The Doppelganger Project: Part Four

Begin with part one here.

THE DOPPELGANGER PROJECT (PART FOUR)

The Butler Didn’t Do It. Honestly!

Excerpt from the diary of Lady Winnifred Karkoff, third wife to Lord Mortimer Karkoff of Goatherd Island.

June 7, 1866 (Tea-time)

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again…….or was it Scunthorpe? I can’t remember. This damned Irish weather has me in a tizzy; it rains and it rains. When it does decide to stop raining, it starts to snow. It’s the beginning of June and it’s fucking snowing. (Pardon my French.)

Mortimer has insisted on going ahead with this gargoyle thingy at the entrance to the castle grounds. I’m not too pleased with it, myself; it looks too much like his mother. The man knows I’m with child, and the bloody thing horrifies me. Those teeth. Those piercing eyes. Those frightful ears. And those horns…..those beastly horns. It’s his mother, all right.

My ‘darling’ husband wants to employ some men to put the monstrosity over the gate. “It’s to ward off evil spirits,” he says. Evil Spirits? Is he having a laugh, or what? The only evil spirits here are down in the wine cellar. Cheap brandy from Poland, of all places. You could strip walls with it.

No, he’s going ahead with it. I hope it falls on him one of these days. Where’s Rebecca with my tea? Or is it Rachel? Fuck, I can’t remember. (Pardon my French.)

July 4, 1866

The gargoyle has been erected successfully. (It’s the only successful erection I’ve seen since I became heavily burdened. Mortimer has gone right off his bit of slap and tickle.) Men from Mayo came over and spent a week putting it over the gate. “It’s as safe as houses, your Lordship,” they said to Mortimer. “The storm of the century will not move it from its spot.”

Mortimer thanked the men, and sent them on their way with a case of Polish brandy for each of them. What? You expected me to drink it? In my state? I prefer a dry white wine spritzer, thank you very much.

Daphne has arrived for a visit. I must be away. She has stories to tell of Jamaica Inn. She’s for the birds, that one.

August 3, 1866

Don’t look now, but the storm of the century has arrived. The goats have gone into hiding, and the jackdaws are nowhere to be seen.

My dreams have returned. This time I’m dreaming of strange young men and women. They are attired in odd raiments. They look fucking stupid (pardon my French). They are afraid because their numbers are dwindling. I’m afraid because I think the castle is going to blow down with the force of the wind.

I need a gin and tonic. I wonder where the lemons are?

August 6, 1866

The storm shows no sign of abating — if anything, it gets stronger with each passing moment. Mortimer worrys about his gargoyle breaking. Me? I worry about my waters breaking. Mortimer has decided to check outside and ensure everything is in order. I asked him to bring back lemons. Gin isn’t the same without them.

I feel woozy — it must be the quinine in the tonic water. At least I won’t catch malaria.

August 8, 1866

No sign of Mortimer. I think he went to Mayo to fetch lemons. The storm has calmed, somewhat, and the castle remains standing.

I send Rachel/Rebecca/Whoever to search the grounds for my ‘dear’ husband.

August 13, 1866

Mortimer’s funeral has passed peacefully. Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, sent a note, commiserating me on my loss. Bless her. Bitch.

My servant had gone out to look for Mortimer, and she didn’t have to go far. She found his body at the gate. The wind had blown the gargoyle from off the top of the gate. It fell directly onto Mortimer’s head, killing him instantly. He was not a pretty sight. The jackdaws had made off with his eyes. There was goat shit all around his corpse, and he smelled something rotten. No lemons, though. Fuck him (pardon my…..oh fuck that, as well)!

Goatherd Island is mine. It could do with some landscaping.

September 26, 1866

I have given birth to a bouncing baby boy. I shall call him Wistbury. Good name, that. When he is of age, we will leave this God-forsaken island and go back home to Mother Russia. I miss the vodka.

End of excerpt. No further communication exists from Lady Karkoff. She must have done a runner, after all.

**********************************************

Jacko’s alarm clock failed to wake him up at the first attempt. When he eventually did manage to rouse himself he jumped out of the bed with a start, knocking Emer on to the floor in the process.

“Bollocks,” he shouted. “What’s the bleeding time? Emer, Emer. Wake the fuck up, will you? There’s work to be done.” He rushed to the door, shouting at the top of his voice, “Lads, come on. Up ye get. Wakey, wakey, everyone.”

He stopped suddenly when he had the bedroom door opened.

“What’s that bleeding smell? Sean? Are you in the jacks? Did something crawl up your arse and die?” Jacko heard a buzzing sound coming from inside the bathroom. “Pam, is that you in there? I know a vibrator when I hear one.”

“We’re in our room, Jacko,” Sean called out, “and Pam’s vibrator makes a whistling sound, just so you know.”

“There’s an awful pong coming from the jacks, Sean. Go in and have a look.”

Vivienne stuck her head out from her doorway. “Has anyone seen Brian? He’s not in here……Is there any drink left over?”

Celine came marching down the hallway. She was in her painter’s gear already. Jacko liked that about her. Of all the McAuley sisters, she was the one who wasn’t afraid to get stuck in. He loved Emer, but she was more of the “sporty” type; Pam  stuck her fingers down her throat too much for his liking.

“I’ll find out what it is, lads,” Celine decided. “I’m dressed for the occasion.” She tried the handle but it wouldn’t turn. “It’s locked.” She knocked loudly on the door, using the side of her fist. “Hello? Is there anybody in there.” Celine leaned in and listened for any signs of movement. “Nothing. Just a load of buzzing.”

Liam was the last one to show up. He, too, was ready for work. He looked despondant, though, like he was forced into wearing them. He was pulling at the sleeves of his overalls. “What’s going on?”

“We can’t find Brian,” said Emer. “We think he’s inside the bathroom, but we can’t get in. The door’s locked.”

“Wish I was!” Vivienne whispered.

“I’ll get a hammer,” said Jacko, and went off to find one.

Pam looked at Liam. “What are you dressed up for? Aren’t we supposed to go and get help?”

“I’m not letting Liam mess up his good clothes going outside,” replied Celine. “Have you seen the weather? There’s a storm coming.”

“It’s poxy June,” exclaimed Sean. “You don’t get storms in June. You’ll be saying its going to snow next.”

“Here we go.” Jacko had returned. “This sledgehammer ought to do it. Out of the way, lads and ladies. James had his big stick, but Thomas J. Jackson has the mighty Mjolnir: the hammer of Thor, Norse God of Thunder.”

“You read way too many comics, Thomas,” Emer sighed. “Get on with it. I’m freezing my knickers off here.”

Jacko raised the hammer over his right shoulder and came down on the door handle with a mighty whack. The handle broke off at the first attempt.

“Amateur job,” snarled the Thor wannabe, as he kicked the door open.

They were greeted by a buzzing cloud of flies that hovered over a fetid pool of decomposed human flesh. The smell of rotting remains invaded their nostrils, and Vivienne fell to her knees, vomiting up last night’s alcohol consumption. Emer and Pam joined her. There was safety in numbers, it seemed. The rest of the Folkies just stared and screamed.

*************************************************

“Right, lads,” Jacko squeaked, once people had stopped screaming and puking. “We need to get help. Fast!. Pam, you and Liam get your arses into gear and get to the coast. This is fucking awful. Viv, are you all right?”

“How the fuck can I be ‘all right,’ Jacko. My boyfriend has melted on me, overnight. That kind of mad shit doesn’t happen every day. I seriously need a drink now.”

“Sean?”

“Yes, boss?”

“Get me some wine, a mop, and a very big bucket. This is going to take some time.”

“Yes, boss.”

“Emer?”

“Yes, Thomas?”

“Get Vivienne back into her room. She doesn’t need to see this.”

“Yes, Thomas.”

“Liam?”

“Yes, Jacko?”

“You and Pam, hurry the fuck up.”

“Aye, aye, Jacko.”

“Celine?”

“What?”

“What?”

“Yeah, what?”

“Huh? What’s with the attitude?”

“Who died and made you king?”

“James and Brian did. How’s that for starters?”

“I’m upset.”

“You’re upset? I’m fucking upset. Find Claire, will you? She must still be asleep.”

“Ok.”

Jesus, Brian, thought Jacko, as he entered the bathroom, for a short fucker, you left a huge bleeding mess.

Jacko knelt down and picked up what used to be Brian’s head. Flakes of skin were stuck to the skull. Alas, poor Clarkie, I knew him well. He put it back down on the tiled floor. “Sean, have you got that mop and bucket yet?” he shouted.

Just then, Celine came rushing in, and she had to stop herself from slipping in Brian’s bodily fluids. “Claire is gone,” she panted. “Her window is half open, but there’s no sign of her at all.”

“Oh fuck.” Jacko was becoming more and more frustrated “We’ll have to go search for her. The others are busy.”

“Let’s go, so. Sorry about tearing into you earlier, Jacko. I’m scared, as well as upset.”

“I understand, Celine. No time to waste, though. No one else is going to die. Not on my watch.”

“Jacko, you watch way too many movies.”

Sean came in with the mop and bucket. “I left the vino in with the girls.”

“Good man. Clean up Brian’s mess, will you?”

“Fuck sake, Jacko. Why do I get all the dirty work?”

“That’s what I pay you for.”

“You don’t pay me at all.”

“Moot point. Claire has gone missing and we need to find her. She may know something about what’s going on.”

“And I have to stay here and clean up? That’s not fair, Jacko.”

“Life isn’t fair, Sean. Be careful not to breathe in too many flies — they can’t be good for you. Celine, I think it better if we split up. We’ll cover more ground that way.”

“I agree,” she replied. “Good luck with the cleaning, Sean, and be careful. It looks like Brian had an acid bath.”

“How do you know.”

“I can smell it.”

Sean grumbled as he put on a pair of rubber gloves.

Jacko and Celine went off, hunting for Claire.

*********************************************

“If I’d known you were going to bring your Walkman, Pam, I’d have brought my Dire Straits cassette. Money For Nothing is a class tune.” Liam was big into guitar bands. His all-time favourite band was Led Zeppelin. Man, that Jimmy Page could play a mean six-string, or twelve, for that matter. Knopfler was running a close second at the moment, though.

“‘Get your money for nothing and your chicks for free,'” he sang.

“‘I want my, I want my, I want my MTV,'” Pam joined in.

“You have a lovely voice, Pam. You should sing more often.”

“I don’t want to,” Pam pouted. “People see me as an anorexic, bulimic air-head, with a very weird hair fetish.”

“Well, you do change it every day, Pam.”

“See what I mean?”

They are almost at the castle gate, and Celine was right — there was a storm brewing. If help was to come from the mainland, it would have to come quickly. Crossing the sea, with the wind rising, might prove to be too dangerous. They could easily end up stuck on the island until it blew over.

They passed under the gate, looking up as they did so.

“Do you think that gargoyle is safe up there?” asked Pam.

“I would think so,” replied Liam. “It’s probably been up there for over a hundred years; it could stay up there for a hundred more.”

“The wind might blow it off.”

“It won’t, Pam.”

“I wouldn’t want to be underneath it if it does.”

“You won’t be. Now, come on. We have to get to the coast. Maybe the ferryman has come back for us.”

They trundled on for two or three miles until the found the steps leading down to the beach.

“We’re in luck,” Liam cried. “The ferry. Look! It’s there.”

Sure enough, it was. And so was Ferdie, the ferryman. He spotted them and waved. Liam and Pam waved back. They didn’t hear the rustling in the bushes behind them, however.

Phht! Phht!

Two silent darts caught both of them in the neck. The tranquiliser did it’s job quickly; Pam and Liam fell to the ground. Ferdie rushed up the steps to greet his employer.

“What do you want me to do with them?”

“As we discussed. Make sure they sink to the bottom.”

“Aye, I will, but would it not have been better to just shoot them? With bullets, like.”

“I want them to suffer. Mother Russia demands it.”

“They don’t suspect you, then?”

“No. When they do find out, it will be too late. I have to head back. Do what you’ve been told to do.”

Ferdie watched the killer run off back to the castle. He shook his head.

“Russians,” he mumbled. “Fucking nutjobs.”

It took him ten minutes to carry Liam and Pam’s unconscious bodies to his ferry. On board, he wrapped thick ropes, weighted with large rocks, around their frames. Then he set off to sea.

Two miles out, the tranquiliser began to wear off. They were only given enough to put them out for a short while, Ferdie thought to himself. Poor bastards.

“Whaaaa…..whaaaa…” Liam was struggling to get the necessary words out. He moved his head, but found that was all he could move. “Ffffferddd….”

“Hey, pal,” said the ferryman. “You and your girlfriend are going for a little swim.”

“I can’t swim,” Pam, however, looked wide awake.

“You can’t? Not to worry, then.” He looked out at the sea. “We’re out far enough.”

He rolled them down toward the back of the ferry, and then unlatched the loading bay doors. “It’s cold out there, but you won’t feel it for long.”

Pam screamed and struggled with the ropes. Liam looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming car — he didn’t move at all. Both of them knew what was going to happen to them.

“Why?” Pam shrieked.

“Fucked if I know,” Ferdie said in a matter-of-fact way. “I just do what I’m paid to do. All the money I need, and all the Polish brandy I can drink.”

With that, he first rolled Pam into the sea — her screams silenced when she hit the waves — then the unfortunate Liam, who never opened his mouth as the water consumed him.

They sank without trace.

************************************************

“Any luck yet,” Celine asked Jacko.

“None. It was a good idea to split up, though.”

“Yeah, it was. Where is the window to Claire’s room from here?”

They were back at the main door. James’s body was still there, minus his eyes. Someone had brought out his big stick and put it under his right arm. Probably Sean, Jacko surmised. He looked like a sentry, guarding the gates of Hell.

“Fuck. Why didn’t I think of that? Good call. It’s around the side, I think.” Jacko ran off; Celine followed him.

They found Claire’s body soon after. Stunned to total silence, they looked at her corpse for almost two minutes before Celine started to sob.

“Someone is killing us, Jacko. I think it may be one of us.”

“Hush now, Celine.” Jacko grabbed her by both shoulders and brought her to him. “There, there. It can’t be one of us. It can’t be.”

“Who else is on the island then?” Celine began to shiver violently.

Overhead, the clouds darkened and it started to rain, gently at first, then with more persistence.

“Poor, poor Claire,” Celine wept. “She never had much of a head for heights.”

“She doesn’t have much of a head now,” Jacko responded.

“Not on your watch, Jacko. That’s what you said.”

“I’ve seen too many movies, Celine. That’s what you said.”

“How many more of us have to die before all this is over, Jacko. How fucking many?

Suddenly there was an explosion. A bright flash of light, followed by a massive roar. It wasn’t thunder and lightening, but whatever it was it ripped apart the top of the house. Jacko and Celine were thrown to the ground. A chimney top missed them by mere feet. The floor containing the bedrooms was on fire.

Jacko got up quickly. “Emer?” he shouted. “Emer?”

Oh God. Not on my fucking watch.

(c) James McShane
(Continue to part five here)
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One response to “The Doppelganger Project: Part Four

  1. And here I am living on a island . . .

    Loved the start to this chapter. Very interesting glimpse into the past, especially the erection of the Gargoyle. : )

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