Saturday, 6 May 2017

Into the Alien Void

I awoke, smothered and confused, and found myself in a place I could only describe as inimitably bizarre and unexplainable, though I forced myself to do my best.

I lay on a field of white sand, great in its size; far larger, in fact, than any grain of sand, or even perhaps boulder, had any right to be. Although, conversely, it was also the softest sand I had ever lain upon (or so I conjectured), a veritable pillow, and warmer than one would expect given the inky blackness which seemed to coat everything; filling me, suffocating me in its tendrils.

I stood up, brushed myself off in an attempt to reduce the cloying sensation I felt crawling up my lungs, but to no avail. I looked up at the dim and shrinking sun, struggling to clamp down on my panic. I set off, through the sands, determined to find my way but opposed at every turn by the shifting and sinking molasses that was the desert.

There was no life, here: not one animal stirred in the mists that seemed to drift off the very ground, nor were there any plants stretching up towards the vanishing unlight, unfurling vague or putrid leaves, or even the barest sign of greenery upon the terrain; twas merely a white, cracked plain, stretching endlessly before me in every which way.

Occasionally, I would see another person through the fog, drifting with lost eyes over the fields in sand-encrusted cloth, loose and floating about them as sails, but it was odd. One would expect us to conglomerate, meet, be drawn to one another to aid in our mutual escape from wherever ‘here’ was, but no. I felt no desire to meet these people, to join them or approach even for a minute, and instead we would merely gaze hollow eyed at the space where the other stood, as if we hadn’t seen each other or just didn’t care.

Then, without a pause or a consideration, they would vanish into the mists as ephemerally as they had arrived. Or, perhaps, it would be me who would depart first. I really didn’t notice.

What I did notice, eventually, were the stones, great clear crystals that poked up and out and about the terrain, though their semitranslucent nature meant that they blended so perfectly with the sands that I did not perceive one till I walked right over it. As I leaned down, grabbing my foot in an agony that had veritably awoken me from my stupor, I heard something.

Rumbling, shaking, as of some gigantic many-legged insect forging its way over the hills. It seemed to be coming towards me from the East, and as I turned to see it, pain forgotten, I realized what it was in all its truly magnificent horror.

It was a giant wave, a wall of water that scooped up, crumpled, and destroyed everything in its path. I began to panic, run, but then stopped as the weight of my own futility came crashing down on me. I knew, then, that I couldn’t escape, and all the energy seemed to drain from me. If I couldn’t escape, couldn’t save myself, then why bother? A foolish response, perhaps, but that was what I did, and that’s my explanation for it. And so I sat and watched the wave shatter rocks, dissolve sand, suck up people, and hummed softly and sadly to myself as it crashed into me.

I was viciously picked up and hurled sky high, surfacing from the rough collision for a mere moment to breath the gritty air under the dying sun before I was sucked back in again. I was tossed, hurled from tumultuous crests to stormy seas and blinding skies till, at last and blessedly, it subsided.

I landed on the ground with a squishy thud, and sunk deeply into it. Only my head and parts of my upper torso remained free, unentangled. The sand had turned into a lethargic and ineffectual sinkhole, and the desert a swampland of mud and filthy puddles. Where once it had been molasses, now it was a morass, and little better nor a difference between.

I must confess, my ordeals had gotten to me, and I found myself incapable of creating an effort to free myself from the muck, and instead didn’t choose, but did, end up sitting there throbbing.

And so it was that I didn’t move when the second great cataclysm struck. Huge tendrils of flesh descended from the sky beyond the darkness, colliding with the earth with a force like thunder and a sound like iron. The ground was picked up and launched like a second wave, and I was thrown with it.

I flew like a pleasantly stunned rag doll across the fields, colliding with a wall of dirt for a only a moment before the tendrils lifted themselves up, and, screeching as with the laughter of ten thousand madmen, slammed back down. I was picked up and tossed out once more, hurled through the fetid air. I passed another person as I went; her arm broken and trailing behind her but her expression strangely serene as she gazed at me with a blank fondness, a slight smile upon her face as she flew by in the opposite direction.

This process of tossings and thuds repeated for a while. Mud and sand, rock and water all collided with me and each other till it was difficult to breath amidst the debris of the stony sky.

At last I; confused, unfeeling, uncomprehending of where I was or what I had done to have some sick entity inflict this psychosis upon me; was absorbed, sucked in if you will, into the sand. I lay under the ground, entombed in a sticky filth, and felt panic overwhelm me. So this was how I would die.

Suffocated in a world incomprehensible to myself. I wondered what I had done to deserve this, for I had no recollection of my prior life, nor even of the near past or how I had ended up in this earth. Merely a vague collection of impressions, warnings and pleasant images. Now, it appeared, I would not be able to have any recollections in the future.

My body felt burned, hot, as if someone had hold of a giant fire underneath the planet, and was feeding it to increase the temperature. Around me I felt the desert beginning to harden, solidify, brown, sealing me underground till death do us part, or till kingdom come, or perchance till the ends of time, whichever of the three came fırst. As I began to run out of air I felt as if I was filled with toxins, poisonous butterflies flapping their nightshade-dusted wings.

Sweat streamed from my tattered body, soaking the earth about me which, before my stupefied and maligned eyes, began to expand and widen. It formed a beauteous air bubble, which I thought might help me breath a little.

As it turned out I was wrong; instead the crushing weight and the heat overwhelmed me, their pressure too much for my tortured frame, and I slowly felt myself succumbing to their insidious wiles. I felt the toxic feeling leave my chest, a little ways before the end, and a deep and tranquil calm came over me. Perhaps, perhaps it wouldn’t be too bad…

Ding.

The man took the loaf of bread out of the oven and showed it proudly to his son, who stood nearby, watching eagerly yet with that strange anxiousness of fire so often found in children, after they had first been burnt. “Now, see here son, the yeast has produced air bubbles which has caused the bread to rise, so that it can be nice and fluffy.”

His son looked at the bread, interest clear in his eyes. “But daddy, what happens to the yeast?”

“Ah, son, you don’t have to worry about that.”

But worry he did, and rightfully so.

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