118: The Hairy Icon


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.

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