The nightmares were out in force last night. One, with an elfin face in which two giant eyes were black bottomless voids, a mouth shaped like an anteater''s with a prehensile tongue and rasping circle of teeth, and a shock of pale spiky hair, sat next to me, gingerly holding my hand in the two hooked claws that jutted from her wrists and gnawed the flesh from my fingers. Another perched at my feet: a diminutive creature of unearthly beauty wearing a corset and blue furs, peeking at me from underneath half-closed eyelids beneath which nuclear fires raged and smiled demurely. Her lips parted; her teeth were thousands of shiny fat sewing needles. A third climbed up onto my chest; all sparkly edges and angles and an impossible multitude of sinuous limbs, grasping me, crushing me to her terrifyingly sharp surfaces while fluting some profoundly Lovecraftian gibberish into my ear. Yet another one loomed by the window: I couldn't make out the details of its face shrouded as it was in the shadows, but the madly swirling patterns of dull grey liquid that I could see hinted at the details I was better off not knowing. There was a sound like the flapping of giant rotting wings outside the window. The music playing on my computer sped up and slowed down, became softer and louder in tune with the brightening and fading auras around each object in the room. A roaring patch of bleeding darkness moved about the floor, throwing writhing pseudopods in all directions, and, as always, far in the distance those giant gods vaster than the universe and yet smaller than my hand moved about the mad landscape and watched me mutely with eyes the size of planets.
I woke up and opened a beer. The song--it was something by the 3rd and Mortal--ended and the creatures faded slowly into shadows. It was quiet, except for an insistent blue-jay outside and the fizzing of bubbles in the beer-bottle. Then, suddenly, the walls of my room rushed away from me, shrieking like a flock of insane geese and I was suspended in a pattern of delicate trembling light, each strand a set of arcane equations running with fire along their infinite stretch, fluttering, a moth at the ever-present heart of this infinite cosmic web, impossibly convoluted and full of meaning. I could see all the way to the edges of the infinite universe which are its center, where blind idiot gods churn out more mathematical monstrosities, where everything and nothing begins and ends and is and isn't, and for a second I could hear all the music ever written all at once. Everything expanded at the speed of light and disappeared into a void without stars.
Down here in the swamp at night, digging for treasure. I seen it; many times; I know it is here somewhere. So here I go: waist deep in the muck, fingernails broken, fingers bleeding, tearing into soft wet soil, black water, mud, blood, whippoorwills, mad will-o-the-wisps cackling at me; the pit getting deeper, its walls above my head, and still nothing: no glint of metal, no flash of a precious stone, not even bedrock, and I dig deeper and deeper, my guitar at the edge of the pit, strings broken, screaming at the sky and the frogs and the slugs and then it starts raining and the walls collapse; almost drowning, sobbing in rage and terror and still clawing at the soft tangle of mud and roots, where the fuck is it? I just saw it there!
And the rising sun burns the clouds away and here I am sitting at the edge of the pit, blasting my nagant at the disappearing will-o-the-wisps (they give one hateful cackle and pop like little hellish venomous fireworks) as the pit by my feet is slowly filling with black, thick, fetid water...what the fuck am I doing in this swamp? Look at the trees: not a single straight one in sight, only twisted, poisoned boles. This is a deadly place. This is a deadly place. This is a deadly place. No treasures here: only misdirections, dissimulations, twisted little paths going nowhere, pale rotting mushrooms for sustenance, a labyrinth, despair, mud, quicksand, loss and blood. Nothing here. What the fuck am I doing here? I am going to go climb a mountain, will give everyone a shout once I get to the top. It is morning: with luck I'll make it by mid-afternoon. But even if I don't, I'll get there tomorrow. By the forest spirits, by echoes and tree-nymphs and elfshot and fairy-rings and berries and aspens, I have forgotten how good it feels to shout!
Curiously and perhaps I am getting over the idiotic writer's block that has been sitting in my skull for a while now. A bloody brick disrupting the flow of my thoughts that seems to have been finally worn away by the acidity of my subconsciousness. It still feels a bit awkward, sentences do not easily fall into shapes I want them to and words wriggle through my fingers like minnows but at least some form of coherent thought is captured.
The southern railroad's terminus is about 60 km south of the City, at Wormfell. A relatively decently maintained highway leads further south into the woods, eventually curving west and connecting the City with the mining and woodcutting villages of the coast ranges. To the east, wide fields of rye stretch across an ancient floodplain, eventually running into a range of hills about 70 km away. The hills are barely explored; several expeditionary parties have been sent there; some did not return; the findings of others were suppressed by the government. It is rather certain that a large population of fylgja makes these hills their home; they keep mostly to themselves only occasionally descending upon the scattered farmsteads of the fields below to steal children. There has been talk about extending the tracks further south, but it all came to nothing due to lack of funding. To the west, a low-lying (mostly) swampy spruce and pine forest without a name stands between the village and the coast; its edges are relatively well-explored and are a popular spot for mushrooms and berries, but further in it grows completely wild and generally untouched by anything human. There are many paths leading into it, and brave souls that have ventured there bring back tales of tunnels into the sky, several gravitational anomalies, shifting geographies and vast bulks of breathing, rattling and coughing--but somehow almost invisible--matter moving between trees at night. I have gone there several times, on mapping expeditions, and the experience has been similar tho the feeling one gets when climbing the remnants of a tower in those curious ruins on the hill north of the city, in Sosnovka woods: slowly growing dread that becomes thick and palpable, filling the air, when one comes to realize that something lies beyond the field of one's vision, something waiting to pounce, but unable to for some convoluted reason of its own and only waiting for a chance to do so, some action of yours that would set it free to rend and tear and do whatever such things do to their victims and to warmth and life in general. The tower is much worse, perhaps because the dread in it is concentrated in a smaller space. The woods west of Wormfell are wide and there are places where the sun is shining and heather blooms wildly and wild strawberries are perfectly safe to eat. When in doubt, head uphill. As often is the case, low lying swampy areas are the most disconcerting ones. Curiously, some entities, perhaps human, have lived there before. For unknown reasons they chose to build their structures in the lowest spots of the forest, as if they craved the sick silence of swamps and could not stand the sun. Their stilted and deformed huts still stand in some places; they are strangely repellent, whether because of their shape, or the sounds they make settling into the swamp on their stilts (as if they are ready to lift those stilts and move towards you), or unrecognizable smells wafting from them on windy nights, but apparently they are not too dangerous. The most deadly things in these woods are mobile and seldom come within a kilometer from the forest's edge.
Wormfell itself is a scatter of shops and two or three cafes and pubs; it is a semi-popular place for weekend crowds to go mushrooming, as long as they do not stray too far from the highway or into the woods. Still, each year several fail to come back. But it is hardly more dangerous than spending ones weekend in some parts of the City, and potentially much more profitable. Local mushrooms have strange reputations, and rumoured qualities from growing too near to holes in the fabric of the universe. The said fabric however, is thin and worn in most places in the City and around it it has been my fortune to visit; the whole world is threadbare and things leak into it from the outside at each crease, angle, corner or a turn of the road.
Last night, I was wandering about in a huge building: all elevators and transporter belts, giant stairways leading into enormous concert halls, bright hallways full of people hurrying somewhere, balconies and belvederes opening onto foyers and esplanadas fit for titans, turrets, cupolas and spandrels galore! I am no longer sure where I was going, but the security was quite tight: there were checkpoints on each corridor intersection, and they all looked long at my papers and checked my compliance with some esoteric rules and procedures taking entirely too much time to do so, and meanwhile I became convinced that wherever it was that I was going was not goint to be there for much longer, and at a checkpoint on an internal bridge, with a creek rumbling below, I finally lost it, slugged one of the guards in the face, and vaulted over the railing and...flew, of course. It was a bit difficut to stay above water (water always drags me down on such occasions: it is fundamentally opposed to the idea of me flying), but I managed, until we reached an opening in the wall, and I followed the creek outside the building...only to find out that the building rose out of the cloud layer far below, and disappeared into glare far above, and that there was no ground, nothing solid at all. Faces peering out of the windows that irregularly dotted the enormous wall behind me seemed to wink; a couple gave me thumbs-up, most frowned. Then I fell.
Survival? Sanity? A brief restriction in the slaughterhouse?
Shucks, there are voices: one in my ear one without:
telling me things I cannot understand or care or grow flowers in: whence syntax? Come on, someone must have at least a comma but none do: flags abaying their madness which only scrapes its way as cover for my solitude.
Transference? Well, fuck no.
There are some points which jut their way into my bed, my brain, my lack of conscious kindness. They must be blunted, There is no other way, but sanity and softness: wherefore you come from? Maybe puddles?
Who is this? Knocking on my skull! I know you are a figment of the fog that covers me besides and underneath and all throughout this long and lonely night unfathomed by vaginas or a brain. Hey!
Do not run: there are no others here but us, stuck slowly in the sugary remains of past reminders (slow suction, death, and monolateral slow motion), platitudes, vertebral pain and useless alliteratives...and consonants!...
I know I am insane, The fourth voice tells me so; and I'm loath to take advice (it is most persuasive!), having banished the first seven. Embrace me. No, embrace the fucking tree. A pinniped. a hedgehog. A softly deformed me.
Ta da. one cannot type or celebrate the highness of the bridges or artifacts that one's mind places on the mat (the purple mat! disaster! pain, and more!!!)--so get it off already, you, convex and bejewelled in your resplendescent treason.
You are not one or two or seventeen or other, You have no reason, neither do I, honestly. I cannot stop, for fear that doing so uncovers some travesty of lies, some insignificant betrayer cowering mildly in the bushes at the roadside as flashing metal objects hurtle by, chewing her thirty silver pieces just like rusty donuts. Don't. Fuck off!!! Tonight's the night. The greenest thing, the most unctuous plant is that it is not you, or you, or you.
Until next life, I present you with this cake and horror: obliquely, counterfactually yours,
It has passed. I would like to take this moment to thank the audience, their fluffers and the suppliers of the fuel for everyone's favourite chainsaw: it was great. Before I log off, I want to encourage everyone to listen to Janka Djagileva and learn Russian in the process.