The Silence & The Howl | Part 17

§.17


They descended the stairs as thunder ranged beyond the ambit of the creaking tumbledown. Lyla wanted to watch a movie. Inquiries concerning the cinematic acumen of all present were made, with Andy judged most-knowledgeable, they settled into the massive, tattered and musty couch as their host plopped in a old VHS titled ‘Fractured Mirror.’ The story revolved around a down-on-his luck writer, well past his prime, whose wife had cheated on him with his publicist. The film charted his slow and painful mental deterioration and eventual self-reformation through murderer. Purity through violence.

As the writer bludgeoned his former lover to death with a shovel, Bluebird recoil and buried her head in Harmon’s chest.

“Too much for you?”

“Its my head. You know how sensitive I am with this kind of stuff.”

Lyla was prone to headaches and enjoyed playing up the fact. Harmon had long-induced she thought it cute and quirky. It proved, more often than not, merely affected and annoying.

He said nothing.

“Damn.” Muttered Marla, here eyes wide, fixed to the screen.

Andy chortled and downed some of his beer. After the murder scene the protagonist looked directly into the camera as an eerie cue played. Cut to black. Credits.

“Whadidya think?” Andy inquired, lighting up a cigarette.

“I thought it was really good.” Marla affirmed with a smile, stroking Andy’s arm and squeaking a, “You’ve such good taste in movies, babe.”

Andy smiled and turned to his others guests expectantly.

“Well whats the verdict?”

“I didn’t really care for it. I didn’t think it was going to be so violent.”

Andy rolled his eyes then looked to Harmon whose faraway eyes were fixed upon a small insect on the ceiling.

“She got what she deserved.”

“But they were in love!” Lyla protested.

“‘Were’ is the operative word.”

She looked up into his face and was greeted only with impassivity and resolve. She slowly shifted off of him and asked Andy if he would mind sparing one of his tall boys. He happily obliged and shortly the two trekked off to acquired some beers from the old, magenta fridge, leaving Marla and Harmon to their own devices.

Marla played with her softly jangling bracelets a moment an then leaned towards Harmon inquisitively.

“How long you two been together?”

“Since high school.”

“Oh! That’s wonderful. I didn’t take relationships seriously then.”

“Few do.”

“Yeah. Hey, I’m sorry I yelled at you earlier. Was having a bad day.”

“Its no trouble at all.”

She smiled, “Were you serious?”

“About?”

“About the movie. I mean, you think she deserved what she got?”

“Yes.”

“Yeah. I don’t disagree. I used to date this guy named Tanner. Hot, wealthy – comparatively speaking – nice car. Seemed perfect.”

“But there was a snag.”

“Yeah.”

“He cheated on you.”

“Yup. He said he was sorry. That he was drunk, that he didn’t know what he was doing. He was a terrible liar. But even still I forgave him. Not two months later he’d left his phone lying on the counter of my kitchen – it rings and I check the messages. Some bitch asking what she should wear for him tonight.”

She shook her head and took a swig of beer and tapped out her half smoked menthol in the peach can Andy used as a makeshift ashtray.

“That’s unfortunate. What’d you do?”

“I told him to explain. I was ready to forgive him again. If he was honest.”

“Given you’re here, with Andy, I’m assuming he wasn’t.”

“Nope. Told me – get this – she was a ‘business associate’ and that’s why she was asking him what to wear. I told him business associates don’t tend to refer to each other as ‘babe’ and ‘darling’ – he didn’t have anything to say to that so I told him to leave. And that was that.”

“But now you’ve met Andy.”

“But now I’ve met Andy.”

She smiled widely and leaned back in her chair and took a puff of her cigarette. Shortly thereafter, Andy and Lyla returned from the kitchen bearing a six pack and a bag of off-brand nachos. They watched another film about a evil AI in a far-flung future where everyone used floppy disks and then decided to hit the sack. Andy implored Lyla to stay the night and then headed upstairs with Marla. When they were completely out of earshot, Lyla turned to Harmon dourly.

“Did you mean what you said?”

“Bout?”

“Bout her ‘getting what she deserves.’

“Yeah.”

“How can you say that?”

“Can say it because I believe it.”

*

Apostasy (Part 3)

Previous chapter

Suryn looked on the still-terrified guards who said they had encountered the escaped Demonic servant, Dask. One of them had been killed by a being she knew must be the remains of the first young man who had been burnt at the stake. He had been reduced to a Hate elemental now. She loathed the thought of those foul things and memories rushed back to when she was a retainer in the Divine Army fighting in massed silver ranks as whole howling swarms of the vile things rushed them. She had watched friends die horribly in those battles that had raged across blighted planes that lay upon the celestial fault-lines of Light and Dark.

Two more of the guards had grotesquely swollen faces dominated with dark shadows of bruise, one with a shattered jaw, the other who’d had the bony bridge of his nose all but flattened. The servant, Dask, was just a freshly made lesser imp, but he was already too powerful for most mortal men to handle.

She had been awakened from her sleep the night Dask escaped as she felt something intrude within the keep even though she had warded the whole place. She had immediately sent the guards down to Dask’s cell only to discover he was somehow missing. This Demon’s ability to get past her defenses unsettled her; the wards should have worked even against powerful foes. Could it mean there was some weakness in herself?

Meanwhile, the hunt had gone on. Since the first heretic had been burnt, there had been others, this time with no interventions as they wriggled and screamed within the blaze. She would deny the Demon access to power no matter what it took and find and break the sources that let him lurk here. She had never taken on a Demon by herself but she had hunted down many lesser creatures. If she could take down Demons, then the ascent to the angelic orders might one day be bestowed on her. She would be more than human. She would never again feel the base needs of the flesh. Every time she had touched herself, she had been filled with self-loathing afterwards over her weakness. The advance of years did very little to her anymore, but that only gave her more time to contemplate the frailties of her imperfect frame. As much as she hated Hate, she despised herself and longed for that final, blindingly alabaster death in perfection, for her limbs, no longer soft, to be sculpted as if in divine marble. It had been nearly a week now since she had slept and her sad body yearned for repose. She thought again of the Demon and forged on with her Work.

*

“There is nothing left of him now but his fury,” explained the Dark Man. “He was unwilling to pledge himself until his higher mind was stripped away by trauma and only the lower functions were left to decide. His natural meekness buried the seed deep and she unearthed it.”

“So the guy he was really is dead?”

“That final flash of rage against the whole world is all that’s left. He is just a simple hate elemental now.”

“Just? I watched him beat a whole squad of armed men!”

“He has strength and instinct but nothing of intellect or restraint. He is useless without guidance. You gave him that.”

Dask felt a pang of sadness for the young man who had been transformed into the grotesque horror that now accompanied him.

“I wish he’d done it sooner.”

“I reached out to him. But only the flames could burn away his inborn tenderness.”

Dask looked to the burnt man and the creature tilted its head in response to being given attention.

The Demon was barely able to sit up. He only just managed to position his back against the rock wall.  Beneath his robe, a soft light still sometimes shone through. Dask told him everything that had happened and the master listened, motionless.

“I know my old self is dead now.” concluded Dask

“You turned away from the Light and have just begun to understand what that means.  You now have plenty of time for that.” the Demon replied.

“What do you mean?”

“Get the chisel.”

Dask grabbed the chilly, glassy sharp object from the pile of blankets he had awakened in and brought it to the Demon.

“Why have you not been using this?”

“I didn’t think about it.”

“That’s a physical form taken by the power of your pact. Keep it with you.”

“Why?”

“Go and find out.”

He went back to his chamber, sat on his bedroll and began to turn over the chisel in his hand.  It was like a jagged shard of obsidian yet with the dim vision he had in complete darkness he could see no light reflect from it. It was a slice of abyss, impenetrable even to his supernatural senses. It was always cold but tingled somehow when he grasped it more tightly. Out of curiosity, he tried scratching the wall with it. The tip did seem to leave a mark. He started slashing and left gashes in the stone no normal weapon would easily cause. He thrust and a chunk of stone chipped off the wall. Impressive, thought Dask, but nothing to compare with the night he had escaped from his cell. What more was there to know? He wandered through the catacombs until he was under the city and impulsively stabbed a cockroach. To his astonishment, there was a wriggling sensation that worked its way up his wrist and into his arm, then his shoulder. It was a strange feeling that sickened him and it didn’t go away. He writhed, squirmed, and scratched, but the feeling was just under his skin. He even pricked himself with the tip of the chisel but it did nothing to him. The same object that had scored a stone wall didn’t even break his skin. Whatever this was he wanted it out of him! He clenched himself and willed for the bothersome feeling to go away. To his surprise, there was a feeling kind of like a popping pimple or a loose baby tooth on the back of his shoulder. A long thin black spike barely thicker than a thread thrust through his skin and tumbled from his shirt sleeve to the floor. The straight spike became fluid and started squirming like a jet black tapeworm. After a short while it stopped and grew rigid in its final, twisted pose and evaporated into a mist of shadow. Dask just stared at the spot for the longest time his gut roiling with disgust. It took him hours to get the courage to stab a rat and this time he immediately wanted to vomit as a scurrying and scratching feeling bounced all around inside of him. He only just managed to keep from panicking as the feeling skittered down his backbone. He finally focused enough on expelling it from him. He heaved as if to vomit but small black spikes erupted along his spine. Soon they fell out onto the ground and also evaporated into that unholy material. Dask could not help but be fascinated with this discovery no matter how unpleasant it felt. He thought of how he had been through much worse before he had finally turned his back on the Light. He was thinking about what he should try next when he heard a shuffling. He looked up and saw the Burnt Man. It tilted its head back toward the direction of their lair. Dask followed.

*

“Go through the Doorway when I make it,” instructed the Demon. “There is someone in need of consultation.”

With visible exertion, the weakened Demon reached out, a pale hand emerging from its sleeve, and a whirling vortex of grey and pale green light opened in the middle of the floor. Dask looked to the Burnt Man, but it, of course, had nothing to say. He somehow overcame his fear now that he had nothing to lose and dropped into the yawning hole. His gut wrenched as he expected to fall into a whirlwind but instead he immediately found himself standing in a luxurious bedchamber. There was no one in bed, though someone had clearly used the bedsheets. Then he looked to the starlit balcony and saw a female figure there. She was crouched in despair, clutching a silvery knife. Her robe was open and she shook as she stared at the blade.

“Don’t.” rasped Dask.

She immediately fell over in surprise and fumbled to conceal her weapon underneath her.

He walked from the darkness of the suite toward the balcony.  “It’s ok. Where am I?”

She didn’t say anything as she looked up in terror at his approaching shadow. Dask strode out onto the balcony and he was looking out on a walled garden. It was the Duke’s palace!

“Please, don’t hurt yourself.”

She continued to tremble on the ground, the knife concealed underneath her.

Dask cleared his throat. “I’ve been sent to talk to you tonight. He wouldn’t have sent me unless you were having doubts.”

“My children.” she whispered.

“What do you mean, um, Ma’am?” Despite the urgent duress he had begun to notice her open nightrobe, her dark flowing hair and eyes that were luminous by the light of the stars.

“He took them from me.”

“Who?”

“Him! He sent them away and now I’m bearing one of his!”

“The Duke!” Dask blurted out.

She collapsed to the ground trembling.

“There’s another way,” he said.

“I wanted to kill him. Tonight. He was here.”

“Then why did you want to kill yourself?!”

“I enjoyed it so much.”

“Don’t do it. Pledge yourself. That’s the other way out. Not repentance. Apostasy.”

There was a feeling of rushing energies in the air and Dask turned around and saw the swirling doorway. He turned away.

*

Suryn finally descended into sleep but it was into a realm of nightmare. She woke up and felt the breach opening as she had during Dask’s escape. She rushed down flights of steps but there was an eerie wailing as small hands and arms reached up through the stairs and grabbed at her ankles. They almost brought her to a stop on the floor beneath her room but she broke free, made her way to the dungeon and opened the cell door. There was a yawning chasm into Darkness looking straight into her soul. She turned around and a marble statue of an angel she remembered from church as a child was flying at her, drifting through the air without a sound, its form simple, its facial features a nondescript pitiless mask. She took a step back and began to tumble backwards into the void.

She awoke on the cold floor of her chamber, trembling within a tangle of blankets. At first, all she felt was terror and relief. Then she thought back on friends who had fallen in battle. She squeezed a blanket, feeling a hand’s last clasp on hers before it fell slack in repose. Slowly the sense of purpose redawned in her and she donned her robe to begin a new day in pursuit, still hours before dawn. Then she realized why she had awakened. There was something wrong again. She grabbed her sword from her bedside and did not even bother to alert the guards this time. She flew down the staircase outside her room with her divine blade out of its sheath. She continued to fly down the stairwell towards the source of the disturbance. She stormed into a wing of the palace she’d never been to before, sprinted down a wide hallway with doors on either side and then felt the source to her left side. She was a woman of ordinary stature yet she effortlessly kicked in the heavy wooden door with a bare foot. She saw the Demonic portal closing just as she ran through. Too late. There was a woman on the balcony shrieking at the sudden incursion into her chamber. Suryn lowered her sword and went to her. The woman looked up and her face was pale and streaked with tears. “What happened?” Suryn looked into the woman and saw the taint of darkness battling, not with the Light exactly, something else. Then she looked at her. She had unmistakably beguiling features, large dark eyes, flowing dark hair, and long elegant legs revealed by an opening in her nightrobe. In spite of herself, Suryn felt a visceral dislike rising up in her.

“Who came through that doorway?”

“I don’t know.” cried the woman.

After some time of sobbing that further aroused the Paladin’s ire and then a labored description in between sobs she realized that Dask had been the visitor.

“What did he say to you?”

“He, he wanted to take me away. I was trying to stop him!”

The woman revealed a knife that lay underneath her.

“I’ve dealt with their kind enough, I know that’s not why he was really here. You put yourself in peril.”

The woman threw herself at Suryn’s feet and begged for mercy protesting that she had told the dark servant to go away. But the Paladin could see the taint struggling to grasp hold of her clearly enough. It was not surprising this woman had attracted the attention of the Dark Powers. Her or someone like her had allowed the Demon into the palace to release the servant, Dask, right from under her watch. This grim thought gave her very little sympathy for this harlot who had already tried to lie and manipulate.

“I will have you detained until you reconsider your story.”

“Noo! I’ve done nothing wrong!”

“Then you have nothing to fear.”

The Duke rushed into the chamber. Suryn turned toward him in astonishment. She had somehow thought him incapable of being flustered. “Alarya!” he cried. He reached out, startled by the knife in her hands. “Where did you get that?”

“I had it just in case, my lord. It saved my life tonight!”

The Duke frowned, but the woman abruptly dropped the knife and ran into the Duke’s arms where she buried her head in his chest and sobbed. As the Duke’s hand ran tenderly through Alarya’s lustrous hair, Suryn felt a wave of acid heat and physical anguish rise up through her heart and into her head as never before. Then, doors further down the hallway began to open up and there were several female voices. A group of young women rushed in and flocked to the Duke. They too were clad in luxurious nightrobes and every one of them was conspicuously alluring.

“Everything is alright ladies! He is gone. The Paladin is here.” The Duke looked at Suryn and saw at once she was dumbstruck. His eyes met hers for a moment and his gaze was hard and appraising, gauging her reaction. His eyes flicked deftly away. “Ladies, all is well now.”

Suryn had never seen the Duke with another woman, had never asked, had never wanted to know. Now she had been driven at last beyond the realm of feeling. Past the threshold of rage, something again had quietly snapped and now she felt nothing at all. All emotion had been as noise and now there was silence in her. She lay to sleep through the night without concern.  She woke in the morning calmly. Held a morning meeting with officials, with the Duke present, but she did not even look at him. She headed out to do her duty in the name of Heaven. She tried to figure out what might motivate Dask next. He wasn’t the first young imp she had dealt with. Her own irrational pain that she had buried told her how she would find him.

*

“You cannot go back to that life. You almost died trying it.” the Demon admonished.

“She had been taken from someone else so she could pleasure the Duke! Where are my wife and my son?!” demanded Dask

“Yours!? You are no more. You must learn who you are now.”

“Fuck you! I’m going back.”

“Don’t try it.”  The Demon’s tone was strangely resigned. This made Dask hesitate more than any infernal rage. The Demon was sitting up more strongly now but still weak; the glowing of its wound seemed to be gone.

“We all must let go,” he sighed.

“Come with me,” Dask commanded the Burnt Man. It eagerly followed him from the cave, beginning to bay in solemn tones as it already began to scent the Hatefulness of mankind.

Dask charged with the Burnt Man through the underground passageways, smelling out heresy and the hunters of heretics alike, just barely dodging their surprise maneuvers, even in the smallest hours of the night. He asked their stories and, finally, one man said the name “Slandriv.”

“Judge Slandriv?” hissed Dask.

“Yes, he’s the one. Does whatever the Duke wants.”

Dask felt a vein throbbing in his temple as he thought back on the note on his door, the guards, the brief hearing in a court room. Judge Slandriv! “I will help you with this!” he snarled through clenched teeth.

That very night, he began murdering the judge’s private guards with the Burnt Man at his side and burst into the mansion without the slightest ceremony.  In his night clothes, the judge cowered on the ground before them.  “I have only enacted the law! If you strike me you get nothing and just make it worse for yourself!”

Then, Dask heard a female sigh from the judge’s bed. There was the contour of a sleeping human beneath golden, silken bedsheets. Without a word, Dask approached the sheets and abruptly pulled them back. He nearly collapsed as he saw his wife there, curled up blissfully. In a blood-rage, Dask thrust his hand through the judge’s chest, lifted his body in the air, and crushed his heart. A gout of blood spurted from the man’s gasping mouth and then his head lolled forward limply. Dask contemptuously tossed the corpse aside. He then approached the woman who had betrayed him. “Kamilya, why did you do this?” he rasped. She came awake, recognized his voice and looked up at him in utter terror.

“Where is our son!?” he rasped insistently. She backed away from his silhouette in what to her was near-darkness and shook her head emphatically. “Where is heee!” Dask shrieked now, and, as he closed in, the Burnt Man was content to watch, sensing somehow he was unneeded.

*

When Dask and the Burnt Man stumbled blood-spattered from the mansion, they were blinded for a moment at the blaze of torches that surrounded them. Before them, hundreds of guards stood in a great ring.  “Masterrr!” cried Dask.

“He can’t help you now.” said a steely voice. Suryn strode from the crowd of guards, smaller than any of them yet anyone could feel a power and strength radiating from her, belied by her plain, angular features.

Dask nearly fell to his knees as he recalled his tortures in the keep. The Burnt Man, though, did not hesitate to attack. “Nooo!” cried Dask. Suryn waited motionless and at the last moment, with a single swipe of her sword, almost casually sliced the charging hate elemental in half. Its two halves tried to continue the assault, but she buried her sword in each of them for a few moments until they smoldered into lifeless ash.

Dask collapsed in weary despair as the guards closed in on him. This time, they seized him without a struggle and swiftly clapped his limbs into thick, heavy manacles that seemed more suited to an ox than a man. Then in a covered wagon with a sack over his head, he was hauled ignominiously back to the palace dungeon he had given everything to escape from.

Next chapter

Hieroglyphic Ire and Monolithic Representation

The internet’s propensity for time-compression fosters a sense of palpable immediacy. One no longer wants things soon, or, quickly, but now. As such the desire for a suitably curt response is fed into a matrix of intensifying entropy. As information processing capabilities increase so does the corresponding speed at which the information being processed can be transmitted; as the speed of the information being transmitted increases so does the speed of the responses to said information. A brief example of the phenomenon of systemic informational entropy can be seen in generative language fragmentation; one breaks up the lengthy pronunciations and de-syllableizes the words to reach for the core meaning the better to more quickly to communicate. Thus, in place of the affirmational text, “Okay,” one substitutes merely, “k,” precisely because k is more economical and is also understood to be representative of okay, which is itself a colloquial shorthand for “alright,” “very good,” “very fine,” or “that is fine.”

This principal is, perhaps, pushed to its limits by online “meme” pushers. The obnoxious and inherently baleful variety include such examples as the right-libertarian’s Helicopter Pilot For Pinochet rigmarole (a typically half-ironic proclamation of the intent or desire to liquidate communists) as well as the more broadly established right-meme of Communists Aren’t Ppl. Then there is the ubiquitous “reee” image of a crab-man wailing, a encapsulation of “autism.” Then there is the ludicrously absurdist “Flying Spaghetti Monster” (which looks exactly like it sounds) oft employed by progressive atheists in a effort to mock the deity (or deities, depending upon your theological persuasion) of the Abrahamic faiths. Then there is the “tips fedora” gif or jpeg, a image of a fat, ungainly man with messy facial stubble smugly tipping a trilby (which isn’t a fedora but a different type of hat altogether, by the way) which is utilized as a counter-punch by the faithful to rebuke the irreligious or materialistic.

neckbeard
Popular derisionary picture circulated by religious traditionalists, typically of a venomous and baneful variety
FedoraVsTrilby
The “tips fedora” man is actually wearing a tribly – which is similar to saying “tips cowboy hat” when one is actually wearing a bowler.

What all of these popular hieroglyphic representations of ire share in common is their propensity to reduce every single facet of, not just a individual’s, but of a entire coherent group’s attributes to one linear, mono-singular character trait. Therefore when one is posting the “tips fedora” man what one is really doing is saying that the targeted individual is both a member of a particular irreligious group and that he shares a projection of their imagined traits. It, of course, is very rarely a accurate representation, anymore than the Flying Spaghetti Monster accurately represents the views of the faithful.

e7b4083035a3263f5f6377ce7cb6b576--funny-videos-funny-memes
A priest, a rabbi and a imam are greeted by a peculiar surprise at the gates of heaven.

Of course, such memetic derisionary tactics are not meant to actually foster a dialogue they are merely meant to spit venom, merely a digital placeholder for “you’re a fool,” or, “fuck you, idiot.” Therefore a discussion of the hieroglyphics of ire with anyone who is not actually interested in fostering and reciprocating a dialogue is completely pointless because the purveyors thereof have ceased to retain any semblance of individuation and have instead subsumed themselves into a pure machinic process. They are not really the generative force behind such messages (given that popular memes are typically created by but a single individual and are then passed around and around until they fall into obscurity ) but rather only a envoy of another’s message. They are purely mouthpieces carrying around the word’s and ideas of others without any capacity to realize that their “social” signaling – in maximizing speed and recognition – utterly sacrifices any depth or breadth of communication. The response to any naysaying regarding such aforementioned hieroglyphs is always met with “its just a joke” but this is obviously not true, especially in any case where no one is laughing.

There is a pervasive assumption that because the majority of a user-base upon any given platform acts in a certain way (usually absurdly and crudely) that the whole of the purpose of the platform is just that. Therefore if people are curt and strangely sadistic on Twitter, that is the whole of the purpose of the platform. If people are coddling and emotionally fragile on Tumblr then that is the whole purpose of the platform. And so on and so forth. Of course this is absurd, indeed, patently false, and it is false precisely because the individuals who operate and utilize these platforms do not control them. They might declare their rights (and they always have ever so many – an obnoxious cornucopia) but they have no ability at all to enforce these “rights” they are largely at the mercy of the operators who own the monopolistic companies that control the sites (which is precisely why so many individuals are now clangorously raising their voices to declare them public utilities and have them regulated as such). So when someone tells another that X site is just for lulz (which is just a excuse for juvenescent and puerile behavior, a catharsis for mundane repression with which they cannot properly contend) that may well be their aim but it is not necessarily others. It is certainly not mine, as I much prefer conversation to digital, imagistic vomit.