Worship Death
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Content Warning:

This entry contains graphic depictions of blood and gore.

In the thralls of Death, existence was forfeit.

A faceless entity, something all-consuming in its presence. To think about it, to even begin to try and comprehend it, was in itself an act of vandalism to its very nature. Something that takes life, something that brings sentience to the edge of nothingness. I could not speak as to its control over the dead souls it collects, just as I could not speak to the conscience of Infinity.

If I had to wager a guess, I would be no more than a month old. I felt and saw and thought and tasted and cried and did all of the things that a baby would do when confronted with such an incomprehensible scene. I was an infant, though my consciousness was at least aware of the fact that I was nothing more than an impaired spirit, fumbling with loose grasps and broken buttons for a useless vessel. A useless vessel that balked at the jaws of Death's precursor.

With the role of a spectator, I felt much more aware of the infant's senses, though perhaps it was more appropriate to say that they were my own. Dry straw rubbed against my soft skin, scratching and itching as I jostled about in a tantrum. My throat, strained to its limits as my lungs expended gasps of air for frightened screams and tears. Through it all, I could make it out; a large, bulky man with a thick chest of hair and dressed in nothing more than a loincloth. He stared down at me with blinking eyes and a pointed rock held over his head. A thin layer of red blood coated it, light droplets falling from its tip.

I could hear screaming, somewhere. Screams that were not my own, that brought with it candid suffering, images of a savage death, much like the one that I was about to experience.

The man grunted, the rock swung down, and there was a bright sense of redness.

It dissipated soon after, leaving behind something a bit more sensible.

A single moment passed, and I was staring at a large, brown mass of meat and fur, a mammoth. I suddenly understood that it was something that I've hunted many times before in the past; floods of memories rushed into my brain, a lifetime worth of experiences.

The mammoth was a huge reservoir of meat, something that symbolised many days of survival, gifts of warmth and food. Only, this one was different, somehow. Pale patches of naked skin jutted out from it in swollen lumps, some of which were wet with yellow pus that brought with it clouds of flies. Blood steadily leaked from its body from various wounds, some caused by members of my hunting group, some that were there when we found it.

I looked around myself, along with my vessel. I shared with it feelings of pounding anxiety, heart thumping against my rib cage in its tribal drum rhythm, as if it was trying to escape. Bodies, eight in total. With limbs bent in awkward positions, with crushed torsos and fountains of red, with the sense of it, Death, in the air.

The mammoth's eyes were bloodshot.

I could see bits of flesh and skin sticking to its legs, clinging onto its fur as it slowly approached me. A scream expelled itself from my chest, and I drew back my arm, which held the shaft of a broken make-shift spear.

It charged, then. An overbearing mass of brown that slowly turned black as it expanded and expanded and expanded and expanded and…

I could not breathe. I could not move.

There was only a numbing across my chest, and a faint sense of prickling in my legs that made me desperately want to itch it. Alas, I had not the strength nor means to do so. Death had come once more, and it was onto the next.

Most of my deaths were not so interesting. At least, not after the first few million. There was an uncountable number of lives to go through, to witness the ends of and truly understand the artistic works of Death. Yet, there was an infinite amount of time to expend.

I was kept suspended within an expansive black ocean of sorts, fully submerged and paralysed while my mind wandered in fragmented pieces. I could recognize myself; a corpse awaiting the next stage of life. It had been a foolish accident, as many deaths in the modern era were; I'd been driving down an empty highway during a night late enough to be considered morning. My body was running on fumes, a meager meal of instant ramen from two days prior and about thirty minutes of sleep.

I didn't know how long I fell asleep for, but when I woke up, I became aware of what I've become, and what I must endure. That one death would not be enough. Ahead of me, the endless staircase of anguish, with its rich history of violence, bloodshed, and pestilence.

It was a Death-given task, only meant to clean the vestiges of corruption from my soul so that I could properly move on.

So I suffered, as I should.

There was a time where I was being carried through the air, a strong scent of blood and gore permeating as a red mist. Frigid burns marked my belly, where two spears had pierced through my flesh. A pair of soldiers, dressed in clunky steel, were holding me up, jostling my soon-to-be corpse around in the air as they sang loudly into the dead air. I could not blink. I could not speak. There was only the magnitudes of black pain coursing through my body as every part of me turned rigid with shock. I was marred with splatters of blood, some of which were not my own, and there was only but a mere dagger hanging loosely in my grasp as I was paraded around the battlefield.

An endless desert plain of war, of suffering. Thousands of dead bodies. And there I was, high enough to see it all as the last vestiges of life left my body.

Once, I came to myself lying on the dirt floor of an old, rundown cottage. The rancid stench of vomit and diarrhoea made it nearly impossible to breathe. I could only lie there, sobbing and whispering nonsensical ramblings to God as sharp, gnawing pains wracked my gut. Gangrene rot had developed on my hands, and whenever I tried to crawl, my arms would only flail about uselessly, scratching at the ground with black fingernails. Every drop of sweat felt like a bead of lava, making its way down my taut skin with a terrible slowness.

Impaled through a wooden stake and left out in the open, drowned at sea after a fishing accident, caved in and forced to starve in the dark…

Once, I was walking through cobblestoned streets of London with autumn's chilling wind nipping at my cheeks. My body trembled as I took step after step through the veil of night, my skinny frame feeling the full effects of the cold through thin layers of cloth. I had just about made it to viewing distance of my residence, a run-down lodging house within the decrepit slums of Whitechapel, when a pair of gloved hands reached out from an alleyway and pulled me in.

I was caught staring at an impassive face, barely visible in the dim moonlight. His mouth was drawn to a taut line and his eyes were entirely unfeeling, more akin to glass marbles. He shoved me roughly against a wall and produced a large knife from underneath his sleeve. I tried to cry out, but the blade quickly found its way to my throat, effectively stealing away my breath.

Again and again, his knife went, penetrating through my abdomen in rapid succession. Every time he pulled away, small spurts of blood would dribble out and onto my clothes. With every thrust, he would exhale through his nose and twist the knife within my body, the pain of which my brain struggled to comprehend. I tried to scream, but it came out as a gurgle, muffled by a mouthful of blood and foaming spittle.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the luxury of dying of old age too many times.

The pain never got better. Each death was experienced as if it was my first.

I often found myself calling to God. To Death, sometimes even the Devil himself. Anything to take me away from this trial of eternal agony and suffering. There was no response, of course; I could only imagine how many pleas they must hear on a daily basis. But more than once, I thought to myself: If only.

If only there was nothing after death. If only my consciousness could cease to exist, if only I could spend the rest of existence in non-existence. I think I would prefer it that way. I wouldn't have the means to process it anyway. It would be immortal bliss, an infinite amount of lifetimes extinguished in exchange for pure, unadulterated nothingness. No more worries. No more suffering.

I couldn't possibly fathom Death's motives for such a macabre ritual. Perhaps there was a bigger reason to all of this, something that an insignificant speck such as myself couldn't even begin to understand. There were no thoughts in my mind about reason, however. Only the desperate wish for it all to end. If I had the choice, I would have likely refused the gift of new life altogether. It wouldn't be worth it, at least not with the ever-expanding chain and ball that so firmly gripped my leg.

One death in particular I could recall vividly. I saw myself through the eyes of a woman, screaming and clutching at someone's trembling hand as an unbelievable knot of pressure strangled my lower half. Red, sticky blood painted my inner thighs. Somewhere in the background, a doctor shouted in an incomprehensible tone, which only served to elevate the raw hurt coursing through my body like a current. I pushed and pushed and pushed, each and every single contraction sending me deeper and deeper into the bottomless spiral of radiant lights, blinding me, deafening me. I could feel the rushing current of blood through my veins, practically boiling as my body collapsed onto itself.

I recall, with burning intensity: "Worship Death."

My subconscious had said it with such clarity, that it temporarily broke through the scene, leaving me numb. That numbness was a gift of grace, though it only lasted for a mere second. I took it as a sign. Something parted unto me by a higher being, something that told me that I was on the right path. Of course, I was not in the right state of mind to accept anything as a fact. I was desperate, reaching the end of my line with nothing to face but the face of hell. I would have taken any rope thrown, no matter how thin, no matter how barbed. No matter if it was just a piece of string conjured up by the thoughts of madness.

And so I finished my task.

So, so many deaths. And I lived through them all.

The last death I experienced, was, of course, my latest. I felt cool, calm, collected. I was in my car, driving down a road that I've driven down hundreds of times before, and I knew exactly what awaited me at the end. Although part of my mind was crippled by hunger and sleep deprivation, the other part of me knew that it would all end well. When my eyes began to fall heavy, I did nothing to resist it. When I felt the dull threads of sleep pull me away from reality, from everything wrong in this world, I felt nothing but peace.

I knew, then. I returned to the black, inky abyss of Death's embrace, though this time, there was warmth. I found myself slowly burning away. Only it was pleasant. A nice, buzzing feeling that enveloped my body as I prepared to, at last, take part in life once more. Of course, once I die, it will be yet one more death that I would have to experience, one more flight of stairs added to Infinity.

I only hope that I'll handle it better the next time around.

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