I have held.
Above me the heavens race on their interminable paths and below me the nothingness yawns, hungry and prepared to do thoughtless violence. I am the dream of living stone: a marbled chest, a sheer and rigged stomach, arms enough for worlds and worlds and worlds. On my back the strain writes an old story: every muscle taut, every blood vessel pumping, even my thoughts compressed into their most essential form.
The eons have whittled the misery away. This curse has become a dull edged thing. I have held and I continue to hold and there is no release.
Yet when the spectres come, I hesitate. Are they a part of my mind or visions sent to torment me, to stir desires best left dormant? They are the only thing this monstrous strength cannot bear.
They come like silk and shadow, draping in the crooks of arms raised to either side of my head. Their touch lacks the warmth of living flesh or what I remember of flesh, but it is soft in a world where everything has become hard. That is horror enough. They run down into my shoulders where the pressure is greatest, they knead the knots they find there and threaten to unravel my unchanging pose. I redouble my effort. I must not move a fraction. I must never dream of reclaiming even an inch of this body.
They slink down onto my chest to make their mischief. The flesh rises to their ministrations, but worse is that the mind stirs. Some distant recollection of desire threatens. The old ache begins to rouse. It is a heaviness slumbering into being, blood diverted from the ancient purpose to wake something more primordial even than this punishment.
They slither through the peaks and valleys of my abdomen as if it were a mountain range. Their slow and careful progress foretelling further degradations of my will. As they reach across my body they pry into my mind. It must be so, I think, to have inflamed me as they have. Already my shame is thick and full, untended and unasked for.
They slide across my waist in both directions like a belt looping around my trunk. With a dexterity both otherworldy and obscene, they dip into the crevices before and behind. Between both solid muscular globes they extend their grasp. They inch between my legs and with hellish patience they travel the surface of my testes, cupping them and drawing them back.
My thoughts sizzle with ungentle filth. The debasements of a former life rise to the surface like scum on placid waters: orifices plowed, mouths moaning, backs arched and trembling. The heat of madness is upon me, but my body remains. The burning ache in my shoulders, in my legs, the chasms worn into my palms — these are all reminders of my lot. I remember and I do not move.
They score the insides of my thighs with their motion as they leak down my legs. They have avoided the obvious and my tongue is thick with the disappointment. My hardness goes unconsidered. They grab at my calves and massage at my shins. I even feel their presence squirming between my toes, a light tension on each like a sucking mouth.
I try to speak; to condemn or to beg, but the millennia have stripped away that vestige. The sound that emerges is like stone over stone and only seems to embolden the spectres in their deeds.
It seems impossible how they multiply then, spreading irrationally across my flesh. The grasping, prodding, stroking shadow stretches everywhere but where I need it most. My organ bobs angrily on waves of titillation, each caress proving an incitement, each pinch further proof that I am lost.
The moment arrives at last when even this body, diamond-forged under the weight of all existence, cracks. All it takes is a simultaneous thrust into my lower orifice, a tweak of my engorged nipple, and a hard squeeze of my testes and the surge comes upon me. My tortured erection rages unbidden and begins to unload. It spits forth a froth borne of centuries of neglect. It sprays recklessly into the dark thrown by its own momentum, spewing quietly, unaccompanied by so much as a harsh breath from my throat. I remain quiet, I suppress the shiver that threatens to begin in my belly and fan outward like a conflagration into my muscles. I must not move, even though the pleasure ravages me. I have held and I must hold.
It ends eventually. The heavy machinery between my legs still heavy and dripping the last of itself. A warmth settles into the space left by the chaos of coming. It is this pleasant sensation that brings the worst of the guilt. To have been turned from the task that keeps the cosmos aligned by selfish pleasure.
It will be many thousands of years before another such moment of weakness. I steel to my purpose even as I turn the moment over and over in my mind. Time will take the edges off of this memory and when I have returned to my task, fully committed to it without hesitation, I know the spectre will return to tempt me again. To keep the suffering fresh. I must not falter.
I must hold.