The big dream
My mother’s old Chrysler pitched and yawed and creaked to a stop with that horrible ratcheting sound of the gear box unto imminent death. Which of course Ericcson not being familiar with it didn’t know exactly the right way it like to be touched. So as not to eviscerate the already ramshackle clutch. Held together with tape and prayers.
Still these concerns were beyond me, my main worries were now worms nesting in my ear and being unable scratch my nose. Not being able to turn the pages of the book or change the channel on the television was of particular concern. Forever doomed to just watch whatever anyone else wanted to watch.
The girl’s directions weren’t too bad. Although she might have recommended we bring a machete for our trip as the road leading to the house was intensely overgrown. So much so as to almost disappear into the trees.
The pornographer Lukas lived in a fairly large new England country house out on the east side near the river. Just a guess really, due to the sound of running water, that being the only sound I heard, no birds chirped nor foxes howled.
The house itself was in utter disrepair and looked most certainly abandoned. The face of it was once a white wood, the paint rotted and chipped and discoloured. All but one of the upstairs windows were broken, most likely by bored local children. The roof was tiled in grey slate with a red brick chimney which had collapsed into the attic. The front door was green and hanging off its hinges. A white picket fence surrounded the square building and traced the outline of a truly unruly lawn. Which had swallowed a very rusty looking push mower, most certainly its first victim.
Undettered by this Ericcson got out of the car slamming the door of the Chrysler as if to announce himself. He paused only momentarily to absorb a most ominious atmosphere. The building exsoothed a singular loneliness and gave off an almost abstract feeling of revulsion.
The autumnal trees behind the house were such deep oranges they almost looked like a mat red canvas against the house. They swayed lightly in the breeze and noiseless things that must have been birds leapt out of them and into flight.
Ericcson opened the fence gently and approached the door meaning to knock on the great green edifice. But instead he tried the knob and it was unlocked.
We entered, I of course hanging at his side in my bag.
But I could see out of a number of holes made in the bag for that direct purpose.
Now, being a disembodied head you’d think not much could shock me. But upon entering the house, expecting more filth and degradation as the outside advertised. We were instead greeted with a warming glow.
I wondered for a moment if Ericcon and I were seeing the same thing. From the outside it seemed like an abandoned run down shack and from the inside it was a living home of some humble opulence.
I could hear the lapping and crackling of a warm fire and the soothing tock of a grandfather clock
Ericcson it would seem was entranced and I dared not to wake him as he made an odd noise as if reacting to some unheard tone in a dream.
He walked slowly and cautiously towards the noise of the fire into the living, decorated as if a scene in a holiday greeting card. Real logs burned in the fire and wreathes hung over it and on the mantel there were pictures of a happy family although their faces I could not make out.
Ericcson walked bow legged and collapsed into an easy chair in the corner allowing me to slump down next to him on the carpeted floor.
I didn’t even notice the other person in the room until I heard the chinking of the ice in his drink.
“So nice of you to pay me a visit” The man said as he tipped the glass towards Ericcson.
He was an odd duck, dressed almost like a hipster mister Rogers; a brown sweater over a plaid shirt. His sleeves rolled up revealing elaborate tattoos, his face too was marked with scarification and tunnels in his ears. His eyes were a disturbing unnatural blue, altered somehow with pigment.
“I’ve come to kill you” Ericcson said flatly as if talking in his sleep.
“Is that right?” The man smiled and looked into his drink. “Lydia – the girl in the store called me right after you did, this is the only address she knows so I knew you’d come here.”
“It’s a trap then?”
“Not really, more like a check-up” He motioned down with his head “How do you like your drink?”
Ericcson looked down at his hand and saw a whiskey glass there and he jumped as if he suddenly felt like he was falling and dropped it on the floor. The tumbler landed with a dull thud and rolled towards the fire place.
“Too bad, that was good stuff” He took a sip of his drink and straightened in his wingback chair. “Well enough with the niceties, I’m sure Niall didn’t impress you too much but you’ll find us a little more prepared.”
“I already told you that” He said as he put his drink down with a clunk on a glass coffee table and then leaned back with his hands across his lap. His hands too were covered in obscure tattoos that looked like child’s drawings and he had odd jewellery on his thumbs. “But enough about that, we’re here for you Zane.
The doorbell rang.
“Oh that must be our guests”
“Guests?” Ericcson said sadly.
Suddenly there was an ear piercing scream, a woman screaming and a man shouting. Shoes scuffing and shuffling, things breaking, a struggle.
In an instant they exploded into the room, it was Ericcson himself being accosted by four masked figures, dressed as he was in paint stained pajamas. His wife was tossed in her bedrobe down on the coffee table. They held her down and dispassionately ripped her clothes off as she cried out. Her voice cracking under the strained hoarse wanton terror.
Ericcson watched powerlessly as a large man with an owl mask pinned him to the wall with a knife to his throat.
There was a boy standing in the door way of the living room, Ericcson’s son perhaps? He stood motionless watching held by a slender figure wearing a crow mask. The figure wasn’t as threatening, it seemed to calm the boy, hypnotising him somehow.
They wore black but the two pinning the woman to the coffee table I could tell one of them was Niall by his distinct flabbiness and the way he moved. He wore a pidgeon mask bobbing exitably like a kid finding a playboy underneath a bush. The other I assumed was Lukas himself wearing a wren mask, some of his sleeve was pulled back and the markings were somewhat prominent.
She lay nude on the table now, Niall held her feet and Lukas both hands with his one hand, his other free hand he used to signal the man in the owl mask.
The man in the owl mask was very large and all his movements were slow and precise. As if it took thousands of unseen workmen moving like ants to make even one muscle clench. He very deliberately turned the knife over in his and forced the handle of it into Ericcson clammy pale palm. The knife was a smooth handled fillet knife and for a moment he looked at it in shock.
“You knew one day you’d have to make a choice.” It was Lukas speaking, his voice resonated through time and it made it hard to tell whether he was saying in this vision or right at this moment. Considering it made no logical sense for me to be partaking in the vision the later seemed more likely. Although it was not debatable that through my death and rebirth I was undoubtedly connected to Erriccson. Quite literally as my locomotion was made possible by a tentacle in the base of my neck.
“The boy or the woman, choose.”
Ericcson held the knife, his eyes glazed over; he swayed slightly but there was no breeze to move him. The arm holding the knife animated jerkily, his arm tensed against something.
There was no choice, there was no time, it was already done. He fought against it but it was hopeless. A thick black tendril gripped and articulated his arm and then again Lukas’s voice in his ear whispering “All art requires great sacrifice.”
And then there was blood and the wails of a woman, a sad haunting wail that reverberated in waves.
Ericcson curled up in his chair and rolled onto the carpeted floor, tensed like a dying spider. His limbs contorted and it almost seemed theatrical, like some kind of improv.
“The drug should be working it’s way through your system now, you won’t be able to hear me much longer, and then the fun can begin.” Lukas stood and walked around Ericcson, smiling, looking at Ericcson like a package he couldn’t wait to unwrap. “Don’t fight it, just let it take you.”
Ericcson released slowly like a balled fist, his body spreading out along the floor as he fell gradually into unconsciousness.
“That’s it, you’re mine now, almost ready. I can’t wait to see what secrets you hold.” There was something very feminine in the way Lukas moved, lithe catlike movements as if he was mimicking someone else. He drew a small penknife and flipped Ericcson onto his back, being as careful as possible.
Ericcson was gone, his body slack and flaccid. His eyes were still open, black like smooth river rock.
“Interesting.” Lukas remarked as he began to cut Ericcson’s shirt open.
Ericcson flesh was bone white and cold.
His chest revealed, Lukas made a small incision just below his rib cage and started to slowly unwrap his present.
The flesh gave way easily but not to blood, instead a thick black ichor oozed out. “Fascinating” Lukas said. He goggled at it and then stood for a moment holding his hands out like he didn’t know what to do with them. “I must get a sample.” He turned around and looked back at Ericcson. “Don’t move” He smiled wickedly.
Lukas scurried out of the room.
Ericcson was still and silent as the grave, the ichor still flowing out of him. Viscous and putrescent, I’m sure if I had had a stomach I would have evacuated it.
But then there was something, an echo from down inside him and somehow, my connection to him let me see it. He was there, not dead nor alive. Floating in an infinite blackness, naked like a baby in the womb. No sounds, just darkness and emptiness forever drifting down and down.
I called out to him, I’m not sure why, I was bereft of any real feeling or doubt or fear. I was barely human at this point. Even an inhuman monster must have felt some sort of fear, some existential threat, fear of the bottomless unknown but he did not wake.
But something else did.
The stygian water became rigid and took shape in the darkness, a silhouette, a crease in the dark murk and a blasphemous bulb opening.
The size of it, it was the as large as a ship at least half a football field. The inside a vile luminescent yellow and green membrane seemed to pulse with energy. The opening getting slowly wider, bubbles and debris hiccoughing up from it.
Then it opened wide and an orange iris the size of a large sedan focused and glared at Ericcson. Then from below a horrifying otherworldy sound from the deep and a rush of air and force.
Ericcson convulsed on the floor, the ichor taking solid shape and moving his body like a marionette, flopping around in front of the fire. His body jerking uncontrollably, the drug still in his system, the man Ericcson was asleep but the other presence, the deep old one, was not.
Lukas, upon returning to the room with an empty vial in his hand and witnessing the convulsions, knelt by his side.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen, maybe an allergic reaction to the sedative?- no it can’t be, she would have told me!” He stood for a moment frozen in indecision shaking his hands at the wrist. “Erm I have to stabilize him.”
But as he turned he seemed to trip, as if an invisible rug were suddenly yanked from under him; he shot up into the air as if caught by a wire trap.
He hung upside down suspended by one of the vile tentacles.
Ericcson’s body, limp, was lifted and moved like a puppet and brought face to face with Lukas as he hung upside down.
“You don’t understand what you’re doing, you can’t control it, I can help you!” Lukas begged. His fear rose, crashing against a cliff face of impending despair. Arguing, reasoning, begging for his life with an errant wave that would pull you down without a hint of sentience. Drag him into the crushing depths to die alone and cold, never to be seen again.
Ericcson’s head flopped forward and Lukas could say nothing. His words were meaningless, without even an ear to hear them. Ericcson’s eyes were rolled back into his head, he was unconscious.
“No please, I can help yo-“
In one savage motion the swarthy fibrous tentacles tore off all his limbs at once. All pulling in different angles unevenly as if each limb had it’s own specific purpose for each segment. The tearing pulling apart his abdomen and spilling him open like a piñata full of offel. The sound he made was something I thought only animals could emit. An inhuman guttural shriek I committed to memory.