A bit late with this entry, my apologies. I hope I deliver with this conclusion.
“As a breath on glass, -
As witch-fires that burn,
The gods and monsters pass,
Are dust, and return.
(“The Face of the Skies”)”
The Thirst of Satan:Poems of Fantasy and Terror
“I think I brought memory to life. Did I Neil? Could I?…”
As I stood before my door Tom’s words came back to me and I asked myself what he meant.
“Did you Tom do something horrible in the past that came back to haunt you today? Could you have done something bad?”
I cursed me for doubting my friend.
My hand hesitated on the door lock. I turned to watch the lights of the departing cab with a tinge of disappointed. I wished I had stayed in it. Maybe tell the driver to keep on driving around town until the dawn comes and saves me from the questions solitude and darkness tend to evoke in one’s mind.
I didn’t feel like being home tonight. Not alone.
I sighed and opened the door.
The lights, as I switched them on, welcomed me with a vague, nonchalant gleam.
I prepared myself a quick dinner – macaroni and cheese with tomatoes – and watched the news, only for the voices to keep me company and distract me from the ones in my own head.
A young blond reporter spoke of a chain accident on the interstate. Five people were dead and a dozen injured. She looked frightened as if her life was the one depending on good Faith.
I turned the TV off and stared at my face in the black screen. Was that fear written on me as well? Fear of what I saw back at Tom’s apartment?
Once more my thoughts were taken back to the filthy living room turned into a studio and the paintings aligned staring at me.
I wondered what imagination dreams of such horrid creatures? What sort of agony makes the artist reach so deep in his soul, in that part which is unknown and foreign to him?
I had to know.
“How can I help you Tom when you told me I couldn’t understand. Why is that? For what am I so blind?”
I rubbed my eyes and poured myself a large glass of golden liquid. Even after a few drinks no answers showed to solve my mystery and cease my worries.
I decided sleep may be my remedy.
I went asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow and no longer after that a dream came to me, one that left me moaning and twisting in the bed; a poor mess of sweat and sheets.
I didn’t see myself present in it, but it felt as if I was the host, my body, soul and mind combined to offer a field for the events developing. I felt utterly exposed to some invisible invasion from outside, a fearful breeze of rotten nightmares.
The scenery was bleak and confusing but it reminded me of the cover of a book I used to own as a child. But the golden crops, the morning sky were different– they painted themselves in dark rusty-brown, before the sky cracked and only blackness was left, so vast and loathing it raised my curiosity of what lies beyond.
I remembered there were children painted too, playing and laughing but instead of them something else was celebrating under distant sounds of drums and horns.
A creature of scales and claws, multiple eyes, tongues and limbs descended from the blackness, towering above all and with an echoing roar of its billion mouths it shattered grotesquely and collapsed into monsters that scattered and possessed each piece of the dying ground; the spawns danced with rhythmic moves, but all I could see was a savage ritual of grunts and roars; the nameless ones caught in a symbolic moment of fierce copulation; a collision of bodies furry, wet and muscular. Some, I observed from my nowhere position, carried human parts and with disgust I had to watch as their sharp tongues lick thirstily the dripping blood and their mouths bite, tore and swallow down large pieces of red flesh.
This was a feast upon humanity. A celebration of prevail and conquer. It smelled like defeat, like losing all hope and I felt even greater fear emerging from each direction, cloaking the dream, the inhabitants, the revelations.
My childhood nightmares were there before me, but somehow altered, changed. More vulgar and shameless, more brutal and willing to kill my vision and memory of how monsters were supposed to look. Those were…
“No, monsters aren’t real. This is just a dream” spoke Tom’s voice but I knew it was I who thought so.
But these spoken in the subconscious words disappeared with the increasing throbbing of the drums. The melody so ancient and ethnic called me to come forward; an invitation of the sort you don’t simply turn down even if your whole being is trembling with fear. I felt myself do as told, and I tried to suppress the urge to touch skins, horns, furs and prove them real, proclaim them living and breathing and here. I hesitate…do I want to?
They are not real. I know that. They can’t be.
I push myself away; a far and rapid withdraw from this degeneration of the soul.
I woke up weak and destroyed from the dream. My head pounded with pain.
I didn’t enjoy this demented reflection of yesterday’s events, mostly because there were shadows which I didn’t see but felt. The art in Tom’s paintings had crawled into my sleep and hid underneath my pillow to invade my dreams and observe just as me.
Observe what? Me?
I reminded myself again it was simply a nightmare. Fiction of the mind.
Then what was that feeling of doubt nesting low in my belly making me uncomfortable?
Had I gone mad even for a second to believe monsters are real? To believe that those portraying Tom’s sickness are stalking me in my dreams and insist I participate from aside in a spectacle of horror?
God, I sounded like I do.
“Remember you believe in something once you’ve seen it and touched it” told me Tom’s whispering voice.
- Hold on Tom, I’m coming.
I dressed and called a cab.
With a few begs my Arabic guide of city streets and ugly alleys drove faster and kept silent.
I decided on any cost to get Tom out of his place and buy us a plane ticket to Mexico or somewhere further.
Up ahead there was a construction site and the street was closed by large orange signs. My impatience overpowered me; I paid and jumped out of the car to run the last two blocks.
I dashed between faces and grimaces without my eyes registering any gender, age or race.
All I could think of were those monsters closing their rope of insanity around Tom’s neck.
When I got there a large crowd had gathered outside the entrance of the building. I spotted an ambulance and two police cars.
The officers were just starting to close the perimeter circling it with the “Cautious” yellow tape.
I maneuvered myself deeper into the whispering and gasping audience.
I needed to get to Tom’s apartment.
- Excuse me? I need to get to apartment 8, Tomas Byrnes lives there, he is a friend of mine. I was supposed to meet him today. Could you let me pass?
The officer which I had just spoken to opened and closed his mouth, seemingly experiencing difficulty to offer me an answer.
- I’m sorry sir. I’m afraid that will be impossible.
- It’s very important officer. Can’t we arrange something?
- I don’t think you understood me sir. Mr. Byrnes was found dead in his apartment an hour ago. My condolences on your loss.
- Oh… – was all I could say, and then I mumbled – thank you.
Perhaps I had heard him the first time but was too shocked to realize.
I turned and walked away without feeling my feet touch the ground.
The monsters had won. They had found out I wanted to save Tom and had taken him away from me. They mocked me in my dream and showed me what future awaits those who deny belief in something so obviously real. I didn’t acknowledge them and they punished me by provoking my friend to implant their vision in me and make me question their authenticity.
“Oh Tom, please forgive me for running away. I was so scared and foolish.”
The people walking past me game me curious looks at my motionless figure. I looked in their eyes to seek some recognition, some response or understanding.
But they didn’t know of the storm in my soul and the guilt in my heart. They didn’t understand the fear in my mind and couldn’t explain the tears running down my cheeks.
But I knew what I’ve done.
“I can feel it. I have let the monsters in”