I am not going to be held responsible for this. God, I'm going to hell.
Not to be taken seriously D:
It was raining.
That was peculiar, it never rained.
Nevertheless, it was and appeared to have been doing so for quite a while, judging by the amount of water dripping through the roof. It seeped across the ceiling, a perfect droplet forming in the centre. The droplet would then linger precariously, and fall heavily onto the wooden floorboards.
The puddle made by the drops of leaking water hissed, turned black then absorbed into the wood.
You should put a bucket under those. You don't want that getting into the house's circulation.
Yes. I think I might do that.
CLEAN IT UP! CLEAN IT UP! THIS HOUSE IS A MESS!
I am! I'm trying to.
The drops now made an echoing "ping" as they splashed themselves into various pots, saucepans and buckets. Clear water hissed and bubbled and turned black, nowhere to go except swill itself around in the containers looking for an exit that wasn't there. The metal would rust eventually. That was good. It was so very good. Enough to make anyone shudder with the sheer pleasure of it all, at the thought of being able to graze a finger across the rough rusted surfaces, the sound of scraping skin against the corrosion...
I mustn't let my mind wander, it may never come back.
A short giggle at the thought.
That's if you haven't lost it already.
P-pardon?The abrupt, offhand comment initially stunned Salad Fingers, but it was quickly replaced by a horrified anger. He always had to say such horrible things. Always.It wasn't fair, confusing him like this, twisting and manipulating. Causing him to doubt things he knew were true.
Sometimes, he didn't know why he was ever friends with that Jeremy Fisher.
He was a bad influence.
Don't listen to him. He's just upset.
Salad Fingers whimpered and hiccupped. Perhaps the cupboard was the best answer to all of this. The only thing that was stopping him retreating there was his concerns about the rain. It was quite probable it would never stop, and there would be no one left to empty the pans out. There was no one else as capable as he, for such an important task. Yes, everyone relied on him. He had to do this, and do it well, otherwise they would all be disappointed.
He couldn't have that.
No, this would be endured and maybe, just maybe, the rain would stop.
Salad Fingers made his way towards the window, careful not to trip over any of the pots, which hissed at him if he strayed too close. He mumbled an apology and continued. He would be very careful not to spill their precious contents. Somewhere, at the back of his mind, he wondered where he was going to dispose of the black liquid. As soon as he became aware of the question, he had answered it.
I'll drink it.
The window had fogged with condensation.
"A-are you feeling...a little..under the weather...Mr. Window?" This unintended joke squeezed out another giggle, as Salad Fingers wiped away the fog with his sleeve. He wondered if it had been mean to laugh.
He peered out, trying discern what was going on outside; it had grown rather dark. And of course there was the concern over how Mr. Branches was coping with this queer spot of weather they were having. Perhaps he should go and get an umbrella for him; he was surely getting wet and wasn't the fastest at travelling, so there was no doubt he hadn't managed to shelter somewhere. He would be alright. And going outside at such a time, especially while it was raining, was a silly thing to do.
" 'You'll catch a cold' s-said...Sally Sauveterre."
Salad Fingers nodded in agreement, regarding the downpour with a mix of anxiety and curiosity. The ground was growing into a steady stream of slick black liquid, and if wasn't for the stars, it would have been impossible to tell where the sky ended and the ground began. Silver glinted on the surface of the lazy flow of water, reflecting on the clear rain as it fell diagonally in thick sheets. It hissed and turned black as it joined the countless other droplets, adding to the stream. The sound of the hiss must have been deafening outside. Yet somehow, inside, there was nothing. It was so silent. It wouldn't be when the Great War ended. No. There would be a lot of noise then -and it would be nice noise. Not like those unpleasant frequencies. Waking everyone up at ridiculous hours of the night. How rude, indeed.
No, when the War ended, everyone would drown in the noise of laughter and happy sounds, cheering, applause for the brave ones who were sent away. Words of comfort for those who were left behind. Until then, he would have to break the silence himself. It was unbearable otherwise.
I must remember to tell Kenneth of this...queer weather...when he comes home on shoreleave again. He is so brave, to fight for his country and still be able to come home with a smile on his face. And smart. Dear Kenneth. I shall consult him and..and...maybe he'll relieve our minds of this puzzling situation.
Kenneth isn't coming home! He's dead! Everyone's dead. No one's coming home for you. You've been left behind.
Jeremy Fisher knew where to make it hurt.
No no no! I won't hear of it! Tears streamed down his face, his fists balled in fury. Jeremy laughed at him, dark foam bubbling from his mouth. Salad Fingers grabbed the finger puppet roughly off his finger and threw it into the nearest saucepan, it squelching on impact. The hissing increasing immensly, accompanied by a high pitch whistling.
Eventually, the noises faded, until the only sound left was that of Salad Fingers' despairing sobs. He had slid down the wall and was now curled into himself, long fingers gripping frail legs. The effort of crying made his chest hurt. It was horrible to say such things about the War, especially as Kenneth was fighting in it, but the fact that there might be a slight chance Jeremy was telling the truth made the situation much worse. Self-doubt made one's tummy box feel broken. Like someone breaking a jam jar and letting all the moths out. He couldn't catch them again, there were too many.
"Don't listen to him. He's just upset."
Something was different.
Salad Fingers raised his head, wiping his eyes on the green sleeve of his jumper.
"Hubert...Hubert Cumberdale. What are you doing here?"
"I came to see the rain."
"D-did I give you those?" he sniffed and pointed at Hubert's newly acquired limbs; they had been sewn roughly to his body with black thread. His arms appeared to be the sleeves to his white coat, his trousers matching the blue of his shirt underneath it. He couldn't remember where he had gotten the thread. Or the needle. Or the fabric. It wasn't important. He had stopped questioning such things long ago. Yet Salad Fingers couldn't help but think...perhaps...Jeremy Fisher had a point. Strange happenings were quite regular, and could never be explained so they were just accepted. This couldn't all be...he wasn'tcrazy.
Still, Hubert nodded. His expression, like usual, gave no hint as to what his mood was today. It would be lovely if he was feeling nice. He could be short-tempered and difficult at times. Though Salad Fingers could hardly complain about that, he was exactly the same.
"How odd. I can't seem to remember." An attempted smile. "D-do you think Jeremy Fisher is right? It's hard to think with all this..."
The sentence trailed off, Salad Fingers unsure of how to describe why exactly.
"It's not important."
I thought so.
Hubert observed the other for a time, before finally offering a hand to pull the other up. It was similar to the one reaching for it, only it had four, white fingers which were longer. With Hubert's outstretched hand, empathy was offered freely, and in return, acceptance.
"It's not important," Hubert repeated again. Salad Fingers knew.
The volume of hissing increased suddenly, causing them both to look round to find the source. A bowl had begun to overflow, the black liquid cascading over the rim and absorbing instantly into the wood. Salad Fingers immediately made out to see to the situation, but Hubert pulled him back by the arm, much to the other's protests.
"I-I have to...to...this mess won't do! The frequencies shout at me enough already." The very thought caught in his throat, and swallowing didn't relieve it. But the grip on his arm was firm and unyielding, eventually forcing him to give up his futile struggling.
He looked up questioningly. "But you said...that...it wasn't good for the black to do that."
"It doesn't matter now. It's too late to do anything about it." Hubert's voice was flat, and somehow sounded like it had the undercurrent of static on a television. It was flat, but it wasn't cold. Salad Fingers knew this too. He knew all there was to know about Hubert. He couldn't place why. He couldn't remember a lot of things anymore. The taller figure spoke again, "The rain won't stop. It's too late."
Sheer panic rose, overwhelming, and his face showed it. "P-pardon?...I don't understand..."
"Are you lonely?"
"...I don't like this...stop your mouthwords Hubert Cumberdale at once."
"Are you lonely?"
Retreat. Get away.
This conversation is bad. Get away. Repair the damage. Forget.
There was nowhere to go. The sensation of cold against his back made Salad Fingers recoil; he hadn't realised he was physically moving backwards and now the wall blocked his chance of escape. It would have to be endured. The word "masochistic" floated idly around his mind, causing him to want to giggle again, but it wouldn't be appropriate. Hubert closed the distance between them, walking on legs that seemed far too long. It was surprising he was able to lift his feet up.
"I'm lonely. I'm always lonely."
Salad Fingers knew. He felt partly responsible, somehow influencing the other's mood. It was contagious.
Closer. "Would you stop it if I asked?" Hubert's voice was almost curious. "I think you could. Or would you...rather have someone who could understand? Is that it perhaps? There's no one left, is there? Because of the War. They've all gone, yet you were left behind."
"I don't like it! I don't like it! Stop this. I can't think of such things."
"I came here because you needed me. I was needed to stop your loneliness. There was no one to do that for you after the War. It's over and they still haven't returned. Some people stayed...but War came to them. It found them, but it didn't find you. You had no one, until I came. I can see it still bothers you. You think of it constantly, though you hide it very well. But denial isn't healthy. It isn't right. You can't run forever."
Salad Fingers listened, fighting it as he did so. The words registered, they connected, fit snugly into place. Hubert spoke truth. Like always. He was good at that.
Still closer. "So can you see? You cannot deny me company, just like you cannot deny yourself the reality of it all." That seemed to make sense.
Touch. Ever so subtle, testing.
More of the containers spilled over, the thunderous hiss everywhere.
Again, a slight, fleeting touch against an arm. The carefully constructed barriers were crumbling, eroding. It had taken so much effort to keep them in place.
How long had it been? It didn't matter.
"I've always been a comfort to you, haven't I?"
Salad Fingers nodded, the lump in his throat returning. He didn't like that.
"I've comforted you for so long. I haven't asked anything from you because that was my purpose. But it's not important anymore. Nothing is. The rain won't stop. So now I ask you to do one thing for me. Stop my loneliness. You won't have to forget. Everything will stop before then."
The movement was barely there, but Salad Fingers nodded briefly in approval.
It wasn't a word frequently associated with Hubert Cumberdale, granted.
But his touch was gentle, hesitant. White hands trickled from gaunt shoulders down the length of the other's arms, which were shivering, although neither were sure why. Take in every sensation. The feel of the jumper; warm, itchy against the smoothness of hands. Closer. Dexterous hands slid down xylophone ribs, then back up again and around. Fingers played around his spine, the bones sticking out painfully, vertebrae rising and falling sharply.
It was so warm. It made a pleasant change from being constantly cold.
The touch was constant, never leaving, always exploring, always gentle. Hubert was serving his purpose. He was there to keep the loneliness at arm's length; couldn't destroy it -it would only go away if everyone came back and that would never happen- but he could do an adequate job of fending it off. If only they had some nettles.
Salad Fingers inhaled quickly. Something crossed his mind, and tried to make his mouth articulate a sentence, with very little success. "D-do...didn't...you say you...w-wanted..." comforting?
The thought was soon forgotten. Hubert would say something if this situation wasn't pleasing. Hubert was always truthful.
As if to reinforce the fact that he was perfectly fine with the situation, Hubert dragged his nails the length of the other's back, sure to leave angry red trails. It resulted in Salad Fingers breathing in suddenly, grasping the shoulders of Hubert's off-white lab coat. Red water. It hadn't broke the surface of the skin, but that didn't stop it screaming in burning, blissful pulses. It was beautiple.
The other's reaction was satisfying, and Hubert glided a finger over the abrasions that had already began to swell. Careful, sensitive, then unexpectedly, his fingers scraped down Salad Fingers' spine, causing him to cry out, arching his back against the sensation. His head was then buried into Hubert's coat; this was all too much, especially after such a long time of abstinence, even if it wasn't out of choice. Couldn't be helped. The Great War had taken everyone away. They weren't coming home. Kenneth...wasn't coming home. It was alright to admit that. Hubert had said so. It was bad to deny things. But that didn't make it better. It was just painful. And not in the nice sense either, throwing Salad Fingers back to his current position. Just indulge for now; enjoy it while it lasts. Repair the damage later. If at all possible.
Feather-soft, gliding touches graced his skin, the contrast between pleasure and pain euphoric.
It was warm.
It is beautiple. P-penny Pigtails will be most happy for my blossoming. "You..you're all grown up now," she will say. I must mention it to her later.
Glass splintered beside them, a crack blossoming in the windowpane. A sticky black river gushed through the hole, which was still growing larger and larger, shards of glass slicing the air. Outside, nothing else could be seen, seemingly everything had drowned in it long ago. The liquid trickled at first, soon becomming a torrent. The hissing was deafening; neither had noticed nor cared the pots had long ago overflowed. An acrid smell like burning rubber was thick in the air. It didn't matter. Just a few moments more. Not long now.
Poor Mr. Branches...
Breathing was an effort now that the liquid had leaked in, although it had been for some time. Hubert Cumberdale. He was to blame for that.
The black lapped at their feet like a charcoal tide. It was unbelievably cold. The warmth strived to remain, but it was futile. They knew it was, considered nothing else, but they would make it last. Just for a while. Soothe the loneliness temporarily until there was nothing to feel. It wouldn't take long.
Salad Fingers unburied his head, enough to allow his words to be audiable; even above the relentless hissing and smouldering surrounding them.
"I-I knew...I created you well."