Dancing Spirits of the Mead Moon
Chapter 1 – Ebbb
The planet throbbed expectantly under the Mead Moon. The oceans lurched from their silent slumber as they tried to reach greedily out into space in a vague attempt to answer the beck and call of their luminous deity. Steady water stirred and heaved, placid beaches were thrashed with surging waves, and the river-veins of the world which branch out from depths untold swelled anew with delight. The customarily tenebrous woods glowed with excitement as if innately phosphorescent; the animals buzzed with anxiety as their hiding holes became as figurative bull's-eyes, and industrious insects thrashed chaotically in their normally reticent burrows.
Under the influence of this mystic force, the unseen connection between two spheres that stretches across the cold and desolate expanse of space, metallic juggernauts of humanity similarly stirred. The apartment buildings of the impressive cities buzzed like so many honeycomed hives. People stirred from their once relished languor in an anticipated search of no decipherable object. They were mindlessly pulled forth by the allure of the moon-rays dancing in the gentle current of a warm July breeze. The arteries of the cities flowed in sync with the veins of the ocean, humanity flowing as lifeblood through the various streets and alleys of the city to the pulse of a far off call. The heart of this society beats downtown; it beats to the rhythm of simple, pleasing, insipid, and altogether meaningless songs blasted through over zealous club speakers; it beats to the rhythm of dazzling billboards blaring siren-like jingles; it beats to the marcia-moderato clangour of cash registers opening and closing, always accompanied by the thin tinkling chorus of change hitting the bottom of vagrant hats.
One of the ventricles in the beating heart of this European megalopolis quavered expectantly, as if it knew there were some abominable disturbance somewhere in it's cosmic pulse. The people within ebbed and flowed to the music as was customary. They swayed predictably with each familiar beat and measure of the popular artist, but the room knew that there was some furtive anomaly, ever-present but invisible. A man, who never could quite walk in-step with the droning march of this society, noticed a fellow outcast trying to mimic the bumping masses; he was reminded of an alien trying to mimic speech from a once popular film.
Thomas Bento followed the trudge of humanity out from the sanctity of his little apartment all the way to this chamber of disgusting congress. Repulsive odours abounded; bodily scents from beings pressed drippingly against one another mingled with the suggestion of visceral spirits in various stages of digestion. A cacophony of voices, each trying to project their lot of “nothing” louder than the others, battled feebly against the thundering voice of the DJ. Lights flashed in dizzy, senseless arrays, in a useless attempt to add the suggestion of magic to this fetid pit of unpleasantry. Amidst the bedlam, Thomas wondered how this second outcast, a tall, exotic and eccentric man dressed in a full suit of the most outrageous colours, could exist so pleasantly. He was amazed at the mastery of this individual, for despite his natural resistance to the vibrations of the crowd, he managed to weave in between the wavelengths of these people in such a way that captivated them.
“I am Dio Backus” he declared, as this form ripped itself from the foreground of the surrounding canvas, addressing Thomas directly. Aghast that he was noticed by the centre of attention, the watcher stammered out a sheepish “Thomas... I was with the opening act.”
“Ah yes, of course I know who you are” Dio proclaimed with gusto, a perfect facsimile of a ring master in a circus. “You strike me as a man of the world, with tastes for the adventurous and mischievous, much like myself”.
“Well, I do get bored.” Thomas was gaining confidence.
“What do you say we hit the town, old chap?” Dio was portraying a rather comical chauffeur.
Thomas followed as Dio swirled through the eddying stream of people. The miasma of thick putrid air and prismatic flashing repulsive lights all seemed to blow past the two in a hurricane, while still vaguely dancing to the steady and familiar thumping of the music falling farther and farther behind them. The “fresh air” attacked his lungs as a portal swung open before him; the acrid tobacco, exhaust, and urine fumes indeed seem a temporary reprieve as they walked through the door of the club.
Chapter 2: A Musing Old Man
The sights and smells of the street were no less repugnant to the senses. Dio was in search of peculiar adventure, and Thomas was glad to follow a guide with what must be equally uncanny tastes for the unusual. The dance clubs and food pubs, the cinemas and the concert venues, the coffee shops and liquor stores, they all thronged with people influenced unknowingly by the Mead Moon blazing unheeded in the background. These usual haunts of the masses bore no interest for these searchers of the bizarre and the unique, and instead they threaded through an underworld running parallel and unseen to the normal thoroughfare. Through squalid alleys and dingy ditches, through cemeteries and garbage dumps, Dio whisked along, apparently on a faintly detected trail of some far off scent of the singular. Thomas was struggling to keep up, and felt as though he had left the world of the senses behind in his pursuit of this mystic. They floated on in some phantom quest of forgotten legendry.
A dark crack, scarcely noticeable between two huddling and dilapidated edifices, glowed with the burning eyes of a magical and terrible hellbeast. The air grew visibly thick with the vaporous breath exuded by their evident quarry, and Dio raised an unsteady hand in hesitation. The pair thrilled at their discovery, and their minds raced against one another trying to dispel the expansive vistas of horrible possibility before them. A raspy cackle seeped out of the abyss in response, and was soon followed by a decrepit old form. One of the ember-like eyes of the beast shifted, and preceded the old man exiting the alley in the form of his rank smelling pipe; Dio and Thomas erupted in uncontrollable laughter.
This hilarious shade of their original horror sauntered and staggered from his hidden stoop, and attempted stiffly to straighten up. The chiming of unseen glass bottles seemed to rattle from every thread of his dusty robes, and he reeked of the most curious mixture of scents. His glazed eyes stared out, unblinking, from sunken and sullen sockets; he seemed to be constantly perusing the horizon as much as his local surroundings, perhaps searching for something, or nothing, or both simultaneously.
Their stomachs ached from the convulsing waves of excruciating laughter. Mirth flowed from the pair of searching dreamers, and it seemed contagious. The old man seemed to hide a furtive smirk, but joined outwardly and freely in their revelry. It was as though the fates had suddenly smiled on the clandestine quest of the pair. Their alcohol had just run out as they arrived at this unplanned destination: a hopelessly depraved old man with the suggestion of more liquor than the three of them could hope to drink.
The old man hobbled and wobbled away, and Dio was more than happy to follow. Unmarked glass bottles were produced one after the other from musty robes, and the three joined in merriment as they aimlessly trundled about the unheeded city around them. Dio and Thomas laughed at the ridiculous old man, as every bottle produced had a story more fantastic that the last.
“This is a sample of the wine that one fabled magician transformed from water!”
“Behold, the old spiced rum taken secretly from Davey Jones' personal cask.”
Thomas did not know whether to pity the man, or laugh despicably at the stereotypical caricature of this wonderful vagrant. His robes were tied around his waist by the end of his impossibly long beard, and it seemed to him that every vestige of clothing was ripped from some ageless chamber, protected somehow from the ravages of time.
Dio, on the other hand, was enchanted. At first, he was as skeptical as Thomas. As the yarn grew longer, Dio became enraptured by the tangle, and was entrapped by the spell being furtively weaved around him. He imagined that he was with the old wizard drinking Octli with Hernan Cortes, watching the topple of the Aztecs. He similarly felt as though he had been present around the tables of Olympus when the old man provided him with a bottle he called “Essence of Ambrosey”.
Thomas chuckled to himself, watching; the bodily form of the beautiful presence, which brought him on this enterprise of the magical, was becoming bamboozled by the foolish ranting of an obviously unhinged mind. He chuckled, but was presently much more absorbed in the surrounding scenery; he had lost himself in the inane incantations of the old wizard, and presently found himself in some theurgically gorgeous environs.
The three stumbled along a wooded path, but none of the party had any recollection of where it started. He felt strangely comforted as he could see the horrible skyline of the somehow far-distant origin city; skyscrapers, silhouetted by the ever present burning Mead Moon, looked like tombstones framed by noisome wisps of charnal cirrus, as though they were being eternally discharged from some titanic interment. The serene but monstrous epitaphs were spotted by the glowworms of the last lingering lights of the insomniacs. The scene was especially eerie considering the source of the droning enchantment accompanied by peculiar and opalescent olfactory essence of the singular guide.
“What luck, we have” Thomas thought to himself “running into such a pitiable and disquieting excuse for a man. He will prove to be a source of endless entertainment.”
He was panged with a profound, portentous realization that the topic of the ramblings emanating from the ancient maw had shifted; he was no longer talking about his mythical sources of alcohol, but about the foolish and selfish concept of contempt.
Chapter 3: Cataclysmic Duality
Dio was in love. He felt as though he had found all the secrets he longed to uncover in the unlikely meandering of this doddering old fool. He hung on every word that spilled from the increasingly slurred lips, and became more and more convinced that they were in the presence of a genius, the truest alchemist, a soothsayer ripped from the deepest recesses of his own conscious.
Thomas was fidgeting to himself uncomfortably as the troupe filtered into an open meadow. It was edged and outlined by a sickly lapping stream which flowed thickly with the blackest oil. He felt as if they had plopped out into some didactic disillusioning dimension foreign from all he had ever known or trusted. The discourse had veered away from innocuous stories regarding the source of unconventional and unctious booze, and towards more philosophical realm of perspective.
“Contempt is vile” he croaked, “and one of the most useless and debilitating of the myriad of unfortunate human conditions. Concern for another has never once been broached in a selfless manner.”
The old man rambled disjointedly. There was an influx of vitality and fury in the mindless, rambunctious, and jerky motions of the hoary mage.
“Good and evil are irrelevant concepts used by the clever as tools for controlling the dull. The terms 'Good' and 'Evil' erroneously suppose that there is some defining backbone of irrefutable morality which does not, will not, and can not exist.”
Dio was enthralled, and felt he was on the precipice of the greatest meanings of life. Thomas cleared his throat in nervous agitation. He felt as though he were being forced to stare directly into the yawning gulfs of a fathomless void. The old wizard produced what must have been the last of his store of other-worldly bottles of self-proclaimed “clarity”.
“Ah, the Mead of Wisdom seems the perfect place to end our explicit educative exile from the every-day commonplace. I secured it in one of the craters of that staring moon, from a spirit designated 'Koringate the foolish'. He is one of the harbingers of enlightenment that inhabit secret recesses beyond the grasp of humanity. He, unlike his brothers in various other archaic and unplumbed warrens, is the embodiment of irony. He has seen the truth of all things and could not help but laugh; this inexorable mania had granted him his very own defining feature. Apparently in a great jest, he had bitten off his own tongue for safe storage in his right cheek.”
He poured the liquid. Dio's eyes shone with giddy expectancy. Thomas's stomach gurgled with hesitancy. They all drank as the wizard launched into the last leg of his tale.
“I have spanned this universe, and others, countless times. I have walked with he who you call King Arthur, just as I have soared with the Angels; I swam with the last protectors of Atlantis, and I hid with the last of the gargantuan sauran reptiles from their apocalyptic calamity.”
An unseen presence in the meadow stirred around them. The long fingers on the boughs of the surrounding trees beat against each other in the rising wind in a form of supranatural mounting applause for the centuried performer. The Mead Moon shone bright as always, and Thomas felt it's call radiating all through his being.
The curmudgeon violently jumped upon a tree stump and raised his arms in the air. His eyes raged with passion as his voice rose in a terrible crescendo. Dio's heart raced while Thomas's threatened to arrest.
“I have watched wretched humanity sprout from the bacteria of fallen remnants of so much astral refuse. I have tried to educate them. 'Fool,' they call me. The audacity! 'Haunted by spirits of the past, the bottle, and the imagination' they decree. 'Get a job, beggar' they jeer and chide, ignorant even to the possibility of the experiences I have lived through first hand. I noticed you two looking at me, and I saw a familiar twinkle in all four of your disassociated eyes. This kindred spark has stirred up the last speck of nostalgia I had for the love of humanity.”
His face suddenly turned rigid and terrible.
“Hark, what's this?”
The warlock was livid, and his eyes, like burning embers peering from the ghastly visage of a well remembered hellbeast, began to sear through the mind of the man they were fixed on. Thomas was stricken with fear; he could not fathom the ugly barnacle of conception that had secured itself onto he hull of his subconscious, undoubtedly carried thence by the torrents of whimsical fantasy that poured hence from the sage's now slavering muzzle.
Dio joined in the ritualistic dancing motions of his newfound deity. A horrible mask of knowing began to warp his face. His eyes peered directly through Thomas's eyes, as though surveying the distant horizon behind him. The strange and masterful man was beginning to embody the tricky soul of the once great god Dionysus, and he greedily swilled deep from his cup of the forbidden Mead of Wisdom.
A horrific phantasmagoria assailed Thomas's senses as the two former friends danced menacingly under the mourning Mead Moon. The glimmering sphere was his only bastion of sanity amidst this demonic orgy of impiousness, and he felt the frightened pull of the far off satellite stronger than ever. The sorcerer's face grew before him, it twisted and cackled, and shrieked and advanced in upon his consciousness. The villain was trying to swallow the mellow Mead Moon in a mania of malicious madness. The now soul shattering terror was only allayed in the mind of Thomas by the peaceful, constant, and soothing call of the nurturing moon. It grew brighter and brighter as his soul reached out towards the eclipsing cosmic pinnacle.
Chapter 4: Reconsillyation
The Mead Moon stood guard, stoically watching and silently waiting.
The waves of the oceans continued to crash violently in response the call of their deity, and the far off unseen syncopation with Thomas's heart did not beat unnoticed. The thronging mechanical lifeblood of the city pulsed harder under it's majestic and luminescent influence to the mundane malignant meter of the senseless, shameless, soulless songs; Thomas felt lighter and more free as his spirit throbbed in unison with the sad wail of the sparkling moon. The industrious insects flourished in their hiding holes, and the animals bathed in the comfortable pallor.
The faces of his increasingly unpleasant cohorts vanished. The spectral graveyard of the city in the background shimmered into obsoletion as his conscious-self reckoned for the first time the beautiful lyrics of the peaceful lullaby of the pitying Mead Moon. His eyes opened to fabulous and dazzling light, and enlightenment poured in upon his soul. Oddly masked men stood over his slowly resurrecting body as his pupils dilated under the brightness of the paramedic's flashlight.
“He was supposed to be the headlining with his band at this bar tonight.”
“I am glad they called the ambulance, someone has apparently dosed his mead.”