Suggested Audio Candy
Porcupine Tree “Waiting”
Everything is motionless and the only thing audible at this moment are the rhythmic reverberations of my heart rattling around in my rib cage, desperate to maintain active status. My throat resembles a gravel pit strewn with jagged ore and both bloodshot retinas are feeling as though pressed against rusted wire-mesh contact lenses. Should you pay close attention; then you may discern a faint whistle. This emanates from my larynx, which is ground down to the chrome. Not exactly what you would call a picture of good health right? My body is in shameful condition currently but there’s not a great deal I can do about it. You see, I’m waiting on something which will dramatically alter my circumstances and only for the better and it is taking a whole lot longer than I would have preferred.
I’ve been on the case like Frank Drebin; attempting to solve a particularly troublesome mystery. I’m not talking of the Nordberg disappearance, something far more heinous than that. My search is for the fabled vial of enlightenment which, in my case, translates the faintest clue about how to commence with the rest of my life. It’s like I’m precariously balanced between my past and future; one false move away and I may just earn myself an indefinite stint in limbo and I don’t fancy that. The thing is, I’ve grown rather accustomed to this middle ground, as it feels like forever since I knew anything else. It is necessary right now to tread water and keep hope alive as, once a particular transaction is made, the loitering storm cloud above my head will finally dissipate and I can once again breathe unpolluted air.
Right now I’m warm and that’s a start. There may be no internet facilities at my current location but there are a pair of toasty Halogen heaters and they provide a welcome break from impending hypothermia; which has been ominously close to setting in over the past few months. September thru December 2013 are twelve or so weeks that I wish never to reenact as they have largely involved sitting out in the elements crystallizing in bitter sub-zero conditions trying my very best to self-destruct. I’m not here to bleat on about these turgid times as right now I have warmth and, most critically, company. My good friend Steve, who I like to refer to as Sven The Impaler on account of two counts of involuntary mouse murder a few years back, and his significant other, are on-hand to perk me up and I truly needed this tonight. This evening I have bone-fide sanctuary for a few precious hours; a warren within which I can set up temporary headquarters and lick my abrasions like a mangy mutt.
I’ve been drawing ever closer to my scythe-wielding fate peddler and, for one night only, the reaper can suck my duck-billed platypus as he ain’t tapping my shoulder with that spindly digit on this watch. It can be a wearying endeavor staying ahead of the mental bailiffs; those inky imps seem to be lurking in every blackened crevice, preparing to lunge and claim their treacherous bounty. Right now I can hear him pacing outside in the bracing winter chill; thinking up ways in which to torment me further the very moment I reclaim my place in the wild. In the eighteenth century; I would liked to have emptied the contents of a commode out of the window directly above his bony skull and given him a shit storm he would never have expected but, alas, that kind of waste disposal is frowned upon in the modern-day. Fuck it; I’m lovely and warm right now. Small mercies are still merciful.
I often wonder whether I roughhoused a Groundhog in a previous life as there’s something mightily familiar about each day that passes. I’m telling you now, should I receive so much as a solitary whiff of Ned Ryerson’s instant coffee breath on my shoulder when I step outside I shall go loco. He may have gotten away with a knuckle sandwich from Bill but that is nothing compared to what lies in wait should he step from the shadows and repeat the same shit with me after what I’ve been through. Groundhog Day would have taken on a far more sinister tone if I’d been its leading man. Just stay well back Ned and nobody will get hurt. Meanwhile, I have bigger fish to fry than a do-gooder nonentity such as he.
Admitting to oneself that something has to give can be an arduous and thankless task. If you have spent most of your life compartmentalizing all the distressing aspects of your existence then changing the habit of a lifetime can present quite the quandary. But there is hope and, indeed, there never isn’t. You see, from where I’m perched I can see a vague reflection of my continued existence; a little like Scrooge only without pots of gold stashed beneath my floorboards. I have received visitation from one ghost already and he kindly ushered me around my past. Spook two is with me now and he’s far grouchier. Next up is specter number three and he is privy to the whereabouts of my future. However, this is where the plot starts to thicken.
I see two futures before me presently. One is positively Kubrickian, and involves a slender hallway of opportunity. This future excites me, tantalizes my delight glands, and wraps around my hopes like a fluffy feathered boa. It’s the other future that bothers me somewhat. This vision forecasts perpetual suffering inside a wooden receptacle. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but it appeared that Bill Pullman didn’t exactly have the time of his life inside his shallow grave and The Serpent and The Rainbow put me off burial for life. Any thoughts of discontinuation lead to me pondering whether I will be subjected to a gnarly demise myself. Whilst there is a degree of underlying noir to the prospect of providing the “SURPRISE!!!” death party freeze-frame shot as I clutch my arteries, I’m sure whoever discovers my carcass won’t see the funny side unless, of course, I’m wearing my Marx brothers disguise when I croak.
I have never actually seen a corpse in all my forty odd years. People have died around me, some of them incredibly dear to me, but I haven’t ever been present when the reaper has struck. Having said that, I lost my first pet at the tender age of eleven and the scars still remain from that fateful day. My parents finally caved in to my incessant pleas and presented me with a pair of Russian hamsters for my tenth birthday. Alas, the lifespan of one of these tiny creatures is eighteen months if you’re lucky and our association proved to be somewhat fleeting. I named them Hunca Munca and Tom Thumb after the two bad mice from Beatrix Potter’s famed fable. To begin with the pair did what hamsters do best. This includes excreting in their own food bowl, performing double pikes with twist from their exercise wheel, and waiting until I had gone to bed before even showing their faces. Hardly what you would call the most social domestic pets but I loved them nonetheless.
Tom and Hunca were both similarly dashing for around a year and a half before things started to go awry. Hunca began to tumble down that one way staircase of woe; shedding precious body mass and sheen at an alarming rate until resembling a half-eaten chicken nugget. By the time he drew that final breath through those teensy little nostrils, he was in pretty calamitous shape. Tom could do nothing but watch on helplessly as his life buddy withered away and his end, when it come, was far more congenial. Indeed, when he finally succumbed, there was a sense of serenity and it simply appeared as though he was hibernating. Hunca lucked out and his contorted features, frozen in a horrifying death stare, suggested a far more bumpy demise. Now we get to the gristle. Huddle round Grueheads as the time has come to pay homage to my very first pet. This one’s for you Hunca Munca.
It was I who uncovered the truth that day
It was I who unfastened his bunker
As his Keeper I guess it was better that way
After all he was my Hunca Munca
Thinner and thinner poor Hunca became
until every rib used to rattle
While just to his right in the adjacent cage
Tom Thumb faced a far kinder battle
Obesity loomed, the bloating commenced
Tom fed himself well on his way
Persistent heart problems he battled against
but his passing was calm come that day
For Hunca however sheer terror was courted
his death-stare looked nothing like calm
His eyes were still screaming his frame rigamorted
as he rolled left and right on my palm
It still haunts me to this day; chills me to the very marrow. I don’t wish to go out like Hunca Munca, all angst-ridden and twisted, with a glare of beady terror in my eyes. I would much prefer to slip away during slumber; at peace with the world. No mortal man should have to deal with what Hunca had to contend with. There are disconcerting parallels between myself and Hunca Munca at present. I too suffer from wet tail after two months of sitting on damp concrete; the tenacious chill has spread through my entire framework and I’m not entirely convinced all my organs are at their workstations currently. Right now I’m a few spins of the wheel from ending up like my beloved hamster. What lies ahead poses my greatest challenge thus far but I fully intend on embracing any opportunity and not giving up hope.
I am calling out to the one man who may be able to help stop the rot. One steadfast Gruehead and dear brother who I believe offers my only safe passage to the future. My dear friend, C. William Giles, I stand before you in tatters and desperately need a break from the wheel I’m spinning around hysterically. I can’t keep up much longer as my paws are tiring. We have spoken of sharing festivities and scoffing the blood of virgins, and I am now ready to ride my steed to your metal palace, not to see out my final days, but to save me from them. This whole sorry affair has been one long drawn out epiphany and I’ve stopped holding myself accountable now. I’m tooled up to the elevens, got my pack of smokes, got my failing lungs, and I’m ready to see what the future holds.
Sin and Punishment,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013