Towards the crumbling edge of a hungering abyss, I saw that which was monstrous; swirling oceans of ink, blood, and phlegm congealed with thick foaming waves of rust and bone. There below, a mouth of mirrors, swallowing dismembered closets and hopeless fags like me into an unholy maelstrom of sequestered norms and white oblivion, where light and love were nothing but craggy what-ifs drowning below the crimson, inky waters. The thrashing waters were sharp, cruel reminders of terrible music beating in the distance, trapped between the darkness of choice and another closet.
Lingering in the aromatic stink of the night, a city that never was, haunted by neon queens gliding over a desert of broken bottles, placated by their whiny torch-songs dancing in the tired dead streets. This city, built on the margins of my rattled brain, its foundations planted in scar-tissue and syntax as its signifiers bled through my eyes like broken windows. These were the shades of dead rainbows, wandering aimlessly in this modern Asphodel, pushing others and those like me into that gaping abysm or draining us completely of worth and dignity.
I didn’t have much time, or a choice for that matter.
‘Since when did we have a choice?’ Plagued by my thoughts as a parade of old, dead queens prodded at me through derision and costumed tatters draped so elegantly over gaunt, twinky skeletons.
Behind me, below me, I was still trapped; caught betwixt the mascara and macabre of a city of dead rainbows and the gluttonous, darksome waters below. All at once, slops of syrupy ooze coughed onto the edge of the cliff, where liquescent droplets of glass collected at my feet as if it were salivating for my flesh, never entirely sated. Never did I, or anyone presume to understand how the world came to this, the scent of moldy, bleached skin engendered by the night, pressing my senses with heavy, bleak perfume.
No, this wasn’t the life I wanted, straddling two worlds, never fitting into either one but, continuously being forced to choose between mutilated self-reflections or that city of closets.
“You made your choices.” Protesting, I stepped back from the cliff, turning up towards the jagged towers of cracked skulls dripping with diamonds and death while tattered shadows and ashy caftans waved like a scabbard, fallen from a sunken ghost ship.
They wanted nothing to do with me, or my words – only the taste of a boy whose reflection was still fresh in the glint of awful mirrors. They were impossibly different, dressed in rhinestones and tears, the shine of their garb sparkled with bizarre reflections of the yawning abysm in front of me. My body reacting in the most profane ways imaginable, excretions of light and fluid unnaturally spilling through my ears. Time was running out, ticking away as the queens of black, brown, pink, and yellow stars tried to flee the dying city, hoping for one more taste, one more bite.
No! Come back! Come back to us, decrepit fingers, polished with blood and silk reached from the glittering dark beseeching me, but there was nothing for me here. I saw their hideous, androgynous forms collecting at the Void of Other, smashed together in a tiny room flung towards the bottom of the universe’s distended belly like a mouth of mirrors.
Their desperation grew more ravenous, thirsty, filled with a plutonian urgency as a thunderous cloud of oxidized horror barreled through the cluttered alleyways, toppling buildings, and ripping apart already broken streets tossing silky, caftan-covered bodies into the air.
I saw them, racing towards me with craven eyes, ink pooling into the wrinkles whose existence they would deny, but there was no time. Trapped between dead rainbows and a mouth of mirrors, I had no choice.
Fags like me never have a choice.
Suddenly, my body was tense, swelling with a numbing paresthesia, like needles in my skin when billowing plumes of iridescent bodies piled in a shimmering mound against me, the old queens pressing me closer to the edge, their profane torch-songs crying in my ears and the lustful mouth of mirrors below. Towards the edge of a hungering abyss, I saw that which was monstrous; swirling oceans of ink, blood, and phlegm congealed with thick foaming waves of rust and bone.
Maxwell I. Gold
Maxwell I. Gold is a multiple award nominated author who writes prose poetry and short stories in weird and cosmic fiction. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines including Weirdbook Magazine, Space and Time Magazine, Startling Stories, Strange Horizons, Tales from OmniPark Anthology, Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas and more. He’s the author of Oblivion in Flux: A Collection of Cyber Prose from Crystal Lake Publishing.
Maxwell’s forthcoming books include a collaborative book of poems titled Mobius Lyrics with two-time Bram Stoker Award winner Angela Yuriko Smith to be released in 2022, and Bleeding Rainbows and Other Broken Spectrums from Hex Publishers to be released in 2023.
He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his partner and two dogs Marshall and Otto, and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Horror Writers Association as the organization’s Treasurer.