A return to The Stones and the Torment, a semi-fictional story that blends psychogeography, history and horror to explore a mythical Glasgow curse.
Part four sees the narrator taken by unknown assailants to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where the curse has broken out in all its horror.
Introduction and recap
The idea came about when the Glasgow Chronicler and I attended the summer solstice at the Sighthill Stone Circle to witness an old pagan ceremony take place in a neglected inner city park. Further research revealed an alignment between some strange places: the stone circle, an ex-dosshouse, three necopolis, an abattoir and a football stadium (see map below).
So I mashed up history and myth, threw in a dash of medico-surreal lyrics from the rap alter ego Dr Octagon, based Mackail on a character that shuffles about my neighbourhood and finally threw the kitchen sink at the mix.
The stones, as of June 2014, are still standing but are awaiting deconstruction for the development of Sighthill Park. When the stones finally fall the curse is upon us. Start running when the sirens wail!
So far Mackail has revealed the secret history of the Sighthill Stone Circle and how it prevents the Quarter of Torment breaking through The Sacred Line. Strange things start to happen around Glasgow as Mackail exposes a sinister side. Things take a turn for the worse for the narrator when he is thrown into the back of a van by unknown assailants…
The Stones and Torment (Part 4)
I heard voices and screams. Dark red and brown shades shimmered in front of my eyes and then focused into bloodied floorboards. I focused on breathing to fight the panic. I slowly looked-up to see an empty room. There was a crackling through the walls, a long drawn out scream and then someone begging for it to stop.
I stood up as quietly as possible and looked out of the window. Mackail and I were walking along the street below. For a moment I was stunned into silent disbelief, then a roaring in my head and I came to, shouting and banging on the window. Just as Mackail pointed to me a hood came down over my head from behind and I could see no more.
“Where’s this one bound?”
“The hospital. He’s Mackail’s special one.”
The dark brooding Royal Infirmary loomed in a vent of light that cut through the glossy black fog gyrating around the city centre and eastern reaches of the city. The shaft of light, straight as a die followed the Sacred Line in the direction of the stone circle and through the Necropolis towards Paradise.
The air siren relentlessly wailed, whipping-up a frenzied chaos outside the hospital. Ambulances and vans emerged from the fog and careered towards the hospital, their open swinging doors scything a path through the crowds.
Patients strapped to stretchers shrieked when they saw the hospital. The paramedics sprang back giving them a chance to pay for an instant transfer but it was always too late. Doctors and porters souped-up on adrenaline and speed inhalations fell on them with vampiric glee. Blood was spraying in spurts like champagne bottles being uncorked. Those who screamed too much had their vocal chords sliced and they made no further noise other than a faint gurgling.
I stood rooted to the spot by debilitating shock and with vomit trailing down my front. All around me people were running like terrified crazed animals, trying to escape the relentless siren, the black clouds, the medics and masked men chasing them down. I was left alone, no doubt thanks to Mackail’s mark.
It was only when I saw Mackail flanked by two lackeys that I regained some strength. I moved quick and slammed him up against cold hospital stone. They all seemed distinctly unflustered by this, even slightly bored.
“You put this in my head. Now get it out!” I spat the words into his face.
“How can I stop you seeing what you see?” he nonchalantly replied.
“This…all this…is not happening.”
“It is for you and you need to work through the process. It’s all set-up with nowhere else to go.”
“Maybe killing you is part of the process,” I retorted.
“Stop it. Stop it now.”
Mackail raised his eyebrows and the lackeys stepped-in.
“I’m too tired and too old,” he said as he smoothed his coat down. “This is the curse, twisting history inside out. Black is white, good is evil and devils are out to play.”
“The stones haven’t been moved yet so this is not real.”
“Just because it’s not real doesn’t mean it’s not happening. The old faithful at Paradise sing their songs of freedom with such yearning because I think they sense it leaking out and infecting the city. Now Old Firm conspiracies. I’ve got a clutch of those but even I sense this is perhaps not the time.”
“I grant you it’s brilliant how you’ve done this. It’s like a film set.”
“And now we need to tour the set. You are my guest so stay low and you don’t interfere with anything.”
Mackail’s dusty demeanour had gone. His eyes were gleaming with vitality, he exuded a humming vibrancy and his clothes looked well-tailored.
“It’s turned you inside out as well,” I remarked and followed Mackail as the air siren wound down to leave a blissful silence. The black clouds were thinning out.
As soon as we walked into the waiting area I dry-heaved and sunk to my knees in despair at the horror before me.
Part 5 (the final part) sees the narrator witnessing more horrors in Glasgow Royal Infirmary and a final showdown. Read the final part of The Stones and the Torment