Nhhth (3 of 5 in the ‘Elements of the Lost’)

The nhhth is the third of five in my portfolio. As the third of my set, the nhhth designed to be the third most, and the third least, disturbing of my creations, but it is also the one which is most removed from the excepted reality. Therefore I present this to you as a scientific expository, one which is fundamentally contradictory, as it precludes the possibility of truth from the onset. What you can glean from it, if anything, is left, as always, to you.

The nhhth: How to describe that which cannot be, that which should not be by any rights, describable? But if it is named, it is, and must reckoned, be. Contemplate the nhhth from downward, up, and then from outward, in, as if a crouching predator, scientific and methodical. Bipedal, is, with two bent limbs of awkward musculature, stretched upward from sometimes three-toed, sometimes hooféd feet, stretched upward and melted onto, in muscled hips, an egg-shaped body, bulbous yet sleek. Now gazing, slide forward past missing arms and ears and neck to the head, which too, is not. Instead, an eruptive protuberance of long insectile ropes and whips shoots forth, but not tentacled, no, not so comfortingly organic; it is a spiny bed of dead arms reaching forward, and contorted organs of senses powerfully unknown, connected with strung-between tendrils of splitting, knotty flesh.

This dichotomaeic artistry of living tissue is deservéd of, and now requires, some explicative furtherance herein. They say, those who are wise, and perhaps art knowing, that what is now the nhhth, once wasn’t, and once was, in fact, a creature, mammalian, possessing those empath-instinctive signs which would have let us call it brother, deeply. A normal head, perhaps it had, fine ears, big eyes and a healthy tuned and pointed snout. A symbol, vital, of life and similarity, until it met so soundly with the other who once was not, but now so is, the nhhth.

Perhaps at night, when darkly crouching, side gaped open by bloodied wounds that day, the nhhthan vessel was invaded by a creature, the likes of which we cannot say. Insect was it surely, but bigger still, more like a crab. Dark it was, becoming of the night, and when to seek shelter it did turn, did it turn on into the thing that with which it would become. It crawled hard into the wound laid open, the wound that the vital nhhth soon did seal. Trapped inside then, it became, and burned, and burned in digestive acids, suffering heavy exoskeletal dispersal and dissolution, its organs, apart, miraculously did live. Perhaps this happened ten thousand times, perhaps this happened once; what matters is that once, in happening, it was lasting and a horrible fusion was forever sustained. This creature, the inmost nhhth, did thrive but not at once. Doubtless some such fusions resulted in horrible mutations, twitching, quivering piles of torn flesh and cartilingenous spires, immobile, dotting the landscape. This one, the one, the real one did not happen quite so as quick; the inmost nhhth did reproduce, a jumble though it was, it could swim, still, and live off the fluids of the vital nhhth, and the two thereby caused each other to share in a unified, growing agony of body and being; It produced, the inmost one, and its young did find the other’s young and in themselves imbed.

Time passed heavily, and the inner nhhth did spread, occupying the whole of the bowels, then the body, then the brain. Kept within, by most it did, for in a world of heart and vital flesh it knew, it knew it must keep hidden. If others, without, suspected, touched even he dimmest glimmer of the nhhth within, destroyed would it surely, surely be. But in the final mutative iteration, as the last flesh of the vessel was pushed out through its own and only pores, it did revenge and in a final, mighty muscle spasm did it push the inmost parts of the inmost nhhth without, inthrough its neck, its twisted spines puncturing its still-living fleshy brain. A transformation, irreversible turned this out to be, progressing the selfsame way in the progressive womb of each; and so were the unioned nhhth themselves outturned, forced to run and hide where before they had walked freely.

The nhhth now reproduce with all the skill and grace of those most brilliant species of fly which consume there own mother from within; the difference being that they, the nhhth, exhibit none of the noble self-sacrifice self-evident in the former relation. The nhhth, they spawn and cusp their young on off from the molding inner sides of their hugely curved internal body cavity. This orifice without opening, at least in our dimensions, three, is a pulsing cesspool containing much the same acids and solutions which the did burn the initial inmost nhhth. They, the liquids, are kept tightly within for the joy of pain, by now without which why would they live? In and around this noxious stew hangs a distended array of working organs, some taken from the vital nhhth, some from the invader, and some, like the whole without, a disfigured mixture of the two. It is into this pitch-black husk of shards and sponge and burning fluids to which new nhhth are born. And for most, this is the only birth they shall receive, for this mother nhhth is much too secure, too strong, too self-involved to allow these young to eat out through her. Her constant movement shakes them loose from where they grip, until they are inevitably pushed into the mixture of acids below, where they are dissolved and recycled into a newer generation, leaving only thinly pickled, molted corpses to gather on the bottom.

Only in death, when a nhhth is punctured or ripped to shreds to do their young pleasant freedom find. Only in their mother’s death do they find birth, and charred forever from this birth they’ll be, for in the moment of puncture does they oily, basic sweat of the original, vital nhhth meet and greet the acids squirting from within, causing the whole to burst and shatter in a final gasp of gas and light. That this death is quick is lucky, still, for in this moment can others pear heartily within and see the turbid larval organs twisting and steaming in their own juices, and feel the horrible cracks of cartilage and remnant bone when, in its final spasm, the nhhth rents itself asunder. These, all, are sights that could be seen and noticed in a nhhth’s most recent death, but none will by them be; what’s noticed is the scream, that final scream, unsilent, bereft of any breadth or breath of hope, that soul-piercing apex to a life lived, a life that is in an of itself another’s death, this scream, this scream comes not from any mouth or spiny orifice on the body of the nhhth, for none there are and none could be, and rather where from comes this scream is from the hole, the hole, the broken violation of the husk, for in the inside, affixed to the hollow cavity of twisted insect bone is the gnarled, turned-back head of the creature once without. The brain, though dug through and thorough with deep and spiny needles, still lives, still lives, because cut off from the body, what reason would it have to die, except pain, except pain, which is all that life is and all that is lived for, for the nhhth.

And in its final burst of agony one must come to the realization that this scream, this scream, this scream did not begin at death but has rather been ongoing, a horrific pulse of aural constancy forever reverberating and resonating within its hollow prison, finally, horribly, inexorably given freedom in its final bursting death. Betrayed by its body, tortured by its young, this being, which now disgusts the ones which it could once almost love, and intertwined, they it, makes its final attempt at survival, survival in sound, a sound which lingers, lingers on in the minds, the hearts and the bones of all who hear, of all who dare, of all who committed the most awful crime of killing that which should never have lived, those who committed the ultimate hubris of righting the elemental wrongs, those who opposed, and now have won, and lived, but wished they hadn’t, because they heard and saw that which transcends death, they heard, and saw the most horrific, the most pitiable elemental defeat of one being by another and of one being by itself, and in this final moment do they realize that death is infinitely preferable to the infinite potential for fear and pain in life, and in this final moment, do they, too, die inside, killed by fear and pain and hate for the alien within and without, and though they turn and move away and turn their deadest eyes on newest sights, they cannot, can never, see.

- January 2000

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