rating: +11+x

The cold entered through the open window, like a filthy thief. It waited and waited, for entire lifetimes if needed, until a literal window of opportunity presented itself before him. A common mistake, or perhaps a simple bout of forgetfulness was all it took for him to advance ahead — past the hordes of thieves just as hungry and despondent as him — and jump through it.

He was in.

The thief was nowhere close to the treasure, but getting in was already a treasure in and of itself: As soon as he stepped in, he felt warm: His entire life, he had lived outside, in the cold, where nothing produced heat, where everyone survived by preying on each other, cannibalizing and brutalizing for what little they could get from one another, a cycle of senseless auto-flagellation the thieves and paupers did in order to stay alive. A cycle older than anything else, a cycle older than the treasure he was looking for, and the palace that contained it.

The thief took his first step inside, and found the place hard to navigate. The issue wasn’t the complex architecture of the palace, or his lack of familiarity with the environment — although they certainly added to the stress of the situation — but rather a sticky gel covering every wall, the floor, and even the ceiling. A webbing of white and green and red and blue, pulsating, breathing. Whatever this thing was, it was alive, and it slowed his progress with each step that he took.

He moved deeper into the palace, phlegmatic substance slowly climbing up his legs, reaching his calves. Each step he took covered less and less space, until, eventually, he stopped moving. He was trapped. The moment he stopped moving was not only because of the direct contact of the phlegm, but also because of an object in his path, the webbing making him unable to raise his legs all the way and step past it. There was also a certain psychological effect to this entrapment: The object in question was a desiccated corpse, the body of a previous thief, fallen victim to the webbings. His face, although turned to no more than stone and dried moss, held a look of pain and misery. He fell, or maybe remained in place for a long, long time, desperately trying to claw his way out of the webbing, before being immobilized by it, slowly dying of hunger and thirst. Maybe he had been lucky, and the fall had made the webbing enter his mouth, suffocating him. Would he be as lucky?

The thief shook his head, mentally (Yet sadly not physically) shaking off the shackles imprisoning him, and considered the situation. He had no way of escaping, unless he left his own legs behind.

Something deep within his nucleus clicked. Maybe… Maybe he could leave his legs behind.

The endless cycle of the thief made him realize maybe there was a way out of this. He looked at his blade, before attempting to step over the corpse again. He didn’t move a single inch.

Alright then. So be it. The thief knew the path to the treasure cove of this palace wouldn’t be without sacrifice, and so, he was ready for it. Without a second thought, he stabbed his own right leg, and with a single motion, sliced his shins open. A thick, translucent liquid — his own blood — began pouring out, mixing with the webbing. It stung, but the thief was used to the pain, and it was nothing compared to what moving forward promised.

He finally moved his newly-created stump over the desiccated corpse, making sure he stepped over the dry, leather-like bits, and not the webbing, then repeated the cut, severing his other leg, finally being able to move free. Carefully, he stood atop the corpse. He had been freed, but now he floated atop an isle, the only section of the palace not covered in sticky matter.

He looked at the corpse again; in some of its factions, he could see himself: The desperation; the desire of a better life; the hunger for more. The latter struck a nerve, turning for a moment to look at his massacred joints, blood pooling underneath, slowly being absorbed by the lifeless body, fattening its meat. The thief salivated. He wouldn’t hesitate.

He first bit down the corpse’s throat, ripping off what he thought were the meatiest bits. He didn’t know, really, but this was how he had survived this long, and habits die hard, especially when one was on the verge of death. Next was the chest, making his path to the entrails, careful not to dig through the corpse, which would lead him straight to the webbing. He consumed the soup that his muscles had become, and the pus that his fat had turned into, and with enough time and aliment, he felt a tingle in his lower half, and he knew the process was done. Looking down, he saw his legs, new ones having grown at the spots where the old ones had been severed. They were smaller, and felt clunkier to move with, but it would do for now.

As a final act, he removed parts of the tattered skin of the corpse, covering his new limbs with it, then began moving again. The webbing would continue to pile up and turn solid and trap him down, but now he had a plan. As he advanced, more corpses appeared. Some had been cannibalized before, and others had smaller arms and legs, recently grown he’d guessed, having figured the only way to move forward was by consuming others. He gritted his teeth, a sort of smile appearing. If they had done the same, then his solution wasn’t as bad as he thought. That gave him peace.

The thief continued eating and eating, walking and walking, cutting and cutting, ad nauseam. Even when what grew out of his mutilated calves was nothing like what his legs looked like, stumps without fingers, broken stems, scorched, bloated skin… Even then, he continued.

And then, he was free. The thief could not use his legs anymore, atrocities starting at the ends of his knees, but he could still move forward, and wasn’t trapped anymore. The thief cut off these tumors, and without them, he waddled towards the treasure.

Blood still trickling from his broken body, he made it past hallways, past ballrooms, past pantries and armories. The thief had made it to a big citadel inside the palace, with thousands of stairs and passageways and museums and courthouses and mail depositories and shopping malls and all that one could ever need or want. People walked to and from, no one batting an eye, some even stepping over him, shattering his bones, breaking his spirit.

Was this the treasure he had heard of? Was this the heart of it all? It couldn’t be, could it?

Disillusioned, the thief closed his eyes, and allowed himself to finally rest, becoming pavement, unmoving against an uncaring world — a new uncaring world, not unlike the one he’d lived in for as long as he could remember.

It was then that a soldier in red clothes noticed him.


When the thief opened his eyes again, he was being carried through moving passageways by this soldier in red armor, an entity the thief had never seen before. Oddly humanoid, yet something was off. He couldn’t tell what.

The soldier moved fast through places filled with yellow bile that smelled like Death itself, and webbing nightmares just like the one he’d been trapped in for so long, never slowing, as if built for such impossibly harsh environments. The thief tried to speak to the soldier, but realized he couldn’t raise his voice: His throat was singed, messed up after all the flesh and blood and tripes he consumed.

The thief tapped the soldier’s helm, trying to get their attention. The soldier slightly tilted their head towards the thief, and a sudden buzz emanated from them, making the thief attempt to cover his ears, not having the energy to do so. The buzzing was arrhythmical, jumping high and low at random intervals. The thief listened to the music for a few minutes from time to time, and realized it was a language; the soldier was speaking to him, but the tongue they spoke was so unlike anything he’d ever heard before that it barely seemed like sound was produced. Actually, that was right: The soldier wasn’t producing any sound, at least not one the thief could hear. Whatever they spoke, the thief just didn’t have the receptors capable of picking up any information the soldier transmitted.

Even then, they had decided to help him. Or carry him around, at the very least. He wasn’t sure if the soldier had his best intentions in mind, but the thief certainly appreciated not being stepped on anymore. He also appreciated the view.

Once the alleyway had been passed, the thief saw the entire extent of the city, miles and miles and miles of esoteric constructions, of unknown architecture, of pistons and pulleys and cubes and rivers. Massive giants walked this earth, and once in a while their many orifices would grow blue, and streams of some sort of liquid would pour out into the city, and the city would melt away, and many smaller beings would come into the ruins, and rebuild the area a different way. Other giants would simply swallow up entire sectors, and fatten up to then explode, leaving behind skyscrapers and stadiums where their corpses should have been.

The soldier began climbing a gigantic suspension cable that led towards a massive palace floating in the sky, all the cables keeping it tethered to the ground. Each few meters, there would be another soldier, similar to the one clad in red, and they would look at the thief, and buzz loudly, their bodies contorting, their hands becoming clubs and mallets and axes, their head turning into military barracks, and tank turrets, and even fire alarm clocks. But then the red soldier would buzz louder, scaring the soldiers in white, or subduing them, or reasoning with them, he couldn’t know, and the soldiers in white would move to the side, and they would pass along. This repeated a hundred, two hundred times before they made it to the palace.

They entered through a window, not unlike the one the thief had passed through at the beginning, and the soldier immediately dropped the thief to the ground. It wasn’t a painful land, as the ground seemed padded, some sort of liquid being contained in it, separated by a mere sheet of some sort. The thief turned to the soldier, who simply gave a whistle of some kind, then turned around, leaving through the window, back towards the city.

It took several tries for the thief to get up without the support his legs would have given him, and once he did, he was presented with a powerful scene: This palace seemed to stretch beyond infinity, and this infinitely large space was filled with nothing but millions and millions of large creatures sitting in front of large tables, constantly consuming food that was delivered to them through massive tubes, falling into the table in the shape of a constant slurry of every single color and every single shape and every single texture, which they consumed using strange flagella, too thin to be considered arms, too long to be tails or fingers.

The thief carefully waddled towards the dining table, ignoring the bloated masses just as they ignored him, and found a puddle of grease and proteins and vitamins and water. The ichor might have looked like something the thief would expel out his posterior, but the smell was unequivocally delightful, something he had never smelled before, and yet every fiber of his body lusted for it. He needed this.

In another time the thief would have wondered if this was the treasure, but there was no time for thoughts. As soon as the odor hit him, he was licking the substance off the ground. He could feel something within him sparking, burning through in ecstasy, combusting through his being, changing him down to his DNA, breaking through his ribosomes. Something clicked again, and suddenly, he knew everything. He understood the purpose of the bloating masses, of the food, of the red and white soldiers, of the giants terraforming the city, of the alleyways, of the webbing. And he understood what he was meant to do.

He didn’t even need to look down to realize his legs had regrown with a single sip of the ambrosiac liquid, instead getting up immediately, stepping over the table, stepping over oil and keratin, over histamine stains and teratoma remains, climbing into the feeding pipe.

It was way smaller than his body, but he didn’t care. The thief felt his spine, his entire structure bend and crack and twist, advancing as he consumed more and more of the ambrosia, making his way through as his body morphed, growing in new shapes, bending the pipe outwards as he scaled it.

Eventually, the pipe broadened, and the thief reached a room. Covered in the liquid, he required to first remove it to see. Once he did so, he realized his hands, his entire arms had mutated, branch and spike-like protrusions replacing each of his fingers, each of his bones, bursting through his skin like parasites. But he didn’t care.

The room he was in was the color of amber, the color of gold. The room was filled with massive trees that grew high into the sky, where their fruits would shine like stars, forming constellations. The thief wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking it was the clear sky, but past the stars he could see the fleshy color of the walls, pulsating. Breathing.

The thief didn’t wonder what all of this meant: He already knew. This was the treasure he was looking for. The treasure wasn’t material at all, is the thing, and only now he could see it. It was a golden chance, a golden bough that would allow him to pass into the otherworld, into the better life. The eternal, unhurting life.

The thief stabbed his mutated limbs into the trees, and immediately burst into a pale liquid that spread like wildfire, enveloping each of the trees, which dried, its wood petrifying while also bending inwards. Each of the trunks melded into each other, forming an effigy of the thief, the fruit-constellations rotting into spike balls that formed into a crown, a coronation for the thief, who now had become sovereign of this palace, and the palace that encapsulated it in turn. He had become the treasure. He’d become unmoving, irreplaceable, immortal.

He also had become sustenance, white, bubbly ichor bleeding out the trees, replacing the proteins of the pipes, trickling down the throats of the bloated masses below. Each of them took a sip, and fell ill, and just like the thief, they exploded into wooden spikes that dug into the floor, the walls, and other masses, turning the area pallid in color. The sea beneath the flooring dried, turning into lard, and the walls collapsed, the massive palace crashing into the ground, killing millions on impact.

The greater palace shook and cracked, walls collapsing left and right. The webbing dried, all traps collapsed unto themselves, and all soldiers were sent into disarrays, fighting invisible enemies, fighting themselves.

And once the palace stopped trembling, electrochemical waves announced to everyone that the Thief had become a King, and the doors were opened, and all the thieves entered the palace, and feasted, and pillaged, and burned everything to the ground, and the palace trembled again, the cycle of pain and chaos being brought inside.

The thief would have protested at this turn of events, but he could not speak anymore, because he could not see anymore, because he was not there anymore. Amidst the forest he’d overtaken, only bits and pieces of his body remained, and from it, a new golden bough grew.

A new treasure for the next thief to claim for themselves.


The greater palace opened its eyes, feeling something in the pit of his stomach. He felt cold, and his own spit tasted insipid, bitter, vile. His throat felt thrashed, as if it had been bombed. Well, it had been jäger-bombed, so that made sense.

His head felt like a fit tree was growing inside of it, pulsating as if something wanted to get out. He had fallen ill, that was for sure.

He looked around, trying to find the culprit, the monster who had brought its ire down upon him, yet could only find himself a fool:

He had left the window wide open last night.

He cursed, loud enough to resonate within him yet not loud enough to make his head burst like a watermelon, slowly getting up and giving himself two soft slaps on the cheek. He closed the window that had brought the thief in, then went back to sleep. The cold would cure itself eventually, he was sure of it. The palace would return to its rightful shape in time.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License