Here is a short extract of the beginning of Gloom. At the moment its my project of distraction which I add chunks to as an alternative to smashing my head against the wall when whatever I should be working on is dragging. I tend to write three or four stories at a time. I have no idea if this is good or bad!
"If I cared for your opinion," said Carcaras, picking a fragment of gristle from his teeth with a fingernail as long and yellow as a sun scorched bone, "I would not have taken your arm."
The limb in question was currently sitting in a congealing disk of blood upon the polished stone writing desk, ragged pink flesh quivering in the blue flame of the candle. Mor looked down at it wistfully.
"I used that," whimpered Mor as a steady flow of brackish blood slipped down the side of his rusting metal armour and danced on the bowing timber floor.
"You used to use that," corrected Carcaras, pushing it off the desk and onto a brazier dismissively. It fizzed as the flesh began to scorch, red to brown to black.
"It isn't fair..."
"Fair?" said Carcaras, standing up so suddenly that his top hat, almost as tall as his legs were long, danced and bobbed on his sweating, greasy hair. He turned his eyes, small and fierce as the dying embers of a sun and took a long stride towards the smaller man, who shrank back and clutched his remaining hand to the ragged stump on his shoulder. Carcaras grasped the mottled top of a post that formed part of the twisted cast iron fence that lay between them, over which he’d wrenched Mor’s offending limb. It was the only physical barrier between the square piece of raised flooring that marked his office and the main floor of the Central Memorandum. It was more a gesture than anything, a separation of Carcaras from the mass of Cringes that were still hammering out moments on their typewriters despite the sanguine soaked drama that was unfolding in their midst. "Fairness is not housed within these walls, wretch. You of all people should know that. Why else would you wear that fish-bowl upon your head when all others breath freely?"
Mor started to beat his chest a little with his remaining fist, clenched up tight as a dying crab as it drummed a nervous staccato on his dented copper chest plate. He was obviously lost for words, unsure of how it had all escalated so quickly. It was all very apt, considering their location. The unforeseen was a skilled instigator of the Moments.
“I was only asking,” he said finally, daring to say little else as he stared up at Carcaras. Carcaras could feel the grey eyes that swam behind the cloudy glass of Mor’s helmet as they scanned his features, most likely in search of that elusive quality of empathy. None to be had, whelp, though if you dig far enough I may cast a grain of pity towards you, though it would surely be tethered to a hook... a need for a gesture of willingness.
“It may have seemed as little more than a question to you, but consider the line of inquiry: you would open up the knowledge of what lies beneath the mine to the entire city of Gloom. This is not simply a petty detail of life to be mulled over whilst chewing the morning carrion, this is a knowledge of where we stand in the darkness, of what forms our bones and splices our meat. Four of us know the truth, four apart and four together. Four only. That is the number it will remain.”
Mor turned his wide globular helmet and scanned the colossal hall that surrounded them. Pinpoints of lifeless blue light glinted across the copper encased man, born from the wired stars that hung from the rusting steel rafters far above. Around him the Cringes continued in their never ending task, stabbing out words and phrases at their workstations with their misshapen hands, which had been strapped up to such an extent that their fingers had fused together in pained and bloody clumps, with the index finger permanently extended, ready to type. Most had attached blackened metal extensions directly into their flesh simply in order to maintain any semblance of a fingertip.
“ Isn't it pointless to try and hide it eternally? They all know now,” said Mor sweeping his remaining arm around the room. The noise of keyboard keys was a constant chattering that echoed onward throughout the perpetual night.
“They have not heard us, they cannot hear us,” said Carcaras as he stretched a sinew strung leg across the fence and placed a foot upon the main floor, a fractal pattern of polished black marble. His pointed leather and steel shoes were as sharp as swords at the tips, and twice as long as his feet actually were, which was the way he liked it. They were always ready to administer a sharp kick should the staff become lethargic. “Unlike some, they are completely focused on their job at hand.”
He tapped a bony fingernail against the forehead of the nearest Cringe, which rocked a little in its seat but still continued in its task with glazed, red rimmed eyes.
“It’s just as well that they are so dedicated. If they were to stop then you must surely know the result.”
Mor nodded slowly.
“Announce it, I wish to know that you truly understand.”
The copper man angled his helmet’s eye plates to the ground, perhaps to formulate the right words or perhaps to simply curse the soul of Carcaras in his own mind. Carcaras cared little either way.
“If they stop,” said Mor eventually, his voice thick with displeasure, “then the spiral stops.”
“And if the spiral stops?” pushed Carcaras, leaning down at a right angle to his legs, his thin torso barely stretching the fabric of his impossibly slim suit. His coat tails fell about his back like flaps of dead skin.
“Then the city falls into the fog and is lost,” said Mor, finishing the sentence with less obvious disrespect than when he began it. He understands. No matter his dislike for me, he understands.
“So you see why they cannot be distracted. They need no truth. As for your arm, why, simply grow a new one again. I can already see a small facsimile of a hand pushing out of the wound.”
Carcaras straightened back up, and tilted his head to look at the little man more closely. I regret what I have done. It is a strange power that you wield, small Mor.