120: The Flesh Chorus


In Ibrox, south-west of the center of the city, there is a small set of flats considered unfit for residence by the local government – and even by homeless people in the area. Nonetheless, they visit the flat as part of an “urban saint feast day”, to pay respect to the flesh chorus.

The crumbling brown stone flats are inaccessible from the front: the door lies hidden behind a panel of solid steel, and every one of the windows of the building’s three storeys are similarly blocked. The flats immediately to the left and right of the block stretch out to each end of the street, allowing no way around – however, on Wednesdays, the rubbish bins for the flats adjacent to the condemned flat are emptied, and the front and back doors are often left open – and this is the only way through. Walking down through one of the adjacent flat’s closes and out through the back door leads to the back gardens – scaling a wall allows the acolyte to access the back garden, and the back door, of the condemned flat.

Once inside the condemned block, the route to take is marked out on the walls of the tenement. Arrows have been etched into the eroding stone, alongside a gallery of various bizarre images: chalk drawings of the Virgin Mary, trapped inside her own halo; depictions of arms in weeping white paint; multiple motifs of women holding accordions; and a particularly harrowing scrawl, drawn using some kind of waxy substance, shows a tall figure in a coat, obscuring all its features save for square, blocky feet, standing at the end of a narrow corridor – the letters “SHH” are scribbled all around it. The hallway’s imagery is made more unsettling by the continual murmurs and groans of multiple pitches and timbres that seem to emanate from somewhere upstairs

Following the arrows up a flight of stairs will bring the acolyte to an apartment that, despite its severe dilapidation and the various moulds growing across the walls, is still apparently in use. In every room, accompanied by a heavy scent of ozone and the dull buzz of electricity, there are lamps and desklights plugged into multi-sockets in the walls, torches and candles clustered together in corners on the floor, resulting in every room being unbearably bright – all except for one room, which has no illumination of its own, and it is from here that the sound of murmuring that permeates the flat seems to emanate. From the flickers of failing electrical lights and the guttering of days-old candles, the acolyte’s eye will be drawn to a crack in the wall of this half-lit room, framed by curling, singed wallpaper and deteriorating plaster. Visible inside the crack is the right-hand side of a bare torso and lower body of a human figure – the head and legs are obscured behind the wall.

The body behind the wall will judder and be thrown into spasm as you approach, perhaps disturbing the gentle and fragile play of light that it has become accustomed to. Unintelligible yelps and moans will echo out from the crack in the wall, the scrape of skin-on-stone punctuating its murmurs and mutters. The body will thrash more viciously the closer the acolyte gets, and, without timely intervention, blood will seep down the chest of the figure. The only way to prevent the body’s thrashing is to approach with an outstretched hand.

In so doing, the body will reduce its movement to a small tremble, and, with some difficulty, will pull its arm free from the crack in the wall and open its hand, to reveal a number of bloody teeth.

Grab the arm by the wrist before it grabs you, and force it to drop the teeth – if they are crushed to a fine powder, burnt, then snorted, they will allow you to “eat” pain, gaining sustenance from your own suffering. Do not try to take the teeth from the hand directly – it will drop them, grab you by the wrist, and pull you in to join the flesh chorus – victims dragged through the stone crack and squeezed into the tight, constricted and clammy gap behind the walls, unable to stand, unable to sit, unable to lie down, forced into painful positions of torturous interminability and continuously chanting in groans of breathless, claustrophobic misery as they thrash against one another, unable to free themselves from their prison.

The homeless men and women that attend to the flesh chorus on certain holy days attest that the bravest of them will venture into the flesh chorus on that day to try to get to the end of the row of quivering, groaning bodies, which terminates in an opening similar to the one they entered through – a crack in the walls of Heaven.

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