I just finished another short story – about six and a half pages – and I must personally say that I find this one the most disturbing of all those I have written so far. It truly embodies Lovecraft’s cosmic indifference, I think, and brings up some truly disturbing thoughts – and also has a neat little poem at the beginning of it! I don’t normally write poetry, so it isn’t particularly brilliant, but here it is:
This is an affliction of the Body – It will destroy your Flesh.
It will weaken your Mind and tear open your Head.
This is an affliction of the Mind – It will destroy your thoughts.
It will weaken your Spirit and tear open your Self.
This is an affliction of the Spirit – It will destroy your Will.
It will weaken your Life and tear open your Existence.
That which is an affliction of the Body, Mind, and Spirit
Is that of the Soul – And it will destroy your Being.
That poem is, in essence, also the story. Here’s an excerpt:
An affliction of the body is better than an affliction of the mind. An affliction of the mind is better than an affliction of the spirit. That affliction that is of the body, mind, and spirit is an affliction of the soul, and an affliction of the soul will destroy you.
It came to me first as an affliction of the body. It was not separate from its symptoms, yet lived inside me as surely as any other physical being. Its feeding was a constant tug at my reserves of energy; they slipped away slowly but surely as the weeks passed. It remained unidentifiable and unknown to even the best of physicians; as far as they could see, it did not exist. It was merely an abstract parasite with no form in the physical, that could yet still surely make me sweat and shiver in the bitterest of cold and the most fiery of heat. It never could give respite, and relentlessly drained the vitality from my body, and each day, each hour, each minute, I could exert myself less and less.
It had come from nowhere, yet must have existed somewhere. It descended out of the blue, transforming what had been a healthy young girl, her body developing strongly and filling with the vibrant energy and joy of youth with a life left to live, into a coughing and exhausted woman who felt aged a century in less than a minute. Her friends came to her aid, but it had control of her flesh, and she was powerless to stop it.
No drugs could harm it, no treatment cure it. Never lacking in funds, my guardians were confident that it would be defeated given proper payment, but money means nothing without brilliance, and the mass hallucination of coinage is meaningless to a parasite. The best and brightest of the medical industry stood no chance against it, and friends and family watched as I descended into a terrible sickness.
The worst was the clarity of mind that accompanied these stages; the hazy god of insanity eluded me, and every excruciating inflammation, every painful swelling, every terrible itch, was felt with the clarity of a cold gush of water. I could not retreat from my plight, for it had trapped me, and I was powerless to resist. It was not even a week before I could no longer walk, and the powerful, striding young woman of Monday was eternally bedridden by Sunday.
My stomach churned like a herd of buffalo across the plains, but nothing could feed it. The parasite cared not for material sustenance; that was not what it wanted. Whatever I was forced to consume emerged within moments – my ailing body had given up and surrendered. It had lost the fight long ago, and it was well aware of it. The parasite would triumph.
Not even the machines that they thrust into my flesh was enough to even drive it back. The best of physicians were at a loss when even the intravenous sustenance was rejected by my body; yet I did not starve nor did I thirst. It kept me alive, somehow, that I would not cease to feed it. It is in the interests of the parasite to leave its host alive.
In case you couldn’t tell, the story is called “The Parasite.” It’s my favorite so far, I think, surpassing “Winds of Madness” and “Parallax.”
Tomorrow I get back to working in The Libel of Blood – things are really beginning to pick up again!