The Nether

Grande Demesne

Emperor Jacques sat on his throne, from which he could see the whole (known) world, and laughed. He was not jolly nor voluble in his demeanor or manner of speech; taciturn but not brooding, thoughtful instead of hasty. But he was laughing now, and it was a big expansive rolling thunder of a laugh which started deep inside and echoed throughout the chamber, even unto the vast valley below, the grande demensne that was his, his peoples’, where did the line end? Where did he reign? The world was his. And so he laughed. A deep rolling belly laugh. Because it was not always so. It was not the intended course. But as a river may dry up and create, from a riverbed, a pathway through a wood which springs up around it, it may too be diverted. And the river that is time flows like any other, and can be altered as such. 
Jacques worshipped at the alter of the Dog God- a bloody deity that constantly demanded attention and sacrifice. His, the deity’s, favorite food to eat, was, ironically enough, dogs. The metal beasts of war certainly did not need to be fed, in any ordinary sense, but there was protocol, ceremony, heritage, one had to keep up formal appearance so that the underlying reality could be sustained. Queen Juju saw to that sure enough. Spending most of her days in untoward, lascivious activity, the salacious details of which were the house trade of maidens, who liked nothing so much as a good smoke, fucking a stable boy, or hearing the latest gossip from the House of Ill-contempt. 
Juju ruled not so much with the iron fist of Jacques, which she found tedious and laborious, the machinations of which always caused further damage, but instead from the seedy, licentious bottom-up, her silken tongue slipping sideways through subterranean hallways, silent whispers which once woven were stronger than steel. The real glue which kept the kingdom from falling apart. Juju herself did not worship, but instead was worshipped. But she danced, as did all the maidens, and reveled in revealing the smooth skin beneath the veils. The veils hid many things that her eyes could not. Juju liked to fuck strangers in the ass, with whatever was handy. She was more sexual than violent, but it was an act of violation that turned her on. 
Of course, there were others, mostly half-men beasts that lived in the Kingdom, not worth discussing. Many of whom had been either hunted into obscurity or enslaved, made to worship at the foot of the Dog God, which they, of their own natural inclination resisted. And so, there were sacrifices of another sort. But really, these were not men in the sense that we think of men. And Jacques did not see himself as a brutal sort of dictator, far from it, he was beneficent, providing for his people in both war and peace. He was kind, but he was most certainly authoritarian, in command, his office was granted from on high, he was the will of the Dog in the Kingdom. Try as Juju might to subvert his authority, to make him play the fool, he knew who the boss man was. When he fucked her from behind like the dog she was and she howled, he knew. But. But he would always take it too far, go one step further than he’d intended, blame it on drinking the sacred blood from the calabash (mixed with mysterious sacred drugs from curious, unknown plants) and the chants of the metal warriors in syncopated rhythm, which worked him into a frenzy. 
She’d go off for a few weeks, back to living in her rainbow-colored haven, filled with stained glass and hanging gardens, a metal-lattice work, irregularly shaped, like a crystal, organic in nature, filled in with glass in a multitude of hues which let in a glorious panoply of variegated shades, just dripping with crimson golds, which light beams crossed over others, producing vermillion and persimmon sections, themselves crossing over other beams to produce half-tones, such that the physical dimensions were defined not just as empty space but living globules suffused with glowing auras, a veritable matrix soaking in Aquarian indigos and fetid, fleshy, fertile blocks of emerald which then laid down upon the moist ground as a carpet of chartreuse.

The air was thick and heavy and you often couldn’t tell what was a trick played upon your senses by the light and what was real. The plants themselves were capable of casting their spell upon you, some by sight, others through scent, still others as part of those mysterious Gnostic ceremonies which the King both loved and abhorred. 
And here was where she really reigned, this was her element, truly. But, then weeks would go by, and as she believed, ceremony was the cornerstone of hegemony, the rituals must be observed, and she would find herself drifting back towards Jacques, so busy hoarding his casks, or playing with his beasts of war like a small child lords over an empire of wooden men, too busy for her enchantments, her dances, or whatever gossip rumors the maidens were whispering to each other as they poured oils over their taut nubile bodies and rubbed each other into submission to desire or sleep, only to switch places and take turns. 
The verdant green corner of the palace, enticed, but it also repelled, for in this lair there hid some deep dark truth, at the heart, behind the veils. 
Such was the world of the Nether, that those as Timfo found themselves lost inside of, could not seem to find succor enough to suffice. Awoke to the sounds of Harry Sheerer Sings the Blues drifting in and out of consciousness, the hint of a melody on their tongue which they couldn’t quite recall, which would slip out of their grasp only to be replaced by one thought: Bosco, a serious jones for chocolate milk. Oh sure, subliminal messages, but that was just the start of it, no, this album, if you could call it that had 3D sound, 4D sound, wavelengths that could move you to other worlds. But it was mostly silence, well, near silence at least. A bit of a static buzz that just itched at your eardrums, drove you freaking nuts nearly. It was an analog album, produced during an era when production values were high, but it was custom made for computerized listening. It was, in a sense, like a disk, it was information on a cylindrical pressed object fed into a binary computing system, only the thing was this was just an ordinary old analog vinyl record. So, maybe it really did involve magic. 
There was a hypnotic pulse, and then boom, you drop into this other world, a virtual world, a majestic one, just as real as the world around you, which then, upon coming back to reality, makes you question the entire nature of sensory perception, the self, identity, and so forth. Along with an insatiable unquenchable desire for chocolate milk. 
And of course, no two experiences were exactly identical, but the experiences were shared, talked about debated enough that people realized there was a commonality. Oh, sure, research you say, have the government form a study-group, think-tank the bitch, sure sure. Where would the monies have come from? They’d spent all that building those zero-carbon footprint lawnBots and the rest trying to control them. But most people did end up listening, at least for a while, in the 'bridge' phases, hypnagogic and hypnopompic, to Harry Sheerer, singing the blues, or his version of them. It varied, some got visuals, others just saw him as the gatekeeper, still others as a Viking, as he was dressed on the cover. For a while it led to a bit of a revival for him, and his career, personally. All things Sheerer being discussed. But that was short lived. Turned out people didn’t want Sheerer, it was what might be seen as a sort of bonus, add-on, they wanted the Nether. And besides, what with the Singularity, the seventeen years of decline, the bankrupt gov’t, and the only thing good on TV being the ever-present War, people needed something to escape to, Nether was as good as any.