Further Beyond the Fear Barrier

*Excerpt from the second part of a series of short stories, with the working title:

Afterlife

He perched finally on a large rock jutting out of the thrashing golden water, just off the beach. He tucked his wings tight against himself to shield from the chill wind. The altar stood deserted behind him, but he paid no mind to it, or to anything else. The hypnotic, breathing sea held his captivation. In the beginning he’d wanted to ascend Oblivion Hill and confront the mythical gates of the dream temple, but the very thought sparked a terror within that left him paralyzed. In the end the decision had been made for him, for he came to rest on that stone without even realizing where he’d been heading.

This place was marked out for him. The altar was his. He thought of lighting it, but couldn’t be bothered. A thousand fingers from the tremendous sea flickered over the rock, tantalizing him – coaxing. This colossal, amorphous beast of a sea oozed and rolled across the earth with hypnotic grace and imperceptible power. This was what he must deal with. Such a force could not be resisted forever. It called out to him in a cacophony of seductive, hissing whispers. It sparkled with blinding radiance. It fed all life. The source. Return to the source. It tickled and taunted with a hundred snapping fingers.

He stood up and prepared to meet the foreboding sea.

As he rose higher and higher into the sky, he thought back to when he felt passion – when he fought the sea, and felt joy in his will to overcome. A time that was only three skies past. That man died when the very reason for fighting was lost.

He rose through the thin, misty clouds and continued high above them until the air was hard to breathe. Far below was the rolling sea beast. He could see the beach and hills of the south in the distance, the crimson jungle, and far off in the haziness of vision he could see Oblivion Hill. To think he might have walked through those gates…

For the first time he gave in to the great, mystic waters, tucking his wings tightly behind him and plummeting toward the ocean of liquid stone far, far below. And as he drew near the waters’ surface he was almost certain, for that flash of a moment, that he could see his father’s face staring back up at him from the shadowy depths below. He opened his mouth to shriek…

Afterward

He was aware of nothing beyond the impact. His body was crushed and broken in an instantaneous moment, and as it sunk into the murky depths of his great nemesis, he was already screaming out of the atmosphere of the only planet his flesh had ever known.

Had he waited the nine years for Nai’s son to reach the age of six, he would have been given a much greater path to the cosmos, and would’ve possibly found the lost spirit of his wife. Unfortunately, he, too was now lost…

His essence surged across the galactic, black expanse. Past strange stars that pulsated and changed form and moved in violently tight vibrations. Past stretches of swirling colours and menacingly roaring vortices; and even stranger sights of strange towers formed of impossible dimensions, suspended in the nothing; and glowing clusters of stone polyhedrons, perfectly proportioned and polished like marble in bouquets of insane forms that defied the laws of geometry. Past whispering stone columns that formed rows, and circles and walls and had shining, spinning, shivering obelisks on their ends. Bulleting through swarms of shrieking entities, living and swimming in the blasphemous emptiness – clinging to each other, consuming, regurgitating, grasping at the oblivion and reaching for him, wailing terribly as he beamed by.

He traveled relentlessly across space and time, bearing unconscious witness to the most dreaded secrets and powers of the universe. He was drawn through the forbidden reaches of existence, tearing through unspeakable fears and the cursed abominations of an unknown god. Cursed abominations that he was now one of. The universe swelled and exploded in a frightful ebb and flow all around him, pulling him deeper into a nameless abyss of demons and terror.

His path tore a violent light through this sightless, tormenting region.

He soared forever through this impossible screaming nightmare until he began to slow and descend toward a small planet.

He sifted through the clouds and into a vibrating, green sky. He soared over a vast desert of pale blue, with monstrous dunes carving intricate designs across the land – and they seemed be slowing moving – changing. An occasional plateau of smooth black rock protruded from the sand like a drowning island; and deep in some places across this sea of crawling dunes lay hidden a lush oasis that filled the air with tiny sparkling lights and gurgling whispers – and the dunes would rise like terrible walls around them, continuing in eternal circles as if sacred guards.

The green sky twitched sharply, and suddenly sunk into a deep blue, then deeper into a rich magenta, then slowly it began to ease into a soft, deep red, where it remained. The large white sun spun madly, alone in the cloudless sky.

Then the sand slowly crept away and left a hard wasteland, jagged and dry with sparse twisted trees, and scattered pools of sparkling emerald waters with wide orange ferns sprouting around them. The stony desert hills rolled mildly along below, stretching to the horizons, and far in the distance was a tremendous, mountain wall of cryptic, black stone.

He dropped toward a small plateau of smooth rock that seemed to be creeping out of the ground. Nestled against the glassy stone was a large pool with a single, gnarled tree growing next to it, and a cluster of orange, flaming ferns circling its edges. On the shore of the water were two figures. One was sprawled in the sand, battered and bleeding, and the other was atop the crippled form, thrashing violently in rhythmic panic. He beamed toward them. Then suddenly the larger creature tensed powerfully and the violated creature howled.

He surged into darkness.

…to be continued…

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