Lost Souls

The Gaze of the Abyss

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The Gaze of the Abyss

by Ed Glasby

Back in 1882, shortly after one of the harshest winters ever recorded, Dr. Elmer Joseph Carrion opened his museum to the unsuspecting townsfolk of Laughing Creek, Minnesota. Although, to call it a museum is perhaps an over statement, especially when one compares it to the huge artifact repositories of today. Nonetheless, back then, it was a place of ceaseless wonder for the weekend crowds that it always drew. Theirs was a wonder that to some extent I shared, for even on that day when I was first taken out of my packing case and displayed alongside the numerous oddities, I could sense some of that excitement.

Although at first the museum only attracted the locals, news soon spread like wildfire, until by early fall, 1883, it was drawing in crowds from all over the state. The curious came to look and admire Carrion’s strange relics and house of deformities. I watched as they gawped at his collection of shrunken heads and at how they stared unbelievingly at his numerous freaks of nature. Even from where I hung, next to a stuffed walrus head and a poorly painted death-mask, I saw their enthusiasm; their desire to believe. And what is more, I fed from it.

On the rare occasions a passing visitor would stop and gaze into my inky depths, it was only with the greatest level of self restraint that I managed not to lash out. For deep within a part of me battled against the pull to destroy as I had of old, in a time when I had witnessed the blood of millions. Somehow I resisted, aware that in order to restore that which I had lost I needed to be patient. After all what are days and years to that which has witnessed eternity? And so the waiting had gone on and with each passing gazer, I felt a small part of my essence return.

Carrion’s museum now expanding to accommodate a hundred new finds, I could sense a nascent reawakening in my powers. Although still weak from the centuries buried beneath the jungle temple, I could now exert some kind of limited influence into the world proper. For although I still relied heavily on the sustenance provided by the souls of those who looked upon me, I could now inhale the sweet scent of their blood as it pumped through their bodies. The desire to slake my insatiable thirst by draining them of all that they had was almost unbearable, yet still I bided my time.

Then in the first weeks of spring, 1891, well over a decade after my rediscovery, I could hold back my desires no longer. Perhaps I could have held out for another year or more but the fool guaranteed his own death. With a blatant disregard for whom he now stood before, he removed a comb and began to straighten his hair. Then with a call to his woman, he turned and began to move away. The rage grew within. To think that I...I who had bathed in the blood of millions, I who had turned the sun black, I of the eagle and jaguar, had been used to assist in a mortal’s vanity!

I called him back with thoughts of vileness. Like a zombie, he returned, all smiles and thoughts of happiness erased from his mind. Into my smoking depths he now stared, transfixed as I revealed unto him that which my shamans had seen long ago. His puny mind could take but a second before it broke. Blank-eyed and oblivious to the calls of his woman, he stared for a second more before gnawing at his wrists. Eagerly I awaited the crimson spray.

By the end of that year, two more had perished at my beckoning, their blood allowing me to now extend my vision outside the museum proper. Oh, how the world had changed since my buried absence. For gone now where the humid jungle canopies and stepped towers that I had known before the destruction of my people, the Nahua. I bemoaned my loss, silently despairing at the cowardly nature of those that now lived.

With each passing day I grew stronger, continuing to gorge on the souls of those who passed by as well as draining them of their belief. However it was during the fall of 1896 that I happened to realise my own vulnerability. I should have seen it before, but I had underestimated the superstition of these fools. Cursed, that is what they called me. At first I relished the title, basking in my new found prestige and drinking in the increased level of fascination. But it soon dawned on me that with such a reputation, it would prove increasingly difficult for me to continue obtaining the blood I required. I needed a plan in order to prevent being reburied or flung into the deepest ocean.

I called out to Carrion, visions of unimaginable pleasures and promises of the unobtainable my bait. Eagerly the fool responded, awakening in his sleep and coming to my call. For a while he stared into my abyssal pool, swaying as I instructed him. His body was weak and dying, a tropical disease picked up somewhere had seen to that, but still he could perform what was needed. And so, surreptitiously, he set about providing me with blood once more. The intake was refreshing, but minimal. A mere splash in the ocean, a taster of that which was to come, but a drop from Tlaloc’s eye.

Carrion’s supply was sporadic, but willingly accepted. I saw to it that each victim was dragged before me and then slain using the flint-bladed knife that was in a display downstairs, thus ensuring that I could consume every last drop.

And so it had gone on, until the diseased curator died.

For over two years I languished as the hunger gnawed at my senses. The energy I had received from Carrion’s victims began to wane and once again I began to feel the pull of the Endless Night, that sunless void into which I had been cast so long ago. Then, at the dawn of your new century, I stirred once again, the blood now little more than rust on my mirrored surface.

I fell into the possession of one who claimed to be able to commune with the dead. Weak from lack of precious blood, I played along in his charades, at times drawing mild amusement from the pathetic attempts at necromancy he and his group of so-called occultists tried to engage in. Along with their crystal balls and hand of glory, I resided, waiting and devouring the souls of the few I came in contact with. As with the others I had consumed, their souls were tasteless, lacking the flavour that only fervent belief engenders or that succulent texture only the thoroughly bloodstained possess.

By 1903, I had full control of my owner, Charles de Villany. Through his actions I felt my strength return once more. I soon realised that I was no longer in the same town, having been transported to a place called New York soon after Carrion’s death and the dispersal of his collection. I vowed that this time I would return to my former glory, not resting until I had bathed this places’ streets in blood. To this end, I made de Villany the founder of my cult. Before the end of the year, my worshippers were many, their activities ensuring a steady supply of sustenance.

Everything was going acceptably until disaster struck in 1908. Two parapsychologists, Ludwig Kramer and Otto Hapsburg, had long been delving into my activities. Together, the two had unravelled the secrets of my existence, tracing the biography of my being back as far as their limited archaeology and imagination would permit. They knew my identity and my purpose and with the assistance of their governmental forces they obliterated my devotees. I, however, proved too cunning for them. O, how I would have loved to have seen their faces as when in their moment of perceived triumph the realisation of their failure hit home. For even as they used their thunder-spitting weapons and my worshippers fell in droves, I was being shipped far from them.

Across a vast ocean I travelled, ever hungry. It was on that voyage, more than at any other time that my impotence struck me the hardest. For here I was, I who had travelled between the stars and who had been present at the beginning of everything, having to be ported like a runner’s tidings. O, how I would make this world burn for the indignities of forgetfulness.

I arrived in a land called London, a miserable place which reeked of smoke and pollution. From there, I soon attracted a new gathering, far from the prying eyes of the newly established Hapsburg Foundation. Within twenty lunar cycles I saw that many perished to fuel my want. My power grew to a level that I had not experienced as yet in this so-called modern age. Greater and greater spread the limit of my sight, allowing me to discern the immensity of the artificial greyness in which I now resided. I could detect the million or so pulsating hearts as they lived their mundane emptiness.

Housed deep beneath one of the wealthiest houses in London, in a secret temple, I began to spread my influences beyond the city. I soon came to understand that this London was but the capital of a wider land known as England. A land that differed greatly from that in which I had overseen the mass sacrifices of captured prisoners of war. Gone from this land were the blood-caked chac-mool offering tables of my people, the cenotes which had overflowed with the bodies of the rotting or the tzompantli, which had stored the severed heads of my enemies.

Vampiric, I regained my strength, remembering the old ways I had enjoyed when at the height of my power. Back then, I had permitted one of the mortals to mimic me, assuming my being and living as I. With blood I recalled more, remembering the name I had been given, Tezcatlipoca; The Smoking Mirror. With that revelation my power surged, spreading my sphere of influence tenfold from where I was. This land, this England, was an island marooned in a sea of freezing water. Beyond was a greater land, a land called Europe, a land in preparation for my awakening.

Like jungle creepers, I crept across this new land, invoking disorder and rivalry. I used many of my new found agents to instigate political feuds, spreading their own independent sense of political nationalism and distrust. Soon rapid rearmament followed, pitching this country, this Europe, into a war unlike any seen before. From 1914 to 1918 I feasted as I had once, more so in fact. Greedily, I partook of the butchery before me, savouring the unbeatable tenderness only war can sear into a soul.

Fat, grew I over those many war-torn lunar cycles. And whilst this Europe burned, I became decadent and bloated. Never before on this planet had I gorged on such a delicacy. Complacency, however, proved to be my weakness. For even as I exerted control over my puppet war-chiefs, that cursed Hapsburg Foundation sought me out from their sheltered land, New York. Once again, they ruined my plans, destroying my worshippers and ending the war I had created.

I fell into the hands of my enemy. Throughout that next decade they made me roar, experimenting on me like I had ordered my worshippers to on captives under the jungle moon. Clever were they, using instruments to probe my shimmering obsidian. Interrogated, I revealed nothing, but still they worked, like surgeons dissecting a cadaver. In their laboratories they puzzled over my origin. They brought in scientists and those who scry, priests of a defunct, impotent god and others. They drained me with their vacuums and left me with little. With their numerical calculators they sought to unlock my being, thinking that my workings were in some way quantifiable. They subjected me to an infuriating battery of tests; sampling my surface with their newly acquired atomic detectors and gadgets and injecting me with that energy you call electricity. Still I would not divulge my secrets.

When they realised that I was beyond their mortal comprehension, they tried to destroy me. O what joy I had as first I listened to their suggestions. The scientists believed that a certain concentration of acids might be sufficient, the others sought to lock me away in a polar ice cap. After the acid treatment proved ineffective, preparations were made to take me to the north pole, there I would be buried deep until an age when that continent thawed once more.

Desperate, I used the vestiges of my power to sway those around me, but these people were strong-willed, having devoted their souls to this cause and this cause alone. Resigned now to the prospects of an icy prison, I saw the dark haze of the Endless Night before me. But I was not meant to languish in a frozen waste. I howled to the aether, summoning some secretly stored latent energy. The ship that carried me north was blown off course even as the crew battled against my helmsmanship, desperately trying to regain control of the vessel.

My fears grew when they decided to throw me into the deeps, now aware that they would not make it to the land called Arctic. Frantic, I released my control on the ship, using my powers in a concerted effort to reach out to anyone. I formed a bond with the one who prepared the food, deceiving him with promises of grandeur. With difficulty he freed me from my heavily-locked crate. Then, under cover of night, I saw to it that he secured me around his neck before jumping over the side.

The man was long dead, his bloated body bobbing in the freezing water by the time the other ship appeared out of the fog. With bright search lights those on board scanned the water, responding to the energies I was feebly emitting. With pole hooks they pulled the man from the waters, pausing briefly to examine me before going on their way again, still unsure as to why they had been ordered to search this stretch of sea.

By the time I reached land I had fed from the souls of the entire crew. With replenished power, I learned that these people were returning to their port in a land called Deutschland. A land I seemed to recall was close to England. Indeed as my powers grew, I remembered that this country had served me well in the war I had orchestrated prior to my kidnap.

It did not take long for me to seek out the rulers of this land. They embraced my ideologies, seeking to harness my power rather than to destroy it. I lent some of my power to one of their chiefs, Himmler, and his so-called Thulegesselschaft. In return they gave me victims aplenty and enshrined me within a golden chamber. I was introduced to their supreme ruler, Hitler, a man in whom I could detect some of the traces of the old ways. He proved a willing host, surrendering his being to me, permitting me to once again embark on my war-laden crusade. For a second time I plunged this Europe into carnage and the power I obtained emancipated abilities in me that I did not know existed.

No longer constrained to the banal limits of this world, I travelled through the voids to other planes and dimensions. I basked on the sunless craters of worlds your kind will never see and danced with beings from an age unknown. I became as one with a black hole beyond your galaxy and witnessed the birth of a million star systems. I saw all this and yet I failed to foresee my own downfall. A downfall that came in the shadow of radiated mushroom clouds that grew over two cities far from where my physical essence lay.

Secretly developed by the Hapsburg Foundation the detonation of these atomic devices were a warning. Not to those on whom they had been dropped, but to me. With such weapons, millions could be vaporized in seconds. Annihilation without suffering, that was the extreme to which my enemies, in their desperation, now resorted. They reasoned that I wanted blood and suffering on a large but still human scale and that nuclear warfare ran counter to my requirements.

The Hapsburg Foundation made sure that this new technology was made available to many countries in the hope that they would act as a deterrent. I knew that if I started a war like the last I would risk losing my worshippers and victims alike – I would eventually be left alone on this planet with no hope of escape. Nuclear arsenals grew and grew as to the public eye the great superpowers of your planet seemed to threaten each other. In reality, each side along with the smaller nuclear powers that later emerged, had their missiles aiming inwards. For theirs was a defence through the threat of mass atomic suicide.

My salvation lay in the frailty of human memory. Over time the Hapsburg Foundation founding figures died and were not replaced. The peoples of this world forgot about me, leaving me to fester in the bowels of Berlin. For several decades I lay with the rats and the cold as outside a new world arose above me, a world that was increasingly unhappy about its nuclear investment. The peace marches which I would normally have despised became my sole hope.

Then I came into your possession and I could hardly believe my good fortune. Is this chance or destiny? I cannot tell, but that is not important. What matters is that by this time tomorrow night, you will walk back into this Kremlin office and tell me that the START-VI treaty has been signed.

Copyright Ed Glasby 2007

Ed started writing after studying Egyptian Archaeology and completing a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford University . The satisfaction of creating original stories was a welcome antidote to the limitations of essay writing and he ended up with several short stories and two full-length novels. To date he has had two of his short stories published in the Ezine The Eternal Night and one awaiting publication in the magazine Here & Now. He now hopes to find a taker for the novels.

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