“That is not dead may eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.” – Abdul Alhazard (1)
It was in my search for eternal life that I stumbled upon the most magnificent of realms; one where life and death become void; where time pauses and flows in an endless spiral where a mere minute of our time can become an eternity and an eternity, a mere minute. My efforts had proven to be in vain time and time again, all until that one night when sleep had taken me and I had fallen into a deep slumber. In that slumber, I stumbled upon the key, but the harrowing horror that followed kept me array.
In my dream, I lived a lifetime. It was glorious, where I was the architect and the king of my own world. Nothing could disturb the peace that I had in there. I loved, I lived and I conquered all but that one mountain. I do not know why I stopped at that one particular mountain every single time; perhaps it was the shade that fell upon it or the mist that coveted it. At last, one day, I decided to enter the mountain. By the foot of the mountain, there was a grim opening that led to the caves inside; swirled, swarmed with spiders, snakes and snikers (2). Those were no concern of mine, as my suit of armor repelled them with the eternal light that emitted from it. Snikers were especially afraid of light, being nocturnal in their nature.
From cave to cave, I travelled, unravelling the mystery of this specular mountain of mist and doom, but as I delved deeper into the mountain, a scopophobic (3) grew within me. Something was there, something terrible, one with a peculiar scent. But every time I turned around or glanced behind my shoulder, I could not see a thing.
All until I saw the glow of those eyes and terrible teeth and heard the terrible howl that screeched from its mouth. It had three pairs of eyes on its hound-like head; two that were black as coal, two were serpentine slit eyes and the top pair of eyes were set aflame. Its many fangs were yellow and blackened and reddened and the tongue that dragged from the corner of its mouth was split. What made it even more terrifying were the scales on its back that were separated with spiky fur. Its throat was slit at several points where I could see through what looked like acid with fumes of fire sparking from it. Its four front legs were similar to those of a lion or a tiger and its hind legs were thicker. At the chest, there were bones surrounding it; bones or a rib cage that was cracked at spots, almost like a piece of armor. Atop all of that was the tail that separated into several snakes that all pointed at me.
It was at that moment that I awakened. A lifetime spent in a dream was all ruined by that thing. Every time I close my eyes, I see that horrible face sneering at me.
Written by Amr Abbas.
Cover photo by Merle Emrich.
(1) The Nameless City by H.P. Lovecraft
(2) Sniker /’snʌɪkə/ noun. A blend of spiders and snakes with eight legs, eight eyes, scales, fur