Netherwood, Hastings, 1947
Still they write, still they come, the curious and the adept, the hack and the hierophant. Some come to belong, to understand, to learn to see beyond. Others come to pit their magickal wits against mine. And then there are those who just want an experience, an anecdote, a Black Mass if you please! ‘I touched the dying Satanic brow. I was there.’
Borrowed fame, second-hand fools! I dispense advice contrary or clairvoyant, according to mood. I misdirect the sincere; I initiate on a whim. And I extract pecuniary or fiduciary advantage from each of these ghosts at my bedside.
In my end is my beginning. All things contain their opposite. I and not-I are one. And every afternoon after lunch, and at other times, my curiosity is pricked, and I prescribe myself a glimpse of the divine. Enough to kill a horse, my good doctor says. A small sleep before the great sleep, when I shall wake at last in the seedpod of infinite possibility.
The women they come and go; one actually even talks of Michelangelo. Though I smell of old age and ether, though I wheeze and shit blood, still they smile and simper. My stories transport them, dissolve the boundaries of boarding-house and infirmity. Oh for one last toot on the thelemic cock! Oh to be… sixty-nine again!
I look upon my works but I despair not, for my Word is flesh and lives now among us. Time alone stands athwart its full realisation, time which is but a mortal no-thing. The only difference between me and my tobacconist is that I have never forgotten that I am God. Of my readers, I ask only that they ache for the impossible.
There is a balance in all things. There is freedom in humiliation, mastery in subjugation, apotheosis in abjection. None has sunken lower than I; none will be raised higher. Like a martyr gorging on her leprous crusts, I have whispered blasphemy and depravity into the world’s every orifice. Yea, though it take a universe of lifetimes to penetrate the paradoxes of mysticism, the first shall indeed be last and the last shall indeed be first. And then shall my will be thy will, and thy will… shall be mine.
Visions assail and assuage the chamber of nightmares that is my cerebrum. I see Pan in a babbling brook. I writhe in the bottomless eyes of a scarlet vampire succubus. The cockerel lies down with the serpent. The lighthouse is destroyed by the deluge. I see the hounds of hell tearing at my entrails. I see millions burn me in effigy. Do what thou wilt, fiends; I have painted worse.
Tis unlikely garb for the prophet of a new age: scarlet blazer and purple slippers; games of chess and pipe tobacco; barley sugars, a tot of rum, and a boiled egg for lunch. The hair on my wizened pate forms little tufted horns. Meanwhile American asses write me of their imbecilic quest for a menstrual moonchild, my Scarlet Woman runs barren, my magical son eludes me. Anno domini and endless ennui! I pay for my rent with stale notoriety. Only a true magus could be so misunderstood, as the Nazarene knew.
Abrahadabra! My soul trembles with proleptic titillation at the miseries that await my last hours. It is baffling, to be and then not to be. But I swell with lust for the abasements to come — those wretched agonies of the body, those terrors of the soul, those banal humiliations of secretion and putrefaction. I have willed always to suck dry the teet of this life, to gorge on its every proferred charm. I have loved this world. But this world is only a world, while I am who am.
And now, as my emanations swarm upon the great inevitable and the veil readies to tear itself at last, my soul shall break like a mighty crashing wave upon the boundless realm of the ancient ones.
My runic rods divine: something wicked this way comes. Brace thyself, death; ’tis I.
– Dan Brotzel
Dan Brotzel was runner-up in the Flash500 short story competition 2017, and has been shortlisted in numerous short stoy competitions, including Sunderland University / Waterstones, Wimbledon BookFest, Fish and Retreat West. He’s also twice made the shortlist of the To Hull and Back comic-writing prize. His first novel, #unforgivable, is currently under consideration. His agent is Geraldine Nichol.