Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 3.10

Posted by harmony0stars on March 15, 2009

Despite the fact that it wasn’t warm outside by anyone but a polar bear’s standards, Gozala and Mike drove with the air on full blast. Mike would much rather have been reading the manuscript than driving, but Gozala was quite obviously a kid to anyone who looked her way. If anyone happened to notice her driving… well, they certainly didn’t want to be pulled over by the police. That would be the worst kind of awkward, and potentially fatal for one or both of them.

Not that Gozala had ever driven before, but she was a quick study. She could have done it if she had to. Having telepathy was good for picking up all sorts of useful information, even if it was only two way with her father and Mike.  With anyone other than family, which she guessed Mike kind of was now considering his “infection,” she only had a limited kind of intuition and empathy and not even the kind that could make people feel sorry for her. It was strictly one way, with her on the receiving end. She wasn’t particularly tickled pink to feel every twisted little xenophobic emotion that passed through the heads of the researchers at Miskatonic. Her time among them had been torturous and not just because of the physical and psychological trials they’d put her through.

Sometimes she wished she could influence people’s minds as easily as her father, that would have made those Miskatonic jerks take a step back, but she suspected it had something to do with spores. After all, his “body” underlay most of the Jersey Pine Barrens. He only had access to the air in one spot that she was aware of and that was where he drew most of his victims once they entered his sphere of influence. That was where he was strongest, in the boneyard as her cousin had called it.

It wasn’t like people came from all over the pine barrens to that one spot either. Someone would have noticed if the place was a death trap. Though obviously the barrens were known to have a bad reputation. She’d asked her dad once if he was responsible for the Jersey Devil, but he didn’t know what that was, or said he didn’t.

Gozala suspected he permeated the air near the cavern entrance with spores and drew the people down, down, down into the dark where their lives would end and his strange cohabitation of their bodies could begin. Even before that happened though, he could read the thoughts of his victims, know them and their inclinations. That was probably where she got her abilities from… she just didn’t have any mind altering spores to go with it. Still some of the people he took were more immune to his influence than others. Lucky there were other things in the cavern to intrigue trespassers… cave paintings and other artifacts, and if they got deep enough, there were the gold deposits to keep their greedy little imaginations occupied. Even those who seemed immune at first would eventually succumb if they spent enough time in the presence of the seemingly innocuous slime mold. Her father’s direct presence could be toxic with enough exposure. He could just convince a body to shut down, and eventually it would.

It wasn’t as if he could even move, and obviously he wasn’t using his spores or hijacked bodies to dig him up in other locations so he’d have more influence over the living. So what was so sinister about a stationary slime mold out in the middle of nowhere? Nothing. He was completely harmless when left alone, inhabiting the bodies of small animals and less often, humans, drawn into his lair like insects to a sundew. He really didn’t go out of his way to take anyone who didn’t get close enough on their own.

So why couldn’t the Miskatonic people just leave him, them, alone? They were perfectly happy living in her mother’s cabin, or well, Gozala lived there and he made periodic visits when he found a body to occupy. In the meantime, he shared the fruits of his long existence with her, telepathically instructing her on how to fix the cabin when it was damaged by the elements, how to hunt and fish, how to do anything and everything a person living alone in the woods should know how to do. She’d always been quite strong, so it was no hardship to live alone in the middle of the woods, though she sometimes still pined for a book to read or some drawing paper. The number of minds her father had absorbed in his long existence numbered literally in the thousands, so it wasn’t as if she were ever bored long. There was very little he couldn’t tell her about how to survive or about the world as his hosts had observed it.

She just wished she hadn’t stopped growing after her cousin tried to kill her some years before. Gozala had a sneaking suspicion she’d died and her father had somehow revived her, but he would admit to nothing. Then again, despite the millennia he’d spent absorbing the bodies and minds of anyone and anything that wandered into his territory, he was still alien in his reasoning. She suspected sometimes he just didn’t understand her question. Death for him was a question of “mobility/food” and “not food.” Even if she had died in the cavern, she was “not food” and so questions of whether she had died wouldn’t make sense to him. It was like asking if she’d been eaten.

It had been weird for a while, as her father wore each of her former family’s bodies until they finally rotted too much to be used. Really she hadn’t missed them… much. They’d been awful, selfish, brutish people who made her childhood a misery. Missing them had been more a matter of habit than affection. If there was anyone she missed, it was her mother, gone before she was even old enough to remember her. Her death years later was only a formality that brought her uncle’s brood within reach of her father’s justice.

Her father had taken over the roll of mother and father, and now for the second time in her life, she had been torn away from her parent and placed among people who’s only interest was in increasing her misery. She had never hated her uncle’s family. She had lived among them too long to feel much of anything but a lonely and empty dullness where any feeling might lurk. For the men and woman of Miskatonic though, she felt nothing but hate. She hoped her father gobbled them up like chewing gum.

She withheld judgment on Mike. Hadn’t he paid for his part through the infection that was now killing him, and hadn’t he also tried to make amends by rescuing her? Though she rather thought the last part was a bit self serving. He needed her as much as she needed him.

She could hear his thoughts even now, though he didn’t have access to hers. Not unless she let him. He probably wouldn’t like what he saw there anyway. She might look like a little girl, but she was an adult, at least in years if not in form. Mike was a nice guy and didn’t want anyone to suffer, even people who would have happily vivisected him to see what was keeping him “alive.”

She had no illusions about her father’s inhumanity. That’s just the way it was. But those Miskatonic people were cold. They put her father to shame with their indifference. He at least had the excuse of not being human and she… didn’t expect to ever belong with other human beings considering her own… shortcomings.

“Mike…” she said by way of warning. Something was going on up ahead and she suspected it had something to do with her earstwhile captors. He glanced at her where she sat in the passenger seat, her legs drawn up to her chin as she mused on her life. He cocked his head to the side, sharing her misgivings for a moment before nodding and taking the nearest exit. Her intution had saved them from capture before and he had no reason to doubt her now, even if there was no sign of the traffic around them slowing.

to Book 3, page 11

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 3.10”

  1. Darkthorn said

    “She just wished she hadn’t stopped growing after her cousin tried to killed her some years before.”

    It should be:

    “She just wished she hadn’t stopped growing after her cousin tried to kill her some years before.”

    Anyway, I’ve just gotten back after a long hiatus, and I’m catching up on the chapters. Everything is still great!

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