How does one write something cohesive about something ungraspable?
A dark, desolate alley. I am sitting in my car, counting down the minutes. The text message informing Heretic of my arrival is waiting to be sent. Some other cars park up. Cell phones flash on and off. My chest feels a size or two too small.
Three of us, sitting in a couch. Other guests are going through a medical checkup. A table, in front of us. Heretic crew are running to and fro. For undisclosed reasons, my right knee has been marked with red tape. The show hasn’t started. Yet. I think. But, sitting at that table is a skinny man, with a full face mask in black, molded so perfectly I am not sure whether it’s a mask, or makeup. In silence, brooding. He wears a breathing apparatus. We are told not to interact.
Eight months prior, a Facebook post by Heretic Haunted House had flashed by.
FRIDAY JANUARY 1 3 2 0 1 7
T H E E N D
H E R E T I C 1 – 7
Dead eyes ask me why I have come here. A beckoning hand, blinding light. An opera singer, somewhere in the shadows. I never expected the first blow. Why did we come here?
Duct taped to a chair. Clothes torn. A half naked hulk of a man. Cruel teeth. A disjointed play unfolds. It is not making sense. Contradictions. Lies. Violence, pleas for help. We are but spectators. Powerless. Chair and all, I am lifted over the man’s head, shook about. Holding on to the chair for dear life. Smacked down again. Pourquoi est-ce que vous êtes ici? Est-ce que vous voulez vous suicider? Alors, qu’est-ce que vous attendez?
Dansez avec moi.
Beautiful arias, clean as fresh snow, float through the air. We are slow dancing. Guests with shredded clothes, held lovingly by derelicts and monsters. Black claws dig into my shoulders. A wet, gruesome voice hisses in my ear – “Lift. Lift!” My arms outstretched, I am elevated above the most bizarre spectacle I had ever witnessed.
This was only minutes after we had been joyriding through LA back alleys. This was mere moments before we were to be the gory centerpiece in a church of disease and suffering. Minutes, moments, hours, months. Doors slam shut. People are screaming. We are going to be okay. Faces flash by. So many hands are touching me, grabbing me. Nails dig into skin. Barefoot, bloody footprints. Sickness, worshipping a foul deity as parasites invade our flesh.
Flash. We are faking the violence. But their intentions are real.
Choke her like you mean it.
The end is nearing. Fire purifies, fire cleanses. The sins committed, the cruelty, the violence, burnt away. I am bound to a metal device, watching the flames consume it all. Calmness and a state of hyperawareness. Then, she is set free. It is all over.
I am in my car again. Panting. The ominous alley. The door is open and some of my clothes are still lying in the street. Shivering slightly. Breathing. Details already slipping through my fingers.
Like waking up from a nightmare, a fever dream.
The night itself, I was subjected to an experimental, artful sequence of nightmare material. Unapologetic and on its own terms. Confusing yet mindblowing. A disjointed whole, bizarre, aggressive, loving, haunting and beautiful in equal measure. A singular vision. An ambitious glimpse into three years of unrivaled originality.
The real blow however comes late in the afternoon of the next day. The themes, the concepts, slowly, the whole picture materializes. I start to see what I had witnessed, what the journey signified. Heartbreaking honesty. Grief, regret, guilt, powerlessness, pain. I realize how much had been poured into this. The road traveled to let go of the past. Acceptance. A dark chapter, finally given a place. Catharsis.
I can only hope you are at peace. Rest your eyes. Transformation and rebirth. I will be here.