WHERE THE RED ROAD LEADS TO

Incarcerated due to plague times, the four walls are my protective prison. My movement is limited and my thoughts bounce of the walls, reverberating endlessly into monotony. The ghosts of my past dance flagrantly with the spectres of my future, clouding my vision.

It wouldn’t be the first time my eyes have deceived me. After studying matters hidden from everyday view—and not meant to be found—the strange glimpses I’ve been permitted would baffle those who see using their eyes and not through them.

Obscure shadows stir within corners and dismal images flicker into view. Realising this was due to my arcane studies was something I had to accept after my minds desperate attempts at conjuring a less malign reason.

I’ve learned things from avenues where the twilight never reaches, things such as the mounds of living land that rise up in dark formations, cursed numbers used to constrict thought, repulsive planet watching entities and unholy machines formed of organic matter not of this world, but all sources curiously lead to the red road. My research showed no origin for this mythical road or any way to reach it.

Only information pertaining to what marvels one can gather by following this road were abundant. Hush tones whisper of mortal mundanities such as treasure and eternal youth, but barely audible whispers speak of something much more valuable. Meaning. Absolute meaning. Understanding my place in this indefinite world forcefully pulled me like a moth to light. I had to find this road.

But there was no way to find it, nothing to go on and once the plague hit, I was forced to give up. Confined and riddled with too much solitude, my mind atrophied in due course until a splintered image appeared before me in the cold, breath of night. All I can recall was a droning, hallucinatory sound of wings moments before this vision struck me.

An oneiric ritual was passed onto me. The immense languor of confinement allowed me to pass over into the correct territory with ease. A place beyond our usual dreaming world. It felt familiar yet absurd in its breadth of sensory outpour. I found the spot I was meant to enact the ritual and walls closed in on me. Large ornate chalk walls and as I looked into their opaque surface, my eyes refused to focus, as the walls inner depth was unfathomable.

I had already procured my sacrifice; an adult rat of medium size. I placed it in the middle of the room where a symbol made of lines that curved in ways only a dream could make sense of marked the spot. All life drained out of the rat, as a myriad of strange insects ripped their way out of the now corpse, dissolving into an onyx mist as they reached the surface. 

As I looked into the body, a kaleidoscope of lights shined forth like a flower blooming in spring. Rib cage stalks of dead temple; key placed on the alter. I took this key contaminated by black rust as the shadow of the rat extended, reaching out leading to the corner on my right. The key sprouts jagged arachnid legs leaving flakes of rust in hand. It followed the path the thin shadow streak laid out to that corner and moved into a space I failed to comprehend.

I go to where the shadow points and as I place my left foot as close as possible to the corner, a towering feeling of vertigo came over me as I continued to walk downwards on a pivot, into a hidden space through the corner and out of my human perception of geometry.

The next moment I’m in a meadow strikingly mute. I can see small pigments of colour that make up this meadow, like waves of static pulsating in diabolical rhythm. But as I turn, I realise where I am. I’ve found it. I’m on the road. 

I shudder as I realise why the road is red. I’m standing on flesh. Lumps of ill-shapen forms melded together composing this damnable path. It’s tainted by an iridescent shade of crimson that rises up unlike any other colour I’ve come into contact with. It’s deeply rooted in this reality—in fact, everything else stems from it.

I try to move away, but some force deters me from stepping off. I look back but there is only an anaemic sense of dread. I have to follow the revolting path set out for me. What horror have I got myself into?

My fear grows like a loathsome tide slowly eating away at a naive coastline. I follow this unceasing road for what seems like a period of time too grotesquely large to illustrate, until I see the end of the road.

What awaits me baffles me as I come to a ramshackle fence. A barrier made of unknown materials that are foreign to my human sensibilities. Shapes vaguely repugnant and non-inviting, primitively clumped together.

Over the horizon, past this rabid fence, immense clouds of flickering brush strokes loomed omnipresent. The sight of these clouds felt larger than my eyes were used to, as if the meagre size of our vision had diminished exponentially and this was how we were meant to see.

As I was lost in the sight before me, rising from an abyss I failed to notice, a dark shape violently claimed my attention. An intimidating form of organic matter. Vague insect identity. Globules of stippled flesh grafted onto the black and sinuous insect creature within. Distorted braided limbs, foul textured and pulsating. It’s body crawling with countless smaller insects all ringing a deafening sound. 

My vision now pulsating along with the bricolage beast before me. The insects. Everywhere. The pulsating pigments of colour that made up the surrounding meadow are insects. This whole place is made up of these infernal insects.

When I awoke, I could not free myself. My eyes were plagued with insects. Everywhere I looked. All I could see were the vile flickering of insects. Crawling across my sight. Even closing my eyes failed to rid me of them. Even blinding myself was not enough. They are still crawling. I found my meaning. I found the universe’s hidden secret. Behind the curtain. That’s all there was. Insect agony.

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