What The Mystic Showed You: Neptune in 8 Minutes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Bit of an oddity this one: is it an out of body experience, an interpretation of Holst, or a sci-fi vision? A short story in the style of William Hope Hodgson and H.P. Lovecraft.

Submitted: April 23, 2012

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Submitted: April 23, 2012

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This is more like a vision, not quite a dream. Maybe this is the glimpse of infinity granted in the heartbeat before death, who can say? Memory before this moment is non-existent. Even identity is lost. Maybe this is my story, and I’m telling it. Maybe this is yours, and I’m describing what you see.

Just know this is happening, more or less.

It begins.

 

0:00

Passing through space faster than light, than thought itself, through distances vast and immeasurable. No man has travelled this far before. But then, where I, or you, or we are heading is no place for man.

 

0:15

Through the vastness of space, your destination approaches: we’re slowing down. The planet is an exquisite blue marble, not so different from Earth. Yet as it grows, the comfort of familiarity ebbs away, and all that remains is mystery.

The blue orb fills your vision, and it is a colour that defies description. Dusty.

Ghostly. But pure, and limitless. You wonder at this curious ball, so lonely, lying at the end of all that is known: a sentinel on the cusp of infinity.

The blue: does it penetrate, the whole way through? Is it the inert sphere of gas it is believed to be, a decision made with telescopes and satellites? They have not been here. They have not seen it like you do now. There’s something else in there.

There is more. There has to be.

Something waits.

 

0:45

The blue submerges you. It blinds us. Press on. Trust you are moving in the right direction.

Press on.

After an eternity of the blue, finally a variance occurs. Even the smallest change is noticeable: pure colour, whatever that is, is almost like pure darkness. Except the change that comes is dark, and has depth, texture. Surface. Something behind the blue, lying still, waits to be revealed.

It has waited long enough.

The mist parts to reveal the surroundings, but lingers, unwilling to expose itself entirely. Even as spirit this place is unwelcoming. Maybe it knows. We cannot let our guard down.

 

1:12

There’s a tingling in us that I suspect is as much fear as it is curiosity, but you tell me.

In every direction is life, or what once resembled it, although only a dozen feet in any direction is visible. Rancid vegetation lies everywhere: ancient, dying trees that have succumbed to time, smothered in mist and what resembles vines, ivy and rot. They bend in the direction of defeat.

Everything screams of past lost; of a time long gone and left to decompose. But there was life here once. There was greatness. You can taste it.

But is anything left? Life remains, that much is clear, but what about intelligence? Is it sleeping, ready to be awakened? If it awakens, will it be dangerous?

Despite the ravages of time, a path remains. Small, neglected, overgrown, but proof. Something lived here. Now, we have to learn what.

Follow it.

The path, like everything else here, leads into the relentless blue mist. Without failing, it keeps going in a straight line, running through the ground of this wasted land.

The track widens. What was at first a well-trodden line broadens out, becomes developed. Paved. Someone made this path. Where are they now? What could have made them leave?

Follow.

 

1:55

The path seems to come to an end. It widens into a clearing, leaving me unsure where to go. The rancid vegetation seems unable to reach this clearing, but there’s no explanation –

Oh

My

God

After an eternity of blue grey mist seeping into every corner, it clears, and the uncertainty is replaced with horror.

I’ve reached something. All roads lead here. In front of me is what must be a temple. It’s grander in scale, yet more desolate than anything history has ever known.

It’s immense.

There’s something about the temple. Something terrifying. It’s ingrained in the building, in the very stone.

Then I realise, this is only the tip of the iceberg. The temple expands all around, under my feet – either by design, or through millennia stood alone, the ground shifting around it, matter decaying around and on top of it.

It has survived all this. It is permanent.

Something incredibly intelligent made this place, something that knows nothing of morality.

We shouldn’t have come here.

I want to run, but something (is it you?) holds me in place.

Wait! For what?

Let it pass. You’ll see.

If we run now, we’ll never know.

 

2:54

Know what?

We’re not in any obvious danger. Take a moment. Have you ever seen anything like this before? We are privileged to see this. Who was the last living being to do so?

The feeling rises: awe. This is something bigger and older than mankind itself could ever dream of being, will ever be.

Something that surely must be dead, because nothing that remains of a civilisation so majestic would allow itself to be forgotten so easily.

We await instructions. A sign.

Nothing moves.

 

3:13

Nothing has to. Even in death, this culture has moved beyond language. It is feeling. Without moving, the world seems to shift, propels you forward. You are led to the foot of the temple. It is the only way forward.

A staircase, leading underground, and you realise what is leading you this way: light.

The first light since entering the blue mist that binds this world in mystery, the first sign that life may yet remain on this aloof place of rot and fallen dignity.

The light is green, and both natural and unnatural at once. Is it warm and right, or a siren, calling you to shipwreck?

It doesn’t matter.

Follow, even if it means death.

 

3:40

We descend for what feels like miles. The steps are broad and worn, like an old cathedral’s. Many have passed this way before. Where are they now?

The staircase narrows as you go, and even the ceiling lowers, forming a tunnel. This only makes the light brighter.

The decayed world behind you is forgotten.

Follow.

 

4:00

The cool green light is your only purpose now. You can feel it. The heart.

And something in the light calls to you; something familiar, and long forgotten, the memory only awakening now: a profound sense of importance, of something vital.

Something that knows nothing of good and evil, that just is. You don’t care. You just remember.

How could I forget? How could any of us?

Further down now, the sleepy horror of above has truly gone, has been purged and left behind. Everything is clearer here. Our senses more alert. The stone of the steps becomes sharp; time has been unable to wear them away down here.

 

4:24

We are changing. Every layer of awareness peels off, burns away. Burn is right in only some ways. It must be the green light that is changing us, but there’s no heat you feel. It’s the light.

It echoes and moves. Can light echo? Is that even possible? It feels like the only way to describe it: an echo and a pulse.

 

The steps end, finally, as does the tunnel, opening out into a chamber.

A first it seems limitless, stretching on and out for miles in every direction, including above. How can that even be possible? My mind tells me I’m deep underground, but every sense I have tells me otherwise. The air is cool and pure, but I’m not cold. I’m not anything but curious.

Then a swelling grows in my core. The light. I’m close now, it’s just ahead, and as I get closer it dawns on me that there’s no reason to be afraid.

There’s no reason to be afraid of anything.

One final obstruction remains, a small one. Leading into the huge room (if that’s what this is) is a small flight of steps, obscuring my goal, and as I reach the top, the sight is revealed to me.

At the same time, without realising, I release every anxiety locked in me. Every need, worry or concern, no matter how deeply buried. Even those I never knew I had, those that are so integral to me, are gone.

 

4:55

Peace.

There’s no mistake: the light is beauty. It’s the warm glow at the centre. It resides in the heart of everything, but is forgotten in a world populated by miracles.

Only here, at the end of everything and against the stark backdrop of nothing, can it be seen in the literal sense, without concealment or metaphor.

This isn’t profane.

 

5 15

It’s sacred. Nothing is dead, because there is no death. Even the world above has a purpose, to nurture the purity down here.

I feel calm.

And I see the source of the light. It’s not blinding but as tranquil as the light it emanates, yet powerful and terrible nonetheless. Held back by a universal judgement and an absolute will.

At the end of the chamber, the far wall is comprised entirely of a something massive, glowing and green; the substance it must be comprised of defies the mind. Is it a colossal wall of water, suspended in the air? Or is it fire, burning without heat and somehow leaving its surroundings unscathed?

Somehow, it’s both and neither.

This is The Source.

 

5:30

With nothing further between you and The Source, you come to understand. Sacred is profane, and profane is sacred.

The pulsing and echo of the light changes, or to be precise, opens up, and its true sound is heard.

Voices.

The pulses become a choir, thousands strong, the voices a contradiction; human and otherworldly; beautiful and strong, wailing and terrible.

You are seeing the centre. Something unfathomable. You could stay forever, with all of its secrets to learn.

Yet as we are prepared to let go and lose all sense of self, to surrender to oblivion, another change, one that holds you back.

We are noticed.

 

6:13

We have looked too long, and somehow The Source has seen you staring.

This is not an intelligence that can be understood, it is not tame, and it has a judgement and an intellect that something as small as we are can never truly begin to comprehend. Even with all sense of self stripped away, we are still a blemish on its purity. We are not ready.

We have seen, but something we shouldn’t. When its attention turns to you, only for a heartbeat, do you understand how terrible its majesty truly is.

You understand:

 

6:34

You cannot stay. You will not remember, not in your conscious mind at any rate, no matter how much you wish you could. But your soul may. In the deepest of dreams, wrapped in images and metaphor in order to understand it, you may feel in the depths of your unconscious that you have struck something deep and pure, but are unable to articulate it, so that only a small sadness remains to undermine a feeling of contentment that should be enough.

And maybe one day, when the stars breathe their last and all light is gone, will the universe see this last bastion of purity, keeping hope alive.

Without moving, we are leaving.

 

7:00

It fades now. You struggle to remember, but only flashes remain. Carried up and out, through the rock and earth, the temple disappears beneath our feet before being consumed by the mist – green now, not blue – the planet drops away as we move through the atmosphere and away from the planet, through the expanses of the universe so fast it feels as if you are hardly moving at all. With no mass, we feel no resistance.

 

7:40

Until finally, you, I, we

Wake up.

 


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