Thursday, 8 March 2007

The Inexorable Descent Into Gibbering Insanity

by Charles Pooter

My brother, John Pooter, claims to have found the following tale scrawled in a notebook in the wine store in which he worked a few years ago. The author is unknown.

The Inexorable Descent Into Gibbering Insanity
A tale about working at Booze Buster by SG

I. The Cellar

They were all dead.

The clatter of bricks and mortar on flesh and bone served as an exclamation mark for everything that had led up to this point. I forced my shaking fingers free of the shovel and fled back towards the dim light at the top of the ancient stairs. Fleeing towards the merciful embrace of familiar, vapid ignorance.

But to make any sense of what just happened, I would have to go back to August, when it all began…

Difficult it was to believe it was the height of summer. The rain was a not infrequent visitor to the parish and when the sun did shine, it did little to dispense of the biting chill that pervaded the wide roads of the Bay. Still, the townsfolk went about their business in appropriate summer attire. The youths sat in the fields and partook of such concoctions and elixirs the likes of which have never been seen before. The children played under the watchful eyes of their elders, chasing one another through the narrow alleys and peak-roofed gabled houses of yesteryear.

I had managed to gain employment in the local liquor store, a place my compatriots and I have shared an inexplicable affinity for. The boss was an old world person of some considerable years and there was Steve, a friend of mine with an eerie knowledge of the inner machinations of the shop which he was strangely loathe to reveal.

The 29th of August I remember vividly, being as it was my first encounter with those unutterable and wholly alien entities in the dark, though then I couldn't explain it at all. The shop had been uncannily quiet all day. Rain always drives customers off, though the most hardened and perseverant drunkard will gladly walk in a downpour, head held high.

I had unlocked the cellar door and was peering impotently into the thick blackness. My purpose was to locate the ingenious vacuum cleaning suction device. The fuselage section was apparent at the top of the stairs but the hose attachement was ominously absent. Readying my portable petrol-powered incendary device, I proceeded down the crumbling stone steps. I reasoned that the hose attachment had become detached from the fuselage and slid down into the cellar. My incendary device threw little light, and I could make out nothing except the decrepid masonary of the wall to my right which I was utilising as a makeshift handhold. After what seemed like aeons the pitiful glimmer I grasped in my hand reflected off the shiny metal hose at the foot of the stairs. Glad to have located my quarry I jumped the remaining steps with a view to escape to silent darkness as swiftly as I was able. Unfortunately my ankle twisted upon landing, I hit the ancient brickwork and strayed out of mind and time…

When I awoke, it was to a soft but incessant muttering; indecipherable but nonetheless full of venomous, spiteful inflection which filled my head with sudden visions of restless fingers scrabbling against the seals of charnel houses. Of hideous, blasphemous, rotting hands reaching through the brick floor toward me like a black bed of tangling seaweed. Of an indescribable cosmic mass, flopping and gyrating hideously to that maddening muttering which rebounded around the confines of my skull.

It was fear that gave me enough coherence to flee gibbering up the dusty steps, but not before I glimpsed those two oily globes of darkness which seemed to make the dark around them as bright as a funeral pyre. Those small, soft-looking gelatinous spheres which seemed to regard me from some cyclopean span of time, from aeons before mankind's darkest ancestor flopped exhaustedly out of the sulfurous ocean depths. Shrieking like a mad Turk, I reached the light and flung the door shut, after which I collapsed into a mercifully dreamless sleep.

II. The Fairly Terrible Old Woman

Months passed since the incident in the cellar, and I had begun to convince myself the whole event imagined. Autumn came and with it the slow decay of green things. I had taken to sitting on the steps outside the shop, and as the mouldering skellingtons of leaves were swept around by the breeze I would partake of a cigar-rette or read the daily gazette in the genteel manner of a lord or king. It was in this manner that I met the fairly terrible old woman.

The first thing I knew, I was roused from my perusal of The Little Man gazette by a sound not unlike the death rattle of a Jawawa Bear. Looking up, I saw what at first I thought was an elderly chimpanzee in a trenchcoat and headscarf. Her eyes were protuberant and glassy, and she had an almost negligible nose atop flabby wide lips. Her neck folded over in loose, flabby bulges and her epidermis was grey and scabrous and wholly repellent. I was a little perturbed but stiffened my resolve and made to go into the shop.

"Thirty six pennies, this cost me." said the fairly terrible old woman. Reaching into her pocket she withdrew what at first appeared to be a coco-nut. Starting to commend her on such a thrifty purchase, I noticed the coco-nut was covered in wrinkles and had two deep sockets in it. On closer inspection my blood turned to freezing oil as, in the depths of those sockets I saw two shrunken balls that may have been grapes had it not been for the black dots which stared unblinkingly like the countenance of the newly-dead.

She cackled and shuffled off, wheezing as she went.

As I was left to frantically find a rational explanation for what that wizened old crone had grasped in her hairy claws, my vision deteriorated suddenly. I grasped around the walls, trying to find my way to the wash basin to somehow clear the blanket of fog that had covered my eyes. As I neared the kitchen, my legs gave way and my thoughts and senses faded into oblivion.

As I gradually awoke, I found my vision had returned. Expecting to look down and see my legs and torso, I saw nothing but bunched up hairs, larger and fatter than many monkeys' tails. I saw a floral pattern moving swiftly in front of my eyes. I saw pennies, as big as a cartwheel.

I saw, what appeared to be a coco-nut…

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