163: The Disharmony Gospel

In the northeast of Glasgow, there is a factory that, while not abandoned, has certainly seen far better days. Over the past few years, the staff have quartered, halved, halved again, and so on until only two dozen workers occupy the building – which is rapidly shrinking, as the management has begun to close off parts of the factory that will not see use again. Rusted iron grilles lock away empty brick-and-steel corridors, huge metal doors are welded shut, entrances to shafts in the ground are bolted down.

There is one area in the factory has not been locked away, however, that holds a peculiar significance to acolytes. To gain entry, the acolyte must enter the building after 9 p.m, when the workers leave and only two area security officers remain on site. One of the exterior doors of the factory is marked with a piece of red electrical tape – this door is not monitored by cameras, and the security officers check it infrequently. The lock on the door has been partially broken, such that applying some force to the door will cause it to swing open, revealing a corridor inside. Remember to close the door behind you – the security staff already know something strange is happening inside the factory, but they can only remain in ignorance for as long as acolytes are careful.

The corridors behind the door are loud – a colossal rumbling permeates every corner, accompanied by staccatoes of steam being released from pressurised valves in some far-off room; it is impossible to hear your own footsteps on the bare concrete floors. Dead rats tend to accumulate under the many electrical boxes and wires that bulge from the walls, but whatever has ailed them is difficult to tell in the stark orange light of the corridors, thrown by dim, flickering wall-lamps webbed with dust. The corridors are labyrinthine, and it is easy to get lost – however, there are pieces of red electrical tape marking certain paths at junctions throughout the hazy, blinking maze – take the corridors with red tape over ones without every time.

The acolyte may see other humanoid figures making their way through the dusky corridors out of the corner of their eyes; these are known as the “Gospel Wardens”, and it is imperative that the acolyte never cross their paths – otherwise, all the lights blink out, and the Wardens use the cover of darkness to do whatever it is they do to their captives. The lamps in the corridors immediately surrounding the acolyte will give an indication as to how close the Gospel Wardens are – when a Warden is nearby and out of sight, the lights in the corridors around it grow brighter, buzz louder, and seem to flicker in a rhythmic breathing pattern. When the Warden passes, the lights dim again, and the acolyte can continue moving.

The acolyte’s final step in their journey is a ladder fastened onto the wall of a dead end in the labyrinth, leading up to a hole with unsettling red light occasionally spilling from it. The acolyte must ascend the ladder, and they will find themselves standing in the central room – the Chapel of Disharmony.

The metal room is swathed in stark, bright-red light, its source impossible to define other than it coming from outside the room itself. Red strobes of light pulse through gaps in the steel plates stacked and welded together to make ersatz walls; wire meshes break up the light into tendrils slipping through holes in the rusted ceiling; aged but functional extraction fans built into nondescript steel chop up the beams of luminescence into bursts of red with their grinding, groaning blades, flooding the room with the taste of dust and iron; red gushes out of the drilled holes in the steel floor, splashing over the walls, the ceiling – everything. The light never remains still, alternately illuminating the room in its harrowing bleed before throwing it back into darkness, all the while accompanied by the sound of the grating fan and murmurs of vibrating metal from every wall, the ceiling and the floor. Even touching one of these surfaces produces a tingling throughout your body, its humming and buzzing somehow weakening the parts of your self beyond your flesh. Spending a few minutes in the room can induce dull aches and pains throughout your body – especially noticable in teeth with fillings, or any metal joints inside you. A few more, and the sickening vibration of the metal inside your flesh becomes nauseating. After a half-hour, and the feeling of steel trying to rip itself out of you becomes intolerable.

Propped up against one wall, however, is the acolyte’s prize – the Disharmony Gospel, a stack of six-by-five feet rusted iron plates, each embossed with raised letters that list all the things that the acolyte has misremembered because it was just too strange, too bizarre, didn’t fit, or they didn’t want to deal with. The mysterious words whispered to them from in the dark space under the bridge by the river before they ran away in fright. The mental image of the bird with a human face that looked in their window at night.. Their father’s secret twin that lived in the cupboard. The woman that was running down Main Street one evening, before falling into her shadow and screaming all the way down, before the car headlights destroyed the shadow-hole. Each event storms back into the acolyte’s memory like a revelation, spurring them on to lift the huge, heavy plates so they can uncover the next metal page and use the intermittent strobes of red light to read the next set of forgotten apocrypha from their lives. The head made of soil they found in the garden which cried when their brother smashed it with a brick. The time they lifted up a sewer cover and found a man inside, who smiled back at them before trying to grab them. The view from the neighbours house into the nearby restaurant’s kitchen, holding rows and rows of small bodies in huge basins of dull-grey water.

It is wise that the acolyte leave as soon as they have read their Gospel, if not sooner. The flashes of red that illuminate the room occasionally cast light upon the holes in the walls, revealing oddly-proportioned humanoid shapes, occasionally reflecting red light off of marred, black eyes that peer through as they pace around. Though the Gospel Wardens seem to be unable to get through the gaps between the steel plates that make up the walls, they have no trouble reaching the labyrinth of dimly-lit corridors that seperates the room and the exit of the factory, and they make it their mission not to have the acolyte escape with any knowledge gleaned from their Gospel.


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