I finished my third bestselling masterpiece, which I entitled Fantasies of a Dilapidated Ego, in the autumn of 2020. I wrote it in a flash – the inspiration just kept on coming. For two solid months I wrote. For two solid months I was never seen without a pen in my hand. For two solid months I was never seen at all. The critics slated me of course, they always do. They had some very unpleasant things to say about it but then again, that’s literary critics for you – all they can ever do is criticise. That’s what I’ve always found to be the case, anyway. They had some very uncomplimentary things to say about my latest masterpiece but that just goes to show how wrong they are. They proved themselves to be loathsome idiots and that’s all I have to say on the matter.
I began my tale as is customary for me, which is by talking about my craving to be a hero rather than the despairing coward that I am. My painful craving. This may sound stupid. I know that no one talks about heroes any more, not in the traditional, mythological sense at any rate. Not in the Arthurian sense. To talk as I do is to invite ridicule, I am aware. All the same however, I desperately yearn to be a hero because I know that this is the only way I’m going to salvage any meaning out of the wreckage of my life. And the reason I yearn so very much to be of a heroic nature, of a heroic stature, is of course because I am so very far from that. I couldn’t be further from it – let’s not beat about the bush. Call a spade a spade, and all that. I have become abominable to myself – I fear to look at myself, in case I see how low I really have fallen.
‘How low is that?’ you ask, starting to get interested. Your long hairy ears, which were lying flat against your head, pick up attentively. ‘How low are you now? Tell us about it… What’s that like for you? How low is it possible to go?’ Most of us aren’t privy to that information of course. We don’t know about it – we simply don’t have the imagination for that kind of thing. All that I can tell you is that it was low, however. Lower than you can imagine. The ancient wisdom tells us that when we take the hard road, and seek out the very things that terrify us, then a latent force is awoken within us, a force that will not be denied. We take our place amongst the Mighty Ones of Legend who are said to protect this world at the hour of its most pressing need. Greatness bursts forth from within us and our path becomes clear. The Hero Path is revealed before us in all its glory. When we flee from our fears then we become as maggots instead, preying upon lesser, weaker maggots, rotting insalubriously in the vile juices of corruption. What pains me so much is that, even though I know this to be true, still I follow the Maggot Path rather than that of the Hero. I follow this most loathsome of routes even though I know full well where it leads. My damnation becomes an ever more real and present reality to me. ‘How is it going Maggot Boy?’ the Light Beings ask me as they pass by, ‘how are things cooking in Maggot World?’
I begin my tale as is customary for me. Always most customary. Following my own tradition, going through the time-honoured steps. Awakening from one foul dream into another, even fouler one, I swear by all the gods that I know that I will do better this time. I tell my lies solemnly, fervently, to all that will listen. It is a long and tedious rigmarole and it consumes my life. It is important to bring out the truth that is within us, the Gospel of Thomas tells us. Then the truth that is within us will save us. I bring out the lies that are within me instead however. I always bring out the lies that are within me. It’s expected of me. I expect it of myself. The wheels turn within me and I obey the dictates of these wheels. They are slow to turn but steady. I recite the magical rhymes that I learned as a child, when I was no bigger than your little finger and full of mischief…
‘Thou gave me the eyes that are the plumes upon my head,’ I recite, ‘thou knowest the names of the Arits and Pylons. And the names and the names and the secret names…’ I am older than you realise, you see. As decrepit and ineffectual as I might now be, I was once a child of Atlantis. No man could foretell my destiny. Neither god nor man could foretell my destiny, and yet here I am now, the lowest of the low, grubbing about in the dirt. It is my insalubrious habit to be continuously devouring my own filth and then vomiting it out again. As if this were ever going to solve anything. I am the Veteran of the Dream Wars, Master of the Seven Mystical Transformations. ‘Thou gavest me the eyes that are the plumes upon my head,’ I call out bravely, defiantly. My voice resonates throughout the subterranean chambers in which I dwell. Small creatures stop in their scurrying to regard me, festooned in dust and cobwebs as I am. Then they continue on their way.