He was waiting for his father. His Dad. One of the hunters.
The swift machines came gliding through the big opening they called the Gape.
One day he would be a hunter himself, he thought. One day, when he was proven worthy.
Another machine came by, yet another could be seen in the sky.
The little planes came through, in from the world outside, the Vast. One by one they flew by. His father was not among them.
The sun went down…
-It’s coming this way! Jerome the bell-ringer was shouting, almost screaming, his heart beating wildly. -Please, God! Help us!
Father Juan was staring towards the horizon. They had heard the rumours. A monster. Centipede body, mantis eyes. Big as a mountain. Destroying villages, castles and cities along its way.
-Only one thing can save us now… Come, follow me!
Jerome hurried after the priest as he ran down the stairs of the clock tower. They entered the door to the private chambers. A staircase went deep down underneath the cathedral cellars, a staircase Jerome never knew existed. At the end of a long corridor rusty hinges shrieked as the priest pulled an old door open.
The room was dark and humid, smelled of rot and dirt. The light from the fire torch fell on a small crystal box in a corner. The book inside was old, very old. It had strange marks on it, runes and symbols. Unholy…
Deep inside, he was, and he knew he was. Milliards of cells communicating with each other, innumerable connections close to infinity, existing beyond what they were capable of understanding themselves.
Contemplating, interacting with the world.
Creating something never seen before.
Tapping his fingers on the table, he looked at the little bottles in front of him. Eeny meeny miny moe… he stopped at the biggest one. He grabbed it, walked over to the window. Watched the blue sky for a moment, took a deep breath of fresh summer air. The little tap was put tight, he had to struggle for a little while to get it off. Dark clouds came flowing out of the bottle, up towards the skies. They grew. The sky darkened…
He punched big spikes into the ground. Big, strong iron spikes, deep into the soil, so the ground would stay put. He knew it would peel off, someday, if he didn’t. It would peel off for good, leaving us all on a hot rock to die.
He knew if he didn’t do it, no one would. He didn’t like it. He didn’t want to do it. He had to.
One day two men came by.
-Why do you punch spikes into the ground? they asked.
-To keep the surface from peeling off, he had answered.
He saw something move. A shadow was coming out from one of the backstreets. A man. He came walking towards him. Others appeared from the darkness as well.
Howdy! Clifton said. How come there’s so few people around?
No answer. They walked up the street towards him. They moved in a strange way, slowly, clumsily. One was limping, another seemed to be missing an arm. His horse neighed.
The marshal loosened the cap on his gun holster.
I said howdy!
One of the figures moaned. They were coming uncomfortably close.
Clifton pulled his gun in a fast movement.
Stop! He said. Don’t come any closer, or I’ll shoot!
He could see their faces now. Their eyes. They looked… dead. Empty.
He fired a shot. In the air, to see if he could scare them off.
They kept walking…