Dreams are dangerous.
Dreams are especially dangerous when they are shared, when you walk through the dreamer’s internal visions that are unspooling behind their eyelids. Michael Cisco has shared one of his dreams with us. A fever dream of The Divinity Student and what happens to him the city of San Veneficio. What he does in San Veneficio.
The Divinity Student is taking a break from his studies at The Seminary. He’s taking a walk in the rain and he climbs a hill. Where he’s struck by lightning. Killed. Fried. This happens on the first page.
They cut him open. They toss out his cooked innards. They stuff him with pages. With text. With words. Words become his core. Words bring him back to life.
And words become his mission.
He is sent to the city, to San Veneficio. The city in the desert. The city where giant monitor lizards surround it at night, their eyes reflecting the lights of city. The city where the heat presses down on the streets and plazas and where demons live in the trees.
In San Veneficio, he is trained to retrieve memories from the dead. He starts with dead animals, works his way up to humans. He’s taught this skill because of the Catalog of Unknown Words.
The Catalog lists the words used in the Eclogue, the dialogues between the shepherds of men. These dialogues are the substance of Creation, according to the Seminary Priest who gives the Student his mission.
The Divinity becomes a Mad Scientist, creating machinery to extract the memories from the dead brains of the scholars who created the Catalogue in the first place. To extract the words. He becomes lost in memories, dreams, hallucinations. He lives on formaldehyde.
Every Mad Scientist needs an Igor. The Divinity Student has Teo Desden, the butcher who dreams of the day when he’s the one getting chopped apart on his counters. Desden with his sharpened knives and cleavers. Desden who makes the bodies disappear.
But the Seminary doesn’t know what it has resurrected. The Student goes rogue, flooded with the power and dreams taken from the brains of dead men.
Phantasmagoria. Visions. Dreams. Cisco evokes the Student’s shifting internal landscape with immaculate skill. The read feels how the membrane of reality trembles around the Student as he walks along the street of San Veneficio, as the buildings stare down in dumb regard. And outside the walls, the monitor lizards look on with reflective eyes. Knowing more than they let on.
The outbreaks of superpowers that contort the Student’s body, fling him dancing and leaping over the roofs of the city.
Come on. Share this dream. Read just a page. Just one. It won’t hurt.
Next up: Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte.