I awoke to find myself in the tomb of a leviathan. The musty air invaded my lungs, causing a fit of coughing, very nearly inducing vomiting. Tremors of disgust washed over me, as I fought to regain even the slightest of my sensibilities. Though I could see nothing I knew I had been sitting with a putrescent corpse, decorated by centuries of decay.
Due in part to my waning consciousness, my concept of time had become distorted, to say the least. I couldn’t tell whether I had been there an hour, a day, or even a week. There had to have been some kind of accident predating my arrival here, something that caused this blurring of my senses… but again, I could not recall. It was only after the ringing in my ears had dissipated that I gathered even an inkling to the size of the sepulcher. The loose stones I kicked about the mausoleum floor echoed for what seemed like miles. I was struck by fear, not of having awoken in a tomb with no recollection, but of the ominous implications of the size of this architecture.
My preliminary instinct was to find an exit. I immediately raided my jacket pockets for matchsticks or anything I could use to fashion a torch, only to come up wanting. As I strained my eyes against the abyss I began to comprehend a faint green glow to my left. While such a glow should have made me uneasy, there was a strangely calming element to it. Through blurring sight and a surprising lack of hesitance I approached. The time I spent seeking this luminosity had again become a haze in my disorientation, but I recall vividly the moment when I found the source of its emanation. The light leaked through the cracks surrounding a single floor tile. Without apprehension I dug my nails between the cracks and began to pry the stone. It took every modicum of strength to generate the minutest of movements, but through excessive exhaustion I managed to lift and push the tile to the side. By this point the glowing had strangely diminished, yet I could see a long tunnel where the tile had once been.
There was an uncertainty to my actions but after a moment of pause I plunged myself into the shaft. The fall I experienced was unparalleled; the anxiety I felt in anticipation of my impact was of such great pain that I had actually lost all conscious recognition of the duration of my descent. Had it been eons, or a blink of an eye? I hadn’t the slightest idea. I hit the ground with a powerful jolt, but once I had regained feeling I found myself to be, miraculously, unharmed.
A light glow pervaded my sight and allowed me to see the walls that surrounded me. The fall had clearly disrupted my reality, but it was the visualization of the labyrinth that surrounded me that exacerbated my fight for clarity. Walls more than thrice my own height loomed above, and halls upon halls stretched out only to turn jaggedly, without compromise. Adrenaline coursed through my veins and before I could make sense of my new terror I burst into a heavy sprint.
Hours upon hours passed yet my pace remained constant. The air I panted left my lungs ragged and aching. With every breath I felt an agonizing pain, but I could not be troubled to slow myself. What horror would overtake me if I could not escape this crypt? What mind could have designed and built such a labyrinthine hell? Was the maze to keep lost intruders from ever reaching the surface, or for something stranger? Some ancient demon, at length perceived dead? I prayed never to find out. I ran with such ferocity, my legs felt like they might give way under my weight at any moment. Undaunted by the dead ends that I encountered, I pushed on.
I had just about given up all hope of escape when I found myself entering into a large clearing, seemingly as endless as the hall in which I awoke. The abysmal emptiness stretched outwards for years. Had I been a fool to have even considered the possibility of escaping? How could such a physical plain, clearly not built by human hands, exist? What circumstances predated my arrival in this nightmare? These questions, and more, surged through my mind as I became acutely aware of the strain of my body. The blood in my veins felt thick as mud as my heart pumped harder than ever before. My body began quaking and I felt my cheeks flush, as one would experience fever. Was it here I am meant to die? Was this to be MY tomb?!
It was at that moment, as I was at the height of my anguish and perplexity, that I saw it, floating a mere twenty meters above me. Its size was almost entirely unfathomable. It stretched as far as I could see, eclipsing the faintest notion of a ceiling. In the deepest pits of my stomach I felt an unnamable dread. Its gargantuan mass sent my mind to its limits. The moon itself had left its orbit and was floating above me, only this couldn’t have been the moon. It was so smooth and white, entirely unblemished. How could this orb exist? By what force was it suspended? By its magnitude, had my very perception of the surrounding architecture been a lie?
Tears began to obscure my vision as the uncertainty of what I experienced had finally pushed me to my breaking point. I collapsed with a tremendous wail, letting the last of my air escape me in desperation. Then the unthinkable happened. The horrible orb revolved to reveal an image that seared itself onto my soul. My body violently convulsed as I struggled to make sense of it. I thoroughly wished in that moment that it was merely the moon above me, as I knew the alternative would haunt me to my death. But the loathsome sight looming above me was surely no moon. To my revulsion I could see clearly a massive iris surrounding a pupil, focused on me. I felt a weight in my chest like my heart had been replaced by lead. Then I looked back into the pupil itself and within the darkness I saw such vivid colors.
Hues of indescribable beauty encompassed my being, and left me with a feeling of the eternal. The blackness of the mausoleum had been all I’ve known and while the colors beamed with an exquisite splendor that I had once recognized, there was something truly terrifying in their presence now. In the same moment that I wanted to cry out in indulgence unmatched by worldly lust I was also reeling in sublime terror, for what could this vast unearthly void mean for my existence? Was I still of the physical realm or had I ceased to be? My body had succumbed to numbness as the colors penetrated my flesh, I could feel them burning in pleasure-pains that left me rattled and breathless. Sweat dripped into my eyes, burning and blurring my vision, but even when I closed my eyes I could see everything to the detail. There was no escape; I was lost in the eye. I was lost in these transcendent colors, levitating in beautiful agony. Everything known was here! Light and dark! Pleasure and pain! Truth and deception! I could see the universe within me! I could see existence itself! The abyss no longer frightening, for, lo, I WAS the abyss!
It was only after wiping the cold sweat from my brow that my disorientation broke, and, upon opening my eyes, I could see.
© 2013 by Dwight Evan Young. All rights reserved.