|The Cumaean Sibyl
Author: Guede Mazaka
It's a cave. It's the cave, and it's dark and dank and cold despite the flames in the corner, despite the constant shift and shutter of shadows across the walls. It's fucking boring.
And so it's also inevitable. Shattered wood, wrenched chains, and there's blood all over-
Original Sin, blood spilling on virgin soil
--who the fuck cares? Because this dirt ain't innocent. It's been molded into men and women, and even stuck to a bench, like that jackass who went to rape Persephone just for a lark and stayed to entertain her husband, people will fuck. People spew shit and drink and die, crumbling back to the dust of God.
Sands is waking up, by the way. Quiet. Don't startle him, or you're dead.
Or you're El. Which is basically the same thing.
They're pitiful and pathetic and grabby, these men of clay that really are more like the crabs in the basket, clawing and shoving and hating how they live in their own piss, but hating even more anyone that tries to get out. Because, yeah, that just shoves their face right in it. You. Suck. Man. Major divine dick, and you ain't ever getting off your knees.
Come on, you know you like it down there. Really? Well, let me just-
Shades. Outlines of transparent black against the flicker of backlight on rock that's grey and red and blue and green all at once. It's the beginning and the end, and there's not supposed to be anything else. Except if this is it, then what's throwing the shadows?
One turns to look. And the sight he sees petrifies him until he's hard as hell's gate is hot.
There are bells. There are always bells. Back when bells hadn't been invented, you can bet that there was always one guy appointed Erk-Graw-Urk. Or "Bell-Sound Man."
Sands' migraine would like to send them fifty thousand bullets, first class.
Man of stone against men of clay. No fucking contest. Not at all. Because look, rock's going to let the water break over it, maybe break, but it's not going to melt like some cunt-whipped hillbilly girly-dick.
Stone doesn't move. You never stop moving.
Shut up and give me the fucking painkillers.
Here's a gun.
And when it's over, when he's kneeling in the midst of all this misshapen pottery, crunching on the bones of his fellows and damn well having fun, he finds one that's intact. Little doll, little doll, how did I miss you? Poor puppet-let me just flick out your eyes.
El's listened. He doesn't like what he hears. But-he also feels what he hears. That hasn't happened in forever.
And he thinks now that everything he's ever liked has been taken from him. So maybe this is better.
He doesn't dare say "good" any more.
But the mannekin's still capable of speech. And growth. And it rises, crawls off its goddamn smushy knees, looming even as its lower parts begin to dissolve. Its palms are flat against granite cheeks, and-
Dirt is just ground rock. You wait long enough, all stones turn to dust. And all dust turns to stone.
It's stabbing into the rock man, tendrils coming from nowhere and chewing into minute cracks, making them into fractures, shattering and crushing and fuck, creation's nothing but another name for destruction. Nothing comes without something going. Get used to it.
But remember, says the eyeless seer, long black hanks of hair in his face, streaming down his breasts-wait-no, his chest is flat now. But he's old then young, short then tall, beautiful then ugly, mudstone and manbeast and female boy. His grip drops from the stone face.
Some things are better than sex.
Some things are better than love.
Some things are better than God.
Just remember. Some things aren't.
And when the rock man lifts his hands, they're the shift-slide skin and nails and wrinkles-notwrinkles of the seer. And his hair is black, and his eyes-his eyes are gone and yet he sees.
Be mine eyes, and I shall be thine death.
"You've got a deal."
They never do figure out who spoke first.