Halloween Fiction: the sculptor: 2 of 11

*** for part 1 ***

The sunlight had been draped across her face for quite some time before she stirred.  She had no idea how long she had been asleep, if it had been a few hours or days.  Time seemed irrelevant when Thomas was away; she only recognized a rhythm to life because of his leaving for work and coming

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home.  Waking slowly, her limbs seemed so heavy, she wondered if they had any life left in them.  When she sat up, it took the effort of lifting a dead body.  The hours spent sculpting had wasted her.  Wearily, she dragged herself out of bed into the kitchen.  Unable to make anything complex, she poured herself a bowl of cereal and ate it ravenously, spilling the dark little circles all over the table and floor.  Too tired to stop and too hungry to slow down, she continued spilling as she fed herself, she had gone beyond caring about her surroundings.

As she reached the last few spoonfuls of cereal, she began to hear a howling floating toward her from the distance.  Shaking her head, she dismissed the sound.  ‘I live in an apartment,’ she spoke around her food, hoping to comfort herself with the sound of her voice, ‘I’m bound to hear other people’s voices.’  She stood at the counter, milk dripping from her chin, listening.  Slowly, she swallowed, the mouthful unwilling to go down her tightened throat.  Her voice and reasonableness had not soothed her, and the noise had continued through out her declaration.  The sound was unearthly, terrifying.  Unabated the wail rose in intensity, driving itself into her soul, raising every hair on her turgid skin.

‘I won’t let you do this!’  she tried to sound angry, to mask her fear. ‘Stop it!  Stop it!  STOP IT!’  Her dead flesh shook with emotion as she shouted.  When her voice flowed away, silence surrounded her again.  Nauseous and shuddering, she pushed the remains of her cereal away and walked to the bathroom.  Trying to relax, hoping to bring life back into her form, she  started a hot shower.  It took great effort for her to climb into the bathtub, her muscles had cramped terribly from the sculpting, the stillness of rest, and her anxiety.  Sleep, however long it had lasted, had failed to restore her.  After a few minutes, her tightness began to ease.  The heat beat into her back, her shoulders, forcing her to accept it.  Relaxing made her feel even more worn, as though it released a store of fatigue within her.  Barely able to stand, she clung to the wall and let the water wash over her body.  She tried to visualize her cells drawing strength from the patient, forceful stream.  Eventually, she regained enough strength to stand on her own.  Wearily, she began to wash her hair, but movement came slowly.  Now that her fear had abated, she felt listless again, heavy, near dead.

She cleaned herself thoroughly, each action costing her in pain and increasing fatigue.  While she was washing her face, the howling began again, louder than before, more piercing.  The heat from the water could do nothing to ease the coldness that overcame her.  Overcome by her terror, she got out of the tub, allowing the water to spill over the edge.   Diligently, the faucet continued to bathe the wall and the floor.   Dripping wet, she armored herself with a huge terry-cloth robe and followed the sound of the scream.  The only thing inside of her was fear, even the bone-deep weariness had finally been evicted by it.  As much as she wanted to run away from that voice, she felt pulled to it like a terrible magnet.

Moving slowly, she neared the source of the sound.  Tears streaming down her face, she looked at her madness.  It was crying, too.  The face on the top, with pleading eyes, looked wildly at her, a mouth obscured from view, screeching – that sound rattled her marrow.  It never stopped to breathe, the pitch just kept rising and rising.  As she looked, trembling, she heard someone break into vicious and arrogant laughter.  Mania jeered at her fear and snickered at her.  Joy writhed in her ecstasy.  Sorrow wept for her.  To her right, she heard a rattle, and the doors of her cupboard – kept locked for fear of her other demons escaping – flew open.  Suddenly, anger came charging at her, cursing and waving its fists.  Lovers were embracing, enjoying all of the passion she had lost.  The modern gorgon she had given birth to, tormented by her faults and flaws, writhed in anguish: crippled, bleeding, screaming out obscenities.  Spirituality looked to heaven, and the angel serene and patient prayed as its creator no longer could.  Dozens of other devils and saviors reclaimed their animation, compounding her reaction.

She looked in horror.  They were all alive. Hints of animation could be dismissed, but not this. Never before had she seen them ALL come to life at once.  It terrified her.  She stood powerless to face them.  Before, when her demons had been part of her, she could rob them of some of their power by comprehending them, by reminding herself why they were within her.  This time she had no defense.  During her sleep, part of her mind had died, along with her flesh.  There was just enough left inside her to acknowledge the loss.  Instead of being aspects of her, these creations had become independent of her,  incomprehensible to her.   ‘What did you do to me?’  she whispered, ‘What have you stolen from me?’  Suddenly, the she realized that the void inside her had been consumed by fear, and that the fear was eating her alive, creating more space within her soul to grow into.  She began to whimper, staggering under the weight of terror.

Then her eyes fixed themselves on the last creation left in the cupboard.  Sitting on a shelf, her leg dangling down, the sculpture of the sculptor looked up at the woman thoughtfully, as she manipulated her ball of clay in her hands.  Her features echoed her creator’s, the progenitor who wept before her, but the small sculptor remained calm and focused, expression abstracted as her universe contracted about her.  Trembling violently, the shell of flesh and blood fell to her knees.  Reluctantly, the woman’s sobbing drew the serene artist way from her task.  The tiny hands stilled, as she studied the creature crumbling before her.  ‘Now you see Moira,’ her own voice came from the small sculptor, sounding distant and philosophic, ‘you have nothing left.  You’ve exorcised the last of us.  You’ve given form to your madness.  Now you see, without us, you are nothing. You yourself are just made of formless clay. Nothing but fear, ignorant fear, and dead flesh.’

Moira’s sobbing stopped as she stared at the speaker, trying to understand. ‘What?’

‘You poor woman,’ Sorrow’s sweet tones added themselves to madness’ wailing and mania’s laughter,  ‘you wanted to rid yourself of everything that was painful in your heart, all your faults and flaws, all the unfulfilled aching.  Instead, you removed your soul.’

‘My Lord,’ the kneeling angel’s musical, compassionate voice rose in prayer, ‘please help your child, please do not leave her alone.  Please do not abandoned her to this fate.’

Their words reached the woman, but remained incoherent to her.  She was too afraid, emotion had completely overtaken her.  At last she began to scream, echoing the masked madness, as her children leapt toward her.  Some tried to comfort her, speaking in kindness, reaching out to caress, but all she could see was menace.  Her mind could not comprehend anything, so everything seemed to be threatening. Screaming, screaming, she struggled to get away; fear overtaking her; her heart beating ever faster as she crawled away.  Relentlessly, her works pursued her, trapping her in a corner.  A figure of her father, sculpted in an attempt to rid herself of the memories of his violence, shouted some unintelligible insult and raised his hand to strike her.  Moira, instinctively, placed her hands before her face and screamed.  She screamed forever, as frozen as one of her sculptures.  This moment had no end.

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