A thunderous clap scatters my thoughts like a blacksmith’s hammer shattering a sheet of glass. Blasts of wind are assaulting the windows while the rain pours in gusts, splashing against the windowpanes in a constant pitter-patter. The fat drops coalesce into crystalline veins that zig-zag downwards, then unravel.
My labored breath mingles with the thunderstorm booming outside. I forgot to bring an umbrella, didn’t I? When this morning I stepped onto the balcony of Jacqueline’s apartment to inhale crisp air, the bluish-gray sky promised rain, yet I failed to prepare myself. As I wonder if that moldy spare remains in the umbrella stand of the office, a more pressing concern wipes my mind clean: I’m clutching a revolver, and the opposite wall has been colonized by a viscous blob from some hellish dimension.
I grip the revolver with both hands, then I whip it towards the conglomerate of necrotic matter. I creep closer to the intruder; among all people, I may miss a shot against a wall-wide entity. I rest my forefinger on the trigger. With my thumb on the hammer, I pull back slowly until the sear bumps past the lock, and the hammer stays at full cock. I hold the muzzle level, taking aim.
An arc of blinding incandescence must have cut through the darkness of the night like an axe cleaving the heavenly flesh, because a strobing blue-white flash illuminates, as if to probe those dark depths, the oleaginous surface of the mammoth mass of putrefied gunk, whose texture shifts from squidgy to bumpy to warty as it heaves and pulses with life. While that gargantuan plague boil bulges from the wall, it oozes with lumps of moist tissues that smear the paintwork, leaving in their wake slimy black streaks and a slick coating of filth. From the underside of the intruder, gooey tongues drape down like viscera oozing out of an unflushed drainpipe, or like clusters of conjoined caterpillars seeking escape from a boiling ball of pitch, and the foul goop spills and flops onto the carpet, pooling into bulbous puddles.
A tremor races through my spine and neck, and lodges itself deep in my jaw. I imagine a projectile hurtling towards that abominable hulk and punching through its tenebrous, rippling mass, which bursts like a water balloon, launching a wave of rotting gunk that splats onto the carpet and office furniture. But I’m holding a revolver that was designed for shooting at saps and outlaws, not at a mass of decay that defies comprehension. What would unleashing a barrage of bullets achieve, apart from alerting the humans in this part of the realm that the end is nigh? Wouldn’t the bullets vanish into the viscous quagmire, wouldn’t the holes caulk themselves closed? I may as well try to obliterate a cancerous tumor by pricking it with needles. Spike should have lent me a flamethrower, or a few bricks of C-4. To be fair, if that old coot had dropped as loot a bag of useful devices such as high-voltage tasers, tranquilizing darts and grenades, I may have used them as props for erotic games that would end up in fierce orgasmic contortions.
The stuffy atmosphere of the office gets disturbed with noises radiating from the invaded wall: slurps and gurgles. My grip tightens around the wooden handle of my revolver. Bubbles are rising up laboriously to the gloopy surface of the malignant tumor, as if they had to pass through a folded intestine. The sight makes my stomach heave like I were traversing a slimy oyster bed or having my face rubbed against the grimy side of a rotten fish.
The wobbling bubbles, lumpy globs of decay sloshing around like minced meatballs in a simmering pot, bump into each other and merge, cluster or sink back into the sludgy substance while it burbles, seethes and spasms like a tangle of throbbing arteries and veins under pressure from injected emboli. As the pulsating rhythm of the morbid leviathan increases, sending roiling undulations racing along its bulk, the sickly, necrotic-sounding squelches grow louder in a fleshy flapping of dead matter. A melon-sized bubble surfaces, inflates like a bladder and pops in a frothy geyser, spraying gouts of thick goo. The opened crater dangles with flaps of frayed slime, and resembles a mouth or a sphincter. Either one could suck me in.
A puff of noxious gas billows in my face and assails my nostrils as it scratches my skin with thousands of microscopic claws, aching to seep into my pores. Jolted by the stinging fumes, I suck deep into my lungs that thick darkness, a pungent effluvium, a dank and cloying fetor, acrid, fetid and caustic. It burns my throat like it had been scoured with sandpaper, and triggers an olfactory explosion of odious odors. As I stagger backwards and my arms tremble, lowering the revolver, my brain sticks labels to the elements of the chemical compound that has raided my lungs in an orgy of necrotic pollution: sour milk, moldy cheese, rancid lard, week-old fish, skunk spray, sweaty socks, car exhaust, burnt plastic, raw sewage, gangrenous rot. Still, it doesn’t reek nearly as putrid as my own gray matter, festering in the hollow of my skull as it breeds and spawns madness.
My eyes sting. My nose hurts from the assault on my olfactory nerves, and goes runny. Are my sinuses bleeding? When I breathe through my mouth, my tongue gets coated with the stench of the rotten sludge, and I gag as if a brine of fetal blood were flowing into my lungs. I cough out globules of phlegm while tears leap from my eyes. A gummy rope of mucus dribbles from my nasal passages and falls to the carpet like some slimy, greenish ectoplasm.
I picture the obscene and interdimensional blancmange, made of rotting flesh instead of cornmeal, collapsing upon itself and bursting forth a miasmic fog that would fill the office building and descend from this business park to the nearest block and thence to the streets. The fog would creep over the asphalt, roll over the tops of cars and buses, infiltrate homes through open windows and ventilation ducts. The poisonous vapors would reach the lungs of sleeping children, while their parents would stir from their slumber with a gaggle of hacking coughs, to find their hair and face covered with a layer of necrotic ooze, their noses clogged with black gunk.
I recall that one time in high school when some faceless goon passed me a bong and I inhaled its hash fumes. I was seized by an ecstatic epiphany: human beings are worms crawling on the ground of infinity, transient larvae with the lifespan of an afternoon, amnesic about our existences before birth, our only purpose to be fed with the detritus of dead matter by our parents until we reach adulthood and we can contribute in fertilizing some eggs. The universe is a necropolis where the corpses of stars lie heaped in untold billions.
My mind had been subjected to quantum decoherence, and its entanglement with the environment had broken down. My body glowed with phosphorescent sparks like a firefly. I received visions of flying hippies with long flowing hair, acid-soaked clothes, and golden wings. I watched as a city-sized asteroid plowed into the moon, rupturing it like a balloon filled with lead-colored paint. I observed as a swarm of mutant butterflies burst from my anus. I heard the screams of people being sucked through a whirlpool in space-time, like flies being drawn into a vacuum cleaner. A phallus-shaped monolith thrusted upward until its tapered tip got crushed against a ceiling, a mile above. I found myself as the only survivor of the wreckage of a nuclear submarine after a battle with a leviathan in an underwater trench; I swam upwards through radioactive water, and when I emerged from the ocean, I was pelted with decaying matter: a blistering rain of fat, guts, eyeballs, lungs and testicles was falling from the heavens in an apocalyptic deluge. A voice called out to me: “You are the one chosen to rise up from the grave and mend the cosmos.” The voice belonged to my mother, who was floating towards me in a wooden coffin. Hours later I woke up in a hospital room, stripped naked, shackled to a gurney, hooked up to drips and catheters, surrounded by nurses wearing surgical masks and scrubs. That night, as I lay in my bed at my parents’ apartment, a parade of spectral beings with pale gray skin and empty eye sockets filed out of a mirror, surrounded the bed, and began to sing a hymn. “Let’s all rejoice in the presence of the dead,” intoned the entities. As they swayed in the air, they shook with sobs and sniffles. They also sneezed, coughed, belched, gagged, farted, and cried out for a toilet. The phantasmal chorale was as grotesque as it was beautiful.
This time, as I stand on wobbly legs in the office, I resent such mind-bending, consciousness-altering effects. How does one treat a case of acute olfactory psychosis? I could try smelling a rose, an apple pie, a whiff of sea air, or the heady perfume of Jacqueline’s cleavage when she’s wearing a silky camisole. That makes my mouth water and my loins tingle with lust. I want to give myself over to mommy’s loving embrace and let her fondle my ass until I can function again.
The gooey sludge is gurgling, rippling and sloshing as if some half-digested prey were struggling to escape its clutches. Bladderlike bubbles come to the fore and burgeon, bulging out of that hideous growth as they bloom like blood clots, then pop with moist plops, spewing glistening gobs of slime, fringing the surface of the goop with tufts of cottony threads, and unleashing puffs of reeking air that spread countless germs throughout the office, viruses and bacteria that have fermented in that putrescent hulk.
My head is spinning with vertigo. Oversized tadpole heads are wriggling beneath the ooze, skirting its surface as if to reveal themselves before shimmying their way back into the tenebrous, seething mass. Their convulsive jitters churn the slime into miniature whirlpools. The frothy, bloated abomination, studded with plump, gas-filled sacks, jiggles with a slap of thunder.
That bloody blob is giving birth. Some infernal anathema is pushing out through the tarry pus like a kraken from its egg sac.
From the gelatinous mass protrudes a melon-sized spheroidal structure, crowning into the world. The film of black life-fluid that covers it slides off and reveals gleaming, pearl-white fibrous tissue. The spheroid wobbles about, then it spins until I discover, as the slime that constitutes the mother runs down the spheroid’s surface like breast milk out of a nipple, that on the side facing me now, behind a transparent layer, sewage-colored matter swirls in a ring-shaped membrane that encircles a pupil as wide as a golf ball, as black as a bottomless pit. An evil force dwells behind that opaque peephole.
A fucking eyeball. Two eyeballs. Three.
Half a dozen eyeballs roll in my direction and lock onto me. Their pupils constrict to project a chthonic glare like the focused beam of a searchlight.
Author’s note: today’s song is “Climbing up the Walls” by Radiohead.
I keep a playlist with all the songs I’ve mentioned so far throughout this novel. Ninety-two already. Check them out.
Some genius neural network rendered images inspired by the loathsome descriptions in this chapter. Link here.