Saturday 7 May 2011

The Genie Within

I've worked on this for a long, long time. Enjoy...

The Genie Within
by Nick Gisburne

I am genie, I am foetus, ripped from ancient, mortal womb,
Scarred, disfigured, and forgotten, in this prison, this, my tomb,
For the one who so confined me, by whose snares I am enslaved,
Was infected by the vices of the ruthless and depraved,
Painting dark, discordant visions of the kingdoms he would rule.
Yet this sorcerer was man, and thus a fool.

Fighting storms, defeating oceans, through profane and shattered lands,
He sought out the faceless horrors, who, with shadow-blackened hands,
Came to slit and cut and rend him, to appease their shaman-queen,
But his poisons brought them madness, for his arts were base, unclean.
Yet their priestess, crazed and crippled, dragged in bloody chains of steel,
Sacred pathways to the gods would not reveal.

Spitting oaths of heathen sulphur, with the acid taste of greed,
On the altar to her demons he drove into her his seed,
For their spawn would suck her secrets, passed as memory and blood,
And a birth would leave it helpless, this the madman understood.
Thus, impatiently he waited for the life that was to be,
And it grew within her womb, and it was me.

Gaining teeth and bone, I swam within that violated place,
And as foetus, and as shaman, lived in me a dying race.
Creeds and curses of the ancients, brutal histories of war,
Filled my toxic, tainted organs with a rage both fierce and raw.
Yet in form my flesh was fragile; she who bore me bade me wait,
Till my appetite for vengeance she could sate.

She was queen and she was priestess; hers were powers dark, arcane,
And she breathed the cryptic prayers of her race in tongues profane.
As three changeling moons were counted, and the fourth waned and was gone,
Still the gods, opaque and silent, begged for pity, gave her none.
From this prison of damnation only death could bring relief,
And its price was pain, and misery, and grief.

With the slow and twisting whisper of an age-corrupted oath,
She began the incantation which might save or slay us both.
Lacking relic, root or powder for the ritual to come,
With a breath of bitter malice she bit down upon her thumb,
And the crack of bone and sinew, and the tear of nerve and skin
Now at last awoke the gods, Lords of the Djinn.

Spitting out the severed digit, threads of air began to turn;
In a ring of crimson vapour, rising up, they seemed to burn.
And around us flowed the menace which had heard a mother’s call,
For no spell or trick of mortal, neither charm nor hex nor wall,
Could repel the ancient demons, from whose arms the skies unfold,
And whom none who hope to live can dare behold.

She was kneeling, bleeding, screaming, as the flames consumed her eyes,
And within this fractured body, in my darkness, came her cries.
As she hissed the final couplet, as the spell was sealed and sung,
The immortal gods embraced her and tore out her living tongue.
Through her sacrifice, her torment, though I tried I could not see
If in love or hate she did this thing for me.

Though her body, mute and blinded, fought with pain and clawed at life,
From my sight all shadows lifted, peeled away as with a knife.
And these eyes beheld the margins of a universe now mine,
A malignant, brooding nightmare of the demon-gods divine.
But though genie, I was foetus; only birth could free my soul;
In this mortal womb my powers were not whole.

He returned, the loathsome keeper, and ignited into rage
At the blind, disfigured priestess lying broken in the cage.
Striding forth, he moved to beat her, but fell back as though bewitched,
For the runes of nameless devils on her face were crudely stitched.
Foul abominations writhed in tattooed evil on her flesh;
Unhealed scars of grim protection blazed, still fresh.

They were symbols none could fathom and a shield no man might break,
But contorted in his fury, he avowed that he would take
Not a step nor breath nor heartbeat to divert him from one end:
This, to penetrate these damnable defences, and to send
To her death his shattered victim, now so brutally defiled,
And to rip out, from within, her unborn child.

In a fog of dark delusion, he traversed the blighted earth,
Leaving mutilated watchmen yearning, eager for my birth.
At the moment of emergence, in a feeble, mortal state,
Only then could I be slaughtered, and for this their knives must wait.
Yet the hex upon the priestess stayed my growth within the womb;
This the sorcerer knew well, and planned my doom.

I was genie, yet was foetus; knowing all I could do naught.
Thus, the price of our protection: pain and power, jointly bought,
For the Lords of Djinn, though mighty, are capricious in their schemes,
And delight in machinations to confound the simplest dreams.
All were locked in this conundrum: to succeed was but to fail,
Yet our captor’s mind was sure he could prevail.

Long he journeyed, through decaying and disease-polluted lands,
Scouring cities smashed and splintered by abominable hands.
Jagged fragments, penned with ink-blood from a murder victim’s throat,
Were deciphered, pieced together on a still-born’s coffin coat.
And in dialects unspoken since the continents broke free,
He found spells on graven stones beneath the sea.

Fusing opiates and toxins, mixed in moonlight, and debased
With the bones of stolen children, ground to powder and to paste,
In the hides of slain cadavers, bound with sinews and with strings,
He poured grave-dust from the sepulchres of long-forgotten kings.
Grisly fetishes and talismans of vile, unearthly beasts,
All were fashioned by the slaves of pagan priests.

Seven times the turning seasons thawed the winters into spring,
And to threads of fleeting sanity his mind could scarcely cling.
Thus, encumbered with the madness of a decomposing world,
He returned before the priestess, his barbarity unfurled.
In his eyes were all the cancerous depravities of man,
And his deviant delirium began.

As he paced with all the menace of a predatory beast,
He surveyed the shackled woman, as though hungering to feast,
And reciting from an esoteric tome of ancient lore,
In a low, corroded vessel burned the horn and tooth and claw
Of a copper-scaled leviathan dragged shrieking from the seas,
Spreading smoking silhouettes of grey disease.

Daubing ashes with the fingers of a plague-infected hand,
He drew death-signs joined with spiderish calligraphies of sand,
And the bloodmarks from the soles of his own torn and blistered feet
Painted zodiacs and labyrinthine patterns of deceit.
Tangled viscera of sucklings pulled from mothers as they fed
Wreathed a ring of bleeding thorns with living thread.

From the deeps below the chamber came a dread, primeval roar,
Brick and stone were split asunder, and within began to pour
First a column, then a river, now a cataract of flame,
And its acolyte, eyes twisting to the priestess, screamed her name,
And apocalyptic fires, from the kingdoms of the dead,
Rained in maelstrom and fury on her head.

She was crushed beneath the torrent and its monstrous, seething flows,
And the sorcerer, triumphant, howled defiance to his foes,
At the demon-gods, defeated, who had kneeled before his might,
And, abandoning their priestess to her death, had taken flight.
But as I, one of their number, gave protection to her soul,
She grew powerful and passionate and whole.

Though her flesh was seared and blistered, yet her spirit flowed within,
For her child was foetus, genie, demon-god, Lord of the Djinn.
And exulting in her torment, she rose up, the shaman-queen;
In her sightless eyes burned starshine from a sky no soul had seen,
And a spinning web of silver drove with crystal shards of light
Through the fire, through the madness, through the night.

He had raised the dark inferno from its diabolic place,
But a fist of frozen fragments smashed the flames and sealed the space,
And they fell to form a shimmering and luminescent pool;
On its waters lay the body of the sorcerer, the fool.
Yet the gods would not release him; such a death too low a price.
Only misery in life would now suffice.

Given spells of time eternal, he must walk within this room,
For to leave or die would cast him to infinities of doom.
And a thousand spears of sorrow stabbed the necromancer’s heart,
Knowing how the demons mocked him, scorned his lamentable art.
For the Djinn may not be vanquished; all who challenge fall and fail.
In this universe of fear, the gods prevail.

Even now, one spiteful triumph still remained within his hands:
Though we lived, yet we were captives, in the grip of iron bands.
In this bleak and foetid prison, we were granted no respite,
As our keeper muttered baleful words of lunacy by night.
And in days filled with his ravings, deep disorders of the mind,
Only fleeting peaceful moments could we find.

In that septic place, turned sour by the wretched stain of death,
Long I yearned to hear the rattle of the jailer’s final breath,
But the scab-encrusted pages of a foul, forbidden text
Stayed the moment of his journey from this realm into the next.
And the shaman-queen, imprisoned, lived immortal, as did I,
And the years flowed on for we who could not die.

Thus, in generations chronicled by histories of lust,
Feral nations, once triumphant, fell to slaughter, burned to dust.
And as witness to the unrelenting centuries of old,
I lived on within the priestess, she in suffering and cold.
But the mad magician’s whisperings were silent now, and still;
In his eyes a void no age, no time, could fill.

From a mould-infested corner came an awful, tortured cry,
As the madman split the silence and implored the unseen sky.
In his hands, the book of demons, which bestowed eternal life,
But its pages, ripped and ruined, as if savaged with a knife,
Fell in ribbons in the filth of the contaminated floor,
And its rhymes would be repeated here no more.

Fearing not their retribution, to the gods he gave this sign,
And he cursed, and clawed the binding, tore the covers from their spine.
Without spells or incantations, now his death-clock must resume,
But, demented and delirious, he staggered through the gloom.
For a time he eyed the priestess, with a gaze which lingered long;
Then he stumbled to the doorway, and was gone.

It was doom to leave the dungeon, so the demons had decreed.
Vast, unutterable torment, where the nameless horrors breed,
Was the fate of all blasphemers, those defiant of the Djinn,
And the sorcerer had stared into their pit and plunged within.
Yet as priestess and as genie, in this cage of steel and stone,
Still our destiny, our fate, remained unknown.

Through long ages of confinement I had roamed the demon skies,
For my sight could pierce the darkness of my mother’s sterile eyes.
Now I sought to see the sorcerer, whose life was surely lost,
But a veil of shade enveloped me; its cloud could not be crossed.
In that suffocating sanctum, without vision, without light,
We were smothered by the choking cloak of night.

With our captor gone, and leaving none to guard us in his place,
The enchantment could be lifted and my growth resume apace,
And the priestess, knowing now that she might birth me without fear,
Scratched a changing-charm, a counterpoise, a call the Djinn would hear.
But an everlasting emptiness was echo to her spell.
Why the demon-gods were silent, none could tell.

And again the years relentlessly swept forward, ever on,
Yet was found no sense, no meaning, in this cold oblivion.
I was genie, and made nourishment to keep our bodies whole,
But no force can feed a faltering and long-forgotten soul.
Then at last, when even magic failed to count the endless days,
Came a sound, a voice, an incoherent phrase.

And the doors exploded inwards with a blast of shattered wood.
Striding through the smoking splinters, bathed in lantern-light, he stood,
And I saw, as if a blindfold had been lifted from my sight,
It was he, the dark magician, twisted hair grown long and white.
At his neck were coiled contraptions, pumping poisons through his head,
And he roared, “Behold! The demon-gods are dead!”

Words beyond all comprehension, and impossible to be,
But he opened up a window to his mind, and I could see
That the world had turned in turmoil with immeasurable pace,
And its industry and science gave the demon-gods no place.
Thus the Lords of Djinn had faded, only shadows in a dream,
Overthrown by gods of iron, steel, and steam.

They had waned before the sorcerer had torn apart their book,
And the blazing storm of vengeance they had promised never struck.
Spared, he schemed, and seeking answers in a world beyond his ken,
Ever older, ever wiser, he controlled the minds of men,
For among them he alone recalled the necromantic arts,
And contaminated unsuspecting hearts.

Building crouching metal giants, smoking beasts of bronze and brass,
He had marched the dread behemoths from their citadels of glass,
And no man could match his mastery, no other seize control
Of these engines of destruction, belching fumes, devouring coal.
Yet his avarice, unsatisfied, rapacious, craved for more,
And he dreamed to drown the world in blood and war.

But the power of a mortal, even one so great as he,
Could not split the mighty continents, nor freeze the raging sea.
Only demon-kind might harness so malevolent a force,
And in ages lost in legend now, the seer had sought its source.
We, the three, bore final witness, for the gods of old were gone,
Yet, in this forsaken place, their line lived on.

We were mother, father, foetus; raped and rapist; child of sin;
Though unborn, I was yet genie, demon-god, last of the Djinn,
And the sorcerer, through aeons, now returned to claim his prize,
Though in this he once had fallen to the judgement of the skies.
Yet the scars and signs and symbols carved into a mother’s skin
Now no longer stayed the man’s malignant grin.

With a shiver of foreboding, apprehension at the thought
That the shield of ancient magic could evaporate to naught,
I searched wildly for solutions, for escape, for half a plan,
But without the gods there could be no protection from this man.
Speaking low into an orifice within his strange device,
Now he turned a copper coil, first once, then twice.

There was silence, still and deadly, in the cold, infected air,
And though seeing, hearing nothing, for a time I was aware
Of a presence, of a shadow, of a thing beyond the gloom,
And a shimmering of dirt and dust fell down into the room.
Now the walls began to tremble, and the floor to sway and shake,
And the ceiling split and cracked, as if to break.

And an agonising screeching, as of steel dragged over stone,
Rent the air with tortured dissonance, vibrating blood and bone,
As a screaming, spinning spiral pierced the darkness from on high,
Spewing rock and brick and boulder as it tunnelled through the sky.
Now it slowed, reversed, retracted, through a black and smoking shaft,
And the sorcerer, its master, only laughed.

For in this were barely traces of the wickedness to come;
Born of distant, rhythmic throbbing and a deep, metallic hum,
Grating, grinding limbs of metal pushed and probed their way within,
Sinking long, discoloured fingers through the ceiling’s stony skin,
And arrayed above our heads now, these appalling hands of steel
Spread like spokes in some infernal web or wheel.

Now they writhed and turned together as their pistons strained and hissed,
And extending further, faster, each colossal metal fist
Struck the bars of this, our prison, wrenched apart the feeble cage,
And the priestess, pawn and victim of one man’s undying rage,
Lay defenceless and defeated, and though crippled, mute and blind,
Sensed the squalid putrefaction of his mind.

I was genie but was helpless, locked as foetus in the womb,
And the sorcerer, euphoric, crossed the wreckage-scattered room.
Yet he hesitated, nervous now of subterfuge or trap;
After centuries of waiting, what could steal the chance to tap
Untold powers, untold riches, untold evil, from his hand?
Such a moment no sane mind might understand.

But all doubts were snuffed and smothered, circumspections choked by greed,
And the skeletal appendages, with violence and speed,
Seized the limbs and neck and torso of their prey, with hook and claw,
And in helpless, screaming terror stretched her form across the floor.
Yet her life was not surrendered; I, in mercy, stopped her heart;
She was dead before they tore her flesh apart.

And the air, the toxic aether, as it swirled about my face,
Seared the organs of my body, drew from every point in space
Vast, immeasurable energies, cascading through my veins,
And in seconds I would shatter and escape these human chains.
I was foetus, I was genie, I was demon-born and Djinn.
But then... glass; a jar; the madman threw me in.

I was flung into the vortex of an amniotic sea,
And I strove to break the vessel, tried in vain to struggle free,
But the power of the demons would not rise to my command;
By some witchery, some devilment, some force had stayed my hand.
And my eyes, beneath the surface, saw him bend to fix the lid.
There was little I could do, but this I did:

I was powerless to exercise the vengeance of the Djinn,
But as foetus, born of woman, I was blood and bone and skin.
Thus, I swam and broke the surface, saw the sorcerer’s surprise;
Biting hard into my tongue I spat cold blood into his eyes.
He was blinded for a moment, but the lid was sealed and snapped,
And within this jar of glass I floated, trapped.

At a signal from the mechanisms draped about his neck,
Iron fingers pulled their master through the shaft, up to the deck
Of a ship no lucid architect could formulate or build,
For its framework and its furnishings, its character, were filled
With the twisted tastes of deviance, psychoses spun with hate,
And such horrors only madness could create.

Yet we moved through air, not oceans, crossed the aether, sailed the skies,
And the sorcerer steered onwards, scanning storms with eager eyes,
For these elemental forces would soon bend to his command,
But his rhapsodies were tarnished, for he failed to understand
Why, within this glass, this prison, I stared up at him and smiled.
Did I look now as his victim, or his child?

We descended to a fortress on a cliff of ice and stone,
And to leprous, shambling creatures far below us, ropes were thrown.
As they hauled us into place between two soaring minarets,
Clouds of vapour boiled and billowed, spewed in swirling, angry jets,
And the snaking arms and fingers used to cut me from the womb
Pulled the two of us, together, through the gloom.

If the ship took shape from nightmares, here were terrors forged in death,
For the walls were thick with bodies, frozen in their final breath.
Cold cadavers, silent legions, lined each corridor, each hall,
Each new slaughter more appalling, for one man had killed them all.
But the final act was blacker than the space between the stars:
Rows of tiny, frightened children, dead, in jars.

They were dragged, the weak, the helpless, to this palace of despair,
And the madman breathed his blasphemies and starved their lungs of air.
At the brink of suffocation, when dull eyes could plead no more,
He sucked out their strangled spirits, for each essence would restore
Fragile fractions of existence, life prolonged for precious days,
With a soul preserved in sick and savage ways.

Of the poisonous perversities collected in this place,
None were tainted with more evil than the sorcerer’s own face,
For each violated victim, every cracked and shattered spine,
Drew its torment in his features, with a deeper, darker line.
And his eyes had known the anguish of the numberless, the dead,
And reflected only night and shades of red.

And in me he sought the power, the omnipotence, the might,
To envelop humankind in an eternity of night.
All the centuries of murder, all the children made to bleed,
Paved a sacrificial pathway to the altar of his greed,
For in this, the deepest chamber, in his vicious killing-room,
It was I he planned to conquer and consume.

In this festering cathedral towered sinister machines;
Monstrous engines of insanity, they turned to form the means
To a damnable dénouement, to a final, fatal act,
For the keys to all creation they would ruthlessly extract.
With the universe his empire, as a god this man would sit,
But to such as he a Djinn does not submit.

As we moved between the monoliths of copper, steel and glass,
To a pedestal of marble, wrapped in snaking coils of brass,
Bursts of white, electric fury writhed and twisted through the air,
Yet he seemed to walk among them without danger, without care.
Now he stopped, and looked, and saw me, sole survivor of the Djinn;
On my face was fixed a cold, malicious grin.

In his eyes, concern, confusion, and in mine, disdain, contempt.
Setting down the precious jar, he leaned in closer to attempt
To communicate his anger, to instil in me the fear
That my death, my execution, and his victory were near.
For as genie I was helpless; yet as shaman I was not,
And this truth, though I remembered, he forgot.

Days before, dismissed as insult when I spat into his eyes,
He afforded it no thought as he returned with me, his prize.
Yet the blood, long disregarded, from my body, from my veins,
Now unseen, unknown, had spread, and smeared his face with scarlet stains.
As the priestess had before me, so I sealed the shaman charm,
Bared my teeth and bit down hard into my arm.

And the sorcerer, recoiling as I raised and clenched my fist,
Saw the blood begin to surge around my body and to twist
In a spinning, crimson helix, then a toxic, turning cloud,
And it veiled me in the mantle of its ever-shifting shroud.
But the spiralling subsided with a final, swirling pass,
And I pressed my hands and face up to the glass.

From the stains, like smoky spider-silk, came whisperings of air,
And they swam in smoothly separating strands of something rare.
Fleeting filaments and fibres probed the features of his face;
Searching, sliding, now insistently, they turned in time to trace
Subtle shapes and twisting tendrils, touching dark, discoloured skin.
Then, as needle-points, they swarmed and surged within.

And he staggered back, bewildered, features frozen, fixed in shock,
Twisting at the strange device about his neck, as if to block
Or destroy the things within him, as they burrowed deep inside,
But his instruments were worthless, and with nowhere now to hide,
As I looked upon his face, he mouthed a silent, wretched plea,
And the vengeance of my shaman blood burst free.

With a million screams of fury, splintered knives of fractured flame
Tore and twisted through their victim, and his blood and bone became
An infernal mass of blistering and mutilated meat.
Bloated stumps of blackened fingers willed the fires to retreat,
But they writhed and danced and turned again to spear his cursed soul,
And his evil heart was burned to smoking coal.

As the body sagged, it knelt into a pool of blood and fat.
Strips of severed muscle peeled away, and smoked and hissed and spat,
And the carcass pulsed with septic tides of ulcerous disease.
Yet a corpse could not repay me, nor a martyr on his knees,
For his lungs, his throat, his lidless eyes, each raw and tortured sense,
Kept alive would bring me final recompense.

I am genie, I am foetus, ripped from ancient, mortal womb,
Scarred, disfigured, and forgotten, in this prison, this, my tomb,
And the one who so confined me, by whose snares I am enslaved,
Kneels at last before the keeper of the power he once craved.
And he looks at me, and I at him, with cold, immortal eyes,
As I wait for my release, that I may rise.

And as genie, and as demon, last and greatest of the Djinn,
I will rule this world, this universe, and all who live within.
And to you, to my deliverer, the one who finds me here,
You have listened to these legends and I sense, I see, your fear,
But let thoughts of untold riches, vast rewards, dispel your doubt.
Break the jar and free the genie. Let me out.

Inspired by this image, from the mind of dholl

The full text of The Genie Within can also be found on my DeviantArt page.