Today’s story is a mash-up-date of two classics, one older than the other. You can find it in the Stories section 😀
I wanted to try writing from a different moral stand-point than I usually do, so I picked one of the most infamous villains in history. In a way, he’s also my favourite character of all time. I hope you enjoy, ‘The Labours of Hell!”
We found a Way through. At first, we sent in a team of explorers and scientists, curious to document, study and understand. The realm of fairies furnished them with wonder and knowledge. We quickly learned that emotions, thoughts and feelings could be made manifest in one form or another. We were given paradise. We saw a resource.
The land stretched on, verdant, as far as we could see in every direction. If this world truly was the crystallization of humanity’s potential, then we figured it was boundless. The inhabitants were friendly, beautiful and gregarious in the extreme, but resisted our tests and attempts to harvest. In the end, we sent in soldiers. My dearest companion, Terrence, and I were among them
Each one of us was intent on using the resources of this place to save our dying world. After all, where would it be without us? We hadn’t considered that it might not want to be used. Whatever our reasons, our mission was theft.
As we marched through the Way, we were unaware that the membrane on which we stood, the Land of the Faeries, could bend, break and permit. It was a sieve. In gathering, we’d reached a collective threshold and plummeted to the depths where intentions live. The land of the Pixies.
It wasn’t a fall. Or, rather, it wasn’t a drop. We simply materialized at the mouth of a grand cave. The stalactites were ringed in impenetrable shadow, the stalagmites were darkness. We spread out to cover the perimeter, but we couldn’t possibly have prepared for the creature, the THING, we found. It stirred, slowly woke, and quickly gained momentum. It was a titanic ball of rippling flesh, scab, and bone. As it fell upon our scattered group, under a hail of machine-gun fire, its unity shattered. Forms burst forth from it, were carved out, still attached, and raked through our ranks. Every form we killed, it would feast upon. A maw of flesh would appear in the thing, close around the body, and chew with shattered bone and blunt trauma. Crushing, grinding, swallowing, feeding its metabolic girth with itself.
For all of its auto-cannibalism, it quickly over-powered us. Too much. Too many. We fell back to the mouth of the cave. We fell back into the wild unknown. We fell.
Yet, when our numbers thinned before the atrocious thing, we vanished once more from where we’d been. Finding ourselves, instead, in a shadowed glen. Trees shaded us from the elements and provided us with cover from the terrifying predators we couldn’t comprehend.
Sweeping the area, we cleared away rocks, plants, animals and sounds. We took knife to stem and hollow-point to movement. We established a guard, took shifts and, round the fire, took stock of what we knew. At the time, it turned out to be very little. As night fell and we set to sleep and watch, screams echoed through the camp. I watched it happen to a soldier named Jeff, overwhelmed into inaction.
A root had him in a wooden vice. Its undeniable force ripped through his uniform, his boots. His skin tore, at first, as it was roughly scraped from the flesh of his feet, but, once inside, the thing merely rippled through his flesh. Putrescent, his body dissolved within the skin-sac and leaked out of his orifices, out of himself. Then, like a sickly party favor, he was filled again by the malleable core-flesh of the envious tree. Rooted still, at its entry point, the puppet lashed out to claw a fleeing victim, its nails and finger-flesh scraping off of the wood underneath. It stood before us, out of reach,, splintered fingers bare, on two gnarled roots, in Jeff’s skin. It was a nightmare I resisted comprehending.
I grabbed Terry. We ran. Alone, we appeared, again, in another land. It was a gray area, unremarkable and terrifying. Nothing made sense. Nothing could be grasped or seen. It was enigma.
I realized then what I’ve told you now. Maybe it was madness or delusion. A wild rush of hope after all I’d seen, but I knew we were near the surface. I thought that without his sin I might break through the meniscus.
Whatever I’d understood, Terry hadn’t. My knife sunk easily into his unguarded neck.
Yet, nothing happened. I was just alone. So, alone, I wandered.
I should have realized then that, in leaving them to die, we’d sealed ourselves within our depth. Murdering him built upon that. The weight of my crimes alone were now enough to keep me here.
Here, I stay. Through study and practice, I’ve manifested many things, but there is no Way back. However, on the right night, in the right way, I can send a message through.
Please. Heed these words, “Your motives are not your intentions. Respect our demons.”
Tell Terry’s family, “I’m so sorry.”