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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The accumulator, part six…

Another gloriously sunny autumn Sunday, another SoCS post, this week continuing this story with the help of Linda G Hill and her prompt;

” “coin.” Use it any way you’d like. “

Off we go then…

The Accumulator, part six.

Scene: A deck overlooking an ornamental pond, in the gardens surrounding The Department’s facility. The young Patrick Busey and the man who calls himself Endicott are enjoying the morning sunshine whilst eating breakfast at a small table. It is twelve years ago.

“I’m very impressed at the progress you’ve made since your arrival, Patrick,” says Endicott, smiling encouragingly across the toast crumbs and coffee cups, “and today we’re going to move on to the next stage of your training.”

“You keep saying that,” Patrick replies, frowning back at his mysterious host, “but asking about it never seems to get me anywhere.”

“Well, maybe today some of your questions will be answered.”

Endicott places his cup back in its saucer and fastidiously wipes his mouth on a napkin, then reaches across the table, beckoning to Patrick with his leather-clad fingers.

“Give me your hands, Patrick,” he laughs at the young man’s quizzical expression, “haha, don’t look at me like that, I’m not going to propose or anything.”

Patrick hesitantly lifts his own gloved hands from his lap and offers them, palms up, to the watchful Endicott.
At this point, Patrick’s narration returns, describing what we see next;

“He takes my hands and turns them over, then he lets go of my right hand and grips my wrist instead. Before I guess what he’s going to do, he uses his other hand to pull off my right glove, all the time staring straight into my eyes.

I try to pull my hand away, but his grip is suddenly a vice, his eyes blazing with something like excitement.

He tells me, “Calm down, Patrick, there’s nothing to worry about.”

Well that was a lie, but I didn’t know to what extent, not right then.

Endicott relaxes his grip on my wrist and I yank it away from him. But the sensation of the morning sun on my skin is such a unexpected luxury that I pause, holding my hand up and turning it this way and that, as if seeing it for the first time.

“I expect that feels good, doesn’t it?” Endicott asks me.

“Go ahead,” he says, nodding, “take the other one off.”

I look at him, he just sits there with that inscrutable stare of his, smiling his tight little smile.

He nods again and I look down at my hands; one clad in my own pale, sun-starved skin, one in the soft black calf skin to which I have become so accustomed. I look back to Endicott and shrug, pulling on the pliable leather fingertips until the glove slips off.

Once more I flex my newly-liberated hand in the sun and I am about to request an explanation for this rare treat when the peace of the gardens is pierced by a short, terrified scream, one which is abruptly cut off with a horrible finality.

I don’t think, I just act. I leap to my feet, wooden chair clattering to the paving slabs behind me.

I’m up and running toward the house.

As I round the corner of the building, bringing me in sight of the front terrace and the main entrance, I see the twisted and broken body of a woman on the stone steps, her head hangs limply from a broken neck, one leg is bent under her at an impossible angle and blood runs from her ears.

Her arm has come to rest across her eyes, as if shielding them from the sun overhead and as I reach her unmoving body I cannot immediately identify her.

I reach down and lift the arm, unresisting, away from her bloody face and realise with horror that it is Darcy.

But that revelation is nothing compared to the shock I get as my hand touches the skin of her shattered wrist; an awful shudder travels up my arm and I am filled with a surge of…something terrible.

The sensation is so brief that it’s almost as if I imagine it, but it instantly brings back the memory of the old woman who died when I was with Dr Braithwaite and the feeling I got when I touched her.

I recoil in horror, pulling my hand away from Darcy’s body and, as I stand up, I catch a glimpse of movement and look up to the window above the front door. An indistinct shape moves behind the curtain, merely a shadow but it’s enough for me.

I am about to climb the steps to the front door when I hear running feet and turn to see Endicott and two heavily built orderlies heading my way.

As I open my mouth to speak and point up at the window, the nearest orderly grabs my arm in his huge, gloved fist and pulls me to my knees next to Darcy’s bleeding corpse. He silently forces my hand down onto her head, the fractured bones of her skull moving horrifyingly under the involuntary pressure of my touch and another, weaker surge of that unspeakable energy jolts into my body.

I fight against the orderly’s grip, but he’s too strong. Even so, after a few interminable seconds he releases my arm and I stagger away from him.

“What the fuck is going on here?! What have you done to me?”

“Now, now, Patrick, there’s no reason to get upset…”

“Fuck you, Endicott! How can you say that, when a woman is lying dead at your feet, have you no decency?” I point up at the window, “I saw someone up there, I think she was pushed, murdered.”

“Here, I think you should put these back on.”

He holds the black leather gloves out to me, his head on one side, as if interested to see what I’ll do.

“Maybe it was to soon for this.”

“Too soon? Too soon for what? What is going on here? Why do you want me to wear those?”

I take a step towards Endicott, my arm extended, pointing to the gloves.

He drops the gloves and takes a hurried step back. A look of panic crosses his face.

I stop, look down at my own outstretched arm, then back up at Endicott’s expression.

“What have you DONE TO ME?!” I scream at him, “Why are you afraid?”

“Hold him.” says Endicott coldly.

The orderlies hesitate, looking uncertainly from me to Endicott, then at each other.

“Well, what are you waiting for? One of you grab him,” snaps Endicott, “what do I have to do, toss a coin?”

The man on my left makes a clumsy grab for my arm and I swing wildly at him, catching him with a lucky punch which grazes his cheekbone.

I am not prepared for the result.

The man, nearly twice my size, is hurled across the terrace with incredible force. He crashes into the low stone balustrade, his back breaking with an audible SNAP as he is folded backwards over it, until his head smashes onto the ground on the other side with a soggy thump.

The second orderly bends double and vomits noisily on his shoes, but Endicott just stands there. He stares at me, then bends to pick up the gloves and offers them to me once more.

“Come along Patrick, put them back on, then we can have a proper talk and I’ll explain everything, I promise.”

Turns out the devious bastard was even lying about that; he was just waiting for a third man (isn’t there always a third man?) to creep up behind me with a needle.

Next minute I feel a jab in the neck and my vision does something it would take the special effects crew three days to replicate and out go the lights.”

The final shot is of Endicott’s face, leaning over and looking down, as we see him through Patrick’s eyes. Then the FX team take the easy option; the picture blurs around the edges and..

..fades to black.

**********

To be continued (using next week’s prompt {which can now be found HERE})…

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness Monday: The accumulator, part three…

Yes I know, I’m even later than usual with my SoCS post for the weekend but I have this week off work and felt like having a lazy day yesterday, but I’m here now so let’s see what prompt Linda G Hill left us to continue my latest, mysterious tale;

” “-est.” Base your post on any word you can add the suffix “est” to. ”

Hmm, ok…

The Accumulator, part three.

Scene: Dr Felix Braithwaite’s office, fifteen years ago.

The opening shot is of a crackling fire in the hearth, a clock ticks somewhere in the background. The camera pulls back and makes a slow pan of the room, coming to rest on the doctor at his desk. He is humming cheerfully to himself as he makes notes in a file, looking up when he hears a polite tap on the door. Dr Braithwaite stands up and turns to the filing cabinet behind him, opens the top drawer and replaces the file, before sitting back down and fixing a pleasant smile on his face.

“Come in.”

The door opens and a serious-looking man in a suit enters. Despite the fact he is smartly dressed, we get the impression he isn’t comfortable in these clothes, a look that men who are more used to being in uniform often have.

The doctor rises to shake hands with his visitor and indicates a chair, waiting until the man is perched stiffly on the edge of the seat before speaking again.

“So, I gather you are here for an update on our latest project,” Dr Braithwaite gives a quizzical frown, “although I don’t remember calling to advise you of any new developments..?”

The camera focuses on the newcomer’s face; expression unreadable, eyes cold and watchful, as the silence in the room lengthens.

Cut to…

Close up of the doctor’s hands, nervously fiddling with his pen on the desk blotter.

Cut to…

Close up of the doctor’s forehead, as a bead of sweat trickles into a bushy eyebrow.

Cut to…

A side view of the two men, facing each other across the desk. The doctor swallows, licks his lips and looks down at his hands. He seems to notice his own nervousness, puts down the pen and folds his hands in his lap. Almost immediately, he lifts them back onto the desk, clasping them firmly together, as if to restrain them from misbehaving and looks once more at the silently watching visitor.

“I…” Dr Braithwaite falters and tries again, “What I meant to say was that, happily, you have arrived just as we have made a significant breakthrough.” he flashes an unconvincing smile and finishes weakly, “I was going to contact you this very afternoon, but you…beat me to it, so to speak.”

The man opposite inclines his head ever so slightly to indicate he understands, but continues to gaze with mute curiosity at his nervous host, until the doctor finally breaks.

“Perhaps you would be interested in seeing the results of our first test?”

The man smiles in satisfaction.

Cut to…

The doctor and his visitor walk down a hallway until they reach two doors, where an orderly seems to be keeping guard. The doctor stops to speak to the orderly, who nods, glances at the visitor and walks away, then Dr Braithwaite looks through a spyhole in the right hand door and nods, apparently pleased with what he sees, before motioning the other man to the door on the left, which he opens and both men enter the room beyond, closing the door behind them.

Cut to…

Scene: A small observation room, containing a control console with an array of video screens and a selection of medical monitoring equipment.

The doctor and his taciturn companion are standing in front of what is obviously a two way mirror, giving a view into the bare white room next door.

On a bed in the white room is the young man, he appears to be asleep. The camera drifts over and focuses on his face, which is drawn and tense, hollow black rings around his eyes. The point of view changes, looking back at a reflection of the room in the mirrored wall as we hear the doctor’s voice and, after a few seconds the scene cuts back to the observation room.

“He’s been unconscious since we had to sedate him after the test, so we took the opportunity to do a little…attitude adjustment,” he smiles at the watchful face of his guest, then decides humour isn’t the best idea and concludes, “by which I mean we gave him a session of EST and I will continue to order similar treatments for as long as he has adverse reactions to the process.”

“EST?”

“Forgive me, medical jargon; Electro Shock Therapy.”

“You have documented evidence of the test, I’m sure.” The visitor’s voice is surprisingly soft, for one with such an knack for intimidation. Maybe he knew this and realised his strength lay in the ability to command silence so skillfully. He looks at the doctor, who nods, turns to the console and activates one of the video monitors. An overhead view of the young man’s room appears and the horrifying scene with the puppy is played out for the audience of two.

At the point at which the dog’s body is hurled against the wall in a bloody mess, even the great Dr Braithwaite averts his eyes, but the calmly observing visitor simply nods, switches off the monitor and looks at the doctor.

“Very good. You will have him ready to be transferred into our care by next week.”

With that, the visitor shakes the stunned doctor’s hand, turns on his heel and leaves the room, closing the door softly behind him. The doctor is left gazing through the glass wall at the sleeping figure, his expression deeply troubled.

**********

To be continued (using next week’s prompt {Which can now be found HERE})…

#SoCS

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Stream of consciousness Sunday: The accumulator, part two…

Ok, here we are, back in the regular, day-late slot for SoCS and ready to continue the story which began last week, today using Linda G Hill’s prompt;

” “view.” Use it any way you’d like. ”

If you insist…

The Accumulator, part two.

Scene: Fifteen years ago.

The camera gives us a bird’s-eye view; it swoops down over the car, before speeding ahead, up the long gravel drive and panning back around to meet the black limousine as it pulls up in front of Dr Braithwaite’s country house.
A liveried driver steps smartly from the car and respectfully stands to hold the door open for the doctor and his visibly traumatised passenger; the young man still looks pale and shaken, his eyes glassy as the doctor solicitously takes his arm and leads him into the house, the front door closing on our view of the two men, indicating that we need not trouble ourselves with what comes next.

Cut to…

The young man is alone in his room and some time has obviously passed since we last saw him; he is gazing out of the open window at a fading sunset, the remains of a barely-touched meal are on a small table and a cigarette burns in an ashtray on the windowsill. The young man sips from a glass of milk and picks up the cigarette, taking one final puff before flicking it into the gathering shadows of dusk, its long arc ending in a shower of sparks as it hits the ground. He turns back into the room, just as the door opens and Dr Braithwaite enters, a smile on his face.

“How are you feeling?” The doctor’s expression conveys professional and personal concern, yet there is something calculating in his eyes as his smile broadens, “I have someone who would like to see you…”

The doctor opens the door wide and we see the German Shepherd puppy in the hallway; it is the same dog we saw the young man playing with during his recovery, sitting obediently but with obvious excitement as it catches sight of its human playmate.

Dr Felix Braithwaite leans down and we get a close up of his hand as it ruffles the dog’s fur. Does the camera linger just that fraction of a second too long on his black leather glove, suggesting that we should pay particular attention to this incongruity, or is that a red herring? Whatever the significance of this plot device, we have no time to ponder it further, because the good doctor speaks again, “Go on boy, go see your master!”

We see the dog bound delightedly into the room from the doctors point of view, outside the door, but we are prevented from witnessing the joyful reunion as the doctor quickly closes the door and we see his gloved hand turn a key in the lock.

A second later, the screams begin.

*****

Scene: Present day, a hospital room, viewed from above.

The old man, his eyes seeming to stare directly up at us, suddenly jerks; his body suffers some sort of spasm and the camera coldly records his distress as the monitor he is connected to starts to beep with increasing urgency.

The door opens and a nurse hurries in, followed closely by a uniformed policemen, who hovers uncertainly by the foot of the bed while the nurse administers an injection into the old man’s arm. His body gradually relaxes, the frantic beeping from the monitor slows to its previous steady rhythm and the nurse smoothes the rumpled sheets and straightens his pillows. She turns with a disapproving scowl to the looming constable behind her and makes shooing motions at him until he grudgingly backs out into the corridor. Then, after taking a final glance around the room, she closes the door softly behind her.

For a few seconds, the camera hangs motionless above the bed and again we are drawn to the old man’s face, but now we see the lines appear deeper, there is pain in his eyes and a subtle change in his expression…is it sorrow, perhaps?

No, harsher than that; grief.

The shot begins to tighten once more, zooming in on those eyes; diving in, through the retina and down the optic nerve, using the FX budget to full effect, spiraling into the maze of synapses, then a burst of blinding light, which fades to…

Scene: The young man’s room, fifteen years ago.

For the first time since the accident, he smiles, seeing the dog lolloping across the room towards him, he doesn’t see the door closing, nor hear the click of the lock or, if he does, he takes no notice.

He reaches for his companion, just a few paces away now, when the sudden ominous drone of the soundtrack makes us want to tell him to stop! to back away! to yell don’t do it!..but it’s too late; his fingers bury themselves in the thick fur around the dog’s neck and he feels a huge surge of energy jolt through every inch of his body, as if being electrocuted.

But what happens next will be the memory that stays with him, the image that remains seared into his brain with merciless clarity to this day.

We see the dog as if through the young man’s eyes; hands reaching to caress the soft fur when suddenly, the dog’s face registers shock, confusion and pain for the briefest of seconds before, horrifyingly, the animal…collapses in on itself, as if crushed by an invisible weight, the bloody, ruined body is torn from the young man’s grasp and flung violently to the floor by an unseen yet incredibly powerful force.

We stare through the young man’s eyes at his blood covered hands in shocked silence, then he looks up and we catch sight of his reflection in the mirror over the fireplace.

The picture fades to black as he starts to scream.

**********

To be continued (using next week’s prompt {which can now be found HERE})…

#SoCS

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The changing face of horror…

Many years ago, a friend of mine (hello Becky, or “Becqui” as you called yourself back then) sent me a postcard from eastern Europe, where she was on holiday.
If my memory serves me correctly, I think she was visiting Transylvania at the time, soaking up the gothic atmosphere that gave rise to the region’s vampiric myths and legends, although that isn’t strictly relevant, as the subject of the card was a painting by an Italian artist.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo was a sixteenth century painter who took the stuffy, formal format of portraiture and gave it a bloody good shake up.
He didn’t achieve this by choosing to pose his subjects in interesting or controversial ways, but by using something other than their own bodies to depict them.

His more conventional art is now largely forgotten, but the paintings he produced in his own inimitable style are still fascinating people to this day

Here is the picture Becky sent me:

image

Yes, it’s a man made of fish.

He also used vegetables, plants and animals in his surreal composite images, all themed to tie in with the subject of the portrait.

I have always thought it was a fabulously warm and somehow friendly picture, and yet many people I’ve shown it to find his art disturbing and uninviting.

Which got me thinking; When it comes to the human form, what is it that makes something disturbing to look at?

Our faces are an important part of what defines our personality to other people, but not necessarily to ourselves.
Having multiple piercings, for instance, may give some folks the impression that a person appears threatening or in some way confrontational, yet (despite my own personal antipathy towards any sort of “body modification” such as piercings and tattoos) I’ve met all sorts of perfectly lovely people who, when you actually make the effort to get to know them, just happen to like covering themselves in ink and/or metal studs and are otherwise no different to you or I.

image

Rolf Buchholz – the world’s most pierced man. Airport security was always a lengthy process.

There are of course cultural differences;
The Tā moko face tattoo tradition of the Māori people, which has been the norm for hundreds of years, would almost certainly be deemed unacceptable in western society, a social convention which is reflected in the fact that most tattoo artists are reluctant to have their art facially displayed, even in today’s liberal society.

image

Māori or Sharpie – you decide.

However, the Yakuza, (famously-inked Japanese gangster hard men) cover their entire bodies with tattoos, yet shy away from continuing their decoration above the neckline, presumably to make membership of the crime organisation somewhat less obvious.

So it isn’t just how “hard” you are which determines how you wear your face, nor should you assume that someone is going to stab you, just because they’ve got Mummy tattooed on their neck.

But the use of the face to give us nightmares is a long and freakishly enjoyable tradition.
Whether it’s the simple application of grease paint to achieve the look of that most terrifying and disturbing of entertainers, Clowns

image

Stephen King’s Pennywise the Clown from IT – “We all float down here!” – soon to terrify an entire new generation.

…or the reliance on everyone’s ability to imagine the pain of having sharp points pushed into their flesh, like cheerful sado-masochist and Cenobite-in chief, “Pinhead” from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (which you can watch in full at the end of this post) there is a deep-seated visceral reaction to any type of facial disfigurement.

image

Pinhead – “Another hedgehog joke and you’re going to hell.”

The reason for all this physiognomy fixation comes from yet another burst of photographic and digital fiddling that I’ve been engaged in this week, this time using my insertion and layering gadgets to assemble new and interesting versions of my own face, using only parts of…..yep, you guessed it, my own face.

And the odd hand or two.

The resulting monstrosities portraits were posted on my new Facebook photo page, much to the horror of several group members, who seemed to find the new me somewhat less attractive than usual.

But why? What is it about this type of  face manipulation that makes us so uneasy?
Well, now you can judge for yourselves.

Brace yourselves, it’s face time.

First of all, I went for a bit of face-palming…

image

image

…then I tried a bit more organ transplanting..

image

…which ended up getting a bit out of hand.

image

Potato head.

After that, things just got a bit silly…

image

image

…culminating in this masterpiece of unhinged and demented clownery.

image

All body parts model’s own.

The catchphrases of two ’80s crime-stopper shows spring to mind at this point;
“Keep your eyes peeled” (not literally) and “Don’t have nightmares.”

Here’s some bedtime viewing for you.

Enjoy.

Bonus movie.
Watch Stephen King’s original IT ***HERE***

 
12 Comments

Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Arts, Music, Photography, Video

 

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