Wien was alive.
Wien was alive. We thought we were safe after the student revolution; we all rejoiced as the Plague Doctors were driven from the walls. Wien was alive, and finally people could return to the beer halls, only to be thrown out in the wee hours of the morning. Back to heated discussions to cover the croaking rustle of newspaper pages. Back to meeting outside the opera and theaters, shaking hands before and after mass. Shit, Wien was alive, and even the prostitutes were celebrating with favorable prices as the silent army of gravediggers and flayers began to lower their earth-encrusted tools and dried blood.
How nice it was in those days to walk through the Karlstrasse markets without having to breathe in the purulent smell of rotten flesh! Even the stench of piss from the side alleys seemed like a blessing in comparison, as if cherubs from above the heavens had come down to urinate. Those were indeed happy days, and there was always music; students sang at all hours, parish choirs echoed: the symphony of saints and drunkards.
But we never stopped to ask why, to wonder why the doctors had let them go without a fight, why the epidemic had suddenly stopped. We were all too happy about being rid of their horrible masked faces, those inhuman beaks, those eyes sculpted into perpetually judgmental gazes. Of course, rumors said that the doctors themselves had brought the disease. With then gone, so was the oddflesh. It was as good an explanation as any and satisfying to many, considering that we wanted to forget the sight of flesh gone mad, bodies deformed and the terrifying process of gathering the meaty growths.
Caught up in our relief, we asked no questions.
But... is this all?
If you liked this peek into a very bloated, very dirty gothic horror Wien, check out "Die Metzgerai": it's available on All Worlds Wayfarer, #14
My work is in good company over there, and I share the issue with many astounding authors. It's honestly a steal.