The Projectionist – Chapter Four

Oliver had spent the rest of that evening weighing up the invitation. There was nothing else, no small lead or person he knew who could help. It was only Una and Caspar. Even if she could not fully help then perhaps she had knowledge of something that could. Her son had the same affliction. Oliver wondered if he would ask the boy about the moth.

After his conversation with Caspar he had thanked the man and withdrew to his room. The slip of paper with the address of where Una was staying and Caspar’s number burned in his pocket. He lay that evening on his bed with an ice pack wrapped around his neck. Between small naps he watched trashy TV shows and documentaries on animals. He was worried about the hag. Caspar seemed to think it would come for him. It had found something in him the man had said. Oliver gripped the oversized straw the hotel waiter had given him, and drank the remainder of the orange juice.

Checking the jotted-down address he saw it was a day or two drive north with the fastest method being by train. He would pack first and then head down to the help desk and have them order a taxi.

Continue reading “The Projectionist – Chapter Four”

The Projectionist – Chapter Three

Autumn leaves were scattered over the black water. Wrinkled and crumbling they floated almost still in shades of sun-burnt orange and maple browns. Clinging to Olivers pale skin. Waist high in the water he tread forward. The floor below was loose and shifting between his toes. He could see something in the distance. Piercing the black sky and water on the horizon. Leaves clung to his skin as he waded through them. Sliding over his stomach they wavered. Connecting to one another they trailed from behind like a brides gown. Tree trunk. Oliver stood in front of it now. The great remains of a tree split open at the base. Carved out like a butchered cow. The gathering leaves floated ahead of him and into it’s split wooden mouth. Touching the shadow within they began to twitch and jerk. Clustering together into one great ball of wriggling life; Droplets of yellow oil began to cover the bark surrounding the mouth. As if it was sweating out a virus, the yellow sap seeped through the cracks from within the wood framing it.
Was it open?
The leaves floated back towards him. Clustered over the water they flapped with abandon. Twig legs struggling to turn itself over. They were not leaves anymore. Oliver felt them find solace on him. Pricking his skin to compose themselves, they crawled one on top of the other. No part of him was safe. Fluttering to dry their wings they crept upwards. No patch of skin free from their needle-like feet. Raising his arms out they followed over and up his neck. They were no longer dead leaves. Moths transformed anew. They would crawl into his mouth if he opened it. He could let them.
Was it open?
The window frame.
Was it open?
The yellow mouth of misshapen wood began to bleed its yellow mess all over now.

She was close. Continue reading “The Projectionist – Chapter Three”

The Projectionist – Chapter Two

A mist encroached the hardening woods. Covering the dead autumnal leaves and foliage in a crisp shaving of ice. Gary Tumnal had found peace in those early mornings where the birds barely sang. He would leave the warmth of his bed and wife for a chance to hike out into the vast forest. She never understood it but there was a wonder out there only Gary knew. It swallowed all the thoughts and pressures of his daily life – giving him a sense of peace. He had scoffed at his wife when she referred to his practice as meditative. It was enough to curl the bottom of his lip up like a dog snarling. How could she call me a fucking hippie he thought. He was a man who knew what he liked. He drank ales and enjoyed lifting weights. There was nothing peculiar about him.

He stooped down over a muddy creak and scanned through the dark water to see how deep it was. The floating specks and mulch made it look deceptively shallow. Gary chose to walk around it until he could find a way to cross. He had gone further into the woods this morning. He had seen a pattern emerging from last year. After a severe argument with his wife he remembered slamming the door to his kitchen and retreating upstairs. Smashing his hand against the window frame he glanced out over the town view and stopped dead in his tracks. Swiped clean of all rage and bitterness he stared deep into the matchstick rows of trees fading out. There was a scratching sound or perhaps pressure. Like a spinning top on a wooden desk it peaked every now and then before the scratch would turn to a dull hum.

Through discussions with his boss and meals at their families Gary felt that scratch linger. Every night he would linger in his bathroom before bed, opening up the window to catch sight of the trees. Alittle piece of his soul seemed to float further ahead and into the unknown where the woods began. It wasn’t until he had heard the news from the doctors did he finally take his first step. Dropping his wife off at her mums he fumbled with an excuse to putting extra time in at work before taking off. He didn’t feel guilty – “she had her shows to watch” he reasoned to himself. Parking his car in the back parking lot of the church he stepped out and walked. He walked over puddle ridden pathways and through squelching grasslands. He walked a whole hour out until all he could see was bark and branches. Then, kneeling down, he placed his hands over his face and wept. Beyond the scratch something had finally turned loose and a great wave of emotion poured out. Long snotty snorts and blubbering wails resonated out from between his cupped hands. He pushed his body down further into the dirt and grass. Welcoming the cool touch of something natural on his bare skin. Stretching his arms out he pushed his hands out into the ground. Digging hands into the mud and pulling it all away. The base layer of dried leaves and rocks gave way to wet soil. Wet soil sunk between his webbing until roots found his grasp. Like a loose thread he wrapped them round his fingers and pulled it out. The spinning-top scratched harder around the bone of his inner skull. Smelling that mix of dirt in the air fuelled him on with excitement. He tore the roots out fully but that wasn’t enough. He needed to corrupt them more. Sinking his teeth around them, he pushed them to the back molars and crunched down hard. Gnashing the root to paste as tears streamed down his eyes and rolled off the chin. Poison bled out and filled his mouth like a dry paste. He needed it. It was his initiation. His ritual for the woods. For the scratching. Continue reading “The Projectionist – Chapter Two”

The Projectionist – Chapter One

Oliver stared at himself in the circular mirror. Wiping the condensation from the surface he saw the air gather against it and droplets pool together before sliding down. This was his second shower of the evening. He stood there in the spray, letting the force crash against his face and closed eyes. Gradually turning the temperature dial one peg colder each time until unbearable. Then with gritted teeth and clenched muscles he counted down to ten. Never reaching zero, switching back to five again and again, until he could not cope with the sharp sting of the icy water. The shower had done its purpose though; he was more awake than ever.

The plughole gurgled and spat across from him. A shadow darted over the sink upwards, Oliver span his head to see the fluttering of a moth attempting to land on the cornflower yellow wall.

It was barely alive, trying to cling to the everlasting halogen star that hung from the ceiling. Oliver leaned in, holding his breath. The head was bleached white like a tiny skeletal man with a dusty brown anorak on. He dared not blink for the bug could, within that split second, crawl onto his face. Cupping his hand against the wall, he gently blew against the insect until it scuttled into his palm. Before it could retreat, the hand closed. Little skeletal man legs scratched between the folds to no avail. Oliver listened to the wind whistle from the window. The image of a sour yellow window-frame appeared in his mind. Slowly but surely it grew closer from the dark recesses. Everything had started with a choice and Oliver knew he had the freedom to deny what was given to him back then.

He squeezed his hand tight around the moth. Chewing it between the fingers until only dust remained. A change of scenery was needed. Continue reading “The Projectionist – Chapter One”