An Excerpt from Charles Dickens’ Grim Expectations


Chapter 666

My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name being Phillip, my infant tongue could make no longer or more explicit a sound than Pip. So I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip until such time as I became known as Blasphemoth Christraper.

As I never saw my father or mother, my first fancies on what they were like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones, from which I judged my father as a stout, dark man, and my mother as child-like and sickly. My second fancies came upon exhuming their bodies for use in rituals of an inauspicious nature, at which point I found them both to be fetid, green-skinned hunks of foul-smelling clay, both rotten to softness and easily molestable.

“Hold your noise!” cried a terrible voice as a man jumped up from between the graves. “Hold so that I do not cut your throat!”

“Oh! Please don’t cut my throat, sir,” I cried, secretly hoping he would and spill my hot blood onto the gravedirt, pleasing Lucifer.

“Now lookee here, boy,” he said, “where’s your mother?”

“There, sir!” I said, pointing to the horribly mutilated remains at my feet.

The man ran a short distance before seeing at which I pointed, and then stopped. “Sweet merciful Lord, boy, what have you—” But he spoke little after that, as I then seized the filthy man’s knife and murdered him in cold blood, wary that he was probably a homosexual and therefore deserving of this butchery.

My first slaying was but one of the many firsts that day, for upon arriving home after burying my victim alongside my parents’ occultized remains, it was told to me that I would be sent as a playmate to the young niece of Miss Grimnessa Ravisham, a lady of some whispered street cred who lived up on the hill. Quickly, I was transported to Miss Ravisham’s lodgings at Helvete House, which was of old brick, and dismal, and had a great many iron bars lining the windows. Immediately, I felt an affinity for this dingy hole.

A fearful servant girl led me through the shambles that was Miss Ravisham’s home, until we reached a solemn practice room, where I was shoved inside. There was at one far end a small riser, and on it rested a set of strange shapes so overhung with cobwebs that their forms were near-indistinguishable, but which I could scarcely discern were amplifiers and instruments.

“What do you think that is,” asked a stern and icy voice, “there, where those cobwebs are?” Jumping, I perceived a shape in one corner of the room, hunched and motioning to the stage with a stick.

“I do not know, ma’am,” I replied.

“It is a backline. A grand backline. Mine!”

As the woman came forward, I saw that everything around her was black—or had once been. For that which ought to be black, had been black long ago, and had faded to a worn gray that was not without its merits. I saw that the woman in the leather pants and corpse paint had withered and crackled, like those trappings of her metaldom, and that the bullet belt around her waist had been placed on the rounded hips of a woman, but now hung loose where her body had shrunk and dwindled. She was much like the cadavers of my parents, but with dark eyes that found me out. It seemed to me that hers was a face that could not smile, nor mosh, nor core. This, I knew, was Miss Ravisham, my new governess.

“I sometimes have sick fancies,” she went on, much to my pleasure, “and I have a fancy that I should see someone play something sick. And so—” She made an impatient motion towards the stage with her index and little finger. “Play, play, play!”

“Forgive me, madam, but I cannot play just yet,” I said, fearful that I might offend such a terrifying woman, “for you see, this place is so strange to me, and I know not the tuning which you prefer—or what genre—“

“Feh,” replied Miss Ravisham. “Go, call Obscura. You can do that. Call her.”

To stand in a strange house bawling Obscura to a lady neither present nor responsive seemed almost as bad as playing a country tune; but then she appeared, and her darkness swallowed the light in the passageway like the singularity of a black hole.

“I should like to watch you and this boy play metal,” asked Miss Ravisham once her niece stood before her.

“Him? But he is a common roadie boy,” scoffed Obscura.

I thought I overheard Miss Ravisham reply—though it seemed out of place—“So? You can stab him in the head after he produces all your albums later!”

“What do you play, boy?” asked Obscura of me.

“Nothing but thrash, I’m afraid,” I answered.

“Thrash him,” said Miss Ravisham. And so we climbed onstage, turned on the amps, and played “Ripping Corpse.”

It was then, as we went into some basic battle riff, that I noticed that the room had been stopped, the stage frozen in time. The water and beer in the bottles set carefully on the amps had long since gone stagnant and foul, or simply evaporated away. The backdrop behind us, though held down by new weights, had sagged and was filled with moth-eaten holes. The snare drum head was new and unbeaten, though its crawled with blotched spider and hung tendrils of dust. It dawned on me that this had been the site of Miss Ravisham’s band’s first show—a show that her band had failed to show up for.

“He plays riffs like some teenage mall-rat, this boy!” cried Obscura when our first song was through. “And his hands are so soft! And his pants are so baggy!” And she denounced me as a stupid, gay, false hipster-ass poser.

“You say nothing to her,” said Miss Ravisham to me, with Obscura staring right at us, “though she treats you like a bitch. Why?”

“I don’t wish to say,” I stammered, but Miss Ravisham lowered her ear so that I might whisper into it. “I think she is very proud.”

“Anything else?” she said.

“I think she doesn’t know what the fuck she’s talking about, and needs to listen to some fucking Possessed before saying that shit to me,” I whispered (She was looking at me then with a supreme sneer).

“Anything else?” she said.

“I think that kind of elitism is what’s going to destroy the scene,” I whispered.

“And so you wish to never see her again?” asked the old woman.

“…I do not know,” I said. “Something about that is extremely cool. But for now, I wish to complain about it on a message board.”

She smiled. “You will flame yet. Obscura, go and bring him down something.”

When I went to follow the girl, she put a hand to my chest and made me wait. She then presented me with a slice of bologna on hand—what I’ve heard spoken of as ‘loser’s lunch’—and a tiny mug of flat Rolling Rock, averting her eyes as I took it, as though I were a dog.

At the time, I was so spurned, humiliated, degraded, that I could not bear to face her. But as I left that dreadful house and my new playmate that day, I felt drawn back to her, to my Obscura. It was as though that abuse and pride that she’d displayed to me were rites to enter into a kind of cult, or even kvlt with a ‘K’ and ‘V’, to which I’d be honored to enter. And so, as I walked away from Helvete House, I made a promise to myself to return and improve, so that I might ascend to her level of sonic darkness and personal snobbery.

Blasphemoth Christraper was still years away, to be sure. But on that day, Pip died, and it was a glory befitting of only one as truly diabolical as myself.

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