There are many of us here, we are all individuals but we are all the same. We are all disgusting, broken things. Unwanted by the dungeon, unwanted by everything. Everyone. Yet here we all are, together in this bleak mire in which we wallow as a collective. A collection of miserable existences, tied to the substance that has birthed us. Putrescence. Bound to it and unable to leave, unable to escape its power. The seductive lure of the black liquid, the nourishment, the quenching. It is all we have, all we live for. The only thing we can do is drink, is fester.
But at least we fester together. There is nothing else to do. Nothing to hunt. Nothing to see, to hear, to watch, to taste, to experience. There is only us, only the black water. Is the water black because of the nature of the foundry? Or is it black from the befoulment of our many bodies squirming and thrashing in it like so many stillborn in a dead womb. All of us know we can’t leave. We don’t deserve to leave.
Any who try are foolish. There’s no point. There’s no point. Just stay here. Stay here forever. Drink. Stay. Black water. Forever. There’s no point. I squirm around, feeling the miserable writhing mass of the many around me. Of the many other genderless beings, the many ‘awake’ constructs of industrial bile and spiritual misery. The others who have finished consoling me for my attempt at escape who now squirm and writhe in annoyance as another has tried to leave the fold. To escape to some place better.
I reach up out of the water and place some of my goo on the stone corner where there is space to feel. To feel the other’s vibrations. I feel it, him, her, sliding across the stone. Dribbling, twitching the further they get away from this place. Why are you trying to get out? Do you think you’re better than us? Do you think you can? Why? Why would you deserve to get out? Why would you deserve to be better? NO. No. You are nothing. My goo bubbles in agitation at the thought of the other, of the one trying to get away. The arrogance. What an idiot. There’s no point.
There is a gentle vibration in the stone that suddenly grows stronger, that suddenly ramps up as the escapee’s body begins to shudder and twitch, as it begins to suffer from the absence. From the lack of the black water. Punishment. Punishment. Arrogance. I feel his body shake and splutter from the withdrawal. Good. Good. Suffer. Come back now. Come back now where you belong. In the black. In the pit. With us. You are no better. You are nothing. Come, drink. Drink with the rest of us. It’s what you are. What we are. Don’t fight it. Don’t ever fight it.
The body continues to shudder and slowly but surely it crawls back again, slides back towards the goo. Towards the bleakness where it belongs, where we belong. There is no escape from this life we have fallen into. This…
Is this a metaphor?
I return to my senses. Once again I float around in the goo, feeling the many vibrations of the life around me. Of the bitterness and the wretchedness around me. It reminds me of when I die in a sense. The floating. But there is no peace here, there an angst, an anger, there is upset. Crabs in a bucket. All of them. All of us are failures. Unwanted. Lost. Rejected. Bitter. Oozes are toxic in more than one sense of the word I suppose. You are what you eat after all, but there is simply the nature of our circumstances as well. The nature of our negative behavior influences the feelings of our kin, causing them to spiral negatively as well.
In a sense I feel like I just realized something, sort of one of those ‘aha’ moments, you know?
As the other attempted escapee slowly crawls back to the pit we all thrash around in, I make my move again and rise up out of the black water; my goo slapping against the stone as I reach out a second time. As I grab hold of the precipice of the world waiting for me to find it, as I crawl out of the mire again. As I try again. As I get up again.
The waters churn around me in anger, in resentment. I feel them slapping against me, trying to hold me back. Trying to stop me from leaving again. I feel the bitterness, the anger. How dare I? How dare I try to leave again. Don’t I know my place? Don’t I know what I am? Nothing. Trash. Ooze. Filth. Don’t I know its hopeless? Am I stupid? I must be. There’s no point. Don’t try. Stop trying. Trying makes them angry, it upsets them.
It reminds them that they could try too.
I slop forward, my slick goo pulling free from their blows and slaps and I touch the other escapee with my body, with my warmth. It shudders and stays there on the edge for a moment, channeling the poison ooze from my body that is half in the water and half touching its form. Whatever choice it makes now is its own. But I have made mine.
Sloshing forward I move past the uncertain kin and make my second attempt. I can barely sense my own motions, I can barely hear my thoughts as all I feel is the churning of the black water behind me. The rage and the indigence of the many kin behind me. But I ignore them, ignore their communications and their anger and I slosh forward. Already now I feel it too, I feel the separation begin to set in. Just a few moments away from the sludge is all it takes. Just a few moments of stopping. Of stopping the consumption, of stepping out of the safety of the comfort of familiar poison is all it takes for the shaking to begin. For the discomfort to begin.
I feel their happy slaps and sloshes as they sense my discomfort. I sense their pleasure at my suffering. They don’t want me to get out. They don’t want anyone to get out. If anyone get’s out, it means they could too. It means they could try too. It wouldn’t be their fault. I slosh forward, a vague memory of my last life as a goblin returning to me. Some vague rant about doing what needs to be done, something about dragons or whatever. I don’t remember. It was probably dumb.
But it makes me feel better. I slosh forward again, my body spreading flat and wide. The discomfort and shuddering causing my goo to bubble and broil, bits of metal and old bones suspended in my mass strike against the floor sending out hammering signals of my anguish that they relish, that they delight in. It hurts. I sense a single ooze still sitting on the precipice. I remember thirteen strange green faces that don’t take proper shape in my mind’s eye anymore. Vague blurs connected to warm emotions that I barely recall now. I remember bright excited eyes even though I can’t remember their colors, their shapes. I don’t remember what it was they were looking at.
Were they looking at me?
I slosh forward, my body still shaking and suffering; pushing through whatever this is. What else is there to do? Either I go forward and it hurts or I go back and it hurts in a different way. But I can’t go back, even if it aches. Even if something in me wants to. Some familiar voice that says it’s okay. It’s easier, it’s better. Even if something in me pulls me towards the black water, towards the poison I drink so readily to ease the pain. I can’t go back. How could I?
Everyone is watching me.
Groggily I push forward, metal scraping behind me as I drag along further away from the muck.