Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cabin Fevre ~ 5. Dust

Harry Clarke

Like sap in the majestic beams that form the skeleton of Aurora’s hull, blood is a substance of little use to a dead man.
It ran black from the deep cuts at my wrists and neck and where it landed it brought forth the grain in deck planks that had waited there thirsty since their separation from the tree.
And yet I stood on that writhing and hungry deck, the knives cold and black-wet in my fists, un-weakened by the ebbing of my body’s precious fluid, a prisoner still, unable to leave by even the most final of all methods.
It appears that my damnation is as deep as it goes – I have no further to fall.
I had assumed, foolishly, that I was free to leave the confines of this wooden tomb and to seek my redemption at the other end of the chain. Foolishly I was returned in a manner that would wither the soul of any man in possession of such an artefact.
Immediately upon completing my last entry in this journal, I made haste to the chain where I began an awkward horizontal journey. At my belt I had secured the knives and in my voluminous pockets, the last remaining grisly morsels of guilty meat rationed in the hope of allaying the hunger for long enough to allow me to reach some destination.
The ink has run dry and I am forced now to use the permanently un-clotted blood that has collected in the knots of the Aurora’s deck; a cruel reminder of the ledger of humanity that totals my profit and loss in cold increments of hope.
It was hope that grew in my chest as I wrestled my way along the chain. It was hope that allowed me to continue despite having consumed the meat; despite being unable to measure the passing hours, days or weeks under the unchanging light.
At times I heard, or imagined I heard, voices in the distance; voices raised in song, sometimes deep, sometimes angelic. Hope would turn to expectation and I would be spurred with renewed vigour to scramble ever more careless toward the chain’s end.
Cursed chain, even now it taunts me with low creaking, as if whatever exists on the other end is exerting some force on its crusted black links.
The flap of skin that hung from my cheek, a nagging reminder of my last transgression, fell away some days ago to reveal, in my salty looking-glass, a lop-sided grin too horrible to relate to the face that I once held with pride to be that of William Fevre: pious man.
The ship's timbers sighed as I reached down with a tattered hand to retrieve this grotesque morsel, and I was perturbed to find it to be feather light and dry. That which was once tender and pliable flesh, engorged with precious blood, did now turn to dust between my fingers and disperse into the ether as if it had never been.
Dust is what I have become.
And so it was that I clutched the cold metal of the chain to my sobbing chest and there rose in me a despair that ran deeper than any cut, deeper than the marrow that dries in my bones; a despair that overshadowed all that had come before. My faltering soul had all but given up and my hands were ready to release their aching hold on the chain and leave my body to fall into the inscrutable sea, when the voices rose once more, accompanied on this instance by the sound of regimented industry. A regular pulsing like the drums of savagery, only louder than any human drum, accompanied by the wailing and screeching of creatures unknown to mankind. I found myself standing in a cavern writhing with bodies in various stages of undress, their torture lit by the flashing of arcane white fire, their eyes aglow with desires cold and reptilian and I feared I was now truly in the hell described by Dante, even as I hungered for the abundance of exposed flesh; hungered and desired. My depravity, it seems, knows no bounds.
And there stood before me a creature of great power, his face pale his hair aflame, and he did smile at me as if to indicate his knowledge of my transgressions; as if to include me in his realm.
“I am the god of war” said he and reached out to touch the shoulder of a woman who gyrated at his behest.
My fingers loosened their grip on the chain and I fell, for an infinite time into the arms of the waiting sea.


Jimmy Bastard said...

Powerful indeed, I had to read it twice to take it all in.

Your best yet.

Punch said...

Powerful is the only word that comes to mind.

jams o donnell said...

I can only add a third powerful!

Yodood said...

I must agree. Very powderful those dusty veins! The amber preservation of the bloody sap in boards of clap holds the wooden meat up for the next wave of desolation to slap the rictus from off such such rigor as remains.

Powderful indeed. ;0

James Higham said...

Shades of Mary Celeste.

the walking man said...

I am well pleased that Master William had moved. It may be that he about to find his place or that he is about to be dinner for a different demon of his nightmares but one way or t' other I am glad he moved.

Pisces Iscariot said...

Thank you all - from now on Mr Fevre's journey branches into new territory - Chapter 6 coming soon

human being said...

not just words but some etheric existence flowing between them haunt you in a way your mind finishes the last line faster than your eyes see the print:

into the arms of the...

waiting sea...

and you are shocked!
no other word can modify the sea here but "waiting"! as though you have seen and felt it waiting all through the passage...

there is some sacred magic here!

Pisces Iscariot said...

namaste to you too human being

Harlequin said...

a terrible wonderful read... such a call of dark longing;
you have done a lovely thing, here, with words and sounds, rhythm and pace. I am filled with the traces of the place.

JeffScape said...

I was gonna take a break after this one (I have a bit of a focus problem with white font on black background...), but, nope... gotta keep reading now!

Typo: "The ship's timbers sighed..." Or maybe not?