Running Shoo – Episode 13

“Wakey wakey, you’re getting flaky,” says a woman’s voice.

A familiar voice.

I open my eyes. My head is turned to one side and I’m looking at a brick wall. At first glance it looks like it’s been scrawled on chaotically. After a moment, you realise every brick is a painted scene. They start with crude daubs and blobs at the bottom, becoming sort of recognisable as they go up. I never got especially good. We painted each scene together, my mother and me. As soon as I could reach, we did a new row.

“Wakey, wakey, your eyes are cakey,” says Momma’s voice. “Wake up, little Shoo!”

I feel a pressure on my chest.  I look down, she’s playfully walking her fingers up my front. Her fingers are criss-crossed with thin scars. Patterns I recognise.

“Hello there, welcome to the world.”

Her white-lined fingers walk further up.

For the record, the scars aren’t from blood magic or strange rituals or anything like that, she was just a really clumsy cook. Didn’t stop her though, she loved to make ambitiously elaborate dishes from normal ingredients. They were nice too, if sometimes a little coppery tasting. Making the mundane special for us, that was her thing.

She’s waving both hands at me now. Her face is blurry. I think because I don’t want to see it.

I feel the touch of her fingers starting at my belly again and creeping up.

Momma keeps waving. Both of her hands are scarred. She was ambidextrously clumsy. Her fingers on my belly scurry a little higher. I can’t help but bring her face into focus. Because I’m scared that one day I won’t be able to.

She covers her face with her hands. Opens them. Smiles.

Boo!

I’m too old for boo! Was then, doubly so now, but it’s always been our thing. I smile.

Hang on…

If her hands are up there, then what the ruddy heck is creeping up my torso?

With a groan, I abandon the dream, open my real eyes and squint downwards.

Halfway up my belly, paused where my rags have a hole that reveals some flesh, is… I don’t know… it looks like an insect. It has a furry green body, a long tail, eight legs which split into claws, and two big eyes above a jutting jaw. They’re not insect eyes, they have whites and pupils. It’s opened its mouth and is about to take a bite out of my skin.

It freezes in place and raises its eyes to meet mine.

I blink.

“Crikey! It’s alive!” it squeaks, scurries down my legs and across the floor.

There are other chirrups of alarm and I feel several other creatures run down the length of me and away in the same direction. I blink a bit more and peer around me. I become aware of gravity and my perspective flips round. I am not in bed like in the dream (I have that dream a lot; it was my last morning with my mother.) No, I’m not lying down.

I am hanging up.

The realisation makes me jump and I hear the clink of metal. Above me, two thick chains run up into darkness. I track them down and discover two large hooks sticking out from under my arms. Seeing this makes me aware of the weight on my armpits.

It’s not comfortable but the bright side is that nothing is hooked through me. Always look for the bright side, Mondey says.  Find the positives. So:

  1. I am not skewered.
  2. I am not dead.
  3. Florend is not here.
  4. I have nothing broken, missing or hanging off.
  5. Against the odds, I feel quite well-rested, so I must have had a good nap.

From that point of view, I’m actually in a better situation than the last time I was conscious. Which was wedged on a net at the bottom of a fast river, getting simultaneously drowned and electrocuted by purple energy. Purplocuted.

I’m in a cave of some sort. Multiple chambers. I can just see the walls from a watery light emanating from somewhere above me. From the direction the creatures fled, I can see the blinking twin circles of their eyes reflecting in the dark and hear urgent, whispered conversation.

I twist round and look behind me.

Uh-oh.

I twist back forward and try not to panic.

Behind me, also hanging from roof-chains, are about a dozen people. All dead. All in various states of decomposition and states of having-been-partially-eaten. Towards the back, they are skeletal. There may be even more hanging bones further back there but it’s too dark to see.

Right.

Find the positives, Shoo, come on.

Um…

2 thoughts on “Running Shoo – Episode 13

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