SHORT STORY
2017
T E M P T I N G - F A T A L I S M

DISCLAIMER:
This was written in a journal the same day the events took place, between mid March and mid April 2017.

UNU:
A CHANCE ENCOUNTER


It had been raining all weekend, so I sat reading Cyropaedia in small Russian cafe at Rosenthaler Platz. Several men had occupied the front corner of the cafe since before I had arrived, and after an hour, two more big guys in black suits arrived. All but one of them soon exited. I sipped on my second latte and stared directly at the last individual. He was in his fifties, with a thick, Bismarck-like mustache, and he wasn't shy about returning a look of who-the-fuck-do-you-think-you-are! Lowering my glass, we suddenly both shared a moment of confused recognition. This guy was oddly familiar, and he too struggled to place my face. So he rose and stepped over.
"New shoes," he nodded.
"Twin Peaks?" I frowned.
"Excuse me?"
"New shoes. Twin Peaks. Yeah, I never liked that fucking show either."
The old guy inhaled, and slowly gestured toward the empty chair across from me.
"Please."
"No more Chuck Taylors?"
I smiled as alarms rang in the back of my head.
The gray-haired Mr. Bismarck wore a fine charcoal suit as he sat comfortably, and I wondered how exactly we knew each other. He then crossed his arms, saying, "You shaved the beard off."
Shaking my head, I racked my brains trying to recall where we knew each other from. After all, he had a face that you shouldn't easily forget. He obviously knew me, but where the fuck from? Had we met at a party, a business meeting, or maybe he was just a friend of a friend who I'd pissed off on-line.
"Do you still play the drums?"
Squinting, I was at a total loss.
"You don't remember, do you."
Hesitating, I pursed my lips.
He waited.
Grinning with clenched teeth, I finally replied, "No, no, no! I remember! Of course I remember you! How could I forget! Christ, not after all the good times – back in Nam?"
He smiled. "You have a wonderful evening."
And then my synapses went CLICK!
And he noticed.
"You like the pelmeni here?"
"Not as much my mother's."
"Nothing's ever that good."
"I don't know how she afforded to feed the whole family, but I never went hungry till the day I left home."
"True."
"We ungrateful sons."
"A child has no debt to his parents as a child isn't responsible for being brought into this fucking world. A son owes his parents nothing!"
"And what of that which you owe to me?"
"If you're wanting the car back, I'm afraid I have no idea what happened to it."
"Cars like people: not necessarily as reliable as their cost."
"Stop hiring Slovakians then."
Mr. Bismarck glanced aside, before leaning in a little closer. "Can I trust you? Are you one of those ruthless type? The sort that doesn't let ethics get in the way of pragmatism. Do you understand where your food comes from? Managing business is all about weighing up the response to unspoken implications. But no, you're not a business man, are you. No, you're just another nobody drifting through this chaos of modernity. You take orders like the rest of us. We're both just as worthless as cars. But you owe me more than that. You recognize my face. Now you tell me, how much of a business man are you really?"
A threat is a threat.
"I need someone reliable. Someone no one knows about. Someone random like you."
At this point I noticed my arms had unconsciously crossed over my chest.
"I want you to deliver a message for me."
"Ever heard of the phone?"
"No, no, no. No, this requires the personal touch. I need you to travel Romania."
"Romania?"
"The motherland." Mr. Bismarck then drifted off mid-sentence, as he scanned above me, and became disturbed by something on the wall. He seemed transfixed as he sat back in his chair. I was dying to follow his line-of-sight but I had no intention on turning my back on this hardened criminal. "You know, as a boy, I used to tell my friends that my mother was a witch. The way she would cook with a huge pot on the fire. It was funny when we were children. But after I found her scrying mirror, I no longer made such jokes." He suddenly went tense, reminding me of a tiger watching its prey crawl across the wall behind my head. Slowly rising to his feet, he eventually forced his eyes down at me with a look of cautious disdain. "You have a pleasant evening. May we never met again."
Clenching my jaw, I watched the stocky mobster focus on the wall again as he backed away. Crossing himself, the old guy pulled on a trench-coat, and slipped out into the rain. I couldn't help coiling my neck around to inspect the lamps and ceiling behind me. There was nothing there. Evaluating the situation, I recalled the events that had led to how I ended up in hospital back in 2012. Quickly paying for my coffees, I grew increasingly paranoid, envisioning two Eastern European men in black leather jackets and hoodies entering the cafe with SR-3 Vikhr assault rifles and opening fire on the whole fucking place!
Glanced around the busy pavement, I knew these weren't the kind of people that you wanted to piss off. So marching out into the cold, I pulled up my collar, and headed straight toward the stairs of the nearby Ubahn. But then a black Audi SUV crept along beside me. Turning my head, I looked into the eyes of Mr. Bismarck in the back seat just as I descended the stairs to the underground.

TREI:
HEART OF WORTHLESSNESS


Two weeks later, I was listening to Ordos, The Infernal God, as I stared out my window-seat on the train and watched as the dilapidated city of Bucharest faded out into fields of trash and ponies. What a fucking shithole. This was unmistakeably Eastern Europe and a crumbling product of Soviet subjugation. The filthy train was full of fat grannies with scarfs wrapped around their heads, grandpas in loafers with pickled faces, the occasional Asian tourist, and a pretty blond Russian in a white fur coat giggling toward her glistening iPhone. The train was soon encompassed in a countryside of barren fields like every other part of the world outside of human metropolises. Empty spaces that sure don't look like farmland, for where were the livestock or crops? These were just great plains of neglected earth.
At last I asked myself, what the fuck was I doing here?! Was I trying to escape that reoccurring suggestion that I should tie a noose around my fucking neck? Or trying to avoid that incessant reminder that I had achieved nothing? Or was I perhaps trying to prove to myself that I can just get up and leave my prison-cell-life-in-Berlin at any moment and run off without anyone knowing where to find me? Yes, I'm free. I'm free to decide for myself. Yeah, right. Only as free as my past decisions have left me a product of determinism. No, I'm not free to do anything. I had to come here. It was inevitable. I am merely the sum of my past experiences. Thus my past has already written my future. However, I've always liked getting away, enjoyed gaining some perspective from all of those familiar associations. Alone you have to fend for yourself and pay close attention to all the trivial events that confront you in new environments, therefore raising your present-tense-consciousness. I may not be free to do anything, but it feels pretty free to me. What kind of life is worth living without our delusions. The good and the bad beliefs are still essential to our temperamental makeup. We cling to our self-loathing just as surely as we praise our self-aggrandizing. But, is it better to feel free and know that you're not, or know that you're free but not feel it? Which is a balanced psychosis? Unless you feel both ways at the same time. Feelings matter, for dismissing the validity of the emotional response is to be a stone! If nothing feels right then why should you live a life based on the hollow reassurance that 'you know that yon can out-think your irrelevant feelings.' Of course skeptics whine against the legitimacy of 'feelings' in arguments, favoring 'facts'. These same self-proclaimed intellectuals ignore the psychology of emotional-relevance. All characters in a narrative require an emotional connection, or else no one would ever care about the fucking plot. Dismissing emotions is a psychopath's ideal. Like Gerry Spence said, "All decisions are based on feeling. Although logic may be factored in." You must appeal to base motivations as we are all ruled by the ego and the pleasure-principle. And yet we can always rationalize even the most counter-productive leisure activities or emotional reactions given enough mental-gymnastic. But the one who brings only rationality to a cock-fight, will always lose. Emotions trump reason. So let the feelings clash with the thoughts. I want psychological warfare. I came here for resolution through conflict!
I remember when I first moved to Berlin, back in 2005. I had the day off work with a migraine, so was sitting in the sun in my building's courtyard, when a girl from the massage parlor sat and had a cigarette. She told me a prophetic statement that I never forgot, and the more time that passes, the more I know that she was right. She said, people come to Berlin because it seems like a fun place, but they soon find themselves unable to escape the substandard living. Its like a carnivorous plant, once you're step inside, you're fucked. She was right. I was trapped and I had no one to blame but myself. There is nowhere else to go. I might be running away, but ultimately, I was going nowhere. Christ, this was the exact same mindset that had before I moved to Berlin. Like I said years ago, if you can't make it in Berlin, then you won't make it anywhere.
Forested hills rose up out of the vacant landscape, and despite the white blossoms on sporadic scrawny trees, the low hanging clouds declared that winter wasn't letting go just yet, motherfuckers. The train passed through small villages, as I continued to stare bewildered at the trash everywhere. The garbage was like weeds and it didn't only entrench the ghastly little towns. Piles of rubbish clogged the ditches, rivers, and was scattered throughout the woods where no one at all seemed to live. The further into the stoney hills we went, the more ramshackle the houses became. Rickety wooden fences surrounded thatches chicken-coups and flimsy shacks of pitiful shed-like homes. The steeper the ranges, the less architecturally advanced the construction techniques. The odd crucifix upon a steeple would slide through the leafless trees, and we passed more and more ghost towns. And then suddenly the tracks rose up and the train was deep within the mist-draped Carpathian Mountains. Snow above, trash below.
For the next hours the train descended the mountains and headed north through more fields of remote wilderness. At some point among the desolate hills and patchwork villages, I had fallen asleep. Waking, I found the back-half of the train had disconnected, and been replaced with an old guy who looked like a bloated version of Michael Caine who was sitting directly across the table from me. He was a polite enough fellow and snacked continually throughout his travels. Eventually we had a brief conversation, despite this broken English. After the usual formalities of who, where, and why we were on-board, he laughed and shook his head at my remark about the how nice the woodland scenery was. He confessed that he refused to go anywhere near the forest. Said he was raised in one of those rundown little towns on the steep valley walls. As a kid, he would often play in the woods, until one day his two best friends went missing. The search party's dogs found their bodies a week later, but no one could reach them. They were behind a large area of bush that was so tightly packed together that not even the dogs could find a way through. Glancing out the window, I knew that Fat Caine wasn't kidding, the jagged branches from the small trees and undergrowth looked like a clusterfuck of barbed-wire and god-size pubic hair. It would have been impossible to get over or under any of that nasty shit. Fat Caine said that it took the men another week to hack their way inside the vines and scrub. Once they entered that enclosed section of the woods, they found that the trees were all dead along with many other animal carcases. The bodies of the boys themselves had been ripped to shreds and not even their heads were in one piece. No one could explain how the boys had gotten through the thick bush, or what had caused their gruesome deaths. Bears and wolves would have left fur on the surrounding branches. Oh, bears and wolves. I hadn't thought about the what kind of wildlife roamed the countryside here. Good to know. Fuck. Anyway, Fat Caine had moved to the city and happily lived the rest of his bovine-life miles from any forest. He stressed that the deaths of his two best friends had never been solved. No one was found accountable. Their weren't any answers or villains, and even their local superstitions were less than convincing. However, Fat Caine believed that the forest just ate them.
I started noticing areas of the grass outside the train that were either, blackened, smoking, or still burning. I assumed farmers did it in order to prepare the soil for planting seeds or something. Except, I never once saw anyone tending to the fires. I even saw a huge section of grass smoldering away as if the land here had just spontaneous burnt of its own accord.
After arriving in some unremarkable town, I booked my return train ticket, and then caught a hectic bus full of working-class folk into the vast hills. The driver was an awesome lunatic, and the ride reminded my of the bus to school when I was kid. You held on and laughed your tits off as the back-suspension threw you around like an golf ball in a blender.
Dusk fell quickly over the clear skies, as I stepped out of the bus onto the deserted streets of a tiny village. A fortified church with classic Romanian towers stood above the town square, while countless dogs yelped into the fading daylight. I had almost no orientation I circled the church walls in search of my hotel. The road immediately became dirt, as I left the main street, and I discovered to my growing irritation that I wasn't in fact staying at a hotel but at a cottage without a reception desk or a light on. You've got to be fucking joking! Exhausted, I took a breath and celled the 24 hour phone number. A jolly old landlady soon came down the back road and happily showed me around the cottage. There was a cozy kitchen, two modern bathrooms, and four double bedrooms, but I had the whole place to myself. Once alone, I crashed into bed and slept away my headache.
I woke freezing in the middle of the night, finding that the radiators weren't working. So I grabbed another blanket from one of the spare rooms. Lying in bed, it was no different than when I was back in Berlin. I felt no less isolated in the middle of nowhere than I had in the city. I hate this fucking place.

PATRU:
MIDDLE OF FUCK THIS


My first morning in Romania was picture perfect. There were birds in the blossom as I had coffee with the old landlady and sorted out the register. She spoke no English yet some German, which made getting directions a complex game of charades, but she was friendly and I was glad for the coffee. And then reality came to shit all over my upbeat mood. I couldn't use my credit card to pay for the accommodation, and there wasn't an ATM is this village. It really would have been nice to know this before hand. Smiling, I found that I luckily had the cash to cover the two nights, leaving me just enough to pay for the bus back to the train, and then the bus back to the airport. That meant I only had ten Leu left, so I wasn't going to be eating in the next couple of days. Fuck it, I can do without food. No problem, you piece of fucking shit.
Taking a stroll, I found the town consisted of a main street with one small convenient store, a police station, a school building, one restaurant, and no other businesses that I could locate. The looming church was quaint, and up there I surveyed the tiled roofs of the crumbling brick village. I accidentally walked into a swarm of flies loitering upon the dirt, even the insects were too fucking lazy to get off their fucking asses. The town was by no means big, but large enough to wonder where the fuck everyone was? I saw a child watching a herd of sheep on a hill, and then I came across a couple of old drunks passed out inebriated and it wasn't even 10am. Mostly the place seemed occupied by stray dogs. Again I had that daunting sensation of disappointment. People here are exactly the same as everywhere. There was nothing special about this spot on the map. It was the same as Berlin. I was alone. I shouldn't have come. It was another waste of fucking time. Just like everything I did in Berlin. Wasting my time with my fruitless obsessions. Shut the fuck up! I knew this was just a mood. I knew that it would pass. All feelings pass. But I had no control. All I could do was wait it out. Just wait. Though, usually I enjoyed traveling. Maybe I was bothered by the unknown expectations of what I would find in the woods. But then again, I already knew that wherever I was going, it would lead nowhere.
Buying a couple of bottles of water with the last of my cash, I dumped one in the cottage before grabbing my pocket-flashlight. I didn't fuck around another minute in that deadbeat town, and headed out into the hills. Looking at the notes I had written on a paper napkin while having coffee with the landlady, I immediately came across a slum right next to the village. These were the poorest of the poor. Even poverty had a hierarchy. Feral children played in a garbage-lined creak, while wall-less shacks divided the kids from the adults who were working a plot of land with a horse and plow. Cretinous dogs lay about in the dust and didn't give two fucks as I walked through the smoke of more burning patches of grass. There was no logic to where I found the rubbish or the burnt grass. They could appear anywhere: hillsides, gutters, fields, sometimes in small areas, sometimes in vast fields. I had one theory, that the people were in fact burning the trash where it lay as a way of dealing with it. But even that concept soon failed. The only conclusion I had for the burnt grass was the same explanation that an psychotic had for plucking random clumps of hair from their scalp: because the people here were fucking insane! Taking a path up to my right, I quickly scaled a hill and knew I was on the right course once I came upon a fenced graveyard with a total of three headstones overlooking the village. Regardless of how bitter I felt, it really was a beautiful day. The sun made me regret wearing my hoodie and jacket, but the shade in the woods reminded me of why I had brought my gloves. The higher up into the forest I went, the better I felt. It was a good hard workout, and I knew this was why I still went to the gym. When all else fails, you have to know you're able to walk away without the help of anyone else. Apart from my father's motorbike, my parents only briefly owned a car, so that required us to walk great distances on a regular basis. As an impatient brat, I wasn't always pleased by our family expeditions, but I appreciated that it taught me to move myself. If I didn't get of my ass, then no one else would drag my dead weight. There simply wasn't any other option. Later in life it gave me the confidence to walk myself out of trouble, as well as walk straight into it.
It took a good thirty minutes of hiking higher and higher before the bleating of goats was replaced by a guy with a fucking chainsaw somewhere below. That too faded and finally so too did my lingering depression. I despise depression. It doesn't afflict me often, but when it does, I find it as distracting as having a headache: annoying yet not crippling. As I trudged through all those masses of dead leaves, I laughed at that idea you throw around when you feel like a failure and you're right back where you started. It was in this moment of moving myself by my will alone that I acknowledged the absurdities of figurative speech. The truth was, that even if you feel like you're in the same place, you're not. You have moved. You have changed. Whether you feel it or not. Like magick, it defies the scientific method of repeatability. Personal experience is always subjective. My initial impression of Romania could never be recreated, for my prior knowledge would alter my perception of a repeat experience. Even if someone was accompanying me right now, their perceived experience would have been radically different from my own. My mood alone changed how I observed this place, and I knew it did. Much like Heraclitus said, "You cannot step twice into the same river."
Following the summit of the ridge for an hour, the path came to a gauntlet between tall thickets riddled with inch-long thorns. The track was thankfully wide and clear, but I couldn't help imagining the damage those thorns would inflict on your naked flesh if you ran blindly into the middle of it. That then got me paranoid about the wildlife around these parts. Earlier, I had seen a deer bolt off, but what about those bears and wolves. I didn't have my knife on me, as I had only brought my small backpack for on-board luggage. So I decided to remember this location if I ever needed a place to evade demented bush pigs. But then again, the place could have been crawling with deadly snakes and poisonous spiders for all I knew. After all. the ground was alive with infinite throngs of beetles and bugs. I came across many mounds of large ant nests, and whenever I stood still, the ground rustled with constant movement. Insects ruled the forest. So I didn't stayed in one spot for more than a few seconds.
Once I had gone far enough along the ridge, I had a drink and appreciated the open view. I saw the main street way down to my right, and a distant dirty road down to my left. The rest of the vista was pure nature. Ahead, the forest thickened and widened. I was glad that my head was no longer preoccupied with the drama of identity-politics and the click-bait bullshit of fake-news and #thewaronfreeexpression. T
here I thought of something that good old Bill Hicks had said, "I realize what bums me out, I watch too much news, man. It's depressing. You ever watched CNN for longer than say, twenty hours in one day? I got to cut that out. Watch CNN, it's the most depressing thing you'll ever see, man. War! Famine! Death! Aids! Homeless! Recession! Depression! War! Famine! Death! Aids! Over and over again. Then you look out your window. [Crickets.] Where's all this shit going on, man?" I must remind myself of the crickets. The crickets of right here and now. At the end of the day, there's just me and none of that extraneous pressure. I was alone. Suggestions only influence you if you allow yourself to be exposed to them. But then again, what choice do we have about what we're forced to be subjected to and how much of an impression the slightest idea can have upon our unconscious. What do we have but our fucking illusions! If we don't make a big deal out of our own lives, then we are no better than those kids playing in the trash of their ghetto-existence. A few days ago, I was having brunch with some people, and the woman sitting opposite me was wearing a t-shirt that said, "Don't be afraid of being different, be afraid of being the same as everyone else." A social-paradox. Wanting to fit in while still being unique. But not too unique or you'll be shunned. Yet being different but the same is no different at all. We tell ourselves that we matter, that we're important, and that we stand out as individuals. We're not! We are all just meat! I had a small epiphany recently, after my arguing with Aviv. I realized that you can't change someone's perception of you by simply telling them that you're not what they think you are. Louis CK said it best, "You know, like when you say to a friend of yours, you're being an asshole. And they're like, no, I'm not. Well, it's not up to you if you're an asshole or not, that's up to everybody else. You don't get to say no to that." And when Jeremy Paxman asked Christopher Hitchens, "Do you think it's been a life well lived?" And Hitchens replied, "I'd really have to leave that to others, Jeremy, I have to." However, we're all hated by somebody, it's more productive to move on with your agenda than to constantly pander to insatiable naysayers. We will always be attacked, and when attacks continue, the ego gets involved sooner or later. If the attack escalates and sinks to the inevitable shit-slinging, only fight fire with fire. If they insult you personally, don't defend the accusation because that'll mean that you've acknowledged it. Reflect what is said. Facetiously dub them as worse. Then watch as they squirm and protest and disassociate from the label while they scream how unjustified it is to attack them exactly how they attacked you. We all know that there's nothing respectable about someone squealing how fucking innocent they are, because we all know, deep down, that no one is fucking innocent!
The path slowly became less defined, and at times I doubted that I was still heading in the right direction. Trees had fallen across the supposed path, and the branches forced me to climb under or go around. When I blurred my eyes and focused ahead, I could still make out the loose indentations in the scrubs where others had trampled the ground long ago. Heading into a gorge, I happily leaped down the rugged path and swung about tree trunks. I was raised in the bush! This was childhood playground!
Coming to an overgrown dirt road lost in the forest, I recognized it as the very last note on the napkin. So I continued to my left. More fallen trees denied any access by vehicle, and it hadn't looked like an automobile had been down this stretch of the woods in for-fucking-ever. A humming noise soon rose up ahead. Irritated, I assumed that I was approaching a main road. However, the sound wasn't coming from the engines of human transportation, but produced by a million honey bees. A huge tree stood right in the center of that forgotten road. Its massive branches were stretched wide and high. It looked like a willow and not like anything else that I'd seen in the woodland. Maybe its unusual size was the reason why this colony of bees had chosen to coat it with enormous layers of honey-cone. There was very little of the actual trunk left exposed. I'd never seen such an extensive hive of bees, and it was as beautiful as ominous. Being no fan of bee stings, I cautiously side-steeped that monumental hive. On the far side, the sunlight penetrated the forest and glistened wetly upon all that golden sweetness. It looked fucking delicious. Fortunately, I hadn't seen many bees outside of the actual hive, so I quietly backed away – until I tripped the fuck over a log! Stumbling awkwardly, I cringed, hoping that I hadn't woken any bees from their midday slumber. My attention was instantly redirected toward that which had tripped me up: a three-foot fucking lizard! The big fucker hissed as it lunged at me! It looked like a mix of an alligator and a Komodo-dragon. And it wasn't alone. Other big lizards surged out of the dead leaves, snapping their jaws at my ankles. Fuck this shit! High-tailing it out of there, I jumped over several other reptiles, and landed right on the head of one that was charging straight at me. And fuck, did it feel satisfying as I crushed that cunt's skull under my heel as I kept on running. If I had my knife on me, I would have loved to cut its fucking head off as a trophy. Though, I probably would have had a tricky time getting it through airport security on my flight home.
Once I was sure that I'd evaded the last of the camouflaged lizards, I came across the rusted and wrecked remains of a mangled gate in front of a weed-ransacked shell of a cottage. The roof was sagging inward like a limp tent. One entire side of the small building was just gone, it lay demolished as if god himself had taken a shit on the place. I would have called it uninhabitable, except I had seen people living in worse conditions back at the slum village. There I unfolded Osip's letter and read it again as I glanced back and forth at the ruin. No direct daylight reached this morbid estate, but I'd come this far, so I was definitely going to take a look inside the shack before writing off this adventure as an epic waste of fucking time. Screwing up the letter, I stepped over the broken gate, and waded hip-deep through the thicket in the front yard. Lo and behold, there was nothing of significance inside that dump, only vines that threaded the rotted furniture. Sneering in disgust at my own gullibility, I aimed my frustration toward the scapegoat of this whole fucking country. I wanted to fucking smash the fucking ruin into an even greater state of desolation. But I didn't feel like getting tetanus on top of everything else that pissed me off about this fucking shithole. So I just stood there on the obliterated side of the cottage, glaring unadulterated hatred into those shadowed guts of abandoned human shit. What had I really hoped to find?! Dumbfuck! Get the fuck out of here! Turning, I sucked all the saliva from the corners of my mouth, about to spit – when a glint of sunlight caught my eye. Something shiny. Something smooth. Taking a few steps closer, I reached down into a disjointed cupboard and picked up a flat black disk. It fit comfortably in my leather-gloved hand, and was about the width of a CD. Wiping the dust aside, I knew exactly what this piece obsidian was used for. Flipping the one-centimeter-thick glass over, I found a series of symbols etched expertly into the gleaming surface. What the fuck?! Was the universe really trying to fucking tell me something?! No! There was nothing here for me! There was no fucking meaning to any-fucking-thing!

DOUA:
A VIOLENT OMEN


Less that a week ago, I was on my way to see the new Ghost In The Shell film in the theater, until the trains fucked up so I turned back and headed home defeated. The moment you rely on the the trains being on schedule is the moment that you can truly know that you've become a fucking idiot! They say acceptance is the only way to avoid wallowing in frustration, but even after you've taken all the necessary preparations so that you're early for once, those counting on you will only have you to blame! No matter how much you explain the train situation, you are the one guilty of fucking up! Yet they still say accept it. Take personal responsibility. Yeah, take responsibility for the trains. Yeah, take responsibility for that which is beyond your control. Just fucking accept your shit luck, accept the blame, and know that no matter what preparations you make it will never be enough to push against the tide of the great indifference of the universe! Despite your resistance is your own suffering, you can't beat fate! You are no one. You are a meat-insect. You make no difference. You're fucked! Now gladly accept your optimum-trajectory and bottle up your unimportant fucking frustrations at your perpetual failures, you fucking piece of shit!
With a clenched jaw, I said, fuck it, and turned to leave the Ubahn platform. It's just a movie, I can see it any time. So what if people are disappointed, they already think the worst of me. But then I heard the drill-sergeant, motivational-speaker, philanthropist, kick-starter, smug-faced Trump-wannabe in my head screaming, that if you really wanted to get there on time you would make it happen! Only losers blame circumstances! Find a way! Make your own luck!
Sure, I could catch a cab and hope the traffic isn't a fucking nightmare, but is a movie worth it? No. It's just a fucking movie, accept it. Ultimately it was about money. It's not about making your own luck, it's whether or not you can afford to buy your luck. With enough cash you could solve almost any problem. And if I had all the money in the world, I wouldn't still be living in this fucking dead-end fucking town.
That was when I looked up through the busy platform, and saw some big guy in a black leather jacket and hoodie come stomping in my direction. I mean he was actually stamping the concrete with his boots as he thundered my way. At first, I thought this was just another asshole trying to staunch out every cunt in sight, but then I saw that he was glaring straight at me. As you do, I glanced behind in case he was eyeballing some other target on the platform. Nope. Looking back at the approaching neanderthal, I suddenly recalled what my old friend AJ had once told me had happened to his flatmate. He had drunkenly picked a fight, unwittingly, with a pro kick-boxer at a gas station late one night. Needless to say, his flatmate got thoroughly smacked down. However, the next morning when AJ saw his flatmate, he was gleefully whistling in the bathroom with a black eye and broken nose. He laughed and told AJ, that sometimes you need to get the shit knocked out of you in order to remind you where you really stand.
Someone else then yelled out behind that bouncer-looking prick. Another giant guy, but dressed in a tailored black three-piece suit, came running and tackled the first guy! The crowd of bystanders backed off as a train also arrived at the station. The two big thugs thumped fists brutally into each other and tumbled across the platform. While watching the two wrestling titans, I continued down the stairs toward my Ubahn to the sounds of knuckles making dull thuds. The first guy that pinned the other down as he snarled and located my eyes, then shouted, "Osip's a fucking lair!"
I stopped on the stairs, when the second guy rolled over and drove them both into the side of the oncoming train! Struck down, the two huge men were blown aside like skittles from the sheer force of the inertia. People screamed along with the train's breaks. I slowly strolled down the stairs shaking my fucking head. Who the fuck were these cunts? First that old mobster mentions Romania, then the latest lecture at the book store I attended is run by two Pagan women from Romania, and now these two fucks know about Osip and his letter. There's only so many coincidences you can run into before you have to wonder what this crap is all about. I kept shaking my fucking head. It means nothing! He probably didn't even just say what I thought I heard him yell. I'm seeing patterns where there are none! Shut the fuck up! This is all random bullshit! There is no deeper significance to any of this fucking crap! You are reading between lines and filling in gaps with delusional hysteria just to make up for your dismal little fucking life. There is nothing to see here, and nothing to find in Romania. If you don't believe in your own fucking understanding of reason and logic, then go there and prove to yourself that your just a stupid fucking moron! Go and see that Osip was a fucking lair! Go to Romania and see with your own fucking eyes! Go on, I fucking dare you! Alright, I fucking will! I will silence this paranoia and see for myself that this is all just trivial coincidences. And once I come face to face with the truth that there is nothing to find and no deeper meaning, then you should finally grow the fuck up and learn to shut your fucking mouth!
So I headed straight to the studio that I worked at and booked my flight and a hotel at the closest town to where Osip had directed.
The moment I printed out the booking information, I sat back in the dark and shook my head once again. What the fuck was I doing? Seriously, am I really going all that way just to prove what I already know? This was fucking retarded. So I opened the website and went to cancel the hotel, only to find that it would still cost to cancel it. Sitting back, I continued shaking my head. Well, fuck it. I had time off from work for the next week or so, and my art for Uncle Fingers, volume 2, could wait. The exchange rate from Euros to Leu was good. Are you afraid of finding the truth, you fucking chickenshit?! Are you petrified of knowing once and for all that these visions are nothing but hallucinations, and that all these devils are only in your fucking head?! This shit that you think is so fucking important, doesn't fucking exist outside of your demented fucking mind! It doesn't fucking matter! None of it does! You don't fucking matter! You never have and never will! You're already dead! So fuck off to Romania and see that there's no fucking escape from this fucking shit! And in doing so, welcome a new level of worthlessness, you fuck! There I suddenly recalled what I had heard from a seminar by a guy called Richard, "What I tell myself is that I'm on a journey most will never undertake and I'm going to learn things most will never know, and that will require me to fail a lot and look dumb at times. But who I am is bigger than my need to protect my ego, and at the end of the day I get stronger and farther down the path for doing things that most will never do."
Challenge accepted.

SASE:
ALL (F)OR NOTHING


My alarm was set early in order to catch the loose schedule of the bus back to the train station, but I woke to the nauseating stench of smoke lingering in my room. Unlike my first morning, it was fucking freezing, so the villagers had log-fires burning throughout the night, except the smoke didn't have that delicious log-fire-scent. No, this stank like they were literally burning all that trash that coated the countryside. Slamming the fucking window shut, I blew snot into the bathroom basin trying to clear that repugnant smell of incinerated plastic from my infuriated nostrils. Shivering, I wanted nothing more than to jump into a steaming hot shower, but not today, motherfucker! Listening to Tom Waits, Get Behind The Mule, I packed my bag as another tension-headache began to return. I had nothing good to say about this fucking place, but then again, what good was waiting for me when I returned to Berlin? All I had was spite and a longing to see everyone fucking suffer!
While I spent an hour waiting for the vague possibility of a bus coming down the main street, I stood directly across from the local school. Watching a small group of adolescent boys standing outside eating buns, it all seemed so obvious how they reacted when a few girls came toward the front gates. One boy, the alpha, deliberately ignored a pretty girl who abruptly stopped with her friend and began whispering. They were about to enter the front gate, when the boy looked up and tossed a piece of his bun at the pretty girl. They clearly liked each other, but god damn it, they wouldn't admit it. We're all the same meat-insects, no matter what country or race. The teacher came out and everyone ran inside as she locked the gate. So I watched two homeless dogs running onto the street as they barked viciously at any traffic that came by, even horse draw carts. I hoped that a truck would strike the mutts down and smear their fucking entrails across the asphalt in front of me. But I wasn't that lucky.
I was conflicted about what I had found in that fucking abandoned ruin in the woods. I was both vindicated and yet distraught. You're unimportant but that doesn't matter. Keep going. Have faith. Faith that delayed-gratification will pay off, even when immediate-gratification already fails. So what was solved by coming here? Nothing, except that I now know first-hand what it's like here. These uncomfortable times challenge us and create contrast that we will look back upon with distant curiosity. Remember what I've always said: the worst case scenarios make for the best stories. Yeah, perhaps, but the present tense situation can go suck a fucking cock!
The same guy who drove the bus out here also raced back through the misty hills at break-neck speed. With three hours till my train left for Bucharest, I searched for a bank in that next town, and had my last twenty euros exchanged. I needed a coffee or two.
The train however, didn't come. Even if the train arrived on time I only had two hours before my flight. The late train meant I was facing the very real possibility that I would miss my motherfucking flight out of this cunt of a country. This trip was one fuck-up after another. I sat on the platform for an hour physically trembling with anger. I was powerless! There was absolutely nothing I could do to change my fucking predicament. Nothing but wait. Wait for something to happen. I had no control over anything! Ryan Air had charged an extra fifty euros just to check-in on the morning of my departure, costing more than the actual return flight. I should have seen that as a sign from the gods not to partake in this fucking nightmare trip. And of course, being my third day on an empty fucking stomach left my temper with a short fucking fuse. But there was nothing I could fucking do about any of it. Just wait. I was no different to a piece of shit floating down the drain, being taken for a fucking ride. I have no control! The world will fuck you over, and you have no choice but to take it again and again and again, and then some smug voice in your head tells you to cheer you miserable fucking son of bitch! Finally, after an hour, I snapped and stormed down to the office in the train station, demanding to know where the fucking train was?! The woman then dismissed my aggression as she stated that it was arriving right now, like I was some kind of asshole for expecting it any sooner.
Romania had officially joined India on my shit-list of worst fucking shitholes on the fucking face of the fucking Earth that I hoped never to fucking step foot in ever a-fucking-gain. I wanted those grass fires to burn this entire fucking place right down to the fucking ground! Fuck that place!
If I made it to my flight on time, it would be a motherfucking miracle. Sitting on the train, I didn't even know why I was rushing back to Berlin. For what? But then I remembered that the younger sister of some burlesque performer wanted to have coffee with me tomorrow. Meat, another form of asphyxiating self-slaughter. And just as the train pulled away from yet another dismal fucking village of insignificance, a stranger took a seat directly across the table from me. Fresh meat. I was instantly attracted, despite my current disposition. She was tall, slender, and smiled kindly as she tied her wild dark hair into a loose ponytail. Her skin was evenly tanned from forty years in the sun, but she looked healthy rather than withered. Her pointy nose and lean features reminded me of a less cunty Penélope Cruz in amber framed glasses. As you can tell, she was the best thing I'd seen in days, so I took notice of the details down to her gray jeans with ripped knees, and woolen coat over a low-cut t-shirt. I relaxed my brow and put on my human-face, and once again engaged in some polite small talk. Turns out that she grew up out here, much like Fat Caine, but she moved to Italy in her twenties, and now managed a large vineyard. I told her how I'd always had this stupidly romantic idea that it might be fun to work on a vineyard. She concurred that it's not all shits and giggles. She said that she'd very much love to visit Canada someday and live below the mountains next to a stoney beach where she could watch storm waves crash into the cove for weeks on end. Said she could picture herself sitting on a fallen tree trunk at the mouth of a river, watching the sun sink beyond great clouds, before he would retreat into her log cabin for a roast dinner next to an open fire. Everything she was suggesting sounded like exactly what I needed after this fucking shit-fest of a getaway. I thought of that allegory of the guy banging his head against a wall, when asked why he was doing it, he said, because it feels good when he stops. I then asked her why she was back in this god forsaken place if she had already escaped? To which she paused before replying. She was repulsed by those living in squalor, and had been running away from poverty all of her life. And yet, she admitted that she really was no better than those she ran from. She was no success story. She had come to understand that her disrespect toward this country was her own self-hatred reflected back at her. It was then that I realized what she was saying rang true. I lusted after opulence and beauty because it's more than I deserve.
We didn't talk much after that. I spent the rest of the journey watching the rain clouds soaking the hills. The magnificent Carpathian mountains was definitely the highlight of the last three fucking days.
The closer to the Bucharest, the more anxious I became. I had done the math and still didn't believe that I could make it to the airport on time. But it's amazing how the desire to flee can concentrate the mind. I should have been fatigued, but I was wired. I was going to get the fuck out of this country tonight, and that was all I gave a shit about. Meat-distractions faded into the background as I went over alternative scenarios depending on when the train arrived at Bucharest.
Once it pulled into the main station, I bolted off the train and sprinted to the first taxi. Luckily I had that twenty euros exchanged so that I could pay up front twice the going rate, and that champion of a cabbie earned it. The big fucker tore up the city like I was in a Jason Bourne film! Racing through the evening traffic, he blasting this bizarre techo-accordion music. It was pretty fucking surreal, but I made it the fuck out of there! Of course I spoke too soon. The flight was delayed. Once we finally took off, Ryan-fucking-Air seemed to have forgotten to switch on the air conditioning and I spend the flight sweating like a rapist raping myself in the trunk of car in the middle of desert under a motherfucking magnifying-glass from hell. It wasn't even over once I touched down in Berlin, because the trains weren't fucking running, for fuck's sake!
If Romania was a backstreet narcotic, I'd call it the worst fucking trip ever!
Stumbling into my flat in a small hours, I had a coffee and wondered what exactly I had achieved. Lying in bed, it was no different than when I was back in the Romanian countryside. I felt no less isolated in the city than I had in the middle of nowhere. I hate this fucking place.

SAPTE:
A GIFT OF CONTEMPT


A week later, on Easter Sunday, I returned to the Russian cafe during another rainy evening. I wasn't planning on staying as I stepped up to the bar, reaching into my coat pocket. The place seem deserted, so I leaned toward the back stairs into the rest of the cafe. There I paused as the old mobster, Mr. Bismarck, looked up from his distant table and stared back. I hadn't seriously thought I'd ever see this guy again, especially not on the very day that I'd come by to drop off a package specifically for him. But fuck it. Walking toward him, I was greeted by a girl coming out from the kitchen. I didn't order anything. Politely indicating toward the vacant chair opposite the old chap, I waited. He slowly scanned around the empty cafe, and then nodded as he straightened his pin-stripped vest and pulled his evening jacket close.
"No business meetings today?" I antagonistically asked.
"I believe we said all that needed to be said that last time," he scowled. "Are you seriously looking to push your luck?"
"No, definitely not," I shook my head. "My luck's all run out after Romania."
"You went there?"
"My mistake."
"I told you not to."
"I should've listened."
"I didn't even tell you where to go."
"I didn't go for you."
"What?"
"It's a long story."
"So then, what are you doing here?"
"I brought you something."
"For me?"
"Yeah."
"What is it?"
"A gift."
"I don't take kindly to uncalled for gifts."
"You know, I always liked that 'gift' in German means 'poison'."
"Exactly."
"Anyway," I said, placing the small brown-paper-wrapped package on the table between us. "I found this and thought of you."
Suspicious, the thick-set old guy examined the thin package in one hand before carefully ripping it open.
I began rising from my chair, when Mr. Bismarck quickly put the gift down on the table and leaned back.
"What is this?!"
"Didn't you say your mother had one."
"Where did you find this?!"
"In a house in the woods."
"Take it back!"
"It's yours now."
"Do you even know what this?!"
Smiling with a hatred in my eyes, I clenched my jaw and replied, "You know why I shave me head? Some think it's because I'm a Neo-Nazi. Some think I'm a Skinhead. Even heard someone say that I'm a Buddhist. That's fucking hilarious. I shave my fucking head so I don't have to spend all day looking into fucking mirrors like neurotic fucking bitches... So you enjoy it."
"I let you walk away twice!" Mr. Bismarck sneered. "I allowed you to go, and yet this is how you repay me!"
"It's just a gift."
"This is no gift!"
"Of course it is."
"Take it back!"
"I can't."
"I don't want it!"
"Then do whatever the fuck you want with it, it's not my problem."
"Take it back!"
"I have no power over it."
"I won't take it! I won't look at it! I refuse!"
"Too late, sunshine."
"Take it back!"
Inhaling, I glanced around the cafe, and then sat back down.
The rattled old guy now had veins streaking across his furrowed brow.
Staring down at the black obsidian lying among the open brown paper, I admired the etched symbols as I thought of that half-caved-in cottage in the woods. "Remember a month ago, when you sat at my table over there, and then suddenly got up and left."
The old guy didn't react.
"Hold the mirror up and tell me what you see behind me now."
"No."
"What do you have to lose?"
Silence.
"Then you keep it and all that is possesses."
"No!"
"Then look!"
"My mother was a violent woman. When my brothers or sisters caused trouble, she would beat us far worse than anything my father ever threatened. But the day that I found her... She never raised a hand. Never said a word. It was her look of insanity that scared me more than anything. She never looked like a mother after that day. There is a line that cannot be crossed without irreversible consequences. I stood on that line next to my mother once. But I will absolutely not cross it here and now, and certainly not with some fool like you! You can either take this back right now... Or the next time I see you, you'll be strung up like the first time we met."
"I tell you what," I said, waving at the waitress, "I'll tell you where I found the mirror, and then you can tell me if your threats still hold any weight. Okay, buddy."
"Why are you doing this?"
"Because you asked me to."
"What?"
"Remember, you wanted me to deliver a message. Well, shit. As it turns out, I really am just a fucking messenger after all."

CINCI:
WHAT HAPPENS IN ROMANIA STAYS IN ROMANIA


Standing in that abandoned cottage in the woods, I opened Osip's letter again. There I compared the name he had written, to those letters cut around the edge of the obsidian scrying mirror: AMAIMON. I was in the right place, that was for sure. But there was nothing here. Nothing until I glimpsed something in the black glass. Turning around, I looked into the back garden of that abysmal property. It mostly seemed as though the forest had taken over the whole place, however, from this angle I noticed a driveway from the road that continued up into the hill. I hadn't seen it at first as the debris from collapsed side of the house had covered all signs of the route. That's when I realized that this wasn't actually a home. There wasn't a kitchen or bed, it was more like a checkpoint. So onward I went.
The driveway was long and there wasn't a single stretch that didn't bend and weave through the woods. Soon a caught wind of a rather rancid odor, and then I saw where the smell was emanating from. Dead horses. Skinned dead horse. The carcases were blackened and hanging in an advanced state of purification from some of the larger trees. Meat hooks in the hind legs the animals hung them upside down ten feet above the ground so that their effluent fluids dripped thickly from their gaping jaws. I counted seven decomposing horses and about a billion blowflies. Like the bees from the huge hive, I did my best not to attract attention as I thought about the Iranian woman and her initial suggestion. Who the fuck was that cunt?! Just a constant reminder that all this should have ended at Loch Ness? But this wouldn't end. I had taken an unknown path and set things in motion that I had little comprehension of. It's all a metaphor, yet it's all an actualization. What choice did I have but to follow through and see where this time-line might lead. Ultimately, I'm already dead, so fuck it!
A wide shadow began to emerge through the slender trees. The driveway was as overgrown as that fortified chateau. I decided to remain among the woods in case anyone occupied the place. Creeping around to the left, I examined the stone building with conflicting thoughts. I wanted to find something or someone, isn't that why Osip sent me here. But the three-story-high walls were in ruins, and I knew there was nothing to find but the confirmation of being led astray. Why the fuck would he send me on a wild goose-chase? Besides, there were too many coincidences that couldn't be calked up to simply probability. What the hell did I know. Standing in the woods for an extended moment of self-criticism, I sneered. Fuck my apprehensions, and I marched straight toward the front of the ruin. I was half-way across the gravelly yard, when I stopped dead in my tracks. What the fuck?! There wasn't a doorway. Was this even the front of the chateau? Glancing around at the driveway behind, I looked back at the symmetrical architecture with its big windows and their shutters like double doors that were clamped shut. There wasn't an actual door anywhere. Logic immediately dictated that this had to be the back or side of the place. That made sense. So around I went. While walking, I admired the towers, steeples, and battlements that constituted this remote fortress-like structure. The side of the place was longer than the width. Some of the upper windows and parts of the roof had crumbled inward, but mostly the building was intact. Once I reached the other end, I found my theory correct, as a large stone arch and tall iron gate presented itself as an obvious entrance, while a much bigger yard lay smothered in dead leaves. However, turning toward the supposed front of the building, I was once again confronted with no obvious fucking doorway. This facade was no more decorated or unique than the other sides. Shaking my head confused, I inspected the entire wall, before peering my head around the corner and looking down the far side. It too was no different. Backing off, I stood in the center of the yard next to several fallen tree trunks. What kind of a building has no way inside? This was bullshit! Scanning over the ornate front gates with their stone carvings and broken statues, my frustration grew. Then I spotted that one of the shutters on the ground floor was slightly ajar. The bottom of the window frame was ten-feet off the ground, but I was sure I could make it. So without a second thought, I ran and vaulted up the wall. Catching the edge with my gloved hands, I quickly scrambling up the wall, my Chucks gripping nicely against the rough stone. With the same inertia that had gotten me up the wall, I grabbed both the loose shutter and the other side as I leaned back – and pop! The left shutter cracked wide open. Reaching in, I caught a hold of solid iron bars. I had achieved nothing. There was no moving the black bars that completely covered the filthy windows. Another waste of fucking time. Jumping down, I moved over to the heavy stone blocks that made up the pillars on either side of the front gate. The rusted iron would have once been an impressive welcome, but to a chateau with no doors? Wondered again what the fuck I was meant to find here, I shook my fucking head, realizing that there wasn't even a driveway beyond the gates. Was this really the front of the house or the back? Irritated, I headed around the final side the building. There was more of the same, except I came across a fallen tree that was leaning against the wall. As I got closer, I saw a significant portion of the wall was missing where the tree rested. The damaged clearly preceded the death of the tree as the truck was nowhere nearly thick enough to cause such a hole. This was my way inside. Carefully climbing the 45° tree trunk, I stepping into a corridor – where the floor instantly collapsed! I clung to the tree as stone echoed loudly below. Turning to my left, I pulled out my tiny pocket-flashlight before continuing inward. Constantly anxious about the state of the floor, I considered that if I fell and broke a leg, who would possibly find me out here? I hadn't told anyone that I was coming to Romania. The landlady back at the village knew that I was looking for this location, but I had already paid for my accommodation so she wasn't expecting to ever see me again. Given long enough, an ex might notice I wasn't answering text messages, and maybe she'd eventually break into my flat and find the printouts from my flights. But how long could I survive without food or water if I was trapped in here? Though, wasn't that the point, I came here to be alone. And alone is exactly what I was, until that thing turned its head and looked straight at me! I shuddered to a halt and didn't give a fuck about the floor's integrity as I stumbled away from the sight of that hideous fucking face in the pitch black. It wasn't human and screamed with fantastically wide jaws. Flight instinct backpedaled my ass the fuck out of there. Running like a motherfucker, I saw the light from the broken wall, but I could hear that thing screeching right behind me. There was no possibility of carefully scaling the tree back out into the forest, so I leaped like an idiot right over the massive hole in the floor and landed on the other side and kept going. I heard that shrieking thing follow, when suddenly it landed on my back! Horrified and out of sheer reflex, I reached back, grabbed an arm, and swung that screaming fuck right into a fucking wall! It wimped as it dropped to the the floor before it lurched back at me! With a fist at the ready, it was actually my flashlight that blinded it and forced it to back off. I discover the thing was in fact some kind of fucking ape. Totally hairless, it wore a black petticoat. No one told me that Romania had an indigenous species of naked transsexual apes. Ugly fucking apes. Angry fucking apes. It howled and then went fucking apeshit again as it screamed and sprung at me! Brutally strong hands clung to my skull, and I spun as we both slammed into another wall, then tripped, and we hit the floor. It felt like my ear was about to get ripped off, when the floor moaned and then you guessed it – free fall time! I landed on the fucking chimp and heard a quick succession of cracks as I felt it's rips snap below my elbow. Rolling aside, I coughed, winded, but doing infinitely better than the wheezing animal. Honestly, I don't even know if it was a chimp or a human, it looked like both, but fucking disgusting with pinkish pupils. It didn't get up, and soon its shallow breathing ran dry. Stretching my back from side to side with dust in the air, I really wished I had my fucking knife on me. Figures then rose up in that big room and silently surrounded me. I could hear their snarling from beneath black sheets that covered them all from head to toe. Before I could reach for a plank of wood to use as a weapon – the mob attacked! I grabbed something bat-like and swung into the first head, but I might as well have been hitting back at an oncoming freight train for all the good it did. I didn't stand a fucking chance, and was knocked the fuck down and dragged away like a ball of bellybutton lint being sucked into a vacuum cleaner! I was a football being kicked about in the darkness and shoved down passageways. All I could do was cover my head as best as I could, until I was yanked down some stairs and into the fucking light. Clenching my eyes, I found that I was left alone and heard only the birds in the trees. I was outside. Squinting with pained caution, I looked up at the exterior walls, but there was a fucking doorway now! Slowly sitting, I was quickly corrected as there were walls surrounding me. I was still inside, but in a courtyard at the center of the chateau. The space was about twenty meters square, and full of leaves, branches, scrubs, statues, and piles of mounted up furniture. I wasn't alone either. Those that had dragged me here now sat on the ground in a wide circle around me. Their dirty black sheets were still draped over their heads as they all mumbled something under their breath. What could I say, I was trespassing. I was in the wrong. I wasn't welcome or meant to be here. This was a place where words were of no use to me. There were several arched entrances back inside, but if I made a run for it I had no idea which way was which. I was still trying to reconcile what that hideous thing in the dress had been, generations of gypsy inbreeding perhaps? That was when I noticed that the obsidian disk had slipped out of my jacket pocket. Without making any suddenly movements, I picked up the disk, and saw the reflection of the sky. Twisting my neck, I glanced upward. The sky was now dense with a storm clouds. When I looked back down, the chateau was gone! All that remained were the foundations and a few pillars. The landscape was barren of trees, and the air was fucking toxic. Pulling my shirt's loose collar over my nose, I gasped for oxygen. The only thing that hadn't transformed was the circle of hags under their black drapes. Ash coated everything. The wind came in long batteries that sent vast dust clouds across the rocky hills. Turning slowly, I rose to my feet and spotted a figure in the distance. I thought the blackened individual was wearing many layers that were being torn at by the gusts, but the closer it got, I realized it was translucent and seemingly made of smoke. It was just another one of those unidentified figures that I had seen many times before. Watching it slowly draw near, I glanced around from time to time in case anything else appeared on the edge of the ridge. There were only two small mounds of stone, that I guessed were where the front gate had once been. My orientation had been established. Little good it did though. This wasn't a different version of Romania, geographically it was another place altogether. There were mountains so close that they definitely weren't the Carpathians. I didn't know where the fuck I was, but then again, I never knew where these fucking hallucinations were meant to be located. After all, let's keep in mind that this was only another fever dream, or psychedelic experiences, or figment of my overactive imagination. Quick, use your skeptical mind to rationalize this very visceral illusion out of existence. Come on, you can out-think anything, says the motivational-speaker, you can even out-think mental illness! There was no meaning to any of this! It was all my head! Just like the entire fucking universe was!
That blackened figure eventually stood outside the circle of muttering females, so I moved closer. Featureless, it was neither male nor female, just a rough blur of a human-like silhouette. It wasn't hostile, though was very much aware of my presence. Its legs faded into nothing, and its head tilted as if curious. All I knew was not to touch or walk through these fucks. But then a real emotion crept into my lungs. Something else was here. I heard it behind me, inside the circle. Standing right next to the smokey figure, I forced myself to turn. In the center of the circle a big black animal crouched. I had as much courage as a frightened child as I stood petrified. My feet tried to back away, but one women under her sheet grabbed my leg with the strength of a hydraulic press! I was trapped! Trapped again, for fuck's sake! That thing in there with me was barely humanoid, and twice the size of a snorting bull. I couldn't define what exactly it was. Multiple unrecognizable limbs coiled around its torso, while a vicious spine lined its hunched back. Then it began making a groaning noise. The thing sounded like a lion growling before its dinner, but then it resembled a voice, as if it was contemplating whether or not to ask if I thought Socrates was right about the afterlife. It moved like a big cat, smooth and controlled, but I couldn't make out a head within all those extremities that endlessly rolled over each other. Then it lunged at me!

Raising my arms in front of my head, I froze. What else could you do if a rhinoceros on steroids decided to fucking eat you alive. I flinched where I cringed. Apart from my leg in the clutches of the woman below, I was unharmed. With my eyes still firmly shut, I heard that creature hissing only inches in front of my face. Reluctantly, I had this sensation of acceptance wash over my brain-stem, like when you're on a roller-coaster at a Christmas market and you know without a doubt that if the ride goes off the rails then there isn't a damn thing you can do about it. So fuck it. Go with it. That thing towered above as several of its arms pressed down on the women either side of me. It was like a great spider, spread out to intimidate with flesh like wet asphalt. At times like these I envied those who fainted from a weak heart. Even from this range there wasn't a face to locate, just layers of blackened boney limbs upon limbs. It was the mirror in my hand that had stopped it. Maybe. Maybe it was the mirror that had called it here. Maybe Osip had set me up. Or maybe it was the Iranian woman. Or maybe this was the consequences from what had happened both times at Loch Ness. Or maybe this was Mr. Bismarck's fault for planting the seed of suggestion in my head. Or maybe it was all of the above and this was always going to happen. Is it actually possible to eradicate attribution-error if you can predict your fate with perfect 20/20 hindsight? And then one of its many black arms, the size of a horse's leg, indicated, with foot-long talons for fingers, toward the scrying mirror. As careful as this entity may have been, its posture never eased back. Once removed from our artificial environment, humans have no natural defenses. Naked, we're no competition against predators hungry for our bone marrow. We're cowering primates that should have never left the nurturing safety of the trees. Despite the terror clenching my diaphragm with every fucking breath, I watched as that dagger-like finger traced the letters in the obsidian. If I had to take a wild guess, I'd say that this thing liked the look of his own name. Without warning, another of its arms shot out and grabbed my wrist, and held me still. The mirror then became milky as if something began shimmering within the glass. When the creamy surface faded, an oily image emerged within, like a reflection on spilled petrol. Each time Amaimon slid his claw across the surface of the black disk, a different location would appear. I've always been a firm believer in cross-referencing, and as I watched on I found that Amaimon confirmed that which had already been insinuated by those in the waters below the little white house in the German countryside a year ago. I was shown a constant state of war, absolute anarchy, and enormous cities that been razed. Here, in this place, 'might' was ultimately right. Unlike humans that could be governed by lies and abstract ideas, in this place 'aggression' outweighed wits. I recognized some of the blackened species of devils, and those great serpents, and the oceans made of huge endless worms perpetually devouring each other. Whenever I saw anything that resembled humans, they were like rodents, scurrying away from much more barbaric prey in an ecosystem where mankind was the least unscrupulous chattel in the food-chain. After an hour or more of this, Amaimon showed me a mountain in the mirror. At first I didn't see what was so special about it, but then Amaimon released my wrist and slowly pointed behind me. There it was, the same image that was in the mirror. That's when I wondered if the scrying mirror only revealed that which Amaimon had seen with his own godless eyes. While holding onto the mirror, and with my leg still in the woman's grip, I twisted for a better view of the mountain, though trying to keep as far away from Amaimon as physically possible. Through the miserable clouds, I slowly saw that there was an enormous shape cradling the snowy peak, much like a drunk would cling to a lamppost in a frozen moment of disgrace. It looked like a twisted expanse of muscle and disjointed fury. This wasn't the tragedy of a defeated god, but the fall of the fallen. All I saw was pure malignant spite. Why the fuck was he showing me this shit?! My head hung low and it felt weird, heavy like the blood in my brain had too much iron in it. I found myself blinking constantly. The woman holding my leg then let go and I stumbled forward rubbing my eyes. I think the stench of that fucking air was giving me a fucking hangover. Shaking it off, I looked up and found that Amaimon had silently backed the fuck off. I wasn't tired, I was just fucking over it. I had a long walk back and only half a bottle of water left. What the fuck was I meant to understand about all of this?! Yes, consciousness damns humans unlike any other animal. So fucking what?! I had a laundry-list of pertinent questions, but instead of speaking, I recalled words from a book I'd read in France about the etiquette of dealing with devils face to face. However, I was no more than an insect compared to Amaimon, he could kill me in an instant and get on with his fucking day. But if he was going to cut my fucking head off, then what the fuck was he waiting for?! Then Amaimon stood up straight. He was about twenty-feet-tall on his two hind legs, with god knows how many arms. Somehow his deformed body-language seemed even more pissed off. I wasn't a fucking friend of his. Friends? What, are you fucking five? Friends? Fuck off! I don't have friends, I merely associate with those who have yet to encounter my actual self. Then they distance themselves as soon as possible. Just like Amaimon was doing so. Friends are good from an arm's length. Once they start taking liberties, you have to remind them how little they really mean to you. I liked Amaimon, he was a good guy, but sometimes even your best friends need to watch their fucking mouths and be put in their place as nothing more than convenient ego-cushions. Holding up the scrying mirror in front of the mountain, this time I had something to show Amaimon. I smacked the mirror with the palm of my hand! That vast creature clinging to the mountain began to move. Soon the shock wave reached the ruin and the very ground below my feet shook! The colossal beast then reared back and drove his gigantic mass head-first into the mountain! The detonation was tremendous! The women in the circle cried out as the entire ridge jolted violently! Amaimon screamed, and I grinned – when I was immediately saturated in a torrent of blinding white light! The circle had been broken. Squinting, I found myself standing in the courtyard again. The dark evening sky above. The chateau surrounding. Those under the black sheets were shrieking and ran for shelter. One of them crashed into my side, and I grabbed the cunt, ripping the sheet aside. Underneath wasn't an ape, but something that resembled a severe burn victim with transparent plastic-like skin. Shoving that demented monstrosity the fuck away, I spun, looking for Amaimon. He too was gone. I hadn't learned anything new! I wanted to go back. But those howling females quickly vanished into the chateau, leaving me with my dick in my hand. The courtyard grew quiet for about two seconds before I heard something crash into the building! Brick was being rammed into as rubble fell in waves. Hurrying inside, I followed the sounds of the collisions, until I scaled a wide staircase to the top floor. Another horrendous impact hammered into the exterior wall, scattering stone and splintering wood. Twisting away, I wanted to see what the fuck was causing such damage, but then a hand the size of a fucking car reached in through the demolished wall and ripped the fucking floorboards apart! Okay, this wasn't an hallucination. Turning, I ran in the opposite direction, down toward the other side of the chateau where I had entered. My tiny pocket-flashlight did its best to illuminate the way, but place seemed so much bigger from the inside. I never saw any of those witches again, but thankfully spotted the twilight reaching in through the hole. Racing into the forest, I wanted to gain as much distance from the chateau as possible without losing direction back toward the checkpoint cottage. Night had closed in fast the day before, and the temperature in the woods had already significantly dropped, which kept my sweat at bay as I sprinted back down the driveway. I wasn't planning on spending the night lost in the woods, and resigned myself to running all the way back to town. I didn't stop until I saw smoke. The checkpoint was on fire! Walking at a brisk pace, I was about twenty meters from the blaze, when something grabbed my hoodie. I spun and instantly smacked that fucker's hand away. The pasty devil snarled as it retreated upon its intestinal-like tail that was wound around a tree trunk. Glancing further up and about, I saw more of those pale cunts with their scrawny arms and mutated faces hanging from the branches like smutty fucking vultures. They cackled into a crescendo as they focused on the bonfire. Something rose up within the huge flames. Something fucking big. It wasn't Amaimon, though I wished it was for some fucking reason. The blackened figure stepped out of the fire, obliterating one of the remaining walls in a cloud of sparks. When the smoke cleared, I knew I should have already been running. It then grabbed its own inhuman head and tore it's armored skull right in half! An inferno gushed forth from within! Staggering away of the burning building, it ripped several trees clean out of the ground as it found its footing. And then I ran. I had to get around the bonfire so that I could follow the road out of this fucking forest. Unfortunately, those intestinal cunts in the trees shrieked and pointed at my escape. The giant planted a single foot and cut the road in two! Only its knee was at my eye-level. Running straight into the woods, I heard the giant uprooting trees like an avalanche on amphetamines – until a much larger impact shredded the forest and sent huge clumps of dirt flying past my fucking head! Glancing back, I saw a second Nephilim tackle the burning one! They struck the Earth like a comet! Patches of the ground caught fire as the two fiends choked one another with ridiculous strength! I couldn't help but see the similarities between this and the events back on the Ubahn platform. Determinism might be the death of free-will, but it was my own two feet that got me the fuck out of there. I never went back the way I came, running through the woods without rest, I finally reached the cliff-like edge of the ridge. I made it down the hill in less than five minutes and came across a gravel road just waiting for me in the complete darkness.
Opening the zipper on my jacket pocket, I drank the last of my water, before removing the scrying mirror from another pocket. It could be said, objectively, that nothing terribly bad happened during my time in Romania, but my fucking mood said otherwise. I hate that fucking place, and that's how this experience shall always be framed. Objectivity be damned!

Bruce

© 2017 BRUCE STIRLING JOHN KNOX