Large deformed birds claws are where her hands should be, like those of a once captured eagle. The ticket inspector now only has half a head and his eyes have moulded together. Elsie gives him an awkward smile as he tries to tell her the dangers of climbing onto the track, then she turns and runs.
Runs out of Barons Court station and round the corner down the side road. She is just outside the hairdressers when she folds to the ground. This vision episode lasts only a minute, she comes round face to face with dirty grey paving slabs and fag ends from the hairdressers coffee breaks. She feels sick as she sits on the step swaying backwards and forwards.
The weight of Abel’s sins sits low in Elsie’s body, a ball of toxic fluid. They swell in her, she feels bloated and uncomfortable. Heavy. With time the toxic ball grows into what a doctor, if asked, might call a large cyst. As if Abel had created in her an embryo of his sins.
Had it hair or teeth?
Who knows, possibly.
It changes how Elisie feels about herself, makes her weak and fragile. She knows something is there, she can feel it every day, but she tells no one. She starts to imagine that she is pregnant. This makes her feel better. A baby is an acceptable, a recommended, a retreat away from the pain of life. There are easy rules to follow, her family would be pleased, she would never be alone again, she would be safe.
The pregnancy test shows up negative of course and she starts to imagine she has the devil there inside her womb. She is not that far wrong, for the sins talk to her, toy with her whispering their dark rumours inside her guts. To counteract the feeling of panic this creates she continues the dream of a baby obsessively. Yes a baby will be the answer!
I could have told her that such thinking would lead to madness, but she wouldn’t listen to me. She had run from me in the tunnels, run from me like I had the plague. Now I leave her to her own foolishness.
The visions don’t help either, she is getting them twice a week. They have a slight hint of premonition about them, but this simply adds to her unease.
She is unwell, really very unwell. She needs safety. There is no one to turn to, no one who would care for her enough, no one to provide a child, except…
Charming Douglas, her boss. Twice her age, married (for the third time) , rich, successful, very intelligent, bad teeth, large gut, balding with long white hair tied back into a ponytail. Possibly a sociopath.
She had always thought of him as disgusting before, but now she needs to be loved and he is the only one who seems able to provide it for her. He had always had a soft spot for Elsie. She cared for him when he was very ill. They had been good friends, allies. So the next time his hand starts crawling across her thigh she does not politely remove it. She does nothing at all.