I am one of the many-faced gods.
The dawn of the internet has helped me find my way. I no longer have to steal the faces from living creatures and leave them in the lost dimension, or devour their remaining life. I can take from their creations, and I am grateful that I no longer need to rip it from their bodies.
There is a website I visit to steal the faces from those that do not exist. My collection ever grows, and I thought it not a problem until I saw something rather peculiar one day. I was considering the face I was staring at, an average man, brown of hair with relatively short strands. His dull hazel eyes stared at me from the screen, a simple partial smile plastered on his face with rosy cheeks and fair skin.
This face would have been fine to steal, but I hesitated. Off just to the picture’s left, from my point of view, was a face cut off. This woman wasn’t quite what I expected. Human faces didn’t look this way. Her eye was far too close to the edge of her face, wide, nearly dripping right out from its socket like some congealed liquid. There was a look like a plastic film to it, as if the gobs of eye were just kept in place by a screen. Her mouth was that of a cat’s, from the small bit of what I could see, and her hair didn’t quite fit her head, as if she was wearing an unbrushed wig.
A similar phenomenon occurred with the image on the picture’s right. A woman was absent of an ear, a tuft of short hair planted on her head haphazardly, and a partially grinning mouth for an eye. This face had odd friends, and I felt myself intrigued. Very intrigued.
I stole the face.
Something odd happened then. The usual shifting of features occurred, where the man’s features were wiped clean, leaving a bald head and a mush of blank flesh. The twisted faces on the side, however, vanished entirely. A frown played on my current face’s lips. When I stole faces from photos, that never occurred.
I stood up, a dark mist pooling about my legs as I made the decision to wander. Wandering aided in my grasp on reality. When one exists for millions of years, sometimes it takes but a walk to keep the mind still.
First, however, I entered the room of mirrors, selecting my favorite. I wanted to try this new face. My features shifted and crawled, my skin ripping and popping. At one point, one would think maggots were moving just under the surface of my flesh. The tone of skin shifted from a dark copper, to an onyx, to a lighter tan, to a fair. My features morphed from what many mortals considered masculine to feminine, back to masculine as I found the false man’s face.
When things came into focus, and my eyes rested upon my new face, I smiled. This smile twisted into a light frown as, from the corner of my eye, I spotted twisted features and morphed faces. They appeared to be the demons from the photo. How peculiar. I drew my tongue over my lips, watching as my previously normal hazel eyes faded to a pitch darkness with glimmerings of the universe within them. When I widened my smile, I noticed blade-like teeth.
This wouldn’t do. Too close to my true face, the eyes and the teeth. This face wasn’t normal, and the tiniest spark of annoyance pricked me. The mortals would catch onto something odd and do something rather inconvenient. Purging this planet would, at best, upset my kin. Something that I generally liked to avoid for my own peace.
Besides. I rather enjoyed the creatures here, especially the humans. They were amusing, like pets. I no longer needed to slaughter them when I stole faces, either. Ah, the glory of technology.
Switching my face to a young woman that I’d snatched from via that glorious website, one without any demons around, I turned away from my mirror and exited my residence. The wind was cool on my face as I wandered out into the city, my eyes glimmering temporarily as a bright blue. This was a strong face. I doubted it would fade anytime soon.
My lashes batted as expected when I spotted a few interested parties. I played my part well, of whoever’s face I wore, that is. The longer people stared at me, the more I could study their face. Every pore, every imperfection, every out of place hair, every gleam to their eye. All of the flaws made up something more perfect than they could realize. The urge to lure one of the mortals off into a dark alleyway and steal their face washed over me once again.
Back in the old days, it was how I acquired all of my beautiful faces. Every color, every shape, they would be mine. Eventually, however, technology advanced. I did not need to turn the mortals into a mush of flesh once I stole their face. Though their essence was delicious, I did not require their life force to survive.
Only their faces.
With the development of this glorious technology, I no longer needed to work so hard to hunt. This was convenient. This also abated an odd feeling stinging its barb into my soul. Some would say guilt. But the many-faced-gods don’t posses such emotions. This was a nonsensical concept, and I dismissed it. Yet the stinging remained until I stopped stealing from the humans entirely.
The urge existed, but I did not act upon it. What a shame to pass up on so many beautiful, delicious faces. Alas, they were still pretty to watch and observe.
Creatures like me latched onto certain memories rather richly, and I began to notice something quite odd. I passed by a face I recognized. It was one of mine. They say there are duplicate faces throughout the world, and one-in-a-million really was not all that unique. But looking nearly identical did not mean truly identical. I noticed every pore and blemish to the fine details of the faces that were mine.
And yet, a face was there. One that I collected. How peculiar.
Stranger still, I noticed the most recent face I wore back before I switched due to the strange demonic visions from the corner of my eye. I furrowed my brow, then from the corner of my eyes, I saw those twisted faces. They were on people.
With a deepening frown, I wandered down the road as midday switched to dusk, the glorious light goddess fading to embrace her love, the night. The mortals’ streetlights flickered on, but since I was in a city with buildings that scraped the sky, their activity did not falter.
I began to see the face again, the one with the demons. On multiple people, this time. One after another. Then, the demons began to groan and whimper, clawing at their own faces, blood splattering upon the pavement as they fell, their own features morphing and fogging, quite like my old methods caused. This, unfortunately, was on a mass scale.
The mortals began to stare at me in horror. Casually, I reached into my bag, pulling out a small mirror. My face had morphed back into that man’s–the one that had started this. The man that did not exist.
He did now.
What a pity it would be to lose more faces. Therefore, I took the most simple course of action. My fingers extended into fairly long claws, spindly and hungry. Normally, I did not kill en masse. The essence would taste delicious, but that barb would bother me once more. There was nothing to be done other than this now, however.
With a quick swipe, and movement faster than mortal physics dictated, I’d decapitated everyone in my line of sight. Not so much as even the whisper of a scream emitted from their lips. Everything was over too fast.
I pressed a shortening claw upon the forehead of a man with shaggy hair, slightly tan skin, and deep brown eyes. Then, I stole his face, absorbing it into my flesh for later use. I did this for a pale woman with blonde hair and sunglasses as well, leaving the glasses, of course. I had no interest in them.
Then, I looked upon the massacre with a frown. The stinging, obnoxious feeling was stronger in my gut, but I let out a sigh and shook my head.
I would need to be more careful next time. The technology evidently had its limits, and could glitch in life. This was good to know.
Poor mortals. This is how a city vanishes overnight, in the blink of an eye. Full one moment, and empty the next.
I suppose I could say that perhaps you should pray that you never come across a thing like me, still learning the ways of human technology, and how it mixes with the ancient magics.
Then again, I can’t promise you would get an answer.
As I devoured the remnants of life from the unfortunate collateral of my learning, I smiled.
At least I gained many faces today.
©Des M. Astor, “The Deity (short horror)”