'hateful' is a better word. the process of writing is agonizing to you, but you do it because you know nothing else. meanwhile this fuckhead sat down at a typewriter every god damned day of his life and churned out something wonderful. you're lucky if you can produce something once a month. with you, creation is a race against yourself, finish before you convince yourself to [[give up]].
of course, this is a bit of a rarity. one of those 'magically right' gifts that dark sorceresses just happen to receive now and again. probably there were better things to do about finding a human femur by a creekside than just stuffing it into a bag and taking it home. calling the cops, for instance. but you had grander things in mind. human litigation is so laughably 'small picture.'\n\nit's the first thing you ever carved by hand, and it's still [[sharp enough to bleed anything|that's what we're going for]].\n\n<<set $knife = 3>>
when you first moved into your house in Savannah, you stood in what would become your room and smiled because of the vertigo you felt. "the floor is tilted," you said and your new roommate nodded. it gave you an odd thrill, the thought of a house so old and so heavy that it was [[sinking into the earth]].
your relationship with the occult began in freshman year of high school. the books you read on the subject were cute but gimmicky, geared primarily toward aspiring wiccans. but they taught you some important [[fundamentals]].
when you were 18 you started keeping your second diary. your first serious girlfriend stole it from under your bed and read it. by now she'd already begun the year-long deliberate process of systematically stripping away every shred of your self-worth. she took notes, used what she learned to humiliate you and justify cheating on you. [[several times]].
"[[i'm sick of this. i'm so fucking sick of this. i'm not happy with myself. i'm not happy with anything. i just want to be happy. fuck, is that so much to ask? i want to feel beautiful, i want to feel meaningful, i want to matter, i want to feel right in my own skin. i want a body to match my soul. give me the power to change myself. who the fuck is it hurting if all i want is to change myself to be perfect in my own eyes? this is all i want, i just want to feel okay, i just want to feel okay, i just want to feel okay|ritual complete]]"
your room is full of books. one large bookshelf, many dusty piles of paperbacks. you used to collect books back when reading was important to you. back when the world the authors wrote about was one that you felt you had anything to do with.\n\nyou need one that's personally important.\n\n[[shadowland]]\n[[the haunting of hill house]]\n[[farenheit 451]]
the same one you carried with you in your schoolbag. you have an intimate relationship with this knife. you understand its weight and its balance. sometimes, when you were bored and alone in your apartment, you would dance with it, throwing it up in the air, twirling it, flickering it through your hands. you dropped it sometimes, but you've never once cut yourself with it. pretty fucking graceful, you must say.\n\n[[you smile as you slide it out of the drawer of your computer desk|that's what we're going for]].\n\n<<set $knife = 1>>
any good ritualist keeps a selection of personal ritual knives. different materials represent different forms of projective energy. the knife must suit the objective.\n\n[[there's the kitchen knife that you keep in your computer desk|kitchen knife]], then there's [[the egyptian kryss you keep in a small stone chest|kryss]], and of course [[the dagger carved from a human femur that you carry around in your satchel|dagger]].
you knew plenty of people throughout your high-school career who cut themselves. enough of them that you came to the conclusion that it was either frighteningly common, or you simply attracted bloodletters the way a siren attracts horny sailors.\n\nyou learned that there were two predominant kinds of cutters: those who wanted to punish themselves for some perceived shame, or those who wanted to experience some kind of [[release]].\n\n<<set $gotBlood = true>>
sleater-kinney makes for pretty good ritual music. you've had good success in the past, anyway.\n\nyou wish you were drinking red wine, not white. it's more symbolic, and you're not feeling very sexy. but the red shit makes your mouth feel dry and gives you a [[headache]].
a nickname given to you by a pompous red-faced stereotype because it sounds vaguely like your last name, and used loudly, publicly and gratuitously to prevent you from raising questions or pointing out false statements in front of his audience. a schoolyard bully tactic in the hands of an educator.\n\n[[you don't like people very much|you don't get the chance, though]]
the sensual choice. the lip bleeds nicely, clustered with so many tiny veins. relatively painless, too. the lips are the most beautiful part of the human body, to your mind. they are the only part of your current body that you find beautiful, sensual, feminine. you pinch your bottom lip in your fingers and draw a straight line down the center with your knife, [[collecting the blood|that's what we're going for]] in a shotglass.\n\n<<set $blood = 1>>
the ritual is working.\n\nthe candles you have lit around yourself begin to glow green, their flames flickering wildly, expanding.\n\nyour nude body begins to [[change]].
<<if $knife eq 1>>your fingers lengthen, become pointed and keen. you know that if you dragged them down a surface they would leave deep gouges at the slightest touch. you can feel your muscles learning new movements though you are paralyzed by what is happening to you. you are becoming swift, graceful, a spring-loaded dancer waiting to spin and glide. [[waiting to move|final]].<<else>><<if $knife eq 2>>a voice calls from some fantastic cosmic depth. its name is Hermes Trismegistus, Apollo, Thoth. you shut your eyes and are shown a vision of a night sky stretching back thousands of years, and your head becomes a crow's head. thousands of years ago, people are worshipping you as the [[goddess of witches|final]].<<else>><<if $knife eq 3>>ram horns appear on your skull, curling backward, hardening. you become aware of every bone buried beneath the earth for thousands of miles around you. they are singing, waiting to be worked into new things and given life and motion by your will. you are tapped into their song. they ache to be [[shaped by your hand|final]].<<endif>><<endif>><<endif>>
you knew several girls who cut themselves on the thigh. usually they belonged to the "i cut myself because i deserve to feel pain" camp. ashamed of themselves, typically because of some onus placed on them by their guardians, they sought release but feared lest anyone should discover their habit. the thigh is most easily concealed. you ponder the coincidence that the most 'shameful' cutting location is also that which lies closest to the genitals.\n\n[[you part your legs, cut, bleed into a shallow dish|that's what we're going for]].\n\n<<set $blood = 3>>
you never feel safe. you never feel truly private. the only writing you do that people seem to seek out is that which you don't want anyone reading.\n\neven at your most confessional, you self-censor. even when you hide behind second-person pronouns you never reveal as much as you'd like. it's a horrific, explosive feeling. the gag in your mouth is [[ten years old]].
as whole portions of you begin to separate and burn away into smoke, you have time to reflect that, at the very least, there were moments where you loved yourself. the ritual was a success in that way. you were simply not meant to exist as what you became.\n\nbut there were [[a few minutes there]]...
a small shard of amethyst, your birth-stone. you hold it in your palm.\n\nmysticism. power. the universe. totality. loneliness. beauty. nightmares.\n\n[[sounds about right|got the jewel]]\n\n<<set $jewel = 2>>
(read: [[disgusting|release]])
"oh hey, everyone, I forgot, [[SEWER]] is our resident authority on magic."\n\nhe plucks the book on elemental magic off of the stack of folders by your feet and holds it up for the class to see.\n\n"magic is wizards and princesses casting spells in a forest. sorry, SEWER, i forgot. please don't curse me, okay?"\n\nyears later you learn that he was eventually fired for punching a student in the face. turns out, [[THAT'S magic]].
you open up the chest you keep your tarot deck in. a first edition paperback of this book is one of the objects inside it. back when you lived in the midwest you pirated an audiobook of this. you lived two hours away from your best friends, and you were lonely, so you made weekend trips to Boone to spend the weekend with them and play D&D. [[this is what you listened to]].
when you were 14 you started keeping your first diary. your mom stole it from under your bed one day when you were at school and read it. then suddenly you were in therapy. she says she had the [[best intentions]].\n\n<<set $gotBook = true>>
a sliver of obsidian. one large, smooth face atop a hundred thousand smaller, rougher faces. you lift it up to the streetlight beyond your fence.\n\ndeath. wisdom. finality. cleansing. control. entropy. insecurity. night.\n\n[[how fitting|got the jewel]]\n\n<<set $jewel = 3>>
//"Imagination, in effect, is like the soul's eye; therein forms are outlined and preserved; thereby we behold the reflections of the invisible world; it is the glass of visions and the apparatus of magical life."\n\nEliphas Levi, The Dogma and Ritual of Ceremonial Magic//
daymare #1: "ritual"
he's vomiting apologies.\n\n"fuck man I'm so sorry, I don't know what I was thinking yesterday, I'm an idiot, you didn't deserve that, I hope we can be cool, don't worry about me, you're cool bro, totally my bad."\n\nyou later learn that Ian, someone you had spoken to only once or twice, saw what had happened. he told his friends. they cornered pink-shirt when he was alone, threatened to beat the ever-living shit out of him if he ever [[did it again]].
like most things occult, the location at which you choose to bleed yourself is symbolic. for this particular ritual operation, you feel that your best three options are:\n\n[[lip]]\n[[wrist]]\n[[thigh]]
so many wondrous secrets. you have become something so entirely different, so unimaginably powerful. but your transformation continues, does not stop. the walls of your house begin to peel away from each other, and in the spaces revealed are dark, ageless things. your skin withers, divides. your body rises. the room becomes wreathed in chromatic fire, hot as a blue sun, and it [[washes over you]].
because Valley High was oppressive enough to make you want to kill yourself, you transferred out to an alternative school. it was small. everyone knew each other. all cliques were represented; preps, jocks, gangsters, goths, hipsters, users. but everyone knew they were in it together, everyone had been shouldered out of someplace else for shitty reasons, so everyone got along. everyone knew each other. the outspoken, creative kids were revered, which means you did [[pretty well for yourself]].\n\n<<set $gotKnife = true>>
each time you look down at your body is like a sudden twist in the guts, one of those "son of a bitch" moments of self-loathing that takes an hour to stop thinking about. black magic's pretty much the only way to get your body into the shape you want it, so [[that's what we're going for]].
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your science teacher is a loud-mouthed alpha-male mouth-breather, the sort who shamelessly gives good grades to the football players regardless of their actual results. one day he's standing at the front of the class giving a speech about how if he doesn't understand something, it's magic.\n\nhe pulls his cell phone out of his pocket. "like this thing. really advanced technology, right? i can make calls to anywhere in the world. i have no idea how it works. that's what 'magic' is."\n\nstupidly, you [[shake your head]].
a small hinged box, painted black. it's important to keep gems buried, since they're attuned to the earth and all. each color represents something. Crowley would have specific definitions for each one, but he was an egomaniacal fuckface pervert, so fuck him. they mean what you think they mean at the time.\n\n[[green]]\n[[purple]]\n[[black]]
you bought this at an egyptian gift store that used to exist in the city you grew up in. the inside was painted black and constantly smelled of sandalwood incense. the owner was a bookish older man who would take any opportunity to ramble about egyptian mythology, and you drank him up. his eyes would widen and sparkle as he rambled on about the Emerald Tablets of Thoth. you were much too young to buy this knife, but he sold it to you anyway.\n\nyou wonder whatever happened to that guy as you [[pick up the kryss|that's what we're going for]]\n\n<<set $knife = 2>>
miss jackson is responsible for your fascination with houses, particularly the idea of them as sentient beings, maintaining relationships with the humans that inhabit them. you would like to haunt a house when you die.\n\nyou plan to get an abbreviation of the first paragraph of this story tattooed on your forearm. it is the kind of paragraph you could spend an entire career aspiring to write.\n\n(google it)\n\n[[book get|that's what we're going for]]\n\n<<set $book = 2>>
<<if $jewel eq 1>>rich emerald light begins streaming from your eyes and open mouth. all at once the universe teaches you spells to move through trees, to fly with birds, to turn forests into mazes. your new skin begins to smell of ozone. your back opens and great, shining wings emerge and stretch magnificently. ripples of fast, cold [[pleasure|step 3]] course through you.<<else>><<if $jewel eq 2>>violet light fills the air of your room. it pours from your mouth, your eyes. your ears open to greater secrets, and the universe teaches you to read the lines of the great web, to cause waking dreams and nightmares to whomever you wish, to shut your eyes and be transported anywhere. a chilling burn begins in the center of your forehead and expands, and a third eye opens there, glowing darkly and seeing all which lies beneath the skin of the [[tangible|step 3]].<<else>><<if $jewel eq 3>>the room darkens. your new skin begins devouring the light. shadows pull their way to you from all corners, and they stream from your fingertips like living smoke. they whisper to you, teaching you new spells, how to slide through walls, how to speak to the dead, how to read thoughts and walk unseen. a tail, long and serpentine, emerges from the base of your spine, proof to all that you are [[no longer human|step 3]].<<endif>><<endif>><<endif>>
<<if $blood eq 1>>the wound on your lip spreads apart, skin peeling away, blood running freely down your chin and neck and over your breast. you lick it away. the taste is sweet, not normal blood, vibrant and charged. you have [[worlds within you|step 4]].<<else>><<if $blood eq 2>>the wound on your wrist opens itself like a waking eye and within your body are boundless depths of potential. you see all of your ideas, your unborn creations and works of art buried in the future of your own flesh. if you were to wave your bleeding arm, a hundred thousand towers would [[spring from the ground|step 4]].<<else>><<if $blood eq 3>>the blood running down the wound on your thigh thickens and coils around your leg, then up your waist, over your arm. the coil imprints itself into you like a tattoo, visible to all, a vibrant signature of worth and power and prowess, glyphic war-paint. you have marked yourself and all who see you will [[know who you are|step 4]].<<endif>><<endif>><<endif>>
the powerful choice. anyone brave enough to cut their own wrists has a dedication that most people lack. it makes you cringe and the pain is outstanding, but there's no lack of blood. you gather up what you can in a shotglass. you can practically smell the [[fury|that's what we're going for]].\n\n<<set $blood = 2>>
<<if $gotKnife>>you were never into cutting. most of your friends were, but you couldn't stand the thought of a blade slicing through your skin. it's still unpleasant to you, but blood is a necessary component in any serious ritual. [[needs must]].<<else>>can't really get this one without getting a knife first.\n\n[[back|that's what we're going for]]<<endif>>
you need these things:\n\n<<if $gotBook>><<else>>[[book]]\n<<endif>><<if $gotBlood>><<else>>[[blood]]\n<<endif>><<if $gotKnife>><<else>>[[knife]]\n<<endif>><<if $gotJewel>><<else>>[[jewel]]\n<<endif>><<if $gotBook and $gotBlood and $gotKnife and $gotJewel>>[[that's everything]]<<endif>>
not the shit you learned in high-school, though, those novelty books you picked up at Border's. the real stuff. the stuff that peels back the skin of reality and sensibility and gets you drunk on the thought of changing the universe.\n\n[[this will do nicely|that's what we're going for]]\n\n<<set $book = 1>>
a bird flies because it has wings and the compulsion to fly. you write because of that same compulsion. but at your core, you lack passion. so in the end, what good are you?\n\n[[anyway, you've got the book now|that's what we're going for]]\n\n<<set $book = 3>>
your body abandons its previous shape.\n\nyour face, your most hated feature, becomes feminine, soft, beautiful. your wide eyes and wide grin could kill from a mile away.\n\nthe rest of your body follows suit. flat stomach, pale skin, slender arms, shapely legs, supple breasts.\n\n[[so far so good]]
you are not furious enough to ever create anything worthwhile.\n\nthis ritual is going to end badly. that's okay, though. you're pretty much banking on it. you feel like there isn't much to lose.\n\n[[head back inside|that's what we're going for]]
you've heard the Clarke quote, "any sufficiently advanced technology" and all that. it makes sense. unfortunately, this guy is an idiot with no grasp of the quote's actual significance.\n\nyou want to say "no, that's not magic, that's personal ignorance." you want to say "magic isn't what we don't understand, it's what we're //incapable// of understanding but which affects us anyway."\n\n[[you don't get the chance, though]].
it was a weird thing to learn. heartbreakingly sweet. you felt safe and unsafe all at once.\n\nyou never told anyone that the night pink-shirt shoved you, you went home and put a kitchen knife in your [[schoolbag]].
you are aware that you are dying. in your celestial foresight, you know that seconds from now your own uncontainable power will wrench you apart and dissolve you. you will be cinders for a few moments, then ash, then smoke, then finally you will cease to exist. the pain will be agonizing, indescribable, a universe unto itself. but then there will follow a clean, comforting [[darkness]].
all of the components of your ritual lay gathered before you.\n\nyou raise your arms and begin speaking words of conviction.\n\nthe words themselves don't matter. modern magical practice teaches us that the particular words are meaningless; it is not necessary to memorize some convoluted ritual prayer. the only words that matter are those in which we [[truly believe]].
<<if $book eq 2>>your skin hardens slowly. it is agonizing at first, then pleasurable, then agonizing in turns. gradually your skin turns to wood, flecked with scales of peeling black paint. you scream aloud. the pain is overwhelming, but you are comforted by the knowledge that [[even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream|step 2]].<<else>><<if $book eq 1>>your skin softens. you feel as though all that composes you, every thought and sound and love and memory, is dissolving out of your pores. soon your skin has turned to starlight. your very existence is a composure of childhood memories and fears. you are a symphony of regrets and ambitions. you no longer belong to the physical world. [[the birds have come home|step 2]].<<else>><<if $book eq 3>>your eyes widen in a moment of shock as, all at once, your skin lights itself ablaze. you scream aloud and writhe in the fires of your own biology. your skin burns and ascends like scraps of paper. the pain is overwhelming at first, but soon shock takes over and wonder takes it place as you watch pages of yourself, bright and blazing, dance through the air and flutter slowly down towards the floor. [[you are a burning book, censored for fear of the ideas you would spread|step 2]].<<endif>><<endif>><<endif>>
one day, during lunch, you were standing outside with your friend Lars, deciding where to go. a Valley student, coming to attend night school, pulled up in his daddy's nice car. sunglasses, pink polo shirt, swagger. he and his three friends got out and approached you. he puts his hands on your chest, shoves you.\n\n"you some kinda [[faggot]]?"
you are exquisite. your confidence swells. you wish you could look at yourself in a mirror. your hair grows long and straight and fringey, just like you've always wanted. it's all so fucking beautiful. in your head you hear "would you fuck me? I'd fuck me" and you laugh out loud, and your voice is so fucking sultry because your vocal cords have shaped themselves that way.\n\na few long, divine moments of self-satisfaction.\n\nbut after those moments, you [[continue to change]].
it was unabridged, so in other words, long as fuck. you listened to it on the way there, on the way back, and then in your free time, staring at your ceiling. you took midnight walks down to the playground tucked behind a wall of middle-class suburban houses, where you laid down on the jungle gym and stared at the stars, listening to a story unfold that taught you that [[magic was still a part of your life]].
bradbury is one of your biggest inspirations. his prose is mellifluous, musical, poetic, passionate. his love of writing suffuses every passage he ever wrote. you are [[envious]].
you pick up the nice big chunk of peridot and hold it in your fingers. nature. balance. acid. wet leaves. forests. placelessness. poison. lost temples. slime.\n\n[[this'll work|got the jewel]]\n\n<<set $jewel = 1>>
cutting for sake of dark magic does not make you more virtuous than either camp, but it does make you sad for those who do it. it's [[interesting]] how shame or mistreatment results, for some people, in aggression and anger that they turn on themselves because they do not want to hurt others, but the telltales of that anger only serve to cause further shame and mistreatment from the people they didn't want to hurt.\n\nbut we're getting [[off topic]].
by <html><a href="http://kittyhorrorshow.wordpress.com" target="_blank">Kitty Horrorshow</a></html>
his friends shove you as well. neither you nor Lars make a move. mostly, you're just confused. you don't show it, but deep down you're hurt and terrified. it's your first instance of actual physical abuse for something that is entirely beyond you, something that they see but that you are entirely unaware of.\n\nthe next day, when you're standing in the hall, pink-shirt comes charging up to you and starts [[shaking your hand]].
there are all kinds of mana. pretty much any emotion is useful. tonight we're tapping into a twin wellspring of self-pity and bitterness. practically tonguefucking them. but you need something to focus them, and a jewel is the best thing.\n\nyou head out into the garden, where the soil is damp with rain, and start [[digging with your hands]].\n\n<<set $gotJewel = true>>