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A Work of Fiction

A Preamble to Trashterpieces

By C. Rommial ButlerPublished about a month ago 7 min read
Top Story - April 2024
"The Last Judgment" by Hieronymus Bosch

“You are being driven incessantly out of your mind and caught in the trap of shadows built with coarse skill by egoism and self-esteem.”

“Concealed actions are the most estimable. When I see a few of these in history, they please me greatly. They have not been completely concealed. They have been known. This small way in which they appeared increased their merit. That they could not be concealed is the finest thing of all.”

“I know no obstacle which surpasses the strength of the human mind, except truth.”-Isidore Lucien Ducasse (the Comte de Lautreamont), Poesies

The story I will soon tell is, of course, fiction. I have no way of knowing what happened in the Comte’s life, let alone in his mind. I was not there.

I write under the name C. Rommial Butler but people who know me call me Rommi.

These are my real names. I am a real person.

But, of course, the story I am about to tell is fiction.

First, some facts:

A young man named Isidore Lucien Ducasse once wrote, under the pseudonym of the Comte de Lautreamont, a vile work of epic poetry which was meant to illustrate pure evil entitled Songs of Maldoror.

Once Maldoror was finished and behind him, Ducasse ditched the pen name and began work on a complimentary piece which was to illustrate the nature of good, entitled Poesies.

He did not finish this work. He died at the age of 24 in France during upheavals under Napoleon III.

Ducasse’s brief body of work was a major influence on the literary, artistic, spiritual, and political culture of the 20th century which followed. If you have never heard his name, it is no matter. You have experienced the fruit of that influence, I assure you.

Ducasse is then another perfect illustration of what Percy Shelley meant when he wrote: “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”

The story I am about to describe is not one you would likely believe; yet though I say it is fiction, I bid you to consider it a possible fact.

For, you see, it is fiction because I was not there, but not necessarily because the events described are fantastic or impossible.

This is the story of how Isidore Lucien Ducasse, a.k.a. the Comte de Lautreamont, trafficked with demons for literary immortality and was murdered for cheating them their due.

Namely, his soul.

Folklore in many cultures is replete with examples of the devil or devils being outwitted, though more often than not Ol’ Nick turns his trick.

What makes Ducasse’s case remarkable is that, not only did he ultimately save his own soul, but he also reversed the damage his work was to have done.

For, you see, the demons’ intention was not just to reap his soul but also to use Songs of Maldoror as a justification for evil.

The method by which Ducasse contacted the demons was The Key of Solomon, a medieval grimoire, an instruction manual for ceremonial magic attributed to the King of the same name from the Bible.

However, here’s the rub: this and all other methods of contact are shit tests meant to ensnare the practitioner of whatever rite from whatever culture in a labyrinth of nonsense, so they don’t see the real goal.

They don’t promise you power. You seek it. They offer you nothing. You demand it.

They pretend they are attempting to cheat you on the deal the whole time, but they fully intend to give you exactly what you want. The struggle is there to keep you distracted while they steal the only thing of real value you ever had.

Your soul.

Who are they? What is a soul?

I leave these things to you, dear reader, to define, for after many years ruminating on the matter I concluded that every culture and individual has some version of this schtick, this deal with the devil, even though the details tend to be markedly different from case to case.

So forgive me please if I frame it in the language of my own culture, which I find personally unappealing but nevertheless remains the most comprehensively understood series of associations at my disposal as well as the most widely comprehended in the greater culture to which I appeal.

Ducasse understood all this, even at the age of thirteen. But the demons, being somewhat daft, failed to grasp the eternal soul with which they dealt, and ran face first into a wall.

For Ducasse also understood that death is no end to life and that even the torment to which the demons would subject him was a blink of an eye in the scope of eternity.

When Prometheus went to the rock, he did so with the foreknowledge that he would one day be set free. He was, after all, the embodiment of futuresight; and sometimes the old gods walk among us in human form in just such a way.

Think about it! To be a divine being constrained to a human body! The eagle’s daily tearing and rending of the liver would pale in comparison to such a restraint!

Yet the gods constrain themselves so as to temper us and test the demons. If the demons tear apart the human body, they release the old god.

Then they pay—dearly—for their presumption.

So here’s Ducasse: a well-read, eccentric young man of only thirteen years with a burning desire to be a great writer like his heroes Shelley, Byron, and Poe. He stumbles upon a tattered edition of The Key of Solomon.

He was an exceedingly meticulous young man. He followed the instructions to the letter. He subjugated every Prince of Hell to the names of God as legend tells of the great King Solomon.

He was able through these avenues to secure a path in life that led to the writing of Maldoror.

As he penned the work he could feel the presence of a certain demonic muse guiding his hand, and he let it. The god who inhabited him, however—

What god, you ask? Oh… I cannot say, as I would not be so foolish as the demons to run afoul of such a profound, respectable, honored, divine, noble personage; and I was sworn to secrecy by the very same! Praise be and blessed am I!

In any event, rest assured that the demon did not know the god was present, but the god was well aware of the demon, and even as the demon guided the hand of Ducasse, the god modified the demon’s thought to pen the words which, despite their seeming glorification of evil, would eventually turn people to consider what evils they do and seek to avoid them.

Ducasse would go on to argue in Poesies that the function of art should be to redeem evil, to exalt good. But he didn’t finish the work.

On November 24, 1870, we only know he got a bad fever and died. Just like that. No previous conditions. It’s possible, even at the young age of 24. Sanitation wasn’t as up to snuff then as it is now, so chances were higher that even the young and healthy could contract something fatal.

I contend, however, that the demons murdered him. They inhabited him and burned him up from the inside to prevent him from completing Poesies.

In so doing they released the old god who I am sworn not to name.

The old god gave the demons Hell, you might say, and saved Ducasse’s soul therefrom. Though Poesies was never finished, Ducasse’s legacy endured and with it the knowledge that he intended Songs of Maldoror as a preamble to Poesies, which was to demonstrate the resolution to the problem of evil.

Why have I told you this story, this… fiction?

Originally, I penned this as a preamble to a work as vile as Maldoror, which for many years I wrought from the grimy, slimy, trash-littered, infested gutter of a mind overexposed to b-movie horror, slithering creatures, useless baubles and an abstract, alien, occult experience distorting a psyche corrupted by 80s kitsch.

The devil with whom I dealt was my self, and probably no less so than Ducasse. As to whether there is anything redeeming in this collection of garbage, I cannot say, but I assure you the experiences I had writing much of this were as surreal as any Salvadore Dali painting and as existentially horrifying as some of the stories themselves.

I publish this essay as a final exorcism, so I can move on to more enlightening work. There will still be horror in my future, but there will be hope. There will still be sorrow, but there will be peace. There will also be love and meaning born from what felt, to me, like a derelict void, a hollow cavity where a heart used to be.

I feel, in this very moment as I write this, as a sun who bursts from a black hole, a literal self-starter, a something-out-of-nothing.

But here’s the catch. My new round of work has only just begun, and it will, in some measure, be a response to and correction of that which came before. As Ducasse once intended Poesies as a correction of Maldoror.

So… if for some reason I don’t make it…

Just remember that I wasn’t such a bad guy after all.

I excepted some of the vilest pieces with the caveat that my inheritors may publish them posthumously.

I give you my Trashterpieces.

***** * *****

Remember... these are the mild ones. Some of them aren't bad at all; but, depending on your predisposition, some of these may be upsetting, and I cannot account for who will be offended by what.

In order of word count, from least to greatest:


About the Creator

C. Rommial Butler

C. Rommial Butler is a writer, musician and philosopher from Indianapolis, IN. His works can be found online through multiple streaming services and booksellers.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  1. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (13)

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  • The Writer about a month ago


  • Marie Akhmatovaabout a month ago

    Dear Butler, I've stumbled upon Vocal by chance and your writing and choice of image caught my attention. While I understood most of your writing, my english is only at intermediate level. I wish to read more of your stories as I've became a fan of your work instantly. I especially enjoyed reading about your personal feelings at the end of the story where you descibe 'where there will be sorrow, there will be peace' and it helped my clouded mind find peace. I'm grateful , thank you.

  • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

    oh I love how you think, sir. The use of the painting...I love Bosch's work because it's so vivid and from afar doesn't look like much until you look closer and more deeply. I love the way this was Rachel said...there's almost an archaicness in a good way to your style. I like the whole idea of fiction inside fiction inside fact inside folklore inside fiction, haha! I will definitely be taking a dive into the Trashterpieces. I am excited about it and excited for your more enlightened and brighter stuff too! Well done and so glad Vocal gave this Top Story cos it deserves.

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    Fascinating fiction. Gives me ideas about a possible new piece! Always a piece of high praise to inspire new thought. Congratulations on Top Story! I’m excited to read more from you!

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    I don't know, you say it's fiction but it just seems so real. Hehehe. Out of all ypur pieces that you've included here, I've only not read 6 of them. They all are from 2 and 3 years ago. So it must be from before I knew you. I'll showly get to them

  • Esala Gunathilakeabout a month ago

    Congratulations on your top story.

  • Gerard DiLeoabout a month ago

    This is really good, Rommi. Read the preamble- now for the trasherpieces.

  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    So much to read...and review!

  • Digital_FootPrintabout a month ago

    I thought the portrait in the middle was a "Beatles" album cover at first.

  • Rachel Deemingabout a month ago

    Well, that's freaked me out suitably! I have a lot of reading to do of your Trashterpieces, it would seem. But, do I want to venture there? With trepidation, for sure. There is an oldness to your writing, an antiquated timelessness that both enthralls and repels. It speaks of the binaries that bind us. I will delve but it needs to be sunny. Also, are we on familiar enough terms for me to address you as Rommi? I await your advice.

  • KJ Aartilaabout a month ago

    Is the exorcism of this irony fact or fiction? I like the possibility of factual. Either way, it's oddly humorous in its horror. 🥰

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a month ago

    You remind me of the storyteller from one of my favorite anime’s Princess Tutu, very disconcerting and ominous lol

  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    Amazing 😍 superb story

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