Chapter 4: The Plot Thickens

“The legend of Analprincess dates back to the birth of this island. She’s always been here. Who she is, that’s simple. She’s a big ass snake with a tight ass butt. Then we have the why. Why is she here? Well, that’s another story altogether.

A mother who has lost her child. She only torments us because she lives in eternal torment herself. Her husband, dead, her son, gone, her daughter roaming free in desolate corners, never to be found. Nobody can blame her for being angry. We can only blame her for killing everybody, cause that’s a total dick move.

You see, I was brought here to defeat her. As was everyone on this island. You can’t see them yet. The trillions of souls that man has dragged here in a bid to defy his mothers. They’re all around us, but you’ll only see them when you’ve joined our ranks.

We were all here to take down his mothers, just like you, Bill. But we all failed. Every single one of us. The countless souls enlisted by Henry, all abandoned in these plains…

Do you feel that?”

Bill’s grizzly clone glared at him, intensity oozing from his pores. Bill didn’t feel anything, but he didn’t like the way this guy was looking at him.

“Uh, yeah. Definitely.”

“Those are the spirits. Invisible and outraged! They wasted their lives, Bill! Just like me, just like you. They trusted Henry! It was the last mistake they ever made…”

Sparks crackled up from the pit, posing a real fire hazard as they wandered up to greet the dry wood of the tree. What the fuck ever happened to Smokey the bear? You’d think they’d bring him back with all the fires in California, you know?

“Okay, but why can I see you, then? And wait, who are you anyways? Why do you look like me? How did you do the fire thing? I feel like you haven’t really answered any of my questions, you just went off on some weird monologue that I didn’t really understand.”

“God dammit, Bill! I’m you! You can see me, because I’m you and we share a soul or some shit like that. I don’t really get it either, but there’s some kind of resonance between us Bills. Even in the after life, we’re drawn to each other. I think it’s the same for all of the other souls, too.”

“Yeah, fair, but I’m just saying, I’m me. And I kind of always have been. So, I guess what I’m really asking is how are you also me? Oh, and all those other questions I asked before. Still wouldn’t mind an answer to those,” He thought for a moment, trying to think of any other queries he might have. “Oh, yeah! And why are you covered in paint? And the arrow thing? What was up with that?”

“I’m getting to it! I’m you from an alternate reality. Henry’s had so many people go through this shit that he had to start going to other timelines when he ran out of candidates. Yet, after all this time he still hasn’t given up. He’ll do anything not to fuck his moms! He’ll kill us all!”

“Hold up, wait, what?”

“Fine, fine! I’ve become somewhat of a hobbyist lately. I’ve been learning how to draw, as you can clearly see,” Bronze Bill pointed to the etchings scrawled messily around the hollow. They could hardly be called drawings. “And I was always so interested in those guys that pretend to be statues around parks and stuff, you know what I’m talking about, right? They just stand there all painted up and you look at them and you’re like ‘Hey, look at that statue!’. But then you do a double take and you’re like ‘Oh, shit, that’s not a statue at all! That’s a painted man!’. So I thought I’d try it on for size. I’d say it worked pretty well, wouldn’t you?”

What? No, we’re not talking about the bronze thing anymore, I was asking-”

“Oh, the fire and the arrow, right? That’s easy. When you become a spirit, you develop a bit of an affinity for magic. So eventually with enough work I’ve been learning some really cool tricks!” The fire danced as he spoke, throwing exuberant light around the tree house. “I can lift pretty much whatever I want, I can light little fires, I can pull handkerchiefs out of my mouth, but I don’t even have to put any in first! Just yanking them out of thin air!”

“Uh, cool, but,” Words shot out of alternate Bill’s mouth at a mile a minute, his excitement at finding someone interested in his hobbies abundantly clear. Unfortunately, Bill was not interested in his hobbies whatsoever. In fact, he now wanted to know less about his alter egos sad, sad life. “I meant the ‘Henry fucking his mom’s’ thing. What was up with that?”

“Oh…” Alternate Bill’s smile dropped, the billowing flames dying down to a small flicker. “You didn’t know? All of this is happening because-”

Tripling it’s prior exuberance, the fire pit exploded in furious spurts, charring the walls.

“Don’t say another word!” What the fuck? Was that Henry’s voice?

A figure began to form in the flames, it’s cindering arms clawing their way out the smoldering womb.

“I’m sorry, Bill, I can’t stay here! I’ll find you later, okay?” Bill couldn’t respond, his mind had shut down as he watched his college friend claw out of the fire pit like a demon up from hell.

Fuck!” Henry yelped in pain as he wormed his way up onto the floor. He stumbled around in a weak attempt to stand up, finally succeeding with the help of the wall. His skin was largely burned off, revealing a horrifying nothingness within him, but that which remained looked just like a Ken doll.

“Ah, god damn,” He dusted off the charcoal that stuck to his skin, looking around the room with confusion that surely belonged to Bill in this situation. “Did that at least look cool? Cause it hurt like a bitch!”

Bill tried to respond, but upon opening his mouth he could only produce a lengthy, guttural growl, sounding somewhat like a creaking door.

“You don’t look so good, man. You alright?”

“No, not really.”

—–

“Another one? Are you fucking serious? Another one?” Puffyvulva groaned, leaning back over her presidential black chair, her slate silk gown drooping over the edges. It wasn’t really her chair, as she wasn’t the president. No, her sister was the president, but while she was gone, Puffyvulva reigned supreme. None of their other sisters were brave enough to contest her. Even if they did, she would ensure they knew better next time.

“Are you really surprised at this point? We’ve done this so many times, sister!” Analprincess (who is very much not dead) exclaimed, pacing back and forth at the side of the table. “If nothing changes, we’ll just be continuing this cycle. Again, and again and again! We can go through as many of his little heroes as we want, he’ll just hide behind another! There has to be a better way of doing this!”

“Don’t you see? The boy won’t listen to reason! There’s no room for diplomacy here! All we can do is crush every fool he runs through this gauntlet and teach him how hopeless it is to resist us!” Witchtitties slammed her fist down as she shouted, knocking over her own glass.

“If that was going to work, it would have worked centuries ago!”Analprincess roared back.

“He’s got a strong will! He’s a Demi-God after all! We just need to whittle him down!”

“Quiet! We’ve had this argument a thousand times, and at this rate we’ll have it a thousand times more!” Clarissa cut through the debate, clapping her hooves together.

She was fortunate only in one way. She got a normal name. Alas, this was only because she had no defining features. Well, no good ones. While Analprincess, Puffyvulva, Witchtitties and their many sisters had been named for their crowning attributes, Clarissa had no such quality to receive a name for.

Average body shape. Part woman, part angel… Part goat. It was an unfortunate mix when your kin were all inhumanely attractive or unbelievably adorable. She was just a satyr with wings and hooves for hands.

“Clarissa… If anyone’s going to draw our son back to us, it’s not going to be you, dear.” Puffyvulva’s voice was lined with pity that stung worse than any malice could have.

“You might be right,” She sighed, accepting the insult with more than a hint of frustration. “But I need to try! Something has got to change!”

“Of course it does, Clara, but you might not be the one to change it.” Clarissa thrashed at the table in fury, disappointed to find that it sounded less like outrage and more like an impression of a horse galloping.

“You don’t understand! I need to-”

“Let her do it!” Analprincess interjected, her forked tongue sipping on the air. She couldn’t help but empathize with her poor sister. What must it be like for her? Just an average woman who can turn into a regular sized goat. That was nothing. Analprincess could turn into a big ass snake. It was dope as hell! She could eat Clarissa’s little baby bitch goat if she felt so inclined. Not to mention, her asshole was a tight as a lug nut. What more could a girl ask for?

“But-”

“I’m with Anna, here. We should at least let her try.” With Witchtitties on board, it was three against one. They just needed the approval of the stand in head honcho. “C’mon, what could it hurt?”

Silence presided over the dark room as Puffyvulva considered the question. It would hurt her pride, first and foremost. She seethed with shame at the thought of being overridden like this. That was the only thing she could think of.

“Fine,” She moaned in a similar fashion to how she had groaned a few minutes ago. “Just don’t fuck it up too bad, okay? Nobody really expects you to succeed, so when you fail, it’s cool. As long as you don’t mess some other shit up.”

Clarissa would take it. There was no such thing as a vote of confidence from Puffyvulva. This was the best she could have hoped for.

She exited the dark war room into the bright and cheery castle beyond, feeling much like the place looked. When the pristine gray-brown bricks smiled at her, she smiled right back.

No, she wasn’t excited about heading off to fix her sisters problems. There was no love lost between her and them.

When they were kids, they said the meanest things about her. Like; ‘Hey, there she is, goat girl’, or ‘Look, there’s that girl with the goat hands’, or ‘Ha, goat’. She could never decide which one hurt the most. Probably the one about the goat stuff.

Thing is, it didn’t change as they grew up. Sure, they learned to lay off of her hooves, but they still kept her at a distance. She wasn’t good enough for them. If she walked into the room, they’d walk out of the room. If she walked out with them, they’d walk back into the room. She found that if she stood on the threshold of the door, between the room and the outside of the room, they had no clue what to do and they just sat there uncomfortably. But she soon came to find that that wasn’t the same thing as having friends.

She had no intention of solving her sister’s problems. She was going to get Henry back, but she was getting him for herself and herself alone. Fuck these thirsty hoes, he was her son, too.

And she had a right to bang him if she wanted.

—–

They walked through the forest for a time, but it didn’t seem nearly as peaceful now. There was too much on Bill’s mind.

The two clones of himself, alternate reality Bills if he chose to believe what he had been told. Trillions of dead spirits. Impending incest involving not just one, but multiple moms. What the hell was going on here?

“So, uh, any questions?” Henry broke the ten minute silence, scratching his head as he awkwardly sauntered alongside Bill.

“A couple. Any answers?” Why even ask? Of course he had questions. None of this made any sense whatsoever.

“I mean, first of all, none of the stuff that guy said is true. You know that, right?” He was certainly skeptical, but Henry’s denial made him believe it all a little more. If you have to climb out of a fire (assuming you are somehow capable of doing that) to stop someone from saying something, it’s safe to say it’s something you don’t want said.

“Sure…”

On they went, towards god knows where. Well, Demi-God knows where. Henry seemed to have a pretty good idea of how to get through the forest.

“So, if he was full of shit, why don’t you tell me? Why did he look just like me? Not just him, there was another one, too! What was up with that, man?”

“Look, that’s, it’s just…” Henry stopped walking, averting his eyes to the ground. “Okay. Maybe some of the stuff he said was true, but there are some things I can’t tell you right now.”

“What? Why? Now’s not the time to be cryptic, Henry!” Bill grabbed his friends hair, pulling his head up so they could look at each other.

“You wouldn’t believe me!” Henry thrust Bill’s arm away, turning from the scene.

“Yeah, well how about you let me be the judge of that! This is my life you’re messing with Henry! I deserve to know what’s going on!”

“Fine,” He turned back, locking eyes with Bill. “Then let’s start with this.

Do you believe I’m a Demi-God?”

Bill couldn’t help but laugh. It was too much! The serious demeanor, the dead-set face, the delivery like the world depended on it. How was he supposed to take this seriously?

“See? You can’t even believe that!”

“Oh come on, you’ve got to admit that it’s pretty ridiculous! You? A Demi-God? I don’t even believe in ghosts, man! Now you want me to believe that you’re a Demi-God? It’s just a little much, okay?”

“Is it? Is it really? Everything explodes at your wedding, you get teleported around a bit, you get chased by a giant snake and you meet two clones of yourself! All this and you still can’t believe that I’m a Demi-God?”

He laughed more and more as the list went on. Had all this shit really happened? This was just too much!

“Dude. Dude! Are you really offended? It’s just, it’s a lot to take in, okay?” Shifting to a more serious tone, he put his arm around Henry. He had really hurt the guy, and he was trying to take his feelings into consideration. It was just hard, given the situation.

“I totally believe,” Staring at Henry’s serious, disappointed face, it took all he had not to laugh again. “I know that you are…”

“That I’m what, Bill? Say it,” Oh fuck. “Say it out loud!”

“A fucking vampire,” He guffawed as Henry’s face shattered into a ruinous upset. “Oh, man, no, no, don’t get upset, dude! You had to have been trying there! You were trying to make me laugh right?”

His friend just shook his head, slowly disappearing into thin air.

“Aw, no, Henry, come on!”

“It’s cool, man. I’ll be back later. Maybe you’ll be ready to believe me then.” He tried to sound foreboding, but all that came across was hurt.

“Henry!” But he was gone, and Bill was back on his own. Alone on this unsettling island. As he looked around, the reality began to dawn on him. “Henry?”

“Henry!” His last shout was stark and afraid, juxtaposing his previous joviality. Everything his friend described had happened, hadn’t it? It had all happened here. This was the land of Demi-Gods. This was the land of clones, and big snakes and countless spirits. Now he was all alone in it.

Different. That was the only way this place could be described. It definitely wasn’t anything like the forest Bill had just left. The forest was, in certain circumstances, peaceful. Nobody could be at peace in this place. It was as if it was designed specifically to dishevel it’s inhabitants.

Looking back, he saw the forest looming behind him. Sure, it was empty and lonely, but it was a whole lot better than this. He wanted so badly to retreat, but knew he couldn’t. It had taken him hours to find his way out, and he had found nothing of note the whole time. Whatever he was searching for, it wasn’t in there.

His hopes clashed. On one hand, he didn’t want to spend another second in this dreadful locale. On the other hand, he desperately wanted to know what he was trying to accomplish. What was he here for? Was it really to defeat Analprincess? If so, wasn’t she defeated?

He thought back to her body in the forest, guts puddled messily around the head. She had looked pretty dead to him.

All he could do was keep moving. If anything, this change of scenery meant he was progressing. Although, he was becoming less and less sure that he wanted to progress.

He stepped out of the last reaches of the forest into the disturbed land beyond.

The ground was wet and soft. Pitch black soil, without a trace of greenery sprouting from it’s depths. It almost seemed like nothing could possibly live here, yet sickly trees bent their way up from the ground every few hundred feet. They were crooked and leafless, with long, rectangular vines drooping from their branches. Their very existence seemed like an act of defiance, each tree surviving only to prove that it could.

Pools of light red water gathered ominously beneath them, reflecting hot pink light up from their surfaces. What had happened here?

Bill approached one of the trees, running his hand along it’s veiny bark. It felt like leather. Looked like it too. Even the vines had that line ridden texture, feeling like the tails of a whip. Gazing down into the pool below it, he saw no reflection. Light bounced back up at him, but no images came from the puddle.

Tearing himself from the strange scene, he continued briskly onward. Away from the forest and hopefully closer to something not so… This.

Was paranoia setting in, or were the vines on that tree moving? Nothing else in the desolate swamp so much as swayed, but on just one tree a few hundred feet away, it seemed like the vines were shuffling.

A noise! Something was definitely moving. It sounded far away, but anywhere at all was too close. More noises followed quickly after. Suddenly this dead silent swamp had become a bustling haven hosting a variety of invisible creatures. Water splashing as it was stepped through, the soft bark of the trees being slowly scratched, the shuffle of vines. No matter how quickly Bill turned upon hearing these noises, he couldn’t catch their creator.

They began to take on somewhat of a rhythm. Shuffle, scratch, scratch. Scratch, shuffle, splash. Splash, shuffle, shuffle, scratch, scratch, shuffle. Were they in it together? Was there a group of upset musical ghosts out to get him? What the fuck was going on?

No matter where he turned, the vines were swaying. Every tree in this place seemed to be active all of the sudden, but no matter how he tried he couldn’t figure out why.

The noises began to pick up pace to match his growing fear. Scratch, scratch, shuffle, splash, splash, splash! They didn’t stop. It was no longer sets of spontaneous rhythmic bursts, it was more of a set of endless sixteenth notes.

Bill started sprinting, casting his gaze left and right spasmodically as he ran. There was nothing. These noises came from seemingly nowhere. The swamp was grooving all on it’s own and he was lost in a nightmare within it’s song. His feet squished down into the soft dirt, and he found himself having quite a bit of trouble staying balanced.

Oh shit!

He hadn’t even considered that tripping was an option now that he was out of the forest, but without warning he crashed to the ground. The soil mushed against his face as he landed, immediately turning over to see what was about to pop out and kill him dead.

“Bill! Where you headed?” Somehow, his adversary had still managed to sneak up behind him. He lurched forward, trying his best to turn as he landed on his palms. His best wasn’t very good, as he instead wound up throwing himself sideways onto the ground. “I’ve been trying to catch up with you for hours!”

Wait.

He wasn’t looking at a flesh hungry monster who wanted to eat him at all. It was Bronze Bill!

“So,” His clone extended a hand, which Bill gladly took. “That was you making all of that noise?”

“Huh? Oh, no. Maybe some of it, but, the rest of it, well… We should probably keep moving.” His clone urged him along, glancing around the swamp cautiously.

“Don’t you pull that shit with me, man! I need answers!”

“Woah, okay man. It’s just that these woods aren’t safe. Only one soul resides here. The rest are too afraid of her to go anywhere near this place. And she poses more of a threat to you than any of them, Bill.”

“What? Why?” Any threat at all was more of a threat than he wanted.

“Because she’s us,” Right. Of course. Why not? “And all she wants is us.”

“Could you possibly explain that in a way that I’ll find pleasant and not entirely awful?”

“Probably not. You see, she once looked just like we do, but having your soul trapped in this eternal purgatory does a number on your mind,” He gestured to his heavily bronzed skin. “You become starved for purpose. Why are you here? What are you living for? Those are hard questions to answer on a ‘forever’ scale. So she set her goal to something so impossible it could keep her occupied forever.”

“But then, it wasn’t all that impossible anymore, was it? Then other Bill’s came to this island, something I never thought I would see. My goal became real.” Shuffle, splash, scratch! An outburst of noises announced a newcomer to the scene. She was… She was…

Christ.

What was he looking at?

“You see Bill and other, sexier Bill,” Which one was which? “I decided I was going to fuck myself.”

Why did he have to be here? Why did he have to see this? Was there an option to just not do it? If he wasn’t witnessing these things or seeing them, would they really be there? If a giant arrow falls on a snake in a forest and nobody is there to see it, would Bill still be seeing all this absolutely fucking crazy shit? That was the main question, really. Would Bill ever stop seeing all of this insane fucking crazy shit?

His supposed clone had her arm lithely draped in the leather vines, leaning forward as she addressed her fellow Bills. She was a term to be used loosely. While he wouldn’t consider himself transphobic, Bill was very afraid of her. She looked just like him. Same jawline, same eyes, almost the exact same face altogether. Even their body types should have been similar.

That was where the differences came in. Her hair ran down to her waist, and her body was strange, to say the least. No surgery conceived of by humans could do this to someone. Her body had the musculature and hair of a man, but the close shoulders and wide hips of a woman. It looked like somebody had put Bill into Photoshop and lazily bent his proportions. All of that contained within a tight burgundy dress was enough to ruin anybody’s day.

“Yeah, I’m sorry, but I, uh, I’m not too sure about that.”

“Oh, but I am! This is happening! It’s been too long, Bill! I’ve worked too hard!” She marched forward from the tree, throwing her arms out like she was about to start dancing to the YMCA song. “Look at this place! I did all of this for you! All of this to set the mood!”

“What mood were you going for exactly?” He asked, looking reluctantly at the gimp suited nightmare around him.

“Sex mood.” Whatever that was supposed to be, she was off the mark for sure.

“You want to know how long I’ve been waiting for you, Bill? This,” She grasped one of the long leathery vines. “This is me. This is, too!” She proudly announced, stroking the bark of one of the trees.

“I don’t get it, but I’d prefer that you didn’t explain, if I’m being-”

“My own skin! I tore it, I tanned it, and I stuck it on there! Piece by piece! This is my leather! My sexy, luscious leather!” Oh no. He had touched her leather. Whatever the hell that meant.

“Wow. Nice. That’s, um, well that’s real cool. It’s rare to see such dedication to one’s craft, you know? I really respect that, but, uh…” Leather, leather, leather. Everything here was coated in leather. How long had she been here? How much skin did she have? What had she hoped to accomplish? Jesus Christ.

I’ll gladly echo Bill’s sentiment. Jesus Christ, indeed.

“Oh dear, would you look at the time?” Bronze Bill gasped apologetically. “Sorry to bail on you like this, but if I remember correctly it’s time for us to be literally anywhere else!”

There was no need to say it twice. Bill darted from the scene, his clone closely in tow. Whatever he did, he knew he couldn’t fuck himself. Especially not that himself.

But as he sprinted past one of the trees, he found himself tangled up. He was caught! The vines curled around his arms and legs, suspending him in the mess of leather. He couldn’t shake the thought that this was his skin that writhed around him, yet he also couldn’t quite comprehend what that meant.

“Didn’t I tell you? This is all my leather! This land belongs to me! You will not escape!”

“Okay, great,” Bill whined unenthusiastically as he struggled against the vines. They only seemed to tighten more against his resistance. “But what if, alternatively, I did? Like, how about I do escape? That would be pretty cool, right? I mean, I think it might be nice!”

“Shut up, Bill!” His bindings loosened, dropping him into the moist marsh below. He tried to get to his feet, but his leg was caught. A long whip tugged against it, dragging him back to his adversary.

You will fuck me!” She roared indignantly.

I’d really prefer not to!” He screeched back with a different kind of fervor.

Bronze Bill stood just beyond the scene, his face twisted in horror. There had to be a way to stop this, but how? He couldn’t just stand there and watch one him bone another him!

She-Bill was right above Bill-Bill now, staring down at him with a lascivious ire. He couldn’t escape. This was it. No, it wouldn’t kill him, but he’d probably wish that it did. He closed his eyes and turned his head, offering himself up to the loveless hands of fate.

“No!” Bronze Bill rammed into She-Bill, toppling her off of her feet. “My friends and me, we used to have a saying. ‘When a nasty girl just needs the cream, you’ve got to take one for the team’. I’m taking one for the team! Run, Bill! I’ll keep her busy!”

Did he know what he was doing? Could he handle her? Bill didn’t know, but he wasn’t going to stick around to find out.

“Hmm. Well I suppose you’ll do the trick.” She-Bill leapt up from the ground, throwing her whip and ensnaring her prey with ease.

He never liked the idea of martyrs all that much, but this guy. He was alright.

“Go!”

The adrenaline carried him a long way. How long he had been running, he didn’t know, but it had to have been an hour or so. No direction in mind. Just away. Away from this leather bound hell.

No amount of running could shake the thought haunting his mind. He could run away from the snake, the forest, the sounds, his clones. No matter how far he ran, he was just running to another part of this place. Further and further in, with no escape in sight.

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