(Late edit: Hi to all you nice people at the Original Writings forum who have followed the (much appreciated) link in Samdan's answer to Mr Mallory-the-mysterious-Fanstorian aka ArchonSildarax's thread - to this hunk-o-junk entry that never made it to the final selection. Try the rest of my blog! I can rhyme things and count to five if I use both feet, especially when I remember the meds. Honest. Oh and I LOVE all your banners & buttons, tres Manga :-D )
Nope, its not working, I have brain freeze again today. So, in the style of my usual cop-outs, heres a story (like wot I wrote - God Bless Eric & little Ern).
Its a competition thingummy on FanStory, where they pick the first sentence. So you can't blame me for the first sentence, but hey, the rest is all mine. Fire away. Why not play hunt the SPAG, typo etc (if you can stay awake) and tell me all about it in the comments. You can even tell me its complete poop, as long as you say why. All feedback is good (Badaunt did a lovely post on just that point, a day or so ago.)
Hell found me. There I was, at the back of church after the late morning service, waiting with the rest of the spinsters for the tea and biscuits to appear from the adjoining church hall. To be specific, a smiling, impish, athletic looking young man, late twenty-something (real toy boy material) that I later discovered was called Giles, found me and winked, just when Doreen was in full swing with one of her own little sermons.
Doreen's orations were infamously tiring, but somebody always, after an awkward silence, felt obliged to ask how she was. Short and dumpy, she had a hard life, or at least one that she personally found hard and was continuously demonstrative about. After church at least, this was her cue to reach into her ample, baggy-sweater-ed bosom to clutch her equally outsized wooden cross pendant. With that ridiculous ornament firmly in her left hand, she would ball up the right fist low at her side. Like a nervous child on stage or a rabbit in headlights, she would breathe in dramatically, and after a halting start, go on for far too long about how gracious God had been to her that week. Frequently this soliloquy was peppered with incidental asides about the neighbour's dog, the mean man at the bus station and various other thinly veiled references to how hard her life was. All these were framed as statements of how God alone helped her to cope and forgive and, most importantly, stay humble.
Small beads of sweat would appear on her forehead just in the telling and I imagined her being secretly so furious that she wanted to birch somebody, but ultimately retiring to her room just like a mad monk, with her large wooden cross and her large King James Bible, to birch her own back for thinking evil thoughts. Poor, insecure Doreen, she was really a little unstable and practically bust a gut to share her torment, every week. I figured she was actually very lonely. Whether she was fervent and zealous because she was lonely, or lonely because she was fervent and zealous was something I had never considered. She had a sick mother at home, or something. Sick mothers never helped.
Anyhow, after a while, Doreen's right arm had got into the swing of things and was making her stubby fingered little hand contort into delicate fanning movements around her face. The effect was hypnotic; I had given up even trying to listen, transfixed at the art. Even with such a clumpy tool, all these subtle, flouncing movements stressed that at this point in her story her soul had been near to torment and her body near to fainting; again. Beyond her a couple of the ladies were nodding sagely, but with slightly glazed eyes from the concentration and fingers clutching handbags very tightly indeed.
I must have begun to obviously gawp, because when the tall, gorgeous and affable looking Giles appeared out of nowhere, looked at Doreen, looked at me, and winked, with a huge grin all across his face, I giggled out loud. This interrupted Doreen's performance and I was instantly treated to three politely blank stares, as if it was assumed that I wanted to interject. Things were looking up! A gorgeous young man had winked at me and now I also had all the excuse I needed to apologise and take a step back, leaving Doreen and her audience to their business whilst I wandered off to browse the books, nearer to the tea table.
Being new, Giles was obviously in high demand with much welcoming and shaking of the hand. I had drunk half of my tea and was deliberately sipping the last of the tepid brew in order to prolong my reason to be there, when suddenly he was again at my side.
"Hello! So glad there's another normal here!" he whispered, his voice quiet and subtle although his eyes danced with merriment. "Can I stick by you for a while? Too many agendas, here."
My heart did a back flip. He smelled so heavenly, so manly, all musky and warm; of childhood and safety and huge, satisfying cuddles. I wanted to bury myself in him then and there, and my arms felt a little weak, enough to make my teacup rattle on its saucer. I finished the cup quickly, and put it down.
"Honestly," he added, as we moved away from the table, "They're like vampires in here aren't they? Some of them were smiling so hard I thought they wanted to bite my neck and that old guy over there would not let go of my hand. Oh forgive, you can call me Giles. And you are?"
The name fitted so well. It wasn't what I would have imagined at all, but I understood it straight away, it spoke of refined parents and probably a fairly cloistered upbringing. I envisaged him in a life where everyone was a good sport and loved books, and people always treated each other with manners. He was like a breath of fresh air.
I gave him my name and added that the dear old folk were probably nervous of handsome young strangers but doing their best to make him feel welcome. He apologised charmingly, accepting the compliment without remark, and we started to discuss the range of biscuits on offer, then the architecture of the building and generally made our best efforts at polite and proper small talk. Eventually, as we pretended to browse the book table, I asked him if he felt he might come back again next week, given the percentage of vampires in the congregation.
"Hmm, might do, I'm not sure yet."
"Not planning on joining for good, just yet then?"
The sparkle going on between us was light and fun and heady and I knew I was safe to be cheeky, personal, as if we had known each other for weeks. His answer was a delight. He spluttered, choking very slightly on a jammy dodger biscuit, chortled and said "Good grief no. They wouldn't have me! I think they draw the line at signing hell spawn onto the PCC."
"Oh right, yes sure," I said facetiously, "pull the other one, it's got bells on."
"No! Honestly!" he replied, forcing his face into a serious expression. "Demon, third class, at your service. I don't even really look like this; normally I'm small, green and fat and, well, sort of snotty looking, like mucous."
Both of us burst into more giggles as I swam in his beautiful, angelic green eyes and a wonderful, warm feeling of abandon. More than that, I felt so safe that I was as far under his spell as a hypnotised chicken, he could have hung me by my toes from the church spire and I would have let him. I'm not saying this was sexual, I mean it was, in part, but if you know the theory of chakras, well mine were all whizzing round at double time, every last one of them. If you could see auras I would have been giving off 'come get me' signals from top to toe like stadium halogens.
"Hmm, I never heard of a demon called Giles." I did my best to raise one eyebrow and look like I wasn't a total walkover.
"Aha, yes, but I didn't say that was my name, did I? I said that's what you could call me."
Good grief, he was cheeky and polite, witty and clever and ooh, so attractive. I must have let my jaw drop slightly as there was a knowing look about him as he pierced me with his tantalising gaze, and lightly touched my arm as he added: "My real name is, dear lady, completely unpronounceable to you......... although I suspect you'll get the hang of it in time."
This was going way too fast, but I couldn't stop myself. We had agreed without a word that I was putty in his hands and that he was going to take some advantage of that. My head was spinning and I took a step closer to him. No matter what it looked like to others, I knew I was going to be under his wing at least until we left church and could speak privately.
We'd stayed behind long enough that the main church doors were locked and the one remaining exit was through the hall, past the cloakroom. Plenty of people were still around, including Doreen, who, for a change, looked genuinely flustered and upset. She was wearing that simultaneous mix of blush and pall, red blotches of upset on an ashen grey-green complexion; not something that can be faked. I was momentarily concerned, particularly when her glance caught mine, and she looked so serious and pained.
Giles could read me like a book, it seemed. He put a friendly arm around my shoulder and quietly intoned, "Look, it's alright, she's got enough people looking after her, and if you drag me over there she'll get even more embarrassed, with an unknown spectator."
I looked at him, marvelling at his awareness and tact, but still concerned that I should put at least one word in with Doreen to voice my support, separate myself from him, just for a second.
"What, you don't think I'm letting you go now I've got you, do you?" He squeezed my shoulders in a friendly one armed hug and added; "I know when I've struck gold – you can go over there, of course, but don't think I'm leaving your side, my lady!"
He had a point, I couldn't really drag him over to eavesdrop on whatever was going on and so in the end I made my own mind up to let Doreen's current group of attendants deal with things without me.
In dribs and drabs we all started heading out to the cloakroom, on our way out. Giles helped me into my coat and by the time we reached the bottleneck that was the exit, we were discussing doing something together rather than going home, I could not have been happier. When we got through the doors and into the car park, I waved goodbyes to one or two people, but everyone seemed a little preoccupied that day and for a brief moment I was slightly concerned. Maybe it was Doreen's tale of woe, but something felt a little off, a little judgemental, as if it was I alone being treated with reservation. Maybe that was just guilt at the way I had clicked with Giles and ignored my usual crowd.
Perhaps people really were concerned at the speed with which Giles and I had hooked up; it did seem a little indecent. I looked into his eyes for reassurance, but as others got into their cars and the few of us who were walking home ploughed across toward the gates, he did better than reassure me. He made me laugh again.
"Ooh, maybe you've done something down and dirty, you haven't got any skeletons in your closet, have you?" he said, laughingly. I poked him gently in the ribs, and then, as we reached the gates, he added: "Well, okay then, just tell me you haven't got any corpses rotting away on your sofa."
"Yuck, that is so gross!" I flung at him, laughing. "Smelly old bodies melting into the furniture? Yeah, for sure! Hello, loony bin!" I was giggling myself silly, hooting even, too busy pulling silly faces and too curled up with laughter to notice that he was wearing only a warm smile. Of course, as I doubled over, he let go of my shoulder and as we were now on the pavement of a main road, he continued walking a little way ahead. As I straightened up I was jostled, very slightly, by Doreen and her companion, hurrying to get past. Doreen never looked back, but was visibly shaking, absolutely distraught. I made up my mind to ask what the problem was, before next week.
We reached the corner, the main road junction, and by that time we were the last there, no more churchgoers to be seen, except maybe one or two in their cars queuing at the lights. Gently he swung me round, and with his hands planted on my shoulders he looked deep into my eyes. I could sense something amiss, I just wasn't sure what, and when he spoke I wanted the ground to swallow me up.
"Look, I can't do this today, I have to be somewhere else. Thanks for a fun morning, erm, I'll see you around, probably." And that was it, he turned and left and I had to walk myself home in a daze.
The week was quite a torment, quietly; I hadn't helped Doreen, the people leaving the hall had become somehow cold with me, Giles had disappeared and not phoned and I'd made a complete fawning idiot of myself at church. It all nagged at the back of my mind and was beginning to really eat into me when, on Thursday, the phone finally rang.
For a fleeting moment I both hoped and feared that it would be Giles and had to steel myself to pick up the receiver. Instead it was the Reverend, very unusual, but in a way fortuitous.
"Hello Reverend, what can I do for you?" He answered that he needed to make an appointment, to speak to me in person; very curious.
"Well, okay then, sure, but while you're on the phone, I really wanted to ask you about Doreen."
My comment seemed to take him by surprise, but we were soon both in the same boat when he answered; "Ah, oh, oh dear, well actually Doreen is why I wanted to speak to you."
The long and the short of it is that I was told it would be best if I didn't come to church for a week or two; he was very firm about it. I was barred from church, like a drunk barred from the pub! After that I was in shock and only got the vaguest outline from the Reverend. He seemed very taken aback when I insisted I had not heard what Doreen was saying, even when everybody had seen me hovering near her straight after the service. However his decision was final. I was to stay away for the rest of the month at least, until the dust had settled and he had a chance to 'look into things a little more deeply'. What could I do, but agree? My agreement was hardly needed however; the inference was that if I turned up, I wouldn't be let in.
What in God's name was I supposed to have done? This was my social life, my high point, the one constant element in my quiet, middle aged and single life, and it had been taken from me. I was certain Giles would call as soon as he heard, if he did ever go back to the church and it took me a while after the meeting with the Reverend was over, to realise I had no idea what was going on. I took Friday off work, said I was sick, and stayed home and just cried.
I'm not a stalker, honestly I'm not, but when Sunday came, I found myself drawn to be in the High Street, near to church. I never went in, but sat a way up the road on a bench near the tiny Council garden, the one normally claimed by the weekend drunks, but I was too shattered to care. I watched the congregation all arrive and leave again almost two hours later, before finding my way home sometime in the afternoon.
What happened to the following week is anybody's guess. I never went back to work, locked myself indoors and did nothing, but the days flew by, or if they crept they were irrelevant. I came alive again the next Sunday, enough to find myself angry, tired, and a lot nearer to the church building this time.
I remember finding the strength in my legs, when the first people started leaving after the service, to go up to the doors and try to gain access. I think I planned to see the Reverend, but I'm not really sure. I was spotted by the usual tea drinking crowd and met with what seemed to be concerned frowns. Somebody disappeared from the back of the small group and came back with the Reverend.
"I really don't think this is a good idea," he said, as I approached and tried to get a foot in the doorway. I stopped dumbfounded, but did not move. Others were muttering and staring as he steeled himself and added; "really, I'm sorry, but you can't come in."
He repeated the bit about 'can't come in', this time with more emphasis and I became aware again only when George, one of the old Colonel types who still fancied himself a ladies man and facilitator, stepped forward to take hold of my shoulders and 'escort' me backward out of the doorway. I struggled, and panicked, but I was shuffled back far enough for the door to be closed and bolted in my face.
I went ballistic! How could they do this to me? What the hell was going on?
"You bastard, George! Let me in you, you sanctimonious shits you! What the fuck have I done?"
I was kicking the huge old wooden church door and hammering at it with my fists. Consumed with rage, I stormed, no ran right round the block to the back entrance leading out of the car park. As I reached the gates, out of breath with my lungs burning, I saw the final outrage, Giles, smiling and surrounded by starry-eyed women in the doorway of the church hall. They had set him up as their champion, the man to save the day if I tried to get in through those glass doors. As he looked up and saw me approaching there was almost a cold look of triumph in those angelic eyes.
In icy slow motion, I watched through those doors as he accepted adoring stares of concern for his safety and then stepped outside looking every inch the hero. He gently shut the doors behind him, leaving he and I alone in the grubby old car park. I stumbled towards him, a wreck, shattered.
"Giles! I can trust you, Giles, can't I?" I pleaded. "Please, for God's sake, tell me what's going on!" With his back to the ladies indoors he again looked like an angel of light, a warm and safe haven and I took another step closer. What the female congregation saw was only the way he sidestepped me in apparent disgust; I was being played for a fool by this man, he was treating me like an emotional yo-yo to gain his own desired effect on our little audience. The dawning realisation that he might be instrumental in all this knocked my last breath away, and I stood there utterly defeated, unable to shout but only whisper.
"What's going on, Giles, what have you done?"
"I'm afraid you really did do it all your own sweet self," he replied, "I mean, I admit God's shitty rule about free will is a pain in the arse sometimes, but it makes moments like this so much more rewarding."
"What the fuck are you on about you evil son of a bitch?"
He stepped forward, his arms at his sides, but I was nonetheless within his personal space. His back to the doors, neither of our faces could be seen by anyone.
"You, dear lady, have killed Doreen." He caught me as I stumbled, nearly fainted, but looked into my eyes, wearing his beautiful, impish grin, and carried on.
"Last time you were here, her mother had died. The silly old cow had been too upset to tell anyone, hadn't informed the authorities for a fortnight. When she did, word got out and some of her neighbours were conveniently very cruel about her state of mind. It was suggested she might have to be interviewed by the police and she was terrified. That's where you and I came in.
"Just as she admitted the worst thing her neighbour had said, you burst into laughter. For a while, you had the benefit of the doubt, but when you cracked that remark about 'smelly old bodies melting into the furniture', well you tipped her over the edge. She looked up to you, you know. It didn't matter what anyone else said, you had made up her mind. She even left a little note all about it, said she was going to be with her mother, as the only person who had never judged her. Sweet, eh?"
I passed out. I seem to remember the world spinning, but my story picks up inside the church hall, devoid of anyone but Giles and myself; everyone else must have had enough time to pack up and go home. I was laid out on the small stage, just under the cross, with Giles' jacket folded up as my pillow. He was sitting on a corner, smiling as I awoke.
The big joke was that after twenty years at that Church, when I finally realised how Satan had used me, how much damage I had done; when I finally took my own life, there was nobody aware of it. Work had fired me after four or five weeks of unexplained absence and my corpse lay in the flat for almost a month. I did have a body decomposing into my sofa after all, but it was my own. Giles had to have his last little joke, didn't he, the slimy little green bastard.
God turned up, or one of his angels, but I told him to fuck off in no uncertain terms. I died with anger in my heart and curses on my lips, which rather explains why I am here now.
In half an hour of sweaty, romantic delusion, I had destroyed Doreen, blackened my own soul for all eternity and made good inroads into doing the same for the rest of the congregation, many of whom had become bitter and aggressive, or started to question where the fuck God was while Doreen was topping herself.
Old Nick rates us humans way higher than slime-balls like Giles; something to do with free will, or being God's creations. We instantly shoot up the ranks and get all the perks, like stolen prizes, but never think we have freedom, oh no. We are taunts on display, nothing more. Put a foot wrong and there are a million ways to make you really sorry. Trust me, I've tried a few; all they do in the end is make the hatred stronger.
So, that's how hell found me, and yes now that we've met, hell has found you, too. Now fuck off and find that Giles – tell him to put his human form on and meet me here immediately. He hates that so much that it really cheers me up, and I've thought of a few more things to do to him in soft, pink skin. Chop chop!