Fragment # 3
Neddal Ayad

I do know that it is achromatic and that occasionally it gives the impression of movement. At times I've had the feeling that an image was about to form on its face and once, I thought I caught a glimpse of a gnarled and twisted arm rising out of an obsidian pool, but it never resolved, and given my condition at the time (my throat stitched together, lacerations bisecting my face, multiple stab wounds to my chest and back, a high fever...) I could have seen just about anything.

Every time they bring me before this altar they look at me expectantly, as if waiting for me to do... what? When nothing happens they growl amongst themselves, but never approach me.

Previously I'd always come to in a quiet room located near a small alcove off what appears to be the main tunnel. This time something was off. I found myself on an immaculate metal table in an operating theatre. I wasn't alone. Several of the surgeons were working frantically on one of their own. I don't believe the patient had been anesthetized, four surgeons held him down while a fifth clamped his muzzle shut. Two others made frantic cuts into a large growth on thie colleague's right side. As they cut deeper, a horrible shrieking and hissing reverberated through the room.

The lead surgeon grimaced and held up a savage-looking implement and plunged it into the incision. A woeful keening and baying sound joined the hissing and shrieking. The surgeon snarled, exposing his canines, the first sign of aggression or hostility I'd seen from any of the cynocephali. A noxious odour filled the room as the surgeon excised a screaming, pulsating mass of hair and teeth.

As soon as the thing was removed, he ran from the room leaving his assistant to staunch the bleeding and suture the wound. The patient had relaxed, the baying and keening stopped and the surgeon holding his muzzle loosened his grip.

He looked in my direction, seemed surprised that I was awake and gave a low bark to one of his colleagues. They went back and forth for a minute or so before they reached an agreement. The surgeon who had been holding his colleague's muzzle left the room quickly. He returned a few minutes later, made as if he was about to approach the other table but turned quickly and jabbed me in the neck with a large syringe. He looked slightly ashamed of himself.

As the room faded the head surgeon returned, saw the syringe, saw me, and let out an angry howl.

I dreamt. I dreamt of a sickly red haze that swept in from the sea and enveloped that blasted, moldering little town. I dreamt of the crying-man, and the things that moved beneath his skin. I dreamt of the altar and that bent and crooked arm, reaching... I dreamt that the arm resolved into the neck of a black swan, its oily feathers shimmering. I dreamt that I could not leave that town. That the dog-faced men, the ghouls, and the crows knew this and that they would keep bringing me back. They would keep bringing me back until, until...