Every night before bed, before sacrificing myself to the gulf of limitless dream, I have a ritual. There are wards – symbols and sigils and herbs known to only a few, only spoken about in books that should have been lost to the pyres of darkest history. The Gellspachen, the Uurza, burned leaf of Tinzane, the sigils of lost Lemuria. They are known to me, oh yes – they have come to me in dreams, or sent by other travelers who have come to know me. The wards are powerful – they make the very air hum with their power, yes – and they have kept me safe for these long months. Safe from harm, safe from ‘other’, safe from the black wings and the piping and the gate… Safe
Last night sleep came fitfully, I tossed and turned and sweat drenched the sheets as I was swallowed by black and venomous dreams. I felt the pull, felt hot winds blowing across my skin and sharp rocks under my feet as I walked, disoriented, uncertain of where I was. I heard a sickening hum that filled my head with cold writhing tendrils that made me shriek. I looked upon the black stone landscape and my eyes burned with the wrongness of it all. Continue reading
I was diagnosed with a persistent ringing in the ears; the doctors said it was a common malady, tinnitus, and nothing to be concerned about. Many people have the condition to varying degrees, I was told, and it was relatively harmless – one can live quite normally, even. One can live normally.. as long as you don’t listen to the sounds, the terrible, cursed sounds…
I lay awake in the darkness of midnight and hear what starts as a light hum, barely perceptible in the late night silence. It grows slowly though though, gaining in volume, changing pitch as I lay there. Soon, in the darkness, I begin to hear the piping, the mad discordant piping that fills my mind with dread and black thoughts of dark galaxies and dead worlds spinning around dim, burned out stars.
We are nothing, the hum tells me. My life, each life, is just a brief spark in the infinite void, and the universe feels nothing for us or our passing. I can hear civilizations burning away, see a thousand suns burning out and being born… The limitless gulfs of the universe swallow my thoughts as I lay there, listening to the sounds of galaxies collapsing.
When we recognize and embrace the ‘otherworldly’ or the ‘fantastical’ it is considered delusion, a sickness of the mind that bends and warps ‘true’ reality so that we are unable to choose between what is ‘real’ and what is ‘imagination’. When this happens, or so society says, we need to be ‘fixed’, through therapy and repetitive cognitive exercises. Sometimes power pharmaceuticals are involved in this as well, cocktails of ‘mood stabilizers’ or ‘anti-depressants’ or ‘anti-psychotics’. The goal of course is to ‘get better’ and eliminate these ‘imaginings’, but I have found the flaw in their plan…
It matters not, you see, how well ‘medicated’ one is, and how many therapy sessions once has participated in. When you hear the great black flapping wings, when you smell the dark stench of realms unknown, when the terrible Night-Gaunts come for you and drag you into the eternal abyss of night, they do not care if you got three gold stars on your behavior chart. To the infinite and horrifying cosmos you are but a plaything, and your mental state is of no consequence. The things they have to show you, the sound of the pipers, discordantly playing around the blind idiot god, these things will drive even the most sane man mad, so maybe it is madness that keeps me safe and sane… I mean, maybe it is madness that keeps the traveler safe and sane.
And if the blasphemous Night-Gaunts fail to return a traveler to their bed, but instead drop them unceremoniously on the roof of their building, how is that to be explained? It wasn’t a suicide attempt, clearly – I was nowhere near the edge, but was instead trying to work my way back into the warmth and security of the ward. They still have not explained my unceremonious disappearance and re-appearance. And they say it is I that was ‘imagining things’.
I made a number of friends and acquaintances recently during a stay in a local medical facility, recovering from a long illness of sorts. Many of these acquaintances were there on a regimen of rest and revitalization, working on overcoming the overwhelming nature of our modern society. They were nice people, all of them, and we had many a rational and polite conversation about our lives, families, and the challenges of the world around us. None of these conversations were of any particular interest to me, however – the overall banality of their lives shed little illumination on my own personal questions and concerns.
There were a few I met there, however – long-term residents for whom the traditional treatments had proven ineffective – who had many fascinating things to say on a great number of peculiar topics. It took me a while to earn the confidence of some of these residents, but after I opened up about some of my own personal experiences, they began to confide in me as well, and the information conveyed was beyond fascinating. Continue reading
In my youth, my great grandmother was still alive, a fixture at all of our family functions and traditions. I remember her being so small and frail, but so vibrant and full of energy, especially around the children. She was a natural born storyteller and, even as aged as she was, her voice was strong and conveyed a passion and depth. I remember always looking forward to great-grandmas’ storytimes and hearing the seemingly fantastical tales of her life growing up, and the amazing tales of magic and monsters she would spin for us in the too-warm living room as we sat cross-legged on the floor, enraptured by her stories. As a child you never think of stories as ‘fact’ or ‘fiction’, they all have the same level of truth; it’s only when we grow older that we start to separate truth from fantasy… or at least we think we do. It is only now, in my later years, that I call into question some of the stories I was told – were they truly just ‘stories’ or was there something more to them. Lately, however, I have seen things that call into question many of the ‘facts’ I had come to believe as true…
Original deed of Providence Plantations features unknown sigils originally thought to be Naragansett, but not conforming to known Naragansett iconography.
It is as if I am waking from a long and uncomfortable slumber full of half-known dreamscapes full of fragments of long lost knowledge. I have been in a daze, I don’t know how long – I remember shadows, sounds, disorientation. I remember sounds, too – normal, everyday sounds of traffic and conversation, but with a strange discordant piping under it, nearly imperceptible but always there, at the corners of the world.
“An Innocent Book”