Ghost Story - A Cast of Thousands
Nick slumbered close to his master inside the icy black rock of the Labyrinth. His unliving senses were nearly subsumed by ITS dreams, dreams of dying, dreams of destruction, of un-being.
Nearly. A tiny, golden sliver of his mind, the annoying, singsong voice of his Psyche whispered painful sweetness into his brain. It was only the merest thought, barely audible, but enough to cause him agonising misery and guilt. The voice reminded him of his skin-days, reminded him of warmth, of fun, of his triumphs. Nick shifted uncomfortably in the light-absorbing stone, as his own dreams invaded his sleep. He dreamt (for the millionth time?) of his ultimate opportunity, which (as always) ended in his most ultimate failure.
"That's fantastic Nick! What an opportunity!" She hugged him in their bed, her pendulous breasts smothering his face. "To have your play watched by the Queen! You'll be famous! We'll be rich! We can go on holiday, renovate the bedroom, buy a new car, um". Susan paused in her tirade, probably thinking of her soon to be fabulous riches.
"Hey, hang on a minute" Nick tried to say (his voice being muffled by his wife's erect nipple), "Don't spend the money yet, the damn thing may flop!" Nick pulled his face away from the intruding flesh, and looked at his wife. Ten years younger, she was too vivacious for him, to beautiful, too everything. She was too good for him and he knew it. He saw the way other men looked at her, and the way she looked back sometimes. It made him burn inside. "Maybe people aren't ready for a horror-musical?"
"Don't be silly, silly-billy. All you need is one good review. Your play is fantastic, and you'll make it big. Huge! Speaking of making things huge" Susan suddenly dived under the covers, and grabbed her husband, who soon forgot all about his inadequacies, and was lost in the incredible feelings engendered by his wife's expert lips and tongue.
The dream shifted out of focus, into the stark black and white dreams of IT. The restless slumber of G'thaggn the Un-manned pounded into the mind of ITS servant, shoving the weak influence of the Psyche out of Nick's thoughts, leaving only the raw throbbing agony of a raped intellect.
"PAIN. PAIN. PAIN. HUMILIATION. WE ARE SEVERED. WE HURT. WE BLEED. PAIN. HATE. WE ARE UN-MANNED. WE ARE SHAMED. WE ARE NOT WHOLE. WE HATE US. PAIN. HATE. SLEEPsleep painsleeeeeeeeeep"
Sanity (what was left of it for Nick) returned. The castration nightmare left the spectral playwright's trembling consciousness, his hands roamed, confirming the intactness of his own manhood's. Nick's Psyche tested the mental 'ether', tentatively sending psychic feelers ensuring its host was free of the Hive-Mind's grasp. Assured of its safety, it redoubled its efforts on its beleaguered soul, and the dream started again, with renewed urgency. Fading echo's of prescience informed the Psyche that soon the chance for Redemption would be lost. The better part of Nick poured its emotional reserves into the memory, reducing the dream to its basest components. It wept at the inflicted pain, but knew it was necessary medicine.
Three months later
The scene was darker now, gray, dark grey and black. The Queen hadn't seen his play. The play had barely been seen by anyone. His life's work, his play, ruined by a malicious critic.
Nick sat alone in the kitchen, bare-chested, barefoot with greasy tracksuit pants. The 12-gauge shotgun laid across the table to his left. He stared at his hands, at the only color visible to his numbed eyes.
Colour. Dark brown. The colour of mahogany. The colour of dried blood. On his hands (his chest, his pants, his feet, his face, OH GOD HOW MUCH DID SHE BLEED!?!).
Trembling. Nick turned to the kitchen table, and re-read the review, left hand on the gun. Focus blurred by sweat and tears, his eyes snatched at the filthy words, and each vitriolic phrase settled his resolve. Settled his fury. Removed his doubt.
"amateurish writing with poor dialogue"
POOR DIALOGUE FUCK-YOU SHITHEAD FUCK-YOU AND THE FUCKIN HORSE YOU RODE IN ON!
"heard better songs and music in a bad episode of the Muppets"
"this so-called 'horror-musical' was instead a horror of a musical"
I FUCKED YOU UP ARSEHOLE! I FUCKED YOU UP BIG-TIME!
"in short, this play stinks. Had I been offered the chance to wipe my bottom with the script, despite the unpleasant sensation this drivel would undoubtedly have caused to my rectum, I could not have refused, if only to sacrifice my anus for the good of humankind by destroying this blight on the cultural landscape. If you see this you are a fool.
Lacey G Redman."
Nick's hands clenched around the bloody barrel of the 12-gauge. His ears heard the sirens screaming in the distance, but the sound didn't register. The fury rang in his head, echoing from one side to the other, deadening his senses, drowning external stimulus. Only the fury remained, burning inside.
Nick re-entered the critic's bedroom, stepping over Susan's cooling corpse, her beautiful face smeared with a mix of her blood and Redman's semen. Standing on her face, gradually shifting his entire weight on to it, he listened for the crack of her skull. When it gave way, Nick couldn't hold back a smile of grim satisfaction.
Redman the theatre critic lay sprawled on the bed, face frozen in a rictus of terror, hands like claws, caught forever in an effort to re-insert his decimated entrails into the hole that was his stomach. Redman's dick was flaccid and marked with red not blood, but Susan's glossy lipstick. It looked singularly ridiculous, like a candle left near a fire. Nick stood transfixed by the member, the fury building into a bonfire within his stomach.
Three massive thuds brought Nick out of his reverie. Someone was trying to get in. Nick brought the barrel of the 12-gauge to his mouth, tasted the greasy metal (was that cordite?), and slowly pulled the trigger
INCOMING INCOMING INCOMING INCOMING INCOMING INCOMING
The Hive-Mind's siren-scream splintered in Nick's brain, like the shotgun's lead pellets so long ago (or was it?). Nick's Psyche retreated into the background immediately, as the playwright was physically expelled from the (relative) comfort of the Labyrinth walls.
Nick stumbled from his icy Labyrinth womb, and fell onto the bustling Amphsikiopoli street, being stepped on and knocked down, before eventually making it to his feet. Exiting Slumber always made him feel groggy, and the Hive-Mind siren had him doubly confused. Incoming? What the hell did that mean? Suddenly, the Hive-Mind sent out another imperative, the force causing Nick to snap to attention, banging his head on the angular building above.
"Nicholas. Come immediately to the Temple of Castration. You are REQUIRED."
The spectre's feet were marching towards the temple before his mind could register the instruction. The temple? Nick had never entered the temple before. To be caught inside was grounds for recruitment. Whilst Nick craved Oblivion like the majority spectres, even the most suicidal shadow-eaten avoided the temple. The instruction would not be denied, however, and the walk to the temple, in the centre of the City of G'thaggn the Unmanned could not be avoided.
The playwright paused briefly for a chained Shade to pass, its Nephwrack handler pushing it cautiously. Nick bowed, head touching the ground out of respect, as the enormous Shade radiated the darkness of Oblivion that even spectres found it hard to identify features. The Shade's thoughts drummed predictably when it came close.
"rend, rend, rend, rend, rend, rend, eat, rend, hate, rend, rend, rend, destroy, KILL! KILL YOU, KILL YOU ALL, I SERVE NO-ONE, KILL, rend, rend, disfigure, rend, rend, rend, hate, rend"