Monday, 6 July 2015

The Oracle (part 2)

When Kennedy got to the town, the sun had penetrated the solidity of the horizon twice. It’s spilt blood poisoned the sky twice. The creature’s carcass had begun to attract mosquitos that took pleasure in snipping their microscopic bills into Kennedy’s sweatless flesh. He tried to ignore them but eventually he had to take the temptation and crush the bug in the palm of  his hand. When he did, his shoulders rippled, the carcass fell from his shoulder. He sighed and reached out to pick it up but as he did it felt as if it’d just become a hundred tons heavier. When he eventually did lift it, he couldn’t get it comfortable on his shoulders and the weight ached them a hundred times more than anything else had. 
Kennedy dragged the carcass into the town with his entire body screaming with the effort. From behind veiled windows, tentative eyes watched in trepidation at the man who’d slain the creature. No doubt a crow’s eye had been watching him approach all these many days. The creature’s claws tore against the leather undersides of his palms. It hurt him as much as the words whispered of him behind closed doors; he was aware but he didn’t care.
There was a tavern in the centre of the town as all good towns must have. A dead horse lay on the floor next to the door. A young boy was using a saw to hack one of it’s legs off. 
“Those wolves taste good, lad?” Kennedy asked, stopping besides the boy.
“Yessir. Best meat I ever tasted, but only once.”
Kennedy hauled the creature towards the boy. “How many you feed with that?”
“The entire town, sir. For a week, sir!”
“Get feeding them. Make sure they know who brought it them.” Kennedy said and lurched into the tavern. There was a blind man at a piano, beating the keys in an arcane fashion. He stopped as Kennedy entered.  Hushed cries passed amongst the patrons. They were all sipping on froth coated alcohol. Kennedy smiled. At least at the ends of the world there was still beer. 
He stumbled towards the sticky topped bar. A woman stood behind it, all added height and sweat curled hair. Her face and her hands were red, a mixture of make up and panting. “We no want your type round these parts.” Said a man from Kennedy’s side.
Kennedy turned. The man was sat on a bar stool, holding a glass of frosted liquor. “And what would my type be?”
“Foreigners.” The old man replied.
Kennedy let out a sudden lurching laugh that felt as if it ripped his dry throat in half. “I am no foreigner for foreigner means I come from someplace else. I come from no where.” With that, he turned back to the lady behind the bar and ordered, “Two pints of whatever’s strongest and two bowls of creature stew.”
“Creature stew?” The lady asked.
“Or whatever you name the meal being made with my scavenges.”
“Of course, dear.” The lady replied, grabbing two frosted tankards and filling them to the brim with the same orange liquid as every other glass in the room. She slapped them onto the bar and made no show to wipe away the spillovers as the foam sloshed over. “Will you be wanting a room, love?”
Kennedy considered it and then nodded. “Yes. One cushion, a quilt and a lit fire.”
“Will you be wanting any... decoration to the room?”
“What sort of decoration?”
“The scantily clad sort.”
Kennedy nodded. “I will be requiring the room once I’ve finished my meal.” And with that, Kennedy wandered over to a table and sat down, taking a large gulp of one of his two pints, draining a third. He wiped the stubble of liquid off his actual stubble, before shouting, “You can continue playing now, blind man.”
Kennedy filled his pipe with forgotten leaves whilst the blind man hit the keys once more.

He found his room above the tavern, with only the remnants of the undignified noise seeping through. There was a door at the end of a long wooden expanse lit by oil candles. The bar maid had given him the key with his plate of stew, telling him to tell her when he wanted his decoration delivered. He’d told her five minutes ago and so now the room was ready. The brass key clicked the door open easily and he found his way in alright. There was a young girl sat on his bed, probably no older than seventeen or eighteen. As he approached her he found her crying. He hoped he hadn’t paid extra for this.
“What brings these tears from your eyes?” Kennedy asked, sitting down on the bed besides her. The sooner he could cheer her up the better. 
“I’m sorry, sir. I shouldn’t be crying.”
*No, you shouldn’t.* Kennedy considered saying, but instead settled on, "No one weeps for no reason. What upsets you, girl?"
"It is this town, sir. It used to be religious like no other but now look at it."
"Who are you to speak of religion?"
"More appropriate than others." She replied. "I was once Oracle to the Gods, their voice through me. And now I am passed amongst the men like tankards of liver acid."
“Do the Gods still speak from you?”
“They tell me so. All I know is that the white mist obscures my vision and closes me to all attentions around me. And then when I awake, I am surrounded by other women, the scum of the Earth, that I spoke in ancient tones.”
“I need you to communicate with the Gods for me-- what’s your name?”
“What an appropriate name for an oracle.” Kennedy muttered. “Delphine, you must speak to the Gods for me. Ask them their whim for my future.”
“I can’t speak to the Gods on demand; I must be spoken to first!” She protested, backing away from the bed. “I despise this duty but I will do that and nothing else for the price you are paying.”
“Delphine, you must help me!”
“Do you not understand me?” She cried, throwing her hands out. Her eyes shone the deep white of the God’s and then suddenly a crackling explosion of red energy was whipping around her. Kennedy ducked away, falling to the floor. For the first time in many years, Kennedy was afraid. 
Delphine was stood over him, blazing with a great divinity, and then there was a sudden explosion. The room blazed over white with goodness threads of lightning forks breaking through the air. When it cleared, Delphine was on the floor, writhing with something that evidently wasn’t agony. From the screams of delight from her mouth, Kennedy could only assume it was euphoria. 
The shuddering stopped and she stared up at the roof lying completely still. Her eyes were open and glazed over with white, the pupils only merely visible beneath the opaque frosting of the Gods. They were possessing her in those moments, and Kennedy knew it was only going to get worse. In an attempt to calm himself down as much to calm her, Kennedy produced some crushed leaves from his pocket and pushed them into the candle. The room seemed to sway now, slightly, and was instantly much calmer.
Delphine’s lips opened but the voice which emerged certainly wasn’t her’s. “You summoned us, lone wanderer.”
“I thank you for your reply.” Kennedy said, but abruptly stopped speaking when he saw Delphine’s possessed body rising from the floor. Around her, all the candles began to burn brighter and the light bulbs began to glow fiercer. There was a fly somewhere out of sight but it’s trademark humming became evermore distracting. 
“You are curious of your future.” The God inhabiting Delphine announced. “You wish us to describe it’s course to you. You believe we know the route of time like that of a future.”
“I do.” Kennedy replied.
“You are mistaken, lone wanderer. I know no more than you do of your future. I do, however, know of your role.” Delphine’s body way rising higher and higher, almost gracing the bottom of the chandelier above. One of the bulbs to her side became painful to stare at. The fly’s humming began to drill into Kennedy’s mind.
“My role? What is it?” He felt a cold touch to the back of his neck, a slender stroke. He daren’t look behind. 
“You are impatient, long wanderer. You speak too much.” 
“You are falsely enigmatic and quite pedantic. Speak your fortune and then return to your paradise.”
The stroke once more returned to the back of Kennedy’s neck. He needed to turn, his entire skin itched and trembled with that desire but he knew he couldn’t.  *Talk back to a God all you like, young one.* His nanny used to lecture him. *Call their name with no justification but anger, but never look at a God. Not if you want to one day get to their heaven.*
His neck itching with temptation, Kennedy continued to stare at the floating body of Delphine as it continued to project the words of the God forwards. “Your role is simple. You are to complete your journey.”
“Where to?”
“Like time, your journey has no set course. But like time, your journey will end in the same place.”
“Where is that?” 
“The future.”
Delphine’s body hit the chandelier and knocked it. The terribly bright candles rocked in their cradle and a pool of oil dripped from one candle and onto Delphine’s exposed flesh. Kennedy heard it sizzling and then solidifying. Delphine didn’t even move. The fly’s buzzing was beginning to grow louder and louder, hurting his ears. It seemed to release a vibration through his blood that was making his bones shiver. Not that he would be able to see them shivering. The bulbs and candles in the room was growing so strong that it was becoming impossible to see. His eyes stung like his arms and his legs. It was becoming unbearable. The cramps from earlier were beginning to return, his entire body was screaming at him.
And there was that terrible itching at the back of his neck, the goose bumps of addiction, of dependency, burning him. He needed it, more than he’d needed the pipe leaves in his pocket. Kennedy knew he would regret it but he knew he would regret it all the more if he didn’t do it. Residing himself in his fate, Kennedy twisted his head over his shoulder. The horror he was expecting, the terror and fear being brunt by the envy and the need was... it was...
Entirely empty.
The God was gone. The moment was over. Delphine fell through the air and hit the rug covered floor. The bulbs shattered, spraying glass into the air, and the candles melted instantaneously, solidifying streams of oil running down the cabinets they sat on. That fly, buzzing so loudly and terribly, stopped existing instantly. Kennedy felt a speck of black material hit the space just above his top lip. His journey was to end in the future. Was that a threat or just a fact? Either way, it was a hell of a waste of burning leaf.
“Did the Gods speak through me?” Delphine asked from the floor. 
“What do you think?” Kennedy replied, but his words were drained away by the explosion of a gun outside.

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