Jack Black - November 4 2022
How disruptive it is to ease your way into sleep, guided by the promise of a long-sought rest, only to be awakened by an explosion of clamor. The wails of the horrid Thing which lay in the Chamber, the incessant pounding of its fists on stone, the screech of the wretch, accompanied by an orchestra of thunder, curled my blood into an icy sludge.
Oh God, the screech! The hellspawn always had a wicked scream, tormenting me with sharp bursts of it. Ever since the Thing’s arrival, it would draw on for hours, and it wouldn’t stop until I placed my soft hand upon its grotesque form. An ugly, wet, contorted face would swell into a grin by the shivering embrace of my touch, its blubbers reduced to rasps of pleasure. A disgusting, selfish creature, it forced me to nourish and console it, its hands latched onto my skin like a rusted anchor to the shore. The threat of its piercing shrieks loomed by my ears if I did not nurse itI had never believed the terrors of Hell could manifest so clearly in the earthly plane.
How the ugly Thing had appeared was not at first visible to the eye, for its existence began within me, like a possessing spirit. I had lived with my love for many tranquil years in our cottage, free of dread, as the mellow chirping and whooshing of the dense wilderness was the only aural accompaniment. We lived an isolated life; untouched, perfect solitude. Though my fondness for solitude trumped the devotion to my love, in some respects, I valued seclusion with a— I must admit—violent potency. Nonetheless, he regarded our life as quite lonely and in need of something more.
Countless nights, he told me of the innocent beauty that we would soon see when he gave me that curse. The offspring that he longed for, which he grew exuberant at the thought of, was truly a demon.
The utter madness I felt when it possessed me was blinding. Every stomp, stir, and pang that it tortured me with while it swam aimlessly through me persisted for countless months. The aches and strains of its growing evil burdened me. The first instant I heard its haunting shriek was when it departed itself from me.
I could not bear seeing the plump mound of flesh the demon had morphed into. And so, I decided that it must go below the dwelling of my house, so that its grisly functions would go unseen, so that its screeches would be muffled.
He, whom I loved and him me, who passed this terrible curse unto me, grimaced when I told him of the Chamber. He despised my efforts to entrap the Thing that plagued our lives, and it was then I surely knew that he must be an agent of Hell, too. I did not let his protests dissuade me from protecting my sanity. On a wild, thunderous night, I ousted the man from my house. With every opening in the house closed, he vanished into the woods in the midst of the storm. I never saw him again. I find it most likely that he died. He knew of my virtues of peace. Surely, it must be his fault for staying.
The cottage in which I lived with the Thing was humble and small, which made distancing myself from It a challenge. However, in the corner of the floorboards was a trap door, leading through a ladder to a small cellar which housed casks of grain and beans. It was not exactly spacious, but its walls were built of stone and mortar, guaranteeing no possibility for escape of the Thing, or its sounds, if I just reinforced that sultry door. I layered the little hatch with locks and bricks; and with an auger, I drilled into the wooden barrels below so that the Thing could have dug from it what sustenance it needed without my assistance.
The first weeks that the Thing spent in the Chamber were turbulent. Audible anger and confusion. Adjustment to its new environment did not come easy. With its growing strength, the casks became the target of its frustrations, and I had to spend many a night scraping piles of grain and mounds of battered wood from the Chamber floor while it slept. However, its hysteria quelled in the coming months, and my duties were reduced to cleaning its dirty excretions and refilling the barrels that were spared from its anger.
It was on one eventful night of refilling the casks that I failed to be noiseless, and I woke the Thing from its slumber with the loud clunk of the grain bin upon the empty barrel. Not having seen me in several weeks at that point, it ferociously pounced at me, gripping me with its talons and letting loose its familiar wails. I broke free of its grasp and scorned it, motivating me to never again behold the Thing. I threw what sustenance I had left in store for it into the Chamber from above, sending pieces of foodstuffs flying in every direction while the monster confusedly shriveled in the corner. I did not know how long it could survive in the Chamber. I did not care. I did not want to see that demon anymore.
Every attempt to finally release my ears from the hefty weight of its screams was met with a sudden pang of remorse, like an arrow tipped with fire. A sensation of sorrow stabbed through me when my hands gripped the kitchen knife, unbearable to the point where I could not do it. This… instinct… disarmed me with every trial, and so I could not bring myself to kill it. Though I, too, knew that I could not free it, for such a being, in my eyes, had no place in the world of man.
And so it lived there, in the Chamber, for years that I could not count. Its memory eluded me, sometimes reignited by small shifts of the trap door in troublesome weather, or a creak of the front door which rang at the same pitch as its young cries. Small flickers of hazy remembrance, vanishing quickly. For those years, I knew peace.
Ascension and revenge—the two words are kin to me. It is part of what I believe. And what I believe is that when I threw the man who cursed me onto the vulnerable ground below an angry sky, the forces of nature took him with them. There is no other explanation for why the next storm began. The glistening arrows stabbing the ground were the fingers of none other than my former lover, scraping at my home to release the cursed Thing. I refused to believe it a mere coincidence.
The clamor drew me from my bed. Quick flashes of blue light followed by the thrashing of thunder, the night was made all the more frightening by the quaking of my home. I stumbled around, grabbing onto what I could to steady my balance in the midst of the violence. Slowly, I lowered myself under the dining table which stood bolted to the floorboards, directly next to the trap door. I shrank into a crouch and covered my head, shutting my eyes in hopes that this truly was just a dream.
A world illuminated—and then the crack of a bolt.
With one violent tremor, the house creaked in pain, and I heard the Chamber below rustle quickly. The contortions of the foundation broke the seal of the trap door in tandem with the thunderbolt, and in that moment, I saw it.
Sullen globes of veins, each with an icy green dot. An omniscient blue flash, giving way for me to see them—the eyes of the Thing.
Death sneered, jumping through each thunderbolt, teasing me with its inevitability. But I would not live my last moments in this chaos alongside this creature.
I thrust open the trap door, grabbing a shard of glass from a window broken by the tremor. My crouch turned to a careful crawl, broken by a second tremor that loosened my grip on the ladder and plunged me into the cellar. I staggered up from my fall, the shard still tight in my other hand, and I turned my head from the ladder to what lay before me.
The storm raged on above us, and even with its spasms of sound, my eyes remained unflinched, widening at the sight of this divine horror.
The Thing had grown, and tremendously so.
Its sobs were deeper. The shrieks that I once knew were now deep groans, like that of a goat. Its hair was long and greasy, strands of oily black string.
Its nails, yellow and sharp, nervously picking at its whiskered face. Its height dwarfing me by nearly a head. Its terrified eyes, puncturing my soul.
I gripped the shard of glass and walked towards it. Its will to live, its stubborn nature much like my lover, boiled my blood into a fervent rage. My hand tightened around the fragment, and I held it in the sky preparing to emancipate myself of its existence.
But as I raised my delicate arm, it was unafraid. Kneeling before me, it gripped my calf with both of its hands. It pressed its face softly against my thigh, its jaded stare meeting my gaze.
From its voice I heard its first words, a feat I thought impossible. Its familiar groans were the closest I believed it was capable of communication. But yet, it beckoned to me with words of such infantile nature, of such primal desire.
Its grip on my leg tightened with a lust for comfort. Its mouth opened. Its eyes closed. Tears flowed from them in rusty drips.
“Mama… .Noises…. Loud….Please… just hold me.”
Every word broke through me like a flood. Am I mad? A chamber? How could I have been so deluded?
Flame-tipped arrows, flying into my chest.
“He is our child, Eliza. How could you suggest such a thing?”
The fire licking my throat, boiling my falling tears.
“A demon? You think that he’s a demon? When is the last time you saw your doctor, Eliza? You made this choice, not me. Please, don’t do this. Let me see him one more time. Henry! Henry! Run, Henry!”
My eyes, once tense with an irrational fury, stilled. With glazed clarity, they birthed hot, stinging tears falling onto the one I birthed so long ago.