by Artoria Sahnow
Egosch, foremost artist of esoterica and infamous horror, was sermoning again and on the matter of precision, once more for the new learner, young chap brought in of late months to pitch-silent wooden Ghennsberg. Within the forest-bordering workshop, the new lad, Franz Wandlunger, echoes playing in his ruddy ears, nodded affirm of the statement. A simple mistake: yet it was perfection required, and like most the prospect of labouring art under Egosch was as good as it should think to be; yet with no name attached, and only a modest sum after a year.
Latest piece to be seen, a variation: girl, jewel skin and tawny hair, enveloped within shrouds of enclosing aberrant nightmare, pulsing fleshy beast; the artist’s impression of daemons; it was this recent style that had drawn Franz, as he had always been overtly fond of Egosch and his oft-hidden erotic miasma of the visual, nasty sort—youths in the embrace of horned satans, brutal black-scaled dragons; and that would have been cause enough to travel to Ghennsberg, yet it was these beyond the Palest Hell creations of newest year that drew his soul; he saw in them a form beyond the trappings of skin, the rotten flesh bestowed by insane fathering spirit; to get close to the mind who brought them forth and portrayed them so elegantly, so he, too, might craft a perfect form in image.
Yet it soon became clear that Egosch did not take students. He hired replicators to craft once more and again, et cetera, copies of his oils and etchings; none stepped within his artist’s fold, kept away at all costs; they were mere observers of pornographic product, consigned to drudgery. Franz set to discern the workshop, to see unfinished drafts; yet, he could not, and in frustration, had fumbled a brush.
“These are the great erotic works of our time,” cried Egosch, “and they cannot be befuddled by amateur craft. You must be vigilant in consistency—perfection, indeed!”
With the dressing down complete, Egosch took Franz aside.
“What is it, boy? I had been told of your skill with a brush and a knife, and yet you cause this ruckus.”
Franz turned from the artist’s maleficent coral.
“Address my sight, boy,” the artist confirmed.
“I am sorry, great Egosch. It was a simple mistake, and not one I shall repeat.”
“You must let me know if there are any problems working here. I am open to helping you, as I must, your benefactor. I am, thus, a father; and you a son. So speak to me.”
“I had hoped that you might take on students. I became distracted from the realisation that it is not to be, and faltered.”
“This is a journey only I can take. If you wish to copy my style in your own work, as you copy it now, then have at it; yet you shall not do it here. These are my works, and your hiring made this clear. The workshop is for the artist; the workroom, for the copyists. Is this clear?”
The boy nodded. Released, the replicators took Franz to a tavern serving unfiltered ale. As they mocked him, he watched their brown teeth chattering; and beyond those bleak maws, the tonsil-flesh, into the gut-flesh, and was almost sickened from his drink entirely, if not for its future need.
“Simple, dark Wandlunger thinks he’s too neat to muck dung with the rest of us,” scowled Brecht, mighty of shoulder and bald. “When is your next fuck-up, Franz?”
“I shall not make another mistake,” his words a stutter, and they fell to the ground. Bretor crushed them underfoot.
“No, you shall not. Our pay is eager to be docked for this, Moor,” cooed skeleton-pale Evert.
“I am no Moor. I am no man at all. Be scowled.”
“Indeed you are not,” said Brecht. “Little Franz the pervert. Do you wish to speak again?”
The staunch, sweaty man gulped ale from the flagon, much of it sinking his shirt, showing carved form, rosy as skin of one of Egosch’s doomed youngmen.
“I should speak all I like, fool.”
Franz was to continue, yet was swiftly cut short by the fist of Brecht, who slunk him sharply to the boards. Franz let out a cry, that of a boy, and was reminded of the child-flesh that came before the man-flesh, and its wretched translation. And before another note, Evert and the other colleagues were surrounding, getting a kick in edgeways. Franz proned, a hedgehog without pins, awaiting silence and the end of suffering.
“Blasted idiot Moor. No man at all, indeed you are not, indeed you fucking are not.”
Franz Wandlunger, still dripping sanguine mucus, crept through the alleys of tacit Ghennsberg, tail between his dripping legs. One of Evert’s boots had let the day’s urinal guerdon from his bladder, wasted upon the salvage of the drinking hole. Tempted to secure it, Franz took his beating alone and stole. No folk passed him, and with no ruckus, entered the boarding home and ascended.
From door ajar came a voice:
“Franz? Are you well? Hello.”
Fieke, round and skin of marble, watching and waiting. Her gown was open a touch, to sexualise; Franz turned from the sight. She was the landlord’s daughter, just nineteen, and a year older than Franz himself; her coils often draped her breast, golden.
“Perhaps tonight you would take company?” she continued, as she did many a night. Wandlunger without a word frowned and closed his door, occluding the unsightly, beautiful lady-flesh.
Water he drank, in copious volume, whilst sketching a being of his own devise: three arms, this one, no face; yet with its body he knew not what. Left it blank. His imagination was a pauper’s, next to vile, introspective Egosch. What muse slept in his mind, what marvel of modelling? What could he be, Franz Wandlunger, puritanical only in talent? Three arms and no face… a worthless folly, next to the bulbous, palpating pustules of the great workman. He retrieved from under his bed a copy by his own hand: elfin boy, younger than Franz himself, engulfed within flabby folds, the corpulent limbless daemon consuming the youth soon entirely.
His bladder was, at last, full. He revealed his lanky cock and, staring at his own work—Egosch’s fine art—took the necessary tugs. It took not long, as ever, before he released, and the coagulation of piss and semen glid sylphlike through the barren space, coating his lips, and sinking down his longing throat. The cross-stream of yellow urine and silky milk merged across his tongue, nose, eyes; at last, at last—! Yet, it was not the perfect storm, as only ale crafted the claggy spume he craved most; the sickening, rude Evert and his cloddy boot had stoled his golden moment.
Not a movement on the bed. His aching back supported his chest’s ponderous wax and wane, the liquid still loose and languorous, a marginal stream escaping his hands as he rubbed it in and licked it off. Salt. Not just the sputum of his penis, but that of his eyes, too. He tried to dredge an animal howl from his empty guts, and all that emerged was a petty sighing croak.
The next day was his last under the employ of Egosch. For inside that solemn workroom, the artist was blazing with fury: his workshop intruded, the key absconded with the thief; and every finger, led by Brecht and Evert, pointing at one Franz Wandlunger. He cried resigned innocence as Egosch bellowed.
“Failure you are, despight my view at once! If I were a father, then now you are an orphan! If you do not return the key within the day, I shall be forced to have you arrested.”
The artist would not hear of Franz’s whines. Brecht threw Franz from the workroom with a cruel wink.
That day of employment lost sunk low on the horizon, for the hours had been cursed stalking the stream that swept Ghennsberg past, awatching kidren aplay, and how pleasant they seemed in mood, with no fear of hunger on their heads, and they kept far from bleak-mooded Franz. Past the church, steeple chiming with a smile, and the racket of the market, until a sheer rain fell and, soaked to his core, Franz returned home, spurned the affections of slender Fieke, and musturbated until his naked form was covered head to toe in glutinous seed. Lying upon his bed, he drank vast gulps of water and surreptitious ale, and, angling his flaccid cock upright, spurted geisers of foamy urine all across himself, that bony brute form of hatred, his rough cotton sheets sodden through, and soon asleep upon them.
When he woke it was dark, and still raining. From his slatted window, he could see no movement upon the waterlogged streets. Retrieving a fire poker from the downstairs place, he left the boarding house, with not a cloth on his back nor legs. Skulking across the town, only rats and chasing cats crossed his sole path, backways all soaked in muck, then mixed with the piss and semen dripping from his legs, cleansed in unwelcome rebirth.
Brecht lived on the other side of Ghennsberg, a shadow’s long throw in the maelstrom. Drenched hair frizzy and wild, he found himself at last outside the abode of nemesis, and he knocked. Knocked again, firmly. There was a clunk as the portal unbarred, and as the darkness within became apparent and a figure now in view Franz brought the sabrous rod up and around to the tune of a skullish crunch; standing astride on the threshold, it was not Brecht, but an elder man, lightly snowy beard and wide green eyes, in an oddly-patterned floral nightgown—his groinal member was erect, and as he fell, the wrinkled limb sprang forth ejaculating wantonly and his bowels evacuated, watery black excrement bursting across his thighs, and the man only had a simple and petulant groan in his chest, and he lay on the ground grumbling and twitching, and the wound on his head bulged and prolapsed, pink coiled patterns thoughtfully on show; yet his cries swelled as did his shit and sex liquid pool, the stench noisome in the quietude of the home, outside it was still raining—softening his grunts and mortal belches; to quell the old timer, Franz inserted the rod into his eye, which burst and gurgled up around the iron bar, a pulpy matter transluscent and viscous. The man made no further sounds.
Further inside, a cry, distinctly that of hateful Brecht:
“Petrus? Is there trouble?”
Stepping through the old man’s slushy dung, blood-sorbed Wandlunger calmed in the shade of the house and held firm the poker. Then could be seen the mighty form of Brecht, striding forth, nude as the night. Seeing the poor elder, he ran, and fell to his knees.
“Petrus! Petrus, awake, please, awake.”
His voice held no malice, higher-pitched in this sudden onset of grief; yet it uttered not long as the poker once more sailed. The mountain crumbled, inert and facedown in the excrement. Franz swung the stick until the villain’s head was fully mixed with his lover’s shit, a red, pink and brown soup sprinkled with molested shards of scullbone. Wandlunger collapsed and sighed, closing the door, allowing the salty streams of sight their secretion. Look at these living corpses; even in their stillness they mock me; begone, stinking scum of skin—! Franz could not be like them; they were as detached as his own false hide; and they must had of course been fucking before his approach, cock stuffed raw in bloody arse, as vile as the birthright ritual of procreation, a cock to a cunt is as putrid as any anus; sick, sick, and sick.
He picked his own sore bones up and sludged within the home. The bedroom held his rightful property: hidden unwisely within the dead man’s clothes found the artist’s silver key.
Still with skewer in hand, he found himself at the workshop of Egosch. Beyond the workshop, the forest. Commune of wooden cocks hairy with pubic leaves to fuck the sky. Bush, foliage of flesh. He was within the studio. A draft lingered, darkness all beset. Franz stumbled about witlessly, drowning in unfinished drafts. These were they: his now, his own Egosch stash, a collection of crying youths carved and oiled, even in the meagre light a perfection untold.
Wandlunger upon a desk a lamp discovered and lit. Staring closer. Immediately masturbating. Shooting dregs upon the craft. His own models, his studies, those he had replicated one hundred over. He covered them all, dry by the end, as was the sky, only crackling thunder the score, and prior a strife of shattered levin cleansing light into the lonely gallery of unfinished visual glossolalia.
That was the revelation, the levin: apocalyptia engorged, never to know peace once more; and why? Why should he?—what in sod was it?—other than… beauty—
—it lay atop stone altar :hermetic within lacunae recesses of artist studio: fleshy nay not fleshy but bulbous and pulsing —amorphous was coined to fathom this thing this hideous carmine wonder;; constructed by whom by whom— was this indeed the work of egosch— and if so by what material did it move in such demisquamous undulations and secretions, ,as it leaked all around a diaphanous lymph upon its now cerulean twisting bulk and (franz stepped ever closer to) its glory its impossible perfection—! in form effluent ebullitions halycon astounce in swollen pungent regality—! and if this were not a mirror then why continue why live why breathe—
Franz found himself upon the floor once more. And if it had all been a crashing vortex of dream then he would have finished himself there and then. Yet he was quite awake. And above him the workshop was lit up and a voice enlivened: Egosch himself was present.
“So, you have seen my muse… you have gazed upon daemonia personified—dementia incarnate. Since you shall not see out the night, Wandlunger, I would tell you of this most fortunate discovery.”
The embittered artist was wielding a blade, and had stolen away Franz’s poker.
“In the woods one night, there was a great flash… a comet, they said. Yet the artist’s eye is closer than that. I knew something was amiss… so I followed it out, for I heard a great distant crash. There in a clearing was a sailship with no sail. It was forged of purest steel; yet, of no human construction. It was not large, a sphere; within was this foul creature…”
Egosch signified the thing upon the altar. Franz’s eyes still could not focus entirely upon it, for it shifted and morphed constantly; its shape was impossible, infinitely chaotic, as unstructured as flame; in colour it coded itself by the second; and of its limbs, it had many, and none.
“You have of course—smart lad you are—recognised it from my work. I took it from that smouldering steel sphere—cleverly hidden later in the brush, I might add—and rehomed it here in my domain. For nigh a year I have worked with it. I have found ways to command it. It can hold many a shape for many an hour if given the right encouragement… which is to say, the boon of sustenance. Tonight you shall join my gallery, lad, although I will change your face for the public, as is my wont. Yet, it is fortunate… I have never carved a Moor.”
Egosch continued his sermon. At the same time, thoughts came to Franz; thoughts that were not his. They told him to slay the artist. So he did.
The scuffle was over without much fuss. Egoch was distracted, gloating, aged. Franz lept and grasped the iron shaft from its location and swung up and around, splitting the artist’s jaw asunder, and he fell back as his blade clattered, forwards, sideways as the poker struck once more and once more again, et cetera. Into the folds of the unspeakable, and what was left of him thought to cry out as a slurping prepuce unfolded and enveloped.
As nature, Franz grasped a knife. In precise strokes he sketched efficiently and with grace. The carving, finished in under an hour: the last gasps of Egosch. A face still choking out, and all Franz could think to do was put his penis in its broken mouth, and caress until seminal fluid shot across the dying craftsman’s bloody lips.
Thoughts again in his head: a hunger of gratitude, a plea for lonely sympathy, an unending plight of an ageless being, exiled and released across the spheres. Wandlunger sat by the beast and caressed its flesh; which was not flesh at all; like pressuring the lake’s articulated ripples and receiving resistance. It was firm yet tender, and Franz cried to watch it unfurl slowly, weakly. Its body was dry and crusting, a hardened shell where there ought to be unrestricted waves. The thoughts told him of betrayal and slavery, of oceans of man-fish, sleek mammalesques and krakens, and this being but a facet of unending deep. No sky, no land; simply water and stars.
This land bore those who were not constrained by land’s material; the ambit of ocean let those inclined to stretch forth in consuming liberty. Franz ached. So it was simple: he had been gifted cruelly to the wrong sphere, to waste away in man-meat than extend forth righteously as he must. Please feed me; please take me to water, the thoughts uttered. The artist had kept the being on a starvation regime; it was perishing in the aether of the plane, for usually it would feed hourly in surround of life-giving liquid.
“But I cannot,” groaned Franz, “for you are too wondrous. I have just found you, and now I must give you away? I must know you. Please.”
He had to look away from its churning, bubbling form; it overwhelmed his senses on the primordial level, filling him aflutter, feeling his grip loosen… he had to look away, or else go mad from the beauty.
The night was still fresh, the weather clear. Franz dragged the mighty form of Brecht along by the legs, a nightmare quest, believing to be caught any moment. He could not take it. He found a dark alley and hid the corpse amongst refuse and rubble. The old man would be no good; the thing must be fed just as Egosch portrayed.
Across town, he stole back into the boarding house, and, silent-footed, returned to his room and dressed. Then a gentle knock on the opposite door. It unlatched.
“Oh, Franz? You come for me?”
“Fieke, I must have you at once. You shall accompany.”
Ghennsberg, shrouded in low-clinging penumbral fog, sang not for the couple as they crossed the streets towards the forested borderlands. Wandlunger spoke of a secret place where their flesh may meet, and Fieke sighed and blushed.
“Come, come… we are nearly there.”
So cold, damp inside the studio. The being enlivened, sensing the tender flesh.
“What is this?” Feike lilted cautiously.
“A work of art. Look, closer.”
As the landlord’s daughter gazed upon the being, Franz pushed gently, watched her cascade into hoary hummocks. Her clothes dissolved, her bare body coiled with sticky members, her mouth stalled, her eyes agape. Franz tingled all across, grinning lucidly as the Tarot’s Fool. For the sweetest, swiftest three hours, he cut across red oak, forming its impossible outline, its amorphous excess, its grim glory. One aspect was missing: the consumed girl. Her absence made the image pure, untainted by skin-meat; mixing his ejaculate with coloured oils to enamour the being’s lusty lugubrum.
With first daylight breaking, the creature belched, the last croak of Fieke within its bottomless belly. Two meals had embiggened the beast, and it roiled and curled its full pulpy pustule slowly around the artist’s lair with a form of childish glee. Franz looked at it, and then at his work; there was little left to achieve. Cold bile struck his gut as the thought returned, that he must free the being, or else watch it perish.
“May I not keep you here? I could feed you daily; I could…”
The thoughts spoke that it had not long left on land. This sphere’s aether was too much; indeed, even its water may destroy it, but it would certainly increase survival to swim.
“A blessing to have known you, and to be your liberator,” sniffed Franz, eyes welling to see it in less sordid, crippled state. The thoughts told him to come, to touch, to feel, to experience. It would not harm him; for how else would it find a home? It needed him, as he needed it, and it would consent.
Wandlunger finalised the portrait: a masterpiece to succeed the puritan eye of Egosch. No talent could indeed portray the beauty of the thing, its intricacies, its lone solitude, its inhuman heritage of indepictable perfection. Yet this he could with, away from Ghennsberg, foster future flashes of febrile fondness; a memory of the arcane eros alight inside. And; perhaps… his muse may someday seek him out, and visit, in whatever form it may choose… any and all would be as good as the other. Franz’s heart ached.
Approaching the being, he draped a finger across its voluptuous flanges. It shivered, stirred, shifted, a formless florescence; its pupace broke open, sanguine androgynous feelers emitting and dancing naively; Franz preened its glabrous labia as his right hand cut his cock to blissful shreds. The beast brushed aside his hand and enveloped his penis, squeezing gently, sliding its limb across the shaft, under the hood, down the slit; the pain was sharp and grand, and it took all he had not to ejaculate then and there; he let out a stream of urine, warm around the mass of malforming tentacles. Cerulean suckers attached to his skin, and he gave himself, all of it, to the creature. He was within it, around it, beside it; for the moment, he was as it was, and all foul flesh was forgotten. He was no man.
Orchid orbs crept from its pupace and sank into his mouth. The labial disc dilated, absorbing Franz’s groin; he began to move with it, a slow waltzing sway. The thought came to him then; that there may be enough shared material for his seed to fuse with its ever-gravid womb, a kemmering heat to carry new life. The thoughts uttered promises to seek his company by the river’s edge, once it had reconstituted; that together they may fuse, and flood the spheres throughout; Franz found himself picturing the scene in his mind’s eye; yet it was not just his: they were thinking together, moving together in arhythmic concupiscence, sharing body, mind and spirit; there was no man-meat, no seminal mush, no putrid pubic hair; there was one being, Franz-thing; nay, nameless; an ocean stretched out, the stars above and around it; a cosmic orgasm of fretted antiflame, a liquid love, polyform and perfected.
The time spent was unknowable; Franz fidgeted, finding himself panting and spent upon his knees. He was drained, not a drop of semen left in his bulging, burning gonads. He sat softly urinating, stroking the being’s mauve mass, which had shrunk again, that scabrous film coating patches of its pluming pulp.
“I know it is time,” he said. The thoughts affirmed, yet reminding that they would meet again.
He stood, and illuminated their journey: if the being could form into a flabby sheet and attach to his shoulders, he would stride the tangled forest to the westbound stream; there it might find passage to the seas. It had no ability to form useful land-limbs, so Franz’s meagre muscle would be the sole saviour. Yet it would be perilous, for wolves roamed the woods; and huntsmen hid the copses at such time, to spring traps for foolish does.
The being grasped his shoulders, and Franz tugged. It was yet light for its volume, yet still a challenge; yet he was adamant. Step by step, he dragged it to the door. Flinging it open, he stared into the eyes of evil Evert.
With Evert were the other workmen, seeking Egosch; and each stepped back in horror at the sight of clothesless Franz, the being draped across his back like a lunatic shawl.
“Wandlunger—what in sodding God is that?”
Franz hadn’t any words. No absolution, here. He backed up, stuttering. Hoping. Hoping that they would forget, and just retreat to the workroom. Yet the skinny man followed him into the craftsman’s den.
“What have you done with Egosch, you sick lump of dung? What is this thing you carry? Is it a sack, ye? Containing the artist? Look at the blood dappled on the planks! Speak, cadful wretch, or I’ll stone your mouth out!”
The other men were collected too in the studio. One bellowed insanely, falling to his knees, that the sack was moving. That it was alive. Another screamed and fled. Evert’s visage unhinged, and he grabbed the fire poker. Franz clutched Egosch’s lost blade, and held it forth.
One of the number dashed towards the prone, constricting being, crying to tear it open to release the trapped artist. Another joined him. Franz swung the dagger to and fro, cutting at their maddened grips. Thoughts found their way to Franz’s mind: wordless terror, a child clutching at its mother; carmine tendrils curled up his legs.
Not a man in the room was sane. The sight of the thing in movement was too much, and Franz’s blade too puerile in length to abay them. Evert stood forward and swung the poker.
Once again, Franz Wandlunger awoke on the hard wooden flooring. He had dreamt of an endless ocean where he and his lover had absconded for eternity; out there, limitless, bonding in blissful blue, peaceful predators translating one another in iterative ideals. Its thoughts whispered sweet farewells, and then there was silence.
His vision returned as he stood, blood trickling down his face from a profuse gash. A cold grey mass congealed upon the ground; covered in abrasions, penetrations, bite marks, half a man stuck inside it, a final, desperate meal unfinished. Three others rolled on their backs, cackling lunacy. Evert cradled his own head, repeating some minor phrase again and once more, et cetera; the rest of the moron-meat had fled.
The knife lay not far. Kneeling down, Franz picked it up and observed the remnants of that thing that had once danced so fluidly, had chromatised calmly in eldritch pigment; it was still, and colourless. Now he only felt sickness, and he vomited, the spew splashing across Evert’s head. Franz silently pushed the man onto his back and cut his throat, squeezing so that the spray decorated his masque and graced his thankless lips. Each other dabbling lunatic followed, a fine slash across the next. His work complete, he observed his portrait of the thing: it did not capture its formidable, otherly essence. There was nothing left. Distant, down in Ghennsberg, a panic was arising, as the first church bells rang out.
He separated the half-eaten man-meat carcass from the thing’s hardened, stonelike form and lifted it. It was flat, the bottom straight as a board, yet lighter than cloth. Franz felt it might crack if he were to drop it. Through the morning mist he trudged. Penile trees still erect. His own, unstirred.
Hesternal, hesternal, hesternal; chronia concluded. Flesh reigned. No starry depths. No lux thoughts to caress, no amorphicity on this cold plane.
He lowered the stagnant, solid stone into the stream. It broke apart like sand, glittering in finality; he watched it scatter as sediment, never to bear his child, never to return; a saline memory, and not long to last, at that. Pulchritudinous aberration, angelic nightmare; dead otherling, transmogrifying dalliance, sunken muse. Franz—weary man-meat, speckled with blood, piss, vomit and semen—stood on the breezy banks, alone.