Phantom Pain by BloodySpaghetti
Throughout history, man was fascinated by the nature of dreams. From the beginning of time, we knew there was something special about them; we treated them as if they were omens, signs, messages and even prophecies. The Old Testament goes on to say Joseph; one of the Judeo-Christian patriarchs had a knack for interpreting dreams. The same book almost always depicts a prophet receiving divine messages through dreams. The Jews, however, aren’t the only ones who made the subject of dreams a part of their religion; Greeks had the god of sleep, Hypnos and the Oneiroi who were the personifications of dreams. The pan Slavic mythos held that Morana or Marzanna is a goddess associated with dreams. All this information is rather crucial to my story.
A few years back, I was a war crime investigator for the UN, sounds impressive, huh? Anyway, my then-girlfriend, now-wife Sonia and I had to move for a few months to Poland, for some course I had to take as part of my job. We arrived at Szczecin, which is a major city in northern Poland, to get all our documentation and legal stuff sorted out, and then we went to this city named Elblag in the northeastern part of the country. We got ourselves a room in a local four-star hotel. Seeing as how my course wouldn’t start until a week later, I decided that it was a good opportunity to have a little fun abroad. By the time we arrived at that hotel we just unpacked our stuff and decided to rest the night off, I spent my first night in Poland in the warm embrace of my sweetheart, to put it lightly.
The next morning I woke up before Sonia and decided to get to know the town I’d be in for the next few weeks. The first person I came across was this elderly glocke who tried selling me that day’s news I told him I don’t really understand Polish and he decided to tell me the relevant news on his own, much to my surprise, his English was pretty much impeccable aside from the obvious Slavic accent. The old bloke told me about the current political issues discussed in the paper, and all the celebrity gossip and the sports news. However, there was one thing he told me as if he knew that by heart, apparently, a couple in their forties was found dead last night in Elblag. I told the man that it was tragic and all, but stuff like that happens all the time and he chuckled nervously saying that when the bodies were inspected they were clean as a whistle, no wounds, no trauma external or internal, and no substances in their bodies, nothing – as if god himself simply devoured their lives.
As I was being notified of this an old woman, really old one, was passing us by and probably heard our conversation. She had started speaking irritably to us in Polish, the bloke who has been talking to me tried to tell her off peacefully, I spouse, but she began yelling at him and he just yelled at her back until she walked off angrily. I had no idea what happened back then and he explained that she’s a crazy woman who believes in what he called, “the old spirits”. He kept on saying that she claims we’re messing with this world too much and that’s why so many disasters happen recently, claiming that the couples death is a proof her theory. Knowing that Poland albeit being deeply Christian country is a modernized one, I had been taken aback by the fact that people like this woman are living there. It would surprise me less if I were in some village I guess, but this was a relatively large city.
I asked the old bloke a little about the surroundings and he explained to me where I could find anything I had needed, thanked him and got back to my room in the hotel to my awaiting sweetheart. The rest of the day was typical day in the lives of a loving young couple.
A couple of days later, we were awaken by the noise of people running around the halls of the hotel we were staying in. I checked out what was happening and there were many medics and policemen in the halls, a family of five in the room across the hall was found dead, well four of them were dead. Oddly enough, they too had no visible reason to explain their demise. We were later told that a little girl was found alive in the room sitting in the corner of the room, visibly disturbed rocking herself back and forth in a fetal position. The girl wouldn’t speak about what happened, she just murmured the word “Nightmare” in Polish, apparently once she fell asleep she passed as well, one could assume that the stress was the cause of her death, however by the time they let her sleep she was relaxed and seemed pretty much physically fine.
For a moment there, I started believing in the “Old Spirits” the mad woman was speaking of, I even told Sonia about this whole ordeal and she while shaken by the current events she dismissed the woman’s words as a psychotic rumbling. Sonia tried pretending this whole thing didn’t bother her too much but I knew better, since she wouldn’t leave me for more than a couple of minutes on that day.
The following day, Sonia left our room to do some groceries, during her walk to the nearby store she had to pass through a local park where she saw a man lying on a bench. She thought the man is some drunk who passed out outside judging by her judgment of his decent clothing. Sonia pushed the man a few times but he wouldn’t even make a sound, so being the caring sweet soul that she is, she checked his pulse and once she heard nothing she fell backwards in shock. The man was dead, no signs of any trauma, or any obvious kind of damage. Hypothermia was out of the picture due to the fact the glocke was dressed in really warm clothing, as it was the beginning of November. I picked Sonia up from local police station, she was broken and terrified, and she wouldn’t leave me for a second at the first few hours after her incident. Once we were leaving the station one of the police officers told us that it’s really disturbing people just randomly die around here lately. Apparently the drunk wasn’t drunk enough to die from alcohol abuse or poisoning.
The final day before the beginning of my course, it was blurry to say the least until the evening; I don’t remember much of it. I do however remember Sonia falling asleep at the afternoon and me going outside a little before sunset. I just took a stroll around the area of our hotel. Snow had amounted before hand and it was Sunday afternoon, there were a bunch of young lads and girls outside playing. I remember walking off into the edge of the city, around Elblag there are forests, dense ones if I might add. Therefore, I – the foreigner from Chester, England walking around into a secluded area near a city where possible homicides had been recently occurring might sound utterly idiotic, but I didn’t even think about that. I have no idea what I was thinking back then. Around a couple of minute’s worth of walking from the edge of the woods, I noticed to tiny red orbs floating in mid air. I started walking towards the orbs and once I was close enough, I began seeing this human silhouette standing there, with the red orbs at the top of it.
My head began being bombarded with the sensation that two hammers were banging on its sides, I grabbed my head between my hangs and fell on my knees, soon after I remember passing out. Shortly afterwards, I woke up back in my hotel room. I was drenched in cold sweat, I wondered if I just had a nightmare or something and went to wash my face.
I turned the cold water’s tap and bend down to splash some water on my face, once I was done doing that I stared up into the mirror and saw the visage of black haired man coupled with a matching short black beard with tribal tattoos all over his face, and those damned red eyes. I took a few steps back; the face in the mirror didn’t change. I tried blinking, nothing.
The creature staring at me in my mirror began opening its mouth, until its facial expression was changed to that of a screaming person, terrible pain shot through my ears. I cringed so hard I actually closed my eyes, once I opened them once more; I wasn’t in my world anymore for all I knew.
I was clearly still in Elblag, but it looked more like a warzone than a lively city in eastern Europe, and the colours, the colours of everything as if they had been edited through a weird Negative film filter on Photoshop. I wish I could say this is the worst of it, but no, at that time Fortuna hadn’t shine on my confused self. I started walking around this broken version of my reality and began seeing terrible sights, people, hanging naked on metallic devices filled with the sharpest thorns, going through their bodies, mutilating them, torturing them. All these people, they filled the space with their miserable moans and groans. I tried ignoring the cries, but couldn’t I was filled with sheer fear.
After a few moments of walking through these terrors, I saw the most horrible thing I could imagine – I saw her. My dear Sonia, impaled on this thing, rods coming out from everywhere in her body. One of these rods came out of her mouth, but she was alive. Drowning in her own blood, even the color in her beautiful green eyes was gone.
She was softly skulking from what I imagined must be the most excruciating pain possible.
I was broken…
Completely destroyed mentally and emotionally
I’ve never hurt like that before…
I broke down, began screaming, and crying, the woman I loved, the thing I cared about the most, my entire world – It was all broken, shattered like glass.
Into tiny irreparable shards, my soul had been torn apart into tiny bits of pain and the edge of insanity.
Can you believe I had to experience something worse than what I just described? Well, I did.
Soon enough, I felt vines pull me from the husk of my dying darling; I tried fighting to no avail however. Moments later, I had been tied to a large tree trunk and my arms were spread out as if I was being crucified. A figure began rising from inside the ground. Eventually a tall figure stood before me, it was about 6”5 and looked exactly like the visage in my mirror. His faced full of ink, his arms bandaged up into his sleeves. He was wearing what I think is traditional Slavic clothing consisting of a black shirt and a pair of snow-white pants.
The figure began speaking, his voice deep but not inhumane, he spoke in a tongue that sounded to me like a mixture of almost everything Latin-based European language mixed with something oriental. Somehow, I understood everything he said to me, I honestly wish I hadn’t.
That thing said to me; “I am Marowit, I used to be respected by the kind you come from, until the ones with the cross shaped jewelry came to these lands. They made me and my kin hated among your people, the ones we once guided. All these cross-shaped jewelry-wearing animals ever wanted was to use the land, its resources and give anything in return. They wanted to drown in their self-imposed power; they preached against us, shoved us to the edge of the world. I will not stand for that anymore! Now you will serve as an example to these ignorant rats, you are going to suffer for all of their sins against us!”
At that exact moment, I realized the little girl was just his cruel way of warning us, she wasn’t saying the Polish word for nightmare, but she was calling his name.
Marowit formed a sword in his hand, along with a smirk on his emotionless visage and shoved the sword into the side of my stomach. Terrible pain began rushing through my abdomen, I screamed and shut my eyes and hard as I could, hoping to wake up from what I hoped was a nightmare. When I did open my eyes I was still stuck in this twisted broken version of my reality, still hung on a tree, undamaged however, Marowit stood in front of me with a new sword in hand. I tried escaping my botanic binds whilst thrashing my head from side to side, but to no avail, then I saw it – another tree, another me tied to it.
Another Marowit standing with another sword, this one stuck in my body.
I was overcome by a sense of dread, I felt like my head began to feel light because my breathing rate was so high, my heart was pounding so hard I felt like my ribcage was going to crack open from the beating. Then, sharp pain in my lower abdomen, I let out a bit of blood through my mouth and began screaming through my teeth, Marowit just stood there, smiling pleasantly with his weapon in my body. I started losing all sensation and everything slowly turned black.
Moments later, I opened my eyes once more, and that bloody process started all over again; me tied to a tree, Marowit in front of me with a brand new weapon in hand, I notice another, past me, in the same condition, fear – stress – pain – blackout – repeat.
All of this kept happening under the watchful somewhat mocking eye of the giant red-brown moon above us.
This wretched cycle went on for what seemed like weeks until I closed my eyes one final time after I had been stabbed in the throat with a golden spear.
I opened my eyes and I was back in the real world, on the snow, Sonia with tears in her eyes, was on knees next to me, she was fine. I pushed myself up and she hugged me tightly crying. I noticed that the hotel we were staying in was on fire, someone or something decided to blow the roof away in a none figurative way. I looked into the mirror and I saw Marowit, my body almost exploded in pain.
Next thing I remember I woke up in the hospital, the doctors were puzzled as to my condition, I had no physical internal or external injuries, and my brain was functioning perfectly but I was suffering from some kind of unexplained reoccurring phantom pain all over my body.
I explained everything that had happened to me to Sonia, she thought I was crazy but I guess she began to believe me somewhere along the way. The phantom pain was never gone, but now I am married to the love of my life with our first child on the way. Of course, the UN let me go and I am a man in his early thirties with a seventy percent disability under my belt. I still get a paycheck from those wankers though.
I ended up researching this “Marowit” thing, mostly because of the almost catholic-preacher’s speech he gave me back then. Marowit is currently regarded as a god, the god of nightmares of the Wendish people. I’ve never heard of that before I came across him, I must admit.
I wasn’t left with any physical or mental damage, but the phantom pain is probably of a more spiritual or some other, currently unknown, kind of damage.
The scariest part of it all, is the question that keeps running through my mind now, If this obscure widely unknown being of somewhat a divine nature is capable of doing so much damage, what kind of a monstrosity is a more known god like, say Zeus, is?