Neon Bath is an on-going cyber fantasy about losing one's self in a labyrinth.
A surreal spa of shifting dreams and strange sensations.
An ever-changing ritual to liberate you from the now.
This story isn't for the faint of heart. Consider it a hard R - under 17 not admitted.
Content warnings will be administered on a case-by-case basis.
Neon Bath is a stream-of-consciousness narrative where readers choose the path ahead. This opening measure is public. Future installments are available to all Patrons.
New installments will appear weekly following the close of each poll.
From the plateau of the Silent Zone, the white lights of the city were an inverse of the bleached-out stars.
No one was supposed to live here. No one was supposed to be here. The Admins said it wasn't safe. But then, Admins said a lot of things weren't safe. You couldn't resist. As soon as you heard the rumors of this place, your dreams crept out of your skull like a sentient silhouette. Some part of you was already here - it only made sense that you'd catch up with your mind before it left you completely. Besides, those who knew said it was a healing place.
A ceremony made from steel and brick. A medicinal ritual. A temple of metamorphosis where the self can surrender to truth. Rebirth awaits those who descend into the Neon Bath.
So you squeezed through a crack in the blast gates, through decommissioned conduit shafts, and into the surprisingly clear air of a deserted street in a forgotten place. The lime green coordinates ended... here.
It wasn’t a building so much as a space carved out of the inside of buildings - where they’d fallen, where they’d been built on top of each other, where they’d been left in disarray. There were no lights outside, but a deep indigo lit the exterior walls, as the city's distant beams sliced up the fractured surfaces.
A breeze blew from a craggy space at the apex of a fallen slab and a support wall. There, in the shadows and the rubble, a dim trail of phosphorescent paint wound under and through, down and into...
An empty chamber. Lines of white neon and fluorescence slit the polished black ceiling. Their glow left streaks in your eyes, but hardly illuminated the room, which inevitably crept to deep black. "Follow the lights," they said. The first and only rule. All that was left was... the panel.
An unassuming, archaic LED screen next to a hydraulic door and a massive keypad in no sequence, in no language. One by one you type:
Her name cobbled from unintelligible characters; The Whyte Wytch, the keeper of Neon Bath. The administrator of the final secret. She whose cunning fingers will find the vulnerability within you and hatch it like a flower from an egg.
The last key stroke yields a delighted >ping< and the door groans to life. Pure void unfolds before you. There can be no choice. You step in without hesitation and the door seals behind. It closes with trembling resonance, and as the waves break, you're afloat in the stillness that remains.
The cool night in your lungs gives way to warm, heavy air - damp and perfumed.
Chlorine and shampoo, jasmine and a lover's gloss-soaked flesh.
Always the faint smell of ozone, of rain evaporating off of hot pavement – especially as your path winds deeper and deeper into the compound's sticky sauna spaces.
The lights, when lights did appear, were perfect white neon cylinders humming a seductive drone. Splashes of magenta and cerulean accent and bleed into the indeterminate landscape. Sometimes your eye would catch a fragment of vivid, full color clarity - just a sliver. You saw what the Wytch wanted you to see, and everything else was a mystery waiting to unfold. Every corner was an abyss and every crevice had the distinct sense that something could clamber out of it, or pull you into it.
They said it wasn’t uncommon to see her at the start, though there was always a dungeon to crawl before your audience - be it a surgery of words, your body nestled amongst psychotropic glow worms as she dissects your being, or communion in her pillowed nest, thick thighs astride your ribs, your wrists bound to bars of white neon. Each tall tale of the Whyte Wytch was a syrupy stupor of tears and ecstasy. Catharsis incarnate.
Your first glance of her came in the form of pale toes drawing patterns on a lichen covered tile wall. At the sound of your wet footsteps, her body torques, from on her back to her front. Now poised atop jagged elbows, her feral eyes beam behind a tousle of dandelion hair. Even a giggle can’t help but sound sinister in this echoing place.
She raps her foot hard against the wall, and disappears into the blackness, smiling. Two unseen attendants appear from behind; their hands startling and serpentine - unhooking each latch, unzipping and unlacing each fold, shedding sullen skin that doesn’t belong to this place. As soon as nails trace on bare flesh they retreat from whence they came, fingers lightly playing through your hair, breaths close and on the verge of becoming sultry words, until - not.
And then you’re alone again.
Left to twist and turn in the uncertainty of this space. The only clear comfort is the warmth of the room - a mellow, moistened heat that makes your physical form evaporate.
Disarmed as you are, apprehension brings a keen awareness. Your ears reach out - tracing each distant droplet, trickling from hissing seams of unseen pipes. The wet sound splashes on cement walls, smooth bricks, and then - a sharp crack!
And again. Like a marble being dropped, bouncing down stone stairs - one by one. You’re moving through the darkness towards it before you’re aware of your own motion. Your feet find the stairs in the dimness just in time to watch a faint orb of light ascend in an arc and fall, glimmering against water. It kisses the surface with a luscious sound, and descends.
Choose the phraze to come.
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Step into the water
Swim after the orb
Walk back up the stairs