AFTERLIFE OPHIDIAN /// The Foundation Over Heaven
rating: +35+x

I spiral towards the ocean floor, latent salt cauterizing my wounds along the way. Slowly, the currents of an event horizon envelope me, and reality becomes mere foreplay to oblivion.

The serpent's eyes pierce through her darkened lair.

breaker

When I was a child, a day came when shadows lengthened and the moon no longer rose. It was the end of all things like it had been so many times before. It was war — bloody war against the anomalous.

"You see that, sweetie?" the woman beside me said. "That's the Foundation."

Her finger found its way to the window, leaving a spiral print upon the glass. Framed within was an army intersecting the horizon, backed by animate steel and inconceivable memetic hazards. Their numbers flowed over plains and hills, led by a shadowy colossus — the voice of The Administrator emanated from his lips.

"Do not fear, civilians," the titan said like a dream. "We are here for your protection. We are here to give peace through conquest."

The very weight of God rested beneath his words. He was a man brought to the brink of the ultimate, striding unimpeded over mountains and trampling ancient land under the gravity of his personhood. The Administrator's insignia shone bright against the crimson sky, like a policeman's badge: three inward arrows and a ring, branded onto moving flesh before his ascension. It was what they called a necessary evil, before the Ethics Committee was immolated.

The woman beside me fractured in tandem with the window, fire consuming her shattered parts. A sudden pressure broke the house's foundation — we had no need for it, just as they had no need for her.

As gunfire engulfed the town, her fingerprint remained on the broken glass of that old window.

breaker

In movies, she came to the ones who had no more purpose, who were tossed away like worn ragdolls. It makes sense she came to me.

Gravity breaks down between her fangs, emanating oblivion. Half an eternity passes before her teeth supersede me, half my sentence served before I pass through the metal gates. I should thank her.

My body floats through her sea of corpses, now just another prisoner without a warden. I know this place. It has no color, no variation, no shambling trickster god. I know this place well.

My body floats forever, the perfect anti-Talloran.

breaker

For a year or so, containment was hypothetical. Between cities and mountains walked everything ancient man had feared and hated. For a year, everything happened at once.

"Don't move." The gun's barrel pressed against my throat. "Don't say a single word."

I was panicking. My mind tried to retreat and disregard my ragged breath. Giants were in motion between the corpses of skyscrapers, silently heralding a new Earth. The woman who had stood beside me was gone, reduced to cinder alongside her home. The world was so different now. My inner trauma compelled me to forgot the weapon; instead, I managed to pretend it wasn't there.

My heartbeat stilled, and I observed the reason for my silence: the breaker of that Final Masquerade. Overhead, a mechanical giant loomed and wandered, glass eyes observing a glass world. Landscapes shattered beneath its unthinking march towards a never-end. Bullets would never hurt it.

The giant passed by, and the sensation of death against my throat returned. I fell to the ground as he let me go, waves breaking against a weathered cliff beneath us. I stayed still, my ears following the machinations of my captors.

"Can we secure it?" one said. He had blue eyes and blond hair. I could hear it in his voice.

"No, we can't ess-sea-pea that thing," said another. He was cleaning his gun and neglecting his heart.

"So what do we do?" said the Aryan.

"We ess-sea-pea what we can," said the last. His voice, I could not read.

Three inward shots rang out as I spiraled off the cliff edge. The murderers recited a prayer, and I listened on the way down.

"O World, O peoples, O Mankind:
Hear now our words of love to you, mere utterances from the dark.
Accept us now in your time of peril, though we are but men of insubstantial shadow;
Allow us to be your firmest bedrock. Fasten yourself to us, and no man will claim you.
Chain yourself to this stone, and no war will ever come.
Appell us as your steadfast Foundation and submit to our direction,
And you will never again stumble into the dark.
O Bright, O Cimmerian, O damned Kondraki:
May this foundation bring peace to Mankind."


The cliff rock shatters beneath my feet, and I fall into the glassy sea.

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Eventually, they found a cure. Order was officialized, doctors were promoted, amnestics were distributed, and traitors were shot behind the chemical shed. The faces of the dead men around me say as much.

Beneath a silent moon, an operative from a recovery team walks past my broken home. His foot stamps down on fragmented glass and a spot of grease is shattered. The nameless woman who died one year ago ceases her mourning.

Inside the serpent, my eyes close, and I join the peaceful dead.

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