The Prophet of the Void
by Miles Coombe, 3.24am March 10th 2021
Sadness leaks out of me like poison, affecting everything in my vicinity like a bitter cloud of grey shadows. The static hum of it burrows deep inside. Soft sparks cascade down my spine. There is a heavy darkness inside the huge tent tonight, and I am standing in the middle of the wide dirt floor, letting the wind caress my lightheaded paleness, my grief-fed thinness - tiny broken pieces of a child glued carelessly back together in an attempt to make a vaguely functioning adult. Even now, after all of the feedings, I’m still so thin, my long body all sharp angles strung together with muscles tight as wire.
Outside, the atmosphere over the nearby water is restless. Bonfire smoke drifts over chilly ground soaked with cheap red wine and honey. The cold wind weaves itself through the Big Top, rattling things in unfamiliar ways, the canvas rustling and shuddering like it’s an enormous creature settling itself to the ground.
I am aware of the stories, the things people say. I know they call me a prophet - that apparently my sermons make people mad, that I have no sex organs, that I inject my servants with some kind of hypnotic mind control substance. I am aware of the mass teen suicides, the cheerleaders jumping to their deaths, the pansexual murder orgies - I have no knowledge of whether any of these rumours are true or not - I cannot possibly be held responsible for the things that other people do in my name.
I bang my head against the table, bare my sharpened teeth, utter a strangled sound like some sort of prayer. In my mind I can see roses, wild ones, dark blood red at the heart – and I can feel the Void spinning around me. A flood of cobalt light beneath an unsure sky, a flare of bright but brittle moonlight lancing down from out of the faded clouds - it makes the night seem clear and violent and I cannot escape the large, crowding emptiness that drips down my throat like sticky black tar.
To distract myself, I throw my mind out into the night and I see a man, greasy white paint dripping off his face, mouldering angel wings dragging behind him on the ground. He’s carrying a dead faun through a forest. I have been keeping an eye on this man from afar. I can touch his mind with my own and I know that he feels me - and when I shout the sound rips through the Void and manifest itself as the scream of a dead fox - it follows him through the woods, echoing off the densely packed trees, gaining on him as he nears the edge of the town of Bear Creek. He’s muttering something about overhead power cables, a sort of archaic protection - it feels like a kind of prayer. Mentally, he’s much stronger than he looks, but he’s fading now, he’s confused and for some reason he’s singing and so I slap his face to ground him, but instead his sweat flies off into my mouth and I’m startled because he tastes like me.
The world is bleeding all over itself and I am suddenly reminded of when I was a kid and they had locked me and my brother in the attic again. I remember I was frightened and I was gripping his waist tight and burying my face into his shoulder. This was the thing between us that we never talked about. Back then my feelings were very confused and everything seemed to take a back seat to the blood in my veins as I tried to touch every one of his blurred features, which only gained clarity as I ran my fingers across him in the dark. This is now a pure sense memory, a concentrated feeling of loss and grief which is so strong I would gladly place it in the cellar of some abandoned house, hoping one day I might forget it was there.
As the atmosphere of that old memory becomes hazy, my body starts to feel heavier and the light and the sound from the rest of the world seems slower, dimmed somehow, reverberating through the air like I am underwater. I think something has changed. I realise that my brother’s teeth are inside my flesh. Blood is leaking out of my throat and I feel a lightness, in both the sense of a weight being lifted off my shoulders, and of the darkness stepping back from around me. Blood is running down my chest, pooling on the ground from his mouth, dripping from his thin lips, teeth grinning at me in the moonlight – and then suddenly, looming out of the darkness, I can see it - I see the Void for the first time and I don’t know what to do with it because I’m only 12 years old and I can’t possibly comprehend what I am seeing but I feel like I can almost touch infinity - the eternal firelight hollows out my eyes, strips them of secrets, bears my flayed soul to the empty blackness of the Void - I think I am alive for the very first time, and, for just a moment, it feels like I am immortal.
But then it slowly fades and the room suddenly grows lighter and comes into focus again - I can see the little piles of dust building up on the windowsills – and then all of a sudden I return to the present and I am shaking, collapsed down onto my knees, back in my Circus, under the shuddering canvas of the Big Top and the static hum is back, and the sparks are all around me this time.
Usually, when I revisit places from my childhood, they seem so much smaller in my memories, but this time I could feel the ancient, empty hallways filled with memories of violence. I could smell the rats and the fresh paint and see the broken glass in all the windows. I could almost smell the memories of my dead brother – they smelt of soap and vinegar and wet tree bark and there, in the background, the sour taste of pesticide, the poison that I used to kill him.
I still don’t know what happened on that first night that I met the Void - all I know is that I had been different before, timid and small - trapped behind chapped lips, pale skin and shaking hands - a redacted child. And then, afterwards, all I had wanted to do was see the Void again – to feel it, to become part of that ecstatic entropy, outside of time and space, streaming through the eternal darkness - it had become like a parent to me, it had shown me understanding when no one else ever did, it had given me a purpose. Since then I have spent my entire life following the Void. Everything that I do with my Circus is an intricate ritual to try and keep in contact with it, because whenever it reaches out, it needs feeding, and so I feed it - and then it feeds me.
I have summoned the man with the angel wings and the faun to the Circus. The world thinks he is in a coma, as he was found just outside Bear Creek by the side of the road, deaf and blind, trying to dig through his own face - but actually he is with me now. He is safe and he is loved by the Circus. We have embraced him as a new brother and he will have a place here for as long as is necessary. He is here right now in fact, looking at me, almost shyly, he is handing me his cigarette, and his eyes are shining with love and tears, and his wings are on fire. I sense the poison and the relief growing inside of him.
I am very much looking forward to our visit to Bear Creek – I know that a lot more souls will be happy to join our merry band and offer themselves to the Void. They will serve the Void and in return they will receive eternal life. Whether this is a blessing or a curse is up to them. The Void is everything now - it is on the inside of everything if you look close enough. It is within your heart right now as you are reading this.
I know that you can feel it.