Fiction

Here’s What Happens

There is life after death, and it’s horrible. Sorry to spoil the surprise, but everyone deserves to know this, really. Since civilisation’s beginnings we’ve tried to explain what happens to consciousness after death. The simplest and most likely explanation was also the most frightening; nothing. Nothing at all. Blankness, a void of sensation you wouldn’t even be present for. No one really wants to embrace the idea that once your heart stops beating and the brain starves of oxygen, then that’s all she wrote. No brainwaves, no electrical impulses, no sensation. Nothingness.

So we devised all kinds of reasonings and fables to offer ourselves some glimmer of hope. Heaven, Hell, reincarnation, anything was more appealing than the idea of non-existence. But the truth was worse than oblivion, if you can believe it.

The ‘Earth Project’, if you want to call it that, is effectively battery-farming. The Archons, those conscious powers of nature, force and time which exist in all places and forms, needed sustenance. The forces of this universe operate in a way much like what you think happens in the deep sea; small fish eat smaller fish, then are eaten by bigger fish, on and on. In the great Cataclysm which we choose to see as the Big Bang, the cosmic singularity burst apart and what had been an inconceivable All to which there was no ‘outside’ or ‘other’ was suddenly forced to adjust to something new; disparity. Suddenly, the All was split into Many, and there was no true equality. There were newly formed beings and consciousnesses with their own identities, strengths and weaknesses. Some were bigger and more powerful than others, and found themselves suddenly at the mercy of Time, a wholly new concept. They aged and withered, but could stem the flow of entropy via the consumption of other forms and powers, and so the strongest in this new pantheon devoured those who were weaker, on and on.

Eventually, with the passage of Time, which few seemed able to get used to, there were no weaker souls left in the divided cosmos. A small collection of unimaginably vast and powerful presences lorded over the cold space and the heat and matter which dotted it. None were capable of moving against the other without opening themselves up to attack from another, and with all of them aware that they were entirely matched in strength and omniscience, it was a stalemate. Perhaps if one had eventually consumed all the others then the universe, as we see it, would have returned to it’s original unity. But this did not occur.

These ‘Archons’ hatched an idea, each realising it at the same time and aware that the others must have done so as well. They worked together, for the first time, and made the world as we know it. They pooled their collective power and formed a world situated perfectly in the comfort-zone of a healthy star. They seeded the world with a small portion of their own power, and this became Life. In time, this Life developed a kind of advanced consciousness, as they anticipated.

The Archons were starving, you see. Unable to feed upon each other anymore they were beginning to atrophy. They understood that without fresh energy they were destined to fade, and they would have to embrace the Nothingness that we so fear ourselves. And so they began to farm, and we are the crops. Upon birth we are each blessed with a kernel of that initial spark which brought forth life on this world, and as time passes it matures. Our society and development act as a kind of greenhouse, that spirit growing into a unique and bright flame. We marinate in our collective experience of ‘Life’. And then, when our physical frames wither and fail, when our bodies are no longer able to act as vessels for the burning and titanic force of spirit and soul that threatens to burst out of us, we ‘Die’. The kernel, now massive and ripe, rises out of this ecology and returns to it’s original source, the Archons.

And they eat us.

Can you conceive of it? The white fire within, the one thing that remains within you even when everything else about life changes, the inner sense of being and experience, in the end it’s just a kind of cosmic nourishment for powers greater than you can imagine. Are you offended? Does the idea upset you, that everything that ever happened to you was effectively the cultivation of greater nutrition and flavour? Well be upset. Get mad. The chickens our species sends to slaughter every day aren’t happy about their situation either; do you care?

Gods will loom over you, leering and writhing in anticipation of their meal. That’s all you ever were. Tendrils which formed the universe plunge into your very essence with no concern for your consent. Your memories are torn away, like the crisp, juicy crackling which shields a freshly-roasted pork belly. They smack their lips on your hopes and fears, sucking the marrow from the wealth of your experience. You’ll fight and struggle, they all do. If anything the Archons like it; a final bit of resistance sweetens the meat and adds a spice to your dreams. And all of this happens so slowly… They like to take their time, to ensure that absolutely everything about you is consumed and converted into fuel for their own existence, so much more significant than yours as to inspire dreadful, star-shattering laughter upon comparison.

There is nothing you can ever do to prevent this. Your soul will be eaten, and all your memories and experiences will eventually be reduced to crumbs on a plate which spans the deepest abyss of space. You don’t return, you aren’t reborn. Eventually that initial fear of our species is made true; oblivion and nothingness. You simply have to endure the experience of being torn apart over millennia, knowing beyond doubt that there is absolutely no escaping any of this.

I suppose you could spoil their meal with suicide. You’d be giving them much less to feast upon, were you to artificially shorten your ripening. But you wouldn’t even be able to enjoy their frustration; your ability to perceive it would be gobbled up in short order.

So if you are spiteful enough to wish some kind of pain upon these unimaginable titans, then pray for war. Do everything you can to herald a nuclear armageddon, because only the complete devastation of all that lives on this ‘world’ will end their meal. And as the second suns rise from silos and burst in the twilight sky and the air grows fast and hot as the blast wave approaches you, ready to reduce you to immediate ash and cinder, rejoice in the knowledge that you have hastened the death of the universe.

Non serviam.

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Fiction

The White City

My dreams all take place in the same location now, if the mental spaces in which we wander nocturnally can be said to have a ‘location’ as such. It is a city, grand in scale but utterly ruined. White stone bricks make up towers, dwellings, sepulchres and vast stretching bridges which end abruptly in mid-air. Water surrounds the city, lays through it, though the canals do not flow and the shores do not ebb or rush. They are achingly placid, like an infinite mirror stretching past the horizon. The sky is eternally locked into a state of either dawn or twilight; it is impossible to tell which. There is no sun or moon suspended above. The city lays almost entirely empty of life.

There is a sense that this is an old place, eldritch and forbidden. It feels older than… anything else there is, to be honest. It started here, whatever it is. Did the spires once tower even higher, each window lit by fantastical lights in colours we have never seen? Did the grand beings who constructed this place once stride proudly across its many huge white plazas, resplendent in finery now forever lost to time? Did the stars ever drape across a night’s sky, the whorls and jewels of Nuit moving through constellations which are not our own?

I cannot say.

Perhaps it was always like this. Perhaps this is the first place, the first eruption of matter in a universe born anew. Perhaps it is the last, the final resting place of that shared hallucination we called “civilisation.” Perhaps it is the ruin of Heaven.

In my dreams I wander across the streets, alleys and walkways of this forsaken place. Occasionally there are others, though none I would consider denizens. I feel that the others I sometimes glance are fellow visitors, projecting to this city from their resting places, same as I. None speak, and I do not attempt to myself.

Many parts of the city appear as through they should be inaccessible, built by either maddened architectural minds or simply constructed for the convenience of a race which does not abide by the same physical laws as my own. However I do not encounter difficulty in scaling the impossibly steep white pathways. I simply will myself there, and I am transported. I have not taken the time yet to look at my own body while I explore this place. I am quietly afraid to do so.

Sometimes, but not every time, there is a strong sense of another presence in this city. While it may sound wildly out of character with everything else I have described, I am occasionally made aware of a dragon which resides here. I have never seen the dragon, not heard its roar or witnessed its flight. Indeed, I cannot in all sureness say that it embodies any of the various images we conjure in our collective human consciousness when we think of a ‘dragon.’ When I become aware of it, it is as though a deep tectonic shift has occurred in the very foundations of the place. Some kind of consciousness stirs deep beneath the city, within the very white stones upon which I stand, and it is wholly omniscient of those who wander it’s lair. Or perhaps it would be better to say those who ‘trespass’. When I become aware of the dragon, I wake shortly after. Perhaps I flee it’s ethereal gaze, perhaps it ejects me, unworthy to stand within this holy land.

I recall a single time that I became conscious of the dragon in the presence of another wanderer. A young woman, clothed in a vest with brown hair pulled back tightly. The moment I became aware of the dragon I could be sure she had as well; her face suddenly creased into a look of fear, panic and horror. Perhaps mine had as well. Perhaps it does every time.

I want to learn how to lucid dream, because I want to grapple with this city more consciously. There is some reason for my constant return there. Am I supposed to find something? Am I experiencing the memories of another? Perhaps I have been called there to rebuild it. Perhaps I have been sent there to destroy what remains.

In a way, it doesn’t seem to matter. Many of the metaphysical things we take for granted in our World and Aeon do not belong there. I do not entertain thoughts of good or evil while there, or even life vs. death. This place resides either long before or after those separations existed.

I want to go back. I want to know whether the tides destroyed this place, or if they simply pushed the great white stones together themselves. I want to know what sights lay at the tops of the highest cracked towers. I want to know if subterranean tunnels lead under the city, beneath the level of the still sea, and what magnificent force might rest there.

Part of me worries, in my waking hours, that this city might drive me mad if I spend too much time there. It is so very alien, so unlike anything I have seen in life or fantasy. Perhaps if I were to spend too much time exploring I might become lost, or lose some connection to the slumbering body which projects my consciousness into that lost place. I remind myself that I have seen no evidence to suggest that any others have become ‘stuck’ in such a way. But still I worry.

In cynical moments, to which I am prone, I wonder if maybe this is all simply an amalgamation of other mythical lost cities: Atlantis, Carcosa, R’Lyeh. But the thought occurs; I am not the only one who has visited this place. Would it not make sense that others, more gifted in poetry and prose than myself might have taken inspiration from their own journeys there and attempted to scribe the things they had seen, to try and convey to others the idea of a city lost amid time, utterly separate from our own assumptions of space, physics, time and law?

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