This Week’s Prompt: 2.Inhabitants of Zinge, over whom the star Canopus rises every night, are always gay and without sorrow.
The Research:Made Up Words, Stars, and Utopia’s
Elinor Thompson awoke with a hundred arms and a single eye. She found herself screaming without sound, aware now of the watery darkness around her. She stared upward in the unlit room, desperately trying to scuttle around as best she could. Her red hair was gone, her dark skin now glowing dimly. As she struggle about, her mind assuring her this was but a dream, a dim hum began within her mind.
Elinor found that, as she walked, the humming grew louder in one part of the room, a room that seemed to be a watery bubble of stone. Accepting that this was some strange dream, she tumbled around, feeling the parts of her body as best she could. A clicking beak lay beneath her head, and beside it were two long legs, ready to spring. Testing them, she found her self floating in the water. As she went hurtling across the inky black the hum grew louder, but stayed soft and relaxed. It echoed in her brain as if some part of skull was vibrating in unison. Elinor swam towards them, closer and closer.
She found a great vastness through to tunnel after tunnel, until she came to a murky chasm that ran forever. For a moment, she thought she had found the end, an endless expanse of darkness. A moment passed of pristine silence, except the deep humming in her head. And then, a glowing dot. Several. A host of creatures, like pristine glowing jellyfish floated across the darkness, like stars in the evening sky. More whirled above and below here, adding tones to the growing choir.
The song rose and rose in pitch and volume, a growing calm, an overwhelming sensation of perfection. Elinor felt it swelling, driving her thoughts into the bottom of her mind. Waves building on each other, like the Shepards Tone, reaching upward and upward for infinite. In a few minutes or hours, for time was gone completely down in these watery depths, Elinor ceased to be a meaningful distinction. In those depths her own mind began to sing, the amorphous form began to dance in a swirl. In the widening gyre, she became one of the many lights.
And so she stayed for a time, rising and following on the currents. The swarming host swelled and sank with the tides, singing gleefully as they did. The chasm stretched in all directions, with thousands of homes budding off of the main stalk. Smaller creatures swam with many eyes or scuttled blind upon the wall. Oh the feasts that the choir entertained. Oh the prey that the host snatched and devoured as they sang.
And then, by chance, the one that was Elinor reached the top o the stalk. And peering around, sining as she did, she saw a hole. A lonesome hole. Curious and innocent, she ventured in. Emptiness rolled out before her, her light alone in the endless sea. Her mind, long emptied of terrestrial memories, now wondered dimly if out there, in the black, stood other stalks and other wondering stars.
She considered venturing forth to find them, the others in the dark. Her song grew joyous rather than content, and her eye squinted to see some distant mark. There was some distant shifting, but for a time nothing. And then, a crack.
A crack spread across the heavens, a great shining crack in the sky. As it spread, arrows of searing light struck through, burning Elinor’s single eye. And her song became silent, as before her the whole alien floor appeared. Sweeping across, a great wave of blackened plants began to stir, stretching tendril like branch toward the light.
And in the distance, a great shape began to rise. A multitude of claws appeared on the edge of the light, which continued to grow. The mass of shell and bone, a shimmering ebony, at first looked like a strange growth and nothing more. Or perhaps a mass of stone, a mountain of onyx growing beneath the sea bed. But it moved and stirred and strode through the flickering light. It moved toward the stalk, a beast so vast that Elinor could not see where it ended. And the song became a scream.
And Elinor awoke in a dark room, sitting atop her bed. Her hundred limbs now a mere four or five, with small digits extending out. Her beak had swelled into lips that puckered instead of clicked. She slowly recalled, as if from some distant dream, how to move her legs and arms, struggling to stand. As she pulled herself toward her blinds, and by instinct reached for the blinds. When the light entered, however, she started and hid behind the bed. In its shadow she saw them, a great many pages of paper sprawled across the floor. Slowly, she lifted them to her eyes to read.
A friend latter explained that the symbols were ancient Greek or Phoenician. Symbols over a thousand years old, that had no business being in her home. He asked if she was okay, that she hadn’t left her room in days. She smiled, and said it was simply a bad cold.
In her mental absence, some force had ransacked her room. She found things strew across the floor, books and clothes tossed about. And more papers, with pictures at times. The symbols snaked there way on the crumpled paper, written by a sloppy hand. A hand no doubt partially numb and used to its own light by which to write.
She drank coffee now, to avoid deeper dreams. Sometimes, when at last fatigue won over her caffeine, she would her the tattered remains of that distant song. Now, it was discordant. Now it was missing familiar tones. Some parts would end without warning. And sometimes, a new song. A song calming and deep, a bellow, that sounded as if it came from a vast host. And then, in those dreams, she would feel a thousand limbs and claws crawling on her skin.
Elinor managed to identify one of the pictures. It was a sketch of a boat keel, labeled Carina. A star, Canopus, was circled with writing around it. The letters were scrawled around it, and seemed messier than the rest, a terrified hand no doubt responsible. She wondered if that thing, in that distant deep ocean, had been terrrifeid by the light. Or if the silence, the dryness, and sky at night had been more horrifying yet.
Down by the sea, Elinor built her home, on the West Coast. She didn’t live there,not really. She lived in the coffee shops and drugs stores, fighting forever against night and sleep. But in time, her body did what bodies always do with enough time. It adapted. And she slept.She slept for days and in dim memory moved again in that dark chasm, now a ruin.
The blinding light broke through its walls, the choir lacking harmony. Except the dull base, which pulsed like a vile heart from the center of it all. There, in the rubble, it lay curled around it self. Staring deeply into Elinor’s eye. It stared and seemed to gaze through to her real eyes, to her world of eternal sunlight. To paradise, where the things before had hoped to dwell. A place without long sleeps. A place just on the other side of a dream.
And in the worst dreams, in the dreams that drive Elinor to keep herself awake through withdrawal pains, it sleeps. And she hears its dull pulsing song as she wakes, waiting to align again. And slip free.
That’s what I managed to dig up from the crypt. How about you, my fellow members? Did you raise anything particularly…unnerving?
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