Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Gap - Parts 1 to 10

The Gap is a story is currently being published on a episodic basis via my instagram and this post collects the first ten parts for those wishing to catch up...

Part 1

These are the places where worlds touch.

Oh, there’s nothing you can see but you can feel it.

For some people it’s little more than a vague shiver, a prickling on the back of the neck, but if you’re a sensitive then the feeling is altogether more intense. A knot that twists in the stomach. A certainty that all is not right here.

And you are correct.

These are the places where energies entwine, where dimensions kiss, where logic can break down in an instant.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

I like to think Shakespeare was probably a sensitive, that he perhaps unconsciously felt just how much is hidden from us in our daily lives. But if he had known the truth, if he had known about the cold darkness that lies so close one can almost touch it, if he had known about The Gap, then I am sure he would have struggled to believe it.

You are going to struggle to believe the things I am going to tell you. And if it helps you to believe that this is just a story, just some fantastical piece of entertainment, then that’s fine as well. But the truth is different, the truth is darker.

Try to keep an open mind. And feel free to stop reading at any point. There is, after all, more than a grain of truth to the rumour that ignorance is bliss. Knowledge can’t be undone. You can turn a cow into mince, but not mince into cow. Remember that.

So, if you’re ready, come take my hand and let me lead you into a story that spans more worlds than our own; a story whose beginning has long since been lost to the mists of time but whose end may well be oh so very near…

Part 2

I have so much to tell you and so little time.

This is a story built upon secrets; secrets that have been protected for centuries and which continue to be protected to this day. So much blood has been spilled in their protection, but the moment at which the truth will out is nearly upon us.

There’s a part of me that wants to let the information I have pour forth from me like a geyser - The Gap, the extrusions and intrusions, The Department, Sui Generis – but I realise that this is too much for you to take in. I need to start slowly. I need to start where it all began for me. I need to start with the Rainy Man.

It all began in Barcelona and a girl called Reina. If she was ever really a girl at all.

I had arrived there for a few days after lecturing in Girona, and I’d met Reina by the harbour after a seagull had stolen my lunch.  We talked. We laughed. And there was that sense of instant chemistry and communication that happens so very rarely; that sense of being on the same wavelength so that everything about our conversation was so very easy.

She told me about the legend of El hombre de la lluvia, the Rainy Man, who preys on the lost. Except the Rainy Man is not a legend. The Rainy Man is real. And Reina, who saw the pain and loss that lay beneath my surface, she led me right to him.

I could have died there in Barcelona. I so nearly did.

Like a fly wandering into the spider’s web, I came face to face with El hombre de la lluvia that day. Stared into his jade green eyes, his hands holding me like ice cold steel; watched as his black tongue flickered from his mouth, impossibly wide and filled with teeth like a saw.

I should have died. But for a voice in my head of someone I loved. A voice that gave me the strength to break free.

The Rainy Man was where this started. The first step on the slipperiest of slopes that would peel back reality and unravel all the truths I once held dear.

I ran from Barcelona, ran back to the UK and tried to pretend it had never happened. But the Rainy Man had touched me, had tasted me, and so he followed.

And I realised, I could run from him no more…

Part 3

It was three months before the Rainy Man finally found me.

Life had begun to return to something approaching normality when I saw him beside a bus shelter. Rain pouring off his wide brimmed hat as he waited for me. I turned and walked away, told myself I was imagining things.

But a few days later I was getting off a bus and he was standing in the park watching me. A little nearer this time. He smiled at me. I closed my eyes and counted to ten, and when I opened them he was gone. But I knew that he was not simply a figment of my imagination. He had found me.

Two days after that I was in my car, stopped at traffic lights, when the heavens opened and rain began to hammer off my windshield. And he was there. Beside the car. So close that if I had reached my hand out of the window I could have touched him. He grinned at me, a smile of saw teeth. And then, as soon as it had started, the rain stopped and he faded away like ripples in a pond.

When I saw him outside my house later that day, I knew that running was pointless.  He would always find me.

I decided that I would run no more. I would make my stand here and fight him. I didn’t know how; after all, last time I had encountered him I had barely escaped with my life. But I knew that I had to try.

I did my research, read everything that I could find online about the supernatural. Most of it seemed crazy, but then everything since Barcelona had been crazy. So I followed the advice I’d read and spread lines of salt along my windows and doors. I even dug through the boxes up in the loft and found my grandfather’s WWI bayonet.

And, as the black clouds began to gather overhead, I sat down in a chair facing the front door and waited. Knuckles white as I held the iron bayonet tightly in my right hand.

A knock sounded at the door…

Part 4

Bang. Bang. Bang.

I flinched, and the door rattled in its frame, with each knock; the bayonet in my hand suddenly feeling wholly inadequate to deal with what was on the other side.

And then silence.

I waited for a few seconds and was about to get up from my seat and peer out of the window when the lock slowly started to turn by itself. Someone or something was opening the door from the outside. I pressed myself a little further back into my seat.

The door swung slowly open.

A tall man dressed in a pinstripe suit and a bowler hat stood framed in the doorway. He looked down at the floor, at the line of salt that I had carefully ran across the width of the doorway, and shook his head.

“Salt?” he said in the kind of upper class English accent I’d only ever heard in movies as he stepped inside the house.  “Really? You’ve been watching too much Supernatural, I think.”

“Who are you and what the hell are doing breaking into my house?” I managed to splutter.

“The name’s Stark,” he replied, pausing to sweep his gaze across the room. “Alexander Stark.”

“Which still doesn’t explain the whole breaking into my house thing.” I said, as indignantly as I could muster.

He took a wallet from his inside pocket, held it out in front of him and let it drop open to reveal a picture and some kind of badge.

“I’m with Department 9.”

“Department 9?”

“No time to explain now,” said Stark angling his head to look at the window, where huge raindrops had begun to splash against the glass. “I take it you’d prefer to get out of this alive?”

I nodded.

“Then I need you to sit in that chair and, whatever happens next, don’t get out of it...”

Part 5

The rain outside became heavier, the drops rattling off the glass like pebbles, and the sky grew black.

“Localised weather phenomena,” mused Stark, his long fingers steepled beneath his chin, “would seem to indicate we’re dealing with at least a Category 3.”

“You know, you can feel free to tell me what the hell is going on anytime you like…”

He ignored me and pulled something resembling a smart phone from his pocket. Jabbed at its screen. Cocked an eyebrow.



“This could,” he said, turning from his phone to look at me, “be something of a rough ride.”

A gale had begun to howl outside, the wind seemingly whistling through every gap that it could find, while the blackness had grown more threatening until it seemed as if it was pressing itself against the glass like a physical thing.

Something black and gaseous began to drift beneath the crack of the front door, a swirling amorphous shape that brushed the salt aside and then reared up into a black column of smoke. I dropped the bayonet, my hands clutching the sides of the chair. Stark needn’t have worried about me getting out of the chair; moving was simply not an option for me.

And then the Rainy Man was here. Hat dripping wet. Long coat streaked with mud. Green eyes glittering all the brighter in the dark. Water pooling on the hardwood floor at his feet.

For a second his face distorted into a twisted smile and I felt the cold heat of his gaze, but then he turned as if noticing Stark for the first time.

“Hello there,” said Stark, his voice calm and collected, “I don’t believe we’ve had the pleasure.”

Part 6

The Rainy Man turned to fully face Stark and, for a few seconds, the two of them simply stared at each other. Stark coldly dispassionate; The Rainy Man seething with malevolence.

The thought of trying to make a run for it briefly flickered through my mind but then I remembered Stark’s words and stayed firmly planted in the chair.

“Do you know what I am?” asked Stark.

The Rainy Man said nothing, simply swaying on the spot in the middle of the room as if in some kind of a trance.

“I know what you are,” continued Stark, “I know what happened to you.”

The Rainy Man hissed but didn’t move.

“There was a time, long ago, that you were human,” said Stark. “Before the darkness touched you. Before The Gap claimed you.”

The Rainy Man snarled, lip curling up above its razor sharp teeth; its hands arched into talons. It felt to me as if pressure was building, as if the storm was about to break on us.

“I want to help you,” said Stark.

Everything that happened next occurred almost too quickly for the eye to see.

One second they were stood facing each other. The next, the Rainy Man was surging across the room in a blur, his claws slicing through the air towards where Stark stood. But, as quick as the Rainy Man was, Stark was quicker. He drifted sideways, evading the attack almost nonchalantly, and in the same motion catching the Rainy Man at the wrists; forcing it backwards across the room.

A wind began to twist and turn, with the Rainy Man at its epicentre. Paintings flew from the walls, cups and plates shattered, papers swept up into a whirling mass; but the two of them remained locked together in the middle of the room.

But Stark no longer seemed to be pushing it back, instead it seemed to me that the claws of the Rainy Man were slowly but inexorably moving towards Stark’s face. The wind roared louder as the Rainy Man poured ever more power and rage into their conflict, Stark taking a step backwards for the first time.

And in that moment, I knew what I had to do. Heart pounding in my chest, I took hold of the bayonet and stood up…

Part 7

I squeezed my eyes shut against the flying debris and pushed forward against the force of the wind, each step like wading through treacle. The bayonet suddenly feeling as if it weighed fifty kilos in my hand.

The Rainy Man and Stark were still locked in their fierce embrace and I forced my way across the room towards them, every inch a battle. Heart pounding, lungs aching; adrenaline coursing, fear briefly contained.

I drove the bayonet hard towards the Rainy Man’s torso; the blade cleaving through the air in what felt like slow motion. My senses heightened in that fraction of a second. The fabric of the Rainy Man’s coat, the mottled colour of its skin, the open eyes of Stark that seemed to betray some kind of panic.

The bayonet struck home, the force of the blow driving the blade cleanly through the folds of the coat and deep into the side of the Rainy Man’s chest.


The wind died instantly.

The Rainy Man stood static in the middle of the room, hands lying limp at its side

Stark looked at me and grimaced. “You idiot.”

For a moment my brain tried to process what it had just heard and convert it to the thanks I had been expecting to receive. But, as if reading my mind, Stark sighed loudly.

“You bloody idiot.”

The Rainy Man twitched slightly, its head suddenly jerking violently to one side with a loud cracking sound. One hand moved up its body and seized hold of the protruding bayonet, tugging the blade gradually loose until it emerged with a vague sucking sound. It dripped black with foul smelling blood.

“Now you’ve gone and made it angry….”

Part 8

The Rainy Man let the bayonet fall to the floor.

It stood there for a few seconds, its head down as if in silent contemplation. Stark used the time to circle around it towards me, and took hold of my arm.

“We need to go,” he said, in a low voice that was edged with steel, “Now.”

But it was already too late; something was beginning to happen to the Rainy Man.

Looking back at that moment, I understand so much more of what it was I was seeing that day. But at the time, it seemed to me that the Rainy Man began to dissolve from the extremities; as if its hands and legs were turning into spirals of black dust and smoke. But there was more than that; within the whorls of smoke I could see undulations and movements, vague hints of something sinuous and tentacled.

I felt myself becoming entranced. It was if I was staring deep into one of Dante’s visions of Hell and yet I couldn’t bring myself to look away.

Stark grabbed me by the right arm and pulled me bodily back across the room, away from the Rainy Man and through the doorway leading to the kitchen, but something black snaked out of the living room from behind me like a whip, seizing hold of my left hand at the wrist.

There would be times later when I experienced worse but, right then, it was the most painful experience I’d had in my life so far. I tried to pull it away from me with my right hand, but it held me effortlessly and slowly constricted. I could feel it burning my skin, dissolving flesh. I wanted to scream but the pain was so intense it felt as if my breath was frozen in my lungs.

Stark drew a cylinder from his pocket and squeezed it in his palm. It transformed, instantly, into a glowing blue dagger.

“This might sting a little,” he said, and brought the knife down on my forearm…

Part 9

The blue blade scythed through my forearm effortlessly and I watched, disbelieving, as my left hand fell away and was then snatched into the living room by the black tendrils, where it was crushed in a brief red blossom.

My hand had just been cut off.

I felt dizzy, felt nauseous, but what I didn’t feel was any pain. And, despite the fact that my arm had just been neatly severed in two, neither could I see any blood.

“You cut off my hand.” I said to Stark, pointing at the bloodless stump with my remaining hand.

“10 out of 10 for observation,” said Stark and pulled me hard out of the kitchen door and into the back garden.

“You cut off my hand.”

“We have bigger problems right now,” grunted Stark, pushing me roughly to one side before using the tip of the blue dagger to etch a symbol into the lid of my garden BBQ.

I looked at the very empty place where my left hand had been until a few seconds earlier in the forlorn hope that I had somehow imagined it.

A cracking sound caused me to look up and at the kitchen door, through which was spilling a mass of black coils which twisted and turned at impossible angles. The door frame contorted and stretched, the windows alongside it exploding in a shower of glass.

A small voice in my head was busy opining that I was not, thus far, having the best of days.

Stark thrust the palm of his right hand over the symbol he had carved on the BBQ before turning his head to look at me. “Close your eyes.”

I closed them. By this point I’d stopped trying to make sense of things…

Part 10

There was a noise that sounded much like I imagine thunder would sound if you happened to have your head wedged into a cumulonimbus, followed by a shockwave that blew my hair back and peppered my face with grit. I waited a second longer, then gingerly opened my eyes.

Where my mundane terraced house had, quite happily, stood for the last century was a huge and perfectly symmetrical hole, the edges of which were blackened and charred. I realised I could see all the way through to the other side of the street, where a throng of curious onlookers had begun to gather. Of the Rainy Man, there was no sign at all.

“What a bloody mess,” said Stark, looking around as neighbours began to hang their heads out of the windows to see what was going in. He pulled the smartphone-like device from his pocket. “I need a Level 3 cordon at my position. Give me a full clean-up crew and jam all electronics; the last thing we need is this clusterfuck livestreamed on Instagram.”

My house; everything I owned, every memento. Everything that was me, was gone. The realisation hit me like a punch to the stomach; everything that I had left of Ellie was in that house; the letters, the books, the pottery she had made. In comparison, losing my hand felt like little more than an inconvenience. I felt something knot in my chest.

“You do realise this is all your fault?” said Stark.

I wheeled around to face him, raw agony lacing my words. “You destroyed my house, you chopped off my fucking hand, and this is MY fault?”

“If you’d not gone all Rambo with the dagger, I’d have incapacitated it,” said Stark, ignoring my anger. “Think of my first approach as a taser, designed to stun it. But then you made it angry and that approach had to go out the window, leaving me with no other option but to use lethal force.”

“Lethal force? Lethal force? You blew up my house!”

“Trust me, the alternative would have been a lot worse.”

I stared at the still-smoking-hole-that-had-been-a-house and tried to imagine what much worse would have looked like it. I could hear the sound of sirens approaching.

“What now?” I asked, feeling suddenly and utterly deflated.

“Now we clean this up and make it go away,” said Stark, “By tomorrow this gas explosion barely makes page three of the local paper.”

“Gas explosion?”

“My team will be here in a few minutes. By the time they’ve finished here, trust me, this will be whatever I want it to be.” He paused and looked at me hard. “And then you and I, we’re going to have a little chat…”

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