Hey guys thanks for the kind comments. Anna I'm sure Ill die a writer but in the dark cockles of our thoughts brian is probably right
I know Ive been posting larger sections to make up for not posting as often but there was a happening that doesnt occur with any real frequency, the deleting of an entire section And since its no longer canon I cant see the hurt in sharing it. So without ado much farther (this aside being the farther, that the section takes place about a 100 pages from the present scene, and is one of the sections that I worked on extensively, as opposed to being a first draft):
Ripple from the depths. A floor unbleared beneath her. An s of color. Coral millipede. She spat at it and it skittered across the rotted floorboards with a winding liquidity.
It was a mistake a mistake a mistake. She wasnt supposed to be here. Is it awake?
Dachni tried to see what thing chittered but she was immobilized in a kind of gooey resin that webbed the room. She wrenched her head about and gnawed on the warm chords. In a minute she had a few inches of range. She looked about. She was in a kitchen. Brown fungus covered the counters. Sacs of thread enwombing vague shapes. She chewed an arm free and there lowered before her a woman's frisket framing a perfect marquise of nine oculi. These clouded and cataracted lakes where mayflies with church glass wings lapped. A feminine arachnid. Two rows of plump breasts nipple pierced puffed down anticlinally to the shallow valley of her hips and two delicate ivory tusks sprouted from the gonion and she could see the pairs of arms, the addorsed legs ending most delicately. There was a mouth of fine proportion that would have enunciated its words with care but Dachni seized the venom fang and pulled the visage near and sank her teeth into it. The mayflies departed and a humor jell exploded in her mouth and drooled down her chin. The chimera screamed and swung like a wrecking ball. She felt herself go suddenly save a leg from which she dangled, her hair sweeping the floor. Gobs of thick matter like curdled semen dripped around her. She sat up and grabbed the dripping lisle from which she hung and tore at it until it thinned and snapped. She hit the floor and the breath went out of her but this was unnecessary. She rolled to her feet and crashed into the table and got up again and grabbed a chair and flung it at that creophagus abomination where it retreated to an upper corner to mourn.
A cobwebbed knifeblock overturned on the counter she drew from a heavy chopper and hurled it and the blade stuck into the joint of a silkweed sap profundity of maiden grace that was its arched leg and the clear hydraulic fluid drained out and the leg turned limp. She drew two knives more and charged the thing and before it could react sheathed the knives in its tattooed back. The thing bucked off the wall and estrapaded through the room, knocking over the table, the chairs, crushing the sacs and the mutant caballero riding with her thighs and knives wrenched one pommel free and stabbed it in the back of its neck, working it through the vertebrae. The blade suddenly found passage and parallel to its progress so did that tarantalic vixen she barebacked ease of life.
Her heart thundered behind its brace of ribs. Wan motes drifted through a vile sunlight. An acrid aftertaste of smoke. The kitchen was crisscrossed with polar secretions that stiled angling, the webs sprouting veils of crystal brinicles. Victims abounding, caught up, cocooned, engorsed. A trove of the transmogrified. She dismounted the beast and sawed open a large hoary embryo. A vaguely fetal form washed out in a milky digestive ooze. His tissue yielded under pressure and the bones within had become pliable as rubber. She poke it with a knife but it didnt move. Another contained nothing but a viscous goo. Twins arm in arm reunified as though in a womb. Why then that womb that dissolves above that womb that forms. A sac in which a woman had miscarried a babe like batter half out her deliquescent cunt. She sought out a sac containing a more humanoid shape. It was in the sink. A head flopped out. The face had been erased of feature but she could still hear the faint breathing. She felt the face as the blind do and when she had divined the vestigial mouth she cut it open.
Ken ye hear?
A sogged moan gurgled out. Syrup bubbles in the lungs.
The mouth struggled to form the words. She widened the slit and must have gone into the cheek for a dark line of blood poured out. She looked into the mouth. The teeth were soft enough to crush between fingers. The tongue was there but it was almost absorbed by the palate. She freed it carefully with the knife.
Kin ye talk now?
Iiizi, it moaned. Nie patrrz wa ustro.
In the hallway a disordered windrow of stale sneakers. Coats moldering on hangars. A dusty doormat. Dead insects. Everything gray and washed out. She opened the understair pantry. Shelves of linen. Detergent. Brooms and mops. Nothing in the sitting. She looked out the sliding glass door to the backyard. A grainy almost chlorinic mist hung over the dead grass. A garden of dead vegetables. Leaves like dead beetles lighting with the wind. Propped up with posts was a massive shriveled cephalos gumming the fetid air. Shocked eyes platter plate in size resolved to her. A chain hung out its blistered herpes lips. She pressed her face against the glass. What it futilely gummed was a rotting rottweiler.
She found knives. All manners of knife. A chef's collection. When she put forth from the kitchen again the knives were she had a double bladed mezzaluna in one hand for knife knuckles and a meat cleaver a quarter stone and thirteen inches point to heel.
Above all she was sure her desires lay where she least wanted to go. Thus to the basement. The door threw open.
Get up here.
Who would think such dark would answer? Or have heard? She flipped the light switch but there was no power. She started down minding the protruding nails. At the landing the staircase turned left, out of the light. She slashed the wall and the sparks flew through the air and expired on a concrete floor. She walked about raking the floor and the walls until she had well delineated a a masculine den. Sofa and television set with gaming consoles. A video drive. Faded propaganda on the wall. Perhaps collector's items. A workbench. A miter saw. Cans of paint. A box of matches. She lit one and touched a carpet to fire and isolated it from the other flammables. The basement grew visible. Iracund shadows on the walls. The blackness of a doorway appeared. A small bathroom. A filthy bowl that had been shat in for weeks without flushing. Someone dispatched in the shower. Naked and fed on by insects. She spat and went out.
Ascending to the second floor she paused for a bloody blond scalp. It rose with each step and the image in the mirror was a blond revenant in t-shirt dress and might have been dead for days. Only when she saw the scars did she recognize the faces as hers, the hair hers. The blood someone elses. Or no. She turned her head. A wicked gash at the back of her skull. Still more blood than she thought she could have bled. An angry bruise along her jaw. She popped it, disdainful of the pain and looked back down the stairs then into the hall. She lifted her foot. No boot shod it but a blue daisy thong. She kicked it off disgusted. Her other foot wore a black quilted flat and this was abominable.
She checked the small attic bedrooms of the floor. Empty twin beds hiding no children. Sloped ceilings. A bathroom with tub and toilet set rim to commode. Rubbing alcohol in the open medicine cabinet. Lotions and creams. Through the window she saw a man tearing through a potato field. A womanish cackle reached her through the clapboard siding. When she came back downstairs smoke was fuming out of the basement. She searched the kitchen again, the counters and the refrigerator, looking behind the curtains. The floor was growing warm.
Her voice carried through the house and came back.
She took a last look around and went out.
This arboreal village wherein she found herself had been dragooned. Cold mud roads. A hairy silverback arm sticking out as though reaching for help. She pressed it down with a toe. Dead bodies everywhere. A flattened face leering out of sipes. Chickens clucked from her path through this mayhem where hogs roamed freely. She passed a row of picket mounted heads and she stooped to peer into each leprous visage. Bloated cows mooing obscenely in the fields. Some dead, a heavy brocade of living arteries burst of their abdomens. The long pus pissing udders and the woods out more bare than right winter could persuade.
The house was smoking now and the windows were mouths with lapping tongues of fire.
In the yard of a chicken keeper a man pinned with a dungfork breathed uneasily.
Has ye seen a Kazzie? A girl named Holnifa. Shes a toddlin.
The man stared at her.
She shook the dungfork by the handle. Can ye hear can ye hear is ye hear? Hey.
The man groaned but gave up nothing.
Well ye jess keep there then.
She passed the henless coops, the bloodstained chopping block, yellow wrinkled legs or legs in sluff. The doors of the house were broken or gone. The windows stoned out. The roof arcuated inward. She gave a cursory search of its dank fecal interior and moved on.
The house was adorned with burls of smoke like a storm in the grain and its backside was aflame.
She came to an older burn where nigh indistinguishable from the blackened scrog they were chained to were four carbonized forms much akin to bark or sculptures of black ice. Not five paces from this execution a woman hung by the wrists from a lamppost and the twins she had been incubating dangled from their umbilicals and as she passed beneath she saw each wore an anklewatch and was dread to hear the ticking of the unmoved hands.
Adjacent this a stables crushed by a kimbo pine. Gutted livestock moldered in the stalls. Bloody straw covered the aisle. Impaled on the twisted rafters above were goats as though the herd had rained.
The house had been consumed to its skeleton.
Most prominent among this desolation was a brothel opposite a church. Procure elixirs that make unright or insensate. Unwinding banausic patrons with stannous arcanum in sampler or stein. The bench tables overturned and splintered by gunfire. The walls scored by fire. A halfburnt bar and the bodies of the sots strewn about. A wheelchair on its side, a wheel still spinning and a long slick of blood leading to a closet. When she opened the door a creation unknown to her lifted its gory snout from the carcass of the cripple. A roach winged wiver. Yellow rings about the poll, fiery streaks of orange down the dewlap and crest to rump speckled red. Far away she heard alarms. She shut the door and held the fleuron and didnt let go until the feeding resumed. She moved slowly away. Almost to the exit she stopped and walked back and threw open the door. The creature lowed a throaty adjuration and saw the cleaver slip down its snout until its vision was bifurcated by a divider of steel, a logo on one side.
Dachni dragged the animal out by its paintbrush plumed tail. The kill had been badly ravaged but a plump breast remained, sagging into the gutted trunk. Upon that breast inked a spider web of spikes. More ragged tatters of flesh lay about and these also bore the dark pentagramal blazonry of pagans. She gathered the pieces, puzzling out their proper arrangement. A map or sorts of a desert. She cut open the creature's stomach and heaved out its eating and set aside what skin there was and kneaded them of the juice. She examined each piece and set them against another to see if they were continuations of another. By and by it was not a map but a picture of a tenebrous crypt throning a monarch wrought of christ withe. As she studied this she noticed the blood sucking into the floor. She shoved the kill away and ran a finger along the neat draining seams. A cellar door. She threw back the bolt and pulled on the ring and the blood cascaded. A rankness exhaled that was not the sere bitterness of ancient cunt but moist cunt. Who would have sagely acquiesced to the investigation of dead wombs to meet the kin who would have been and are they fortunate in their unbeing? I being from life come to tell you all shall tell you all.
The alarm was clearer now. She dropped a match down the hole but it went out almost immediately. She stabbed two holes in a jug of lighter fluid and lit its piss and the fiery funicular told an earthen chute. She wrapped a table leg with the garments of the dead and doused them and lit it and set forth with the stinking torch.
She entered in upon that claustrophobic passage on her knees but in fifty yards there was an ominous crimson flashing towards which the tunnel graded down and to a breach in the wall of another tunnel, this of metal, opened with a blowtorch.
The klaxons here were almost deafening and resounding down down a corpse rid corridor. Humanity mostly. In uniforms or labcoats. Spent brass and the walls streaked and pocked. Several creatures lay obliterated by gunfire. They had mouths, some hooves, spines like reeds. Farther on a mass dappled with cancer and stub limbs and a slash out the nub of its head. An amputee once had walked on sword stilts, its stumps for hafts. The walls were warm and there must have been some disparity in temperature for the metal shrieked and groaned like the stridulation of knives. She pursued that path most full of carnage. Where the dismembered lay so thick they must be waded through like overripe growths of gore half liquefact.
Wading free a shape in a puddle caught her eye. She bent to see. It was a .38 revolver. Three cylinders loaded. She stuck it in her belt.
Here sliding doors. Heavy metal broken. Scrawled on the left door in blood was Hell and on the right was Luce. Through their cleft she entered upon a catwalk overlooking a stretching chamber where men in tanks grew. Clean blue light emanated from each as though they were isotopes and as it were they do decay as men decline.
Voices came from a doorway down the catwalk. She edged up to the shot out window of an observatory and did not look in.
Кордон поднялся, said a man.
Это означает, что они еще не придут, replied another. Следуйте за процессом.
Я говорю, что мы убираемся отсюда. Забудьте о генах.
Они прямо здесь. Запустите генератор, тогда мы сможем поехать.
She heard the boots clomping out and she pressed herself flat against the wall and stared straight ahead. A soldier in digital EMR. A combat harness stuffed with magazines. He surveyed the tanks and touched the earpiece of his slim headset.
He turned angrily down the catwalk, opposite of her. She watched him to stairs at the other end of the chamber and heard the heavy downward clomp of his boots. He reappeared briefly and was gone again into a corridor.
Soon as he was gone she ducked under the window to the door, not even mindful of the broken plexiglass and slipped in. At a console a man in labcoat worked frantically the guts of a console.
Говно говно говно, he chanted.
She raised the revolver, thumbing back the hammer. Hey.
He must not have heard. Laid next to him on the console was a sawed off double barrel and a crude stone pernach. She glanced at the shotgun, then at him, then took four quick steps and swiped it and retreated. She had been almost under him.
Hey. Hey you.
Почему ты не работаешь? he muttered. Ты чертовски дерьмо.
The man shoved forward grabbing abortively for the missing shotgun and overbalanced and turned and slid along the edge of the console. Boże, przestraszyłeś mnie, kurwa.
Ta fuckers yer say?
Who are you, he said quickly, nervously. Who are you? How did you get in here?
He was of peppered gray hair and pallid and fingernails chewed on. A collegiate of vigorous decay who once perhaps had fashed undergrads in the doctiloquent mode whilst tenured in the chambers of learning.
Hookin fer a girled. Ir aims Oldifa. Names Holnifa. Is a Kazakh.
He shook his head as though in disbelief and bits of nameless matter sprinkled their surroundings. I have not seen.
Dachni looked at the console. The cover plates had been unscrewed and a gangle of wires arced out like the suckerless tentacles of some mad god frozen as it surfaced out that grave in which the dead rain, the bowels of the unbirthing sea.
Whater is it yer doin?
He spared a glance back. The power. The power is out. Men are grown here. The batteries will run out. When they do the life support will go offline. Theyll drown in their tanks.
Super computer stacks lined the walls and consoles mounting daises and covered in sigils of the damned drawn in demoniac haste. Circles concentric to a glossy steel nonogonal post protruding from the center of the floor which someone had topped with a ram's head.
You can help yourself in helping me.
Thinking I did see a girl, in passing, deeper in the facility. A lockdown is in effect but if you activate the backup generators the lockdown will lift and at least some functionality will be restored. The monitoring system will be able to locate any person on the premises.
Where? An how?
He crossed the room with an arm outheld towards an air duct. The vent had been kicked off. Follow this straight to the drop. Sublevel nine. It will take you to the level. Follow the directions. They will be clearly marked.
What was it yer tell him?
Blanter? I told him to secure us an exit. We have to get out of here but the power comes first.
How come he aint goin down no chutes.
You saw him. How could he fit?
Ye sawwed her an when?
The girl? On the security cameras, before the power went out.
Howd ye git in here?
I work here.
That werent the question.
Through the front gate.
Whats goin on here?
I have no idea. The facility came under assault by the villagers. Devil worshipers or something.
Ye knows knows rusk talk.
Yes yes I was speaking Russian. Blanter is on the security staff. He was hired out. He started towards the console. Ill prove it. His documents are here. When he reached the console he dove clear over it onto the catwalk.
Dachni ran after. She jumped onto the catwalk and cut her feet on the glass and fell to her hip and let off a single round at the man's fleeing backside and a spasm of sparks lit out of the railing.
She rolled off and hobbled out but the man was gone.
Shit shit shit.
She looked down at the tanks at a spearminx staring up. Unshod in blood pelts, acolytess to idolatry, citizen of an animalistic pagandom partial to ungulates.
Dachni struck the railing with the cleaver three times. Where is she?
The minx turned as though acting a theater of dormiveglia. Quite the fool.
Dachni shoved the revolver in her belt and leveled the shotgun and fired off a single barrel. When the smoke cleared the minx was face flat on the floor. Dachni scapered down the catwalk to the stairs. The minx was trying to crawl away when she set upon her. The cleaver lopped off her fingers. Dachni kicked her over.
You son of a bitch where is she? See this? Yer gonna catch a fuckin annerism with a meat knife. Ye open yourn fuckin mouth.
The minx in shock gawped wordlessly.
Dachni knocked her teeth out with the back of the cleaver and the minx began to groan. She would have docked her ears but she heard glass crunching and she looked up to the catwalk and saw the man who saw her and ran back as he had earlier gone.
She looked back to the dying heathen. Is ye gonna talk?
A gurgling escaped her.
She brained her where she lay and started off down the tunnel. Storage rooms here large as warehouses. Corrugated crates marked on their sides. Empty vats. Farther on meeting rooms with glass walls a number of which were tinted for privacy. A corporate section. Offices. Work stations. Papers everywhere. The managerial staff dead. A row of them all with the telltale hole in their foreheads. The stains of blood like the shadows of ballerinas. Gousty carnage in the cafeteria among foodtray and round table. The skinned cashier nailed to the ceiling. Tables with candles and heads. Limbs everywhere. Limbless torsos. Angry screeds in witch script and a breadbasket of fingers. Among the dead were two soldiers. They had been stripped of their arms. There was no insignia on them of any sort but they had the headsets and camouflage identical to the man she had seen on the catwalk. A burst of gunfire drew her through there, down several pipe lined corridors. She rounded a corner and saw a wounded soldier propped up against the wall and she about faced without pause and rounded the corner again and turned with one arm out and fired blind. She peeked out. Her aim true. A simple round hole in his temple. He was like the other soldiers but he was armed with a K810 machine pistol. She checked that it was loaded. At her feet a crazed looking pair of villagers lay slain in their draws of mud and reeds. She ejected the clip and compared it to the others in the soldier's vest and pocketed the matches and went on.
A few minutes later she was in an elevator lobby. Some of the doors had been winched open but there were no elevators. She would not dare the shafts for a roupy growling.
The stairwell was carpeted in gastroschisis secretions of flesh step and railing. As though men had been melted and pasted alive with a spatula. A sticky muck that clung to the soles. Wheezing lungs. Enormous coils of glistening intestines pulsing endlessly towards common anuses accumulating dung piles. Everything slick in sweat and mucous.
The first spongy step caused her freeze for a pained scream not far away. The next step elicited the same agony and every step a fresher scream ever closer as though she played keys to a flesh organ. On this level is the labs. On this engineering. In the basement a colony of heads growing out of the floor like hairy mushrooms. A drooling chorus of the ancephalic or stillborn. A tittering bloom of schizophrenia.
Whoah of the fuckin shits.
Doghhhn tr-treead onnn mee.
Dachni crouched down and thumbed up the head that had wheezed. A sti discharge ran out of its nostrils. Has ye seen a Kazakh? A little un.
Iiiii cannnnt seeeee.
Its eyes were grayed over.
Dachni cocked the revolver and put it against a big weeping saucerplate of an eye. Cain ye see that?
They chittered a foul mewling. Eathdeathdeathkiluskilluskisletusdiekillkillkillll diesendusaway.
Dachni pistol whipped the misshaped inflorescence into silence. Aint yet. Has ye seen any a ye a girl? A Kazakh girl. Nogirlnolifenolifenomenwerenotmenweweremenwewereno isenoisedeathmankilllllusssssspleasesleepsleepquie tusoncedeathrestbesilencevileprincewhoreswhoreswho resrestorehecomestopeaceHapercourtbreakersnogodbre akersthievesbrigandsmanureinyourthroatseebloodcaro lscarolsnogirltheyopenedsatan'scagenogirlthegirlsd idnononolifenothavelifekillushellisitwasbroomflier sthemooncrackstheyrecomingouthemoonseatherewerenin ebeforespiceswaterkillkillIgorshutupcursedusIcants tanditnogirlnowendweakestleftImweakmindisfadingfaa adiiingsavingdontsaveeeus.
Dachni shook her head. Shitten uva christ. Has ye seen innybody else?
It said something but was lost in the flicker on of the lights. A voice on the intercom Wykryto nieautoryzowany personel. The klaxons started again.
Whatd ye say? she shouted.
And she did too to engineering. Following the instructions of cacophony to an airlock door bearing a trefoil. She grabbed the handle and pulled herself up to peer through the porthole. Inside was a decontamination chamber. NBC suits hung from racks on the wall. A stand of bright yellow oxygen tanks. As she scanned the room her eyes lit upon another visage in the porthole of the inner lock.
She dropped. The inner door opened. A moment later the outer door shot wide. Dachni fired the last chamber of the revolver into the empty doorway and threw it in and aimed the machine pistol and waited. A second passed. A figure leapt out almost flush to the floor and before she could get a bead he seized her wrist and pulled her into the bulkhead. White pain. Her wrist popped. Blood flooded her eyes and she did not see the knee that slammed into her face. He had not yet let go her wrist nor was he off his back and he lifted her, a hand on her hip and flipped her onto his boots and launched her into the airlock. She bounced off the wall into the suits. She managed to her feet in time to see Blanter smile and wave his fingers through the porthole. He punched something and the inner door opened.
Immediately there was a taint in her mouth. She shut the inner door and pulled at the outer but it wouldnt open. She raked her hair and in anger raked the gash. She spun through the room searching. There was a roar growing from without the fury in her head. A keypad was next to the door. She pushed the keys crazily and punched it but it did nothing. Above it a release hatch. She pulled the clacker down and the door opened.
In the hall the phlegmatic nasalizing of horrors was clearer. When she reached the stairwell she could see the blind squirming of tentacles between the flights. Bloated and flesh colored. Their teethy maws yawning so that you could see in their throats the faces of the eaten still screaming within or a pair of withdrawing boots. The head bloom must have sensed this creature for they were invitatious of its stomach. They screamed her return to the upper floors where she picked up the flesh trail of Blanter making his way back to the growth chamber.
On her way the intercom blurted instructions. Wszyscy pracownicy ochrony powinni zgłaszać się na twoje stacje and Uruchomiono awaryjny sygnał ostrzegawczy and Nieautoryzowany dostęp do głůwnego genu.
She came to the chamber. The tracks led into the forest of tanks. Lit no longer and drained and the masochists within hung from the sterile bondage of their tubes. Through the glass she could see him. He had a laptop hooked into a stanchion console and he was typing feverishly. She glanced up at the observatory but she couldnt see the other man. When she looked back he was aiming the pistol at her. She dived for cover as the tank shattered in the volley. He ejected the clip and fetched another. A knife lodged in his chin and two blades snapped out of the hilt and fayed to that primary blade. The pistol clattered to the ground. Blanter staggered. He turned to look at who she could not see. He touched his face. Already it was subsiding and he tried to fit it back but now his coordination was not so well and he pushed too hard and his face slid up and plated his head. His eyes were gone and his frontal lobe exposed. The blood began to well.
The knifethrower walked out and retrieved his blade and sent Blanter to wander blind in the forest of drained tanks. He stooped to pick up the pistol and walked over and put the barrel against her head.
Ifn ye shoot the dagestai will kill ye.
Teraz můwią po angielsku. A quality of mutter like gargled glass.
She looked up into the wizened and scarry face of a squat warrior bedight with medallions unfurling a lambskin scrollwork on which were scrawled the psalms. He wore an exoskeleton modeled after the crusader plate to whats magnetic holster was locked an automatic amusette and sheathed across his back a powered block sword. He spun the knife in the air and the secondary blades folded off the main back into the hilt and sheathed the knife in a rib he had hollowed for the purpose.
Did ye hear?
Farther down the aisle Blanter tripped. He felt the ground as though unsure of it.
Ded ye hear?
I am heared. How do you know the dagestai?
She...she calls Dachni. Im her daughter.
What are you doing here?
Wasnt comed of no choice. Was goin couples a miles of Shalkar.
What place is that?
Haint acted no place. Its jess onna map where was. They aint no Shalkar no more.
I understand. Are you from the colonies?
Aye. Has ye seen a girl?
Names Holnifa. She got to her knees, the pistol never unbowing her head as though she were a penitent. Shes a girl. A Kazzie. Is ye seened her.
She pushed the pistol carefully towards the ground. Hassee seen nobody? Maybe even nobody kinded short? Black hair? Sidewise ovally eyesish? Relly serious.
I have seen no one.
Dachni dried her tears in the pit of her elbows. Wheres this place?
Whats your name?
Alessa, she said.
Well we gotta find her.
Fuck that. She took him by the belt. Ye knows the dagestai. Ye knows her. Ye know what shell do.
Jarosław regarded anew this wayward waif, far fierce and trembling.
Why wont ye wanta help? She needs help! Knows it. Shes the best. Shes the best person ever was. Ye mighta been told ta somethin but ye wasnt tolled not what ta do.
They went up to the observatory but the scientist wasnt there. The column had fully extended from the floor and in its hollow heart an empty slow where a vial had once been held.
New objective, he said. Got to find the impostor yeah? Whoever he is and recover the master stud.
Seened him. He was...She realized she hadnt gotten his name. What were his name?
I dont know.
Dessent ye work here?
Do I look like I work here?
She confessed he did not. How come ye aint got no shoes?
What you dont think we match well?
Traversing the tavern tunnel her gorge rose. She fought it down but before she got out it throttled her and she vomited prodigiously. In the bile a human finger, a human eye. An arm wrapped her waist and she was toted out. Emerging from the hatch she puked a tawny mush.
Girl what did you drink. I havent seen this since carnival.
Ok ok. Were you feeling sick earlier.
She shook her head. Thin strands of spit hung from her lips. She wiped them.
Hey well find something for you. Right now were gonna go to the manor. If you think this place is most crazy shit wait till you see that.
The manor squatted upon a barren monticule overseeing the hamlet from its haughty edge. A grave torrent surphuled countenance of clockface and lancet barbican reminiscent of an ecclesiastic paradigm schemed by subversives in a mesonoxian fugue who may well have been decollated for their efforts. A seat of aristocratic decadence off limits to the polis who by standing decree were barred from interfering in the general violation of social mores and upon this collection of grim architectural features warrior and child bore down indifferent as the thunder.
Up these broad alluvial steps to the gateway terrace. Armored stag of a crest above the lintel. The doors had been stoved along their cherry grain and the rain had invaded with the rectification of the outrage so long incubating in the poverty below. They tread upon the cracked marble of the foyer. Urn shards littered the grounds and crystal glass from a skewed chandelier. A few bodies facedown clutching spade or trowel. The servant in the cloak room hacked apart with an angle weeder. They ascended the ripped up stair tread rya keeping far of the shattered balustrade whats jagged spindles curved an upward rictus. Into hallways door on door stoved. The quarters of the maids and the kennels of the slaves and the butler and abigail thereof butchered impartially. Scrollwork interrupted by wine stains and other fluids of the interminable orgies for which the estate was renowned. They came to a whelved barricade of furniture where the upper rot of society, having expended all other means and subjects, had effected a last stand with ornamental weaponry of an older age and they were there now limbs and heads mounted to the velvet or leather armatured battlements of chifforobe and trundle. Unpieced busts of ancestors long forgot and many times disgraced were strewn down these corridors through what ruptures of plaster can be seen the plundered dens once mured. Not alone is this insurrection but the irrepressible catastrophe of deviancy and time. The depravity occupying these shadowed warrens has uncottered for the monomaniacal ponderance of mortality no hedonism can sate. No. There is no clemency. Dachni witnessed this wasted opulence with premonition of her own demise where in wood fox gnawed or cold slabbed under surgeons preparing what implements to divide her into nothingness and night.
Clamor of ransack drew them to the home office where remnants of the fevered mob were busy producing articles of guilt from the myriad artifacts of this room of curios. The evidence lay on the desk and when the investigators saw them in the doorway they shouted their finds as though to a judge and a man waved a contract and pointed at the signet seal of the purchaser of services illegal and arcane from mercenary practitioners of the black arts who solicit their trade through crows and nightmares. Signed on the lefthand Krzesisław Paszkiewicz, on the righthand the Cattle Helix. This would have contented Dachni's apathy but the villagers conducted them to the dining hall where they were bid to consider the cannibal repast of human yesterfang and the deviant festering tastes portended. Lace intestines festooned the feast and individual organs were on ice with small blades to pare samples. Fried skins and pickled eyes and little champagne cups loaded with sculpted stool.
Joaquin spoke freely with these ragtags and they professed no knowledge of either his quarry or hers. They suggested a foray into the wine cellar, where they had been loathe to go, and to be careful of their false twins, and to kill Russians on sight.
Is they rusks here?
Her speech elicited wild claims of her nature from the villagers and it was Joaquin's intercession that prevented the lynching that would have otherwise assuredly occurred, the shinebloods having not yet propagated to the southern hemispheres. He deputized her in their presence sans ceremony and they went out.
An alienly feminine chanting drifted up from that dungeon. Otherworldly and unhinged.
Joaquin gave her the pistol and spare magazines. You have gone to hell and to hell and to hell.
Dachni racked back the slides. Lets to it then, she said.
This lower region was a wine cellar first, its gloom relieved by braziers mounted acute to the walls. They scouted through the high flanking stands of puncheons. Their tread upon angry octagrams in venn, their interiors burnt and littered with dead lady slippers and other flowers. She was no stranger to hazards drunk and her thoughts strayed on her thirst but she was already dizzy and this work required sobriety. She broke the octagrams suspecting them profane, tolerating as she did only Apostolic heresies. Perhaps reading in them the gnawing desire for mystery she disdained. But mystery negated is a mystery itself, for creation is mystery thus all mysterious. Older, more articulate, and hostile to enigmas she scribbled speculative works engage the intellect via the outplay of scenarios but in so doing lose the element of mystery whereas mystery for its life relies on hiddenness, its profundity deriving from arrangement.
A flanged goblet stood perched upon a brandrith of fluted human bones. She punted it and pagan dice sailed out and clattered on the floor. The narrow corridor of the wine opened up into a wider chamber. A gramophone played discordantly in a viscous wave of wax, the soil of the wick.
Oh that has the most fuckeds up, he singsonged.
Joaquin circled the filthy smears of candlewax in which the gramophone was decked.
Dachni would have tagged his revolutions but for the spilled dice. An eaglet femur charked on the anterior. A deathshead resting on the sleeves of its jester cap. A bavin of desiccated tadpoles. She stooped to examine a scorched walnut, split along the seam and sewn back together. Through the thread she could see a pair of enormous testes. She felt the auger in her ring finger. At her toes was an icosahedran die made of wood singed each face singed with the same rune. The last was a thimble. When she opened it five pieces more clattered out. Small things but among them a second thimble.
Dachni looked up. Joaquin was strafing slowly into a junction.
Ven aca, he said making quick heeling motions with his fingers.
She fished out her matches and lit one and set the second thimble on fire. She didnt begin to follow until it was consumed and then she ground it out with her heel. Olejniczak was waiting at the corner turn. As she walked she shot the gramophone. A bleeding hole appeared in the case and a more ghostly sound howled out. She shot it again and the back bracket split, spraying blood and the tone arm shoved low and forward and the stylus scratched across the shellac and the horn blared a more whiplash screeching hellish until a third shot killed it altogether.
As she rounded the corner she was confronted with a massive portrait of the manor lineage. It was a peculiar patriarch who would commission such repulsive caricature of himself and Dachni in this comprehended the opposite, the tenants of censorship and the authoritarian need for a perfect representation that can never be achieved and which is the root of paranoia. For originals being flawed how then can the replica be perfect but by deceit and how can the article not perceive the deceit? And the more exaggerated the qualities the more obvious the flaw and if perfection then destruction. A lineage hereafter in martial outfit. Their bleeding hollow eyes. Their gold frogged smocks. Crawling towards this landscape of the dead was a heathen wounded along the side.
Dachni walked past her and touched the portrait. Her fingers sank through. A warm sucking feeling. She pulled her fingers free and the heavy inkish sludge dripped back into the portrait. And was she within? She pressed her face through and kept an eye open but it was darkness and the breath she drew was that othersludge and were she within she were dead.
Joaquin stood over the heathen.
She kicked the heathen over and would have dropped a knee into her sternum but was pulled back.
Hold on we dont do that.
Fuck is dont. You. Where is she? Huh? Talk ye wricked cunt. Yer gonna go the bad way. You talk.
But he would not let her be flayed to a fetus nor stripped of breasts nor would he see her eyes plucked cruelly out.
Fuck ye shes gotta talk.
I dont care youre not doing that to her. We dont do that. Thats wrong. You want to fight someone standup do it hurt em but you dont do it when theyre down.
He palmed her head to stay her but the heathen had expired with a groan.
Now its the chance lost.
Dont worry. Well find her.
Joaquin entered the ink portal and the disturbance rippled to the corners of the pool and stilled.
Dachni tested the heathen with her foot. Ye alive? No. An ye you stupid son of betch. Shit aint waitin.
She jogged towards the portal. As she was to enter it Joaquin barged out and knocked her down.
He turned and saw her lying on the ground and stooped and dragged her back from the portal. Come on girly warrior we have to go.
Dachni stood painfully. What?
They are coming.
Is she with em?
Then lets fuck off.
One of them might know the whereabouts of your friend.
They aint gonna fuckin know.
Dachni started back towards the entrance. At the corner she hollered back at him. Theyre gonna fuck ye up if ye stay. Ye aint gettin no help.
She ran past the murdered gramophone and mounted the steps. The roar of the shotgun stopped her. She jumped up and down twice and ran back down. Olejniczak appeared at the junction. She collided into him and slumped down holding his leg like a pole.
Harry the fuck up.
He didnt hear. He merely checked what had run into him and resumed firing. And what he fired at was a seething tower of flesh advancing across the floor in horrific amorphousness. The wet mouths smacking for parley and the jutting arteries engorged as hoses spouting geysers of blood when ruptured. Dachni added her ineffectual fire against this writhing inexorable tide.
Fuck it! she cried. She grabbed a strut of his exoskeleton. It aint gonna die!
The thing unraveled a face of slanted planes like those of dice. An adherence to geometric order. An affinity for octagons.
She pulled at him again. Lessen! Set the house on fire. Bury it in a burn!
This snapped the warrior out of his daze. He turned and swept her from her feet and ran her to the steps. The moment before they turned the corner the heaping mass finished ejaculating out of the patriarchy. A red scaled fiend of tentacles slavering and wild and drooling a brackish slime that hissed on the floor. It latched its puckered tentacles to the walls and pulled itself through the room.
As they ran through the stands of casks she called out.
Save a wine!
The thing rounded the corner and spit a half digested puck of a man that slid across the floor and took Olejniczak's feet out from under him. He landed on his back and rolled to a side and discharged his shotgun until the tube was empty and then he kicked himself up and dashed up the stairs taking them four and five at a time and with the sucking growling appendages snapping at his hinds. He burst through the doorway so fast he dented the plaster of the far wall.
Calls for amnesty emanated from below. He ran to the door and slammed it and backed away and reloaded the shotgun. The flooring buckled outward.
Give me your matches.
That aint gonna fuckin do it.
No time to argue. He hefted her underarm again and rifled her pockets and came up with the matchbox. They went up the second floor. Below they could hear the walls giving.
It aint gonna work now, Dachni shouted.
He was looking for anything flammable. Drapes. He struck the matches and set the cool diaphanous black veils to fire and they curled upward in daint licentiousness and you could see in their billowing silhouettes of vixens dancing.
They met the villagers coming down a hall burdened with evidence. Unaware of the monster loose. He ordered them down to the kitchen to turn on the gas without lighting the pilot thereafter generate as much fire as they could and escape. They dropped what was circumstantial and went.
A sundering of walls tremored them. Cracks that told the undermining of the structure's integrity. They heard screams below and then they heard the cracking of glass and at a northern porthole they saw the villagers fleeing across the fields towards the woods. Did they manage the gas or no.
Varnish smoke curled out of the rooms from which theyd proceeded. It was hot and dark and the manor was shaking with the ferine prowling of the beast now free and fumigating the manor with its noxious hellos to any potential residents with a cordiality that betrayed a genteel condition.
The upper floors were ablaze now and the fire had backed them to an end of a windowless hall. Olejniczak shattered an exit for them and toting her out climbed down the face of the manor while Dachni puked.
In the end though the thing escaped. They heard it roar and they sank themselves into the mud of the street and watched it burst out of the corner of the house and stampede into a herd of rotting sheep. They fled like a chlorine nimbus bahing in terror and were bludgeoned flat and devoured.
Dachni nudged the warrior.
Quiet, he whispered.
Gotta kill that thing, she said.
Cause she might be in there.
I dont think so.
Dachni nodded sadly her head in the mud. Shes in there.
Following the healthless sour rain filled pans of a stampede in the street her bowels gave. A dark rot that oozed down her legs. She collapsed to her knees and vomited again. She had barely strength to spit the runny seep that flowed into her mouth. A coldness hung out of her. She reached into her pants and pulled out her fetish. Th silver three whose crimes she had long contemplated. She washed it the rancid rainwater and threaded her finger with the chain and clasped the loop and took the helping hand that brought her back up.
The tracks led to the village well where dozens lay slaughtered in common. Bright brass shells in the mud. She sorted the dead. The well was constructed of a section of concrete pipe fitted over the hole with boards laid across. A dowsing stick as might a giant use was fitted into posts and the fork ends wore weight plates. A chain ran a groove along the rod that dipped into the well. She tugged the chain.
She wrapped the chain around her crown and gripped the cold links. Then she mounted the rim of the well.
Why are you going down?
If she aint in there...she pointed towards the rapacious din beyond the izbas, then shes down here.
If it comes stay down.
She descended into a gulf of blackness. Brackish drippings. She had to stop every few seconds to rest. The bricking was badly weathered and when she groped a toehold to ease her descent a section of wall folded out. She kept going. When she reached the bucket she called up.
Ye has the matches!
Theyre gone. Catch the flashlight. Ready?
It flew down. She caught it by the tipped and flipped it right. She turned on the light. It was as she had known, the well stoppered with the dead. She turned up the pile and shined light upon the dead but these Lendians were not her.
Shes not here.
In her reascent she braced her legs against the lining. A brick dislodged. There was a rumble and then it was as falling up through the earth. She scrambled hand over hand towards the squalor light. The cap was sinking into the hole and she clawed over its rim and flung herself to the ledge and landed half upon it. The ground was sinking under her chest and the bodies were caving in upon her. She scrabbled and through them a living arm seized her wrist and pulled her through.
She was not altogether recovered when two barearmed figures contaminated the drabness of the street with their color. In rank tatterdemalion fur dyed pink and white and helmeted in the flowery skulls of cattle, their arms painted crimson and sienna and their long legs ankle to the jade. Rain pattered down. They beckoned and shifted away through the bullet stricken chata. Her vision was blurred but it seemed their legs did not move.
Maybe the last, said Olejniczak.
How many has ye done in?
I contented the Cattle Helix and Mere who with my broad seax I freed the boiling euripus of her veins into highest and unreturning tide.
Killed a here, an another in the mounties.
She rose and shed her shitstained dress and hacked a pair of jeans to ragged length and skinned a jerkin out of the torso of a man and scalped his lock wig and strapped herself with a corset of belts.
Is ye goin affer?
They walked a mucky alley of dead hoggets and shepherds to a sickly pasture near the edge of a wood disease had ruined. Where moldy checkered mounds of cow lay. At the treeline they were. In poor state and now nearer she could see one was convulsing sporadically, light but noticeable, and that her bleeding sister was her support.
Where is she? she yelled, nodding the cleaver in tune to her words.
I too would have answer.
This ye gotta keep out of.
He wore a wolf cape and bore a heavy automatic shotgun and his length was seven feet and broad.
You there littlest, if most fierce, if thou hast voice I charge thee speak.
Who the fucks are you? she wheezed.
Kwiatosław Olejniczak. What art thou if thou be not devils?
Dont know em. Has ye seen a girl? A little girl. Shes a Kazakh kinded desert little. Hasha machine arm.
You there fool, do you not recognize your own kin?
Verily no. Though we speak alike.
We speak the same.
Has ye seen a girl!
Ive seen no sort of that to which you allude. But unfold them your companions. Who are they?
Theyre gonna die.
Is it that Ive disturbed a feud among witches?
Shoot them. An tell ye a secret.
The warrior looked at the heathen.
Refrain most mighty buhaj, said the heathen of the rose, Oxbow.
That was a nickname my mother saved. Speak.
We have business with this spectral viper who has upset the roster of our coven, Lamia additioned. Aroint but with our blessing, Anastazja shall betrothe.
How is this known? What intelligence have you of her?
By Neptune's reflected course along the Black Sea coast her heart we know hopes much as yours.
The warrior looked at the child. Do you too provoke the planets?
Ta fucks planets do with anyfie? Shoot em an Anaya ta dagestai shell have ye kitted to the keys.
The alien king I have heard of. And you hence of her?
But Ive also heard the planets do influence the destinies of men. What then to choose when this child secular seems more the evil and nobler the cause?
Ifn ye aint ta take sides then keep a fuck of the way.
The heathen adjoined together: This too we advise.
Olejniczak ported his shotgun. Ill tarry to see the victor, not for sport but that to her my pledge may go but yet you shant kill a child.
Then small sister thy carnage perform an we shall let the whites of eggs refill your emptied gudgeons.
You we shall calver and jar.
Dost though wish no help? asked the murderer. They are not immune to kinetics.
Not from him. Aint from you.
Then take this.
He handed her a
The heathen brandished badelare and backsword. Thirty paces divided them. Dachni started walking towards them. The walk became a jog that burst into a sprint. The harridan of the rose moved towards her without haste and Dachni knelt genuflected suddenly. The cleaver flipped through the air and lodged in the dipped nasal peak of the ox skull the heathen wore. Lamia advanced quicker, gliding, a petite toe leaving a wake in the mudwater. She thrust and Dachni slid under the blade and discharged
Thirty paces divided them and Dachni started to close it. A walk that became a jog that burst into a sprint. The harridan of the rose moved towards her without haste and Dachni knelt suddenly, her knee harrowing the mud, her forehead below her knee. The cleaver flipped through the air and lodged in the dipped nasal peak of the ox skull she wore. Lamia advanced more quickly, gliding, a petite toe leaving a wake in the mudwater. She thrust and Dachni slid under the blade and discharged the shotgun into her stomach. Lamia exploded in two and a downpour of viscera spilled out of her. But she wasnt dead. She elbowed Dachni in the temple and Dachni staggered back and ducked under the blind swipe of a knife and jabbed again and rinded the muscles from her shoulder. Lamia switched grips and stabbed down and cut open her ass and Dachni overhooked her arm and punched away the cheeks of her enemy. She felt the sword slide up her backside too weak to cut. Herself to weak to do anything but hug her divided enemy. Blood was leaking out of her anus. She shaved Lamia's forehead off and got her fingers under the eyebrows and ripped off the rest of her face. The red muscles gleaned and the whole of her eyes were upon her. She heard the suck of mud and threw herself to the right and the cleaver stuck in her enemy's hip. She pulled the revolver and fired off the last two chambers and threw the revolver away and punched Oxbow in the cunt and torqued the blades. The clit was shorn, the labia was shorn. She kicked the near heel outboard and Oxbow fell and Dachni raked the blades up her pelvis and turned them in her belly and with her empty hand reached through the fascia through the gray coils of intestines and crushed a kidney. The breath of Oxbow passed out of her. Dachni sat up and freed the cleaver from the sister and hacked off her head and the second witch mounted.
Wheres Holfie? she gasped in a daze. Her head bowed into the mud. Talks quick ye aint half dead.
The witch's mouth moved but it was the severed head that answered.
Release her and Ill tell you.
Dachni groped behind her and swam the head against her face. The eyes followed her. Ta fuckin fuck.
I see yet.
Dachni clucked her tongue and thumbed out an eye. The head screamed.
Yell see by a eye not more. An yull show.
When the witch head had ceased her cursing she promised on condition that the child release her sister and reattach her head.
On yours Yandvilai eats ye so show.
And so she showed. By then Dachni could barley stand. Olejniczak gave her an injection and carried her and kept Lamia arrested while the head told the way to a hovel in the woods. The door was booted and the door did not come out of the frame but the frame out of the wall. In the center of the room was a massive hole and by the sink of the painted floorboards towards its dark gape it looked as though something had punched through.
The oven, muttered the head.
Dachni searched the gloom. A large woodstove in a corner. Dachni threw the head aside and rushed out of Olejniczak's arms to the oven and threw open its gate. Therein Holnifa bound and moaning.
She pulled Holnifa out.
She cut away the bindings and they embraced. Holnifa choked on her weeping she was so dehydrated. Three days in the oven lapping water from a dog bowl. Olejniczak gave her his canteen and she drank it empty.
Meanwhile the head had been pushing itself across the floor with an overlong green tongue. Dachni saw it too late. It grinned and winked and with a final thrust tipped itself onto the grading boards and rolled clattering out of sight. They looked into the hole.
Aint goin down there.
I would refrain.
She looked at Lamia. Its gonna come ta you now.
Holnifa watched mutely her prying nails from the floorboards. Long rusty staves of tetanus. When she had thereabouts forty she got a tire iron where it was fitted to the chain drive bolt of a bicycle and she flipped it and caught it by the handle and bludgeoned Lamia near to death and nailed her hands to her face and rolled her in the oven eleven hours to roast.
Buried her in the wastelot in a dung pile
They sat on stumps in the frontyard in a cold drizzle. This lone warrior hailed from Bydgoszcz, an initiate of the Porzadek Poszukiwaczy and tasked with investigating the disappearance of a platoon sent to investigate the sudden quietus of this village Malhowice. He was in the third week of his ordeal and he had not spoken to anyone outside the village in seventeen hours. In the tunnels under the village he had battled creatures defying natural description and he suspected them products of a bioweapons program in acute violation of every weapons treaty of the CSC. A cache of documents recovered from a subterranean bunker led him to believe that the mystery laboratory had been funneled millions in randomized cryptocurrencies through shell companies tied to Nikanor Prokovsky, the majority shareholder of RussSol, a Novgorod energy conglomerate.
Dachni had been damping her friends brow with a cloth and not really been listening. She was feeling a little better and with concentration she could control her bowels. Saw a grayer, she said. He were workin somethin.
Had he purple irises and a shrunken ear?
Aye he haddem both.
His name is Dykas. Hes part of the staff. Or was. Is he alive?
Reckin so. Hates him almost much as thems. He. He took somethin. Somethin outta the floor.
Aye an run off. Doan knows wheres.
Dachni coughed into her fist and when she opened it there was blood.
Olejniczak rubbed the back of her neck. You are an American.
An hers too, she said jostling Holnifa.
I hold methinks a contingence answers to Fadlin. He explains the procedure. First the portraits of the village are acquired, their aliases and occupations, uncovering the relations external to the village. This intelligence gained a ready stock of vat grown humans called men are given surgery to duplicate the countenances of them they would impost. Then there is a night when special purposes comes and these false persons are introduced providing by this infiltration a guerrilla force behind enemy lines, this is the misfortune befallen the souls here.
Dachni paused in her attempts to suscitate her friend. Ye mean all tems in the streets?
Nay. Those I slayed. The originals are in that sleep that the grave best provides. A cellar.
Shitfire they was hunneds.
Ye gunned em down?
The warrior looked off into the gray and pathogenic woods. They put up their fight.
What about that head squawky?
Olejniczak frowned. A soldier begs not the answers to mysteries.
October 23rd, 2606
All night they listened to the groaning of the woods under the new moon. A small taper burned over a dead coal pit. Olejniczak had given her a pistol and they had devised informally a watch and they would one walk the perimeter while the other guarded Holnifa and they would check the witch and check the hole but she could never finish her watch.
In the morning a YAG pulled up to the hovel. An imitation jeep. The driver by his haggardness seemed to have henced from his own adventures and when he got out the warrior hailed him as his saucy giermek. He folded the front seat forward to let the girls into the back and he locked it back in place. Before they left he rigged the hovel with charges and they drove clear of the woods and parked and got out. Olejniczak flipped the safety off the clacker and squeezed the trigger. A thick plume of smoke erupted out over the trees and the trees fell and shook and the ground trembled under them. They got into the YAG as pieces of smoldering bark began to rain down. The driver put the YAG into gear and they pulled away.
Through the rear window she watched the dilapidation of wood and village dispel as some miasmic cancer. Theyd gone about fifteen miles when they saw a checkpoint on the road. A military cordon. They got out. The YAG was taken to a garage for decontamination and they for the same purpose were led to a pod where they were given small strapless goggles and were hosed down by men in hazard suits. They toweled off in the antechamber and were let out through the airlock.
Fresh uniforms were provided and clothes requisitioned from a nearby farm for the children. Dachni was given pills to take with instructions to finish the bottle. An organ sedan was provided along with orders that would have the warrior to a debriefing. They got in and passed the second cordon and were on their way in serener lands. Farm country. Cows in the pastures. Puffy clouds of sheep mending through gates to the shearers by a dog. Even in her exhaustion Dachni pointed out a windmill but Holnifa sat with her head bowed and she would see nothing.
In a few hours they were admitted to a military base outside Gomil. Olejniczak contriving lies for the corporal of the guard pertaining to his children. VIPs. The corporal listened intently and pocketed the denominations covertly and waved them through.
They drove a long road past the base store and barbershop towards a runway where a fighter jet was taking off. The engines screaming less shrill as the nozzles widened. It roared down the runway and yawed up but Holnifa wouldnt lift her head to watch.
They pulled up to a barracks and a private inside the little cubicle logged them in. Olejniczak stared at the sign in sheet.
Jaki dziś dzień?
He carried them to a squad bay where others of his order kept simple quarters. Cots and lockers. Shrines that doubled as the sheathes of longswords.
The paramedic who examined Holnifa remarked of the stitchwork he had not seen such mastery even in his grandmother's quilting club. He administered an antitumescent via the jugular and set up an IV in her cephalic vein to keep her hydrated and started her on a course of antibiotics. She slept. Olejniczak departed for his debrief.
Dachni woke in daylight. A pain lanced her abdomen and blood had stained the seat of her trousers. Holnifa was asleep. She took her pills dry and wandered the bay. The cots were simple twin sized contraptions of canvas stretched taut over steel frames. The footlockers could not have held much. She studied Olejniczak's shrine. It was a tall diptych reliquary that sheathed a wooden bastard sword down its center and which served as its divide. It was the strangest sword she had ever seen. The blade was like a block, three fingers thick, and strings of a nickel alloy ran from the crossguard to the top of its wide fuller either side. The doors opened to a paradigm of unique worship. Strange artifacts of faith. A gas mask. A Polish ensign. A double crucifix with Dismas and Gestas melded at the knees. A rosary. A shard of topaz. A coil of wire around which glass had melted and other items of vitrification. She shut the doors. She started out of the bay but stopped. Three of the order were praying silently at their shrines. She tapped a zealot on the shoulder.
The warrior looked from under his hood at her. Tak?
Is ye gonna watch her? She pointed at Holnifa. Оны қараңыз.
The warrior gripped his hip and turned. Yes yes.
Vending machines stood in dusty rows like upright sarcophagi in a recess of the hallway. Sweet wrapped confections, sodas, coffees. She punched the buttons randomly and moved on suspicious. Upstairs was a weight room that smelled like a weight room. A few olympians bench pressing. Down the hall was a recreation room where the off duty watched the news in a language more foreign to her ears than Aienee.
Downstairs at the guardroom watching the private who watched her inch her hands up onto the counter. He set his coffee down and she scrabbled away the logbook and ran with it to the squad bay and shut the door and locked it. In the columns signatures in blue or black and none alike. The door unlocked and the private caught her by the nape and restored the logbook to his possession.
Przestań pieprzyć na około.
She went back to Holnifa and snuggled up beside her. Are you ok?
Holnifa stared sadly at the ceiling. She didnt answer.
Next time. Less shake the airboat. Ok? Holfie ok?
Hours later a st sierz informed them that the diplomatic mission in Lodz had been contacted and they were busy contacting the Aiegietti. Difficulties arose immediately. Kiev refused access to their airspace and the war stricken Dominion of Romania was under a no-fly zone. Tandem couriers raced to and fro from the barracks to the communications tower and the process of the negotiation was summarized report by report until Kiev had exacted several unspecified concessions.
Who knew the pilot's thoughts? Soaring over where kin in gluttony to those rending ghouls that sup and starve ignorant that to starve is to satiate, ranged under the unminded suns like a revenant what rectification of order could be construed through blood. Or studied herself dissociate and newborn as though her figure from the annals she would efface and leave no more residue than legend where the jagged quill of time had scratched her in the past.
The transport landed around midnight. The doors opened and the pilot with fearsome retinue stalked through the glow of the runway lights, beryl, cherry. Poorly
The transport landed around midnight. The doors opened and the pilot with fearsome retinue stalked through the glow of the runway lights, beryl, cherry. Poorly abiding protocol with the poles who had almost to jog to maintain the illusion of conducting her. The barracks door opened and the pilot entered the squadbay. Dachni began to whimper.
What the fuck happened to your hair?
It were horrible!
How does the general think? Hostility towards the pilot, nationalistic, jingoistic but also a realist. Explore national mythos?
Between the colonies and the commonwealth no intelligence sharing agreement formal or otherwise existed and so when the pilot requested copies of the materials recovered from the village Olejniczak refused. An altercation ensued wherein each pondered the calamitous and eternal night in the bores of the guns that would yet be triggered by a spark. The deadlock was relieved by an adjunct arrived to extend an offer of reception from the base commander.
This commander bore the rank of general dywizji but if this got him any favor at all it was not apparent for his housing was hardly more than a studio flat in a complex that housed the base officers. He was a stout possessor of the longevity gene who showed only forty of his years. In his bedraggled and unbuttoned dress blouse he bore a faint scent of vodka but was otherwise clean. His study had been abroad and he harbored Anglo mannerisms acquired during a stint as military attache to the EAF.
He made no comment upon the earlier confrontation but started right into the toasts that was the excuse to drink. He toasted the progenitor of the Piast and the chipping of his jagged sword against the gate and he toasted the rozpruwacz, that exemplary rifle envied by armies worldwide, and he toasted the martial honor of his country.
A woman emerged from the kitchen and set down plates of salo on blackbread. Ciszej. Dzieci śpią.
Yah yah niewiasta, he said grinning. You see I am the major but she is the general. Its what I said when I was a major.
This woman his wife regarded her guests with the weary and abiding maternity of the destitute like a solemn gaggle that must be managed as a whole without consideration of appurtenance but upon seeing the mangling of Holnifa she stifled a gasp and clucked about her a full minute until she had felt out the wound and then she scuttled back to the kitchen. The microwave hummed. The faucet ran. She came back with a steaming towel in which to wrap her neck and a warm glass of milk.
Meanwhile the general had not ceased to raise his glass and now it was to the honorable violation of human conduct in the name of nations but the pilot cut him short and pressed her case. He downed his shot and set the glass on the table and turned it in his fingers. He looked like a uniformed walrus. He explained the predicament, a tinge of disappointment in his voice in having to explain it. That he was obviously unauthorized to release classified materials, not without review and not to foreign nationals. He gave nuance to the diplomatic situation as he understood it, that the aienee were not impartial to their hosts and even if they were he would salt any word she would give not to distribute the intelligence allowing the high probability that any materials shared would peradventure be leaked to ISEC thereby compromising the security of the państwo.
He continued that the respective political bodies to which they were member had triflingly interacted and so had no rapport on which an agreement could be founded. That the ambassador, a gentleman of noble stock, had been entertained a weekend years ago, had been refused reception again, and his own invitations to repay even this wanting hospitality going unanswered.
The pilot sketched briefly then her government, its hierarchy of castes and though the general knew he listened carefully. When she finished he replied that even in that imprecatory age the illusion of democracy had to be maintained and that the colonial and aienee governments had violated this taboo flagrantly, defying all expectations of conformity insomuch as they were predicated upon cults of personality and that dealings with them invited the censure of civilized nations, the Polish theocratic junta included. When the pilot balked he chuckled lowly and said she aught not be surprised for men were the most adaptable of creatures who if given time could come to enjoy the aesthetic of which specie of raptor pecks his liver.
The wife wrapped her knuckles against his skull. Bądź przyzwoity. She set down a fruit bowl and a bottle of port and went to see about the retinue that had accompanied the pilot. They smoked on the balcony shoulder to shoulder with the order under a flyspeck light bulb in what's dim light rendered them like as conspirators to grave treason. They complimented her on her hospitality and watched the cherries of their cigarettes burning towards the filters and listened to the jets scream like the souls Charon need not palt with his his oars.
Smoke fumed steadily out of the pilot's sides. Her lips parted but before she could speak the general added that hospitality obliged his generosity whilst diplomacy bid her not ask anything he must refuse.
I can call the ambassador if you want.
Im talking to you.
I cant talk about political matters. Its against the law.
The pilot tapped off the ash from her cigarette. Her eyes flicked to the wife as she crossed the little dining room to her husband. Would that I were an aletaster. These documents will help build the case against Moscow. Which helps you. Belarus is a pawn. Dementyev is not so unambitious that he would not try the patience of the nations. Fate has already smiled on him. Who knows what constellations he sees in the night. Fursenko will strike a deal guaranteed. Hell drive straight to Bucharest, to Budapest, to Bratislava. Excused every inch of ground in the name of protecting Russian nationals. Whereupon your province will be enveloped. There is a threshold of outrage which if not exceeded will allow him to Paris. The CSC will tolerate even flagrant violations but while they can ignore only so much any plausible deniability, even nigh impossible deniability, will prove excuse enough for inaction.
The general advanced a forearm across the table and wagged a finger. You think this is the first time weve been invaded? We have survived many conquerors. We stretch back to the alpha, we will reach the omega.
Your existence depends on the balance we provide. I provide. Lets not fool ourselves. I am that fulcrum on which this war turns. Youre an old man. Have I spoken falsely in any regard?
The general wiped the inside of his shotglass with a finger. Ok Im going to call the ambassador. You chat him as much as you want.
Ill have this talk with you. With you. With you. Where is my deceitful speech? Where is the flaw in my logic.
The joints of the chair groaned under the leaning back of the general. Sure you know how old I am. And in this century and sixty years I have learned a secret about lying. I know that the best lie is the truth. The truth out of the wrong mouth is a lie. How do I say it in English? He drummed the beveled edge of the table. Its the intention. Its the intention behind the truth thats the lie. Not quite my meaning but proximate.
The pilot lifted her glass and twirled a little vortex in the vodka. You should say that the motive that expostulates truth fouls that truth. For there are facts immutable and then there is the use of those facts which a faction can fathom and which a faction cannot. Between the ignorance of desire and the use of truth lies the deception.
Youre a cunning little snake.
Silence fell over the balcony. The smoke slowly sucking away into the night. Somewhere behind the trees a car was driving offbase. The wife put a new loaf to the table. Můwić o czymś innym.
The pilot finished her vodka and poured her glass full again. She made to pour another for the general but Dachni mounted the table.
Wetchens! she cried. They was wetches!
The general pulled back the bottles from her knees. Witches?
Aye. Uzz ye leaf uff em?
The general looked at the pilot through the smoke. He waggled a thumb at his betrothed. IM married to one, he said downing his drink. He leaned as though in confidence. And to another before her.
Dachni cackled. But abe really is! First was guys nattam pruned ta wetches.
A quiet murmur resumed on the balcony.
Thats called a trap, said the general pouring another round.
Dachni windshield wiped her legs right and helped Holnifa into the pilot's lap and loaded herself rearwise on the vacant thigh. Ets true. An werbed hayzi scary.
Are witches scary?
Coses is. Ye dont tinks em saries?
He glanced at the shadow creeping up behind him on the floor. His wife shuffled past with a stool. She set it next to Holnifa, her to tend. Dachni gave a double glance in askance and swatted at her like an ornery cat but the wife ignored her.
I never really thought about it, he said. What makes a witch scary?
Dachni stumbled swatting. Casts can...can casts fire.
The general agreed folklore commonly attributed the command of fire to witches.
An is fly.
On dustbrooms at mach 2.
An they ay they annnnnnn wey mopo mope.
The general shot his vodka and poured another glass. Is that Aienee?
No, said the pilot.
Dachni finally leaned over and hugged Holnifa away and glared at the wife. They make potions. Ets a witchy tendency.
The wife dipped her fingers in a slave and massaged it into Holnifa's neck and Dachni pried at her fingers.
An cast spells.
So haint that pretty scary?
The general rested his crossed arms on his gut. No.
I can summon a VF92 combustion chamber and in several hours a drone descends from the sky and delivers. Thats a viable spell.
Ode ye aint huhfaid?
The general resettled in his seat. He thought a moment, deciphering her words. I could maybe be afraid of the witch.
First we have to ask is the witch scary because of what she can do or because of what she is. What is a witch?
Its uhhh...well shitfire dont know.
Why dont we tell between actual witches and those idiot frolics who get high on mushrooms and masturbate in the woods.
Teodor, exclaimed the wife stomping on his foot.
Dachni rubbed her brow. Tweppin bout Miley?
It has no bearing.
Ye mean huntin bears?
I mean what has it do with our discussion.
Oh. No. It were nothin.
OK if you say it must be so. Too much farther we should talk about fetching or hideous. It doesnt matter?
Pretty, said the pilot.
Aye. Prolly dont matter. Ye sure they isnt scary? Caint they make ye see isnt really there?
Men can make themselves see anything.
They was a fwog iffed dog paws.
Bardzo dziwny. Witches are girls. Maybe whats scary about a witch is that a girl can cast fire and eat baby skins and that.
Cant they kill folk in the wishing?
Why not? You can fry a cyborg's brain with an EW suite. Arent we really asking if witches are scarier than anything else? How relatively scary is a witch?
Pretted damn scary.
My paladin tales you bested a pair.
Of witch? Aye did win.
Can you win against an earthquake?
Whats a earthquake?
Its when the ground shakes and rips apart.
Aint really sounded as somethin ta win against.
Bravo, the general said clapping his hands languorously. Maybe then we can say witches are not as scary as earthquakes.
Weahhhh kinded ye could reckon that.
He wobbled his hands like a seesaw. Indifference versus purpose. An earthquake is indiscriminate. A witch has to be specific. They have recipes and incantations and rituals and sabbaths. They are very cerebral. Did you ever hear of a dumb witch?
The pilot had pinched her lips closed. Normal child.
The pilot unveiled her mouth.
The general smiled. I hypothesize the fear of the witch stems from the innocence of the girl. The more ehh immaculate she is the more monstrous the transformation. She can be a maiden she can be a mother but she becomes a witch with powers to do war like evils. Witches are predators. Like soldiers. Theyre agents of war. They have the same abilities. Theres even an estoterr...esoterry?
Esoteric aspect to the soldier.
Where did you learn that word, interrupted the pilot.
I say, said the general, he has command of many powers excess the witch. But thats irrelevant. The soldier is inhuman, the witch is humanity exaggerated. Maybe its that magic has not advanced parallel to technology. Or approach the subject from an anthropological theology. The soldier hypers the masculine, the witch the feminine.
Tat haint hactly it though is it?
Maybe it is it. The soldier has infrastructure at his heels. For every rifle toter there is six and sometimes seven supports. If the witch is patronized by a desk bound wing of the tribe of hell then there really isnt much difference logistically. The witch learns her witchery the way a private gyms his muscles or scholars his tactics. Casting a spell is like calling an airstrike. Witches are supernatural, soldiers is hypernatural. They are produced by civilization and hell and civilization is an imitation of heaven and hell is the mirror of heaven. But since witches are rare and civilizations are not we know what rules the świat. We also know which is scarier. If witches were scarier they would rule butt hey dont. Civilization imbues, no not that word, imbues, the soldier bears civilization on his shoulders. They both channel the will of their kingdoms. Tell me what can a witch do? Terrorize a house? Poison wells? Make crops fail? Or make it rain too much. They can give you a cold. We can absolve cities in a atomic split. We can make forest floor in an hour. We have flechette rockets, hydrochloric grenades, drone swarms, stratospheric bombers, satellite launchpads, plasma machine guns, hypersonic ATGMs, man-carried high burst direct energy weapons, SUDFRs, single use discardable flame rockets, living barbed wire encoded with the palmar reflex, thank Bethel for that abomination. Isnt a landmine a mechanical hex? Ive fought seventeen wars, some momentous, most flashes, but wars. I wont extinguish my dignity but two drawers soiled per war. A witch could not even make me piss my pants.
What if they was affer you?
What is the fairytale of the cookie house? The boy and girl and the stepmother?
Jaś i Małgosia, supplied his wife.
Tak. Important to remember that its the witch got cooked. Theyre not every good fighters. If I had an attachment theyd be reconnaissance. They operate at night. But no matter how powerful the individual, the masses working together snuffs them out like blink. Maybe once upon a time the witch was scary but now? Man is accustomed to worse. But maybe that isnt true. Lets go back. Whats scarier? Two armies gutting another or a knight battling a jedza? The same principle holds true. Whats a knight without his armor and sword and shield? He made none of what he wields. This division of labor gentles the smithy to knighthood. A civilization sends out its paragon to combat the dragon. With the advent of civilization anyone could be a knight but where are our witches? We have no witches left to fight.
Theys witches left. An fought em.
Did you win? Yes he said you won.
So whats the point?
Of our talk?
Ye asked on witches.
I never asked.
Surred yessed. Ye asked out em.
You brought up the subject.
The general looked at the pilot. What is your opinion on witches?
The pilot had one arm behind the chair back. Whats a witch to me? If they exist very well. If no nothing is lost except witches. I agree that the archetypal embodiment of the feminine perverted is the fear of the witch but that is nothing. There is fear of the whore. There is fear of the matron. There is fear of the spider. What son has looked upon his mother and not seen the dry sucking of the matrix's dead lips? The dead aridity from whence he was evacuated. There is fear of everything and few fears surpass others. To say there is fear of feminine is what?
How then against witch legions, not thy typical sixth?
The general shrugged. There are no such legions. If there were an airstrike.
The pilot smiled. If a portal to hell opened.
He laughed. Drop a nuke down the hole and then cap it with geothermal spike. Free energy.
If the devil showed up.
Weve got the fiddles to fuck him up.
If Jesus came again.
He guffawed. I have 2x4s in my shed. And Tobiasz next door? Hes a damn fine cieśla.
They left early in the morning. Boarding the transport she turned. Rain had sweetened the air with the odor of grass and asphalt. The control tower stood like a medieval turret. Hardened hangars lined loosely the runway and between them the wide hatches of the subterranean launchpads. From the tower someone waved but she didnt know who. The pilot tugged her in. She grasped wildly for Holnifa and pulled her along.
As she stepped in her feet left the ground.
Hey hey hey sumtins wrong! Sumtins wrong!
She flailed above deck.
Theres no gravity in here, said the pilot touching a seat upside down to face her.
Dachni wailed. She looked back and the torque spun her. The right world without whipped away. She saw the pilot touching nothing like those saints foretold to be raptured and she saw the retinue rising. An arm hooked her waist and then Holnifa was before her and they were spinning together. She was almost crying.
Whats going onnnnnn?
Барлығы жақсы, said Holnifa. Барлығы жақсы
They twirled upwards past the pilot. Holnifa reached up to brace their landing against the ceiling, her fingers flexing in the absorption of shock and rebounded down again.
Okokokokokok less sit. Ok?
They floated down smooth as the figures of a music box.
Holfieeee! Holfie wanna set down! Wanna set down!
Holnifa held to her, her lips upon her shoulder, smelling her soapy smell. The ramp retracted into the deck and the doors closed. The engines hummed. Radio chatter emanated from the cockpit. The aienee buckled in. Holnifa sang to her.
They flew the permissible corridor back to colonial airspace and farther into the desert. In that flyover she would not have guessed the land so ordered. Patchworked like a quilt and only the water courses to disrupt them. And was water the giver of life that which interrupted the plans of men?
They flew far the permissible corridor back to colonial airspace and farther into the desert. In that flyover she would not have guessed the land so ordered. Patchworked like a quilt. The gray quadrant blemishes of cities, the tanny towns. They flew low enough that she could make out autos.