The Goat (Part 86)

I have spent most of the week with willow fluff in my eyes. Why is no one else affected by this stuff? I did a Google search, and it seems there are no more than two references to the phenomenon across the entire internet. Clouds of hairy tree seeds fill the air, and everyone skips through them with impunity. Why are they drawn to me? What mystic force sucks them to my eyeballs? So much blindness and pain… A pox on you, willow. (But not on the film, of course, which is fluffless and awesome).

Anyway… Here’s the next bit of story, while I still have enough vision left to write:

The creature struck with terminal wrath, its malice honed to a razor’s edge: a guillotine blade plummeting to impact; an earth-splitting blow that sundered my consciousness, smashing to the root… but like a sword thrust glancing off bone it deflected, scarring but leaving my core intact. I felt it circling, its efforts redoubled as again it stabbed and tried to pierce the marrow—but I braced tight in the kernel of my mind, steeling myself as the force of its fury thundered upon me, enduring the storm through sheer determination… and I knew then that it wouldn’t take me: it could kill my body but it couldn’t have my soul, and I would fight the thing—I would fight it unto death—

Get away from me,” I shrieked at the world, straining against the contagion in my head… and with the laboured contractions of a woman giving birth I dislodged the clinging mass from my brain. Its tendrils grasped, tearing chunks of me with them, but I didn’t care—I couldn’t care how it hurt me—and with all my focus, the power of my will, I rejected the worming corruption from my mind—

A sudden and total relief overwhelmed me: it was out; I was free. In gasping exhaustion I threw back my head and screamed with the joy of it—alone in my mind; the pain ripped out of me, like rotting tumours cut from my flesh: its absence exquisite, the greatest pleasure I had ever known…

And for a moment I thought it was over.

Then I saw the room laid waste about me, the air crackling with purple light… and the creature rising hideous before me: immense and unstoppable…

I tried to shout, to screech my hatred, my defiance of its foulness—but my voice squelched, my mouth spewing blood-spit as my senses dissolved in the creature’s roar… and I felt the barbs, the skewers in my lungs…

I looked at the feelers buried in my chest and remembered their pain, their sick violation. Crying in horror I clutched at the legs, the creature’s bones pressed into my body… and realising that my paralysis had gone, I understood that it wanted me to fight: to hurt myself as I wrenched at the spears rooted in my organs, tearing my own flesh as I struggled…

I wept at the damage done to me: the barbs grating against my bones as I grappled with the feelers, their jagged serrations stripping my hands as I gripped and pulled… and I couldn’t stop as I felt one give—as I dragged it from my body, a piece of my liver sucking from the wound…

Enough,” I sobbed, my voice failing, my hands falling, knuckles on the ground. “You bastard. Enough.

But as the creature advanced—the creeping segments of its limbs surrounding me; its tentacles arching over my head—I saw in the blackness of its eyes the satisfaction, the cruel anticipation…

It would never end. It would never let me go. I had beaten it in the only place I could, even shamed it somehow, and I could feel its rancour, its desire for revenge…

There would be no death. I knew that now. It would torture me for daring to defy it… torture my body to the brink of destruction and keep me there, holding me forever…

And that was my fate. I had fought so hard, suffered so much… I thought I had won… and this was my reward…

More than my wounds, the injustice of it crushed me. I remembered all the times I could have died—just given up and died—and I had clung on for nothing. No princess for me. No happy ending. Nothing but pain. And even as I stared in fear at the beast—this impossible nightmare come to destroy me—I felt the anger flaring inside, the bitter resentment of all that had happened—

Come on,” I screamed—and I couldn’t speak, but I shouted in my mind: “Come on, then. Do it.

And suddenly the heat of rage was upon me: a shaking madness fuelled by my terror. I grabbed a feeler sticking from my chest, and failing to uproot it I reversed my grip—started pushing it deeper, further inside me—

Do it, you bastard. Kill me! You coward!

Blood spilled out as it tore my lungs, and still I shoved it—and still I couldn’t die.

You can’t even kill me! You piss-ant—

The blood clogged my throat… but I coughed it up, hawking a mouthful of filth at the creature. I saw the legs, the tentacles bristling as my blood dripped off its face. I could see the venom, the power in its eyes… the devastating fury… and I didn’t care. I couldn’t make it stop, so I chose not to care. Instead I challenged it to hurt me. For no matter what it did, how it damaged my body, I refused to bow. I refused to let it break me.

Go on. Do it! Or piss off where you came from—

And as I spoke, the beast began to rot: the remaining flesh sagging from its body, dropping in rancid clumps to the floor; the hair and hide peeling from its face; the eyes deforming, running into jelly…

I watched as the goat head split and crumbled, burst by the mass expanding from within: a shapeless, glistening knuckle of bone, its surface creamed with thick white fluid. I saw at the centre the chasm of its mouth: the same black pit I had seen before, full of feathered tongues and the shadowed glow of strange dark light…

And blown from the depths came a scorching gale: the blast of its roar growing hotter and stronger, taking my breath and charring my skin—

DARE TO LOOK AT ME

I shrank at its voice, howling in pain as the burnt meat flaked from my chest… but the agony enraged me, only made me crazier, more recklessly defiant. I stared at the creature, willing it to die as I shouted my contempt—and even as the words grew lost in my throat, swallowed in blood, I gargled obscenities and spat in its face.

Even as the head began to swell, the rift in its centre gaping in my vision, I kept my gaze fixed on the creature—locked hard on the focus of my loathing. I felt it repelling me, driving me back—and in retaliation I reached into its core… I stared into the void opening before me, the blackness dilating, the lights coalescing…

I saw eternity.

The heart of the creature.

I saw the breadth, the depth of its existence—the dark constellations enfolded in its mind… I felt the truth of my own insignificance… the smallness of the world, of everything I knew…

I saw a being unrivalled in power. I felt its authority: its natural right to claim my life… to exert dominion over all that lived…

I saw a god.

And still I defied it.

To hell with you,” I shouted in the darkness, pushing forwards—into what, I couldn’t tell—as I fought for the hopeless sake of fighting: knowing I would lose but refusing to submit, trying just to get one blow against the creature—to hurt it somehow, and make it remember that someone disobeyed it—that no matter its power, someone dared to stand against it—

And suddenly it yielded: resistance collapsing as the forces parted; the dark energies surging to enfold me as I pressed into the void… time and space warping around me as I fell, screaming, losing myself in the creature’s mind—

© 2015 - J. D. G. Leaver

To be continued…