The Cacophony Panic

There was a city. It was a great and large strangeness. It had simply been built, willed into existence, in the far reaches of the north. The people there were various and populous, crammed into the city by magisterial Cains, packed on top of each other like rabbits in cages.

Corruption washed over this dour, decrepit outpost like smoke from a coal factory. It sullied and tarnished the wayward metropolis in a fervent silt of mire. Violence bandied about perniciously through town as greed, drunkenness, and dementia slew people in streets, alleyways, courtyards, and bathtubs. The people stepped over these decommissioned actors nonchalantly, like goats walking over pebbles.

Amid this morbid backdrop, the people drank incessantly and copulated indiscriminately. Their pallor was waxen, malnourished, and diseased. They crowded the dispensaries and pharmacies yammering for relief as their bodies rotted and decayed and their minds grew demented.

Among them, mysteriously, the giants prowled about, like large, terrible leviathans knifing through dark, frigid waters, gliding to the surface only occasionally, drawing in what they needed, and returning to the unseen fathoms.

The giants controlled everything. In black, high-polished, German chariots, they occasionally paraded, their bishop’s clothes of black turtlenecks and black suits accentuated by flashy, gold jewelry. They took from the peasantry all whom they desired. In their retinue were any number of prized trophies smoking slim cigarettes and balancing on breakneck heels, faces lacquered in heavy lipstick and smoky eyeliner. The giants wrapped them in furs and did with them as they pleased, throwing them to the streets like garbage whenever their ability to amuse waned.

It was the end of another mild, northern summer day in this corrupted, pestilent city. Like clockwork, the air began turning damp and heavy and the sky started graying ominously as the afternoon grew. Trevor’s day had been spent meandering around the New Holland shipyard, drinking kiosk beer up and down English Street, cranking butts in Repina Square, speaking with oddities, urinating in alleyways, meeting the flies in a ramshackle stolovaya - a standard afternoon frolic. Now, as evening came down upon the menagerie of the north, the winds began to pick up. A certain electricity began trickling throughout the city. These were the telltale signs of an ominous storm approaching. Above the Gulf of Finland, the cages of Neptune had been mischievously opened, the army of Tempest ruefully charged forth. Trevor saw the signs and began the long march home to the other side of town with a quick step.

As he landed on Pea Street, that first scent of rain hit his nostrils like a cool, musty blade. He took a right and headed southeast down the centuries old artery past the Hay Market and onto Out-of-Town Street. Above him, the massive storm was brewing, taking aim and bearing down like an atmospheric tidal wave. People talked a little louder, were more animated in their actions, yelling, giggling, moving with a lightness of foot as this dark storm approached, growling ruthlessly in the northern sky as the breath of the baneful demi-gods blew her tumultuously inland. The denizens were getting more agitated by the second. The electric excitement was unmistakable. It gave Trevor a strange sensation in his mind, a buzzing, an archaic alarm bell in the DNA blueprint ringing through the fogs of time.

Trevor briskly navigated up Out-of-Town Street and came to the famed Five-Corners. The Five-Corners was a warped pentagon comprised of five dour, death dirge avenues and the looming corner tower of the house of Joffe the Merchant. It was near this twisted star confluence of the five dirges that he saw his occurrence of the day. At first glance, it looked like two drunken friends clowning around with each other, arguing stupidly over a benign topic on their way to find more drink. Only as Trevor neared them did he realize the dire graveness of the argument, for it was fierce. Low, guttural shouts, insanities in a base frequency, they whipped through the phantasmal air like blood thirsty chainsaws. It was clear, there was going to be blood. Phantasmically, something blinded Trevor’s eyes, like the quick flash of the sun coming off a side-view mirror. But there wasn’t any sunshine to be seen, the sky growing more cruel and macabre by the second. Nevertheless, there it was, this flash, a vision that stopped Trevor’s heart cold. It was a knife. Brilliantly, it winked like diamonds on a princess at a royal gala as it tore through the air.

The man whose back was toward Trevor staggered away from the flash, holding his throat in mute horror, brokenly dropping to his knees. The air turned icy cold and disturbingly electric. His friend was unsurprisingly dressed in black, like every other suave gentleman in town. Through the spatial disorder and burning vision of Trevor’s eyes, these dark clothes looked almost like robes. Quickly, the assailant’s raving eyes turned to Trevor. These eyes were horrific and cosmic like crystal butcher knives. They shined immaculately through time and through Trevor’s own being like starlight through the ether. They bore into and through Trevor as if he wasn’t even there at all, as if time, himself, the street, the city, the earth, the sounds of cars, voices, everything, everything around him, didn’t exist, but was only wilting watercolor paintings languishing against the grate of a feasting storm drain.

Trevor’s blood froze. His mind seized up. His breathing and heart stopped. Twisting vines of numbness shot forth from the base of his spine to the back of Trevor’s skull. For a moment that lasted a tortuous eternity, the man stared into Trevor, his slick, black, raven’s hair rustling in the void, his face grimy, pock-marked, and seething, his thick, push broom moustache like the sooted cow catcher of a 19th century locomotive. Trevor felt at any moment that blade would lunge for him too. A ferocious carousel of images ran through Trevor’s head. Get the knife, put all your attention on the knife, get two hands on his one, you’re going to get cut, run, flee, kick, punch him, run, flee, get the knife. Which door to open, Trevor stood panicked at the gateway, frozen. Just then the chilling wind picked up and gushed down Out of Town Street, blasting the Five Corners akimbo. The man in black robes subtly made a peculiar expression, almost a devilish wink, one awash in the nuanced code of the homosexual underworld. In a smooth flash, he turned and vanished into a dim and dank archway, one that would funnel him into the maze of catacombs between Kazarshteina and Vladimirsky Prospekt.

In the vicinity, there were two ladies near Trevor had also seen the occurrence. They were standing near a shop entrance on Out of Town Street staring in disbelief. One of them finally cried aloud, though it had taken her an eternity to react. She shrieked for someone to call the police, in Russia the most worthless of pleas. She might as well have called for a caped superhero to swoop in and bring justice. Still, she cried and shouted, hysterically, to call the benevolent authorities, to make the bad go away. Like little children they were. Like easing into a bath, Trevor came acquainted with the realization that he was free, spared, destined to see more turns on the merry-go-round. His attention soon came to rest with the man on the sidewalk. Slowly, drawn in by a beckoning tide, Trevor drew close to the man who had been slashed. He was on his knees, one hand on the uneven pavement, the other to his throat as he writhed in shock and garbled anguish.

The sound of thick and syrupy blood, warm and fresh from the cradling arteries of life, splashed down in pulsating heaves to the morose, filthy sidewalk. Past the man’s dirty hand it overflowed, springing from a fountain desperately churning its pumps in a wild and furious sprint toward self-destruction. Most peculiarly, a group of three students ran out from the nearby Children’s School of the Arts. They couldn’t have been more than 6 years old. Locking hands, they circled the man and launched into song. Mockingly, they sang out, ‘ring around the rosie, ring around rosie.’ The children were in oblivious jubilation, as if under the assuages of some strange spell. ‘Ashes ashes, we all fall down!’ The man’s dinner plate eyes wanted to explode, like a collapsing star, in shouts of anger and sorrow and remorse and mercy, but they didn’t. They couldn’t. Suddenly, as if the children all at once awoke, the little girl of the group noticed the pool of blood and shrieked horrifically. The children quickly stopped dancing like a music box suddenly wound down, froze to the spot, and erupted in a petrified array of tears and screams. Promptly, a woman ran to them, a teacher from the Art School.

“Children, children.” she tersely scolded them.

Then she saw the developing blood sacrifice on the street and froze as if electrocuted by the macabre vision.

“My gods,” she gasped. “Children, children, my gods! My gods! Come children, come!”

She grabbed them by the sleeves of their jackets and manically looked around. The array of carousel images flashed through her mind. She looked up at Trevor, an ashen white blanket of panic pulled over her face, her gaze longing, as if Trevor would tell her what to do. Her inner carousel landed on the image of ‘just get the hell out of here!’ Hysterical gaggle of children in tow, she dragged them off back to the School of the Arts.

“Children, come! Come!” She breathlessly repeated.

That cruel, bitter wind continued to gush down the street, howling eerily a vampiric choir of torture and delight. The bizarre song and dance number by the children concluded, the bleeding man wobbled and collapsed from his hands and knees down to his side, the light in his eyes fading. From bright, bestial wail they cooled towards utter dullness, quiet as smooth rocks deep below a vapid sea.

Succumbing to the concrete, the man struggled on his side, giving his back to Trevor and Out of Town Street, as if he were hiding his death in shame. His legs slowly kicked and moved in the liquid atmosphere. They were the last throws. Slowly, gravity reached out a gentle hand and pulled softly at his shoulder, rolling the man onto his back, forsaken eyes staring up to the ominous clouds billowing maliciously overhead. His limbs relaxed. His throat a horrific display of pearly fat, sinewy tendons, and a raw pool of terrible garnet. A short, bewildering, electrical pulse rippled through Trevor and the two nearby ladies. The man was dead.

Before Trevor made it down Razyezhaya Street to Marata, the first violent roll of thunder shook violently through the city. The powerful voice of the usurper gods reverberated through everyone’s rib cages, through every building, straight through the whole lamented outpost of languishing civilization, down into the cold, swamp earth, and resonating deep into its rotten depths. People ran and sprinted along the sidewalks. The ramshackle, Soviet cars had their dim, flickering headlights on, caroming about wildly like madly fleeing horses from a barn fire.

As Trevor crossed the Street of Truth, the flood gates opened and the pools of Neptune were unleashed onto the crumbling honeycomb of brick and mortar. The water came down in walls with manic force and totality. The denizens ran amok, jumping over large lakes and estuaries that had formed in mere seconds, desperately holding newspapers and plastic bags over their heads. The thunder rolled and knocked down any proud spirit in its path. It growled, rumbled, ravaged, and slammed devastatingly into the soul. Its force set off hundreds of car alarms instantaneously throughout the flooding veins of slip streets and back alleys. Panic filled the air. A cacophony of maddening cataclysm. The water gushed and poured down, the thunder bellowed, the idiot car alarms shrieked, and thrashing, wet people bewailed the end of the world.

Trevor, however, didn’t run for cover. He didn’t even try to protect himself. Instead, he purchased a beer at the ben-ben-shaped Yamskoy Market and walked through the deluge towards his blue palace in the needle park and piss staircase neighborhood of Ligovka. He walked in steady ease as everything around him disintegrated into asinine chaos. People were comprised of 75% water. Yet when it rained, they ran from it as if it were napalm. People were also comprised of .000014% gold, yet when in proximity to the lustrous element, they were far from repulsed. It all checked out. Trevor had, however, seen grown men swim in the Neva River, which was comprised only of raw sewage and industrial waste. Yet now, when it rained, when clean water dropped from the sky, people ran for dear life as if limbs and corpses ripe in black plague were being catapulted over the fortress walls into the city.

Trevor walked in the deluge lugubrious and numb. He was soon drenched, but what did he care. He sipped his beer and stared at every scurrying maniac running for cover, running home so they could jump into a shower or a bath or a cup of murky tea. Perhaps the deluge reminded them of when water came to the earth the last time, when it descended from the sky in the form of a cataclysmic rapist and issued forth from the ground like the grim reaper rising from a moist grave on Halloween. Perhaps the cataclysm was still in the back of everyone’s minds. Or, perhaps, everyone was just a hypochondriac and a thoughtless fool. Both offers were on the table, Trevor surmised, and the jury was hunkered down in their hotel rooms watching cartoons.

When Trevor made it to his blue palace apartment, the rain was still beating down relentlessly. The car alarms rang and howled, reverberating up and down Ligovsky Prospekt like air raid sirens. He made it upstairs, past the stench of raw feces under the staircase, into the stench of cat urine in his hallway, and through the bank vault door to his room. Languidly, he stripped off his clothes. Every stitch of clothing, even the heart of no-man’s-land in his underwear, was soaking wet.

Trevor hung the clothes to dry on some rusty water pipes in the bathroom covered in a fine, powdery ash. Ashes, ashes…He started a warm bath, just like every other shivering commoner in St. Petersburg was doing at that moment. As the smelly rat semen water ran, he sucked at his beer and moved to the kitchen window. There he gazed down upon Ligovsky wallowing in the flood. He thought about the man who had had his throat cut, sliced open like a Cesarean section, slaughtered like an animal, bleeding to death in tortured silence. And the man who had killed him, how cold, how unshakable, how unworldly his gaze and his actions had been. There was a different power there, a different operating plane, a tweaked dimension. It made even the grandeur of the thunderstorm beating against Trevor’s window feel like sophomoric farce.

Like an old, whipped, and beaten man, Trevor slowly lowered his experience into the foul, rat soup waters of the bathtub. Here I am now, he thought, the warmth creeping into his spacesuit, the witch’s broth smells of rust and rodent penetrating his senses, condemned or blessed to more moments. Here they all began, he laid back listlessly, submerged in the murky, diseased aftermath.

The End