"A bed of Thorns"
The straps loosen their tight grip on my skin, so dreadfully ragged and coarse that resembles the tree barks that it has been tied to . Fresh blood starts to dry up over the remains of the last sessions, a stench so comforting that echoes through my nostrils as does a childhood song triggered by a familiar humming, unequivocally signalling that it is enough for today. Quenching the desire to reach new heights in the search for the ultimate affliction does not mean a deeper understanding of it, or even acknowledging that the feeling of pain grew stronger at every step I consciously took.
Only when I felt like my very life was slipping away, a nuclear blue sky would engulf my vision, stained only by a magnificent crow, spreading its gritty mantle across, leaving nothing but an oily trail behind, I knew that it was time to let go and hope for better luck next time. I learnt how to restrain myself from fainting because of the blood loss a long time ago, for it would only obstruct my efforts towards the unattainable goal - as my will and power to hurt myself grew stronger, my stamina was logically increasing with it, and so it became harder and harder to make an impression on this furrowed meat.
It was clear to me that agony had become my one and only obsession, the fabled catalyst through which I would be able to finally recover my eagerness and passion, a rope thrown down this murky pit, devoid of any kind of emotions.
Onerith’s deliverance was sudden and incomprehensible, a sacrifice made for reasons that surpass our mortal narrow and thus cannot be questioned, as the parson would put it. Nevertheless, as much as I would want to be marry and understanding for the step this soul has taken in righteousness’ way, the event raked my very soul, and after laying on the ground for a few hours, I woke up to a different sort of sensitivity overall, as if I had suffered a severe amnesia that only affected this side of my perception. Signs and events would still appear and occur, I would still process them, but they would no longer appear as scratches on my spirit ,small marks indicating that there once was a spec of sentiment fiddling with what’s inside. Life had suddenly become scrolling
My work as a flame feeder in the Boiler was repetitive and simple enough to keep me going without having to dwell in the arid plane that life had turn into, my only task is picking up the shed skin of the Turn’eake giants that inhabit these lands and tossing it into the fire. I must have seen a thousand times how the flames reluctantly devour their disgusting and slimy outer membrane, as if they were aware of how their existence is fueled by a chain of cruelty, an enslaving whose core I am also a part of. The thick film protrudes and contracts in agony while faces articulating chants of the dammed emerge from the gaps burnt by the iridescent blaze, and although I know they mean me no harm, tales of how they carry the will of their past owners embedded in their fibres are very often told, sending from time to time an electric shock down my spine.
The task involved a great deal of physical effort and it was not rare that my bones or muscles would give in, dilated by the intense heat present in the whole complex.
That’s when it hit me.
Could it be that the answer to my lost sensitivity is held back somewhere between the shrouds of pain that this loss threw upon me? Having reached a certain level, it would be impossible to discern between the physical and the sensitive aspect of this affliction, my receptors would be restarted and once again I should be able to understand what feeling means! Would not say that it was determination what struck me, but the path to recovering what was lost in my heart seemed paved with the same force that bended and twisted those disdainful faces in the fire.
From then on I thoroughly planned my each and every day so that the infliction of pain upon myself would become intrinsic to every routine, even my sustenance consisted solely of animal paws and rotten stomach bile. As weeks went by, their taste was something I ultimately grew accustomed to. I had even left sharp objects in every corner of my dwelling so that I would bump into them as I stumbled around, disoriented by the amount of suffering that some of my intensive sessions would cause me. But nothing else made me smirk in delight and lick my dry, wounded lips like the structure where I lay at night, which I had carefully redesigned to exchange every single second of rest for an eternity of torments – my bed was a storm of spines, flicking in every single direction and stinging even the air around it enclosing me in the epicenter of a malformed poem.
Forever was my existence devoted to the study of pain itself, I would not rest until I had reached the darkest turn of its , as the answer could be in a broken joint, a twisted ankle that would strike a nerve and bring back my emotions along with the fainting…
But it wasn’t too long until I realized that this quest was only progressively crippling not only my body, but also my understanding of human condition, as the days seemed to merge with each other in a whirlwind of feverishly intense suffering, and I began to only be able to speak the language of hatred, cursing even the sun for shining upon my freshly inflicted wounds and revealing my shame to the heavens. Certainly an emasculatingly putrid view that made me reconsider multiple times if I had finally discovered the only thing capable of changing my nature, for the traces of humanity left in my flesh were identified and stripped with chirurgic precision only to be immediately discarded.
And so, in one of the pauses that allowed me to recover and try to pacify the bleeding emerging from all the surfaces in my body, it finally dawned on me that I hadn’t thought about Onerith for a while, that I nearly forgot the sound of that voice and movements performed so softly that I had to remake all my structure so that I would fill the gaps they would leave. The hallucinations induced by the intense blood loss, although controlled and short, sometimes took me by surprise and didn’t allow me to react fast enough to avoid succumbing to them. My mind wandered as memories started to pour out, dripping cumulatively against the floor, forming a memento pool that soon had me sank knee-deep without even a possibility to process them.
The thicker the puddle grew, the clearer its view was, and I would neatly see myself reflected on its surface, only without all the marks that now defined me and around which I had established my existence. It didn’t feel like a younger version of myself, but rather a featureless interpretation of what I meant to the world - not a single sign there could possibly give away my identity. Feeling intrigued to understand whether the depths of these waters would also try to mirror my insides, I let my body fall effortlessly into the abyss, and immediately felt the uncertainty caressing with limbs made of yolky expletives, both warm and gelid nuances of the flesh exposed to being chastised for their subhuman mischief… “Do you wish to tarnish these ambitions I hold with the air of remembrance?!
My path has already been chosen for me, forever a slave of the passions I no longer understand and seek to reach again, even if there’s a possibility that I wouldn’t recognise them once we are confronted face to face!
But no matter!
This is no longer what my existence is subject to, sensitivity cast me away from its Orchard while I was still trying to figure out how to harvest the sweet fruit its trees bore! Would not want to try and force the lock to its gates, must accept that a pestilent beast such as me is not fit for such delicate portions of perception…”
The echo that rumbled in the space multiplied and distorted to the point where these words of lament were turned into a cacophony of giggles, cutting through the sound spectrum, an infinitely ascending pitch added another dimension to my motion in this abyssal containment.
Cannot say whether it was a slight refraction in my consciousness as I traversed back and forth countless states of matter that engulfed not only me, but the reminiscence I had of myself - becoming nothing more than an ozzing lump falling down the leaves of Yggdrasil, leaving just a tiny portion behind with every collision, but at some point, the shifting stopped and I was left only with a single word inside my mind.
At first it sounded more like a suggestion, a friendly advice that only wanted to aid me in my search for a way out of this diabolic plane. But as I started to regain movement on my limbs and my human eyes began to register shapes like they used to, the proposal sharply changed its tone and manners, turning into a coarse, piercing statement that slowly eliminated the possibility to object.
And even though the sound was unlike nothing I had ever heard before, something in the way it made me shiver gave me the impression that it had always been with me, humming along in the back of my head with every new wound, each time ignored - an awful truth that I had not been ready to understand or face in all these weeks.
I was now.
Determination struck me with impossible power, for the first time I had come to terms with myself and it was clear the motion my arms would follow as they helped me raise from the wet ground.
No longer would I search for my lost essence in the sharp and twisted edges of the void, for I knew that I pertained to it no more and both sides of this eternal conflict had rejected me with a smirk.
As much as I would like to think that this conclusion arrived through the relentless dallying with physical defilement, I cannot shake the feeling that something “external” tampered with my insides in an ineffable way, as if it had ripped my very soul with a soft and delicate touch and had forced me to confront it mercilessly.
I didn’t have time to dwell on these questions, however, as it was finally time to face the symphony of my descent…