Fiction: Graffito Flow

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By W. H. Pugmire

Silver moonshine filtered through the mist of dusk. Lifting her eyes to heaven, a blind woman sang to darkness. Autumn wind brushed against her lank hair and moaned softly at chapped red ears. She listened to the sound and whispered an accompaniment as the breeze embraced her like a friend who kisses throat with chilly fondness. Night and wind and invisible moon were her ancient friends; they would not mock or mar as others had done. Moonbeams illuminated the pale patches that had once been eyes; they played on scars etched into flesh of face. Madness tugged her mouth.

A distant sound approached, and music was swept from her lips; she mumbled, listened to heavy footfalls, pressed her lean body into a shadowed crevice of stone and clutched her face with twitching fingers. Ragged nails dug into her face. Streams of scarlet, dark and smooth, trickled down the flesh. The man passed without hesitating. She could sense this unseen mortal, feel him flow by her like some thickness of shadow in the obscurity of her shattered existence. The footsteps faded and were gone. Staggering into cool lunar light, she sucked in air. Ah, how moonlight washed its spectral madness to her withered brain. Cracked lips, discoloured by tiny streams of drying blood, flapped open into wailing song.

He walked in silver moonlight. Once, such a night would have filled him with wondrous delight, but on this night he roamed with misery pulsing his heavy heart. The boy he had loved was dead, a victim of self-destruction. Spasms of guilt and misery shook his flesh and churned his stomach. He shuddered with self-pity. His wide hands flew to his mouth so as to smother the scream that threatened to crack open his foaming mouth as streams of lunar light illumed the tears that stained his eyes. Such a light had played on the dead eyes when he had found the boy’s corpse on the floor of their bedroom, a razor near the slit of opened flesh, that black and crimson gash in his beloved’s throat. He had howled to such a moon at that hour of tragic misery.

“I must escape you!” he cried out. “You damn me with your dead light!” Shaking with impotent rage, with moist hands clutching at his hair, he fled into the gloom of an alley. Crumbling mortar, ancient brick and soft shadow soothed both mind and soul. He edge his way along that portion of the alley that was not consumed by edacious moonlight. Halfway into the passageway, he stopped and smoothed head and hands against cool brick. From somewhere beyond he could hear the faint sound of a woman singing. Beams of light streamed onto the wall of building opposite him, and his attention was drawn to what looked like an odd pattern of graffiti. Something in the weird shape of the thing drew him to it, and thus he stepped into the chilly celestial light. The figure on the wall had so caught his attention that he had not noticed the bundle of discarded clothing until having stepped upon it. Kneeling, he fingered the damp attire, and then he reached for the shard of shattered wine bottle that lay next to the pile of garments. He held the jagged piece of glass to moonlight and squinted as a splinter of light pierced into his eye. Standing, he examined the glass again, and thought that he could make out a mockery of his damned face reflected thereon. Looking again at the wall of brick, his allowed his free hand to touch the scrawl of graffiti, the surface of which was warm and soft, coaxing. His fingers tingled. He leaned closer to examine a portion of the queer shape, one that seemed to contain an image of a human face that was blurred disproportionally, its features stretched fantastically.

He pressed the piece of glass against the facial semblance on the wall, tracing its outline. Again, the glass caught moonlight, glinting as did the razor held in a dead boy’s hand. His brain ached with cursed memory. Tenderly, he pushed the shard of glass into the back of his hand. Flesh parted.

He looked again at the facial mockery on the wall and raised his wounded hand to where the image seemed to have a mouth. “Drink. Blood is life.” Overwhelmed with sudden weeping, he let his body fall against the aged brick. His face pressed against his stain of blood, the taste of which soaked into his mouth, the mouth that tingled and grew hot. He tried to push his face away, but the effort was difficult. When at last he had succeeded, his eyes widened at the sight before him. The shapeless pattern was moving sluggishly in different directions, like some thing newly awakened. It had absorbed his blood. He watched in horror as his hands, still pressed against the image, began to spread with its movement. Those hands flattened. They began to spread, to flow. He gasped for air as pain pounded in his skull to the palpitation of his frantic heart.

Strange mist rose from the flowing shape that crept before him, an emanation that found his gasping mouth. His force of resistance ebbed from him, and once more he fell against the wall. His face, as it smashed against the wall, began to fall apart and spread. His frame of flesh and bone shriveled, consumed by the flowing substance. The shard of glass fell from what had once been fingers, and his clothing dropped and joined the other heap of accoutrement. How numb were his lips. How weird it was to feel one’s wretched body twist and spread and fall apart. What ghastly horror gripped the remnant of his brain.

What had been his face turned away from the wall, to moonlight. As he was pulled higher along the surface, he could feel the detestable moon burn into his eyes. There it floated, that symbol of lunacy and romance. It was his final sight.

Somewhere in the distance, a wretch raised her voice in eerie song.

Bio: Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire has been writing Lovecraftian horror fiction since the early 1970s. His work has appeared in such magazines as Weird Tales, Deathrealm, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Fantasy Macabre. These past two years have seen him writing like a lunatic, and his four books to be published this year are The Tangled Muse, Some Unknown Gulf of Night, Depths of Dreams and Madness, and The Strange Dark One – Tales of Nyarlathotep. He is working on his next two books.

Note: “Graffito Flow” first appeared in Heart Attack #1, 1991. This version has been completely rewritten by the author.