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Hermes Trismegistus - Chapter 3
Posted By: Tursas<tursas@shaw.ca>
Date: 27 June 2001, 8:10 PM

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Eye coming into focus, Bob became conscious. How long had he been out?
    Before him, to his sight, stretched a tunnel of plant life. Giant light-green creepers the diameter of two men standing together clung and bit into white walls filled with cracks, fading far into the distance, speckled every so often by clumps of fat, green leaves all laced together with thousands of thinner strands occasionally highlighted by bright yellow flowers. There was light glowing at the other end of the tunnel, but not an overly bright light. He wasn't sure what color it was; it was very far away.
    It was then that he realized; he wasn't looking down a tunnel; but up into the canopy of a forest. He wasn't floating inanimately through humid air, but was lying on his back on top of an extremely comfortable form fitted mattress at what seemed to be the bottom of yet another multisided hole beneath the surface of the Earth.
    Bob tried to lift his right arm, but couldn't. He mentally strained his feelingless muscles to the breaking point, but his arm simply did not move. Abandoning this quest Bob instead tried to move his head to see what was beside and around him, but nothing doing; he couldn't move his head either. It was after a few more seconds of laying there that Bob realized that he was not breathing and that his heart wasn't beating either. He couldn't feel his chest rising and his heart was not pounding in his ears as it should have in such a situation. This came as a matter of great concern to him, but as he began to feel the wooziness of asphyxiation come on, he felt his worries float away on a pool of stagnant blood. His head began to hurt, but there was nothing he could do about it.
    Then, leaving as quickly as it had previously arrived, Bob felt a million pins shoot out of his body. Drawing in a sharp breath and quickly arching his back in pain and surprise, he kicked his feet over his head and fell off the front end of the bed, landing square on his chest. The fall knocked the wind out of him. Nonetheless, Bob squirmed and writhed while searching his prison, only to find that he was alone, five other beds circling the room along with his own.
    After regaining his breath, Bob slowly got to his feet, head swimming. His initial inspection had revealed that there were six beds, or tables, or waist-high platforms circling the room in which he currently resided; one for each wall. Upon closer inspection he found some of these platforms to be inhabited, or at least formerly inhabited. After quickly glancing at one, he found that on it lay the rotting corpse of a long dead and forgotten humanoid. Brown flesh clung to yellowish and decaying bones. The only remaining whole component, a gray colored eyepiece, lay on top of an elongated crumbling skull positioned roughly over one of three eyesockets in a triangular pattern, the plate placed over the highest of the three. Bobs subconsciousness prevented him from recognizing the presence of the third eyesocket; he still thought of himself as having two eyes and this rotting corpse only presented to him proof that others of his kind had shared the same fate as he. He completely failed to notice the strange positioning of the kneecaps, and the number of fingers and toes the carcass had.
    On another table there were nothing but greeny-brown creepers, reaching high towards the light.
    On yet another lay a pile of creamy-white powder; ground-up bones no doubt. No eyeplate to be found.
    The other three, his own and the ones to either side of his, were completely empty.
    Taking stock of his own physiological situation, Bob turned once again to his former residence. Nothing more than a marble box, covered in the wavy overtones of his back. No light emanated as before. Simply a solid stone box.
    He went to a side end of the box and began pushing against it. He strained and cursed and strained again, but it didn't budge.
    Nearly exhausted and surprised at himself for being so, Bob sat, leaning against the wall. He didn't move, and felt no movement. He closed his eye.
    He knew he would have to find food, water, and a way out of this place, or die of starvation, but the idea of such a fate didn't seem wrong to him. It was all too confusing. Why was he here? What was he doing? Where was he? The events of the previous day filled his mind, and the lack thereof. Did all those things even happen yesterday? And for that matter, what was the date? Did this place of insanity even know such a thing as time?
    Feeling very discouraged, Bob wiped a single tear from his single eye; then began to sob. Tears rolled off of his pink and quickly reddening face and onto his bare chest, eventually finding their way to the marble floor where they collected in a small puddle.
    Instinctively Bob rubbed the palms of both hands on the sockets of his eyes -- to rid himself of his tears and his own weakness.
    Then he felt movement.
    All around him things were moving -- everywhere. The magnitude of it all was too intense! He needed it to stop! In pain he fell into a seizure. As he grappled, he arched his back and flung himself into nothingness.

He found himself watching a man in a dark, hot tunnel. Musty vapors sprayed and whipped from crevices in the stone walls, floor and ceiling. The man looked confused, lost, disoriented. The faint glow of molten rock fumed upwards from a shaft at the end of the tunnel, the bottom of which ended in a white-red stream of lava. Around the shaft, as much as the ill-lighting conditions would permit, strange shapes and shadows bounced off of the walls, conjuring memories of demons and things more horrific than the human tongue could relate. The top of the shaft faded into a steamy darkness, as indistinguishable as a black hole from the rest of outer space. This place was evil.
    Bob began to hear something. A high clattering. Tick, tick, tick -- like a dog on a linoleum floor. It started faintly at first, then became louder; moving quickly, very quickly. The man was visibly shivering at the atmosphere of this place and the surreality of the unknown sound, even though it was terribly hot from the lava down the chute. He stood in mixed horror and curiosity at the clicking as it drew louder, and closer. He began to hear its breath, a raspy, blood curdling breath; and began himself to breath in sharp wheezes and squeaks. It was big. He couldn't see it but thought that he saw glints of dull light from sharp, inches long teeth. His heart began to rise into his throat. He couldn't hear the thing coming now because of the blood pumping in his ears. The warm smell of ammonia mingled with blood began to waft into his nose.
    Closer. Was that it right there? No. It had to be farther away than that. He knew that it could see him, but he couldn't see it.
    Then he heard it again, a loud, harrowing roar. A soundless scream escaped his lungs. He began a shaky run towards the shaft. The sound was louder than ever. Tormented, he looked into the abyssal and mourned the fate of a fiery death; all the while it was coming closer, getting louder.
    A second gurgling roar penetrated his ears and pierced him to his very core. He was terrified. Now with the clicking came the thumping of heavy feet. It was very close.
    Then he saw it. A lion with the head of a gargoyle, horrific in mannerism, and yet it moved with the fluidity of a thousand snakes, venomous and terrible. Too quickly for him to react, it lunged from ten feet at him, claws outstretched, reaching for his neck. The figure, unseen, let out a cry at the collision of prey and hunter, but nothing heard, and he was powerless to stop it.
    It was all over in a moment. The sharp pain he felt in his chest and neck turned to dull warmth as it tore him to the ground, ripping limb from limb, guzzling his intestines and other organs. The slopping sound of blood and matter was only joined in the relative silence by the incessant breathing of the beast.
    He watched as the monster devoured the man from neck to toe, stopping nowhere for bones, simply crunching them between it's powerful jaws. Sinews stood no chance against the power of it's razor claws; vertebrae clung helplessly together as though in a final stand against it, but these too were simply ingested with the rest of the mans' disemboweled corpse.
    At last it was finished. Only a disembodied head, smattered with blood, lay on the floor amidst the gore. The head was no longer human. Simply the remains of a ravaged carcass. An unknowing, ignorant meal for the beast. This it picked up between its jaws, turned, and began to lumber away.
    It's mass faded into the darkness, the clicking still sounding. The beast breathed in and out in the way of a contented predator. Then a gut-curdling, putrid, sickening crunch. The unseen knew that the skull had been smashed and that it's tender insides were now being violated; a satisfied growl resounded through the corridor. He felt sick, and sorry for the man -- whoever he had been.
    Bob began to cry.