Like a house slave sweeping dirt into a pile, Orholam had heaped together all the earth’s horrors and sin. Whistling a nursery song, he gathered barbarities and cruelties and outrages as Gavin lay on his back in the center of it all, arms spread, thrashing against his bonds. Dustpan filled to overflowing with creosote sins, Orholam turned toward Gavin for the first time.
As he turned, his face was blinding bright, unknowable, a miasma of razor-edged light, but at the corner of his mouth, his beard twitched with a torturer’s glee.
“Servient omnes,” Orholam said. All shall serve.
He upended his dustpan over Gavin’s face. Gavin screamed, but his words were taken from him like silk torn from the spool in a spider’s gut, unwinding until it snapped inside him, leaving him empty and shattered inside. He tried to turn, twist, look away, but his eyes were propped open. There was no escaping the bulbous, congealed ordure schloomping toward his eye.
The whole mass fell. And as it fell, it caught fire and burnt in the air, sizzling, spattering, spitting angrily.
And afire, all the world’s sin fell into Gavin’s eye and set his orb aflame. The fire sank sizzling into his socket, gases escaping, tssst, like a sigh from a disappointed father at his failure son.
And the fire lodged in his eye, burning, and he screamed for ages past counting, until his throat was raw and tongue was dry, until deserts blew barren sands into snow, and his attempts to shriek faded, and his skin grew hard and cracked, and the burning shard impaled him, pinning him to the world, cooled by temperature’s reckoning but not by pain’s, and the shard crystallized, and the smoke cleared, and impaling Gavin’s blind eye was a black prism.
Gasping, Gavin woke from his dream to find himself in darkness. But his arms jerked hard against iron manacles.
He was shackled to a table, arms extended. The nightmare wasn’t over.
The nightmare had just begun.