Vessel

I march through the woods, darkened by my hands.

Chained to others who are similarly damned.

The carrion call of flesh exhales out through morning mist.

The gallows drag us by its chained tongue tightened around our wrists. 

Mud spattered high on the imposing wooden frame. 

A reminder of the life I chose to take, what I became. 

I am to face the death deemed fit for my crimes. 

A bell toll of my end, crescendoing chimes. 

I stand shoulder to shoulder with men much safer than I. 

As they have not seen what I have seen with these cold dead eyes. 

The rope tightened around my neck feels oddly comforting in light of the blood on my hands. 

I lose this life happily knowing the things that breed beneath these lands. 

Anticipation is overflowing by the time I drop. 

But there is no neck snap, to lifeless flop. 

I hang in the air, by a rope that should have ended me. 

The crowd is in awe, begging for answers how this could be. 

They yell and proclaim, “The devil inhabits him, I have no doubt!’

Despite my current state I respond, 

“It’s not the devil you should be worried about.” 

Sacrifice is needed to slip beyond. 

“I killed not for the pleasure, but to get them to respond.” 

One scared woman asks, “Who?”

A rope digs in, despite it I struggle through. 

“Old things that live in older places.”

“They infest time and unknowable spaces.”

“To know them is to truly see the divine.” 

“Perfection is in their Aberrant thoughts and design.” 

With a final breath my soul leaves. 

But I stay aware of what the old ones use me to conceive. 

I am but a vessel for a beautiful thing. 

It rips its way from my abdomen, letting my viscera swing. 

Even through it all I remain to see beyond its birth. 

Using my meat as material, stitched flesh of worth. 

A beautiful cephalopodic something new. 

Rearranging ignorance like our flesh, into something true. 

Something so much more than me, more than you.

The Pit

Piles of bones, shone the bright light you preach to me.

Eyes fit for a king, sing my insanity to little regretful me.

A mass grave of all the decay i coughed up for you.

Miasma of drought.

Poison clouds pull me down.

Plague bearer, denounced.

Brought to me on the backs of that gold laced chariot.

Dragged by the souls of the forgotten now forced to ferry it.

With it a wake of un-life,  a gaseous knife to end us by the thousands.

Plague bearer, denounce us.

Queen or shriveled wretch, we all serve the same lord in death.

Death cloud or madness we consumed, we will all loose our precious breath.

Bow down to the lord of flies.

Sheer white lace, just enough to hide the lies.

One by one sever our mortal ties.

Flesh from bone, flayed next to those we chose to chastise.

The pit is the pit, with or without you in it.

A king of man, just one or the many dammed.

A Mass grave to sire fourth walking un-life.

Walk across the trenches, the very chains of death we fight.

The pit spits up those who rage against light.

We are legion. We are swarm.

We move as one flooding form. 

Conversion

Tell me—
Could your mind handle it?
When the earth cracks and trembles in fear,
When a leviathan hand and an eldritch being appear.

Tell me—
Could your mind handle it?
When your mouth spreads open and your teeth fall out.
The god within your flesh brings you to your knees praying, even more devout.

Tell me—
Could your body handle it?
When your flesh starts to tear and your bones begin to rearrange,
Slowly becoming deified with every abhorrent change.

Answer us—
Is our mind better now?
Fields of ruin replaced with fields of shimmering orchids.
Ignorant to lives slowly changing into something less morbid.
Become beautiful within ourself.
One billion minds and bodies divide like your cells.
Becoming something so painfully perfect after we expel—

You.

Tell us.

Oh ossuary mine

Lay down next to me, supine, and hold your hands together like you’re praying.
Disgust those around you. Focus on the part of your mind that hates you, on what it’s saying.

Blade close to flesh and flesh close to me.
Open me up, lift open the skin, break the ribs.

Within the abyss of life lives rotting death.
Lean your head back and chant through laggard bre-e-eath,

“Oh, tomb you are. I’ll wear every scorn as individual scars.
Hold me within those cages, oh ossuary mine.
I’ll die for you in time, and curse every inch of my undying design.”

Within my chest I’ll hold you. Close to my heart.
As you rot away within me I’ll pull you into all my favorite parts.
Organized by importance and severity of regret,
The Shattered memories as bones and tears turned crystal black jet.

In their reflection we will sing,

“Oh, tomb I left behind. To walk the world I left burned in kind.
The dead will climb out of my chest and choke me slowly to death.
Oh ossuary mine, I’m fed up with this design.
I wish to be with you, constant in my chest.

A memory of bones,
My ossuary blessed.

The Gloam: Chapter 1,

Interloper:

The only thing I learned down in that tomb they called Site 112 is that I—we are nothing.

The rain beat down hard across the cement as the team’s boots entered the soundscape of millions of droplets. Illuminated by flood lights painted over the grey and blue hues of cold ground, the six of us moved through the open air towards the massive bunker door implanted into the side of the mountain. The rain cascaded down our gasmaks, creating a deafening torrent across our hazmat suits.

As we approached the massive metal door it groaned open like a hungry beast waiting to ingest us. The locking metal spokes, the teeth, the inside of the maw, and the single freight elevator at the back its throat.

As we all entered the elevators, I heard our commanding officer Lt. Auger call out, “Weapon and gear check.” 

Her voice echoed through the comms in our ears, a muffled undertone suffocated by her gas mask. I wiped the rain from my mask and checked my M4. I pulled the magazine and looked at my reserve ammo count on my vest. Slid it back into the weapon, pulled the slide back to chamber a round. Letting it dangle on its sling I pulled my sidearm and did the same. I was checking through my vest when the comms buzzed.

“I want us close down there, understand?” Her green eyes even managed to pierce through her rain-spotted mask. 

We all gave a decisive nod and a “Yes ma’am.”

Her black rubber gloves moved along her weapon, checking it as she continued to speak.

“As I was told, there are no expected survivors on sight. Regardless, keep steady and don’t fire unless absolutely sure.”

The elevator hitched, the lights flickered.

“This is a containment breach. Asset 11-b1 has broken out of its cell. We aren’t sure about other assets being released. So are to assume the worst. Move quickly and quietly, find asset 11-1b, and contain it by any means necessary.”

She took a deep breath, as if to calm herself. That scared us the most.

“The asset is considered to be extremely volatile. I have been instructed to shoot on sight. Do not attempt to communicate with it. We don’t have much to go on in the way of threats, what it can do. I was just given a brief description of it. Three meters tall, a humanoid posture, digitigrade footing. Eyeless and covered in a thick oily black chitin. Tendrils along its back that are believed to be used as sensory organs. Try to keep your minds clear.”

Her voice at the end dropped, as if concerned. The elevator doors opened to the sterile white lobby of Site 112.

The talk stopped as we moved into the white room, weapons up. It was nothing but a lobby. A bathroom door to the right and locked door going into the elevator to the different levels.

We saw no signs of bodies.

Auger’s eyes connected with Blaine and Wesley with a hand pointing to the restrooms to clear them. There was a slight whisper from the comms. 

“Abbot, get on the lobby computer.”

“Yes ma’am,” he said as he moved behind the counter and sat in the rolling chair.

My eyes darted from corner to corner, weapon down but finger still hovering over the trigger guard. After just a moment Wesley and Blaine exited the bathroom with a fairly loud “clear.” We all somewhat relaxed, and could then hear Abbot’s tapping on the keyboard.

“Ma’am any other loose assets in the facility?”

Auger’s eyes looked as if she hadn’t thought of that. 

“I’m not sure, Gates. But we deal with it bit by bit. The higher-ups only told me about the one. So I hope that’s the only issue going forward.” She looked back to Abbot. “Anything?”

He spoke without stopping the keystrokes. “I have limited security footage. Nothing current. The cameras seem to be down throughout the facility, some door access as well. The system is a mess, Ma’am”.

Auger looked at the four of us standing waiting for an order and then back at Abbot. “Alright, Fredericks you’re staying here with Abbot. There are two floors below us. Wesley, you’re with me. We’re going down one floor.” 

Wesley moved promptly over to her side.

“That means Blaine and Gates, you are going to the sub level.”

We both gave verbal confirmation. In truth, I was happy. I’d much rather be with someone I knew well. Wesley only joined our squad a month or two ago. He’s gotta be talented to make it into the squad, but not knowing him well would give me another variable to deal with. Blaine and I had fought alongside many times. It comforted me knowing he was going with me.

“Abbot, keep us updated as best as you can. Let us know if you find anything relevant to the asset. The rest of you, let’s move.”

The four of us moved towards the sealed door as the tapping of a keyboard ended with a decisive click. The door hissed and slid open. The hallway wasn’t more than 10 or so meters, with a stairwell door on the left and an elevator straight ahead. We all piled into the elevator. Auger pushed both buttons. B1 and B2. The doors closed and the elevator shifted as it took us on our descent. 

Only a moment passed before it dinged and opened. There was a stark difference from the floor and the sterile white, untouched lobby. The lights were barely on and flickering. All of our guns went up as Wesley moved into the room. Before Auger followed she shot us both a look—the kind a worried parent might give. She exited the elevator. As the doors closed, mine and Blaine’s weapons lowered.

Blaine was checking his master key, the underbarrel shotgun on his M4. He was always a fan of being able to use it whenever he could.

“Let’s make sure to stay focused.”

Blaine only responded with a half chuckle before looking up at me.

“100% all the time. We got this.”

The elevator dinged again, sounding warped and distorted. The doors struggled to open.

Blaine and I moved through the opening hall quickly, rifles up, our eyes darting under the thin layer of protection.

Every door we passed—closed, requiring more clearance than either of us had. We came to a double door. A large sign above the door said “subject testing.” The text was in blue, contrasting with the surrounding white of the walls.

I pushed on the door. 

“Sealed. See if Abbot can get it open before using your key?”

The sentence that indicated restraint on using his favorite tool seemed to sadden Blaine, but he gave me a quick nod of approval.

“Abbot? It’s Gates.” I could hear a slight echo from Blaine’s comms.

“What’s up?” He said, almost mockingly.

“We are outside subject testing, sub level 2. Any access from there?”

It was only a second before the comms clicked back.

“I have none. Auger asked me the same about administration. I can barely load up security footage from more than a day ago.”

“”It must be Christmas,” I whispered before I answered the comms. “Understood. You made Blaine happy.”

“Have fun. Over,” he said quickly, knowing how much the master key meant to him. With one quick concussive shot the middle lock burst open. I entered first, followed quickly by Blaine. 

The room was massive. It was a circle, desks and computers lining the walls, some still on and working. The center was raised, on it an inner circle of desks. In the center was an almost glass aquarium, but with no water.

We skirted around the room, clearing it before regrouping to search for anything that could give us a leg up on the situation. We both imminently started digging through papers, working computers, anything. The sound of us rummaging echoed through this almost hollow feeling white room. It felt like an eternity before I stumbled on to something.

Subject11-b1:

Made contact with an unknown entity through The Veil. It returned multiple times on separate occasions. Wasn’t overtly hostile. Not sure if it even knew we were there. Its presence did seem to provoke some adverse reactions in some of the newer staff. One even went as far as to mutilate their eyes with a pen.  After that incident we only have had senior staff working around it and only short intervals to be sure.

We were able to lead it to containment. It absolutely senses our presence, even without obvious sensory organs, other than perhaps the tendrils coming from its back section. Once in containment it just stood in the center of the cell. Not moving. No sound. Nothing.

Our first test to gain a deep tissue sample was a failure. The dark chitinous plates that cover its body  made such a thing impossible without a powered drill. I fear such a device may startle or aggravate it.

“Anything?” Blaine called out from across the room.

“Yeah, this thing is 100% not terrestrial. Look for something about The Veil. It’s mentioned in this report. It’s some kind of device, I assume on site.”

Blaine started to search through his pile of discarded papers and documents. Just as he started, the lights turned off with a loud hum. The sound of his papers stopped. I lifted my weapon.

“Flashlight isn’t turning on,” I heard Blaine in the dark, immediately trying to switch my shoulder flashlight on my vest. It just clicks, nothing. Same with the comms, nothing.

“Fuck, comms aren’t on either.” 

My mouth felt dry as I said it. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears as if it was echoing in my gasmask. Apart from that, I heard the occasional sound of mine or Blaine’s hard boots stepping against the tile floor. My eyes started to settle in the dark as shapes were starting to be visible. I could see Blaine.

“You see me?”

“Yeah, back to me.” He shuddered as he directed me. I heard another footstep. Heavy, slow. Couldn’t be more than 10 meters away. Our guns went to our shoulders.

I felt like I could hear both of our hearts stuttering in unison. Every shape in the dark felt like a threat. We rotated, scanning and trying as best we could to see everything.

“Gates, did you bring any light sticks?” Blaine whispered as low as he could.

I lowered my weapon and started to search my vest. I did. I had five on my lower vest. I slid one from its home and snapped it quickly against my leg. I threw it to the center of the room, illuminating us in an eerie green glow. That’s when both our guns raised tighter to our shoulders and fixated on the form just on the other side of the containment cell.

Its vaguely humanoid form was distorted by the low light and layers of glass. A low groan filled the room, like a rumble that felt like it shook my bones.

I glanced at Blaine. His gun was up but his eyes were drifting. His composure faltered. Even through all the gear, I could tell it was getting to him.

There was a loud weighted clang like that of metal on stone as the creature took two large gated steps around the cell. I took a step back and almost slipped off the raised floor. Blaine stood still.

The creature’s large, almost cocoon-like silhouette moved along on its beastly legs laggardly. The rumble filled the space within my gas mask along with my hyperventilated breath. Its form made little sense. A head with no features. No arms seen. Blaine still hadn’t moved. I hesitated to fire.

My head flashed with pain, a piercing migraine that reached into my neck. I stifled vomit.

“Blaine. Hey.” I tried to grasp his attention as calmly as I could, but he didn’t break his stare.

“Fuck Blaine! Look at me!” I couldn’t hold back the panic anymore. It got him to turn his head to me, and I saw that tears were running down his face. I heard the creature take another step towards us. 

“We need to leave. You understand?” I said, beckoning him with a hurried motion. He started to stumble towards me as a sickening sound filled the air. Wet stones rubbing together, a sickly sliding of flesh and chitin. The cocoon silhouette grew in my periphery. Eight armored tendrils unfurled from its back, leaking some liquid across the dimly lit floor.

The creature was feeling, moving things around as it kept its slow pace. Blaine’s eyes had moved back towards the thing as it metamorphosed into something else in front of us. His gaze once again fixed to that horrid point.

I took a step forward to try to grab Blaine by the back of his vest, but as I did, one of the tendrils cracked like a whip and moved across the floor in front of Blaine, cracking and shattering the tile.The rumble oscillated as I backed off.

I had to deal with odd things—violent things—in this squad, but nothing like this. I knew they wanted me dead, but this thing? I didn’t know what it wanted at all.

I raised my rifle tight against my shoulder. It moved closer to Blaine, but its featureless face fixed on me the entire time.

It dwarfed him as it closed the distance, his eyes staring up at it as it started to wrap him up with its armored appendages. I wasn’t just going to watch. I squeezed the trigger, aimed for its head. I had to. It’s tendrils moved like lightning, covering its face as the rounds skipped and chipped chitin from them. The rumble turned to a hiss as it stumbled back.

As the last round in the magazine left the barrel, I was already grabbing Blaine by his vest and dragging him away. With my free hand I dropped the magazine out of the weapon, still trying desperately to drag Blaine with me. He was fighting me. Struggling.

“Blaine shake it off. Focus. Please!”

He turned and lunged at me. He was like some sort of zombie, his eyes still filled with tears.

“Let me be.” He said in an almost choking voice.

With my eyes fixed to his I didn’t see the tendril wrap around his waist. It pulled him from me and pushed me forward. I landed on my face. 

I fought to get my rifle out from underneath me, rising to one knee as fast as I could. By the time the new magazine was in and the slide snapped the round in the chamber, the creature was gone. It left as quickly as it came. 

The lights flickered on. Immediately I felt tears running down my cheeks and Abbot in my ear shouting.

“Gates, Blaine. Respond!”

“Contact. Blaine was taken. Tell Auger! Get them both to me. ” I could hear my voice crack.

“I haven’t been able to contact them, Gates. ” I could hear the frustration in his voice. My heart dropped along with my rifle.

“What do we do, Gates?” Abbot pleaded.

“I’m falling back to you. “

Design

My family wasn’t one to indulge in my life choices.
Within opulent halls that perfectly echoed crow calls,
I would steal out into the night.
Collecting teeth, body parts, ashes for one of the many voices.

I would sequester in my room during the day.
Fearing that the absence of my treasures would alter and sway without me to keep them safe from the cold dark violence.
I would consume out of compulsion, oddly not feeling anything linger on my conscience.

The halls of the manor echoed with fear as more and more of my family noticed my emotional and physical changes.
My increased reclusion became all the more normal as my outward appearance began one of its many rearranges.

My jaw would creak and crack as it seemed to separate from the muscles gifted by God.
My teeth felt sharper each day, grinding my lower lip bare.
My skin would stretch and tear, wrack my hands against the stone of these halls, not in pain but despair.

Despite my self-disgust, I continued to indulge in my fixation on the ingestion of human flesh.
It was getting to the point where the carrion I gathered would not placate or satiate it,
It would only drive me further towards the walking fresh.

Become one with the monstrosity I had sired within my skin.
Hunt the crimson life that walks ignorantly through the foggy streets,
Consume the flesh and all things therein.

This realization haunted me for a mere minute. Before I took to the town, bones shone and became apparent.

Breath after breath, the air marked my excitement.
The light mustn’t show my approach,
My disproportioned gate, misplaced joints.
I rushed through the streets like an otherworldly cockroach.

Fingernails ripe with dirt and decay,
I fell upon the scent that stuck with me, drew me closer, did not dissuade.
It was brilliant and bright. Citrus and clear.
The woman stood in the open air without knowledge of me there,
Ignorant to the fear.

A protracted arm reached through mist-filled air.
Fingers wrapping around the delicate waist, so unaware.
With a grip that dares to break her in two,
I pulled this feast into my serrated hug before even a slight scream would cut through.
I consumed my darling prey in the night,
Losing myself completely, no longer a wight.

I would consume the town and all therein.
Fuse the bodies and drape them over the house of mankind’s sin.
A chapel of abhorrence,
A dead city’s moan.
I became one with the beast within my bones.

Mutation

I see through the seams of my reality.
Living split between a further separating duality.
See the Watcher pulling the strings.
You can see the tear appear and the tears it brings.

The glass cage I put myself in.
A scream a day, not one of you hear me curse this skin.
The broken shards from the previous cut into my feet.
Forever and a day away from happy, from feeling complete.

Within my veins breeds life from other worlds.
There isn’t much left of me, maybe less then one-third?
The courage to keep it close to my heart.
I still keep it close, it’s the best part.
A voice tells me to bear with the pain.
After all this time, I fight the voice in my brain.

A new arm, five split-pupil eyes form across my skull.
An echoed scream, a cracking storm waiting for a lull.
I can see the webs you spin across the cosmos.
Long lines of thread to place me among the one you love most.

I love my mutations, my millions of variations.
Witness the worst. This won’t be the first.
Between immortal and ephemeral,
Between life and death,
I savor every single final breath.

Fighting to stay in this torturous state.
Breeding new pain, finding new ways to hate.
They take me far away from my decaying foundations.
I love my mutations.

Thrones

How can I get it through your head?
This constant turmoil.
I know what I said.

Give me my six feet of soil.
Tell me what I can do to start the quiet.
Something beautiful and violent.
Tell me this was meant for me.

I don’t want to be free.
Give me my six feet of soil.
Drop me in and despoil.
Leave my bones.
They remind me of all my false thrones.

Give me what I want.
I’m tired of of the constant personality shunt.
Give me the crushing black.
Somehow end this all and give me myself back.

Build our kingdom from my blood and bones.
Write our scripture with pretty, violent undertones.
Leave me at the top so I can feel like I contributed to this kingdom made of me.
I only had to die to give you all something to see.

Roots I

In a town dull and horrid,
In a house rotting and bloated,
Lived a man of no great worth.
Picture perfectly deep-rooted.
He lived his life within these same few walls,
Screaming in anger for them all to fall.
He would attempt to leave many times before the light touched his skin at all.
But it’s sad to say he was rooted to the dirt.
Roots made of flesh and bark ripping from this poor introvert.
They tore through the floorboards and sank into the earth,
Pulling him down into a type of reverse birth.
They pulled his organs down, his blood came too.
When the roots looked for his spine they found there to be nothing of value.
And so he went from man to mush.
Pulled in by roots, down to what I am sure hell constitutes.
With only an eye left to see, he breathed no more as he had no lungs free.
The roots had consumed him in this prison—His home.
And put all the pieces down below it all alone.

Calling me Home II

Collective rage,
Grafted to my living cage.
Millions of minds screaming for release,
Trapped somewhere between alive and deceased.

Moving through a mindscape of the unreal agony of a collective people,
Morphed into one to become a disgusting song, A cacophony of screams throughout this flesh steeple.
We are one with god—His thousand eyes and eldritch form.
We are the wave of nothing washing over our home,
We are the swarm.

A thousand years pass and I feel a pull.
I am we. We are whole.
A thousand years pass and I can feel my hands again,
Cytokenesis to begin.

I don’t hear all the screams,
My mind forms anew.
Dropped from a cosmic, gargantuan, living planets sinew.
A new body to call mine. A new otherworldly design.

The sky is undulating, bleeding oceans,
The ground racked with a low groan and rapid convulsions.

Tendrils made of man and woman burrow deep within this breathing new eden.
Trees of flesh and metal substance, shrouded by a living atmosphere of alien repugnance.

Sat before this infested new world, fist in alien dirt clenched and curled.

I feel the god we belong to let out a deep horrid sigh as it rearranges my chromosome.
As my skin begins to split and move, teeth and bone shift and improve.
I let out a cry not of my own, a plea to please return home.