But a hair’s breadth away from absolute enlightenment. What would you have done?
Reality is a fragile thing. Fragile and complex. Subject to the whims of entities far beyond our conception.
We crawl in the dirt and the mud, we cry out for companionship into the darkness and mourn our eternal loneliness. And have the arrogance to assume that we, hairless pink primates perched on a tiny rock, part of a minor galaxy set in a fairly desolate and unimportant part of this vast and unknowable Universe, have the ability to comprehend reality?
The sheer hubris of it. A curious kind of solipsism, is it not?
I long ago accepted the truth. I hold no more illusions about myself or those whom I once called brethren anymore.
Creation is the most cruel joke that has ever been played. What could exceed the malevolence of placing sentient beings born with an innate need to search for meaning, in a cage bereft of any?
This is a story of truth, dear reader. Think me not a nihilist or delusional. I have merely seen the light, cast as it was by a hideously gibbous source, it is a realization that is almost entirely removed from sanity.
Who I am is unimportant.
What matters is this story.
“Thank God!” I say to myself. After years of toil and hardship, I had finally done it. My name would go down in the annals of archaeology for all time. My achievement lauded for its worth and its significance taught to children centuries after I am long dust.
In my hands, undeniable proof of the existence of a civilization that predates the Harappan and Egyptian societies by millennia. Eons even.
A stone statuette, of exquisite craftsmanship and design. Made by hands and tools that are far too skilled and subtle to suggest anything but a creator of utmost ability and unprecedented capability for a time so far removed in the past.
Truly, the mind boggles. And not in the least because of the strangeness of the statuette itself.
Made of a dark material, very much like onyx or basalt, yet still not readily identifiable. Perhaps it is an element that is no longer found on Earth? A line of questioning to be followed up at a later time.
The most intriguing facet of the artifact is its design. I cannot begin to identify its subject matter. Was it made as an effigy to honor and worship a god of some dead religion? That could be so, evidenced by the intricacy of the detail and the strange markings carved into the base of the statuette.
I decided to carry forward with this theory, until something more valid presented itself.
The figure depicted by the artifact was truly well represented, despite me having absolutely no clue what it was. A bizarre, nightmarish conjugation bearing no similarity to any animal I have seen, or any one else I’d wager. It stood upright on two legs, and seemed vaguely humanoid, but there the similarity ended.
A face composed of a mass of tentacles writhing about. A skeletal body with skin stretched over a frame that did not echo the normal rib-cage structure of mammals at all but rather seemed composed of bits of bone and sinew oddly strewn about its insides, grotesquely bulging in some places and concave in others. Legs ending in clawed feet that gripped the base of the statuette firmly.
And the eyes were the most unsettling part, seeming black and empty at first, on closer inspection, inset with gemstones of a similarly non – identifiable origin as the rest of the statuette. These gems were black of hue and flecked with specks, seeming like the night sky. On gazing into them, I was reminded of the cold black vastness of space, of unknowable reaches and incomprehensible dimensions far transcending the feeble circle of light that extends beyond earth…
And suddenly I catch myself.
“Where did that last bit come from?” I think. Those thoughts didn’t seem like they’d originated from me. On closer rumination, they didn’t seem like words I’d even say. A cold shiver ran through me, and with great unease and trepidation I put the statuette away for the moment.
“Need some sleep.”
That was surely it, it had just been too much work and too many late nights. But at last, the fruit of my efforts revealed and well in hand, I could finally get a decent nights rest.
“Time for bed then.”
I place the statuette in a protective casing, designed to secure it from the worst of the elements on its transport from my dig site to a facility where it could properly be carbon – dated, studied and examined in greater detail.
I take my glasses off, and rub my eyes, wiping the exhaustion of a long day and settle into bed.
I was hopeful, I’ll admit it.
“Things are starting to look up.” I say to myself, in the vague fugue state between sleep and dreams.
If only I had known how wrong I was.
I cannot honestly describe what happened next. It is forever shrouded in uncertainty by the sheer strangeness of what occurred and the surreal, almost unreal nature of dreams.
All I can remember is an unending experience of sheer horror and panic. I was set upon by the darkest of fears, hounded by the most aberrant of creatures, killed and returned to life only to be tortured again to the grave, to wait for the cycle to be repeated eternally. All of this in instants that seemed like centuries to my minds eye.
And the worst part? I could give no voice to anything I had to say. Throughout this eternal torment, this hell of incessant pain, I could not scream.
For I had no mouth.
Imagine it. Trapped for an eternity in the deepest and darkest nightmares of mankind, and I was denied even the simplest expression of my suffering.
It was then that reality began to break down, and I began to see things clearer.
I woke up covered in sweat, with a blood curdling scream resounding in my ears, and it took me the longest time before I realized that I was its source.
My throat rattled as my vocal cords refused to put up with any more abuse and the scream was abruptly cut off.
I took no action for a while then, except to breathe and shudder, calming and reassuring myself that I had not lost all sanity.
I was never a man to put faith in the supernatural, but whatever had just happened had shaken my convictions to their very core. Perhaps not all was as tranquil and logical as it seemed with the universe.
And somehow, I knew the reason for this, to be the discovery of the statuette.
I rose from the bed, still covered in my own sweat, and moved shakily to the casing which held the artifact. I slowly uncovered it, moving warily as in fear of the inanimate object striking out at me.
And indeed when I gazed at it, I knew something was wrong. In the dim of night, the statuette seemed to drink in the darkness. Right into those maddening eyes, voids of depth beyond comprehension.
And just as my nerve broke and I thought to put the statuette away, for I could not keep looking at it without the most absolute animal terror and panic coursing through my body, defying all logic, reason, understanding and education, the Elder One spoke to me, in a voice that was kin to the dying of galaxies and the collapsing of stars.
IT CAN BE YOURS.
I am beyond fear now, moving into the realm of madness. My body no longer obeys my commands, numb to the will of the mind that animates it.
I ask into the ether, “Who are you?” knowing that some greater power was at play here and now. This was no longer the realm of ordinary mortals.
As the name entered my consciousness, I was suddenly pressed upon by a multitude of impressions, each of them more horrifying than the last.
Of a dark and monstrous place in the far reaches of the Cosmos, where the Elder Ones hold court.
In that amorphous blight of netherwordly confusion where chaos and destruction breed in infernal and eternal cycles.
In the hideous nuclear chaos that bubbles beyond the confines of angled space, in that place of ultimate contradiction, far removed from our reality, but still central to all that exists, is where he waits.
The Lurking Horror, he who created the Universe, and must slumber forevermore. He rests now, gnawing on the edges of reality, eternally embroiled in restless sleep.
In the inconceivable and unlighted chambers that lie beyond time and space, he lies forever unconscious, lulled to sleep by the music of the spheres and the song of the stars, surrounded by his uneasy Pantheon.
For if he were to wake, there would no longer be worlds or Gods.
I, AM THE DESTROYER.
And with that, all that I had known, loved and thought true, shattered to a million shards within me. I was broken. My mind a ruined wreck, reeling from the revelations I had just witnessed.
For there was no comprehending the truth, without any mortal mind shrinking from it in terror and collapsing on itself, in rebellion of the true malevolence of existence, and the false idol that we call, Free Will.
All of us, are but playthings for Him.
I cannot, will not say his name. For I am too afraid.
He dreams, and in his dreams, he subverts the reality he has bestowed upon us. Creatures of consciousness, we are but the maggots that feed upon the fetid meat of space and time.
The universe is a corpse, His body that extends beyond infinity and eternity.
A rotting and infernal corpse that is home to an innumerable number of nameless horrors. We are insects, born to be fed on and toyed with at the pleasure of entities so primordial they defy understanding.
IT CAN BE YOURS.
I scream now, my words an unintelligible shriek of madness and pain, almost no longer human. For this creature, this glorious and horrifying God – thing, sound was but a hindrance. Reaching past me, into the substance of my being itself, he shows me what could be mine.
I rise to my feet. There are no longer any tears, words or screams left in me. Whatever I am now, is no longer human.
In my last mortal act, I nod my head, and step forward into His embrace.
I leave who I am, and this forsaken reality behind me.
But a hair’s breadth away from absolute enlightenment. What would you have done?
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