Thursday 30 July 2015

Raining Teeth

by Jared Woods

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Raining Teeth - It’s always my favourite part of the journey; the hot concrete introducing itself to my aching feet.
It’s always my favourite part of the journey; the hot concrete introducing itself to my aching feet, a burn as uncomfortable as it is one of welcomed relief. It symbolised the end of the hours spent silently slipping through the ever watching oaks of Treason Forest. The giant robot capsules scanning the area for any movement to eradicate instantaneously—they had missed me. The endless supply of goblin or troll con-artists ready to reveal my position just for the slightest bit of recognition—they never got the opportunity. The almost guaranteed death for the uninitiated—it had casually wafted through me once again.

Naturally, I have it easier. Not many could survive such a task, very few reaching the second hour before some circumstance interrupted their plans and ultimately ended them in one horrific conclusion or another. I, personally, have become so efficient at this quest that I can complete it in under seven hours even at my ripe young age of 12 years old. My success can be partially attributed to practice—God knows I've travelled these roads many a time before, following my darling mother to her day job. But beyond this, it is my special ability of camouflage which grants me the edge to now confidently complete the mission all by my lonesome—more often than not, without permission from mommy dearest, of course. She’d never agree to her little child embarking on something so dangerous alone.

I personally find this hypocritical. My mom (the Mustard Witch of Treason Forest, as she's come to be known) has travelled the distance from our protective straw hut towards the busy Goat’s Nest streets on an almost weekly basis to sell her sexual vodoo to the idiot men who were cursed by her spells—achieving the mission relatively unscathed by means of a rudimentary form of cloaking magic, if I ever did see one; lengthy to prepare and never as reliable as she’d like to think, all too often reaching her destination with a few cuts and bruises and close calls to tell.

As for me, I never learned a damn thing. I was born with abilities any witch would sell their name for. Granted, some of my mother’s magic genes which have passed down from generation to generation surely played a role, but I was convinced there was something extraordinary about my father’s sperm which allowed me to rise above the realms of spells and concoctions, because I was able to produce my invisibility au natural. I’ve pried as best I could to find answers, but mother would never reveal details, and I left it at that. I could see by her face that the very mention of my father figure caused her pain, and no man who wasn't around was worthy of such an expression.

But the point still stood: I was special, and I was informed as such by my loving mother herself since before I can recall. “Everything comes with a price,” she’d explain to me. “The better you starve yourself, the less you exist.” And this is true. Even if I skip one meal and don’t eat for five hours, I began to fade—gradually becoming transparent. I turn sick and I feel faint, sure, but you can see right through me—quite a unique skill, I have come to discover. And so as you can imagine, if I resist food for, let's say, 24 hours, I am all but gone, making the usually very dangerous trek through Treason Forest a relatively painlessly process, once I learned to ignore the pangs of stomach cramps and overwhelming sensation that my soul was escaping from my physical form. But look at the alternative: almost every case of a character roaming through Treason Forest ends with their demise, whilst I've done it a hundred times with no more than a bit of pesky starvation. A small trade-off. Inarguably so.

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Raining Teeth - It’s a tradition of mine, peanuts somehow nourishing me faster without lasting too long to affect my journey home.
Regardless, once through the final pathway (which, by now, I knew how to navigate with my eyes closed) and onto Orbit Street, my priority was always one of food. A quick duck into a small corner shop, a pack of nuts stolen undetected, and I sit on the sidewalk munching them down until my skin gains some shade of colour while my headache disappears. It’s a tradition of mine, peanuts somehow nourishing me faster without lasting too long to affect my journey home, and I always eat them across the street from the Deep Thoughts building. That shitty piece of capitalist architecture, dominating the town with its bully tactics and land ownership. It’s a goddamn conspiracy, I tell you, a complete machine of lies generated within those very walls. I hate it, and feel a sense of pride as I stare it down during these moments of consuming my salted nuts back to health.

One day. One day another force will rise up and challenge its dictatorship type of control. Perhaps it will even be me, leading the Treason Forest Army, although my home area is in such shambles that these dreams are just that: dreams. Silly. Impossible. Ridiculous to everyone involved. We don’t even register on the Challenger Stats. But I’d jump on board with whoever accomplishes the feat, whether be it the Oracle, Bergie Town, Practice Beach—you name it. I’d like to see that bloody Deep Thoughts crumble.

But this is not the mission for today, how could it be? Sneaking away from mommy to take on the biggest superpower in the Goat’s Nest? That would be a faster way to die than getting caught in Treason Forest. No, instead my mission for today is much simpler, far more achievable. I am here to kill Palama Willow.

Once my pack of nuts is done and I’ve swirled my finger around the bottom to get as much salt as I can reach, I breathe deeply as the sensations of dizziness ease up and I stand to my feet, much more cheerful than before. I turn my back on the dreaded Deep Thoughts building and make my way down one of these nameless alleyways. And I think about Palama.

I met Palama during one of my days escorting my mom to her hooker job. Prostitution has been illegal for decades in the Goat’s Nest, but much like any town, there are men, and with men comes an excessive sex drive which demands to be exploited. In one of their better moves, the powers in charge sought to control (and tax) such activities, by granting these sellable ladies and perverse men one street in the Goat's Nest where such a practice could be regulated, kept safe, kept clean, and most importantly, kept quarantined. And that’s where my mother came in.

As a witch, mom’s appearance can take one of any youthfulness with the right potion and prayers, her clients unaware of her 200 plus age tag. So when said street (now known as Red Teeth (Av. J)), opened for business, she was quick to purchase a room, sometimes for her to please the gentlemen herself, other times to rent out to other such desperate good-looking females.

One could argue this is no lifestyle to raise a child, but personally, I appreciated the upbringing. Sex was never taboo for me, and as a result, my interest in the subject has never been one of curious urges, but rather one of education. I found it fascinating, the differences between genders when it came to the art and manipulation of sexual intercourse, especially how empowering sex could be for women, and how pathetically weak it made men. It was hilarious, really, and my mom and I have had many a laugh over the ludicrous nature of our alluring vaginas—not that mine had been used in such a way, mind you, despite the financial offers from boys and encouragement from the other working girls.

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Raining Teeth - It could only be described as a crayfish: long whiskers, chunky pincers, and a set of slimy jaws which had to be wet on an hourly basis just to keep her alive.
Which brings us to Palama, I suppose, as I walk down alley after alley, passing the surrounding seedy strip joints, a natural by product of the filth that is Red Teeth. I began to fume over the very thought of her. She too is a hooker, six doors down from my mom’s room, and my initial hatred for her was one of pure superficial factors. Certainly, her body was something to marvel over: perky tits, flat stomach with hardly any stretch marks, desirable length of legs, toes in a perfect straight line—quite textbook beauty, to be fair. But it was her head that truly irked me, as it was far from human. It could only be described as a crayfish: long whiskers, chunky pincers, and a set of slimy jaws which had to be wet on an hourly basis just to keep her alive. Her entire head was not covered in skin but rather a hard shell, and when she spoke, it sounded like squeaks more than English words—and that repulsed me. But, of course, she made her money. Some guys were into that sort of freaky shit.

Disfigurements make me cringe, that’s a character flaw of my own, but this in itself is not enough for me to discriminate against a person (or thing) alone. If anything, her "disability" or whatever, was enough for me to try and put some effort in, and when my mom was busy pleasing a man and Palama wasn't, I made my best attempts to get to know her. I wish I could say I learned to look past her ghastly crustacean features and grow as an individual because of it, but the reality is simply that the personality behind the mutation was far uglier.

As it is with the prostitution occupation, the whole service revolves around men, and based solely upon my mom’s opinion vs. Palama’s opinion, I've come to conclude there are two schools of thought. Take my mother, for example. She sees men as our slaves, who we fool into thinking they are in control. They are willing to pay extortionate amounts of money just to see how our nipples look or to put their willys in our vaginas, generally ejaculating within minutes while hundreds of bucks fly from their pockets and into our bank accounts. Men are tools, complete slobbering idiots who are under the control of our pussies—they base everything they do on getting one or getting a new one, even if they have a wife or a girlfriend at home. Boys are stupid, and us girls are in control of their every move. That’s what my mom taught me, and that's what makes the most sense too.

Palama, on the other hand, believes the complete opposite—it's all she ever fucking talks about. I have sat and listened to her stance time and time again, and it sounds completely ignorant to me. First of all, she doesn't feel in control. She reckons that the general female population is still living in the residue of past oppressions—that we as a gender are continuously being undermined and controlled by our male counterparts. She considers herself a victim of circumstance, and rather than viewing men as an easy outlet to exploit and take money from, she thinks women are under threat and are forced into sex work because of how society enslaved us in the first place. And maybe she’s right, on some points. But who can't see straight through her double standards? What it all really came down to was her deep rooted hatred for men, for the way they called at her on the streets, and for the way they treated her like a piece of meat; and yet she's still happy to shove a bit of cleavage in their faces to get what she wants and obtain their cash. It’s contradictory, and I lose sleep over it, without a word of exaggeration.

You see, I've woken up in cold sweats multiple times because of Palama’s involvement in a recurring nightmare I have. It’s the one where I receive a package at my straw hut, which is an impossible occurrence, but there it is. I open it and it’s a box of sweets with only one heart shaped chocolate left inside, complete with a note from Palama. As I chew furiously on the below-average candy, I am ecstatic to find the note appears to be an apology of some sort. For what, I am never quite sure, perhaps the way she has treated me or her attitude towards life in general, but a heartfelt round-about apology all the same. Which (accompanied with the chocolate), is the sweetest satisfaction I've ever felt.

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Raining Teeth - While other doors are closed shut with blinking lights potentially flickering in unison with each pathetic thrust of the genitals inside.
However, as I read on, the letter's contents take a turn for the worst, slowly accusing me of some shameful deed I never committed which changes from night to night. And as I read, her handwriting gets smaller and smaller as the candy turns more and more sour until I have to squint just to read the confusing text, eventually unable to even read it at all. This is usually when I wake up.

And so, as I finally make it to her door, I hope my speech somewhat accurately illustrates as to why I hold onto these thoughts so intensely. She haunts me and she is wrong about everything and that is why I am here, double checking the red light is on, indicating she is not currently active, and then knocking on the entrance, now more convinced than ever that this crayfish abomination must die.

I stand here, awaiting her answer, carefully analysing the shuffling inside whilst all too aware how completely out of place I look surrounded by rows of identical buildings, some with single doors, others with staircases leading to cage-like rooms stacked above for the cheaper, less lucrative girls for hire. Some of the pricier doors are open due to the heat, revealing the scantily dressed specimens of different attraction variations; while other doors are closed shut with blinking lights potentially flickering in unison with each pathetic thrust of the genitals inside. And as I study this, I become aware of how badly I have explained myself. My intentions of murder cannot be justified nor summarised by means of only an ugly face, or a misguided perception of the male vs. female imbalances according to one vile hooker’s opinion (or even some silly 12 year old girl’s nightmare, for that matter). It runs much deeper than that—it would have to, because this street is surrounded by many security men who provide the 24 hour protection for their 50 odd women cash machines. Which means that a Palama homicide getaway would require the victim to die quickly and silently as to not cause any suspicion, as well as for that light pack of peanuts to digest fast enough to allow me to slip out of here transparent and undetected. It’s a tough mission, is what I'm saying, and it’s difficult for me to justify why a tramp like Palama is worthy of such a risk.

I wish I had a more straightforward answer for you. I'm sure some would blame all of this on the absence of a father figure. A man who was more than likely a client of my mom's. A man whose ejaculate summoned me whilst he was oblivious to my sudden activation, skipping along his merry way while my darling mother, bless her, perpetually filled her womb with countless other strangers' semen who were willing to pay such a price (to the point that any attempt of locating my initial sperm figure would be next to impossible). However, I hardly feel like this little misfortune has bothered me in the slightest. I have two older brothers, more than likely born under similar circumstances, and both of whom are as fucked up as I am—in a good way. What I'm getting at is that I like to believe they fulfilled any lacking male influence I may have had in my life, if even such a thing was ever a factor.

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Raining Teeth - People would also likely blame my homicidal thoughts on my mother, the Mustard Witch herself.
People would also likely blame my homicidal thoughts on my mother, the Mustard Witch herself, for she not only distorted my views on what was supposed to be “right” or “wrong” (a concept I don’t subscribe to anyway), but even more so, opting to raise us three children in the horrors of Treason Forest. I’ll be the first to admit you witness some traumas in the thick of the area, for just to be seen can be fatally dangerous, and to survive requires one to lead quite a secluded and lonely existence. A squirrel may offer your starving belly some corn which is laced with poison, rendering you paralysed while its family gnaw your skin away until only your bones are left for the marshes to grind into its own nutrition. A simple flower may grab your ankle if you get too close and grow at an alarming rate until it finds the nearest entry point into your intestines and morphing you into a plant yourself, unrecognisable to your loved ones within mere minutes. But the worst are ultimately those goddamn Mechanical Squids who roam around the forest at all hours, shining their spotlights down to eradicate any movement they come across, originally designed to turn Treason Forest into a place of peace, but instead malfunctioning into the grandest threat of all. Simply put, the forest is a mess of evil, the darkest area surrounding the oh-so mighty and special Goat’s Nest Town, and leaving no easy way for anyone to climb out of the rut.

I have asked my mother several times as to why we reside in such a treacherous place, and her vague answers are always spat in anger towards the fake-democratic borderline-dictatorship system in which the Goat’s Nest is run with. Her hatred has blinded her despite the money she takes in with her body from the city on a daily basis, which always confused me a little. But living with a witch mom does come with its advantages, as our little hut is a completely undetectable residency by any outside source, and so as long as we stay put, we are out of harm's way, and a cautious day's walk from the city for a normal person (if they were fortunate enough to survive).

None of this, as far as I can tell, contributes towards my desire to murder Palama. I guess if I had to, I'd try break it down into the following simple analogy: it’s like a dark seed was buried into my core since the day I was born. My life didn't feel like my life, but rather a life built to remove another life, as if a duty—an instinct. I had no intention of mass murdering a bunch of innocent people or anything like that, the idea repulses me even if (let's face it) with my special abilities, it wouldn't be that difficult whatsoever. No, instead, I merely wanted to remove one specific life from this world. The black seed demanded it from me, it needed this in order to raise me up to the next level of my person. I don’t expect you to understand this, because neither do I, but I do expect you to at least accept that this uncomfortable frustration within me was always on the lookout for a victim. And when I first met Palama during one of my mother’s job days, with her godawful face and her weak attitude towards her own gender, I just fucking knew it would be her. I became obsessed with the idea. I couldn't fathom why anyone would miss something so wasteful.

These thoughts were finally interrupted when Palama began to unlock her door, and just in time too, as the sky had begun to rain teeth again. They were only milk teeth molars at this point, which meant they could clear up smoothly or turn bad into seven inch fangs at a moment’s notice. 'One of the Ten Wonders of the Goat’s Nest', apparently, mainly because it only happened on this street, just further proof that "God" himself had turned his back on this hole.

The door opened, and there stood Palama, rubbing sleep from her tiny black eyes, dressed in a pink see-through nightie which left very little to the imagination. That was her thing. She always pretended she had been sleeping when a client knocked. She got pleasure from the guilt of a man.

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Raining Teeth - Mr Waters was her teapot of all things, a crusty little utensil with a face painted on, and as far as Palama was concerned, her husband.
Of course, when she saw it was me, she broke the act.
“Oh, it’s you,” she squeak-mumbled. “Yeah, I guess you can come in for a bit.”
She turned her back on me which already granted the perfect angle to pounce on her right there and then. I guess I’d try to strangle her, my little arms sliding under her stupid crayfish face and preventing her from stealing anybody else's oxygen, but I quickly decided against it. Too hasty. Patience. The door was still open. I had to do this right.

I entered the small room which stank of the ocean, and closed the door behind me, sickened by the plainness of it all; one single dirty mattress on the floor, a small kitchenette to my right, and an exposed toilet to my left, all beige and nauseating.
“Well?” she turned to face me. “Aren’t you going to greet Mr Waters?”

Oh, of course! Mr Waters! I should have mentioned him before! Yet another one of the many factors as to how batfish crazy Palama was—how much she deserved to die. Mr Waters was her teapot of all things, a crusty little utensil with a face painted on, and as far as Palama was concerned, her husband. The only decent man in the world. She spoke to him like a lover, she probably even fucked him like a lover, and always ensured his face was freshly painted on with a smile. But it’s a fucking teapot! An inanimate object designed to boil hot water. I mean, is that not the definition of stupidity? Is that not enough evidence as to how little a contribution this lady was to the genepool?

However, as begrudgingly as ever, I greeted Mr Waters with as much conviction as I could muster, and Palama seemed satisfied, sitting on her bed, quickly wetting her monstrous face with a towel and then awkwardly shoving a cigarette into her mandibles, somehow drawing smoke that way into her human lungs. I sat myself down on the floor as per usual to minimise any suspicion, and right on cue, she began her ranting.

“You can’t stay long,” she informed. “I’m expecting most of my regular repulsive clients to show up today. Looking to have sex with me just to feel powerful, just to dominate a woman—because that’s all sex is to men. Power and domination.”

Oh God, here we go. Wrong. I knew this to be wrong. In the sex industry, men came here to escape their lives, like a drug. It was to live out a fantasy their real pathetic existence couldn’t provide, as my mother told me. And whether they preferred it a little rougher or a little dirtier or a little weirder, this was all part of that. It did not mean they were bad people, and if anything gave them less power, made them weak, only able to find this release with the trade of money. But, as always, I dared not disagree and just nodded robotically. If I argued, this conversation would only go one way.

“That’s why I hate all men,” she continued her scripted speech. “They use us like we are toys, and discard us once they’ve had their fun. We're just objects to them, objects with only one function: to make them ejaculate.”

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Raining Teeth - My heart beat so hard that blood distorted my vision whilst anticipation sent fire to the tip of the knifepoint.
Wrong again. My mother and I have had many a conversation on this point, and the fact of the matter is that men are not smart enough to even purposefully contemplate life in such a simplified manner. We are not the objects, they are. They are tools which we, as women, can manipulate with our bodies to do pretty much whatever we want them to. I shouldn't be, but once again, I'm surprised by the lunacy of Palama, her very profession one of harnessing her vagina like a weapon to take money from these idiot’s pockets—you’d think a hooker would know better. But, no, of course she didn't, and I bit my lip as I mimicked the body language of agreement, anxiously awaiting my moment. Which, thankfully, came shortly after.

“It’s what makes me feel so degraded in my own profession,” she sighed as she stood up, turning her back to me once again, staring longingly out of her one tiny window. “Us ladies, we have had our control taken away from us. We are all victims, and prostitution is the ultimate proof that we are forced to exploit ourselves just to get ahead. We are slaves to men and we need to fight back.”

So wrong, but at this stage I hardly had the patience to point out the obvious hypocrisy of how her clients came at her mercy every day and how she honestly could pick another avenue of financial stability if she so wanted to. Rather, I had stopped listening, already on my feet, quietly opening her kitchen drawer to remove the largest blade I could find. I managed to lift out a massive steak knife without making much noise and slowly began to approach Palama’s back as she continued to ramble her sob hooker story filled with contradictions about male power and female powerlessness. My heart beat so hard that blood distorted my vision whilst anticipation sent fire to the tip of the knifepoint, as my little arched feet tiptoed closer to this foul woman, my brain playing out the scenario like a preview a couple of seconds before it was about to take place.

I was going to stab her right in the nape of her neck. I was going to stab her so fucking hard that with a bit of luck, it should push straight through to her vocal chords and render any high-pitched screaming impossible. If not, I’d stab again and again as fast as my hands would let me until she fell to the floor, and then I would continue stabbing just to be sure. Hell, I’d continue stabbing even after I was sure. I’d stab her well past her death because that’s what she deserves and that’s what I deserve. Then I would wash my hands and the weapon, and turn on her flashing light to indicate she was occupied, ensuring optimal time before she was discovered. And then I’d wait, standing in front of the mirror until I was invisible again, escaping undetected, back home to mama’s stew, holding a secret she would only find out a few days later without any connection to me. The perfect crime.

As I'm sure you gathered, I would have never needed to explain this to you if it all went according to plan. Because it didn't, and this makes no sense, not even now. There I was, closing in, knife handle wet from my sweat and my mouth mothball dry as if these body parts had swapped places, when the moment was frozen by a piercing whistle. I got such a fright I squealed and turned towards the sound. My God, I couldn't believe it! It was Mr Waters. It was her fucking husband teapot. Steam was pouring out of his nozzle furiously, as he vibrated all over the counter, screaming the only way a teapot knows how to scream. This fucker was ratting me out! Impossible! Even his painted features appeared to have distorted, now more vigorous, more desperate, more focused upon me.

The Goat's Nest Short Stories Presents: Raining Teeth - Her antenna-like whiskers wrapped around my head as her mandibles tore into my cheeks and her left claw clipped my ear.
From here it all happened far too quickly. Palama spun around to shush Mr Waters, but instead noticed the knife I was wielding as well as my unsafe distance from her, and she leaned back in confusion.
“What do you think you are doing?” were the last words I ever heard. I lunged forward. I didn’t know what else to do. I panicked. I even gave out a little embarrassing war cry as I clumsily jabbed at the air towards her face, but it was too late. It was ruined and I knew it even then.

Palama struck with confidence, knocking the knife out of my hand with one shot. She must have cut herself in the process—God, I hope she did—but I never found out. Instead, her godawful monstrosity of a face closed in on mine. Her antenna-like whiskers wrapped around my head as her mandibles tore into my cheeks and her left claw clipped my ear. I tried to beat her with my fists as her fishy stench suffocated me, but when my mouth began to bloat up from a thick foamy liquid, I knew it was over. This bitch was pumping me full of poison as it forced its way down my throat and tasted like the colour white. I attempted to scream and vomit but within a few seconds, I felt my life slipping away in a feverish haze, and, let me tell you, I was so relieved. After all those times of threatening my soul with starvation, it finally got its release, with a belly stuffed to the brim for a change. The hunter had now become the victim, and things were better this way.

They gave me the name Macy Dull. And this is how I died the first time.