Short Story: The Awakening


Dreamless nothingness...
No, not nothingness... A timeless stasis, unchanging awareness of infinity...
The eternity slowly fractures. Internal motions restart. Now splits into divisions of time. Years shatter into months, into weeks, into days, into hours. Heartbeat accelerates. Breaths start to repeat themselves more often than tides, filling lungs with stale air.

Awakening takes time. There is no hurry though. The wards are untouched, the lair is severed from elsewhere, its space twisted and coiled around itself. Inaction calls with primal temptation of conserving energy. It would be all too easy to succumb to slumber again.

Reason forces the body to act, though. Quick check-up confirms safety but advises finding suitable nutrition. Jars of supplies stored await breakage of their seals. The sigils that warded off entropy for ages fulfilled their role. The strips of meat are dried and tasteless, small and simple glyphs already did enough by preserving the proteins for so long. The honey withstands storage much better, its sugar offers dense caloric content but the bland sweetness fails to appease appetite either. Irrelevant. Aesthetic experiences need to play secondary role to survival.

Unbinding the sigils that protect the lair and separate them from the rest of the world takes time. It's a delicate process where failure can have grave consequences.

Finally, the tunnel unwinds and stops leading back into itself. The passage is open. the first step into the Wormways is taken. The air is stale but breathable, as expected. No scents reveal anyones passing here within last few hundred years. The Wormway lead to one of the junctions. The pale glow of light seeps from the ancient glyphs. The light is different, the terrestrial magnetic fields that power it must have changed. Nothing surprising. The signs mark various passages leading into different regions. A few of them scratched and replaced by newer ones. Nothing changed since the last passing. The quick path is the right choice to follow for now. Exit from the tunnel is hidden among rocky outcrops of local mountains. The hiding and shielding sigils require more careful work to create temporary opening.

The first quaff of fresh air. The smell is acrid and smoky... The tongue flickers to taste the sky. Carbon. Lots of carbon. Sulfur. Methane. Lesser amounts of other elements bound in various compounds. Meteor strike? Not likely, the dust is not right. Massive volcanic activity? Possibly, though some of the components of air don't fit either. The sky color is wrong too. It's night and yet it feels too bright. The pits are tickled weakly by electromagnetic activity beyond their spectrum range. A better vantage point is in order.

That... That is unexpected. With less rocky outcrops in the way, the line of sight is greatly extended and the sky's brightness source becomes obvious. A settlement is glowing with lights and heat. Electricity? The luminescence would fit. Is it possible that those hairless apes made such a big jump in a few millennia? The wind blows from that side. The smell fits. The denizens of the buildings burn carbon compounds for power. Inefficient. The People would have to be desperate to resort to such step on a massive scale. Or is releasing carbon oxides into the atmosphere the true purpose of that action?

There aren't many signs of suitable prey around. Do the denizens of the settlement hunted them off? For now a few small furry mammals have to do. They are quick, but not quick enough. The warm blood and fresh flesh taste of fear and disorientation. Mere snack when it comes to calories, but a feast for the senses. Has to suffice for now. Time to observe the hairless apes. What resources and means they have now? Are they obedient workforce as the Thrones wanted... Have they become dangerous to The People? Are there more of The People around?

The world has changed. The new ways need to be learned. Good, good... A challenge for the wits will help keep lethargy at bay for a time. 

No comments:

Post a Comment