Sunday, October 6, 2013

12/24/12 - Myron - Run Until You Drop - Pt. 2


"What the !@#$ are we looking at, sir?" the leader of team 11 asks as their rocket sleds descend into the hole, marveling at the sides of the tunnel they've entered.

"I don't know, but it's beautiful," Myron says, resisting the temptation to reach out and touch what he sees.

The sides of the rock tunnel were smooth and featureless, to begin with. And then, all at once, carvings blossomed out: an endless, spiraling procession of giant, epic figures with interlocking hands, looking out at them. Tall humanoids dressed in simple, hooded robes, all shining under the lights from the damp and the wet.

"Are they supposed to be the Imago?" one of the other team members asks: "I heard the inside of the Flier was one big museum piece."

"I don't think so," one of the others says: "From what I heard, those were all nasty looking. Kind of like if the Nazis had been around back in ancient Rome, and made temples and gardens proclaiming how !@#$ cool they were. This seems... kinder?

"Yeah," Myron says, looking at the smiling eyes on the figures: "Definitely. Gentler, too. Almost welcoming."

"Which doesn't reflect the fact that we're in a prison," someone points out.

"No, it doesn't," Myron says, looking at his scanners. The tunnel continues down as far as the probes can see. Still no sign of the other teams.

And that worries the !@#$ out of him.

"Can we slow down a little?" one of the people on one of the other sleds asks: "I'd like to get a better look at these statues."

"No, the clock's ticking," Myron says, looking up from the scanner: "When we find the others, we'll send up probes and have them do a visual map, okay?"

The other person's about to protest, but then shouts an alarm. Myron blinks and looks back at the scanner.

And then he realizes what happened to the other teams.

* * *

The first clue Myron has that She's coming is when something licks him, right behind the ear.

It's nothing, of course. Just a trickle of sweat, making its way from his scalp down to his neck. Only to be expected, given how hot and stiffling this room's become, all of a sudden. 

And cramped, too. Now that the lights are getting dim, and all he can hear is the sound of Doctor Power muttering prayers over the amulet, it seems that the four people standing over the dead body are the entirety of the world. 

He's never heard prayers like this, before. He's never done anything like this, before. He's trying to concentrate and not think of anything other than his "Intent." 

And trying not to think of the fear and hopelessness he saw in Doctor Power's eyes when he told them what they were going to do...

He looks up for just a second, wondering if that man's face is still contorted with the weight of what they're embarking upon. When he does, he sees that the room has gone completely dark, except for the four of them. He cannot see the walls, he cannot see the light from the adjoining room, where the others are. 

And in the darkness between, he can see things moving...

* * *

When he wakes up, Myron is disorientated and wracked by a nasty headache -- the sort you get from hanging out with SPYGOD for the evening, and trying to keep up.

He slowly opens his eyes, and looks up at an expansive, domed ceiling. It's easily a hundred feet above him, and dimly lit. He can just make out movement, up there, but the details are unclear. 

He rolls over, wincing at the brain behind his eyes, and sees that the other members of his team are nearby, dealing with the same discomfort.

"Everyone okay?" he asks, and gets a staggered series of grunts and moans in return. Someone vomits by way of an answer.

"Everyone here?" he asks, trying to get to his feet.

"I think Smith tried to jump out of the sled when he saw what was coming for us," the team leader says, holding his head with both hands: "I don't know if that thing got him or not."

"What the !@#$ was that thing?" someone asks, getting to her feet: "It looked like a giant ball of Jello."

"It was," Myron says, shuddering at the memory. He looks around the large room they're in, and sees no trace of the massive creature that rushed up to catch them on the way down -- its bulk large enough to cover the diameter of the tunnel, itself.

He also sees no trace of their sleds, or the equipment that was on them, which worries him. But they still have their personal belongings, which include their transponders, recorders, and weapons. And he'll take that as a positive development.

Especially when he hears something coming towards them.

Three somethings, actually: tall, robed beings that look exactly like the statues they saw in the tunnel. One carries a staff, one a tall, burning torch, and the third appears to have nothing at all.

And as they come closer, they seem to get larger -- much, much larger.

"Everyone up," Myron says, putting a hand on his pistol -- but not drawing it -- "We've got company."

* * *
There's a trickle of sweat, again, right behind the ear. Only this time there's pressure behind it. Rasping. Flicking.

A terrible smell, like the breath of a sick tiger at the zoo.

Myron gasps but keeps thinking of his Intent. Doctor Power was very insistent that they keep that at the front of their minds. If they didn't, this might not work.

If they didn't, what was coming might enter the wrong body.

The rasping continues. It's at his other ear, now. Then the back of his neck, his knees. Alternating, then all at once, as if he was being molested by tongues, or a cruel octopus.

I know you, a voice whispers in his ear, slimy and wet: You thought no one saw you, that time in the shed. You were eight. How old was she? Five?

Myron closes his eyes, trying not to think of that. One of those things that happen as a child that no one wants to admit to, but everyone knows everyone does.

Oh yes, just harmless fun, the voice goes on: Just kids' stuff. That's what you told yourself. But you never talk about it to anyone, do you? You don't tell your friends about the times you played doctor when they ask what you did as a child, do you?

Every really wonder why?

His intent. He keeps saying it to himself. Over and over and over-

She's dead now, Myron, The voice accuses: Prostitution. Heroin. That afternoon in the shed changed everything. She's dead, now, and it's your fault.

And she'd like to thank you.

And then-

* * *

The one with the staff strides well ahead of the other two. Its yellow, slitted eyes are large in a vaguely-reptilian, blue head, and its hands have opposable claws. As it comes closer, they see that it's at least fifty feet tall. 

"Holy !@#$," one of the group whispers. Someone else starts crying. A few of the team are clearly afraid, but hold their ground as best they can.

"I mean you no harm," a voice sounds out -- its measured tones interspersed with a strange, sibilant hissing that starts before it, and ends some time after it. 

The being gets within a few feet of them, and then stops, resting its staff on the ground. The other two beings halt where they are, and wait.

"I am the One Who Stands Between," it says, the movements of its mouth not matching the sounds that they hear: "It is important that we understand one another, so that what happens is understood, and accepted."

"What's going to happen?" the team leader asks, stepping to the front of the group.

"That has yet to be determined," the alien says, looking at him: "The others who preceded you are being attended to. You may be attended to, as well. But first I would know you."

"What do you need to know?" Myron asks, stepping beside the team leader: "We come in peace, if that means something."

"That we understand, my pouchling," one of the other two aliens -- the one with nothing -- says.

"But we would know why you have come at all," the one with the torch says, the flames making its face appear stretched and grotesque.

"Please let me ask them," the One Who Stands Between insists: "Remember your place."

The other two say nothing in reply.

"I apologize for their rudeness," it says, softly: "But please understand our position. We have not performed our duties for millions of your years. And now, here you are."

"We apologize if we've trespassed," Myron says, cutting off the team leader before can respond: "We expected this to be a deserted place. The beings that came from here have committed an act of war against us. We were seeking to understand where they came from."

"You also sought to steal what we have,' the one with the torch announces: "Admit this, and we can begin."

"Can it really be stealing if they expected this to be a deserted place?" the One Who Stands Between asks: "The Parable of the Shuttered House."

"Yes, it can," the one with the torch replies: "The Lesson of the Found Money."

Myron looks between the two of them: "Are we... we're on trial, here, aren't we?"

"No," the one with nothing in its hands says, holding them up towards the group: "You are being attended to."

"But first, we would know why," the one with the torch says, holding it up higher and angling it towards them: "Attending means nothing if all parties do not understand why it is being done."

"Yeah, we're on trial," the team leader says, taking a step back.

"Actually, I think we already lost," Myron sighs.

* * *

-there is a horrible pulling sensation. The egg that drops from the broken shell. The eye that's eased from its socket. 

The drawing forth of the soul from the body, entire and complete. 

(Roughly, oh cruel octopus.)

Myron sees himself from outside himself for the first time. Like a video of him sleeping an old girlfriend took for her art project.

Him but not him, somehow.

(Haven't talked to her in years. Bad breakup. Weirdness.)

Swimming in the tide of the air. Trying to get back to himself, if he can.

A silver cord, leading from his soul to his navel. 

(Must protect it. Read that issue of Adventure Comics.)

The others are also outside themselves. Myron sees Doctor Power, Mr. USA, Yanabah. 

Sees their true selves, recoils without knowing why. 

(Protection. Things we're not meant to know. Masks have power for a reason.)

Things beyond the four of them are clear now. Great black things, like lizards with too many legs, but no beginning or end. 

Spiraling endless, over and over, slithering and wet.

(Trapping them. Keeping them from leaving. The plan all along.)

Sees the body, between the four of them. There is nothing inside of it, and nothing outside. 

Dead and dark, on the floor.

(A light patch floats by it. The phantom footprint left when her soul leaped away.)

Something is coming. The smell of tiger breath. The onrush of foul thoughts. Red, hazy light from all angles.

(Heady, chittering laughter. A flock of insane birds. Cockatoos.)

You have called, the voice he heard announces, as something forms in the red. I have come.

State your desire, and I will name my price.

(SPYGOD is listening to Reflection (TOOL) and having a Hell Hath No Fury)

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