Jaws Of A Shrieking Blaze
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My domicile is old. Even older is what lies beneath it; a large industrial thing hewn from slabs of rusted iron and sickly copper. In my thoughts, I simply refer to it as "the machine".

I have never known what it is supposed to do, other than what it constantly does:

It makes noise.

The machine is so goddamn loud, and every cog that turns in the heap of its complex construction sings its own incongruent tune. Then the tunes combine, only there is no symphony— just blaring pandemonium, ever-present and unending. It is such a daunting task to maintain my strength amidst the overwhelming barrage of such meaningless sounds, and I frequently fear that I will lose this great battle and plunge further into depravity in search of stillness. Even as I write now I am driven near to deafness, yet it plays at a volume just quiet enough that such an endless void of hearing will never be granted to my poor and battered soul.

I've got to stop this thing, yet I don't know how it will be done. There is no switch in the world that can silence it, and it needs no fuel to survive. I've fed every last piece of furniture in the house into its copious gears, hoping that the splinters of wood would stall the contraption and freeze the cogs into place, praying that its hellish song would at last come to a close. But each interloping piece thrown into the bowels of the demonic device only strengthens its resolve, empowering its hatred and increasing the decibels tenfold. It would take something far more alien to kill the cacophony, though I do not yet know if such a material even exists.

The daytime often means sanctuary, as it is then when I may leave my home and attend the needs of my job. But even at work I am reminded of the machine's screaming— it rings in my ears during the quiet downtime, interrupting conversations with confused colleagues who are none the wiser in regards to my plight. I can't tell them— I can't tell anyone— for they would never understand my words. And then when the moon chases away the sun I am forced to return home once more, and yet again the cogs become so loud and I sleep so little when they make their godless noises in the dead of the night.

I do not have the fortune to move, nor the strength to damage the iron devil with my own hands. Even if I was granted the ability to escape this horrid home, I suspect that the machine would only move with me: such a cruel notion seems just as likely as all the other terrible tortures that have already taken place.

There was a time long ago when I had first arrived at this residence, and during my initial years of inhabitance the creaking creature did not make its presence known. Back then I was in quite the pleasant position, residing on a prosperous property and spending many an evening and afternoon wondering why no man had lived in the luxurious lot before I had. The building was erected decades ago amidst the turn of the century, and yet I was the only name listed within the pages that titled its tenants.

It was not until one night in June when I made a trip into the basement and looked upon the innocuous thing (I had thought it to be some kind of sculpture beforehand) when its internal apparatus first sprang to life. My senses have not seen silence since that night, and the longer it lingers the more I suspect I will never feel the sanctity of peace again. It is a thought so deeply infuriating that it drives me to do things I would never have done as a normal man; there are often moments late into the night where my deprived self enters the basement chambers and gets into long screaming matches with the mechanism. I sometimes think that if I am loud enough— if I can outmatch the appliances output— that I might be free of its disastrous curse.

This has never come to pass.

The landlord arrives once every six months. Once every six months, the ungodly composition halts its maddening melody. When it is finally time for him to bid goodbye, I often cringe as the humming on the floor beneath my feet resumes, and grows louder and louder in volume within a matter of mere moments. But this visit will not end like all the others— it cannot end like the others— I am sure of it.

As soon as the proprietor turns his back to me and motions towards the exit, I strike the side of his head with an old shovel and watch as he effortlessly plummets to the ground. The noise below us does not stop, frequently interrupting my focus with each passing moment.

I lift his lifeless body with both arms and sling it over my right shoulder before pushing the basement door open. The stairs shake as I slowly make my descent into its lair. The noise does not stop, becoming all the more present and powerful as I grow even closer to its source.

My feet rest at the end of the steps. The ground is vibrating, quaking rhythmically at the alloyed creature that lies ahead. Confused by the dim cavernous light which surrounds me at all sides, my mind slowly morphs the shape of the machine into that of a great and fiery dragon, lying upon a mineral throne, its silver spur wheels like glittering rows of jagged fangs. The weight of the body pulls me even closer to the trembling, fearful earth as it shakes in a panicked reverence. The noise does not stop— it is howling now, as if that wrathful dragon were laughing at me through its mindless, clashing waves of clatter.

I climb a small step-stool which brings me above the machine, overlooking its innards as they move indiscriminately.

What I am about to do is not a sin, but rather a necessity. The minds of men were never meant to endure torments like mine, and thus I cannot be expected to deal with this situation as though I were a sane individual… And I am quite sure that the poor fellow in my hands would do the same if I were in his.

With a strong effort I lift the sacrifice off of my shoulder and drop him into the beast below, watching in awe at the gaudy crime that unfolds soon after. For a brief moment the pain of the digestion wakes up the victim, and he screams helplessly as he is consumed by rows of grinding metal teeth. Only a few more agonizing seconds later, and then his broken body vanishes within the folds of the complex clockwork, forever lost to the brutish hunger of a mechanized maw. The noise finally begins to fade as the shifting pieces are interrupted by the introduction of smooth, stringy flesh— the perfect material to combat the angular logic of the wailing construct. Smoke starts to pool from somewhere deep inside of the roaring engine before billowing out into the basement air, coating the surroundings in a dark mist as though the machine were some kind of startled, ink-laden squid. I fall off of the stool and collapse on the ground, fatigued by my many sleepless nights.

When I wake up, it is to the sound of crackling flames as a great fire engulfs what little remains of the house. As I scramble to escape the deadly inferno, I take one last look at the thing in the basement— first a machine, then an imposing dragon, then a pitiful sputtering thing, and now but a lumpy body of cindering nails.

After distancing myself from the horror, I scramble to push aside the ember-covered planks which block the entrance to the domicile, burning my blood stained hands in the process. When I finally free the last piece of burning debris, I kick open the blackened front doors and sprint away from the fire-filled halls behind me.

I continue running— away from the flaming wreckage, away from the brick-bound cities with their commotion-covered streets, away from the infinite stream of sound that for so long seemed impossible to conquer. It is in the open arms of the quiet woodland where I belong, with their mute pines embracing my ringing ears for all of eternity.

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