I thought myself a man of the world. A man of broad horizons. A man who had “seen things”.
Plying a certain trade will do that. It will put you in touch with a wide range of experiences; from the fevered delightful delirium that comes from chasing the dragon to the harrowing that comes from seeing where that merry chase inevitably leads. I have visited distant shores. I have tasted of foreign delights of many forms. I have seen things that laid bare the constructs of our civilization and peeled back the veneer of reality.
Or at least. I thought I had.
What I record now is my epiphany. My realisation that all the world I thought I knew was but a puddle beside an ocean.
Three nights previous, I received an invitation from an esteemed artist by the name of Coburn to attend the presentation of a grand artistic display.
It was not so odd as you may think for one such as I, I am occasionally requested by certain contacts to supply certain party favours.
I attended directly, and was pleased to notice an aquaintence of mine, Theodore Sermont had arrived at around the same time. A stroke of luck, as we were both unfasionably early for the affair!
Still, it gave us a chance to nose around, and who doesn’t like a good nose.
The display began in oddity; with cards. A, B, C. Red, Black, Green. Strange and curious. Just an artists piece of pretention said one part of my mind, BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN screamed another.
Red, Black, Green. ̸̢͝G͜͝r̸̨e̷̕e̶͝ņ̡͘͘.̷͜͢ ̴̨̢Ŕ̶̵̡͘e̸̢̛͝d̨̢͘͞͠ ҉̢͘͡ą̷͟͡n̴̶̶͞d̀́͟͡͝ ͢͜͠͠b̷̵̛́̕l̶̸̨͝a͜͟͝c͟͟k̨̛̕ ̸̶̀҉͏a̸̕͢n̵̴̨̕d̨͘͢ ͏g̛͞r͡͠e̡̢͠e̷̸͜͝n̡̛ ͟͜à̛̀͡ǹ̴̡d̶̢͢͝ ҉̢̨͢g̵̨̛̀r̛̀̕e̡̧̛e̡͡n͏̀́ ̶̀a͞͞ń̡́̕d́ ̧̡̕͟g̨͞r̴̛̀̀͟ȩ̷̨ę̷͟͡ń̶͡ ̴́͢͟a̸̡̕͜n̸̴͡͡d̡͞ ̛́͟͝
The drinks correlated, they had
TEDDY DID NOT HAVE A CARD, why. There was some confusion there, and the receptionists dithering afforded me the opportunity to swipe myself the two cards I lacked. To be honest I recall not which one I was initially issued with.
Inside there were the usual upper class bourgeois scum, milling around and preening and peacocking and preparing to sell themselves and those under them to the highest bidder. I had been quite looking forward to seeing if I couldn’t ruin someones reputation before the end of the night BUT THE DRINKS
They were red and green and black. They all smelled wrong. I could not quite pick out why and this nose knows my friends it always does but this stuff was just ư̡̕͡n̨͟͏̧a̶̶̸̴͠t̸u̶͢͡͡r̛͜a̴̷̡l̷̸͜͠
It was incorrect.
A red cherry liquer, a green absinthe, a black OTHER yes yes but then hers was a black cherry liqueur thats just wrong, that doesnt fit with the syste m THAT doesnt fit
While we browsed we encountered a̛͟͟͝͞ ͘͜s̶̀͞c̸̢u͞͡l̶̀͟͟ṕ̵̶͟͟t͞͏̶̕҉u̵̢͝r͏͟͜e̴͡ ͞w̴̡͝h̷̡͞i͘͝͞͡͝c̴̛͘͡҉h̶̛̀
There was a tower in the centre. A tall series of enclosed rooms, with four doors one on each side. It was surrounded by Coburns harlequins, masked and robed ominous figures. Did you know his wife died? The tower held some quite gory imagery, clearly Coburns artwork had taken on more than a touch of the macabre. There were mutilated mannequins, the injuries of which seemed strangely reminiscent of ones noticed on the receptionist. (FURTHER MEANING? RITUAL? WHAT SORT?)
But yes, the art. Very well then.
I must commit this to writing. The cause of this ranting, the need to get this out of my head and onto something as inoffensive as paper and ink.
When we looked upon one of Coburns works, a giant hunched figure clutching a painting, time… stopped.
no No no thats not right it didn’t just stop it Ceased To Be.
T̴̕h̸̢̀̀͡e̷̷r̶̡e̡͘͟͟͟ ҉͝҉ẁ̶̸̢͝a̷͢s̶ ͡n̷ơ̡͢͟t͜͜͜h͠҉i̢̧ņ̸͟͝g҉̷͘,͜͡͏̨͢ ̛t͢͝h͟è̶̢̛ŗ͜͜ę͟ ̶̴̕͏w̸a̡͘͢s̵̴̡͘͡ ̵̀͜͡ń̛͝o͟͢͡ ̵̨͟e̶̛͘͡s͠c̶̨̕͢a̕͞͞p̸̨͠e̸̢̕͟,̛́͞ ̧̧̡̀͞t̸̷h̕͘͟͝͝è̵̡̛͡r̵̡͢e̢͘͢͞ ̵̨̧̀͞w̕a̴͢͢s͜ ̶̧Ń҉̴͘O̕ ̢̢́͜C̷̨͘͏҉O̶͢͟͟N̷͡T͝͞I̴̷̸̕͜N̴̶̨Ứ̧È͏D̡͘ ͟͡͝M̸̸̷̕O҉́̀͞͡T͘I̸̡̡͠O͏̴̷̴̧N͡ ̵̕͡O̴̵̵̢̕Ŕ̸͟͠͡ ̶͜҉̸R̨E̷̢̨͢͟A̸̸̕͝C̸͟͏̡̀T̛͡Í̷̴O̡͢͠N̷̕͜ ̷͟͞͞u̡͞҉̸t̛̀͜͟t̴̨̢̢e͜͞r̵̨ ̸̧ṕ̴̢͘͟a͞r̵̨̢̡͘a̛̛͢l̸̴͝͏y̵̨̡͠͞s̴̸̛͡i̵̵̧͞͠ş̛̛ ̴͞
Describing the experience is… difficult. Suffice it to say that this was the encounter which convinced me that my horizons were not as broad as I had thought, and at the time pursuaded me that if they were broad enough to see the whole world as it is then I would lose myself entirely.
I would simply Cease To Be.
I am no longer convinced of this, but I digress.
Upon exiting our Experience we were approached by a man, who requested that we come to meet with his employer. He was confident, but not threatening. The curious request was a welcome break from ŗ̢̕͏é̴̸̢́a̶̵̧͡l͟͠i̴̧ş̧͝į͘͞͞ņ̧g҉̡́͜ ̵́͡͝͝r̷̕҉̛e̷̴̢̛͡a̧̛͜l̴̴̀͜į͜͟͠͠t̸̷̨́͟y̛ ̡į́͡ś̛̕͢͝ ̢́̕a̢͟͢͡ ̸̷́͘͡l̸̢͘i̢̢͞e͘͘͜ ̡̛͝ą̡͜͡n̷̸̸d́͘͡ ̸̢͡͝w̨͏͜҉e͞҉ ҉҉a͟r̛͞e̢͘͟ ̨̛́a̸l̢̨̛l̡̢͢ ̸̷͢͠m͏̡͟e̕҉r̴̛e҉̸҉͞l̵͡͝͞͞y̨͘͞҉ ҉͟͜͜͡m̸̨a҉̡g̶͢͢͟g̶̶͘̕ò́t̢̀s͝҉̵ ̷͘w̢͠͏́r͟͡i͢͏͘t͞҉́͝ḩ̢̕͞͞i̷̡̧҉̸n͏̨͘g̶҉ ̶ì͝n̶҉͟ ̴͘͠͠a̴̧ ̀̕̕͡ḑ͜͠ę͏͟a̴̛͢͏͡d͘҉̸̕ ͏̢g͘͞ó̷̶d̕͠s̷̶͟͢͝ ̵e̷̢̢͟y̷͠e͘͞
The gentleman was in the employ of a Professor Smith, and this fellow was willing to pay handsomely for the procurement of an amulet that he claimed had absconded from his possession and wound up round the throats of one of the pretty little piglets downstairs. Obscenely handsomely.
We of course obliged. We talked and walked and looked and saw and
The man in the mask. I say man, I could not see what they were under the mask and cloak. They seemed to look into me. I could not see their eyes, but I could sense their gaze penetrating to the core of me. Was that even real?
We found the amulet. We retrieved it, with a little less grace than we intended, but effectively and discretely. It had been sitting on the shoulders of the richest woman in Russia.
The richest woman in Russia. The very pinnacle of the mountain of entitlement that is crushing our species, and I barely spat a single barb her way. I didn’t try to bed her, or mock her, or kill her.
I had other things on my mind.
Whatever caused my strange experience was real, and I feel Professor Smith was somehow linked to all this… strangeness. If I wish to discover more, my best road to doing so may well be to make myself of use to him.