In the Garden of Nightmares

September 03, 2019 2 min read

Maeltopia digital art by Mark Anzalone titled In the Garden of Nightmares featuring a demonic woman with a large mouth of long, sharp fangs.

My mother had prepared dinner in the basement, her voice an out-of-tune violin beckoning me below. The darkness at the bottom of the stairs cringed beneath the orange glow of tiny palpitating suns, each one throned atop a series of silver sconces. The smorgasbord on the table before me lay cool and covered under a winter of dust. My brother and father sat to my left and right—vacant shells starved of will and appetite.

I looked across the table at my mother. Her smile was a lip-glossed sickle, yet her stare betrayed an imprisoned fear, as if her eyes were held captive in their orbits. Her bottom jaw grew slack, dropping heavy and monstrous onto the table. Her yawning mouth was a wet grotto of kernel-like teeth, beyond which dwelled a hungry black universe poised to swallow all. From it, I could hear the strange rumblings of discussion—voices, aristocratic in tone, boisterously demanding to be fed. I envisioned a dinner party crowded with fatted sultans, corpulent kings, and gluttonous dignitaries, all seething with haughty contempt somewhere in the pit of my mother's gut.

Amidst the cavil rumblings, my mother’s hands worked to shovel the rotting meats, fetid pastas, and molding breads into her maw. The stinking fare splattered like sickly tidal waves against her face and down her gullet, and I could hear the nauseating echoes of slovenly magnates gorging themselves deep inside. Her eyes began to spill tears as her limbs worked feverishly to feed the throated void. I could almost hear her attempt to scream as she forcibly stuffed the squishy bodies of both my brother and father into her gnashing mouth. The crunch of bones and smack of pulpy flesh were dwarfed only by the sounds of the glutting men in the void. Before I knew it, I was being dragged towards the voracious jaws of my mother—another squirming meal for the plump, decadent tapeworms feasting in her bowels.

Then I woke up.

I was firmly strapped to a bed, an industry of undulating tubes and alien machinery all around me. I saw others like myself, strapped to their own mattressed prisons, their eyes closed but their mouths open and choked with screams. Our heads were connected to large tangles of hoses, some of which fed into large glass chambers. Hideous things gestated within them, nourished by the stolen dreams siphoned from our sleeping minds. Other tubes went out into the world, where the dark phantasms of our sleep spilled across the landscape like stardust in space, birthing horrors no longer pent by slumber. We were damned to a life of darkest dreaming, terraforming the world with our nightmares, making it livable to creatures that would call it home.


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