Sometimes it’s Hell Just Getting Out of Bed

It’s the second clock that wakes the thing. A slant, warped box of thirteen crimson letters set about a chipped, slate face. The sound of steel striking bone. Infernal, arrhythmic punctures that dance between the pendulum’s metered silences. The manic, staggered metronome somehow growing, resonating and layering with tick over stop over tick over tock over is over not.

A breath crawls up the thing’s shrivelled throat and ribbons of rotting tissue flutter between the jagged ivory jutting from its maw. A mob of sleep-stuck eyes writhe under tallow skin. Misfiring piston coughs shake the meat of it and rattle the iron bed. Tender, raw flesh snags against the rust-peppered springs, galvanising the putrid mass into waking. Its flank of crust-glued eyelids strain and, oozing, tear themselves open to the gloom; goat/squid pupils snapping at the thin, grey morning, edged flame by the streetlight peering in through the barricaded window.

Then the thing on the bed begins its screaming.

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Notes From an Early Reconnaissance Prior to The First Celestial Conflict

The workings of the machine, if you could call it that, were intricate to the point of being maddening. It was made up, not of physical parts, but of what seemed to be translucent, ghostly shards, each one, a single three-dimensional edge or fractal facet of some ethereal, vaporous matter. They shimmered and flickered as they moved, collapsing, shattering and coalescing as they each worked to dismantle the recent dead, striping away their guilt, their shame and their very selves, in order to fuel and people this horrific contraption. It was a terrible mockery of an afterlife promised from pulpits, an amalgam of heaven and hell, of peace and annihilation, this industrialised, postmortem punishment/purifier. Able to take in the whole of it from this vantage, I had the realisation that, on my previous visits, I had been deposited somewhere inside the swarming iterations of the thing itself. This time, however, the amygdalial inhibitor having thankfully worked as planed, I had unfolded at some external point, from which I was able to survey, as best I could, this immense heaven/hell machine.

I was somehow able to view the continental, perhaps even planetary, engine as a complete, colossal whole. The sight of it, along with the crushing strain that its size and complexity placed on my transient from, was almost debilitating. I was awestruck, not only with the intricacy and delicacy of it, but also its compete lack of scale. I struggled to take in the extra-dimensional vastness of it, the maddening thing somehow twisting and compressing perspective, causing my gaze to splinter and multiply and blend. I saw in kaleidoscopic visions that shifted and folded throughout and around and inside that sprawling, damed and divine machine, giving me a total yet incomprehensible sensory experience of its structure, its instrumentation, and its processes.

All at once, I could witness any and every facet of its jagged, soul-spalling mechanisms, I could see into its deepest components and ingredients and products. It was as if my awareness of it was not one of a passive viewer, but that I was, myself, a part of of it, while also set apart from it. Spread around, and diluted throughout, the whole of that immense, etherial and diabolical engine. I was somehow intrinsically vital to the impossible contraption’s ability to function, as if, for it to operate while I viewed it, the machine had to amalgamate my senses into itself. I realised then that the fleeting glimpses gleaned on previous expeditions had not been cut short due to improper dosages or imperfect regression as we had first thought, but that my presence there had been dismantled, eviscerated even, by the engine’s undulating, gyrating and unfolding mechanisms. As they had stripped away the sins and selves of the unlucky dead, they also unraveled my own, transient ghost and sent me out and off and down, back to our own lower order of being.

But now, having finally arrived outside of it, this time I could stay, I could see, and I could study.