© 2023, Bryan Beal
No matter how far down he went, he could not find it. Sitting among the remains of incense sticks poking up like rotted reeds on the bank of a stagnant river, Ulthar Greigg tried to focus his mind on nothingness and the impermanence of the world around him. The solidity of his inability to delve deeper was a glaring argument against the doctrine. A friend had once suggested psychedelics, but Greigg was a purist. He might be a lot of things, but taking short cuts for immediate gains was not his style.
His knees cracked as he unfolded himself from the lotus position. He almost gasped in relief as the blood flooded back into the old injuries sustained from a previous life. A previous career, really, of which Greigg still felt the very non-karmic results in his present. Another argument, though weaker, against the impermanence of things. Unless death was considered an end to all pain, Greigg chuckled to himself as he walked into his kitchenette to get a coffee.
The single, not-too-hard-on-the-eye architect had been searching for something deeper for a few years now. The delusion that his career was a fulfilling service to humanity only covered the truth for so long. After awhile, even good money could not conceal the fact that he was enabling the whims of society's richest to find form in concrete and glass. The realisation that his greatest works were symbolic representations of others' phallus' hit hard when it finally slammed into the desiccated remains of a soul sold long before.
With a black coffee in hand, Greigg strode into his office to check the last emails of the evening. Most of it was spam and general twaddle from colleagues. He sat at the modern desk sipping his drink and swiping emails into the trash or spam folders. He barely registered one whose subject was 'Appointment: During Third REM Cycle'. Into the spam it went.
Greigg could afford a huge bed for one and that was exactly what he got. He dumped his coffee mug into the washer and crawled into bed after cleaning his teeth. He slipped between the Egyptian cotton sheets and pulled his doona over himself. Snuggled into the warmth and comfort of fresh sheets, Greigg was soon slipping away.
Mr. Ulthar Griegg, I presume?, the deep, resonant voice came from behind him.
Greigg spun around to face a grey-skinned man of gigantic proportions bursting out of a woman's business suit. The man wore full make up and the size of his fingers belied the skill with which he tapped at his computer keyboard. The man smiled at Greigg. The yellow teeth did not bother him as much as the vertical eyelids that blinked at him.
Um...yeah., Greigg murmured in confusion.
Good. He will see you now.”, the grey man replied, gesturing at a door in the wall that Greigg had only just noticed.
As Greigg approached, the door opened by itself and then closed again when the architect had fully entered the office. It was on a high floor of a building that Greigg remembered as a project from his early days. He was standing on the seventy-fifth floor of Yumikon Tower facing a translucent facsimile of himself seated at a large desk that was the same as the one in his home office.
Ulthar!, blob cried as it lurched onto jelly-like appendages to approach him. The voice was that of his mother and father switching on alternate words.
Greigg could only stand rooted to the ground as the thing wrapped him in a warm, damp embrace. As it pulled away, its body slurped and slopped. Air rushed into the gaps opening between them. It motioned at sofa.
Come. Sit, love. A mother needs to talk to her son., the thing said.
Greigg found himself unable to do anything but follow it to the couch by the window outside. Unlike the view from the Yumikon Tower Greigg had helped design, the windows before him were shrouded in mists. The grey masses roiled and swirled along the glass. The facsimile noticed what he was looking at.
The Mists of Truth., it giggled and guffawed in alternation. A hideous sound.
Greigg was sitting on the sofa with the thing snuggled right next to him, its appendage, an arm, laying on his leg. In an unnerving caress, it started stroking Greigg's hair gently, just like he remembered his mother doing. He so desperately wanted to jerk his leg away, but something stopped him. It was more than terror. There was something deeper at work. Something plunged into the core of his own very self.
You look for truth. You want to find Truth. And you are dumb enough to think it is within you., the being said, almost kindly.
A single nod was all Greigg could manage.
Despite all the failure, you still want to find it.
Then it is yours., it declared as its arm snapped out and grabbed the back of Greigg's head.
He could not resist the force of the thing's arm as it shoved his face towards its chest. Waiting for him was a pearly, almost transparent breast, complete with a nipple. Underneath Greigg could see the blood vessels and the fluid pumping through them.
His face was shoved down so hard he could not help but open his mouth over the nipple. On contact, the thing cooed in motherly love. Greigg could feel the engorged breast vibrated with the force of liquid racing to the surface and into his waiting mouth. The warm, acrid liquid rushed in and washed his tongue, teeth and throat as he tried to swallow fast enough to keep up. Bitterness flooded into his body, the taste of the fluid a rancid staleness.
The nipple grew and softened as Greigg drank his fill and more. He felt his face ooze and slide into the nipple and then the breast. The cooing from the thing receded, like it was going down a tunnel. As he dove deeper, the warmth grew and he felt the damp clamminess of clinging jelly and stickiness. After a long while of having his body squeezed more and more by the jelly-like tunnel, Greigg was on a hill naked.
You tried to escape impermanence by understanding it. It should have been clear to you that no thing can be a key to escape from that thing. You cannot escape a prison by understanding the prison itself. You need something else, another item., a voice whispered.
Greigg jumped. The voice came from a foul-smelling mouth next to his ear. A homeless man who had not washed in months was spooning him. The man's face was exactly like Greigg's, except for the copious stains.
All that effort and you failed. Without impermanence, there can be no salvation. Impermanence is the very source of potentiality. Looking for it within yourself is delusion., the homeless Greigg continued.
What do you mean?, Greigg asked.
Impermanence is a good thing, plonker., the homeless man wheezed as he erupted into a coughing fit.
The spoon was broken. Greigg was laying on his bed covered in sweat. He could still taste the milk from that breast and smell the man. He shuddered and got up. There was no sleeping now. Emails and work awaited.
A smelly homeless man far away shook his head in disappointment. A blob-like thing lamented its wasted milk.