The Silence of the Imps
The Silence of the Imps
“I think it’s time you wake up” says the Imp. It is a distant echo through the hazy clouds in my head. I am running through some strawberry fields in my dream, stopping to pluck a berry and taste its juicy goodness in my mouth. I feel my mouth fill up with strawberry juice so much that it starts to choke me and I struggle to breathe. I come up gasping for air. The Imp is sitting in the corner of my bed.
“You’ve been gone a long time, dear boy” it says. It looks concerned. I’ve not seen a concerned Imp before but I surmise that the look in its face is probable approximation of concern. It could also be mild dyspepsia.Or whatever Imps get.
I try to remember what happened. All I seem to remember is pink smoke, a strawberry taste and plenty of water.
I rub my eyes and try to sit up and a wave of dizziness hits me.
“Slowly. You don’t look too well” The Imp places a gnarly hand on my chest and pushes me gently back onto the pillow.
“I don’t know dear boy. I left you in the shower stall at the Gym. I think you were walking towards the Jacuzzi. I came back here to find you in bed, soaking wet, like a drowned rat, unconscious.”
I look down to see me dressed in fresh, dry pyjamas.
“Did you change me?”
“This is no time for existential melodrama. We all change with time, we all influence each other”
I grit my teeth. “I meant did you change my clothes?”
“Oh that I did.”
I feel my face go warm. “That is an intrusion”
“Hardly. I merely wanted you not to catch pneumonia. Anyway I must congratulate you on maintaining your dimensions despite the cold water. Impressive wingspan, dear boy”
The Imp trundles across to the bedside cabinet and hands me a glass of something.
“Drink this. It is Elixir Diabolicum, a notorious pick me up in Impworld. Guaranteed to clear the cobwebs”
I sniff suspiciously; there it is again, a whiff of strawberry. Suddenly it comes to me. The Impette appearing in the Jacuzzi. Losing consciousness. How on earth did I get back here?
I tell P.G. Woodimp about the Impette in the Jacuzzi.
“Oh my, Oh my.” The Imp closes its eyes and steeples its two hands together under its nose. “This is serious.”
It sidles up in the bed next to me and leans on the pillow. “I better tell you everything.”
“Finally” I sip at the glass and a warm, strong liquid glides down my gullet and explodes like a fireball in my stomach. My head clears as if someone sprayed Windowlene inside and swiped it clean. My brain fizzes and erupts like a bundle of energy.”Wow!”
Serial Page killer
“Told ya. Drink some more.” The Imp clears its throat and scratches its neck. “You may have noticed that there have been mysterious forces afoot in hubland. Hubs being unpublished. Hubbers disappearing.”
I nod and sip again. This could get addictive. I wonder I could get a bottle of Elixir Diabolicum for Christmas. Do Imps give Christmas presents? “Yes. I have seen that. Even the Forums are all abuzz with such news.”
“There is someone somewhere who wants to cull the hubbers. Someone is picking them out one by one.”
I stare at the Imp. “You can’t be serious?”
“Deadly.” The Imp nods solemnly.
“You mean there is a serial hub-killer loose in hubpages?”
“Yes. No one knows who or why. I am sworn to protect you, but even I missed my cue. You must have nearly died in that Jacuzzi. That Impette you described, I don’t think she is who she said she was. That wasn’t my friend from the 6th dimension. It can’t be. This Impette probably tried to kill you. I shouldn't have left you alone. The game, as they say, is afoot”
I have no idea what game and why it is afoot. "But how did I end up back in the house. Why didn’t she finish me off?”
The Imp jumps off the bed and paces on the wooden floor in a clompety clomp stride.”I am struggling. I have been trying to find out for a while. I attached myself to you as you were a newbie to hubpages and a potential victim. I was waiting for someone to strike . I didn’t think it would happen so quickly, I thought I had time. She has forced my hand. We need outside help.
I sat up and wiped my mouth. The sticky elixir smeared across my cheek.” What do you mean you attached yourself to me. Am I some kind of bait?”
The Imp turned around and nodded. “Yes, dear boy. I am sorry. You were ideal. We think the hub-killer is a woman. Maybe a human or an impette. But definitely the female of the species. As Kipling said, ‘They are deadlier than the male’. Hence my tips to you about smouldering.”
“Oh my God. You used me.”
The Imp came close and patted my hand. “That I certainly did. And I am about to use you some more.”
“Over my dead body.” I jump up and stand with my feet apart and cross my arms.
“All in good time” says the Imp,” I am about to send you somewhere where no human has ever gone. “
“I am going nowhere.”
The Imp somehow seems to grow taller than its meagre three feet. Its eyes glower and its voice resonates with authority.
“Listen sunshine. Listen good. I am Pandemonicum Grenvillard WoodImp , the Director of FBI’s behavioural sciences unit. You will listen to me”
I laugh out loud. “FBI? Director of the F- B- I ? You are pulling my leg.”
“I will pull a lot more if you don’t shut up and listen. This is the Federal Bureau of Imps. We have a long history of successfully tracking down rogue Imps who cause havoc in your dimension. Some are just a mild annoyance. Occasional pranks and such. But some...” It comes closer and touches my nose with a long clawed forefinger for emphasis, “Some are a lot worse. “
I sneeze. I hate it when it touches my nose. “What do you do with them rogue imps when you catch ‘em?”
“Some receive mild admonishment. Some get attached to a human more annoying than them. Sarah Palin has one. George Bush, Muammar Gaddafi, Charlie Sheen, Simon Cowell, Paris Hilton ... the list goes on- they usually stop re-offending after that”
“Oh. That makes a lot of sense. How about the killer Imps?”
The Imp nods solemnly. “They serve multiple life sentences or get the death penalty. I personally have put away many. The worst of all – my best case- was Accubus the Succubus.”
I raise my eyebrows “Accubus the Succubus?”
The Imp shivered. Its eyes grew misty and gazed at some faraway place. “She was a hard one to crack. I have seen your ‘Every word has a story’ hubs. You seem to be well versed in medieval folklore and history of words. Have you heard of Succubi?”
“Let me think. According to medieval legend, Succubus or succubi are female demons who seduce men and eventually kill them through sexual union. There are four named in kabbalah - Lilith, Agrat Bat Mahlat, Naamah, and Eisheth Zenunim – they were all supposed to have mated with archangel Samael. According to some Lilith was married to Adam and left the garden of Eden after mating with angel Samael. She was supposedly Adam’s first wife...”
The Imp nodded approvingly. “Dr.Accubus Lecteriia is an Imp and a Prominent Psychiatrist. She is a very good one too. Her IQ is higher than most Imps or humans. But no one knew her dark secret. She was a copycat succubus. She seduced her clients – both human and Imp - and...and... ,“ It gulped and went to the cabinet to take a swig of Elixir Demonicum.
“She ate them.”
I froze. “Ate them?”
“Yes. Ate. Consumed. Devoured. She used select ‘cuts’ from her victims in her recipes and fed on them. Terrible thing really. Especially when it was a three course meal. ”
“That is scary stuff. I am glad you put her away. Phew.”
“Well. As I said Accubus is a psychiatrist. A great one at reading patterns and plumbing the innermost psyche. She has helped us profile other killer imps. So we have kept her in a high security facility. The Alighieri Remedial Sanctuary of Emancipation. It is in the 9h dimension and heavily protected. Accubus has tried to escape many times. She is devious and insanely resourceful. Not to mention scorching hot to look at- She has become a necessary evil!”
“What’s she got to do with where you wanted to send me – which by the way, is not happening, thank you very much?” I wagged my finger in a stern, ‘don’t mess with me’ wag.
“See Docmo, she won’t talk to me as I was her captor. She is too clever for us. But I just think she may talk to you. So you are going up to A.R.S.E”
“Yeah, right!” I moved away from the Imp. “Thanks but no thanks. I am not being your bait anymore...and I am not going up any ARSE”
But I never get to finish my sentence. There is a cloud of sulphurous smoke and this time instead of the Imp, I find myself disappearing. There is a feeling like the time I went on the Incredible Hulk rollercoaster at Universal Studios. Up and down. Faster and faster. I scream like a belligerent banshee.
I land with thump and roll on the stone floor. I jump up and pat my clothes and realise that I am still clad in my pyjamas. Drat! Double Drat!
I am in a long and dingy corridor. There are oil lamps in little cubbyholes on the wall, barely lighting the length. There is a very musty, unpleasant smell. I could see heavy barred gates down the middle and they were locked with massive padlocks. My feet icily gripped the stone floor.
“May I help you?”
I jump as I hear a gravelly voice behind me. A wiry little imp with a lantern in its hand looks up at me . It was wearing bi-focals and its eyes are magnified and gleaming through the lenses.
“I...I don’t know. I didn’t really want to be here. Am I in ARSE?”
“Tch.Tch.” It shakes its head. “Another one...” it mutters under its breath.
“Follow me. You must be Docmo. We received a memo from P.G.WoodImp. I believe you are here to see HER” It emphasised on the last word but in a hushed whisper.
“No really. I want to go back. I have no desire to see anyone.”
It takes no notice. It takes out a heavy bunch of keys and starts walking towards the iron door. I reluctantly follow.
“Don’t get close to her cell. Don’t give anything to her. Don’t take anything from her. Don’t give any personal information. The last one who did that ended up getting very hurt. There is a chair. Push it as away from the cell as possible and lean close to the opposite wall.”
I feel a cold chill down my spine. What the hell have I gotten into.
The wiry Imp hums a tune, “Bum.bubum.bubum.bubum....another one bites the dust. And another one does and another one does. Another one bites the dust.”
“Could you stop that, please.”
It turns and stares at me with those massive eyes. “Why? Don’t you like Queen? I love Freddie Mercury. Big fan. “
It stops near the door and unlocks three locks. The door slides open with a deafening creak. There is another door inside and the Imp opens that taking its time sliding the padlocks. I shut my ears.
The Imp holds the lantern high and points through. “Do go. She is at the farthest cell on your left. Remember what I told you.” it stops, chuckles, and sings, “She is the... KILLER ...QUEEN...” . It swings its right arm in an air guitar strum.
I realise I have no choice. I walk through and immediately lean towards the right wall as I spot cell doors on the left. Lot of scurrying noises come from inside them. Behind me the doors shut in a decisive creak and the padlocks are put back on. I turn to see the imp fading down the opposite end humming Bohemian Rhapsody,
“Is this the real life? Is this a fantasy? Caught in a landslide. No escape from reality...”
I walk forward in shuffle, sliding my hands on the wall. The oil lamps flicker and cast long terrifying shadows on the floor. A cold draft floats in somewhere making my arms get goose pimples. I hear a low moan.
There is a sudden rattle on the left. I see a face appear behind the bars and a yellow, hideous grin.
“Oh hello, there. I can smell your underpants!” says a gruff female voice. It must be another prisoner.
I realise I am not wearing any. But I choose not to share this information. Just in case. But if it can smell it all the way to the 9th dimension I need to change my washing cycle.
I edge closer the wall well away from that face.
I walk all the way down to the bottom and find the chair leaning on the wall. I choose to stand and turn towards the cell. It is dimly lit and full of shadows. Piled high on a table bolted to the floor are old bound books. There is a narrow bed on the left also covered in shadows. It looks like there is no one in there. I feel a weird sensation in my stomach and the sudden urge to turn and run back to the Freddie loving freak.
Slowly a shadow uncoils from the corner and I see twin gleams of white that become eyes. Unblinking eyes.
“Good Evening. Do take a seat, wont you?” It is a very refined, very cultured sensuous female voice. Like molten chocolate.
I sit down in an awkward thump. The cold seat hurts my behind. I stare.
“ I am sorry about my uncouth neighbour. She is obsessed with Calvin Kleins. Perhaps introductions are in order. I am Dr Accubus Lecteriia. And you are...?”
I try to speak and my throat dries. I could barely rustle up a hoarse whisper.
“Maybe you need a drink. Do come closer, I have some in here.” The unblinking eyes narrow in expectation and for a moment I feel the muscles in my leg tensing to get up.
Whatever you do, don’t go close to the cell. Don’t accept anything from her....
I manage to find some moisture in the back of my throat. “No thanks, Dr Lecteriia, I am fine.”
“Nice of you to come. As you see my social calendar isn’t exactly bustling with visitors. Five thousand years in a cell can be tiresome tedium. You are a welcome treat.” There is a smacking sound at the word ‘treat’ as if she kisses the air.
I feel very lonely. And very afraid.
In ARSE, as in Space, it looks like there is no one to hear you scream.
Bare your soul
I hear the scratch of a match and a candle sputtered into existence. The flame cast an orange white glow on that face. A beautiful female face.
She smiled and spoke in a breathless, languorous tone.
“Ahh. That is certainly better. I love the way your dark hair shines in candle light. And that chocolate skin of yours. Mmmm. How is that rascal, P.G. Wood Imp, he hasn’t been to see me in ages?”
“He...He sends his regards.”
“Does he now? I do not think he did any such thing. I can tell you are making up a Mendaciunculum, do you know what means?”
I nod and say “ A fib. A little untruth. A white lie.”
She sits up and smiles. The teeth are pointy and shine as if sharpened every day.
“Aha. A scholar. You are the new one from hubpages?”
“I am. My name is Docmo”
“Oh. Is P.G. investigating the hub-killer? So you are to be his bait. To get me to talk. Could he be more obvious, Docmo?”
I say nothing.
“So tell me, sweetie. What do you want from me?” she stands up and stretches her arms high above, preening like a cat. Her movements are slow and precise yet designed like a heavenly choreography. There is no wasted moves. Everything is beautifully executed like callisthenics. “Or more precisely. What.. can.. I.. do..for .. you?” She utters every word like a sibilant invite and despite myself I feel my heart race. It isn’t just the fear this time. I feel a stir. A dangerous stir. I should’ve worn underpants.
“P.G. thinks you may help us with clues as to who makes the hubbers disappear. He thinks you may build us a profile of this serial hubber-killer.”
She moves close to the bars and strokes one up and down . She turns to me and smiles devlisihly.
“Tell you what, Docmo. I like you. I like your ‘I am trying so hard to please everyone’ demeanour. Your hard working ethos. I had word that you were coming. I got some downtime on your internet. I read your hubs. I want to talk to you about them. Get to know what drives you, how you choose your topics. Get to know why you are so hell bent on feedback and affirmation. Really find out why you are hooked on hubpages so much.
So let’s do a deal. You tell me about your hub life, how it all started, highs and lows. And I will see what I can do about this minor annoyance.”
I straighten up in indignation.”It is not a minor annoyance when hubbers disappear. It is terrible. If someone somewhere is sabotaging and harming people, They need to be stopped.”
She sits back down on bed and crosses her long, lithe legs. “Fair enough. I like it when you get uppity. Your nostrils flare and your lips get redder. Your shoulders look much squarer. You should get angry more often.” She smiled and I felt that stir again. God she is good.
I feel a twinge of bravery. “So how did you get caught?”
She tilts her face at an angle so one side of her face is in complete silhouette. “Are you trying to get the measure of me, Docmo?Another hubber tried to quantify me once. I ate his testicles sautéed in beurre blanc with some flagelot beans and a nice bottle of chianti. Sss.ss.ss.ss.sss.” she slurps.
”He is a she now. And a nice voice too. Went up several octaves. I think he/she joined pussycat dolls”
I cross my legs hastily as I had a strange sensation between my legs. I think mine were trying to crawl back into my groin. Away from beurre blanc or such sauces.
I lean back in the chair and mop my forehead with my sleeve. For moment I had a vision of her singing ‘don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me’. Just for a moment.
She lies back in her bed and closes her eyes. “Thank you. That will be all. I need my rest. I will summon you back when I am ready. Write this up as a hub. This is your first clue. See who comments on this hub. The killer may be tempted. She may leave you a sweet message of appreciation”
“But P.G.Woodimp says that I am in danger if I publish my 100th hub.”
“Ahh. Docmo. But this won’t be your hundredth hub. The hubkiller has already struck on one of your hubs. This is still your 99th. Goodbye.”
She goes very quiet and very still. Back in the shadows. The cell looks empty again and the candle flame sputters into non existence. Darkness oozes back in like a primordial slime.
I stand up and quickly walk back.
The next cell rattles and I decide not to look. The voice mocks “I can still smell your underpants.”
“I am not wearing any, you moron.” I blurt out in anger.
"Oh that explains the way you have been walking. ha ha."
I rush to the door at the end of the corridor and rattle it.
The bifocal wearing prison guard appears at the other end and walks slowly towards me in a little sphere of lantern light.
I hear the echo of its gravelly voice singing
Don't stop me now, I'm havin' such a good time,
I'm havin a ball. Don't stop me now, if you wanna have
a good time, just give me a call.
Don't stop me now.
Don't stop me now.
I don't wanna stop at all.....
The Imp returns in Basic Impstinct