Communion (Repost)

This is a repost of my short story/theoryfic thing "Communion" that was originally published in Creeper Magazine, vol. 2, by Oh Nothing Press. This was originally submitted at the end of 2019 but I don't think the issue itself actually was released until 2020. I don't recall them ever putting this up for free to read online and the site is currently down, seemingly defunct now, and I am also completely out of touch with the scene that it came out of since it was mainly centered around people I knew from the acctwitter crowd and I have long since dropped off the face of the Earth.

So anyways, if you've never gotten the chance to read it, here's some bonus Nyx content unearthed from the crypt.


"I'm not going to go," I lie to myself, and to them.

Three white bars illuminate the filthy concrete in front of me as I duck through the grate during a lull in traffic. The bars point up and down, as good a compass as any. I pull a piece of paper out of my pocket with the IRC logs printed out. "Take right for 128 heartbeats, then press left. Remember: Count from zero."

Zero…One… Two… Eight… Sixteen… Thirty-two…

The concrete blocks are loose here. I push left as instructed and, with a little convincing, they move enough for me to squeeze through.

"Make sure to close the door behind you."

This looks like a maintenance tunnel. To the left and right are a mass of cables running along the wall, pumping electricity to the world above. The ceiling is just high enough to walk beneath. The walls are graffitied, and garbage is strewn across the floor. Pieces left behind by bodies moving through the tunnels.


I continue on, reach the end of the tunnel, go through the door, and head right. The tunnels get tighter in certain places and my body has to conform to their shape, shimmying through gaps in the walls, climbing over rubble, crawling through tubes with stagnant, shallow water that smells and feels like being inside a wad of hair that was clogging the drain. I have no clear direction. I let myself be carried along by the geometry of the tunnels.

These maintenance shafts branch out all over the underside of the city. There are no known maps of them. If there are, they reside solely with the public works crews, who are sworn to secrecy.

Initially I'd wondered how these instructions found their way to me. You need to reach a certain rank in order to get them, and even then it's a challenge to find your way to the end. Acquiring them required documenting almost as much of this city as anyone except the public works crew. They know this city so well, they're practically a part of the infrastructure. Some say the maintenance workers can move through the walls of any building without making a sound. Sometimes you might see a shadow obscure the ceiling light for a moment, or the glint of an eyeball down your drain, but no one ever sees them even if their presence is felt.

The room number is 256, a large maintenance closet. Rows of metal shelves fill the space, along with dust particles lingering and the faint smell of ammonia lingering in the air. The shelves are filled with things you'd expect maintenance crews to have – washers and bolts, wrenches and other tools, that sort of thing. No flashlights, though. There are other devices here; glass jars with copper antennae, boxes with knobs and dials inscribed with strange symbols, metal tubes with caps on both ends that look impossible to open, piles and piles junk with secret technical uses.

I know one of them is in here. I feel it. Every time I peer around the corner, nothing. I take out my Maglite and shine it down the length of the aisle. The shelves are stacked with so many tools it's impossible to light up more than one aisle at a time, and knocking a shelf over could attract something worse than a crew member.

I could have sworn I once got a glimpse of one a few years ago. There was a ringing in my ears and I felt myself falling out of a tree, and then when I could see again, there was nothing.

At the end of one of the aisles, a door.

"Go through it."

Open space, concrete floor. To the right is a short drop into the black. I leap down. Bend my knees on impact. Nice and clean, like shocks on a buggy.

A few feet away, the faint sound of water dripping. One heartbeat, one drop. Behind me is a building, one of many the city has been rebuilt atop each time it moves. The building is barren and has rows of windows. A barracks, from the looks of it. Anything interesting in there has long been picked clean. Drip. Drip. Drip.

There's a dead tree on the other side of the street and a bus stop. The streetlight still works. The tangled and broken wiring somehow manages to find its way down here, or perhaps some of the solifuges wired it up. Under the streetlight, a twitching figure on a bench. Hard to tell what exactly from the dim lighting.

The streetlights give off only enough ambient light to distinguish dark forms moving through the subterranean streets, down alleys and in and out of buildings. My hearing is sharpened enough to catch the shuffling of feet, whimpering, and the occasional shout in the distance. There's a Taco Bell here that all the heroin addicts hang out in, and a hospital where some say there's a drug manufacturer that sells its goods on the surface. The layout doesn't make sense because the carcasses of buildings from different parts of the continent have accumulated down here, swallowed up by the city, constantly digesting infrastructure along with the offal of humanity. Some of the people congregate together like hibernating snakes behind the shuttered windows of gift shops. The sound of mattresses soaked with every bodily fluid imaginable creaking under the weight of blind schizo cannibals raping drug comatose runaways isn't something you can hear walking down the street, but it echoes in your mind nonetheless.

The solis have an almost telekinetic organizational structure. You can sense that they all know you're down here, but it's rare for upsiders to visit. Solis have to ascend up to the surface to hunt, crawling out of the sewers and storm drains and sinks and toilets to bring people down. You never know if you might get washed away by the next heavy rain or flushed down the sewer. People disappear all the time, few ever get reported.

Something catches my eye while wandering lost through the streets. A red curtain, fluttering just slightly out of a window. This has to be the place.

"Enter through the beginning."

A two-story Victorian painted with faded and peeling pastels. It sits tilted slightly to the side, stately but barely holding composure, drunk off the sewage and groundwater rotting its bones. The top of its tower appears to be missing. The door is unlocked.

Papers from every conceivable decade litter the floor. Magazines, letters, receipts, pamphlets on Jesus and quitting drugs. There are more solis – some shuffling around, some twitching on the floor. One of them brushes past me, almost silently. I swear I can hear it muttering something incomprehensible, but when I turn around it is gone.

I stand there for a second looking back down the hallway to the living room. Through the doorway, solis break the faint light, meandering through the lingering dust in the air from the undercity streets. One of them walks into my line of sight and lets out a rasping, almost silent shriek. It lurches towards me. I shine my Maglite in its face, hoping to blind it. Its eyes have already been clawed out, but somehow it must have felt my gaze. A gaunt thing with long, straw-colored hair, one arm hanging by a few tendons. I toss the Maglite up slightly, spinning the light side towards me. Remember: Flick wrist outward as you step forward. The handle connects. The skull shatters into pieces that clatter to the floor. My face feels warm and wet.

Close door. Wait. Silence. Hopefully none of the others were alerted. Some kind of crunching sound. Something being dragged.

The staircase is destroyed. I have to climb up broken pieces of wood on all fours, moving as slowly as possible, gently putting a hand or foot down, testing the stability of the ruined steps, watching out for nails, needles and jagged splinters.

Finally at the top. There's a bedroom to the left, boarded shut. A black door at the end of the hallway. Paintings and photos cover the walls, most are indistinct and look as if they'd crumble to dust if you tried to pick them up. The black door is unlocked.

Through the door, the walls and floor are mostly barren. Iron rods, stockades, crosses, filthy looking whips and rusted chains, scalpels, benches. Places like this are kept a secret to everyone who isn't involved in extreme fetish communities. Maybe the secrecy and the filth gets them off. There's no dust in the air here. It feels slightly warm, and smells like sweat.

On the wall against the tower is a vent barely big enough to fit an average-sized person. After fiddling with the screws, I'm able to squeeze through. Inside the tower, I drop down from the vent and land in a pile of ash. The impact throws ash into my eyes and mouth. Burning. Blindness. Desperate gasping. 


After managing to get almost a full breath, I dive in, burying myself alive. Rings, necklaces, coins, teeth all move past me as I dig. Eventually the ash turns to peat, filled with human bones. The air chokes with death and plague. I move much easier now; I'm practically swimming through a mass grave. It's impossible to say how deep I've gone, yet somehow I haven't run out of breath.

I fall out onto a stone floor. The ceiling above is a pile of dirt that somehow doesn't collapse. An arched doorway is ahead of me.

"Welcome back."

I step through to rows of pews. Centuries old, at least. The ceiling is domed, the walls adorned with stained glass windows that are somehow wholly intact and seem to glow. Bas-reliefs of saints and scenes from the Bible are set into pillars, yet they depict biblical stories I've never heard. A snake with the head of a lion crawls out from between the legs of a woman, or perhaps she's inserting the snake into her. Above the altar, the centerpiece of the room, a constellation of spheres paired together, branching outward in the shape of an egg with a spider on top. The egg is engulfed in mauve flames, and a pink yolk seeps out from cracks in it. Figures beneath the egg lay prostrate before it in fits of moribund ecstasy.

I approach the altar, where a chalice awaits, depicting uncannily beautiful women who seem to beckon my lips to meet the rim. It is filled with the same pink yolk in the stained glass scene. Even while perfectly still, it doesn't stop moving, as though a wind were blowing whitecaps across the sea. One of the caps leaps up slightly; I hear a faint tone in my ear that I've never heard before. I drink from the chalice, which tastes like ambrosia. The mauve flames engulf me from the base of my spine to the top of my head and a forked symbol cuts me in half. I'm two new beings for just a moment before the pink yolk splashes out and stretches between the vivisection wounds and pulls us back together into one. I feel a ripple through my body. The wall beneath the stained glass opens into another arched doorway, a black, vertical body of liquid.

"Go forward," it whispers.

I take a step forward. One. Two. Three. Dip a toe into the vertical liquid and feel the sensation of it being removed from the rest of my body. Not a painful sensation as if it were being cut off, but a removal from space and time. This body has always existed, never existed, is a part of me yet also escapes me. I feel the sensation creeping through the rest of my leg as the remaining meat senses its neighbour cells fleeing from this state of unity to disperse into nothingness.

I step in further and further, feeling the quantum needles and pins spread through bones, muscles, organs. The liquid is entirely opaque and I can see nothing beyond the surface. Nearly all of my molecules have been drowned in its pure potentiality. My last thought before my head goes under and these thoughts are no longer my own: There is no lack.

Created: 2023-07-09 Sun 19:32