I'm back with The Mists Of Papoose Pond! Ed steps in the bad stuff this week!
THE MISTS OF PAPOOSE POND
Chapter Thirty Three
My friends follow me as I slice through the openings to the other avenues of filth and decadence that belong to the Dark One. One such aperture is so defiled that rivers of sewage pour forth, knocking us off our feet and threatening to carry us away. It’s not easy to get out of the way of this liquid quagmire, but we work our way to the walls’ sides and manage to stand.
The stench, horrendous as it is, takes a secondary place of importance: Zombies, as disjointed as they might be, come floating down the nauseous brew and snatch at us, hoping to grab pieces of our flesh to munch on before they head to the war. We lop away at the bastards and kick severed body pieces back into the polluted river. There are so many of them it seems like a hopeless cause, but they navigate these hazardous waterways with no availability to stay upright for any length of time, and even though we don’t exactly trip the light fantastic in this slop, we do better than them.
An immeasurable amount of time goes by before the Zombies have floated away from us, allowing us to travel upstream to where my senses tell me we need to go. Yes, we have lost some of our numbers, but not as many as we might have. I can take some solace in that, I suppose, but it still cuts away at me that any of my warriors and my friends should have to die. It always pains me.
Damn it all anyway! Why do I have to be the one accepting the yoke of leadership? Okay, I suppose it is my fault: I rushed in, grabbed the bull by the horns, and went after absorbing the mantle of some sort of Apocalyptic general. My fuck up if I chose the wrong path.
My webbed friends tell me it’s all right to feel the way I do, but they also say the ball is in my court and that this is my baby.
I suppose it is. “Tough love,” I say back. “We all know there are risks, but then again, the rewards are high. God will reward His warriors.”
I need to believe that myself at times; I know it’s true, but everything we achieve comes at such a high price. Accepting it all by faith alone is not easy. Yet, the fissures with hot, molten lava awaiting the less than happy embraced by the undead on Satan’s side is certainly a sign that God has not abandoned us. Okay: I can see into the minds of everyone and everything else, but the power of the Almighty remains a mystery to me. So far, I carry no prophetic powers transmitted by God to me. Perhaps I never will.
“Yes,” I think, “perhaps it will be continual blundering on my part before I’m able to put all the pieces together. Perhaps.”
We trudge upstream to the headwaters of the river of shit and encounter a section where waist high sewage flows around us, contained within walls seemingly constructed of brick and block, resembling so many horror movies where the tension builds until some kind of creature lurking beneath the surface attacks the travelers. My big friends and I look at each other, knowing this is no movie, but aware of the inherent dangers lurking around us.
They strike! Untold numbers of them: sharp teeth; long, slithering, powerful bodies filled with animosity and hatred, and they are intent on destroying us. Serpentine creatures wrap themselves around our legs and work upwards, doing all they can to crush us before dragging us down into the water where they will finish us off, pulling our flesh apart and reducing us to bloody pieces of pulp.
In no time at all, the brown sewage tint to the water becomes infused with red and the battle intensifies. Some of us are dragged beneath the blood bath, never to resurface, but others are able to struggle against the great odds and continue to fight. My sword sings a song of retribution, removing the snakes’ heads from their bodies. The struggling even after death as the bodies continue to shake and contort amazes me, but the super extension of the creatures’ refusal to stop the battle falls right in to line with the rest of what is going on in this unbelievable plane of existence.
With all our cuts and scrapes screaming out to the surrounding filth to attack and infect our bodies, I wonder what will happen if we survive this battle within the confines of this Hellish sewer only to succumb to the ravages of disease. Important? Yes, but that is something we have no control over now. No time for us to be band-aid sissies.
The farther upstream we manage to forge ahead, the quieter it becomes. There are less and less of these evil vipers. Something is going on. Exactly what is difficult to determine because the snakes do not allow us to penetrate their minds. There is intelligence within them, but for the most part, they are not relying on their thought processes. Some kind of mission seed is implanted in their brains, and that seed is not friendly to us. We came here from a far off universe, and yet it seems as if they knew we would come. But how? Why?
Once more we are seemingly out of the woods, following our senses to where Louise is. The calm of the placid waters where we now meander, and the mists rising up, create a surreal, almost peaceful, setting, were it not for the gut-wrenching stench bringing me back to the reality of where we are and what we hope to accomplish. This is one of Satan’s other multiverse haunts, and it is an almost complete opposite of the sensual experiences inherent in the mists of Papoose Pond. This is a far cry from pristine waters; ballerinas dancing across the majestic surface of the Pond, mingling in with other lovely wisps of grandeur. Yes, my first vacation night and the following day drove me close to the brink of madness, but it was all necessary to toughen me for the hardships to come.
And so it is now: hard ass Ed. Okay, hard head Ed might be closer to the absolute truth, but I’m no longer the pussy I was when I first arrived at the Pond. Truth be known: I’m actually relishing my part in this whole war business crap-shoot.
The slower moving water soon comes to an area where wide expanses of what appear to be underground springs spew their filth up and around in a concentric design of some sort. Many perfectly cut, square-based altars fill the expanse, with a huge one sitting in the center of it all. Ah, the center of power for this foul place resides here.
Louise lies prone on one of the altars, telling me with her mind to be careful, that this is an evil place. I am infuriated that she should be dangled before me like an irresistible carrot that is always placed just out of reach of the donkey.
“Yeah, Ed,” I think. “You are a fucking donkey.
But this donkey will get the job done: no questions asked.
My feet are pulled out from under me, and long, sharp teeth bite into my left leg. Even in this fucking scum hole of pollution, I feel the blood pouring from my leg, but it only serves to infuriate me, and I slice beneath the rank waters to attack my antagonist.
In a flash, I am thrown up in to the air, thirty, forty, fifty feet or more, as the boiling brew beneath me explodes with blind fury. Before I even begin my descent, an enormous snake, easily thirty feet long, leaps up to me and slams me down onto the surface of one of the altars.
Oh, oh. This does not bode well. Ed is in some serious shit now. There is no way I wish to become part of some Satanic snake ritual, with me being a sacrifice to . . .to what? Satan, perhaps.
The creature releases me, rears up, and dives back down to get at my mid-section, so provocatively teasing it with the foulness of what it has planned.
“Think again, Bozo!” I shout, as I roll to the side and slam my sword deep within its scaly armor, twisting with all my might, and attempting to do as much damage as I possibly can. Disgusting green fluids join the blood pouring out of it as the demonic serpent attempts to extract revenge on me even as the life force leaves its body. This is one mean creature.
Strike after strike I toss at the bastard, knowing the strength and something . . .something else residing in it that I can feel, but which I don’t really have time to fuck with right now. It must be incapacitated or I am toast.
Fuck being toast!
Relentlessly, I lay my sword in to the creature until all movements cease. It, not me, is now lying across the altar in supplication to whoever or whatever I was supposed to be sacrificed to, its guts displayed for all to see.
But the battle is not over: creature after creature attacks the rest of my army, and I swing my efforts to their defense as we team up as best we can and fight off the marauding bastards. Losses are great on both sides, and unfortunately, the tempest of air and defiled water is more red than brown now. Too many good warriors are wasted in this battle.
We catch our breaths. The snakes have been defeated. But have they?
Louise stares at me with terror in her eyes, trying to speak, but totally unable to do so. From a grotto adjoining the section of sewer we are in it comes. I can’t see it yet, but every deliberate move it makes sends jolts of anticipatory need for action through every molecule of my being. This fucker does not intend to be nice.
I, too, do not intend to put my arms around the approaching bastard and treat it as if it is a long lost friend.
It comes into sight and takes its place on the largest altar. Eyes, so black that coal would appear to be light in comparison, stare down at me. It rises up, up, and up some more.
A black, forked tongue flicks out of its gigantic maw. This mother fucker is mean, and its focus of attack appears to be on me . . .