's 2014 Horror Write-off:

" Sun God "

Submitted by Irene Vallone

My attendants flock around me, whispering in tongues - strange tongues, or perhaps familiar. I can hear little more than dull and muffled rumbles anymore, but I know they are speaking. It sets me on edge to know they are talking about me.

The attendants rub my scarred hide with oils and lotions. I can barely feel the sensations - the thin hot fingers brushing against my body, the liquids on my ruined skin - but I can smell the oils. They smell of flowers and spices - pleasant smells, smells that remind me of what life used to be like, when I had senses other than smell.

I can faintly remember that time. I remember that I could taste, that I could move my arms without pain to feed myself food with flavor and feel more than the basest sensations. There was a time when I could see, when colors danced across my field of vision in separate shades. Now they are a single unified white, a white that burns brightly in my mindís eye at all times.

I can remember nothing about these times. I know only that they were there, and I lived through them, and now I may never go back.

These times did not end gradually. I did not slowly lose my sight, or develop the pain that plagues me. These afflictions came all at once, suddenly. The world was taken from me by the sun.

The sun came down from the sky one day, and nothing was the same afterward. I have faint memories of the sun before it descended - a distant circle that glowed white with a fraction of the intensity of what I see now. It gave life to the earth. We grew beneath its light and felt its heat on our backs, until one day, it decided to bring death instead.

I faintly remember living in a city, inhabited by other people like me. I lived alone; I was not escorted about by attendants. I can scarcely imagine living that way now, and yet I miss it. The idea of solitude is appealing now.

I remember nothing from this previous life of mine, save the sensations of the sun touching down. It happened behind me, and I did not see it, but I felt the force of it striking the ground. I felt a powerful wind slam against my back, striking me like a physical object, and knock me to the ground, and I felt heat like nothing I had ever felt before, and I certainly never will again, that scorched my body into a scab. I heard a mighty noise, a great and horrible and awe-inspiring noise, the howling roar of a beast dying in pain and rage. Then, everything was silent, and it was over. The sun had returned to space.

A part of me says this is impossible. The sun is very far away, it tells me, and so large that, were it to really come down to earth, the whole world would be turned to ash. I would not still be alive, were it really the sun that touched down. But I cannot imagine what else it could have been, what force in nature could have done this to me.

I screamed out in agony and I could not hear myself. My eyelids opened with a fleshy peeling sound I heard within my head, and I saw nothing but white light, a burning glow that penetrated my entire body like a pike. I closed them again and the whiteness remained. My mind and body burned. I felt my skin crack open in places and flake off.

I collapsed in the street and lied there, waiting to die. I might have waited for minutes or for days. I can recall only the pain, the white-hot sensation so all-encompassing and incapacitating that I could not summon the energy to even squirm, or to peel my sticky limbs off the pavement.

Eventually, the beings that would become my attendants found me. To this day, I am uncertain of their identities. Perhaps they were fellow victims, or the perpetrators of the sunís descent, or simply unafflicted beings who were feeling charitable. Regardless, they took me in. I became their idol. I am their object of worship.

My attendants finish rubbing me with oils. Their fingers no longer touch my skin. Their auras of heat - not unpleasant heat, but moist, comforting, medicinal heat - shrink away, and I no longer feel the tickling sensation in my head that comes with their presence. One of them adjusts the mask that rests on my face, tightening its strap and adjusting its angle, and then they are gone.

I have felt the mask with my hands many times. I have felt the hardness and dustiness of the dried clay, running my fingertips across the ridges and grooves of its surface until the pain that shoots through my arms with every movement grows too great. The lines etched into it form some design, but I am unable to put the textures together as an image in my mind. I cannot interrupt the sunís light. Only my attendants can do that.

My attendants have taken care of me since they discovered me. They saved me from death, and ever since they have pampered me. They feed me as best they can, spooning paste into my limp mouth. They do their best to keep me cool, and assuage my constant pain with the oils they rub on me. I appreciate their efforts, but they unsettle me all the same. I canít help but worry that one day I might owe them something in return.

For now, they seem content to take care of me.

One of them approaches me. I detect its presence from the heat it emits and the increasing tickle in my sinuses. It says something. I cannot understand its language. I greet it, and can barely hear or understand the sounds coming out of my own scorched throat.

A glyph appears in my mind - a complex series of outlines of triangles and circles, intersecting in ways that even my sightless brain can register as impossible. The red, blue, and green of the lines pop against the constant whiteness in my mind. These glyphs appear frequently in my mind. The attendants put them there in ironic attempts to communicate with me more clearly.

I make an idle comment on the glyphís beauty. The attendant gives me another one. The solid-colored lines blend together into new colors at their intersections. I have no names for several of them.

I have never questioned how my attendants fill my mind with these images. It is simply what they do. Even if I did wonder, I do not believe the answer would satisfy me.

It leaves. I feel its presence recede. It is satisfied - or not.

I ponder the glyphs it gave me for a moment. The colors remain in my mindís eye, blurring and expanding, as though the image is getting closer. I think for a moment that I see something within the lines, but the image dissipates before I can discern it. It is gone.

Suddenly, I am struck with a pang of loneliness. I wish for my attendants to return. More than that - I wish for the people I inhabited this city with before it was ruined by the descent of the sun, before I was struck near-senseless by the howl of the sun.

Perhaps they walk around underneath my nose right now, and my deaf and blind body can no longer perceive them. Perhaps I am the only thing ruined about this world.

I feel a warmth surrounding me from all sides. The attendants are returning to me, as though they could sense my loneliness. They touch me with their fingers, hot and thin like lit matches. My destroyed skin numbly registers the sensation of their heat as they stroke me lovingly across my arms, my melted chest and congealed face. They coo and murmur to me and broadcast rapid series of symbols into my mind, trying their hardest to distract me from the pain.

I try to smile. It hurts.