"gradually I've come to realise that my house is haunted by the ghost of a dead astronaut"

Saturday, 16 October 2010

59. "I'll Gobble You Up, Stephanie Fey!"

"This world that is just a metaphor for my own inner predicament. A code written in landscapes and events, in time and in the eyes of others. Breathe out a wrong idea and a demon visits your home. But love with an enchantment that stirs the angels of this world and flowers will tumble down out of the sky onto the lids of your eyes"

As I was to find out, in trying to decide what to do – in amongst the blurred lines between dream and reality, between subjective self and the physical world – I'd once again made the wrong choice.

The corridor between the front door of Mordan House and the door to my suite of rooms shimmered in my vision while Psychic Psusan walked along it, as if the shadows were drifting in from outside in a quivering form, light and dark shaken with some kind of agitation. Or was it every thought in my mind, every feeling and sensation darting like tremulous little puppies over the skirting boards, the cracks in the plaster, the cornicing, the slats of the wooden banister, the shadowy locks of Psusan’s hair, having first ricocheted off every surface behind my eyes?

Where, oh where, was the line between self and the world? Wasn’t there a time when I walked that line quite deftly? Oh, I was so far away from knowing the answer to any of these questions!

But what I do know is that Psychic Psusan spoke – yet even her words seemed to shake, the syllables appearing gnarled and frayed at the edges. Did she say something about using the bathroom before conducting the séance? She probably did, as that was where she disappeared. I half listened at the door; half looked around me at the half empty space, and half hoped for at least half an answer as to why I seemed entirely prepared to go through with this act so readily. No sound from the house; no sound from the bathroom. Not even half of one. I recall having the following thought in my head and some inner laughter vibrating just like the sound of another's laughter can do when you’re drunk: Psychic Psusan’s right: she is indeed the clairvoyant with the silent ‘P’ – in more ways than one!

“That’s me now!”

Exclamation marks seemed to collide as Psychic Psusan, refreshed, appeared at my shoulder. I saw a flash of feline eyes, words that appeared to rub against my leg insidiously as sharp nails dug into her bag to bring out the necessary esoteric paraphernalia to conduct the séance. The zip of her bag as it opened made a sound in my ears like a spitting hiss, and along my arms I felt a tickle of fur that caused my fingers to tighten instinctively.

There was some degree of chatter between us, but it was all mixed up with my own attempts to rationalise why I was so thoughtlessly going through with this, without any consideration of the pros and …

“Is this the best room? I mean, the room with the most pstrange goings-on – the most psychic disturbances?” I seem to recall her asking.

… cons? Was this whole experience just me, the occurrences of my own life spilled out into the world ..?

“Actually, no, I don’t think so. There’s a room with an old radio in it. It’s upstairs.” Me. My voice. Sort of.

She raised an eyebrow. Was she set to pounce? “A radio? That’s … hm … very …”

… This world that is just a metaphor for my own inner predicament. A code written in landscapes and events, in time and in the eyes of others. Breathe out a wrong idea and a demon visits your home. But love with an enchantment that stirs the angels of this world and flowers will tumble down out of the sky onto the lids of your eyes …

Ellipses collided. Legs became tangled in my vision too as we walked up the stairs in the steadily dimming light. Old sounds of living agedness and new sounds of living emotions both coiled around us. Cats. Yes, like cats.  The room of the psychic occurrences opened before us and the atmosphere within it hummed. The very air in the room appeared to me to be moving, a living thing turning in its invisibility, with its sinuous, breathing presence all too apparent in every shadow and every surface. Even the old brown and cream radio had a sense about it of waiting to leap into life. What was this sensation? This one of poise? Of silent skulking?

"I saw a flash of feline eyes, words that appeared to rub against my leg insidiously as sharp nails dug into her bag to bring out the necessary esoteric paraphernalia to conduct the séance. The zip of her bag as it opened made a sound in my ears like a spitting hiss, and along my arms I felt a tickle of fur that caused my fingers to tighten instinctively"

“Well, this pshould be fine. Yes, I can psense the electricity in the air. I’m psure this will produce a pstirring and insightful pséance. Or maybe this will come to be more of an exorcism. We’ll psoon psee!

Exorcism? But if Psychic Psusan found nothing, then would it turn out to be me that was exorcised? For then, all these events would surely be all products of me for sure. Me! Writ large and with terrifying vividness!

Italics slid into one another pell-mell. At some point, I recollect that we were all set to go. We were seated. There were candles. Shadowy objects on a table that we sat beside. The radio near by. Psusan's hands clasping mine. She began to mumble words that my mind could barely capture. Anyone? Presence? Call? Who? Who? Who? Speak? Answer? Answer? Were these the words? All disconnected though. Freely making up their own rights and logic as they saw fit.

Clauses became confused as so many words died within the atmosphere. And claws became mixed up on paws: mine clipped; Psusan's lengthened and sharpened. And with a tight grip on me. I wanted to pull away. To break the spell that was starting to exist within an already existing spell created by me.

I spoke: “Who invited you here? What was her name?” Psusan's fragmented words continued. I felt giddy and tired and I sat back trying now to establish some distance between me and her, but it was the growing fear in me that was demanding the distance. “Was it Lizzie? Was that her name? Can you remember what she looked like?”

"Anyone? Presence? Call? Who? Who? Who? Speak? Answer? Answer? Mud. Mud. She was covered in mud."

“What? Who? The woman who invited you here? She was covered in mud?”

"And she looked up at the sky. And she laughed as she looked. She laughed before she began to sing."

Why did it not seem like Psusan who was saying these words? Though I knew it wasn't me. And it wasn't the radio to one side of us either.

"Anyone? Presence? Call? Who? Who? Who? Speak? Answer? Answer? Mud. Mud. She was covered in mud"

“To sing? What did she sing? Tell me what song she sang.” But I knew what song it would be. Yet I needed it confirmed to me. My grip on her hands was all of a sudden tighter than her grip on mine. “Tell me the song.”

There was a crackle in the air. Did it come from Psusan? A crackle like radio static. The sound of a lost signal trying to connect through air and through space.  But even this wasn't from the radio. It came instead from the psychic sitting before me in the half-light. And not her own voice. It was that same male voice that I had heard before in that very same room and reverberating through the house at times also.

Psusan's lips moved in time to the bursts of static, as well as to the sounding of the words. Static was to her facial expressions like coughing or throat-clearing, as if it was rising up from her stomach and finding a way out through her mouth. The sung words though were unmistakable and eerie and all too familiar: “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away. Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day …”

This again.  Back here. No matter how much I tried to climb away inside from all of this, it still refused to leave me or to leave Mordan House. Still my insanity continued to play itself out like a scratchy old record that repeats and repeats and repeats.

"There was a crackle in the air. Did it come from Psusan? A crackle like radio static. The sound of a lost signal trying to connect through air and through space.  But even this wasn't from the radio. It came instead from the psychic sitting before me in the half-light. And not her own voice. It was that same male voice that I had heard before in that very same room"

But then it all changed. I saw Psusan suddenly transform, completely in the control of the messages coming through her as if on radio waves. It was clear that she was now being tuned by some unknown, unseeable presence inside her. Hiss. Crackle. Analogue noise and barbed aural confusion poured out of her mouth, before she stopped and her eyes arched, filled suddenly with a presence, a personality. Still monophonic, stripped of depth and clarity, I heard a female voice, as if on a radio station finally tuned in, say: “I can see you, Stephanie Fey. Oh, yes. I can see you and the dead heavens can see you too. And they are ready to gobble you up! You foul little stench, you‘re so ripe, you dirty, disgusting disease!”

“Who are you?” Did I say these words? They came from somewhere. It must have been me.

“I am the one who’s coming back. Back here to reclaim my home again. I am the creator of the dead and the conjurer of the dead. And the one who brings the dead heavens down to the ground. And we’re going to devour all the air inside of you, Stephanie Fey, and claim you for our own!”

Yes, yes, yes, as I was to find out, in trying to decide what to do – in amongst the blurred lines between dream and reality, between subjective self and the physical world – I'd once again made the wrong choice. So true. Yes, so true.

And Psychic Psusan had made the wrong choice too. She had sat close to the window. A light appeared so speedily that I had barely registered it before it collided with the glass and the frame of the window, and they both shattered, exploding sharp shards everywhere. The shards themselves were lightly touched with a firey reflection, a white and bright glow, quite beautiful as they flew by me and over me. White mingled with white, light dazzled light, and they fed each other, as the shape and aura of a dead astronaut clambered through the window, instantly gripping Psusan's shoulders and in a movement so speedy in its violence – so fantastic and horrific that I did nothing – it dragged her back out through the window in one clean, horrifyingly cold motion. I didn't move. I didn't scream. I made no sound, no gesture. All I was aware of was the newfound breeze on the palms of my hands where just before there was the warm, tight presence of another.

"Still monophonic, stripped of depth and clarity, I heard a female voice, as if on a radio station finally tuned in, say: 'I can see you, Stephanie Fey. Oh, yes. I can see you and the dead heavens can see you too. And they are ready to gobble you up! You foul little stench, you‘re so ripe, you dirty, disgusting disease!'”

Then the sound of silence like hands around a throat and I saw the empty chair close beside me, almost with its hands up to its face to prevent it seeing what had just taken place. It seemed that Psusan had been – quite simply and quite conclusively – plucked.

I remembered my own car sitting invitingly on the driveway. In my tense stillness, my shock, the thought of the waiting vehicle came to me like a rough jostle on my arm. It was as if it was calling to me, like an escape pod on another planet, or in a spaceship as its hull is hammered by an unseen force that has appeared within the ghastly void from out of nowhere. And I started to run. No other thought in my head but escape. It was so pure in its selfishness, in its lack of doubt, that I ran in its unconfused beauty and I could have ran within it forever.

If only it had lasted.

Next instalment: 60. Three Cars in the Driveway

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