The House Of Concrete
You Will Never Leave
You Will Never Want To
I am in a strange place.
I once thought this was Death. Perhaps; the endless static sky overhead and the skein of intertransposed thought do nothing to deny it.
I am in the land that is juxtaposed between life and death.
There is nothing but static. The heavens are static, the horizon is static. The very air around me is buzzing, hissing, black, white.
Very strange indeed, for a newcomer like myself.
The static clears, as might a television coming into tune.
I am on a plain, an endless sea of grey stone cement. Waves are frozen in mid-tide, cresting forever. There is a dusty cloud of mist in the distance. It is all I can see.
So I walk towards the mist. After many days\seconds of walking (it is difficult to tell) the mist envelops me.
Faces scream at me, laugh at me, seeming to emanate from the thick hazing fog. They dissipate like steam.
Hands reach out for me, strong hands, whipcord-knotted and angry. They clutch at my clothing, yet they accomplish nothing. As per the faces, they fade quickly into nothing.
Afterwards, the mist begins to form itself into a sensible pattern. I see many pictures. Words. Insights and emotions. I am fascinated. Disturbed.
THE HOUSE OF CONCRETE
In the very center of this mist is a house. A massive house, formed of concrete. Carved ornately and massively. Nothing more than a haunted house, a hall of horrors, at first investigation. Gargoyles leer from it's stories. There are hundreds and thousands of stories in this house, I may never explore them all.
I walk up a dirt path onto the veranda, and look around.
The front door is made of oak, and is huge. Hanging on the polished door is a platinum knocker. I lift the heavy device, and rap firmly on the door.
FERAL, THE GUARDIAN OF THE HOUSE
The door creaks open, slightly.
I see no one. I hear something, however.
A rushing sound, growing louder and louder from the bowels of the house. It builds to a crescendo until the door flings open violently and it explodes outwards.
A streak of fangs and talons launch itself at me.
Under the great brute strength of this beast, I am flung off the veranda and onto the loose dirt of the yard. I am trapped, pinned by the vicious paws of the Feral.
"Who are you?" It snarls diabolically.
"A lone wanderer. Solitary and lost." I respond weakly. My breath has been knocked from my lungs.
"What do you want here?" It bares it's razor-blade teeth, each one eager to tear my flesh from my bones.
"Well, er... I'm not really sure. It looked interesting."
"What is the average flight-speed velocity of a laden swallow?" It's claws dig deeper into my chest in sadistic anticipation of the gory feast that lay within.
"African or European?"
The Feral looks slightly disappointed. "You've seen it, then. Right, off you go." And it slithers off, allowing me to stand and brush the dirt from my person.
Reverently, under the hungry yet restrained glare of the passive Feral, I mount the steps and walk past the threshold into the interior of the House.
But now I am in a large room that is apparently empty except for one horrifically massive electrical outlet covering one entire wall. It is white and pristine. I do not comprehend the significance of this.
After a few moments of contemplation, I reach out and touch the outlet. This is a bad idea: It is a livewire.
From out of the wall socket creeps a long sparkling beast, uttering intelligent inanities and spinning about my head.
"Who are you?" I bemuse.
But it keeps right on spinning, nary a word.
Before long, I grow dizzy and try to escape, but a sequence of bizarre things happen. First, the livewire splits and leaps down all available bodily orifices, electrocuting me instantly. The second thing is that I leap into the next available universe, which happens to be exactly like the one I was in before except for that fact that there is a squashed fly in the wall next to the outlet now, where there hadn't been before. The livewire retreats to it's den once more.
Thankful for the opportunity to escape, I dart out of the room and up another winding staircase, looking for some sense in this strange place.
At the top of the stairs lay an expansive room, filled with people of dubious nature thrashing around and the loud, rupturous sound of punk rock being pounded out of speakers strategically located around the room. At the far end of the room I see a surreal band on stage, apparently torturing their instruments. I almost recognize them: they seem to be spitting images of gob.
Behind the stage, located in a depression between two gargantuan Marshall stacks, is positioned a demonically huge throne, upholstered in blood-red leather and garnished with ornate black spikes and iron-wrought crosshatch grids. Seated in this devil-chair is a giant mexican with a mohawk and and muscular build.
Though I am on the far side of the room, he glimpses me and points at me. Suddenly, the music stops and all the people cease their slamdancing and turn to stare at me.
For many minutes, the scene remains frozen like this. Just when it couldn't get any more unbearable, the crowd screams and begins to rush at me.
I dive through the crowd and run, fearing for my life. I leap on stage and realize how truly massive this throne and it's bearer actually are. However, I have no time to ponder it, as the crowd is rapidly gaining on me.
I pelt through a door betwixt the giant's legs and slammed it shut behind me. The sounds of the angry mob on the other side vanish instantly.
THE LUPO ROOM
The next room I came to was large and filled with meat and tomatos. There was a large blue butcher in the middle of the room. He was holding a very large and bloody butcher knife, and butchers tend to do. He threatened to kill me, so I left.
THE CAVE OF WHITE INSANITY
I soon found myself walking down a doorless, uniform hallway. I can see no end in either direction, and soon find myself anxious and confused. I begin to run.
After hours of this, the monotony breaks and the walls opened up into a bulbous white cave, festooned with stalactites and in the very center, an ancient carved pillar.
On this pillar, raised about three feet from the ground, is a little wizened and shriveled gnome sitting cross-legged and looking very wise. His beard and hair hang well past the top of the pillar and reach for the floor of the cave.
The little troll looks at me.
"Come forth, O studious wanderer."
At this point, I realize the wise little gnome is wearing tiny ear-bud headphones, connected to a cord that runs down and into the thick folds of his robe.
I take a wary, respectful step forward.
"What captivating and antedeluvian melodies a sage of your great sagacity and brilliance must muse upon!" I begin to grovel. Here is a being that clearly deserved the admiration and respect of all humanity.
"O student, thou shalt hear the truth, and the truth shall be called Primus!"
The words envelope my being.
"Faith shall manifest itself in the making of shrines and the sacrificing of small woodland creatures to the Venerable Les Claypool!"
I begin to tremble in spiritual ecstasy.
"Now go forth, and do these things!"
I start to hallucinate in holy joy. In my vision, I see the little wrinkled troll falling off his pillar and being impaled on an upright stalagmite. My vision ends abruptly.
"You're crazy, little shriveled troll!"
He looks thoughtful.
"Quite true... I am Insanity, incarnate."
He returns to the depths of his music, and I exit the cavern of White Insanity.
A draft pulls me along to the end of the hall, where a dark and mysteriously evil door both compels and revulses me. But compulsion eventually wins over, and I enter, pulling the black door shut behind me with an ominous and echoing boom.
Inside, a nighttime fear-riddled darkness. I hear a strange song... 'Call Of Kthulhu'. It is very loud. There are very out-of-place pan pipes in the background. Everytime the vocalist gets to the part that said 'Kthulhu', a little tomato pops up from behind a chesterfield, shouts in an amusingly high-pitched yet darkly macabre voice, 'CTHULU!', and hops a little dance to the overpowering beat. I walk over to the little tomato.
"And who are you, you curious little beast?"
"I AM CTHULU."
I am indeed skeptical of this innocent-looking little fruit. Though his attitude is ferocious enough, as he viciously bounces up and down in a maddening rhythm, the sight is simply too comical for me to take the claim seriously.
"I fear I don't believe you."
"Good," Appears a voice from somewhere behind my left shoulder. "Because I am Cthulhu."
I turn and see a massive terrible monster, too hideous to describe in words... ground beef is the closest I can come. Carnivorous, cognizant ground beef. With tentacles for teeth.
I shudder in fear and disgust.
But all is not over. A black being with no face steps out from behind a molecule and I realize before he said a word that this is the True Blue Cthulu.
In fact, they all are.
They are all different incarnations of the same soul.
And it suddenly gets too deep for me. So I leave.
DOCTOR STRANGE'S ROOM
Outside of the Cthulus' room is a short hall with a reflective metal door at one end. As I approach this door, it suddenly flings open and an intensely odd individual burststhrough. He is wearing all black underneath a stained and bloodied lab coat. He carries a large, well-polished axe.
"NO! Carry the eight! Carry the eight!" He screams venomously, with a slight trace of a british accent, and begins to hack viciously at a small, innocent bust of Charles Babbage, sitting in the wall to my left.
After about eighteen minutes of this vigorous activity, he ceases and notices me for the first time. The bust is by this time crushed finer than salt.
He eyes me suspiciously.
"Who the heck are you?" Before I can answer, he develops an angry tic and spits out, "You're not a SQUIRREL, are you?"
"No-" He ignores my answer completely.
"Because I hate them, the furry bastards! With their bright eyes and bushy tails... By Gor, if I were to see one right now..." Out of the corner of my eye, I see a cat-sized black squirrel scamper across the floor behind his back and begin to blow messy raspberries at the doctor's back.
"Like that one?" I say, pointing.
He whirls on a pinpoint and launches himself, blade flying. After a short and bloody battle (mostly the squirrel's blood), the dust from the bust settles and the strange doctor hoists the now-defunct rodent high, trophy-like.
"I've been hunting this bloody ankle-biter for months.... Thanks to you and my dear friend Grond," At this point, the doctor pats his now bloodied axe affectionately, "I've finally done him in. Many thanks... Would you like to come in?" He says cheerily, indicating his domain. Before I can decline, I am yanked inside and the door shuts behind me.
The inner chamber is lined with about a thousand candles, all burning brightly. They are the only available source of light, and they flicker and waver in some invisible breeze. At the center of the room is an operating table, and on this table, instead of a gruesome biological experiment or array of bodily organs, lay sprawled the various internal working of a clearly powerful computer.
The strange doctor places the headless squirrel inside the computer, quickly and efficiently assembles the remaining parts, and with a dramatic flourish, plugs it in and flips the power switch.
Nothing at all happens.
"Damn!" He expletates. "It should've worked! Squirrel-based technology was supposed to have been the wave of the future!"
Seeing that he is quite obviously getting worked up, I decide it would be in my best interests to leave, quickly and quietly.
I am beginning to grow weary. The sense that my odd adventure is about to come to a climax weighs heavily. I find myself in a wondrously and richly furnished room with a vaulted ceiling, gilt trims, and thick persian rugs.
At the far end of the room is a raised dias. There is nothing on it. Faint strains of stirring electric guitar chords, with a spiritual, almost celtic touch to them, seem to emanate from nowhere in particular. I am drawn forward, encased in almost a dreamlike state.
I trip on one of the rugs and fall on my nose.
I begin to hear laughter, in the form of high, sharp barks, coming from behind me. After repeated attempts to rise, I pull myself up and slowly, carefully acheived an upright position. Breaking free of the phantasmic daydream, I whirl to confront the scorner, but there is no one there. Instead, the mocking laugh leaps to the far left, just beyond my line of sight. I spin and rush in that direction, determined to catch the jester before he can vanish, but I am too late; he is now to the right of the dias, directly opposite of where I'm facing.
About half a dozen times I spin and charge, but to no avail; the laugh just gets more energetic and frenetic. I am growing more weary than I thought possible; the laugh is violent and almost wracking, and I begin to wonder, not particularly sympathetically, if it is possible to die laughing.
I decide, eventually, that rushing after an invisible clown is a waste of effort, so I sit down in front of the dias and address the ghostly mockery.
"I will sit here until you decide to show yourself."
The laughing dies away, with many chokes and giggles. "You may be sitting there for quite a long time, you know."
"I don't care; I'm not going to chase you and make a spectacle of myself any longer."
The voice now moves to position itself on the dias, and it speaks again, composed though somewhat amused.
"Though I doubt you will, you can turn around any time. I've had my fun for the day."
"Thank you for your offer, trickster, but I don't quite trust you." I confirm, rubbing my nose tenderly.
"Trickster! What an accurate guess." At this, a large grand piano falls out of a carbon atom about thirty-five feet to my left and splinters noisily on the stone floor. "You're correct, I am the Trickster, though I am known by many names. Loki, Succubane, Poltergeist. But to most, I am commonly refered to as Coyote."
A raging locomotive bursts from nowhere on the other side of the room and flies at us, full-speed and out of control. I cringe, expecting to be crushed to a pulp, but instead the train rushes into another dimension, about six inches short of my face.
Still not turning, I continue the line of conversation. "Not that Wile E. Coyote character from the old cartoons?"
"Of course not. He was my cousin. He got the short end of the luck stick, I'm afraid. He was always somewhat bitter towards me, seeing as how I got a native Indian deity in my honor and he couldn't even catch a stinking bird." I could sense Coyote smirking. "But then again, he got a Burger King mug with his face on it. Boy, I turned green with envy when I saw that one."
Though I hadn't noticed it at first, a gradual shift in background music has occurred. Now, I realize that it has gone from the slow, solo guitar fingering to a full blown jazz unit.
"So. How do you like my house?"
I am not quite sure how to answer that.
"It's been... an interesting visit."
"Ah, yes. Bloody annoying and confusing, eh? I thought so. Then again, that was my purpose in building it in the first place. Nothing amuses me more than some pathetic, humorless moron making a complete dick of his or herself. No offense, of course."
"You are a very sick person."
He giggles, slightly madly.
"Yes, today has definitely been one for the record books. You, my friend, have made my day quite worth waking up to."
"I'm so terribly glad I succeeded in entertaining you. But frankly, I'm tired of this place and I want to leave." I am starting to get agitated. This character is putting me somewhat on edge.
"Leave? Where to, dear heart?"
I think about it a moment. I am having a hard time remembering anything previous to the mist outside the house. Many times, I think I know, and even open my mouth to say it. But each time, I realize I have nothing to say. After numerous attempts, Coyote cuts me short.
"See? You have no where else to go." He muses for a moment. "I suppose I could always bring back your memories... Assuming I have them." He holds out one hand. "See, on this hand, I could have all of your recollections, just sitting in a jar in some obscure room, hidden but quite real. Perhaps I even know where they are." He holds out the other. "However, on this other hand, I could be just trying to get your hopes up. Who knows?" He shrugs. "Perhaps your memories are gone forever. Perhaps you never had any to begin with.
"At any rate, I've had such a wonderful day, I think I'll keep you around for a while. If you decide to try and look for your mind - who knows, could be in this very room, though I wouldn't place any bets on it - well, best of luck. Though if I were you, I'd just sit back and enjoy the place. Heaven forbid you ever get tired of it."
At this point, I turn around to look at my tormentor, but with a laugh, he is already fading quickly. I catch a glimpse of a furry, fox-like creature, but before my mind can assimilate it,there is nothing.
The jazz music has faded out as well; in it's place is a wild carnival melody, jumping up and down and around me as I stand alone in this place of madness, this house of concrete.
ONE OF THE MYRIAD HALLWAYS
I now wander the halls.
I meet many strange characters. From time to time Coyote visits me. He makes references to the possibility of my previous thoughts. I try not to think about them. I know that would be the first step to madness.
Rarely do I rediscover the denizens of the house that I have already met. Instead, I am constantly meeting newer and stranger ones, each with an odd and varying level of insanity.
I am starting to fit right in. I am, though I hate to admit it, starting to feel right at home.
Perhaps Coyote was right.
Perhaps I have no previous memories. Perhaps, I have been in the house of concrete forever.
And perhaps I shall exist here forevermore.