RotW&AofS Issue #1 - Emperor of Dust Part 1
The following is a work of fiction. All names, characters and incident's contained herein are fictional, resemblances to actual persons alive or dead are purely coincidental.
Excerpts from Cassilda's Song (Act 1 Scene 2) taken from "The King in Yellow" by Robert Chambers (whose works are now public domain.)
All characters were created by the author.
Contact can be made through tumblr at Welcome to Halpin Hope
Warning: This story contains violence, body horror and scenes of a graphic sexual nature.
Nifty is a valuable resource for writers and readers alike and relies on the support of those who use it. You can and should donate by clicking here.
Emperor of Dust
Breaking my eyes open: Soft yellow light filters through the dust and grime covered window - it soaks into the red walls and floods the room with burnt ochre. I'm naked and still groggy – sinuses blocked – I have to open my mouth to breathe and my tongue parts my cracked lips exposing it to air for the first time in what feels like days – I wonder if it has been that long? No - just a couple of hours, maybe more. It’s mostly silent except for the subtle rumble of traffic from outside the window muted by the dull thud-thud-thud that pulses in my skull. How long had I been out?
Squinting I notice the book sitting on my lap. The broken spine toward the ceiling - open at the pages I read and re-read I don't know how many times. I toss it aside and it falls to the stripped wooden floorboards with the weight of a medicine ball. Still open at those same pages: Act 2 Scene 1. That opening line carrying the weight of what’s to come... I kick at the book and it slides to the bricked up fireplace.
I roll my head and see the boy still lies in the position I left him - sleeping slumped on the one cushioned chair in front of the dust spoiled window.
I remember when I met him - looking lost and apprehensive at the bar nursing a diet coke – his eyes darting back to the door. Cute - real boy next door good looks - soft but masculine features - his black hair styled with clay. The only reason I'd noticed him was overhearing the two Chickenhawk queen ex-pats at the next table. Fucking caricatures from some 1950’s queerbait play:
"Look at that one. By the Bar. The arse on him!"
"A little old don't you think?"
"Do you think? No older than the boy’s we’d play with back home."
"I never much cared for the boys back home you know. They were only interested in the money, made no effort. Seemed as though they thought that looking bored went unnoticed. Here though, here at least they put on a show, pretend that they're into it... or not into it if that's your mood..."
"Well they say it's pretending."
"I know right. I had this sweet little Arab thing the other night, his father dropped him off..."
"I know right?"
"That's so hot."
"So hot! Anyway, this little thing's father drops him off at my door and warns me as serious as all shit against fucking his son in the arse but I tell you, once he'd left, that little brown skinned beauty spun and opened up his tight little boy pussy wider than the mouth of a wellington boot."
"You know... I think I prefer it when they don't like it."
"Like that little Romanian boy?"
"Exactly like that little Romanian boy."
"What was his name?"
"Uhmmmmm.... hang on a minute... “
“No that was that was that sweet little French cunt we picked up near népliget park.”
"Mihail! That was it. He was a beauty."
"Such a beauty... those eyes!"
"And his skin! Oh my god his skin!"
"His arse was perfect. I could have spent weeks with my face buried between those cheeks... Oh and he tasted so good. But what was I saying? Oh yes! Like, with him it was hot because when I was fucking him he was wincing and his eyes were welling up..."
"So hot! And with the wincing and the wet eyes... the self loathing... it was perfect you know! I came buckets into that little boy pussy and..."
Finally I interrupted. Slammed my hand down on their table and just stared at them. Couldn't take their shit anymore - these fucking people. All through their vile cackling I could feel the bile creeping up my throat and into my mouth - the way they talked about these boys: pitched somewhere between revolting and banal... it induced patches of intense heat on my flesh - an irritation like a thousand mites running between skin and skull.
I came to his rescue when I saw a third had begun pawing at him - some massively overweight middle aged man in a too tight pink 'Hello Kitty' tank top - his fat sweaty hand finding its way to the boy's hip and up and under his white t-shirt. The shit in this town! Not that I can judge. Another fifteen or twenty years and can I guarantee that I won't be any different?
Pulling myself up from the horizontal of his cot, I rest on the edge, elbows on knees and try to pull focus. The room stinks - spilled stale beer and molehill ashtrays, unwashed socks and something else - something familiar - something that's mine.
The boys head lulls to the side and back, caught by the crimson headrest. My eyes scan him, his slim toned torso – bare save for the beads of sweat clotted over his chest and flat stomach. One hand hangs down the side of the chair, the armrest catching him at the pit. His right hand nestled in the open fly of his blue jeans - sporadically from which springs a small, slight brush of curly black hair. Absent mindedly I give my flaccid cock a gentle tug. His legs stick out rigid - right crossing left - slender sockless feet covered in dust dappled sun spots.
I motion to stand but fall back hard into the groaning springs of the cot.
And I'm deluged with flashes – jumbled. Some from the dream mixed with memories of that perfect, beautiful, sinister book:
A masquerade ball. Ornate Venetian looking ivory masks.
Plague doctors and Fairy Queens.
Boys lining up in loose white cotton slips.
(Jacking off for weeks after.)
Pictures of a kid – I don’t hear his name. Dark hair and eyes, I know him from somewhere. I could place his face but…
A Big Brother program somewhere in the US - a hospital or detention centre (the would be abuser who never got his boy) a letter read out aloud – the step father… no the brother - raped the angel headed tween.
Stabbed his mother at fourteen – Now sixteen – Out at twenty-one.
Shown a picture of the corpse the cute kid cries and that Thing... that Thing that speaks for Him chips in:
Long is the road and cold is the ground that leads from Ythill to the mouth of the lake of Hali.
When the kid throws a fit, four big orderlies fold him down.
On his back two of the burly men in blue hold his ankles - two his wrists – he’s spread-eagled on the linoleum - a half inflated cock tents the thin white cotton - the circumcised head half exposed to air. That Thing begins touching itself between it's legs - though beneath the robes I can't see exactly - it demands he recall the incident. The kid howls but it squats on his chest - one elbow on it's knee - face in hand - the other tugging at something beneath the deep red cloth it's draped in - grinning with all those broken teeth. The kid relents: “I hear it too – the knife going into her back… it… it… it sounded like a…”
Like a watermelon - like when you make that first cut?
“…I remember her turning… her turning and… and trying to look at me, turning and screaming and I went crazy when I heard her because I wasn’t expecting it…”
Wasn’t expecting her scream?
“…it, it, it, it – it wasn’t like the movies and she turned around and screamed and it wasn’t like the movies and I screamed back at her - I screamed at her to shut-up - Just to shut-the-fuck-up and I pushed her and she fell back - back onto some rocks - I pushed her down and she was kicking and screaming and her bigs…”
You mean her eyes.
“I mean her eyes, her eyes were big and wet and she was kicking and still screaming so I stabbed her in the chest and there was blood… blood all over my eyes, my jeans, my hands were all… slippery… blood all over my… all over them, I could hear her breath, her eyes were… and the gurgle and she… I closed my eyes and she screamed my name but there wasn't time...”
Indeed it is time. We have all laid our disguise aside but you...
As much as I care to remember before I'm brought back into the room.
I look back to the boy. He seems different in soft filtered light - on his upper biceps and shoulders his milk coffee coloured skin is marked by raised white healed scars – criss-crossing in no discernible pattern. On the right of his torso, just below his chest - a blister - a lit candle pressed and held against his flesh. Bruises – a cloud of purple and blue and yellow mark the right side of his body. Did he have that when I first brought him back here? I recall buying him a drink that night in the bar- something blue and sugary - something that stained his tongue and made his lips taste like grapefruit. We sat at a table in the corner while I waited for John and I listened while he told me his story in broken English: A seventeen year-old runaway - gay and unloved, a wicked stepfather with wandering hands - nothing new. I told him mine in Hungarian - stifling family - old money - on the run for nearly two years - how John and I had moved to the city two months ago - the odd living arrangements we'd found in Eddie's loft - poor little rich boy slumming it in post communist Eastern Europe trying to prove some bullshit point to a family who, actually, only ever wanted the best for him. I remember asking if he had a place to stay and when he answered in the negative, persuading Eddie to loan me an extra fold out cot for a couple of days until the kid got himself sorted. What was that? Two weeks ago? Eddie hadn't complained. To be honest though I don't remember the last time I saw him.
I stand again - this time following the weight of my head. I fall forward a little before muscle memory holds and bracing my feet – a hot flush for the briefest of moments – the smell of burnt toast – gravity gives and I’m weightless. I see my feet rise from the floor then… I open my eyes and I’m back - Vertical and forward leaning.
Our bed is empty - John's indent still there.
I look at the book by the hearth unmoved. I've done everything to rid myself of that wonderful hateful tome but it still finds it's way back into my hands. I pick it up from the floor and lay it on the mantelpiece. As I turn it falls as if pushed by an invisible hand and falls open: Act 2. Scene 1...
No. Not now. I pick it up again - close it and put it back on the mantelpiece.
Turning my head back to the boy I check that he is still sleeping. I place my fingers to his shoulder and feel his soft warm skin - his firm chest gently falling and rising.
I notice the door ajar.
Padding into the round hall - the Green and Blue doors are closed - Eddie sleeping after another late night, the strangers in Blue? Either gone or following suit. The blinds are closed but the balcony door is open and a slim shaft of warm light pierces the hall. From beyond the shutters a scratched horn bellows over a muffled drum snare - tch-tchtch-tch-tchtch - and I know it’s him.
Parting the blinds - I see John lying out on the lounger: naked but for a pair of grey cotton briefs - his thick half hard cock bulging out in front. What are you dreaming about? I reach for my own prick - feeling it plump up and give it a gentle tug while looking at my boyfriend - his hard torso bathed in soft mid morning sunlight giving his skin a warm golden glow. His face is peaceful. I place my hand to his light brown hair and I’d wish him better – but to be honest: I don’t have it in me. By the turning record player on the cast iron table are the sleeve notes for the LP he was listening to: Ascenseur pour l'echafaud. Miles always smiles on John. He stirs - opens his eyes a crack in the harsh sun and looks at me: “Gabe? What time is it?”
“It’s alright it’s still early, go back to sleep.” I run the back of my hand over his forehead as he goes back to dozing.
Trying to explain to John why I was moving a seventeen year-old Hungarian kid into our room wasn't easy. Suddenly the real nature of our relationship was laid bare - the open secret we'd never discussed:
"And have you fucked him already?"
"Actually... he fucked me..."
"And what... I should just be OK with that?"
"If he wants , then you can ask if he’ll fuck you too."
He hit me. Not like a gentle slap but a full punch to my jaw. I cradled it in my hand. He stayed silent for a moment – staring at me.
"Why would I be OK with this?"
"Why wouldn't you?" I said rubbing my chin, knowing that it would bruise. It did.
"It's just the nature of our relationship isn't it!" his lips grew tight on his face as he hated himself for the words he was saying: "It's recipricol altruism. I suck your cock, let you fuck me and you throw me enough cash to skip off when the mood takes."
That hurt: "Recipriocal altruism?"
"Where'd you hear that?"
"I read it. Some National Geographic article about Meerkats. It's why we do the things that we do."
I scoffed - knowing he was right - that it had always been that way. Just hearing it applied so clinically hit harder at that time than his punch: "So you're saying it's all for selfish reasons?"
He snorted and lit a cigarette: "Gabriel... You're the most selfish person I know."
Watching John doze back off on the recliner I know that I have a version of love for him. My version. He was right though – I just hadn't seen it myself. Or I had but pretended that I hadn't. I'd spent time wondering about us – about our association and what it is/was - turning over the things he said in the weeks since he'd said them. At best ours is no better than an audiences relationship with actors on a stage: Both of us suffering through a shared exercise in self delusion. Thinking back to how we got here – where we're going I can accept the truth of it. If such a thing, at best, does or ever has existed for us - the cold truth is we only ever really fed off of each others appetite for depravity.
I lean over the railing of the balcony and watch Ecseri - busy about its business. The Turkish café across the street is filled with wannabe boho’s and would be poets drinking lattes topped with caramel and chocolate, a fat girl bikes past - ringing her bell as she swerves around an old lady and her miniature schnauzer. The rumble of skateboards on the pavement below reminds me that I’m not that young anymore and two lithe, bronzed shirtless teens in rolled-up trackies holler on the corner: Ez zsenialis. I don’t remember Budapest ever being so tropical - so balmy - the sun beating in a cloudless sky and no hint of breeze. It hasn’t rained for a month and the heat continues to build up layer upon layer – becoming more oppressive by the day.
A last look at John - handsome, sad, lost John - before rolling back into the more palatable chill of the hall - the tile flooring cool on the souls of my feet. Dim light through the blinds casts absurdist shapes on the floor - skittering across the tiles like lizards on a rock face. I blink hard. Feel light headed...
Ice crystals begin filling my lungs – burnt toast dogging my sinuses. Shit! Concentrate. Breathe. They begin to clear - sinuses and lungs. Dry throat - dry swallow. Again. Again. Breathe. Pulse. Grumble in gut. I understand that physical need. Focus!
Along the shore the cloud waves break,
Nope. Not now. That fucking song! Cassilda can sing it to another. I throw my hands to my head and press hard squeezing my skull like a...
"Like a watermelon?"
...watermelon - forcing empty space to push that song out and away. Just need to remember to breath. The trick is to keep breathing right?
I stand at my yellow door - pass back into the Red Room and looking at my open bag I think about going home – To my mother and my... It's inevitable. Can't run from your responsibilities forever. I wonder if she's changed - if her eyes have aged like mine. Grey flecks appearing in the deep brown that was so strong not so long ago - flecks like willow-the-wisps.
The twins suns sink beneath the lake,
I’m beginning to doubt - to doubt my own existence. I cross to the fireplace, pick up the worn green fabric hardback book from the mantle and let it fall open in my hands - Act 2. Scene 1. I close it again and watch the yellow salamander embossed on the cover seemingly move in the light.
I still only remember snatches of how the book got here. Browsing a rare editions stall near Jaszai Mari Square – a pretty, slim young Syrian boy, no older than Milan who would keep me returning every couple of days. A man - tall and beautiful with ebony skin, fine features and the air of an Egyptian Pharaoh took my elbow. A brief glimpse and he's whispering of it on the balcony where John now sleeps:
“Tell me Gabriel. Have you seen the Yellow sign?”
His hand that had been softly caressing my thigh reached into his leather bag as he gifted me the book: "For you."
"The King in Yellow?" I turned it over in my hands - looked at the title page - a first edition of the French translation from 1895. No author listed. As I began to flick through the pages the Egyptian closed my hands over the book.
"My young friend." He whispered gripping my hands. "All art is truth… and you and your world will be forever changed by the truth written on these pages."
The Shadows lengthen,
I need… something. Anything. I put the book back on the mantle next to a half empty bottle of stale beer. Reaching for the brown bottle I take a slug - it's revolting - thick texture and room temperature - my parched mouth, however, welcomes the liquid.
Looking at him - at the boy – at Milan still sleeping on the chair - I shuffle through ashtrays and empty bottles of beer towards the window. Scratching a space in the dust with my nail - a beam of light breaks through, landing at his small navel. Something flashes below the surface of his skin. I squint but it’s gone. I scratch off a little more - let the light follow the thin trail of hair that disappears behind his hand and into his jeans. Another flash - a golden shimmer radiating from beneath his skin. I keep scratching at the dirt as little by little I bathe the boy in warm white light - his whole body glowing golden. The boy stirs. Milan stirs - he opens his eyes and looks deep into mine…
And it washes me. A stream - a constant stream - a never-ending stream with no dam - washing and pushing and squashing - the full weight of water that buckles my knees and crashes my seat to the floor… I lean against the wall beneath the window but it’s exhausting and numbing – each broken nerve ending that responds with yellow flickering flashes of light - Quivering with the transfer of knowledge and the power that accompanies each hit is muted by the sweaty pangs of withdrawal and – just like that - just like Ike - the sex drive returns but won’t hit bottom - which is in sight. My cock twitches back to life - begins leaking pre-cum of its own accord and I’m ready for it to begin - to scramble through the drawers I have to find - but my arm forces spastic motions – my elbow bent in – my fingers trapped in a fleshy claw - kinetic energy from some-fuck-other-where finds me - my whole body convulses and spasms inwards - in my flesh - my arm trying for freedom but there’s no lift and no reach – just the buzz of cotton in my mouth… and the song and the scream is all there is: A constant stream with no dam - a flash of Milan's soft tanned thighs either side of my face - the bristles of his small thick black bush of unkempt pubic hair burning in my nose and I’m conscious for the first time - I’m clear – clear on what’s to be done and my role in it. It’s nothing to do with soul or spirit or nurture. Everything is nature. Everything is flesh, gristle bone and blood. Sweat makes the man, molecules and atoms – burned out stars – all in the physical. Spit, piss and rectal mucus. All that matters is the texture in the touch - the way semen feels between the finger tips. Ejaculate and vaginal secretions - in these lay the truth - the building blocks that life lays on.
The boy Milan leans forward - willing me to my knees - his body still emanating the light as though it comes from within him rather than cast on him from the window. It was the light that led me here - the trippy yellow hue that shines through his olive skin. A glow that back lights every sinew and muscle in his slight young frame. I crawl over to him and he pulls me in and my hands clasp either side of his face like a vice - he wastes no time - his lips lock to mine - our tongues searching for something in each others mouths. He tastes of beer and weed. He pushes me away and lowers his face to my chest - I hear him take a deep breath - tracing his lips over my nipples - he bites gently and I gasp at the sweet sting.
I’m thinking that I need this, that the sooner the oh-so-better and maybe - just maybe this time I’ll be able to take the trip without the nightmare. Milan's fingers keep gravitating to my hard cock - it stands rigid - harder than I remember it ever having been - a steel rod enveloped in satin. He traces the length and wraps his hand around it - pulling back the foreskin and exposing the wet red arrow head to the air - I feel his thumb graze over the glans and I sigh into his mouth as I lean forward to kiss him again while his other hand reaches down between my legs and rolls my heavy balls in his palm.
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
Forcing him back into the chair - I take the lead and raise his hands above his head - I bury my face into his arm pit and inhale - hungrily sucking in the stench of his youth - I lick and lap - my tongue buzzing his slight patch of soft black hairs, already damp from his sweat in this heat. I drop down and put my lips to his tiny nipples - run my tongue around the perky pink surfaces and take each hard little nub between my teeth and bite down - I hear him take a sharp intake of breath. I follow the lines of his torso with my tongue - the hard curves of his carved adolescent muscle - he moans and bites his bottom lip.
I unbutton the last of his fly - reach for his firm young prick - my fist wrapping tight as his eyes bore into me. Pulling softly and pulsing my grip as I go - his breathing is becoming heavier and my cock nearly explodes at the feel of this seventeen year-old boy in my hands. I head back due north - bury my nose into his neck, his scent warm – vanilla and sweat fills my nostrils – thick - intoxicating.
The boy groans - he tilts his head in toward me - moves to whisper but as I pull my face from his neck I see the yellow glow intensifying in his body. I slide down the seat - falling back to my knees. I lick the short length of his teenage prick – slender beautiful – blinding and hot. Pulling his jeans down - he kicks them off of his feet - I bury my nose into his balls and breath deep the scent of this boy - sweaty and salty and the stink of dried on cum. His? Mine? Johns? I run my tongue over the smooth sack - still hairless there. I lick and lap - soaking his balls in my spit - this is what paradise would taste like. I suck on each of his pubescent globes in turn - rolling those heavy chestnut sized orbs in my mouth as they pull tighter and tighter towards his body - when I take both into my mouth at once and hum on them I feel his hands in my hair - his nails scouring my scalp. I pull off of him and see that languid satisfied yet hungry smile on his sweet young lips. Again I lick the length of his cock from base to tip - my tongue flicking the slit at the top - the taste of his pre-cum - strong and nutty. I play with the head - wrap my lips around it and run circles with my tongue before swallowing inch by precious inch. Wasting no time I take his whole meat inside my mouth - an intense rush of heat fills me and I begin to scramble – trying to swallow him whole; cock, body, boy and light. He grips the side of my head with both hands and thrusts his iron hard dick deeper down into my throat.
And strange moons circle through the skies,
I let him face fuck me - his hands gripping the side of my head - his hips lifting from the seat in short stabbing bursts. I can feel the tip of his cock in my throat as his unruly dark teenage bush slams into my nose. My hands stroke his legs - firm strong calves - maturing into muscle - a smattering of fine dark hairs - the backs of his knees - he giggles. More than this I need to be inside him - I need to inhabit his body the way he does – I need to find the source of the light. I let his tumescent prick slide from my mouth; roll his balls once more with my tongue – trace it down his taint - I swear he purrs. Of every smelly sweaty, tender place on a boys body - the taint is my favourite. The smell and taste there are purely his - salted and buttery like pop-corn - the reaction from my tongue dancing on that soft strip of skin has him squeal. I run my nose along it - taking in the young boys musk. Any other day I would call it heaven to jerk myself to completion with my face buried here in his soft warm centre. But not today. My lips kiss his ring – my tongue thrashes at his dark pink rosebud - the smell of sweat and vanilla again mixed with the natural aroma from his boy cunt become something else. He breathes heavier - jacking his own young cock as I lick the walls of his ass with heavy broad strokes – I would climb into him if I could - let his puckered boy hole swallow me.
I pull myself up and taking his slender boyish waist in my arms lift him from the seat and lay him flat on the floorboards. His legs parted I reach for my hard cock and line the aching leaking head up to his hot young pussy. Milan places his bare feet on my chest and nods at me - willing me. I take a foot in each hand and lower my nose to them. As I place both feet to the sides of my face I push my hips slowly forward - feel the resistance as his puckered cunt holds fast then opens like a flower. I feel his ring pop - giving way to the applied pressure while the head of my cock, aching dangerously, sinks in. He gasps but I'm too busy breathing in the scent from his feet - clean but sweat soaked. My tongue laps at the pale soles of each sticky young boy foot in turn while I edge my hips forward - my rod slowly entering his juvenile hole inch by inch. I release my face from his feet for a moment - to look down - to see my six and half inches - bare - burrowing into his hairless hole - the sight of skin in skin - lubed only by my spit I can feel how tight he still is - how hot - the core of this seventeen year old Hungarian boy - his cunt an active velvet volcano. I push in to the hilt - watch as my pubic hair brushes against his round cheeks - feel his muscles clamp down on my prick as I flex it inside him. I look up to his face - eyes and mouth wide with excitement - I know I've hit his sweet spot. His hands reach forward and grab my thighs – he squeezes as I gently slide backwards - leaving only the head in and watch as the youngster pants - beads of sweat appearing on his forehead. He moves down - desperate for my cock to fill him again. I smile and without warning thrust hard - the boy yelps.
Placing his youthful feet back to my face I resume licking the tender soles as I fuck him. My hands on his ankles - he flexes his toes My tongue darting between each one - his sweat mixing with my spit - the buttery smell and taste of pop-corn again. I suck on each toe separately - letting each digit pop out between my lips as I slowly continue to fuck his tight arse.
While I pull his legs to the sides - I thrust harder - sweat now dripping from the tip of my nose. Milan groans and yelps - his hand stroking the length of his slender cock. My breathing is getting heavier - becoming an animalistic grunt. I drop his legs and throw my palms to either side of his head slapping the floorboards - it stings but I continue - bucking my hips harder and faster - can feel it coming. The tingle in the hot head of my dick - the low ache in my balls - he knows it's coming. He picks up his stroke - and as I look between our sweating naked bodies his skin glows a brighter yellow - almost radioactive - I see his dick twitch in his hand and watch as he blasts rope after sticky rope of thick ivory cum across his firm young torso.
But stranger still is,
The sight sends me over the edge - what's better than watching a kid at this age spray his seed over his young body? I buck into him a couple more times as his hole tightens with every spurt of juice from the head of his young cock before my dick flexes and calling out with a deep gutteral moan I unload deep inside him - spraying his guts with cum. Panting - out of breath I lay my hand flat on his stomach and smear his body with his his own thick sticky juices - watch his young stomach muscles glisten. I pull back and let my cock slide gently from the boy I just bred. He flips onto his stomach and raises himself up on his elbows and knees - his peach like cheeks into the air. I crawl to my knees and take a whiff - the smell of his cunt and my cum have me licking my lips and instead of softening my cock gets harder. I take a mound in each hand and knead his butt - I separate the cheeks and lean in - watch as he flexes his hole and my seed dribbles out - over his taint and down the inside of his tan thighs.
My tongue finds it’s home. I bathe his cunt and lick and suck. The buttery nutty taste of his hole and acridness of my cum – the smell of the two of the us and the heat...rapture is here.
I pull back from him to look and as I part his cheeks further the light becomes brighter – almost blinding - I squint. I have to find the source of that light.
The boy shifts - he reaches under the chair - shuffling through a bag with one hand – his eyes still closed. I can feel his other hand on my head - lifting me. I look up and he hands me a small red penknife. Still breathing heavy - his lips - parted by his tongue he smiles a little and nods at me. Without considering - I place the near blunt blade to his puckered anal lips and push it into his flesh. I carve back and forward – above me groans of pleasure. Below me – my own prick still hard… unbreakable. I’m only making indentations - I force my shoulder into it - lifting myself from the ground with one arm. A trickle of blood. I cut further and still the light grows brighter from his hole… beckoning me toward the wound. Milan's hands grip the hair on my head and push my face into him - place my mouth to the cut - warm wets my lips - his hand forcing my head deeper - my tongue licking smooth surface… bone?
I pull back and dropping the knife, I press my fingers into the rusted wound. Part it, cast my eyes inwards and dig – pull – press – there! It was. It was bone - iridescent yellow like a glow stick. I delve deeper - pull back the sinew and muscle - red and yellow spilling through my fingers. It’s in his bones. The yellow light is in his bones.
All is lost!
Falling away from the boy - I look up. In the darkest corner of the room and sitting cross legged on my bed is His... Thing. He leers at me through his cracked ivory mask - Mustache bristles flecked with white grease paint.
All is lost! None shall find what has been hidden?
He licks his lips and snorts.
You sir, should reveal yourself to Him.
I fall back; leave the boy who slumps into the chair. What have I done? The pounding in my chest - my back against the wall I try to hide behind my raised knees. Close my eyes tight and screw-up my face.
The court can hide behind veils and blinds and mask’s and towers of black ivory. But He still sees all.
Pray, am I not invited?
“Stop it please… go away… go away…”
So old seem these relics, vestiges of vanity, so battered and worn and stained...
So neglected, deserted and forgotten this place.
Don your mask and come hither. Follow me to dance among the spires.
Good stranger you are lost. But He is coming. Pray to vanity, not just for you. He comes for all. The King will walk these streets and with you by his side Carcosa will rise again.
Blistered red and wet I force my eyes open and he’s gone - the Thing is gone – only his voice and that smell linger.
The boy lays still…
The body of the boy lays still.
I’m frozen. Only my eyes move to scan his body. His skin is stretched tight - pale jaundiced green. His face twisted and for the first time, that smell - putrescence and cadaverine – the greenhouse - my mother’s Amorphophallus. His arsehole carved and concaved – his hole the size of a fist. So red and brown - a cave that carries a whistle. For the first time I realize - Milan… The boy Milan is dead. Has been for what looks like… what smells like days… weeks.
Song of my Soul my voice is dead,
I trip over myself trying to stand too quickly - trying to run. My stomach turns and my gut grumbles. Lifting myself up the door frame I dare not the risk to look back – instead blinking hard.
Die thou unsung, as tears unshed,
My feet slide on the tiles - and I crash through the blinds and balcony door. I stumble; fall over John sitting at his laptop – still the brittle trumpet blowing from the record player - the loneliest horn in all the world. Gripping the railing I lean forward - dry heave and spit. I breathe through my mouth - taking big gulps of air.
Shall die and dry in,
There’s a hand - high on my back - rubbing across in soft circling motions. John’s head on my shoulder.
“Hey… It’s alright… Just breathe… It’s okay…”
I try to find peace in his voice - in his touch - the feel of his hand on my bare skin.
“Gabriel? Gabe? What's happened?”
I can't answer. Thinking about the boy in the room. His body heaved over the chair. That Thing whispering obscenities. I keep my eyes closed and focus on the sound of the traffic – on John's hand running circles on my back.
“Are you OK?"
My heart beat slows - pulse eases - he continues to rub my back and whisper to me - offering comfort and solace. Maybe. Maybe I am. It's just the book. Nothing else. That fucking play!
"Maybe... I dunno... Maybe I should see someone." I wipe the sweat from brow and catch it glistening on the palm of my hand in the sun.
"Like a doctor?"
"Yeah... or... a unh psychiatrist."
His hand is on the back of my neck - fingers working magic - massaging my aching muscles - strong, slow and deep. Can feel my heart slowing - my head returning to present space. Reciprocal Altruism. I turn at the sound of skin slapping on tile - look through the door and crane my neck to see Milan naked walking towards us. Breathing. Walking. Smiling Milan. His stomach still glistening with his cum.
“Just close your eyes… just breathe… You gonna be OK?”
Safe. Soft. I sit next to him on the recliner as Milan sits across from us and lights one of John's cigarettes – he takes a long draw before blowing a thick plume of smoke into the air over the balcony. John sneers at him but does his best to ignore the boy.
"I think so. I don't know."
"Seriously Gabe? Gabriel?"
"I think... maybe... Maybe it is you know. Maybe everyone feels like this sometimes."
"I mean, I don't know how everybody else feels. Maybe it is normal. I've nothing to compare it to."
“Just focus on you and me. There’s nothing else. Just relax and breathe deep.”
I think about our argument - about "reciprocal altruism" as he put it. Yeah. There’s no one else - Just John and Me. And Milan. And our “narratives of depravity.” Milan alive and spattered in cum sitting across from me – there’s no Thing in the mask – there’s no city of burning black stars and the King in Yellow has not yet walked these streets. There is no one else. There is just what's in front of me.
“Yeah... It's all good.”
And the book.
“It’s okay Gabe… What was it anyway?"
"Nothing... It was nothing."
He doesn't believe me. His lips purse and his cheeks tighten when he knows I'm lying to him. It's an ugly look and I hate him for it. We've been together long enough to be able to tell when one of us is trying to pull the wool over the others eyes.
"There's an email from your Mum here." John takes his hand away from my back and turns the laptop to me. "She wants you home. Your father isn’t doing so well. "
“She thinks he’s dying Gabe… and she's pissed you haven't been back yet... If you don't go she's threatening to cut you off.”
Milan looks over to us and John snatches the cigarette from his hand and takes a draw. “You're staying here.” The boy looks at him not really understanding much more than John's resentment of him.
Nothing. I feel nothing: "Maybe it is time."
“She wants you at the helm of your father's “Business Empire” as she calls it before the lawyers make their moves.”
There's a lot less of me than there used to be - but they won't notice that. I can do this… All they're looking for is a show of unity in the Financial Times - an attractive youthful face to reassure shareholders... a mask.
He is the King whom Emperors have served...
To Be Continued in Issue Two...
Coming Up in February in Issue #2 of Reports of the Weird & Accounts of the Strange...
Takeru Yuya's taste for public masturbation on the outskirts of Halpin Hope attracts unwanted attention in: “The Shadow Over Hammerhead Cove.”
Gabriel returns home to Edinburgh and takes his first steps on to a path that will change the world forever in “Emperor of Dust Part 2”