The following was written in 2014. I had decided to take writing seriously at this point, and was trying to hone my skills by pumping out as much flash and micro fiction as I could. At the time, I was thinking about how to approach cosmic horror without “nameless evils”, “thrashing tentacles”, or using the word “cyclopean”.
Duga settles his tailbone on the cushion, bends his legs in, helps his feet with his hands into the impeccable position.
He is brutally conscious of each part of his body and is ashamed. He moves and molds it as is correct. A lotus, blooming sharp petals on a cloud of water. Smoke rising from a stone.
The sight in front of him is clear for miles. Elevated as he is, it is snow-capped mountains, dark grey cliffs beneath. Blue sky is open, even, perfect in the spaces between peaks. Like paper layered over and over. The air is nothing like water here, it is thin as light. The gutters and columns of the temple peek like dark red dreams into the borders of his vision.
The single trail of smoke twisting up from the incense looks uncomfortable as it writhes. The masters will be angry with him for using it, but he cannot wait any longer. He can handle its power, its secrets. He is sure he is nothing but a calm conduit. No harm can come to the riverbed by letting the streams of knowledge flow through it.
His shoulders drop, his breath is regular, he meditates.
This is the first time he will open his eyes during the trance. He hates admitting it, but there is a scrap of him still afraid. He is afraid of how the world will be different. He is afraid he might have missed something. He is afraid that he will have longings for his family, and that the opening of his eyes will make the parting with them too bitter. He doesn’t confess these fears to himself because he knows they have no meaning. He dwells deep in the bottom pit of his heart to cut every string of attachment. He spends long hours cutting and hating in the basement of his lungs. The light outside changes to night.
He dwells on a long, grey expanse, empty and dry. He dwells there until he forgets.
He is ready.
His eyes open. He sees the stars, all of the stars, too many for him to comprehend- their scope is too massive. There is pain in his head arcing between his ears, sinking in from his eyes but he cannot shut them now, he is seeing it all.
Bulls come. They are great, endless things. He sees each squirming vessel in their rolling eyeballs, each hair on their slobbering lips. They are more vast than all the stars. They blot them out as they pass. Their horns rise up and up, protruding bone. Between the horns, he sees worlds. Each bull carries a globe. Each globe has clouds skimming over seas, foreign and alien. He sees tiny glints of light from cities. Duga knows they are all real.
Then, as the air is pressed from Duga’s lungs, a hand comes before him in the vision. It holds a knife. Another hand takes the horn of a bull and wrenches the bull’s head to the side. The planet suspended between its horns rocks. The knife is placed on the bull’s throat. Other bulls pass by in the background. Duga wishes he could pass by, but he must witness. The knife is just placed, then it is pressed and drawn. Thick, red blood floods from the throat of the bull. It spreads in a wide delta over the cosmos below. The bull bellows in fear and anguish, tries to rip its head away from the steady hand. Its eyes turn upward, uncomprehending. The world between its horns turns brown and withers. Ash and smoke overwhelm.
The hands withdraw. The bull is left to sink and fall. No meat is taken.
Duga screams and screams and screams.