CABB’s 2021

April 12th Challenge

EXTRAORDINARY VOICES

THE ABYSS

by Ruby

 

I am the hungry dark. They have another name for me but it is not important. I’ve had other names before, some of them rolled off the tongue like tolls from a deep mournful bell. Some were hissed like curses. All of those mouths who spoke those names are gone now, but I remain. I was here before the walkers, the strange two legged things that carve stone and knot bridges and weep when one of their number comes to me. Oh how they weep, weep like there’ll be no end, no consolation. But I do not understand, for I am the dark with no beginning. And my consolation is eternal.

There is one who interests me. He walks on two legs, but he has the face of that of a creature that stalked this place long, long ago. I recognize the darkness in him as my own. He is terrified of it, but I wish he would wear it like he wears the cape around his shoulders. In his youth his despair over it drove him to my edge. He stripped himself of his clothing and stared into me for a long time. Oh, he was beautiful, I began to understand desire. I wished to call him by name, to take the form of something he would desire, to let him take me the way I’d seen the creatures take each other when I would rifle through their memories when they come to me. But he did not leap into my waiting dark, he dressed and cried until sleep pressed his eyes shut.

I did not see him for some time after that. But he would return from time to time to sit at my edge and stare into my darkness. I admit I was vain for him. I would swirl my mists into circles and patterns that only he could see or would even think to notice. I would sigh with the gusts of wind that shiver through me from the place where they worshipped long ago. Where they would give me sacrifices in the hope it would protect them from harm. I could never tell them they did not have to fear me, only each other.

I began to press into his mind. I did not mean to, believe me, but his darkness called mine and it let me in. I slipped through his memories, I saw the loneliness of his heart, and I saw the fury of The Other. And then I began to see her. The end of the loneliness in his heart, and the beginning of The Other’s desire. He would replay every glance, every brush of her hand. But The Other hungered for more. The Other showed us what it wanted, bronze skin against pale flesh, writhing by fires the only light in vast ink dark caverns. It wanted to claim, to hear a cry of want and need and answer it.

He was at first ashamed of these images, then terrified by them, and then he would leave the rest of the walkers and travel down pathways that lead deeper into me and he would submit to them. Let the images rake his mind until The Other quieted down to sulk in the corners of his mind and his body would ache with exhaustion. I did not understand why he was so afraid of the Other; didn’t he know how beautiful his darkness was? I wondered if the woman in his mind did not like it. I had nothing in me to hate, but I could feel the shape of what hate was if that was so. I wished for arms to embrace him, for a mouth to cover him in kisses, but there was no help for it, for either of us.

Time rolled on and the Other began to gnaw through the barriers he’d built for it, and madness took him and made him red hot. He fled deep into my caverns and the woman followed. I saw her approach him. I saw her afraid for him but not of him. I saw the great scream of agony from the two in one he was as they both roared at her. I saw her arms embrace him, her mouth cover him in kisses. I saw him take her on the floor of that place, her crying out in the pleasure that is almost pain. They left that place together, his mind a fog but hers clear with the sacredness of what had happened.

I saw her once alone after that, sitting on my edge the way he had done, I could feel the faint flickers of her thoughts because of what she carried, his child. I saw her fears of operating tables and doctors stepping back in horror. I saw her wishes of them wandering a courtyard of fruit trees, her breasts swollen with milk, and him pulling her down underneath a fig tree to suckle them as they lay on his cape. I had no heart to give her sympathy, but I gave my darkness as its own cape. To let herself lose her fears in it and leave with courage.

I saw him a few times after that. His mind tumbled joy, fear, rage at her news. The memories of what had happened returning like a stream of rich wine into an empty cup. New memories, as he made his bed theirs and his body their marriage vow. How she had taken him to a place with a courtyard garden at night and they had made love until the sky tinged pink at the edges with the arriving morning. How she stayed with him more the bigger her belly grew. How the night before his child was born he paced my edge begging and pleading and cursing at any who would listen to make sure no harm came to her. I had no hands to take his in, but I sent a flicker of wind across his brow, the closest thing I had to a caress. He stilled and seemed to look into me with understanding. But it was probably just a wish of my own.

I saw him once more after that, alone. He had come before with groups of children, his own bound to his chest to show them the dangerous places they must never go by themselves. But he was alone this time. He reached into his cape and pulled out a handful of small red and white things. Rose petals. And he let them flutter into me and I felt them trickle down as tears might have had I had eyes to weep. For I understood what he was doing.

He was saying goodbye.

 

 

1 Comment

  1. A moving and profound story. Vincent and his constant struggles, shame and even at one point a sense of hopelessness and a desire to end everything. I was struck by the truthfulness of his inner self. How good that time changed the situation for the better and fortunately with Catherine’s help he achieved balance and gained peace.

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