Stone The Crows

Synopsis


Tom Bishop knows something is happening. But when The Horror begins, it will be too late for everyone else.

The crows outside Bishop’s flat have destroyed the morning birdsong. A vicious, aggressive black cloud of razor-sharp beaks and talons begin to taunt then attack him, a stark warning that the delicate fabric of daily life in the commonsense world is about to be altered forever.

The woman, the Japanese assassin, is pursuing him through the snaking dark streets of London. No matter how hard he tries to shake her off, she is always there waiting for him like a spectre. Is she some kind of shape-shifter morphing into familiar surroundings, lulling him into some false sense of security before she attacks him again? What does she want? Why him? But she is only a small fragment of this apocalyptic puzzle.

He knew they existed. The Inorganics. Flickering around him, as if on the extreme border of his consciousness, corporeally invisible, Bishop felt their presence as strongly as any worldly creature. It was as if energy had seeped into his existence and acquired a predatory soul. He knew some Inorganics could be harmful, but through his training he could defend himself  so far.

Roulla Mavromati, the enigmatic woman he meets one day on the train, craves his knowledge. But these will not be the lessons found in any university surrounded by the leafy comfort of academia. She will be pushed to the very edge of pleasure and pain to discover they spring from the same source. As her thirst for Heaven and Hell intensifies, Bishop has to find new extremes where the boundaries of flesh and consciousness dissolve. Roulla possesses a power Bishop has never encountered in any woman he has known. Unleashed, the potential could be devastating. As Roulla excels in her studies, Tom Bishop realises this is the woman he was always destined to meet and that these are not merely games of master and slave but a frightening prelude of what is to come.

Then it begins

It is during one of the many conversations with another resident of the house, his philosophical sparring partner, the Red Yank, an out-of-work actor with a passion for classical music, pipes and women. His flat is cluttered with chaotic displays of his theatre and film work, and he shares it with the love of his life, a politically incorrect parrot called Louie.

At first it seems like a simple car accident in the street outside with the two drivers in an angry stand off  maybe an exchange of blame, then insurance details? An axe swings, bullets spray from a gun and a man lies dying on the floor. A hate-fuelled mob floods the neighbourhood charged with insanity and chaos as Bishop and the Red Yank unbelievingly crane their heads out of the window to watch as the police, outnumbered and helpless, disappear beneath a tidal wave of blood and anarchy. It could be the beginnings of a long overdue revolution. But this is what Bishop has always known. The Horror had begun.

The landscape has dramatically changed overnight. Dismembered corpses hang from trees, the dead litter the streets as the crows and rats feast on the banquet. At first it seems that the only living creatures are the crows. Patrolled by armed guards, huge razor wire pens have been constructed. Inside, a new breed of animal is being broken in and conditioned to obey their new masters. Naked and dehumanised, the filthy rich, the ex-rulers of the people and the upper echelon, have become the primary fuel as they pull the new order around in makeshift chariots. Whipped into a pulverising subservience, these scarred and tattered people scream out for a system that has crumbled into the bloody filth and human detritus of stinking London streets.

Animals with reborn primal savagery hunt in packs, tearing apart anything in their path and adding to the growing carnage. The Horror is engulfing everything, not just people. The earth is in revolt.

Tom Bishop and the Red Yank find to their amazement they can walk around without drawing attention to themselves while watching the blasphemy of deconstructed humanity at their leisure. But the crows see them. The crows always see them, and the crows haven’t forgotten.

Then Bishop hears The Voice and learns why things are the way they are. Why they always will be. Why The Horror has to exist.







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23. Chapter Twenty-Three

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

 

 

“Move away, Mincer,” she said with even tones.  “You’re not wanted here.”

 

He swung his leg, dismounted and dropped the bike in the road.  Then, like an automaton, he turned and walked in measured steps towards the woman at the top of the stairs…

In a single moment of recognition she knew who it was.  They knew who it was.  It wasn’t really the voice of Yosemite Sam who called to them.  Sam, though, was a part of the knowledge they found deep inside, resonating with the core of being.  It could be done.  The past could be altered.  So could the future.

 

Mincer reached the bottom of the stairs and looked up.  There was just a slight graze to the edifice of his confidence.  He must have frowned.  She was beautiful – as beautiful a human being he ever remembered seeing.  Not beautiful like a model or a movie star.  Roulla Mavromati was eternally beautiful.

He still did not move.  He was troubled now.  “Who are you?”

 

Her voice was clear and calm.  “I am Athena.  I’m sure you remember me.  The first time we met, you raped me and turned me into your whore.”

“That was long ago.”  Mincer realised it must be the giant’s voice.

 

“Only by your years,” she answered.  Her tone was strong.  “A single moment in your life is a year, a decade, endless.  But when we burst through the ring of fire and move towards freedom, a thousand years is nothing.  Time is not measured like you measure salt.  You count the grains of sand on the beach and never once breathe in the fumes of beauty as you look at the pink or violet shades of the clouds floating on the horizon.  For all that, you are my partner.  About to become my shadow again.”

“No, my dear,” Mincer said.  “You’ll continue to be a sturdy mare and an adequate fuck for my followers.  You have given yourself airs again, and I have come to offer you a little discipline.  If you think you can change the course of events like this, you’ve got another one coming.  Anyway, I’ve told you to leave the thinking to me.  You don’t have the right equipment.  You’re just a hole for my pleasure…”

 

“You’re have no idea of the sensation of pleasure.  Only of pain.  When you seek pleasure, you smother it with gluttony…”

“Never satisfied by you, anyway,” he interrupted.

 

Athena roared with laughter.  “What satisfaction have you had?  None.  Listen to this, Master of Mincer!  You will have nothing and gain nothing because you are finite.”

“No!”

 

“Yes!”

“We’re talked long enough.  Like a typical broad, you’re all mouth.  I’ve come here to screw your insides out…”

 

“You are finite because you are but a single shadow now.  It is your inheritance from your father and the fathers before him.  I am infinite – without definition, without limits…”

Athena held up one hand, open palm towards the man at the foot of the stairs.  “This one is Creation.”  She held up the other hand.  “And this one is Invention.  You can go no further.  I have come to stop you.”

 

Mincer unzipped his flies.  “You won’t stop me, you silly bitch.  You’re going to lie back and enjoy this.  We’re going to have a re-run of the past in the future.  You’re going to be fucked, branded and chained to a cart to pull me to my palace.”

The repulsive head of the serpent appeared – slack but growing in power and size.  The single hole in the centre of its head dribbled with anticipation as it uncoiled itself from Mincer’s trousers.  Mincer himself stared at the grotesque growing cock.  It was filthy and disgusting, unwashed from endless years of usage and cracking with disease – yet it was also alluring and attractive.  He recently had it inside him.  The acceptance of the filth was a part of the indescribable experience.  He took the filth into himself, and it became a part of him, a part that longed to cradle the alien serpent and lick it clean, to let it suckle the juices from his body.  He knew it was not really attached to him.  He was only a convenient accommodation address so it could deal with the opposition.  But it would be so nice if it were his cock.  To conquer the world, it was necessary to terrify it first.  Terror was a key to the exploitation of life.  Terror.  That’s what it was all about.  People don’t understand reason or justice.  Show them stark terror, though, and they become as passive as sheep.  He felt it growing bigger, growing stronger.  An evil smile creased his face as he looked up at the woman who called herself Athena.  She was looking at it, too.  It had that effect on people.  They froze in fascination for just time enough.  Then it was too late.  There was no defence.  None at all.

 

Roulla Mavromati was standing with her feet apart, her arms akimbo, and the head of the snake was already nuzzling the hem of her skirt.  She realised her breathing was becoming shallow.  Old memories of her first ravishment fluttered in her belly.  Being held down by iron hands while the vile monster pushed into her, thrusting again and again until finally she succumbed to the depravity and rejoiced in her own degradation.  It was beyond understanding but nevertheless a part of her humanity.  As the head moved enticingly a few inches up her skirt, she felt her knees weaken.  It was so strong, and she was too vulnerable.  The stench of it caused her self-esteem to plummet as the icy presence rose slowly between her thighs.  Her eyes closed and her lips opened.  It was all happening again!

At first she thought the waves were laps of ecstasy and self-disgust.  Then she opened her eyes.  No.  They were waves of laughter and joy rolling from the presences of the Red Yank and Tom Bishop.  And she was Athena, goddess of wisdom and the arts.  “Don’t forget!” shouted the voice from within.  “You are also goddess of war!”  It was the Red Yank.  She looked down.  The head of the snake was underneath her skirt as it searched for the secrets of her being.

Trevor Mincer was terrified when he saw the incredible aura of triumph on her face as she as struck first with one hand and then with two.  As quick as a panther, she grasped the head of the snake with both strong hands.  It wriggled and writhed, now aware that the whole sequence was a deadly trap.  The great seducer had himself been suckered.  His strength instantly became his weakness.  It was impossible to withdraw without serious damage, and his artery of life was squeezed tighter and tighter.  As he weakened, her strength mounted and grew overpowering.

Never had any woman looked so like a Grecian goddess than Roulla Mavromati as she held the limp, gasping head of the snake aloft with one hand.  Her left hand was outstretched above her head as well, and on the tip of her finger throbbed a blazing orb.

 

It was not just faintness that caused Mincer to drop to his knees.  The goddess was crushing the end of his cock as it weakly tried to withdraw back into his trousers and the safe dampness of his crotch.  The firmness had vanished in a rush, and the serpent was now a tautly stretched earthworm in danger of breaking in the middle from the tension.  Beyond the pain and despair, though, Mincer was also submitting to her will in an appeal for mercy.  His life and – more importantly – the life of his master were at stake.  She was threatening to pull him into two separate pieces.

“No.”  Her voice was strong but soft.  “I can’t kill you.  But I can cauterise you.”

 

Without hesitation she brought the globe of fire to the head of the limp serpent.  Instantly the atmosphere was filled with oily black smoke and the stench of urine quenching a fire.  Mincer howled and flopped onto his back.  The pain was beyond description.  It was a wall of electric jagged red blades hacking at the softness of his belly.  It overrode every other sensation as he flopped about like a fish flung out of the sea.

Then she let go of it.  It hadn’t even hit the ground before it withered into nothingness and slithered into the shadows of the dustbins.  As it vanished, Mincer’s pain rapidly subsided.  Still on the ground, he put both his hands on his real cock, gently touching and probing to make sure there was no damage.

 

“Don’t worry, Mincer,” she said contemptuously.  “You’ll have it in a stranger’s back passage in no time at all.”

“You’re not going to kill me?”  His voice was pleading now.

 

She shook her head.  “I can’t kill you.  You’ve been chosen.  As a leader.”

His eyes opened wide as he found the energy to prop himself up on one elbow.  “You mean, I…”

 

“Let’s face it, Mincer.  You’re a gangster, an expert at bullying and extortion.  You don’t have a merciful fibre in your being that is not saturated in sanctimony.  In the old world you were perfect material for a government minister.  In the new order you will only be welcome in the sewers and stagnant pools where you can breed mischief for me in the distant future.  It’s your home, Mincer.  You’ll recognise it as soon as you see it…”

The ex-home secretary was getting to his feet.  “But I can serve you.  I mean, my value would be intensified by the lessons I’ve learned at the coal face of Good and Evil.”

 

She laughed with genuine merriment.  “Don’t try and drown me with your shallowness.  This has nothing to do with good and evil, and you are without the means to imagine the nature of reality.  Forget the nice linen and silver cutlery at the top table.  Go back to the gutter where you belong and threaten your victims by throwing the family cat in the fryer.  That’s your game.  And don’t worry so much, Mincer.  You’ll have plenty of power and influence.  No doubt we will meet again.  And again and again.  Look.  Up there.  Some of your new friends.”

Three crows had settled on the upper branches of one of the trees lining the Terrace.  Mincer glanced at them with disdain and turned back to the Greek woman to say something else.  He opened his mouth but thought better of it.  Instead he walked over to the place where he had dropped his bicycle and picked it up.  He looked up at the crows again and studied them carefully before mounting the bicycle and turning it back down the road, riding on the pavement to avoid the frozen wave of melted tank in the middle of the street.

 

Roulla Mavromati watched the bearded man pedal down the road.  As the three crows peeled off the tree to follow him, she was certain the lead crow winked at her.

*

 

After being sick in the toilet she staggered into the Red Yank’s bedroom and sprawled onto the king-size bed.  She was sweating and feverish and desperate for some ice-cold water.  There was some water left, but it was as warm as the oppressive evening.  It was a genuine heat wave, as London stank of rottenness and decay.  Those who survived the Horror were now dropping like soldiers marching under a merciless tropical sun.  The new military government did not seem to be able to cope with the spreading pestilence..

Louie watched from her huge cage without comment.  She ruffled her feathers and settled more comfortably on her perch.

 

Mavromati moaned in agony as she was gripped by cramp.  It occurred to her that she may already have contracted one of the new diseases creeping silently inland from the Thames.  If so, her only hope was to go as quickly as possible.

Having second thoughts, she rolled off the bed onto the floor and crawled into the kitchen.  There were only a dozen bottles of water left, but she grabbed one of them, holding the neck in her teeth as she crawled back to the hot bedroom on all fours.

 

Her nude body was shiny with sweat after she finally regained the bed.  It took all her strength to open the water bottle, but the wetness was welcome.  The cramps came again, this time more insistent.  Gasping, she screwed the top back on the bottle and put it on the bedside table.  This time the cramp doubled her over.  It was then she suddenly realised they were contractions, not cramps.  Whether she was ready for it or not, she was on the point of giving birth.  In panic, she reached for a damp towel and wiped it across her face and torso.

Giving birth?  A baby?  Now?  Surely it would kill both her and the new baby.  The next contraction was huge, and she actually felt her pelvic bones begin to move.  She arched her back, drew her knees up and screamed.  The scream died in the night because there was no one to hear.  It was coming.  Her vaginal canal was dilating now.  She began to push.  Like so many women from the dawn of history, she had no alternative.

 

*

As she raised her head, the sun flashed on an unbroken window in the top floor of the terrace opposite.  It was mid-morning.  Exhaustion was total.  Her body was leaden.  She felt something at her side.  It was soft but horny, and she was cradling it in her left arm.  Her nipple was being sucked, and she was giving milk.  As she turned and looked at the new baby, all she saw was two piercing red eyes set in the rumpled folds of a formless face.  Its mouth and lips were clammy.

 

Louie placed her eye between the bars of her cage as she stared at the bed.  “You’re weird.”

She let her head drop back onto the damp mattress and closed her eyes.  Tears of hopelessness squeezed between her eyelids.  She breathed in deeply.  It was a nightmare.

 

She had no more energy.  This time she did not raise up but turned her head to look again at the devil she had borne.  At once her heart flooded with warmth.  She was holding the head of the Red Yank in the crook of her arm, and he suckled contentedly with closed eyes.  This time she didn’t look away.  She stared at the head of white hair and listened to the nursery noises his lips were making as he pulled on the nipple in his mouth.  Outside something happened to the sunlight, and it was alternately dappled with darkness.  It was a stroboscopic effect.  The face of the Red Yank changed, and the hair colour changed, too.  From white to brown with streaks of grey to brown.  Then it was full and fine before he began to lose it all.  The ruddy face changed, too, as it returned to the cherubic features of a new-born baby.  The huge body dwindled to the soft, new form of an infant.  She was looking at the Red Yank of 60 years ago, after the birth but before the life.

Roulla Mavromati heard a noise and turned her head to the other side.  Another baby lay there asleep.  This one had wispy blond hair and grey eyes.  It had to be Bishop.  She had given birth to both of them.  They were separate now, the three who came together to form Athena.  She cradled the Red Yank and kissed him on the forehead.  As she once again closed her eyes she could feel his shape growing, filling her arms and the bed, his lips sucking milk from her breast.

 

Stupid fucker,” Louie muttered.

* * *

 

Trevor Mincer settled himself into the cushions of what was formerly the royal carriage used for ceremonial occasions in the past.  Pulling the gilded wagon were twelve naked and strong young men.  He watched their buttocks clench and unclench with the effort.  It was a heavy carriage, but Mincer wanted to get the point across to the Roos.  This was to be a decisive turning point of history.  It had to be.  The Giant had not let him down after all.  In only a matter of weeks he was swept from the status of criminal to that of redeemer.  The dwindling population of Britain must be given energy – to fight, to overcome, to prevail.  They needed a structure, a strong one.  The State would be restored as the ultimate provider of nature and identity.  And terror.  Mincer could do that.  With the help of the Giant.

And soon the Giant would fade from his consciousness and his memories, so Mincer would think he had done it all by himself.  Which was as it should be.

 

Now he was excited as the carriage moved into the grounds of Kensington Palace and he realised the full scope of his mission.  From this day – on his coronation – he would begin to create the New Fiction with himself as saviour and leader.  He was like a god.  In the Beginning was the Word.  It was a Story that would start to unfold as he wished it to unfold, as all the eyes of his subjects turned to him for meaning.  He would give, and he would take.  Which was the whole point of democracy.  After all, what was the purpose of freedom if there were no responsibilities?

It was not as glittering as the old days.  No horse guards or beaverskin hats, red coats or clanking swords.  There were quite a few old Land Rovers, though, most of them with mounted machine guns.  It was strange how things changed.  A couple of months ago he was being hunted.  Now he was being made into an emperor.  Well, that is how the story began.  Thugs, ministers, gangsters, royals – when you came down to it, what was the difference between them?  You always had to start somewhere.

 

There were those born to rule and those born to obey.  It was ever thus.

* * *

 

Tom Bishop lay naked on the roof.  He was using a towel for a pillow.  The sky was full of stars over the dark city of London.  All the light pollution was gone now.  It was as if he were looking at a new and fresh world, a world before the building of the great city.  Or possibly a world centuries hence when the whole reason for cities had evaporated.  Birth, growth, maturity, decay and death.  The eternal pentagram of ontology.  An ontology he could only see fragment by fragment.  He drew on his spliff and was aware of his pupils narrowing from the bright red glow on the end of it.  Sucking the smoke into his lungs, he held it for a moment before exhaling with great pleasure.  Examining memories was a poor way of remembering.  Besides, the past was only a living segment of the present, and the present was illusory at the very moment it was captured as a future memory.  Illusion in the present was important.  Bishop knew that.  It was illusion that was the fountainhead of creativity, that constant but flickering state of being and non-being where things were made and imagined.  Nothing else really mattered.

He took another drag on his spliff and blew a cloud of fog at the stars.

 

Copyright Bill Bailey

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