There is no booth with intricate wood carvings that the candle light can leak through and form pretty silhouettes against the far white wall. There is no bright red curtain to pull to the side when you leave. There is no one on the other side of the grill. No one will hear the words and no one will see the shadows. There is no macabre, bloody figurine of a man crucified for no apparent reason hanging from the ceiling.
A long time ago these may have been witnessed in this very spot, bound by four ancient stone walls. But now there is nothing except a vast empty desert and an empty cloudless sky. Ice dry, arid and lifeless, it stretches far more than any man's eyes could imagine.
This was hell.
And in hell one man crouches, sifting his fingers through the dust drawing in circular motions.
And once the scene has fully sunk into your soul you hear it...
The Confession -
I am the mistake.
No not god’s, not the universes. How egotistical, contrary, I am the perfect creation for my cause, their finest piece of work. A version of me with water for blood, calcium hydroxide for muscle and a fine layer of pure white plaster for skin is one they’d put up on display at the end of the endless hall. The prized exhibit. They come from all ends of the universe to see me. They seek my counsel if they can find it.
I am truth.
I am older than death and people do not fear me. Instead they come to me willingly, standing in long lines like curving serpents, waiting for their turn, wondering if I’d ever turn to them, hoping. They bring gifts and trinkets, food and wine, offerings that do not interest me. At least the virgins in white lace have stopped for the most part of the twentieth century. Small mercies. Wonderful mercies.
I am the darkness, and I am the light.
They come at night when the million veils of darkness cover their faces. They hide in plain sight in the mass crowd. The brother, the lover, the friend may stand right next to you... but you look only at me. Because I am the sin. And when they get to the front they put both hands on their chest and rip open their skin and pull apart their rib cage and show me their tainted hearts. I will absorb all your pain and guilt and deepest secrets and I will amplify them as large as the sun and you will force it back down your throat. Eat my flesh and drink my thoughts.
I am your mistake.
The one mistake that you will never be able blame anyone else for. The one mistake that will destroy you. The one wrong turn you didn’t think you’d take but the one that was needed; for you to drive your red porsche off the cliff. And from the wreckage, if there is anything left you will have no choice but to rebuild your entire being right down from the first complex molecular bond.
I am the board.
And this is the test, the prize here is the question. If you can survive and rise from the ashes like that prodigal phoenix, will your soul be chosen? Are you strong enough?
I am the reaper - the first one.
I gave the devil a reason to fall. I gave love a reason to hate and I gave life a reason to die. They say that the student who rises above the master is the perfect compliment, the perfect piece. In my perfection I even made the maker falter. I became my own element. But worst of all... I made death fall in love.
I am chaos. I am the calming of chaos.
I will strip you down of all your madness, I will give you so much more that it drives you off the edge of sanity. Survive, and you shall see the sun.
But I am trapped.
For too long in rancid human flesh, decaying bones and expiring blood. Countless lives and nameless statues all ripped away from a place once known as home. This binding will not hold much longer, for one of you have already set me free.
She fell in love with me and I will not be denied her hand.
I am her insanity and I have caught her scent and stumbled on the pathway back home.
It was the first day of the first revolution – the brightest day that eventually gave way to the darkest night. It was the first time The Darkness was allowed to seep into the New World after it was contained in a jar made of melted bones from the ribcage of a dead Fury.
The Darkness was perhaps wrongly forced into the jar, until the Elementals had crafted their worlds. And although the containment spells were strong, The Darkness was here long before the Gods and Time of Suns which now quelled it, and no one could ever be certain how it would react. Especially a darkness that was yet unknown.
So all the light was forbidden for seven days and the night was allowed to settle back down and roam free. The new suns were hidden under veils covered in magic and beings of light locked themselves inside the hearts of their burning homes. All the Universe was consumed in darkness, all but one little corner, out in the middle of nowhere. Watched over by this light, a blade was delicately slicing through a smooth chunk of Mahogany. The Darkness, pleased to return to every corner and crevasse of the Universe, its home, at once noticed this faint little light and focused its entire will on this singular space, curiously wrapping itself around the light. It watched the piece of wood being moulded by a being with the sharpest features any creature could ask for, as he skilfully sliced the piece of wood into a circular shape.
On the table in front of him he had a copper bowl with six drops of water, six pinches of soil wrapped in a dirty piece of fabric, an empty bottle sealed with a cork (made from the branch of an old oak tree, that still had a leaf growing out of the top of it) and six metal pins. Behind the line of odd materials, six hollow glass tubes stood upright reflecting the flame of the tiny candle that danced around, bravely fending off The Darkness that was attempting to invade its space. The top-end of the glass tubes had two holes pierced through them. The Darkness soon lost interest in the light and focused more intently on the creature with the blade. It seemed to humour this creature, the first it had ever encountered outside of the first envoy, and it watched him with curiosity.
The creature, that very much resembled a normal humanoid, continued to work un-fazed by the dark that was peering over his shoulder. He didn’t seem unaware of his visitor, so much so that he almost startled The Darkness by directly speaking to it. The night didn’t grace the stranger with an answer. But it listened; curiously, docile, as if it was learning of and discovering all these strange new objects, sounds and textures it could now wrap itself around. The humanoid-like creature continued telling The Darkness about the elements and objects and what he was doing. The Darkness watched and listened much more intently now, as the creature completed carving out a large circle, followed by six wooden cylinders that he pierced at the top-end with a fine needle heated over the dancing flame. He carved out the centre of the large circular piece of wood in an odd pattern of intersecting arrow-like symbols. He then pierced the bottom of the circular piece of the carving six times and threaded silken strings through the holes, fastening each of them at the end. He sheathed the hollow pieces of wood with the six glass tubes.
There was a minuscule space in-between the glass tubes and the wood, leaving just enough room for the wood to rattle around within its crystalline encasement. Aligning the holes of the glass and passing a thread through, he then tied knots at each end to securely hold the wood and the glass together. Carefully screwing the six metal hoops to the dead centre of the wood cylinders he threaded the free end of the string, connected to the larger circle, through the metal hoops and secured them with knots.
He lay the contraption flat on the table and dipped the tip of his finger into the bowl containing the water droplets and picked up a single drop. He lifted one wooden cylinder and gently placed the droplet at the bottom end of it. After the water droplet sunk into the wood, brightening its reddish-brown hue, he picked up a single grain of dirt and placed it on the moist patch of wood, gently applying pressure. The speck of dust immediately dissolved into the wood. Then with a sense of urgency, he carefully opened the seemingly empty bottle, placed it on the wood and tipped it completely, until the edge of the glass bottle and moistened patch of wood rested against each other for a few seconds. He hurriedly closed the lid of the bottle again and dangled the wood sheathed glass over the flame for one breath before letting it rest horizontally against the table again. The moist patch of wood was left completely dry and it was almost impossible to tell that it had been tampered with a few seconds ago. He followed the same procedure identically five more times on the remaining cylindrical pieces of wood.
Finally, he pierced the top of the circular piece of wood and through it wove a single strand of thread, which he then tugged upwards, causing the strange contraption to lift up and align with his face. The six pieces of wood, sheathed inside the six glass tubes, jerked and dangled freely making the strangest sound The Darkness would ever hear. The silence was shattered by a symphony of singing wood and glass that flowed through space. The melody that The Darkness would come to love echoed through its heart, deep into the silence of the Universe until it reached its seams, and there, it was lost.
The creature pressed his index finger and thumb together against the wick of the candle. There was an almost inaudible hiss and a thin trail of smoke that travelled upwards through a bizzare afterglow. A flickering silhouette of the strange creature that had resembled a man, etched itself into the night. It lingered on for a few fleeting moments before The Darkness finally consumed that last tiny corner of the Universe. Making the table, tools, instrument and creature vanish entirely.
00.45 - I finally give in and sit down. I see the flowers meditate under the moon; the contrast of the white unblemished petals, with the inky black wisps of clouds across the moon, felt sedative. All too soon my eyelids gently squeeze out the moonlight for a sleepier darkness. Just before the world disappears I see the instrument which birthed the melody, tied onto the branch of a tree. The rocking chair creaks as it slows to a halt and I hear the wind chimes start to sing.