the dogs of death

Cerberus by William Blake (1757–1827). 
From Illustrations to Dante's 'Divine Comedy', Graphite, ink and watercolour on paper
“To thank is to partake of that for which the thanks is given, as if the thanker were the thankee, and the thanked the thankor,” said a pale and loitering man, tall and thin, his sedge withered.

His morose companion, a fat and rancid monk, rolled his eyes towards the heavens. Constidius (for thus yclept the monk) sighed and wished for better days. How long had they been incarcarcarcerated, stuttered Constidius’ thoughts? Hugh knew? But he wasn’t saying!

Deeply scratching himself in the nether regions beneath a stained and woeful tunic, Constidius was not happy. He was bored, hungry, frightened and frankly, rankly odoriferous. He and the Pale Man had been captured by the Barbarians and thrown into a rank, dank, dirty dungeon down in the bottom-most bowels of a subterranean slammer known by the crims of that region as “The Deep Kennels”.

In the confines of the cell to which they were confined, they had lost track of time, space and mind. They had sought at first to fight the monotony with cockroach-racing, nose-picking and metaphysics. Truth to tell, those activities had proved more effective at creating boredom than relieving it. In particular, the soporific ramblings of the Pale Man concerning his big toe — Theory Of Everything — had triple-bored Constidius to living shit.

The Pale Man would hold forth for hours on such dubious topics as the extension of Gödelian incompleteness to linguistic systems, the number of gluons between a charmed and strange quark, the unbundling of the binding problem, the annual migration of the vast herds of Higgs boson across the fundamental plains of Being, and the intelligence or lack thereof in his foot.

Constidius had responded in kind, had spoken at great length to no discernible purpose about his gut — Grand Unifying Theory — which concerned the workings of the four fundamental forces of reality: lust, greed, fear and beer.

Ultimately, as time wore on, age could not weary them but metaphysics could and did. First they stopped talking to each other. Then they stopped believing in each other. Then they started loving each other. Then they started getting afraid, very afraid. Clearly, they were going mad: criminally and clinically insane. Batty as batshit, so to squeak. It was time for something new.

And thus they sought to hatch a cunning escape plan, in four parts.

With a low but non-zero probability of success, it wasn’t a great or even a good plan but it was at least goodish, and it was all they had.

The First Part involved rubbing acid on their chains. The Second Part involved rubbing acid on the iron bars of their cell. The Third Part involved rendering the Barbarian guards harmless by throwing acid in their faces, or if that didn’t work, putting the guards to sleep by singing an hypnotic song. And then dripping acid in their faces while they slept.

All they had to do was get hold of some acid. Simple. Yes, they were.

The Fourth Part was the hard part: How to avoid the four vicious wardogs chained to a pile of melted bronze baby shoes at the only exit to the dungeon.

Great dark beasts they were, with baleful eyes and slavering jaws. Four fearsome hounds they were — dune runners — of gigantic and horrendous disproportions. The Dogs of Death they were, and their cruelty and stench were legion.

Day and night, they stood guard. Slavering and panting they stood, their opulently pink tongues darting and diving like crazed penguins among the sharp and craggy rocks of their yellowgreen fangteeth.

‘Twas said that to whistle their secret love-names — Dicklicker, Shiteater, Leghumper and Arsesniffer — would be an act of sorcerous power so insidious that only a dark lord of doom would do it. Of course, on that planet that wasn’t Earth the secret love-names of the wardogs were known only to one entity: the grizzly-bearded, wobbly-pectoraled leader of the Barbarian hussar horror-hordes: Ulrig Hausmarten himself.

Ulrig loved his dogs of death more than life itself: more than pillagement, more than mead, even more than you'd. He loved their red eyes, their low guttural growlscowls and their trippy little barksnarls that impaled you on your own sharp and spiky fear.

In happier times, ... more carefree days, Hausmarten had taken great joy in watching his lovelies, his wardogs, bring to ground a juicy squirrel, or fat and gamey priest. Once the prey had been grounded, he would run like buggery to the site of the kill. Sometimes the prey would still be twitching by the time he arrived, other times not. In either case, panting like a unlunged lungfish stranded on the shore, Hausmarten would squat on his haunches to watch with great fondness his darlings satisfy their unholy appetites.

With great tenderness he would softly croon to them a song he had written in his bezerker-bard phase aboard the Relentless Prick during the thirteen months of windless becalm-ment in the weird wet waters off Cape Dork peninsula, as follows:

“As ye feed, the gentle drops of blood
caress YE cheeks like crimson tears, my loves
calling forth sweet morphogenetic memories
of all the times we’ve slain together
the line of carcasses stretching to eternity.

Shall I sing to youse of hatred
while the rancid wine-red moon
lies plump upon a sullen sky, beloveds
Or shall I howl comradelily at the baleful satellite forsooth?

Not many people knew Hausmarten’s gentle side. Or understood that he was more than just a shaggy, nostril-skirted, big-balled Barbarian, with wobbly pectorals the size of watermelons. In fact, he had been well-educated (relatively speaking) abroad, and from a certain angle you could see his intelligence shining forth from beneath his lousy eyebrows like a golden searchlight... ...

CONTINUES in NIGHTMERRIES: THE LIGHTER SIDE OF DARKNESS out now at Amazon This so-called "book" will chew you up and spit you out on the carpet, frothing and twitching and giggling like a deranged banshee! More than 60 darkly feculent fictions. Copiously illustrated with over 20 grotesque images you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Includes all the twisted tails in Mastress, Hags to Haggis, and Fiends & Freaks, and THEN SOME (more). WARNING: Immature content! Adults maybe!


eBooks by Cosmic Rapture:

NIGHTMERRIES: THE LIGHTER SIDE OF DARKNESS This so-called "book" will chew you up, spit you out, and leave you twitching and frothing on the carpet. More than 60 dark and feculent fictions (read ‘em and weep) copiously illustrated by over 20 grotesque images you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.

AWAREWOLF & OTHER CRHYMES AGAINST HUMANITY (Vot could be Verse?) We all hate poetry, right? But we might make an exception for this sick and twisted stuff. This devil's banquet of adults-only offal features more than 50 satanic sonnets, vitriolic verses and odious odes.

MANIC MEMES & OTHER MINDSPACE INVADERS A disturbing repository of quotably quirky quotes, sayings, proverbs, maxims, ponderances, adages and aphorisms. This menagerie holds no fewer than 184 memes from eight meme-species perfectly adapted to their respective environments.

FIENDS & FREAKS Adults-only Tales of Serpents, Dragons, Devils, Lobsters, Anguished Spirits, Gods, Anti-gods and Other Horse-thieves You Wouldn't Want to Meet in a Dark Kosmos: 4th Edition

HAGS TO HAGGIS Whiskey-soaked Tails of War-nags, Witches, Manticores and Escapegoats, Debottlenecking and Desilofication, Illustrated