Like the night before, and so many others too numerous to count, I am awake. Widely and wildly.
Stumbling to my crowded desk, I sit like a spineless lump upon my ladder back and settle in for the duration. I light a new candle, earlier fitted into a brass holder, and, by fits and starts, I commence putting pencil to paper. There seems a need to unite with a nameless interior atmosphere, one that would dissipate instantly before the evaporating scrutiny of 100-watts incandescent. Though visions have become an interwoven part of my daytime reality, they could easily be construed as dreams of the subconscious mind. Now, in the wee small hours of a cheerless morn, I call upon these tainted wraiths of my darkish mind to weave a gothic tale.
Ah, but this particular candlelight is especially soothing. I am lulled, lulled into a brief, nodding slumber.
Like a mischievous sprite, a small yet robust draft of arctic-like chill sweeps in at my feet. It wraps freezing tendrils about my legs. This bewildering rush of unseen but real menace causes me to shudder violently. There is no opportunity to gather my thoughts. What, dear Lord, is happening? The foreign malignancy climbs further, higher, reaching upward, encasing my quivering trunk. Dagger-like probes bore through me, penetrating deeply, piercingly, into my rapidly cooling heart of hearts. A respiratory system congenitally fragile and ever keen upon collapse, vacillates between wild, erratic gasps and near total shutdown of lungs.
The candle upon my desk, melted down to a nub, extinguishes immediately. Hadn't I closed the windows tight before retiring? I cannot move, but I can see. I can hear. My gaze is directed, by an exterior force (so certain I am of this), to a blackened form in the west end of my room.
My heart bolts from its confines and forces itself full into my throat. I choke with uncommon violence. Tears -- burning streams of tears -- flow down frozen cheeks. There is no thaw. My unbroken stare surely must reflect light and horror as the extinguished candle reignites by an unseen hand.
It is he, the monster of the id, the one I created:
Chernabog incarnate. Given my somewhat artistic abilities, I, the lesser god who created this beautifully hideous lord of the underworld, crafted him in manner both beguiling and revolting. He is my creation, emerged cleanly off the canvas, breathing in hugely of the chilling rush of winter winds that spill copiously through windows and doors now wide open, as widely open and gaping as my silently screaming mouth.
He lights another candle and preens before the wardrobe mirror.
There is no reflection.
What startled me during my initial look at the creature's visage in the guttering but strengthening sweep of candle light was the dimensional enhancement of facial features that simply could not be captured on a flat canvas, however cleverly attached the wrist to the hand to the artist's brush.
Now, with a calmer and more studied look, I peer with amazed wonderment at my creation come alive in the flesh – flesh -- only in the merest manner of speaking. From eight feet upwards and, perhaps, more (I cannot say for certain as this dim chamber is still scarcely illuminated) the massive skull of scarlet and inky black rotates ever so slowly, methodically, in my general direction; I, still the captive, entwined fast in place by strangler vines, remain motionless but no longer crazed by eviscerating fears.
That remarkable head -- produced by a tiny mortal's imagination, and, now, come vibrantly to life -- locks into place, and eyes lodged deeply within he casts downward . . .
This being -- mere moments ago upon canvas and totally within squared bounds, under jurisdiction of artistic whim and intellectual control -- has had (from seemingly nowhere), a red, rancid breath infused into his bellows of internal respiration. The monstrous heaving of his expansive chest creates a low and disturbing rumble about the shadowy chamber as well as a shudder throughout the whole of my diminished frame. Even were I no longer held fast by these tendrils intent against any escape from my imprisoning chair, it is doubtful my once determined but currently fading wherewithal should muster strength adequate to flee this gothic horror.
Even as I muse upon an improbable -- impossible -- escape, I sense a lessening of strictures upon my chest, my arms, my wrists. Vines, earlier an unearthly shade of puce and green, commence emitting a noxious vapor, dissolve and waive all further dominion upon the once captive and reluctant creator.
To destroy the canvas at this advanced juncture in time would, surely, be for naught.