SHORT STORY 6

2015

A N - O C C U L T - O B L I G A T I O N

SHORT STORY 6

2015

AN OCCULT OBLIGATION

DISCLAIMER:

Don't follow in my footsteps. Only the devil condones these things that I've done.

INTRO

My first memories of self-destruction were around the age of ten, when I was so ashamed of going to school that I faked any sickness so that I wouldn't have to face another round of self-debasement. One day my mother knew I was full of shit, and forced me out. However, I was determined to avoid the guaranteed humiliation of my own feeble mind, so I ran around the house and crept back inside where I hid inside a toy chest. All the while my father stomped about with his belt in hand. I remember balling-up my tiny stick-figure within that box full of sharp toys, and suffered through the physical pain no matter how bad. Anything was better than being reminded of how stupid I was. I lay in that box and wished I could disappear, wished I could stay in the dark and never face my failures. It must have been an hour before I dragged myself out. No one had found me, but humiliation was ultimately unavoidable.

-

When I was fifteen, I was walking home from school staring at my feet with the absolute certainty that there was no way I was ever going to get good enough exam results in order to secure any kind of respectable future. This would have been the first time that I consciously considered suicide as a credible option. I took some comfort in that. If it all turned to shit, I could just end it myself. Seemed logical. Later, I did in fact fail every subject exactly as I had dreaded. But the next year's classes simply continued, despite my prediction of how futile my efforts were, and knowing that I was merely delaying my inevitable demise.

-

Nearly ten years later, early one morning, I was sitting in a park near the house of the girl I was stalking. My professional life was on a steady decline toward poverty, regardless of being the prodigy that everyone had such grandiose hopes for. I sat there in a chilly breeze beneath a steep hill resenting how I'd known that it would always come to this. I was doomed from day one. Born an idiot incapable of bettering my situation. Just another talented artist who'd end up starving to death in a ditch. All that fucking potential didn't equal jack-shit. And yet, by the next year, somehow, work had worked out – only after my business partner suffered a breakdown, sending us on separate paths. I always abandoned those closest just to survive. Later, I would look back and justify my cut-throat decisions with the instinct to escape.

-

Another five years went by, and I was lying fetal in my bed. I had been black-listed! Despite moving to Berlin, I was utterly alone with nowhere to turn. Again I was the cause of another all-time-low, and saw no reason to continue. I had lied and cheated the ones I that loved, but no worse than anything they'd done. The insult to injury was when I had in fact tried to 'do the right thing'. Yet in the end, I was the one who had been hung out to dry, leaving me without the slightest desire in seeing another day in that year that would never end. However, as I lay there, I heard a voice in my head – it wasn't the first time I'd heard him speak. Clear and focused, he asked me a simple question: How much trouble could I cause if I didn't die right now? Challenge accepted! I jumped out of bed and immediately began work on my intricate plans of malicious sabotage.

ACT I

THE EXPOSITION

Six years later, during the year of our Lord 2014, while I was writing my trilogy of books, Bark, I had cut myself off from most people in order to focus completely. But the book was a two-way mirror. As the story reflected parts of myself, so too, I invoked the will of Bark into this plane of conscious reality. And in the first week of August, I found myself in the south of France with a research assignment, testing a Holy document written in the fifteenth century. I may have refused female contact on my celibate dedication to my sacrilegious art, but that didn't mean I had ever stopped fucking with them. I was staying in a very nice hotel in Bordeaux, where I had no intention of wasting my time. On the 3rd of August, the train east took only a couple of hours. Ah, summer in France, how very fucking romantic. I saw sun on the green hills while listening to the cute accent from the young lovers sitting across from me. The view over the vineyards was pretty as a fucking picture, but I was far too preoccupied with reading The Book Of Sacred Magic, to care about the triviality of sightseeing. The train pulled into a small town in the late afternoon, and as I glanced out my window and up the hillside at that stone steeple, I knew immediately that I had come to the right place. I'd never been here before but you don't obsessively stalk a female, perform a blasphemous ritual, and provoke the elemental forces of Pandemonium without months of preparation.

-PHOTO

First, I took a casual stroll up the narrow road to that chapel. I was surprised to find that it only took five minutes before I reached the locked front gates. Turning my back on the church, I looked down over the township baking in the sun. I was finally here. Watched as a young couple drove past and parked their convertible, it was obviously to me that they were heading to a dinner party at one of the large houses on the hill. Both of them stared back at me as I nodded from where I stood, dressed in all black suit jacket, jeans, shirt, Wayfarers, and Chuck Taylors. No shit, I wasn't from around these parts, and no one I knew was aware that I'd just arrived. I loved having complete anonymity in a sweet little spot on the map under a scorcher of a brilliant fucking day.

Down the hill I went, knowing I'd return to that chapel soon enough, once the correct lunar darkness fell. Into the town I went. To the left of the train station, I followed the street past some modern apartment buildings. I decided not to take the most direct route, and cut down the skinny old streets, but then, within moments, I came out on the main road that turned toward my desired destination. I ignored it and headed around the adjacent road, only to come out immediately at the other end of that street. For fuck's sake, this town truly was fucking tiny! So I strode down that Rue without further delay. In the shade of that gently curved street, I found myself standing outside a three-story apartment building. When using Google Maps Street-View to familiarize yourself with a distant city, it does nothing for depth-perception. On a digital screen, even in a 3D virtual world, this place had seemed at least twice the size. Experience first-hand was so much more right up in your face. My own two feet had walked this place much faster than my fingers ever had. However, what irritated the shit out of me, was the fact that this front door only had a lock with a digital-pad – no door bells or names.

Walking away from that building, I continued my merry little stroll down the street and back onto that main stretch that twisted and turned toward the train station. It was a miniature village with old alleys and tiled roofs, but it also had plenty of new stores packed with expensive shoes and fashion labels. This was France after all. I had already attained the knowledge that my subject was visiting her mother and sister in the next township, so figured that I still had some time to kill, and ordered dinner at a big restaurant near the designer train station. There must have been something relatively important about this geographical location, to explain the recent cash-injection that had been shoved down the throat of this small community. Though, the history of this area held little of my interest. The steak was decent, and the evening air was pleasant. I sat outside and ordered another coffee. And just then, as I stirred in my five sugars, Amelia came walking from the train station. I couldn't help but smirk as I continued stirring my coffee. Watching her approach, I knew she was oblivious to my insidious little eyes. I had no intention of gaining her attention, quite the opposite. I wanted to see if I could come this close without her even noticing. Of course, like all good kids of this zeitgeist, she pulled out her iPhone and started tapping away as she passed within ten-feet. And I watched her go. Watched her ass in those tight jeans. This was not the time or the place. Not just yet.

I soon caught the train back to Bordeaux for a good night's sleep. While staring out of my highrise hotel window, I listened to Slipknot, The Negative One, for the first time, and knew that everything was going according to plan.

-

Less than 24 hours later, I was on the train back to that quaint township, during which I finished reading The Third Book Of Sacred Magic. Upon arriving, I discovered that the little church was now lit up all golden and full of insinuations. I had some time until midnight, so I crossed the pedestrian overpass above the train tracks and stood on the road beneath that hillside. Scowling at the moon, I counted the minutes as random cars passed on by. No one confronted or questioned this stranger lurking out in the open. No one ever stopped me.

Beginning outside Amelia's front door with a box of chalk in my hand, I drew a small circle on the doorstep.

-PHOTO

I then walked straight toward the church – a patrol car slowly passed me by, they circled around near the train station and passed me a second time, but I never saw them again – I made it to the church on the hill in less that fifteen minutes. Drew a circle on the asphalt around the letter 'A'.

Back to her front door. Drew an upside down triangle crossed-out below the circle.

Walked to the next point on the pentagram, into a courtyard near a shopping area. Drew an upside down triangle crossed-out over the letter 'M'.

Back to her front door. Drew a triangle crossed-out below the upside down triangle crossed-out.

Walked to the next point, outside a large school building. Drew a triangle crossed-out over the letter 'E'.

Back to her front door. Drew a triangle below the triangle crossed-out .

Walked to the next point, a quiet suburban neighborhood. Drew a triangle around the letter 'L'.

Back to her front door. Drew an upside down triangle below the triangle.

Walked to the fifth point, a parking lot in front of a hotel. Drew an upside down triangle around the letter 'I'.

Back to Amelia's front door where I crossed-out the first circle – and then I heard someone moan. Looking up in the dim lamp light, I pictured Amelia in pain.

I returned one last time to that chapel on the hill where I completed the encircling pentagram and crossed-out the first circle over the letter 'A' and wrote a second 'A' below.

No one stopped me. It had taken a couple of hours to walk this town and mark out my territory while reciting invocations, and yet no one at all had asked me what the fuck I was doing? The jailers of men had even seen me, but here I was, back on that little hill overlooking what I'd just performed in those small hours. The masses sleep, while the unbridled freedom that society grants us all, allows villains to desecrate your doorsteps. But who gives a fuck?! I was merely walking in circles around the public streets of a small town in France. There was nothing suspicions about my behavior. Nothing suspicions at all!

-PHOTO

Impatient though, I looked further up the hill. Continuing past the church, where the road thinned, I was led between fields of enormous sunflowers lit by the last lamppost beneath the black of the sky. Seriously, how fucking surreal could this shit really get? And where the fuck was Lucifer? No Morning Star gave me a sign. Motherfucker, why have you forsaken me? So I just followed the path laid out before me. Onward I went. Over a slight rise to where the road forked. Two dirt tracks stretched into absolute darkness. Decisions, de-fucking-cisions. I was never right, so let's go left. All I found was gravel underfoot and crickets in the humid breeze. I hadn't thought it necessary to study the map this far from my goal, so I didn't have any clue as to where this road might lead, but I was curious to see what the almighty fucking indifference of the universe would send my way. The road soon leveled out and twisted around with the trees thickening above. Slowly stars started to emerge once I'd escaped the reaches of the civilized world. I heard only the rustle of trees. There wasn't anything else out here. Fucking typical. Pissed off, I turned around – and then my frustration exploded as I found three fucking roads behind me. It was utterly impossible to tell which one I had just come from. Fucking fantastic. Turning around again, I noticed that I was standing in some dusty field surrounded by distant trees. I took the first road back. Walking down whichever I was facing at the time. Fate shall fuck me one more time if it pleases. Almost immediately, I knew that I hadn't come from this direction. It went up and down, up and down, like I was crawling over the very spine of the great Thanatos. Soon, I heard animals on either side. I assumed they were cattle. Big and lumbering, they snorted as I passed them by. Eventually, I stopped and thought about that female. The objectified subject. The meat personification of all my blame, the individual deemed the most worthy of being the epitome of so much of my fucking disgust. I pictured her small apartment that I'd seen during our Skype conversations. Remembered how I had gained her home address with the mock-notion that I wanted to post her a birthday card. Why do people trust me? It's a dangerous world out there, full of sickfucks that will find you at any cost. But it's not enough simply finding her. That was elementary. I wanted her suffering – in every possible way!

The cattle then went silent, and I saw other forms creep through the obscurity out there. Slowly turning where I stood, I watched them surround me. Figures among the trees. An unknown number. Standing in a wide circle all around. The breeze smelt sweet with a hint of fresh hay, and those things didn't come any closer. They never did. Only ever here to watch. Watching whatever spite my greedy heart might dig out of my desolate mind. They wanted to know what I wanted. They knew me well, and I could hear the lesser of them circling on all fours, hungry to feed off of my visions. But when disembodied fiends confront you, stand your fucking ground!

What did I want?

I wanted to defile her!

They wanted specifics.

How exactly would I do this?

They needed to see it as I fucking saw it –

I was then back at Amelia's front door. A black duffel bag in my left hand. I stood in the middle of that alley and craned my head slowly from side to side. No one was around at this ungodly hour of the morning. So, I stood patiently, belittling the very idea of a chance-witness. A cat scampered across the distant intersection, as I reached into my bag and removed a small crow-bar. The glass of the locked front door was solid, but nothing a half decent yank couldn't break loose. Up the stairs I went, and those translucent hordes followed upon their invisible feet. They were already waiting at the end of that second floor corridor, as I moved quietly in the dark and found what had to be Amelia's door. I don't have a photographic memory, but my ability to visualize architectural models has always served me well when in the homes of strange girls. The corridor light then came on for no reason. I glanced aside, watching those blackened devils fade a fraction of a moment later. I hadn't pressed the door bell, but it rang anyway. Then I heard them whisper as they shoved the back of my shoulder. Those motherfuckers could be real fucking pricks at times. I slipped the crow-bar into my back pocket as the doorbell rang again, rang by the hand of those unseen fucking assholes. Standing in that claustrophobic corridor, I waited while the doorbell persisted. Rinning over and over until there came movement from within the apartment. I had never heard Amelia's voice until then – she'd always refused to speak on Skype. I really hate language insecurities. I don't give a fuck if your pronunciation isn't perfect, just say my fucking name!

"It's me, Bruce," I said, staring into the bull's-eye of Amelia's peep-hole.

There was an elongated pause as my eyes drifted sideways.

Then the lock slowly turned and the door was gently pulled inward. Amelia stood in black cotton panties and a skimpy pink singlet. Holding the door hesitantly, she stared back at me with her long dark hair coyly framing her glistening eyes. She was shocked by my unexpected appearance right on her doorstep, but with a charming smirk below my conceited glare, I whispered, "Come to daddy."

Smiling, Amelia exhaled, opening the door just enough for my lust to admire her thighs. "What are you doing here?"

I lied to her with ease, and she welcomed me in. Her front door opened directly into the kitchen. The bathroom was to my right, and she backed toward the main room of her small apartment. A lamp near her bed glowed around the curve of her rounded hips where she stood. I closed the door behind me, but didn't bother locking it. I was in. Nothing could stop me now –

Looking up, I was suddenly back on that hill in the clearing beneath the stars. I heard grunting sounds as those intolerant shadows in the circle came a little closer. I could see them more vividly now. Their disfigured bodies were both humanoid and insectile. Most of their heads had unidentifiable outlines. One approached side-on, and I turned toward it. Its silhouetted head rose up as if gauging the validity of my convictions from where it crouched. My hands opened and I wanted nothing more than for that thing to tear out my fucking sternum. Tilting its blackened posture, the creature sneered as something like tar ran out of its snout. The stench was like burnt plastic, and made me want to break its fucking neck –

Glancing to my left, I was back in Amelia's apartment. I heard scratching at the door behind me, so I lunged at her! She flinched as my arms smoothly slipped around her back, her face was only an inch in front my mine. Her lips opened, and after a moment of lingering in her big round eyes, we kissed. Her hands finally lay upon my back and she pulled me closer. The sounds from those things just outside of her door became irritatingly, so I twisted Amelia and shoved her face-first into the fucking wall! Stunned, she bounced off, as I grabbed the back of her skull, and pounded her head again into the wall! She yanked away, so I drove her back into the main room where she slammed onto the floor next to her bed. Grabbing her long hair, I pulled her head up. She was gagging and about to scream, until I punched her in the gut. She buckled, unable to breathe, and collapsed onto her side. It sounded like a dozen hungry dogs outside the apartment door, as I rose up, reaching for my duffel bag –

Yet I was still standing in the middle of that woodland road. The wind began to pick up, and I could see the gravel getting moist. Oily fluid was seeping right out of the earth. I could see enormous worms and headless serpents crawling up from the damp soil and writhing over each other. Soon, all the visible landscape became a slithering mess of tendrils undulating like the surface of an infested sea. The ground beneath my feet felt like a swamp, but I stood still as some kind of fifty-foot centipede with a massive skull-like head slowly emerged from the surrounding trees. Even in the dark, I could see the pig-sized parasites chewing on its back. That heavy breathing beast slowly moved in front of me until I found giant tentacles extending from its rear. Barbed tentacles with hundreds of mouths snapping all the way down to a hooked talon at each end. It was fucking magnificent. I'd love to take that fucker for a ride –

Then I was opening Amelia's door and about to leave, when a rush of movement forced itself inside. A stampede of eel-like things swarmed across the ceiling and into the bedroom. The light in the corridor wasn't on anymore but I could still make out the shape of a skinned lion as it blocked the way, refusing to let me pass. Clinging to its fleshy hide was what might have been an infant human, if its head wasn't like that of a tapeworm. I shut the door without listening to whatever the fuck it was about to say, and I walked back into the bedroom. Amelia suddenly ran at me, swinging a small stool at my head. I grabbed the thin piece of furniture with one hand while my other jabbed straight into her windpipe! It's a shame, I had really wanted to hear her moan. Dropping to her knees, she gasped for air. I however, watched that hive of wet creatures consume the entire ceiling, staining everything they touched. Amelia rolled onto her back, and I reached for the Gerber multi-tool on my belt –

To my growing annoyance, I looked up and found that I was on that fucking hill again –

I focused on where I wanted to be, and then I was instantly dragging Amelia by her hair into the bathroom. Switching on the light, I watched her legs kick out. The door slammed shut as she knocked over a large case packed full of beauty products. Punching her in the kidney, I watched her go limp. That was when I got undressed. As soon as I was naked, I ripped of Amelia's underwear. She could barely breathe as I picked her up by the hair again, forcing her to kneel toward the shower cubical. With my knife, I reached around and slit her throat wide open! All the while, I glared at that plump ass of hers as blood sprayed across the shower. She suddenly lurched out of my grip. Dumping my knife in the nearby sink, I grabbed her by the armpits. Lifting Amelia's convulsing body up, I joined her in the shower. The curtain whipped shut, and I spun her pretty meat around so that her bloody paws could slap all over my fascinated face. That's right, darling, bleed the fuck all over me –

I blinked and discovered that the woods on that hill were now teeming with hundreds of those silhouettes all standing just a few feet away. Among those motionless individuals were more inhuman entities that attacked each other, shrieking as if they were bathed in acid –

Looking down, I stared at Amelia's blood soaked feet between mine. I scanned her twitching body in my arms, and sneered at the stink of iron that I've always found so fucking distasteful. Her arms hung loose at my sides while her matted hair curled about the dark splatter covering her little tits. I glanced only briefly at her teary eyes, but couldn't resist the sight of her slashed thorax. The four-inch laceration bubbled as it continued pumping out the last of her homeostasis. Her inner flesh apeared black despite the bleaching neon light. Then, her chest heaved again before one final slurping noise welled up out of her severed trachea. Her crooked neck hung on a thoroughly unnatural angle, stretching open her mortal wound. It reminded me of prying open the labia of a girl's menstruating cunt. But this penetration was so much more arousing –

The next time I looked around the woods on the hill, there were these towering columns, like massive rib bones arching above and gradually rising further. Webbed entrails and other effluent fluids dripped from those looming structures as they reached up, blotting out the dwindling stars so that they might seal me in –

And then I turned the shower on. The steaming water burnt that female's blood from my face, while I held her feet lovingly against my chest. Amelia's body was upside down, her arms lying awkwardly about my feet as she rested on her shoulders, draining the last dregs of her hemoglobin, just like all those slaughtered animals from my childhood. My erection rubbed against her knees and I wanted to reach down and –

I picked up a handful of dust and stones. Crouching on that farm road, I was once again completely alone. The woods were quiet as the gravel fell between my fingers in the moon light. There was nothing out there anymore. The ground was unmoved, and I'd never set foot in Amelia's home – yet I could still smell her wet hair. Why had I stopped? There was so much more I wanted to do to her fucking meat! So much more. The ritual was right there and waiting for my completion. Why the fuck had I stopped just after it had started to get good? Because the time wasn't right! I had to be systematic. You shouldn't rush these things. I must remember what I was aiming to achieve. Don't ruin the cake by opening the oven before it's done. Standing on that insignificant road in the middle of fuck-knows-where, I was suddenly filled with a calm sense of faith. A certainty that my irreverence would be rewarded. That this hard work would pay off. I've done the necessary deeds, but I must be patient and let the water freeze so that the ice could crack open what was hidden within. I then recalled what I'd been reading on the train by Abra-Melin the Mage, "Their rage is so great and their grief so poignant, that there is in the world no evil which they be not ready to work, if God were to permit them, they being always attracted by the idea of the destruction of the Human Race."

I turned and walked back the way I'd come. Without a second thought, my unconscious led me straight out of the woods, down the hill, and past that church with no regard. I went directly to the train station and I caught my ride back to Bordeaux at 4am that morning.

I liked this place. I'd see it again. Soon.

-

Not long after I had returned to Berlin, in order to finish Part 3 of Bark, Amelia got in touch with me. It's interesting how the dynamics between individual bodies of chemicals can react counter-intuitively depending on the subtle catalyst. She suddenly seemed like a changed person and needed my advice. As a test, I admitted that I had visited her town, but she was oddly excited by the idea of seeing me in the flesh. It seemed as though those voices on the hill had been right all along. The spells I'd invoked had worked. I had always found it amusing to witness a formerly restrained female about-face and willingly strip herself of her own pride and panties once the devil crossed her transcendental threshold of last-minute-resistance. Amelia was now caught in my gravitational pull, and she didn't even know it.

ACT II

A SUPPOSITION

A couple of months later, another female left my flat crying. I eventually ignored her succession of text messages, and crawled into bed at 2am on the morning of the 11th of December. But was awoken at 4am by my phone again. So, like anyone with an intolerance for rude awakenings, I put my phone on silent. It continued vibrating without end. My doorbell then rang. The things girls will do once you've rejected them will always reframe their reputation. Half asleep, I stumbled out of bed and buzzed her in. The instant I did so, I regretted it. I was too exhausted and had too much to do in the next days to sympathy-fuck anyone's brains out. So, I left my flat door locked, closed the inner door, and went back to bed. A moment later, my doorbell began an epic campaign of ringing the shit out of my life. I've had more than my fair share of females sobbing at my doorstep, but it's almost impossible getting them to leave once they're inside. I've said the most insulting, petty, and vulgar things right to the face of lovers in an attempt to get them to leave me the fuck alone. However, the best solution was simply not to let them in in the first place. I knew it was an obnoxious stunt to pull, especially after I had just buzzed her in through the door downstairs, but I was thinking of the greater good. I was a motherfucking saint. Saint Piece Of Shit. Yet the doorbell rang and rang. However, I once lived in an flat with a Drum 'n' Bass club in the basement. Every couple of months some dropkick would flip the fire-alarm, and then I'd have to evacuate the building, if only to escape the piercing alarm. On occasions though, I was known to say fuck it, and bury my head under a pillow. Sooner or later even firealarms end. The doorbell unfortuneately, just kept ringing like the alarm-clock from hell. My phone also continued humming away, and all this shit pissed me off even more. If I opened the door now, chances are, I'd just sodomize her whether she liked it or not. I chose the lesser of two evils, and got up, turned on some Wo Fat, The Conjuring, and made myself a cup of coffee. The ringing disappeared behind the riffs, as I sat at my desk and finished writing my last diary entry. The stress from completing my trilogy of books, Bark, had subsequently been replaced with a shit-load of other tasks in preparation for my upcoming secret expedition. A week ago, on the 5th of December, I successfully hosted my book release party, Barkland.

-PHOTO

It was an exhibition of my artwork, where I read from my trilogy. Ten years had passed since I'd begun the first draft of Bark, and I felt of all my creations this was my motherfucking magnum opus. But now that Bark was done, I had to wrap up my life and focus on another personal discipline that had been building up for over a year now. It had always been in the back of my mind while I worked on Bark. Yet the seed had been planted earlier, ever since I wrote the Third Spell for my series of artwork, Antimother Of God. But then again, that had been the product of the years beforehand. Everything leads to something else. It's practically impossible to discover exactly what is the initial cause that sends any single event in motion. Yet we are the sum of our past actions, regardless of if we consciously decided our choices or not. Much of life just happens and we react with minimal preplanned thought, the reptile brain kicks in and we get swept along with our knee-jerks to given stimuli. I might think that I've been led here by Bark himself, yet the vast complexities that gave birth to Bark are beyond my cognitive capacity to comprehend. We exist here in the present tense, claiming it's from our own engineering, but that's mostly a fucking lie we tell ourselves to support the hope that ultimately we're in control of our insignificant little fucking lives. The intricacies that brought me here were immense, however, we humans seek an easy narrative and like to simplify everything into: 'Y' led to 'Z', 'X' led to 'Y', and of course 'W' was the only reason that we arrived at 'X'. But causality was never that fucking spelled out. We all stand on the shoulders of unrecognized giants. My whole life had led me to this current situation. It was inevitable. It was fate. I had no choice whether I wanted to continue down this path or not. Time had forced me here so far. Just like it had done so with everyone. The only shift in my thinking during this last year had been the acceptance of my optimum-trajectory. I wanted to know where this time-line would lead. I needed to know. I had to push the envelope until I found myself face to face with –

BAM!

I paused.

BAM! BAM!

Sitting still, I turned from my desk toward my locked door and reached for a hammer lying nearby.

BOOM!

It was like a fucking canon going off in my room! Fucking brutal! I would have been impressed if I wasn't so fucking sleep-deprived. Two firemen, four cops, and two medics burst into my flat as I sat, leaning back in my desk chair. Gently placing my coffee down, I calmly sneered, "Can I help you?!"

A female officer approached through the bewildered men in their thick winter uniforms, and asked if I was okay?

Honestly, I'm fucking amazed at how restrained I was, as I answered her with a question, "Do I look okay to you?!"

After a few minutes of her interrogating my assumed suicidal intentions, I finished my coffee and was 'invited' to hospital. My only concern though, was who the fuck was going to fix my destroyed front door? I ignored Mara and another friend, Burroughs, huddling behing the cops as I was led outside. When the powers-that-be bust through your front door with all the civilized authority of righteous intent, the notion of resistance was unnecessary. They were just one-dimensional grunts working for The Man. Their might was right, so my only weapon was my wit. After all, they had to answer to someone, so take me to your fucking leader. I left my building surrounded by cops, and walked onto the street bathed in red and blue flashing lights – I always knew that this day would come.

The ambulance ride was quiet. I relaxed while the medic chatted with the youngest cop about fußball, or currywurst, or whatever German emergency workers shoot the breeze about. I wished they'd forced me into handcuffs and then shoved me into the back of their patrol car. I've never been arrested, and I clearly wasn't now.

At the hospital the twenty-two-year-old cop was met by his partner, the thirty-three-year-old blonde female. I know their ages because we made polite small-talk as I was led into a doctor's office. At 5am, I was staring at two paintings on the wall, when a young, unshaven guy in a white coat came in. He shook my hand and sat at his desk. Introducing Doctor Nice-Guy. First off, he asked straight out if I had any suicidal thoughts.

Tilting my head, I stared directly in front of me and nodded, "The artwork on your walls makes me want to fucking kill myself, if that's what you mean."

The two cops couldn't help sniggering. The doctor also smiled. But I was serious. What fucking retarded, blind five-year-old cunt painted that shit? It was extreme in its fucking hideousness. The next line of questions were very much your run-of-the-mill, Do you know why you're here? Did you mean what you said to your friend? And are you aware that there are people who care deeply about you, blah, blah, fucking bullshit. When faced with a cross-examination that's looking to incriminate you, you have to remember that every word out of your mouth must be laced with figurative speech and nonspecific examples of other vague situations to back up your circular word-games. Never volunteer personal details, and always bitterly mock the allegations that brought you here. Accuse the accuser. Deflection and transference were your friends, and never, under any circumstances, ever fucking smile. I had been wronged. I didn't ask to be brought here. I wasn't crying for help. I was calm, rational, and in complete control of my hatred. Or was my hostility in charge of me at that point? Either way, I trusted my anger more than those jailers with the keys to my suppression. And yet, you must befriend your prosecutors. Engage in idle chit-chat and relate to them about how hard their job must be. So, in turn, I had my own questions about the process – like any sane person would concede as an act of empathy in order to gain trust. You must seem interested and actively involved in resolving this awkward misunderstanding. Remember, constantly maintain eye-contact. I would not back down from this challenge of dialectic conflict. However, there are those that will say things like, you're taking this a bit too far. Just be honest and you'll be fine. If you have nothing to hide then it'll all work out in the end. Fuck that shit! It's freedom vs. control! I was only there because external forces sought to control me! The arrogance of others had deemed me incapable of making decisions for myself, like I'm a fucking invalid! If you care so little for your own personal freedom as to put your unquestioning faith in the justice and health system, then you're a sweetly naive catamite who deserves to be treated like the fucking bitch you are! I refused to surrender the responsibility to govern my own well-being.

Doctor Nice-Guy then wanted to talk with my two friends who had originally called the cops, so I was asked to sit in the waiting room. That was the first time I had ever had an armed escort watch while I took a piss. Taking a seat in the waiting room, I smooth-talked the two young cops. The boy seriously looked like a school kid dressed in a bullet-proof-vest, which I asked him about, and he kindly took it off and handed it over to me. Not so heavy. The blonde cop looked cute but rather tired, I do love a girl in a uniform. We reminisced about the old green police uniforms. I've met several cops socially, and I absolutely recommend it as the best way to destroy the facade of unconditional respect for the illusion that uniforms represent. Cops are normal, everyday people. People who were just as pathetic as everyone else. None of them were holier than thou. Those in authority weren't moral philosophers or overall good at heart. They cheat on lovers, seek better pay, and have as many biases as any old bigot. Cops are just doing whatever dirty work they're told to do. Individually, they're nothing more than conduits redirecting the mundane manure of human existence away from the pretty delusions of the status-quo. You don't need to be a genius to become a cop, you don't even need to be much older than a child, yet we civilians must obey their tone of voice or suffer the consequences. Suffer the consequences. The consequences. So these were the consequences of my actions. I then wondered what the blonde looked like when she was on all fours. Was I wrong to be thinking about such things when I was in that kind of situation? No! I wasn't under arrest. I even asked them, and they confessed that it's not a crime to kill yourself in Germany. It's only after you're dead that the location becomes a crime scene, due to the fact there's some rotting bio-waste contaminating a residential area. So, I'd broken no laws. I'd done nothing wrong. I'd merely been harassed by a rejected female who'd made rash assumptions based on text messages taken out of fucking context! I would talk my way out of here. No one was going to fucking stop me.

However, when I saw Doctor Nice-Guy again, he shrugged and said that my two friends had covinced him that I'd say anything in order to get out of there. How very fucking perceptive of them. And then came the kicker: I had the 'choice' of staying here of my own free-will so that Doctor Nice-Guy's superiors could make a more thorough evaluation of my condition, or they would force me to stay. Oh, so many options. How could I decide? Either I stay or, hmm, I stay. How the world was my fucking oyster! If I refused the offer, the two cops would finally get to earn their paycheck and drag my ass away, and then, at some unknown later date, a judge from the courts would come along and make a whole new assessment of my predicament. So, I glared at Doctor Nice-Guy and said, "Better to free me from making the choices that I never had. Right kids, let's go and lock me up."

While I was led to the elevators with the two cops marching behind, Doctor Nice-Guy tried to reassure me that I really, truly, honest-to-god did have a liberal, serious, and literal 'choice' about my situation. As we walked down the corridor we passed another cluster of armed cops surrounding some guy slouched on a stretcher. My initial thought toward him was one of condemnation. My eyes then glazed over as I realized that that's exactly how any third-person would also view me. But then my anger reminded me of my past experiences in hospitals, and I spoke up, "It's getting cold in here. Can't wait to get my very own straitjacket."

"You're really sarcastic, aren't you," the blonde smiled next to me.

"Not at all."

"Here, this is for you," she said, handing me a sheet of paper with my case number and the address of a police station where I could pick up the key to the new lock on my front door.

"I think you've forgotten something," I frowned, examining the front and back of that single piece of paper. "Where's your phone number?"

The blonde grinned and I watched her glance out the windows at the first light of day. We all rode the lift up to the third floor where I was introduced to Shaggy, the scruffy male nurse. I then watched them lock that thick metal door and seal me in. Welcome to German psychiatric facilities 101. Shaggy was a soft-spoken chap who sat me down in an office, while a fifty-year-old, bald guy peered around the door at me. I was given the run-down about the ward and what would happen next: sometime before 10am I'd speak to the senior staff and they would decide my future. Shaggy then took my blood-pressure, which was a little high. I told him it was because I was so damn thrilled about that smell of lemon-scented disinfectant that didn't quite mask the subtle aroma of bile and diarrhea. Soon I handed over select items of my personal property, after all, we don't want to find Bruce hanging from his scarf in the toilets. I asked if they'd be putting me in a padded-cell. Shaggy smiled and said that they didn't do that anymore, as padded-cells don't actually stop people from hurting themselves. Gesturing toward the lounge at the end of the corridor, Shaggy said I was free to roam about the ward. The lounge windows overlooked the swans in the Kreuzberg canal, and as I took a seat, I found I was finally left to gather my thoughts without an escort. That was, until the patients slowly wandered in for breakfast. I sat watching the sun rise over the rooftops as more and more demented fucks came over to inspect the fresh meat. My only acknowledgment of those approaching patients was a scowl of building impertinence. But then a moment of clarity came over me, remembering my voluntary psychological assessment at the madhouse in 2011: I knew that these were my people! The imbeciles, the psychotics, and the deranged fucking lunatics, these were my equals. This was where I belonged, locked up and out of sight. Here I was treated like a fuck-up and was never expected to do anything but whittle my fucking time away. It wasn't so bad. Who needs free-expression, when you have a roof over your head, a clean bed, and three warm meals a day? What more could any battery-hen require in order to produce those golden eggs of cherished servitude. To make demands of entitlement was an elitist hubris of unrealistic presumptions about one's own worth. You must be grateful for simply being allowed to stay in such fine lodgings. You must give thanks to those all-powerful doctor-gods who giveth shelter but and could just as easily take it all away.

Some Turkish guy with the eyes of an inbred bovine took a seat across the table from me. He buttered a bun with chocolate pudding. Was that what passed as a healthy breakfast in the medical establishment these days. That's when I noticed the metal cutlery. So, they took my multi-tool from me for my own safety, and yet they handed out serrated knifes for the crazies to mash up those revolting looking mushy peas. Who wants to make a prison-shank with me? Shaggy appeared again and asked why I wasn't eating. Restraining the impulse to snap at him, I got up and made myself a cup of gourmet hospital coffee. At the drink-stand I met a dumpy giant in an open bathrobe, with half of his hair missing in random patches. His thick mustache made me think that he might have once been the respectable Dean from some classy private school. That was before the temptation of being surrounded by underage girls in pleated mini-skirts drove him over the edge of sexual frustration. Now however, he struggled to decide on which spoon to use in his coffee that had already gone cold. Making my way back to the lounge, I noticed that most of the patients were huddled in an adjacent, smoking room. A group of hunched silhouettes peered back at me. I then passed an elderly, gypsy-like woman with most of her teeth missing and wrapped in a ragged shawl. She limped aside, and I expected that her inner thighs were laced with a myriad of self-inflicted lacerations after a lifetime on the streets. I took a seat, admiring the golden clouds, and knew that no matter what happened here, I would be in Scotland this time next week. That Turkish guy returned to his plate and began mimicking how I was sitting. Crossing my arms, I turned my chair away from that cunt, toward another window. In the smoking room, I watched mingling forms waiting for their meds to come along and blissfully sweep them away from this tedious routine of conscious arousal. My eyes had dried out from my lack of sleep, and those uncomfortable chairs made me want to smash my way through the windows. I then paid close attention to the window frames. They were securely sealed, just like the one and only doorway out of the ward. Whatever happened to emergency exits? If there was a fire in here, we would all fucked. And if those in charge planned on keeping me locked up for longer than the next interrogation, then I would have to find my own way out of that clinical cul-de-sac. The front door wasn't going to budge, but on the east wing, the building dropped away in terraces, one level at a time. If I could break a window over there, I could make a run for it. If I did, it would have to be before they doped me up and numbed my senses. I would have to escape today. But the glass could be reinforced. I might simply be trapped. So then, if these cunts did force me to stay, I would make their accommodating hospitality a fucking nightmare they'd soon regret. I'd destroy everything I could get my hands on. If I had no free-will, then I was willing to free my inner fucking psychopath. Suddenly a towering mongoloid stepped up next to me with what appeared to be a pregnant gut bulging out of his tiny t-shirt and bathrobe. His finger then poked my right shoulder like I was a steaming pile of dogshit. I raised an eye at this mono-brow, buck-toothed fuckwit, and he immediately retreated –

A vision then crossed my mind, I pictured this guy grabbing a butter-knife and hacking out my throat! I could see him tearing at my jugular while he howled like a baboon. Crashing to the floor, with blood pooling in my eye-sockets, I could still see him ripping my fucking windpipe apart and silencing my voice that was apparently never worth a damn –

But none of that happened. The fatass just wobbled away, leading my pupils toward a girl sitting to my left. She didn't look too messed up, apart from the ridiculous science-experiment that was her hair style. And then I noticed Nurse Shaggy. He needed to take some of my blood.

Young Doctor Unknown-Middle-Eastern-Ethnicity looked up, as I took off my jacket and hoody. Another patient was receiving an injection from Doctor Nerdy-Girl. I must be getting old, everyone on the staff looked like a bunch of interns that should, more appropriately, be frothing a latte in Starbucks. As Doctor Unknown-Middle-Eastern-Ethnicity took my blood, I had to ask, "Yeah, and what's that for exactly?"

Doctor Unknown-Middle-Eastern-Ethnicity looked at me with blank eyes.

"I mean, I already told Doctor Nice-Guy that I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. Is this just to prove if I'm lying? Or is there some new test that can tell precisely how fucking crazy you are without even having to talk about all your suppressed juvenile cliches?"

Nurse Shaggy seemed amused from where he stood in the doorway.

Soon I was left alone with Doctor Nerdy-Girl, and I heard her say, "You don't seem to trust anyone."

"What? I love it here," I said, staring out into the corridor. "It's like a spontaneous vacation – but without any of that, you know, extraneous fun."

"Your expression doesn't look like you trust anyone."

Tilting my head toward that female, while still holding the cotton wool against the vein in my arm, I replied, "This expression that you so aptly deciphered, is what I look like when I only get two fucking hours of sleep, and then find myself locked up in this dump like a common fucking criminal!"

Doctor Nerdy-Girl nodded her head and kept quiet. I bet she looked fucking hot in nothing but that white coat and knee-high socks.

Once the doctors were done with me, I ran into that normal-looking girl coming out of the bathroom after she had just showered, saying in a French accent, "Careful, it's wet in there."

Watching her hour-glass hips as she walked away, I read between the lines of what I knew she really meant. Despite everything, my prejudices still mechanically labelled everyone I came across based on appearances. The environment we find ourselves in changes everything – just like, conversely – the mood we happen to be in also changes everything. The external in relation to the internal. No one lives in a vacuum. I could look and behave like a good little lamb my entire life, but now that I was in here, my opinion was even more irrelevant than ever. The insane are automatically dismissed as deplorable and placated into easily categorized pigeonholes. Here I was looked down upon and spoken to like a child who must answer to the delegated father-figures of society. And yet, still I was trapped in a thought process that continually conspired against vulnerable females. I would never escape myself.

After another hour of brooding on my own, my ego-defenses had solidified. Given a little time to assess the morning's events, the best persona I decided to proceed with was to wear the underdog-attitude on my sleave. If I was to elude the guilty verdict, I must play the part of the kicked-wasp's-nest. I had my story straight, my fucking game-face on, and Abra-Melin the Mage in my mind, "Also do not familiarise thyself with them; for they be not little pet dogs. Adopt a serious tone and an air of authority, make them obey thee, and be well ware of accepting the least offer which they shall make unto thee of themselves; and treat them as their Master." Listen, motherfuckers, I've been dragged out of my home by the cops for nothing more than a misconstrued text message erroneously interpreted by an hysterical female! However, I knew that, in the end, if I could not out-smartass those cunts, then I deserved to have my good-for-nothing brains lobotomized until my cerebellum poured out of my nostrils like runny fucking eggs.

Finally, Nurse Shaggy came to collect me.

Seated at a table in another office, I asked each of my prosecutors for their names as I looked them right in the eye. Sitting opposite and taking notes on a computer was Doctor Unknown-Middle-Eastern-Ethnicity. Directly in front of me was Doctor Nerdy-Girl. Nurse Shaggy sat to my right, but it was Doctor Mother-Of-All-Cunts who sat to my left and did all of the talking with her apex-predator bedside-manner.

"So why are you here?!" she barked.

"Still waiting to find that out!" I snapped back with equal belligerence. "What exactly am I being accused of?!"

Shaggy looked shocked by my hostility.

"You know exactly why!" Doctor Mother-Of-All-Cunts sneered.

"Then why the fuck are you asking something that you already fucking know?!"

She proceeded to repeat everything already gone over by Doctor Nice-Guy, until snot-nosed Doctor Mother-Of-All-Cunts slapped the table top, "If you don't stop yelling, and start having a rational conversation with me, then there is nothing more to say!"

I took breath, held it, and quietly replied. "You'll forgive my miserable attitude, but I have a tendency to become a tad bit grizzly if I lack the minimum daily amount of sleep that any adult human being requires. But you know, I didn't really have much choice in the matter, did I."

Doctor Mother-Of-All-Cunts wasn't interested in hearing my off-topic deposition. Instead, she demanded more answers as if she'd just found out that her own daughter had been raped by someone fitting my exact description. I did my best to metaphorically explain the context of the situation, but she impatiently belittled 'context' as completely irrelevant. I know Nietzsche said that god is dead, but did she just suggest that Einstein's dead too? I guess her own infallible fiat was all she needed to prove his Theory Of General Relativity as obsolete. Doctor Mother-Of-All-Cunts wasn't going to tolerate a word of my facetious insolence, and she yapped, "If you're not going to help yourself, then there is little point in continuing!"

I shook my head at her one-liners, glared at Doctor Nerdy-Girl, and then at Nurse Shaggy like the subservient fucking subordinates they timidly played so fucking perfectly. Finally, I said, "Don't you guys just love how fucking condescending she is?"

There was nothing so empowering as standing up to the face of authority and seeing how easily rattled Doctor Mother-Of-All-Cunts could become simply by refusing to treat her like anything more than the fucking bureaucrat she really fucking was. Respect that? Get the fuck out of here!

This whole interaction only took about five minutes before I paused again, and said, "I'll always talk about subjects at the extreme end of the spectrum. If you can't even talk about these things without the fear of reprisals, then how are you free to think about anything? Art is the one abstract environment where we should be safe to explore concepts no matter how uncomfortable they may seem. And you know, I've really enjoyed my time in this country, but there are some subjects you can't even fucking talk about without being locked up in a place like this and having your very fucking sanity put on question! Am I supposed to fucking thank you for this shit?!"

"That's it! Get out!" Doctor Mother-Of-All-Cunts yelled, slamming her notebook shut. "Don't say anything more! Get out!"

I blinked and glanced at Shaggy. "That's it? I'm free to go?"

"Yes! Get out!"

"Thank you very fucking much!" I stood straight up and immediately followed Shaggy out. He looked confused as he slowly led me back to the front desk so that I could collect my belongings. I was initially suspicious and checked the surrounding doors just in case I was jumped by other nurses with that legendary straitjacket before dragging me away to a mythical padded-cell. However, Shaggy just got out his keys and opened the ward door.

"Hey, listen," he softly spoke. "If you need to, you can always come back."

"Yeah, I don't fucking think so." And I walked the fuck out of there.

As soon as I stepped from of the elevator, I waved down the first taxi I saw. While being driven through the damp winter streets, I imagined Doctor Mother-Of-All-Cunts muttering to herself, "What a fucking piece of shit he was!"

-

After picking up the key from the police station, I wandered through the cold wind toward my flat. Thinking about how I'd spoken to the doctors, I wondered if I'd over-reacted. Maybe I should have chilled the fuck out. They weren't out to fuck me over, they only wanted to help... Help? Help?! Do I look like I need anyone's fucking help?! I rely on myself! I won my fucking liberty without the fucking help of anyone else! But then the pressing question arose: who the fuck actually knew about this indiscreet little incident this morning? I had spent this whole year carefully avoiding discussion about my future plans, but this situation blew everything out of proportion. How irritatingly ironic. There may have been moments when I needed someone to confide in, yet now that I finally wanted time alone to focus and get the fuck out of here, I was forced to explain myself to a fucking committee! These cunts only gave a fuck when it was convenient for them. I didn't want any psychiatric advice or even anyone's short-lived attention-span! They were a year too late for that fucking bullshit!

Stumbling upstairs, I found that the hole in my front door had been temporarily patched and pad-locked shut, it was better than nothing. First thing I did was check that my equipment was still all there, items of ritualistic significance that the layman and average cop would have never fucking noticed. Then I made sure no one had interfered with my diaries – but of course not, or else I would have faced a whole litany of other infringements.

-PHOTO

It wasn't long before I heard a knocking and found an ex-girlfriend cautiously inching through my ruined front door. She looked like she'd just run a four-minute-mile as she found me at my desk drinkng a coffee, much like when the cops had burst in. I wondered why she looked so freaked out. It wasn't until a few days later that I learned that she too was at the hospital with Burroughs and Mara. Christ knows what the gossip was saying. But fuck them! I still had plausible-deniability on my side, and as long as I avoided any prying vultures before my departure, I'd stay on track. Abra-Melin the Mage then spoke to me, "If aforetime you have been a wicked, debauched, avaricious, luxurious and proud man, leave and flee from all these Vices. Consider that this was one of the principal reasons why Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, John, and other holy men retired into desert places, until that they had acquired this Holy Science and Magic; because where there are many people, many scandals do arise; and where scandal is, Sin cometh; the which at length offendeth and driveth away the Angel of God, and the Way which leadeth unto Wisdom becometh closed unto ye. Fly as far as you can the conversation of men, and especially of such as in the past have been the companions of your debauches; or who have led you into sin. Ye shall therefore seek retirement as far as possible; until that ye shall have received that Grace of the Lord which ye ask."

Another ex then showed up at my place. She apparently knew nothing about the misadventures from the morning. So, on my behalf, she phoned the cops, my landlord, and arranged for a locksmith to come over. That's when I found out that my home-insurance probably wouldn't even cover any of this shit. Awesome. No one ever considers the clean-up needed after the cops smash their way into a citizen's home. Like a one-night-stand: the authorities take you for a joy-ride, date-rape you, and then leave you with the fucking bill for dinner. Danke-fucking-schön! So fuck this farce of meddling do-gooders and their whimsical altruism! I wanted to take my baseball bat and finish what the fireman's ax had started and fucking destroy my entire flat: throw furniture into the walls, shatter every fucking window, and burn the whole fucking building to its foundations! Who the fuck did those bell-curve-mediators think they were to judge me?! I repudiated their very fucking claim to dominion over my true-will. Especially now that I'd just walked out of their incarceration after lying straight to their gullible faces. Fuck their bullshit mantra of, "It's for the best." If I could easily fool them in less than five fucking minutes, then fuck all their rational assessments! Was that the best they could do?! How was I meant to fucking respect any those fucking puppets?

-

Throughout the day, more and more resentment coated my teeth with the bile of my contempt. And after dinner, I finally looked at my phone and found a plethora of messages from Mara and others. Staring at the rain, I wondered what was the worst thing I could say to Mara right at that point?

"Come over."

And she did.

Once you've made a pact with the devil, dealing with people in the most powerful positions means little more than telling them exactly whatever horseshit they needed to hear. Cops, doctors, and females have no effect on you after you've accepted that there were much worse things waiting beneath the waters and tempting you closer with every hour. If you aren't willing to put your very fucking life on the scales to test your Negative Confessions, then you truly have no faith in yourself and you're already erased from both The Book Of Life and your own fucking Book Of The Dead.

ACT III

THE SUBSTANTIATION

The train to Inverness ran late, so I missed the last bus, leaving no other option but to catch a taxi. While cruising away from the train station, I plugged in my headphones and watched the streets, listening to Undenied, by Portishead. Glaring out at all that nothingness beneath so much pouring rain, I saw only the center-lines with their cat-eyes leading the way. I didn't need to see Loch Ness to know when I was finally right next to it. The road ran parallel to that great chasm. I could see the black ridge on the other side of the glen below that overcast storm, but out here was a great serpent that ate all the faint remnants of light, and not a single reflection could escape its jaws. Shit was black as fuck that inhospitable evening where the devil was waiting. So, I had made it back here, even though little had gone to plan in those last days since talking my way out of hospital. A line that I'd written in my diary during the first quarter of this year came to mind. it was the classic self-doubt and crisis of faith: what if I'm wrong? If things had gone differently, if things had gone as I'd predicted them during this final week, then my convictions would have been validated and I would have simply gone through the motions as laid out according to my goals. But what had happened: I'd invited Mara over. And yet here I was, alone in a taxi heading south through all that wilderness. I had to. My true-will needed to know what was out there.

Forty-five minutes later, I was welcomed by the nice old lady at the hotel. After she showed me to my room, she recalled my face from my first visit last year. It was too late for the kitchen but I had a pot of Earl Grey in the empty lounge and stared out the window. I was the only guest at the hotel that evening, and the old manager informed me that the loch pretty much shut down at this time of year. That was just what I wanted. The less people around the better. Not that there was anything to do here in the summer time. I'd brought a book with me, The Great Archaeologists, and flicked through the black & white photos of ancient stone monoliths and esteemed European scholars. The picture of Sir Henry Rawlinson on the rock of Behistun (1846), caught my attention. He was standing on the top rung of a ladder resting upon a ledge on a cliff face carved with Cuneiform inscriptions. A river stretched away in the background vista, while Rawlinson's own head was positioned above the high set horizon line. He had the whole world sprawled out behind him where he was so precariously perched, and yet all his focus was on that archaic text chiseled out of solid stone. Ah, that tendency we have to get lost in our work that seems so very fucking important at the time, can leave us negligent to the bigger picture. But you have to concentrate despite the difficulties if you ever want to achieve something. However, what does any of it matter if you end up naked and exposed to the elements. I found myself examining that image for a long time. I've been so busy, shut away focusing on my book that I had forgotten to take time and appreciate the little guy holding the ladder in place. We may be alone, but we're not. Rawlinson had his man-servant, just as I had the old lady making me pots of tea. How much credit can I take for arriving here, when I hadn't driven the taxi or even built the roads that brought me to this isolated spot. But if I alone hadn't made the effort to travel, then I wouldn't be drinking that Earl Grey right then. I was the one responsible for my actions, even if my unconscious was in control of me. It was a paradox that inflamed frustration, and yet, admittedly, also gave rise to inspiration. Suddenly, I missed Mara. I fucking missed her! This wasn't what I had planned! I wasn't fucking meant to miss anyone!

-

The next morning, I woke in that king-size bed and took a moment before I realized where the fuck I was. Opening the curtains, I looked out upon the Holy Mountain Of Pigs crowned with snow. In my gut my fatalism knew exactly what needed to be done in those final twenty-four hours. It was truly fucking beautiful here.

-PHOTO

When I opened my suitcase I found Mara's pajama shirt that she'd given me, and I paused. Picking it up, I buried my face in her scent – just as my compass slipped out of the folds. The symbolism was blatant.

Once I went for my morning pot of tea, and sat on the chilly front porch, I discovered the crescent moon was watching me from above the summit of the mountain. I had never found time to venture up that side of the glen last year. Now the moon demanded I pay tribute. A car pulled into the parking lot and a small human strolled up into the hotel. He soon joined me on the porch and struck up a polite conversation about driving from Glasgow. He was just passing through, and I was fucking glad of it. I didn't need to humor strangers with idle small-talk. And then that thing happened again, when I stared at a person and wondered what the fuck I was actually looking at? These pasty creatures with their beady eyes and dull movements. Am I supposed to relate to this fucking meat-sculpture? Worse yet, I'm in fact trapped in the very same shoes as one of these biped shuffling, evolutionary bi-products. Jesus-fucking-Christ, just look at that pale skin sagging off its toneless muscles barely clinging to a hunched framework of bones no better than a bag of branches that would easily burn on a bonfire as its sizzling fat melted all over the coals of this rancid fucking landscape –

He then shook my hand, and I wished him a safe journey.

I needed to see the loch, so I wandered up the highway, past that petite graveyard, and all the way to those two stone pillars either side of the private driveway leading down to the water's edge – but I denied the direct route and continued along the road. Random traffic hurtled by as I stared to my right and found the loch emerging through the thick woods. Finally, out of the low clouds came the day's first direct sunlight.

-PHOTO

I left the road and went straight down the hillside into all those skinny trees. The highway was a couple hundred yards above the loch, but I knew there was a small rowboat down there just waiting for me. I had to see it again with my own two fucking eyes. Upon climbing through the thicket, I came across an overgrown dirt track also running parallel to the loch. Dead leafs were one with the mud where I stopped still. Staring through the contorted trunks, I knew that I had to be patient. All my instruments for the ritual were still at the hotel. This was not the time to face the point of no return. Not now. Not just yet. Not until tomorrow. Turning to my left, I slowly followed the path until I came to a crumbling stone wall coated in moss. The highway was on the other side, and I looked up at that looming mountain. I was determined to climb that motherfucker before the day was out, so I headed back toward its feet. I passed the hotel and crossed the bridge over the river, when I came to a drain in the curb. The drizzling rain echoed up from that hole in the asphalt, and after a few minutes I found myself transfixed by the voices speaking to me from below. Faces just under the surface peered back up. This fixation for murky waters was really beginning to get the better of me. I was suddenly in desperate need of seeing the loch immediately! The mountain could wait! Off the road I went, down a gravel driveway on the south-side of the river. No one lived over there. I wasn't going to be bothered by other humans. Though, through the trees, I could see that white manor house on the north bank, and I knew higher up on the forested hillside, was hidden The Old Grahams house. And then I was right at the water's edge. Dropping to my knees, both my hands sunk into that pristine water. Palms down, I stretched my fingers beneath the small lapping waves, feeling the frozen purity sink into my nervous system. I had never felt so welcome in my entire fucking life. It was calling me. I was overcome by an innate desire to walk right out into the loch and never turn back. There was a gravity on my back pushing me forward. An invisible tide drawing me in, despite the wind on my face. No! This was not the time! I stood up. Intense contradictions swirled throughout my chest. Losing my balance, I took a seat on the rocky shoreline and listened to that song by Ken Mode, Romeo Must Never Know. Those lyrics kept repeating, "But this won't end. But this won't end. But this won't end. But this won't end." Damn right, I couldn't escape this fucking bullshit that fucked my skull every single fucking day! Still, I let my eyes drift across those waters at nothing, and just let my mind do its thing, until I heard the line, "But don't quit."

Stepping up to the tip of that tiny peninsula at the mouth of the river, I turned toward the two boat sheds nestled within the bush. I recalled when I stood here last year and had my first real look into the steep depth of the water and how uneasy it made me feel at the time. Now however, it looked calm. The crystal water faded immediately into a sharp darkness – that suddenly screamed at me with a mindless noise that I could scarcely believe! No, that deafening shriek came from above. I glanced upward just as a gray fighter jet roared overhead and flew up the glen following the river. I stood still and looked back into those bottomless waters as a swarm of submerged faces leered at me with cataract eyes and rotten teeth. Countless emaciated bodies writhed against one another before a great undertow dragged them all a few feet deeper where the sunlight couldn't penetrate. Suddenly, a boney hand surged up toward my ankle – but the forces below pulled it back just before its fingertips could breach the surface. Those ugly fucks looked more like my mood than my own worthless reflection did. I stood there for a moment longer, examining the lock on the boat shed. If plan-A failed, I was confident that I could break into this shed with my hammer. Glaring up at the Holy Mountain Of Pigs, I watched mist roll over its icy cliffs as I made my way back through the thorns. In this changeable climate, the sun came and went within minutes. Turning my head, I watched a gathering of blackened figures following me in the woods on the other side of the river. Then I saw a vehicle pull up to the distant gate from the highway, and someone came walking in my direction. With a simple nod at the approaching stranger, he acknowledged my existence by returning the common courtesy. Wearing a workman's wet-weather gear, he must have been checking the small hydro-electrical facility. He didn't question me, and I didn't bother him. I belonged here. Yet while wandering back to the hotel for a lunchtime pot of Earl Grey, I reached the bridge and noticed a narrow gap between the rocks and the river itself. Barely a trickle of water inched its way down there, but it was cluttered with an assortment of trash that had been washed off the street over the years. There were plenty of branches, tourist litter, and several hubcaps. All it was missing was a collection of dead girls, lying naked and discarded upon those glistening stones. Their hair streaked across their bashed-in faces while their anemic limbs became more blue than pink as bones extended from their torn skin. I could see them down in that shadowy crack. They were all looking back up at me. Their white bodies seemed to glow against the black sheen of that little gorge. Lips parted and their dead mouths murmured that I should join them. One of them was lying on a jagged section of rock, her bloody fingers rubbing a huge gash down her inner thigh. Fingers slipped into exposed muscle, slowly moving up toward her cunt –

A truck then roared by a few feet from my shoulder-blades, and I knew that I really needed a cup of tea. The cold was beginning to seep under my scarf.

-

While I sat in the lounge warming myself, I reflected over that night after the hospital. I had anticipated spending the last week in absolute solitude, concentrating my mind and finalizing some ceremonies. I was planning on tearing up all the carpet in my flat and painting a great version of the hermetic symbols tattooed on my back upon the floor. There I could sit in the center of my pentagram and meditate on the profane invocations I was preparing to perform. I wanted to mutilate chunks of raw meat while desecrating holy words and calling to those things unseen. But instead, I had invited Mara over. I text her to come to my place after I'd been out to dinner, and just as I was stepping up to my building, I saw her walking down the street. Waiting on the footpath, I watched as she marched straight up and slammed her arms around my body, hugging me tighter than I've ever been! Her head pressed hard against my chest as I squeezed her back. I had never assumed that she was capable of such visceral interaction. She was known more for her introversion as opposed to engaging in any kind of physical contact with other human beings, especially with me, despite our recent history. The next days with Mara, however, was an experience of accelerated intimacy. Of course, the rumors of my hospitalization had run hog-wild. I suddenly heard from people saying some of the most ludicrous shit about what had supposedly happened to me. Ex-girlfriends took me aside and hinted at things that they were already aware of. I responded to their vague allegations by confirming and denying nothing. Mara stayed with me every night until the day of my departure. Memories of my last night with her crossed my mind. We watched, Only Lovers Left Alive, from the floor below my sofa, where I rode her bareback until the movie faded into the distance and all I cared about were her lips on mine. I hadn't felt needed like this is a long time. I'd been too much of a fucking whore before this year's celibacy, and had forgotten how much I liked caring about someone other than myself. Ultimately, I knew that intimacy fucking mattered – it mattered to me! The next morning, I still had to pack my bags in my near empty apartment. I'd done a thorough job of getting rid of most of my possession and all of my art. Mara woke up first and laid on top of me as we listened to the quiet piano and violin of, Arvo Pärt, Spiegel im Spiegel. It's those little moments of skin on skin without saying a word that can mean the most. Since becoming an adult, I have never broken down and cried in the company of anyone until I had with Mara that week. You shouldn't underestimate the power of simply being there for someone when they truly need it. Eventually we got out of bed. Mara phoned her office and told them that she would be coming in late, and then, while I was kneeling next to my suitcase, she shoved me onto the floor, pinning me down, not wanting to let me leave. She was only little, but I found it impossible to move her. It was like my own strength was unwilling to push her away. Because I didn't want to let her go! But all things must end, and she reluctantly walked me to the Ostkreuz train station. There, she asked if she could come all the way to the airport. I couldn't refuse her. So she phoned for a taxi and then called her office again, telling them she wouldn't be coming to work at all. During the taxi ride, she took a bunch of selfies with me, and I couldn't help wondering what the fucking hell I was doing? Why the fuck was I leaving her? But I was trapped on a course I couldn't escape at that point. Events had been set in motion that I was unable and unwilling to reset. My true-will was on autopilot and I was merely a passenger enjoying all the torment of this sudden emotional connection despite my best defenses. Abra-Melin the Mage then rang through my head, "Ponder the matter then well before commencing, and only begin this Operation with the firm intention of carrying it out unto the end, for no man can make a mock of the Lord with impunity." Mara watched from behind the glass walls as I went through security at the airport. The moment I headed up the stairs and out of her sight, I plugged in my MP3 player and listened to Slipknot, The Devil In I. The line, "Some of us are destined to be outlived," resonated as I drifted through Duty Free and barely made it to my flight on time. The cunt at the departure gate looked at me with feverish impatience, until my glare of disgust made her shut the fuck up. That was not a day that anyone wanted to fuck with me on. The flight was a blur of both: what the fuck was I doing?! And: I must remember that I am the architect of my own fate! The train from the Christmas-decorated, Edinburgh station was late for departure. While waiting there, I pulled out the handmade, paperback book that an ex had made just two days before. It was full of last minute farewells from friends who had suddenly learned of my leaving. One had written how she'd thought I would probably think this was a lame thing to do, but I didn't think that at all. In fact, I recalled what Christopher Hitchens had said in one of his last interviews, "If you ever wonder whether to write to anyone, always do, because you'd be surprised by how much of a difference it can make. Here's a regret, I regret not doing it more often myself."

-

Looking at the clock in the lounge, it was precisely 1:45pm when I marched out of the hotel and toward the Holy Mountain Of Pigs. It was now silhouetted by a fresh blue sky and didn't look so threatening. I had calculated that I would only need about an hour to stroll up to the top. That left me plenty of time to get back down before it got dark around 4pm. Not a problem. Famous last words. Across the bridge I went before following a country road that travelled off to the right, away from the highway. According to the map that I'd picked up at the hotel, this road would stretch around the mountain and snake its way up to the summit. It wasn't until I continued along the road that I realized just how wide that mountain really was. Still, I was in no rush. The woods were quiet. I had the steep forest to my left, the river to my right. There were a couple of cabins near the highway, but soon the asphalt on the road turned to gravel. Huge swamp-like puddles consumed dips in the path, though, it was those barely visible patches of ice that were the most hazardous. I walked past dozens of little waterfalls draining off the damp ambiance of this entire place. Some streams were significantly larger, and after a time, I came to a small wooden bridge over a pouring torrent where fallen trees crisscrossed each other. The map indicated that the dirt road should finally lead away from the river and up into the mountain. Until then, I hadn't gained elevation in the slightest. If I hadn't had the map on me, I'd have doubted that this road ever led up to anything. While listening to Soundgarden, Mailman, I climbed the steep path and began wondering why I was so insistent on climbing this fucker, when ultimately, I'd come here to face the waters. Was I running away from my intentions? Was I getting cold feet? No, the water had to wait until tomorrow when all the numbers were in alignment. The challenge of scaling that mountain was for the here and now, while I was still here right now. When I came to a hairpin-bend in the road, it marked the halfway point on the map. But it had already taken over an hour to make it this far up the slope. From that angle the whole mountain seemed to have doubled in size. Turning 360°, I saw no other evidence of human existence. I was on my own out here, and the further I went, the more I felt at home.

-PHOTO

Once I was trudging through the snow, I conceded that dress shoes were not the most appropriate footwear for tackling mountains. I was wrapped up warmly but looked more like I was off to the ballet than hiking barren landscapes. At least for the most part the road continued upward, and with every twist in the forest, I hoped to spot the peak, though, I was only faced with more of the same frigid trees. The snow thinned out, being replaced with that treacherous ice, and I was starting to heat up from all this marching. There were multiple hoof prints in the snow, ranging from tiny clusters, to as big as my palm. And then I came across a single mark that was either a random formation in the snow, or a fucking velociraptor footprint. The sky wasn't dark but completely overcast. If the shrouding woods didn't open up soon, I was going to miss the sunset long before even reaching the end of that fucking road. That idea pissed me off, and I moved faster with more perseverance. I remembered once saying to someone after I had finished writing Bark, that there's a lot purpose in pressure. Then to my contemptuous relief, the forest opened up toward a bleak expanse of rock and snow. I could see a towering antenna station at the peak, but the road mocked me as it slowly zigzagged up the slope. Out there, away from the trees, I was exposed to the ruthless wind that was more than fucking chilly on my frosted fucking eyeballs. My breathing had become vicious as I fought the gales and stumbled up that rough-as-guts track that was anything but civilized for my once polished shoes. But at least I got to watch the sun go down in all its infernal glory.

-PHOTO

There was no time to fuck around at that point. I could see the end of the line, so I started running through the particularly deep pockets of snow. I wasn't even slightly tired. And then suddenly, I came around one last bend, and there I was, right on the top of the Holy fucking Mountain Of Pigs. At last Loch Ness stretched out below all the. But I still couldn't see that whole body of water. This area of the summit was not the outcropped ridge that I had looked up at this morning where the crescent moon hung above. That was still out to the north-east of where I stood and where no man-made path led. If I wanted a better view of the loch in its entirety, then I'd have to leave the end of the road and cross that naked wilderness. By then it was exactly 4pm. I hadassumed that the sky would have been a total blackout, but for no discernible reason, Ra was on my side that evening. If I left now, it would take another two hours to make it back to the hotel, and I probably could do with whatever light there was remaining. But I wasn't about to turn back. I needed to know what was out there. What had the moon wanted to show me.

-PHOTO

-

Nearly an hour later, I finally began stumbling back down the mountain. Night had arrived just as the gale force winds grew in strength. I took cues from what was written in The Book Of Sacred Magic, and began reciting my own twisted ritual. First, I thanked the Holy Mountain Of Pigs for the grace in which it had granted me from birth to now. Then, I confessed what a sinning piece of shit I had been, and humbly asked the Mountain's pardon. Finally, I appealed to the Mountain, asking it to guide and reveal unto me that which I could not see, My Unholy Guardian Devil. These words had to be spoken with absolute resolve or else you're just fooling yourself. As Abra-Melin the Mage had said, "Know ye that although in the beginning your prayer be but feeble, it will suffice, provided that ye understand how to demand the Grace of the Lord with love and a true heart, whence it must be that such a prayer cometh forth. Also it serveth nothing to speak without devotion, without attention, and without intelligence; nor yet to pronounce it with the mouth alone, without a true intent; nor yet read it as do the ignorant and the impious. But it is absolutely necessary that your prayer should issue from the midst of your heart, because simply setting down prayers in writing, the hearing of them will in no way explain unto you how really to pray." As I tripped in the dark, with the wind clawing at my shaved skull, I saw those figures slowly arise out of that desolate mountain range. I was half-way between the summit and the woods when they appeared, but I kept walking at a calm pace. More and more of those things crawled upward like slabs of granite out of the snow. They were not the same as my past visions of ethereal beings. These figures were all very much humanoid and draped in long black, over-sized burqas that blew like enormous silk flags. While scanning the thousands of silhouettes across the ridge, I persisted with my oration and watched thousands more of those veiled individuals cover the whole slope of mountain. There were so many sheets blowing in the wind that they blotted out the earth before the absence of the sun could do its worst. I kept going downhill, listening to all those bitter voices that confronted my oration. They questioned my deceptions and inquired further about the unknown conspiracies that I had kept hidden from even their kind. They lined the road on both sides like a huge crowd glaring at my descent, but none stood on the path itself. They wanted to watch me go down and hit rock bottom like there was no fucking tomorrow. Finally, however, I marched into the looming arms of the forest, and not once did I look back. I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks as that singular celestial voice stated as clearly as if I had uttered the words myself, "You're being duped by the oxytocin!" I had nothing to say to this. The voice was right. So I continued down the middle of that snow-clogged road. It was safer to walk on the weeds that grew out of the center-line than to sink into one of the many frozen puddles on both sides of the gravel road. In fact, if it wasn't for the snow on the road, the whole environment would've been an utter blackness beneath a ghastly shade of blue that was getting darker by the minute. I'd hoped the downward trek would've been faster than the climb, but again this fucking place was vastly more extensive than I had any idea of. There were moments when I saw those things standing on the edge of the road with hideous fingers aching to drag me aside. More prestigious spirits circled me like buzzards, talking with overlapping insinuations about what I had seen on the mountain top, back out on the ridge, where the moon had laid temptation. Those voices taunted me with that which was unavoidable. Then they tested Mara. "What if she hadn't distracted you? What if you were left to your own devices? What then?" Again I had no answer. "Nothing has changed! Their meat is just as revolting as ever! And you yourself haven't changed at all!" Listening, I stumbled on through that snow and over uneven ground. It felt like I was barefoot, and I scorned myself for wearing such inappropriate footwear. Despite my once cocky attitude about climbing this rock, my energy was now draining at an exponential rate. Going downhill seemed grotesquely worst than my evening stroll upward into the heart of self-loathing. Suddenly I found myself speaking to the woods again, "To say, 'what if,' is irrelevant. These events did happen. To say, 'things would be different if these things hadn't happened,' is living in denial."

Mara's voice then came to me, saying that one bit of logic that had made all the fucking difference in the world, "You can't let your past dictate how you live now."

What was once is no more. And yet it's still part of you. But if you can't move on, then you're already dead, just like those ghosts that follow you. So live in the now and adapt. Then, just ahead, in that clearing on the mountainside, I saw the hairpin turn in the road. Glancing across the valley under the night, I was alone again. None of those veiled figures were there anymore. I had to face the great below by myself – just the way I'd fucking planned it. But I wasn't out of the cold yet. My stumbling became more like a barely controlled fall as I rambled down the road and at last out of that fucking snow. I needed to rest once I reached that little wooden bridge. Staring up at the stars, I pulled out my phone. It was officially night. There, I text Mara. I needed to know that she was still alive. She replied almost instantly. Studying one of the photos that she had taken in the taxi to the airport, I set it as the home-screen on my phone, and I knew I wasn't alone anymore. I had all the fucking light I needed to get out of there. And as ridiculously fucking romantic as it may sound, Mara's face literally lit my way out of that darkness. The glow from my phone however, wasn't bright enough to light up those deadly sections of ice. At one point I slipped and found myself right in the fucking middle of a huge area of slick-as-snot bullshit. I was exhausted, yet there wasn't any other option but to tread with extreme caution and just keep going. Walking like a blind man, I stared into the vacant black as I used my peripheral vision to make out the vague shape of the road from my phone's faint illumination. Until suddenly I splashed into a fucking puddle! It was that epic pool that I'd seen on my way up, when I could make out the shallow spots that I could jump to. Now though, it was one great big mirror shining black on black. Either side of the swamped road, the ditches were flooded. The steep bank up the hill was a dense mesh of branches, while the downhill slope dropped away into the river. So, it was time to bite the bullet and walk on through. Frozen wet feet, here we come. And then I still had more stumbling along that endless fucking road. My pace was slowing down. Whenever I thought I was reaching the highway, the cruelty of my own fatigue would lower my blood pressure upon every bend in the road that only led to more of that same old nothingness.

When I finally stepped through the hotel's front door, the cheery old lady greeted me with a kindly smile, "Oh, I was beginning to worry. Where did you get up to then?"

Slumping into a chair next to the bar, I took a breath and uttered, "Up to the top of the mountain."

The old lady laughed heartily, "And I thought you were here to relax."

Staring at my ruined dress shoes, I was impressed that the shredded soles were still intact.

"You must be starving," the manager said, heading toward the kitchen. "So what did you see up there?"

"Saw The Old Grahams place," I replied, as my head rested back against the wall.

The old lady paused in the doorway. Turning slightly toward me, she whispered, "Impossible."

I watched her continue into the kitchen, before I dragged myself upstairs and took a hot shower. Once I had raised my body temperature, I sat naked on the bed, inspecting the dozens of tiny scratches that twisted around my legs: the only physical evidence of what I had seen over the edge of the cliff at the summit of the mountain.

After a healthy steak and some warm Christmas pudding, I sat alone in the lounge and stared out the window at the downpour. The usually jolly old lady brought a fresh pot of Earl Grey with a rather perturbed expression. She couldn't keep it quiet, "How do you know about the Grahams?"

I was feeling rejuvenated from dinner, but her question left me confused. "What's her name, the girl working here last summer, Rachel, she invited me in."

"Who?"

"Rachel. The little waitress. She was writing some university paper while house-sitting at The Old Grahams."

"Last summer?"

"Not this last summer. Last year's summer. 2013. When I first came here."

"The Old Grahams place?"

"Yeah. So?" I frowned. "Do you know the owners?"

The old manager smiled thinly, and then walked away. "Enjoy your tea."

Rubbing both palms over my face, I looked out the window. The mountain was staring back at me, but all I saw were the headlights as a car pulled out of the parking lot. Three old folk had accompanied me in the hotel's restaurant for dinner, and they were now off before the weather went ballistic. That left: the cook, the old manager, two young local chaps at the bar, and myself. Until more headlights appeared at the crossroads and slowly drove into the parking lot. A few minutes into sipping my tea, the front door opened. In came a short Iranian guy, followed by his smoking hot, trophy-wife. His gold rings and her Louboutin heels made me wonder if there was a Lamborghini Aventador sitting out there in the dark. Listening through the glass door, I heard the manager welcome the new guests for the night. I caught the eye of the wife on her way up the stairs, just as the two local lads drunkenly exited the building.

Not long afterward, the cook left for the night. The manager then locked up the restaurant and asked me to turn out the lights before I went to my room. I watched her little car putter away, and then I switched off all the lights except for one lamp next to the door. Sitting in the warm lounge with my feet on the coffee table and the window ahead, I heard the two new guests walking on the creaky floorboards in the room directly above. I would have an early start tomorrow, and yet, despite my venture up the mountain, I had absolutely no need for sleep. Walking about the woods had reminded me of how much I loved standing in the middle of great landscapes and staring over pale horizons. It made me want to visit other countries that I'd never been to and explore majestic valleys laden with lush forests and bathed in dew. A door then slammed shut upstairs, and I blinked myself the fuck out of my wanton day-dreaming. Glancing at the staircase, I crossed my arms and lingered on the thought of that Iranian woman. But that only drew my eyes higher still, back up to the mountain –

Once I had decided to leave the dead-end road at the summit, I found the ridge less than easy to traverse. The spot that I'd assumed would look down over the loch had seemed only to be a few hundred yards from the end of the road, but like everything on that fucker, it was much further. Out there, the gusts coming up the mountainside forced me to close my overcoat and pull up my scarf. That was when, I noticed what I had thought was a rat run past my feet and up ahead. Another larger thing scurried past. It definitely wasn't a rodent. Their gray flesh and exposed spines lurched across the bleak ridge toward that rise that I too was seeking. More and more of those vile little creatures swarmed past, until something to my left caught my eye. Across the river, among the woods on the other hillside, was that stoney block that I remembered all too well: The Old Grahams house. It was the reflection of the setting sun upon its multitude of gaunt windows that had caught my attention, and so I stopped to stare. I had liked that ruin, but mostly I'd loved all the fornication with that cute little Scottish girl, Rachel. For a moment it felt as if I was still over there. That I'd never left. That I was in fact, staring back at myself. I could still smell the crooked passageways that led in circles. Another one of those four-legged pests ran by my leg, but when I looked toward the end of the ridge, there was nothing out there. Nothing at all. Just an empty plot of land with cliffs all around. Glancing back at that castle-like house on the other hill, I watched as the clouds clotted and the reflection of the sun dwindled away. The Old Grahams, and indeed that whole forest, then became an impenetrable shade of black. Slowly, as I approached the edge of those snowy cliffs, that chasm opened up beneath me. Loch Ness lay spread out in either direction like a perfect laceration in the throat of the Earth. Suddenly the ground under my feet shifted and I wrenched backward, but all those tiny faceless creatures with armored flesh lurched out of the growing shadows and pounced upon my legs! Hundreds of those frenzied little things raced around my feet, their claws digging at my shins. It felt as if I was sinking in quicksand made of skinned cats. That mound of swarming creatures then unified and went tight about my knees, locking my legs in one place. Standing there above the cliff, I was unable to retreat or turn away as the wind calmed down. A putrid silence moved over the mountain before I heard a faint clatter. That view across the loch was unrivaled, but the quiet rattle coming from over the edge of the cliff was more than a little distracting. Those infernal critters clung to my legs as an unshakeable mass that seemed to be caught in a slow motion spiral, churning gradually around my legs and tightening their grip whenever I went to move. So, standing trapped, I watched the loch as strange ripples began to appear. Long waves formed from something just below the surface. They were wakes coming from both the north and south ends. Just as those waves neared each other, that clattering noise revealed itself to be a modest beast with pointed horns and hair that stank of rotten eggs. A black billy goat quietly tip-toed up that impossible cliff until it came trotting my way. It then turned and stared down at the loch. While it stood in front of me, I could clearly see brutal cavity in its skull between its two old horns, as if someone had driven a hatchet into its head and now maggots festered within that repugnant gash. I knew the name of my kin, and Azazel knew me by my deeds. We both watched the loch with its unnatural currents, as a great wind suddenly blew up from the cliff –

I was back at Amelia's front door. Then I was moving up her stairs. Suddenly, I was outside the door of her apartment. And then I was naked in her shower, her dead body upside down as every last drop of blood drained out of her slashed throat. Disorientated, I dropped her legs and she slumped awkwardly about the basin of the shower. The hot water scorched my face as I twisted, clasping at the tiled walls. I was completely off balance and needed to catch my breath. How the fuck was I back in France? These were supposed to be my visions, but it seemed that I was no longer in charge of that clairvoyance anymore. Things with bigger pictures had forced me to return. Or was this what I had wanted all along? Of course it was! My heart rate eased and I soon adjusted to my situation. Ignoring the carcass at my feet, I proceeded to wash her blood from of my tattooed skin. Using her soap, I casually scrubbed myself clean until I stood peaceful beneath the nozzle and let the heat massage the back of my shoulders. Opening my eyes, I glared hatefully at Amelia's slaughtered posture. Her usually tanned flesh was now almost as white as mine. I then wanted to know what the exact color her large intestine was. Drying myself first, I used a second fluffy white towel to wipe down Amelia's limp form. Hardly a pink stain seeped from her slit throat anymore, as I picked her up. She was like a plucked chicken that had just been cleaned before the roasting. Lifting her up, I sat her flaccid figure upon the washing machine where she slumped forward making it easy to dry her long smooth hair. Grabbing either side of her face, I looked into her drowsy but dead eyes. However, it was her loose jaw and parted lips that drew me inward. With Amelia's body slung over my shoulder, I moved into her bedroom, and ripped her blanket away before dumping her body in the middle of the bed. She bounced clumsily, while I removed a hacksaw from my duffel bag. Sweeping the messy hair away from her pretty face, I couldn't help myself from fingering that huge laceration in her throat. Reaching deep inside, I turned my fingers until I could stroke the back of her tongue. Opening her mouth, I began kissing her. Using my fingertips to manipulate her tongue, she reciprocated my intentions. But then, in a burst of anger, I pulled away, replacing my fingers with the teeth of the hacksaw that immediately dug through muscle, arteries, and bone. I cut her fucking head off in a few seconds and it dropped onto the bed like a discarded dumpling – her expression unmoved. I sat back on my knees, still naked and staring at how bizarre it all seemed. Looking at a decapitated girl lying on white sheets without a speck of blood anywhere, the canvass seemed too sterile for my liking. As if she really was made of porcelain, and once broken, her essence simply evaporated without a sign. How idealistic of me. I knew better. She was nothing but pure filth on the inside. Slamming her head back so that it faced me, I pulled her lightweight body around onto her stomach with the stump of her neck downward and her ass up. She'd often spoken about how she was excited by absolutely any kind sexual act – except anal! Glaring at the passive demeanor upon her beheaded face, I recalled the day that she heard about my hospital incident, and how she suddenly wouldn't stop texting me and sending photos of her crying because she didn't want me to kill myself. Her final attempt to gain my attention was a desperate offering of her backdoor-virginity, if only I'd stay. How very fucking tempting. But then, staring at her bleached anus, I took her up on that offer and rammed my erection balls-deep down her dead rectum –

Looking up, I was suddenly back on the mountain top. The goat was now circling my incarceration within the clutches of those little beasties. It was the battering wind that drew my eyes toward those enormous water tornadoes that stretched upward from the surface of the loch. At first I counted three of those twisting funnels. But as I fought against the gales, I realized the entire loch was breaking apart, spilling forth more of those massive tentacles reaching skyward. They weren't tornadoes at all, but the sibling serpents of Apep coming from below the earth like giant fingers prying open this primeval crack between our worlds. The waves from the loch shattered against both sides of the glen with horrendous detonations that wiped the hillsides clean of trees. Another colossal worm rose from the waters and crashed into the mountainside, ripping huge chunks of stone down into the loch! The largest of these tendrils passed above my vantage point and into the storm clouds. I'd never seen red lightning until that moment. It was like the heavens were made of ash and these gigantic serpents were the burning pillars of a kingdom that every god had forsaken. The thunder that followed was a relentless artillery of both tremendous explosions and the voices of titans loosed to rape this land which they themselves had created –

As I violently sodomized Amelia's corpse, those screaming devils followed me into that realm too. A hundred-thousand shrieking voices all vomited forth from Amelia's own sweet little mouth. Her severed head scowled at me. Despite her mutilation, she was very much alive as I ejaculated into her desecrated meat –

The whole mountain shook when that crimson lightning struck all around me with immense arcs shredding the ridge! So, as those tentacles reached upward, the lightning slashed back down in return –

Suddenly Amelia's headless body thrashed out. She shoved back and I was cast off the bed and onto the floor. Her body then attacked, her claws going for my throat. Grabbing both her wrists, I struggled with her as she pinned me upon my back. Her hands choking me while I grabbed at her moist stump of a neck –

The eruptions in the storm clouds broke open as monumental slabs of stone fell from the sky! Rocks the size of hills dropped out of the darkness and hailed upon the mountain ranges. And then I realized that the surrounding ground was no longer comprised of mud and stone, but of a hundred million butchered bodies that all writhed in torment. These mountains were made from the damned –

I broke off Amelia's left arm at the elbow! It simply snapped free like she was made of china, and the flesh within looked like jagged glass. She however, persisted to wrestle until I swung her figure around and ripped her right arm off at the fucking shoulder! This time something like sand came gushing from the wound –

The whole loch was being destroyed when I was grabbed from behind. I was caught in the grip of some forty-foot-tall caterpillar-like creature that towered above with a hundred hands holding me still as it continued to crawl up my spine –

Throwing Amelia's dismembered body aside, I spat at her perpetually screaming face, but she just attacked again. Running, her body pounded me against the wall before she kneed me directly in the balls! Collapsing, I was then kicked in the face and stomped on my ribs! She might have only been a torso with two legs, but she sure did whip my fucking ass as she slammed a heel right into my jaw –

The goat was approaching as more stone fell from the burning sky. On either side of Azazel, I found a new figure. To his left was a bloody female with a hole right through her face, another hole in her chest, and a third fist-size hole passing straight through her belly. To the goat's right was a boy with arms twice the length of his body and he was covered with grotesque parasites that were so many in number that they seemed like a heavy weight upon his shoulders. He, the whore, and the goat came closer –

I finally grabbed one of Amelia's ankles and yanked it out from under her. But she lurched, leaped, and landed like a spring chicken upon both my palms. Pinning my hands to the floor, she crouched down above my head – just to open up her asshole and shit out an enema's worth of my own cum all over my face –

Azazel then rushed at me, thrusting both horns into my chest! The pain was pretty much what you could imagine, like you were a dartboard that someone had just thrown a chainsaw at! The goat continued bucking and ripped into my ribcage while all those hands on my back held me firm in place. That female came up from my left and grabbed my throat so that she could start scalping me! And if that shit wasn't bad enough, that deformed kid then began eating my right hand several fingers at a fucking time –

After I blinked my own cum out of my eyes, I saw Amelia's perfect asshole stretch wider than a peach. It was like she was prolapsing her bowels all over me. However, the dripping flesh that extended from her anus moved of its own intuition. While I still fought to free my hands, that elephant-like trunk of a worm slithered across my drenched face –

Even as I felt that faceless female drag the skin from my skull and tap her fingertips against the bare bone, I glared over the loch as the ridge on the other side began moving further away! The tectonic plates that made-up the fault-line of the loch itself were being wrenched apart. A gateway was opening and destroying itself in the process –

As that abominable extremity protruded from Amelia's rectum, it peeled its own tip back like an infected foreskin, where dozens of needle-like tendrils burst toward my face! I however, forced my left foot up between us, and shoved her the fuck away –

The smoke that consumed the entire sky then cleared as the flames of hell broke through above! The sky was an endless mass of explosions, as if the very surface of sun was suddenly only a mile above the loch –

Amelia's disfigured body crawled away as I moved after it. Watching that thick worm retreat back within her orifice, I grabbed her waist and threw her into a wall! She fell to the floor where I broke off both of her legs at the knees with my bare hands! Again, her flesh on the inside seemed to be made of crumbling glass, and soon her limbless body twisted on the bed beneath her now weeping face –

The goat was vomiting on my chest, while that devil boy continued to eat my right arm, having it elbow-deep down his swollen throat. And the demonic whore pressed both hands against my skull with enough pressure to crack it and slowly grind the splintered bones together! The blood in my eyes was all I could see from then on –

Back on Amelia's bed, I punched at her carcass, and her head reacting as if it was still attached. Then, as I plunged my fingers right into her dripping asshole, the French accent of her human voice returned and she begging me to stop. I drove on through. Pushing inward, I shoved all of my fingers from both hands into her ass. I wanted what she had kept hidden within –

I could feel that whore on my side picking fragments from my skull as she exposed my repugnant fucking brains. Snapping off shards of bone, she stabbed the slithers into my own gray matter. And I had thought that migraines were bad. The heat from the sheer volume of flames above scorched the entire landscape. Burning the mountains, the beasts, and myself. Yet somehow, I remained conscious of everything happening to me and going on all around –

Locking my hands inside Amelia's rectum, I arched my back and split her carcass in two! Ripping her torso apart, I watched, salivating as her bloodless flesh tore unevenly all the way to her lungs. There, that giant worm was spilled upon the bed. It was still writhing savagely inside her entrails. The moment I ripped her bowels open, Amelia screamed like never before as her own sewer soaked my palms. I splashed her dysentery across my face, painting myself with all of her impurities, until I realized that I had suddenly submerged completely within that puddle of her shit –

It was a null void, cold and suffocating. I was free-floating in absolute effluence. Yet I opened my eyes and saw a dim haze. There was no direction here. No up or down. It was a space without space. Nonexistence condensed and I was crushed under a gravitational force coming from every direction. But I saw a glimmer through all that smothering darkness. The shimmering idea of a possibility. That I wasn't alone. Of all those I had ever loved, it was this unforeseen face that came to me here. The face of the new. And then I realized where I was. I was drowning in the loch. This was all there was: the devils, the damned, and the dead. An infinite abyss consisting of countless atrocities. The very fluid that I was trapped in was alive. A ubiquitously mutating substance that devoured itself from all dimensions at once. I was both the water and the one drowning in it. Watching myself from the outside, while at the same time, I also felt the agony of the water tearing into my corrupted windpipe. The water was dissolving my meat, while simultaneously regenerating my molecules just so they could be torn apart once again. Eternal self-resurrecting immolation. But then that shimmer glistened off my naked flesh and I immediately understood what it said to me: that darkness had created light for its perverse amusement! From one hell to another, I was just the conduit giving form to the deformed and formless. And there was so much more yet to sully. So, I swam upward, toward a reason to live. I swam toward the light of defilement –

Dragging myself out of that glassy carcass, I fell off the bed onto the floor, staining everthing I touched. catching my breath, I stood, looking at Amelia's brutalized body. She finally lay motionless, spread-eagle with her limbs detached and head removed. Instead of blood, her skin was smeared in her own feces. This was the pinnacle of the sacrifice that I'd always been seeking to create, destroy, and utterly fucking desecrate –

Then I looked aside, past the edge of that Holy Mountain Of Pigs and saw rain clouds gently fade over the southern end of the loch. All was quiet and the night was coming. I needed to leave immediately if I was ever going to make it back to the hotel alive –

"Can't sleep?" a voice softly spoke from behind, and I glanced up at that young Iranian woman leaning against the door frame.

"Not tonight," I replied, looking back out the window.

"Were we too loud for you?" she asked, as she eased into the lounge and sat upon another sofa. I didn't have a sympathetic ear for this chick's domestic troubles, as she said, "Why do we do these things to each other?"

Glaring at her gorgeous lips in the reflection of the window, I replied, "We do these things 'cause they're uncomfortable. We hurt the ones we love in order to better ourselves by expanding our borders. We have to gain new territory or else we fucking stagnant!"

After a few moments, the woman stood and stepped up behind me. Leaning down next to my head, she whispered into my left ear, "To the water you shall return."

She kissed me on the side of my head before pointing out the window at a distant light burning on top of the mountain, but I however, only stared at the tattooed hieroglyphs on the palm of her hand.

"You know exactly what must be done," she said, crouching behind my sofa. Pulling out a golden dagger with a wavy blade, she reached both arms in front of my face where she gently stabbed the center of her left palm until blood coated it. She then pushed me forward so that she could pull up my shirt and press her hand flat against the center of the big pentagram tattoo in the middle of my back. The fire on the mountain top instantly vanished, and the woman got up and walked out. Marching upstairs, she stared at me with murderous eyes before she was gone. I sat topless for a while as I felt the blood on my spine gradually dry. Pulling out my phone, I then text Mara and told her that I'd be returning to Berlin. Her excitement at my statement was only matched by my solidarity for what had to be done. This wasn't over yet, I still had to survive my own worst nightmare.

-

A few hours later, I left the hotel with several aluminum shafts protruding from the zipper of my bag that was slung over my shoulder. It was the morning of the 18th of December. The rain had thinned to nearly nothing, and the sun was approaching but you wouldn't have thought so. With damp shoes and bruised feet, I headed down the road toward those two stone pillars at the entrance to that private driveway. It was pitch black with a chilly breeze, but it still wasn't even close to how freezing that Christ-awful wind could get the moment you turned the wrong corner in Berlin. It was a different kind of cold here, familiar, like that road that led me without effort through the darkness and down toward the loch. It looked as if it could have been midnight, but the first birds soon began to sing. There were several small motor boats tied up at the mouth of the river, but I ignored them. The loch lay to my right, a pond to my left, as I quietly walked away from the river and toward that tiny fisherman's shack sitting next to a stone table. This had been one of the spots where I'd befouled The Holy Bible last year. Beyond, lay a section of the shoreline that had a stone barrier protecting a small marina from the bigger waves. Only two rowboats were moored there, just as I had anticipated. I stood for a little while facing the loch as I inhaled the morning air, and again recalled Abra-Melin the Mage, "And we should take the greatest care, and keep ourselves as we would from a deadly poison, from commencing this Operation at all, if we have not made a firm resolution to carry it through to the end." It was strange how I didn't feel any sense of impending doom despite my plans. I had organized everything perfectly. It had been over a year since I had begun preparing for this occasion, and I was impressed by how precisely executed I had performed every single task. No detail had been taken for granted. I even had backup routes to every aspect of this morning, but so far it was as if the universe was steering me toward the inevitable. We little men like to claim our dominance over the bigger picture, but just because I could witness greater forces at work, didn't mean those fundamental elements were aligned just for me. Objectively, I was merely a piece of shit swirling down the toilet of what would have always happened regardless of my presence. Why fear the preordained. So, I opened my bag and grabbed my hammer and a tiny flashlight. After I'd smashed the lock securing that chain-link anchor to the shore, I pulled out my collapsible canoe paddles. Extending them into two individual ores, I pushed the rowboat away from the shore and began rowing quietly away from dry land. The sound of gentle water lapping against a hull had always been soothing. Glancing over my shoulder, I guided the boat through the stone barriers and toward the first light of day. A meek blueish glow bled above the ridge on the east-side of the loch. It seemed that the further out I went the opposite shore grew no closer, and the marina soon disappeared into a mass of black indifference. The breeze was firm and the waves became choppy, though nothing that the sturdy little boat couldn't handle. Once I was a decent distance out, I stopped and looked to my right, away to the north. Then to my left, to the south. Both ends of the loch appeared identical. My only guide was the faint morning star, and so I continued across that vast expanse of death. My feeble swimming ability and an innate childhood dread of being alone on the open water remained at the back of my mind, and yet my pulse had only raised from the effort needed to row the boat. This was right where I was meant to be. And soon, for no conscious reason, I pulled in the ores. With the morning light at my back, I began my blasphemous oration. I didn't come all the way out here just to appease some mythical promise of atonement. I came to commit atrocious sacrilege! How many gods of war can I offend under one crescent moon!

It took nearly an hour to conclude my obscene rite, white sitting naked in the middle of the loch. My repudiation toward the light was my only resilience against cold. I then knelt at the aft of the rowboat and stared down into the obsidian water, through my reflection and at a my fears that were at least seven-hundred-feet deep. Reaching in, I splashed my face with the icy water, before I washing my whole body while reciting my hateful incantations. The cocktail of animal blood that I'd used to write the names of demons upon my skin streaked down my pale body and dripped into the loch. Get the scent in the air and let it sink into the depth below. When conjuring that which you hide from even yourself, you must expect the worst. I can't say what exactly grabbed my arm and pulled me into the water, but I'm pretty sure it was me – the me who'd swam toward the light of defilement –

Spinning, I twisted through all that black water of absolute effluence. You know, they aren't kidding when they say falling into freezing water is like being stabbed with a hundred knives all at once. I had no fucking idea which way was what, but when that thing wrapped itself about my throat, it at least slowed my death-spiral. Instead, it choked me like a rag doll, until my own fingers dug into that alien flesh all the way to my knuckles. As I ripped that noose from my neck, I caught a glimpse of it against the dim light shimmering through the water above. It was that same arm-length worm that had crawled out of Amelia's asshole during my vision. Then suddenly, as I clung to that bleeding creature, something much, much larger swam past. It was impossible to see what it was, though all I really cared about at that point was getting some fucking oxygen. That thing then swam above and I was lost in total fucking darkness! There was no silhouette of the rowboat or anything anymore. It was as if I had been swallowed by whatever the fuck I'd finally offended with my profanities –

Once more I was back in Amelia's apartment. I knelt over her spread-eagle carcass and slowly reached inside her pelvis that was split in two, pulling open the stringy membranes that covered her uterus. Glaring at that mutilated corpse that had once be a twenty-year-old girl, I asked myself what the fuck was I doing? Seriously, what the fuck was I really going to do now? Stay here and rot with this fucking corpse; or back out and leave the way I'd come so that I could pretend that none of this had ever happened; or was I going to follow-through with what I truly fucking wanted? There was nothing out there, nothing back the way I'd come, and nothing further ahead. It was an all-saturating waste of fucking time. What the fuck was wrong with me? I'd given up everything, so what the fuck was left to achieve? All I had was my naked ass, and whatever the fuck I made of myself. No one else was here to condone or condemn my actions or inaction. It all depended on me. I'd thrown out my material possession, severed ties with everyone I'd ever known, and gone to the point self-destruction in the name of this art of desecration in order to seek out my Unholy Guardian Devil. Yet I could sink within the waters of my obsessions and no one would ever find my insignificant flesh. Or perhaps this was what I needed in order to discover true gratitude from undeserved intimacy that I'd rejected for so long. Could I, at last, appreciate what little I actually had left? After all, when completely desperate, you have to face the hard choices alone, and discover what you stand for. So, I knelt in isolation, looking down at that uterus in my bare hands, and then took a great big fucking bite out of life! Swallowing that meat with a delirious fascination, I instantly choked –

I was drowning in the loch! Reaching upward, I grabbed onto an arm, I'm pretty sure it was my arm from the me who'd just been washing the blood off at the back of the boat. The me who then dragged himself out of the freezing water felt like I was on fire once I crashed back into the boat. The steep cliffs of black then began to groan. Gasping for air while shivering like a rattle snake, I looked toward that glow above the ridge. I caught my breath and watched as two golden cracks appeared in the cliffs on the eastern bank. A light came streaming out from within as the fractures in the stone stretched up and toward each other. The point where those two massive cracks joined was directly below the rising sun. Within that enormous 'A' shaped triangle, the space opened up revealing a place where devils ruled with impunity! I sat holding my frozen self as I stared through that passageway, and the vision effected more than just my retina. Great serpents and countless entities then spilled into the loch! I was transfixed, but once the wake from those things entering the loch stuck the boat, I snapped out of it. Grabbing the ores, I had no intention of becoming a feast for devils, and I rowed with a determination back toward the little marina. The sky gradually lit up and that giant passageway faded from recognition, but I pushed on harder toward the shore. I wasn't going to risk how tangible those beasts had become now that they had escape into this realm. Once I secured the anchor back to the iron stake on the shoreline, I wasn't cold in the slightest anymore. Casually dressing, I was mesmerized by that water with all its arcane secrets. It seemed like a miracle that this place had allowed me to leave after what I'd just seen. But then again, I wondered if that passageway had even noticed that I was there at all, just like no one paid no attention to the demodex that thrived upon their eyelashes.

While walking up the private driveway, a white pickup truck headed toward me. Some uptight caretaker behind the wheel started complaining that I shouldn't be here, but I ignored his unimportant little face as I walked away. My eyes have been replaced with the coals that fuel the abysmal pits of Hades. The suffering of men is to be laughed at like the menial peasants they make of themselves!

-

Soon, I took a scolding hot shower, ordered a fresh pot of Earl Grey, and then grabbed my bag and left the hotel again. This time I headed to the south-side of the river. Mist had settled about the mountain top, as I marched around the highway with on one final ritual on my mind. Crossing the bridge, I continued around the highway, and then down that overgrown path toward the loch. Suddenly I turned right, left the trail, and climbed down an embankment. There was something calling me down there. The shoreline was littered with the bones of dead animals that spoke through the trees. This was an ideal altar. I opened my bag and removed a freshly written spell, along with a compass and square. Taking my magnetic compass, I found east and aligned the sheet of paper below the two tools resting upon a flat slab of stone. I then grabbed a dear skull and forced it to bear witness. Holding up the photographs of those past eight reigning females, I proceeded to burn them systematically while recalling deeds I'd done deliberately out of malice to each and every one of them. Dropping the ashes into the water, I saw their pretty faces smolder away as I stared across the loch at that place where the passageway had shown itself. The bondage rope that I'd tied myself with during the rituals upon the rowboat, was then thrown into the water, discarding that which I had restrained myself with. I screwed the ores together into one long paddle before I cast them away, expelling the fear which I had faced. Again, I knelt and baptized myself with that cold water, cleansing my past indiscretions and making room for greater malignity. It was hushed out there on the water's edge. There was no interference from visions or devils, just the lulled waves at my feet, and that gentle voice questioning how I'd proceed from this point onward?

-PHOTO

Making my way around the shore, I came to the end of that peninsular at the mouth of the river. It seemed that I was still very much alive despite every fate that I'd tempted. Listening to, Lateralus, from Tool, I considered how suited that song was for the situation. "And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been. We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been. Spiral out. Keep going." But again, as I stood there, I felt the water calling me stronger than ever. I couldn't turn my head away from the surface of the loch, it was like something invisible had its hands on my skull and was pulling me in. Suddenly, I thought of that woman's bloody handprint on my spine, and I spun away from the water and marched up the hillside. As sooner as I approached the woods, I saw those blackened figures standing within the tree-line. They were just standing, lingering, watching. They would never leave me alone. So, I pulled out my phone. I had promised Mara that if she heard from me before midday on the 18th, then she would see me again. She answered by needing a photo for proof of my condition. But these pictures are so inadequate at depicting the experience. No one else saw what I'd done in those woods and under the water. Because only I have ever been there for me.

I was sipping on a cup of tea when that Iranian couple came downstairs to checkout. The woman looked dumbstruck once she saw me. Her husband however, continued outside with the suitcases.

"You're supposed to be dead!" she whispered, with terror behind her breath.

"You know what they say," I coined."Can't keep a good horse down."

"This is wrong!" she insisted, backing out and shaking her head all the way.

I watched her standing with crossed arms in the parking lot, while the events from the last twenty-four hours swirled through my head. What were my current options: head to France and take up Amelia on her offer to take her up the ass. Or head back to Berlin and the one who'd been there when I needed it the most. Listening to, Down There By The Train, from Tom Waits, I was then without one doubt. "I've never asked forgiveness and I've never said a prayer. I've never given of myself and I've never truly cared. And I've hurt the ones who loved me and I'm still raising Cain. I've taken the low road and if you've done the same, meet me down there by the train, down there where the train goes slow."

EPILOGUE

On the 23rd of December, I stepped foot back in my old flat in Berlin. There, on the desk was another square and compass lying on my would-be suicide note. Mara later admitted that she had read it on the morning of my departure. She said she wanted to burn it now. If all things were equal, then what the fuck was I doing back here?! I'm supposed to be dead, but it seems that fate has other plans for my true-will. Mara then insisted that I seek professional therapy about the things that I see in my head. But these visions tell me otherwise. I cannot kill that which I am indivisible from.

Bruce

© 2015 BRUCE STIRLING JOHN KNOX