When I was younger, long before the trauma of being devoured whole by the swamp god who protects us had worn off, I had a disturbing dream. I remember how I was situated in my makeshift bed that night. I had found a nice mossy patch to act as a pillow as I rested my bleeding head for the night. By that time, most of the infection was abating – I only fell into the rage every three days or so. I remember clenching my fist and thanking our beautiful swamp god for allowing me to participate in so holy a rite as the purge, but secretly hoping that the next day would not see blood on my hands again, mine or that belonging to someone else.
The dream crept into the day’s fleeting thoughts. The rhythm of my breaths and circulatory system became the sound of a massive machine. I found myself at its heart, the rhythm vibrating my entire body. Tubes ran from my body, so much so that I could see little of my skin. The tubes were different sizes, and ran in all different directions – some went no place at all, turning in on themselves in a loop and re-entering my body at some other point, like in-grown hairs. The liquid that ran through the tubes looked like swamp water.
Through experimentation, I discovered that I could move without too much difficulty. I appeared to be in a sort of oval cradle fashioned into the wall of the chamber I found myself in. Though it was awkward to maneuver, with so many tubes running through my body, I managed to sit up from my position in the cradle, tubes giving slack from the positions where they entered the wall of the machine and disappeared. With this slack, I soon was able to stand, and not long after that discovery, I realized I was free to move about, bound as I was by tubing. I did not attempt to remove any of the tubes. I could feel them embedded deep in my body. There was a sensation of plastic against bone in my ribcage, just beneath the surface of my skin. As I walked, I squeaked inside my body; disturbing as it seemed, I grew accustomed to it.
I located a sphincter in the wall opposite the cradle I had awoken in, and forced my hand through the pinched center. Feeling open space on the other side, I readjusted my body and stuck my head through. The room my head entered was very much like the room I had awakened in, only no tubes filled this space. Instead, at the center of the room seven men were seated, sewn together at the shoulders in a circle facing out. Each of the men clattered away at strange machines that punched intricate shapes onto paper.
I pulled myself through the sphincter, the tubes following, and entered the room. The men paid me no attention as they continued their tasks unaffected. I walked over, timidly, and touched one of the men, expecting a reaction, but nothing happened. I took a glance at the paper, and noticed then that the shapes were letters, the groups of letters were words. They read:
Your attention, Mr. Poppageorgio. Your mescaline pistachio is making me psychotic. While I appreciate the novelty of a flame-retardant puppet show, I find myself afflicted, during and after the performance, by a type of vertigo I have not felt since … Guantanamo Bay, many years hence. My doctors swear that they are not several badgers in white coats. I cannot see why we do not know why … let me rephrase … I do not know why we cannot see why cold skies and overzealous marmosets combined with grey eyes and avocado cigarettes can force us to be less inclined to scream and whine as we still watch the shadows on the wall before us.
After repeated inspection of the seven other texts, I discovered all contained the very same enigmatic message.
Seeing another sphincter opposite the one I had had entered the room through, I proceeded to depart the room, my tubes still following in a thick braid behind me.
This third room was not unlike the first, though in this new room there was only one occupant, other than myself, at any given time. From folds of dewy skin-like material, a naked baby shot upward into the room from the floor. It spun in the center of the room, defying gravity at the moment momentum ceased, aging and growing as it did so. As the somersault terminated, so did the progression of age, and as a leering wrinkled man, the former infant dove back into the folds of skin. This was repeated interminably.
No exit, other than the sphincter I had arrived through, presented itself. Measuring the time of the babe’s entry and exit in and from the vulvar growth in the floor, I managed to dive into the hole, giggling uncontrollably as I did so.
Downward I fell, through a tight tube of knived walls. Descending quickly, I had only a few seconds to notice the spiders weaving hundreds of babies from silk and sending them upwards, through the knives, to where the babies were then launched into the room I had just exited. The aged man, diving in after me each time, was cut to shreds by the knives, and disappeared into gore which was then woven into the baby, and repeated, and repeated, and repeated.
The knives had no affect on me, and I continued to fall.
I landed on a large tongue inside a gigantic mouth. In a semi-circle around me, rows upon rows of razor-sharp crystalline teeth continuously chewed men and women alike, who had become trapped in the massacre. I chanced obliteration in that forest of teeth, and crawled over the surface of the teeth towards a wide opening I spied beyond the death of so many. The teeth did not pierce me, instead resting lightly on my skin and my tubes, which still followed dutifully behind me. As I looked around, the rest of the people were still being chewed – only the teeth near me seemed not to close all the way.
I discovered I was exiting the mouth of a giant beast, and with some difficulty, I managed to pull myself onto his upper lip. There, to my horror, I saw the face of the swamp god who my people worship. He seemed as shocked to find me there, staring at him from just over the tip of his nose.
I lost my grip and fell. There was no end to the fall. The swamp god floated in an endless abyss, and some form of gravity pulled me downward away from him, my tubes following. The tubes continued to pour out of the god’s mouth after me, growing in number and thickness until it seemed to choke the god.
Just when I assumed my fall would stop, the tubes were pulled to their terminus and the force of my descent turned the god inside out, destroying him completely. In a rain of blood, I wept at the loss, and felt guilty for my crimes, though the great judge no longer lived.
When I awoke the next morning, I realized I was with child.