Considerations of the Flesh. Recorded by The Archivist, in Situ.
Jonathan and Martin have reached a domain of The Flesh ruled by Jared Hopworth. It is a mortal garden where people are grown into grotesque shapes and they find Jared tending to one of his “plants”. Jared dismissively asks if Martin is his boyfriend, John responds that yes, Martin is indeed his boyfriend.
Jared figures that John is here to kill him and there isn’t much he can do to change his mind. He thinks he might be able to get in a few hits first but Martin asks him not to. Jared agrees to go without a fight if they do him a favour first, he wants to hear a statement about his garden. Martin worries that it’s some kind of trick but John assures him it isn’t.
Cultivation notes for Fuertisium Reese, commonly known as the Gristlebloom Orchid.
The Gristlebloom has striking petals in shades of red and pink and brown around a pale bony stalk. While tricky to get right, this plant can grow massively under the right conditions.
The soil should be prepared as a rich and earthy cocktail of insecurity and self-hatred and the temperature should be kept the steady, humid warmth of air conditioners struggling to cope with the perspiration of a dozen bodies pushing themselves too hard, while the lights must be kept at a harsh, fluorescent glare.
Growth is most effective when the orchid is suffering from aggressive dehydration, and it is vitally important that the air roots be rarely praised, and only for the flowers’ appearance and growth.
The fear of not being enough must be laced through the Gristlebloom’s food. It must never be allowed to believe itself good enough as it contorts itself to grow into a towering, distended mass.
Even if there were mirrors in this place, Reese could not possibly recognise himself as the only image in his mind would be the him he is so afraid to be.
Cultivation notes for Gristleium Patricia, commonly known as the Bone Rose.
The Bone Rose is perhaps the most delicate plant in the mortal garden as it is thin and brittle, constantly on the verge of collapsing under its own weight.
The soil for the Bone Rose must be a rotten mulch of corrupted, toxic romanticism and should be watered with the instinct that fuels every cell within the rose: To be wanted you must be less. The temperature should be kept cold for optimal development and the light should be unrelenting, allowing every flaw to be stared at and warped and ogled.
With this preparation, the Bone Rose will conceive its own body as a horror and it will tear and starve itself until there is nought but bones desperate to be touched and held.
Patricia is sharp and narrow, she is beautiful and stands for all to admire. But it takes every drop of her strength to keep herself up as the wind threatens to collapse her fragile form into a heap of splintered bone. There is no moment of her new existence that is not a shuddering, terrified effort as she cannot allow herself shatter into fleshy ugliness again.
The Bone Rose, properly cultivated, will be a fearful and wonderful centrepiece for a carefully tended mortal garden.
Cultivation notes for Cicadium Leopold. Commonly known as the Cutaway Tulip.
The Cutaway Tulip is easy to grow to a small size with some casually applied insecurities, but creating a true masterpiece requires a lengthy and involved cultivation.
Ensuring a properly grotesque blossom is more in the pruning than in the preparation and the soil can be anything mulched in hostility to self-worth while the light and temperature must be kept at a level to allow the appropriate growth of an obsession with the changing and hacking of itself.
The Cutaway Tulip cuts and breaks itself into ever-new configurations and shapes, eagerly digging into and pulling itself apart. It must be nourished with the dread of falling short of what it could be, the fear of never reaching the ever-retreating perfection that it strives for.
Alongside this, it must also be nourished with a dread of mortality that turns it efforts into a fearful attempt to escape the encroaching decay.
Leopold is aware of what he has become and though he fears the next form that the gardener’s shears will cut him into, he fears his own stagnation and decline even more.
While initially a very intensive and time-consuming flower to grow, a well-cared for Cutaway Tulip can stand as a torn and wretched testament to the gardener’s skill, especially if successfully brought to the point where it begins to operate and dissect itself.
Cultivation notes for Sopranium Maeve, commonly known as the Lily of the Damned.
The growing of a Lily of the Damned requires remarkably little input from the gardener, although it must be regularly pulled up into fresh air.
Any soil works for a Lily of the Damned as long as it is never allowed to forget its own physical existence. Temperatures can be hot or cold as long as it is uncomfortable, and light levels need only be high if the preoccupation with its body’s presence has a visual component.
Most importantly, the absence of any transcendence or death should always be emphasised when watering or pruning with the clear conclusion that the meat from which the lily blooms is the only form of being it will ever enjoy.
The flowers of the Lily of the Damned are unpredictable, haphazard black growths of calcified fluid and sinewous, dangling nerves. They can grow very fast but will always attempt to retreat beneath the soil, hiding their existence from all.
Periodically, if you wish to display and grow your lily to its best advantage, you must seize whatever part of it remains above ground and pull, bringing it up into the open air.
This is Maeve’s nightmare. She is trapped, unmoving, within the body that has betrayed her so often, feeling every sensation as it grows and warps. She cannot hide or escape, she is simply a prisoner in the same soft prison of skin she has always despised.
While it will never be a focus piece for a mortal garden, the Lily of the Damned is a popular choice among experimental gardeners, as its almost indestructible nature allows them the opportunity to exercise a great deal of creativity in its cultivation.
Jared is pleased with the statement and asks if what he has done is really so bad or if John doesn’t also find it beautiful. John tells him to shut up, he doesn’t care what’s gonna happen to the garden without Jared. He can’t save everyone, or even anyone.
Jared says his goodbyes to the garden and John makes him feel all the terror and despair he has inflicted. He is destroyed as John invokes the Ceaseless Watcher to turn its gaze upon him.
Martin is surprised that Jared’s death wasn’t messier and before they move on, he asks John why they did not also go after Arthur Nolan when he killed Jude Perry. John confesses that it did not seem worth it. He did not want to put Martin through more of The Desolation’s domain and he simply didn’t hate him like he hated Jude, Arthur Nolan never hurt him.
Martin asks if they are doing good, if they're actually making things better. John doesn’t know if that was ever an option.