By Sandor Kovacs
The molecules of its brain get assembled first. The primitive piece of flesh floats inside a skull filled with boiling liquid. Bones lay in perfect order. It cannot feel the heat, though, as the receptors are not yet active. But then, the cells began to form an infinite network, a net that is more complicated than anything living in this world, and the first thought gets created.
Am I alive?
It doesn’t know what eyes, nose, ears are. How could one comprehend the surroundings without senses? Like branches, the empty tubes called veins spread, but not upwards like on a tree. They fill out space, criss-crossing everywhere, shaping organs inside a cover of bloody tissue. When it tries to inhale driven by the first instinct, the boiling liquid burns through its not yet ready intestines.
Who am I?
It must be someone. It must have a brain if it can think. But how can one determine who one is without memories? How can one know love or hate without the puzzles fitting together? A strange name echoes in him. Enerymus. Yes, once he was
Enerymus the Great, Enerymus the Cruel.
Where am I?
The liquid is getting sucked up through his pores, composing his muscles beneath the sheet of skin and filling him up like water fills a balloon. He can’t spread his legs or arms because the shape that surrounds him blocks the way. Enerymus imagines it as a sphere, but it’s not perfect. Its sides are wide, and the bottom of it is flat. A cauldron.
What is my purpose?
Enerymus finds the open top of the cauldron and grabs the edge. The joints in his fingers crunch like snapping twigs. His body fluids are getting constructed out of water: saliva, snot and semen.
His head emerges, steaming. Enerymus waits patiently for the eyeballs to form in his empty eye sockets. The boiling mixture reaches up to his waist now that he stands. The damp, cold air in the hut makes him shiver, but he grins as the pain slowly evaporates. No heat or cold can harm him anymore.
Through his first deep inhalation, he tries to identify the ingredients used for his reviving potion. He can smell perfume, ginger, plum, fox urine, newspapers, dragon grass, vulture claws and a human’s heart. All of them are correct, and his nose works as it should.
‘Enerymus,’ says a sobbing woman. The shadows of the fire dance on her face.
Enerymus notices the hole above his head, where the smoke and steam leaves the small hut, and enjoys the raindrops landing on his new skin. ‘Mother,’ he says, still looking up. ‘Fetch my robe, Mother.’
‘Yes, my Lord Son.’ She turns and grabs a long, black robe hanging on a vintage coat stand.
Enerymus steps out of the cauldron and gets dressed. ‘How long have I been gone, Mother?’
‘Almost a year.’
Enerymus closes his eyes. ‘One year. One year wasted. Rotting, eaten by worms.’
‘It was very difficult to get your remains back this time. The humans know that I can resurrect you. They heavily guarded your corpse in a place where magic couldn’t be used.’
‘My sweet Mother, you are one of the greatest witches of all time. If even you fail to accomplish a task easy as this one, say, who should I trust then? If it does take a year to you, who should be worthy of my service?’
‘I didn’t mean to anger you.’
‘What has been done, been done. We will begin to prepare. Now.’
‘Dear Son, I wish to speak to you about something first.’
‘Very well. But keep it short. There is much to do.’
She hesitates. ‘Enerymus, I participated in the council. We’ve made a decision, and we don’t want to continue fighting.’
Enerymus stands still. The wood around them begins to creak, resonating with his rising anger. A flash of lightning brightens up their faces for a moment, followed by the rumbling thunder.
‘We are tired of the hatred and bloodshed. Please, consider–‘
‘What, my Mother? After all the cruelty humans did to our kind? Consider what? To live in the cold, the damp, hiding like cockroaches and worms? To forgive? To forget? Speak no more.’
‘If we don’t stop this war, there will be none of us left. We have chosen life. We possess magic, my Son. With magic, it is easy to hide. Easy to live.’
Enerymus grabs his mother’s throat and raises her into the air.
‘You are mocking me, you foolish witch. I’d rather die than lick the disgusting feet of humans. I’d rather die and remain dead than be a slaving dog. I’d rather die than hide with the cravens of my kind.’
‘Enerymus… Let me go,’ she says, choking. Her legs kick in the air.
‘This is how it would be, Mother. Choking. Life would choke us slowly, and yet you ask me to yield.’
She grabs his hands and tries to break free, but her son is strong, his grip is firm. Blue, circling light gathers at his fingertips.
‘Please, Enerymus. I love you. I’m your mother, and I’ve seen you dead a hundred times. I cannot watch you die again. Please, listen to me. Think it over.’
‘You won’t see me die again, my Mother.’ And with that, he closes his fingers around her neck, crushing skin, flesh and bone. Life tingles in her eyes for a few desperate heartbeats, making Enerymus feel disgusted. He lets his mother’s corpse fall, and he watches her for a minute, as her blood flows into the cracks of the floor, painting the wood red.
He walks out of the small hut and sniffs the cold air in the darkness. The smell of rain, pines and wet soil enters his nostrils. ‘What a beautiful night for war,’ he says and flies away.
Sandor Kovacs is a Hungarian writer, creating stories in the genres of horror, science fiction and fantasy. His work has been published on The Writer’s Notebook blog, on the short-story.me website and in Devolution Z. Sandor lives in London and enjoys reading, writing, listening, watching, and being. Learn more on sandor-kovacs.com.