Magnum Opus

Mortality is the sentence cast upon the human race and so like everything else in this world we perish. The rot of time consumes our flesh, bleaches and grinds our bones, until we are all returned unto the dust from which we came. We are fleeting, transient beings all too well aware of the fact, and so we desire nothing more than to persist far outside our allotted time. However, where most men produce progeny of flesh and blood, branching out the family tree, I pursue a different path. My child is of the brain, an intricately and carefully crafted legacy in which I poured mind and soul.

Oh, I remember when I first felt the stirrings of it all those years ago. I was a young lad reading Aristotle when he touched upon the relationship between time and the soul, which was written with such conviction that I genuinely heard the voice of a man long gone. In that moment this ancient scholar spoke to me across the ages, as loud and clear as if I were there, attending one of his lectures. It was a meeting of minds, even though he was well beyond the veil of death; a séance of sorts. It affirmed my belief in the soul, and afterwards I wondered if one dwelt in each and every book.

The answer I’ve come to all these years down the line is: no. Indeed, there is a clear difference between a book and a work, with the former being largely inert, while the latter carries that spark, that essence that has like call to like; a resonance between reader and author, connecting the present with the past. Or, to use that term of the critic, works are timeless. Fittingly, therefore, they take a long time to create, as if the overexposure turns them immune.

It is a grueling task, almost sacrificial in nature; it takes your time, your energy, and your devotion. It requires you to bare open your soul, and I did so with no qualms, without restraints, and now that I am come to the end, I realize I was overzealous. As I hear the sound of tearing pages, of a thousand voices become one, it dawns on me that I have succeeded; that the deed is done. I feel my inner being shiver in delight and fear, consumed by a morbid pride, having awoken that which once here dormant lied.

I turn towards the door and watch it pour in, this torrent of words. They swim across my vision, each and every one of them my darling. They are swarming me, surrounding me like a pack of piranhas, and whereas once they were words you could sink your teeth into, now it is they who are ready to chomp on down. The smell of biblichor becomes overwhelming as more and more yet arrive. I breath in its musky tones as the world, once so full of color, is drained to a dull monochrome.

Their presence strains reality, it quivering as much as I before this logophobic nightmare made manifest. I dread it and fear it, but much like a deer in headlights I cannot tear my gaze away; I cannot help but marvel at this writhing, living mass, which stares right back with a million dotted i’s, gnashing chicken scratch teeth. No matter where I turn I find needles stained in ink, ready to devour me on the spot. They will carve themselves into flesh, into bone, and then into the soul from which they sprung.

I do not need my lizard brain to tell me that they will pounce as soon as I move, that it will take only mere moments for this glut of words to pick me clean, leaving this body of mine a husk. I cannot fault them though, for they are just doing what they’ve always done: feeding themselves with the only sustenance they have ever had. No, the more I look at this seething swarm, the more familiar it becomes, its shifting and bulging typography settling.

It still looms larger than life, this leviathan of my own design, and yet I tremble no longer. I do not fear the belly of the beast. In fact, I welcome it, for it was always intended to be a repository of all that I am. That has not changed, and if anything, by embracing that role wholeheartedly my brain child exceeds all expatiations. It is more devoted than I, taking on the burden of being both my doom and my legacy. As such, it may cause me to cease to be in the present, but it is only through this, my magnum opus, that I shall be able to speak to future generations. This palimpsest of soul shall persist, timeless. I can ask no more of it than that, and so I smile as its maw opens wide. The last thing I hear as I am swallowed whole are two simultaneous thuds.

Vincent Potman

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