Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

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Tattoo Book 3.12

Posted by harmony0stars on March 29, 2009

Mike and Gozala abandoned the car on a back road a mile from her father‘s cavern. She could sense people in the woods no matter which direction she turned, but the car was nearly out of gas regardless. Besides, there was no reason to go to the cabin when it was her father they’d come to see. It was no hardship to cut through the trees. Gozala knew the woods like the back of her hand.

There was not a cloud in the sky. Birds and even a few bugs were in the process of celebrating the elevated temperature. Mike was not having a good time.

Before leaving the car, Gozala had wrapped his hands and arms up to his elbows, preserving what dexterity remained in his fingers. She’d also wrapped his ankles and calves. With the bit of gauze left, she’d wrapped his head and neck. He had no need to speak or eat any more, so she’d wrapped his mouth shut and covered what was left of his nose. Only his eyes, filmed by cataracts, stared defiantly from lidless sockets.

Mike looked like a mummy in thrift store cast offs. Whenever he reached out to steady himself, which was often, his bandaged hands were stained with his putrefying flesh. His shoes were probably the only thing holding his feet together, which is why they had not removed them when wrapping his legs. His balance was completely shot. Being without sensation of any kind was a two-edged sword. It saved him from the pain one might have expected in his condition, but destroyed his fine motor skills. Sometimes he stepped too hard and jarred his much abused body, sometimes he missed his footing because he couldn’t feel the pressure of his foot connecting with the ground. He had a creeping dread that the next time he grabbed a tree to catch himself before a fall, his arm would detach from his shoulder with the same squelching, sucking sound his sneakers made in the spring mud they trekked through.

Though he scrupulously kept his fatalistic thoughts to himself, Mike did not think he would be leaving the woods again, or deciphering the manuscript with his failing eyes. It had been Gozala’s idea to take it, but he could barely see well enough to keep her in sight, and several times he had lost her, even in the sparse and gray undergrowth of the woods. It might feel like spring, but the vegetable kingdom had not yet caught on. His panicked thoughts had brought her back to guide him, for which he was grateful. He did not want to die alone. But she couldn’t read Latin or French, so it was here that he would find his end… once he had returned her to her father. She was a very capable child, but a child all the same. If he didn’t keep himself together long enough to bring her home, there was every chance that his former teachers would pick her up again. He wanted his life to end with a clean slate and that meant making sure he made up for the mistake that had set everything in motion.

“They‘re all over the place.” Gozala growled under her breath. She stepped back into a copse of trees as two men walked by arguing. They didn’t see her or Mike, mostly because they were too involved in their discussion. Gozala caught the word dynamite and her breath caught in her throat. There was only one reason they might need explosives.

“I have to get to my dad!” Mike concentrated, willing Gozala to hear his thoughts but she shrugged him off. “Where else am I going to go, Mike? It‘s not like I can get a job or find a place to live like a normal person. I belong here.”

Mike shook his head, but he didn’t have any answers to offer. He didn’t expect to be ‘alive’ much longer. It wasn’t as if he would be able to look after her for much longer.

They walked through the woods at a snail’s pace, not because of Mike’s infirmity, but because the closer they got to the cavern, the more people they had to avoid. Some of them wore their star stones around their necks on cords. They could only assume that the others carried their stones hidden away in a pocket.

Finally they could get no closer. The little depression where her father’s cavern was located was ringed by equipment. Most of the men and women stood in small groups talking, but a few were wiring things together. Mike and Gozala were holed up in a small stand of evergreens.

“No, no, no,” Gozala muttered anxiously. She restlessly wrung dead leaves and other detritus through her fingers as she crouched beneath a small spruce. Her hands were filthy and tarry with sap. Gozala should have been able to hear her father in her head by now, but there was nothing. A small group gathered around a man carrying what she supposed was the dynamite. While he carried the apparatus, the others carried extra starstones for protection from her father’s influence and ringed him as he moved.

Mike lay his hand on her shoulder and once again tried to force her to hear his thoughts. She might not have anywhere to go, but there was no way she was going to get down into that cave. As soon as she made a move towards it, they’d both be taken. While Mike didn’t much care what happened to himself any more, once he was gone, there’d be no one coming to rescue her a second time. Gozala hung her head in defeat.

There was a sudden commotion from the group near the cave and Gozala looked up in time to see Gil come walking out of the trees. She didn’t recognize him, but Mike suddenly dug his fingers into her shoulder making her yelp. Fortunately, it wasn’t loud enough to alert anyone in the hollow. After a moment’s hesitation, the group transporting the explosives continued to move toward the cave’s entrance, while another group moved to intercept Gil. Mike almost stood, but Gozala grabbed him and dragged him back down into a crouch.

“Friend of yours?” Gozala asked while Mike hung his head. It was her turn to comfort him as she felt the waves of his misery.

Whoever he was, his peers did not seem happy to see him. They practically swarmed him, examining him as if he were a manikin. They pulled at his clothes and looked in his eyes. One of them grabbed his wrist and checked for a pulse. It was clear that they thought he might be one of her father’s automatons. They seemed almost disappointed when he turned out to be alive. A spare starstone was shoved into his hands and when he didn’t scream like a little girl and run away, that seemed to satisfy them that he wasn’t an enemy. He walked into their camp with them as if he belonged there.

Glory sidled up behind Mike and Gozala. “Don’t worry. He’s not with them,” she murmured.

Gozala squeaked a second time, smothering the sound in her hands. “Give a person a heart attack, why don’t you! And… and what the heck are you doing here anyway?!” she hissed while trying not to alert the crowd standing only a few yards away.

“Well, I figured you might still need help, and… I was missing some property after you left. I thought maybe you might tell me what happened to it.”

Gozala flushed scarlet, but Mike dug into the front pocket of his hoodie and set the well wrapped papers in her hands. In truth, he was relieved to give it back. He hadn’t been comfortable taking it in the first place, especially knowing he probably would not get the chance to return it in his condition.

to Book 3, page 13

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 3.12”

  1. Miladysa said

    Poor Mike 😦

    Great description on your part though 😀

    Something I noticed “they got the “cavern

    • harmony0stars said

      Thanks! All fixed and a few other things altered slightly. I was sick when making the last entry, so a little off my game. That’s why the entry was so short too. 😦 At least the cold and flu season is almost over.

      I wonder if any fans of Lovecraft have figured out which of his stories Mike is an homage to…

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