The Lamb of God

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There’s a certain brand of knowledge you can only attribute to experience. And in that sense, among others, Will Graham knows about suffering. Will Graham is also drunk tonight, because rarely does lucidity offer, or allow, anything the slightest bit close to reprieve. He’s being told he belongs, and the concept is foreign to him, and he finds himself longing for the heavy accent and the assured voice to brush the words against his ear until they are birthed into facts, and Will is aware he’s inviting this, allowing manipulation, because otherwise what grounds are there to stand on? But the voice remains at a safe distance and Will asks, pleads, for another drink. He is saying something incoherent about this either being a full consumption or it’s more whiskey. He’s not given it. And his limbs are too heavy to actualize the need and the guilt burns, burns, burns, and he’s not above begging. He’s being told he’s devastating and Will feels devastated and he dully wonders if he can simultaneously be both. There are eyes on him, and a presence too close and too imposing he’s squirming beneath it, and he feels penetrated, folds of his brain contracting and tightening around an intruder. He wants to vocalize this, his lack of consent and a “please don’t” and a “No.” He doesn’t, and he notes with some detachment that the longer he keeps his own voice muted, the more the voice in his head sounds like him. He asks, and there’s futility in this defiance, he knows, but he asks anyway, “Is it free will, Hannibal, if my consciousness becomes an extension of yours?” It’s drowsy, his syllables are stuttered, and Will thinks it’s undignifying, but the pupils focused on him are still fond. There’s something imitating a smile, and then there’s a hand on the back of his neck, and the touch feels strategic, like a chess piece moved with intent, with an agenda, and Will is losing his pawns. There’s some form of pleasure to this loss; he feels it resonating in his blood and he’s aware he’s being told, not in words, but in skin contact, that he’s denying himself a truth. There’s a promise there too to fulfill it, and Will is reduced into want, want, want. It is coursing through him like a virus and he feels an overwhelming urge to speak to drown it. His eyelids are draping over a warm wetness and he’s being asked a question; it’s whispered somewhere over strands of hair and he feels it vibrating, engulfing his head as if a suffocating embrace and Will needs to breathe, needs to reestablish some sort of conception of self before the whole notion is drained from him. There is an interrogation going up there, in the parts of him that can still function, and Will is saying things, and he knows, on some instinctive level, that he shouldn’t be indulging this, or that he should be indulging it all the way. He’s being told of choices, of liberation, of a loss turned victory and celebrated, nurtured, accepted. He leans closer, because where else would he go? And his mind is a fog and every thought is a reflection of something that isn’t his. He’s so thoroughly infiltrated, opened up and taken apart, every piece of him rearranged. He’s something pleasant now, something other. It’s not sinking in. So he sinks in. Aching face buried in the shoulder beside him and he’s heaving another plea against soft fabric, and it hurts, it hurts all over. The voice tells him to transcend the crucified Christ into an existence beyond Heaven and Hell and original sins. And Will is biting into the skin beneath him because that’s apparently what you do when you’re leaned against Satan’s shoulder, and he thinks he’s drunk, it’s retaliatory and it’s juvenile, and it’s stupid, so stupid; he can’t stop. There’s a tightening around his neck and the hand still resting there is guiding his head up with minimal force, and he pulls up with minimal resistance, and he looks feral, he knows, lips parted, showing teeth, and there’s an unfolding of a smile that greets him, something of pride and approval, and Will feels it wash over him like an addiction momentarily sated.

Next time he reaches for the whiskey, Will knows, not now, but, eventually, he knows, he’ll reach for it instead.

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Art belongs to @lorandesore

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Das Feuer liebt mich

-“There has always been an underlined caution to everything I do. I’m… ironically too wary of the butterfly effect.”
-“Sounds unfair, to hold yourself accountable for what you can’t possibly predict. Cause and effect don’t necessarily pertain responsibility.”
The air remained hot and heavy, clinged to their skin like blind bugs. Denzel would have pulled his shirt off if he hasn’t an hour ago. Whatever remained was flesh and blood and a thin sheen of sweat that he wore like a second garment.
-“I’m not concerned with judgment.” He told him, eyes squinting and darting to the horizon in a frantic search for something, anything, “Or fairness.” He added, and it sounded like spitting, like the very word offended him.
-“What are you concerned with?”
-“Chain reactions.”
He hummed the response indifferently. In his defense, he never sounded particularly concerned with the things he claimed concerned him.
-“Well then you’re only as responsible as the person before you was and as the person after you shall be. You’re aware, Denzel, we don’t know who started this.
Denzel snorted. He breathed through the heat and felt a rising burn in his throat threatening to overtake his vision. He spoke to distract it, “By ‘this’ I’m assuming you mean ‘life,’ because we most definitely know who started that.
-“Biggest chain reaction of all, huh?”

-“I’m thirsty.” The child hissed, voice loaded with a desperation Denzel knew he could identify with. His companion soothed, “We’re almost there. Just a bit more.”

It was a blatant lie, one that tugged on his chest and pulled where it hurt and he found it crude, vulgar… the outright deciet of it. Man lied and titled it a kindness since man knew how to use words. He thought it oddly provoking, how chivalry always seemed to walk hand in hand with hypocrisy.
-“How many hours do you suppose we have left?”
-“Before what?”
-“Death.”
-“What the fuck, Denzel?”
The child snapped her head up to them, her shadow laid before her, taller, less frightened. It will probably survive; it always does.
Denzel wanted to punch the mortified scolding expression on his companion’s face, neutralize it into something with the slightest resemblance to acceptance. It’s the only grace they had left.

“Momma taught me a prayer.” The child told them, edging on tears, and she made an attempt at reaching for Denzel’s hand. He recoiled from the touch violently. And if he had the words, if he did, he would have explained that bile gathered at the back of his throat and he tasted acid. Instead, he bent at the knees and clutched on his neck, retching and spitting whatever sustenance his body still thought to preserve. It wasn’t much.

Not graceful, no. But less demeaning than prayer.

His companion, nonetheless, dragged the child aside, knelt to face her, and with trembling lips and an intense yearning, a pitiful sparkle of hope in big tired eyes, whispered, “What Momma taught you, let’s recite it together.”

They did.

And Denzel caught himself foreseeing salvation.