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Hermes Trismegistus - Chapter 1
Posted By: Tursas<tursas@shaw.ca>
Date: 14 June 2001, 1:34 am

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At the bottom of a pentagonal chasm, sealed from the light of day, lay a luminescent white bunk, three feet wide and long enough for a man to lay upon with a foot to spare at each end. The bunk lay next to one of the walls and from it a soft white glow radiated, lighting the whitewashed walls of the chasm to a disputable height of thirty feet, above which the abyss stretched into a palpable darkness. Upon the chest high bunk lay Bob, serene in his motionlessness and bathed in the soft light.
    Out of a dreamless sleep, Bob became aware that he was lying face up on a hard surface, that although hard, was not flat and felt to him as though his body was supported by the bed rather than by his spine, ribcage and other bones. He could feel eddies of cool air brush past his face and ears, filling his nostrils as he breathed with a refreshing and wakeful vigor. But the smell of the air was what caught him unawares. The scent was of rot and decaying flesh. This woke him immediately and caused him to sit up with a start and eye wide open.
    Bob looked about himself as a frightened child would in a place of potential danger where grotesque things were happening all around. Seeing that there was nothing to be frightened of, however, his heart rate slowed and he began to get a real sense of his bearings. He thought it odd that one minute he should be holding his breath on his way towards a river in rushing warm water, and the next should be alone in a room on a block of what looked like rock illuminated.
    Bob was confused, but this wouldn't be the first time he had found himself in a confusing situation and managed to find his way out, he hoped. Turning again, he felt the sharp pain that he usually associated with being stabbed. But was it that sort of pain? No, it couldn't be. There was no feeling of warmth that he associated with bleeding from the kiss of a sharp blade. Rather, he felt the stiffness of sleeping motionless for a long time, and a splitting headache. Additionally, to make matters worse, over his left eye socket, he could feel the heat, or rather the lack thereof, of a smooth polymer integument. This sensation was heightened by the fact that he couldn't see with his left eye. Wondering in amazement, Bob lifted his left hand to feel the contraption attached to him. No sooner had his fingers brushed the cool plastic, he found in place of his left eye an entirely new sense; he could actually 'feel' everything moving around and in him.
    It was an odd and eerie experience. Closing his eye, Bob could feel the steady beating of his heart as it palpated within his chest, the pulse of his blood as it moved through his veins, the shaking of his fingers as he withdrew his hand and arm from his face.
    It was as he was adjusting to this new experience that he felt his new sense directed upwards. Something was moving above him.
    Bob jumped off the bed and swung around, fists at the ready, forgetting his amazement. But there was nothing there. At least, it looked as though there was nothing there. Again confused and head still hurting, Bob sat down loosely on the ground. Looking over himself, he found that he no longer possessed his black fatigues. Rather, he was dressed in a pair of tight hazy green overalls that did not have zipper or buttons. It was like spandex but wasn't. The material stretched from over his hands to his neck and down to his feet without so much as a fold or wrinkle. Over his ankles the material glistened faintly in the light and ended in thick soles that cushioned the bottoms of his callused feet. He could feel the material on his lower neck, but it didn't itch or cause him to feel claustrophobic as turtle-necks often did. On the overalls centered over his chest was an insignia resembling a human skull. Depth it seemed to have in the smoothness of the material, glistening the color of greased ivory.
    "A mark of identification." Bob thought to himself. He had never seen a human skull placed in such an obvious location as a mark of classification before. After all of his work for the Navy and then Center, he had come across many skulls as marks of identification, always on shoulder flashes, but never without flames or snakes or knives protruding. What could it be? Then the question crept into his head. Where was he? Until this point in his life, he had never been truly lost. The only way he had to tell that he was anywhere right now were the five whitewashed walls and the odd bed before him.
    Bob looked up. Above him the walls stretched into a cavernous darkness. A forever of emptiness.
    Movement. He was sure of it. It couldn't be further from him in any horizontal direction than the walls that surrounded him, which he could 'feel' moving around him as his head shook minutely from side to side as he strained his head to look upwards. He scrambled to his feet and waited. The movement disappeared, and then reappeared again. But there was more. More movement than there had been before. It was coming closer. Concentrating as hard as he could, Bob made out eight long and spindly appendages and a bulbous body. Closer it came, all the while he stood still, waiting, searching. Now he could make out its size, the bulbous centers were about three yards in diameter each. Thoughts raced. A spider? If not, then what?
    Quite unexpectedly, the movement stopped.
    Suddenly, a shrill scream pierced his ears: a scream so horrifying that all of his hairs stood on end. It was the scream of death -- but not of human origin. The headache left him instantly. With the scream came more movement, not gradual as before. No, this time the thing hurtled at him at a speed he could barely perceive. Bob worked very hard to time his move.
    When the thing was so close that he couldn't bear it any longer, Bob launched himself sideways to his left, beside the bed and out of the way of the now visible puke-green giant spider-like thing that had hit the floor face first, right where Bob had been standing.
    Rolling to his feet beside the bed, Bob turned towards the spider and went into the basic ready position that he had learned in training. The only thing occupying his mind other than a reverential respect for the size and visual severity of the monster was the question of how to fight it. How did one fight a giant spider?
    In a second the spider also corrected itself, raising its venom dripping fangs from the ground in a fluid motion, leaving a pool of frothing spittle on the floor. It slowly clambered toward Bob with its hind six legs, reaching for him with its front two. There was not much room for the man to maneuver, so, unarmed, Bob had only one way of defending himself from this attack: he dived, away from the path of the spider, landing before the second of the five walls to his right. The spider was too quick for him, though, turning and ramming him full body against the wall. The force with which the spider hit him should have broken bones, but to his surprise, he didn't feel or hear this happen.
    Face to face with the monster, Bob struggled to hold the beast away. A loud, raspy breathing sound came from the spiders mouth, every once and again a loud clicking noise resounding as the spider rubbed it's barbed back legs in relish. Although he was being hugged closer by the spider's front two legs, Bob pushed and fought with all his strength, hitting the spider's luminescent eyes when every so often he managed to wrench one of his arms free. The long barbs of the spider's front legs pinched in Bob's sides, though they did not pierce the material in which he was clothed. Bob continued to land the occasional punch and soon all of the spider's luminescent eyes were beaten in, unable to see. But although this was the case, the spider very apparently could still feel better with its legs than it could ever see with its eyes, as the intensity of it's attack only increased, forcing Bob to take hold of the roots of both fangs at once, which clicked as the spider pulled him ever closer to a fatal bite. The clicking of the back legs stopped, and the rasping breath of the spider grew into a torrent of foul smelling air.
    Without any warning, the spider stopped pulling with it's front two legs, withdrawing them from behind the man, and focusing it's attack on pushing Bob into the wall behind him with the two liberated appendages and pushing itself face first into the man with the other six. Bob was pushed further up into the wall, his feet dangling (if they weren't being used to kick the spider's underside) a good three feet from the floor. Bob could no longer risk the random punch, as one faulty movement of the hand would surely mean surrender to the spider's gaping hole of a mouth.
    Beleaguered, Bob's defense began to weaken. The spider began to close the distance, it's great incisors inching their way towards his neck little by little, Bob still exerting his full effort at the base of the monster's fangs.
    Suddenly, as though by a miracle, one of the spiders foot long fangs cracked under the great moment exerted upon it. The spider howled and green blood began to spurt onto Bob's face, neck and overalls from the base of the cracked fang. The blood had a decidedly old taste to it but burnt in his mouth and tingled on his skin. Bob's left arm, which plunged into the spiders gaping mouth, evaded stabbing from the other fang long enough for him to wrench out his arm, with the fang still in hand.
    Then, using the giant fang as a knife, Bob plunged it sharp end first into the spider's head. This action had the desired effect, causing the spider's attack to waver momentarily. However, this period of weakness was quickly replaced by redoubled vigor. Again the creature shrieked, this time in solid motivation to do Bob his death blow, and as quickly as possible. In this Bob saw his chance of escape and continued to deal death to the giant arachnid when he could chance a stroke.
    Eventually, the spider loosened its grasp, dying slowly. The torrent of bad smelling air slowed to a gasp, which slowed to a gurgling wheeze. Bob took advantage of his chance and broke away.
    Bloody fang in hand, Bob used the sharp underside to slice away a willowy and barbed leg from the spider. He used this to beat the spider into a convulsing mutilated pulp, far beyond death.
    Now calmed and feeling relatively safe, Bob went back to the bed and sat down on the hard surface. He wiped off what sweat and blood there was on his face and brow, spit out the remnants in his mouth, surveyed the bloody carnage that covered him, closed his eye, and propped up his head on his arms. The only movement he could feel was the twitching appendages of the spider that eventually slowed, and then stopped. He was alone again. Isolated from the rest of living kind.