We could not rest. Onward we drifted, neglecting to count, still pushing through the dayless dark.
When I was young, the whispers told me stories of monsters above. I didn’t know if it was just a rumor between small lowlifes in the mud, or if it was true. Then I saw it, exactly as the whispers had bubbled in my ears: A smooth diamond-shaped shadow like an eye with no white, no sight, just an empty pupil, open as the night sky scraped clean of stars. From the body, a long thin entrail swung lazily down, some sort of twisted cord tipped in a toothy grappling spider with many fleshy feet.
It was impossible to turn away, like in those dreams where you finally stop progressing onward. And so we all thronged toward oily death, grabbing hold of its lanky vocal cords with our teeth. Death heaved us, slowly, jerkily up to the edge of the world, crashed us through the atmosphere to the flat paper dimension where we could not breathe. We squirmed in death’s plushy hands, trying to keep going, onward forever even still, thrashing and gasping the acidic air like a poisoned feast before a starved creature.
The fleshy hands that sprang from the monster-eye’s brain passed us around, searching for treasures. Not one of us knew what would happen next – the whispers being confined to the lowlife, they could not know what followed victims to this overhead hell where striving forward got you nowhere, atop the monster’s flat skull.
And knives emerged, from the folds of the hands that sprouted from the brain, from the delicate webbings protecting its ribs and heart, and knives came at us from all sides. The monster had a neat killing system – first slash off the right arm, then the left, and then the feet in one swift motion. Cut off the genitals now, while blood screams from every open wound at every ruined joint, while the mind tries to send arms to fling away the knife, but the arms are now just ghosts, and moving them doesn’t make them move in space.
Its killing system ends much like all other digestive systems in the animal kingdom: with the purge of waste. Our bodies, motionless as stones, flicked one by one off the flat diamond-shaped skull back through the crashing window, down and down into our world, a heavier version of our world, one crawling now with shadows and streaming with broken red blood lines in reverse as we shrink farther and farther from any of the moving parts that could have helped us move. And awake as Bible scholars, we drown. A petty matter of principle away from being able to save ourselves, we watch and calculate and wonder as our last view of the sky blots to red, then to gray.
Our corpses piled in the monster’s wake, sixty feet below, eyes open forever to not stare at nothing, placid dolls wrecked and locked away to stew in some kid’s creaky closet. And we don’t see the world dart around us, and we cannot keep moving. And we don’t know that it is over, or anything anymore, but the corals and the stars and salty fishes flitting around our bodies know that we are sharks that have been finned, and they whisper it between themselves. It propagates like the new spring of anemones across the wet rocks, and some skins sense it passing by, and some don’t. But no one can do anything but know, and go nowhere, and strive and get nowhere, once the monster decides to appear overhead.
Humans, the seaweeds bristle and hum, humans must be the most dangerous destructive things in the world. No one hears or answers back.
Image credits in order of appearance:
By ito1117, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47556032
By Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Lmbuga Commons)(Lmbuga Galipedia)Publicada por/Publish by: Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=349839
By FluoritLaufer – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11873042
By Georg Kölderer – Bernd Roeck, Eine Stadt in Krieg und Frieden, Bd. 1, 1989, S. 37, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11777660