I imagined a labyrinth of labyrinths, a maze of mazes, a twisting, turning, ever-widening labyrinth that contained both past and future and somehow implied the stars.
-Jorge Luis Borges
No one knows when they built the Labyrinth of Night. Some say it has always been here, but that no one knew of its existence because the time was not right; people were not ready to receive its mysteries, its secrets. Others say that the labyrinth is always and everywhere and only for the few – a small elite, those tormented souls who seek eternal solace in the dark and lonely nights of oblivion; that seek the secretive ways of the abyss that are neither a part of time nor a part of space, but rather of that unique and specific territory of powers of an integral obscurity and rotten sentience. These wanderers of a forlorn thought, miscreants of perversity, would rather follow the patterns of this dark desire than meet the physical needs of its tenants; knowers of the labyrinth, caterers of those delicate strains of the hidden art of pain: tempters, alluring a design, a mystery out of the insane mysteries: a lost art of despair, debauches of cruelty and insanity; transgressors, excessive militants and renegades of the abyss: all, each and every one, – locked away, solitary, in some far creation bounded only by an infinite void, the void; a last and merciless confrontation, an agon with the blacknesses, willing accomplices to the unraveling of all things: the unweaving of stars and worlds and darkness itself; creatures of absolute nihil unbound. I do not know the truth of it, all I know is that I’ve been here for a very long time.
I used to think it was the music, the terrible music. I’d follow the sounds into the maze, this way and that, never thinking about where it would take me, where I’d end up. I’d run into others who seemed perplexed, who seemed lost and fearful, their minds unraveling in their frantic search for the illusive center or circumference: the passages into darkness hollowing out their minds, one and all. I no longer believe in the center or circumference, there was no path in or out, no escape or exit; there was only the path before one’s interminable mazing: that is all and ever will be. The labyrinth is an endless and mutant thing, always changing and never staying the same, a revolving, winding, seeping comedy of emotion, grabbing at you, clinging to you, cringing with old and timeless fears and hates, loves and wants; and endless maze of regrets and disappointments; a theatre of cruelties and despair. Some say it is shaped by our desires, by our dreams and nightmares that have seeped in from the Outside; of thousands of worlds before our own, worlds fallen into the blacknesses beyond all thought of labyrinths or mysteries, each dying and giving birth to this insidious and infernal paradise of infinite powers and dispositions: this energetic realm of volcanic corruption.
Mystery after all is the key to the labyrinth. That, and eternal darkness, the eternal night of unending blacknesses: a realm of emptiness and ruin and waste, where one can wander for years and years, millennia upon millennia and never touch a wall or another soul, never see the gentle face of one’s lover, find the caress of a living thing. There have been times when I shared my walks with a friend. We’d spend days talking, discussing, arguing over the nuances and subtle dispositions of the labyrinth. How it would suddenly change its form, open a vine wall into other realms – release you into infernal or paradisial worlds, deserts or gardens, unearthly delights full of supernal mysteries or cavernous hells with furnaces full of lava and the smell of rotten things. I lost her, my friend, my lover – my victim, in this world of darkness and filth; this labyrinth of timeless corruption.
I’ve met monstrous things in this doom-ridden realm, but non so monstrous as the artists of the labyrinth. These Qlippothic denizens that creep about the nightlands, intent on their nefarious and miscreantic devilry. Each a member of that secret cult that culls the minds of travelers for their deadliest desires, and from those flagitous and septic distilleries of mindlessness they shape the abominations of their sculptured grotesqueries; animating them from the annihilating light of the venal black sun; and, setting them loose into the labyrinth where they scurry hither and thither, their vampiric mite mouths chittering and chattering in the darkness, devouring now this and now that poor traveler among the forlorn stones and gardens of this hellish paradise. Even now I see the red diamond light, the refracted nihl of its deleterious glow, scraping the darkness ahead of me, the rattish mazeguard mites scampering, tumbling, bolting, jabbering, eating their way into utter oblivion…
Even today when I hear a voice, a stranger’s voice somewhere on the other side of a wall; a wall inaccessible to me, I think of her – my dead lover: a woman’s voice, soft and delicate, so full laughter and mirth, wisdom and pain and betrayal. I knew I would find her, hoped it, looked for her, knowing that somewhere in the darkness, somewhere I’d discover a path to her; roam the labyrinth till I could clasp her to me, put my hands in her hands, slowly and methodically kiss her fragile neck, and feel the breath of her breath, the tongue of her tongue, the softness of her skin, know the curvature of her delicate faces and breasts, and then kill her for her infidelity, her sheer animus and deliberate and sardonic wit and reprobate thoughts. And, yet, I lost her – the one I loved, her mind drifting even now among the tombs, the gray stones of some far flung blackness, some black hole of loneliness and solitude where she can sit out eternity laying plans of revenge in heartless obscurity; her voice silent in time, lost time. I’ve never been this way before; alone, silent, threatened. It’s maddening. And, I’m lost for the first time in this darkness. Alone, without her. And, I hear it, the beast… the rumbling hooves, the snorts, the laughter in the hollows of the forgotten dream, the death cries of rage at its terrible existence. It has no name, it is nameless. It has always been here. Some say it is the creator of this vast nightland of murder and death, this endless corruption of corridors and mazes, that this fragile god built this place to escape its own life, to hide itself and the woman it loved from a horror greater than itself.
The hoof beats are closer now. The rumbling in the dark is getting louder and louder. Even as I stumble the guttural booby-traps jiggle with slimy gobbets of fetid slops, the floor is slippery and I keep falling into the thick-steeped pools – the putrid, syphilitic, cadaverous, and sinister smells filled with fleshy protuberances rose up everywhere. A huge sempiternal old crone with no teeth in her gullet rises out of one of the pits, she tries to grab me, but I slipped into the liquid steam, my head sopped in the vile stew she must have been brewing. I see her lift a club or spoon. I jump forward and fall… All of a sudden a troop of soldiers passed by dressed in red and yellow pantaloons and high-helms, some were burnishing breastplates, cleaning corselets and polishing the metal bands and head-armour of their horses, and their own plated jackets, light armour, helmets, of beavers, iron skull-caps, gisarmes, headpieces, morions, coats of mail, jaze-rants, wrist-guards, tasses, gussets, limb-armour, breast-plates, joint-armour, hauberks, body-shields, bucklers, foot-armour, leg-plates, ankle-plates and spurs. Others were readying their bows, slings, crossbows, lead-shot, catapults, fire-arrows, fire-grenades, fire-pots, fire-wheels and fire-darts, ballistas, stone-hurling scorpions and other weapons for repelling and destroying siege-towers and old giantesses. I fell asleep or feinted amid the insanity as they carried me deeper and deeper into the darkness than I’d ever been before.
When I awakened I was on a strange world, one I’d never seen or heard of before. Never seen mapped in the Hall of Fatal Maps & Strategies. Here the mind was loosened of its grip, the feeling of self lingering in the objects rather than the subject; things seemed to go about their business oblivious of their surroundings: withdrawn, alone, impervious to the stimulants of taste or appetite that seemed the bread and butter of the labyrinth. Instead there was this density of objects, a world oppressed by its own lack of awareness. Caged into the blankness, things seemed to waver in and out of existence. It appeared to be twilight and the twin moons of this forgotten paradise were rising. I was at the edge of an ocean, the stars of an unknown sky above. I was again, alone. The place where I was standing seemed to be hovering in the shadow of an ancient dolmen, a great stone megalith that reached high into the night sea of stars. I touched it and felt a vibration as if the stone was singing in a language I could not decipher. Yet, there was a distinct pattern, a rhythmic pulsation to the hum, an inner beat within the stone cascading outward into the dense oppression. There was a sense of the slaughterhouse about the place. I felt as if I were living in some austere festival grounds, a place of ancient and abominable lunar rites. The humming was coming from all the stones, now: it seemed that with every breath I took the stones entrained to my heart beat, swaying to the pulse of my mind; evoking vague and audible images, vibrant tonal effects above the ring of this barren site; ghostly figures emerged as if from some primordial world of death, their visages displaying unexpected charm and surprise as they found themselves gathered about the stone circle. The music seemed fragile, abstract; and, a sterile harmony flowed from it that reminded me of sleek Cimmerian women, with elegant necks and glamorous manes of flowing hair, until the very ground I was standing on began thumping and stampeding as if a hundred horses were thundering through this very dead place in the eternal night of bones. It was at that very moment that I saw it, the Zroic’a: – the sign of eternal night, the blessed insignia of the adepts, the Strangers. It hovered above the maddening music and spectral habitués of the stones. It had an unreal aspect and fascination about it, the delicate waves and pulsating jets of black light rising into the night sky from its dark and mystical transport; crawling into the blackness, changing, mutant, fugitive; so that even as I began dancing and swaying with the metamorphic ensemble of ghostly guests, it changed and I with it. We were being drawn into its darkening music, into the chasm where the glow of an ancient and terrible grotesquerie of vital insanity shined, absorbed into its deathly light…
As I floated toward the heavens, toward the encompassing blackness – ascensions of darkness, descending blacknesses, and the humming stones below – moving like ancient derelict giants, dancing to some primordial ritual attunement of beginnings and neverending nights – I felt the glow of the magenta moons, their lustrous shadows rubbing against the infinite mirror of the night of my mind. Everything around me filled with the darkening decay of years, fragments of dying stars – the eclipse of all things great and small entering my porous body; and even the distorted mirror began to crack and buckle and break; and I consumed the fires of the glowing stars and the shattered images of the world; and the black lights of a million galaxies fell away, where for the first and last time I felt the courage of that black unity, the dark laughter of the eternal festival of massacres, the carnival of galactic fires, rising within me, snorting and rumbling, enraged and desperate, despairing as I sped along the cold and darkening corridors, seeking here and there my lost love among the ruins of millions of years: autumns of golden leaves, springs of evergreen plenitude, summers of rich brocades of vines, winters of ice and storm, roaming the vastnesses of this indifferent clime, mazing in and out of these circuitous and ancient mutating halls, the metamorphic hum of stone and time and laughter on my tongue, my nostrils flaring, throat bellowing, as my hoof beats stampeded onward and forward and outward along the crackling, slithering, sorbing, mossy black stones, digging into the coral and obsidian flaying and cutting my flesh in rapture and ecstasy, torment and delight, as I wander the eternal Labyrinth of Night.
©2016 S.C. Hickman Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.
I’ll be taking this one down for publication after tonight.