Last I dreamt I was witness to an assassination.
I was roaming along a half-constructed and war-torn stretch of suspended highway out in the Middle East, where I had been hazily employed as a War Reporter.
Whilst taking a brief rest behind a pile of rubble, I observed a man – whom many of the locals held to be a holy man and saint of considerable repute – being beheaded by a well-known radical insurgent.
“What are you doing?” I asked, emerging from the somnolence of my detritus. “That man is a saint, highly revered by many of your people. Why did you kill him?”
The insurgent scoffed at me callously.
“This man was no saint, though he may have been called as much by many ignorant pigheads who didn’t have the sense to know better. He was a lecher, a rapist, and a slave-trader. Come – let me show you how he spent his days.”
Thanks to the elastic morphology of dreams, the hitman was able to transport me into the past, where I could experience several years in the life of Abdul the Lech.
This esteemed mystic lived in a corrugated tin warehouse of incredible squalor, piled up with junk and fluffy accumulations of asbestos-containing insulation materials, the carpet comprised of dirt and litter. The living conditions were unbearable. But the mystic, who shared it with many of his assistants, spent most of his time in a semi-conscious haze, completely oblivious to the scunge and rot that was his decor; most of his time expended lying in a dissolute, bilious state on the floor, incapacitated by nausea, and groaning and keening soundlessly into the ether.
Despite spending most of his time like prophet Ezekiel, lying paralyzed and sick on his side – I never once, in my tenure as the mystic, saw him engage in fornication – Abdul was known to be an incorrigible and demented Casanova, sleeping with, and impregnating upwards of thirty women a day.
I asked the insurgent how this was possible.
“A man with Abdul’s power does not require a body to act. He projects many hybrid forms around the community, and uses them to enact his bidding, appearing in exactly the right form to seduce the unfortunate women he molests. He fabricates his semen out of dirt and demon spit. But this enterprise still costs him a lot of energy, which is why you see him in this recumbent, pathetic state. Return to him now and take a closer look.”
I did as the insurgent commanded.
Several months passed, and Abdul was still lying motionless on his left side. But a change had come over his grotty dwelling. The floor had begun to literally expand and distend, looking very gravid, with strange, tendril-like protuberances emerging from each lump, like the shoots of a sick onion plant. I recognised later that these tendrils were actually a species of organic antennae protruding from the heads of a new generation of women that were gestating there.
It seems that, again, thanks to some mysterious occult agency, Abdul, once he’d inseminated the women through the medium of his impish projections, was able to transfer the wombs that he had fertilized into the floor of his squalid chamber, where, I now realized, all the junk that was scattered therein was not arbitrary, but had actually been placed there deliberately, as a sort of necromantic manure, to the aid the children he had begotten to grow, without the envelopment of their mother’s body. Truly, these were not woman-born children, but children plucked straight from the chthonic depths of Tartarus, unwanted and despised, except by this mystic, who sought to exploit them.
Eventually, the soil and loam began to shift and quake as his children all rose at once from the pregnant earth.
Every child that he bore was a fully-grown girl, about six feet in height, dressed in the sackcloth clothing as of some medieval peasant. They could have passed for impoverished, if not overgrown beggars, were it not for their mutated heads, which were cuboid in shape, the colour of decayed spring onion, with those ugly long tendrils pointed out of their heads. They produced an awful, unnameable smell, and bore wretched, termagant scowls on their faces. Despite this, I felt very sorry for them, and was disgusted that Abdul would have any part in bringing these tortured beings to life. It caused me pain to contemplate their unhappy existence, and I felt a deep loathing for this man whom before I had been willing to save.
The square-headed women crowded around Abdul with mania and glee. “How are you going to feed us?!” “When are you going to start working and get some money in?!” – that’s what they wanted to know.
They chased Abdul out of his house, and it was amazing to see him move so sprightly, given his extended lack of motility.
But here the flashback was abruptly cut off.
“What happened next?” I asked the insurgent with a morbid eagerness I was disgusted with myself for feeling.
“What you witnessed there,” he said, “was but a single turn in a cycle that this perverted man played out again and again many times in his life. No one really knows what he did with the women once he had born them. Some believe he slaughtered them just for the fun of it. But, judging from photographs and corpses I have had the privilege of autopsying, he mostly used these women to generate money by selling them to powerful people as slaves.”
“But I thought slavery had been abolished here?” I asked, somewhat naively.
“It has, on paper. But, as these women couldn’t readily be classified as of human origin, he is able to traffic them to whomever he likes, marketing them as ‘jinn’ or ‘ifrit’. From the analysis of their remains, I suspect that sexual abuse is a common occurrence.”
I was very close to throwing up.
“If this is his life you have just shown me, how is it that he earned a reputation as a holy man?”
The insurgent shrugged his shoulders.
“How is it that we knowingly allow evil, corrupt, genocidal maniacs to rule the world?” he asked me back, socratically. “Charisma and mythology can be an excellent disguise for just about every misdeed. How many clean-teethed celebrities do you think engage in child sacrifice on a daily basis?”
With this he left, taking a leap off the motorway.
I turned, threw up into the wreckage of a crashed car, and got out of there at once.