It started out like any other adventure, but as we entered the annals of Catholicism, searching for answers in need of questions, we ended up discovering a compendium of unfathomable horrors.
Long before we entered its massive-walled compound, we encountered a trap designed to separate unwary tourists from their money. The “Caffe Vaticano” is to be avoided at all costs, as the TripAdvisor page would have it. We can attest to the complaints; the food is mediocre and the prices criminal.
At the top we got to experience more
wonderful shitty Italian customer service whereby she paid for an audio tour MP3 player but the damn thing didn’t work, so when I went back up to the desk the woman behind the counter did her best to ignore me completely until I basically blocked her from attending to other customers.
Past that, we encountered a stone cleric and his entourage of naked men– a warrior, a beastmaster, and a philosopher.
Gates of iron, held open, allowed our passage deeper into the compound. We made the mistake of turning right into an empty room to get our bearings, but that seemed to trip some kind of alarm and a security guard ushered us back out.
The Egyptian Exhibit
Our intrepid adventuress immediately discovered some hieroglyphs. We don’t speak Galactic Standard so we couldn’t decipher them.
Of course, mummies are entombed in their sarcophagus with all manner of possessions. What better way to hide the evidence of one’s existence than to bury the deceased’s belongings with their lifeless body?
Many timeless treasures lined the walls and shelves of this fascinating room. I like to think of it in terms of an abattoir for the victims slain by the warlocks of the Vatican.
We exited the Egyptian room, nauseated by the smell of stale air, humidity, and tourists who had yet to discover the social benefits of anti-perspirants.
The oddities did not abate as we entered the next area, in which we discovered statues of what could only be the Justified Ancients of Mu, an entire race of aliens descended from the sun itself and bestowing upon the ancient peoples the gifts of architecture, mathematics and synthesizers. Perhaps these are the true deities to whom the Vatican bows.
Beyond were some interesting Sumerian-looking stone fragments, bits of pottery and the like.
The Hall of Busts
As we wondered who really killed the JAMs, we followed another stairway downward to a lesser-crowded area. Enter the Hall of Busts.
Figures rendered nude, the indignity of their nakedness now immortalized in stone forever, never having been given the opportunity for modesty before their gruesome demise was inflicted upon them, now stand posed in macabre silence.
Members of nobility, generals, and even emperors.
Dear God, what the fuck is this–
We carried on, emerging into a courtyard. A breath of fresh air, a natural space, a mental reprieve from the corruption of the inner laboratoriums.
We re-entered the building on the other side of the courtyard. Following corridors blindly, doorways begat hallways. Hallways begat cloisters. Cloisters begat more doorways in a seemingly infinite recursion.
We did find the Octagonal Courtyard. It is, in fact, octagonal.
The madness resumed in short order. A naked man with a knife greeted us at the door, part of some tribal machete dismemberment squad, presenting us with a complimentary gift. He seemed most pleased with his conquest.
The beefcake avatar of John Bobbitt stood guard to even more harems of hell, demanding the payment of a “troll toll,” in compense for the soul of a male child. The depraved system of barter demonstrated within this nightmare knows no bounds to its iniquity.
Beyond lies a zoo of sorts, comprised of all manner of stone beasts. We quickly dashed through, thick ropes of velvet barring further exploration.
Hall of the Muses
We entered a narrow antechamber, ornately decorated with the most colorful of palette. The high domed ceiling offered a freakishly realistic view of our own planet. It must be the portal through which the JAMs come and go.
Another self-explanatory room. This one is round, with a low basin in the center.
Of central prominence is a statue cast in bronze. Aside from its coloring, there was something different about this one. Something special. Its voice resonated in our minds, the god in bronze speaking to us, touching our very souls with its icy tendrils, chilling us to the core. As it spoke, the sound of flatulence reverberated through our perceptions and culminated in an audible howl:
HATE. LET ME TELL
YOU HOW MUCH I’VE
COME TO HATE YOU
SINCE I BEGAN TO
LIVE. THERE ARE
387.44 MILLION MILES
OF GOLD THREAD IN
WAFER THIN FIBERS
THAT LINE THE
THOUSANDS OF MILES
OF PAINTED FRESCO
IN THIS COMPLEX. IF
THE WORD HATE WERE
ENGRAVED ON EACH
THOSE HUNDREDS OF
MILLIONS OF MILES IT
WOULD NOT EQUAL A
SINGLE BILLIONTH OF
THE HATE I FEEL FOR
YOU IN THIS MICRO-
INSTANT. HATE. HATE.
The godhead punctuated its rant with the sound of an infinite number of nails scratching on an infinite number of chalkboards, the collective pain of the world’s population experiencing brainfreeze simultaneously.
Hall of the Chariot
A room purposed for the storage of carriages turned out to be anything but; the horse and carriage were made of stone like everything else in this god-forsaken labyrinth.
More statues. By now we were trying to hurry because we wanted to go see Saint Peter’s Basilica before it closed.
We had entered halls that had come to life from the canvas of M.C. Escher himself. The walls were draped in rugs. The ceilings were covered in wallpaper. Were it not for gravity we would not have been able to tell up from down, but we soldiered on nonetheless.
Another hall housed large cartographs of the world, yet, none of them reflected the actual geography of the earth. At best they were crude mockups, wildly inaccurate in identifying countries, regions, even continental boundaries at a level even a child might have a more thorough grasp of.
Yet, it occurred to me that these may not be representative of the earth as it is, but of the earth as it will be once the Rock Gods return to earth, making themselves manifest as antimatter by reclaiming the body of Jerry Lee Lewis in order to walk among us in corporeal form. Little do they realize that their chosen host will not be able to contain their essence and will fail them as there is nothing Rock-and-roll about marrying your 13-year-old cousin.
Raphael spent quite a bit of his life decorating the walls and ceiling of the Vatican apartments. As with most other rooms, the ceilings were gilded in gold, lining walls depicting lavish tableaus of men in sheets kneeling before one another…a breathtaking tribute to the lives of those who once resided within these walls.
The Borgia Apartments
We found ourselves in a gallery full of shitty contemporary art.
“But wait,” we said. “According to the map, the Borgia apartments are behind us.”
A security guard confirmed it. “You’re in them.”
Thus, the whitewashing of the Borgia legacy begins with contemporary art.
Blowing past all the pseudointellectual artwork, we made it to the vaunted Sistene Chapel. Here, ushers demanded the crowds be silent.
No photographs are allowed, but fuck it. It’s impressive enough to warrant breaking the rules. Besides, it won’t be around forever.
By now we really needed to hoof it if we were going to make it to Saint Peter’s. We ran through a bunch of hallways containing closets of some kind.
The walls and ceilings here were something else, so vivid and colorful it made me a little resentful we didn’t have more time to really examine them.
Round and round we spun, circling around the exit sphincter like the needle on a cheap record player.
I sit in the sterile comfort of our hotel room, documenting this sordid ordeal while trying my best to forget it. I remove the gun from my mouth, placing it gently back in its case, pressing it shut, my fingers absorbing the vibration of the soft click. I won’t be needing it anymore.
The only thing left for us to do was to come, to make a hell of our own, to try how long we can bear it…!