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The violent pounding on the door continued. Here’s the part where I fumble about, looking for a massive object to push behind the door. Like them old slasher flicks, where at any given time a hole would be smashed through the door and Jack Nicholson’s face pops in to tell everyone that Johnny’s here. I can’t let him in. As much as he is my best friend, all the good, bad and shitty times we had would amount to nothing now. Because this so-called friend is standing right outside this room wielding a rusty hammer and a severe absence of friendly intentions with it. “Open the door Thom!” I pounded still at the door. Drip. Drip. Drip. Yeah, I could tell that he’s not exactly planning on fixing that leaking pipe in here with the hammer. “Come on, open the fucking door Thom!” Drip. Drip. Drip. The leaking yellow water dripping on my head ain’t providing much comic relief to this situation either. I gripped the hammer firmly in my right hand. I held it in striking position. And all that stands between me and what seems like a pretty terrible fate is just a wooden door, (which was already cracking up from years of cheap paint and bad mould, by the way) that looks feebler by the minute.
Taylor Finn wasn’t always like this. Believe it or not, he used to be my best friend. Yep, he really was a great guy. Until this stupid drug came and took him away. He changed. Keeps talking about some creature out there hell bent on destroying him and everything that he loves. At first I thought it was just some melodramatic outbursts that he normally has once in awhile. Until the visions started. And the voice; the voice that kept whispering in his ears, he says. WHACK! The pounding turned into smashing, and bit by bit I saw light seeping into the darkness through the mirror, like a silver screen premiering the shocking harshness of a wooden surface turning into splinters and wood dust under blunt trauma. And it’s the kind of harshness that does not lose any of its luster through repetition and continuous exposure; every impact is just as fresh, as violent as the one before and the one after. “You ain’t opening up Thom? You ain’t opening up huh?” My breathing was getting heavier. First, he said that ‘The Mothman’ came and took away the woman that he loved. Then he came to haunt him in his acid dreams, in the form of a demon and stuff. All this cryptic talk I could look past, but when somebody’s life was taken, I knew then that this ‘Mothman’ business was getting real; more real that I’d like it to be. Yeah, it was tragic. She was such a beautiful maiden; quite a twisted way for her to go, really. Maybe he had his reasons; maybe he just wanted to protect her. There are some things that I’ve yet to figure out, though. “You’re a dead man, Thom!” I’m getting closer. I can feel him shivering already. Like why he’s here looking for ME with that hammer.
The hole was getting bigger now, and my amygdala must be pumping insane amounts of neural signals to my bladder because that could be the only explanation why I have this urgent impulse to piss in my pants. And it’s funny to actually be overcome by such terror when he was…
… Standing there bearing Thud’s red plate-mail armour, Thud’s woolen kilt and Thud’s winter socks, the chilly current still soaked into Thud’s bones. Strange, Thud thought. The hallway was totally unventilated. It must be Norah, seeping through Thud’s veins with strength and vengeance like a blessing from the All-father himself. Because it will take both Thud and Norah to rid Thom from here, once and for all. Thud, son of Thump, thought to himself. Yes, Norah, Thom’s close. Thom’s right behind these tall oak gates, in The Hall Of Mirrors; the fiend hiding from the righteous wrath of the valkyrie. Thom shouldn’t have done that to you, Norah. Not to you. Believe it or not, Thud and Thom used to be best friends. Used to be. Until Thom decided that it’d be a good idea to join the ranks of Loki and his children. Until Thud found out who Thom really was. Unforgivable. “Ok, Taylor, now just chill the fuck out! You’ve been acting all crazy for the past 20 minutes! Stop this right now! I can help you!” Somehow, I got a feeling that this little reasoning was already a lost cause. “Don’t you dare call Thud by Thud’s true name, you evil beast! Thud has had it with you and your mind games!” Thom likes telling stories. And Thom tells them to you until you start believing that they’re real. Then Thom comes swooping in and taking everything away when you’re at your most vulnerable. 4
Thud’s eyes roved everywhere, Thud’s mind at a thousand different places at once, still in disbelief at how long Thom eluded Thud’s eyes. Thud was usually sharper than that. All that innocent talk, the pretentious helping hand, the pitiful eyes; all of that was bollocks. Especially the eyes. Thud doesn’t know how Thom pulled it off, but Thom had got Thud believing it for the longest time. Believing that Thom was actually a friend. Har har. Seems like the joke’s on Thud now. With Thud’s trusty hammer, Thud struck down upon the rune-encarved gates once again with such terrible fury that the God of Thunder himself would’ve shuddered. And there Thud saw it: a glimmer of light shining through the hole in the gate, revealing a path that would lead Thud to Thud’s vengeance. Thom may think Thom can confuse Thud, distract Thud with his shield of mirrors. But Thud will no longer be fooled by Thom, much less his silver army. And as Thud stepped inside to face Thud’s enemy, Thud shall…
… Tell you what he does for a living. He was, quite literally, the breathing epitome of a Rock n Rolla. The women, the drugs, the music. But unlike the rest of them rock stars, where the women and drugs come as a sweet bonus after making the glorious music, the women and the drugs ARE the music. For Taylor, at least. He was sitting there at work earlier today, in the corner of the living room of our studio apartment, just like any other time. Wearing the same red checkered jacket (in which, I suspect, to have been stolen from my wardrobe), sitting on the same bug-bitten dark blue suede couch, and staring into the same cheap worn-down red leather punching bag when he’s consulting his muses. I asked him to throw the bag and its rusted chains out; told him that we could pool some 5
cash to get a new one. And it’s not like Taylor isn’t bringing in dough from selling his songs online. But the jackass went on to actually name that bag after me, and said that if he had to throw ‘Thom’ out, then he’ll have to throw me out too. Silly boy. As I was saying, it wasn’t an uncommon sight to see him on it; the same sullen look on his face, visibly aged from his excessive intake of meth (I never did any of that stuff; never really bought into that out-of-body mumbo-jumbo). He needed it to stay up, says just in case the fairy godmother of songwriting comes swooping in through the balcony to sprinkle some random stardust for inspiration. Keep telling him to fix the bloody leak in the toilet ceiling if he’s up all the time. But he said he couldn’t leave the couch. Afraid he might miss the fairy godmother when she comes to visit, it seems. So up he stayed, and up he thought he went. Alright, so I admit, at those rare occasions when he’s at the right level between mused and miserable, he can come up with some really brilliant stuff. You know, the kind of stuff that makes you go, “Damn. I wish I wrote that” (though, I do give myself a little credit for the production of such works of poetry, since he’ll never get anything done without my constant nagging). But if I had to go through all that melodrama in his head and in his loins just to get there? No thanks. After awhile, he was aware of this too. The stubborn bastard would never dare to admit it, though; he always had that hope. But hope unrealized turn into disappointment. Disappointment without redemption eventually turns into despair. But here was a man that wouldn’t believe that a mountain would not budge even if he pushed it with all his might. So the despair took on a more bubbling form of frustration until finally it turns into rage. And it was with this same tired rage that he sits there like a jackal pinned against a solitary corner, with only his guitar and a
typewriter at his side as his arsenal against the oncoming wave of that ghostly intangible force called inspiration. It was an overcast sky today. The zeppelins could not set sail again. It was, however, uncommon to see the dense cloud of grey hanging over him; I could tell there was a difference this time. Usually there would be scribbles on his notepad, some grim twisted imagery about darkness and the night or other nihilistic depressing subject matter. Nothing of that sort today. He was still as unanimated as a rag doll, and as strange as the college misfit next door. You know, the type that either bores or creeps the living daylights out of you. But with his favourite green bong smashed to bits at a corner, and half a bottle of that nasty vodka that we bought turned into a liquid grave for all his wasted cigarettes, you’d know something’s wrong when getting intoxicated is simply not enough anymore. Today he’s on a different high. Gone was the usual ritual of placing all the items that were given to him by all his previous lovers to facilitate the writing process; no more wooden rings, or pillow cases, or any of that junk. Today there was just a picture. And it was…
... A languid evening at the great temple; a lonely fortress at a standstill in amidst the hungry fields outside. There perched upon a grand marble pedestal at the corner of the hall was an ominous sculpture of weathered red leather. Chained to it were these dust-covered glass drums, like some homemade surrealist perversion of a Japanese war god. The Hinges Of Madness; that was what was written on the little brass plague in front of the sculpture. Whereas the original
red skin and aggressive face of Ashura may elicit a menacing impression to demoralize enemy troops, this rendition just looks downright… frightening. Even with the Bob Marley-esque undertones of its dreadlock metallic hair, reddened by rust and blackened by years of exposure to incense smoke. And it was only in the wisps of a dying incense stick that there was any sign of motion in this dead space; an offering to an infernal god, highlighted by a ghastly yellow glow from the drooping lanterns beyond the gaps on the walls. Where all you could do was watch its mundane life come to an end as it proceeds on a foolish seduction of the solitary shrine of joss sticks, climaxing as its fiery lips kissed the cemetery of ashes. And it ended with a moan. Uhh. But too human of a moan it was that Rui Yang realized it was not some crying joss stick. Yes, it came somewhere from the East, and something tells him that it is only a foreshadowing of the darker hours to come. This museum, which seemed like an old abandoned Chinese temple that has been taken over by Norwegian barbarians, smelled of a battle ravaged wasteland, and that doesn’t seem very welcoming to visitors after awhile. He must look for Norah. And hastily. She’d been gone far too long to relieve herself in that dank chamber that they’ve turned into a lavatory, with water leaking from the roof and the whatnot. So he set out into one of the many corridors, looking for that one of the many chambers that was holding the woman that he loves. For a place of such massive scale, the corridors were uncharacteristically narrow. Rui Yang tread them with caution, and it seemed that every time he looked back to see where he came from, the corridors seem to have shrunk. Bit. By bit. By bit. The geometric patterns of peacock 8
feathers on the chamber walls had a strange droning effect; like an endless mural of an anesthetic. He lost count of the chambers that he passed, marked by doors with words written in a language he didn’t understand. A conniving clan of immigrant doors, working in unison. Brothers and sisters whispering to the next one, to the one across. Spreading a rumour. Spreading like a tumour. Conspiring against him with a perfect vow of silence. Ooh. The sound was getting further away. Rui Yang quickened his paces, going into a half-jog. There was something familiar about this voice, he thought. Now there were more turns and crosssections in this labyrinth of corridors that he wasn’t sure if he was going in circles. He left his watch at the next cross-section as a mark. He never came across it again. But on and on he walked until he finally he reached it. The chamber at the end of the corridor. The sound is barely audible now above the default ring in his ears. He wasted no time and opened the door. Just to find himself right back at the grand hall where he started. But the ominous sculpture was now missing. And the corridor he went down just an eternity ago was now replaced. Strange, Rui Yang thought. That stairway wasn’t there previously. How a ten feet structure just up and left also eluded his limited comprehension of the bizarre situation at hand. Then he heard it again. Aah. There was no doubt about it. It was Norah’s voice. Like a rat in a trance, Rui Yang followed the sound like the come-hither melody of the pied piper’s pipe. He wobbled down a stairway that seemed to stretch on forever. The ground
couldn’t seem to stay still, and his feet and the steps on the stairs were engaged in some strange game of chess where the key is to guess what, or where, the next step will be. That was when he noticed unnaturally large red footprints going down the stairs. Panic overtook him as he considered the possibility of that terrible sculpture coming to life and going after Norah. But he couldn’t afford the luxury of panicking at the moment, because Norah being in danger may indeed be a legitimate concern, but the temple walls melting down behind him would be rather distressing to one’s wellbeing, admittedly. The peacock feathers were peeling off and mixing into the liquid cement. The chamber doors, constant witnesses to the transactions of secrets that take place within, still stood silent as they were slowly consumed by the rainbow walls. All except for one. Don’t. All except for the one that decided to let loose its stupid mouth. Stop. The sound persisted from the chamber at the end of the stairway, and got louder as he approached it. By the time he reached the end of the stairway, it was the only one left. The melting stopped. And Rui Yang was stuck between a solidified lump of peacock coloured cement and the door facing him now. The chamber door kept its lips pursed, but still the noise escaped through its cracks, spread out like a spider’s web on its corner. It had no knob, no handle. Rui Yang asked the door politely to open. It would not budge. He understood the chamber’s position, upholding its rightful stance as that indifferent watcher over the things that go on inside, but never revealing them. Unless the things inside want to be seen. Want to be heard. Want to be discovered.
Pleeaassssse. With a little coaxing, and a bribe of a kiss, the lips ended up spreading apart. They always do. Now, a slip of the tongue on any other day usually doesn’t do anybody any harm. But this time, it was enough to…
… Count the number of days where he’s actually sober enough to hold up a normal conversation. As it is, my body clock is screwed up nicely, so I find myself awake at the strangest hours. 3AM, 3PM; what’s the difference? Days and nights just weave in and out of each other, like it’s all just one really long day, with occasional breaks once in awhile. That’s when I sleep. But every time I wake up for a piss, it’s not surprising to see Taylor in the bathroom, with nothing but his boxers, sunglasses, and an MP3 player. “Oi, what happened to the windows?” I almost smashed my head right through the mirror as I walked through the bathroom door. “Too bright. Covered windows. Better now.” Ooow snap. That ain’t no Jesus stepping in from the light. “Yeah, if you had Riddick’s fuckin’ eyes. Somebody could’ve gotten hurt with you hoggin up the bathroom floor.” He’s tripping his balls out, judging from how much his teeth are chattering. “And somebody could’ve been blinded with you poking around with that stick of yours.” Are those my boxers he’s wearing? “I just woke up. Deal with it. And you still haven’t fixed the leak.” Are those my boxers he’s wearing? 11
“Nobody else here. Just you and me, baby.” Now close the fucking door, dammit. “Come on... Look at it; it’s dripping all over you.” “Fooowaaaaweeeyyyy. Trust me… This is gooood.” Drip. Trip. Drip. Trip. With a disapproving shake of my head, I couldn’t help but break into a half-grin. Always the cheeky fellow, this Taylor. In an odd way, it’s actually a pretty comforting feeling to know that I got company that can keep up with my odd hours. Keeps this small apartment from getting smaller, ya know? “So how’s your new song coming along?” Arrrrr… But it doesn’t make this place any bigger, either. He never leaves the house. He never sleeps. Tried talking to him about this increasingly lethal hobby of his, but trying to talk to a person when he’s off riding the cosmos is just as effective as chopping down a tree with a toothbrush. So what else to do? I’m too wakeful to waste this vigilance accompanying Taylor on another one of his trips, and too lethargic to even muster the strength to masturbate most of the time. Walking through the same dimly lit corridors everyday, doing the same dumb motions all the time. Your muscles start to forget what it’s like to move your hands beyond just stuffing food into your mouth, or traveling any further than your toilet or the door whenever Rajeev comes. He’s works at this Indian eating place nearby. Nice chap. Drops our supplies everyday by the door - food, water, cigarettes, and anything else we may happen to need from time to time – at around noon. Also happens to be the biggest dealer in this whole friggin’ neighbourhood. Really 12
surprised to see that he can still function normally in society. I can’t remember the last time I actually saw his face, though. I can’t remember the last time I saw anybody, for that matter. It’s kinda like living out a de-metamorphosis from a normal functioning human being into something more… primitive. So at every other time, I talk to myself. For hours on end, sometimes. Until he sobers up enough to remotely have the closest thing to an appetite. “Where’s the food?” Then we eat. “Ah shit. Tandoori chicken and cheese naan again?” Chill. “I’ll just take a piece of the chicken. You can have the rest.” Talk a little.
Always the first thing he asks me.
And I thought he’d have eaten my share.
Always so polite.
Why does he always order this?
Always so generous.
Stuff it down, ye fat fuck.
It’s always interesting talking to Taylor, though, during the occasions when he’s actually available. His mind works in very peculiar ways. Every time he comes down from a trip, it’s like he really did come back from a trip to some far away land, with yellow brick roads and flying monkeys; he tells me all these totally crazy yet totally spectacular tales from his journeys through his mindscape. Yet at times, I can’t tell whether he talks to me because he really regards me as a true companion, or as somebody who just happened to be there when he sobers up. “Thanks for putting up with my shit all this time, mate.” Oh my, is your paint peeling?
Call me what you want, but I sometimes actually get jealous when I see him talking to the walls, the table or some inanimate object. Because I wanted to be that thing, that tape recorder in which he imparts his commentaries into; that imaginary friend in which he confides in. And that’s when I started putting the pieces together, and noticed a certain pattern about his work etiquette. And it would explain everything. Because everything can be traced back to the one thing that really makes Taylor tick. The one thing that could describe the genius of Taylor Finn, and all of its respective tragic consequences, is…
… God. Goodness gracious. There he was, his first time in her classroom. She looked somewhat more beautiful today. All those silly peeks into the teacher’s room could do no justice to seeing her up close. It could’ve been the lighting, but fluorescent tubes rarely come to mind when you’re thinking ‘wonderful lighting’. Nonetheless, the harsh light played upon her hair and her skin and her little wrinkles with an ease Edward has never seen before on any other woman. Photons gently bounced off her enigma of a figure, but not before they are taken in, and somehow… changed; transformed into a form better and more radiant than they already were, before they are sent out again, on to the whiteboard, on to the table. Heck, even on to the little turtle aquarium with the little spider-web crack on it that caused all the water to leak out from it overnight, and along with it, all the life from their eggs. Soon the turtles will be gone too. But at least they would be able to go to turtle heaven knowing for a fact that they have witnessed beauty in this cruel world. Where am I?
And here he was, a high school boy with a sheepish smile as he watched her float across the classroom with the kind of voice that high school boys dream about. Strange, Edward thought. He’s never felt like such a bumbling buffoon to this degree before. But never has he been enthralled or even aroused by the one role least associated with these feelings. Edward shrugged these thoughts off with a quiet irk, given away only by the rising warmth in his rib cage and an escalating heat in his crotch that he couldn’t quite ignore. Words of dead poets on love and beauty drifting in the air certainly weren’t helping, further amplifying the feebleness of his resistance to the hypnotic movement of her mouth. The next poem she started reading out caught his attention, though. That ‘Home Of Mercy’ poem by Gwen Darwood; that was the one. They kneel: time for the spirit to begin with prayer its sad recourse to dream and flight from their intolerable weekday rigour. Each morning they will launder, for their sin, sheets soiled by other bodies, and at night angels will wrestle them with brutish vigour. What year is this again? This year’s award for Best Picture goes to this film. It’s called ‘Norah’. This is the only film that managed to capture every single detail within that moment between breaths where Edward is close enough to wrap his lips around her smile. And this is the only film that is being watched at the same time it is being produced. It is screened only once, to one very specific audience, at one very specific venue. But on this very special occasion, this one-show one-audience theatre actually gives him a teaser trailer of its sequel, where that infinite distance between the hero and the damsel finally closes in and ends with an exploding chi-ba-boom that can destroy Chernobyl
ten times over. And then comes that same damn baritone voice saying the same thing we all say just when we’re reaching the good part: “Coming soon”. But he didn’t care. Because while it was still on, it belonged only to him. It was all…
… Funny. As much as Taylor has been talking about her, I’ve never seen him with Norah. I’ve seen heels of various shapes and sizes by the door, and I hear different women’s voices in his room from time to time. But I’ve never quite figured out which one was Norah. I can’t even say if any of them was actually Norah. All I ever saw was a picture. A gorgeous one at that, too. She always had the greenest eyes. Yeah, it ain’t much to work out her character. But whoever she was, she must be really something to actually turn Taylor over to a whole new being altogether. You see, I thought she was supposed to be just like any other one of them. She was supposed to be just another cog in the wheel, another constant in a tried-and-tested formula that would provide him with enough heartache to last him till the next time he falls in love. Or till he writes his next song. Oh, Taylor. Now, I’m not one to judge, because I’ve seen him through too many of these relationships, if you can call them that, and done nothing to stop him from this otherwise repulsive behaviour. It ain’t right, I know. No respect for himself, no respect for anyone else. But I always try to lead him back whenever he starts losing the plot. Whenever he starts forgetting about his purpose. About his music. I could kind of understand why he does what he does, though. Kind of a sad case, really. He’s not a bad looking guy, him Taylor. Not trying to sound all homo or anything, but he does have a
distinctively dashing jaw line and an entrancing pair of sunken mysterious eyes. And if it weren’t for those terrible purple circles around them, he’s got a face that would definitely be up on billboards. Like lean meat, his body was perpetually stuck on that fine line between toned and thin, chiseled by the hunger strike he has to endure during his trips into his mind and extended hours of vigorous, passionate love-making. Unlike me – I’m a little on the chubby side, you see. Add that with a really average face, and you’ll have someone who wouldn’t even be noticed dead on a bustling district at rush hour if not for my bulky mass. But I digress. The thing about Taylor is that, women sometimes come too easily to him. That there’s no line differentiating the casual fuck-and-suck, and that special muse that he’s always been searching for. But the hypocrite takes the girls into his life and into his bed anyway, praying that all this pretending will somehow lead them into his heart. You know what they say: keep telling yourself something, and you’ll actually start believing that it’s true. A cynical guy like him, though, would take more than just a daily bathroom chant in the morning to really convince him that he’s actually in love. Cue entrance music for the drugs. The cannabinoids, the entactogens, the sympathomimetics, the dissociatives, the tryptamines. Man, I don’t know how thinly he skinned the thread by which his life hung on to, but half the time I think he’s just living on borrowed time. With the amount of shit in his system, even if he hadn’t overdosed by now, I doubt his mind could withstand being so far off from reality to ever return to it again. At least not the same reality that you and I are in. Then along came Norah. Aah, Norah. And he just cleaned up his act like a turkey in liquid nitrogen. Just like that. Curiously, there were no signs of any withdrawal symptoms or even the
slightest itch, too. It was great seeing him sober, and actually in love. Even the songs he wrote took on a lighter tone, writing about brighter days and generally more blissful stuff; it was a nice change from the usual dark and bitter songs about heartbreak and tragedy (though nothing spells beauty better than misery). He told me, with that boyish glimmer in his eyes, that he finally found that spark that made all his efforts thus far worthwhile. Hell, I must admit I was even a little jealous of this guy. Not of all the women he’s had. Not of all the music he’s made. Norah. Unfortunately his little piece of his paradise wasn’t meant to last, as it didn’t take long to unravel that this Aphrodite wasn’t who, or what, she appeared to be. And that was when…
… The Army was partitioned like everything else, and Captain Crowley went west to the new, moth-nibbled land of God. The bold sun that lit the skies as a backdrop to the grey fireworks hours earlier was now falling from its grace. Captain Crowley was battle-weary, and he knows his troops are just as tired, if not more. That’s why he loves his men like brothers; he knew he could count on them to fight as hard as he did, and fighting hard was quintessential in carrying out the will of the Lord Almighty. Leading them on his steed Norah, he looked back at his men marching, past their brothers in slumber on the fields. His eyes revealed a glint of respect as he looked at those men who survived to fight another day. Yet the inevitable loss and powerlessness engulfed the rest of him
as he thought of those who bore his bloody karma for taking countless lives throughout the years. Three years ago none of these things would’ve mattered. Captain Crowley, a man devoted to serving the Lord for as long as he could remember, have made peace with his past. And the past was not one of tranquil times in a tranquil land. Not for him. But even though the forgotten screams can still be heard echoing in an idle mind, there was never any doubt in all the wars waged and the battles fought. No enemy was ever spared. There was only glory. No soldier was ever wasted. There was only sacrifice. And it was with this clarity that the captain was only able to see his duty through till the end. And then the Lord came upon Captain Crowley in a vision and assigned him to one final task that would require all the grit and hardiness he could muster from all the years of his servitude. “Go west. Find the hymns.” Left with a message that would at best be considered obscure, Captain Crowley went to seek the counsel of Rajeev the Sage. And it was then that was revealed to the Captain of his arduous task of recovering The Hymns Of Macedonia, the divine songs that once graced the halls of the ancient empire until its decline; lost by man, forgotten by time. But the Lord left no instructions for the means of completing this task. A bloody crusade. A peaceful pilgrimage. So the good captain set out to do the only thing he knew how to do, and indeed he knew how to do it well, and proceeded to gather his best soldiers all across the land. Once a military man, always a military man. A task given by the Lord is sure to be beset with evil, and the roads to be taken, perilous. Hence to aid him with his task, Rajeev entrusted Captain Crowley with the Lightning Steed of the 19
Desert, Norah. This legendary steed was one of the earliest manifestations of the Lord’s might over the realm of man, for it was conceived on one fateful night two thousand years ago when the heavens decided to settle its irreconcilable fate with a scornful earth by unleashing its fury upon a place unseen by man. But the strongest hate also elicits the fiercest love, and it wasn’t long before the violent hailstorm that raged over the wrathful desert soon evolved into an act of passion. Rajeev, who happened to be wandering lost in the desert on that very night, watched as a lightning bolt struck the skeletal remains of a horse in the sand dune, and when the rain and thunder subsided, Norah emerged, a lovechild of the two eternally conflicting realms, with the wrath of the heavens in her eyes and the wrath of the earth as her mane. But the incredible power within the mighty steed was not without its dangers, as the wise sage left a cautionary message before the Captain set out westwards. “Ride on it. Fight with it. Rest by it. But do not love this terrible beast.” The captain winced as he thought of what manners of horror that Rajeev puts the poor steed through two whole millennia as he heard this, but he could not afford to lose any more time, for he must at once heed the Lord’s beckoning. He traveled to foreign lands to seek the sacred songs, often to no avail, fought their warriors to seek a passage further west, often to his reluctance for unnecessary bloodshed, and journeyed until the days and nights blended onto each other, often finding no rest in his cot or comfort in his cause. Slowly the screams returned, in all its intensity and all its pain.
As the sun drew its twilight blanket, the captain’s men set up shelter to rest and recuperate for yet another day of tireless journeying. But not him. His eyes were wide open but there was no clarity in his vision. He sat by Norah by the fire, and observed the hardened crust of the clay and blood from the land. That was when he was reminded of the story of Prometheus. He stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mankind, thinking that it would bring them the warmth and light that they rightfully deserve, for no creation of the gods should ever go through even a day without either. But like moths to a flame, mankind would prove to the gods that they will smother anything that is placed within their grasp. Until the fire goes out. Or the moths scorched. “Why, God?” The brave captain had long been confused by the sheer bloodiness of God’s mission for him. Strange, Crowley thought. For he has always known Him as merciful. Compassionate. Was it to test how far he would go to serve the Lord? Or was it to test his mettle, of his vow to refrain from the violence that had almost consumed his entire lifetime? Time and again he followed the Lord’s surprisingly malevolent words without doubt or suspicion; there was no room for that in a holy war. Maybe it will all be revealed to him at the end as one big satire, where all his dead brothers would awake from their slumber and mock his misplaced faith in an empty God. Just maybe…
… The Mothman suddenly appeared in our lives as soon as Taylor experimented with this new psychedelic cocktail out on the streets. The Shining, I think that’s what it was called. Said it contained the best of everything, transporting the user into a vivid, lucid alternate reality, like acid, and at the same time grant him total control over what he wants to experience, like ecstasy.
And boy, was that tempting: imagine having the ability to create a whole world inside your head, and weaving entire sagas of fantastic adventures and incredible journeys, with you as the protagonist, a war hero hailed by all men and adored by all women, a bounty hunter in the outer edges of space and time the most powerful being in the universe - anything you can possibly think of. So I could see why Taylor decided to give it a try. Despite what he promised to Norah. “So how was it man?” I caught him on what seemed like a pleasant enough afternoon. “Why do you keep asking me that, huh? Why, you wanna give it a try? You wanna give it a try, you tell me! So tell me, you wanna give it a try? If you don’t, then stop asking me!” He’s lost a little weight, it seems. Turns out the fat fuck is working out, after all. “Uh, right. Well, if you ain’t feeling well today, I’ll talk to you later then, or some other time or something.” Then again, ‘pleasant enough’ is a VERY flexible term in Taylor’s book. “So what will it be then, later, or some other time, or something?” “I’m sorry?” “You bet your damn ass you better be sorry. Make up your fucking mind, you halfwit. Later or some other time or something?” “Well, whenever you’re in a better mood or something man.” For some reason, I don’t really like where this is going.
“‘Or something’ AGAIN. Putting ‘man’ at the back doesn’t give uncertainty a new hip twist, ‘man’. You got a problem, ‘man’?” “Nothing. No problem man. I mean, Taylor.” “Why the fuck are you so fucking insecure? Look at yerself; you can’t even talk! You know how embarrassing you are? Did you know that the sight of you actually makes Norah take a step back out of disgust?” I’m too tired for this drama shit. “Hey, leave Norah out of this now. She’s got nothing to do with this.” I don’t like it when he brings her into the picture. Yeah, I know I’m far from being a face on a billboard, but he didn’t have to say that. That was really unnecessary. “Ooooh… ’Leave Norah out of this’ (he imitates some whiny bugger with a stick up his arse) So Thom is the bigger man now, eh? Getting all chivalrous now eh? Trying REAL HARD to impress her arencha?” Don’t even know why I’m doing this. “What the fuck you babbling on about?” And mind you, I don’t normally swear. Not in conversations, I don’t. But this is really starting to get to me. “Don’t give me that shit, dickwad! I’ve seen how you’ve looked at her. How you say her name. I’ve even read what you’ve written about her. ‘She always had the greenest eyes’ and all that garbage.” But the look on this guy’s face right this moment: priceless. “Enough!!!” Ok, how the hell did he manage to read what I’m telling only you? “Enough? ENOUGH? Don’t tell me what’s enough until I make sure you’ve had enough! I’ve got enough shit going on in my life with this Mothman fellow snooping around trying to fuck
things up with Norah and all. It’s just… too much Thom. I just don’t understand what the hell’s going on anymore Thom.” His face, though… it looks different now. And there I witnessed a raging juggernaut turn into a pathetic weeping sod that all the anger that has been boiling in this furnace in me just dissipated into a feeling of… pity. “Look man, I think you’ve just had a bit too much of that Shining stuff. Are you sure that this Mothman fellow isn’t just a figment of a really bad trip or something?” “What are you trying to say?” “Well, you only started getting paranoid about the ‘Mothman’ ever since you started getting on to that Shining stuff…” “What are you trying to say, Thom?” “I mean, surely you must’ve suspected that maybe… you’re just imagining him?” “WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY, THOM???” I took a step back. The hairs on the back of neck are tingling like a friggin’ spider-sense. “You trying to say… I’m crazy?” He’s lost so much weight that this dark figure looming over me only barely resembles a human being now. “Well, not in so many words. But really, you don’t what they put in that shit. And don’t say that Rajeev didn’t warn you, man.”
“You asking me to rely on the words of that whack? He probably has much of this shit in him than me, any day of the week! Do you even remember what that douche said?” “Erm… Well, I wouldn’t remember all of it man. I do remember it was something really obscure, though…” “Exactly! All he said was just some fucking obscure shit that no one would get in their right mind. Alright, this was what he said: “Ride on it. Fight with it. Rest by it. But do not love this terrible beast.” And what the fuck can you get out of that, Professor Thom? You talk real big for someone who don’t do nothing for this apartment!” “Fuck you! If it wasn’t for me, you’d still be too doped up to get any work done! I was the one who told you when enough was enough!” What Taylor forgot to mention was that The Shining could also drive you out of your bloody mind. One moment he could be talking about riding towards the sunset on a horse made of lightning and sand, another moment he could be talking about the Mothman selling him butchered women’s limbs. This is exactly why nobody ever really knows who, or what, the Mothman is; you can’t trust Taylor to construct a coherent thought anymore. The conversation had a premature ending there and then; I couldn’t quite remember the reason why, but…
… He opened his eyes and found himself in a dark alley, reminiscent of a cyberpunk Hong Kong city. Dale exited the alley and found himself in a bustling neon-saturated district; as beautiful as it was daunting. And the signs he saw were all familiar to him: “Hot Latina Babes – Premium Rates!”, “Young Japanese Schoolgirls – Fresh and Sweet”, and other such similar sounding signage. The whole area was a din, and everyone was shouting everywhere. But there was one voice that rose above the rest of the mindless noise. It’s been a pretty dry season for Dale, and it wasn’t long before Dale found himself gravitating towards that voice, thinking that the loudest pimp probably had the best women. “Hello there young man! Could I interest you with some fresh meat?” said the elderly man wearing a dirty white shirt like what a seaport labourer back in the 50s would be wearing. An odd fashion statement, considering his line of work, Dale thought. He looked nothing like the typical suave pimp character. “Absolutely”, said Dale. “What are your rates?” “Oh, there’s always something available at every price range, so you don’t have to worry about being ridiculously overpriced like in those uptight posh joints,” the old man waved off my concern with a casual flick of his wrist. Like any good Chinese salesperson would. Dale took a look at the menu, written in chalk on a bistro-like blackboard. A fine touch, he thought. “Gosh, you must be God to be offering such generous rates.” The old man just grinned. “You can just call me Mr. Tanhem.”
“Ah, found one. She’s quite a looker. I’ll take her. Norah.” Dale only realized now how much he’s been itching, and some reason that he couldn’t explain it, he’s got a strong feeling that she should be the one to scratch it. “Good choice, my lad. Brilliant choice, actually. We just brought her in today! And lucky for you, we’re just about done preparing her at the back.” Another sale pitched. All in a day’s work, the old man thought as he scratched his balls through his shabby khaki shorts. Dale just grinned. “So how would you prefer her, breasts, thighs or some slender arms?” said Mr Tanhem next. Strange, Dale thought. “Um, come again?” “Which part would you like, young sir?” “Isn’t this a brothel of sorts?” “No, young fellow; there aren’t any brothels around here. Look around you, boy! You’re a patron at The House Of Moths; does that name sound like a brothel to you?” Mr. Tanhem burst into a hearty chuckle, as though he just heard the most ridiculous thing ever. Like a snake slithering down a rabbit hole, disbelief soon spiraled down into panic as it dawned upon where he really was. He started noticing things that he didn’t pay much attention to previously. Limbs on hooks. Nubile sculpted bodies on display. Pretty young female faces soaked in bloodied buckets. They all look vaguely familiar. Old lovers in a past life. Do you love me, Dale?
Oh, how he loved them all. And every one of them loved him too. They had to. Because otherwise it wouldn’t work. He won’t work. Don’t you love me, Dale?
But it all seemed so misled now as he thought about the goal that he set off to be. He always wanted to be a musician. He wanted to fix things with his music. Hearts, spirits, people. Why don’t you love me, Dale?
Now he can’t fix anything anymore. Why can’t you love anybody, Dale? Now it’s too late. The old man picked up on Dale’s pale face; he had a nose for such fear. And so Mr. Tanhem slowly tore apart his own wrinkled skin, revealing some monstrosity that Dale could not decide whether he has seen it before, or imagined it before. A massive ogrish figure with red skin and chain-metal dreadlocks cast a huge shadow upon poor Dale. “Get away, you fuckin’ demon!” “Well excuse me, you just called me God a few minutes ago.” “What is this place? What are you? Get me out of this hellhole!” “As long as you take Norah, you will always find paradise”, growled the creature that was just recently a certain Mr. Tanhem. And Dale screamed like a little girl. Just like those girls he saw chopped up and served on a silver platter to only those who…
… Knew that he needed some help when I saw him earlier today, sitting on his blue couch as always, staring dead straight at that picture, stuck to the red punching bag suspended in air, for hours. It would’ve otherwise been a sweet sight to behold, except for that Swiss Army knife stabbed into the two loving faces in the picture, right across their eyes. Norah always had the greenest eyes. It was from those eyes that a river of red was slowly leaking, but not of pouring sand from the bag, as it logically should. This was no hallucination. “Taylor… Where’s Norah?” I asked so politely that even a hardened crook would’ve turned over his loot to me. A crazy look had taken over the handsome features on his face. “What’s your surname again Thom?” My eyes never deviating from the bag, waiting for its life to slowly dissipate. “What are you talking about? It’s Tanhem. Taylor… Is that blood coming out of the bag?” I started to have a really bad feeling about this. “You should know best what you’ve done, Thom.” THOM TANHEM. THE MOTHMAN. The oldest trick in the book. I should’ve known sooner. “Stop your games man. It ain’t funny anymore man. What’s going on here?” I try to keep my cool, but a hint of anxiety escapes my throat in these words. “Are you finally happy now?” I try to keep my cool, but a hint of aggression escapes my throat in these words.
“Taylor, get it together man! What did you do to Norah?” “You did this to her. You did.” “I was in my room the whole morning! Snap out of it Taylor!” “Ah yes, about that. Why do you like sneaking into my room without my permission?” “Man, what’s wrong with you? I’ve never gone into your room!” “Oh, I’ve seen you snooping around. You been trying to get your hands on her, huh?” “Taylor, I swear to you, such thoughts never even crossed my mind, man. I mean, it’s not like I don’t have enough things on my mind as it is.” “This is a studio apartment Thom.” “Yeah, I know that. Come on, I live here.” “Do you, now?” “Hey don’t give me this shit now. I’ve been living with you for the past three years, goddammit!” “THERE’S ONLY ONE ROOM IN THIS APARTMENT, THOM!!!” A crazy look had taken over his douche bag of a face. I stumbled backwards at this ludicrous claim and tripped over the table. In this whole clumsy scene, I dragged the punching bag down to the ground with me, only to see sand spilling out of it.
Ok, maybe it was a hallucination. Wait, what? I don’t understand what’s going on anymore. “I think this time I’ll be the one to say when enough is enough, Mothman. And with all that shit you’ve put me through, it’s way past enough by now.” I’ve sat down long enough. My bones creak as I got off the couch. “Taylor… tell me you’re planning to fix the leak in the toilet with the hammer in your hand.” I think now would be a really good time to run. “Oh, I’ll eventually get to that. Once I’m done with you, Mothman.” The hammer fit snugly in my fist. “Stop calling me the fucking Mothman! I’m not the Mothman, I’m Thom, your housemate! You’ve had too much of that Shining shit man!” But I had already dashed towards the bathroom door as Taylor slowly rose from his seat to…
… I am sane. I am sane. I am sane. I am sane. I am sane. I am sane. I am sane. I am sane. I am sane. I am Taylor Finn. I am trying. I am trying. I am trying. I am trying. I am trying. I am trying. I am trying. I am trying. I am trying. I am trying to be Thom Nathem. I am not mad. I am not mad. I am not mad. I am not mad. I am not mad. I am not mad. I am not mad. I am not mad. I am not mad. I am not the Mothman.
I’m just on a bad trip. I’m just on a bad trip. I’m just on a bad trip. I’m just on a bad trip. I’m just on a bad trip. I’m just on a bad trip. I’m just on a bad trip. I’m just on a bad trip. I’m just on a bad trip. I’m just on Norah. I don’t want paradise. I don’t want paradise. I don’t want paradise. I don’t want paradise. I don’t want paradise. I don’t want paradise. I don’t want paradise. I don’t want paradise. I don’t want paradise. I don’t want her anymore. It’s not too late. It’s not too late. It’s not too late. It’s not too late. It’s not too late. It’s not too late. It’s not too late. It’s not too late. It’s not too late. It’s not enough. I’ve been right. I’ve been right. I’ve been right. I’ve been right. I’ve been right. I’ve been right. I’ve been right. I’ve been right. I’ve been right. I’ve been…
… Wrong all this time. I thought I could make a difference. I thought maybe I could’ve saved him. Saved us. But it wasn’t the drugs. It wasn’t the women. It was her all along. There was no cold turkey. There was no cutting down of any sort for that matter. He just quit the rest of them because he finally found the perfect fix. Norah only attracts a very strict selection of romantically condemned individuals, and Taylor fits this criterion like a piece of jigsaw. And it’s really quite something, all those stories that she cooks up to play with his mind. With our minds. Turns out we weren’t the first victim. And we certainly won’t be the last one. So heed my advice, fellow housemates that have yet to come. Study the account of my days with Taylor so when it’s your 32
turn to move into this apartment, you could perhaps learn from all that we, and the rest that came before us, have lost. Stop her while you still can. Before she…
… Finally put an end to this madness tonight. The cause of all my misery is just beyond this door. With my right hand hoisting the hammer up for that finishing blow and my left hand on the light switch, I stepped into the bathroom shrouded in black with Thom’s silhouette in my sight. This is it, I thought. No more mysteries. No more strange thoughts. The switch flicked up. A drop of water hit the ground. And that’s when I saw the truth. That’s when I saw…
… Taylor Finn in the mirror staring back at me.
Notes Thom hiding from Taylor in toilet – introduces Mothman 6
Thud pounding on door to get to Thom – introduces Norah 5 Thom describing Taylor’s work routine – hints at an anomaly in Taylor on that day Rui Yang finding out what happened to Norah – hints at Thom’s betrayal 3 Thom describing their daily routine – hints at the origin of Taylor’s problems Taylor flashing back to his high school teacher crush – alternative origin of Norah Thom describing how Norah changed Taylor – the origin of the drugs/women Captain Crowley questioning God’s mission – Taylor’s doubt in what all this is for 2b 1 2a
Dale stumbling into Slaughterhouse Street – introduction of the Mothman Thom finding out what Taylor did to Norah – establishes premise for climax Taylor finally getting through the door – finds out the truth about Thom 7 4
The Hall Of Mirrors – Reflection of Taylor The Hinges Of Madness – Distrust of Thom/descent into insanity This Home Of Mercy – Hint of disillusionment at his drug and women fueled existence
The Hymns Of Macedonia – Chance at salvation through seeking Thom The House Of Moths – Taylor’s distortion of Thom into the Mothman
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