dumb Nazis had only unwittingly placed me on the magic leather stool. Schwarzkopf! A gentle push was all it took to banish me from this hellhole and, presumably, straight into the eye of yet another turd tornado. However, as my eyes acclimatized to their new surroundings, I couldn’t help but feel encouraged by the change of scenery. Maybe now I could find out Whatever Happened to Bleeding Lotus.
I felt somewhat charmed as I arrived for the final leg of my ongoing pilgrimage to locate the elusive Bleeding Lotus. No hulking cleaver-wielding butchers, no bloodsucking cannibalistic bitches and no deranged Nazi surgeons. Instead, I found myself back in the place where it all began: Bleeding Lotus’ home studio. Everything appeared just as I had left it what felt like an eternity ago and, according to the clock on the back wall, I had been gone no time at all. Perhaps it was defective. Last minute limb checks appeared to flag up nothing of concern and this seemed baffling as I swore blind I felt every last twinge of pain and could recall each wince with far more lucidity than I was comfortable with. I remembered the saying “never look a gift horse in the mouth” and, for the time being at least, consoled myself with being back in a more hospitable environment. Sure I missed the harem full of naked oily writhing sirens but, as it turned out, they were more trouble than they were worth, so the studio suited me down to the ground.
Immense relief suddenly washed over me as I heard Bleeding Lotus in the kitchen, frying up a continental breakfast. A couple of arm pinches confirmed that I was every bit present and, while Lotus wasn’t yet aware of my attendance, I could hear him whistling Herbie Hancock’s Rockit as he flipped the bacon. My winning smile returned instantaneously as I prepared myself to greet him with an impish thigh slap and whatever inane one-liner I could concoct with such frightfully short notice. “Poach me an egg bitch!” was the one seemingly most fitting. Thoroughly relieved, I prepared to haul myself up and commence the banter.
The very moment my tush left the leather stool I felt sick to the pit of my abdomen, causing me to projectile vomit a mouthful of acidic bile all over his cherished recording equipment. Ordinarily, this would be swiftly followed by the sound whooping of my ass courtesy of his slender foot. Not today however, although I hadn’t the faintest clue as to what messed-up goat-headed necromancer would be thrust my way next. My next action was to call out but the sound-waves promptly returned my way. As I attempted to vacate the studio I ran face first into a transparent screen across the doorway. Every single sound coming from the kitchen was audible to me yet, Bleeding Lotus had absolutely no concept of my presence. There just had to be another way out of my paradox so I commenced searching every wall seam, feeling for discrepancies with its density. I remained oblivious as the studio equipment behind me suddenly burst into life. With nobody visibly flicking the switches, the whole system booted up and, as I discerned deafening static audio, I decided it high time that I turn to examine the commotion.
“Sit the fuck down Keeper”
The ominous baritone greeting seeped through the sub woofers before me. Whoever this douche was, he was clearly gleaning some kind of sick amusement from making this forceful request when my stool had mysteriously vanished. I slumped against the back wall and slid to my knees, feeling grossly ill-prepared for whatever flaming hoops I would be expected to jump through next. However, I didn’t have to wait long for enlightenment.
“I guess you’re feeling pretty clever aren’t you? You are nothing more than a festering pool of goose phlegm!”
Charming, and after all the shit I’d been through.
While this appeared a perfectly petulant response; I delivered it with little of Tom Atkins’ famous swagger.
“You’re rather partial to Tom Atkins aren’t you boy?”
“How the bollocks do you know that?”
“You’re really not all that taxing to read young man. Now listen up before I extract your spleen through your urethra. There is only one way through the eye of your needle son. I shall set a simple challenge. It’s child’s play really. You must entertain me with one of your delightful pieces of poetry. A simple request. One as revered as the Keeper of the Crimson Quill shouldn’t feel intimidated by such a menial challenge. One tiny little wafer thin poem is all I ask for in exchange for your safe passage”
If I suspected it was too good to be true, then it was confirmed as he continued.
“There is only one stipulation to my challenge. This Tom Atkins fellow. You have something of a man crush do you not”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s strictly platonic”
“Whatever chump. Anyway, my sole condition is this: your poem must focus on the love Atkins develops for a young Hebrew mountain goat by the name of Nathan. It must also feature a pestle and mortar and eight ripened plums. Satisfy my meager demands and I shall allow you to exit this prison. Leave me cold and I will bring all manner of fire and brimstone your way. Then you’ll never solve your precious conundrum you. That is all”
“Okay. Here goes but I want it known that I don’t appreciate being placed on the spot like this”
“Eat me bozo”
The Eight Ripened Plums of Tom Atkins
What a manly mustache and he wears it with pride
Try all you like but he won’t be denied
That whiff of cologne, of whiskey and snatch
I’m telling you Selleck has met his damn match
Don’t write me off yet as my tale has just started
For Tom took a journey to pastures uncharted
To the highlands he hiked for some fresh country air
In sub-zero conditions but Tom didn’t care
He strode with great purpose, every bit still the man
Eight ripened plums in the palms of his hand
Picked a week prior just south of Gibraltar
Would grind up a treat in his pestle and mortar
Next day, after drinking a jug of plum wine
Tom went for a stroll just to pass off some time
It was then that he met a young Hebrew called Nathan
I think an albino, but could be mistaken
They developed a love, so true and fulfilling
Tom forgot Jamie Lee, and the droves of cheap women
He still gets ribbed now, thus he swore not to gloat
Of the true love he shared with that hot mountain goat
” That was truly abysmal you festering maggot. I’m going to say this once and once only. I can’t bear to look at you for a moment longer so you’re free to leave. Please do so at once”
He may not have cared for my poem but I’d met his demands and finally earned myself the freedom I desired. A solitary thought entered my mind before exiting. “What of the leather stool? Wherever did it go?” That split second of deliberation proved more costly than I could ever have imagined as I discerned a most unwelcome audio at that very moment. The sound in my ears was the door slamming shut as Bleeding Lotus vacated the apartment. I cried out hysterically but it was all in vain. With one last throw of the dice, I ran to the front door, but when I arrived, it soon became painfully evident that I’d been well and truly thwarted. Locked from the outside. After all I had been through, all that misery and anguish, pain and suffering, I was destined never to actually learn Whatever Happened to Bleeding Lotus. On the plus side, I spotted the elusive leather stool which had now relocated to the lounge. But I just didn’t care anymore.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013