A tear slowly slides down his cheek. It glides on, crystal clear and soulless, created to embody his suffering, but oblivious to the pain of its maker − he who excreted it and then cast it out of his eye to be a messenger whose mere existence proclaims more than any amount of words could. This drop of brine meanders on to his chin. Soon it isn’t alone anymore. Its younger sister, launched from the other eye, rushes to catch up to it. Still, it doesn’t care. Selfish and ungrateful, the entirety of its simple nakedness glimmers. Lips stand in its path and it soaks them as well, charging in the slightly agape cavity of the mouth, between the teeth, onto the tongue, moistening the dry palate. In its wake follows another of her sisters, then another one again. They race, overtaking one another, melding, all the while reflecting the light and spreading a shimmering web across his face.
The tongue wanders along his lips, absorbing more and more salt − left, up, right, down, right, up, left. His cheeks clench in pain, but the flood isn’t stopping. He wants to let it all out, to be purified, empty and light.
His mind still reels. A red mist fills it to the brim and bloody delirium covers his eyes. His head is monstrous in size, but light, like a balloon about to take to the sky. A balloon made of porcelain. He must not break it, although he would enjoy doing just that, giving way to the pressure of madness pumping from the inside, to let the blackness flow out and corrode the world around him so he could fall through the cracks.
His eyes, swamped with tears, keep closing and he keeps opening them again and again, blinking, his vision blurry. He must stay awake. He’s rubbing his eyes, irritating them further. He has to think. Why think? What about? Why is he crying? He doesn’t know. Because of everything. What everything? He is not sure. There’s a lot of it. And then again, it seems like there is only one reason. But he can’t formulate it properly, this reason isn’t crystallized enough to be seen and a solution found. He must calm down. He has to classify, categorize, nominate, evaluate, measure. Approach the problem from a rational standpoint in order to solve it. Fingers of his mind trudge around in his brain, smashing in tiny chunks, squeezing, feeling. They die as well. They can’t go on anymore, beaten and torn as they are. They swirl, flickering before disappearing. Thoughts are battling, the thunder of their conflict shaking the wounded grey of the brain. Smells and sounds are mixed up. There is music, but he cannot discern it. He feels its sweet, enticing musk that irritates him. He’s twitching, but not getting up. He is incapable of it. He’s swearing, mumbling, cursing, biting his lip. Crimson sticky salt is mixing with the clear one. His guts are tearing themselves apart, they want out, they can’t stay inside him any longer. Pain. That is the only word drumming in his head, the only thing he feels. He doesn’t know what his body looks like anymore. It seems to him that all of his organs had liquified, mixed up and separated again, different than before, unknown. They are still unsure of their positions and functions, so they bounce around and torture him. Why is this happening to him? What did he do to deserve this? Through slowly drying tears he is trying to take a look around. Everything is black and red, murky and opaque. The pain prevents him from seeing clearly. Agony tramples on, unstoppable, drilling through his body and mind. He must reach the Purgatory. Yes, the Purgatory, that’s the solution. There he’ll be able to leave all these troubles behind, to get rid of the pain. Its name is not really Purgatory, he knows that, but the real name had been pushed out, replaced with this one. It doesn’t really matter. It’s Purgatory now. But how to get there? So close, and yet so far... At least the tears have stopped. He can’t even cry anymore, no matter how much he would love to. It would make everything easier. He’s jerking, twitching, his whole mind clenching along with his body, a small bloody knot of his consciousness, shivering in the enveloping delirium. It feels like he will explode into a million tiny slimy pieces, staining everything with his intestines. Then he will drip from the walls and the furniture, disgusting and abominable. Pieces of him will slide down, unremovable and unwashable. Enough! Focusing on getting up, he has to get there. The brain is sending messages to the arms in some way that, until now, seemed completely forgotten, and they obey, but each one feels as if it’s burdened with several weights. Like he’s swimming through jello. They lurch, push away and turn him upright. He doubles over. Such an effort for the rest of the body, merely to stand straight! Onwards, march! He is stumbling, unaware of anything around him but a single ray of light coming from somewhere in front of him, immeasurably far away. That is Purgatory. He must reach it, but the pain stops him.The nightmare of the flesh continues and he can’t wake up. He can barely feel his legs as they make a tiny little step, and then another. The only thing he feels is something swirling inside of him, wanting out, through the mouth, the nose, the navel, through every pore. Step by step. Swelling, growing, he will fill everything around him like some gargantuan shivering soft mass that just keeps on growing and growing, inflicting pain on itself as it rises like dough. Step by step. The sliver of light remains out of reach. Step by step. The beam grows an inch wider. Step by step. Time flows around him, slow as silt, his legs get bogged down and something’s screaming inside, ripping, tearing and howling. Step by step. The light is brighter now, but there’s still a long way to go. The road keeps hitting his feet, crushing, turning, breaking and twisting, pain in every step. One by one. Like some monstrous bloody clock whose displaced pendulum is located at the centre of his skull, punching and shaking the bone walls as it’s swinging. After innumerable steps, the entrance is in front of him. The cold touch of ceramic is a blessing on his feet. Clear bright burning white light pierces his eyes but he’s thrilled to see something besides the crimson darkness of agony. He eases himself down, pleasant shivers running up his spine. The pain starts leaving him, coming out in waves, turning him into an empty shell ready to be filled with something beautiful. Pleasure surges through his body. Is there a more beautiful feeling than this ecstasy born of lack of pain? Tears flood his eyes again, this time to celebrate the end to a century of terror, as the last remnants of suffering leave him with grunts and twitches as parting shots. He is clean now. He wipes himself, stands up, turns around and flushes. Then he washes his hands, uses the towel and leaves the toilet to get himself another anti-diarrhea pill.