Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6, part 2.9

Posted by harmony0stars on July 23, 2010

Glory had not even been aware of the oppressive atmosphere outside; it had built so gradually. Somehow though, the house was free of it. The sunlight struggled against the decades of  grime coating the intact windows, and the air was just as tepid, but for all that, the building was simply dirty and tired, much like its owner. There was nothing sinister in its deterioration, not like the dead and dying foliage outside. The building creaked in the thousands of different ways that an old house will, but they were normal sounds.

The woods they had driven through had been eerily silent. Glory was only just becoming aware of how strange they had been. She had been too focused on the road and finding her grandmother. Now she wondered what she’d gotten herself and Robert into. Hopefully Ann and Edgar were safe beyond the outskirts of the dying town.

Everywhere the hands made of twigs were affixed to the walls and hanging from cobwebbed light fixtures into which candles had been stuffed. Glory wondered how long the house had been without power and how the old woman made it through winter without heat. Some of her twiggy creations had been centered in what appeared to be a diagram of the constellation of Orion made by hammering nails into the walls and winding twine from nail to nail. There were other images drawn on free spaces with charcoal and other lesser identifiable substances which looked like bat-winged serpents with angelic script pouring from their mouths.

“Grandmother? How long have you been without power?” she asked, frowning at one of the broken windows as she passed.

The old woman turned and glared at her as if the term ‘grandmother’ offended her. “I ain’t leaving, if that’s what you’re asking. No matter what It does to me, I will not give him the satisfaction.”

“I… was actually more concerned about all these broken windows and winter coming on. Don’t you get cold?”

“The fireplace keeps the parlor warm enough,“ she replied dismissively. “At my age, I don’t need much more than wood to burn, and there‘s more than enough dead trees to keep my fireplace full till the day I die.” Meredith Lewin turned into an open doorway, shoving the ancient door to accommodate her guests. The sagging door groaned as it scraped against the equally warped floorboards.

“I can have people up here to fix this place up for you. I have money, Grandmother.”

“Well, I didn’t imagine you’d come for mine.” The old woman cackled madly as if it was the funniest thing she‘d ever heard. “We lost it all when the gov’ment came in and told the whole town to clear off. I’m officially a squatter in my own home.” She rolled the blankets covering an ancient couch into a ball and dropped them to the floor beside it. “Don’t you worry ‘bout me, girl. You’d just be sending all those workmen right to their death. It’s not as if I haven’t made do for the past few years. How many more years do you think I have in me that I need to worry about comfort? It‘s only right that I suffer a bit for bringing that monster into the world.”

The way the old woman switched from ‘him’ to ‘it,’ Glory wasn’t sure from one moment to the next if she was talking about her son or the thing they had supposedly burned in the landfill. Maybe ‘he’ and ‘it’ were one and the same, and the old woman had burned her own son alive. Glory hoped not. From everything she had discovered so far, from Dr Blackwood giving her the third degree to the weird diagrams on her grandmother’s walls, she suspected her interest in magic was more than just a coincidence… which made it all the more imperative that she know her family history if she was ever going to confront Lori. She could only hope that she learned something that gave her an edge.

The room was in marginally better shape than the rest of the house. One window was sealed with sheets of plastic which had been nailed, taped, and otherwise sealed around the pane to keep the weather out. It was a gooey mess of layers, with the most recent sheet fixed to the peeling wall paper and plaster with what looked like tree sap. The other window was intact and open to let in light and air.

It was a relatively tidy room despite its deterioration. An ancient broom leaned against the wall near the door, a testament to the fact that the old woman did occasionally do some cleaning. There was a table next to the sofa which was caked with the detritus of a thousand candles. Several rough pillars and tapers were embedded in the wax still.

On either side of the fire place were bookshelves, though one was obviously a makeshift larder. Cans with moldy labels and boxes of unknown foodstuffs shared space with things that had obviously been harvested from the forest. Where her grandmother had managed to find any plants still living in the dead woodlands was beyond her.

Glory gravitated to the other bookshelf as her grandmother used a poker to stir the embers in the fire. She came up short as the little woman swung the iron in her direction like some skewed version of Gene Wilder in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “Nawp, stay away from those, girl. They’ve caused enough harm to this family. I’ll destroy them when I’m closer to death. I’m sure he’d love to get his hands on them again, but I won’t have it.”

“I’m sorry, Grandmother,” Glory said, backing up to join Robert on the sofa. He stared out the open window with dread, fingering the weird necklace he’d been given.

“Call me Nana,” the old woman said almost gently as she ladled water from a bucket into a battered porcelain teapot and set it over the revived fire. “Always thought that’s what I would have wanted to be called, like I called my own granny when I was a girl.”

Yes, Nana,” Glory replied as politely as she could. It was clear the old woman wasn’t firing on all cylinders. She wouldn’t let Glory fix up her house or look at her books. It was quite apparent she would never consent to come back to Sybar City. Glory began thinking of what she could do as she waited. If nothing else she could bring some food out to the house after she‘d got Robert, Ann, and Edgar safely home. It would probably be best if she didn’t ask permission beforehand though. Nana Meredith was sure to shoot down that idea as well.

(Note: Because the story of Glory’s father is so very long and I was evil enough to end this week on a cliff hanger, there will only be one update next week, but it will be as long as three regular posts.)

to Book 6, part 2, page 10

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2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6, part 2.9”

  1. Fiona said

    Woo hoo – next week: Daddykins!

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