Sep 5, 2014

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Asswhole


When a person's entire Self is an Asshole.


Sep 3, 2014

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The Book by H.P. Lovecraft

Sep 1, 2014

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I, the Key




1
When I was eight I lost the ability to dream. I often compensated with wakeful dreams and fancies of imagination I scarcely put on paper or canvas, even though my mind whispered to me that I should. When I did resolve to portray my wakeful dreams, I would enter an absurdly lucid state. Barraged by images I could only assume came from my youth, I struggled to maintain my visions until they assailed me to such an end that I had to cease. They filled me with a singular terror. As a result, I not only stopped writing and drawing, but also forced myself to not do it again. I knew the images were the culprit of my disorder, yet I knew facing them might mean a shattering of an already fragile mental state. I buried them instead. Deep enough for them to eventually manifest in a schizoid disorder, one I was acutely aware of, yet could do nothing to assuage it. I became intensely fearful of all public events.
It was because of this chronic avoidance of man that I was most surprised with myself the day I endeavoured to visit an event I would have otherwise shunned.
I was invited via an acquaintance of mine over a social networking site. He was one of those friends we all have on our list: a person who you never talk to and call a 'friend' only in the nebulous cloud of the internet. But then again most of my acquaintances were of such nature. I decided to go, and it was here that my true madness began.
I arrived fashionably late, as did everyone else. Unfortunately, everyone else was vastly more fashionable than myself. The result being me and the proprietor engaging in conversation and watching as people trickled in, all of whom eventually insisted on talking to me. Questions such as, “Where have you been?”, “Long time no see, eh bud?” became a constancy. Horrid.
Nevertheless the evening turned out delightfully droll, despite the fact that social anxieties got the better of me on numerous occasions, forcing me to withdraw (more than once) into the relative safety of the bathroom. At one point after midnight, matters in my head became unbearable. So much so, I decided it would be best for me to take my leave. But first, for reasons unknown to me, I resolved to wait and sat on a chair facing the bar’s entry.
I remained there longer than I had expected – some impulse keeping me in place despite my anxious sweat. I struggled to maintain a mask of bored vacancy, until she walked in and the walls seemed to breathe. She had an air of neglect about her which made her seem messy, but in a way as though it is her soul that is in disarray and all attempts to mask it goes unnoticed by those with less sensitive faculties. Her hair was auburn and fell over her shoulders in waves, her face and posture both immensely likable. Our eyes met as though following each other’s orbits for unknown ages and only now coming close enough to spot each other, like two comets that pass every few thousand years. My world became her eyes and I was blasted with a fear of such depth and intensity I nearly fainted. I could not explain the source of this fright and resolved to find out what might be the basis of such irrationality. I looked – for how could I not – and saw that she appeared just as lost in my gaze as I was in hers.
No one appeared to notice as she walked towards me. The movement of bodies around her became a blur, each unconsciously stepping aside and forming a corridor for her to meet me.
“I know you,” she said with an, aha! there you are.
“Do you? I don’t think I know you,” I lied. I did know her, though I could not say from where.
She seemed puzzled by my answer. We eyed each other until she offered a hand, the gesture awkward after our silence. I expected a soft handshake but instead she used it to yank herself closer to me. I could smell the piny fragrance of her hair as she whispered, “Let me show you where the ocean and they sky become one.”
For a moment I was dreaming again. Images both forgotten and half-remembered superimposed on the scene before me. I smelled the ocean and the breeze it carried; a reek of decay from some nameless place I visited once but never came back the same. A cold seeped into my bones. She stepped back, her eyes pressed into mine as if she knew me from another plane or dimension, knew me more deeply than anyone ever has or ever will or even could. I took a breath, realizing I had been holding it for a while. Then remembered her and wet myself and the chair I was sitting on.

2
“I accidently spilled beer on him,” she would giggle to those who asked why we are leaving.
There had been silence outside the bar as I came in; and a greater silence as we got to her car, for the silence was in my head. It felt like there should have been thoughts there, thoughts about who this woman is and how it was that I knew her. Thoughts about where we are going and what we shall find there. But there was nothing. The moon hung bright above the road and that too made me forget. We drove the silvery plane of the illuminated highway and it felt like driving into oblivion.
“How much do you remember?” she finally asked.
“I remember the cave,” I said, and that the two of you are strangely connected. “But not really as the cave, more like a black abyss where everything gets sucked into. My dreams, my thoughts, belching out my fears and my... I don’t know.”
“I’ve been looking for you, you know,” she said. “For a while now. I’m too afraid to do it myself and I remember you used to be different before it happened. It’s funny I find you randomly in the end.”
How does she know I was different? Even I could no longer remember being any other way.
“Nothing is random. And I haven’t gone far, I just hid.”
She nodded and I could tell she wondered why I do not ask any questions. I did not want to ask. I knew things would be easier for me if I asked, but it felt like asking would open a doorway I closed for a reason. Or that the reason closed the doorway.
I stayed quiet and allowed her to take me where my dreams could not.

3
We arrived in the misty half-light before the dawn and stopped the car on a cliff carpeted by waving grass. The high crag overlooked the ocean where waves seemed like ripples in silk. I opened the car door and stepped outside.
A soft splashing in the distance below.
The smell was not what I had expected. I whiffed a grim foulness of dead whales. Autumn was ending and everything was preparing to sleep, even the wide expanse of the ocean seemed lazy and uninterested in any endeavour to move. A lone freighter sailed through the misty distance. For a while I tried, but could not get over the smell.
“What is that?”
  “Memories,” she said, the smaller strands of her hair held aloft by the first morning breeze. “They’ve growl foul over the years.”
Her answer felt irritatingly obtuse. Her face seemed odd and I could not place the reason why, until the sun rose into sky, red as blood, and illuminated her aspect in colour. A face cross-hatched by scars. It felt inappropriate to ask, but I knew her, it was just all the specifics of her that eluded me. “What happened?” I motioned a finger around my own face.
“Some things you need to discover for yourself for the truth to have an impact,” she smiled.
She led me to the cliff’s edge and sat down. The grass was soft and the soil cold, yet I soon forgot about the chill as I listened to her explain things I have wondered about for two decades. The more she talked, the more I could feel her words chipping away at my already fragile edifice of sanity. The more she spoke, the more her words became a source of dread. It seemed to me she must have crawled out of the sea, her voice slowly becoming as expansive as the sea. I could not speak in any way save to ask questions. Hours passed.
“We’ll have to get down there,” she said, and pointed to a lone, stone house on the edge of where the land met the sea. “It used to be a lighthouse, but a lighthouse stands there no more.”
Obviously. “Why?” I asked. “What’s in there? How should we get down?” There seemed no way of doing it save going all the way around.
“Because we need to wait,” she said, looking skyward. “The stars are not where they need to be. Follow me,” she smiled and was on her feet, skipping down a path I had not noticed.
We walked the narrow trail between the knee-tall grass painted gold by the meridian sun. As I watched her, smelled her as she walked ahead of me, she seemed to me the type of person that would never die. A ridiculous notion, I knew, but such was this feeling – the timelessness of her voice – that it gave me hope. Perhaps she would never die and teach me the secret so that I may never die with her. She suddenly stopped and looked up, then back to me and said, “Come to the Moon with me.” She laughed and hurried ahead. In an instant my mind pieced together all of her words and caused a sudden shift in perception. I am following a mad woman. A lunatic, certainly? It would make sense for me to not notice such a thing, being somewhat odd myself.
“What’s the holdup?” she waved at me from up ahead. The scars on her face looked less hideous from a distance and I hurried to meet her with masked reluctance. The ground levelled and I followed her prints upon the wet sand. Tall walls of foam splashed against the rock to my right. A cold breeze came with them and something else, a feeling as if the sea was not just the sea, but a great leveller pulsing with age and history, yet timeless and ageless because it knows such things do not matter.
“I never asked for your name,” I said to her.
“No, you didn’t.”
“What is your name?”
She gave me the broadest smile a person can give without appearing sinister, and said, “I am Forever.”

4
It was when we reached the lighthouse that I figured Forever must be mad indeed. What maddened me the most, however, was that all of the things she had told me appeared to have slipped out of my head. The feeling of memory-loss pervaded my thoughts to an almost intolerable degree. It was pushed aside when she pulled out a massive, silver key, unlocked the lighthouse gate with a clack and ushered me inside to stand beneath a badly-thatched roof.
She said, “Welcome to my humble abode.”
It felt like I had stumbled into a zone of instability where every aspect of the without portrayed the within of her mind. Canvases and books, most half-torn or wet, lay scattered about everywhere. The deck was carpeted by papers, handwritten notes and partially-washed off or smudged by rain. The bed was covered by a stack of them, each with crude, charcoal drawings. In the gloom I could make out noting for certain, yet all carried a heinous quality of madness and delirium. Above all hung the prevailing smell of fish and the sense that such a place could not be inhabited by anyone sane. There were tons of things scattered about of which I had no idea what purpose they might serve.
“You seem to have some problems with the roof, dear,” I said. Light pierced through the many chinks and apertures above in spears of light, illuminating each dust particle through which Forever began to dance and twirl with arms spread wide.
“Home sweet home. Isn’t it wonderful?” she smiled. “Lovely. The spots of sunlight remind me of myself: spotted with moments of sanity.” Her words only served to confuse me further as she seemed fully lucid of her condition.
She stopped dancing and undressed before me, and dear God I would be lying if I said her frail body didn’t arouse me. She carefully placed the clothes into a closet and picked from the floor a set of torn short jeans and a shirt equally as torn and stretched out. The shirt left one of her smooth shoulders bare. She looked at me with a shy expression and said, “You know, a gentleman never looks at a lady while she undresses, who knows how he might offend her delicate sensibilities.”
“Sorry,” was all I managed. I wished to say something else, when I noticed a picture behind her. I walked past her, drawn to the painting as if it were a magnet for my consciousness. What I saw upon it made me collapse into myself with horror. The outlines of the painting – if it could be called such – were of a house standing on an island, most of the island underwater. The material used as canvas was wood, and the technique seemed to be a kind of scratching, the scratches filled with strange-coloured paint or some mucus. Beneath the house, in the ocean which felt so real, was a large whale with its mouth gaping open in unnatural proportions. Everything about the artwork innerved me as it seemed to so adequately display my host’s insanity. I stared at the painting for a while, until I could have sworn the whale moved its roaring head. There came a trembling and a black abyss, surrounding me. A sound, a bass rumble of ‘uuuooooooo...’, as the devouring maw approached from some nameless distance. Petrified and so frozen in place, I watched as the mouth drew nigh with its million fangs and a flapping tongue. It encompassed me and with a loud crack snapped shut on top of me...
I woke up hours later with Forever scribbling and talking madly over something on the floor. She was on her elbows, her behind exposed in what my mind interpreted to be undeniably sexual way, with her short, cut-out jeans revealing aspects of her I could not look away from. Her words came out in a series of meaningless vowels.
I coughed so that she might notice me. She didn’t. I coughed again, this time louder and with fervour. Instead of looking up she rushed outside.
I considered myself without options – I certainly did not wish to stay here – so I ran after her, stealing a glace towards what she had been drawing and wishing I hadn’t. What she portrayed was something so appalling I do not wish to describe. The image would not leave my mind even as I chased her, yelling for her to stop.
She did not heed me until she came below the cliff-face above which we had left the car.
“Yes. Yes! Finally, the stars are in their proper place again. Look!” She pointed at the Moon and I thought I must surely be dreaming.
In my years as I recluse I often picked up hobbies that involved the least amount of human contact. Astronomy proved an easy route for a mind such as mine. And when now I looked at the Moon and could see Venus, Jupiter and Saturn forming a near perfect triangle around it, I became convinced I am still sprawled in the lighthouse, dreaming all of this.
“It’ll soon be over, Jon, just come with me, you’ll see,” she said. I was at once horrified and profoundly relieved. She reached out and grabbed my hand, leading me ahead the narrow path. Waves crashed against the rock below us, foaming and splashing, frothing and recombining with the ocean.
“I don’t trust this,” I said. “I don’t want this anymore.” I had no idea what waited at the end, and even though I knew most of my fear didn’t come from something that was real but from something imagined, I could not shake it.
“Then go back,” she said. Somehow that proved even worse.
She saw my resignation about the prospect. “Then trust me,” she smiled over her smooth shoulder. I decided I had come too far to chicken out. Too far to run as I have from most of my dealings with people. I would see this through to the end and so followed her swaying hips until the path below us became rough with odd chiselling – narrow to a point where we had to step sideways. Soon my back was pressed against the cliff with the fall and the ocean below.
“Careful,” she urged, “it’s slippery here, don’t fall.”
“You’ve been inside yet?”
“No,” she said. “I had to prepare the way. Don’t mind the voice.”
I didn’t know what she meant until I took a careful look at the hieroglyphs below our feet. They were scratched into the rock like the scratches in the wooden painting had been. They consisted of no signs or letters I could identify, nor would they form any suggestion in my head as to what their relation might be. Around them appeared a faint aura of suggestive meaning. I was certain I could remember them if I tried hard enough, looked long enough. When we neared the pathway’s end, a voice called out to me. I tried listening to its whispers but soon realized it must be a fabrication of my own imaginings, as I realized I had become immersed in a frightened and highly suggestible state. And yet, no matter how hard I tried, I could not shake the absolute fact that there arose from the whispers a drumming in my marrow which spoke to me of things I have long forgotten.
“Don’t be frightened,” she said, which served to do the opposite – a panic rose in my throat. How had she gotten those scars? They looked more like her skin had been torn, or peeled off. Had she fallen down this slope and injured her face?
“Don’t tell me these things. Tell me something else,” I said.
“What should I say, then?”
“That I’m dreaming?”
“Well... you are not,” she said as we reached the passage and entered the cave below the black arch.

5
The walls had a bioluminescent quality, outlining Forever’s shape in stark cyan. She seemed a ghost to me. My breathing felt heavy. My heart relentless and loud in my ears.
We passed various obstructions in the cave system, my hand always in hers as she led me through the increasingly cold cavern. Soon the draft became ice on my skin and after a while it occurred to me that I should take a closer look at the walls, even when the reason why was not immediately apparent.
“What the hell are these?” I asked. She did not respond – her hand had gotten cold. “Aren’t you cold?” No answer. An anxiety of singular force made my hand sweat. I noticed the strange incrustations upon the walls were getting smoother, as though whoever had left the place in ruin had time to sand out a section of the within. We had passed numerous forks in the system, suggesting the cave was of great elaborateness and scale. All of these and other, inner impulses slowly proved to me that she must have lead me here – where the walls began to smooth out – for some sinister purpose.
I heard mumbling ahead; a burr of ghastly character on the very edge of hearing. It took me a few strides to realize it was the voice of Forever. Her tonality and the strange chanting with which she repeated whatever she was saying made me start planning my escape immediately. Surely I had come into the grasp of a mad-which, and was now trailing the path of her insanity. Suddenly the belief that she had lead me through this inextricable maze so none would find me became absolute. We entered a vast cavern peopled by hunched and robed figures, staring into what seemed like silver mirrors that reflected nothing. I attempted to break free of her grasp and managed to dislodge my hand. I turned back to try my luck in the caverns, only to bump into a solid wall where moments before a tunnel had been. In a second, or it might have been more, I felt everything all at once and vomited over the roughly hewn floor, then suddenly felt nothing. I looked up to see the scar-faced Forever gone, replaced by a figure whose hands were in his sleeves, staring down at me from a hooded robe and empty eye sockets. His eyes had been gouged, replaced by a black bump in between the two sockets. My fear became a physical menace. I shook as my ears picked up an odd chanting of synchronous rhythm resonating at a pitch my mind had not encountered before.
I had seen many sights in my wakeful dreams, but none so hateful as I saw in the expression of the ancient and robed man now standing before me. All my senses were drawn to his one, black eye. The world seemed to stop until I noticed but one movement: an otherworldly-hued substance splurting out in aetheric waves from the black and never-blinking eye in the centre of his forehead. In a roar of unexplainable mindcasting, I realized my whole existence had been an initiation. I became complacent, but within yelled for my own self to stop as I was ushered forth in a mindless stupor to where my true purpose lay. I had come to a radiant well where all reality emanates from, and from where a set of robed figures pulled out a ball made of what looked like mercury out of which I would forge my own mirror to gaze into eternity. All of this made strange sense to me and I proceeded towards my task with unstoppable zest.
I have no idea how long I polished that piece of mercury that wasn’t mercury and shaped it into a smooth, oval window – a plane where everything explained itself to me. It showed futures and pasts interwoven into an infinite cosmic cycle where humans and their existence formed transient thoughts in reality. I felt more than I saw, for in the darkness only my mirror and our chanting became real. My eyes atrophied until their insistence on seeing became an unbearable distraction. I gauged them out myself.

My master tended to me much then and helped with my infections, while my suffering moulded my mind into a new state of being of surpassing potency. I began to feel a pressure between the spot where my eyeballs had been. The pressure intensified daily and I existed in a constant state of fear where all I sensed for a long while was darkness, grasping my polished mirror and listening to its age-old secrets. The pressure between my eyes increased until I sensed a tremendous bursting and relief. After aeons the fear subsided. I felt the sights I was ought to have seen before. Smelled the sounds I ought to have heard and sensed the forming of things out of a place where all comes from one vibration – and ultimately returns into one. I saw the birth of my species as a great fountain spewing specks that drift through the air, divided and confused only in that time while falling to the source, then finding perfect composure once more. I would gaze into infinity in states of bliss, my mind forming actualities of careful design and complexity – all unknown to those whose pathways of fate I had forged. I did this until after a time, I too became one motion, watching from above with a thousand eyes. Watching as they – chanting in a rhythm identical to the one I had first heard – respectfully carried, then threw me into a pit of liquid mercury, where I felt myself as I became forever.

Aug 20, 2014

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The Painter





1

In the deep forests of my hometown in southern Slovenia, in a clearing where no road leads to and animals avoid, there sits a tranquil lake. The area around it is boggy even in the warmest of summer days, yet no frogs have I ever found there and not a sound can be heard in that part of muddy earth. You can’t see the lake from above or any of the nearby hills. The trees leading to the place are many and a fog always hangs there, obscuring view and drifting aimlessly governed by no wind from any point of the compass.
To find this body of water you have to follow the slow thinning of trees and stumble between the rotting bark and leaves and winding roots, until you reach a point where, step by step, the murky water rises up to your knees. The dead moss and lichen become sand as you wade through the cold and motionless transparency, to a place where nothing grows and hasn’t done so for who knows how long.
Mud froths outs between your toes with every step, spreading in all directions as the water becomes clear enough for the small lake to be both beautiful and profoundly frightening. For when you reach its bank, you see just how steeply it drops into the black depths no eye can peer into. A prevailing sense of the place being old beyond man and memory awaits there, even though there is nothing to confirm this to be the case.
The lake is full of contradictions like this. It sounds calm and welcoming, yet beckons you gone once you reach that edge and hear a subterranean rumble of grinding stone and see the minute shaking of the otherwise deceptively calm surface. You see the sky above it contrasted by the dark below as you stand on the precipice. The only smell is that of the woodland.
The lake is all I can think about of late. Its influence is evident in all my works. It remains all I can paint and all I can dream about. I wish to go back there and, at the same time, dread to see it again. The memory of it fills me with horror I cannot describe save on canvass. That I cannot recall why I fear it makes the sense of terror all the more singular.

I think about it even now as I paint in my studio. Or rather, I think about the dream I had of it last night, when a voice refocuses my attention.
I hold the brush lazily in my hand, ready for the final stroke on my painting. It’s not a masterpiece by any means, but it will do.
The lighting in my studio is sepulchral, the sickly bulb above me so faint I can barely distinguish one shade of colour from the other upon the canvass before me.
“Is it done?” she asks from the dark where I can just make out the lines of her shape.
“Nearly, my dear,” I smile back.
She is an impatient sort and knows what “nearly” means. She rises from her chair and hits the switch, then walks over to examine the painting. The wooden tiles creak beneath her feet. Her perfume is wonderfully subtle. 
Light reveals a spacious room. It is a disorganized mess of half-finished works and empty canvases propped against walls with cans on the floor. Over all there hangs a smell as though someone had been painting the walls.
I crack a smile while her face twists into a sneer as she sees what I had made of what was supposed to be her portrait.

I had painted it on a dare.
“Do you still love me?” she had asked me earlier in the day.
“Of course I do,” I said. “I dream of you. I could paint your face in the dark,” I boasted.

Watching her stare at it, I cannot tell if she likes the painting or not.
“It’s there again,” she remarks. “But at least you’ve painted something else than the lake.”
“You don’t like it?” I ask.
“I didn’t say that,” she says. “But it’s there again.”
“You’re an inspiration to me, you know,” I tell her. But she doesn’t believe me. How could she, when all I paint is the damn body of water in the woods?
I can easily say my work is not the finest. However the paintings seemed to have struck enough of a cord of peculiarity for people to buy them. The buyers are mostly strange men who fill me with a sense that my works mean more to them than they do to me. Which is just as well, now if only my dear wife could see it that way. She hates the paintings. She of course won’t tell me as much, but I can hardly blame her. I never use pleasant colours or depict images of gladness. Instead there’s always a suggestive composition of some distant and unnameable horror which cannot be painted, yet is always related to the viewer through some inner alchemy upon beholding the canvass.
There is a peculiarity in all my works. It has managed to show itself again, even while I drew a portrait of my wife's exquisite face. It is an entity of unknown purpose. I can never remember painting the figure into my images, making it feel almost as though it happens between the strokes of my brush. It’s not really a figure, but an outline of one, a shadowy silhouette of a hunched or bowed... someone. And it scares the living shit out of me.
“I bet if I could see your face while you paint,” she says, “I could tell when you’re painting that thing.”
“We can try again, if you want,” I tell her. “This time in the light.”
She agrees and we take an empty canvass to replace the one already on the rack. I leave the main light on, and soon feel my mind struggling to relate all of its contents over the white empty space before me. I find my wanderings in the light estranged to me and notice myself becoming focused more on the sights and less on the feel of the scene. Each stroke seems more clinical and real, depicting with increased detail what I see. I notice an abandon of my usual style of a somewhat undimensioned reality, and my ethereal abstractions get replaced by a meticulous attention to detail.
I paint every strand of Maya’s hair, depict every dimple and all the subtleties of her loveliness, while her eyes are painted with a more tangible nature to them. I look into those blue orbs for a while and suddenly notice they have shifted and are now standing before me. She is shaking me by the shoulders. I’m still holding the brush – it leaves behind dark red strokes over the unfinished piece, it runs down like blood.
I blink. I swallow. She’s saying something but I can’t hear her. The first thing I notice is the look of worry on her face. Then I smell the paint. Her voice breaks through and she says, “Martin! Stop! Snap out of it!” I look closer to see her expression of utter fright. “You should have seen your face! What happened?”
“What do you mean? I was painting,” I tell her.
It is difficult for me to describe the sheer horror in her voice, and I suppose it is only because I must have seen the sight of the thing on the painting before, that I am spared the shock of what waits for her on the canvass.
And it’s not until she turns to see what my brush strokes have created, that she falls down in a screaming faint and doesn’t get up.


2

I burn the unfinished canvas over a pyre behind the house and watch the black smoke curl into the fiery goldness of late summer. The western slant of the sun illuminates the forest’s edge with bright greens and brows. There’s a crackle of burning wood as I listen to the chirping of birds.
I think of what has happened to me all those years ago, as I have done countless times before. Perhaps I had indeed fainted – just like she had today – and fallen into the lake? But how did I get out?
The wind shifts and blows some of the ash into my face, making what happened next all the more questionable. I cannot say if what I saw was real, for it could just as easily have been something caused by the sudden scraping of residue in my eyes. It stood there for a moment, behind the trees – a figure draped in black – before it moved away without sound.
I have seen the figure before. My every nerve urges me to follow it. Goose bumps creep down my neck. The pull is a calling, like a need to escape into the sun after a week indoors hiding from the rain. But I don’t follow. I go back to check on my wife instead.
I leave the smell of burning wood behind and find Maya still unconscious and in the bed where I had carried her to. I dip the tip of my fingers in the glass of water and splash tiny droplets onto her face. She wakes with a start and yells out something incoherent.
“Are you okay?” I ask her. She is clearly not, panting and sweating, her eyes darting about as though searching for some hidden foe. I don’t know what else to ask.
“Tell me you’ve burned it!” she demands. “Tell me it’s gone!”
“I did.”
“Did you watch it burn? Did you see it burn out?”
“No, I came back here to–“
She gets up and hurries out in a rush I can barely follow. Down the steps and into the brightly illuminated kitchen she runs, then out the back door and onto the backyard bordered by the oak and beech forest. She looks down the cindering flame circled by burned grass and collapses on her knees before it. I have never seen her like this.
“What is it?” I ask.
She doesn’t respond as I look over the fire. The canvass is missing and there’s evidence that water had been poured over the flames. The blackened wood is water-slick.
She gets up and looks me in the eye, “Promise me you’ll never paint the lake again,” she says. “Please promise me, Martin!”
“I suppose I…” I stammer my first words then nod, “I promise.” I feel like like a child. Of course I will paint it again, it's not as if I can help it.

We spend the rest of the day in silence, watching movies and trying to take our minds off what has happened. We fall asleep sometime in the evening curled up on the couch.

I wake up to the sound of hushed speech. Looking around I cannot see Maya anywhere, until on the edge of my hearing, I pick up the sound of her whispering voice. I freeze at first. The menacing quality and the tonality if it sends beads of sweat down my armpit.
“Maya?”
No answer.
“Maya!” I yell out and the whispering stops. I hear the song of crickets and somewhere in the distance, there’s an owl hooting.
I would have been content to stand up and search about in silence for her, but what happens next set my mind on edge more than the silence could. The whispering resumes. It is not something I’ve ever heard my wife do in such a manner. Why doesn’t she answer my summons?
I rise from the couch and fumble in the dark.
It amazes me how I can still forget where precisely the light-switch is. 
Illumination should bring some order and sense into the world, I think, and turn on the lights. The room is empty with the backdoor swung open, a cool breeze wafts over my sweat-covered forehead. I shiver in the evening’s cold and follow the sound. I walk for a bit, the soft grass swishing between my toes.
I meet the loss of my resolve at the wood’s edge. I am shaking now, for the tonality of the voice has changed, or perhaps I have simply picked up on the subtle wrongness of it. The whispering isn’t hushed at all. There’s something out there. I can see it moving in the moonlight like a dark curtain. I take a step forth when the inexplicable madness drawing me to follow it becomes physical. A need. My feet follow the shape to some pull my mind is all too eager to accommodate. I will myself to stop, but am powerless to resist my stronger desire to follow. The voice is as the lake: at once known to me, yet freighting with its undertones of total strangeness and peculiarity.
After an indeterminable passage of time, I sense I am no longer following the voice, but He who walks behind the trees. I go between the thinning Oaks, past the shoulder-high pines and closer to the luminous fog. I don’t recall it being like this, but then I again, I don’t think I had ever seen it at night. The veil of moisture moves in the Moon’s rays and I work up the courage to call out again.
“Maya?” I still hope she might answer, but there is nothing and the black shape disappears into the fog. I take another step when something grabs me from behind and rounds me about.
“Martin! What the hell!” she shouts at me. “What are you doing, I’ve been calling out and you didn’t stop!” She explains all this between pants, bereft of breath. “I didn’t know you could run so fast!”
“I was running?” I think this to be most strange of all, for I don’t feel the least bit tired.
“What are you doing?” she asks again.
“There it is,” I tell her and turn.
“There is what?” Worry hangs over her face.
“It’s the...” my words are caught in my throat. The fog is gone and the trees stand thick around me. There’s a distant sound of an electric coil spinning and a smell of moist woodland. At first I simply look at her, wondering what to say. Should I even explain anything? I dare not mention the sound to her or she’ll think I’ve gone completely nuts.
She doesn’t speak, and I spend the next month trying to convince her I’m not crazy.


3

She told me later she had gone to town to get some food and had just come back when she saw me blundering into the woods.
I had no idea what to say to that, and after I told her what had happened, disconcert found its way into her face and stayed there for the remaining month. She later became content I was back to my old self, whatever that was, and said we should go and look for this lake I keep going on about.
“At least this way I can see it too,” she said.

Instead of the lake, however, we find a house. We first see it some distance ahead in what looks like a small clearing. The trees rise up above it, making its roof almost impossible to distinguish in the shade.
“Have you seen this before?” she asks me.
“If I have I don’t remember it,” I tell her.
She doesn’t like my answer, she never seems to when I imply I don’t remember something that by all rights is strange enough one should remember. We creep nearer.
“I know this place!” she says in a hushed tone. “You’ve painted this once too, remember? You sold it to... what was his name?”
“The guy from Sweden, you mean?” I ask.
“Yeah. What was his name?”
“Something Swedish, I presume.”
She snorts as we pass the last tree, coming before the edifice. Its walls are of piled stone and I can almost feel the age of it pulsing from every piece of masonry. It is a simple house, so simple I’m surprised it's still standing. Each grey stone of its construction is in varying stages of ruin and I’m certain a strong breeze might collapse the whole thing at some point. We dare not touch anything. The sides of it are overgrown by moss and vines. A tree protrudes from its centre through the grey stone roof.
“You see this, don’t you?” I ask her and her look reminds of the ones she used to give me years ago, when the two of met at university. We both studied anthropology then, until I later decided to focus on my painting instead. We had been inseparable since, yet as of late I find myself weary of her. Something had been off since the day she saw the face in the painting. “You do see the house, yes?” I ask again.
She arches an eyebrow.
“Of course I see it,” she says circling around the stonework. “What are you saying?”
“Nevermind.”
We locate the entrance and step inside. It takes me a while to get used to the dark as only small bits of light pierce through the chinks and apertures of the stone. The oddness of it strikes me immediately, but to put my mind on what is so spatially off about it proves difficult until a moment after. The house stretches from a small, somewhat lit area, into a dark hallway that cannot possibly exist. I cannot see the end of it. 
To say I am surprised by what we find within would be understatement. I watch Maya as she becomes stuck in place, struggling to process what is standing before her. I know what goes on in her mind, because I feel it also. The scene is nothing special in its composition, it is rather what it implies which frightens us enough to turn back and run from the house as fast as we can.

I had painted so many pieces of the lake over the period of seven years that I scarcely remember all of them. But I do recall that I could not locate some of them. I painted over quite a few, so at the time I figured most of those I couldn’t find lay somewhere between the stacks of canvases, or had been worked over by my own hand. But in that house, against all of the walls and with small candles burning in a half-circle around each in a way that seemed almost ritualistic, were all my missing paintings. And worse, they were all worked over. The figure I had painted upon them was added to, with every small detail improved upon to the point where it looked frighteningly realistic. Whoever had done it was a master, a painter of increased calibre – certainly a better one than myself.
The shapes looked like they might come out of the frames, and it is that notion that kept me running without looking back.

When we reach our home, it takes a while for us to catch our breath. I try to convince Maya it is not I who had done it, since she becomes adamant in her belief that I’m playing some sick joke on her. She says she won’t speak to me until I admit and apologize.
But what she doesn’t, or perhaps cannot understand, is that I am just as confused as she is.
She packs her bags the next morning and leaves. She doesn’t make it far, however. I watch her go beyond the edge of town from atop the hill where our house stands. She comes back in tears. We talk for a long while and, sometime in the morning hours, decide to revisit the house together and confront whoever had made those paintings.
“I suggest we bring a gun with us just to be safe,” I tell her. We don’t have one, so we pack a knife instead, one for each of us.
We trod the woods and to our dismay and further confusion, never find the house again.


4

It’s another month after that before something extraordinary happens. After a discussion about selling our home to move someplace else, we contact a real-estate agent to come and assess the property. 
The lady is pleasant enough and offers a shabby, although fair price for the 50 parcels of land, most of which lies overgrown by forest or low-standing shrubs.
It’s late evening when Sabrine, our real-estate agent, leaves with Maya and me watching her car speeding down the dirt road pluming smoke, when on the edge of my hearing, I notice the sound of an electric coil. I am instantly aware of a subtle shift in my mental state. A fear creeps in me.
It’s when I look about to behold the slow beauty of a turning season that I notice the thing. In the dark-blue sky of the coming night, I see a white brilliance - an elliptical shape. It hangs above the trees. Motionless.
They say that the third eye, when opened, doesn’t differentiate illusion from reality, but recognizes the two as one inseparable motion. I am at this point willing to accept that to be my condition, and that my third eye has drawn its gaze. I have to believe it, because the alternative is that I have gone insane.
But belief itself implies a lie. Those three letters are in the very word. Lie. And you believe that lie until it is proven as true and you no longer have to believe, but know.
At this moment, no matter how hard I try to think of something else, something reasonable, I know there is something above those threes. I can bloody see it! Something not from here but from some other place altogether. It’s not long until Maya sees me staring and looks in the same direction as well.
“Do you hear it?” I ask.
“I’ve heard it before. What the heck is it?”
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“Why didn’t you?” she responds.
I am suddenly shaken by a revelation, looking at the thing. I grasp the truth – I had always painted it too. Painted it above the lake; a black elliptical shape barely noticeable from the pigments around it.
The sound it emits transmutes into a throbbing and then an even louder and more disturbing set of sense-impacts. A tracer appears behind the shape as it moves deeper into the forest.
The two of us hesitate for a moment. Then share a look. I rush into the house to get some coats and follow Maya into the forest. The light remains up ahead, imbuing the tops of the canopies with light.
“It’s all coming true, isn’t it?” she asks me.
“I’m not sure I know what you mean,” I tell her, watching my step and crushing small branches underfoot.
“You’ve always told me that, what we think, we become. You’ve thought of this for nearly ten years now and it’s finally becoming true.”
“I don’t think I can manifest something like this,” I tell her.
“But what if you did?”
I say nothing. There is something in the air. Something new yet familiar, as though I am treading upon the first layers of untouched and freshly fallen snow.
The nights have gotten cold and our breath mists before us.
“You’ll stay by me, wont’ you?” I finally ask her, scared out of my mind yet walking and following the travelling light.
Her voice makes me wish I could see her face in the dark. “I want to wake up next to you,” she says, “that will never change, and I wish to smell and feel you in the morning. I won’t let you drift away, Martin. Ever.”
All at once I am struck with an intense need to confess all my love for her, and to wave her goodbye at the same instant. As though I know this to be our last trail to find the illusive witch that is my sanity. A part of me tells me not to panic, while the other says she will die today. My knees are shaking.
“You remain all I think about even when all I paint is something else,” I begin, allowing my words to escape me. “When the moon sets, you’re all I wish to have and I will love you now and until the day that I die. And when we shall die no more, I will find you behind the clouds.”
I no longer care how ridiculous I sound because the truth of my words feels as real as anything else.
She finds my hand in the moonlit dark. Her grip is firm, bordering on painful, and she leads me onward.
“Ever since you painted him in my portrait,” she says, “he has walked in my dreams, and I don’t know why.”
We say nothing more, stumbling between the grey trees until our minds are struck by something moving ahead.
I think to truly describe the horror of its appearance I would be forced to discover new words quite outside of the human vocabulary. The impossibility of it makes me realize the full extent of what we are doing. The fog grows thicker ahead, seemingly luminescent only as much as the moon allows it, yet strangely more so. I feel a cold wetness between my toes seeping through the fabric of my shoes and our every step is a wet squelch.
“Sodding hell!” I hiss.
“Ssshh!” Maya silences me, as the sound above begins to slow down to a steady, oscillating hum and I realize I have no concept of how long the two of us have been walking hand in hand.
A thing forms on the precipice of my vision, a bending of shadow that doesn’t know what shape to take. It is heavy like my memories, my thoughts and my love for her. Sensations rush by me.
Days where I feel everything at once and moments when I feel nothing at all converge into a single instant where I am paralyzed by fear.
She pulls me deeper into the muck. Water slowly rises to our knees and the light above us trails every movement. I see how my mind has been unfolding inside itself but has now reached out beyond. I hesitate to move as the sheer impossibility of it bids me to stay in place.
“Don’t. I’m afraid,” I admit to her.
“Me too,” she says and we stop. “Let’s go back, I can’t take the sound anymore.”
It’s me who walks ahead this time, beyond the still water turning into black before me and over to the edge of an infinite drop. On that edge, where a sound of something remarkable below dances with something above, I see the oscillating ellipse descend down into the water, blinding me and turning it into steam, choking the area with mist and leaving behind a hole darker than space. There is silence. Then an outpouring of everything all at once in a great crested wave that crashes against the trees and the rocks and washes away the dirt and the muck and the haze of confusion. The sound of doom envelops me, tosses me about – her hand in mine remaining the one singular centre – as I lose myself in a place where all dimensions dissolve in the absolute.

I wake to the sound of her breathing and the chirping of birds. There’s a headache scraping its way along my cranium, but I regret nothing. A red dawn unfolds wetly from the east. We are soaked.
This day I know something has happened both illuminating and inconceivable in its reality. I know one day my mind will comprehend it, or it may not. One day her mind will understand too. But it is not this day. One day we shall speak of this again, when the stars are right. But it too is not this day. One day she will see me and I will see her. But it is not this day. This day I only wish all of these things. This day I only hope. Yet one day that hope will blossom, and that might as well begin today. For it is a beautiful day.


We never found that lake again, nor did we ever search again.

[image by Jarek Kubicki]

Aug 18, 2014

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Posted in Arrangement , Art , Business

Astral Projection



I have dabbled with meditation for years now. However on December the fourth, 2011, after experiencing an episode of intense Satori -- a feeling which lingered for a full three days after -- something remarkable happened to me. I had not planned it and am not closed off to the option that my mind had created all of it, but anyone who has astral projected before will probably know the feelings you have make you believe with absolute certainty that you are somewhere else, that is to say, that you are not where your body is, while, at the same time, you're also fully aware that you are where your body is. There is no duality in this feeling, you feel as though you are in both places at the same time...

I've posted this before in two sections and am now posting it again in full.

As I went over it a few days ago I realized it is just as vivid as it had been when it happened.


I sat for roughly 30 minutes, full lotus, although the passage of time became fuzzy and indistinct.
Suddenly I felt elevated, above it All, yet a part of it at the same time. All was me. And I was all. I tried and failed to pinpoint where I was and where everything else was in relation to my position is space. Existence and energy intertwined, transforming my limbs and body into a blue-red haze which pulsed and convulsed in a visual radiance, superimposed on the blackness which surrounded me. My eyes were closed. I forgot myself and the time in which I moved, I saw only my subtle self, pulsing with life. I forgot I was breathing. Forgot I was sitting. I forgot I even existed at all. 
A radiant, white thread appeared before me, extending outwards from my chest and curving up in front of me, through the darkness. It was comprised of many smaller and white, wiggly lines that intertwined, braided, danced and shifted. I looked upon it. I moved my energetic limbs to touch it and when my fingers coiled around it, I was somewhere else. 
Specks of light swam and flickered within the void, stars in the darkness where I was held aloft. It encompassed me. The thread I had just moments before been watching was now curving downward and extending below me, into the depths, seemingly going on forever and curving so far down that it seemed to stretch on behind me and further than my eyes could pear. I felt like I was standing upon some immense precipice, elevated beyond possibility. I could sense that I wasn’t dreaming all of this, that I was somehow here, in the embrace of the Now, yet also there, back where I had sat down. But there appeared no duality in this, I felt myself in both places at once, in both spots equally myself, yet in each I was in a state that was wholly different. 
I noticed a man standing in the distance. How I became certain that it was a man I could not tell, yet the more I thought about it, the more I realized this entity had no sex. It was neither man nor woman, but somehow humanity in its pure form and at the same time more than just form. I could not fathom how I didn’t see him before. Like mine, his body too pulsed outward from a white, energetic centre, sending ripples of the most beautiful blue and white. And as he turned around, I noticed his form only bore a semblance of a man, just enough so I could tell that it was some kind of a humanoid - or the subtle form of one - that stood way ahead of me. He didn’t speak, his face white and featureless, blazing in outwardly expanding auras of vecotrized explosions. 
For some reason, a thought came to me, I said to him, “I wish to see your face.” He looked at me for a moment, or appeared to have looked at me, then, in a voice that was both soothing and toneless, said, “Why do you need my face?” I felt his face as irrelevant, a mask, and that this pure energy, this form I was gazing upon was his true self, his All. For some reason, I insisted. I said, or rather, willed, “I desire to see it anyway.” As though anticipating my answer, his whole being shifted to stand before me, his white face centimetres before mine. Features formed and lines coalesced, yet when it seemed like a mouth, or eyes, or a nose might reach a state of semblance or begin to properly take shape, the expression was gone, and faded back into itself. I watched this for a while. He then turned and began to walk, almost float away, and to me it seemed natural that he should. As I watched him go, the scene about me transformed and I was instantly teleported somewhere else.


I stood at a crossroads. The ground beneath me gave the impression like it was made of metal, yet everything; the road ahead which forked to the left and right, the wall that extended ahead on both side and prevented me from seeing ahead, all of this was made out of strange, stalactite-like formations.

Everything moved and wavered, and I had trouble telling where the lines of one thing ended and something else began. Everything was endowed with an inner light. A soft blue, with pink lining running through the ever-shifting edges. I saw forms moving from the left and to the right of the walkway ahead. At first none of them noticed me, and I soon discovered I stood in a peculiar way, naked. I stood on my right leg, the other crossed, my left hand over my heart as thought praying. I had no clue why I stood like that, finding it slightly humorous. 
Only as the forms neared the fork in the road, did I notice how strange they looked. They were like jellyfish, or mushrooms, moving about with such elegance it nearly brought me to tears. But emotions weren’t really there at all. It was like everything was just so. Just me and my experience. Nothing to tether me or make me fearful, the only emotion that was somewhat present was the sense of humour. They were all breathing, the beings, expanding their mushroom-like heads simultaneously, as one. A group of five passed ahead of me and moved on, I could see them through the almost transparent wall, yet for some reason, one of them stopped. The others then stopped as well, as though wondering and looking why he had halted.

He looked at me. Saw me. Moved towards me. He didn’t appear unsure at all. He was at least two heads smaller than me, but what I figured to be his head was wide-reaching and mildly transparent. Tendrils of energy raced around him, out of all of them, like gentle smoke rising. I felt his words in my head, somehow understood them as he said, “How are you?” The question seemed odd, but didn't surprised me.

My answer, however, did. I said, “Fantastic!”

More of them began to gather round me, like they had found out I was there by some nonlocal means of communication. They came in numbers and looked at me, marvelling at the strangeness of my form. 
They left after a span of time I could not fathom, only the person I had initially seen stayed behind. I sensed his words as mental projections. Shapes of wavy circles drew themselves in my mind and I could not understand what he was trying to tell me. I tried to answer, but all that came out were rigid forms of squares and triangles. I got a distinct sense he cannot even comprehend sharp edges. I thus made my own shapes resemble his, curled them and made them undulate. He seemed to understand, but simply stood there, while time became utterly meaningless to me. I felt its sudden shift as it began to move forward with intense rapidity. I could not see the timelapse of days, but rather, felt like they whirled by at incredible speed, day, night, day, night, week, month, year, century, millennia, eon.

At some point while this was happening, he disappeared or went somewhere else, but when time as I perceived it slowed down again, he came back. I had no idea why I could tell this was the same entity – or even a he – I simply did. He asked me then, “Why are you still here? Why don’t you move about? Come.”

I asked myself the same question and followed him to the fork in the road. We went to the right, the walls wavering around us, glowing. We went on.

We reached an edge where the wall to my left ended and I noted we stood atop a balcony. We were so high up, so elevated, that I could see an entire city, its tallest spires no more than one tenth of the hight of where we were. Much like the walls themselves, the city was in a constant state of movement, as if I were looking at it submerged under water. Somehow, however, I could still see every detail of it, every street and every structure.The whole cityscape lay within an enormous mushroom-shaped dome. Cauls of some kind ran over the membrane above and, in short successions, turned night into day. This was like clockwork. The ceiling would lighten and grow dark again, as though it were breathing. But the light itself would never wane within the dome, the buildings and the surfaces would draw all of it and trap it within, using it to illuminate everything around me in a beautiful, white brilliance. At times it seemed it should blind me, but did not. I gawked at the sight of this for a while, when the entity beside me began to fly. He drifted forward and up, stopping a small distance ahead and I felt him ask, “Can you fly?”

I smiled at this. I didn’t even have to think about it, nor did I drift towards him, I was simply there, next to him, instantly.

We flew above the city, his head expanding and contracting and I was again reminded of a jellyfish. At one point in our journey, I looked at the being on my right and realized something. I projected, “How can you even see anything?”

“I don’t need my eye to see," he said.

"But how do you see?"

"I perceive with my inner eye.”

“But you have it? An eye?”

“Yes.”

“Can I see it?” 

In response, above the being’s head and, in a way that made me unsure if the eye was even connected to it, the organ drew its gaze. A wave expanded from below and encompassed the whole thing, ending behind it.

What it revealed was the ugliest eye I had ever seen.

It was completely black, like something belonging to a nocturnal creature, with an eyelash that seemed a part of the thing. It cast a frown of the most terrifying proportions. I was horrified.

I averted my gaze from it.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but I cannot bear to look at it. It's too scary.”

But then he said, “I have not yet opened it.”

“Then do it,” I said.

Again, like before, an eyelid opened from below the eye and ran to its back, leaving behind what looked like a perfectly rounded mirror. I couldn’t see my reflection within it, yet could tell it was either a mirror or perhaps glass. It would shift its point of view so I could only ever see one side of it, as thought it weren’t even possible to see it in three dimensions, even though I could feel it existed in three dimensional reality.

Then, for some reason, I was overcome with a compulsion to run my hand through it. 
I did this quickly, in a manner of reflex-movement, and my fingers passed right through it. I could feel a strong current shooting through my extremities. I got an immediate impression this pained the being, and we were instantly on the ground. We hadn’t fallen but somehow stretched through the fabric until we were kilometres long, and then simply reformed as the part of us above shot back down. 
Others began to gather round, looking at what had happened, a palpable sense of concern permeating out their bodies. The entity I had hurt looked shrivelled, as though he had been left to dry in the sun and was now slowly being cooked by the heat. He moved lazily, in agony. 
I could sense the thoughts of these beings. They were of a singular mind, each one of them wondering exactly, "What is going on? No one has died before."
But I wasn’t worried. A feeling of omnipotence endowed my every sense of being and I lifted my hands in front of me, touched my thumbs and index fingers, forming a triangle. Waves of creation passed through me and out of me, remaking the being and reforming its body in triangular patterns and lines of generative matrix. The others stood back. As I did this, however, I began to feel a sense like I need to go. As though something were calling me back, urging me to return. I suddenly felt nothing else but a dire need to return.

I opened my eyes and realized I need to take the biggest piss of my life...



Note: I find it important to add that, when I went to the bathroom, the room seemed incredibly, absurdly small to me, almost crushingly so. I felt mildly claustrophobic and by no means could I get over how tiny the room felt...