He couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t understand what his eyes were seeing. The mass continues to spin in front of him, flesh layering over flesh and teeth scraping across puss-filled wounds, smearing the awful liquid across itself. Once he thought he saw an arm poking out, but it quickly twisted and cracked to turn in to a head, then it split open and became a claw, then it melted into a tentacle and then it disappeared back beneath the congregation of organs that continue to spin around itself like a hungry dog looking for its tail.
For a moment he thought he went mad and what he was seeing is nothing more than the disillusioned ramblings of his cracked mind trying to make sense of a view that should not be viewed. Surely such a thing couldn’t exist.
But it exists.
And he stands before it as naked as a snowflake above a crackling fire, he of soft and smooth of tissue in front of a mouth of burning flesh. He tried to remember how he got here but nothing of such reaches him, and in the moments of his mental clarity he tries to convince himself that this is nothing more than a dream, a foul and horrid dream from which he will wake up.
And once he does, he will be back at his apartment, in his bed, his young daughter clutching on to her wooden bird toy and wrapped around his arms, her misshapen blonde hair tickling his nose and the morning sunshine poking through the blinds. He would get up and prepare himself for the day before going back and waking the little rascal up who, despite her usual protests and mumbling, also gets ready for the day. Yes, he will wake up and return to his home, to his routine.
But no such freedom comes, and the longer he witnesses the deeper his dread flows.
A single eye pokes out from the mass, a putrid thing of vile green and eyelids of jagged teeth. It lifts high on a thin thorny tendril to observe its surroundings as if it’s seeing for the first time. It dips down to look at him, and the man feels many things swirling in his mind, like madness crashing against a defiant soundness.
The eye, just like all, lasts short and as quickly as it formed it cracks back down to a pull that can only be described as a hunger for unity. Despite all the warring on its surface, the mass continues to maintain its round dominion.
He allows his eyes to tear from the mass and scour the area around, hoping to find a clue as to where he is and why. He sees structures surrounding him, the corners are sharp, the pillars are tall, and everything coated in a thin layer of black. The sky seems like an endless painting of twisting bodies and soundless gaping mouths, a canvas of torture displayed for all to see.
All to see.
He looks behind him and finally takes notice of the others. As vast as the restless sky, they stand behind him bellow the steps. All naked and bare as him, holding wooden birds in their hands. His mind wanders to the meaning of this place, to why he is here and why do they all have his daughter’s wooden bird.
But before his mind wanders further, he hears a voice, a thin shrill of a whisper clawing across his nerves. He feels his skin crawl, he feels nauseous at its intrusion, and that feeling only heightens as he hears its words:
He whips his head back to gaze at the mass of flesh once more, and what he sees sends a jolt down his spine. A face stares at him, it fights against the constant pull of the mass, the features twisting in a cruel manner but in the moments of stillness, in the moments of rest, when the face is its own and not of the mass, the recognizes his own daughter staring back at him.
“W-what?” He hushed out, gulping down the lump in his throat. The dread flows deeper.
“Murderer!” She yells out with a voice of a thousand tortured screams.
He takes a step back, his eyes wide, his heart bursting with fear “N-no no, I haven’t murdered anyone! Where am I? What are you?!”
The face shifts, as restless as the mass that it rests upon. It’s features crack, it’s mouth sinks, and now the face of his own mother stares at him.
“Vile of soul, doomed of mind. You dare ignore your own design!?”
“Design? Look, I have no idea what you’re talking about…so just…how do I leave?” He glances behind him, the others as still as corpses, their heads hanged low, their ranks dense.
“Wickedness cannot leave”
“I have done nothing wicked!”
He pauses, his mind rambling with thoughts, his heart sinking in the rising sea of dread. “I…don’t belong here” His breath hitches on the back of his throat, his body shivering with the cold sweat that now bathes his skin. Whatever this is, it is not part of him. And with that conviction he turns around and runs, plunging himself in to the others bellow the steps. He threw himself in to a sea of bodies.
So why is he sinking in blood?
He hears his own heart thumping in his ears as panic engulfs him. He quickly flails his limbs to try and swim out, but the more the struggles the deeper he sinks.
Warmth, he feels warmth cradling him like a mother’s embrace. A taste of copper on the tip of his tongue and stickiness clinging to his fingers. A knife finds its way into his hand, and he cuts with it, but he doesn’t cut the blood that surrounds him, it is flesh that meets his blade. As his eyes blink in realization, he finds his breath lacking, his nerves shaking, his mind returning.
His feet find solid ground and he stands in the middle of a street, his right hand holds the knife, soaked in warmth. A body beneath him sleeps eternally, the flesh mangled and open. He stares at it and finds himself, his younger self clutching on to a wooden bird. Eyes that were once soft now reflect stone, and lips that once smiled are now crooked and riled.
“I remember you” He bends down and grabs on to the wooden bird, prying it away from cold hands. In his youth he loved birds, he loved to watch them, to listen to them and cherish their freedom of flight. He wanted to become an ornithologist, so his mother bought him a wooden bird to keep him company, to cheer him on and encourage him to follow his dreams. Birds were the joy of his life.
His teeth clench and he throw the bird away, dropping on his knees he continues to carve at the flesh bellow him with reckless abandon.
For he hates his younger self, he hates the dreams he had, he hates the world he lived, he hates the joy he had, and the love he got. That world now is nothing more than cruel memories that pierce him just as the knife pierces the flesh. He will never be what he wanted. He will never have what he wanted. With every cut he murders his ambitions, he murders his desires, only in their slaughter will he finally find peace.
Perhaps it is it better if desire dies in youth, then to turn miserable in old age.
Before his mind catches up with his eyes, a scream rips through and he snaps his head to look behind. A crowd of people have gathered, all standing still and horrified, and as endless as the sky. He looks down and no longer sees his younger self…but his own daughter, mangled and open, holding on to a wooden bird.
His wickedness is displayed for all to see.
All to see.
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