The Ninth Archive

A close-up, dingy face with a mouth inside of its mouth, one laughing, one with teeth clenched.

E号-藏002

Hollow

At the end of each breath, there is a sound. A ragged soft pulling, like tufts of black cotton detaching from a viscous tar. The sound felt like it was coming from within her, from air grinding against tissue in the empty spaces between her organs. But she could tell it was not, for she heard it in her dreams, and from the bones of eggs cracked open to reveal no yolk or white, and her voice when she means to speak but no words emerge.

At first she thinks the sound foretold her death, and there is a kind of comfort there, like a knowing hand upon her shoulder. This despite her short life is not a fearful thought. Then she begins to see the flies, and fear creeps in: perhaps pain, perhaps debilitation, perhaps madness. The ragged-breath sound from within persists, writhes in flames of liminal violet behind her eyelids. It is the last thing she hears before sleeping, the first when waking. She fears her fate.

Yet when she hears the voice, then she knows that it is so, so much worse.