Hello, hello, hello! And welcome back to Left of Midnight! I know you’ve been waiting for more since the last section ended midway through December. I hope you enjoyed your holidays and are ready to jump back into the rough draft of this novel! I know I’m ready to get back to it! If you’ve been following along on this site for awhile now, you already know that my Story Time With Tim series has been continuing right along up until now. Mostly because I just have so many different stories to share that it was hard to not post something up during Christmas! With Section One of Left of Midnight being finished, it was just easier to wait until after the New Year to start posting Section Two.
Alright, so let’s not meander around too long then. You’re ready for it, I’m ready for it, let’s just get to reading already! Here you go, the first two micro-chapters of Left of Midnight Section Two:
IT WAS A deep pit in the underworld. As wide across as one of the broad meadows on the surface. Ringing its circumference, a series of holes dug deep into the earth. All of them exits to cavernous tunnels leading off into whatever dread direction deemed desirable by the inhabitants however long before. There was no dirt that he could see. Only cold hard stone forged long ago by volcanic stress. All of it some gray black likely the creative endeavor of the wickedest of the gods.
Neti shivered where he stood atop the flat surface overlookingthose caverns running in every direction. From what he could tell, there were some thirty different entry points below him. And none of them showed any indication of what his next logical progression might be. He’d managed to escape the bowels of the earth already. Heralded along by the voices of the dead. He didn’t know who those voices belonged to, but the story the woman told him had been frightening. She spoke of a world overrun by the angels of death. Creations of the Void sent to retake the heart of all civilization and bend it to their will. But she’d said she was the Healer and that the words she spoke, the story she told, was not for him but for the Warrior. The one who would set into motion the events to come.
I pray these things were just a hallucination. Nothing more, Neti thought looking across the great ring of coal black stone seeking some clue as to where he was to traverse next. If it is the future, our world is doomed. Oh, gods, please! Guide me! Tell me these are just the warped imaginings of a lost soul!
There were two other tunnels along the domed wall of the second floor he was standing upon. Those two led upwards and away and were directly across from where he’d exited the tunnel from the subterranean abyss he’d spent the last month within. He held his torch higher, the light cast by the flickering flames casting the floor below and the cave entrances in baneful shadows ruefully playing at his perception.
Please… where do I go? The voice said I was to proceed along the great tunnel leading to the pits of despair… Neti sighed. Well, I can’t imagine much more despair than this.
As he stared into the cavernous display of shadow and light, he noted a slight aura in one of the pit entrances below. It was a very subtle change. Like a wispy sight in the eye where all of the color became grey and blurry. Yet, it stood apart from the dark confines of the cavern it inhabited. He nodded. Yes, that is the way. I can feel it. Yet, I still cannot hear their voices. Are you sure, my ancient friend? Are you sure I should still continue on my quest?
‘If you don’t, he will never fear the truth for what it is. Never seek the answers to satisfy his desires…’
That’s what she had told him. And now, even though he was less encouraged to seek out these gods than before, he knew there was little choice but to proceed. He’d come too far to stop now. Otherwise, what would he become? Save another lost soul navigating the depths of the underworld.
Okay. Then that is the way I will go. Neti looked for a way down to the floor below and saw a slope of stone. It was angled in a way that he could find comfortable enough footing and not fall. At least, he hoped that was the case as he walked to the edge and put one foot forward to test its hold. The surface was hard and seemed slick to the touch. Yet, he found enough purchase to cautiously walk one bare foot ahead of the other down the plane until he was safely below and on the floor.
Safely… there’s a laugh. Neti let a chuckle fall from his throat as he walked towards the barely lit cavern across from him and let his torch highlight the maw awaiting his entry. The silence around him was deafening. Only the cackling fire on his torch kept him sane as he moved forward and into the cave tunnel. Lava tube… he thought and didn’t quite understand what that meant but knew nonetheless that that was what it was. And so, he accepted that knowledge with no further question and pushed forward.
He walked. And walked some more. Whether it was hours, days, or weeks… none of that meant anything to him anymore as he proceeded. The only thing that was of concern was reaching the destination he knew he was preordained to reach. All that mattered was that his people were safe from the chaos wrecking their city. It was time for the gods to cease their constant warring.
In time, he came out into a large cavity in the earth. He didn’t know how large. It was more massive than even the great breadth of the surface itself, he thought. Only shadows rimmed the edge of the floor stretching out before Neti. He stood at the exit to the tunnel and stared outward. There was nothing but the stone wall vanishing beyond the reach of the light of his torch and the expanse of the stone floor before him. It was an ochre grey. And still there was no dirt. No random detritus. Just flat stony floor. He took in a breath and then took a step forward.
‘Ah! There you are, my most faithful servant…’ the voice boomed in his head as he took five more steps forward. He winced. The deep voice was a nightmare to him now. Yet, he knew he must heed its call. ‘There is something different within you. What is it, I wonder?’
Neti shook his head. “It is nothing, my lord. I just want my people saved. Can you please cease their suffering? Please end this chaos?”
‘Oh, but yes, dear Neti. Their suffering will end. You have only to follow my voice.’
Neti exhaled and walked forward, his torch held high before him as he moved. Still, there was nothing to see except the floor and the unending darkness (the Void) surrounding him. He kept walking not even certain of where he was going. Only that the need to press forward was stronger now. That the angst, the fear, the agitation was diminishing within him the further he walked.
‘Ah, yes. She has come to you, hasn’t she?’
“I… don’t understand what you imply, my lord.”
A deep laugh echoed in the black void. ‘There’s no need to fear, dear Neti. I know her well. Yet, that is inconsequential. Your role in all of this is nearly at an end. You have but a little further and then… well, then the suffering will end for you all. You will be at peace. As will your people. And we will end this sick war that has plagued this world for all too long.’
“I am yours to command, my lord…”
‘I know, dear Neti. I know. Come…’
Neti walked faster now. His gait unhindered by any fear of the unknown. The end was truly nigh and he was happy for this fact. He continued onward with little thought in his mind now. Only the hope for an end to conflict. The knowledge that now his people would finally be safe and at peace drove him further. There was a sense in his mind that he was somewhere far beneath that great tower rising high into the sky that the enemy kept striking, kept trying to bring low. He knew that they would fail once he reached his goal.
After a time, he came to a great slab of stone at the center of the interior. No wall could be seen now. Nor ceiling. There was only that dark rising slab of stone. No. It was a crystal. Yes, it’s a crystal. What is it called? Yes… Yes! The Cth’vit, the sil…vet… a conduit… Yes. The conduit. The conduit to the lords waiting to be released. To save this world from itself. I must release them before it is too late…
He raced towards the object that rose from the floor dozens of feet. Its girth was like a mountain. Its sheen was like the blackest night. There was a swirling energy just behind its outer skin. The energy was purple and blue with tinges of a darkness so black it stood out even in the… Void!
Neti came before it and hesitated. I… do I want to touch that skin? Do I want to touch that smooth, smooth surface? No. No! I cannot!
‘My dear Netisan… You worry so. Just place your hand upon the surface and the peace you’ve long sought will be yours,’ a spot along the surface glowed a slight white. Like gnats in the air. Shimmering and begging for release. ‘Reach out for me and I will sing your song for all the ages. I will release your people from their misery. I will grant you eternal life.’
A peace settled across Neti’s soul and he smiled. His hand reached forward to the surface of the Cth’vit and, as he touched the great crystal, an energy filled his body. Joy was his and his eyes glowed a cobalt blue. He felt the power of the Lord filling his being and he was finally at peace. He took a step away from the Cth’vit and grinned broadly. His body grew dark and vivid in the blackness of the Void. He turned towards the surrounding dark interior, his torch falling to the floor. The light sputtering from it disappearing into his form. And he grew in size. Grew tall and strong. Became seven feet, eight, nine. And smiled ever deeper.
“My people are free!” he screamed and then knew nothing more.
But the Void still knew. And it enjoyed his smile as it clenched a great fist.
‘Free at last. Thank the gods almighty, I am free at last! Oh, but you wouldn’t know that just yet, would you, Trapper?’ The great thing that stood in the dark stared into the abyss before it. He knew he was being watched. Hefty horns rose up from his skull, his cobalt eyes narrowed and looked deep into the mind of another. ‘If you think that raven headed bitch has given you the weapons you need against me, you are sorely mistaken. You and yours are already lost. Lost aeons ago. Before your kind had even first dropped from the trees. You can fight, Avery-san, but you will lose. Just as every Aurite before you. Just as the Aurite I’ve recently ingested. Yes, his energies will serve me well. I will destroy these Bablynites. And even when ours are sequestered to the Cth’vit, ours will rise strong. For, after all, it’s all according to plan.’
A scream rang out into the Void and the great beast threw his head back and laughed, vivid white teeth, vicious and pointed, gleaming in the process. It was a booming laugh filling all of the Void around him and the scream increased.
‘You think the scream is his?’the creature asked and laughed even harder.
AVERY FELL TO the floor and screamed ever louder. Pain shot up his shoulder as he lurched upward and looked around trying to stop the creature from grabbing him. Only, he wasn’t in that dark abyss anymore and the dream was quickly fading. He desperately tried to hold on to it. Desperately tried not to let what happened disappear. Only, his eyes were adjusting to a new and bright light surrounding him. He raised an arm to his eyes to block out that light.
After a moment, he slowly lowered his arm, the dream dropping deep into his subconscious to the point where he ignored it and took in his new surroundings.
“Right. Lizard men,” he mumbled and grabbed the stone slab of a bed beside him to pull himself to his knees.
Taking in his environment for the first time, Avery saw that he was in a room with stone walls and a stone ceiling.
No, not stone. This… this is cement. He saw the windows then. There were three in all. The one he was looking at was on the far wall and blocked with a series of steel bars. To his right and above him was another barred window. He looked behind him and saw the third one. To his left, were three pillars of a similar material at equidistance intervals holding up the ceiling. And to the far wall across from his left side was nothing but solid cement walling and a series of stone beds the same as the one he’d just fallen out of. And at the base of the last stone bed, near what looked like a door with bars across a dark window, was Shōtō. He was meditating and had his hands braced on the flat side of his upper thighs.
Avery made to stand and immediately fell down face first. His legs were jelly and his body dizzy. He took in a deep breath and tried to push himself to his knees again. Only he found it was incredibly trying as his arms were just as weak as his legs. So, he let himself fall flat on his stomach and remained there for as long as he dared willing his limbs to stop being numb and give him the support he needed to cross the room.
They were in a prison cell. Clearly one that was above the ground as the light of the sun streamed through the barred glassless windows unimpeded. Avery glanced up and saw that Shōtō hadn’t moved an inch. Only continued a meditation in a manner he hadn’t seen him do in weeks.
“Hey, Shōtō. Some help here would be appreciated, eh?”
The Japanese man gave no indication of having heard him. Avery sighed and began clawing his way forward. He was halfway across the stony, dirt strewn floor before any feeling started returning to his legs. He was able to start using them to flop himself forward and by the time he reached the bed Shōtō was leaned against, his back straight, he was able to pull himself up on the sheetless slab of rock that was a sad excuse for a bed. Avery leaned against the wall and exhaled sharply.
“Thanks… for the help, man,” he chuckled, blinking rapidly. “Any idea where we are?”
Shōtō said nothing as Avery sat there catching his breath. He watched the pilot for a long moment. Shōtō didn’t move a muscle. Only sat with his eyes closed and his hands palms up with the thumbs and index fingers clenching together at their tips on his thighs. Avery sighed and shook his head the best he could. It felt like a jelly mold as well.
“You going to say anything?” Avery leaned forward hesitantly and placed a hand on Shōtō’s shoulder. “You alright? Talk to me.”
Shōtō was silent for a moment longer and then, “I’m fine, Averysan.”
A headache struck Avery and he lifted a hand to his forehead.
Avery’s heart beat rapidly and cold sweat broke out across his skin. He leaned forward and clenched his eyes tightly. There was definitely something not right about this. Any of this. He took a few more moments to gather himself. The headache abated to a degree but didn’t go completely away. He was able to exhale sharply and take in another breath. Then leaned back against the wall behind the stone slab of a bed.
“I… I’m sorry about back there, Shōtō,” Avery managed to push out, his chest heaving in the effort. “I don’t know what came over me. It was just this… this sudden urge of hate. I don’t get it.”
“There is nothing to apologize for,” Shōtō said still not opening his eyes nor moving from his position. “We’re in their world now.”
“Wh, what? Whose world?”
The door to their cell opened then and Avery bolted forward to immediately regret that decision as he nearly fell off the bed. Shōtō opened his eyes and glared at the person entering. Avery sat at the edge of Shōtō’s bed staring at the man.
Man? What man? That’s a lizard, man! Avery stared at the being. It stood with its arms behind its back glaring down at them. It was nearly seven feet tall and had to tilt its head down lest it hit the ceiling. This gave it an even more ominous look as it seemed to be hovering over them, glowering in its vision of hate and rage. It wore some sort of suit. Similar to what one would see on the Japanese troops trying to hold on to their stolen islands. The uniform an olive green with leggings beneath the end of the pant legs tight against its calves. Black boots covered what Avery assumed to be nightmarish clawed feet. Its face was reptilian with human looking eyes of a crystalline blue. The nose was flattish with elongated nostrils. The head full of ridges at equidistant intervals running back behind to the neck. But the most unnerving feature was its mouth. The flaps of is upper lips seemed to cover a grin running from ear to ear. If there were ears. Only holes seemed to be ears for this thing. But its grin filled Avery with a great sense of fear that he tried desperately to push aside.
“So, our intrepid adventurers are finally awake,” it said in a gravelly voice. “Then perhaps now is the time to discover what plot you two are up to.”
“I, I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” Avery spat. “Release us, you… demon!”
The creature smiled broadly unveiling teeth that were pointed and savage. A chuckle uttered from there.
“Release you? Oh, I think not. You are now prisoners of the Cre’Nomanor[TP1] . You seek to expose us to your kind? We shall soon see who else knows of your whereabouts.”
The creature raised a semi-clawed right hand and motioned to someone beyond the doorway.
“The fuck we will!” Avery made to stand only to find a helmeted version of the creature entering and shooting him with the same energy weapon that had did him in before. Avery fell to the floor in a loud thump.
Alright, alright, alright! We’ve reached the end of our first offering of Section Two of Left of Midnight! I hope you enjoyed reading and welcome back for more of this new novel of mine! I did take a short break from writing Section Three but I’m confident by the time Section Two is complete and posted on here, Section Three will be finished and ready to post as well.
Come back next Sunday for more Left of Midnight and, as always, thanks for stopping by and reading!
~Timothy S Purvis
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