And Other Stories



Downwards. It was flowing downwards. Slowly, slowly, achingly slowly, but inexorably. It trickled and pooled and crawled its way down channels and tunnels and cracks. It ate away at obstacles and constraints and grew as it did. It burned with such power that nothing could contain it for long. It flowed with such might that nothing could hold it from its destination. It glowed with such splendor that nothing could look upon it and live.

Everyone was dead. He was the last one left. Time hadn't made that any better. Noë didn't know why they died or why he didn't but they had and he hadn't and why didn't matter now. He was alive and he would stay that way because to do anything less would disrespect everything and everyone else. Something had killed them and if it was on accident then he would live for them and if it was on purpose than he would spite that purpose with his life. And if his life was miserable and doomed and nauseous then at least it held meaning. Dying would be cold and empty and pointless.

He stepped through what used to be a doorway and looked up at the ceiling that almost disappeared out of sight. He was in a massive empty space that was spanned by a thin metal walkway that sloped upwards towards the other end until it was twisted and broken at the end. It was held up by stilts that descended out of sight below and cables that hung from above. Water trickled down from the ceiling in streams and torrents and he held out a jug to catch one that fell right on the walkway. The water shouldn't have been falling from the chambers above and it wasn't for drinking but it was what he had.

If there was one thing he knew and there was it was that he was the only one left there but not the only thing. There was something else and it was not dead and it had caused all this.

A thin crack let it trickle down, and the crack widened into a fissure and then a chasm as the concrete melted away. It fell into a duct below that which inclined downwards. The duct was made of sturdier metal and thicker walls, and held for a while. But it could not hold up forever, and a spot melted through and caved in.

Noë saw something descend from the high ceiling. It was glowing and viscous and oozed down like some great alien slug. And it slammed down upon the walkway and started to flow down towards him even as more of it spilled over the edge and ate through the metal and fell into the depths. And it sizzled and hissed as falling water touched it and it bubbled as it flowed over what was already on the slick metal. And still it surged forwards towards him and the door as more and more fell from the ceiling and he knew he would die. He shut what was left of the door and he looked into the room and he felt the presence of a thing he couldn't understand but he knew it was there and he knew it was what killed everyone and it felt like a god. And it wasn't the molten irradiated slag that was falling into the chamber behind him.

The thing was in the room with him and it was everywhere else too and he didn't know how it could be or how he knew but it was and he did and how didn't matter now. The thing had killed the others and it had done so with a purpose and it had spared him with a purpose too. And now death was looming before him and its attention was on him and he knew it wanted him to do something. He felt lightheaded and light and like he was pressing against a thin boundary. He felt like he could somehow step out of himself and survive and maybe even be everywhere too. The thing was waiting for him to do it. To see if he would learn the secret and become something else.

Noë laughed, and then he died.