Chapter I: Requiem Aeternam - First Instalment

Artwork: Seph Brand/ Madness Serial

Artwork: Seph Brand/ Madness Serial

 

Warning: the following story contains the depiction of violent scenes and also, adult language. Reader discretion is advised.


To my Yang, whom I will always love.

 

THE SHINING RADIANCE coming in through the fenestration one last time, dying and fading to red, inviting the night and the skies on fire to fall. The vicious instinct owning me. My heart speeding up. *Dupdup, dupdup, dupdup*. The tall carmine sheer drapes that colour the light sway in the late afternoon breeze. I walk towards the reddish light steadily, rising from the darkness. First, my gloved hand gripping my cherished knife whose wolf-shaped silver handle I can feel coming alive among my fingers. Then, my spectral face. A subtle smile concealing my inward darkness arises on my face.

Is it me or that me that is not me?

Light, as reddish and sinister as a blood Moon, spills upon the opposite side of this darkened room. This reveals the dust specks sparkling while flying in the air randomly, and also, the shaken face of my prey, the face of Constantine. He sees me with his dilated, piercing, and welled eyes. His iris and scleras skinned as though *ocelli* on the hindwings of a *caligo* butterfly. His moist eyes getting brighter to the point of reflecting every spot of light, as though a cluster of stars forming within them, as though the whole universe is suddenly contained within them.

Constantine was always fascinated by the immaculate white of the cedar-wood walls decorating this salon, which, he now feels behind him as he walks backwards trying to escape from me.

Everything has led us to this moment in which a *Mouton d’or* is cast to determinate our fate, to determinate who will be the hunter and who the prey. The coin turning over in the air, rising up to heaven amongst the shadows and the scarce light. It stays suspended in the air for a fleeting moment and flashes when reaches the sunlight, and then, comes back down to my hand.

*Crux aut agnus.*

I look at the piece of gold and the *Agnus Dei* is face-up. The lamb’s head surrounded by an aura that crowns it while its right hoof is carrying a flag that ends in a cross.

The die is cast.

The Mozart’s Requiem coming out from the bellflower-shaped trumpet of an old gramophone. This sounds from the other side of the room, just beside the chimney. The trombones heralding the choir, an ensemble of moans relegated to oblivion of which Constantine will soon be a part. *Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine et lux perpetua luceat eis* sing the melancholic voices in unison. A tinny and scratchy sound. The firewood crackles as the sorrowful symphony blends harmoniously with the organic hum from my circulatory system. Like the relentless time, the thick needle arm set onto the spinning vinyl won’t stop until this symphony is over.  

I approach Constantine with steady steps, like a clandestine wolf lurking its prey in the nightshadows. He is shivering inwards. I can discern it on his terrified visage. Same visage that seems delicately marble-carved as a Hellenistic sculpture, however, at this moment, this moves away from the virtue of the harmonious and ideal. He never foretold we would end up like this. That’s why he‘s unable to conceive what is about to happen. He boasted of taming me, yet his hubris has been assuming he was absolved from my wrath against the world. Now, he turns the prey besieged between the snow-white wall behind him and the jaws of this wolf eager of his flesh and blood. I stare into his eyes. I get closer until I almost have him in front of me and then, he frightened yells:

"MADS, THIS IS MADNESS!"

Yes, this is madness —I say to myself—. *Folie à deux* is how shrinks would define it. A pathology we both share since the exact moment we met. Embrace your madness. Share your madness.

"Let this happen. Close your eyes and wade into the quiet streams of your mind. When you open them you’ll see that, as on every occasion I’ve painted you, both in my mind and on my canvases, you’ll be overwhelmed by the final result."

"To live beyond death, you ought to go through the gateways that lead to it. You hope for me to prevail over death, whether by reputation or in the afterlife. Can I posit this as your intention?" he questions studying me intently.

As I approach him, the look in his deep dark eyes gets lost in the reflection of his face on the chromed blade of the knife. I notice how his breath turns accelerated; his heart hops like a rabbit under the thin cloth covering his strong chest. 

A lump in his throat.

I grab the metallic wrist of my right hand, which, in turn, holds the sharp knife. I rotate the fist around the axis of the wrist seeking to bring it the same dexterity required to wield a brush. I push back the palm, the join clanks, and then, our eyes collide like the first time.

"My only design endeavours to save our friendship," I explain to him breaking the overwhelming silence. "I must restore everything is broken between us. I put you higher than all celestial divinities. Nevertheless, you had to covet more," I say opening my arms and beckoning so that he approaches me. "I know you came with the intention of doing this to me. This is reciprocal. Unlike you, I won’t *backnifing* you," I add pulling him to me from his right shoulder to materialise his existence and to prove once and for all he is not another of my delusions.

"You can not compare yourself to God because of your iniquity, just as I can not compare myself to Lucifer because of my innocuousness," he says getting closer and laying his head on my chest.

Constantine is finally in my arms. He settles in these as he always does, putting his ear against my chest to hear my heartbeats and breathing, trying to appease my ferocity with his mere presence. He knows he has always been my weakness. Yet this time will be different. Neither my heart nor my breath will diminish by his presence. Nothing will prevent me from executing the sacrifice I‘ve been asked for. Nor his warmth to the touch. Nor the comfort I find in him. Not even the love I happened to feel for him.

The wan daylight is getting scarcer, dying little by little. Constantine makes a vain attempt to hold my hand to take my knife off me, act to which I immediately respond with a headshake in disapproval. 

"Can we leave hostility aside and talk it calmly?" he asks me taking his head off my chest and fixing his eyes on mine. "This isn‘t the first time you do it.[^Ch1] Let’s not repeat this story. Our friendship can still prevail," he says trying to persuade me.

"Our friendship shall prevail. Don’t hesitate about it. Our mutual devotion will transcend throughout eternity," I put my hand behind his head feeling my fingers sinking in his thin hair. I pull him towards me until we are facing each other, symmetrical, nose to nose. His eyes dark and reverberant as though black mirrors in front of mine. The air he breathes out from his nostrils feels sharp on my lips.

"Eternity requires sacrifice. Do you intend to immolate me just as you did with your father and all of them?" he asks me intrigued trying to appeal to my reason. His nose rubbing mine when he slides his head down my cheek until his face converges with my scaleni. His mouth pressed against my skin. His breath on my neck.

"We’re posthumous. Every moment since the day I saved you is borrowed," I reply as his lips, like silk waving at wind, glide on my neck. "The natural order of things must be restored and your betrayal amended. It is crucial to set this oblation in motion to achieve both[^Ch2]."

"Natural order of things broke the moment you saw me, and I saw you. I wonder, at this spacetime, who‘d be the betrayed and who the betrayer? The line dividing us as opposites became blurred."

"There are not opposites, just us," I respond kissing his cheek. "You must maintain your faith in my creation even when my actions seems incomprehensible to you."

"From this side, your creation also seems destruction."

"An act of creation is always preceded by an act of destruction. Both states imply a change. What an uncanny idea it’s for human mind the non-existence of bounds."

"And are we bounded?" he resents raising his eyes and frowning at me.

"We’re bonded, and we’ll be one only when my knife is inside of you," I elucidate sliding my hand behind his head. "Do you remember when we confined ourselves to the Eternal Forest? I yearn the intimacy of those days when the world stopped mattering and only we mattered. I let you know me. I gave you a part of my life without skimping.  I placed you before everything and everyone, even myself," I express to him as the words knot in my throat. "Nevertheless, you betrayed our friendship, and since then, I’m dying silently and slowly. Now, I need your empathy one last time. I want you to feel in your own flesh the pain is tearing me apart."

As I utter these words, the Wandering Wolf emerges from the darkness peeking from behind my legs. This appears drooling and smacking its lips. Its crystalline and glutinous slobber overflowing its snout to drip on the floor. Its bluish eyes steady at Constantine’s, which, mesmerise us both like a swaying and sizzling bonfire in the midst of the dark. All it covets is to pounce on him to split his jugular and carotids. I realise it eager to do what, by instinct, has craved since the day I met Constantine. We both *samesiding*. We both rooting for the same. Blood, blood, blood. The wolf would be enraptured to see the blood ejaculating from his throat spattering and redstaining my face.

Constantine lying in my arms like a shuddering child. Afflicted by the idea of change, which disturbs him but also makes him curious. There‘s no reason to be afraid of change when the only constant in this universe of variables is change. Everything we thought we knew moments ago no longer exists and has lifted with the same ephemerality of fog, whereas memories, as leftovers of this, are but stories we tell ourselves endlessly. Growing in inaccuracy and fiction with each rewind as we embrace them as gospel. These images become distorted the more we recall them, such as a photocopy of the photocopy of a photocopy.

"Mads, please, put that down!" he cries once more. "Please, don’t lose your mind, or at least, don’t be angry with me. Even when cruel your anger is a worse punishment than your dagger."

"One can’t lose what one doesn’t have. Forgive me, Constantine, but you’re giving me no choice. You became my *yang* and I never managed to connect with someone like I did with you," I say to him embracing him harder. "I revealed to you even my darker secrets, but you— you snatched that from me. You snatched everything from me. You betrayed me driving the prevarication’s dagger through me without any indulgence. I gave you something I never gave anyone before, but you despised it. Now, all I can do to fix you, to fix us, is to transform you into the finest art so that the world can appreciate the extravagant glory of our unique friendship."

"Please!" he begs and sobs in desperation. "This is not a way out. You’ll only cause everything to happen again. This won’t bring back neither your father nor my sister."

"This is how it‘s meant to be," I say to him. My eyes welling up with tears. "The feeling of being stuck at this moment reliving it back and forth haunts me. I created you, and I’ll destroy you. I extolled you, and I’ll humiliate you. I gave you, and I’ll strip you. Can’t live with you. Can’t live without you."

These are the valedictory words I say to Constantine while I prepare myself for a theatrical reckoning. He is trapped with no escape, between my arms, between the knife and the wall, between life and death. He became the elusive prey ensnared by the intricate trap of my madness. He is facing his inevitable brush with death. We both imprisoned in the impossible labyrinth I created of which we continually believe we have gotten out only to find a new dead end. Every *cul-de-sac* forces us to go back to the start again, and again, and again, like a *zero-sum game*.

This is the moment of truth. The moment to intone the aria to true friendship. A fair and relentless courtship waltz will be danced on the edge of madness.

What is going to happen?



Continues in Second Instalment


Hiya! My name's Seph Brand. Thank you very much for scrolling and reading up here. I hope you enjoyed this literary work as much as I enjoyed writing it for you. I would love to hear from you, especially your impressions and theories about what you just read, so please leave your comments below.

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