I opened my eyes only to witness a nightmarish sight, my body thrown into a reality far worse than the dreams in which I died over and over again. A mephitic stench radiated from under the blanket, filling my nostrils and building up in layers on the top of my mouth. I inhaled the blend of filthy fumes as if it was a fresh morning breeze. My rest had been far from peaceful, but it was without doubt an improvement over the sleepless nights of agony that I'd grown used to in the past.
A lone ray of light penetrated through the blinds and wavered over the bed, reminding me of the bloodstains that I had yet to clean. I couldn't help but wonder how long ago it was that they were spilled. As I dragged myself to a seated position against the familiar bodily complaints, I noted a number of changes.
The gauze on my arm had become too tight due to swelling and flies had found their way under it, relishing in the folds of festering skin. Like a generous silver lining, the one around my chest had remained more or less sterile. My joy was cut short, however; I couldn't feel my legs. I pushed the blanket aside and braced myself for the worst. Ruptured ulcers had spread all the way across my knees and down my ankles, rendering my shins with a coating of wet smudges. Not only that, my toes had become black and swollen. Several nails were coming off and the skin underneath was peeling back like a banana, pus oozing out of the bloated sores; it had rained in again.
Although my feet had begun trickling the aroma of excremental cheese, I was overall pleased with the progress. Considering that I was under the merciless scrutiny of saprophages with no way out in the foreseeable future, this was just fine. Having insects under my skin and in my flesh was undeniably a rather deathly sensation, but sometimes they stimulated just the right spots to induce a trancelike state of orgasmic nausea.
While it seemed logical that I should have been crying out at the world, questioning the meaning of my suffering, I couldn't help but smile. Yet another pitiful day on this rotten slice of earth I'd learned to call home.
I rasped out a sigh that reeked like a wet dog as I reached for the crutches. Collecting the strength to stand up, my ankles creaked and sprained back and forth, my full weight collapsing over the fragile tendons. Thankfully, I couldn't feel a thing. The distant howl of a siren reminded me that there was still plenty of life – and death – out on the streets. While my life may sound pitiful and I wouldn't blame you if you said it could've done with an improvement or two, there was an inexplicable sense of beautiful propriety to the decay. It was almost as if my body was adapting to the flat's rotten atmosphere and the perpetual garbage that people called weather.
Every morning without so much as a thought of deviation, I forced myself to look outside. The view was one of total ruination, demonstrating the collapse of society better than any scholar or preacher could describe in words. Contrary to what the masses had come to expect from books and movies, there were barely any quarantines. Upon the first outbreak, some said that this was because the infection was too aggressive to be contained, but I never believed that; It would have required very little effort to direct an emaciated crowd of bloated, drooling people to the other side of a fence, yet the government seemed oblivious to this and other facts.
But now it was time to patch up. I sank my hand in an old toolbox to dig for the implements of my need; a stapler, a tube of hot glue and a clean gauze. As I laid them out, I couldn't help but notice that rust had taken over a large portion of them and that bits of dry skin hung from the stapler's teeth. I squeezed plenty of glue into the jagged tears on my shoulder, biting my teeth as it sank into the fascia and muscles. The first sting was always the worst, and I gasped like a beaten puppy when the metal clasped to my skin, followed by a trail of blood dripping down my back. While stapler-stitching was not the most effective or the safest method of closing wounds, it worked well enough for me. Looking at my abscessed shins and feet, I knew I had to apply some disinfectant and began to do so with haste. Once there was a nice layer of white foam on the wounds, I wrapped the bandage tight around them.
Suddenly, a black ulcer began to blossom inside me. Feebly, with one quivering inch at a time, its necrotising petals unfolded to their full extent, revealing row after row of decayed teeth and a shambles of misplaced arteries, a vestigial spinal cord gnarled between its womb and mine. At the back of my stomach, a series of mucous fungal growths hatched, abscessed spores gushing into the cavernous depths that spanned the inside of my body. Expanding due to the malodorous gases, my intestines trembled against the neighbouring organs. An evergrowing abrasion worked to invert my entrails and reach its filthy tendrils inside my heart and pollen-infested lungs.
Cold, dry fingers fumbled around my shoulders. I breathed with the abyss as it struggled to endure carnal manifestation, its sleazy stems ingrained into my subconscious, crafting a vortex of chaos as the cranial gateway through which perdition transmutes itself from intangible whispers to a swarm of tongues. These suppurated tongues twisted inward to drill into the core of my brain, their dull surfaces gnawing at my temporal lobe, writhing for penetration.
Small dark blemishes appeared on the palms of my hands, their edges purple and bruiselike. In their centres, the skin began to prickle. Cold and burning, painful and tingly, now scorching through the fascia. Muscles popped at rhythmic intervals and bones rattled as they were torn apart. Veins unwrapped from one another, the nervous system untangling itself with dreadful precision. Sinews detached from their holdings, and like two grotesque flowers from a metamorphic garden of mutilation, my arms split open seven ways... clean wried slices without a single drop of blood.
An outlandish fragrance loomed from the wounds, drawing my attention to the inside. I could only see wrenched tubes that were tarnished with surgical accuracy, but felt movement inside. Something sluggishly descended out through the dangling wreckage of my disjointed extremities; I saw limbs like thorny grey branches protruding from underneath, clearing way for hundreds of small white maggots to billow from the shredded wounds, gushing as a solid mass of disgusting erosion and exuding in damp chunks, dribbling down bit by bit until the last one squirmed away.
Nausea whammed at me like a deranged hurricane, smudging my vision and driving a screeching noise into my ears until I collapsed on the rug and vomited, coughing blood as molten glass surged up my throat and burned through my chest, spilling on the floor from webbed holes spreading onto my breasts, skin stretching and popping under the intense heat; Thick smoke rose from every orifice my body comprised, flesh scattered to embers, staining the laminate and gluing parts of the carpet into it as they became scorched.
As I laid on the floor, I saw a putrefying abomination crawl across the bedroom floor from under the bed, fidgeting forth in arduous spasms. Its skin was a pallid grey, crackled dry with gangrenous lesions adorning the back, its eyes blackened and seeping a fetid mucus, its elongated fingers twitching as its gaunt body slid toward me. Everything was already a feverish blur, but the sight of this grotesque creature pulling its carcass along in all its unsheathed hideous repugnance was overwhelming. Every second I spent staring, grounded to my roots, I could see its obnoxious figure clearer while the distance to the rest of the world grew. Gruesome abrasions sprawled throughout its torso with inky gnarled appendages like the branches of a dead tree, leaving behind a trail of some murky, stagnant substance. Its mouth was vestigial with filthy garbled teeth and an ulcerous tongue, throat replete with clotted blood and fungal parasites swarmed within its stomach, its rotten bowels bubbling as gaseous tumours hatched into thousands of gluttonous tendrils.
Its grating moans simultaneously terrified me and sparked sympathy for this suffering creature. Its gasps held a ghastly tone like that of an injured bird struggling to fly with broken wings. In spite of the horrid appearance and all the pain that it had brought into the world with its infectious sprawl, this thing wanted to be loved. Not many would succumb to such depravity, but for me there was no question – no hesitation, no turning back – and we consummated our unclean union in the pile of my splayed ashes, scraping and scalding each other's bodies to shreds with our swarthy thorns and carved our fingers deep to rend wide open gashes in one another's entrails in a mutual state of violent orgasmic ecstasy.
Arms and legs twitched in the burnt mass, flailing back and forth. Between them, ravaged flagella drowned in dust. Only barren remnants of life remained, draped over the mouldy floor to ensnare insects with the fragrance of decomposition. Coalesced into a withering pile of contagious decay, the tangled bodies fidget down the stairs, smearing bile and festering excrement in their wake.
Cockroaches stared from the darkness with glimmering black eyes, their feelers trembling. Why did they linger when the feast of a lifetime was finally in their reach? Had they not already waited for long enough?
Slowly, my eyes ground open amidst the debris, met by a warm embrace of sunlight as it fell over my naked skin. For the first time in years, this gave me comfort. There was still hope, an exit from this ravaged state presenting itself before me like a scaly hand from the heavens. Death lifted its cold, barbed fingers from my core and the hollow gnawing ceased. A loud thundering echo hammered my eardrums in rhythmic pulsations from the inside, joy rushing through me like the blasts of trumpets as knowledge and memory became clear and the whole spectrum of emotions flooded out, released from an impenetrable prison.
The tongues had been wrenched out of my head and the womb of teeth was drenched in its own stagnant black blood, throwing up and down in violent spasms that scraped my organs, detaching from my insides as its last survival effort. Its throbbing fall squashed fornices and scorched ovaries, rupturing the hole between my legs wider than a childbirth, bubbling clots of meat and skin sliding out with unbearable force. Two merged uteruses hung from a coil, staining my knees with blood so hot that it steamed, triggering a spray of urine with an equally high temperature, boiling liquids spilling in an almost toxic mix.
I began a crawl for the door, determined to get out into the staircase. Eventually someone had to walk by, and they would see me. They would help me. I had to believe or else I would lie waiting for the death that left me – the death that may never come again. There was a reason I was still alive. There had to be.
I found myself in a hospital bed. It was soft and comforting, but I could tell that not everything was as it had been. Something had changed, but I couldn't bring myself to acknowledge what that was until it was too late. I was awake.
Written by VerminGoat