Six are the pillars supporting the skies and six the walls enclosing the earth.
At the center I am, hanging upside down from a cord of steel. My arms are tied behind my back, the metal tie biting into the flesh of my joints. Beneath me, lead tiles form a circle around a drain. The silence of the void, like the whole universe shutting down. Emptiness and oblivion.
A handful of naked children take over the floor beneath me and make it their playground. I cannot make out their faces. They roll on the floor, fighting and screaming constantly. From behind one of the pillars appears a man wearing the face of a wolf, holding a vicious amputation knife in his fist. His eyeless maw turns toward me and suddenly the air is filled with an unbearable humming sound. Words I cannot read creep up the surface of the pillars and the monster, with his fingers, points to a sigil representing a pierced sun engraved in lead. I nod, even though I do not understand.
Nine are the centers of the somatic system and nine the wheels marking the thresholds. Underneath my skin the ninth wheel is a black sun in the sky of viscera. The beating of my heart sounds like a bad recording and the characters slide on invisible railings. They are not really alive. This whole dream is a trap, edited footage, an endless tape loop.
Six tall, hooded figures in white robes, six judges without a name or a voice then appear, to a raucous round of artificial applause. Riding huge barded steeds, they slowly advance toward me, followed by scores of servants and squires bearing tall, white banners. Their mounts step heavily over the drainage channels, their hooves clanging against the metal floor. Their hot breath comes out in white clouds as the riders encircle me, wielding long spears ending in curved blades. Hidden by their ragged cowls, their faces can only be guessed at, and someone announces that they herald the epidemic, the withering ague that destroys whole armies and fells beggars and princes alike.
A shroud of roiling clouds of ashes fills the skies, twisting and whirling like a nest of vipers. The six judges in white point their spears at me, poised to kill me. I try to shake off my chains, like an insect trapped in a web. No word is spoken, but I know the sentence is passed. Then they strike mercilessly, their spears piercing my belly and my throat and tear me to pieces while the crowd is cheering. Deformed valets rush up to my body with knives and shears to carefully skin my carcass, before they remove my entrails and delicately separate the flesh and organs from my bones. I feel no pain, no fear, nothing beside a form of vague curiosity about the strange assembly of the various parts of my organism.
Up in the sky appears the face of a holy woman, her face obscured by some grainy shadow. She duplicates until her image fills up the sky, while resounds the choir of a countless alarm siren. At the center of these thousands of infinitely serene stares I slowly fade away. My eyes are closing. I know the cable I hang from reaches to the heavens. I know that soon, like so many before me, I’ll be reborn to a new reality, when the clouds finally part to reveal six stars, vibrant in their renewed glory.
Then a great, irresistible wind starts blowing, and the white banners of judgment flap in the burning night. The judges and their retinues are frozen in place like statues. The drain runs over with blood, engulfing the drainage channels, in reverse. Soon the blood reaches as high as the legs of the horses, which remain still, until the blood swallows them up. Faceless children, servants, riders, they all disappear beneath the opaque surface. The crimson tide submerges all.