Chapter One: The Jesus People
"A thief believes that everybody steals" - Edgar Watson Howe
Billy watched the toss-pots chucking the frisbee to one another like it was the best of fun. He didn't see the point. There were fun activities to be done in groups. He looked over to one of the oak trees where a group of five teenagers were switch-hitting a spliff. Now that he could understand, that was fun. He took a swig of beer, sparked up a smoke and continued to look about Hyde Park. People were walking their dogs, letting them shit wherever. Others scooted about on bikes, others on roller-blades looking like twats. Then you had the solitary, palsied old bastards sat doing crosswords as best they could. Women pushed prams and the dirty perverts tried to not look like they were watching the kids at play. All manner of folk congregated in the scattered parks across London at the first sign of a sunny day. Billy crushed the can and broached another. It felt good having cash, smokes and beer. Though the smokes weren't his preferred brand it was all that had been in the handbag he'd swiped.
"Hey." It was a woman's voice.
Billy looked up. She was silhoetted by the sun. He flicked away his cigarette and shaded his eyes with a hand. Her features came into play. She had a fantastic set of tits, he looked higher to find her face was as good.
"Hi." He smiled. "Want a beer?"
She shook her head. "Mind if I sit?"
"Sure." He moved around so the sun wasn't in his face. The woman wore a t-shirt, cut-off jeans, and simple white plimsolls. He reckoned she was about ten years his junior, making her twenty-one, give or take. She stuck out her hand. "I'm Carol." Her eyes alight.
He gave it a gentle shake. He was paranoid it was some kind of set-up. "I'm, Billy." His brown eyes were narrowed, beautiful women didn't park themselves down beside him, he knew he wasn't no James Dean. There was a silence between them for a moment. She smiled at him whilst he tried to get the measure of her. Carol broke the silence. "You wanna go to a party tonight?"
"Where's it at?"
"It's gonna be fun." She licked her full and reddened lips.
"How much fun?" His mind was swelling with thoughts of what he'd like to do to her.
"Guess you're just gonna have to come along and see." Her eyes spilled mischief, and Billy liked it.
"Tell me where and when."
Carol rummaged through her handbag, grabbed a tiny pad and pen and started to scribble. She tore the page off. "Any time after seven."
"I'll be there."
"Great." She gave one of his legs a squeeze, got up and walked off making sure she had some sway in her hips. Billy looked at the address. There was something not right, but there would be no harm in going for a look. If it was lame, or wasn't what it seemed he could always leave, and it wasn't as if he had anything better to do. He was fresh in the city, nowhere to stay and he only had the few quid from the purse-snatch, the majority of which had gone on beer. Billy looked at the clothes he was wearing. They were the same clothes he'd had on for the better part of two days. If he was going to the party he'd have to get his hands on some new threads. He started looking around for a likely donor.
He stood before the building admitting it was a hell of a house, not in the least what he'd been expecting. In his mind he'd envisioned a pokey terraced job inhabited by students. Certainly not a three-storey townhouse. Billy adjusted his pants, he still felt pretty much a stranger to them. The idiot hadn't been paying attention, plodding along, eating his chips and so had opened himself up for a mugging. The lad had started to yank down his boxer shorts too. Billy had let him keep them, he wasn't gonna go wearing underwear that had known the rub of another man's piss-pump. He'd finalised the transaction by sucker-punching him and leaving him doubled over and winded in the alley.
He had nothing to lose, the worst was it could be a shit party, but at least he would probably be able to crash there until the morning, which beat sleeping in the park with the tramps and the low-rung drug addicts.
The door had an old fashioned knocker, the kind with a lions head with the ring looped through its snarling maw. Billy gave the iron ring a couple of slams and took a step back. He expected to hear music from inside. Thumping music and house-parties went hand in hand. He couldn't hear a thing.
The door opened and Billy smiled. It was Carol, bordered by the door frame. She truly seemed pleased he'd turned up, she stepped back. "I was hoping you were going to make it."
He didn't know what to say as he brushed past her, earning a boob-rub on the way. She followed. "Go on through to the lounge, the others are there."
He took one look at the gathering and turned back around to find Carol had gone. He peered around the door-jamb and saw her heading off down the hallway. He shrugged, turned and wandered into the lounge. Maths had never been his strong point but he could manage to count to eleven. They all looked about as much fun as a rainy afternoon. He spotted a toff looking twerp leant up against the fireplace like the big, 'I-Am'. There were women hovering about him like flies on shit. Billy looked from them to the saps that were littered about the seats. That was when it all clicked. The women were hovering about the bloke by the mantlepiece, hanging on every word he had to say. Billy looked to the men, all staring towards the door, likely wondering as to where Carol was. Billy shook his head, duped, hook, line and sinker. He'd known something was wrong, a shit-hot woman seeming to hit on him. It was some form of a recruitment drive. The bloke snared the ladies with his looks and his charms whilst Carol led the blokes in by their cocks. Billy decided at the first opportunity he was going to steal something, anything, then leave.
Carol came back in with a scutch of beer bottles. She passed them out around the men. Billy took his and returned her smile. He was about to say something when she held a finger to her lips and nodded towards the door. He looked over. Standing in the doorway was a man wearing a white robe, messiah length hair and Jesus sandals on his feet. Billy tried not to laugh.
The man raised his arms like he reckoned he could hug the whole room with the one gesture and said, "I'm Quinn, and Jesus, he loves you."
That was too much for Billy. He raised a hand, feeling like a kid in school. The man nodded indicating Billy could speak. "Where's the bathroom?"
The man Quinn didn't look best pleased at being interrupted because Billy needed a piss. "Up the stairs, second door on the left."
Billy nodded his thanks, set his beer down and slipped from the room. He opened the bathroom door, then closed it, hoping to create the illusion he'd gone in. He set his ear to the next door to listen. There was no noise from inside. He opened it and slipped in. He flicked the light switch and his eyes widened. It was a perv room. Not what he had been expecting from a bunch of holy-rollers. The room was kitted out with sex toys galore. Some of them made him wince, others downright terrified him. They looked as though they would deliver death during pleasure, or soon after it. He thought himself to be open-minded when it came to such things. His fingers were a mere inch away from a spanking-paddle laced with razorblades when a scream was born below. Another scream joined it, and another. They were shrieks of panic and torment. He said a few silent cuss words and looked for something he could use as a weapon.
He heard the sound of the bathroom door being booted open and grabbed the nearest thing. A baseball bat that had been dilligently wrapped with barbed-wire. He backed away from the door knowing they'd try this one after finding the bathroom barren. He wasn't wrong. Ten seconds later the door imploded. Billy raised the bat as two men entered, each wielding machetes slickened with blood. He didn't recognise them from the lounge, they must have been hiding out somewhere. They looked at Billy and grinned. "Looks like this one has a set of balls on him." The taller of the two said.
"The big question though is whether or not he's gonna use them, or lose them." He swished the machete through the air for emphasis.
Billy lifted the bat higher, did a practice swing. "Come a bit fucking closer and you'll find out."
"Easy gentlemen." A voice came from the doorway. The machete boys looked to the door to see Quinn with Carol standing at his shoulder. Carol was whispering in his ear, her cheek smeared with blood that still trickled.
The faux-Jesus nodded. "It appears that daughter Carol believes you to be different, perhaps even worthy. So, which are you, the lamb, or the wolf?"
Billy looked from the tarnished machetes and back to the Jesus wannabe. "I'm no ones sacrifice." He kept the bat aloft to hopefully bolster the sentence.
"Will you prove it?" Quinn asked.
Billy managed a nod. It would be acquiescence and enthusiasm that would keep the blood in his veins. The man stepped back allowing the machete boys to depart, they looked pissed at not being able to slaughter Billy. Carol stepped deeper into the room. She had a smile on her face that Billy wasn't too keen on. She nodded for Billy to follow them. He kept the baseball bat handy.
It was happening too fast for Billy. He felt as though he was being swept along with the whole insane show. He wasn't an innocent, most of his life had revolved around crime and prison. From his first time getting banged up at eighteen in Buckley Hall, Rochdale, a two-stretch for burglary and that hadn't been the last of his stays as a guest of Her Majesty. This, however was completely out of his comfort zone, extreme violence and bloodshed, it was off the chart. He re-evaluated that last thought, bloodshed and violence was the reason he'd done a runner. It had been a short spell on the straight and narrow. Four months working in a warehouse before temptation became too much and Billy decided to turn the place over. The robbery had been going well until he'd been confronted by the night watchman. Billy had been wearing a balaclava so as not to be recognised. He'd turned to do a runner but the watchman decided he wanted to be a hero and tried to stop him. Billy brained him with the business end of the torch. Three strikes it took before the guard was away with the fairies. Billy watched the blood pooling around the back of the guard's head. He took to his feet. There'd been nothing on the radio or in the newspapers about the robbery being escalated to murder but he still didn't fancy hanging around his hometown and had headed south to the Big Smoke.
Billy's steps faltered at the threshold of the lounge. The room was a mess, ruined bodies strewn across the floor. He watched as people, ones that hadn't been on show when he'd first turned up to the party were busying themselves drawing upon the walls in the medium of blood. Crude designs and illustrations of carnal acts adorned all four walls. Only one of the original guests was still alive. He was blindfolded and kneeling in the centre of the room, his hands bound behind. A hand fell upon his shoulder, a mouth teased his ear, whispering, “Which are you Billy?”
The blood started to fire up the cylinders in his body and his engine came alive in the same way it had when he'd bashed in the watchman’s skull, it had been a cocktail of fear and adrenaline. The hand on his shoulder began to stroke at where neck met shoulder and instead of calming the burgeoning fire it stoked it, exciting him, then it broke him. He ran at the blindfolded man with his barbed-bat high. The man slumped as his head caved in. The second swipe separated his jaw from the rest of his face. The barbs stripped flesh as they rioted across the skin. Billy kept swinging. He felt out of control, yet much like a winner, and everyone that had ever slammed him for being useless were silenced. Billy became more than the sum of his past life. He was greater, something that only gods could possibly fathom.
He swung that bat for longer than was needed. His arms burned and his face flushed. He couldn’t remember when he had started to get the stitch in his side. All he could think about was this new echelon of being which he had ascended. Shoulder to shoulder with the gods. Billy let the bat slip from sprained fingers. The stench of excrement from the now dead body mixed with the stink of blood conjured up a sickly perfume that swamped the room.
Whispers rode the tiny distance between lip and lobe. “Do you feel fantastic?”
“Yes.” Billy panted.
Her hand slipped from his neck. They worked downwards until her fingers met his. She lowered him to the floor and began to manipulate his arm like an amateur puppeteer. She dipped his hand into the blood and ran his hand upon the wall in far from delicate designs. The art was childish, stray strokes and lopsided crosses. Truly childlike, though the innocence had been aborted.
Once Carol had deemed the art done she licked at his fingers.
“Do you know why we just did that?” Carol asked.
Billy wasn’t sure of anything. “No.” His mouth too dry for anything more than monosyllabic answers.
Quinn stepped forward. “We can move forward now.”
The gathering of lunatics smiled at Billy.
Billy watched from the floor. He was dizzy with the exertion and could hear a continuous pealing of dull and rusty bells. The bells rang out in moody exultation. Billy closed his eyes to hear the cacophony of tolls. He fell asleep to its lullaby.
Billy awoke. He could still hear the noise of another realm letting out joy at his arrival. He wondered if the noises were coming from a faltering mental health, but somehow he didn’t really care.
Carol’s voice broke through his musings. “Do you like the new you?” She asked.
He could hear her voice, but couldn’t see her. He realised he was laying face down on a bed. He rolled onto his back. Carol was standing at the bottom of the bed, naked and scarred. Billy spied the map of injuries old and new that lapped at her skin. The stains marred only those parts that could be wrapped in secrecy beneath the folds of dresses, and the sleeves of blouses. She smiled as though the white-puffed marks were awards and merits for all things deviant.
“Each one reminds me of a pleasure.”
She ran a finger down a six inch track of damaged skin. “This one was a gift from a man on my eighteenth birthday.” She smiled. "I scarred him too, though he never recovered. Her finger strayed and circled a nipple that quickly grew erect.
“Do you want me?”
Yes he wanted her, he wanted to read all of her scars like Braille and perhaps add an island or two of his own to her atlas of horrors. He pulled back the sheet to show a burgeoning erection.
Billy felt worn out. Carol was insatiable. Five times through the night and then three more jumps in the morning, all of which were vigorous and tested the durability of his spine. He was pretty sure on the last fuck he'd dry fired. Billy wondered if she was planning on wearing his dick down to a nub. She curled his chest hair in her fingers. "You hungry?" She asked.
Billy managed a nod. He felt shaky and light headed from all the exertion and lack of food, he wondered if this was how diabetics felt if they missed a hit. "Starving." His back was sticking to the sheets and not through sweat. He remembered she'd drawn blood a couple of times throughout the night.
"Shower and get dressed and we'll go down for lunch."
He stood beneath the falling water. It washed away the dirt and the sweat but couldn't quite cleanse the memory of the previous night and what he'd done without conscience with the baseball bat. It left him feeling strange knowing that he now had the propensity to kill. He'd been able to beat people to tatters before and had never thought twice about it. Murdering someone seemed like taking a step further, one that left the beaten track and stretched to only God knew where.
Carol joined him beneath the water and was more tender with her touch, soaping him down and lathering his hair with shampoo. He watched her as she dried herself. He could have gone downstairs on his own but somehow felt safer, more sure whilst he was in her company.
Five men sat around the table. As one they looked up when Billy and Carol entered. Quinn was reading the newspaper, he gave a nod to Billy before returning to it. Billy noticed Quinn was dressed normally, the fake trappings of religion gone. Just as well figured Billy for the things they'd done weren't the actions that God would condone. He took one of the empty chairs whilst Carol headed over to the stove to fix him something. She'd cheekily told him he'd be needing his stamina in the coming days. Billy didn't argue with her, he was going to make the most of it before he saw the inside of a prison cell again. Mass murder such as what had occurred the previous evening wasn't going to go un-missed for long. One of the slain attendees was bound to have said something about the party they were hitting, and friends and family would notice their absence some time or other.
He leant back as Carol sat a bowl of thick soup down in front of him. A few mouthfuls in he decided to ask a question. "What happened to, you know, the bodies?"
Quinn lowered the newspaper and regarded him for a long moment before folding it. "What do you know of the great battle?"
"The great battle?" Billy was completely lost.
Quinn's eyebrows raised. "You don't have a clue about the Great Battle and yet the Master has found a place for you within his ranks. Daughter Carol was right, you are a dark horse."
Billy's mind did its usual cough and splutter before its motor got working properly. "The Devil and God?"
Quinn's eyes hardened for a before relaxing. "We refer to him as Master, the second one, however refer to as you wish, as long as it isn't with reverence. But in answer to your question, they're gone."
"Won't they be found?"
Quinn shrugged. "By the time they're found it will be too late."
Billy wasn't convinced. He looked at Carol and wanted her again. He valued his freedom and skin more. He made his mind up as he finished his soup. It was time to move on, away from these lunatics.
Quinn must have seen something in his face. "Don't concern yourself. Tonight will be the night of the ceremony, everything after that will be inconsequential. Now, I ask only two things. First do not enter the living room as the preparations for tonight are being made. The second request is that you do not try to leave the house, the Master's wishes are never to be toyed with, or even worse, ignored."
Billy nodded, though he was still gonna up and take off at the first opportunity.
The others had left and Carol was at the sink. Billy walked up and put his hands around her waist and raised them until he was cupping her breasts. With soap ridden hands she removed the unwanted touch. Billy frowned, she didn't see it. "What's up?" He asked.
"Today's a day that we've been planning for a long time Billy, much longer than either of us has been alive, much longer. There are preparations to be made. I know you want to fuck me but I have so much to do and displeasing my Master is not one of them."
"Fine." He took his hands back completely. There were many things Billy detested, rejection was one of them, it had the tendency to turn him either belligerent or violent, sometimes both. He stepped back, his shirt shifted on his skin and brought another wince, it was the lash marks on his back the twisted stuff she'd liked. He walked from the kitchen. Quinn didn't want him to leave, but so what. He was a free man, just about and he intended on keeping that position. He went to the front door and began to feel a wealth of heat in his legs. Like a multitude of hands taking turns between massaging and gripping. His head became heavy with the chorus of the damned. Billy found himself paralysed. A whisper bloomed in the back of his skull. Over and over it repeated the same line, “Chosen as my finder.”
Billy’s legs gave out and he collapsed to the floor.
The whispers continued and began to stroke pain into the flesh of his legs. They stroked until they were bone deep, and they stroked until they broke them. In the single solitary second between consciousnesses and the void he realised the Master was real, and that he had made him his creature to be.
Billy awoke in the front room. He tried to stretch his legs. Pain rocketed though them. He took deep breaths before opening his eyes to find he had the vantage point of the floor. The walls were still daubed with the blood-doodles. They had ceased to be crimson and had drifted through the rainbow to shit-brown. He tried to sit up, fresh pain creased his legs and brought sweat to his brow.
“I did tell you not to try and leave,” Quinn said.
Billy looked about. The only light in the room came from the slippy lids of black candles. They were all there, all wearing robes of red with the cowls pulled down. He looked and saw that he was in a robe too and wondered who the hell had dressed him. He hitched up the robe and saw his legs were being kept straight with homemade splints wrought from torn bed-sheets and bits of chair leg.
Quinn began muttering beneath his breath. Billy looked over. He strained his ears to try and unlock the secret to the muttering but couldn’t. The others took up the black prayer. It reached a volume that was angry and filled with fervour, Billy had thought he couldn't get any deeper, he was now rethinking that.
The flames upon the candles began to rage. Tall and robust flames of deepest red danced. A breeze came alive in the room. It frolicked about the robes, lifting them in dark merriment. Billy could feel the touch of the other-world. The people worked themselves into a frenzy. Billy looked away from the lunatic faces to the walls. The symbols that had been developed with blood were in motion, seeming to slide over the paintwork.
Billy dragged himself to a corner. He huddled and watched as the Devil’s champions began to convulse as though liquid electricity was being poured into their mouths and down their throats. One of the nameless ones broke first. His head snapping back and forth, side to side as though fitting. His arms spread out like wings as his fingers drew tight like claws. Tumours erupted like leprosy over his features. Billy gawped, watching rips evolve in the man’s cheeks. The nameless sinner turned his head and stared at Billy. There was no look of pain, only pleasure. Billy could see something in the man’s eyes, he was sure it was fire. Bright tongues of flame that wiped away the blue of the iris. The rips in the man's cheek widened until the white of teeth shone through. They were needle-point teeth and they were pushing and pecking like a hatchling prodding at its shell. The sinner yanked at his robe, dragging it from his skin until he was naked and busy in the throes of bestial labour, birthing something diabolical.
Others were beginning to show signs of their short devilled pregnancies coming to term. Quinn was shaking as holes were being punched through his flesh. His head arced back. He screamed once as the demonic thing tore through his abdomen, the waste of Quinn toppled backwards like a half-worn wetsuit. The demon collapsed to the floor.
The demon that had chewed its way to freedom through the man’s cheek did the same, spilling from its host to lie still. Every other hatchling was finding a demise much the same. Carol’s devil-child was trying for freedom through a more natural route, She was busy panting, huffing and puffing as the demon sought its exit through her now ruined vagina. Half of its head peeked out along with an arm for leverage. She screamed louder when its other arm worked free from her rectum, the beast escaped by splitting her wholly from belly-button to the small of her back. The demon soon went still.
Billy felt something.
It started like a hunger in his stomach. He didn’t need to eat as Satan was doing the feeding, serving Billy His own fiery meat. His children, His misfits, His thieves, His pride, and His fall were force-fed into Billy. He howled as the demon took control of him. The demon put him to sleep as it stretched his limbs, breaking them free of the cloth bindings and wooden splints. The beast mended his broken bones and began to carve Billy, working him until it resembled a dog, more a cur. Something ragged that you’d have on a rope, or didn’t mind kicking.
The hound knew it was the favoured one in its master’s eyes. The beast moved, sniffing at its brethren, lapping now and again at the blood. The front legs were too long to be a true quadruped. Its Master had designed it for a new role, that of a hunter and its work was to be conducted by the night. It scratched at the wood of the door and howled in frustration. Again and again it struck its head against the door. It turned and spied the windows. With badly proportioned muscles bunched, it struck glass. Its weight and momentum kept it going right through the pane. It landed with a sprawl upon the pavement. The beast panted and wheezed, stretching its legs and taking off at a lumbering speed. To the spectators the dog looked a mutt, a misused animal that belonged more to the gutter than the hearth of a family fire.The Beast was free.