"What I would do was lock the basement door and put the key somewhere safe. Then no-one else would come back into Mordan House uninvited. If I carried out the act really, really quickly then I wouldn’t see or hear anything! No scratching at the walls like before. No sign of dead things moving around in the adjacent room like before"
It's a rusty kind of day. Something has got into my joints and I'm creaking and ineffectual. Every movement grinds through me and I feel bits of me grating together and other bits flaking off. That's what the other night has done to me. Mentally, I'm all dizzy – thoughts just slide out of my head and nothing seems able to grip them. Physically, I'm all slowed down and dilapidated. Crush and recycle me. It's all I'm good for.
“When are you going to get up?”
I know that it's largely because my system doesn't want to consider what happened to me the other night. There's only so much that can be handled by me, or any human being at any one time. I want peace, some space for reparation and reformation. No boats will be rocked by me today. Boats will love the sea today and feel it to be their friend.
“You are such a waste of space, Steph Fey! Get up! Show some stomach! Show some fight!”
“I can’t get up! I don’t want to get up!” I holler.
My head’s under the covers but I can feel Kidman hovering, and I can hear her pacing about as she barks at me.
“I don’t care about what you want! Why would I ever care about what you want? You’re nothing to me. Getting up, that’s what’s important!”
I don’t know what to do next. I’m aware of this logjam of possibilities inside me. Indecision. Anguish. How do I solve this puzzle? Which way do I go? I can’t decide. All possibilities seem equal and all possibilities seem potentially fruitless too. I know I need to go and talk to people, to get up and do things and talk. That way I’ll find out things. About the engineer, for example. Was he the same man that had entered Mordan House the other night? I needed to ask about so many things! But I’m nothing. I’m a dull, useless bitch and I can’t bring myself to do anything.
“Get up, dull, useless bitch! Just get up!”
I won't rock any boat today. Even liars and self-deceivers are safe on the sea today. Dead astronauts are safe in the skies too. I will investigate nothing, therefore I will find out nothing. Nothing is resolved to do nothing.
“Oh, budge up then! If you’re going to be so achingly dull then I’m off to sleep too!”
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Getting into bed. I’m going to sleep here too.”
Bloody Kidman! Will she ever leave me in peace?
Then. A thought. One I could hold onto. Oh, such a little thought. Oh, tiny little thing. I sat bolt upright, realising the one thing that I wanted to do and could do.
"I won't rock any boat today. Even liars and self-deceivers are safe on the sea today. Dead astronauts are safe in the skies too. I will investigate nothing, therefore I will find out nothing. Nothing is resolved to do nothing. No, I can’t hold any thought"
Kidman observed me as I sat up. “What is it? Did I touch your lady cupboard? If I did, it was an accident!”
What I would do was lock the basement door and put the key somewhere safe. Then no-one else would come back into Mordan House uninvited. If I carried out the act really, really quickly then I wouldn’t see or hear anything! No scratching at the walls like before. No sign of dead things moving around in the adjacent room like before. Yes, quickly! Quickly would ensure that the ambition was achieved. Yet, no sooner had I decided what to do than I knew also that I had to get it done straight away, or else lose the drive as quickly as it had arrived.
I got up. “Where are you going?”
I told her where. “The basement? Are you some kind of totally sick cuckoo bitch? Some kind of twisted freak show of a woman?”
“Yes,” I replied.
I threw on my dressing gown, put on my slippers and started immediately for the door. Kidman followed me but hung back as if not wanting to get close. “I don’t think you should do that. Especially not in your mentally unstable state. Not while you’re self-evidently a complete loon. A total fruit bat. Perhaps wait until you’re not so psychotic. What do you say?”
I looked away, squinted and licked my lips, feeling remarkably uncomfortable, but still energised. All of a sudden I was again aware of how vulnerable my body felt after the asthma attack of a few nights before. Inside, I felt like a room stripped of wallpaper; outside, like an old building covered in scaffolding. Kidman, on the other hand, looked like she was made of stone, each gesture precise and exquisite, every surface smooth and resplendent. Just her presence taunted me with it’s brazen delightfulness.
“No. I have to do this. I have to do something, so why not this?” It wasn’t really a question. It was posed to myself and posed loosely as if there was no answer other than ‘Yes, why not indeed?’.
"Inside, I felt like a room stripped of wallpaper; outside, like an old building covered in scaffolding. Kidman, on the other hand, looked like she was made of stone, each gesture precise and exquisite, every surface smooth and resplendent. Just her presence taunted me with it’s brazen delightfulness"
Then. The door handle. The lock. The gush of cold from the hallway. The sight of the hallway. The legs moving, moving. My legs! Oh, hello legs! No apparent mental impetus from me at all. And Kidman in the background trying to make me turn back. Failing. Miserably.
“You can look at my lady cupboard!”
Then. More steps. More cold. More shadows, even in daylight.
Then. The steps down to the basement. And me stepping down them. Then. The boom-boom-boom of my heartbeat. But my steps equally as quick. The boom-boom-boom of my steps on the stairs. Then. Trying. To breathe. And. Just about. Able to.
It felt like walking back through more than a memory. More than an emotional and psychological recollection of a bad experience. It felt like I was walking into a living thing that I had previously assumed to be dead and lifeless, but now saw and knew to be something else. Yet not a person or a creature. A place of creatures. I could feel the presence of sharp fingers reaching out to scratch against that wall, even though I couldn’t hear them. I felt the walls of that stairwell reaching down to try and pluck me out of this world. To eat me whole, like those helmets that eat people. Those helmets that you wear forever, after you've put them on once.
No. Actions only. Keep walking, Stephanie Fey. Keep. Breathing. Too.
The key was still there in the door, just where I had left it. I closed the door quietly, too afraid to bang it. Then. So much more afraid than when I had walked down the stairs, I ran back up them. Ran for fear of that living place finding its ability to grind its teeth, close its mouth and swallow me.
"It felt like I was walking into a living thing that I had previously assumed to be dead and lifeless, but now saw and knew to be something else. Yet not a person or a creature. A place of creatures. I could feel the presence of sharp fingers reaching out to scratch against that wall, even though I couldn’t hear them"
Then. The stairwell at the top. The key in my hand. Yet no feeling of triumph. Not yet. Not while the fear was still present. I soon found I was standing still at my door, concentrating on relaxing, on getting my breathing back. I needed a minute. To adjust. Then. Then I would feel pleased.
But there, on the other side of the door, was Kidman. She turned her gaze on me, at first saying nothing. There was no need. Her entire look was comprised of eyebrows, nose and puppies. Resentfully, I realised then that she was right: sometimes ENP is all you need. No other gesture is required, no words need be employed.
“Happy now? So what the devil will you do with the key? Wait until someone breaks the door down to try and get it from where you’ve hidden it. The basement door was better off open. Now you’ve just drawn more attention to yourself.” She was haughty and superior. But she was right. I looked down at the key in my hand and wondered what exactly I would do with it. But, more than this, I was instantly angry at Kidman for stealing my thunder. Stealing my ever so tiny moment of glory.
“Quit that ENP crap, will you!” was all I could say. It was a trite thing to say and I knew it.
She didn’t stop though, merely relaxed the ENP for an instance and then realigned its properties with even greater force. “It doesn’t mean anything, you know! It just looks stupid!” I told her.
"Slowly she raised her head and looked at me. No elevated quizzical eyebrows, no dagger-like nose, no plush and protruded puppies. Instead, darkness. Steely anger. But not like mine. Hers was fearsomely focused and portentous. This was a new Kidman and I didn’t like it. What kind of Kidman was this anyway?"
But she continued to hold it. Oh boy, did she hold it! It was magnificent! How I despised her! Despised her? Did I? I aimed for calmness, but only reached quiet incandescence: “Thank you, Kidman. I think I get it.”
“Get it? That you never will, you Stilly Stephanie.”
I’m not entirely sure where it came from. My language, all of a sudden, became the language of a small infected, crippled demon who was finding his way up and out of me – “Up and out,” the small demon cackled. ‘”Up and out, that’s where I’m going.” I couldn’t stop him. I just couldn’t. Seeing Kidman, the demon thought it recognised one of its own kind and spat.
“You despicable little presence, Kidman! Get out of my life! Get out! You repel me! You horror! You plague of a presence! You’re bile in my life. You’re a scourge! How dare you talk to me and treat me the way that you do! Just get your repulsive, insulting knives out of my life! You’re just a set of horrible dirty stabbing knives! Get out, damn it, get out!”
It was my voice, but how unlike me. I could see myself speaking the words, yet I felt connected to myself by some chord that projected me above myself. All those feelings, however, were with me, travelling through the chord and passing toxins into my head. My lips had saliva on them and I could feel a bit of spit on my chin, but my mouth was utterly dry. I felt my hands and my chin shaking with nervousness and anger and self-hatred.
I knew how Kidman would respond. I knew her presence. I awaited the silent stance of eyebrows, nose and puppies. But, oh, how wrong I was!
There was a silence between us. For the first time, it was one of ignorance on my part; the first time I felt that I didn’t understand what was going on with her. It was eerie.
Slowly she raised her head and looked at me. No elevated quizzical eyebrows, no dagger-like nose, no plush and protruded puppies. Instead, darkness. Steely anger. But not like mine. Hers was fearsomely focused and portentous. This was a new Kidman and I didn’t like it. What kind of Kidman was this anyway?