They came at dusk with several different forms of survey and rank, placing blunt metaphysical imperative on queer commands that seemed to adhere to universal archetypes hidden within human genome, like sleep paralysis with Vodou witches in smart pants suits marching the halls of this penitentary cell block, dragging intellect back to innocence with intuition that calls forth unconscious obedience due to trancendent fear, like debt collectors from a previous life. After Laertes and Cairo hopped aboard insubstantial eddies towards the afterlife I found myself locked up with lucid crazy people, their profound exclamations through doors professed not to be even real, even as I slit my wrists yet again, settled my own qualms from previous existence with hysterics, and misplaced respect.

“It is the end of the world again!” I proclaimed loud and to no one. It cpuld have been that no one was there. “Immortal overseers are telling me that if I turn on my Samsung Galaxy, whose security has been compromised and that is why it is off, I will be agreeing to save a baby girl. Yes, ‘they’ are committing genocide yet again; you have indicated that I should refrain from this simple act of empathy, either for some nefarious philosphical necessity I do not understand, or because you want to frame me.” I decided to save five baby girls and then risked murder and torture for my homosexual tendencies.

Verse XXIII: Christian Brothers

Guard number one has smoked some ketamine tonight for the first time, is frisky as a little puppy—-perhaps a Saint Bernard—-in the delicate rays of noon during Dutch summer reprieve The kevlar beneath his Gucci Prada whatever feels like one of those harness-collars that wrap around the dog’s chest, clip upon the sternum, while the semi-automatic has the air of a forgotten chew toy. “I wish Elliott Smith would have finished that last album before… you know.” A sniff. “I like loud and crunchy guitars.”

Guard number two keeps looking back and forth between you and his co-worker with incredulity. “I never met a gay guy who likes Elliott Smith before.”

“I pretend to like edgy music to seduce straight guys. Ha, ha, ha!” Just then, there are shouts from the next room. “Whoooo! Snuff film!” He plants a bullet into the forehead of guard number two and turns to enter the makeshift bondage dungeon.

It’s all violet and red neon lights that burst up like pillars from a chasm that appears in the floor during an earthquake; the musk of ancient embalming fluid wafts from nowhere in particular but is everywhere all of a sudden, and the pungent perfume is a reality all its own. The aural ambience in hell is a stark silence that the knowing among us refer to as the slow path to insanity, because what are thoughts without the sound of language to describe them, and what are you if your mind is not able to speak? Yes, it is true: The road to hell is painted with emo tenth grade philosophy that lacks a certain stylistic merit.

Atheism paints a cozy black nothingness to punctuate human life. Maybe all atheists go to hell when they die and make peace with that fact in this life.

Frederic is already distraught as he begins to materialize into your reality because he smells himself for the first time and, although he has never smelled anything ever before, he knows that this is not a scent he wants associated with himself. All his brothers had teased him, warning that it was the most humiliating experience, that it was like a shitty alternative rock music video from the nineties—-but he would know that it is apt homage, that the pathos would convert to hubris too quickly for him to change his mind and back out. Worse, this fanfare is the best that the humans can scrounge up with their paltry unconscious.

Guard number one had stripped on his way to the snuff alter. “Rape me and kill me with your unholy appendage!!”

Frederic looks down at his hands, which are furry and purple. Horns jut out from his abdomen; the dangling cock between his lower extemeties looks suspiciously animalistic; his lower extremities are…. actually…. hooves. “What have you done to me?” he screams, and his voice tears apart matter at the molecular level, causing sonic boom explosion without regularity across the room.

Guard number approaches the demon, falls to his knees, takes the slimy ruby red cock with his right hand and shoves it into his mouth, gagging immediately because it tastes foul—but he continues anyhow, pausing every second or two to emit incredible wretching sounds from deep inside his belly. Viscous streams of spit run like gallons of semen down his chin, connecting to the floor like moist spider webs.

Frederic weeps in despair.

Devon vomits.

Verse XXII: Ancient Embalming Fluid

A rare moment of clarity comes over Frederic before he vanishes. Terrible and underwhelming clarity. “Now I know where all that missing time goes,” he states, waking up from a lifelong trance.

“Oh, shit,” says Solinis.

Gemini gives a sniff with his little snout. “Is that … Purex?”

It is annoying to know that Purex is laundry detergent. “And blood,” the demon warbles. “I can actually smell blood.”

Verse XXI: The End of Innocence

Tidus is already spread eagle on a steel table, naked and shackled, when Tyson ushers them in.

“They’ve started recording,” some random goon whispers, choking on what seems to be a mix of glee and lurid expectation.

“This is not what we agreed to!” Tidus shrieks. “I promise you that my people will cut you in the fucking face! You have no fucking clue who you are dealing with!”

The goon seems to have shadowed the awestruck trio deeper into the convincing bondage dungeon. “You can’t get any closer!” he breathes, grabbing Tyson by the shoulder. “You’ll get in the shot.” Half drunk or stoned, he pushes the other man’s palm down to an impressive erection.

“And that’s the sort of attitude that gets little kittens into messes like this,” purrs the lone male aggressor, leaning in towards the boy to push the endearing words closer to his ears. It is interesting to note that his face alone is bare whereas the spectators huddled in shadows wear various forms of masquerade across the front of their skull. At least a dozen other souls occupy the room. “Never mind the debt you have incurred. I will kill you tonight so that pretty little mouth of yours never opens again.”

“Somebody help me,” Tidus sobs, head lolling around to regard the audience. “He’s really going to kill me.” His eyes dart towards the camera in sudden inspiration. “There are people in the room with us!”

“He is…. pretty convincing,” Devon marvels.

Johnny is feeling strange. He leans towards Tyson. “Is this really in the script?” The fellow denizens of Solinis’s whacky doomsday cult never cease to amaze Johnny in the scope and girth of their talents—-telepathy, turning hard drugs into salt and water at will, thespian finesse—-and Tidus excels at everything he does…. Empathy still surprises the black-haired young man sometimes.

The sound of skin struck hard against skin echoes loud through the room. Tidus cries out from the strike.

Devon is quick to put his hand over Johnny’s mouth and stifle the vocal recoil, does not take the time to congratulate himself on his impressive reflex. “It gets rough before we act!” he hisses. “He’s got to make a cut with the knife first.” That’s the cue. He cannot afford to fuck this up and have to go through the same thing over again at a later date.

Tyson raises a single finger at Devon and then slinks halfway across the room to consult someone behind the camera man.

Never good enough for you. Maybe we should leave it alone. Forget all about it.

The murderer turns his head and looks into Devon’s eyes. “You wanted to see this, didn’t you?”

…Timeless deja vu overtakes Devon, a profound sense of being somewhere else, of looking into this room via long tunnel. He is onstage in the role of a lifetime and has forgotten his lines. “You… are not Solinis….?”

Its true, isn’t it? Although something approximate to sadness does come on to Devon, it feels more like a head cold when he tries to remember it at later dates. When and why did emotions grow to be physical? Before the curtain falls he sees himself look downwards and to the west. “I used to play that game as a child,” he murmurs, and then he is crying, but he is only crying for himself. “Everyone else played it too. I assumed that they stopped and lost interest at the same time as me.” He shakes his head, looks back up at the killer. He is only in a partial daze when he says, asking the killer in particular, “What does it mean?” He knows on some level that he is wasting precious time, that he paused a time sensitive mission to ask a demon what happened to the imaginary friend he had growing up.

A devil, but not Lucifer. This one is a falling star, another angel bored with paradise and happiness. He glints white teeth in the crimson light, and the ornate knife is unsheathed before Devon can remember that he was supposed to activate the S666; in fact, the dying angel gives him another microsecond to stop him, but the pair of them simply cannot convince one another that God really loves either one of them, let alone Tidus. By the time that Devon registers that Tyson is yelling now as well, has been shouting for a few seconds, Tidus is impaled clean through his heart. Dead.

Verse XX: (I Fell Into a Well)

Sufjan Stevens again. “And he takes, and he takes, and he takes.” We all dress up our heroes in the hides of all the demons they slayed for us. No one knows where all the bad parts went until the hero dies and it turns out that every day was a knife in his back as he faced those he protected, the blades an elaborate stitchwork like scratches from those demons on their prison wall.

“Where is God?” Devon mumurs.

Johnny puts out his fag. “Which one?”

You get to the end and the words are just a fire to stave off your enemy tribes who think the fire is an evil; they follow the sun, maintain crunchy granola diets of raw food that keep them healthy, never knowing that the sun is a fire in the sky.

It has become symptomatic of extradimensional resonance to experience a stuttering in one’s visual perceptions when one is near an affected vicinity. Third eye ethereal, biological pupils dialate? With the soul and body at odds, the mind smirks and estimates approximate coordinates in the temporal spectrum, allowing the body and soul to believe that time has no physical substance. “Is it not just so poetic?” Devon asks. “That this ritual will actually summon a devil?” In the beginning he spent his entire focus attempting to correct the physical glitches; it seemed like maybe if he forced his body to mirror the twitches in space he could make the phenomenon more comfortable. There is something humiliating about it as well, feeling like he is acting drunker than he really is and trying to convince everyone that it is his nerves, not the booze.

A uniform of moral gray, Tyson cannot be a tourist due to eternal ties… and yet he can never be anything more but a spectator, either. “Do not put it past these faggots,” he corrects. “It could actually be that the snuff film is the coincidence and the devil the main intent.”

It is never stated outright by Devon, but some old sense of homophobia had been rekindled in the back of his mind. Try as he might to reiterate that the whole thing is tainted by his own disappointments and dashed preconceptions of Solinis, it surprised him not in the least to find that murdering young drug addicts was more or less a routine in the gay underworld.

Crackles of telepathy glint through Tyson’s temperament as he sits glaring at Devon and biting his tongue. The thing with the gay underworld is that they never get away with it… but let Solinis deal with this loose end, he decides. He doubts that Devon will betray but the prejudice may damage enthusiasm during moments of confusion.

Verse XIX: ‘Stupid’

“We ought to murder him for making us travel from Suriname every time he gets bored,” Gemini suggests. The tone and dialect that he affects is mingled with mannerisms of Japanese anime, which Solinis had introduced the djuka to in order to teach them how to read English.

It is hard to say where Frederic gleans his idiosyncrasies from. “Go ahead.” A smug lower lip hints at the confidence of nepotism. “I die every night before going to bed. If you think you can do a better job than me, he my guest!” To this end, his shadow sits up a little bit straighter in a show of rare solidarity.

The Tower of Babel that I have torn down for these people seems to have left only Frederic in disarray for he was the only one who was ever really on the outside, staring into mirrors and trying to brainwash himself with what he thought to be normal human behavior. When he woke up in the same world as Solinis, Frederic took a glance at a television and was charmed to find out that his hunches towards social norms were accurate. Solinis let him stay in his little play pen of superiority to keep him from damaging himself.

“What does it feel like to die?” Solinis asks, beginning to settle into his professional duties “Wait. Scratch that. What does it feel like to bw reborn every morning?”

The petulant slant shall never leave Medina’s face but the longer he spends in his now ex-lover’s presence the more he accepts that the other man, now a stranger to him, has some superior comprehension of the metaphysics that the boy loves to molest with spontaneity and the glam of surprise. Solinis refrains from revealing his identity to Fred because it will hurt when the time comes; the burgeoning damage that persists due to the ignorance, however, will have the unintentional bonus of meeting employment quotas, building in intensity and pay off with each moment that Medina proves his unknowing.

The Soldier of Scion smiles thin, a credible front that conflates smug with stupid.

“No, but seriously,” Gemini continues. “It is a real violation of my philosophy to have this goof trotting the celestial back roads with the name and likeness of my kid. Names are not easy to come by; astrology is tough to fake.” The telltale shadow is what bothers Gemini the most: He remembers a little boy playing all alone at the forest’s edge, trying his hardest not to tell everyone that his shadow really talks to him.

“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about,” Fred spits. “Maybe I slit your kid’s throat and drank his blood.”

Gemini goes for his gun.

“He’s your sons reflection in my world,” Solinis sighs, pained to stay his associates hand. He has no doubt that Fred kills himself every night and is curious to see what manner of nonsense is his resurrection spell. “If you harm him at the moment you will be harming your child as well.”

Gemini tries not to feel guilty for being so rough with his prisoner.

[You are getting a little too old for this routine,] Sol purrs in the ancient tongue.

He flinches.

[You want your little drugs and your tiny fun, correct? There is no need to antagonize this nice old man; he is the one who synthesizes the cough syrup for your ecstasy. So to speak.]

“I… I don’t even like drugs.” A halfling. He had prided himself on being able to follow the tongue but not speak it because it gave way to his favorite games, teasing the speakers of illicit conspiracies with the unlikely fact —-like he could read, but not write.

A silly, disarming sigh escapes the demon, coupled with a shaking of his noggin to provide playful exasperation. It is his renowned talent: Solinis spent eons convincing the entire human race that he was naught but whimsy and hedonistic joy so that he could bluff the same irreverent attitude when he is on the cuspoff gential mutilation as revenge. [Darling babycakes, we slip handfuls of ecstasy tablets into your morning coffee and let you believe that you are having a good day. While Lucifer promised you eternal life and happiness, do keep in mind that even he admits defeat when God stands up tall enough.]

Verse XVIII: Rough Draft

The one who came before you would deprive himself of food for days at a time, but on a regular basis so that his loved ones would chase after him with tasty morsels and beg for his health; in retrospect, I do wonder if this too was naught but a ploy to manipulate those around him into making physical shows of their love and devotion, to feed the alien ego that has taken hold of his psyche.

“Blanks in my intuition gild the obsidian bars of my prison,” I drawl. Now tectonic plates in other realities collide with infrastructure in my home world due to the micro tear I slit with the perpendicular crossroad. “The devil made me do it, for sure, and I am no longer fazed when he retracts his guiding hand when there are liabilities in my actions. You say that I successfully killed myself at some point but it is my own lack of self esteem, if you can believe it, that disallows me from believing this to be true, like my failure to die is part of my ongoing legacy of bluffs and dreams that I only see halfway through… but, Lucifer enjoys the flimsy metaphysics that I introduced to the world. Toying with notions of insanity versus afterlife, the routine of my falling in and out of a stable relationship with objective reality has become predictable enough for me to say, in a subjective sense, that if the ‘other’ state that I keep falling into is not actually death, then it is another plane of existence wherein my fellow man will corroborate strange coincidences focused on my presence in the world.” The tea is all gone and I am full of rue as I look down at the remnant leaves, knowing that some psychotic witch would embark on vision quests to sneak a peek at what this fortune states. “Oh, I hid it well enough behind the drugs: ‘Am I in a delusional state, or is everyone I meet talking about me in audible and frank terms?’ Yet at the tail end of it, I slit my wrists one day and wandered out without the influence of drugs to fall back on. Could have been an altered state due to blood loss, but the so-called delusions were mimicked with precision.”

Pawing through my journals has Cairo distracted from a monologue that confirms in an unflattering language what he already knew to be so. “You keep addressing some third party spectator in here,” he says of whatever passage he happens to be reading. “As though it is written knowing that someone else will read it—or, were you addressing an actual third party during the process of writing?”

Endless recurrences of coffee shop transcriptions, sitting in the corner with a stream of conscious endeavor that flirted with automatic writing. The sun would barely be awake, the previous night spent ruminating over my function in society. Unspoken relationships with baristas as I tried not to eavesdrop, but snippets of their personal lives wore down at my humility. “My direct and frank addresses to the pronoun ‘you’ were affected with the same sentimentality as pop music, I suppose. Looking at lyrics to even underground or independent songs, it seems natural for the artist to make use of the pronoun ‘you’, but ambiguity makes it so that the consumer of the media needs not assume the singer is speaking about the listener. It was a frustration of mine to see that any use of the word ‘you’ in my prose would be exempt from the same relaxed license as lyrics in songs.” Never mind the juvenile outbursts when writer’s block hit, relying on a cheap sleight to shock a potential audience with non-sequitur accusations, knowing that it would upset some, and then using those emotions to continue with the process of creative writing.

Verse XVII: End of an Eternal Romance; “I’ll Survive”

Solinis stands. “Well! I think I’m okay with handing you over to Lucifer now.” The two of them had kept each other company through no less than two apocalypses.

“I don’t get it. Who are you?”

“It’s okay,” he says with jagged exhalation, clutching his chest in response to cardiac palpitations that now occur. “I’ll just spend my next cycle of death paying for the pretty things I bought you, and then it’s done.” Things had always been strange around him, but it has only been in recent days that his overall nature had become actually absurd. Although the love for Fred had been arbitrary, the mania that had overtaken Solinis at various points resulted as honest expressions of a broken heart; the intermittent, intense forebodings of a final and total loneliness of his soul prompted his frivolous nature as a defense mechanism.

“You’re not Slyat, are you?”

Verse XVI: Erectile Dysfunction

“These are the two guests I wanted on the list,” states Tyson. “A real daddy and son couple who likes to play together.”

Rudolph’s discerning eye is quick to verify the authentic blood ties. “Do you fuck others or just one another?” It is the interest of a antique appraiser, just another niche kink that makes money, one that could make disagreeable parties do something they don’t want to for a night between a father and his kid.

While the incest angle is lucrative enough, Johnny is only seventeen in this reality, adding to the package deal. “Dad sometimes invites another boy to come play with us but he gets too jealous when we play with other dads.” The youth with ebony colored hair is amazed that his gag reflex is behaving. “Tyson told us that we would have to film a video with you for a plus one tonight.”

“We can settle business after the show,” Rudolph dismisses. “He’s hot and you look young. The film will not be too painful.”

With a hand that wants to fall off and crawl into the sewer, Devon reaches over and messes up his son’s hair, hoping that the criminal porn producer does not ask for a show of physical affection. “We are open minded and like trying new things anyway.”

The sleaze is heterosexual and not suspicious enough to make the duo any more uncomfortable.

Johnny decides that he will track down and murder Rudolph if he manages to escape tonight.

Verse XV: Tuesdays and Shadows

“There is a portal from Toronto to Montreal,” I say, worried because it might be an actual wormhole and not an insubstantial series of social connections and business ties. “This is an obvious statement from a Canadian perspective. Or maybe not.” The province that Montreal resides in wanted to separate from Canada and become its own country, so maybe there is something irreconcilable about the exotic beauty of Montreal; Toronto is just a typical large metropolis, famous only for being the largest city in Canada. But as I continued my investigation in Ottawa and all the paganistic iconography in our monuments become obvious, I began to see that there is something queer about Canada—-like maybe we are more superstitious than our American brothers and are not too concerned about it because we assimilate the lore from our history and elementary school lessons…

The Eternal Flame in front of Canada’s parliamentary buildings: water out of fire. The neat poetic of it seems explanation enough, but I took a closer look and there was…. something thay looked like a pentagram at the centre of the flame. Anyhow, doesn’t it sound like alchemy, this water from fire?

“Solinis has the Montreal scene under control.” Laertes is baffled as to why he can neither pronounce the demigod’s name properly nor attempt to speak it without suffering a flinch. Maybe he should start taking his Wellbutrin as prescribed? But the faeries….

Cairo. “None of our people can enter Toronto for the time being.”

“Why not?”

He clicks his tongue against his teeth, disappointed to see me act as though I were ill-educated.

“For what it is worth, Jeff, you are a hero in my books,” quips Laertes. “Even those who do not believe in magick will say thay Vodou is best avoided at all costs.” I know you don’t want to hear that I took the beating so that everyone else did not have to. “You survived because you have noble light inside you; those dark gods opted not to pitch you into to Hades because you are one of God’s favored.”

I am still going to hell. Everyone is polite enough not to make a big deal about it. Picking up the dark arts, even as a last effort at self defense, is a mortal sin. It was like eating another fruit of wisdom, and I could technically get into heaven if I returned the knowledge I stole, but the new awareness is a virus in my soul. Weakness in my personality prevents me from doing the right thing and, in the end, the sin is so mild to my fellow humans that I know I keep putting off the debt to God for a day when the weight of life does not make the defeat so debilitating, but nothing is ever going to improve. I am cursed by several talented practicioners of supernatural phenomenon.

“You care too much for the Christian God,” Laertes advances. “You owe Him no debt. Convert to Islam or Judaism and the sleight will be forgiven, I assure you.”

It does tempt me. “Meteor will fall in Toronto. The event can be delayed by pulling strings in Montreal but its destination cannot be altered.”

“Is Solinis really going give a romantic relationship with Frederic another try?” Cairo asks in sardonic relish.

“Meteor doesn’t have anything to do with Frederic and Solinis’s broken heart in this reality.” The whole world dismisses the disturbing drama because Solinis is a demon, and because a man like Frederic is what a demon deserves, but unyielding innocence is what fuels the symbiosis towards Fred.  In another book, where clichés about not being able to choose who you love do preside, Solinis could be lauded as the last romantic. Even humans are no so idealistic when it comes to love… but Fred is the only person in all of existence who will profess something like romantic love for Solinis. Michael Archangel is the Enkidu/Gilgamesh fuck buddy that Sol resigned himself to as a fair compromise, hiding their Romeo and Juliet behind time travel.