This place smells of anarchy, old iron pretending to be made new, recycled ideas, leather and smoke, the slow drip of ideas filtered through more or lesser experience.
Things dead think that they matter, but I am wise, being beyond death and into other realms (as are all in the Order of the Gash), I see it as it truly is. Echoes in a cavern, endlessly bouncing off of walls and vaults, reinforcing to a shout here, canceling down to a whisper there. Such is existence here. All is sound and suffering. Your nerves scream when your mouth no longer can. And we listen to the song.
For those of you who believe in time, I may disturb you. But have hope....
for this too is an illusion.
I heard the other enter. Of course I heard it. Each step it took was thunder in my ears, felt in the soles of my feet, resonating inside of my head. The walk was as distinct as a fingerprint, as individual as a lightning bolt. I could not help but know, for everything was sensation to me. The steps drowned out the other sounds, the flexing of the thing on the hooks before me, the quiet pattering drip of blood upon the stone, the whistling sigh the thing made ever since I had flayed its tongue and pierced the tails to its soft pallet.
"You should leave this Work," it said.
"I hath not completed it," I responded quietly, least I deafen myself with my own words. I felt the cables flex inside me when my jaw moved.
"Go to meditation," the Other said. "The Engineer shall minister to it, there is a weaving that needs to be finished, and your work shall complete it."
I gave the Other a nod, put down my instrument, un-clamped the raw nerve ending that had been attached to it, and left to the meditation room. The thing of meat on the hooks sagged as I left. I heard its whistling breathing even down the corridor.
There were three others in meditation. One was relaxed in its stance, hanging from…her…ankles to relieve the weight of her enhancements and adornments, allowing her muscles to not take the strain of the hooks in her flesh. Another was reclined on a bed of spikes, each tip lining up with a metal cup that had been impressed into his flesh. The third was standing, his head seemingly impossibly far back, jaw lodged open and arms out to his sides, his breath a soft snore as he relaxed.
I felt the least externally in a simple lotus position. I found a bare bench, and very carefully bent my body into position, feeling the cables running inside of me. I felt every one…for some of the skin flayed from my outside had gone into long, fleshy tubes to allow the skin’s sensitivity to feel the movement of every cable, even when they passed deep inside of my body where there would normally be no sensation. The feelings died away as I found the position. I was still Aware, however.
I felt my heart beating. Each fluttering beat could be seen from anyone standing in front of me through a hole in my chest, the opening lined with lamp-ray teeth in a spiral. As the muscle labored to pump the blood and other fluids inside of me, each contraction tugged on the hooks set under the skin just behind my nipples. Each beat made for a slow throbbing, allowing me to very carefully monitor its slowing as I dropped into a trance. My heart beat, the throbbing dulled.
I often wondered at how much of my altered thinking came from the physical modifications to me. How much was from the experiences I have here. How much was from the subtle chemical and physical modifications to my brain that had been made over time. And what was left of Before…
Some of the Order of the Gash were called by the Configuration. The slow tolling bell as each facet and movement was brought into place. Of course, we all could hear it, but only some felt the tug of it. Others felt the calling from other, obscure manifestations of yearning from those in the other world. For some, a group would be called. For others, a single one of the Order was sufficient.
I began to hear and feel it between the 4000th and 4100th heart beat of my meditations. Not the solemn, tolling bell of the Configuration. No…the gasping breath of another calling.
I stood, every movement sensation as flaps of skin opened and closed through the uncoiling of my position. I noticed that another had come to Meditation while I was turned inward. I spoke not a word. They all heard the same thing, even if they did not feel the calling.
I stood at the other side of the wall. Watching. She was very young for one in such a frenzy of need and lust. The ritual was complex, requiring days of stringent discipline from her and the other who was slowly strangling next the table they were using as an altar. I watched her with interest, she had the knife. Of course the other could simply put their feet down and stand, releasing the noose they were strangling on. I wondered if she would see the proper moment.
She did. Her strike was true, into the heart of the Innocent who offered up their life for the ritual. The blood flowed. She had chalked circles with all sorts of gibberish and symbols into the floor. I decided to humor her by stepping into the circle that was being rapidly surrounded by the moat of blood of her dying companion. I made myself known as the heart stopped.
"I am here" I said simply.
She stepped into another chalk drawn circle on the floor, still grasping the bloody knife in her hands. Her skirt had been hit by one of the jets of blood from the sacrifice. I let her look while I enjoyed the smells of the room, blood and flowers and cunt and shit…all mixed with the expelled life twitching at the altar. I even liked the scent of the exotic chalk she had used to make her "magic" circles. I did not smile.
"It worked!" she said, her voice haggard but triumphant.
"Obviously", I said dismissively. I started to reach out to the branch of cherry blossoms next to the altar, but stopped myself as my hand would have broken the plane of the circle around me. I let my eyes focus on each one…stretching time between the beats of my heart to cherish each petal and blossom. I took centuries to study it, and was content.
"Don’t speak like that to me, Demon!" she said. "I know your name…" she said warningly.
I turned, letting the sideways movement of my head allow the hooks to work against my shoulder blades, raising the bones there up like wings.
"So thou do say," I responded. "Confess yourself, and tell me what you wish," I told her.
She seemed taken aback. I saw her staring at my heart through the hole in my ash-dusted skin. I don’t think I was what she had expected.
"I want…power." She said. "I want to punish people, and I want power, and I will give you my soul to get it." She said.
I almost laughed.
"I have no power to give to thee…" I told her. I looked at her, looked at her under her skin. There was the Lust there…the thing that had driven her to kill her lover, had driven her lover to sacrifice themselves for her Lust. I could see it…and understood it intimately.
"LIES" she screamed.
"By the Power I used to Summon you, you will GIVE me Power!" she screamed.
"No, but I will give you something else."
I stepped out of the circle, and offered my hand to her.
"Come, and I shall show you things you have never dreamed in your most depraved nightmares. Worlds, sensations that your fellow humanity have sacrificed for for thousands of years. Come…"
"You can’t do that!" she said to herself, and then began muttering, pointing the knife at me and saying some odd name that I had never heard of. "I COMMAND you."
I smiled, for it would be the last kindness I would give her. "Yes, my new lover, and I own you, now and forever…do not offer your soul, for it’s already mine" I said, my voice thundering inside of my head as I whispered to her. My hand encircled her wrist, and we were gone….