A Place Where The Sun Is Silent: Act Two: The Immortal Sill

Act Two: The Immortal Sill

The souls of the carnal,
those who betrayed reason to their appetites,
their sin was to abandon themselves to the tempest of their passions.
“How does this insolence still live in you?”
he cried upon that terrible sill of Hell.
- Dante Alighieri

Chapter X:
They’ll Never Be Able To See That They Crave This Captivity

I opened my eyes but I could not see. I was blindfolded. I tried to lift my arms to remove the blindfold, but my arms were tied down. I was laying down and the surface was smooth and hot, probably some sort of steel. The cries and screams in the room were deafening. So much pain, so much agony. I could hear bones cracking and bodies falling. I could smell flesh burning, emptied bowels, and fear. Whatever was happening in this room was an utter massacre.

I was able to lift the edge of my shoulder to the side of my face and rub just hard enough to loosen the grip of the blindfold. My eyes were finally free to digest the horror surrounding me. Machines lined the walls of an industrial warehouse that looked like a makeshift hospital. There was surgical equipment everywhere, scalpels, clamps, scissors. There were doctors, or at least what appeared to be doctors, all throughout the room, their faces disguised by surgical masks. They were escorting seas of children, bound and gagged, into a giant apparatus that resembled an incinerator. Something was not quite right about this machine. The usual cogs, nuts, bolts, and beams were instead replaced by bone, skull, muscle, and skin. The engines were literally running on the blood of the forgotten, the souls of the damned. One by one the hopeless were led into a furnace built by the spilled blood of those before them.

Is it so? This can’t be happening. Why can’t they see? The blind are leading the blind into a disaster and I’m the only one who seems to care!

In the cracks exposed between the hundreds of bodies scattered around the warehouse, I spotted her. The Temptress was tied down to a surgical table, wearing nothing but a corset and a pair of torn underwear. Her shoes were missing, as was the veil, but now her long, dark hair covered her face. She angled her head towards me and, although I could not see her face, I sensed that she was begging for help. For the first time since entering this dreaded house it seemed I had the upper hand to the Temptress. Her fear was tangible. Perhaps it was intentional, just another piece of this sick, twisted puzzle.

I concentrated as hard as I could and begged for something to allow me to break free of these chains. As quickly as the thought had come, I was standing on my feet next to the table where the Temptress lay, free of my shackles. I took two steps towards the door on the far wall, completely ready and willing to leave her behind to rot. Unexpectedly and seemingly out of nowhere, one of the doctors tore the mask from his face revealing a grotesque face covered in third degree burns. Underneath the burns were two such distinct features that would haunt my dreams forever; the gaping mouth of sewage and the eyes that could destroy the earth. The Fiend took one giant step towards me and exclaimed, “All must kneel before the altar! The veiled will be exalted!
We are the flock!
In the God’s harbor all shall rest and become part of the master!”

Without even thinking I reached down and untied the clamps tying the Temptress to her fate, lifted up her body, and scrambled towards the door. Flinging it open, I turned to find the Fiend running straight towards me shouting, “Blessed smoke bellows from the beast! Bow to the gears and worship the machine!”

I slammed the door shut, the Temptress in my arms, and ran straight ahead into the blackness that awaited.

They do not hear a word I say. I can not save them all. I need you to trust me now, sweet Temptress. Don’t move, I’ll figure this out. Forget what anyone said, just take my hand, or we’ll both be dead.

Chapter XI:
One By One Reflections Fall

Panting, I paused to catch my breath, muttering comforts to the woman I had finally caught. Her hand held in mine, this whole sorted mess started to make sense. Or at least, if still confusing, it began to feel worth the struggle. The Temptress had the softest skin I had ever touched. Her fingers danced with mine as we pressed forward, no real destination in mind other than to get the hell out of this place. Maybe we could break out of here, find a peaceful field of grass, lay there together arm in arm, staring at the sky, dreaming our dreams together, never remembering this repulsive inferno.

I turned to check on the Temptress and she was gone, her hand no longer in mine, instead replaced by a rotting piece of flesh; an arm severed from the elbow down. I casted the maggot covered bone and muscle to the ground and immediately began vomiting.

Damn it! Not again! Why do you torture me so, cruel Temptress? I have saved your life and this is how your repay me!? Insanity is whispering to me. Your vanity so patiently will steal your soul. The eye of the beholder knows the truth.

Spitting the last of the bile to the ground, I muttered a curse under my breath in frustration. What was happening, where was I now? It took me a moment to put it together but when I did, I swear she had to know because she emitted a shrill giggle to punctuate my vexing situation. A house of mirrors, an endless maze of reflections of the one I pursued. Climbing to my feet I could see her everywhere now. Everywhere I turned, there she was trotting along, laughing at me, teasing me, mocking me. I saw her again, and again, all at once. Her laughter was piercing. She was having fun at my expense and she was loving every second of it. I continued to reach out to her but found only glass on every occasion. Not only was her image displayed a thousand times over, but so was her cackle. With each vision of her that appeared the taunting guffaw exploded louder and louder. I fell to my knees and squeezed my hands over my ears. The pressure was unbearable, I felt as though my head was going to rupture. I could not take it any longer and I begged, “Please, please vile Temptress, cease your cries! End your laughter, I beg you!”

With that, she let out a laugh that forced me fully to the ground, my face pressed against the cold concrete, my knees curled into my chest. I did not realize it at first but I was screaming, the flesh inside my throat tearing, the veins of my temples inflating, my knuckles turning white from the pressure. Just when I was about to lose all sanity, the room went completely silent. Breathing heavily, I peaked my eyes open and caught a glimpse of her perfect figure standing not even two feet from my face. She knelt down, gently pressed her hand to the back of my head, and whispered, “Oh weary Wanderer, let go of your fears, calm your pulse, enjoy the ride; lose yourself in the vanity faire.”

She stood up, spun around, and again was gone in a flash. Something inside of me snapped. I had chased her through a room of shit, fighting passed a creature of unspeakable foulness, ventured across a mountaintop thousands of feet above the earth, swam through a river of boiling blood surrounded by the tortured souls of the damned, explored the darkness of a cave designed to drive a man insane, and rescued her from the claws of a madman directing the masses into a furnace of infinite pain and sorrow; and still she has the nerve to mock me. Finally I could take no more, my rage boiled over, and I lashed out at her ridiculing beauty. With the smile of a man gone deranged, I bellowed out a laugh as I threw myself into the flawless mirror. It almost seemed like time had slowed to a crawl as I saw countless tiny prisms of glass explode into the nothingness. I was a prisoner breaking free.

I will find every single image of you in this Goddamn fun house and I will destroy every last piece of you! Attack the mirrors! Shatter the prism! One by one reflections fall until I destroy them all!

More clouds of sparkling dust blossomed into the air and I lost myself in the moment, salivating at the thought of her having no where else to hide. It seemed I had only started when the task was done and I held the last piece of shattered glass in my hand. I honestly expected her to still be standing there, but she was not. Stunned, I looked out upon a hopeless void, an inky blackness that stretched out to the ends of the earth. A single speck of light pierced the abyss and shone down upon me. I felt truly alone for the first time since crossing through the gate. I had lost it all, all of it, everything I had to guide me or even trick me into thinking I had a plan. With that epiphany, the last shred of hope fled from me, the last ray of light fizzled out, and I was stranded, on my knees perched atop the immortal sill.

Chapter XII:
The Path Of A Tempting Lie

It is so dark in here. I can not even see my hand directly in front of my face; and it is quiet, so very quiet.

My mind uncontrollably returned to the path, to the golden city. I was so close to redemption, and then she appeared. My God, she is so beautiful. I would have given anything just to touch her, to kiss her, to hold her close to me. I guess, arguably, I had given everything. I gave my soul, my life, my quest for eternal rest to her the moment I followed her into this Hell. Do second chances exist? If I beg, if I pray, is there a chance that I could return to the path once more?

I am so confused. I am so tired. I am so sorry.

I attempted to crawl somewhere, anywhere. Broken glass was everywhere, evidence of a man gone mad. I had lost all self control and for what? For her? For that despicable Temptress? What a waste. I had thrown everything away for her and she had deserted me. What’s worse, is she seemed to enjoy it. I had lied to myself and for that I have been punished. I may sit here forever, trapped in a blackness so evil that man cannot even begin to understand its power. Every move I have made was wrong. The Fiend, the Temptress, the darkness has remained one step ahead of me the whole time.

A few prisms of glass offer little comfort in the blackness. The desolate emptiness is drinking every last drop of life that is left in me.

I gave up searching for a way out. This was the end. I was defeated. Everything I had suffered was for naught. I straightened my back, sat proud and stiff on my knees, folded my hands and brought them to my chest. It was my last resort. I was out of options.

Dear God, I am but a weary Wanderer. It’s funny how we believe the things we tell ourselves to, and our hearts simply follow. I pray for absolution. Let me return to the path of a tempting lie. Lead me towards the light.

To the golden city, I was delivered.

Chapter XIII:
Your Body Is An Illness

I was scared to open my eyes until I felt a cool breeze across my skin. I moved my hands from face as I rose to my feet. In front of me was a massive, angelic fountain. It was divine. The water leapt towards the sky and returned the ground with a melodic splash. Birds circled above, singing a warm and inviting song to the rising sun. I leaned forward and let the water douse its refreshing elixir all over my body. I dove head-first into the brilliant, blue water and swam through the ripples, laughing and crying all at once as my mind realized where I was; I, the Wanderer, had survived the most hellish travels and was now directly in the center of the golden city. It was more magnificent than my wildest dreams had ever imagined. Above me I stared towards the whitest clouds and the bluest sky I’d ever observed. The buildings were majestic and regal, the grounds manicured and ambrosial. The air was light, the trees green, and the atmosphere wondrous.

Right before my eyes, a tragic surprise; the water stops.

I’m sure it took several minutes to happen, but it felt instant. The clouds turned grey, the sky turned purple. The trees were bare, the leaves dead on the ground. The buildings had begun to crumble to the ground, the birds were gone. In spite of all of this, the most terrifying thing still stood beyond the fountain. As the last drip fell from the sky, the once stunning fountain revealed a nightmare that would shake the soul of the most noble man. There she stood; the Temptress. Only now, she was draped in black, her skin cracked and bleeding, her eyes projecting an unspeakable horror. The veil still covered much of her face, but I could feel the spiteful, malevolent smile that dwelled underneath. Without a single thought, I scrambled from the water and took off running.

The chase was on. The Temptress was on my heels in an instant. Dear God, she was fast. I craned my neck and saw that her feet were barely even touching the ground, she was almost floating. There is no way I will be able to outrun this kind of speed, survive this aggressive attack. She was laughing, but it was not the laughter of a delicate woman, nor did it match the timbre of her shrieks in the mirror maze. This was guttural, this was angry, and this was hungry. I’ve heard this laughter before, not very long ago it would seem.

It feels like I’ve been running for days. Wickedness will rain down and drown us in her sorrow, and her thirst. If I hope to survive, I must think faster, I’m losing ground. These footsteps feel familiar. Should I stop and face her? Should I pull back the veil?

All around me the city erupted into a riot. Temples crashing down; all around me, panic. Buildings were bursting into flames, collapsing to the ground. The citizens of the golden city were running towards me, towards each other. It was chaos. Blood was being spilled in all directions, the bodies of the innocent being mauled, the thirst of the damned poisoning this utopia. I could not escape the notion that all of these people seemed identical, hoods over their heads, disguising their identity. If only I could see their faces. I was running out of time, the gate was just ahead.
The footsteps were gaining on me, closing in on me.

You had me convinced that together we could fly until I started scratching at the surface and I saw beyond your masquerade. Your body is an illness.
Curiosity rained down on me with an unspeakable fury. I had to know. I had to know who was causing this mayhem, destroying the golden city inch by precious inch. I ran straight towards one of the rioters, came to an immediate stop, and fell to the ground. The Temptress, only a few steps behind, fell over me, crashing directly into the unsuspecting masked man. I climbed on top of him, no longer caring about the Temptress who lay eerily still off in the distance. I slammed his arms into the ground as he struggled to get to his feet. I pressed my forehead to his and screamed, “Stay still, you filthy bastard! You are destroying it! Why?! Answer me, you maggot! Why would you ruin something so beautiful?! I’ve come all this way and it is because of you that I will not find salvation! Tell me why! Why would you do this me?!
How could you do this to me?!”

I tore off the hood and found my answer. I stared for what felt like hours. I tried blinking, I tried shaking my head. The earth fell still.

It can’t be. This is not possible. My blood runs cold, I fear I now know the truth. I tear back the cowl and stare into my own eyes.
The poor, tortured soul beneath the hood is me.

The Temptress was on me before I could even react, a blow to the head. I drifted off into the blackness, unconscious.

All shall be made clear.

Chapter XIV:
There’s No Escape From This Awful Place

When I came to, I was running. How the hell was I running? My head was killing me, blood spilling down onto my cheeks. Footsteps behind me. This felt all too familiar. The trees, the heavy breathing, the sweat.

There’s no escape from this awful place.

The twigs, the stones, the setting sun. I had been here before. I realized that I was staring straight at the ground and finally decided to peer forward.
The golden city. It can’t be. I just escaped your clutch. You are behind me.

Terrified, I mustered the courage to glance to my right, begging for her not to be there, for that house not to be there. But there she stood, the white gown torn at the sides, the magnificent shoes worn down to moccasins, the cursed veil, the long and slender finger urging me towards her.

The truth has finally shown it’s face. How long have I been in this place? Do I even dare to question fate’s design or submit to such a bleak destiny? No more running, no more of this shit! I am done. Show your face to me you heinous monster!

I stopped running and turned around, horrified to find the Temptress standing there. I had been running from the very thing I was chasing all along. I chased and I escaped, deeper and deeper into the circles of Hell. That wicked and most evil house had, in fact, been my own purgatory. I was being destroyed, punished for my sins, for the things I had done in life. God only knows how long I have been running in this same vicious circle. Chased by the Temptress, chasing the Temptress, avoiding the Fiend. Where did she begin and where did I end? When had I become the Fiend? Was I warning myself the whole time? I was trapped in a nightmare of my own insanity, led further and further below the earth into the depths of such despicable torture. My thoughts were interrupted by the screams of the Temptress: “We are the crucified, we are the virtuous, we are the damned! Let’s pray we never fall asleep!”

No more. Stand here and fight. Break the cycle, end the Temptress once and for all. She will mock me no longer!

I stared directly into her eyes and proclaimed, “Hey, stranger what’s your name? Have we met before? Take a look around, the scenes are all the same. I can see the veil is right behind me and yet here you stand. Have I ever said this before, or is this the first time I’ve caught on to your little game? If I just keep moving will I be okay, or once again panic in the mayhem? I will no longer take flight from you!”

I ran straight at her, tackling her to the ground. With a violence and rage that I never knew existed within me, I mangled her body. I gouged out her eyes, tore off her fingers, severed her nerves, shredded her sinews. She screamed and begged, but I ignored every plea. I would fall for her lies no more. I did not want to maim her, I did not want to kill her, I wanted to end her. I wanted make her disappear from existence. I was enraged. I had lost my mind. Her heart had stopped beating long ago and yet still I screamed, “Now that you’ve got me, what’s next?! I will destroy you, demon! Stripped from your body, crimson! A fury of righteousness will now consume you in death!”

I felt a tapping on my shoulder, glanced back and spied a beautiful and delicate hand. I leaned back and saw her. She stood above me, as beautiful as I had ever seen her. She leaned in and pressed her lips to mine. She ran her fingers through my hair and smiled that precious smile that always made my heart melt. I could taste her breath and it drove me wild. She dropped to her knees, pulled me close, and whispered into my ear, “Wake up, sweetheart. Wake up. Come back to me. Wake up.”

Of course, I obeyed. I always did what she asked of me. Never would I ignore the sweet words of my Annabel.

Chapter XV:
And Now For The Final Illusion

My eyes open wide as I wake, panting. Some say that dreams have deeper meaning, that they are cries from our subconscious. I never put much stock in such ideas. But I feel strangely compelled to recount this one to my love, my Annabel. Shaking her gently, I wonder why her flesh has the chill of virgin snow. My thoughts are disrupted as reality hits me like a bolt of lightning and I scream.

She had rescued me from my nightmare, but she was too late. Blood was everywhere, the screams of pain still echoing in the room, our room. I began sobbing uncontrollably. What had I done? My one and only love, my Annabel, had been slain by my hand.

This has to be a dream. A nightmare within a nightmare. I’m going to wake up and she is going to be okay. I am going to tell her all about my journey through Hell, my victory over the Temptress, the Fiend. We are going to laugh together about how real dreams can feel, about how they can torment our minds so lucidly that we begin to think we are actually acting them out,
performing them in a theatre of our biggest fears.

The nightmare had won. Had the Temptress known all along what I was going to do? Is that why she teased me so? Is that why no matter what mistakes I had made along the way in that God forsaken house I was always given another opportunity? I was never in control. It was all a lie. The punishment for my sins was never to be for me to spend an eternity in Hell. It was to live without love in my life here on earth. The only thing I had ever truly loved was gone. My Annabel was gone. I could almost hear the Temptress, the Fiend, laughing. I never stood a chance.

I climbed to my feet, walked to the mirror, stared at my blood soaked clothes, my blood stained hands. I cried, I begged, I pleaded. But she wasn’t coming back. I had failed.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath. I never saw the blade coming. I’m not so sure I even felt it enter my side. I would have opened my eyes to spy who had done this to me, but really what’s the point. It’s not like I didn’t already know. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to watch myself die.

What is it that Annabel had said before she left that night? It’s round and round and round we go? I better start paying closer attention before someone gets hurt.

Imprisoned beneath the world where the soulless dwell lies a place that the damned call home. A place where the virtuous hide in fear, a place we see only in our nightmares.

A Place Where The Sun Is Silent.

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