The Dwelling of Djora
As I wandered aimlessly through time, I found the world behind growing ever distant from me. Feeling the tendons of reality snap from my person as I found friends in the twisted, diseased trees and slimy rock. I was a foreigner to this nature, never had it entertained a child of dust such as me. The memories that haunted me from before I first stepped grew ever so faint in my mind now. I walked through the stinging wet earth, for what reason now I do not remember. My own mortality came into question many times, for a while I thought I had died but soon I felt the pain of a thorn brush my side. I must be alive still after all.
Looking above me I could see no distinctions in the sky, the gray aerial landscape complimented the world that was now before me. Slime, rotting wood and plants surrounded me invading my nostrils with their decaying stench. Finding a dry spot to rest myself, I looked into a puddle between my feet. Seeing the most deplorable human-like being I ever laid eyes on I attempted to kill the creature. The image merely dissipated when I disturbed it’s watery medium, how clever it was. At that moment voices filled the air around me, always watching they were. Even here they tormented me. The silent places are always filled with noise. My chest pounded as I ran to escape the invisible eyes but to my fear they were always inches away. Inches away from taking me forever.
The muscles of my legs burned but still I could not escape the fate worse to me than gnashing teeth. To my surprise I collapsed onto a soft bed of short grass, feeling my attackers still there but somehow held at a distance. I looked in the direction I had come from to see no one but that feeling of dread still sat twisting itself in my stomach. They were there, they always will be. I turned around to be greeted by a lit grove of trees that grew unnaturally straight and narrow. The grass beneath my feet was faintly green with small white flowers living amongst the blades. I wondered how such a place could exist surrounded by decay. Still this patch of land held the same fear and watchful eyes. I could feel their presence on the opposite side of the trees, taunting me. Oh how I loathed them.
I touched the white bark of the trees and found it remarkably smooth, almost soft. Pressing my face against the surface I felt strangely comforted as if I was remembering something that felt similar. Sadly I could not recall what that something was. Crying into the tree I hugged it’s narrow rigid body longing for it to return the embrace, sadly it did not. Leaving the strange trees behind, I walked on. Somehow I felt that they were turning to watch me leave but that is ridiculous, trees do not turn. Again, I experienced the stinging mud seep into my shoes and those damn eyes again watched closely. They would not terrify me so this time.
The terrain became rocky very fast. Stinking slime covered every surface it seemed now, what a rancid place this was becoming. Densely packed trees blocked my view into the forest now, only allowing me to see a few feet from where I stood. I sat down on the disgusting rock, my depression made me ignore the discomfort I felt doing so. Hopelessness and dread surrounded me and I cried alone in that decaying world not being able to remember anything before the moment I had started walking. I could have been in love or in misery before but I could not remember. That feeling alone was worse than any pain that could be inflicted on my person. There are worse tortures than physical injury, in fact I welcomed that as opposed to my current suffering. Alone I was in this place and I would die just the same. I’m sure the eyes liked that idea too.
My crying eventually stopped and I suddenly noticed that there was something other than silence around me. Something disturbed the surroundings and it was watching. This was not the eyes, the eyes were smarter than to reveal themselves so obviously to the real world. I looked up to see a sight more grotesque than the being that dwelled in the puddle. There squatting a few yards away was a living four-legged mass of pale, bare, hairless flesh with a human face that looked as if it had been stretched and starved. It’s piercing unnatural blue eyes were sunken into it’s head that was barely distinguishable from the body which reminded me of a grub worm. The lips of the abomination could not cover the large mouth of gray teeth that seemed to be in a permanent grin. I stood and stared at it, yet another cruel joke at my expense. I finally encounter a conscious creature and it is this nightmare of a lifeform. The sight of it made me ill and feel as if worms were wriggling under my skin. We stared at each other for a few moments completely motionless.
“You… are… tortured.” It spoke in a deep, slow guttural voice as it gestured with it’s boney arms that did not match the rest of the body.
“What do you know of what I feel? At least you match this disgusting landscape where I do not.” I snapped back feeling surprised at the sound of my own voice, nearly that had been forgotten too.
“You… are… tortured… by… yourself.” It replied in the same monotone fashion as it stood only to rise a little further off the ground.
“What are you?” I demanded to know of it.
A low whining sound came from the creature as if it was deeply pondering the question. “I… am… old… very… old.” And then it turned and started walking away on it’s fatty, grotesque legs.
I watched it make it’s way deep into the forest, not once did it look back. Chills overtook my body at such an encounter. This made me again question if I was truly still alive or if this was some form of Hell. The dark sky began to turn to night and I was at a loss as to where to go. The eyes were more vicious at night and I could not stay out in the open with them. Out of desperation or perhaps simply insanity I followed in the direction the creature had taken. No other living thing aside from the flora crossed my path and again the silence surrounded me. Perhaps I had imagined this creature out of my own paranoia. For how could something such as that exist here or anywhere for that matter? Maybe this was all in mind. Maybe I had retracted so deeply into myself that this world I was in was really what my mind encased itself in. Not knowing whether I was in reality or trapped in my own insane delusions I pressed on racing against the darkness.
After what seemed like hours of walking in the waning light I happened upon a cave. Excited at the thought of a dry enclosed space to stay for the night I ran toward it. Approaching the entrance I saw the all too familiar blue eyes come out of the shadows. Being this close now I could see the puss filled boils that covered the moist, discolored skin of this creature. Greenish fluid oozed itself from the sunken eye sockets and coated the teeth beneath them. I backed away as it fully revealed itself to me in the pale twilight of that silent forest.
“Do you mean me harm?” I asked trembling.
It looked at me for a moment, studying my body. “No… threat… to… man… am… I.” It groaned wearily.
I sighed in relief. “Creature forgive me for I am lost and know nothing of my intentions here wandering your domain.”
“Nothing…” It cocked it’s head slightly at me.
Looking past the creature I could see bones littered about the entrance of the cave. “I have seen no other beings here...” I motioned to the remains.
“You... do… not… see.” It began walking toward me, getting close enough to look down at me slightly.
“Perhaps you are right.” Thinking back I remembered the puddle. I was the reflection in it. How could I have forgotten… “I cannot even recognize myself as the man I am.”
“Then… what… are… you?” It smelled my head and at that moment I could smell it’s stench, much like the slime that coated this miserable place.
The eyes were with me again. With the creature at my front and them at all sides there was no haven, no saving from this disgusting place. I could not remember why I walked. I could not remember what life beyond these trees and rock was. This place was dark and disease ridden, it was my own mind, this was my doing. Scratching at my skin, digging my nails deep into my own flesh making it bleed I found myself being choked by the sound of the creature’s shallow breathing. There was nothing I wanted more than that wheezing sound to stop. Its very breath made me sick and that ever so familiar knot tightened inside me making me taste blood in the mouth. Grinding and clenching my teeth to the point of breaking them I looked into the face that embodied all the nightmares and filth in the world and I uttered, “I am nothing.” I saw the gray teeth part and the black slime filled hole that existed behind them. The eyes tormented me no more.