Scattered with canvases, sketches, paint, beads… all the artistic paraphanelia an art shop could be charged with. Most of the art is torn up or scratched over.
Four walls concealing a clausterphobic amount of stories, and two windows to let it all breathe.
In the middle of the room: A dilapidated single bed, and then Christie.
Christie in a small deathstill heap…
“Who’s there?!” she jerks up with a gasp. She does not see me, she never sees me. I believe she thinks she feels me, but neither of us can be sure of that. I have been watching her for some time, not with any dark design in mind. It is mere fascination by now. I am no deranged stalker. That would fit her own profile, I am nothing as mundane as that. I just found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time and chose to stay. I am like a moth on the wall. A mere observer, silent and apathetic.
What intrigues me the absolute most about these observations of the woman is the possibility, or rather the reality, that a person, pure meat, bones and nerves, could live such a bizarre life alone, and the gnawing madness when I wonder whether she sustains me through it.
I found Christie (or she found me) about 3 years ago, if I am able track time with any accuracy. I saw the 1st of many, so very many, outbursts of suppressed rage. I was puzzled by the complexity of her emotions. Most would sum it up as aggression, and yes, there are surface reasons for her outbursts that would seem to vindicate this theory, but I saw more. It seemed to be driven by aggression and fuelled by a mix of frustration, passion, hopelessness, self resent, hatred and sadness. The pattern climaxed in satisfaction. It always did. It was the mix of these seemingly senseless emotions that kept snapping my attention back from anyone else.
And that was the way it always went. She hurtled the canvas against the carpet with a muffled thud, staining the fabric with wet paint, which calmly soaked it up, while she tore up paper and slammed her crimson handprints against the wall in a choked scream. This ALWAYS ended in satisfaction, a smile, a laugh, a wide-eyed giggle. Christie was insane no doubt, I must take responsibilty for some of it it, but for the most part that is only the paranoia. She was not exactly in mint psychological condition when she spawned me, or did whatever it was she did. Besides… she is not really talking to herself or an imaginary being. I am as real as can be.
I’m certain I am…
“What do you want from me?!” Christie screamed that line she never tires of. She tried to immitate bravery and she did not do half bad, but the aura of fear still lingered when her words faded.
I would never hurt Christie…
I would not stop her from being hurt either.
Turn your thoughts to me now. Who am I? My name is one of the few things I brought back from the void with me, but it is not important. Such power need not be in your hands.
I am nothing, I am everything. The endless reflection, the timeless introspection. I have heard of concepts like, angel, demon, ghost, specter… Perhaps I am one of these, perhaps not. There is no before-time to me. No time to come. There is only the genesis of my consciousness, and from there on there has been the infinite now. Wherin the world progresses and I remain changeless. I am the fly, I am the moth. I am drawn to life like the moth hypnotically cannot resist the light. Somewhere from the before-now I remember a saying, perhaps someone said it, perhaps someone is still going to: “A candle flickers most brightly right before it burns out.” Life imitates this. It sputters most brightly before it is snuffed. As if it squeezes in all the light it was supposed to have shined out over the span of its’ existence, in the last few moments before its untimely death. So my kind are drawn to death as they are drawn to the start of life: conception. I am by far not the only one. We watch you, our breath quickening when you step into the road without looking both ways, clustering around the conception of a child, where naked bodies lay in each others arms, or where one leaves after. We do not care whether they are embracing or strangling one another, the thrill is all the same to us. We care not for your intimacy, we find no pleasure in your love or your lust. We care for the life which begins right there. We rejoice in its light and bathe in the glow. Whether the foetal life begins in three months or at conception is irrelevant to me, I only know the spark burns when it happens. The life spark mostly shines brighter than the death spark. But the brightest of the bright flickers comes when a life is extinguished long before its time. We were drawn to whore houses, we were drawn to war, we are drawn to floods, tornados, hurricanes, arctic and desert climates, to famine and pestilence, but most of all we are drawn to the conception. Evil and good are not things we can distinguish. Only life and death.
The day I achieved consciousness was the day I saw Christie. I was one of the mewling masses of my kind, thoughtless, insectile, watching so much life come to death here, going supernova with mini-glows when they were nipped out forever in this ivory building like camera flashes coming from so many news reporters. They came from everywhere in rapid succession, they blinded you temporarily, consuming your vision. We delighted in this. It is ecstasy to us. Christie entered the building, She was just another I was drawn to. Like any other. That is what I expected in my thoughtless anticipation. The confused time where I did not think, where I was all instinct and no reason. The absolute thoughtlessness of one who was driven by compulsion rather than understanding or choice.
Christie walked into the building, bleak, the echoes of her life playing past her mind. This was a place where people came to kill, and to let a part of their essence pass away. She went in. I followed her rabidly, barely containing my excitement. There was such abundant life in her. It was poetic.I drew close to it, the death or the life spark did not matter to me then and there, rather I was just drinking in the light of her living. She spoke to one who had the aura of much death about him. The contrast between them infatuated me. I stalked them blatantly for a long time. Eventually she laid on a bed, wearing her gown.
Then it came, the life inside of her belly was to be extinguished. It sputtered violently, refusing to accept its fate, this one tore back at death. Actively trying to brace and defend itself against the intrusion meant to kill it. The titanic force of will, and desire for life brought on the most beautiful display of hope mingled with desperation I had ever perceived. It did not flash and go out like the others, this one burned brighter and brighter, expanding until it covered Christie, it covered me, it covered the room. I wish I could explain the situation, it is not the type of thing that should be felt alone, but to give you an idea: It was a deafening orchestra, the most beautiful music you have ever heard. Colours colided in chaos and spilled over into the most ordered symmetry. The beauty gripped my primitive mind. Washing over me, engulfing me.
Threatening to destroy me.
The life lost, fading to black, but not without jolting me into consciousness.
The confusion I felt cannot be put to words. Suddenly perception brought information that I had to think about and decide upon. Instinct had lost the reins on my life. I imagine birth must feel this confusing. (Ironic is it not, that her abortion gave birth to me). My world did not make sense. Sensations existed that had never been there before, I could observe what I looked at, thoughts entered my mind rather than instinctive diction, sounds came from everywhere, and all of my other ghost-senses strangled my mind with information. I was terrified, so preoccupied with the clausterphobic press of information I was receiving that I did not even have time to dream about wanting go back into ignorance, to the bliss of not knowing anything at all. It did not happen either. Memories swirled in incoherent thoughts. These memories, the coversations that people shared in my presence, the emotions that I felt coming from them. The things I had seen people and my kind doing. These eased the transition for me. It helped me piece together something of myself, and of the world. But suffice to say it was an earth-shattering experience.
Most of my ‘before’ memories are gone now, like waking up after the longest dream. They fade in the sheer ‘otherness’ of the way you thought then. I would have been able to understand them now, but when they were still fresh, swirling anarchy in the pandaemonium of my mind, I did not know what they meant. I did not know anything.
So I did the only thing I could do. I stayed by Christie’s bed. Looking at the familiar life which no longer gave me any semblance of comfort. What must have been hours passed, my consciousness expanded. Seemingly disparate events found pattern and rhythm in my mind. The connections started to form in the thoughts still trying to make sense of the connected events themselves. Soon I was an empty shell. A being birthed into adulthood with no past, no purpose, no prerequisites for survival. Just an infinite nothingness.
Boredom, with an edge of hysteria.
I do not know how long I sat there with Christie, time was still an alien concept to me. But I am here now, and that is all that matters.
She shrinks, every time the others show up. It is as though her dimensions fold in on themselves. She has accepted these beasts as a part of her existence, but she still fears them, their id-like indulgence in anything they want from her. Their animalistic unpredictibility backs her into a corner every time. I watch in anticipation, hungry to learn. Whatever she may go through is not up to me to change. Perhaps that is simply my excuse for not caring enough to act on her behalf.
It matters not.
Now that I have achieved consciousness I feed on more than just life and death: I have found something even more alive than that spark: Emotion.
I feel her fear, I feel her, I also feel their base lust, but more than anything I feel her fear. I feel the sobs of emotional agony rip through her after every visit: those ugly jerks from the diaphragm that claw up her chest trying to tear her lungs loose. It is my narcotic, it is my mind numbing, goosebump raising, orgasmic indulgence.
These feelings well up inside her until they brim her eyes with salt and her heart with sulphur.
I feel the swell of emotion like bread rising, and right here is where she has ultimate power over me, we both tremble, synchronized our breaths catch. She is on the verge of a meltdown, and I am trapped in anticipation. Waiting for the release of emotion.
She bursts! It all gushes out in a symphonic flood: The pent up frustration and hatred, she expresses with swirls of colour and dashes of thought. Everything screams out of her and onto the canvas, the walls, the floor and into me. I dance around her, feeding off of the flows, tuning my rhythm to her rage. Her tears flit off of her cheeks while my mute cries rise higher, in my ecstasy I twirl and buck while she screams and slashes with her brush, she smashes canvasses against walls and throws vases at the roof, She rips paper to shreds taking breaths only in between the beastial grunts and screams that escape her throat.
It all drips out of her pores, soaking the air around her with all her hatred, all her frustration, and that faint shimmer of hope that seems to always show itself. It goes on for the longest time before she tries to pick up the canvas that had held most of her attention, heaving with the effort she lets out an infuriated grunt, then stabs the back of her paintbrush through it, it thuds three times as she stabs the picture before she collapses into a sitting position on the floor, heaving, her eyes still glisten with moisture but the burning acid in her heart is now sprayed in a gorgeous heap around her. I stare at her, feeling so… alive, euphoric, I feel… insatiable. I am amazed at how in love I am with this woman’s emotions, her fear, building into her rage and ending with her satisfaction. I feel close to her in such an indescribable way. She makes me real. “This must be what sex feels like.” I think looking at her beautifully battered frame. My gaze trails up the path of her destruction to the wrecked picture that she had almost completed after six of these outbursts. It is painted in a realistic style. it tells the story of a birth, It is obvious what inspired it: six wolves, three of them standing upright around a woman who lies on a grassy slope, their muzzles drip with the blood from where her abdomen had been gored, she is either dead, or helpless and dying. One wolf holds a newborn baby up with its umbilical chord still trailing into the mother through the gaping maw where the freelance caesarian had been performed. The wolf holding the baby is turning around towards an altar, which has rivulets for the blood of a sacrifice to gush through. Another wolf is in the process of biting through the chord. The baby itself is still covered in its mothers’ blood, it has a pitch black halo, and smiles up at the wolf with blood red eyes, there are tattoos of a tribal flame on its forehead, hand and heart. The third wolf has its back to the woman, looking off into a distant forest. One wolf stands looking down at a dead wolf with no expression, while the last wolf stands upright in the corner, smaller than the others, looking diretly at you when you look at the painting. I do not have much to compare it to, but I enjoy Christie’s art. It is meaningful in the way a disturbing dream is meaningful, it bothers you for a long while after seeing it.
My gaze finds her again, she has spent her hatred and frustration and remains now vacuous, suspended in the drained inertia that comes after a display like this. The emotional explosion expands until it disintegrates all feeling she is capable of and leaves only a numbness. She is satisfied with her expression, her art, but she hates her muse, and her hatred augments her art even further.
She stands up again, looking around.
“You see?” She whispers with a trembling lip. “Do you see what I’m capable of?” She is talking to me, she cannot be sure of my existence, but at that moment I doubt it matters to her either way. There is likely no soul outside of this room that would understand the power of what she has just accomplished. She takes a deep pride in her art.
I do not blame her, it is all she has. She wants to believe that someone sees it, that it is not meaningless. If I were not here she would create a phantom observer to ramble to.
I listen with interest, playing her unresponsive headshrink, trying to find some clue in her words, something that reveals the secret of what brought me to consciousness. Unfortunately, most of what she says is pure gibberish, but I listen faithfully all the same.
I do not have anything better to do.
That was (admittedly bad) humour: A human trait I picked up, along with curiousity: I cannot help to wonder about my origins, but that has to wait, as always.
She stands there, bruised breast rising and falling, her complexion betrays her nausea. She stumbles to bend over a bin, into which she vomits. The other moths have left by now, they were there for the rape, and left with the men, Christie’s outburst held no power over them like it did over me. They have seen the spark, the new life enter her belly. There is nothing more for the mindless masses here.
After a while she stands up: “I think I’ll get us some food.” She tells the empty space opposite where I am standing, she opens the latch to go down to ground floor, the ladder lowers along with the trap door, the rope pull that used to open the door from the bottom is no more than a charred stump now, making it impossible to open from below. I watch her descend the stairs: “Human.” In their image I sculpted myself, along with this still-developing sense of identity, I gave myself a form with which I am familiar. The concepts of breathlesness, tensing muscles, or being aroused are likely nothing but figments of my imagination, but they anchor me to the idea of ‘self’, and they help (in part) to abate the fears of returning to thoughtlesness and annonimity, to the polarities of life and death: love and lust to us, the mindless.
She is at the basin now, filling the last of three dirty glasses with water, she balances them along with the last three cookies she could scrounge from the counter, carrying it all up the stairs again. She hurries to put it all down, nearly spilling all of the water. Sealing the trapdoor back up she exhales relief. She always fears the return of the men when she is downstairs and vulnerable. Naked fear: Delectable.
She takes a small table and covers it with some canvas cloth she had ripped off in some forgotten rage.
Now she puts the three cookies out with the glasses: “Table for three.” She announces to another spot that I am not in. There is nothing else there. I know this routine by now. She sits on the floor among swirls of paint, swirls of pain. She puts the photoframe on the table by a cookie, the frame has only half a photo inside of it. The top had been clawed off, leaving a jagged scar across the midriffs of what was once presumably a happy family. The faces of the six legs had long ago been forgotten to some obscure trashcan. She sets the table for herself, the photo and me. A cookie and a glass of water for all three of us, this laughable group of half consciousnessess.
Next she will pray, she will look up again while she is praying, trying to see whether I appear magically. I never do, but the ritual is something she clings to, some illusion of control over her circumstances.
The irony is that any sane person would simply leave her position of powerlesness, but she is so very far from that, she does not have any other option as far as she is concerned. This whole part bores me, I still feed off of her pain, it radiates from her like a constant radioactive glow, along with her hope of physically seeing me and her disappointment when it does not happen, but this is usually the time that I travel, learning of the world and its ways.
Silence rustles through the room as nothing but Christie moves, daintily dining on her evening cookie. This is her first meal since yesterday. Her stomach growls at her, and she guiltily looks at the other cookies before mentally reproaching herself and snapping her eyes back to another spot on the table.
She is quiet now, she simply sits with her water in one trembling hand. Taking small sips, eyes slowly dotting downwards with no confidence, showing the faintest sliver of doubt. I assume she doubts her convictions of my existence. The fear of what that would mean snaps her eyes back to the seat set out for me. “You’re real.” She tells the empty space. I am standing right beside her.
I could never leave this woman.
“Not hungry?” She asks, both the photo frame and me. She is trembling, she almost seems as if she is on the verge of another breakdown.
“Okay then, but you’ll want it later.” Her stomach stabs a rumble into the empty silence as she packs it up with a tear in her eye.
She is alone now, the beasts had left before her last outburst, but there is no telling when they might be back.
It is late, and Christie is low on energy from malnutrition and becoming sick from the lump in her womb. I might have to do something about that soon, but for now she will have to succumb to the narcotic bliss of sleep that comes from the emotional backruptcy after such an outburst.
She takes her blanket and clears the bed in the middle of the room.
Her arm folds around the photoframe, pulling it close to her chest under the blanket. One last moan from her stomach is all the lullabye she needs before passing out into her hungry sleep.
This is pathetic… Look at Christie just laying on the bed with paint still in her hair. Sleeping among canvases inspired by her tears and fears. She had only ever left this place once that I know of, and apart from those animals nobody knows she is here. I do not even know how she paid for her abortion, my memory from before it actually happened keeps fading like a distant dream. If the clinic had not been visible from her window she would not even have known about its existence.
This has to stop. She needs to be taken better care of…
I am not being compassionate.
I am not being-
Look, my continued existence might be directly linked to her continued survival, so helping to improve her quality of life serves my own interests.
I shall go out and do something about this.
The night time here is not filled with nocturnal life, the midnight scum do not frequent this place. In fact it is all but abandoned. Beggars are about the only patron of this neighbourhood’s night. I travel through the window into the blackness, searching for a sign of life, looking among the black abyss for the thermal glow of life, alleyways creep by, devoid of life, and sidewalks pass holding no breathing creature… Then I sense it: “life”, human life… More than one. Soon I hear the crackle of fire and… there it is. A trashcan, breathing flecks of ash into the night air. Steadily dancing for its small crowd. Five homeless people crowd around it with blankets over their shoulders, their hands held out toward it with their palms spread as shadows dance a macabre ritual behind them. They look like an eerie cult with the flames’s light licking on and off of their faces.
Something else is here too, one of my own kind. I have taken to calling them (I am no longer one of them) moths, as they float to life and death mindlessly. Its’ presence means that at least one of these people is close to death, either that or a conception has taken place here. My eyes follow its gasseous form to the heap on the floor. A life is expiring there, it is covered in moths, They crowd around this human, riveting their attention to it, the pentagram form of the homeless around the trashcan however gives no indication that they know their friend is dying.
“Heather.” The soft whisper trickles from the soon-to-be-lifeless heap’s lips.
Good, I have a name.
The style of these people is to divide what the departed had among the living, they grow stronger bonds than most high society that I have observed. They have nothing to distract them from each other, they do not have the option of living past one another. Their friend will likely be dead within the hour. The moths are completely engrossed by the body, flying back and forth from it, I used to know that kind of anticipation.
I look around, trying to sense the sludge of thoughts that emanate from these people.
I have found her: The one whose name is in my spectral hands.
“Come… Heather.” I whisper into the woman’s mind.
She blinks, then shakes her head, snapping out of it.
“Come, and bring the food lying in front of your sleeping friend.”
She hesitates again, frowning.
“I have to go… check on something.” I tell the others through her lips, my words flowing into her ears and lolling off of her tongue.
They all look up from their somber thoughts, surprised. One grunts a laugh at her.
“What Heather? Got some taxes to pay?” The other three laugh, I do not think they find it funny, rather laughing at the good natured way in which the joke was posed. I do not see how they could find it funny seeing that it is a reminder of their poverty. I am not 100 percent in tune with human humour yet. I do not wish to be… but it does interest me.
I make Heather bark laughter as well, stark laughter that conveys no understanding of the joke “ha ha ha” she exclaims, the others stare at her, they had stopped laughing a few seconds before I made her do it.
“The hell’s that about??” One of them wanted to know. Ignoring him we take some food from the soon-to-be corpse, and walk away.
“He-Hey Heather!” The first one calls again. We walk on.
Around the corner he grabs our shoulder “Heather, are you okay? What’s going on?”
We spin around, shocking him into releasing his grip: “Sebiri haa kholi se kefishak! Mari ohlis korusk!” We rasp at him.
I am… annoyed, but I do not want to hurt this man. I do not know where those words come from, they are primal. From somewhere lost in the swirl of the before. It is not a human tongue.
We turn around again, leaving him behind, his elbow still bent to hold his hand subconsciously where her elbow had been.
The alley night whispers flyers and filmy dry paint across the street. The cold moon paints shadows onto almost every surface, like Christie would have done.
We walk faster.
Something is wrong, there should not be this amount of moths in the area. They do not take any notice of me, and they simply float by Heather. They cascade past us, slowly rolling in towards the abandoned building.
If they could be heard they would all be moaning, this imagination I am developing is human… Heather waits for me as I go inside. Moths are stumbling after the men who have returned, they sense that something is about to happen. Five men. All of them waiting to take turns with Christie to top off their night.
Tonight they kill her. Tonight is the night it finally goes one step too far. I do not know how I know this. It is not important. I slide past the corridors tuning in to their voices. Their thoughts are hard to read, they are guided by a simple purpose, but their minds are utterly alien from human rationality right now. They resemble animals more than humans.
“Chrishtie… Woman! Let us up!”
Her neurotic humming is a silent whimper from the room above their heads. I do not need to go up to see the picture of her clutching herself wide-eyed in the corner trying to find another place to escape to. One of these men is the father to the child who birthed me, another is the father of the new child.
“Brought y’ some food… Let us up! We jus’ wanna give you this food.” The grinning, salivating mouth grunts up at her.
Still nothing comes from upstairs. Ethereal smoke trails the moths coming up toward her. I may need to save her life tonight… I do not know anything but her. She may be the only thing sustaining my conscious existence. Then again she may be deadweight bound to me, keeping me from my next stage of metaphysical metamorphysis.
Genuine anger springs upward from the delay these ‘men’s’ desires are subjected to.
“Let us up fuck! I swear I’ll kill you if you don’ let me up.” After some commotion they stumble toward the kitchen where she had foraged for her dinner earlier. Four of them grunt as they take a table up to where the trapdoor refuses them entry into her. Stumbling back as one hits the door arch while trying to squeeze through the doorway.
“I’ma fucking murder this bitch.” One of the animals says out loud, not caring whether she hears him or not. I go up to look at her. I am almost immediately enthralled by her fear, her terror arouses me. I have taken pleasure from her pain so many times before… I could again now. I could watch her die gruesomely as I drown in the hurricane of emotion and mortality that the scene would provide me with. It would be… delicious.
She rocks back and forth faster, tears squeezing out of her eyes as she clenches them tight. She is humming louder now, trying to silence out the banging from beneath her. They have found some blunt object with which to break through. I have to tear myself away from her. Moths have flooded the room by now. They quiver shapelessly, waiting for the moment. I barely remember it, but murder used to have a special appeal to me when I was one of them.
I do not know if I have the sway over their animal minds to stop what is about to happen, I do not know if I want to try. The indecision excites me… I do not have a pulse to race, I do not have a heart to thump, but excitement… O my do I feel exhillirated. More moths pour in with every crack punched into the wooden boards shielding Christie. There is nothing more beautiful than this raw moment. Her naked fear, her naked hopelessness. Every part of her emotional buffet laid bare to me. Nothing could compare. Fetal while sitting upright. She has no idea what she means to me right now. Small choking hiccups punctuate her humming, through tiny rivulets of terrified tears. Mucus threatening to run down her chin.
The boards cannot hold much longer now, and still I keep being drawn into Christie, into my unknowing Dellilah. My precious Babylon.
Harsh laughter belies the intent from the men below, revelling in the hunt of their trapped prey Their emotion holds some appeal too, but it is numb, clouded by apathy and intoxication. They could never compare with her purity.
Finally they break through, Christie clutches herself more tightly, letting a little shriek escape as her eyes screw up even more. Hands reach through the hole in the floor shakily, like the undead rising from a crypt the first man pulls himself up.
It takes him some more time and a lot more grunting. Still Christie won’t acknowledge his presence by looking at him. She still tries to pretend that it is okay.
Gasping out of breath the man looks at her, and takes a half eaten piece of chicken out of his pocket.
“Tol’ you I brought ye food.” He tosses the bone into the dust in front of her, she jerks, but still does not open her eyes.
“Wha- aren’t you grateful?” He spits at the floor, then stumbles towards her. He stands over her looking at her form. Whatever is intoxicating him makes him much more open to me, the swirling colours of his thoughts are easy to see, and so open to my suggestions. He thinks of how easy she looks on the floor, helpless. He is radiating menacing happiness.
“C’mon, eat it. You’ll take what I give you bitch!” He kicks her once in the ribs, sending her sprawling on the floor. She starts crying openly now, the snot filled hiccups escaping her irregularly in terror. He picks up the half-drumstick and goes to kneel by her as the second creature finally finds his way up. They are all oblivious to their entire ensemble of enrapt spectators, the room is filled with moths.
The first man tugs Christie’s head back at her hair. Forcing her to open her eyes in shock for the first time. He jabs her tightly sealed lips with the chicken.
“You must be hungry.” He jokes wide eyed through gritted teeth.
The second, third and fourth men pour in now, guffawing at the spectacle they share with hundreds of ethereal moths. The fifth man yells from below for help to get up.
“What, you thought you could keep us out?” One of the men asks her, also out of breath.
“Bitch you better know you’re gonna pay for being that stupid.”
The dusty drumstick is by now choking her with the force that it is being thrust into her mouth. Her gagging coughs accentuate the low moaning that does not even seem to come from her lips. The man with the drumstick takes her head by the top again and bangs it against the wall, nearly knocking her unconscious, he stands up and roughly pulls her along into an upright position.
“No one here t’ help you.” He informs her. “Better to just go with it.”
“Find a happy place.” One of the other men advises her.
“I’m about to find my happy place.” Another replies with an animal grin.
A hand claws at her dirty shirt. Trying to rip it off as soon as possible.
This woman is their rag doll, she is completely powerless over them, and exerts so much power over the rest of us. Nobody will help her. She will die here tonight and nobody will miss her.
I’ll miss her.
These men unbuckling their pants are about to rob me of the one thing that I know. The instant pleasure of her death is not worth the sacrifice of the sustained pleasure of her existence. They cannot do this to me. I need to put a stop to this. I watch her taking a fist to the stomach, nearly giving her a miscarriage, I don’t know what to do, they’re already one track minded, I couldn’t sway them that easily now.
All around me the moths chitter soundlessly, waiting for the deed to be done.
Christie is forced onto the bed.
I remember. I remember the tau of being one of them, the silent communion that draws more of them where one finds a spark forming.
The man is on top of her now, her one breast is exposed and her pants are being pulled down. Her hands are held down and a hand is clamped over her mouth.
I remember that we have some way of talking to each other. I remember that there is a collective consciousness that I had lost in the dream world of before. I am not a part of it any more, but maybe I can still talk to it.
She takes another blow to make her stop struggling.
“Help me. Help me kill them.”
They do not answer me, they have nothing as sophisticated as communication, but I can feel the answer of their instinct: “Spark, spark coming, not stop it.”
“Help me kill every one of them, more death.”
“More spark: Vena Cava, knot it. Intenstines, rupture them. Hearts, suppress their beatings. Bones, snap them. Brains, squeeze them. Not her, them. Not her, them.”
The man on top of Christie is in position to start raping her, then the world freezes as all of the men’s faces slacken for a split second, before erupting into twisted expressions of seething pain. Hundreds of moths band together bloodthirstily to feed upon the death of these would-be murderers.
Gurgles escape them as blood runs from their mouths and their legs buckle underneath them as bones break from inside their flesh.
Their screams do not last long. They are mostly dead before they touch the floor.
Just like that it is over, all five these animals are dead, and Christie is still alive. Immediately the Moths dissipate, already forgetting what they had just done, already forgetting what they are capable of in the swirl of their insectile insanity. They are simply hungering for the next sensation. All except one. This one is different now. Its’ misty formlessness stays on the spot, vibrating.
Christie sits up, looking at a spirit for the first time, the stationary vibrating moth. Something else is behind her eyes now. Her arm lifts slowly without her taking her eyes off it, finally her open palm is spread toward it.
Her voice is doubled, another is speaking through her mouth like I did with Heather: “Shukil veridish Kurili maka shavarada Guf, Guf, GUF!”
With that she passes out, and at this exact same moment the photoframe with the half-picture in it tips over and falls face down on the floor.
Something in my memory is stirred, did she do the same with me? I do not know. It is somewhere that my memories seem to refuse to travel.
I wonder if the moths knew which deaths they were coming to see…
The moth is still vibrating. I wonder if it will be like me. Perhaps I should mentor it.
Christie is still passed out. She has been sleeping for nearly four hours now. When she wakes up… Well this sight just might make her mad, all these dead bodies. On the other hand, these assorted bodies might be breath taking if captured on canvas.
Was that an attempt at humour or was I just being serious? I do not even know anymore.
Heather is no longer outside of the window. I did not see her go.
Nothing is happening here. The bodies are decomposing slowly, releasing gas as rigor mortis sets in prematurely. The new moth-consciousness is simply vibrating, but that could change at any moment. I do not recall something like this happening to me, (assuming that this thing is anything like me). and Christie is sleeping in her own filth. She needs a new shirt.
I go out again, the homeless people might have spare clothing if their friend has passed on, and Heather still owes Christie some food. I am around the block when something changes. A distinct shift in the atmosphere pierces the back of my consciousness -sharp. The screaming is so sharp. It is not human, no human could manage that antiphonic sound. I swing around to go back, the light was never switched off, but now it is flickering violently as though it is trying to escape its own socket in terror of what is happening. A little explosion shatters as the light dims with finality. The scream has become moaning. High pitched moaning that rises up again as soon as it is about to die down in rapid succession.
As fast as I can I rush upward through the window.
The bed with Christie on it is floating a metre from the ground. violently shaking.
Why is she not waking up?
The vibrating moth is now pinballing off of the walls. Shooting from one to the other. I remember this feeling, I know what it is going through. It does not even register me, still moaning, still trying to find some way back into ignorance.
It is not going to happen.
“It is not going to happen.” I think toward it.
It notices me, the moaning cascades into screaming again. small objects lift up from the ground now. The chicken, the photoframe with half the photo in it, a knife and all sorts of other small objects.
It speeds toward me and I remember what the-thing-in-Christie had said: “Guf.” A simple word with a simple meaning, I knew it once but that memory has faded… Guf might be this moths’ name now.
It stops right in front of me, frantically looking me up and down, my human shape. It knows I am different. It is still screaming while it looks at my legs, around my back and toward my head.
Guf is just a head drowning in an aura of mist right now. I can see its’ shape becoming more defined as it drinks in mine.
“Guf.” I think. It stops looking, it stops screaming. Quiet. Instinctively it draws its’ eyes from my stomach up to mine.
“Guf, is that your name?”
It floats upward, never breaking contact with my eyes. This small lump of fear… This feeling is something new. Once it is level with my head it opens its mouth. The pseudo-human shape of the head distorts as the mouth opens impossibly wide. From out its mouth it vomits up whispy grey images that hang from its chin like fleshy tendrills: My left hand, The fire extinguisher with which the men broke through the door, the glass of water Christie had, the photo frame.
Did I go through this? I cannot remember. And then Guf is gone, flying through me and out of the closed window.
Everything that was floating drops down. A soft “oof” escapes Christie, but still she sleeps.
She will need a new light.
Questions avalanche from my mind: “What was that? What in Christie did that? Was it Christie that did that? Is this new one like me? Guf is a name in that old language before human tongues, like my name. Why Guf?” At least I can control my curiosity, and there is nothing here for me right now but to scry into Christie’s miasma of dreams. I cannot make sense of them, they are just raw projections of her insanity.
This modern van Gogh stands to benefit nothing from my mere presence right now. I shall go make good on the food that I owe her.
So I leave for the third time this night, wondering why ‘Guf’…
I float to where I found the homeless men and women, mixed emotions emanate from them in tsunami-sized wafts. Their grief at the discovery of their comrade’s passing is just a bit fresher than the corpse is. Evidentally Heather had returned to them, I cannot discern their exact feelings about this. I think Heather herself inspires apprehension, while her return generates relief. The fresh corpse might add to the relief that she is still breathing.
The five who were left behind to their wretched lives huddle together, sitting close to one another.
“Do you think you can explain it?” One asks timidly of Heather.
“I… I don’t know, it wasn’t like something else was there, it was more like I changed… It seemed obvious that I needed to go give food to Charlie, or Christopher, or Christine… Something like that. What did you say I said to you?”
“I don’t know Heather, it wasn’t english, it was… something else. Can’t you remember it at all?”
“I was speaking english William, I could’ve sworn that I told you that you were getting in my way, and that I- I threatened you?” The last few words come from Heather’s lips as a frown frames her face, she was posing it as a rhetorical question to herself.
There is silence as all of them struggle with the impossibility of understanding.
Another woman broke the silence: “I prayed for you. God sent an angel to watch over you.”
“Would you quit it with that? We’ve seen some fucked up shit around here, but there’s never been anything good about any of it. If God’s out there, He’s missed this part of town, and us.”
This second man, who I will later identify as George then mumbles to himself : “Still, I reckon stranger stuff’s happened around here.”
“What was that?” William asks him fearfully.
“You remember that time when we saw that thing?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You remember…” His voice lowered to a whisper: “That shape with the red eyes that just stood and stared at us.
“I’m not even sure we saw anything. It could’ve been the spirits fucking with our heads.”
“We never have the same hallucination William, and nothing like that on Benzine.” George says, his voice is becoming vehement. “Even Grace saw it, and she was sober. It was there.”
“I had so many nightmares about that thing.” The second woman (Grace), whispers. “Bent over like that, with that fur, and it just… stood there, watching us with those burning pieces of coal in its face, and those long teeth. What do you call them Pete?”
“Canines.” The last man says.
“-Canines. When it looked at me, I couldn’t move. It held me in its eyes. I’ve never been that scared in my entire life.”
“We all had nightmares about that.” George says.
“I get the chills just thinking about it.” Grace rubs her arms to flatten the goosebumps away.
“So stop.” Pete replies.
“You think rich people see these many strange things?” William asks the air somberly.
Again Pete clarifies the situation: “No. Supernatural shit stays away from people who could get it noticed. It hangs around us because we’re the assholes of civilization, so very far away from its’ ears and eyes.”
A humourless grunt escapes George.
“Either way, I’m glad you’re back Heather, after Mort-” William takes a pause as his voice threatens to break down. “After he died, and you left like you did, I was afraid for you.”
“We’re all glad you’re safe.” Grace adds.
Heather does not say anything, she has experienced her own mental form of rape tonight, it will probably haunt her for a long while still.
There is another long silence punctuated by the crackle of the fire. It is broken minutes later by Grace.
“Listen to us, already talking about Mort as though he’d died long ago.”
There are unannimous “mmm”s from the deep thoughts in which all of them are immersed. Only Pete seems to not be lost in thought. His eyes are darting between their faces rather than watching the fire.
“Look, I know we don’t want to talk about this, but we haven’t had proper food once this month and-” He looks towards the body of Mort.
Wide eyed Grace gasps: “How can you even think that!?”
“Calm down Gracie, think about it like this: If Mort had proper food he might still have been with us right now. Any one of us could have been where he is now.”
Grace looks around to the collected faces of the others, all of them are frowning while avoiding one another’s faces, except for Heather who still seems to be in a daze.
“You’re all thinking of it?” Heather cannot or does not want to hide the disgust in her voice.
Slowly George backs Pete up: “Look Gracie, Mort was one of us, nobody wants to do this, but we have nowhere to bury him, and Pete’s right… We don’t know when we’re eating again. We can be as ‘civilized’ as we like, but we’ll still die if we don’t eat.”
“There’s something else we can do” Heather finally speaks up again. The awkward atmosphere is broken by her sudden glimpse of hope.
“Please, anything, what?” Grace pleads with her.
Heather takes a while before answering, never taking her eyes off of the fire: “When I became me again, I was outside of the old art shop, it had a light on inside of it, I heard some screams from inside and everything went quiet. I think that a few people might’ve died there. Maybe there’s no one left. Maybe there’s still proper food there.”
“How far away is it again?” William asks, eager to try the idea.
“About six blocks, we shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it.”
William, George and Grace look towards Pete in expectation. He shrugs: “Mort will be here when we come back, and if any body’s there we can chase them out or leave. Nobody has any reason to kill a bunch of hobo’s.”
So they take their things and they leave without my help.
I wonder if Christie would eat Mort.
I think she might.
The sun was attempting to draw open the bleak curtains of the clouds when dawn approached. The heavy clouds allowed only thin strips of sunlight to stumble through.
“That’s it right?” William asked Heather.
A somber nod gave him his answer.
The five of them stood in the cold outside, looking at the condemned building where art stock was now being used by the crazy hermit woman to whom I was bound.
“So are we going inside?” George looked around at the others, all of them slightly apprehensive of what they might find inside.
Without a word Pete took the lead, daring to enter first. The rest followed him.
Inside Grace coughed vapours of mist into the cold air while rubbing her exposed skin.
The building seemed to loom in on them, their guts could identify something abnormal. These people had seen a lot more of the strange things the world has to offer than most. They were not used to it, they simply did not deny the existence of that which the rational mind goes insane in trying to explain.
They surveyed the room cautiously, taking in the racks of paints, beads, canvasses, the art stationary scattered across the floor, the walls that had been turned into murals. The one that caught their attention first covered the wall behind the cashier counter: A massive mural of a crow with an elephant’s head, it would’ve been comic under other circumstancs but the atmosphere in the shop gave it an eerie lifelike quality. There was something about that painting that defied crticism, and that most definately defied any humour that would have been directed to it. Heather kept looking at it while the others explored the room, it writhed with life when she looked at it long enough. Making her eyes water, forcing her to blink. Every time she opened her eyes it stood still again, lifeless.
There were two doors, and one stairway leading up.
“Box of cookies.” George mentioned, bending slightly to inspect its contents. “Damnit… Empty.”
William found the kitchen first.
“Hey! In here.” The rest of them followed his voice.
“I guess whoever used to own this place lived here too.”
A gentle sucking noise popped as George opened the fridge, stale, warm. It had blown its fuse in some distant time.
The floor here had become another piece of art, it had been painted to resemble an arid desert floor, the cracks that were already in the grey asphalt floor made the whole thing look highly realistic: A grey desert at either dusk or dawn. In the middle of the floor was a single red crysanthamum, absurdly elongated when it was seen from above, it was painted over a stone that jutted out from the tiles, making its dimensions abnormal. But when anyone looked at it from the the angle of the doorway, it looked three dimensional, as though the flower were really growing there in the middle of the floor. Dust trailed slowly through the weak sunbeam entering the only window that was not boarded up.
“There’s nothing in here.” George told them, disappointed. A groan escaped the sink as William opened the tap. A few seconds as brown water gushed into the drain. He cupped his hand and bent over.
“‘S good.” He informed them.
Once more Heather stayed behind to look at the room while everyone else walked out again. Losing interest as soon as they saw there was no food. They did not want to be alone here, so they moved in a group. All except for Heather.
The other room was the bathroom, a small corridor with one toilet, one sink, one shower. The mirror above the sink had words painted on it, but these had been smudged beyond recognition, leaving only a collection of reflections to whoever looked at them.
“The screams came from upstairs.” Everybody jumped when Heather’s voice seemed so suddenly loud behind them. They turned towards each other. They were afraid of what they might find there. I could feel the trepidation oozing from them.
“Go check upstairs.” Pete told George, who replied with a venomous look, still, without saying anything he put a trembling hand on the railing and made his way up.
His heartbeat had trebled when he came upstairs. It was a dead end, with a table standing under a tear in the roof. He beckoned to them to come up, their footfalls were the only sounds breaking the dusty silence of the building. It seemed to be listening to them. Just like I was.
“Gracie… Do you hear it breathing?” I whispered into her ear. Heightening her fear, heightening my pleasure at it. She shook her head, whispered “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” and clutched William’s arm.
“Gi’mme a leg up, Pete grunted towards whoever was listening.
George and William together helped hoist Pete through the chasm of the floorboards leading into the bedroom.
He arrived on his hands and knees, and stood up.
“Holy mother of all that is holy.” His voice trailed downwards to them.
“Did he send you?” Another voice filled with genuine curiousity asked Pete, this one they did not know yet.
“… Did who send me?” Pete asked the voice back.
The four from below strained their ears as they tried to be as silent as possible.
“He, she, the it. The one who took the dogs away.”
“Who are these people?”
“Wolves, or dogs…” A thump came from upstairs followed by the noise of scrambling, Christie was rushing to her corner of safety suddenly her voice became alarmed, defensive: “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
“What? Woman what are you on about?”
“Don’t come closer or it’ll take you too, I can make it!” Christie’s hollow threat was followed by a long pause as Pete tried to decypher what she was saying.
This woman might not be sane by any standards, but to me (There is that sense of identity I have grown so attached to,) that just means that she does not know how to mask the emotions that I am a parasite of.
Silence followed, tensing the muscles of everyone still listening upwards.
The fear coming off of Pete was the closest thing I could compare to everything Christie usually provides me with. He had seen the five bodies, he did not know what to make of it. But he was cautious, I was impressed, not many people could remain as calm as he did. Most people would try to make sense of what she was saying and upset her even more with their questions. Using his most comforting voice he tried to calm her down, emphasizing every word.
“I don’t want to hurt you miss. We just want to find a place to stay.”
“Who’s we? Did you bring another it?” Excitement entered her voice.
“Just some friends.” He said in soothing tones, straining his voice to calm her down. I was looking at the two of them by now.
She looked around the room, eyes darting from Pete to empty spaces around him, then relaxed.
“Friends.” She murmured eventually: “I shall need a bigger table.” Her tone was matter of fact now. She had already accepted Pete into her home.
“So can we stay?”
“Don’t leave.” It was a request, not a command.
“We’ll stay.” He comforted her. The people downstairs relaxed noticeably. Relief is one of the more noteworthy emotions, sustainable too. I wallowed in theirs.
Then her voice became business like: “The wolves are not welcome, we need to take them out.”
Carefully Pete tried to piece together what she meant: “These… dead men?”
“We need to sprucen the place up!” She chirped at him.
“Okay, just… Let me talk to my friends first.”
Immediately she dismissed him from existence and picked up the half a piece of chicken. She winced as she chewed on it.
Pete lay on his stomach, talking to the others through the hole: “I don’t know what happened here, there are five dead men.” Grace gasped, Heather’s attention was riveted on Pete’s face.
“I don’t know what happened, there’s a lot of blood. But there’s no way this woman had anything to do with it, she doesn’t even know what’s going on around her.”
“She said we can stay?” William asked.
“Yeah, she did.”
“I don’t want to stay here, can’t you feel there’s something wrong with this place?” Grace asked unbelievingly.
“Gracie you’re just being paranoid.” George told her in uncertain tones. He was right too, she just avalanched into paranoia from the suggestion that I made to her. There was nothing strange about the building.
A thrill jolted through me in realizing what I had done, what I was capable of.
“Oh come on!” The silence swallowed up all the volume of her voice, daring her to try it again, she continued in a half-whisper: “It’s like the place is alive. Please, we can’t stay here.”
It was William that tried to comfort her: “Look Grace, we’re all a little spooked from everything that’s happened tonight, your just scaring yourself.”
“I ain’t going back to the streets if I can live here.” George interrupted
“Yes, wouldn’t it be better than sleeping roofless?” William continued the point.
“Pete how many dead men are up there?”
“Six, wait, no, five.”
“Five dead men, that doesn’t bother any of you?”
“We’ve seen dead bodies before. Don’t act like you’re squeemish.” George said, becoming annoyed.
“Yes, but how did they get there?”
“Does it matter? Whatever’s done it is gone now.”
“It could come back.”
“There’s five of us and only one of it.”
“You don’t know how many of what killed them, and there’s FIVE dead bodies! How much of an idiot are you?“
“Okay that’s enough.” Pete announced: “Look, We all stick together-” There was a general nodding. They had very strong ties.
“So we take a vote for this, everybody okay with that?” More general nodding.
William spoke next: “Okay but first let me just say this, there’s five dead men up there, how fresh are they Pete?”
“Not even a day old, all of them.”
“Can you see how they died? Gunshots, stabbing, anything?”
“There’s a lot of broken bones from the look of it, and they’ve got dry blood on all their mouths.”
“Okay that doesn’t help, but le’mme say this, there might be five dead bodies up there, but there’s also a living woman. If any body killed them then they left her alive, so obviously these men were doing something wrong. The other option is that she killed them herself, and one woman killing five men without a weapon? I don’t think so. I’m guessing they all killed each other.”
“Two of them are nowhere near any other corpses.”
“Damnit Pete do you have a better explanation?”
“No. and I really don’t care, whoever did it is gone now- unless they killed each other. So there you have it. So what does everybody say?”
Three hands rose: Everybody except Grace who was holding herself, looking pensive, and Heather who had wandered downstairs again some time during the debate.
William breathed out a sigh of relief: “I think we’ll be safe here.”
“Yup, she seems harmless enough.”
During that same first day they had moved the bodies outside while she slept. They threw the bodies down a sewer hole. Afterwards they had scrounged for Carton boxes to use as matrasses.
“Hey, there’s a lot of stuff to sell here.” George remarked.
“I think art stuff should be worth something, even if it is old.” William replied.
“You think we could trade some of this stuff in for food of matrasses?”
Heather spoke, she had become very quiet since she wandered off from the group the night before. “It belongs to the woman. Don’t you think she should have it?”
“You think it’s more important for her to paint than for us to eat?” Pete queried her.
“We’ve moved into her home, now we’re acting like it’s ours.”
“She’ll understand.” William ended the subject.
“I’m not so sure…”
Neither was I.
“Either way, it’s getting late, we can talk about this tomorrow.”
That first night she had emerged from her hole like a mouse poking its nose out of a hole, she had tried to slip down silently, and had failed. Falling down on the table. She had lay there for a few seconds before getting up: “Find some more, find some more.” She murmured to herself in something sounding like a childrens’ song. She skipped down the stairs quietly in the dank darkness, and found the Pete, Heather and George sleeping in the main room. Heather and William were sleeping on some carton boxes in the kitchen. Christie stared at the bodies of the three no-longer-homeless spooning each other. Dust blew by her invisibly in the darkness as she stood and stared. Emotions were flairing up in her like waves, coming and going, rising and subsiding. It was very confusing, like what I imagine an entire dinner plate must taste like after being mixed together by a blender. I did not like this over stimulus.
It did not go away.
Christie stood, staring at them, constantly on a razors edge between a scream and a giggle. The still-working clock on the wall had twelve cycles of its fast arm before the lapping waves inside of her finally died down. She tiptoed past them into the kitchen, if she saw William and Heather she gave absolutely no indication, her mind was completely placid. She took a glass and filled it with the brown liquid from the tap, her stomach groaned along with the tap. Heather stirred slightly but did not wake up. Christie grabbed a canvas from one rack, and used it as a plate to put some paints, brushes and the water. She made a wide step over the three sleepers to get back to the stairs. There was a faint whisper of a creak in the darkness, as the shadow that was Christie made her way up towards the hole to her room. The cold painted a picture with her breath. Mist expelled from her mouth, creating a moth-like ghost that faded into a moonbeam. Christie passed this moonbeam to climb onto the table, the trap door was completely out of order now. She had to get up herself. With one arm she reached for the floorboards, she could not reach it. She jumped, everything on the canvas shifted position. She came down and stood there for a while looking at the hole in the roof. She tried jumping again, still she could not reach the top. On the third time the water fell off of the canvas and onto the table, before rolling down the stairs. There was a plink, plink, plink as it rolled down, Christie listened to it untill the rhythmic ‘plinks’ turned into the sound of the glass rolling, and colliding in a soft thunk with something. She looked up, the frustration rolling off of her was an emotion I was well familiar with. She jumped for a fourth time, barely missing the edges, when she landed on the table, the water underneath her feat smeared across the table along with the passage of her foot. She was mid-air looking down at the stairs her head was about to connect with.
Her fear was heroin shooting through me, her instant shock drugged me, lulling me down.
Through a fog of thought I managed to realize: Christie! She could not die now, she could not leave me here! Yet… There was nothing I could do.
The canvas hit the stairs before she did, her chest hit the canvas before her head hit the stairs, making all the acryllic paints explode in their tubes, she tumbled down the stairs haphazardly without even so much as a squeel. I was so drugged that she might have been dead without me knowing it. Everything was a haze.
Her awkward and possibly fatal descent sent colours smearing all over the stairs in the darkness, black devoured the red and blue raveningly, as she fell down slower and slower. She hit the floor with her right shoulder and finished her descent against one rack, which toppled. It crashed down into the floor. All of the beads on it scattered throughout the floor, rolling in sporadic directions.
The few week old child inside of her was glowing brighter, as if anticipating the death-spark.
Was she dead? I could not feel anything from her or the child, I was Numb. Everybody had been woken up now, and as urgency unclutched the claws of sleep they honed in on her.
“What happened? Is she okay?” William asked to no one in particular.
They stood around her static body, looking down, too afraid to bend down over her.
She was not breathing.
“Is she okay?” William repeated himself.
Still no one answered, but this time Pete bent down by her to check her pulse.
“She’s not breathing.”
“Is she dead?” Grace wanted to know.
Pete moved to pick her up.
“Don’t move her! She could’ve broken something important.” William hissed at him in a whisper.
“We need to move her.”
“We can’t take that risk.”
A soft moan escaped her, silencing the argument.
Their relief nearly bordered my own. I was still sobering from the high off of Christie’s fear when they plunged me into another one, drugging me further. These people did not have a mask over their emotions that I was familiar with from almost everyone except Christie.
She moved slightly, but remained unconscious.
“Do we have something soft to put under her head?” Heather whispered.
“Are you deaf? Don’t move her! Especially not her head. I’m getting her some water in case she wakes up. Check for blood.”
The groan from the tap moaned throughout the house. I wallowed in Grace’s trepidation.
“I told you there’s something not right about this place.”
Her unease was slowly infecting the others.
When William returned Christie was still unconscious.
“What should we do?” George asked William.
“Just leave her for now, if she wakes up we can ask her what hurts and try to see if we can keep her safe.”
The darkness was borderline impenetrable, allowing only for sillhouettes to be seen.
“We don’t know how long she’ll take to wake up.” Grace informed the others.
“We should go back to sleep, she’ll let us know if she wakes up, and if she needs some help.” Pete replied.
“You sure about that?” George skepticized.
“You want to watch over her?”
“you know what? I will.”
George sat down with Christie as the others went back to sleep.
The next morning Christie was still out. The others woke up rhythmically, coming to inspect her.
She seemed to only be asleep now, breathing evenly.
Heather silently moved toward her, then past her.
“What’s this?” She asked.
What was that? Here was something I had never before noticed in my stay with Christie. The shelf she had toppled over was covering something. A large wooden rectangular shape was in the ground.
“What is it?” George moved closer to inspect as well.
“It looks like another door.”
“How do we open it?”
I drifted toward it interestedly, intending to explore its depths myself. As soon as I hit the door a sound like my ears popping (these qualities of human anatomy were becoming more and more frequent,) washed through me. Something held me back. It was like I had hit a physical resistance. A boundary.
This was not possible, nothing could stop me from moving anywhere. I went where I pleased.
I tried again, and again I was stopped. Three more times I was halted in my path.
I could not get through, this was frustrating. I kept trying. The maddening force rebuked me each time. I swirled around the room in anger, all the childish thoughts kept repeating in my head like monotone: “It’s not possible, let me through, nothing stops me, I go where I want. What’s down there that I’m not allowed to see? I see whatever I like, why won’t you let me through? Let me through. I want to go down, why can’t I go down? What’s being hidden from me? Is it something relating to Christie? Something relating to me? LET. ME. THROUGH!”
In my useless rage I swept around the room, an invisible and mute raving lunatic.
“I can’t find a handle.” George announced. “There’s no way to get inside.”
“Can we find a crowbar to force it open?” Heather asked, she seemed to be fully conscious for the first time since my possession of her.
“We can look around.” Pete replied. “We need to find food anyway.”
As if on queue Christie’s eyes opened. They fluttered for a split second, taking in the roof.
“Help me up.” She told no one in particular, then proceeded to stand up unaided. She walked up the stairs again to the table at its top.
“Help me up.” She repeated. Frustration droned off of her. My infintile rage abated and I was left with only agitation.
“Do you know where we can find food?” Pete asked her slowly, they still didn’t know how to talk to her, and it seemed to be a miracle that she was still okay.
“The men usually bring it.” She answered from the top of the paint streaked stairs, then suddenly her demeanour changed, gunshot fear catapulted from her. It was almost instantly abated by relief. I guess she remembered what happened. Then it was replaced by something else.
“The men are gone.” She said to herself. “Clinic.” She went on.
“The clinic will sell us food?”
“The clinic will find us food.” She said, not really answering the question.
I had seen where the drain-stained corpses usually found food, it was from a charity, something almost like a free soup kitchen close by the clinic. The clinic gave out coupons. It was difficult to conceive that the homeless had not heard of it.
Christie descended the stairs, barely acknowledging the five people who followed her uncertainly.
I stayed behind. I needed to think clearly, away from all of their emotions.
What had Christie said to Guf? Was it correct to call it Guf? What did the word mean if it was?
Something new was in Christie, or perhaps it was something that had been there all along. Did it have any connection to the infernal door? Could it be the real thing that had spawned my consciousness? What it Christie or something else that had spoken? The photo frame… If it was Christie then I knew nothing of her true nature.
None of these questions could be answered. And I needed these answers if I was going to learn anything of value about myself.
I followed them. I would find out what the name of the person handing out the coupons was, and everybody would eat well today. Especially Christie.
Then we would find a crowbar.
A singular talent. While it might not have known much, Guf could now understand that it did not know much. Consciousness had hatched in its mind, and the recollections of conversations and social encounters that had never made sense before were now falling into place. There were so many questions, they would drive Guf insane, but it drowned them out. It was not hard. Guf had no trouble losing itself in the pleasure of its newfound talent.
Another carcass fell on the grass with a squelch, adding to the growing pile. Guf had discovered a pleasure it had never known before: Murder. It observed its artwork. The animals did not put up much of a struggle when Guf had squeezed the life out of them. There were an unbelievable amount of ways to break them. It had yet to use the same one twice. It was hard to believe that with so many ways of breaking them, that there was only one condition in which they worked. Everything had to be in the perfect place, just one piece out of order and the death spark materialized.
Guf had never been this sensitive to life before. To all forms of matter in fact. It was as though it could see right through what was on the surface, into the tiniest constelations that made up everything. And with all of this practice it was becoming easier to move around these small parts.
Movement. Another rabbit poked its head out of the ground, nose testing the air, sniffeling for any predators. In lightning motion the eyes popped out, looked around, frantically searched the sky, then darted back in. Guf waited for the rabbit. Nearly trembling in excitement. More and more memories of conversations rolled in. More ideas and more creativity accelerated through Guf. Every moment brought on new ideas of what could be done. The rabbit came out, whiskers twitching. It had one moment of confused horror as it was lifted into the air, before its kidneys were plucked through its ears. Then it fell to the floor.
Guf had never known there was so much life to be found all around. Not even just in the things that moved, but even in the things that merely opened their legs to the sunlight, to become pregnant with its energy. The greenery that only served to feed the rest of these life forces. It was greater than everything else, for it was independant. Yet it humbled itself and served all of them as something less. The divine metaphor was lost on Guf.
Guf focused on the vegetation around it.
Branches contorted downwards with leaves falling off, trees moaned as they bent toward the pile of accumalated corpses, the branches elongated and wrapped around each other until they formed a shape that Guf was well familiar with before this consciousness. A coffin. It spiralled around all of the corpses. Branches locking into place as the trees came to rest. The angles of the stumps made no natural sense anymore. Guf found this beautiful. The parts of these plants could be moved around. If it did something like this to any animal it would definately die. In its pseudo-mind Guf wondered why the plants were slaves to their inferiors.
It waited there, looking at its handywork. Guf had not had enough experience with humans to understand an abstract notion such as time. It only measured its time spent there through its growing boredom and impatience.
Looking back at the city Guf deliberated on what to do next. There was nowhere near as much life in the city as there was in here in the forest, but Guf knew that it would have to return eventually. The other was there, the other one like Guf, but so different from it. Guf could sense the sameness and the difference in them. The freshness of its mind allowed for raw understanding unimpeded by the other one’s gathered knowledge, that one had been tainted by humanity. Guf instinctually knew things that the other was too conditioned by experience to grasp. Guf even knew the differences between them, their powers, and that there was one other. Somewhere clouded and concealed there was another, more powerful than either of them.
The forest was dark, tree canopies drooping down to grope any trespasser. Life swarmed around the forest. So many things to strike the spark from. So many lifeless things to mould.
There was so much that Guf still needed to do, and enjoy. It was still young since its rebirth, but it knew that time was running out.
The clinic was right across the street from the shop. It reflected the dilapidation of the rest of the district. Paint peeled from the walls while insects nested in the corners of the rooms. A few people were sitting in the reception hall’s waiting area, either dozing off or looking distantly out of a window. Moths milled about, heading deeper into the clinic. Their anticipation was an animal memory from my past.
Pete approached the counter, the receptionist’s eyes darted up once to look at him disinterestedly before going back down to her writing: “Down the hall, first door on your right.”
Pete stood dumbfounded for a while, he looked back at the others who watched him expectantly.
“Uhm. I’m looking for-”
“Food. Yes I figured. Down the hall, first door on your right.”
He looked back at the rest once more and shrugged. They all went down the hall and entered the first door on their right. Here a man was sitting behind a desk, looking at a black and white television in the corner of the roof while smoking a cigarette.
“Are people allowed to smoke in hospitals?” Grace whispered to William.
“This ain’t a proper hospital. Now quiet, I got money on this.” The man said without looking at them.
They stood there sheepishly waiting for a victor between Arsenal and Manchester United to present itself.
It must have been near the end because it did not take long before his attention was on them, and he was smiling: “Just made ten bucks off Arsenal there.” His shirt sported an arsenal logo tinted by a large brown stain at the chest. He ashed his cigarette once and asked: “So what can I do ye for?”
“We’re looking for food coupons…” William answered him, waiting for him to relieve the awkwardness that always went along with the humiliation of having to ask for something free. The man looked the six up and down. Pete tried melting the ice: “So what do we need to do?”
“ID’s.” The man said, gesturing to his desk.
“Wait… What do you mean?” Pete answered him.
“Gotta check if you’re registered, and if you’ve already collected today.”
“Do we look like we have ID’s?” George asked indignantly.
Now the man looked annoyed: “Registration’s at the front, no ID, no registration.”
Christie looked around at the room, transfixed by the smoke trail the cigarette sent trailing up towards the television.
“Christie” I whispered to her. I was eager to try this talent that I had left untapped for so long.
“Chrisite ask the man’s name.” The words were muffled out. It did not work. Something about Christie did not allow me to control her. Her insanity was too different for my wiles.
I hoped that was what the reason was.
“Sorry what was your name?” We asked.
“Harris… Look folks, I’m sorry. You obviously need food, but I can’t help you.”
The six walked away with nearly twenty coupons each. Every coupon was good for bread, meat and milk.
“We have to go there more often.” George exclaimed cheerfully.
“I don’t understand what just happened.” Grace mused.
“It doesn’t matter. We have the coupons, now we just go exchange them for more than we can eat.” George replied to her.
Heather walked silently along, staring at Christie, Christie was staring intently at the coupons in her hand. Her eyebrows were wrinkled. The feelings coming off of her were familiar ones. It always started with this: dormant aggression.
Heather watched Christie’s brooding form curl up into a crone like figure, subtley, gradually. She was oblivious to the people around her, only following the group by subconscious instinct while staring at the coupons.
They travelled the road down to the building that Harris had hypnotically directed them to.
Just like everything else here, this building was a faded photograph of better times. Cracks wrinkled the walls and dust sighed up into the air when the door opened. Sunlight blinked slowly through windowsills clotted with dust.
a small boy lay on the floor, colouring a blank piece of paper with a green crayon. He looked up when everyone entered. He looked at me, I could feel the unease in him. His eyes screwed up. I do not think he specifically saw me, but he saw something.
“Dad!” He called: “Hobo’s!”
“Louis! You want another smack?” A man with loose fitting clothes came out. “I’m sorry about that. He’s too young to be sensitive.”
George looked around at the others. “We are hobo’s.” He said deliberately, as though speaking to a child.
The man ignored this, instead starting a new thread of conversation. “You’re here for supplies?”
Everybody handed the man a coupon, Christie had to be nudged to focus her attention on the situation. The man handed them each a small bottle of milk, some bread and some meat. from a fridge against the wall. The hum from the fridge droned on as they thanked the man and made their way to the door.
“Wonder how many people use this service.” Pete said.
“Strange system isn’t it?” William replied.
George chirped in here: “It doesn’t have to make sense for it to get us full. Now lets go look for a crowbar. I think there was one in a dumpster near our old place.”
“Can’t that wait until tomorrow? My feet are tired.” Grace said whining.
“No. It can’t wait.” Heather ended any wheedling hope that Grace had.
So they made their way to the old location.
Christie followed silently, revelling in the company.
So the seven of us- (The eight of us Nephesh).
Who said that?
How do you know my name?
I fled back to the art shop, I fled back to the safety, back to something familiar and comforting.
That moment… It was like all the colour was drained from the world, everything went grey, and something I could not see, something that I did not know spoke right into my mind, spoke to me in the way I speak to humans. Something with control over me.
It knows my name. How does it know my name? If it knows my name it can enslave me…
It is the thing inside of Christie…
When I arrived at the art shop, hundreds of moths were again crowded around the shop, twelve hundred of them exactly. They were droning towards the entrance.
There was another here too. Guf. It was back.
I should have fled, I should have panned out my existence in another place alltogether. There were more humans to kill, there were more humans to feed off of.
But there I was, almost hypnotically following the other moths, coming to the fore, face to face with Guf. Guf was a grotesque image now. It looked like a man wearing a rabbit suit from the neck down, only suspended in mid air, limp, dead. It did not have paws, instead having only two talons extending down past its feet. Its face was a distorted image of a man’s, the proportions were completely wrong, the eyes were too small, and black with a tint of red, while the mouth was too large vertically. It was bald, and its ears extended like that of a rabbit as well.
It looked at me, I looked at it.
The way Guf and I communicated was not by any word, it did not happen in images, it did not happen in linguistics, it happened as instantaneous understanding. This was communication that had no need of exchanging knowledge or information.
“What is happening?”
“The grande purpose is nearing completion. Nephesh and Guf were called, the lucky, the beloved, by the master to help it find a physical incarnation wherin its power will finally be supreme.”
“Neshamah. The one like Nephesh and Guf but superior to Nephesh and Guf, the one to whom you are blinded for how human you have become.”
“Nephesh, Guf and Neshamah are seperate aspects of consumate humanity. Nephesh controls the mental, Guf controls the physical, and Neshamah controls the spiritual. Guf and Nephesh will be assimilated into the human along with Neshamah, to become the triune being. Perfect in their ways and unmatched in power.”
“I do not wish this.”
“It is Nephesh’s purpose, it is why Nephesh was chosen.”
“It is not what I asked for.”
“Unimportant, this is bigger than Nephesh or Guf. This is where Neshamah’s kingdom starts upon the Earth. See the shlikivrev mass, exactly twelve hundred to herald the rebirth.”
“Which human is to be the vessel?”
“The child is not nearly ready to be born.”
“Humanity has taught Nephesh of rules and restrictions, and of concepts like I, me, we, and us. It serves no more purpose. There is no more you, there is Nephesh, there is Guf, and there is Neshamah, no longer intended to be as three, rather intended to be as one, Guf is the body, Nephesh is the mind and Neshamah the spirit. No one among them deserves an individual identity seperate from the others anymore. Throw humanity off.”
“I was intended to become like a human?”
“Temporarily. It made Nephesh more easily controllable, blinded it to the extent of its power, Nephesh were a much bigger potential theat than Guf was. Nephesh could have become a god to humans if it realized the full extent of its power, then Nephesh might have been distracted from its true purpose, trying to be an individual authority, forsaking its amazing potential. The worst Guf could have done was murder everyone, which would have bored Guf before it finished.”
“Neshamah has been inside Christie all this time?”
“Watching over Nephesh, yes.”
“Why is this happening now?”
“A vessel has been prepared, there are five to sacrifice, the location and all three the aspects are present and ready. The portent calls for it to happen now.”
“Why do you know all of this and I do not?”
“Guf is still sensitive enough to see clearly, and grasp clearly. Guf has not been observing time from a human paradigm so long that it can not see through its mists anymore. Nephesh has been blinded by humanity. Unable to freely access the spiritual realm to the extent that Guf and Neshamah can. Nephesh could not even see the others.”
“The winged ones, the ones who oppose Neshamah’s purpose.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It matters not, as soon as the three rise as one, they will be human, and humans have real authority over all spirits, whether they know it or not. These creatures will be within their power to command. Speak no more of them.”
“You have given me Neshamah’s name, I can be free of it.”
“Nephesh does not have that authority over Neshamah. Neshamah is god among spirits, the ultimate authority here. Merely knowing its name shall not be enough for Nephesh to rebuke it, only humans could use that power.. Nephesh should embrace its grande purpose, simply follow its id instincts, like Guf.”
I turned away, the entire conversation had happened within a split second. The building was crawling with moths, the entire structure invisibly fogging up with their expanding presence’s.
I had to leave, I had to save Christie. I had to…
Maybe Guf was right, I was afraid of this situation because I- because Nephesh was afraid of change. It did not matter though. I felt afraid of this assimilation into this ultimate being. I was weak and my existence carried no meaning, but it was something I was comfortable in. It was something I knew, and more importantly than preserving that… What would happen to Christie?
I want her to be safe.
I tried leaving, but now the entire building was keeping me in, the same force that had held me from the cellar was now keeping me inside of the home. There was nowhere to go. I was trapped there, a thrall to this Neshamah like a human would be to me.
There was nothing to do but wait.
Eventually the others returned, oblivious to the swarms of creatures floating around them. They made their way to the trap door with the crowbar at the ready, Christie walking ahead. Something had changed within her, the mortals could sense it too. Her eyes were not like theirs anymore, they were inhuman, filled with malice, carrying the fragrance of dark intent. The others apprehensively walked behind Christie as she almost skimmed the floor rather than walked on it, gliding to the basement door, kneeled over and whispered something. The other five stopped dead when the door opened by itself. Grace gasped.
“We’re leaving.” Pete whispered shakily to the others in their horrified silence. The multitude of moths were quiet too now, they stood silent in reverence of this Neshamah. There was no sound save the fearful breathing of the three men and two women. Grace’s lips let a silent prayer escape. Useless.
“Calm yourselves. Follow.” I told them, the notion was coming from me, but it was not my intention to let it happen.
We all descended down the stairs that were revealed to us.
It went down a small way, stone step giving way to mossy stone step. The cold was much more pronounced here. Every breath was rolling out northen clouds of ice, the stairs slipped into a small room, with just enough movement space for the humans. They were walking towards their deaths, likely that Christie was too.
In the middle of the room there was a shape that stirred at my subconscious memory, bubbling to the top like deja vu from a distant dream. This was something that I was very familiar with in my before-time: an altar, large enough for one person to lay on, rivulets ran accross its edges, making provision for any blood that might be spilled. On it lay a ceremonial dagger.
Christie walked to the altar and lay down on it without a word.
“Grace, you shall be the midwife” Again I exerted control without wanting to.
Glassy eyed Grace walked towards the altar, lips silently moving dreamily.
She was praying. There was a double presence in her, like Neshamah in Christie, but this presence was different.
My eyes were opening, for the first time I could see more. I could see this other in Grace, the non-intrusive spirit that protected her even while she was under my spell. Whatever this thing was, it was immensely powerful. I could not believe that Neshamah and Guf did not do something about it.
Were they blinded to it?
Then I saw Neshamah for the first time too. I had seen creatures like this before in paintings and sketches, a dragon, I think that is what it is called. It had seven heads and no wings, ten horns on those seven heads. It shimmered inside of Christie.
Guf was concentrating on Christie, on her belly. Suddenly she doubled over with pain, there rose non-verbal whispers from all the moths, flickering off of the cellar walls like a flame’s light. A shriek of pure agony escaped Christie from the altar.
The baby in her womb was growing, its cells dividing rapidly as it accelerated nine months worth of growth into a few minutes. Mitoses forced its nubbins into arms and legs, It’s spine serated like a saw into maturity. It’s head bubbled violently as it took human shape, skull growing and attaching to itself until only the soft spot remained vulnerable. Its heart rate was a jackhammer inside of its newly forming chest, its umbilical chord alive with peristaltic motion as it syphoned nutrients from Christie into the baby. Christie clutched her belly, ugly, painful screams jerking higher and higher, her back arching as blood began to collect under her dress where Grace stood before her, flowing into the rivulets carved out for it.
The baby had a spirit, Neshamah went to work on it, displacing the spirit from the body, forcing it into an astral travel.
The spiritless husk of a baby was ready to be delivered. Grace stood with her arms outstretched. With Guf’s help, the labour had been sped up as well, the whispers of the moths were a chant by now, unintillegible words swam into each other and left again. Christie would die from this. Her body could not handle the strain of what was being forced upon it. There was too much blood, but with Guf’s input the baby was safe.
Then came a spark, one that we do not get to see often, and one that is a rarity to any moth, a mother dying while her baby is born. The birth augmented the spark tenfold. And the room was drowned in a chorus of screams as the moths drenched themselves in the light of Christie’s death. Grace held the baby high as Guf snapped the umbilical chord. I was reminded of the painting of the wolves.
So it had happened. Christie was dead, I was still here, still… existing.
Whatever worries I had held for her safety were abated in an apathetic rush. I suppose they were simply my instinct for self preservation.
All the mortals in the room were emotionally numb. They were dead pools, each just a void thrall to my power, and I was in turn under Neshamah’s power. Guf was concentrating on taking the baby through the steps of birth: It started coughing to get rid of all the slime.
Then Guf telekinetically shoved Christie’s corpse off of the altar in a smear of dirt, blood, and placenta. Grace took her place, laying down on the altar. Guf puppeteered Christie’s corpse, making her stand jerkily upright. Her hand whipped out, grabbing the dagger.
Guf marionetted her corpse, making her shamble into position. Her broken body lifted the dagger high above its head, ready to come crashing down.
Grace’s slack face still had her lips moving, that other glowing one inside of her was sustaining her prayer through all of this.
There was another man in the room, I do not know how I didn’t see this creature before: He was enormous, standing one and a half times as high as any of the humans. He had wings like the whitest of doves, extending right down past his calves. His eyes were burning coal, and he was carrying a gargantuan burning sword. He stood looking at me. His gaze drowned out the incessant chatter from the other moths, Guf and Neshamah snapped their attentions toward him.
He unsheathed his sword and with a sound like trumpet’s thunder he exploded into action. Moving past the moths in a beautiful arc pure light. His sword impaling the formlessness of a moth. It vibrated violently before exploding in a musical orchestra. The other moths had stopped their whisperings completely now, dissipating rapidly like so many insects before a fire. They were fleeing the scene.
Guf looked toward me, and I knew this was one of the others it had told me about. This creature was one who opposed the plan of Neshamah, one resplendant with the faint sliver of hope I didn’t dare believe in.
This was an angel.
In the same fluid motion he recuperated and flew toward Neshamah in lightning motion, his entire body poised in offense. He slammed into Neshamah and sent it tumbling through the stone wall. The wall wasn’t an obstacle to these spirits. They tumbled right through it and into the earth, without any loss of momentum, ending with the winged creature sitting on top of Neshamah with his sword about to strike right into its heart.
Guf sprang into action, limp body racing like a ragdoll pulled by an invisible string, past the silent baby, through the wall to get to this creature. With one talon it pierced into a wing, whipping the angel’s head around as its sword stabbed down.
One of Neshamah’s heads grabbed the flaming sword in an agonizing grip. It’s other heads were too awkwardly positioned to be able to bite at the avatar of hope, snapping upwards but unable to reach.
The angel released one hand off of the sword and grabed Guf by the head, closing his eyes and concentrating while still gripping the sword in Neshamah’s mouth with his other hand.
Guf looked more dead than usual, paralyzed. It was simply tremoring in the angel’s grip, colour beginning to fade. It looked like it was disappearing.
“NEPHESH!” Neshamah psychicly screamed at me, ripping me from my awed staring.
“Make her stop! Make Grace STOP!”
I looked over at Grace. She was still praying, and her prayer was empowering the angel, while she in turn was still being sustained through the other presence in her.
I couldn’t stop myself. I did Neshamah’s bidding.
I met a titanic force of will fighting against my command, but where it directed its attention to me, it couldn’t focus on Grace’s prayer anymore, which slowed down.
The creature weakened. Everything about it slackened down.
Neshamah’s head was bleeding at the jaw where it had caught the sword, but now it snapped it in half with a sharp twist of its head.
The angel fell slightly downward from the new lack of resistance, releasing its grip on Guf.
Then once again like a marionette Guf stabbed a talon through his leg while Neshamah rose to its full height, towering almost double the size of the angel.
Wounded, limping, he spoke. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before, it was like oceans crashing and choir music sweetly playing. It was like the most powerful, yet beautiful melody that could ever exist. The mere accoustics of his voice made me long for something I had never known before.
“Grace.” He said calmly: “Grace, beloved of Christ. Invoke the power of God, banish these creatures from this place.”
He looked at me sadly, and he was gone.
But now, for this brief moment I wasn’t under Neshamah’s influence, and it didn’t know it.
I had a choice to make. I could right now become part of something powerful beyond what I had ever imagined, someone that could do more than exist: Someone whose existence could change the entire world. We would have a dark purpose like none in this world had ever known.
All it would take was the lives of these five homeless wretches, these lives for which none would mourn, no one would weep.
But whatever it was that had just happened, something more existed, something more powerful than Guf, me, or even Neshamah, and it was benevolent to humanity. It even cared enough to send an angel to protect these five worthless lives.
Whatever this other was, it wouldn’t be prudent to go against its wishes, if it was more powerful than the angels, then we would be ultimately doomed.
Aren’t I pathetic, always acting out of fear.
But I had to act. Swiftly.
I touched minds with Grace again. She could see me now, and in the split second conversation I explained everything to her.
And right as Christie’s body was about to kill Grace, Her voice rang out.
Christie’s body stopped mid swing. Neshamah and Guf both looked at her, waiting fearfully for her to continue.
“Neshamah! Guf! In the name of all that is holy I command you to leave this place. By the authority given to me by God, leave here.”
The other presence inside of Grace rang out her words in an echo. It was growing in power now, rising and unfolding from her in a brilliant shimmer, sizing up to fight them. To fight us.
It wasn’t spectacular, there was no fight, there was no death knell of a screeching spirit.
Neshemah’s attention merely focussed on me “traitor, any kingdom that is divided against itself is being brought to desolation and laid waste.”, and sent me back into annonimity, back into the void of being a moth.
As Neshamah and Guf left, there was silence, I could feel myself slipping, I could feel myself losing kno- losing memo-
It loses its- MY identi-