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<<cacheaudio "puppet_theater" "https://modbymyomlo.neocities.org/music/puppet_theater.mp3">>
you are lying in bed and looking at [[the clock]] on your wallno more power only poison
[[return->the clock]]you roll over and close your eyes tight. nightmarish visions overcome you. yesterday, bloodied human bite marks grew on all visible flesh, but this is even worse! slowly, you succumb to web of blood. for a moment you surface.
//the world is ok. i like restorative activities.//
with precious teeth and complacent hands, the [[doll-masked guardian]] bites through your illium.
a shrill voice adds to your pain.
[[oh dear! that looks like it hurts!]]you pull on your boots. [[death lives inside you.]]
the null-clock on your wall tells not-time. [[antecedent.]]
you drink water straight from the kitchen sink. water drips down the front of your shirt. [[cute...]]
it is damp and warm outside. you head towards the [[parabola forest.]]a shuddering thing, certainly loved by someone. to you, just another nameless creature that passes through and uses your skull as grandmother's candy bowl
[[return->i want to sleep!!!]] you respond to this observation by screaming.
//here, does this feel better?//
the pain is gone, but the injury remains. you still cannot see who is speaking to you and took away the pain.
//open your eyes.//
[[you do as you are told.]]standing on your bed is a creature wearing a bright white dress. she grinds her teeth as she stares at you.
//put your finger in my mouth// she says.
you do as you are told.
she bites your finger off. it doesn't hurt, but circles you. you try to move your legs, but something is wrong. you retain the injury from your dream.
her mouth opens the hole. bubbling confusion relaces the front of her dress with nerves. and the sand, still beneath your toenails, begins to dampen.
[[you're here now]] You know this constantly. Incessantly.
[[return->no more nightmares!!! time for waking dreams!!]] a word replaced with something else
[[return->no more nightmares!!! time for waking dreams!!]] the water is cold. you feel it on your human skin.
[[return->no more nightmares!!! time for waking dreams!!]] from above, on the internet maps, it does look vaguely parabola-ish.
you climb a huge magnolia tree. its the season when [[teary-wings]] leave their shells in high-up shaded places. you are dizzy from not eating and the constant haze of fear. you reach too far forward for a shell and displace your center of balance. you fall to the ground and scream.
your sternum is shattered. when you move, you can feel your heart beating against shards of bone.
[[oh dear! that looks painful!]]bright blue insects that nest inside attics for years and then descend to breed and shed their skin. their cry is mournful and they have a teardrop shapestanding before you is a creature wearing a bright white dress and checkered shoes.
of course its painful, you somehow manage to say quite clearly.
//there, that's better.// she says
the pain is suddenly gone.
//now, come with me.//
her skull opens like a trapdoor. rivulets of branches of blood run down her dress and patter on the earth.
you reach out your hand towards her and feel the broken shards inside you cut into your heart.
she laughs and the air crawls inwards until it collapses under its own weight
[[you're here now]]gray light illuminates the narrow trunks of trees where white moss grows. distant laughter and tinny music flows around you. you smell cinnamon apple bread.
why am i here? you ask, as usual.
blood drips down the trunk of a tree beside you. a mechanical silverfish girl wriggles in the blood.
//hewwo. we are preserving species of earth by taking small samples and containing them in a simulated natural environment. we are taking care of earth fur you. no harm will come we just love to watch you eat and sleep.//
whats with all the blood? you ask.
//well i would love to show you around but i have to stay in blood//
you stretch your arms and legs. it seems you can move them. you don't feel any broken pieces squishing and stabbing inside you. you love blood and you love the earth. what could possibly go wrong?
no problem. you bite into your palm and hold out your hand to her. she does a cute tiny flip into your bloodied palm and wriggles in a circle.
//okay lets go!!!//
[[go towards the cinnamon apple bread]]
[[go away from the laughter]]colorful lights decorate small concrete buildings with spiked rooves. the spikes have ribbons tying them together in colorful webs. inhuman creatures prance or glide or float or ride through the streets, talking and singing to each other in thin, breathy voices. you pass by twin deer with strange faces drinking a thick liquid from a wooden bowl.
//hey! look at the pink sign!//
burning on a cloth door is a pink symbol that tastes like custard in your mouth. your hand tingles pleasantly as the silverfish girl thrashes around.
//my favorite place! that's where my sister lives. let's go there, plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz//
you bow your head slightly and blink in apology, as you brush past a creature with twisted horns. it doesn't seem to notice you at all.
[[you open the door.]]you're afraid of laughing crowds. you walk through deepening plant growth. grasses and thorny vines catch at your knees, then your hips, and then you are moving through plants that end somewhere far above your head. like they are water, you slip between the stems. you trip and fall into a small circle clearing. [[a red thorny tree]] stands in the center of it.
[[touch the tree]]
[[keep moving]]the room is bathed in pink glow. the walls are pitted with holes that leak fluid of various colors. a crying furry creature holding a tin pail sits atop a futon couch.
the silverfish girl stands on her hind feets and waves her front feets. the furry creature looks up and tilts its head. it has several arms and a few hands. the lower half of its body is like that of a furry snake.
//hello there// it says slowly. //is that a new human?//
//oh darn! i didn't even ask? you are human? demon? ice nymph?//
just human, you say.
//i'm a cowrie. that you can call me.// says the furry creature.
it sets the bucket down on the floor and wriggles to a soda machine in the corner.
//what would you like?// cowrie asks.
is this the traditional bar scene in the fantasy story? nobody here but you and cowrie and silverfish girl though. silverfish girl! you didn't even ask her name.
what's your name? you ask, looking down at your cupped hand.
//there are flower, other flower, yellowish gray, and one that is hot// cowrie says.
[[other flower, please]]
[[yellowish gray, please]]
[[hot, please]]pink and green heart shaped leaves float in a glass cup
[[drink it]]a small bowl filled with gray liquid. a few white petals float in it
[[drink it]] cowrie hands you a cone shaped cup full of opaque yellowish gray liquid. it doesn't smell bad.
[[drink it]]oops, sorry, looks like we're out of that one
[[return->you open the door.]] its good!!!
thank you, you say
//have you died yet?// cowrie asks.
no, not yet, you reply
she picks up a cradle full of seashells. her fur stands on end.
//there is a death in each of these// says cowrie. //if you feel like playing.//
[[take a seashell]]
[[no thank you]]what sort of tree is this? you ask.
//i stay in the village most of the time, but i think i remember my sister said this is a vampire tree!//
[[return->go away from the laughter]]you press your hand, the one not holding the silverfish girl, hard against the thorns on the tree. the thorns slide in up against your bones. you feel faint and warm. the tree brightens, soaking up your blood.
//oh cool! i want to too!//
the silverfish girl wriggles up your arm and across your face and jumps onto the tree. a small thorn impales her thorax. she purrs. you push your hand harder against the thorn in your hand and the thorn pushes back. it pierces through your bones. you lay your head against a thorn. it pierces through your skull and changes from a thorn to a scrap of song repeated and twisting through black corduroy colors and the scrape of a wooden spoon in a pot of glue. your ghost wings collasece into smaller factions, turning against you. the last reach of a spider's furred leg through the water surface to allow you bright purchase in the new menangerie of thought and feeling that timidly
in the fox fountain of your shared blood you have only new memories
[[writhe]]you pass through the clearing, avoiding the tree. you press onward through the plants. the excitment of being in a new place has filled you with restless energy.
the plants thin. soft grass and low shrubbery press gently against your thighs. the ground is flat here.
//these are the mouse plains. a lot of mice and burrowing animals live under the ground here so watch your step.//
you step carefully over a muffin-sized hole in the ground.
the horizon ends in distant mist and forested hills. in the middle distance, you can see ahead of you another forest on the left and on the right a large, twisted structure that appears to be made of woven branches.
[[go to the forest]]
[[go to the woven structure]]violet gasps of breath move your body into form and waking.
the ceiling is curved and faceted. beneath you is soft, moving slightly. you hear a familiar sound, a purr.
you slide off the back of a giant sleeping cat. the grass is cool beneath your feet. blossoming fruit trees cast long shadows. the sun, gleaming behind a haze of gray, is low.
in spasms of mist a body forms in the air and sleeps onto the cat's back. a shape (crescent, cookie) makes a shadow over your hand. you move away from the body and the shadow, move between small trees and more small trees repeating themselves.
your fingernails scrape at the soft bark of an apple tree. your fingers move into place as you think about them. (and it does not remember you)
[[the well.]]the trees here are covered in various mosses. webs of green moss wrap trunks and branches. wisps of hairlike moss dangle from branches and move slowly in breezes you didn't even realize were there. thick crusts of lichen coat exposed roots. sprout-like patches of moss grow on the ground.
the ground squishes beneath your feet and your footsteps fill with water.
[[had you always lived in that tree? you ask.]]it is woven from thin, pliable branches ranging in hue from nearly black to a warm, red color. spiraling towers and obsequious overhangs sprout from its still but undulating mass.
in a small half circle, before a doorless entrance twice your height, a garden of leafy verigated vegetables grows. there is a dirt path through the garden to the entrance.
does someone live here? you ask
[[go inside]]chortling laughter trills thru thee room. five mirrors circle you! they ask you questions
what do i do? you ask the silverfish girl.
//a game! i love to play a game//
[[is it sweet?]]
[[is it fast?]]
[[can it sleep?]]
[[can it burn?]]//nooo. i just appeared there to welcome you. sometimes i can be in a different place.//
thats cool, you say. what kind of other places can you appear?
//i can appear in my sister's bucket and in certain flower's pots and sometimes in dreams!!//
oh nice! that's awesome, you say.
she swims in a circle, happy that you are sufficently impressed by her powers.
it's weird my blood hasn't coagulated yet, you say.
//oh don't worry it won't! my venom keeps it from coagulating! drying out is my least favorite death but its still pretty okay! done it about nineteen times//
you've died before? you ask
//yea of course! everyone dies a lot of times because it is so much fun!!//
[[keep walking]]you and the silverfish girl shout no and yes simultaneously
the mirror spits out a shower of sparks!
[[aaaaaaaaaaa!!]]the screaming wind supplies your answer
[[of course it is]]i'm not sure, you say.
//sometimes it can sleep, sometimes it can't sleep// says the silverfish girl. //least favorite way to die//
the floor beneath your feet is made of blue and green octagonal tiles. the violets painted on close their petals and bow their heads. the room dims
the silverfish girl yawns
you hear soft [[footsteps]]you are transported to another area in the structure. you are facing a window criss-crossed with wide ribbons. between the ribbons, you can see a landscape of snow filigreed with ice.
behind you, someone snorts.
you turn to see a girl wearing a black and white checkered dress. her hair is in twintails. she points her sword at you.
//will you face me in combat?// she asks.
do you want to? you ask the silverfish girl sharing your body.
//let's give it a try//
you pick up the coppery sword on the ground beside you. stars and violets decorate the hilt. the blade gleams.
[[you've never sword fighted before]]a golden, coppery color. stars and violets decorate the hilt
[[return ->aaaaaaaaaaa!!]]she stabs your arm and you drop your sword. the room is fluid with sunset. she cuts your throat, and your arterial spray splashes against her. blood runs down her face. you fall back, but she grabs you by your uninjured arm. bright, forgiving worms worm their way into your heart.
[[writhe]] she swims in the blood in your [[mouth]]she is with youstar-lined velveteen skirts pile up on the floor around you. from under the edge of the pile, a boy squirms out. he stands and brushes non-existant dust from his knees with his one hand. he holds out his hand to you.
//you haven't been in this world long enough// he says.
i already know how things work here, you say
you pick up
[[a plastic cup with pictures of dogs pasted on it]]
[[a pearl]]you drink the poison in your cup and feel your body die quietly
[[aw come on, you killed our new friend already!]]it dissolves on your tongue into microscopic bears and the bears go into your blood and they swim in your heart and eat it from the inside
[[aw come on, you killed our new friend already!]] you see her ankles covered in blue-gray stockings. the death turns into snakes.
[[writhe]] you place your hand on a conch shell. you hold it to your ear. a familiar voice sings to you
//in the puppet's dream, a gray horse wept roses. were you thinking of me, the foxes asked. here in a speckled rite, bless the velvet down of my doll wings with your soft eyes//
something moves in your eyes as it sings. it is inside your skull, the brightness. it is so close to your brain. you feel breathlessly happy as a soft damp love gnaws your bones to sleep
//creasing your red dress with sunflower-time, the petals commiserate. translate the symmetry of pain until it dissolves like vitamins against the inside of your mouth, until it no longer recognizes itself, and it is the compass of returning arrows. it is the cowbell of joy.//
[[writhe]]you have entered the no death room. thank you for playing.i want to look around some more, you say.
after all, you still don't know what happens after you die. will you be reborn as a silverfish? doesn't sound bad at all, but how will you carry silverfish girl in your blood
//it tickles when you think about me!// silverfish girl says. //i can feel me thoughts in your blood!//
you blush and change the subject
so what do you like to do here? you ask.
//all sorts of things// says cowrie. //eat, play the piano//
//go to the zoo!!// says silverfish girl. //let's go!//
[[okay! ^^]]silverfish girl directs you to the zoo. cowrie stayed behind, eating round fruits of various colors. you hear tiny silvery bells.
//go left here, away from the giant palm tree covered in green spiders// silverfish girl says.
you enter a long, carpeted hallway. the lights buzz and flicker. moths bounce against the lights. when the lights go out, you see dog-angels painted on the gray-striped walls in neon green.
the rusted knob crackles as you turn it. the door opens into a green field with a dark sky.
[[enter]]the long wild grass bites at your arms. in the [[dark sky above]], animal clouds growl. the air smells like rain. the silverfish girl claps her hands.
//see the wooden gate there?//
you squint and look where she is pointing. just visible above the grass is some wooden boards. you wade through the grass towards them.
the gate has no fence connected to it, but it is latched. burnt into the topmost board is the word ZOO
[[lift the latch]]a stone fountain. water bubbles up from an angel's cold hands. her hair is new and exciting. around the fountain, neat beds of roses expose perfume. the fallen petals, piled up on the wet dirt, are deliciously [[rotting]]
birches and willows crown a distant lake. green and yellow shapes dart behind trees.
what will you become? the angel asks
[[fearfur]]bluish gray swirls. they greet you in chaos
[[return->enter]]the mold that grows on a plucked flower wilting in a vase, a new soft fur
[[return->lift the latch]] stone milk mulch creaks beneath the weight of the waves. growing slowly on white-gray stone, tulips giggle. sea-frogs creep. a sticky cradle web of eggs drifts past you. their bead black eyes follow you.
your body is a beckoning green light.
you beckon a static noise and in gray and black it dissolves you slowly.
[[writhe]]what if you could view the fear apart from yourself? the way it runs through the heart and limbs, the black spiral, the sizzling vertebra that tremble beneath your emptied skull.
you can feel happiness now. you are small and furred and the fear sense controls your body and makes it run. you can run fast. you can run in the fear, fear tumbling over, fear that makes you light and heavy all at once, fear that makes you feel little shadows dancing on your fluffed up tail your pricking ears. and you fall
to the sand below
you are not dead yet you
[[writhe]]sediment and salt. your breath hisses. your body flexes and extends in fluid motion. the hill is the heat and you slide down it. you close your limpid eyelids and consider the shadowless sky. in starlight, the beloved rivers wait for you glowing in black sand. you swim.
it bites you and you twist in air
[[writhe]]motion of air, counting colors (stupid stupid stupid //murmurmed//)
speaking in pressure and hunger
the nails click into place and [[they]] give you the window
//hewwo// says the silverfish girl
she slips between windowpane and woodenframe on a stream of blood and falls into your outstretched hand
//i don't coalesce on the cat becus i am miniscule. i coalesce in the blood pond// says the silverfish girl
you nod. the ability to understand will come to you in time with patience. [[you bite your tongue]]grandeur of nebulous thing
at times it twitches
[[return ->the well.]] a unicorn struggles in a silver pool of bubbling mud!
//oh look! there's a rope tied to this tree!//
[[throw the unicorn the rope]]the unicorn grabs the rope with its teeth. it pulls itself up onto the land with ease
//thank you!// said the unicorn. //know i can grant you your wish//
the unicorn's eyes are a multitude of sparkles. its hair swirls and tangles in ghostly air. beneath its muddy hooves the ground is stained silver.
please, if you would, [[disembowel]] me??
[[carry me through the swamp??->disembowel]]the unicorn tears open your abdomen with its shining horn. you feel unicorn power in your guts! it is very soothing. your body falls to the wet ground. you think your clothes are getting damp. another will-o-wisp overtakes you and you [[writhe]]appears from a portal-
window: she wears blue-green stockings and a dress with a blue-green-red embroidered star
pet: he wears a gray dress and floral scarf
they approach you together
//welcome traveler// window says. //i can tell from your aura that this is your first time here. are you tired?//
[[kinda]]//pet will show you your room//
you follow him up a winding staircase. he opens a black door to a little room with a domed ceiling. he leaves you there.
there are flowers growing in the window and a soft blue mattress covered in quilts on the floor. you lay on the bed and roll your self up in quilts so you are like a caterpillar.
[[goodnight silverfish girl]]you dream of a blue dog. it runs along beside you as you run through the abandoned city. a curse curdles in your nervous system.
you dream of a night full of foxes. the foxes, wearing veils and long silk gloves, dance for their queen. she accepts their gifts of meat and fur and song. she gives them living fox kits, tiny and furless, wrapped in spiderweb.
you dream of a conflagration. petty, wilting, it decides your fate. the nightmare of its limbs consecrates you to the honeybee god. you drag your molten corpse through the patchwork wetlands. crepe paper wings sprout from your spine.
you dream of a yellow sun. it has golden horns and a thousand arms. it puts burning salamanders in your mouth and you [[writhe]]you feel potential changes boiling under your skin. the silverfish girl nips at you
//hey! are u awake?// she asks.
you [[touch]] your mirrored reflectionin a cold place, you are the [[warmth]]
little animals gather round you. the flutter of their leaf-wings disturbs your silence. you gather your self into your self. the closer and smaller you grow, the brighter burns the light. and the animals eat the light
you are left with ash and peace
the last sound stabs through you
[[writhe]]molten blue green, full of cascading form disturbances
[[return->touch]]<<audio "puppet_theater" loop play>>
the clock on your wall does not tell the time. someone gave it to you, someone you don't choose to remember. you never bought batteries for the clock. properly disposing of a [[used battery]] is more pressure than you can take.
you look away from the clock. the room is lit only by the light from your phone. the sun will rise in a few hours. there is still time for you to go out and look for bones and other animal and insect parts to sell online so that you can survive.
[[i want to sleep!!!]]
[[no more nightmares!!! time for waking dreams!!]]