September 9th, 2016
This city is on no one’s map. If it had ever been, those people have long since died. As have their children. And grandchildren. And great grandchildren. And great-great grandchildren. And so on.
Nonetheless, here the city stands. My source was right. My money was well spent. These ancient structures are black tombs. We’ve set up our camp on the outskirts. The city is far too cold.
September 10th, 2016
Charles kept watch while I slept. He claimed to see no signs of life, but sounds kept him constantly alert. Soft sounds. Soft, wet, and unimposing. Sounds which drifted in and out at the limits of audibility, as if they were whispers, but windblown and damp – redolent of dying breaths and last words.
I heard nothing. My sleep was as black as the structures ahead of us. No sounds penetrated the dreamless morass. For a brief moment upon waking, I believed to have been dead.
Today, we tour the city.
September 11th, 2016
Before the chill had sapped our energy, we had explored the first couple hundred feet of the city. We stuck to the outsides, cataloging the sheer stone facades of the structures. Despite their immense age, the buildings stood unharmed. We found no indication of what had made the sounds Charles had heard.
Overnight, as Charles slept, I heard it myself. They were as he’d described. However, I recognized structure in the sporadic haze of noise. If it wasn’t a language, it was a natural phenomenon unlike any ever discovered. My mind wandered while I watched Charles’ chest rise and fall.
The whispers suffused my auditory cortex and a synesthetic wave of hallucinatory strangeness swept through me. The sounds shimmered in my vision and danced on my tongue. They tasted like metal. Like blood. Rather than feeling disgusted, I felt a perverse sense of joy.
September 12th, 2016
I blinked and Charles was gone. How I could have fallen asleep is a mystery, as I was standing. But when my eyelids lifted, it was day. And my partner had disappeared. In his place were footsteps leading to the city.
The sounds are loud now. I’m miles within the bowels of the cold, black city. Structures tower over me and block the sun; my breath freezes in front of my face on this late-summer day. The temperature only contributes to the feeling of wrongness.
When the wind blows, I think I hear Charles calling my name. Over and over and over and over, swept by gales of air and changing pressures and permeating the wet sounds which echo off every hut and dwelling, he calls. I will not sleep tonight.
September 13th, 2016
The first sign of life presented itself to me early this morning. It was a fleck of skin or gristle glinting in the sunlight. It was attached to the side of a small structure. When I went in close to investigate, I discovered it was growing from deep within a crack in the stone. I pressed my knife into it and it bled and retracted into the rock. If it weren’t for the gales of wind and what I now know to be Charles’ moans, I could have sworn I heard it make a noise. A tiny, wet noise.
September 14th, 2016
It is difficult to keep the fires from blowing out overnight. The expanse of this city is unlike what either of us had expected. I am beyond lost now; I am impelled ahead with the futile desire to help Charles and get us home.
The deeper I get, the worse shape the structures seem to be in. All the cracks and missing pieces are filled with the same, living tissue. Its density only increases as I follow the sounds. Always following the sounds. I know I should be running in the opposite direction. The flesh within the buildings ripples in directional peristalsis. I am following it. I have yet to see any entrance to any structure.
September 15th, 2016
The city is more meat than stone now. The wet whispers assault my ears and work to infiltrate all my senses. I feel them coursing through my body. Onward, still, I trudge. The temperature is warmer. I can think of nothing other than forward movement.
September 16th, 2016
The cold has been replaced by heat and humidity. The stone has been subsumed by flesh; titanic structures of muscle and veins reach toward the gray sky. All is wet. All is moving.
September 17th, 2016
This morning, I discovered Charles. A Charles. Whether it was my partner or not is something I don’t know. He was trapped within the meat of a structure. It appeared his body had been incorporated into the surrounding flesh; thick veins fed his legs and neck.
A few feet away, other Charleses were growing from different structures. All were in different forms of development. All twitched and moved with the all-encompassing fleshscape.
They’ve since noticed me. They began with simple staring, but now they are reaching. The hands of my partner – the man I’ve loved – are extending toward my hands; hands which they’ve held countless times in what feels like a distant past.
The wet whispers are seductive and intoxicating. I look back toward the sea of flesh and stone I’ve crossed to reach this point. The thought of the cold on the outskirts of the city is hideous. To leave this warm womb where I am wanted and accepted seems abhorrent. And now, as veins extend from the hands of the Charleses, patiently waiting for my acceptance, I have a choice. Do I leave, cold and alone? Or do I enter this union of flesh?
I’ve been cold and alone for so long. I need to believe I’m ready for something new. Something warm. Something we can experience together. Pray for me. Pray for us.