Wednesday, May 27, 2015

{Author's note; I wrote this for some people I know. I believe in them, and though I’m not very good at saying it, this is one of my attempts to do so. I hope they know who they are, and that they are totally rad. WARNING - POSSIBLE SQUICKS OR TRIGGERS WITHIN: Death mention, dysphoria mention, blood, brutality, hate crimes, murder.}

Sepulchral Desire
By Meghan Conken

Mist swirled around in thick gatherings, rubbing elbows with the long dead and the recently so as it made its way around the graveyard, pulled by a gentle late spring breeze. Clouds backlit by the brilliance of the full moon coated the sky like a roiling blanket, unceasing. The air was sick with the approaching summer, humid and suffocating. It smelled of freshly overturned soil and heavy wetness with an undertone of rotting flesh. Nothing but the mist and the wind moved nor made a sound. Not even crickets dared. The heaviness in the air had more to do with death than was usual, even for a graveyard.
A break in the clouds brought a shining god’s finger of light down, illuminating the gaunt fa├žade of a crypt standing solitary on the highest point of a hill. It was long, tall and deeply empty, unused for decades, maybe centuries. The gravestones around it seemed far away. Or perhaps they had moved to accommodate the newcomer.
Standing at the top of the stairs leading into the crypt was a figure, thin and ragged and shrouded gently in a cloak like blackened moss; dark, but still with a touch of green barely visible in the moonlight. Their face was obscured; even the moonlight dared not enter there. They stood motionless, no breath or idle movement shifted their posture or form.
They waited.
Slowly, the mist began to coagulate, becoming less wind and water and more earth and fire and muscle and sinew. It spun and spun, quickening and tightening until it came to an abrupt and breathy halt. There, before the robed figure, stood a person soaked in rainwater, mud, and their own blood. They were slender and short, with softer features than they would have liked and a gently rounding bosom tied as flat as they could get it. Their skull was caved in on one side, as if by a club, that being the main source of the blood soaking their form. Torn garments sticky with blood revealed more of what had taken place, more of this sad creature’s plight.
The figure knew them for what they really were. They felt a slight twinge just behind their heart. Not of emotion or physical pain, but of empathy.
“Wha…. where am I?” Croaked the bloodied one, reaching up to feel at the moist hole that used to be their face with a hand that more resembled a beaten steak. “What…what happened?”
The figure remained motionless. The wind had stopped completely.
Another twinge, higher than before. In the throat.
“Wh-who are you?” Stammered the now-shaking human.
The cloaked one considered this. Who were they? Perhaps a feeling; a sensation at the top of the spine felt when alone in a dark place, missing a step going down the stairs, an ache in a chest that never ceases. Or a smell; wet leaves on the knife’s edge of fall and winter, antiseptic and salt tears, iron and warmth and mineral salts. All of these and something else entirely.
What do you want!?” The broken one had raised their voice.
The better of these questions is what you want.” Began the other, strange and ethereal, almost empyreal in their speech. “You were taken from your place in these worlds far earlier than I think you intended. Certainly earlier than I intended, but that is another matter entirely. They beat and broke you, took from you all that you had managed to cling to in your desperation for just one chance. They did not see you for what you are. They saw only your parts and the arbitrary titles they tacked on with them. They saw what they thought was right, and they saw you denying their supposed rightness. They told you how wrong you were, tried to force on you their ideals and wishes for you. Yet, dysphoric and pained as you were, you still defied them. You still stood up and said no. I admire you for that. Though my admiration could not have saved you from your sad fate, as here you are before me now. And unfortunately I cannot give you what you desire most, much as it pains me- who is without mortal coil or such deep agonies and loves as you. There is, however, one thing I can offer you.”
The bloodied man, enraptured by the stillness of the other one and their way of speech, blinked to relieve his reverie.
“What…What is it?” He asked, forcing himself to speak through the blood and the brain that had lost a considerable amount of its quiddity. “What is it you can offer me now, if I am in a state that I think I am?”
“The state which you are in, I am sad to say, is an unlife. A half life. Nearly dead, nearly living. A between state that should not last much longer, so your decision must be swift. Your choices are these; come with me, and learn what you can, and eventually return to the place you left some the wiser. Or reject this that I offer you and continue on, never again having to dwell upon the atrocities of that which you will leave behind forever.”
The man considered this. He had been forced to be what he was not in the old world, brought down constantly by the words of his family and those who did not understand and would not be on his side. Constantly beleaguered and beaten both with words and fists. And yet there had been hope, there had been those on his side. And deep in his heart he knew they would miss him for a long time should he stay.
“You fought for so long against forces both exterior and interior, mental and physical, to stay. Will you leave now, after all that?”
“Is it worth it?” The man asked finally, his voice cracking painfully and blood beginning to pour down his lips.
“You thought it was. Before they took it from you.” The preternatural said.
“They thought me a woman, refused to listen. They called me the wrong name and fought always to discredit my experiences and what I know to be true…” The man trailed off for a moment. “But…Some part of me always wonders if they were right… Surely! Surely you would know! Is it true? Am I wrong?”
“You are never wrong to be who you are,” The figure said, their voice taking on a breathier tone as they went on. Something about the darkness beneath the hood seemed bright with conviction. “There will always be those who will argue, gripe, moan and shout their anger. But do not let them get to you. Do not let them get anywhere near you. Let their shouting and griping and arguing and moaning be for naught. You are stronger than they are. You are stronger than you think you are. And those voices in your head telling you that they are right? Loathe as I am to encourage killing, this is the exception. Kill them with the fire of your mind. Know that you can destroy all of these demons with no more than a whisper. You are more powerful than all of them. And don’t call me Sherly.”
“What would I learn? Could I take going back there?” The man wondered, the ache in his voice betraying how his surety failed him. “Is the place I came from better than the next one? Is going back there going to be the better choice?”
The figure lifted their arm as if through water, slowed and elegant, the edge of their cloak sliding back to reveal a hand that was nothing but ivory bones, more the color of an elephant’s tusk than of anything refined. They tilted their palm upward, offering their grip to the man.
“Why don’t you find out?”
It had been a long while since Death had an audience.