Tied to machines that make me be/Cut this life off from me/Hold my breath as I wish for death/Oh please, God, wake me (...) Darkness imprisoning me/All that I see/Absolute horror/I cannot live/I cannot die/Trapped in myself/Body my holding cell
Come crawling faster/Obey your master/Your life burns faster/Obey your master/Master/Master of puppets, I'm pulling your strings/Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams
— Metallica, respectively, One (1988) and Master Of Puppets (1986)
The space here is tenebrous and aphonic, as well as devoid of time. Existance — or unexistance — here — or nowhere — is overlayed by a pitch black, typical of vision shadowed by the skin for covering, and by muteness identical to that against which tardly infirmitized deaf propugnate so much. Imperishable nirvana, and at the same time nullity of distractions capable of causing immediately chronic horror to any being who is human who, by the wish of the hand of fate, was included — or cursed to everlasting imprisonment — in this ample emptiness of obscurity. These are adequate utterances for the characterization of where we are, despite the supererogatory drama
It turns out that spectators will not want to stay here if the scenario maintains itself immutably as a gap, after all there is no tale if there is not, nor exists, even when there are prolix colloquiums between the finger orator and the eye listener; verbiage it shall be shall there only be postponement. And so enters the light switch, or atleast its timbre. Its triggering leads to the incorporation of those who come to fill the gap, enlightening them, but — like spotlights concentrated just on the bodies through heat-detection — only them: a man with brown unkempt hair and beard, astonished and equally confused, whose garments have been characterized by parallel words, the cube whose levitational abilities and other details were also included in the parallel descriptions and the pedestal that serves as the cube's float bed.
The man came here with prior predictions that this would be an environment of unusual inexplicability, but the fact that he had lost access to his control panels definitively corrupted his sense of security, which had already been anteriorly threatened by the lack of information about where he would end up. He could not tell if it was a system failure, his vision tricking him, or a system error caused by the dingy world he had just entered, the latter being the most verisimilar option, given that the system is flawless and that his vision was perfectly lucid.
He could not get out of there. He could not stop, The connections with his true body had been severed. 'Or is this my body?', was an interior voice that wandered through his false speech chords, accompained by an idea, the latter, in its turn, accompained by frightful shock as he noticed he was wearing the last clothes he had put on and that he had the same careless hair in his chin and head that he despised looking at so much in life.
It was an exact reproduction of his true self, so he couldn't tell whether the world had been fabricated with the intention of copying the user's image or if the image of the character he was supposed to become had failed to conceive. This line of thought abruptly derailed the moment the man realized, when trying to think of something to make himself calm down somehow, that he could not make sounds with his mouth; it was not there. An inaudible implosion echoed within him as he sought to expel his affright with a scream, and then moans. He examined the rest of his face with tact and felt only his nose and waxed ears, the rest being the rough skin he was so used to. And all this the man would have taken with the utmost placidity, would this not look and feel so much like reality — he was hoping for fiction when he volunteered to visit here; perharps it was, but was way too real.
In any case, the world clearly yearned for him to stop caring about his own adversities, and to heed the message — far superior to his fear of the unknown — that it intended to convey. The cube varied its brightness to demonstrate to the man what truly was relevant at the moment in matter, for he was a frivolous creature, and the cube knew him to his every atom. The man's vision was now unable to escape the intensity and grace of the volcanic rays of light that the solid emanated from itself. His brief spectacle ended when the man's attention was seduced.
The cube did not express itself in such a way as to make the man look at it, but in such a way that he realized that his surroundings should be the real interest then, not his faceless face. Yes, the glow would attract more attention to the cube, but the aforementioned goal would be reached when the man considered approaching it.
He stared in a sort of desperate contemplation at the cube figure for a moment. Its abundant shine had worked; its interlocutor was now invested in analyzing his surroundings, but, first of all, the esoteric object just ahead of him. He rose from his defeated position to approach the cube. Its movement was tempting; the man needed to inspect it closer to him.
A few steps were given in the direction he shouldn't have directed himself to. And his mouth would have now fired a thick, strident, ear-piercing roar if it had been in the man's face. But it wasn't, so the man just executed a swift spasm of all his limbs and was thrashed to the ground in final staggering steps, similar to a warrior who had a sword sweeped to the back of his neck in a sudden attack, left convulsing on the floor like a poisoned beast, fervid of pain.
Four scorching walls visible only throughtout touch preserved the cube in all directions; the man discovered it by turning half of his face and at least a third of the rest of his skin necrosed or meaty, with clear scattered bubbles.
Perhaps his lack of oral communication capability was now a treat. So he would not have to deal with the echoing of his distress, pervaded in repeats of withered bawls that he would never expect to do during his life as a sufferer, and which fortunately he would not be able to do here. He was once again in his overthrown-by-the-world position, now with a somewhat higher ammount of honor. Silence was dispelled only by the sound of frying from some corners of his wounds.
He considered lying still, absorbing the pain, waiting and hoping for it to pass quickly, just as he hoped this reality — that for some reason was not one of his mind's lies — would just turn out to be one of the system's lies, and that it would stop. But the pain didn't pass, nor the strange reality. The man had no experience with burns, more because he had no experience in general than cunning, so he wasn't sure if the pain would dissipate before he did something new; he imagined that was what this world wanted: action; no time for complaints.
Then, once again, he iniciated the painful process of rising up, not due to self-confidence or determination, but due to obvious lack of alternative — aside from another generator of ambition that came to light inside him —, would he die from other causes, if that were possible.
Both knees and both hands on the floor, and eyes on the hands: they no longer looked like his, but he would use them as much as he needed, for they were still his friends; heinous, but his friends. He adjusted his legs. One knee and one foot supported him; the hands were now impulse supporters. Finally, two feet supported him, aside from the fierceful willpower fostered by the flame his punished ego had consumed; he imagined that he would be proving something if he won a battle against his own burdensome body over the maceration; futile considerations, but he evolved, the cube noted.
Almost dropping himself, he removed his shoe and threw it towards the cube with a plan in mind. The four walls emerged once again and set fire to the object, making its reuse impossible. The momentary new appearance was enough for the man to calculate their approximate perimeter. He used the knowledge to know where not to walk now, though around the cube seemed the only place he could walk: all the space adjacent to the cube was a deep, impermeable blackness, as if it were vacuum itself.
He walked softly with his index finger stretched way ahead, fearing to unravel another device of death. Less than half a dozen meters away from the cube, he found another limit, this one completely hidden. It did not burn him or hurt him in any other way. It was just a wall, way more extensive then the ones guarding the cube.
The man felt dumbfounded after a while to realize that they were also four walls, all apparently the same distance from each other, all without visibility, all tall and wide, all identical. It's a prison, he concluded, when he made sure none of the walls led anywhere else. It is a cage. I am stuck...
The cube seemed to perceive his revelation: it discharged one deafening bolt, crackling through the entirety of the room, and then one more, to afterwards push the man to the wall to which he was closest with one powerful air pulsation coming from its core. The man felt the end at that very moment, or worse. He saw these demonstrations as a way of communicating to him that he would have his life ripped off, there and then, were it in the blink of a lightning or lying in a pool of guts.
The assumption seemed more and more plausible as the cube ascended from the pedestal and began to spin faster and shift between diagonal and vertical directions, expelling phosphorescent particles that disappeared shortly after being shot. The cube probably exceeded supersonic velocity right before it suddenly came to a halt, suspended in the air, with starlike sparks surrounding it. The man prepared his body. But it wasn't the body the cube wanted.
Suddenly the man lost all control over himself. The burns no longer hurt. His flesh no longer smelled of embers at specific points. He was no longer surrounded by darkness. In fact he still was, but his conscience did not allow him to realize it. The cube had stolen it, and was now using it to say something to its captive.
At first his vision seemed to collide with various dimensions concomitantly. He would see himself on his couch at home, lying down and waking up, and doing it again, confused, then returning to the cube, and then seeing and living both scenes at once. He felt his body in healthy condition and, at the same time, as if it were in the blazes of a bonfire, worse than before, within the four walls, and then he saw people he had known and liked, and people who he didn't know, talking to him, smiling, uninterested, pretending to smile. Perhaps the most disturbing intrinsic sight: he found himself dying several times in a row and screaming louder and more painfully each time he died in some of the mantraps of sublime cruelty from which he were being killed. And finally he felt stability in his surroundings. His vision was blurred and inebriate for a few moments, and a prolonged buzzing filled his hearing.
The man was somewhere like the cube chamber, with the main differences in space being its variety of platforms — placed near the ceiling, up in the distance — and the fact that it was much wider vertically and horizontally — the ground had somewhat around a hundred square meters of occupied space, and same goes for all the walls —, all without discarding black for all the surfaces, the floor, ceiling and the parallelepiped platforms, here with a slight but noticeable dissimilarity: the edges of the surfaces were determined by changeable colors, varying through colors reminscent of death to colors of gaiety, and from gaiety to death. But he wasn't in the place, he noted. There was a kind of horizontally transparent wall, of the same height as his and of the same length as his if were laying down, that separated him from there, letting him only see it from the outside, where there was only zilch.
In the distance, high above, he saw his own self of this world — without eyes and mouth —, running and leaping erratically over several rectangular blocks that disappeared and reappeared. The daze of seeing himself out of his own self was not as impactful as what he felt as he realized how miserable and hopeless he seemed when he performed the leaps and runs he had to executed in order to proceed to the next runs and next leaps. The scene captured the observant man's attention to the point of him not wanting to miss the details of the sounds of the footsteps from the adventurous man.
Looking at himself was both curious and depressing; a mixture to glue the eyes open of any weak person; the cube knew.
Suddenly the adventurerous man falls, and the attention of the observant man loses its focus: the violence of the sight turned his gaze away. Failing a leap, the adventurous man collapsed with fatal acceleration. His body collapsed with such force that his head broke into pieces in the tangible vacuum that was the floor of that place, spilling blood on the wall of the observant man, and in some portions of his body his bones pierced the skin and left their possessing members flaccid and flabby. The remains were ruined and torn apart.
The man who had just witnessed the impact moved away the arms out of his face only to aliviate his curiosity that eagered to know how serious the damage had been, not wishing he had done it. In either way, now he couldn't take his invisible eyes off the corpse. Not because he didn't want to, but because he really couldn't. He had lost his ability to focus on any other place and to close his vision, as if someone were holding his head and pulling his eyes — if he had them there — through the pits so that he would not stop looking. And to explain that, a voice, which seemed to be accompanied by several other high-pitched and low-pitched voices, but all said the same, at different speeds and emphatic levels, in a language that man did not know but understood perfectly — his consciousness translated spontaneously the meanings of each syllable:
Then the observant man obtained his full visual capacity again, very frightened. He heard the distant footsteps again. He barely had time to recover from the strange sensations of a moment ago when another body collapsed and stroke tremendously in the floor, launching one flying arm towards the protective wall, tinting it red right after the loud cracking sound of bone structures coming down again. This time the adventurous man had not died, and was struggling with well pronounced tortuous exasperation. The man who had fallen obviously could not scream, but his observer could easily draw in his head a universe where that unfortunate man had a mouth and was using it to its full capacity.
The voices return, and the vision of the observant man chained to the ecstatic convulsions of the other:
He didn't want to, but was being compelled to do it once more. As the twisting adventurous man's hole on the left superior side of his body — where there was supposed to be underarms — spouted the obnoxious reddish liquid in heaps, a red cube, much wider than what the observant man had seen before, appeared near the place's ceiling. It beginned dropping shortly after, surpassing the physical obstacles in his vertical path like a phantom and advancing faster then the fallen man did. It was clear from the moment that the solid had appeared what was its purpose, calculating by its placement in relation to the man. The adventurer did not try to escape; in fact, he accepted with visible relief, and even adjusted himself so that the impact would have full effect.
The fall came to completion, and the target was reduced to pasty mass under the block and to scattered pieces around the dark hole, that propelled from the body at the moment of the hit — and now a dense red on the other three black walls and on the observant's one. The observant man would have applied his eyes or mouth for a disparity of uses at this point: vomiting, crying, for example, that is, if the entity that held back his most basic organs allowed it. He just wanted to stop seeing; would someone cut, puncture, or tear away those vile spheres that he couldn't feel, terrible instruments copartners of affliction; he wouldn't mind. But the hidden force gave him respite, before the horror decided for him that he should never open his eyes here or anywhere else. And they said:
From this moment on, the man enters some kind of manipulative cinematic session, still exploited by the cube's mystical authority, and once again with his eyes ruled by another. Here he will see several copies of himself — or the adventurous men — as the protagonists of the story to be told in the session, from different points of view and similar but alternating scenarios in comparison to the last one.
In it they will kill themselves, running and jumping, with similar emotional bitterness and furor delivered in the gesticulation of their limbs, burning themselves, smoldering themselves, cutting themselves, slashing themselves, tearing themselves apart, fracturating themselves, cracking themselves, crunching themselves, fragmentating themselves, being dumped into the floor turned into mush, all while sprinting, spinning, leaping, stopping, crouching, laying, dodging from burning cubes, that come towards them while setting the air on fire, like hunting projectiles forged with titanium, capable of crushing their skulls and exposing their interiors through the hardness and blazing temperatures of their abrasive faces. Without stopping, all coreographed by the savage desire of some malefic occult entity.
The observant man saw himself, with his mentally outstretched eyes, expiring in a thousand different ways in short intervals of seconds, and then milliseconds. There were times when all he saw or heard were instant flashes of blood gush, more or less bulky, or more or less noisy. All his hearing caught was the breaking of bones, the blunt pounding of colliding surfaces, irruptions of fire, electricty, stone and metal and other undistinguishable elements, the whispers of sharp metals and their fatal contacts with meat, the creaking and gnawing of blustering machines, the roasting of epidermis, the inverted blows of cubes fired targeting the man, and the sounds of the ones that hit the man, with brutal deconstructive efficacy; only madness penetrated him.
The scene's effect on the viewer was so extraordinary that he began to feel the pain. Every injury, every wound, every caustic heat began to accumulate in his own body, as if he were suffering and did not know. As if he were in both places at once, and his copy was not separate from himself, but belonging to the same being, an organism capable of being more than one, of existing here and there; what one felt, the other felt too. The forms of violence that ravished his essence, as they did with the adventurer, were so impetuous that his matter was instantly annihilated, consumed amidst confined pseudoscreaming .
The observant man then experienced here what it is to connect spiritually with another. His mind, body, and what was beyond the physical itself, connected as if to electrical cables from the world's machine to each other, profoundly. He felt the other man's anguish, his despair, his dreadful desire, submerged in tears that could not get out, that this zigzag of unending martyrdom could just come to a stop once and for all; to be removed from the system, please... please... please...
The observer began to pick up vocables, some blurry, some clear as crystal, all roaming through his conscience the whole time the connection lasted, coming and going. Words that plagued the adventurous man and that did not let go of his mind:
jน໓ງē๓ēຖtŞ... ᵈᵉᵃᵗʰ... ๓๏Շђєг... ʇlınɓ....
AVR... ʂσɾɾყ... h҉o҉l҉e҉, ...g卂爪乇....
cube... ცąƖƖ... ＶoiＣＥs ... ΣПD
And for a few more unbelievable moments the observant man experienced the most fantastic moments of his life — in his other momentary life. It didn't feel real to the man, for it was in a place where peace was possible. For precious minutes — if they were even counted here — the pain ceased. He was floating in the void, but it wasn't dark now, it was clear, and it was the brightest light he had ever seen. His eyes had been closed for a long time as he felt connect with the other man. Now he opened them as a newborn opens theirs, because that was how the man felt. This was not the world. It was another place where he had just awakened from an imperturbable sleep.
Was he dead, and was this the afterlife?, was what crossed over his head as he looked into the snowy void. More futile thoughts, determined the cube, attached to the man's subconscious.
After plunging into the abyss of light for a while, the man saw his fellow adventurer. He was motionless but flying without his consent into some unknown direction, bloodied, mutilated and with one of his eyeballs hanging from the hole that it was supposed to be in. The observant man looked at him closely, analyzing every detail of the damage done by the world he was just in, unsure of what to do. He tried to wake him up but it was useless. He would not wake up. The observer thus knew, unable to explain why, that it would end at that very moment, even before the voices returned, saying:
As the words were spoken, the adventurer's head was chopped off, revealing several red and blue electrical wires coming from his neck and hewed organ. And then, smiling with its eyes wide open — the other eye was reattached after the head was cut off —, the head flew to infinity like a rocket soon after, still disjointed from the throat. The observer saw reality crumble around him, then lost his ability to float, falling with clatter into blackness.
His body warned him again of the burns, and he was sure he was back. He could look around, so he turned, hardly, to face for one last time the being who had transported him to the most surreal dream of his short experience as a character, or slave.
He still didn't know that the cube was the very insurer of that little universe. It was the matter and the fabric that structured the space and time that covered the surroundings of the man and all the other intangible particles in that dark compartment. It was the one that pulled all the action strings to make certain objects appear, disappear, come to place, get out of place, change, stay the same. It made it all possible, and impossible, and it was capable of everything, and nothing. What happened there didn't happen, but the people will see, and the man saw (and will see).
The geometric form was a way of hiding the essential — because it wasn't the cube who played deity, but what the cube conserved in its interior —, and also a way of making the man — along with the people who will hear about him —, reflect, and recognise that everything in this darkness made sense. A cube is not randomly chosen, neither a means of torture nor a means of killing, like the cube would now use. Before exerting it, however, he wanted the creature who stared at him, whose pain transcended all his being, to understand that he was not here to comprehend, but to suffer, and that this was only the beginning. Another will come. And this other one will be his successor, but will also be himself. It will be the adventurer. And only the adventurer will be able to comprehend, if he can overcome the suffering. The man did not know that, and would only come to know when he would become his successor.
The voices said, this time all simultaneously for the last few words:
And the man lost control of himself for one last time. He felt everything in him that was human to be grasped. Every muscle was under the possession of the murderer.
He was thrown against the ceiling like a bullet, and then to one of the walls, and the parallel wall, and the floor, then in various directions at untold speeds and defying all known aerodynamics, writhing and deforming his physiognomy to irreparable levels and knocking him down, from smash to smash, heavily and slowly.
The switch was heard again. The pitch black was also seen. However, the silence was not there. The rumblings of the man's cracking spine bending over and over and his body bumping still remained, and lingered longer, until the spine could no longer bend and crack and his body no longer had enough mass to make noise as hit. And so the other parts took over the sounds, crashing into the walls, painting them red. Thus it was for all eternity, until the man of the adjoining black cube arose, who would continue the soul of the torn apart one. The story of this new man, however, should not be told in the same plane.
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