DCU: Ultimate Desire #3
Once cannot lock up Desire and not expect the world to change.
Desire was one of the Endless. They were the very beings that existed long before the time of Man. Long before the time of Gods. Seven siblings they were; each one an anthromorphic representation of a facet of existence. Each one an embodiment of an aspect of life. Desire was neither the eldest nor the youngest among the seven. Though in many ways, Desire believes itself to be far wiser than the eldest and far more spontaneous than the youngest of the siblings. Perhaps it was because in many ways, Desire was plain and simply desire. And it desired.
The eldest among them was the one whom they called Destiny. He was a tall figure who always wore the cowl of his robe, obscuring his face from any observers. On his hands was a large heavy book that was bound by a chain onto his right wrist. In this book, everything and anything that would come to pass was already written. And even as he is the chronicler and reader of that which shall and has happened, he leaves no footprints when he walks. He casts no shadow.
Then came Death. Unlike what most expected Death to appear as, Death was a casually dressed attractive woman whom seemed paler than most but far more friendly than was expected of such a being. In many ways, she always retained a symbol of her office on her; sometimes it was an ankh hanging on a chain around her neck. At other times, it was an Egyptian glyph just below one eye. But when she comes to visit someone who has passed on and was to enter whatever comes after life, Death would always leave with the sound of wings in her wake.
Following Death was the third sibling, Dream who seems to have a much more evident presence among the mortal folk. Appearing as a pale figure whose eyes were perpetually hidden in shadow and starlight, Dream’s manifestations tended to adapt to the subconscious mind of the observer. When acting in duty and office, Dream would have his helmet of office, his pouch of Dream Dust and a powerful Crystal upon a chain around his neck. His realm touched upon the sleeping mind of every living thing in the world that could dream. And mind you, there were few that did not.
And in many ways, this was why Desire always found himself spiteful and envious of his brother. For in many ways, Dream’s reach overlapped with his own. And Dream’s influence was what made Desire’s own influence possible.
Destruction was the fourth sibling. Manifesting himself as a heavily built red-haired, bearded man, Destruction was the only one among the siblings who has actually abandoned his position of power. He had come to believe that man no longer needed someone to direct or control the presence of destruction. Though his choice to abandon his realm has in many ways infuriated Dream and Delirium, Destruction continuous to watch his siblings and help them when ever possible.
There was Desire herself. Beautiful. Androgynous in perfection, Desire effortlessly blends with whatever environment she finds herself choosing to visit. She finds a passion in the act of smoking and tends to smile double meaning expressions of deceit and passion. Desire loathes her brother, Dream, and has done many things in hopes of infuriating him more and more. She knows, however, that even the Endless follow laws. And these laws she has not chosen to break. Desire sees herself as the twin sibling of the Despair. Though as to why, she has never deemed to explain.
Despair was the second youngest of the siblings. Squat, pale and overweight, Despair carries upon her countenance a constant expression of discontentment. She wears a ring around her left thumb; the ring has a hook upon it which she uses to habitually tear into her own flesh. She does not seem to mind the pain however and perhaps even secretly delights in it. Though she always sides with Desire on matters, she has shown a concern for the youngest of the siblings… as well as a fondness for their brother Destruction. Despair, however, rarely speaks with Dream or Death.
And lastly, there was Delirium. Constantly shifting in attention, appearance and surrounding, Delirium tends to manifest herself as a short thin child who seems to change the very reality that surrounds her at a whim. Her hair, both colors and style, are said to constantly shift. And her clothes are only as permanent as her short term retention permits. Her shadow never matches her shape and actually has the tangible sensation of velvet when touched. She is said to smell of sweat, late nights, sour wine and old leather. Frighteningly, it was rumored that she was once known as Delight, but has never spoke on the actual reason that lead to her transformation.
Few realized that they existed. Few realized that there was an intelligence behind Death. Behind Dreams. Behind Destruction. Few realized that such concepts in the world had an intelligent embodiment. And fewer even knew the proper ways to supplicate and call these spirits as the Order of Ancient Mysteries had done.
Desire opened his eyes and ever so slowly tried to focus on things better. He allowed his vision to adjust the very moment he realized that he had been taken from his own realm. The stale smell of sweat, wax, and other strange aromas danced in the air. The runes that surrounded the glass prison were unmistakable; they were glyphs of power and magic. And they ensured that Desire would remain inside.
“This is beyond acceptable insanity,” Desire muttered to himself as he sat up, covered himself with one free hand, and groped for a nonexistent pocket upon his chest. Hissing audibly, Desire dropped his hands to the ground, propped himself up to stand, and only then realized what else was in the room. Or rather, who else. “You have come to gloat, haven’t you.”
Desire turned his back towards the new comer and wrapped his arms around his knees, as if stuggling for the next cigarette to puff on. He ignored the great elephantine helmet that obscured his face; it was bronze and black and bone with large rotund lenses for eyes and a spine-like trunk that extended beneath where the maw should be. He ignored the black, robes that were decorated with red and golden tongues of flame. He ignored the red crystal that was tied around his neck, its’ glimmering and shining quality that was visible even in the distance or the pouch tied around his waist filled with the dusk that shaped dreams. “What is it that you want, Morpheus?” Desired hissed out as he flipped one hand through his hair to fix it, “Have you come to gloat? Amused that I would fall for a trap built by mortal wizards and self-proclaimed demon lords?”
“I have come to do no such thing,” Dream replied. He stood just outside the area of the chalk glyphs that surrounded the glass prison. His hands absent-mindedly held the crystal around his neck and rubbed his thumb against it’s surface. “I have noticed your glyph disappear from my gallery. Well, no. In truth, it was your twin sister, Despair who had noticed. And she had asked me to come search for you. There was no difficulty in doing so, considering the dreams that were being born in this household.”
“Despair?” Desire replied, a hint of surprise coating his words, “Despair was the first to notice my disappearance? How poetic.”
“Poetry has no place in this situation,” Dream gave no hint of emotion in his response. Desire stood up and walked towards the glass barrier. He did not care that he was naked. In fact, he never felt more comfortable, except perhaps when he had his robe. Pressing both hands against the glass, Desire slid his face against its surface and stared at Dream with what could only be described as a show of regret.
“Dream,” Desire whispered. Dream heard him nonetheless.
“Will you free me?”
“You know the answer to that,” Dream replied and Desire slammed both fists against the glass as his heart screamed with growing anger. He slammed them down a second time, then pulled back to kick upon the glass. It did not shatter. Desire screamed at the top of his voice at his own brother, “You won’t help me! You will not! You can so easily slide one foot across the chalk and disturb the glyphs to free me but you won’t! You wanted this! You waited for this chance, didn’t you? All those years! Waiting! Waiting for a chance to humiliate me like this!”
“Calm yourself,” Dream merely replied.
“I will not be calm! I will show my rage and my anger! Destruction would have helped me! Despair would have come to rescue me! Delirium might even erase those pretty glyphs out of merely disinterest! But you… you of all the siblings would come here and tell me you will not save me!?!?”
“You know why,” Dream replied again, calmer still if that were even possible.
Desire spat at the glass and threw one last kick upon its surface. Then, he sat down on the floor and began to weep. His tears fell from his face and faded away into the scent of roses and white mist before even hitting the ground. He felt calmer. He felt the truth. His brother was right. There were laws. Their kind operated on such laws. Just as how the same said laws permitted men to contact them if need be. Permitted women to summon the Hecateae. Or the dead.
“Will you at least tell the others?” Desire asked his brother, having embraced the fact that these laws were not to be broken any time soon. “Will you tell them I am here?”
Dream began to fade away. But even as his amorphous form dissolved into the remnants of half-recollected memories and deja vu, his voice came and reminded Desire of the simplest fact about the Endless; they were family, and family always took care of each other in the end.
“You already know the answer to that.”
The man called Roderick Burgess was sprawled on his bed.
His body was naked save the sweat that dotted his overweight and unsightly body as well as the thin translucent robe that he had wrapped around the still engorged shaft that contrastingly stood from the dark forest of damp hair between his legs. He stared at the ceiling, but failed to notice any of the numerous cracks and lines of wear that have announced the slow yet constant deterioration that had afflicted the plaster on his walls and ceiling. Nor did he notice that two days had passed since that late evening when his followers, his son and he finally finished the ritual that had been intended to capture Death… and caught something else instead.
Roderick Burgess realized, however, that he did not really mind that much the fact they caught something else. At least not at the moment. It had been quite some time since he had every felt this… virile. Or this… male.
He remembered the ritual they had cast. He remembered every detail and could not find where he had gone wrong. It was 1916 and Roderick knew that such rituals were never to be taken lightly. The Magdalene Grimoire could not have had the ritual wrong, that much he was certain. So it simply meant someone else must have made a mistake.
He closed his eyes and replayed the events in his mind:
“It is Midnight, it’s time,” his son Alex told him.
“This will be a triumph of the order,” Roderick told his son and reminded him sharply to refer to him as Magus when Alex called him his father. He then took his son with him to the ritual chamber where the glyphs had already been prepared. And where the components needed for the ritual had meticulously been gathered beforehand.
“I give you coin I made from a stone. I give you a song I stole from the dirt,” Roderick began the invocations, raising each appropriate component as he declared the words of power. He ignored the flickering fire light. He ignored his son’s half-hearted focus on the glyphs. “I give you a knife from under the hills. And a stick that I stuck through a dead man’s eye. I give you a claw,” Roderick produced a knife that gleamed in the darkness and began to slice his own left wrist open even while his hand held fast an old ashen feather that seemed to crumble the longer he held it, “I ripped from a rat. I give you a name and the name is lost. I give you the blood from out my vein, and a feather I pulled from an angel’s wing.” The words resonated in Roderick’s head. He felt their power grow like the warmth before a migraine.
“I call you with names, oh my lord, oh my lord. I summon you with poison and summon with pain. I open the way and I open the gates. Come!” Roderick declared and the gathered repeated the word over and over again. “Come!” they intoned in one unified voice. “Come!”
“Come!” Alex Burgess giggled to himself, remembering the sinful experimentation he had done upon his father while he was once fast asleep from too much ale.
Roderick Burgess’ eyes flew open upon realizing it was his son, Alex, who had made the ritual go wrong. And more frighteningly, Roderick realized he had no idea how he knew. All he did know for certain was that his only son, rather than focus on the coming entity of immense power during the invocations, found himself staring at his own father and imagining him in a lewd moment of self-inflicted bliss.
Desire smiled to himself.
He sensed the coming of change. And he knew that his imprisonment was not to last for much longer. Though stripped of his many icons and implements of power, Desire was still ultimately Desire. The glyphs may have imprisoned him, but they did not successfully hinder all of Desire’s abilities. Desire knew all he had to do, was wait. He had already, after all, reached out to Roderick Burgess and set the events that were to transpire to lead to his own desires in motion.
Alex Burgess had locked himself in his own room.
His nimble fingers flipped the part of the golden heart open. It clicked open like an old unoiled lock, then remained open until Alex either pushed it back towards its base, or flicked his wrist strong enough. When open, Alex noticed it had a small rough cylindrical stone. It reminded him of the millstone which his father used when he sharpened his knives. He was not certain, however, why the whole thing smelled of fresh roses, warm musk and salt.
Flick. The golden heart was opened once again. And Alex realized how cold the metal felt against his hand. He clicked it closed then brought the heart-shaped thing to his own chest, pressing its cold metal against the empty space between his nipples. Unlike his father, his chest was smooth and hairless. His pink nipples seemed to yearn to feel the cold metal. His fingers began to slide the metal heart against his chest and towards his stomach.
He hissed, breathing steadily against a nearly closed mouth, then brought the golden heart down til it danced inches from his belly button. He gasped and pulled it away, realizing he had been aroused by his own actions. And realized that impossibly, the golden heart was now silver. Silver and almost glowing. He clamped his legs together, as if trapping his now erect member and perhaps hoping the act trapped his growing lust as well.
Then the knocking came.
“Alex, open this door,” Roderick Burgess knocked heavily against the wooden door. His other hand gripped the cloth tightly, then almost as if in afterthought, Roderick rolled the cloth into a ball and stuffed it down his shirt. Gasping as the brush of it against his naked chest and nipples sent another wave of sensations through him. “Open this door or else.”
But when Alex failed to answer after Roderick knocked for the sixth time, the supposed Daemon king began shoving himself against the door until the wood and old locks began to groan. The wood gave way as Roderick pushed one final time. He stepped into the room to find it empty save the cabinet which was left open and lacking of clothes, the window which was left open and lacking of curtains and lastly, the bed which was empty for the boy was no longer there.
“Alex!!!!!!!!!!!” Roderick screamed out the window and hoped his son would hear his voice and return. But sadly, that was not the case to be.
It was 1920.
A great war had risen. People from various countries bandied in arms to fight for battles they were not truly part of. And many deaths sprouted in many countries that may have never before known war.
Alex Burgess was still missing from his father’s sight. Roderick Burgess was now older but still remained as vibrant and excited for his success in capturing one of the Endless. And Desire remained still locked in his glass prison. The Order of Secret Mysteries had risen now to a membership of over a hundred people. And part of their practices now entailed the initiate women to present themselves personally to himself for what he claimed was saving them from curses and wee folk by using old rock salt, vinegar, numerous Tantric inspired positions which Roderick claimed, “Were intended to clear chakras, give the passages of other’s stories enough time to be read and absorbed, and ultimately grant these women immediate access to the cult.”
But even then, magic had its limits.
And so did man.
It was two years ago when the number of people who sensed a strange detachment towards anything they cared for. The number steadily grew from a single name to extended families in barely one month’s time. No one knew what afflicted all these people. No one understood why they seemed to suddenly no longer care for their loved ones, for their lovers, or for themselves.
The public began to dub the sickness The Indifference.
And all hoped to find some cure someday.
And inside his glass cage, two years since his initial capture, Desire felt the beginnings of a smile creep upon his heart. He sensed the shifting in the world’s acceptance of desire and knew that if the self-professed magus was ever to make a mistake, today it would be. But instead of confronting him directly, Desire knew all he had to do was wait. Wait and observe. Wait and understand what made humanity so different that it would have its own sense of individuality.
After all, no matter how one tries to spin things around, the thousands of children who had all failed to care and want would all eventually grow up someday. And the man who had imprisoned him, would begin to feel the coming of his sister, Death.
And when that happens, everything was finally going to be better.
- end of issue 3 -
by Tobie Abad
Andre Mischa Cleofe
Cathy delos Santos