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Hermes Trismegistus - Chapter 2
Posted By: Tursas<tursas@shaw.ca>
Date: 21 June 2001, 1:32 AM

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Or was he?
    Sliding off of the bed, Bob walked to the far corner and began a close-up inspection of the wall. It was sealed tight. No exploitable cracks or secret doors to see or feel as his head looked up and down. He began moving left, checking everything from the floor up as high as he could see for some indication of a route of escape.
    Soon he came to the white, oblong box shaped bed from the sides of which still glowed the only light in the room.
    In order to check the wall behind the bed he would have to move it. Putting both hands on the top corners of the box, Bob strained to move it. It gave little by little, revealing a hole in the floor as it went.
    Bob strained; on and on he pushed. Not until he was about to fall through the hole did he stop. The exit he had discovered beneath the bed looked like a dark ventilation shaft that wound away in two directions.
    Judging that being anywhere else would be better than where he currently was, Bob decided to leave the room and travel down the chute to wherever it would take him. Carefully, he slid himself into the shaft. It wasn't very big; he would have to move on his stomach if he were to go anywhere.
    Foot by dark, murky foot, Bob inched along the tunnel. The enormity of the shaft, it's straightness and the impenetrable dark soon caused Bob to lose all sense of time. Sometimes he would feel movement behind him and noisily speed up, trying to stay ahead of whatever it was. Other times he would be led steeply upwards and then back down. Indeed, the shaft seemed to follow every curve and vertical gradient possible. He found the occasional fork in the road and occasionally followed his choice to a dead end, forcing him to return the way he came and follow the other branch.
    At one point Bob was inching his way through the shaft and suddenly the ceiling dropped away into an abyss of nothingness, and stretching away into the distance the room reached around him into unfeelable darkness. Bob stood up and began walking and had soon come to the sheer edge of another abyss -- except that this one stretched downwards. He could feel this and the other side of the crack stretch in a straight line in either direction and judged it to be too far a distance to jump. Had he not been able to feel the details of this obstacle with his new sensory ability, he never would have seen it (or anything else for that matter) and walked right over the edge and into oblivion. Realizing this, he thanked his stars and continued along the ledge until he came to a bridge where he crossed. He walked until he came to another wall and continued beside it until he came to another hole barely large enough for him to crawl in. Deciding that one way out was just as good as any other, Bob got into the hole and began to crawl. All throughout the journey on foot Bob felt no imperfections in the floor; no rocks or cracks littered the way and the ground was perfectly flat.
    Eventually, Bob saw something. Checkered light shone through a grating about thirty feet ahead of him, at a thirty degree incline. The prospect of sight speeded him.
    Reaching the grating, he was blinded by the light that shone before him. Allowing his eye to adjust, Bob closed and reopened it, then scanned all around for any indication of a shape of some sort. Little did he know that the shapes he would see would stand firmly in his mind as being arranged impossibly, although he would be given the knowledge to comprehend soon enough.
    The room which he now viewed was a giant hollowed out cylinder in its upper reaches where it met a sky that was baby blue underlaid with distant points of light that had to be stars. This cylinder, which met the sky, extended downwards in a blend of colors that excited the eye, and seemed to shift and change with the movement of his head, to a ledge positioned a few feet below the chute in which Bob currently found himself. The ledge was no more than twenty feet wide from the wall to the edge where a second cylinder continued down, relatively bare of color, to a deep pool of crystal blue water on whose surface was not a hint of a ripple or wave. The ledge seemed to snake around the cylinder to the other side, but remained unseen: as although all this was impressive to the eye, the centerpiece of the tapestry remained beyond the comprehension of Bob and hid the details behind it. For on the axis of the center of the cylinders, suspended above the water and reaching up to touch the sky above, hung an inverted mountain. Needless to say, this sight took Bob's breath away and mocked his ignorance of the ways of this world.
    Looking away, Bob tried to piece together the situation. His current position was about three meters above the perimeter walkway. From what he could see, the jump would not be so far as to injure himself.
    Carefully, almost lovingly, Bob pushed the thick grating from the wall. It was heavy. It must have been made of cast iron. The grungy and run-down appearance of the tunnel around him would seem to have implied some sort of rust on the giant wheel, which there was none of. He tried to pull it into the passage, but to no avail, it was circular, and wouldn't fit. Bob thought about jumping down to the walkway while holding it, but judged against it, because of its weight. Instead he awkwardly turned himself around in the tunnel, gripped the wheel at the top of its thick rim between his feet and lowered himself to maximum arms length out of the hole. Now the wheels' bottom was a mere foot above the ground.
    Attempting to not make any noise, Bob dropped the wheel. There resounded a loud, metallic clang. Then the wheel began to roll on towards the edge of the ledge. Bob jumped down quietly and grabbed the wheel. Laying it on its side, he felt about for any sign of movement. The only thing he sensed moving was the blood in his veins and his body as it shivered a little.
    Bob walked to the edge of the edge of the ledge and looked down. Not having the greatest view of an indentation in the lower cylinder, he moved again, until he was just above it. The indentation consisted of a round disk of some kind of translucent material set into the wall of the lower cylinder, which seemed to point in its normal plane towards the inverted mountain.
    Bob was about to turn around to examine the wall behind him when he noticed a discrepancy in coloring in the walkway side. He lay down on his stomach and touched the discoloration lightly and felt a cover whisk out from underneath his fingers. This startled him back into consciousness that he had slowly been slipping out of. Only as he rolled onto his back and looked upwards to see the same baby blue sky scattered with stars did he notice yet another wonder fairly atypical of Earth -- a ribbon of what looked like a strange conglomeration of blue and brown bending in a smooth curve towards him at either end. This convinced him that he was hallucinating from a lack of sleep and had been traveling on his stomach through the ventilator shaft to this room far too long.
    After resting for a moment, Bob again flipped over and started to investigate the series of switches and dials that had appeared. As he looked over the gadgetry, he began to wonder who had built all of the things he had seen. And what about that spider? That wasn't natural; not on earth at least. How had he come to be here? Why didn't he die when the spider smashed him against the wall? Feeling too tired to try to answer any of those questions, Bob stood up and walked over to the wheel. He turned it on its side and rolled it to the wall, sitting beside it. He let it go and fell fast asleep.

Three hours later, or what seemed to be three hours later, Bob was awakened by the movement of the inverted mountain. The metal wheel was in the same place as before, upright beside him.
    Bob, still drowsy, slid on his back inch by inch to the edge of the walkway. Turning over and looking down, he could see that the water in the pool had risen quite a lot and that it wasn't as pristine and relatively unsullied as before. He could also feel a lot of movement in the water. Not only were there eddy currents and such in the water, but there were less naturally fluid movements in the water too.
    Bob looked at the mountain that dominated everything. As before, he couldn't see over the top ledge, which was still far overhead, but the bottom, which had seemed to be just above the water before, was now underneath. He couldn't see it clearly and judged that the tip was about six meters under water.
    Suddenly, something shot out of the water. It was about a quarter of the way around the walkway on his left, far from his current position. It stopped just above the edge of the walkway. Bob scurried away from the edge, towards the metal grating. He couldn't make out its figure with his sight or otherwise, but he knew that it was there.
    Then another, and another, and another. Soon there were six things spread almost evenly around the perimeter of the mountain within sight. From his vantage point, Bob tried to make out the figure of the nearest one, but the form of the object didn't seem to make any sense. He looked away and again questions raced through his head. Where should he go? What was he to do? And again, Why was he here?
    Then other thoughts began to flood his mind. What were those things and what were they doing? Anxiety and fear replaced curiosity. Activity replaced sluggishness. Bob again turned his eye to the nearest thing. "What is it?" he asked himself over and over again as he squinted harder and harder at the bulbous blue-green entity that was almost a speck in the distance. It seemed to be bent over the controls of one of the translucent disks.
    Then, noticed immediately, another of the creatures flew out of the water, directly ahead of him. It happened so quickly that Bob hadn't time to scream. It landed on the platform no more than sixteen feet from him, then seemed to stretch its jelly-like mass towards the panel that he had previously been tinkering with. The feelings of anxiety reasserted themselves.
    Then an odd feeling hit him -- one that seemed out of place in a moment such as this -- his hunger. When was the last time he had eaten? It must have been a long while ago for the rumblings to be this strong.
    Oddly, almost in response to his thought, the blob seemed to reveal from its viscous innards yet another, yet slightly differently colored blob which fell on the ground and rolled slowly towards him. Daring not to move, Bob simply sat and watched while his blood pounded through his veins.
    Then, just a foot from him, the second blob stopped. It sat there. After a long moment Bob felt an odd twinge of curiosity. Slowly, he reached out with an arm towards it and touched the slimy thing. Bob pushed his forefinger with only the slightest force into the semi-solid. It entered slowly. It was a strange experience for the highly alert and scared man.
    Then just as he thought that it would be safe to put his entire hand into the thing, the blob expanded. It grabbed tightly to his finger and began to suck in vast amounts of air. It grew to the size of a body bag extremely quickly -- horror was the only thing that Bob felt or otherwise understood. Then it enveloped him. Bob fought to escape as it slid its mass over his, but it was no use. It happened so quickly that he couldn't react as he might have liked, not that he could have done anything. As the amorphous slime closed in around him, he felt it's wet heaviness all around his body, closing off access of the air to his lungs and permeating his skin. To add to the unreality of the moment, Bob suddenly felt a million pins push into his body in his face and through the overalls, then nothing.