Featuring the glorious art of Alex Pardee
Suggested Audio Candy:
 Amon Tobin “Theme From Battery”
 Amon Tobin “El Cargo”
Tonight was to mark the fifth death in short succession for Geoffrey Bannister. It had been playing on his mind all day; steadily eating away at his psyche which, in turn, was already hanging from the most slender of tethers. For the past four moons, he had been made privy to his own demise with startling recurrence. Up until recently, Geoffrey had been terrified by the prospect of ceased continuation but was now beginning to grow accustomed to such an eventuality. Time and time again he perished, often agonizingly, and he wasn’t sure how much of it he could entertain before losing his already fragmented mind entirely.
He’d lay awake in his bed desperately attempting to decipher the code but very little was forthcoming. The only real constancy was that, at 3.47am each night, his ambiguous menace would return and any slumber that had been owing to him would be paid in full, to the tune of an eternity. However, at 8.47am he would reawaken like clockwork, devoid of decomposition and instead seemingly well rested. The perpetuating cycle had taken its toll on his nerves and he countered this with a crude mix of Whiskey and Prozac. There can be no medication or combination of strains for a man who is aware of both his own death day and time. Just grim realization.
The first time death came knocking it barely made its introduction before snatching him away at a warehouse rave, amidst the strobe’s masquerade. One coronary was all it took; no mere warning shots were fired and his bill of health had made no prior mention of clear and present danger. The promoters had negated to obtain licensing for their soirée so his stiffened cadaver was being held in the sub-basement while they worked out how to make their problem go away. At 8.47am, with discussions still failing to yield any solution other than simply dumping the evidence in a nearby mire, Geoffrey stretched his arms, checked his pulse, and let himself out. Problem solved.
With dusk fast approaching the following night lightning struck twice. He’d already been fast asleep for a number of hours before his bladder’s gentle reminder that it could no longer fight the moonlight. Still discombobulated, he meandered into the bathroom to relieve himself. Being soundly in possession of bachelor status, Geoffrey wasn’t over-concerned with hitting the target upon arming his cannon at the dead of night. Perhaps it should have been of more urgency to him as it proved to be his undoing as he turned to exit back to his boudoir.
National statistics offer damning evidence that many deaths occur within our very homes due to freak accidents and the like. Those odds lengthen considerably when you suggest it would play out precisely 24 hours after you already bit that particular bullet. As he laid in a pool of his own blood and glanced over to the digital clock by his bedside, the time 3.46 seemed alarmingly close to coincidental. Less than ninety seconds later he was dead. The fact that he awakened at all was confusing to Geoffrey but even more relieving was that somebody had seen fit to let themselves in, clean up the mess, then vacate without waking him. Something was clearly amiss but he considered himself fortunate to be alive and was too busy thanking his lucky stars to question things further.
Third time is a charm; isn’t that how the saying goes? Well there was nothing charming about the way in which Geoffrey kicked his third bucket in sequence. After the previous night’s hoo haa, he decided the best course of action would be to neck a fistful of Klonopin half an hour before bedtime and this was all well and good in theory as it’s considerably harder succumbing to death’s icy grip if you’re tucked up safely beneath your divan. Probably should’ve watched more home invasion movies as, unbeknownst to sleeping beauty, a prowler made his way into his apartment and ramshacked the place. This wasn’t the kind of burglar to make off with your library card, forty bucks and a half-depleted bottle of Fireball. No, this particular intruder felt it necessary to leave a calling card.
At 3.45am precisely, the rogue decided that there’s no such thing as a clean getaway and cut Geoffrey’s throat where he laid. This was no paper cut either; a serrated six-inch hunting knife to be precise and there was no sleep deep enough to offer respite from that kind of injury. There are few things less enchanting than realizing that your larynx has been irreparably severed and an agonizing two-minute bleed out period ensued. The penny finally dropped as he drowned in the contents of his esophagus and he actually took a little comfort from that, despite desperately reaching for precious oxygen. Another five hours in limbo was silver-lined by the fact that he would be enjoying his morning coffee by 9am.
Geoffrey was an avid film aficionado and a huge Bill Murray fan to boot. Hence, day four consisted of back-to-back views of Groundhog Day as he searched for the parallels in their predicament. Having never made acquaintance with any Ned Ryersons, he would be required to locate another suitor to have his shits and grins with and that’s where Clancy Morris came into play. Clancy was Geoffrey’s landlord and a particularly impatient one at that. He was three weeks behind on rent and that meant he was due visitation. True to form, Morris pounded on his door at 8pm. Ordinarily, ignorance would have been peaceful, but on this occasion Geoffrey invited him in while he gathered the funds.
Clancy couldn’t resist a snoop around at the best of times and saw this as an exclusive opportunity to check the upkeep of his investment. One frying pan to the face later and Clancy was disinterested in claiming funds. Geoffrey dragged the old man’s leaden bones down three flights of stairs and discarded him out by the dumpster. Then he returned to his cozy confines and watched Groundhog Day some more. By 2am he was growing decidedly weary but purposely stayed awake until the witching hour loomed as, if he was going out a fourth time as appeared likely, he was damned well going out on his own terms. After running himself a tepid bath, he listened once more to his transistor radio, then turned his rubber duck around so as not to corrupt its tiny little mind, and made some waves.
When he came to and checked his bedside clock it was 5am. Instantaneously he was overcome with a mesh of pride and relief as it looked like the hoodoo had been broken. That was until he tried to use the stove. Power cuts are never much fun but even less so when you know exactly what caused the surge. A quick glance at his wristwatch and Geoffrey’s smile inverted. Death appeared to be having a laugh at his expense but mercifully Clancy Morris was as right as rain so at least one thing was confirmed. Whatever heinous acts he decided to partake in would be irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. So why stop at Clancy? Sure, he’d still slap the old coot around the face with a halibut upon leaving the building that evening, but Geoffrey had bigger fish to fry. Being a reprobate was going to be so much fun.
He racked his brains for ideas and one kept bobbing back to the frontal lobe suggestively. Subway flashing; it was time to parade his junk to some unsuspecting passers-by and do so with a demented leer on his face whilst dribbling like a heathen. He left it until 3.37am as that gave him a full ten-minutes to dash back home and plunge his head in his oven. It also meant less time to be forced with the shame of local law enforcement officers tracking him down and catching him with his trousers down. Geoffrey hadn’t banked on Glynis Deveroux being an undercover cop and also on her period, and three bullets to the abdomen left him without his getaway sticks. At least he would save on his electricity bill.
Day five and Geoffrey woke feeling invincible. In a few short days he had turned from pariah to messiah and consequence was a word which had now become inconsequential to him. He decided that, considering he was now an unstoppable force of nature, it was high time that he use his endowment to do some good. There were over six billion people in the world and, amongst them, plenty of bad eggs. While not endowed with any particular superhero powers as such, there were still many ways to make a difference in his community. Again he waited until sunset as traditionally the freaks come out at night. Then he lurked; traveled to the wrong side of the tracks and waited until a crime broke out.
At 9.42pm he was finally afforded his time to shine. Three drunken thugs against one unsuspecting young woman in a murkily lit back alley hardly seemed fair so it seemed like the ideal situation to influence. Clutching a hefty handful of 4×4 complete with protruding rusted nails, Geoffrey introduced the element of surprise upon her captors and made short work of the first while his back was turned. His primary patsy put up precious little resistance as the plank nestled affectionlessly into the back of his skull but his cover was now blown so quick thinking would be of tantamount priority. Another direct hit followed and was sufficiently decisive to lodge his weapon three inches deep either side of his second quarry’s left eye. The terrified woman had broken free now and was hobbling away to safety but this freed up his remaining victim’s hands to formulate his own rearguard.
Geoffrey attempted to release the hunk of plywood but received little assistance as it was embedded in a particularly stubborn area around the man’s eye socket and refused to budge. Skirmish was beginning to seem an inescapable probability at this point and bare-knuckled fighting had never been his strongest suite. The one time he had landed a punch had ended with three fractured knuckles and proved categorically that he wasn’t cut out for the rough stuff. Adrenaline can be most persuasive when in a fix and he found his second wind at the perfect moment. The injured party had now slumped to the ground so he placed his boot on the man’s face and yanked hard on his 4×4 until which point as it freed itself from the dying man’s facial cavity.
Suddenly he was looking a more formidable opponent and stood wild-eyed and ready as his final obstacle circled him with his pocket blade as security. Meanwhile, Geoffrey stood defiant brandishing the already twice victorious plank about his head as strands of sinew and ruptured optical nerves dangled invitingly from the bloody nails. His opposite number was unfazed by the length of his tool and lunged in opportunistically, sinking the knife into his right shoulder-blade. This provoked an attack of his own and he used the blunt edge of his death granter to chin-butt his foe and leave him temporarily stunned. This afforded time to gain the upper hand and Geoffrey wasn’t about to squander that.
Years of pent-up rage found their way to his frontal lobe in vitriolic synchronicity and a more hands-on approach seemed preferable to anything he could dish out with his weapon of choice. He reached inside the man’s gaping mouth and grasped his evasive licker, pulling it with all his might until which point as it began to free up in his fingers. With his free hand he formed a fist and clattered it into his enemy’s crown, forcing his jaw shut in the process and severing his own tongue. He still had time to kill and this sicko deserved to die in a most unceremonious manner after what he’d attempted earlier so phase two of his operation was put into place.
He had read somewhere that a man’s internal organs unraveled would be sufficient to rappel to the moon with. It was time to test this theory further and the 4×4 seemed ideal to assist in making his excision. First he fashioned a gorge across the abdomen entrenched enough for him to slide his fingers into and then he reached for the guts and glory. After gaining the leverage required he tugged on the large intestine and a clutch of surrounding organs and began his experiment. There was quite the merry mess for sure but the moon? Highly unlikely. Despite any lunar disappointment, he was rather accustomed to the way in which the man’s gizzards felt against his palm, and cut himself enough slack to massage on the journey home.
There were almost six hours to kill and likely other crimes being committed at this very moment but he’d done his good deed for the day and decided it best he hang up his gloves for the evening. Having already returned Groundhog Day to his local red box earlier that day, a little harmless internet pornography appeared justified and, for once, Geoffrey wasn’t fussed about the potential risk of virus to his desktop computer as his internet history would be clear by morning anyhow. Thus, he delved deep. By 3am he had developed a callus on his left thumb and his internet connection was so severely compromised that all that was left to do was to plan the evening’s demise. Pain was over-rated and the events of the evening to-date had stolen much of the wind from his sails so something quick and simple was on the cards.
He peered outside into the street below his apartment and quickly disregarded the notion of plummeting to his death as the likeliness would be that he would survive the fall and be left with a dislocated shoulder to pop back in. Clancy was on shift but strangely enough he hadn’t bothered Geoffrey once since the frying pan incident and he just wasn’t feeling hateful enough after masturbating seven times in short succession. The cardiac arrest had been particularly agonizing, thus he wasn’t about to leave it to chance. Then it came to him like a bull to a matador’s scarlet cape. He had never actually shot a firearm before but did keep one handy in case of necessity. A clean headshot would be the only iron-cast way in which to secure his passage to the nether realms and that meant tasting some gun-metal.
3.46 came and, with it, Geoffrey Bannister put into place his final preparation. Silence didn’t bode well with proceedings but his transistor radio was still out of commission so he turned on his television set and decided to end the evening with some local news courtesy of the TV network he worked at nine to five. He was currently on annual leave and woefully out of the loop so had no idea of current affairs at CTN. What better way to blow one’s brains clear through to the back wall behind you than with a pointless weather update? It mattered not whether storms were forecast as tomorrow would invariably supply the same fresh spring vista as it had today. That’s how this worked. Repetition.
Geoffrey placed the barrel-end against the roof of his mouth and clenched his teeth to secure it in place. His bedside clock was particularly intrusive and he had counted fifty-second intervals which left ten to summon up that last dash of courage to complete the deed. Five seconds. His next consideration was of what to serve for breakfast; possibly a full English with trimmings. Brett’s diner was a ten-minute walk from his coordinates and he could stop off at Starbucks and pick himself up a vanilla frappucino en route. Two…One…The moment he heard that final click, he facilitated one of his own and a solitary bullet was all it took to tear directly through his skullcap, killing him instantaneously. Brain activity still ensues for a number of minutes after the heart ceases beating and the calming voice of the news reporter he’d crushed on for months, Bambi Wiseman, washed over him as he waited on the inevitable blackout. Just then, Bambi wrapped up her report and her ordinarily composed state was compromised momentarily.
“Almost forgot news hounds, in case you forgot, tonight the clocks went back an hour so don’t forget to change those watches accordingly. And that’s it from me, now to Malcolm for the weather”
At what would now be 7.47am local time, Geoffrey’s pre-set alarm call chimed. Shame you can’t wake the dead.