The Brotherhood of the Snake was a short story I first published back in 2014. It was greeted with mixed reactions. Some understood the deeper self-reflection on darkness which was presented, while others were horrified with the events which took place in the story. That is understandable. The line between fiction and non-fiction, truth and imagination, are often blurred. Where one begins, and the other ends, are better left to the mind of the reader who is experiencing something which the writer is attempting to communicate.
Eventually, I pulled the story from the site as it didn't seem to fit with the overall evolution of the content and theme of POM. But upon further consideration, the story itself does appear to be connecting back to a more subtle theme which is built around our need for self-reflection and balance between darkness and light within each of us. As a writer, sometimes I don't know why I write what I write. It is often upon future introspection that past writings make some sort of sense. It's in that regard that I re-publish The Brotherhood of the Snake with some minor edits for clarity and story flow. It is a part of the POM tale.
But be warned reader. It is not a tale of goodness. There is no happy ending and some may be disturbed. At one point I felt the story was important enough to write and tell, and it should be included once again within the POM body of work. The point of storytelling is to take the reader to places which are not a part of their everyday life. It is to make the reader experience something which they never could experience otherwise. This story will take you to that place. Let's just hope you can come back. - JC
Edom still dreamed of being a Viking.
Large and powerful, the ancient Nordics who pillaged the corners of his childhood imagination lingered in the shadowed recess of his adult mind. When no one was looking he would puff himself out and walk around pretending to swing an ax or sword. Thoughts of razing and raping whole villages sweetened his creative desires. Feelings associated with pain and despair freed him from the everyday drudgery of life.
Vikings! The first knights.
Here, in the back of the limo, hidden behind dark tint and smoky interior, he swung his arms through the air in arc-like motions, jabbing, thrusting, and splaying pretend people. Play-doh parts and cartoon organs sprayed over the leather seats and velvet curtains. River blood flowed through the center of his mind and out his ears, nose, and mouth.
Silent screams inside.
Mozart played softly over the speaker system as Edom rested back in the seat and reached inside his coat. Pulling out a small bag of cocaine he both grimaced and squinted with satisfaction. Jabbing the bag with his finger he leaned forward and pulled open the top. Tapping some out on the table he resealed the bag and placed it back in his coat.
Silent screams inside with a short straw end.
Cutting the blow with a credit card he formed it into a straight line. Placing the card back in his wallet he put the straw to his nose, took a deep breath, and snorted the line in one slow meticulous motion. A sweet taste expanded in the back of his throat and a warmth spread through his body and mind. The warmth carried the silent scream outward to his skin and he shivered.
Feelings of comfort and craving embraced him as the limo pulled up in front of a large brownstone building. With a blank stare, he watched as a tall lanky man in a cowboy shirt, dress jacket, and pants, exited the building, skipped down the steps, and approached the limo.
The driver, a big gentle looking man, emerged from the front and opened the door for the cowboy. As fast as the door opened the man was inside and the door was closed again. Edom shifted further along the seat to make room.
“Howdy-do, partner,” said the cowboy. “Names Lane.” Edom reached for the extended hand and said “Edom.”
Lane wore a genuine Rolex on his wrist and snakeskin boots on his feet. The whole persona was one of rugged charm and saddled melancholy, which stood in contrast to the perfect grooming. Not a hair out of place or uneven fingernail. The smoothness of his skin was surreal and the coarse edge of his Pacific Northwest accent cut through the pretend southern drawl.
“I see you started the party without me,” he said pointing at the short straw left on the table top.
“Didn’t mean to fella,” said Edom with his own fake accent.
Lane laughed loud as the limo began to move again. “No worries brother, I brought my own.”
Big fat snowflakes began to fall outside, descending slowly and without purpose. It reminded Edom of comic book snow, the black and white kind that had to be penciled in each panel of each page. It was the kind of monotonous work that artists despised, but it added flavor and taste to the story.
The image of skewering the pretend cowboy with a spear entered his mind. The rectum was always the best place to start as opposed to the mouth he imagined. Pushing a spear through the mouth and down into the body was difficult. It required the strength of a Viking to ram through neck muscle and tendons before reaching the soft center of guts and organs. Lined up correctly at the beginning, the tip of the spear could enter and follow the path of the spinal column all the way up to the base of the neck, from where it could be pushed out through the throat, or if you were lucky, right up through the mouth.
Edom was a Viking, a snow-covered comic book Viking with silent screams rippling across his skin.
A whirling sound interrupted the imaginative murder.
Lane had pulled a nose hair trimmer from his pocket and began to push it up into his nose with obscene intent. One, two, three, and four more times he inserted it into each nostril before turning it off and placing it back inside his pocket. Leaning forward he picked up Edom’s straw and snorted the line which he must have cut while he was being skewered with a spear.
Within a few minutes, he began to jabber about why it was important to trim nose hair before doing cocaine. You see, in Lane’s mind, it allowed the powder to flow more freely through the nasal passage and not stick to the moist hair. Moist hair led to clumping and clogging, which in turn blocked the nasal passage.
The driver informed the two men that they would arrive at their destination within ten minutes.
“What is our destination,” asked Lane?
“You don’t know?”
“Nope. I was just told to be ready and someone would pick me up at eight.”
As they exited the freeway and entered the city, Edom watched the dull sinking sun against the backdrop of snowy mountains and sprawling ranch lands. It was a beautiful site which was soon washed away by the slushy streets of downtown.
“We’re going to Bankers Hall,” said Edom.
“Do you know what to expect?”
More silent screams.
Both knew not to ask each other questions. That was against the rules.
The limo pulled into an underground parking garage, leaving the cartoon snow outside. It descended four or five levels before pulling into an unmarked private garage area, parking alongside a row of other limos.
“You have arrived gentlemen,” said the driver.
Both stepped out of the limo and into the cold starkness of the concrete garage. Edom felt a stab of fear in his heart, a warning from deep inside himself which the cocaine could not stifle. It was a warning from underneath the silent scream.
“Follow me please,” said the driver.
Walking past the line of limos and a row of Land Rovers they passed an elevator that said Tower One. A few minutes later at the other end of the garage, they stopped in front of an elevator for Tower Two. The driver pressed the single button and the doors opened. All three men stepped inside and the driver once again pressed a solitary button and the doors closed.
The elevator was fast and Edom held onto the stainless steel handle which wrapped around the inside walls. There was no elevator music or mirrors, or steakhouse ads. There were only his growing fears and the shine on Lane’s snakeskin boots. The high was beginning to wear off and he was feeling "tweaky". Perhaps that was all it was, not fear, but edginess as he was coming down. Shifting he rubbed his nose and adjusted his tie.
The elevator stopped and the doors opened onto a sparse room with blue walls. Three very tall Nordic-looking men dressed in tuxedos stood there waiting and greeted them with forced smiles.
“This way gentlemen,” said the closest man. Edom and Lane exited the elevator.
“Sir,” said the limo driver to Edom, “I will be here for you when you’re ready to leave.”
Edom nodded and followed Lane and the three large men, passing through a set of double doors and into a long hallway with windows on one side. It was now dark and the snow was coming down faster. From high above the city the world Edom thought he knew began to fall away.
Just down the hall, they stopped in front of another set of double doors. The sound of piano music rolled out of the room and the smell of some sort of incense drifted on the air. Edom and Lane entered the room and were greeted with a breathtaking view. There were pillars and archways throughout the space, which seemed disproportionately larger than what Edom had expected. It was as if he had walked into a house of mirrors which reflected his perceptions onto the infinity space outside of his perceptions.
Reality distorted and people danced around him, laughing, drinking, and eating platter something, something, tartar. A bright Christmas tree sat in the corner closest to the doors and strings of white beaded lights stretched across the expanse of the ceiling, disappearing into the endlessness of the space.
A grey-haired man approached them and held out his hand. “Welcome gentlemen. Please follow me and I will show you to your seats.”
Dodging and turning through the room they approached a round table near the center. Edom immediately noticed a spot with his name. The older gentleman pulled out his chair and continued on with Lane further towards the back of the room. Lane would be dead before the end of the night.
Settling into his seat Edom glanced around the table. There were two males who appeared a few years younger than him, and three who were older. Next to him was a woman in her early twenties and three more just like her around the rest of the table. Nobody greeted each other and all stared off into the hazy illusion of the room.
Something wasn’t quite right about the whole arrangement, but now that he was here he couldn’t imagine getting up and leaving. Turning to the red-haired woman beside him he said: “Hello, I’m Edom.”
The girl looked his way with a restrained smile and said: “Hello, I’m Wichita.”
“As in Wichita, Kansas?”
“Yes. That is where I was born and raised. My momma and papa owned a ranch and I had a wonderful childhood running through the fields and chasing butterflies.”
It was more of a statement as opposed to an answer. A statement that sounded like it had been well rehearsed and delivered with an Eastern European accent. A loud horn blew and everyone who hadn’t yet been seated rushed to do so.
After a few minutes of settling and shifting, the room became quiet. A man of impressive stature and presence approached the podium and took a few seconds to absorb the room before speaking.
“Thank you all, for coming to this, our annual celebration of goodness and cream. Many of you have traveled far to be here, in this beautiful city snuggled against the mountains of God, built upon the vast bounty of the prairies. Like all life, the fertility of the land embraces the seed and brings forth a new harvest. We celebrate this wonderful gift from the God of all things. We welcome the new seedlings amongst us here tonight. May your seed not be left to the winds of chance and cowardice, but directed with purpose and intent into the fields of our future harvest.”
Doors, which had been invisible upon until now, opened all around the room and faceless waiters marched forth with silver kettles, scurrying about the tables and turning over the teacups which had been placed earlier. Each cup was filled with a substance from the kettles. It was dark and something floated on top which looked like seaweed. Both Edom and Wichita looked at each other with a grimace.
“This nectar greets you now, at the beginning of your journey this evening, and will see you through to the new life of tomorrow. The old skin is cast off and the new is given birth with the rising of the forever God. Bring forth now your darkest temptations and drink the willowed wallow of Wellington’s ignorance.”
The room collectively raised their cups in the air.
“Drink the seed of all the seeds that came before it. Drink now the seed of tomorrow.”
Edom put the cup to his lips and swallowed. At first, the taste was putrid but the foulness of it quickly dissipated and became almost sweet. He could hear Wichita gagging beside him. The liquid rushed into his body and he felt his insides twist and knot up. The smell of the incense grew thicker and more enticing as his stomach began to settle.
The man left the podium and the piano began again, this time playing a deep rhythmic chord which added to the unreality of the evening. Some stood and moved about while others stayed in their chairs waiting for something more to happen.
Edom was a Viking, he knew that now without a doubt. Somewhere in the distance, he could hear the whirl of Lane’s nose hair trimmer. It reminded him of his spear and how he had wanted to skewer the cowboy. But now he wanted to skewer Wichita, not with his spear, but with his male part.
The red-haired women, suspecting and anticipating Edom’s desires, reached for his hand and held it tight against the inside of her thigh. His groin burned and the room erupted in flames. The silent screams scorched his flesh, fleeing to the great fire around him, and that was when the devil stepped into the room.
Through the haze and detachment, Edom watched in amazement. The devil figure proceeded toward the center of the room. The head was that of a goat with twisted horns and blood red eyes. The hooves were dark and stained. The rest was that of a large naked man with no discernible genitalia.
The room became heavy with desire and the restless panting of sexual longing descended on the participants. Wichita began to remove Edom's clothing while positioning herself on his lap. Mouths met and he was overcome with a madness of the flesh as he pulled her dress up over her slender body.
Moving his mouth down her throat to her breasts he turned her onto the table and removed his bottoms. She stretched her frame out in front of him and parted her legs. Edom kissed her stomach and licked downward. Across the room, clothing was being removed as bodies embraced. Flesh moved against flesh and the moist warmth of moaning penetration filled the room.
Wichita pulled on Edom's hair and brought him back to her mouth. They kissed long and hard before Edom pulled back and stared into her eyes. She was lost in the depths of an ache that could never be satisfied.
"Wichita," he said.
Her eyes focused on him and her hands gripped the muscles of his back.
"What is happening here," he asked?
"I'm not sure. Where am I?"
Edom held her face in his hands and leaned close to her ear. "We are somewhere, but I don't recall where, or how, I got here."
The passion was still burning in her eyes and she gripped his penis and pulled it closer. "I last remember being home in Croatia and leaving a disco with a tall man. Was that you Edom?"
"No. It wasn't me."
"I'm scared," she said. "But I want you. My fear makes me want you more."
At that moment Edom felt more like a Viking than he ever had before. Placing the tip of his spear against Wichita's vagina he pushed and felt her shiver as the length of it entered her. They gripped and slapped at each other and became lost in the breath of the other.
The goat-headed thing danced in the center of the room as the orgy swelled and the scent of sex mixed with the smell of incense. Hands began to grip Edom's legs and arms, pulling him away from Wichita and into the embrace of others. He watched as her red hair descended into the fleshy mass of other men.
There was so much degradation of the body as he entered one person after another. Greedy mouths and hands grabbed at his parts and he fell backward. Nothing mattered now, warm skin and desire overcame his instincts and his senses were under the control of the tea. Bodies rubbed against each other and the mass moaned as one. The room became a seething snake pit of flesh and limbs, moving and pulsating to the rhythm of the deep entrancing music.
Edom's body began to hurt and he couldn't breathe. He heard the muffled sound of Lane's nose hair trimmer from somewhere in the distance. The illusion of the place was beginning to wear down and he remembered Wichita. Where was she? She didn't belong here and he had a sudden willingness to help her escape this nightmare.
Reaching upward he pulled himself out of the tangled mass of human debauchery and looked for her red hair. About ten feet away he saw her semi-conscious body being battered and penetrated. The goat devil stood over her as others ran their mouths over its sexless groin. It held Wichita down by the shoulders and encouraged the abuse. The horror of what was happening suddenly gripped Edom's heart and he stood emboldened amidst the crowd. Now a Viking, he would rescue Wichita and take her from this place.
Running at the devil he tackled it and smashed the figure to the floor. Edom hammer fisted the stomach and back of the goat as it turned and twisted to avoid his strikes. What he at first thought were hooves he could now clearly see were specially made boots which ended at the knees. The bottoms were made of rubber with fur covering the top.
Reaching for the head he gripped the horns and yanked the heavy mask backward. The goat thing let out a scream and rolled forward away from Edom. Throwing the mask out over the moving throng of the masses he turned and stared at the now uncovered thing. The face was deformed with one eye staring off in a different direction from the other. The mouth was a grimace of pain and confusion. This thing was as much a victim here as he and Wichita were.
As he turned towards the spot where he had last seen Wichita he caught a blur of motion from his right. A tall figure stood over him and its arm swung in an arc. There was a sharp pain at the back of his neck and the world of incense and sex drifted away into new nightmares of unfounded horror.
The grey of a winter morning greeted Edom as he opened his eyes. There was an excruciating pain in his groin area. He lay face down on a fallen tree. The bark was sharp against his naked body and the bite of the cold air was hard. Blinking blurriness from his eyes he stared down at the ground and saw that the snow was sprinkled with spots of blood. His hands were strapped together around the log with his fingertips just barely above the ground.
Off to his left, he could see a small fire burning. The smoke drifted away in the opposite direction. Three very tall men dressed in black winter fatigues and full face balaclavas were moving about. They reminded Edom of the three large Nordic-looking men he had seen the evening before.
One of the men was using a hammer for something, while the other two were throwing what appeared to be bodies in a freshly dug grave. Edom attempted to move and the pain between his legs exploded. Swallowing his scream he looked again towards the figure with the hammer. The man was holding something red against a stump and swinging the hammer. He could hear a sound of small cracks with each strike.
Shifting his position slightly to get a better view, Edom looked again towards the man and saw him lift the red thing in the air and toss it into the pit where the other two were piling bodies. Opening a leather bag he tossed in a handful of small white things before putting it down again next to the stump.
Turning, the man looked directly at Edom. Holding the hammer in his right hand, the figure walked towards the log which Edom was strapped on. Edom starred up as the man approached. It felt as if his heart would stop. The man quickly grabbed the back of Edom's neck and pushed downward, holding him tighter against the tree. Using the claw end of the hammer the man reached back between Edom's legs and removed a nail which had been hammered through his scrotum. Edom screamed in pain as the nail was slowly extracted from the log.
The man pulled him off the tree and down into the snow below. Bending down the man stared into Edom's eyes. The steam from his breath was warm against Edom's face. The man proceeded to remove the strap from Edom's wrists and set him free.
Walking over to a pile of clothing the man picked up a pair of snakeskin cowboy boots and threw them down in front of Edom. They were followed by a brown trench coat. Picking up the coat he wrapped it around himself and managed to stand so he could put his feet into the boots.
The tall man then pointed in the direction of a trail which wandered off into the trees to the left.
Edom slowly started to walk in the direction of the trail but had to pass by the pit on the way. Knowing what was in there made him want to look even more. The pile of naked bodies was strewn in like human trash. The discarded desires of the night before. Looking for the spot where the man had tossed the red thing he gasped when he saw the head of Wichita. Her red hair was flawed outward in all directions and her once beautiful eyes were wide open and lifeless. The lower half of her face was dismembered with jaw bone twisted and teeth smashed out at the gums.
One of the other men who had been using an ax to chop off hands which were now burning in the fire picked it up again and began to remove the hands from Wichita's arms. Edom cried inside at the thought of the Croatian girl who was confused and far from her home. How many like her existed in the world for the pure entertainment and depravity of those who did not value life.
Scrunching his eyes together he ran towards the trail and didn't stop until tripping over his own feet and landing in the snow. Pulling himself up he looked forward and continued stumbling onward. It seemed as if the trail went on forever. The cold was biting at his skin and he could feel the beginnings of hypothermia. The sharp pain in his scrotum intensified and he could feel the blood running down the back of his legs.
Eventually, he came to the end of the trail and spotted a Land Rover which had been strategically parked in the middle of a snow-covered road. The driver's door opened and the limo driver from the night before stepped out. He was dressed in proper winter clothing and held a cup of coffee in one hand.
"Good morning, sir."
Edom stumbled towards the car and stopped just before the man opened the rear passenger door. Taking the man's hand Edom lifted himself into the vehicle and collapsed across the width of the backseat. The driver placed the coffee in the holder on the door and gently closed it.
Getting back into the front driver's seat, he said, "Don't worry sir, I'll have you home in no time at all."
The Land Rover began to make its way down the road and Edom watched as the smoke from the fire drifted away in the distance. The horror of the night had been eclipsed by the horror of the morning. Putting his hands to his face he began to cry.
"What's the matter, sir?" said the driver. "Don't be sad now, after all, it’s a special day. A new day. It's the rebirth of the unconquered Sun God.”
Right at that moment, Edom saw that the morning sun had crested the horizon and was shining off the new snow. A new day. Not for everyone. With stomach churning he sat up and reached for the coffee. It was bitter but spread warmth through his body.
"Let me turn on some music to cheer you up," said the driver.
The man reached for the dial and turned it clockwise. From over the speakers came a techno beat version of an old holiday song.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging.
Not only green when summer's here.
But also when it's cold and drear.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging.
Edom suddenly realized that he was not a Viking, he was nothing. They were the Vikings and he was the soul that was plundered. For the first time in his life, he felt real fear. This darkness was not for him. This light was not for him.
Silent screams inside forever. - JC
JC Collins can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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