She was the Thule Societies theos div, their answering antiphon to the Manhattan project. When the bombs came to where they kept her, the apparition stirred within her, like an octopus embryo flexing its tentacles inside its egg-case. This presence, this ghost living all along her nerves, smashing the discs of her spine like fine china, set her breast on fire with hate & shadow. The fingers of the specter drifted inside her like the hammers of a piano, pounding, drawing her along the blaze of ley lines & to the sites of cave-ins where crickets & the cries of trapped explorers were the only sounds. She climbed, slowly, into the hollow earth, until she came to a great salty ocean in a boundless grotto.
She moved then upon the face of the waters for years. These were mute eons where the secret thing dwelling within her was silent, & grew covered in a wax brought by subterranean bees, fed on the pollen of eyeless cave-fish, moist fungi. She angled for the creatures of the deep in the dark sea with bait & tackle, caramels & brightly coloured toffees, hooks & lures. Her eyes grew wide, desperate for small shreds of light, shed infrequently by bioluminescent fishes & nudibrachs. The translucent cocoon in time hardened into lacquer, stained with a vibrant blue patina. Her lips glimmered, wet with sugar & motes of starlight, a mother-of-pearl slash across her face.
The thing within her hatched from its dormancy then, & moved her again. She came up from the belly of the earth like a bottle rocket shot into the heavens. She burned bright now, a halo crowning her head like the rings of Neptune, her wide eyes lit like chinese paper lanterns. Everywhere, a sound accompanied her, the dim susurrus of the phantom, whispering of power & glory. She took up rooms at a hotel called The Black Palace, who's swinging sign had a pitchfork etched upon the glass. She became a socialite, given to cruel & idiosyncratic tendencies, & in polite circles it was said that she was a princess who had fallen from the pitiless moon. Theos div, the holy spirit within her, learned of the world of men, & grew.
Until one day it shed her like a fawn-skin parka. She was dashed to the floor, collapsing like a macabre marionette whose strings had been severed by a machete. As she laid there, halo shattered, empty but for her death rattle, theos div moved above her. The thing resembled nothing so much as her in her youth, so many decades ago, candy-heart sewn into her chest, haunted eyes slightly too large for her face. Fallen, she was now the ghost, dressed in cerement cloth, as vacant as the Mary Celeste. With a sudden clarity, she saw the will-o-wisp carried so long in the gaol of her ribcage. It was a sunspot, silhouetted against the world; a black shape, an idol born from the oubliette of flesh, shrouded in vapor. Motionless, as though she had plunged to the bottom of a tall stair (pausing only to snap her back on a banister), she saw the thing bend over her, holding a black & silver box up to its face. As the shutter closed, she knew once & finally that the name of the thing that had been within her was Apollyon.
& there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
(photography by alaina burri-stone)