Chapter 1 – Entry in the Catacombs

As I do on many nights, I decide to visit my catacombs. Not out of intent. Not out of desire. Just out of habit. And really – where the hell else would I go.

I open the large wooden door. I can hear it creak on its hinges as I open it. I see the long stone staircase down the brick corridor below – below into my catacombs.

As I enter, the torches light up – one by one as I descend.

I reach the bottom. I never can see all my catacombs when I arrive – but I know what’s there. I used to notice the stench. A putrid mixture of decay, blood, and shit. Add to that the musk, grime, and dirt of the catacombs, and the smell is overwhelming. I don’t even smell it anymore. I know it’s there – and it just smells like home.

I am always greeted by the same thing – a drink. Tonight – as with many nights – a glass of cheap red wine. Maybe if I didn’t have three earlier tonight, I wouldn’t come down here at all.

I pick up the glass – and as I do, the remaining torches light up. I see the closed coliseum door – there will be no battle tonight. The door to upstairs is shut – no cleaning tonight. I am a bit relieved – I can just enjoy my catacombs without too much thought – without too much work. I see the torches downstairs light up – just as they always do. I might head down there in a bit. I look straight in front of me, and a string of torches light a long corridor. Torches on the right – cells on the left. The first cell is Hate. Hate’s huge dark body – with its grey and black feathers- stands twice my height. Its beak could crush my skull in a single strike. But its height – its width – its large beak doesn’t compare to those eyes. Those eyes that just stare. A stare that always follows. A stare that never falters. A stare that never leaves.

I decide to check out the corridor tonight – just to see who’s awake – though I already know.

I walk past Hate’s cell. The next cell is the Anger family. Their charcoal bodies ready to set aflame. Only Bitterness is awake – smoldering in the corner – eyes peering at me with no emotion. Bitterness rarely sleeps. All the others – the leader Anger, along with Rage and Vengeance, are resting comfortably on the stone floor. Their bodies so dark I barely see them – but I know they are there.

The next cell is the Sadness family. Misery – with its penetrating eyes open – seeing in light and darkness – the huge ears listening – the large bushy tail keeping Misery warm on the coldest nights – and the long fingers ready to clasp and never let go – is laying down resting. Sadness and Melancholy are sound asleep.

The cell of the Insecurity family is next door. The largest family down here. Insecurity, Worthlessness, Reclusion, Emptiness, and Hopelessness are all awake tonight. I fed them recently – I feed them often. They are all looking strong – they are all looking healthy. Their grey skin, powerful muscles, flat faces, pinpoint eyes, and undefined mouth all pulsate tonight. Their arrogant smirks follow me. Jealousy – the weakest and least fed member – lies in the corner asleep. Jealousy rarely eats as it’s beaten and harassed by Reclusion – keeping it malnourished.

The Depression family never sleeps. Depression, Loneliness, Delusion, and Agony sit in their corner and barely glance at me. Their grotesque faces, muscular bodies, and mighty wings in full view. They seem to grow stronger without rest, without sleep, without anything.

The next cell is the Fear family. Fear, Failure, and Inferiority are resting tonight. Their six long legs, four massive eyes, and concealed fangs are barely visible tonight – but I know they are there.

The families of Perfection and Stupidity share the next cell. I never understood why. The incomparable sensuous beauty of Perfection and Obsession in the same cell as the clowns of Stupidity and Humiliation. When they rest, as they are tonight, they are always cuddling so tightly together. I am still so confused by that.

The last two cells are singles – and I don’t need to look in on them. Suicide sits in one and Ugliness in the other. Suicide is malnourished and pathetic. Always seated in the same position. Never looking at me – always awake – but just on the cusp. I barely feed Suicide as I don’t have the strength to follow through – just sustaining thoughts. Thoughts and thoughts only – keeping Suicide weak and feeble – but alive – alive and awake.

Ugliness is also always awake – always hideous. Misshaped face, skin covered in pus-filled boils, sickly ashen skin, receding haphazard hair, a body that shows no muscular features. Ugliness stands precisely as tall as me and weighs about the same. I am used to how Ugliness looks – its the sardonic laugh that haunts me – that follows me. I can hear it over all other sounds. I never have to feed Ugliness – it feeds off my presence – on my existence.

I notice my drink is empty – time for another. I head back to the entry and work my way downstairs. Downstairs is the lounge. The well-furnished lounge is stocked with spirits behind a long bar, a comfortable couch, a large dance floor, and a stage. From above, the demon cells all look down. Hate always watches – wherever I go – no matter what I do. The others watch if they desire – sometimes a show entertains. Tonight there will be no show. As with other nights without entertainment, it is cold and dank down here. But it still feels like home.

Downstairs the occupants are different. Naked and perfect Lost Loves stand behind the bar, take all the bar seats except one – my seat – and occupy the dance floor. There are so many of them I can’t remember their names. The others down here are Dead Friends with their nasty eyeless faces. Sometimes there’s one on stage and a couple on the dance floor. Most though are strung up – hung floating by a noose.

Along the wall, there are pictures and white marble statues – the wall of resentment — pictures of those who have done me wrong and never to be forgiven. The images are alive and some nights taunt and laugh at me – reminding me how pathetic I am — reminding me of the power they have over me. The marble statues are worse – they don’t move, they don’t mock. But the spotlights always shine on them – brightly displaying, brightly portraying, brightly jabbing their permanent pain and my resentment.

Tonight, I head straight to the bar and order my final drink – one more glass of cheap red wine. I’ll feel its awful effects in the morning. I gulp it down and head over to the couch to fall asleep. Everyone here has seen this many times before. I come in tired, and there is little to do – just a quick drink, and I pass out on the couch. Tomorrow is another day – and likely a visit back to my catacombs.