Originally posted sometime in March 2021 with the name ‘Hand Horror’. Original plan was to make art for it and then repost it, but the art can come later. If it ever does.
surrealist horror(?), 1.8k words.
His hands aren’t shaking. They’re shaking. No they aren’t. They just have worlds inside them. He is a painter and he is painting, so his hands can’t possibly shake.
Painting. Yes. That’s what he’s doing. Look, look, look at the canvas, and look at all the details in it. He’s looked at nothing besides this canvas. He barely knows he has hands and arms and shoulders at all, he just knows that there’s a canvas and he has paint and a brush and a world inside that needs to be released. Even if it takes an entire afternoon. And evening. And an hour after that, don’t worry, he’ll sleep eventually. Eventually.
Listen, he found a world, right? He found a world because the world wasn’t being too good to him. It was a rough week, right? And he has things to do, he really does, but right now he’s lost a friend and he’d rather lose the memory of that and of whatever responsibility he has, just for a day, just for a day, just for this world. Give the world a world. Well, it’s the least he can do, right? Give the world he’s in a world from inside his arms.
Yes, it’s his arms. His arms are aching. He doesn’t notice because his arms don’t exist so how could they ache? He doesn’t exist. It’s just the world in front of him. No, not even the canvas exists. Only the horses. The road and the horses and the people on the horses. They’re riding back and forth, home to home, the same way they did in this world before the trains happened. Back in the good old days, when he was a child.
Wait. Horses. That doesn’t sum up right in his mind. When did he ever know people in the real world to ride on horses in his lifetime?
No, nonono, that’s just a trick of the memory. Just a fabricated memory. He was just remembering it wrong, he remembered, the memory was actually of him and some others pretending to be horses as children. Pretending to be horses as children, yes, those were the good old days. Silly him, silly him, remembering such a thing wrong.
Memory is the enemy. Memory is the enemy, he smiles and paints and he doesn’t have arms. They ache, and inside his arms there aren’t any arms. There are only roads. Roads with trees on the side. Yes, trees, those don’t exist in the good new days, in the good new days which he started to see when his mind spilled into the canvas paper and ink and– remembering when he used ink as paint, he’s remembering when he used ink as paint and it didn’t go well, he just ended up going into the future.
Useless ink. Ink isn’t like paint. Paint, meanwhile? Takes you to another world, while ink just gets you to the future.
Actually, that isn’t even true. Or it is. It’s not suddenly not another world just because it’s climbing from his arm to his hand after making the trip from his brain to spine to blood and arm, there he is, in front of the canvas and there’s an arm in his world– yes, that, and a world in his arm. Fuck, it hurts. It really fucking hurts, it’s in his right arm. The world. The one from his mind specifically. The one he’s living in doesn’t exist.
No, nothing exists. Not the pain, even though an hour later, once the painting’s done, he’ll rant about just how much it fucking hurts and how much of a clown he is for painting for hours on end and losing it, and losing himself in the painting, and losing it for hours on end because the world’s wonderful actually, it’s just that he needed to go into his own world, because he can control it, and that’s why the pain doesn’t exist right now. Nothing does. No. Not the lost friend. Not the memories. Not the world, definitely not the world.
It’s just horses here. It’s just horses riding on the bone in his arm, swishing the blood around and turning them into their fuel. There are riders on the horses, but in his world they’re skeletons. Skeleton riders on blood-made horses. That’s normal, that’s very very normal. Normal in this world. It’s fine. They’re in his bones and they’ll make for very pretty art, very pretty art indeed. Or is ‘pretty’ really even the world? Sorry, meant to write ‘word’. Is the art going to be pretty? No. It’s going to be impactful. It’s going to be so, so impactful so that when he dies it’ll be a tragedy because then no one will get more of his art.
Ah, don’t worry, he won’t be dying any time soon. The more things he makes the more the tragedy can be increased, after all, and to make more things he needs more time. Wonderful mind-screaming things like the painting of the horses on the roads, the bleeding screaming roads take time to be made. Time needs life needs motivation needs anger at himself and at the world which must be fueled into something, something, something.
His hand isn’t shaking. It’s shaking. The world is inside it. The horses are all climbing up there. His arm hurts so much, and so does his wrist. It doesn’t exist, the pain. The horses are climbing into the canvas, after all, and it’s better that they’re in the canvas than in his arm. If it kills him. Even if it kills him, the fucking horses HAVE to be thrown into the canvas and so do the roads and the riders and the screams and the bloods. If. It. Kills. Him.
It certainly feels like it will. His hands and arms are shaking now. It’s making the paint tremble, the canvas tremble, the world tremble. That’s fine. It won’t ruin the painting. He can make it part of the effect, part of the horrifying horrifyinghorrifying horrifying hand horror he’s creating with this painting. The world’s shaking. The road is shaking. There is a big drop of blood at which a rider screams as his horse brings him closerclosercloser to the bright red bright red bright–
He paints. Bright red. Memory. Memory is the enemy. Memory makes bright red seem villainous, but it’s just a colour, right? Bright red? Just a colour. That memory, it might’ve been a fabrication. A violent thing that won’t go away no matter how much and for how long he denies it, but no, it’s clearly just a fabrication. Just like the good old days before the trains came to India brought over by the British, even though he was born in… when was he born?
Memory. Memory. Memory. Memory. A rider on a horse looks into a huge drop of blood, bigger than him and his horse combined, and inside he sees a memory of… a memory of… hand slows, don’t put any of his memories in there, instead make it a stabbing. That’s… that’s not much better, he knows that, but it isn’t personal so it’s fine and he can proceed because it’s a stabbing from an assassin, and yeah, yes, this rider is a royal. A prince who got all he ever wanted, but one time someone tried to stab him. Kill him, assassinate him, for reasons unknown but he blamed himself. He saw himself in the drop of blood, knife getting into his arm instead of his neck as planned, and brightredbrightredbrightred it’ll never get out of his head, never. And listen, listenlistenlisten, it was so red. It was so bright. It was so red.
The whole painting is very red. It’s terrifying. It’s wonderful. And his hand is slowing. He’s almost done. It’s a vast scene. The sky is wonderful, so wonderful, his world is so great and vast and interesting, good job, painter, good job. He grins, but the grin doesn’t exist. Of course it doesn’t. Nothing does. Just the painting. Just the world. Not the one he’s in, not the one his friend who’s not a friend now traverses, she’s pretending he’s not even what he really is and so it doesn’t really matter that she’s traversing the world at all, doesn’t matter, because if the world she’s in doesn’t exist then she doesn’t exist and the words she said before they had to drift off, no, none of that. None of that. None.
Scream into his hand. The world screams into his hand. The prince screams into his hand, he’s terrified, he’s so terrified to be encountering his own memory in the huge drop of blood which the great great clouds, which appear to be blotchy and shaking and trembling but that’s fine, the prince is terrified because he’s seeing his memory in blood which drips from a cloud. It’s not raining. There’s just one big drop, at the end of a… a rope? A rope of blood. A drop at the end. A memory inside. Trembling. Shaking. Bright red memory. Memory is the enemy.
Shaky hands have made them. Every single detail. The details are starting to look shaky, yes, shaky at the right side of the painting. Right at its end. That’s fine, the shakiness makes it… he doesn’t know what it makes it, he just knows that he’s using his probably-fabricated memory for something good, something impactful, something interesting that’ll earn him some worth.
The painting is done.
The painting is done.
His hands are shaking, his breath is shaking, and his heart is too fast. The world ran, you see. It ran straight out of his fingertips. Straight from his elbow to his forearm, every single sinew the horses and their sharp bloody knife-tipped hooves touched, every single cell in his muscles in his right arm. It aches. It stabs. Arm to wrist to fingertips to canvas, and the world’s there. Good job. Good job. It’s horrifying. Good job. Good job. Good job. Good job.
He catches himself red-handed, as his arm loses strength and he has no choice but to let the paintbrush fall to the ground. It’s right next to the pen, and the ink and the blood– no, bright red paint, it’s bright red paint coupled with ink. They’re both together. One to take him to another world, another to the future. Both to melt his brain into so he doesn’t have to be bothered by the thing with its stupid, stupid memories. Memory is the enemy. He didn’t defeat it, he never will till he becomes it in its purest form, but he’s allied with his enemy so that something can come out of all the horror and panic that comes from looking at bright red and thinking and remembering. He took memory and he’s made… something out of it.
Yes. Yes, yes, yes, he’s MADE something! The painting is done!
Time to show it to everyone.