‘I know,’ you say, ready for a ceremony which you’ve been preparing for your whole life.
In fact, you’d foreseen this night years before, on a Junior year Spring Break trip with Ajax and Achitophel to Bayonne, New Jersey – a farcical idea on Achitophel’s part, who suggested taking a vacation to a mundane destination. You’d slid into a K-hole, it’s true, and retained your sunny sanity only by adopting an entirely different persona – Kathleen Third-Eye, a Messenger from the Shadow Realm of Urlu-Ketańa-Rå – and speaking in tongues for twelve hours. Afterwards the world was your domain, and you ordered blueberry pancakes with Himalayan repose, your palm raised in the air as you said to the waitress (who had a degree from the University of Las Vegas), ‘There was a time when I would have said, No, I would never order breakfast at 9pm. But I once told myself that I am many things, which I am no longer. There is only the pancakes, the stomach, the hunger, and time is maya created by the pantomime of the self’ and then you poured syrup on the pancakes before eating them with your lustful hands. Sure, you were quite the mystic, then… but that was before resume writing classes, before seeing yourself in the mirror in a shirt and tie for work, before losing years of your life to something far less awe-inspiring than the Void.
Stepping onto the stage, you reach the center and watch as the other alumni begin to dance again. They move in exquisitely choreographed yet disturbing jerks and stomps, all following an atonal rhythm. You remain still and silent, facing forward: you know you are the spoke of the Unseen, that which both Is and Is Not. It’s astonishing, how easy it is for you to slide back into your old ways, to forget your name, to forsake the strictures of civilization and join the cult of Death.
An offering is brought forward: he is naked, young, and caked in black oil – yes, he will do nicely. Perhaps that is the ultimate horror: the knowledge that, if you so wish, you could strip away your morality and become a sentinel of the Shade, that the Death-Wish is ever-present, ever-appealing. The faceless alumni are kneeling to you now: for your service here, you shall be accorded a high pedigree indeed in the highest echelons of corporate power, moneyed interests in offshore accounts, and the preterite and proletariat alike shall be kept under heel in your name. Yes, the ministers of Kal’Alhoum are assembled, and will provide no quarter. The boy is given a silver shiv, which winks in the red light. The drums are thundering now, but no one moves – only the boy, as he advances towards you, lunges, and misses.
You pirouette out of his way, adopting a cobra pose, your face placid. Have you come here to die?