Chapter I: Requiem Aeternam - Seventh Instalment
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING STORY CONTAINS THE DEPICTION OF VIOLENT SCENES AND ALSO ADULT LANGUAGE. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
This is the continuation of Madness Serial: The Hand of Madness Chapter I: Requiem Aeternam - Sixth Instalment
—Fuck you, sir! I won’t do that! —the boy Woźniak says angrily.
—It's him or your brother. You choose, boy. If you kill him, I’ll let you and your brother go —he says insistently, waiting for the boy to take the knife.
Frightened, the boy stares at his brother Leon without knowing what to do while he dissents telling him not to do it. The boy finally takes the knife and stands up fortuitously; his knees tremble like a pair of jingle bells and in an impulsive moment, he decides to stab Golden Mask with this.
—You're going to need more than a blade to kill me— he says stoically.
Realising he has not inflicted any harm to the man in the golden mask, the boy Woźniak starts to amble towards Nilsson as he wipes away the tears that begin to well up in his eyes with the long sleeves of his sweater. Nilsson just stares at him in astonishment, waiting for something to happen that could save both of them in such an unfavourable situation. Desperate, Leon begs Golden Mask not to force his little brother to kill his partner, offering even his own life in exchange for preventing that from happening.
Meanwhile, the boy noticing how Golden Mask places Leon between him and the claws protruding from his hand impulsively and stumblingly sticks the dagger into Nilsson's neck. Immediately, he falls to the ground and begins to choke on his blood.
—What an attaboy! You truly have dexterity! —Golden Mask exposes utterly delighted—. Alas, for impure people like you and your brother here present, knowledge and eternal life are virtues impossible to reach all at once. Either you live, or you gain knowledge. And now, I’m afraid you know too much, my little friend —he explains looming behind him as he holds his head and slides the lightning claw quickly down his throat slaying him. The blood splatters gracefully through the air, and then, the boy collapses starting to bleed in the same way Nilsson did. Immediately, Leon rush to his rescue, however, Golden Mask orders to the escorts to take Leon so that he can interrogate him later. They then quickly grab him by the arms and drag him away.
Next, the man in the golden mask uncovers a wrist omniwatch he wears on his right arm. When he rolls up the sleeve end of his shirt, it's possible to get a glimpse of a prominent and frightening scar crossing the arm perpendicularly. Immediately, he prepares to call the autonomous vehicle in which they arrived at the place to pick them up, and at that precise moment, he receives a call on the device, which he answers immediately.
—Knight Inquisitor. Report —Golden Mask requests answering.
Apparently, I missed in my augury regarding what would be this day when I greeted you in the morning. I’m here, with these tidings that should be tragic for me, next to a stranger who shows ephemeral gratitude in response to my intrepid feat of saving him. Of course, I’m sure he will forget it in a matter of a couple of days. What motivated me to save his life? Was it you who decided to prolong his life to have the time to savour him? No. I’m the architect. I’m the erratic painter of a destiny I can’t but aim to control. I’m helpless in this bed which will become my recurring place for many days. Living without expectations has its advantage because I never saw this coming. Could I show myself more stoic to the situation?
—Why did you lie saying we're friends? —I ask Constantine, resuming the conversation.
—"No man hath greater love than to lay down his life for his friends." I am in your debt; I owe you my life. I think it should be me who is lying in that bed, but you, in a heartbeat and without thinking twice, delivered me from that fate that haunted me. So whatever I can do for you, I’ll do it without hesitation. Because if this is not friendship, I don’t know what friendship is.
Absolutely yes! At this moment I should be preparing myself to present my last art exhibition to the world; standing on my two legs and obtaining my share of the traditional and banal glory that this entails.
—What does it feel like to be a renowned painter? —he asks me after not receiving any comment from me.
—How do you know? —Can he read my mind? If so, I shouldn’t have thought that last. Maybe he will take me for a haughty person.
—Even with all those bruises, I must tell you that you are recognisable. You’re Mads Madsen, the famous and prodigious painter.
—No, it is not like that. I mean, yes, I am Mads Madsen, but I must say that I hate all those qualifiers and flattering titles used by media and snobs to refer to me. I loathe labels —I reply, noticing I have aroused in him a new and surprising interest towards me.
—But why? If you're a walking legend of art! Do you not find contentment in the laurel wreath that you wear as a crown?
—At this precise moment, I can’t see myself as a "walking legend" of nothing. What I do responds only to a need. To natural instinct. As well for a wolf is to crush its prey and ingest it, not for evil but to satisfy its ravening appetite and without seeking the contentment of nothing else than its own instinct. I wouldn’t even define myself as an "artist".
—I beg your pardon for my recklessness. You know what I mean. You’re inspiring an entirely new generation of artists would give anything to be a single day in your place.
—"Art is our only salvation from the horror of existence".
—And sometimes, from the non-existence itself. Art provides us with the possibility of becoming real —he replies cleverly.
—Tell me, Constantine, do you take up art as a career? —I ask immediately, feeling compelled to continue the conversation due to the shrewdness of his reply with which I’ve undoubtedly felt identified.
—I’m just an art lover. Coincidentally, I like painting, but more specifically, the watercolours. I must confess I am a great follower of your works. However, I study psychiatry —he says. Apparently, he admires me in a reciprocal way to the wonder he causes me with every word that flows from his mouth.
—I’m not a devotee of coincidence. To have known us in this extraordinary way must have some purpose —I manifest letting him see my enchantment—. Given my situation, which seems to temporarily isolate me from the art exhibitions scene and lust for fame, I could show you a couple of things that I'm sure will fascinate you. Of course, as soon as I leave this putrid place.
—It would be an honour! —he expresses enthusiastically—. Among all your works, the most exquisite I find is The Typhon Beast, and even if it's a cliché, I'm fascinated to think about what inspired you to paint it.
—My paintings are nothing but portraits of my own life. I transform the infamous vulgarity of the pain and suffering of life into pure art —I reply as I begin to remember the events that inspired that work.
'How would I show my wrath? How could I capture it in the subtle canvas of immortality? How to unleash this beast thirsting for bloodshed in the way of justice to prevent it from growing unbounded inside me until it explodes and cancels my will?
'I can see this fierce beast, inviting me to the bacchanal of blood in which my humanity will be immolated. Once defenceless and paralysed, this will be pierced by the sharp incisors of brutality and insatiable violence. I see its eyes. I witness how it snatches all away from me in a matter of seconds, starting by my will.'
'Its gaze is the look of hatred itself, merciless, like embers that paralyse my senses. I find myself trapped amongst its claws, whose wounds pierce my reason’s marrow and leave me an excruciating pain that drags me into incessant delirium.'
'All I see is red, accented by the overwhelming black of the night. All I see is blood, coming out of me, scattered everywhere, its face covered with it.'
'Its figure resembles the red dragon of Revelations, although with a single head of a burnished golden colour, with multiple and sharp horns over this and a covering of scales, feathers and hairs of the most vivid red colour. It is a monster so dreadful and deadly. A murderous beast that feeds on the entrails of my deepest fears which I can hardly capture in this canvas that mystically comes alive drawing itself.’
'I design each detail so that this beast passes to posterity like a herald of my rage announcing my vendetta’s gospel. Thus I aim to not forget the siege of this nightmarish monster, rekindling forever my desire to avenge myself of this heartless being that changed me forever.'
'Let me paint the dread of the precise moment when you appeared elusive among the darkest night of my existence. You arose threatening and inhuman, with the sole purpose of dye your claws and fangs with the garnet colour of an innocent's blood. Allow me to leave you portrayed in my raw art with all the splendour of your macabre beauty, without seeking the contentment or pleasure of nobody or nothing but my relentless instinct for revenge.’
‘Behold my masterpiece.'
Continues in The Hand of Madness Chapter II: Kyrie Eleison
Benjamin Guzman, for his advice and help with the translation.