In the year 1999 the global catastrophe called “The Great Darkness” (or “The Great Darkness of 1999”) threw mankind into a metaphysical tailspin from which it might never recover. The Great Darkness, which lasted exactly one year, was so named due to the global loss of memory that occurred from September 9th, 1999, till September 1st, 2000. One of the most consistent reports regarding the onset of this event concerns the premature falling of night, or merely a darkness that settled across the world, all at once, apparently independent of time and place.
All over the globe, remnants of that forgotten year were left to haunt humanity: Just outside of Autumn City, a mysterious black pyramid was discovered; in a small town in Maryland, a large tower completely comprised of human (and perhaps inhuman) teeth had apparently been erected; and in the Northern Atlantic Ocean dwells a mysterious new continent called “Grimland,” a body of land characterized by strange storms and strange mists. The discovery of thousands of such oddities came to be a regular occurrence once humanity finally recovered its collective memory. But, as is frequently the case with such things, science and religion were called upon to provide humanity with an explanation.
Leaders of the scientific community posited that “The Great Darkness” was, ironically, caused by the effects of a novel state of solar activity (the specifics of which have yet to be completely articulated). This “activity,” it is theorized, disrupted the earth’s electromagnetic fields which, in turn, caused a variety of disastrous effects including massive power failures, tectonic shifts, and psychological abnormalities (such as amnesia). In addition, it is thought that some of the accompanying neurological changes caused not only amnesia, but fundamental shifts in human psychology and behavior. Prominent scientists have theorized that the “Dark Sun hypothesis” (DSH) may account for the bizarre structures and idols that were found after humanity’s awakening. Explained another way, humans are thought to have entered a temporary psychotic state where the manufacture of such monuments were the direct result of sustained and intensely altered neurological states.
However, not everyone accepts this account of the Great Darkness. Opponents of DSH point out that the theory is not comprehensive enough to account for the many post-darkness anomalies. Indeed, critics of the theory have also pointed out that it provides no plausible mechanisms by which electromagnetic disruptions can effectuate substantial neurological changes. Despite these criticisms however, DSH remains the predominant explanation for the Great Darkness.
While some looked to science for answers, others looked to religion. As one might expect, the world’s major religions interpreted the event through their own theological lens, couching the Great Darkness in terms and ideas endemic to said ideologies’ core principles and beliefs. However, the Great Darkness also catalyzed the emergence of new belief systems and philosophies, as well as precipitating large shifts in popularity for pre-existing yet lesser known theologies. The members of the “The Nocturnal Order of Sepentian,” for example, are a strange and very private religious sect known for their eerily silent demeanor and bizarre, tall, black hats, received increased interest due to rumors that they had “privileged” information regarding the Great Darkness. Several other religious institutions came into prominence as well, each one using a unique interpretation of the Great Darkness as the foundation for their belief systems.
The outside was dark. Terribly so, actually. But despite all the darkness I could see, far and clearly. There was a sense of enclosure to the darkness, as if it was a structure built up around the world, providing shade. My feet were still tucked into my blood-soaked, wool slippers and they made a comical squelching sound as I tipped-toed around, and whenever they creased from my movement, little red bubbles spilled out. I remember that one point while I was wandering around, I noticed that the branches above my head were creaking from the constant breeze. But when I looked closer at all the pretty autumn colors I realized that the branches were moving all on their own; they were waving against the wind, probably trying to shoo away the gigantic moths that were playing about their branches.
There also seemed to be a kind of melodic absence tolling somewhere in the background of the world. It was tiny and very fragile, and the slightest thought could block it out. I think it was just a fancier form of quiet; it sort of reminded me of cursive writing made from silence. The air was also incredibly soft and forgiving, and I moved about as though I were in a dream, never worrying about tripping or falling. Lesser, technical issues were completely resolved during The Darkness; you never had to worry about splinters, tripping, swallowing wrong, stubbing your toes, frog-in-the-throat. It was as if all the jagged edges of the previous reality had been blunted, if not entirely removed. But that’s not to say that the darkness lacked subtlety. The nuances were absolutely exquisite, I can guarantee you. I could actually feel the shadows trickle over my skin, tickling like cobwebs against gooseflesh; and whispers could become a variety of different kinds of insects (I once whispered the story of Little Red Riding Hood to a pet of mine, and suddenly all these little red crickets were hopping out from the corners of the room. nasty-tasting things, crickets.) Anyway, enough of all that. This is my last story and I’ll hear it finished…before you cobble me into some kind of bone-gilded music box, or whatever you plan to do with me after I’m dead.
Where was I? Oh yes, I remember: I was walking down the sidewalk. As I snuck around the neighborhood, I could see a line of people twisting out from behind the brambles of what I remembered to be an abandoned house. The house was peeling paint and the lawn was wildly overgrown, and it had been the source of endless complaints by the neighbors. All the people were silent and apparently pretty happy, as everyone was smiling. I hoped that it was a crowd of neighbors waiting to receive rations, or something like that, from some form of emergency services group. I walked up to the back of the line, somewhat in shock from all that had already happened. I suppose I played-up my fright a bit, as I was in desperate need for some good ol’ fashioned pity.
When I wandered, sobbing and shivering, over to the persons at the end of the line they didn’t even look at me. They were all too busy staring at what looked like movie-tickets. They cradled the little things in their cupped hands, as if they were too precious to hold one-handed. In a somewhat breathless, exaggerated tone I questioned the woman at the end of the line about all of the darkness and insanity and what-have-you. She placed an index finger to her lips and shushed me. That’s when I noticed her footwear. I’ll never forget that pair of red sneakers as long as I live (which, I suppose, in view of my current situation, won’t be that long). She was one of the mutes that wandered around my bedroom, flinging bloody body parts all around! My little epiphany seemed to be the woman’s cue to activate her next level of weirdness, because just as I figured things out she curved her face into a dreadfully vapid smile: the sort you’d see stretched across a sugar-drunk child’s face. I quickly exchanged my indulged expression of horror for the real thing, and ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction. (Those stupid, blood-squishing slippers made a right-and-proper joke of my exit, by the way.)
I ended up squeezing myself into a small gardening hut in some random backyard. I just sat in there, scared like you wouldn’t believe, wondering how long I could stay hidden before some horrible thing or another prompted me to leave. Do you know that I stayed in there for two weeks? (Well, at least it seemed like a couple of weeks. Time was a tricky thing during The Darkness.) I never got hungry and I never had to powder my nose, so to speak; The Darkness was a wonderfully immaculate enterprise, at least as far as the more unpleasant requirements of the human body were concerned (another one of those dampened technicalities I mentioned before). I should also mention that sleeping was all but impossible, so all I could do to pass the time was hum old show tunes and talk to myself. At one point I began to sing a funny a little song. It was a really odd ditty, full of all kinds of cut-up and pasted together rhymes and songs I’d heard. I don’t know where it came from, but the more I sang it the braver I became. But just before I got up to leave, a small piece of paper was slid through the crack in the wooden door. It was a plain enough piece of paper and all it said was, “Louder, please.” I decided that it might be wise to wait a bit before leaving, song or not.
When I felt safe again, I crept slowly from the shack and skulked around the edge of the yard, on the lookout for people that wore familiar footwear, or smiled like psychotic idiots. I could see that the line of people had stretched into nearby streets, all of them clutching their tickets and grinning. I have to admit that I was pretty curious about the movie showing inside the once-abandoned house. I eventually decided that I needed a change of scenery, so I carefully made my way through side-streets and parking lots until I was closer to the downtown area, where I hoped to encounter sane individuals (I had no idea what a tall order that was).
When I arrived at the center of the city I encountered a throng of people, all of whom were carrying around metal fitting and various other mechanical odds and ends. This time I was a bit more careful about how I approached people, so I waited and watched. To make a long story short, they were building a rollercoaster inside of a gigantic skyscraper. It wound down from the top of the inside of the building, twisting into hallways, offices, up and down elevator shafts and stairwells, and presumably into the basement and then maybe even into the sewers. I could see the windows of the building light up and dim as the cars passed through the structure, and I could hear the screaming patrons as they zoomed around the interior of the building. Then this ridiculous little absurdity began to wiggle around inside of me: I desperately wanted to take a turn on the ride. But after a derailed car filled with screaming riders came crashing out of a thirty-story window, I decided to move along, at least until the roller coaster was completely put together.
After I figured out that the whole world had pretty much gone off the deep end, I decided to find a quiet place to relax. I was about to sit down behind a dumpster and read from a water-stained fashion magazine I fished out of a street drain, when I heard something from behind me. It was sneaker-woman, smiling so hard that she made my face hurt. She just stood there like some kind of demented doll. After I don’t know how long, she put her hand out like she was checking to see if it was raining. And then, across the entire city—it started raining bloody body parts.
It was really just a splendid morning. At least that’s what I thought at the time. The birds were singing, I was just taking some muffins out of the oven, and my family was awakening to the smell of my masterful breakfast. My little ones were the last to drag themselves down to eat. I honestly don’t even remember what their names might have been. I think the tall one with the blue eyes wore glasses that didn’t fit quite right; her vision must have been fairly poor. She would have been fairly easy to sneak up on, I imagine. My husband was a nice man, thin with rangy arms, but he had wide, muscular calves—rare, that. I believe he might have been named after someone famous. Someone tall. After the table had been decorated with baked goods and fried delights, my family and I began our meal. I can only remember where everyone’s eyes were looking, and how far their hands were from the butter knives and expensive forks, and I can easily imagine how the little girl might have tasted. I should probably feel awful for thinking that, but it’s so, so true.
The little boy (I’m fairly sure it was a little boy) said something about having a nightmare. It’s always the children who know first. His hand was adorably tiny when he wrapped it around his fork and clumsily delivered his food into his little, messy mouth. I think I might have loved him, then. I might still, but I’m not sure. I suppose it doesn’t matter anymore, does it? My husband was talking to the little girl with the crooked glasses. His hands seemed so weak looking as they gestured alongside his words. As I picture them, they kind of remind me of a couple of dead, featherless birds. But there we all were, with our little, pointless words scattering across the breakfast table as we shared our morning meal. And at some point, as hard as it is to believe, I think I actually declined a plate of bacon that was passed to me, and then reached for a grapefruit! Can you even imagine such a thing!
I do recall there being a very steady breeze; the wind chimes never let up for even a second. I was passively trying to hear something behind the noise of the tiny chimes, something that seemed out of place on such a beautiful day. I remember that I needed to look out the window, and thinking of how odd an impulse that was, and how I had never in all of my life felt something so strange. It was as if something from a dream had taken over my free will. Right there, in the kitchen at breakfast, surrounded by greasy dishes and sunshine—the most unusual moment of my life (of that life, anyway). No one at the table had any idea how terrified I was at that moment. They just kept eating and talking and laughing. Beneath my clothing I began to tremble. I couldn’t speak. I just turned my head towards the window, and looked out into the yard. There wasn’t a thing amiss. Nothing. Everything was accounted for: trees swaying in the breeze, sunshine dappled patio, and a big blue sky. But then I realized, in the very second I turned away from the window, that something had indeed changed. The sound I couldn’t hear for the chimes had entered the room. It had to have come in through the window, naturally. I was still paralyzed. No one even noticed the invading thing. They were still carrying on as if the whole world wasn’t about to change. The little boy looked at me, and he tried to speak. (Yes, I’m sure now that it was a little boy.) His words, along with his entire body, just sank away into the sound of the soft breeze, gently, finally. Then there was darkness, everywhere, and I was still holding a grapefruit in my hand.
(I think everyone imagines The Darkness as an event that was visible at a distance, like some kind of apocalyptic tidal wave, rolling slowly towards land; and after everyone sees the wave rise up above the clouds they run screaming, falling over one another as they go. But it really wasn’t like that at all, at least not for me. Of course, it could have been different for everyone, so who can say?)
The world seemed so much smaller, more personal, like everything had been locked into a closet, but the darkness gave the impression that the closet might go on forever. I looked out the window, again. I can clearly remember staring at a tree that was all lit up by a stray beam of light that fell from somewhere above. Its branches were bizarre, wrapping around one another like eels in a bucket, and they were filled with the strangest, blackest fruits, each one the size of ripe cantaloupes. They looked absolutely delicious, but they were squirming every-which-way, like something might’ve been trying to get out of them, or the fruit itself was breathing; I really didn’t know which. But neither reason would’ve made me want to eat them any less, not even when some of the fruit fell off the tree and rolled into the darkness, where I swear I heard them scurry away on little feet. I couldn’t take my eyes off the tree until I saw my little girl walk up to one of the branches and sink her teeth into a low hanging fruit. Her glasses were gone, and she was looking around as if her eyes were working just fine. I think she looked at me briefly before she backpedaled into darkness, her smile all sweet and black from the fruit she was eating. I wanted to chase after her (almost as much as I wanted a piece of that peculiar fruit) but somehow I knew I wouldn’t catch her. I was quite a mess, then. Just a thing that cried and cried. When I finally turned away from the window I saw my husband, dressed for work and walking out the door with his briefcase. All he said to me was, “Don’t wait up, honey.”
I wandered around the house for quite a while, looking at familiar things. While I was sitting on my bed, staring at the cream colored walls, I thought I heard someone knock at the door. I hid under the bed at the sound of the front door opening up, and what could only have been the footsteps of a large crowd of people entering my home. Whoever they were, they came right up the stairs and into the room I was in. I could see quite the collection of footwear from where I was lying: dirt-encrusted boots, well-worn slippers, sneakers, even some very expensive looking high heels. There might have been twenty or so people in there with me, and besides the sound of them walking around on the wood floors, I couldn’t hear a single one of them so much as breathe. They just kept walking around, moving close to one another and then away, like a gang of socializing mutes. After a while little drops of blood starting falling to the floor from where the people were milling around. The mutes didn’t react to it at all; they seemed far too busy scuffing up my polished wood floors with their non-stop mingling. Severed fingers were next, then all kinds of body parts. The blood started to pool around me, but I hadn’t even the tiniest inclination to pop-up from beneath the bed. After many minutes’ worth of limbs and heads and whatnot hitting the floor, and long after it was obvious that there were far more body parts than could have been provided by twenty people, the strangers left the room (or at least their feet and ankles did; I can’t vouch for the rest of their bodies). Once they were all in the hallway and clearly moving down the stairs, I could hear them talking, incoherently. I suppose they were just your everyday, ordinary crowd of partygoers. They just stopped by to wander wordlessly around my bedroom, and shed thousands of pounds of mutilated, human body parts. Of course, that whole fiasco with the blood and meat has a completely different effect on me now, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. Anyway, after I heard the front door close and the voices move out into the streets, I realized there was clearly no safety to be had inside the house. It took me some time to gather enough courage to leave, but finally I put down the grapefruit and made my way into the darkness of the streets…
As we’ve mentioned before, there will be a Family Man YouTube series being released sometime in the near future (hopefully within 6 months from now). However, we wanted to give people a little taste of what the show might be like. In this post, and the next, we have posted a couple sample tracks from the developing Family Man soundtrack. We really believe that in order to create a dark and ominous atmosphere it is essential to get the music right. The sound track will consist of some more melodic songs, but will also have a lot of atmospheric music as well. We hope you enjoy!
As we’ve mentioned before, there will be a Family Man YouTube series being released sometime in the near future (hopefully within 6 months from now). However, we wanted to give people a little taste of what the show might be like. In this post, and the next, we have posted a couple sample tracks from the developing Family Man soundtrack. We really believe that in order to create a dark and ominous atmosphere it is essential to get the music right. The sound track will consist of some more melodic songs, but will also have a lot of ambience music as well. We hope you enjoy!
We led a tumbling parade of fire and stone into the smoking depths of the earth, wrapped around each other like two serpents seeking the death of the other. And making up the tail of our downward procession toppled all of the screams and corpses and cannibals and rotting houses that comprised the decadent city. I found it mildly ironic that the detestable creatures suddenly found themselves swallowed beyond the fiery maw of the earth, dinner to the greatest cannibal of all. But while the earth has ever been the eater of its own children, it has also been a shelter to the greatest walks of shadow and darkness, and I had betrayed too many of them to the carnivorous sun, which was now seizing the ancient shades by the neck, dragging them under the killing-gaze of a dead, burning star.
Even as we plummeted, Miss Patience was busy trying to work her enormous jaws around me, and I was doing my best to wrest her head from her thorny shoulders, plying all of my considerable strength to the task of expanding the wounds already opened by my sisters. We splashed beneath the waves of near-liquescent darkness, as the depth we achieved contained shadows sufficiently old enough to turn away the glare of the sun. Once the light had vanished, the silence of buried secrets rose up and stole the sounds of thunder and death from the air, plunging them beneath the unceasing knell of nothingness. We were alone in a void, and for a moment it seemed that we were no less than gods, floating within a primal darkness, and battling each other for the right to fill creation with our singular and inscrutable designs.
The fact that we survived the impact of our fall was even more evidence that a dream had been joined by our coming together, and that the Deadworld was denied the full measure of its power over our flesh and blood, allowing wonder to undo the work of wisdom. Burning debris rained down seconds after we crashed into the darkened earth, but the darkness fought back the fire’s light, begrudging it an impossibly small dispersion into the spaces of the underground. Miss Patience rose up from beneath a mounting pile of burning wood and fallen rock, throwing it aside with little effort. Her dead eyes, while incapable of affecting me with their hunger-inducing glare, bore into me with a hatred that almost set me aflame. And just before her hatred led her to attack me in another uncalculated charge, she paused, and for the first time reflected her human origins. Her teeth scraped violently against each other as she spoke, as her mouth was no longer designed for speech, and her tongue was occasionally impaled and bloodied as she struggled through her words.
“You’ve made a fine revenge of things, little killer. You have destroyed all that I’ve worked for, and now you’re trying to add me to your collection of artwork. I made a world within a world, and you simply destroyed it. I am carved from an inner darkness you can’t even remember, much less imagine. I’m a collage of grimmest truths, assembled by grinning poets that watch and laugh from behind this game of light and darkness—and like some angry child, you would break me apart and leave me in ruin? Destruction is the cheapest form of art, little killer. I wouldn’t hold my head too high, if I were you.”
“Hahaha, what do you know of art…Sara? You simply eat your own, and then, as if your actions warrant special attention, expect my admiration? You took a fragile darkness and filled it with petty evils, nothing more. What would your cult of well-wishers think if they could see you now? Would they see a great and dark mother of the underworld, or merely the breeder of freaks and fools, all of whom gather round their blind mother, crushing together into filthy holes that spiral beneath ruined shacks, and busy themselves appeasing the crawling worms of the earth with offerings of stolen, rotten meat? I’m going to do you the kindness of opening you up to the elder darkness, and release your stolen shadows to the bowels of the deep earth. Also, if your darkness proves precious enough, I might even redeem myself to the shades I’ve wronged this day. And then, Miss Patience, I have every intention of holding your head as high as my arms will allow.”
My father was already in my hands by the time Miss Patience realized I’d run at her. The scream she issued was almost as much a violation of natural law as was her alien sight. My father had reached beyond flesh and into bone, splitting her sternum and unrolling the sallow lengths of fat that curled beneath her unclean flesh. A vile fluid that must have been blood washed over me, and I resisted the urge to retch from the smell. The Mother of Cannibals then backhanded me into the air, dashing me against the unrelenting limestone. I slid from the wall and fell back to my feet, bleeding and doubled over. Then Miss Patience hefted a gigantic, burning plank and brought it down atop my head, hard. My hands and knees crashed into the stone floor. Finally, and with the most casual of efforts, she kicked me into a large fire that had fallen from the earth above, and then I watched as my clothing was set ablaze. She paused to enjoy the sight (or whatever sensations her eyes still afforded her) of my impending death. (I certainly wouldn’t have begrudged her a last look at me, as I was, after all, a blazing artist beneath the prehistoric earth. I would have loved to see what it all looked like, myself.)
“You remind me of your last work, little wick…all full of fire and failure, HAHAHA!” Of course, I rose from the flames and charged at her, but not so mindlessly as my opponent had done only a short time before. I had planned my next move quite carefully, while I smoldered beneath hatchling flames. When I collided with the under-witch she moved only slightly, laughing hard and horrible at my apparent failure. Nevertheless, while I was so close to her, and still slightly aflame, I wrapped my arms as far as they would reach around her bulk, and sank my sisters into her many layers of roiling flesh. Then, utilizing bones as handles for the second time, I lifted the giant cannibal into the air. I raced across the uneven stones of the cavern, holding Miss Patience high, both of us laced with flame. When the red-hot steeple—that had been protruding from a mass of raging flames—disappeared within her back, and then reappeared from without her flaccid left breast, hissing with boiling blood, I knew she was beyond the shelter of even a dream, let alone hope. I took off my burning coat and threw it to the ground, and watched as Sara Kain tried to pull herself free from fire and death. At some point she looked upon me with pleading eyes and held out her clawed hand.
“I don’t want to pass without telling someone…I’ll tell you…and then I can fade away. Please!” I waited until her flesh had crisped and blackened—sloughing off in places, and sizzling as it slid down between glowing embers—and then I pulled her seared body from the pyre, and laid her head upon the smoking remains of my coat.
“Tell your final tale, Miss Patience,” I said in frozen tones. “And should your story please me, I will spare it from the hungriest monster of all…oblivion.”
“Very well,” She said. Her teeth sounded out a terrible rhythm as they collided with each other, and her words dropped from her mouth like stillborns falling to the cold earth, naked and hopeless.
Allegedly, the Family Man’s knives are constructed from the bones of his twin sisters; however, his siblings’ identities have never been explicitly remarked upon. As with his father, we have only been given brief glimpses into what the killer’s sisters might have been like: Similar to children, they are full of laughter and mischief, but unlike their peers, they merrily engage in murder after murder.
While purely speculative, the violent, yet giddy, nature of the two girls loosely corresponds with a murderous urban tale. The story goes that a poor farming couple gave birth to a pair of twin daughters that the father, for reasons unknown, did not wish to keep. As a punishment to the mother (aside from the regular beatings she is said to have endured), the cruel father kept the children in a tiny potato cellar just beneath the house. For years they were fed through a small hole in the floor, and were only spoken to when they were admonished by their father for being too noisy. Throughout the years, the sisters’ only consistent contact with the outside world was the tortured screams of their mother and the sounds of their father’s venomous cruelty. However, it is said that, at some point, a mysterious woman appeared and began to visit the twins (in some versions this is a stranger, while in others it is their mother). The story continues with the woman secretly teaching the children to embrace the violence surrounding them; she taught them to enjoy it, to wield it, and finally, to inflict it upon the man keeping them from spreading it throughout the rest of the world. At the end of the tale the strange woman eventually sets the children loose, and the twins gain vengeance against their sadistic father, introducing him to a brand of cruelty that he could never have imagined–all while they sang and laughed.
While this is often considered an urban legend, there is a similar case that occurred in a small rural town in Ohio (sometimes in the mid 70’s), where it was suspected that a man, found mutilated and dead, was housing two feral children in his basement. Although no such children were ever found, there were numerous unsolved murders over the next few years that produced some interesting forensic data. Specifically, the murder victims were found with stab wounds that seemed to originate from an angle that would indicate the killers were no larger than children. To further complicate these accounts, some witnesses claimed to have seen a tall, strange woman with a pair of smiling girls the night before some of the murders occurred. And although there has never been a direct witness to these killings, there are several accounts where those unfortunate enough to be in the area could hear the sounds of screams…and children’s laughter.
The subterranean world is undeniably home to the oldest and most beautiful specimens of darkness, as the sun has no place or power within its secreted depths, and so it was with a heavy heart that I did what I did. The explosives were only waiting to detonate, having been strategically dispersed across the cavern system, directly beneath the cannibal city. I departed the underground via the parched throat of an old well, and stood a relatively safe distance from the city that was about to tumble beyond the brink of living memory.
I watched from the very edge of the field where they first attacked me. I smiled beneath a slick of reddest twilight. I waited. For the briefest moment the city seemed to shrink down as if coiling hidden muscles, preparing to leap into the air. And then there was thunder. The city was lifted up upon flaming tongues that licked at the sky. The ground shook wildly, and fire chased the darkness from every secreted cave-entrance in and around the city, sending geysers of flame high into the sky. I quickly began to make my way into the city, as the second series of explosives was timed to detonate shortly after the initial batch: I needed time to reveal myself to the creatures, so they would know who it was that destroyed them. I walked in plain view as I moved towards the burning city. I passed raging fires and entered thick clouds of choking smoke, but a dream was upon me, and I knew I would endure. Once I entered the city of burning cannibals I could see that the wretches were trying to flee into the underground, finding only their fiery deaths. Screams—louder by far than any shrieks that had ever escaped the underground slaughterhouses—battled the smoke for dominance of the air, and the burning debris of flesh-eaters was everywhere, crackling. My laughter rose above the sounds of fire and dying as I waded into thick crowds of fleeing citizens, wielding my father, extinguishing the light of fools. Houses tumbled to the earth beneath the weight of the piling flames, thickets became bonfires, cannibals became tinder, and the shapes of forgotten gods moved within the smoke: my art had engulfed the town.
I stood amid the fires and bodies and shrieks, and I called out to the Mother of Cannibals. My voice rose with the smoke and fire, and then crashed down upon the burning city, cracking aged timbers and worrying the red-hot flames. It was from the entrance of a large barn they came—baying and hungry, blind and monstrous. This was the great and dire company of Black Molly Patience: atrocious creatures from the underground, all of them sculpted by the dusky hands of a blind god under the earth. There was a white, hairless and eyeless bear, equipped with claws so overgrown as to seem almost comical; alien wolves with their frosted eyes of lightest blue; and a lean, hungry cougar with a mouth that occupied nearly every inch of its head, evicting even its ears and nose in favor of jaws that could open wide enough to admit a small dog. My sisters moved to my sides; our laughter was growing with the fire. The wolves were the first to fall to us. The canines attacked as a single force, hoping to drown me in their numbers, but my sisters were like whirlwinds, twisting and turning with a maniacal precision, entering and exiting the beasts like wind blowing through tall grass. When the wolves fell again to the earth, they did so in pieces that quivered and whined. The gigantic bear-thing came next. My roaring father struck the fool-creature’s head with such force that it seemed to explode into a starburst of blood and brains, like the finale of a fireworks display made from gore rather than gunpowder. It was the great cat that managed to momentarily slow my progress towards my scripted opponent. It had attacked me from behind, seizing my neck in its enormous mouth. I reached back and spread apart the thing’s jaws until I heard the wet cracking sound of bones breaking deep beneath flesh. When the creature reared backwards to escape my grip, my sister glided across the big cat’s exposed underbelly, releasing a crimson tangle of gleaming entrails. The beast collapsed upon the street and was quickly set upon by ravenous flames. The fire seemed to join my side of the conflict, as it surged and roared across the streets, engulfing or routing the crowds of creatures and half-men that attempted to slow my pace. Then she was there, in the darkness and smoke.
I had no idea the Deadworld could encompass such a dream. She was a wicked song of teeth and claws, set to the awful melody of burning, sightless eyes. But while she was a living horror, an echo of dethroned beauty reverberated through her features, suggesting the distance the woman had once fallen from grace and dream. Blind though she may have been, some invisible emanation from her whited eyes plunged beneath my flesh, searching and summing. I could feel her conjuring alien hungers from the emptiness of my stomach, trying to fill me with forbidden appetites. Something about her eyes held an actual power, not some abstract force, but a tangible violation of nature, and it was trying to change me. She took a step from the smoking ruin of the doorway, as if looking more fully upon me would better allow her to focus her efforts to transform me. But my body kept its own secrets—and they would admit no mysteries besides their own. I could feel the searing gaze of my family as it met the sightless eyes of Miss Patience, and I could smell her fear.
I was airborne, my sisters laughing out in front of me, their metal teeth glittering with the lights of a thousand fires. Molly clutched my torso in a cage of claws, hoping to tear me from the smoky air, but while my body ceased to advance, my sisters’ journey was far from over; their laughter dimmed as it sank beneath filthy layers of cannibal flesh, severing the vital tubers of Molly’s neck. The monster quickly turned around to face the inside of the burning barn she emerged from, and threw me into and through a massive wall slathered with hungry flame. After I landed in a room filled with smoke and corpses, I rose up and prepared to receive the she-demon that came crashing after me. She lowered her antlered head and rammed herself into my chest, lifting me from the floor and pinning me upon her lethal horns. She charged mindlessly forward, smashing me through more walls, barreling into fiery copses, and finally crushing me into the side of an overturned and smoking truck. Somehow I still lived. I theorized that a dream had been born between us, and within its extents she and I were true monsters, beyond the call of conventional pain and fragility. I tore myself free of her evil headdress, snapping-off horns like twigs from a branch, and calling up screams from her hellish, gaping mouth. Her remaining horns functioned as adequate handles, and after I seized hold of them I began to twist Miss Patience’s head from her body. Shortly after her vertebrae began to crackle, she stood to her full height, some nine feet tall, denying me the leverage of the burning earth, and dangling me before her forest of teeth. I reached to my back and raised my father into the air. Miss Patience lunged forward with her terrible mouth yawning impossibly wide, revealing the path so many had traveled. And then the world became so much thunder and fire, and the ground opened up beneath us. The second group of explosives had detonated, and Miss Patience and I tumbled into the stygian darkness…