His Divine Corpse
rating: +16+x

"This is where we buried Him," she said as you neared the entrance, barely a crack in the mountain's stone face. It was a scar hidden by dust and overgrowth as if the earth itself wished to forget that which was locked away within its entrails, unseen but ever-present. Thorns crept along the jagged edges of the elder wound, a baleful curtain of vines that revealed the passage of time and spoke of untold ages since someone had dared to cross the threshold. There you stood at the foot of the great mound, feeling the shadow grow heavier like a pressure on your chest, on your heart, struggling not to cave in under its weight. "This is His tomb."


The word echoed like the tolling of bells, like the summons of worship long forsaken— lost to man, lost to time. It felt so unnatural, so impossible, so wrong. And still, here it lay: the tomb of God.


It had sounded so unnatural then, as you squeezed your way into the fissure — into the House of God — and it sounds so unnatural now as you make your way into the darkness beyond. What little light still penetrates the sepulcher's seal guides your steps but a few meters, revealing nothing but dust on polished stone as dry air fills your lungs, as your tongue tastes the stale shroud of silence and oblivion that has made its home within that monstrous sarcophagus. Your steps echo on hallowed ground, revealing the cavernous dimensions of God's burial mound, bouncing off the far-away walls, floating upwards towards the impossibly distant ceiling that presides over these vaulted halls. Tread carefully now; a misstep could send you tumbling to join Him in His eternal slumber, your body broken and your blood spilt in senseless sacrifice. What good is blood to a dead God?

No worry. You know where the chasm starts, where your descent must begin: it came to you in dreams, the way wrought in forsaken faith. The One in Moonlight whispered secrets for you to know the Truth. Thus you endure, thus you move forward, thus you light a torch and gaze at the corpse of God.


So unnatural, so wrong. Still you know this is not really what you see, what your eyes struggle to comprehend as its true dimensions are made apparent by firelight. This is not truly God, and not truly a corpse either, but an effigy to represent what His people believe: that God is dead and here He lies entombed. And yet…


He starts at the ceiling, at that dark sky beyond your sight, where your kindly fire would be but a sad, weak star in an empty cosmos. Feet first, God stands upside-down, carved from the mountain itself, a giant buried with His head pointed at the core of the world as if trying to forget the men above who built Him, fearful of the heavens over which He once ruled. How men could chisel the rock, peel away the layers of ancient crust, turn the entrails of the earth into the image of their Maker, you know not. As you gaze at Him you wonder whether He too is but the child of Another, born like you were to serve and worship, to wonder and fear.

You are less than an ant staring at His feet, at His toes as big as the ships that blare in the fog of shadowed oceans, as great as the leviathans that breed in the abyss. The darkness above, the darkness below… they allow for so little, a mere glance at the true size of Him, at the true proportions of the divine; all you can see by firelight is but a fraction of a fraction, a tiny part of One who — if He stood above the ground — would have His head disappear far beyond the clouds, far beyond the horizon, his scalp scraping the very stars, incomprehensible, immense. Thus His sepulcher extends to the most unfathomable depths, a tomb fit for one whose steps would make the land tremble and dread. At the edge of the chasm you stand and look up, trying to grasp how minuscule, how insignificant you are. Here is God, and you are but a maggot.

But you are also alive, and God is not.


"They say it was for the better, His death," she said when you asked. "We feared His wrath, His divine punishment. Faith in Him waned with the plague, with the war— we prayed but were not answered, and so we were led astray. Here we built His sanctuary, a House of God so He may show us mercy. But still He did not answer, and again we feared His vengeance, His scourge. Then came the One in Moonlight and we did dream that He had died, that His word was void and His retribution none. Our works stopped, His sanctuary left unfinished. God is dead and His House lies empty." Then she shuddered, and her voice was like crumbling dust. "And yet…"

And yet His shade remains. You noticed it from afar, from the place where the sun rises. Against the mountain's face, against the town and its houses of stone and clay, the darkness remains, heavy and thick, unmoving. What strange sights are these that the sun may shine in all its might and still the shadow reigns, cast by One deeply buried, by the One long entombed.

"We live not at the shadow of God, but of His corpse," she lamented. "We buried Him, mourned Him. But in our hearts we held hope that this way we could escape our guilt, our sin. And in doing so, in finding salvation through His death, we cursed ourselves. This be His true retribution, His true judgement upon our souls. Here we are to forever guard His House, to forever keep His tomb."



Gods cannot die. Gods should not die and be entombed. It is impossible, unnatural, unspeakable. And still here you stand at the edge of the chasm, at the edge of the pit, gazing down into the dust and darkness that hide away the last remains of faith, the unfinished statue meant to bless this land but that instead shuns it. God is dead, His statue buried, His people crushed by its shade. And you, you who have wandered out of the empty dream, you who are the dreamer touched by the One in Moonlight, seek to witness the face of God. Your descent begins.

There is a bridge over the chasm, a frail, splintered structure that stretches precariously into the void, reaching for the stone ankles of the statue like a child's final pleading before he's ripped from his parent's arms, desperate and futile. A few meters down hang the ruinous ladders of wood and rope, the scaffolds that once harbored a thousand thousand laborers and devout, the makers of God's effigy, its undertakers. Down, down they go, deep into the darkness, deep into the unknown— a path made clear for you, blasphemous gravedigger.

You check on the things you brought with you, the pulleys and levers to make low your body and spirit, the ropes and climbing picks to help you cling to the statue's mercy. Water and bread. Fire and fear. On you go, foot forward, eyes front. A creaking almost makes you jump back on your first try, the rotting wood moaning as it is once again called upon to bear a burden, a burden of flesh and blood and foolish curiosity. Don't give in, you think to yourself, you beg of the wood as the whole structure groans, as its agonized cries bounce through the cavern as if to herald you. One step forward— no use stopping now. Two steps forward. Three.



A gasp for breath, a dance of shadows on the wall.




Forward still, but don't grasp the rails. In their rust, they are not to be trusted.



Mind the allure of the void, the silent call that pulls and drags. Look down, down. Stare into that eyeless pupil, meet its gaze so you know your destination should you fall, so you know its consequence upon the cold stone below. Now keep going; it is no good to stare for too long.



Reach the scaffold, your safe harbor. Heed not its pained straining, the splinters beneath your feet: you cannot go back. Let your body adjust, make your heart slow down. Gaze upon the stone, upon its cold, dead might.

You are sweating. Why are you sweating? This is but the beginning; you must remember why you are here. Breathe in. Breathe out. Then walk, walk down and down and down. Into the depths, into the dark. Light they way, spelunker of oblivion, beholder of the abyss.

"They made Him to watch over us, to protect us," she recalled when you noticed His shadow. "Carved from the very mountain, He would eclipse even the stars above, hold the heavens on His shoulders, rule over day and night. And under His watch we would be a blessed people."

But what does God watch from down here? Does He even have eyes with which to see, with which to weep, with which to lament in mute anguish His entombment? This you ask the mountain as your feet try every platform, every board, as your shape braves the gaps where the floor has rotted away, where the void's black tendrils reach and beckon, calling your name in silent temptation. Slow is the descent, fast is the fall. Stale air gives way to something older, to something deeper. Down, down…

"He is blind, and He is deaf," she whispered. "They made for Him feet on which to stand, hands with which to bless and punish. He was given robes of many folds — the garments of both priest and shepherd, of both Lord and commoner — and a crown to proclaim His Glory. But they gave Him no face, no visage for us to hold sacred. For they tried anew every day and still they felt their work unworthy to be the face of God. So they toiled away in their halls of stone until the day came when the shadow fell, and with dread they beheld the fruit of their efforts, the thing they would be watched over by, the eyes of the Maker. Their screams knew no end."

Keep going. The air grows less stale, the ridge on which you started slowly fading away into the ever-more distant ceiling, into the dark horizon, the wall opposite to you mingling with obsidian colors of the void. What strange dance is this of stone and shadow, of dread and devotion?

Down, down…

Rust and rot creak with every step, their agony echoing through the abyssal maw like desperate prayers for an absent God. But God is here: you rappel down His inert body, scurrying down His hard skin and rigid clothes, your torch revealing His grey expanse, His petreous complexion. He is exquisitely detailed, every centimeter carved with utmost care and devotion— it is almost a shame that He must remain here in the dark, far away from the ones who carved and worshipped Him. Almost, for that which is buried and locked away is always done rightfully so. What terrible face was that of God that His own people cast Him into the darkness, into oblivion?

"And the eyes were torn out, and the mouth sewn shut, and the ears cut off and ground down into dust," she hid away her tears of shame and fear, for she knew the great sin they had committed. "We had wished to know the face of God and thus made Him in our image, in our lowly comprehension of His divinity. We blasphemed like the sages of the East had said we would, idolaters one and all. For when we at last gazed upon our God, the face that gazed back was a blight, a misshappen, unfinished sacrilege. He screamed without a mouth, wept without eyes. And thus we cast Him back to the very stone He had been born from and tried to hide away our shame. Thus we were stained, thus we were damned."

Damned. Cursed, like you, with the thirst of knowledge, with the desire to know the face of God. The One in Moonlight knew this as whispers filled your dream, as voices spoke of the great void where prayers came to die unheard. Unmade is the face of the Maker, a wound festering with rotting faith. This you wish to see, to witness, and so you keep going down even as the torch dims and flickers, begging that you light another flame lest you are swallowed whole.

A single flame against the tide of darkness, a single light against the cold of stone. Strange shapes are cast against God's skin by your mortal form, by your intruding silhouette, the wall opposite to you indistinguishable from the abyssal black. One motion with the torch and the shadow recoils like a beast scared of your burning sword, quick to return as soon as you turn around, embracing you. Torch it, light it, kill the dark. Kill it for as long as you can, for as long as your eyes can grasp the brim of the chasm as it looms overhead. Do you see it still? Further and further away it grows as the shadow turns thicker and your light grows colder and only God remains.

Where does the stone end and the void start? Only He, mute dweller of oblivion, knows. How long will it be, you ask no one, until you reach His face? How much deeper?

The air down here is strange— heavier than the stale surface atmosphere, harder. The deeper you go, the more it weighs, the more the shadow grows. Inhale the breath of God, taste the ancient humors of stone and dust. Feel it in your lungs as you draw breath, on your chest as you exhale. See your torch burn faster, fire consuming itself in frenzied gluttony, devouring oxygen and shortening its own life. Darkness will have its way sooner or later.

The ridge is a half-remembered dream now, a futile promise, an empty hope. Rust and rot lord over the platforms, ropes ravaged by age like vines from a dead tree. Slow steps, gently towards the edge, towards the place where it ends in splinters: the platforms are no more, jagged edges revealing where the wood has given in to time and decay, a few boards precariously dangling from a thread. End of the road, they seem to say. Go back. But you have come too far to give up now. Take out your climbing picks, your rope and pulleys. Hold them tight for life's sake, testing everything thrice and again. Pierce the stone, the flesh of God— defile, descend.

Stone is cold as ice, the wounds you bore in it bleed nothing but gravel and broken silence. Still you fear the shadows may shift and turn their eyes towards you, keen to your blasphemy, so you hold your torch aloft and wave it against the great black ocean where you swim like a threat to enemies unseen.

Watch your step. Down now. Hold fast and lower your foot. Slow, adjust your weight as you let go. Stab, remove. Again and again. Break and tear for your hands to hold tight, for your feet to step firmly. Look down at God's body, at the darkness that awaits should you skip a pace. This dance is one of life and death, one you dance with yourself. Keep moving, deep breaths— mind the abyss, mind the pull of gravity.

Down, down…

Darkness above, darkness below— only God remains a constant. See the detail put into Him, into every thread of His holy robes, knitted by stonemason's hand to endure the ages, held by a belt of sacred star-stone to forever dress His divine flesh. Touch the hard fabric, the simulacra of fine silk and nacre jewelry, the pale imitations of what should be full of life and color. They lie here for eternity, grey and frigid and dead like their wearer, like the thing whose behemoth hands you can see further down as you reach His midsection, frozen in a welcoming gesture. Who do they greet here? Who do they welcome into their embrace? Fingernails wide like houses, digits as tall as pillars, God's hands proclaim sanctuary for those who reach them, a final chance to rest and ponder going back.

Rest now; you know you need it. Realize the ache in your hands, the burning across your shoulder. Every muscle sings in deafened pain, in grateful relaxation as they stop holding your weight and finally lie against the cold surface, held in God's first mercy. Take a sip from your water; this is no oasis but the same barren stone that you have treaded. No life grows here, not moss, not fungi. Only you — and you alone — are here. And darkness and God…

Stray footsteps take you to the edge of His mercy, to where the abyss begins anew. Darkness above, darkness below— and beyond, the face of God. You light another torch and drop the dying one before it is nothing but ashes, eyes following its fiery trail of embers as it plummets and is lost amidst the all-consuming blackness, off to hit the ground long after it has burned out. Or perhaps it won't. Perhaps the abyss knows no end and goes on forever, as infinite as the priests say God is: an endless tomb for an endless deity.

Your rest over, the descent continues. Your tools bore holes like insect bites in the stone skin for you to hold onto, your feet landing hard as you rappel down from God's hands and onto His abdomen, towards His heart. The path extends far and far, down and down, farther than your eyes can follow, deeper than your mind can fathom. But He beckons, His face yet to be witnessed, the dream yet to be fulfilled. And downwards you crawl, your torch alone against the blinding dark.

A misstep makes you tumble, feet desperately scraping His surface, hands clawing at the blind heavens above as you try clinging onto God's upside-down chest, your eyes begging as your throat fails to scream and you hit the rock in painful salvation. Your hands grasp the ropes, your heart racing as your grip tightens and your breath resonates through the cavern, eyes focusing just in time to see your supplies plunge into the darkness beyond. No use lamenting your water now. Don't let go. Don't. Make sure it's stable, that the ground won't give in beneath your feet. Hold on. It's alright, it's alright… Good luck this time, but next one—

The thought lingers and dies as you look up, struggling to understand what your hands hold in their haste to survive. This is not your rope, is it? It is coarse, yes, thick and unkind to your skin. But no rope is black like the underground. No linen — however strong — is this flexible. No rope grows out of a dead God's effigy. There are dozens of them, jutting from the stone like weeds, thicker at the root and spindlier at their end. The longer ones are thrice your height, a fourth of your girth. What are they? Up and up your sight follows them, back to the place where God's robes cover His flesh with wide sleeves of white stone. Could they be— no, impossible. Who has ever heard of a statue that sprouts hair?

God is dead. His upside-down body lies entombed. Nothing is alive down here, not even the lowliest creatures, carrion feeders and dust mites. Only you are alive. Only you should be.

Mind not the multitude of capillaries, their stillness interrupted by your frenzied descent into further depths, away from what dreadful implications they may hold. Faster, faster. Careful not to stumble again, lest you again hold onto something else that should not be. Faster, faster. Down, down…

Notice how the stone has been sculpted, how His tunic changes. Folds of fabric pile up on each other towards the ceiling— as if the sky had gravity. They are too detailed to be chiseled by man alone. Tears and orphaned threads — imperfections one and all — pave your path. Don't think about it, don't let it bite into your brain. Keep going, keep descending. Stab here. Hold firm there. Watch your step. Down…

It beckons louder now, does it not? The impulse, the desire to see the visage of God, the face the One in Moonlight spoke about. Farther away it lies, farther down. Go to it. Ignore the rest. Pay no heed to the monstrous details of the stone, to the cold skin and coarse hair that seem to twitch as you break and defile, as you wound and scrape.

Your hands blister and burn as again and again you cling to the unkind rock, to the jagged stigmata you carve into God's idol, arms screaming out as you stretch and contract. Thirst begins to seep into your throat, your body again begging to be allowed some respite, your muscles struggling to hold you together as you silence the voice telling you to go back now, to turn and leave this tomb and its mysteries to the shroud of time. But you can't stop now. Not after what you have seen, not after what you have touched.


The word hangs at the tip of your tongue, unsaid by your dry mouth, suppressed by your denial. Have you seen a body rot before? You have, by blade and blight. Skin contracts and dries up, fingernails and hair pushed out from the carcass in grim imitation of life, of continued renewal. But there is no life beneath the surface, no warmth, no breath. Only vermin remain, covering the cadaver, feasting until they burst. Then comes dust and ashen bone.


How long has it been now? How long has your torch burned? Stone gives way to stone in the blackness, your eyes following until they can see no more. Where are you?

How long has it been? Your shadow cannot tell you as you traverse God's chest: it is but one of many, an orphan carved from the dark mantle through the flaming blade you hold, the torch that burns and crackles and refuses to be extinguished. Your shade grows not longer or shorter, thicker or thinner. It merely is for as long as you are, static, chained to your form, bound to keep you company until you reach the very end.

Hours may have passed, or mere minutes… how could you tell here, in this eternal night? You should have known this would happen, that time would become dim and murky in the absence of a sky, that your hours would blend into each other without a warm sun to tell them apart. No dusk, no dawn. Only darkness, only God.

Thirst is back, harsher than before. Dry lips meet a dry tongue. Your panting makes no echo. How deep— how wide is this place? Darkness above, darkness below… Keep going. There is no hope of turning back anyways.

Air is dry, sterile, dead. Nothing moves, nothing lives— nothing but you, nothing but your shade. Step and step, down and down you follow the path your light plows through the shadows, white stone all there is. What part is this? An arm? A rib? It all looks the same… all the same…

Cold. The stone is cold, hard and hostile. Barren, infinite, He looms deeper still, a sprawling giant whose dimensions grow stranger as what feels like hours pass and you keep on climbing down and down and down…

If only there were stars, you think, you beg. For the asters, however distant and indifferent, let you know there is an end, a limit to the heavens, a frontier to be reached. Here, underground, the night encompasses it all, erasing the beginning and the end. Which way is up? Which way is down? Should you let go, how would you know what direction you're falling towards? Perhaps there is no beginning, no end. Only this limbo, this eternal path that you follow, that you cling onto in futile hope of reaching the dream that was promised. The One in Moonlight… was this all foreseen? What if that was the waking world, and this is the dreaming?

Stone. Darkness. Thirst.

Cold. Cold stone. Cold air.

Warmth. Your fire is so warm…

It burns, foolish spelunker. It consumes and eats and hurts. But don't let go. Don't—

The flicker of your torch dives away into the darkness as the pain tears you from your drowsy malaise, as your thirst and weariness give way to the anguished realization that you are now blind. Eyes desperately seek it, hands futilely trying to reach for another source of light and warmth, but none remain with you. You lost them before, in another foolish mistake. Darkness swells and shifts, devouring you whole as your hands clasp the stone, the wounds you made in your stubbornness, in your folly. How will you see the face of God now, blind seeker?

The face of God… so close… so far… how to tell in the dark, how to tell in the abyss? You don't even know where to step on next, where to land your foot so you don't plummet down into oblivion. You are as blind as He is, your eyes sewn shut by the threads of darkness, light forever lost, forever denied.

But you can see it, can you not? You can see red.


It pulses… so faint, so distant, like a dying lighthouse, like the last embers of dusk.


It is a soft luminescence, illusory, alluring like a fire on a cold night, like a warm embrace. From beyond the void it calls you, past the chest of God, out of His visage. What is this? The bleeding of a forever wound? His holy face, lashed and scourged, broken and unmade— you are close now, you can feel it. But the darkness, so absolute, so oppressive…

A moth drawn to the flame, you brave your way down. Stone meets your boot as you let go and cling onto the next crevice, the next ridge. Down, down towards the light, towards the beacon, towards the red…

Don't stop now, not now…

Shadow seeks shadow and scurries away from the light, from the crimson glow of His wounded face, of His unfinished features, stigmata of the colossus. Down and down you go, towards that beacon, towards that lure. Hand here, foot there, faith at every risky step. Don't slip, don't let go off His chest, off His mercy. See the face of God.

Closer now, warmer as the collarbones become visible, as you hurry down towards the mighty neck of the Maker, ignoring the capillaries that line the statue's throat. The stone is no longer frigid, no longer harsh. It is tender to your touch, like no stone has ever been. Like clay it is wet, warm, strange. What is this? Where are you? The air feels heavier than before, humid… gravid.

Careful not to slip, not to fall. You have yet to witness Him, to see His face…

So close, so close…

The red is intense now, pulsing with vascular palpitations, alive. Your form slides down the neck, its curvature giving you a momentum that nearly pushes you over the edge and into the void. But you no longer care, do you? It is so close now, just past that final ridge that can only be His chin. His inverted face awaits you, awaits someone whose eyes can witness Him.

There is a thrum in the tomb's dead silence. Thick vein-like vines course the tip of God's chin, red with the light that has called you down here, the light of something alive and breathing, something unborn yet dreaming. It blares. It beckons. It burns.

Your descent is almost over, your quest about to end. Down the chin you climb, pulling at the veins and arteries, at these tubes filled with alien fluids, at these scarlet tendrils that throb with purpose. A heart beats at their end, at the end of the road. The stench of life — caustic and thick — fills your nostrils in wet triumph, an acrid taste filling your mouth as you let go and land atop the soft flesh, atop the warm sacs and thudding entrails. God's full glory lies before you, His features revealed at last.

There is a God-shaped hole where the face should be, a pulsing red wound in lieu of eyes and a mouth. Blood courses through countless luminescent veins, through tubes as thick as a man, as warm as a mother's embrace. Pink-and-blue membranes line the edges of the skull like curtains to a dreadful play, the cavern of flesh reeking with the smells of forming life, of strange new beginnings under the starless sky of the underground night. Dense mucus drips everywhere, staining the floor, sticking to your boots as you make your way towards that thing that grows and shudders at the center of God's face.

There, at the center of it all, at the nexus of that festering wound trepanated into His statue's head… is God Himself. Curled into a ball of pinkish divinity, His empty eyes stare blindly into the void, into your heart, lost and mindless. Incomplete, gigantic, He floats in an yellow ocean of nutrients, a cloudy sac of noxious ichor, protected by an army of tendrils made of living flesh that snake along His sanctuary. Here He lies in wait, in wait for someone to witness Him, to witness this blind, idiot monstrosity that nests and gestates in His own corpse, in His own petrified and rotting body.

Now the Truth lies before you, the hideous thing yet to emerge into the world, His shadow darker than even the depths of this tomb, heavier than the mountain above you. You back off, back towards the edge, your eyes glued to God's own as if begging Him to show that He is something more than this mindless thing, than this obscene malformation of divine flesh.

"God…" your tongue manages to convey before you reach precipice, before you are given a choice. God does not hear you. He has never heard anyone at all. And as you make your choice, as you feel the ground beneath you disappearing, as you fall further down for the abyss to claim you, you realize the Truth that you were meant to know— you recall the woman's words: We prayed but were not answered, and so we were led astray.

Of course they were, the abyss whispers. What God could hear them up there, down here? For He is yet to come, for He is yet to know the world. For this may be a tomb for you, but for God it is a womb.

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