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A Son of Horus teaser
I feed on nightmares. Anguish, fear, horror and sweat. I lap it up. It fuels me, soothes me after a long day.
What is day, really, but a human construct. Humans— those juicy, soft creatures— so simple. Just a shove here, a tug there, and I nestle in and get comfy to stay awhile. Human flesh, bone, muscle. Human thought. Mine to tug and twist for my own satisfaction. They’re like those wooden puppets that they craft, with strings attached to control the doll’s moves.
I am the puppet master.
But I was banished to the dark, surrounded by spindly tree limbs of another world, the murkiness of death in the air. I drifted over the ragged earth. Where a shadow should have been cast below my smoke-like form, bugs scrabbled, unshaded and unafraid. I had long ago given up on a search for light and sustenance in my desolate purgatory. Creatures moved through the world with no blood pumping through their veins, no breath in their lungs, damned from the living world just like me. So I drifted. I mingled with the mist in the air, my darkness barely distinguishable as my hunger grew. The yearning gnawed in me with no reprieve.
I was once the shadow humans feared, now I was lost, unsee, and forgotten, trapped by the almighty gods that had promised me power for my service. I helped them, did their bidding, and they sealed be behind the gateway to human life, forever.
Before the gods tossed me aside, they enlisted me to topple nations, raise men to power and bring others down, playing them like pawns in chess. In chess, the gods were the kings, but I was the Queen. I invaded the human minds, became their puppet master,
and bent them to their knees. Women worshiped. Men fought. I gave the gods all they wanted— blood, tears, betrayals, lust— but the empires still fell. The humans and gods alike continued to fail and my service grew to threatened the feeble gods.
So, they casted me out to fester and rot, while banshee shrieks echoed through the unending fog and gremlins scavenged for their own salvation. With the gods above me, damnation below, I waited in my purgatory, malnourished, but never broken. Sure, the gods sealed themselves off from humans too, but they enjoyed eternity in the stars, while I was deemed unworthy to join.
No matter. Others may have cried and kicked and screamed, but I remained calm. I continued on, wafting in the stagnant air of my prison. I sharpened my ingenuity, intriguing the creatures in this world with my enumerable forms. While I faded some, I was still the creator of angst, unstoppable, with seductive power beyond the scope of tiny minds. So while the gods basked in their heavens, I waited patiently in my prison, knowing that they couldn’t hold me forever.
The gods have always fretted. But now I heard them above me, fighting amongst themselves. They bickered and moaned like children, lashing out tongues with venomous words and I relished each moment. I understood. There would be no compromise, no agreement. Like the war that drove the gods and me off the Earth so many years ago, the familiar unrest brewed. I trembled with excitement. It’s the time I’d been waiting for, all the patience, all the suffering. It was time. They battled and I watched.
Then, just as I knew would happen, one of them slipped.
The world began to crack above me, fracturing and breaking away. I saw the light,
brighter than I’d seen for thousands of years. The last time I’d seen light that bright, the sweltering sun warped the air above golden sand. Only the pointed tops of kings’ tombs stood higher than the dunes, while I sat over it all, just as imprisoned as I am now, but with a better view.
At least in the light I had souls to nourish myself.
In my purgatory, the gateway opened wide. I scaled the trees, and my smoky form rose through the fissure. On Earth, just past the gateway, the foolish gods bit and scratched at each other. Some of them wanted to leave, some wanted to stay, none submitted to other. And they had forgotten entirely about their most dangerous weapon.
I slipped away, unnoticed, free at last. The gods would finish their battle and remain behind the gate, but not I. Humanity would bend to my power, cower beneath my shadow, while I ruled their reality. It was time. I could taste the terror, smell the fear. The sweet scent of life saturated the air. I was free.
The human world changed while I was trapped. No more sparkling blue waters or soft grass under the canopies of trees.
There’s still water, still trees, but dimmer and gray. The world could be shades of shit and piss, didn’t matter. Freedom. I stretched my form, drew in the stuffy air, then I rushed from the gateway, unseen and unheard.
I continued past dust and crackling foliage and stop at a black road. I swayed in the wind, reaching my wisps of tendrils before me. The flavor of the air mixed with my
smoke-like form. Even while the sun shined above, I was almost invisible. No shadow darkened below me. My shade. The fear it once incited in others gone, stolen from me when all I did was help. I could howl with rage, but only fools allowed their emotions to behave for them.
I spied a human in a fast-moving carriage racing down the black road. But I’m faster, and I followed, easily matching its speed. Doors were no match for me. I slipped through the cracks, displacing the air with my haze. The driver clutched a wheel with one hand, leaning on the door. He reeked of dejection.
Men weren’t my favorite meal. They bored me. Less fight and less fear, not like women and children. Fear sweetens their insides, delectable and glorious, but I had no time to waste on searching for another. Just as I slipped through the cracks of the carriage door, I slid into the man through his pores, latching onto to the damp insides on my way to his brain.
The man released the wheel to scratch his nose. He sniffed and turned a knob to his right. The soft hum of music grew louder.
My hazy form eased into his mind, stretching and testing. I take up my strings to control my meat puppet. He would take me to others: a village, a town, a place I could feast.
He belched, unresponsive to my control. He should’ve bowed to me.
I could lash out, but the process needed precision. With renewed fervor, I twisted and tugged, demanding his obedience.
He sang softly to the music and yawned.
Through the carriage window, the world zoomed past me as I struggled to make sense of my failure. My failure. I reign. I control. But this human didn’t respond.
I pooled onto the floor of the carriage, a darkened alcove that reminded me of my prison. My dim shadow disappeared once again in the darkness.
Panic seized my form, a terror beyond capture, beyond eternity in purgatory. My plans seeped away before me, quiet and dim. I was the great and powerful. I was the fear in human souls. I was the end of the world, the stuff of nightmares.
And there, before the feet of common man, I slipped from the carriage and fled, powerless.
I understood what had happend. The gods had imprisoned me for too long. I’d grown too weak. The gray world around me had continued on without me for so long. No human would tremble at my shadow or peer over their shoulder wide-eyed and scared. Worthless. No better than my meals.
How I’d fallen. My liberation slipped from my tendrils. All my waiting, my suffering, trapped in darkness, starved and forgotten, and I failed. It wouldn’t be long before the gods discovered my absence and tracked me down. Where would they trap me next? The fear of damnation worse than my purgatory sent waves of tremors through my haze. Had I grown so weak to fear those weaker than me?
A gust of wind pressed against my form and I moved with it— I had to keep moving. The gods would stop fighting eventually and realize my escape. I didn’t have the power to fight them, so I ran. I’d hide if I must, hide like the coward I’d become. The gods wouldn’t capture me.
I slithered past debris littering the compressed black road. Flat lands expand before me, mountains, and hills just a distant blur.
There were no other humans around. No other speeding carriages. Not a soul to witness my failure. Insects and lizards kept my company. I spied them, but never managed to get close. More clever than the gods, these creatures. They knew to avoid my faded form and I was too weak to catch them. Their wit kept them alive for now.
I moved through the air like silt down the river, slow and thick. But I kept moving forward. I would never stop.
As I glided down the dark flat road, the surrounding land shifted. One either side of the road, the expansive barren land grew lusher and greener. Large stalks waved in the wind, yellows, and greens vibrant with life.
Life rooted to the ground.
I slow. The wind pressed against me, but I didn’t let it carry me away.
Life that can’t run.
I abandoned my road and whipped to the closest stalk. I slid through the surface, using all my strength to squeeze between the tightly knit organelles. Plants didn’t leave much space for me, each fraction of area packed to maximize use. I admire the efficiency, appreciate the wisdom behind minimalism, but I take up space.
I twisted and stretched, wisps of my essence slipping between cells and cradling vacuoles.
And I feasted.
My reach grew longer as I ingested the humming life of the stalk. I stretched into
the roots. Unrestricted, I slip beyond the single root system and onto the connecting twines. Underground, parasites connected the stalks as one, these organisms earthy and sour with rot. I trembled with the pleasure of power pulsing within in.
Life. So sweet. So magnificent.
It had been too long.
The parasitic fungi moved and stretched as I will it. It sliced through the dirt to neighboring root systems, while I followed behind slurping and lapping up the power spilled before me.
When I rose above ground again, my form finally cast a shadow below, just a taste of the darkness I used to cast around me. I sighed and stretched. If I had a mouth and limbs, I would be licking my fingers. But the plants didn’t satiate my hunger. This was just an appetizer; I needed my main course. I returned to the road.
A large wind rattled the now dry yellowed stalks behind me, an entire field bowed to my touch. As I admired my work, my first influence on this new world of humans, a lizard skittered past. It rushed from my shadow like Hell itself opened its mouth and threatened to swallow it whole. Ecstasy, the fear. Pure ecstasy.
The lizard didn’t make it more than a few extensions of its legs before I pounced.
I purred as my haze invaded its form, like a shadow while the sun beat unhindered above.
It seized and I held on. The more active life forms try to fight back, but I’m patient. I had the strength to last longer.
The lizard slumped onto the hot ground and I devoured my prize. Power gushed from the creature. When I’d sucked the lizard dry, I found another creature. A field mouse, then a cat, a stray dog deliciously soaked in sadness. I zipped down the never-ending road, catching life after life in my swirling web of smoke and I gorged myself, basking in my growing strength.
I am the one they all fear. The awful and terrible. Now rejuvenated, I laughed at the fools who underestimated me. I cried for the time I’d lost. I allowed the emotions to seep from me, just this once. I’d freed myself from my prison and now I was back. Now, the world would be mine.
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