Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fear - Chapter 7, Part 2 - Guidance

So last time Lowry heard a voice but found no one else in his office with him, but now he's going to take a closer look and find someone after all.  A cracked section of the plaster wall near his desk transforms from meaningless lines into the shape of a face, then a body that soon steps out of the wall.

"I would dislike frightening you," said the high, musical voice.

The thing looked like a child not more than four years old, a little girl with long blond curls and shapely, dimpled limbs.  

Well, hey, "shapely" technically means "pleasing to look at," it's not necessarily sexual-

She was dressed in a frilled frock, all clean and white, and a white bow was slightly to one side of her head.  Her face was round and beautiful, but it was a strange kind of beauty, not altogether childish; the eyes were such a dark blue they were almost black, and deep in them was an expression which was not an innocent child's, but more a lascivious wanton's; the lips were full and rich and slightly parted, as though to bestow a greedy lover's kiss.  


And like an aura a black shadow stood in globular shape about her.  

I bet her soul is as red as a ground cherry, too.

But at a casual, swift glance, it was a little child, no more than four, naive and full of laughter.  The lewd eyes lingered caressingly upon Lowry's face as she perched herself upon the top of his desk.

At least we've answered a lingering question from Mission Earth: "how could we make Teenie worse?"  And the answer is of course to "make her a four-year-old hellspawn."

Teenier and Lowry have a nice, disturbing chat.  He asks what she is, she assures him that she's just a child, of course, and proceeds to get distracted by his handsomeness so that "A dreamy look came into her eyes and her small pink tongue flicked out to dampen her lips convulsively."  When Lowry gets her back on track, she asks again whether Lowry really wants to find his hat, and he emphatically says nope.  Remember that heroic resolve Lowry was filled with a chapter or two ago, as he strode off into the night to fight the madness and find what he lost?  Lowry doesn't.

After spending some time stretching "langoriously" and licking her quivering lips with her pink tongue, Teenier gets to business: if Lowry will stop denying she and others like her exist, and agrees to aid them against the "others," she'll give him some exposition.  Lowry wearily nods his agreement.

So Teenier tells him a story.  Tommy was indeed correct that Lowry's article has angered a group of supernatural beings who inexplicably chose a four-year-old harlot as their herald.  And this is all according to some vague prophecy or schedule where they periodically "even up accounts" with humanity.  But to do this they need a person, someone "invested with control" - an Entity. 

"That is what we mean by 'Entity,' Mr. Lowry.  You are the Entity, the center of control.  Usually all life, at fleeting instants, takes turns in passing this along.  Now perhaps you have, at one time in your life, had a sudden feeling, 'I am I?'  Well, that awareness of yourself is akin to what men call godliness.  For an instant nearly every living thing in this world has been the one Entity, the focal point for all life. It is like a torch being passed from hand to hand.  Usually, innocent little children such as myself are invested, and so it is that a child ponders much upon his own identity."

So when Lowry is sick and feverish, doubting his senses, hallucinating disturbing phenomenon, and generally having a miserable time being himself, this is when he's wholly in touch with his identity?  This is when he's the center of control?

"What are you trying to tell me?"

"Why," she said demurely, "I am telling you that this is a period when we choose an Entity and invest that function in just one man.  Your Tommy Williams, I believe, knows about it.  So long as you live, then the world is animated.  So long as you walk and hear and see, the world goes forward.  In your immediate vicinity, you understand, all life is concentrating upon demonstrating that it is alive.  It is not.  Others are only props for you.  This would have happened to you a long time ago, but it was difficult to achieve communication with you.  You are the Entity, the only living thing in this world."

Ladies and gentlemen, behold The Sociopath's Anthem.  You are the only true human, the only living person, in all the world.  All those things that look like people are nothing but objects, props that exist for your benefit.  They have no value, and only pretend to be alive because your presence validates them.

Disturbing sentiments, but not quite as disturbing as the sultry four-year-old.  The globe of darkness pulses around Teenier as she gives Lowry lusty looks once more.  Lowry asks what he's supposed to do with this information, or what they are expecting from him as the Entity, and is told - nothing.  By which I mean:

"What... what am I expected to do?" said Lowry.

"Why, nothing.  You are the Entity."

"H-he-e i-is-s t-th-he-e E-En-n-ti-it-ty!" growled a chorus of voices in other parts of the room.

Yeah, that isn't working for me, Hubbard.  I know it's supposed to be a Voice of the Legion effect, but it reads like a stutter. 

Anyway, they just want Lowry to know he's the Entity so he won't do anything rash, like... uh, they're trying to reassure him.  Lowry is afraid of Tommy, and Jebson, and Billy Watkins the nightwatchman, but as said earlier, they're all just props.  All he has to do is be the Entity and continue to motivate the props around him, and... and this helps them "even up accounts" with humans by...

Look, there was a prophecy, alright?

Lowry asks, if Tommy is indeed a prop that he himself motivates, how Tommy was able to lean over and do something to Lowry that morning, or why he has fangs.  Teenier doesn't take this well.

"Oh!" she cried in shocked pain.  "Then it is impossible!"

"I-it-t i-is-s i-im-mp-po-os-si-i-b-bl-le-e !" chorused the growls.

So on the one hand, it is sort of a relief to learn that there are dark forces tormenting you, rather than your misfortune being due to the randomness of an impartial universe.  On the other hand, it's not very comforting to know that those dark forces are just as inept as the guys who get your order wrong at the drive-thru.

Teenier declares that Tommy Williams is the leader of the others, and even though "There's nothing you can do," Lowry must somehow "settle accounts" with him.  When Lowry caught Tommy leaning over his bed, Tommy stole part of his "soul substance," and he'll continue to do so every time the two of them are in the same room, unless Lowry stops him.

Our protagonist quite reasonably asks how he's supposed to do any of this, but Teenier is already gone, and her dark aura shrinks until it has become "like a small, round black thing" before vanishing like "a smoke puff."  And that's exactly how you defuse unnerving events with badly chosen language.

Lowry calls out once more, but there's nothing else in the room with him but a section of cracked plaster that no longer resembles anything.  He buries his face in his arms, presumably out of confusion and annoyance.

Well, we sure learned a lot from this section.  There's an ancient conspiracy of demons that has a vague prophecy about an Entity who doesn't have to do anything, but which can be foiled by some others toward some unforeseen end.  The plot is thickening, maybe?

Nah.  There's less than thirty pages left in the story, and none of this matters in the slightest.

Back to Chapter 7, part 1

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