Man of constant sorry
I turned in horror and revulsion, could it speak, was it listening to us?
It seemed to shudder for a moment and then a noise like air escaping a tire, a dull low hissing as air came to it’s dry cracked lips and then a voice from far away, like someone talking at the end of a far flung hallway.
“Had to” The voice was strained and it seemed to amount to a strange buzzing as if there were bees caught in his throat, his voice giving off a strange vibration. “Coates”
“What about Coates?”
“He wouldn’t stop”
“Asking about my dreams”
“So what did you do to him?”
“Would you mind telling Henry about the night you lost your wife, would that be alright?”
I swallowed waiting for his response, all at once his eyes focused and he looked at me with a pained searching glance that I couldn’t describe.
“Well go ahead.”
“I was- trying- trying to find something.” He swallowed, his voice brimming with that strange buzzing noise scratching at his throat. “My work, it became stale, the spark- died and I was having to dig deeper to find inspiration. Using a form of meditation and salt solution I could induce trance like states to better commune with the great darkness.”
“The great darkness” I asked dreamily.
“A place inside, a dreamstate, source for my inspiration.”
All at once I remembered the paintings in the day room, the strange vistas and odd creatures and remembering in the past his work seemed quite benign. Not post-modern but classical almost, capturing a singular beauty from nature but the market has no great demand for paintings such as those these days and I could recall his style had become quite abstract and strange almost terrifying, beastly in their suggestion. Some far flung horribleness that could only be glimpsed in dreams.
“I knew what I was doing might be- dangerous, but I had little choice, I feared that everything I had built would come crumbling down if I turned back. That if I did not press forward I might have to resort to painting children’s faces on the boardwalk to put food on the table. I feared my wife might leave me if I couldn’t keep her in the life she’d grown accustomed to, so I had no choice – for what we do for love is risk damnation itself.” He let out a pained airless cough. “and I did love her, a fearful terrible quaking love that every fibre of my being feared to lose.-
It started like nothing at all at first, my dreams only having the vaguest hints of the nightmares I later saw. I had thought my dreams were just a result of an elaborate imagination, growing up I had fanciful notions as most children do, of knights and castles and great dragons. But this was so alien it hardly fit into any mainstream folklore at all.
It seemed like every day I spent meditating I could feel myself getting closer to something awesome. And in my dreams I felt even less inhibition and control. As if something were drawing me further down a long a stairway, odd shapes twisting in the distance.
Something I remembered most distinctly were fish. Not unlike our worlds fish but these glowed with a cosmic opulence and danced around my head as if in water, drawing me closer down into the dark waterless ocean.
I felt myself growing lighter and more lurid with each step I took the path behind me a sturdy rushing wall of water.
Each morning I woke feeling unrested, like I’d been walking all night just like my dream, my mind had no retreat and I could feel a strange pull even in my waking hours. I meditated and felt myself slipping away and pulling myself back from the brink with whatever morsel of inspiration I could pluck from the torrent of black madness down there in it’s depths.
I felt as if I was an invisible watcher a voyeur, dis-embodied floating above the strange eon old city under the waves. Nothing could see me or touch me, I had the invulnerability of the watcher and I could glance at the strange structures before me with their haunting shapes and maw-like open doorways, windowless and dark.
I would wake and sketch them as best as I could remember but as time went on I felt myself feeling more and tired and withdrawn like I’d never slept those nights at all and I was just lying there awake.
It got worse as I’d paint, I could swear it, those fish, they’d followed me. I saw them while I was awake, only fleeting glances of them in the corners of my eyes, just enough to tell myself I didn’t see them at all but to give a gnawing feeling of coming darkness. That crushing blackness closing in on me.
I had no idea what I was doing, I was just an aimless wonderer in a world I didn’t understand, glimpsing behind the curtain of night not knowing whether something was looking back at me from the darkness.”
“And was there? Something watching?” I asked almost shaking, without even thinking of my words as I stared into the strange man’s milky eyes.
“Yes – but that wasn’t what came for me, no they were of this earth, the agents of some competing faction-
One night they came, they wore masks there were three, no four of them, bird masl. They made me watch, they made me watch” His hands shook as he spoke, his voice yet staying at a dull monotone.
“They killed her, it was some kind of blasphemous rite from ancient times, the boy, my son, he was sleeping. I don’t think they knew about him, just me and my wife, I have no idea why they didn’t kill me. They didn’t say a word, not in any tongue I could comprehend. It was over so fast, I couldn’t fight them, they put me in some sort of malaise. I felt like I was dreaming, wading waist deep in those black waters of the abyss, watching outside of my body as they did those unspeakable things to my Elizabeth. They must have been startled or surprised by something because they left soon after and I called the police.”
“They didn’t believe you?”
“No of course not, what sane man would believe such a tale, a random murder from an obscure cult. They found me covered in my wife’s blood a knife from our own kitchen plunged into her chest and our son witness to the aftermath.”
-The boy was incensed at the loss of his mother and with the help of an avid prosecutor he was coached into hating me, blaming me for her death. Which wasn’t far from the truth, but for my curiosity and my desperation she would yet be living and I would still be free.”
My mouth hung open agasp at his tale and what was worse was the timbre he delivered it. there was something so sane that rang from his voice, he believed the tale so utterly it might well have been truth, however horrifying it’s implications were. The logic altogether that of a madman’s, dreams putting you in the crosshairs of some insane cult in the physical world was just too fanciful for words, but yet he believed it truly.
“What do you make of it Henry?” Avery asked over his clasped hands covering his grin.
“What of your dreams now?” I asked feverishly swept up in this fantasy.
“Coates asked me much the same”
I swallowed as I heard his cold threat and saw his eyes focus on me, but I boldly recounted the large swarthy gentleman behind him and the restraints that held him and I asked again.
“What of your dreams now?”
He breathed in deeply with that humming buzzing in his throat as if coming from a two way radio and said “I don’t dream anymore – because I don’t sleep anymore.”
“Do you still see them?”
“Even now” His voice chilled me to the bone to think of what he saw and the coolness of his countenance as he described them. “They swim around not seeing this world at all, what purpose they have with this world is hard to say, perhaps they feed on some form of energy man cannot see with his naked eye. It is a merciful thing that the human mind cannot comprehend them for if it could who could say if these creatures could look back across the void and see their watcher in return.
In the crushing black depths of that dream vista under an unnameable ocean there was a door, a giant chasmous door that opened on the floor before me and in it’s wake there was a giant bulbous membranous sack of white matter the size of at least a football field in circumference, a round globular thing that I found soft and moist under barefoot.
I walked across it feeling the fearlessness of the lucid dreamer. I was already half way across before I realised what it was I was walking on and when I did it took every fibre of my being to stop from crying out-
For if I did it would have surely noticed me.”
“What was it?”
“I could barely contain the cosmic bone shaking horror of it, for if it was real, if it really existed there, waiting for god knows what, sleeping or otherwise, it would surely mean the doom of all things sane.”
“What was it?” I found myself grabbing at him fighting him for some sense. He seemed to slump and grow weak and limp as he recalled his dream, slipping back into this miasmic state of half wakefulness, his body restless and empty looking. I tried to catch him and shake consciousness and sense into him.
All of a sudden he rose with a vile stern countenance and I was gripped tightly by an invisible force crushing all the air from lungs as he lunged forward to whisper into my ear.
“An eye, it was an eye”. He whispered.