Archive for November, 2011

094: The Spiral Hall

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags on November 20, 2011 by glasganon

{The main body of an email — Ed.}

Hey again. I hope you don’t mind me emailing you, but I need yours and Eilidh‘s help more than ever. I know you might not want to get into something like this after what happened to Dominic, but I need you to come round to Cumbernauld, and soon. There’s something not right here, and I need someone to help me before the spiral hall manifests.

You know Cumbernauld’s dead at the best of times. The place reeks of depression and desperation, and it’s starting to really get to me. The town was built in the 50s as a kind of residential overspill zone for Glasgow, and since every aspect of it was planned by the government, it doesn’t have any kind of pulse. When you stand on Buchanan Street , listening to the swarms of people chatting around you, sensing the vibration of the traffic and the subway trains under your feet, and feeling the wind and rain lashing and blasting through the alleyways and avenues, you can tell Glasgow’s alive, breathing and shouting and screaming; in Cumbernauld, all you can hear is a death rattle. If there’s such thing as a “spirit of the city”, ours was stillborn.

Dead things rot, Alexander, and there’s a rot that’s settled in the town center. You know how all the residential areas are built around the Shopping Center, that massive eyesore? That’s basically Cumbernauld’s version of Buchanan Street – the dead heart of the city. The whole thing looks like it was built inside-out, the bones and bowels everted: all the things that are normally obscured and hidden away from the public – like service areas, ugly brick facades and aged décor – are thrown right to the forefront for everyone to see. The building itself doesn’t even look like a shopping center – it looks like an angular, austere 70s municipal building, with the people around it consigned to despair.

You know how you get those shoppers who just seem to traipse and amble along, without ever seeming like they’re really conscious of where they are or where they’re going? They’re not junkies – well, not always – they’re like the walking dead. Well, I was in the shopping center one night – it was practically empty – and I was walking down a long, straight corridor behind one of those people when they suddenly stopped about two meters in front of me, and then she turned to her right, just staring over to the wall – except the wall was completely gone.

Instead, there was what I can only describe as being a hallway spiral – it was like looking down a stairwell that vertically grown from where the wall used to be into a colossal architectural ammonite, an Escher corridor stretching and circling, endlessly orbiting and eventually terminating in some nauseating singularity. I felt ill looking at it – and worse, I could feel something looking back at me from the other end of that spiral. It was a rotten, festering wound in the dead body of the city, and it was infested with something.

The person in front of me shuffled towards the corridor-spiral in that addled, slow way, and I never even tried to stop them. God knows I thought about it, but I wanted to see what happened. I wanted to see how the spiral worked, how someone could possibly navigate that thing – and she did it. She shuffled over to the corridor, and within seconds, she was on it, turning down that impossible gyrating insanity, being devoured by its incongruent geometry. I saw her just keep trundling along, her limbs beginning to warp and twist, her neck elongating and her skin splaying out at odd angles all the way down the hallway. I couldn’t take my eyes away from it – not until the last moment, when something rose from the bottom of the corridor, announced by a far-off vibration – a maddened, hysterical scream of sheer panicked delight, the sound of fragile sanity finally cracking and echoing over eternal, endless walls. The sense of movement from the inevitable terminus of that hellish spiral was enough to throw me into a sense of bile-inducing horror – I couldn’t bear to look at the thing that was coming screaming up from the depths of that hallway, tearing its way up the spiral and violating the distorted, mangled frame of that lost woman in a way I couldn’t even describe, before rushing up the hallway towards me. I had to run, Alexander. Out of the hallway, out of the town center, and all the way back to my flat.

I’m sorry I dumped all this on you, but I’m fucking terrified. The hallway in my flat has started to twist -the floor in my bedroom doesn’t match up with the hall anymore, and when I’m in there, I can hear something from far away, screaming and laughing at me. Please help. Please, please help. I don’t know what to do.

– Alan Strachan


118: The Hairy Icon

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags , on November 13, 2011 by glasganon

In Govan, there are a set of docks that were once used to house ships that were undergoing repairs on the River Clyde. The docks have been abandoned since 1988, and it shows – access is possible to the site, but it is no longer regularly maintained by council services. The water in the three bays has become dirty and filled with rubbish; the grass and weeds have pulled their way up through cracks in the stonework to overrun the ground.

The dock does see some activity by a group of acolytes, however; on the first Sunday of every month, they gather in the burned out building at the far side of the dock – provided it isn’t raining – and newcomers are welcome to visit and join in on their pet project.

From Clydebrae Street, the acolyte must climb through a damaged metal fence, and traipse along a path well-worn by both the acolytes and the neds and chavs that occasionally invade the area. On the Sundays that the acolytes meet, you may find them swimming in the dingy, rank water of the basins where the ships used to undergo maintenance – their faces are turned down into the murky black water and trying to make as little body movements as possible, lest they disturb the thing they’re looking for. From the top of the basins, they look like floating corpses. Occasionally, one will rear up out of the water, holding his hand up and displaying the prize to the rest of the group – a clump of hair, often with a mouldy, bloated piece of rotted, white scalp flesh attached. The scalp pieces are tossed over to one side of the basins, landing with a wet splat atop the stone, bleeding water.

One acolyte – Mark Wilson, a man in his thirties, usually dressed in neutral greys and greens and sporting a haunted, anxious look – will take any newcomers to the partially burned-down building on the docks, where, in one of the ruined rooms, The Hairy Icon awaits.

Stepping into the room alerts your every sense that something is wrong. At the center of a room with more open spaces than walls is a human-sized object suspended by a metal framework of girders and hooks in lieu of a roof. Upon first viewing, its essence is impossible to tell – and as such, the conscious mind is assaulted and gripped by terror, unable to categorise what it is seeing but failing to comprehend – but as Mark brings you closer, you can see that it is a vaguely human shaped entity. There is a definite outline of a head – only, it seems to be several heads, all clustered together into one huge mass covered by long streaks of dank, ragged hair that reek of sewage and piss. Occasionally, the mass will judder as though gripped by a sudden shiver, but different parts of the body will spasm at different times, resulting in a full-body contortion of horrific angles that makes the entity sway dangerously from the creaking, roaring metalwork above it. The entity is silent but for the sound of wreaths of dirty, spindly hair tracing up against itself, like whispers of something hiding deep inside, and occasionally a bizarre crunch or squelch, as though possessed of some digestive process.

Mark will explain that he and his team have been finding pieces of scalp with human hair attached in the docks for two years, all from the same person. Only, there’s too much for it to be one ordinary person. And so, by examining each of the pieces of flesh, Mark has begun to construct a patchwork reconstruction of the “inconnu de la dock”; so far, the Hairy Icon has amass
ed four and a half mounds of hairy flesh, which Mark believes may be faceless heads. Mark has also claimed that by the time the second head was constructed, the Hairy Icon experienced limited self-locomotion; by the fourth, he was able to communicate with it in some fashion – although he never explains how. He hopes that by the seventh head, the Hairy Icon may be able to be taught not to devour the people that come too close to it, and that the bloody maw filled with human viscera and tangled hair on its underside may shrivel up after lack of use. After that, he will petition to have the Hairy Icon canonised – Saint Jennifer, after his late girlfriend and the Hairy Icon’s first known victim – and establish a church right there, on the blasted grounds of the Govan docks.

106: The Corpuscular Brick

Posted in Gideon Keys with tags , , on November 6, 2011 by glasganon

In Shawlands, there was once a field known as the “Good Man’s Croft” to farmers and villagers; this field was deliberately left to grow wild without having a crop planted in it, so that the “Good Man” – the Devil – could use it to entertain his malevolent company and leave the crops on the other fields alone. Once set aside, it could not be claimed again – if crops were sown, they would be blighted; if animals were put to pasture, they would be stricken and die. It can be inferred that the Good Man’s Croft is now part of Pollok Country Park south of the city.

There are a number of strange phenomena occuring in Pollok Country Park – all stemming from the area’s notorious links to demons and black magick – but one particular phenomenon is of great interest to many acolytes. In a part of the park where there is very little trees around, there is a medium-sized mound, with a muddy earthen ring surrounding it where no grass ever grows. If one stands atop this mound at midnight on a night where the rain is particularly heavy, and aims a pair of binoculars due west, there may be a chance you will spot a figure stalking along the treeline. The figure is often very difficult to make out, but many acolytes have described it as moving erratically, as though it makes its way by twitching and spasming forward; its skin appears to be stretched across its skeletal frame, with thick knots of bone throbbing from thin, fragile-looking bone shafts that look far too weak to withstand its manic thrashes. The figure moves around the wooded areas, looking for something in between its juddering spasms: eventually, it will stop at the base of a tree, dig down into the earth, and plant something there, before covering it back up with soil.

Unfortunately, due to your elevated position atop the mound, it is more than likely that the figure will see you – and once it does, it will freeze for only a few seconds as it fixates on you. You have only a few seconds to run to the place it dug up – and it will be thrashing its way back towards it in order to prevent you from seizing its treasure. The figure is fast, and the figure is precise – before you realise it is upon you, square chunks will fall away from your still-gushing flesh as it guts you with strange bony tendrils that shred, cut, pierce and carve.

If you manage to rip its treasure up from the soil before the frenzied creature reaches you, you will discover that the treasure is a brick-like cuboid, made entirely of warm, fleshy, muscular corpuscles inside a mesh of thin but durable bones, which quiver and shake in response to your touch. If you transfuse blood from the sinewy brick, you will find yourself healthier and more energetic over time, more alert, and more awake. However, there is always a chance you might have seized a “bad brick” – and will suffer from anything from HIV to leukemia for the rest of your life. Many would suggest this is no different to your chances when you first come into the world – and who would turn down the chance of a better, healthier body?