(Warning: Contains colourful language and scenes which some scaredy cats might find disturbing.)
I can’t sleep anywhere; my duvet is on the walls. A big white padded duvet covering my big white room. I’m going crazy. My mind is an island in a sea of shit. I feel loved and cuddled but I’m not. The buckles clink as I wriggle my defiance. I hear keys jangling and part of my duvet moves. The displaced air crackles in my eardrums as a door opens and a man appears before me.
Terror explodes in me like a burst boil soaking my senses as he approaches. No, not the man in white but the creature controlling him – the calgonite. I’m losing my mind and they know it. They know I can see them, all of them.
This is my punishment; I know that now, see. There was no other way they could get me for Ernie’s death. I may not have pushed him but it was me that killed him, for sure.
It was a usual Saturday evening in the ex-Servicemen’s club. We’d spent the afternoon in the bookies, as always. I’d won a few bob, like, but nothing major. Enough for a few pints, see. As we approached the bus stop, just before the club, we could see that the blue rinse brigade were already knocking on the door to get in, smiling their toothless grins and pinching bums whenever they could. Anyone under sixty was fair game. I still didn’t understand why those wrinkly old bitches didn’t have cirrhosis by now. It was 6.10pm, a whole ten minutes late for opening. Wow.
Mark was also late that day so Rob and I passed the time playing darts. We’d only played a few legs when the spliff heads waltzed in. The tone became so low it was a trip hazard for the wannabe GILFs. The place reeked of skunk. They sidled over to the bar and then assumed their ‘place’ at the pool table.
Mark came bounding in just as I was buying another round; I’m sure that twat’s got a tracker on our wallets. I picked up the three pints of beer and headed back to the oche. Mark was itching to tell us something.
‘Well?’ I asked. ‘What’s the goss’? I haven’t seen you in weeks, butt.’
‘It’s Ernie. He tried to kill himself last week. He actually stuck his head on the train tracks but he got the times wrong and, luckily for him, no train came. But then they carted him off to the psycho ward, apparently.’
‘So, what’s new, then?’ I replied.
Rob’s jaw fell open. ‘You knew?’
‘Yeah, ages ago.’
‘You never said, how could you forget to mention that, Vic?’ Rob shook his head and his lip curled up in disgust.
‘Calm down, boys, it’s OK, they let him out a few days ago and I sent him a tidy get well soon card.’
‘Well, that’s something, I suppose,’ mused Mark.
‘Yeah, I sent him a Thomas the Tank Engine one with an Arriva Wales train timetable inside it.’
Rob had just put his pint down but Mark wasn’t so lucky. He sprayed a gob full of beer all over the back of a spliff head and nearly had a pool cue smashed over his head in return.
‘Are you fucking serious?’ snapped Mark.
‘Yeah, of course I am. Well, you know me, always willing to help, mun. At least he won’t miss the next train!’
He didn’t. He’s dead. The 17.40 Hengoed to Cardiff Central train sorted that out for him and that’s when the creatures showed up. Hairy stalkers with a body not unlike a huge rabbit and long sinewy legs with hypermobile knee joints. The back feet flopped over their shoulders to form stubby clawed hands. Long sharp talons protruding out from within their dark, drooling, gaping mouths. I assumed they must see things using ultrasonics or some shit like that, as they have no eyes, just a large vented nose in front of their big ears, like a fine radiator screen.
It was Rob’s calgonite that I saw first, it was sat in his hood sucking the marrow out of some small bones and crunching them between its large fangs. Every couple of seconds one of its gangly legs would reach over Rob’s head and pinch the skin around his right eye, causing him to twitch. Rob had had his nervous tick for years and even his prescribed Botox injections hadn’t stopped it.
You might think that I would have instantly screamed out after seeing such a grotesque looking creature, but I didn’t, not at first, anyway. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The little stalker was from an unseen reality, a world within our world. It feared nothing and no one because it was hidden from us, until now. Plus I was pissed as a fart and didn’t know what I was seeing.
Rob and I had just downed a shit load of beer and countless Jägerbombs during a long afternoon in the Railwayman’s Arms and we were staggering towards Rawling’s fish bar to stave off our munchies. It was 17.40 and the fish bar had only been open for ten minutes, which meant you could pretty much guarantee the chips would be warmed up crap from the day before, so I opted for a steak and kidney pie and a potato fritter instead. As a train rumbled and chugged its way out of the nearby station we paid and wobbled out the door.
As I followed Rob out of the chippy I heard a small guttural voice chanting a weird rhyme.
‘Our tight rein, may cause you pain,
For as long as blood runs through thou vein.
Bright as day or dark as night,
You cannot hide from your calgonite.’
As the chant finished I watched a creature pop its head out of Rob’s hood and spit a chunk of bone onto the chip shop floor. One of his clawed hands reached around and pinched Rob’s face. The skin around Rob’s eye twitched like crazy and his eyelid fluttered like a humming bird’s wing for a few seconds, as it had done a billion times since we were kids. It was Rob’s tick that had caused him to bear the brunt of the school bullies wrath, that and his ginger hair, although he never did stink of piss until we were old enough to drink.
I watched in amazement as the creature fired his long tongue inside another small bone and sucked the gristle from within. As this second bone clattered to the floor I couldn’t help but notice how similar they looked to a human bones.
We staggered in the direction of home. ‘I must be off my tits,’ I said, laughing. ‘I’m seeing things, mun.’
‘I know what you mean, butt. I’m wasted, too.’ Rob opened his mouth to laugh and I could see his tongue was littered with mashed up chunks of chip, which he unceremoniously spat out as he chuckled away. ‘It’s gonna hurt in the morning.’
‘Yeah, I know and I got work, too,’ I whinged.
‘These chips are hard as rock, mun.’
‘I told you.’ I licked my potato fritter and grinned.
As we walked home I kept thinking about the creature I’d seen and I begun to wonder if someone had spiked my drink but as we crossed over the railway bridge, I saw another one on the railway line below us. It was hollering, dancing and laughing next to a headless corpse that was wearing Ernie’s beloved leather jacket and that was when I screamed.
Rob turned to see me blubbering on the floor amongst the remains of my steak and kidney pie and nearly pissed himself.
‘Aaw, mate, it’s only a bloody pie. You must be off your tits if that’s really upset you. Look butt, I’ll get you another one, I got a couple of quid left.’
When I finally stopped crying I blurted out something about the calgonites but, strangely, Rob didn’t believe me. Maybe I was really tripping, or just a cornflake short of a packet.
‘The big, hard Victor Gaunt, crying about little furry creatures in his head, this is priceless, butt. Wait ‘til Mark ‘ears this, he’ll piss himself.’
‘Thanks, Rob, glad I could count on you.’
‘Oh, come on, mun, Vic, you gorra admit this is fucking hilarious. You seeing little green men, ha ha ha.’
‘Prick! Firstly, they’re not in my head and, secondly, they aren’t green. The one in your hood kept pinching your face. That’s what’s causing your tick, see.’
‘Ah, right, so it’s not an involuntary muscle spasm like the doc says, then? I’ll bloody make an appointment to see him tomorrow and ‘ave it out with him, shall I?’
Rob hadn’t noticed the headless corpse on the tracks below us, or the calgonite celebrating around the blood-splattered body. As we heard distant sirens approaching there were several screams from the platform, which drew Rob’s eye and that’s when Rob screamed, too.
As the output from Rob’s lungs ripped a hole in my eardrums the calgonite dancing around Ernie suddenly looked up and tilted his head, first one way, then the next, like an inquisitive puppy. His withered arm stretched out, pointing a clawed finger straight at me. In the same guttural voice as Rob’s creature it spoke just one simple word…
That little, furry piece of shit had singled me out and, no sooner had he uttered that word, I saw them everywhere. No matter where I looked one of them was skulking around some poor sod and interfering with their lives. They quietly whispered inside the person’s head as they strolled along, totally oblivious to the malevolent creature on their back that was controlling their actions and emotions. Some of them were simply annoying the people by flicking, pinching or tripping the poor bastards up, just for fun.
Strangely, though, some of the creatures seemed almost dormant, as though their human ‘pet’ was more dominant and resisted their interference. Either that or they were just biding their time, waiting for the most opportune moment to strike, but that little shit on the track was goading me to react.
I watched as he hopped down the track a short distance and, with his back to me, he seemed to be crouched over something. His shoulders and stubby little hands were furtively jostling away like an old man masturbating over a prostitute down Newport docks. Suddenly his head swivelled round and he stared up at me with blank expressionless eyes… Ernie’s fucking eyes!
The bastard had scraped the remains of his face off the gravel and was wearing it like a mask, poking his long vile tongue out through the remains of Ernie’s mouth and dancing toward me like a demented hairy midget.
It didn’t take the British Transport Police officers long to catch up with me as I chased that furry twat up and down the railway tracks and, just as they did, I caught hold of it, but the little bastard slipped out of my grasp.
I was still snarling my anger as I turned toward the officer that grabbed my arm. His face suddenly contorted like a melted wellie as he looked down. His nose wrinkled and he flung a hand to his mouth and recoiled backwards as his stomach began to wretch.
My eyes followed his, wondering what he was staring at. Could he see the furry little twat, too? As I looked down at my hands, I saw that they were dripping with blood. Ernie’s face was swaying back and forth as it dangled off two of my fingers, which had penetrated what was left of his right eye socket.
My calgonite is here with me, too, in this big white room. That fucker should be in here on his own, though.
Ticks? Nah, I don’t have any, but what I do possess is a reckless, callous personality. I couldn’t give a toss about anyone or at least I thought I couldn’t but, you see, it’s not me that’s the twat, it’s my calgonite. The furry, half-decomposed, gremlin wannabe stuck on my back is the real culprit. He feeds off my anger and hate and multiplies it ten-fold. He should be in here on his own with his grotesque, gangly arms wrapped in a strait-jacket, rocking back and forth like a demented child, not me. Then he wouldn’t have been able to cut my wrists.