Posts Tagged ‘jocasta’

ancient horror

October 29, 2012

It is Halloween soon, and what better way to celebrate it than with some old horror story. And these, the myths of the Ancient Greek, are some of the oldest and most horrible. I trick ‘n’ treat you, then, to a take on the story of Oedipus, whose mother, Jocasta, has surely the most terrible time of it. I call this one…

Weeping Jocasta

Jocasta is weeping! A child has been taken from her. Some old crone from some old cave once said to her, ‘My dear, come closer, I have something terrible to tell.’ And she wept out her warning, as the gods poured their prophecies, like wretched water, down her gullet, that filled her with blackness and filled her with darkness. And the crone spat and spewed and desperately she tried to empty herself of this darkness. She would throw out her curses at strangers and anyone who wandered into her cave, her rotten residence, thick with the misery of millions. The woman retched to empty herself of her knowledge, and she was hated. The sounds in her throat made Jocasta feel sick and she ran to her husband, and wept, ‘Oh, husband, believe us, the crone from the cavern has cursed the halls of Cadmus’. And the prophecy poured out from her mouth and in streams from her eyes, and it drained the life out of her.

And her husband was furious – he reached for his gun! – he wanted to put that old crone in the ground – and Jocasta seemed so pathetic to him – she, who had wandered away to the crone, and believed all the pathetic old woman had wailed – and he hit her! – he floored her and forced his violent life into her – and she was perfectly still – but he got what he wanted when she writhed as a terrible life, hardly hers anymore, snaked its way into her body – he flushed the curse out of her, and drew the blood back into her cheeks, into her eyes, and over her lips – he would defy the old crone – and he knew that no child of his could destroy him.

Time passed, and the blackness alive inside Jocasta grew. She counted the moons, there were nine. At each moon, the living death within her grew stronger. And when it awoke, it screamed at the dreadful red tomb into which it believe she had forced it. It bit and it clawed on the inside. And at night it sank down into the depths of sleep with Jocasta, floating before her, a nightmare remembrance of the daylight. Its pain was the pain that her husband had left her – he watched, and was pleased, as she carried her bloated new figure, so filled was it then with his darkness discharged, that fulfilled all the knowledge spat out by the crone. Then, one day, it came crawling out.

Jocasta was weeping, her husband was laughing – he pushed his fist towards the darkness and drew it dripping out – and the wound that he left in Jocasta never healed – and she screamed at the sight of it – he never screamed, he kept on smiling – everything was coming together nicely – he brought out an old burlap sack and tossed the terrible new life into it – he wrapped a noose around the neck and firmly drew the sack closed – inside, where the darkness was once more shut in, once more entombed, unborn again – it thrashed violently around and swore violent oaths against the violent fist – and Jocasta saw from the outside how savage it had seemed on her inside – and the violence it had done to her inside never healed.

Her husband carried the sack from the house, in a storm, past his dirty dog, rex, who snapped at the heels everyone that sought entrance to his master’s home – out of the gate, to the top of a hill – he carried it like carrion for the crows, who had heard of the crone and flew off – he flung it to the fishes in the stream, but they had seen the crows fly and swam far out to sea – the snakes would not take it, for the felt themselves reflected somehow in the crime – and the wolves howled in pain when they sniffed at the stuff that dripped from the bag’s sodden fibres – but he would not despair – he nailed the wretched wriggling thing to an oak tree – the lightning would blast at the tree, destroying the darkness, and bringing those furies down upon the lying crone – he left it – but the storm would not take it – the rainwater fell onto the tree, dripped onto the sack, seeped into the darkness, and fed the terrible life that it held – and the thunder, who told secrets to the crone, whose voice boomed above all voices on the earth, held his lightning-sceptre away from the oak tree, and whispered to the darkness, ‘Jocasta will know you again’.

Many more moons, and nobody from the household ever went back up that hill, where the sack and the guilty seed would rot. But a darkness returned to Jocasta each night. And in the daylight, her husband would roam the land around with his heavy fists – and return only late, with his gun discharged, and nothing but blood on his hands – and in the daylight, the dog would be howling from the gate, keeping the unknown away and the known locked up inside. Jocasta wept, when the rain rapped at the door, the rain rapped at the window, the rain wrapped itself in wet coils round her house, and she felt the damp pressure of existence pressing in on her, the liquid curse of the crone that would never be broken. The crone still sat sunken in her cave, cursing time, until she should be borne out of it into an even deeper darkness. And it never stopped raining.

Her husband – one day – took his truck into the distant woodland – clutching – as always – violence in his right hand. Jocasta would not watch him go, but listened as the rumbling of his engine bled into the eternal rumblings of the thunder. She listened as the presence of her husband seemed smaller and smaller in that sonic landscape, yet eventually it grew mixed and indistinguishable from the oppressive thunder whose woodland whisperings were inescapable – that to her husband seemed divine. And she heard the voice of thunder like the gun. And she heard the voice of the gun like thunder. And the week passed, and he did not return, though he resonated always through the air, as the chorus of the storm echoed the symbol of his self. Eventually, Jocasta heard a voice, but not his. Distorted by the storm, a voice that sounded wretched and old reported through her radio that her husband and been found, a bullet in his brain, enveloped in darkness at midnight of the last night. Jocasta wept. She wept for his death, but she was not upset. He – who had defied the crone – had been foolish enough to be defeated by the darkness of night – when his gun, as it seemed, had spoken too quickly, and buried itself back in him.

Jocasta slept, untroubled for the first time for years. Her sleep was disturbed some time later, some long time she judged by the daylight and the sunlight, when the dog at the door was heard howling. But there was no reason now to keep people away, for that vicious sentinel to rip at the flesh of his visitors. The howling kept on, and Jocasta would have opened her doors to their guest and tied that dog up to his tree, but something answered the howling. At the report of the shot, Jocasta fell to her knees. The dog stopped its howling, and something stepped into the shadows of the house, and a stranger opened her doors and let himself into her hall. Obscured by the sun, that lay lazily upon the horizon, and leered at Jocasta and the stranger through the open doorway, the stranger appeared in silhouette only. He came to her, she still upon her knees, he limped across the threshold and peered down into her eyes. He had a face that was not her husband’s. And she saw the gun he held, that had delivered her from her husband and from his dog. She fell into his hands, and they fell into her bed. And she thanked him.

 Jocasta slept, and the stranger slept beside her. In the morning he got up to leave her, she asked him to stay, and he said that he would, he would always be with her he said. He went out to the road, to bring in the belongings he had left on his bike over-night. Jocasta watched as he carried them in, everything stuffed into one wretched and rain-soaked burlap sack. A storm cloud sullied the sky, obscuring the sun. Jocasta watched, and saw on the side of the sack the name of her husband printed in broken black letters. The darkness returned to the sky, returned to the house. Jocasta watched as the face of the stranger transformed into the face of her husband. Thunder roared at Jocasta from the sky, the voice in the radio warned her to watch out for the man who had murdered her husband. Jocasta watched as the man undid the noose on the sack, opened it up, and nothing but darkness poured out. She screamed as she felt once again that terrible life claw in the darkness inside her. She screamed as she knew that the crone’s terrible words and her husband’s terrible defiance would haunt her forever. She screamed and took hold of the noose, ran from the house and into the darkness that had never really left, it had simply been hidden by the light. She screamed as she crawled to the top of a hill, to the top of a tree. And silently, when she finally heard the words of the crone as the voice of the unending thunder, as the boundless voice of the storm, as the cry of the rain as she lifted her face and it poured down her throat, silently she spoke the curse of the crone, and flung herself down from the branches, and swung in the storm by the noose from the sack that had sheltered the darkness that never could leave her. And she swings in the storm, and the people who pass her and look at her face, with the rain dripping down it, say, it looks like Jocasta is weeping.