IN MY DREA M | I stalked along a dusty road which ran betwix two fields of corn that stretched beyond the line of sight and vanished into the space between earth, horizon and sky, the liminal realm where Apep lay with baited breath for the encroachment of his eternal foe. Each stalk, higher than the highest man and certainly higher than the five foot, eight inches of blood and bone and flesh.
A strong wind gusted in from above and shortly thereafter, a sound in the corn. A steady and readily multiplying thrumming, liken to the sound of footfalls, but unlike the footsteps of any normal man. My heart raced and my breath quickened as something moved beyond at the periphery of my sight, fear subsumed me and pressed me to its bosom. With haste, way was made into the cornfield, stalks flying by, as if accelerated through some cosmic convergence; shortly, a clearing with an old scarecrow. I braced myself against the farmyard prop and listened. Nothing. Straightening, I caught the mischievous wyrm-of-breath which sought its escape from my heaving lungs, longing to return to its brethren in the clouded realm of the lunar dancers where they thundered to ancient and draconian rhythms.
Back in, back in! I require thee! Fuel for my engine. Fuel to flee this queer plot.
The next moment there came a dreadful creaking. Wood. The scarecrow was moving! It’s head spun about in unnatural, inhuman contortion to stare at me with it’s blank, black sack-hole eyes. Then it leapt from its wooden perch, leapt at me! The next moment was a blur of motion, my feet hitting the husk scattered ground hard and fast until I was long and good and free and clear of the animated farm ornament and his clacking and odd-angled limbs of wood and hay and cloth.
They are coming. To rend and tear. To rip and gnash. To sund and split.
Alack, again that voice, ringing in mine ears as if it were emanating from my vary brain! It was HIM. He who I had encountered in my last dream, he who had loomed over me upon the endless stair in the limitless hall. I could not see his centipedal form but could feel his presence, pulsing, not around, but within me.
What will you do? How will you gird your pathetic flesh? Can you? You can barely keep up this pace. Already your legs slacken, your pulse soars and your pores slick over with wetness. The whole of the body subsumed by fear. Feeble.
Anger will not avail you. I did not bring you here. You have no one to blame but yourself.
I’m not the one chasing me – now – get out of my head!
The scarcecrows close upon you. You cannot outrun them for they do not tire.
Get. Out. Of. My. Head.
The words poured out of my mouth this time, no longer merely contained to my mental sanctum; as if the foreign entity within me had expelled all speech, as if his consciousness had begun to displace my own. Control swiftly dissipating. Tension and dread the whole of my form, form the whole of my world. Was this how it was to end? Was I to die sad, harried and alone in a nowhere cornfield? I would not allow it. This was not my design.
Your imagination rebels against demise, for you can picture a life beyond your present circumstance… the will is lacking.
The will? Did he expect me to fight them? Still running haplessly, I shot a glance behind; the scarecrows where everywhere, numbering in the hundreds, lumbering through the corn with savage increase, their forms horridly skeletal in the failing, amber light.
Why aid me, ᚲᚺᚨᚨᚱᛁᛉᚨᛚ?
An amused laugh echoed throughout the endless caverns of my mind.
Why not? Better you then they. They’ve no imagination. They are no artists. They are no creators. They are husks and nothing else besides.
Tell me then, what am I to do?
Find the ship that lies to the north.
I nearly gasped for my route of escape had taken me south. To find the ship the entity spoke of I would have to transgress against the skeletal horde.
The choice is a simple one. Your coward’s heart or me. Decide.
I glanced out at the field, roiling out and beyond the horizon’s fathomless edge. He was right, there was no escape. Steeling the nerves and focusing my will I turned upon my heel and rushed the grotesque conglomerate. The first scarcecrow, feeble and rickety was as a brickwall and against it I was powerless. The creature pinned me to the ground, it’s sightless gaze piercing the outer sanctum of my mind; tearing into my flesh and reaving great and bloody gashes upon the ground. I shouted out in desperation.
ᚲᚺᚨᚨᚱᛁᛉᚨᛚ, help me!
The moment the words had left my mouth my skin was covered over in chintinous plate as dark as pitch, hard as obsidian and ‘gainst this newest skin my foe’s ravishments were rendered superflous; its scrawny wooden-straw arms dinging off my glistening carapace. Strength such as I had never experienced before surged throughout my body and with the lightest jerk of my arm I tore the monster’s head from it’s miserable body and threw it into the oncoming waves of its fellows. Charging through the rest was as if I were but passing through a shallow shrub and when fifty had been rendered by my hand a great galleon of clockwork rose up from the sea of corn, a ladder hanging from its side. Climbing aboard, it instantly began to rise, though it unhelmed and empty.
Standing upon the bow, the ship floating across the top of the stalks as if fording mighty waves, I looked down upon my inhuman form and smiled.