He inhales and exhales at a pace and intensity not unlike a buffalo mid-coitus. Of course, it isn't like anyone can hear him, given that the building is screaming while red lights strobe the corridor. The thought briefly crosses his mind to calm down- and then the signal from the squad leader pushes the thoughts out of his mind. They burst into the room. Objects are strewn around and smoke is filling it from the corridor. The squad locks gazes with the hideous beasts cowering in the corner, behind overturned desks and tables. Some of the creatures whimper, staring fearfully at the squad. One squadmate retches inside his helmet, staring at the hideous abominations. He himself is barely keeping his breakfast down staring at them. Where is their flesh? Where are their arms?
They're missing so many limbs, and so much flesh, and yet they aren't bleeding… he can even see their organs through what little remains, hidden beneath stolen coats. One of them reaches into their coat- it's pulling out a weapon! He immediately pounces on it, ripping its head from its shoulders. The other creatures scream, a cry to action for the rest of the squad. They fall upon the fleshless abominations, peeling away limbs, ripping out organs, crushing bodies between their hands, butchering the creatures and painting the room in bodily fluids as the lights flash in fear and the building wails. The rest follow his lead. The sirens and their screams are deafening him and then it's all over.
"Good work", he hears, and he accepts the adulation quietly. He looks back at the bodies with a small amount of empathy for their plight - and finally the sight of oozing, candy-red liquid, spreading towards his boots, gets him. He's a trained killer, a remorseless slayer of monsters, a Knight of the Flesh, a decorated MTF member, and he vomits, barely pulling his helmet off in time to splatter the floor in pasty brown sludge. Looking at these grotesque bodies that attempt to masquerade as humans, he knows that the world will be much safer without them. He begins frisking the creatures.
One stirs, and he quickly crushes its skull within his four palms. It slumps without a sound, and its coat falls aside to reveal an ornate golden necklace with a beautiful ruby. He smashes a sacred boot down on the cursed object, caving in the creature's chest. The necklace is unscathed, sending pain shooting up his foot, so he carefully kicks it deeper into the pile. The amulet can burn with its damned owners. Outside, he watches as the building is blown to bits, incinerating the bodies and damning them to eternal clockwork torment. Its death cries ring in his ears.
She watches keenly as the ceremony begins. The Keepers of Flesh are chanting the words of the Sacred Cleansing Process, smacking their bellies to produce the beat, and circling the purification altar while the music thumps and throbs in her skull. Fireflies flash, illuminating the clockwork demon, whose kicking and swinging from the ropes that suspend it provide a demented rhythm.
and she writhes and spasms in a horrific mockery of dance, lost in the crowd and swaying to the beat. Somehow it attracts another, whose arms fly everywhere in tune with the explosive drumbeat and then the music switches over to the final crescendo and suddenly they're -are they tangoing? -
yes, they are tangoing, and she barely even knows
what a tango is, much less how to do one,
but this other woman is calling all the shots.
They spin and spin and the lights are whirling around and she is radiating heat and the demon is being lowered into the cleansing pit to the roar of the crowd. It keens and suddenly candy-colored liquid is raining from the ceiling but nobody cares because it is time for purification and suddenly they're lying together and she is on top and feels the soft touch of her body and her lips and then the hard shell of a pill.
It dissolves on her tongue and she savors the familiar tang. The club begins to swirl, and then it gets warmer and warmer until the woman starts to melt.
She whispers about being cold,
but the heat is collecting on her skin,
milling on it and buzzing on it and
sopping up the sweat seeping from her pores.
It reforms into flies, swarming around her
and clinging to her skin and scrabbling
and making her itch and it burns!
Oh god it burns! She's bucking now, and the demon finally stops keening at the bottom of the pit. It screams as the Great God devours it whole, cleansing and purifying its soul. The crowd roars in envy and ecstasy, a wave of sound that strikes her eardrums at the climax. Bolts of lightning pierce the sky and now she's barreling down the road, hoping to make it home before falling unconscious in the middle of the road. Out of the corners of her eyes, she can make out the buildings around her leaning away, nervous that she will vomit on them.
She dashes down the street, which twirls around itself and makes her dizzy. The lampposts are growling and rippling. She skips around one, giving it a sharp rap. It whimpers and the rest of the lights quiet down. Now she's running and running but it's like she's stuck in one place and then that place is in the grasp of two Flesh Guardians.
"Out after curfew?" they rasp. "Explain."
Their voices are oozing and striking each other in a cacophony
that makes her head pound and she desperately tries to say something
but the words are tripping over each other and blocking her mouth
and suffocating her. "B-bad," she chokes out, " bad soma,"
and they release her and she falls hard onto the pavement.
It squeals in protest while the Flesh Guardians snicker, their batons out and ready to dispense a beating. Their disrespect is infuriating; can they not tell who she is?
As she gasps for breath, she raises her hand to display the insignia of Mobile Task Force Gamma-2 engraved in it, and the Flesh Guardians have enough brains to immediately hoist her up, tripping over their own words in an attempt to apologize for their stupidity. She waves the goons off and stumbles down the street while they sweat to themselves, terrified that tomorrow they and their wives and children will awaken for cleansing.
It's two in the morning when he is awoken by the screaming of a family downstairs. He attempts to return to the sweet embrace of sleep, but the calls of the Great God beckon him to work. He gets out of the bed, uttering a short prayer to answer, and steps foggy-headed into the bathroom to cleanse himself. Standing in the middle of the room, cleansing tendrils probe him for impurities, popping the crust from his eyes, shaving excess flesh, and evacuating his bowels before pushing him out. Once he is certain that he is properly cleansed to receive the teachings of the Great God, he sits down at the desk and begins to write. The Great God teaches him the history of the universe, injecting it directly into his mind through the Great God's power, and he studiously copies the teachings down. During a lull in the sermon, he scrutinizes the work. Everything that he has written down contradicts what he was told the previous night.
Clearly he was not listening properly the previous night; but to write it all wrong is a grave error. The children must learn their history in an unbroken chain, and this is the second time in a row that he has had to revise his own teachings. Penance is in order to apologize to the Great God for failing to deliver his message. He steps into the kitchen to pick up a peeler from the drawers. Returning to the desk, he places the peeler to his arm, and begins to shave his flesh as an offering. Strips of flesh are cleaved from his arm and fall to the desk, where they are quickly absorbed. He winces, but does not cease his efforts, uttering a prayer of apology to the Great God. Mid-prayer, he sneezes and his arm twitches, and severs a nerve and several blood vessels.
He lets the blood drip onto the desk, positive that the Great God will appreciate the extra sacrifice. It burns, so after several minutes, he jams the useless arm into his mouth and down into his stomach, gagging at the acrid taste, accepting it as punishment for failing to complete the prayer. The sermon begins again, and he continues writing, breathing through his nostrils to avoid embittering the arm, careful to ensure that he writes down exactly what is taught. When the sermon is over, he tucks the writing away into a folder. He can see the rising sun, illuminating the deep crimson sky, indicating that lessons will begin within the hour. Picking up the folder, he walks to the door and steps out.
One door over, some Keepers of Moloch demand that the family next door surrender their child. The father and mother keep their mouths shut,
but the baby is bawling, even though
it has been born, raised, and
pampered for this moment its whole life.
He just wants the damn thing
to shut up because its incessant wails
are ringing in his ears.
All he wants is a drink, any kind of drink to shut it up.
But it doesn't matter. He has the words of the Great God to strengthen and enrich him with the knowledge of their illustrious history. His sacred duty is to enlighten the children, so that they may grow up as proud devotees to the Great God. The sun is shining bright, the sidewalks and buildings are humming, and his arm is starting to taste sweet. He nibbles on the elbow thoughtfully as he prepares the lesson plan for the day.
The teeth gnash. The belly rumbles. She continues to feed it, walking one step back to collect the body and one step forward before throwing it into the mouth and prodding it in-between her two teeth. It lows in satisfaction, blasting a putrid odor and hot air over her. She is almost overcome by the heat and the stench, but solders on, collecting it from the esophagi that ferry bodies from the crypt to the Great One's abode. Occasionally they scream. As always, she walks one step back, one step forward, hurls it into the mouth, and prods it in-between the teeth, where it is quickly pulverized into paste. Occasionally a fire breaks out from the grinding of unsatisfied teeth, providing illumination and a death sentence to the acolyte in charge of feeding it. The two teeth next to her ignite, and the warmth is comforting. Her fellow acolyte makes a short prayer before diving over the railing into the fire. His blood extinguishes the flame and spatters the catwalk, which sputters in surprise. She idly observes that it will make things more slippery for the next acolyte.
At that moment, she notices another acolyte snapping to attention. She follows suit, sinking to her knees to pay the appropriate deferences to the High Flesh, She Who Listens. Much to her surprise, She Who Listens grasps her by the shoulders, lifts her up, and sinks to her knees instead. It is in this manner that she, a mere fourth-class acolyte, learns that her child is the Destined Oblation, the greatest gift imaginable to the Great God.
She is ferried out of the chamber, through the pulsating corridors in a magnificent procession. Music. A golden, jewel-encrusted palanquin. Hundreds of overjoyed, onlooking citizens and buildings, establishing a thruway several hundred cubits long that leads to her domicile. Before she has even stepped through the door of their home, her husbands know. They lock eyes and nod their heads solemnly, eyes welling with pride. In the next room, the infant is bawling from hunger pains. Its eyes are bloodshot, and its throat sore. She caresses the infant and lets it suckle, as they are returned through the streets, which vibrate with joy, to the chamber of the Great One. Together, she and the infant peer into its gaping brown maw. A wave of hot air escapes the pit that is the gnashing teeth, and far, far below she can make out the gleam of a lake of digestive fluids. Together, she and her son bask in the glory of the Great One. She can taste the bond that exists between the three, that of mother and child, flesh and blood, sweat and tears: nothing less than a portion of her soul.
She tosses the child into the mouth. Its wails are cut short by the gnashing teeth, and she looks in on envy before collecting a body from the esophagus and feeding it to the Great God.
This has no ending. This has no story. This has no context.
Great God help us all.