[WAR X] Throne Out of Time
A brilliance seared the prophet’s eyes. Blistering heat cooked his skin beneath layers of feeble cloth, wrapped around his flesh like the crusty outer skin of a bird roasting in an oven. He pressed his cracked lips together and pain splintered across their surface as blood issued from the fissures. A suffocating exhaustion strangled every muscle in his body, and he struggled to stand. Sand blew into his eyes like so many tiny stinging insects, and he tried to blink the specks out, his eyes slowly adjusting to the searing light.
When he could finally see more than a yellow-white blur, before him stood a enormous obelisk, the edges of the stone soft and rounded from the desert wind, bizarre inscriptions flowing across the surface, enormous cracks running through the length of the structure and chunks missing at random intervals.
His eyes continued to adjust. Beyond the obelisk lay a grotesque cityscape, the geometry of which was so bizarre and ludicrous as to almost be beyond comprehension. Were he to describe it, the only words he could conjure were “twisted into straight lines”, as ridiculous as that sounded. The ruins, half-buried by sand, had clearly been decaying here for untold centuries, passing through the pages of history into mere myth. Only the roofs, adorned with the stone idols of hideous, surrealistic creatures to which no mortal origin could be traced, still stood clear above the sand.
A tremendous voice boomed from deep in the fissures within his mind. What it said he could not identify, for it was at that moment that exhaustion took the prophet within its dark embrace.
The darkness of death, however, was a divine radiance next to the utter blackness that he now had the curse to see. There he lay in the burning desert, the blazing wind driving the sand to cover his body so that the desert might swallow him whole. Yet some will, some terrible, horrible will, would not let him die. Instead, the man found his eyes forced open by some mind not his own, staring straight up into the sky.
The heavens had been torn open. Huge gashes had been sliced through the blue backdrop, revealing purplish-black nothing. It was as though an enormous claw had reached out and torn apart the canvas onto which the Earth was painted, exposing something behind that was abhorrent than anything the figures in the painting could imagine. And from the gashes poured through an unending swarm of hideous creations that beat and clawed their way through the sky in numbers that blotted out the sun and covered the sands with darkness. They descended upon the desert, devouring everything they encountered, animate and inanimate, and spread out towards the horizon, and beyond.
In his mind the prophet knew none of this was real, that it was a vision, like the ones he had always had since he was a child. Yet it was so visceral, echoing within the very fibers of his being, that he could not accept it for anything except real. Ever since he started hearing the voice his visions had grown ever more real and ever more accurate. When had he first started hearing it? He found himself unable to remember.
An invisible force took hold of him, and he was borne up into the sky, into the gashes that had sliced through texture of space and time. The flying creatures passed him by, their ranks parting to let the human through, their eyes, some beady, some enormous, all hideous, passing over him, wondering what this strange creature was doing their midst, a creature that they could tear apart and consume at a moment’s whim. But whatever will had brought the prophet here deterred them, and he passed through the laceration in the sky.
The heavens here were ethereal and ever-changing. Patterns of purple and black and colors the prophet could not describe swirled and mixed in ways that no human could appreciate. Huge orbs hung in the sky, their surfaces textured with an intricacy unknown to mortal creations; something told the man that these were entire worlds, the size of the one on which he had been born.
Beneath, an alien landscape rolled beneath him from his position high above the surface. This world was of enormous size, perhaps larger than Earth, but despite its extent, all that the prophet could see was tessellated into alien geometries that must have been miles on every side, like the jigsaw puzzle of a giant that played with worlds. Dots moved across its surface, tiny splotches of color that must have been creatures of gigantic size to be seen from this height. The man’s mouth involuntarily opened to draw in air to fill empty lungs, but there was none of that her. Yet, he did not feel asphyxiation crawling into the sides of his vision.
Then he noticed, above the plain, just on the horizon, was the pile of debris that could only be the carcass of a truly gargantuan creature. The scale of the corpse sent shudders down his spine; heaps of flesh the size of mountains, bones that reached out into space like the frozen fingers of a god, a ribcage that could have housed all the people of his world comfortably.
No matter how horrible the sight, the prophet soon forgot it, for the will that had brought him here was now taking him away from this world, out into the vacuum between places. He was being drawn deeper and deeper into this horrific realm, this place between universes, outside of the bounds of space and time and mortal comprehension. He saw worlds beyond his conception, baffling patterns of geometry and space that he could not describe, creatures living in the void that dwarfed the corpse he had seen earlier with wills that could be felt, possessing raw, incarnate power that needed no material on which to express itself. He did not even attempt to grasp the scale or the logic of the dimension into which he was descending. It was all too abominable, too unholy, too unreal to process; he could do nothing but accept the images that were flooding into his mind, without attempting to interpret them.
And then, he saw him. Suddenly the man realized that it was to here that he had been heading from the beginning. This was not the location of the will that had brought him here; no, he much too far beneath the notice of the entity that resided in this place, the heart of this realm—nay, of all realms; master of all demons, king of all gods, Lord of All Things, a seething, amorphous nuclear chaos, blaspheming against every law mankind had ever had the audacity to think applied to anything beyond their own meager existences—here, at the center of all infinity.
The will that controlled the prophet’s journey stopped his motion, and he was still, unable to avert his eyes from the terrifying, revolting, hellish images, of which were only the tiniest, infinitesimal fraction of the true horror of this being. His mind was obliterated; he lost all sense of past and future, all his history, every memory, every kind of logic or thought was expunged as the presence of this eldritch god filled every little crack and corner of his existence.
And then, intensifying a terror already magnitudes beyond that which any human had ever experienced, the entity’s attention began to focus past him. He was not paying any consideration to the prophet, of course—how could he! Here was a being that contemplated the very foundations of the universe, grasped every individual fiber of existence in its hands and dictated the laws of reality itself; how could he possibly ever even notice a creature so lowly, so insignificant as him! It would be like a human paying attention to the germs, the microscopically small primitives that crawled across his skin! Nay, that was altogether too generous a description; to this unholy deity Man was less than the most ephemeral thought of the lowliest creature that the Earth ever knew. No, he was not paying any attention to the prophet, but the mere attention of that implacable Will in his general direction obliterated him. All returned to nothing.
An eternity passed. When the prophet returned from death he found himself at the base of the strange obelisk. For a long time, he did not move. The sun still hung in the air, blasting away at the desert sands that scorched the prophet’s body through his clothing. Yet its light seemed feeble and weak.
A voice escaped the man’s lips that was not his own. The alien will in his head now dominated the interior of his skull, an unceasing pressure. For the first time, the prophet understood the warnings he had received from all those whom he had contacted with his plans of this journey. Some things that were lost needed to stay that way forever.
But it was too late for him.
Dali: "I know what the picture should be ... We take a duck and put some dynamite in its derriere. When the duck explodes, I jump and you take the picture."
Halsman: "Don't forget that we are in America. We will be put in prison if we start exploding ducks."
Dali: "You're right. Let's take some cats and splash them with water."