"The Fall of Free Thinking" | Michael Kevin Shirley
Alexandria, the Jewel of the Roman Empire, a province of Egypt, held the largest store of knowledge the world has ever known. The city's grandeur in all aspects rivaled Rome, Egypt, Athens, Olympia, Antioch, and Carthage. It took from Greek, Roman, and Egyptian design to build grand monuments and structures that had never been seen before. The city was truly extraordinary for its wealth of knowledge, influence, and, ultimately, power over the free-thinking world. Alexandria's true treasure, however, was not its endless shelves of scrolls and one-of-a-kind papyrus; above all else, it was its people. People from all over the world came to Alexandria to see its vast library, marveling at its architectural beauty, and learn from the most prominent teacher in all the city, Hypatia of Alexandria. She was a woman in a world ruled by men. Hypatia broke the norm, dismantling the standard for women and their role in the new world. She was at the center of it all.
The sun had fallen, and torches and large fires lit the city of Alexandria. While most people slept waiting for dawn, Hypatia was wide awake, perfecting a tool she had made herself. Governor Orestes found Hypatia standing outside the library in the dark under the night sky. When he approached, the fire generally lit in this area was still slightly smoking and smoldering. Orestes saw an empty bucket beside the firepit and deduced that Hypatia must have put it out herself. Hypatia's focus was on the stars above her, and Orestes took the opportunity to sneak up from behind.
"Too bright for your liking, is it?" Orestes said, inches from Hypatia's ear, obviously trying to scare her.
Hypatia did not flinch as she continued to measure the stars above with her strange golden object. The Governor looked forlorn when she simply told him that the glow from the fire stopped her from being able to see all the stars in the sky, so she put it out.
"Is that another one of your inventions you have there; what does this one do?" he said, stepping closer to her.
"This is an Astrolabe," Hypatia said, turning from the sky to Orestes. With this, anyone can tell time without the sun by simply measuring the stars and not just that. With just this one tool, you can also use it to tell the latitude and longitude and even measure entire mountains and rivers." She looked down wonderingly and fondly at the circular golden object in her hands, getting lost in all the possibilities this tool could unfold.
"Hypatia, that's why I'm here. I need to talk to you about something important. Life-threatening even."
"More important than this? Then discovering and mapping out the world and stars? I don't think so, in fact, Orestes, nothing is more important than my love for knowledge, and this tool can show us so much. I believe I've barely begun to scratch the surface of what this might be able to do. I'll have to do more tests and make more adjustments to find out."
"There's word that Archbishop Cyril is calling your work witchcraft and saying that your inventions are being used for divination," Orestes said, cutting her off. "I fear for your life Hypatia. You know I hold you in the highest regard. What you've done for Alexandria and its people is extraordinary, but the Christians fear you. They see the power a woman holds over our world's greatest city and want it for themselves."
Hypatia did not respond for a long moment; instead, she looked at her longtime friend with a mixture of pity and stoicism before stepping closer to him and placing her hand on his shoulder. "I appreciate the warning, old friend; however, I will not be scared away by closed-minded thinkers. Knowledge is power, and those with power fear knowledge because a thinker is free to think freely for themselves."
"They say what you are doing, and teaching goes against God," Orestes said lightly, pushing her hand off him. "This man seeks the power you have and will stop at nothing to have it."
"I have no power, merely influence, and what God does my teaching go against? Neoplatonists merely believe in the spiritual aspect of mathematics. Numbers are the secret language of the Universe. In fact, my ideas can be applied alongside many religious viewpoints, including Jewish, Christian, and even Pagan beliefs. I was the first to transcribe the Hebrew bible into Greek; how could they think I'm a witch?"
Hypatia's question did not need an answer; she already knew what it was, but she searched for one in Orestes's green eyes that reminded her of the Nile River. He began to reply when Hypatia stopped him by taking his hand and leading him inside Alexandria's library.
The inside was decorated with limestone pillars that held the high ceilings aloft. Beautiful sculptures that combined the head of Egyptian statues with the body and clothing of the Romans. Everywhere you looked was a melding of art as cultures came together to learn from one another. High-hand-crafted wood shelves filled almost the entire room, holding parchment and scroll after scroll, and large granite tables filled the rest of the open space. Torches lit the interior, and Hypatia, followed by Orestes, walked the corridor to the center of the library.
"Do you know where we are?" Hypatia asked him.
"In the library, of course."
"This isn't just the library; it's the heart of Alexandria," she said, making an expansive hand gesture.
"Yes, in these scrolls, we have the largest story of knowledge in the world."
"Yes, you're right, but it's not the scrolls. It's the people who come here and freely share their knowledge with others and learn from each other. That is the true store of our knowledge and power. I could never leave here nor stop what I'm doing because of someone else's misguided beliefs. I could never leave this place. Like Socrates, I would rather drink poison than leave my city."
"I hate and admire your boldness and unwavering courage, but I also think it's foolish and unwise for you to stay any longer."
There is still so much for me to learn, and due here, Orestes, I've barely pulled back the veil on the mysteries the Universe holds for us."
The following day Hypatia rode through the streets in her horse-drawn chariot to make her daily rounds about the city. The people were bustling and happy. Everyone greeted her and made way for Hypatia as she rode through the city. Hypatia waved, welcomed, and even stopped several times on her way about the city to talk and offer advice to any who asked it of her, which many did.
Suddenly as she was on her way back to the library, the bright and clear day turned grim and ominous as dark clouds swept over all of Alexandria. Many people on the streets returned to their homes, fearing being caught in the storm. Hypatia could feel the shift in the wind as a strong gust blew in from the mountains. Undisturbed by the clouds and the wind, she held her head high in the face of the storm and rode on through the streets of her beloved city, taking in all its unique and extraordinary grandeur.
Only ninety meters away from the library doors, Hypatia pulled back hard on her rains, making the horse rear and, nay stopping in the middle of the street. Hundreds of men in dark cloaks suddenly appeared as if summoned by sorcery surrounding her from all sides. Hypatia thought about trying to run through the mob of men. She might be able to make it; they hadn't completely encircled her yet but being a woman of reason and not of violence, she called out to the crowd and demanded they state their intentions.
"Hypatia!" Archbishop Cyril bellowed from the center of the mob, easily spotted by his black cloak's red and gold lining. "You stand before the righteous hand of God! Confess to your sins now so that you might be saved."
"Whose God are you referring to, Cyril? Alexandria is not governed by one God, as we allow all faiths and beliefs here so that we may learn and prosper from each other's teachings. As for your other question, I have no sins to confess, not to you or any man here!" Hypatia said, addressing the mob as if she were giving a lecture and looking straight at Cyril.
"There is only one true God, and you have offended him with your witchcraft that you stand accused of. What have you to say of these claims against you?" Cyril said, making a broad sweeping gesture as if he was giving a sermon, but Hypatia thought more accurately that it was more of a trial and execution case than something you would see in church.
"I am not a witch, so these accusations are false, and your actions here are unwarranted. I know that you fear me because of the influence you believe I have over men, but I have no such influence. I am a lover of wisdom. I am a teacher and student of music, mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. My beliefs and teachings can be applied to all religions because mathematics has a spiritual aspect to them. After all, numbers are the secret language of the Universe, where your God presides. "Hypatia stood tall and strong in front of the mob of what she calculated to be about five hundred cloaked men. All had come here for her. "Alexandria is full of free thinkers who come together to share knowledge and to make tools to advance our people and way of thinking."
Hypatia pulled out her golden astrolabe showing and explaining it to them. She knew that most of these men probably could not read, let alone understand how you could use the stars to tell time and measure mountains. The men looked afraid and awe struck at the same time. Many of them looked unsure of what to do. Hypatia had been told before that she had a way of explaining the most complex ideas that made it easy to understand and that she could turn a crowd's beliefs on what they thought was a fact was false by merely explaining and then showing with drawings in the sand or demonstrations. Hypatia thought she was turning the tide of men as many looked to one another for clarification on what they should do.
"Do not listen to this witch, men, or else she might cast a spell on you as she did the Governor Orestes. A god-fearing man like the rest of us taken in by her, tern zealot and made an attack on one of my men this morning defending her." Cyril said, pointing at Hypatia. "Now the Governor is with God because of her. So do not be fooled by the golden apple that she tempts us with now. That tool is clearly used for divination and dark magic. How else would a woman know so much if she did not make a packet with the devil?!"
"No, listen to me, listen to reason…." Hypatia said, but her words fell on deaf ears as the mob started to yell and scream obscenities. Suddenly, at Cyril's command, the mob had ceased the chariot, stabbing and killing Hypatia's pure white horses.
Men from all sides pulled Hypatia from her chariot, taking all her possessions and stripping her naked in the city streets for all to see. The men and women still in the city streets and saw what was happening fought to free Hypatia but were subdued or killed by the mob. Cyril approached Hypatia like a snake slithering its way through the mob of men straight towards her. Caressing her face in his hand Cyril offered Hypatia one last chance at life if she would denounce her pagan ways and be baptized a Christian here and now in front of all to see. Then she could live the rest of her life out in exile in Alexandria.
"Knowledge is power," Hypatia said in response.
"I am the only spiritual authority and power on earth now," Cyril said pulling out of his cloak, a purple shell from the sea. He used the shell as the rest of the mob did to peal the flesh from Hypatia's body, skinning her alive. The mob became grotesque in their extreme act of violence, the men's faces and dark cloaks becoming demon-like in their expression and lust for blood. Seeing it only fueled their bloodlust, and in a rage, they tore Hypatia's limb from limb scattering her head, arms, legs, and torso across the city and then setting them on fire.
Hypatia did not scream or cry while she was skinned and disembodied alive. No sound left her lips after her final words to the world.
The mob spread out through all of Alexandria burning its prized library and making sure none of Hypatia's teachings survived the fire; they did not want anyone else to be tempted by her foul instructions. They moved through the streets, toppling the limestone pillars and granite statues to dust. All of what made Alexandria extraordinary, the one-of-a-kind artwork, and the library's vast store of knowledge were all destroyed and burned by the rage and hatred of men. Hypatia, the true jewel of Alexandria, the symbol of power, influence, and change; the city's heart was gone, and that was the truest tragedy. Ultimately, the death of Hypatia sealed the destruction of what was Alexandria and the fall of free thinking in all the Eastern Roman Empire.
"Show Me Your Power" | Kyler Aaron
Paul Landon Casey’s trial was currently the biggest news in Beaumont, even drawing the spotlight of the national media. Twenty-three missing persons had been connected to him, but what was odd was the fact that the district attorney was having trouble making any evidence stick to him. Having a strong alibi on hand for twenty-three different nights seemed damning on its own, but the blatancy of it must be why he smirked so much in the courtroom.
Adam Bradley was personally selected as co-counsel by Harrison Pritchett; as in Pritchett & Caulson—one of the most prestigious law firms in San Antonio. Pritchett had recruited him from the prosecutors’ office after his firm came away embarrassed from a case fought against him four years ago. He initially rejected the offer, saying he was satisfied with his current job, but he came around a few months later. Pritchett told him he knew that he would. Nobody could turn down such a large raise, not to mention the status that the firm would bring him. Now, because of the national attention, Pritchett had volunteered the firm pro bono for Casey’s trial, leading the defense himself. “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” he had said. “If we can get a serial murderer off, that shows our clients we can get anybody off.”
The trial so far had gone extraordinarily well. Though it ran long, prospects for complete acquittal were not out of the question. The week of closing arguments, Harrison Pritchett had to return to San Antonio to attend to some business with the firm. He entrusted Adam, whom he had been keeping close as an apprentice of sorts ever since recruiting him, with delivering the closing remarks. With the way it had gone up until that point, whatever he said would be more or less inconsequential. If he was found guilty, Casey would surely face the death penalty, but such a verdict was all but out of the question.
Standing in front of the jury, all he could think about was Marcus Levitt. He looked over at the prosecutor’s table, remembering himself in that seat while the man on the other side wept upon hearing his verdict. It was the only other capital case he had worked. Being back in the same town, in the same courtroom that he hadn’t returned to since made it all the more real. According to the state of Texas, Levitt had killed his nine-year-old daughter. Adam had crafted a very convincing argument to back up that claim despite the weakness of the evidence he had to work with. Even without a body, he had a talent for craft and delivery that filled in all the gaps—he probably could have convinced the Pope that Christ himself had killed her. He was definitely one who made the most out of his years in law school. He felt he had to, given that he moved across the country to attend the most prestigious one that would accept him. He had been so busy that he didn’t even meet his niece until she was almost two years old. And while other guys his age were learning how to get girls into bed, he was perfecting the skill of drawing up an unassailable argument. Put the right lawyer in front of a jury, he had learned, and a crime could be attached to any face. Especially in a town like this, with the face of a black man. Levitt took the needle later that year.
In the weeks following the verdict, Adam was finding uncertainties a lot more difficult to deal with. Even the more mundane cases caught him up in debates about whether to even pursue charges. People around him were starting to say he had gone soft, but he knew that there was much more to it. Looking for a way to get his edge back, he remembered the job that the lawyer from San Antonio had offered him. At first he didn’t want to sell out, but after that trial, maybe, he thought, it was time to fight against people like himself.
Being back in the same courtroom, Adam felt the same kind of unease that he did after sending Marcus Levitt off to die. He found himself leaving out refutations to certain arguments the prosecution made. When he caught himself letting his argument weaken, he looked back to Paul Casey, who had dropped the smirk, feeling the man’s eyes fixed on him. He couldn’t tell if he had done it on purpose, but from there he wrapped up his remarks and sat back down. Casey didn’t look at him.
After the jury went out to deliberate, Adam went outside to sit and watch cars drive by. Not long after, he was notified that Paul Casey wanted to meet with him. Up until that point, he had only done so with Harrison there taking the lead. Even then, he had barely interacted with him directly. For that case, he had been content with attending as more of an assistant for Harrison. Casey vehemently denied everything, but something about that smirk that came with it put Adam off.
That same smug face was awaiting him when he walked in the room. “Mr. Casey,” Adam nodded at him, setting his briefcase on the table. Paul didn’t say anything, just kept watching with an unchanged face.
“Where’s my lead council?” he finally said, not breaking eye contact. Adam looked down at the papers he was organizing in front of him, though there wasn’t anything he needed to reference yet.
“Mr. Pritchett had to return to San Antonio this week. He has a law firm to run.” “So formal, aren’t we?” he said, “Put the papers away, we’ve basically already won, right?” He waited for an answer, but didn’t get one. “Why so cold, Adam? I don’t know that you ever looked me in the eyes until your closing arguments today.” Adam left his papers out.
“What did you want to meet about, Mr. Casey?” Paul squinted slightly and tilted his head just a few degrees. His smile widened subtly.
“Oh come on, can’t we be friends?”
“I’m not friends with murderers,” Adam said. Paul chuckled.
“Isn’t your whole job to prove I’m not a murderer?” He leaned in closer and lowered his voice. “Well, I guess in reality it’s no secret. We all know I did it. But these courts aren’t reality—just a big game. You know that though, only the smartest players win.” Adam wanted to prove him wrong, but he couldn’t think of a way to refute it. “Don’t let appearances fool you, I’m the most powerful person in that courtroom.” He gleamed, leaning back comfortably into his seat.
“You didn’t look very powerful in handcuffs.” Paul laughed loudly. It was the most he’d shown of himself that whole time.
“A formality,” he said. “Makes them think they’re in charge. That's all part of it. Everyone thinks it’s so hard leaving no evidence. Anyone can do that. What’s really difficult is giving them just enough so they think they’ve got you. Enough evidence to point, but not enough to show.” He beamed with satisfaction in his cleverness. “Every one of them pointed back to me. I made sure of it. But now they don’t have enough to get me on it, and now they never will. Even if I sign a written confession, you know they can’t try me again.” He laughed again. “Oh, I love the fifth amendment, don’t you?”
“That’s not what it was made for.”
“But that’s what I made it for. I told you I was powerful. Not even the judge has that much power over the law. He’s subservient to it, I do with it what I please.” Paul leaned in again. “I’ll let you in on a little secret though. Not much they can do about it now anyway.” He got even quieter. “There was only one that got away from me. Should have been twenty-four counts against me, but they never found the body like they were supposed to.” His pupils went small, making his eyes look gray and intense. “I had to go back and get rid of it after it had been too long. Too messy. Too many loose ends.” His face relaxed and even his smirk returned. “But it’s okay now, the situation fixed itself. Her dad went down for it.” Adam was caught off guard.
“Are you talking about Marcus Levitt?”
“Yes, I think so. You knew him?” He smiled as if he could see Adam’s blood boiling through his skin. “Small world!”
“He died because of you!”
“Yeah, I wish I could have been in the room to watch the poor bastard eat it.” Adam stood up suddenly and almost couldn’t resist the impulse to slam Paul’s head into the table. “Careful there, Adam. Don’t lose your temper. What are you gonna do anyway, kill me? Right here?” He scoffed. “I bet you don’t even have it in you.”
“I hope they put you down so you can rot in hell.”
“Oh come on, we both know that won’t happen. Might as well just do it yourself. You’d love how it feels, holding control of an entire future in your hands. Feel the skin get hot, flushed with blood getting trapped in their fading face as you squeeze that future away.” He almost started panting, like he was getting aroused. Adam didn’t know whether it was the talk of violence, or that he could tell he was stoking the fire in Adam’s eyes.
Just then they were summoned back to the courtroom. The jury was done deliberating. “That was fast,” Paul said. “Good news, I hope?” he turned to Adam as if he would answer.
When the presiding juror read out the verdict of not guilty, Paul Casey gleamed like he was accepting an Oscar. Adam sank in his chair. He didn’t know why he should have been expecting otherwise. Everything else in the courtroom faded into the background except for Paul turning to him and saying, “It’s been a pleasure, Mr. Bradley,” before walking away to his release. The closer he got to the door, the faster Adam’s heart beat. He went through his head trying to think of something he could do to keep him there. He almost stood up and called out to the judge, revealing the confession Paul had given about the murder of Sohpia Levitt, but what good would that do?
Over the next few weeks, he thought about Paul constantly. He wondered if he had killed anyone else yet, when he would strike again, who else had to die for him. He kept replaying every scene of the trial, thinking about what he could have done to lose the case and screw the bastard over.
But more often he would think about killing him. He even thought about taking a page from his own book—orchestrating the situation so it could be pointed to him, but he would inevitably be acquitted. However he decided that only someone as cold and narcissistic as Paul Casey could do that, so when he did murder him—when he drove back to Beaumont and showed up at Paul’s house, beat him bloody with a tire iron, leaving just enough life in him so he could wring the rest out of his throat while he looked him in the eyes—he drove his limp, broken corpse, bleeding in the back seat of his car, straight to the police station. As he came out with his hands on his head, getting pushed to the ground and cuffed, he thought about the look in Paul’s eyes. Even then, they were calm, almost glinting, saying, “See, doesn’t it feel good?”
"Thy Flesh Become One" | Collin Manolovitz
It's been seven years since I learned the truth. Seven years since my life was turned upside down. It is only now that I realize how much simpler things were when I was a child. Playing with the neighbor’s kids late into the night, attending school every day, and living with my two loving parents. Living in ignorance was a wonderful feeling. My life was almost divine. That was until I learned the truth. The truth that my parents had hidden from me. The truth that all of humanity had known since the turn of the millennium. The truth that there was a greater purpose for us all.
“What would you say if we told you that humanity wasn’t whole?” That was the question my parents had proposed to me. I remember being confused by it. It was an odd thing to ask a child. They posed another question, “How would you make it whole again?”
My confusion turned to fear. I had no idea what they were talking about. I asked if they were pulling some joke on me. They were not. They sat me down and began to elaborate further: Since the dawn of this millennium, a new movement had made its way to the world stage. Their goal was to reunite humanity as one being. Instead of humanity, there would only be the Human. A single entity that would supposedly combine the billions of people living on Earth. None of humanity's problems would exist after their assimilation into the Human.
With such an alluring promise, millions flocked to the movement, and the movement’s ideals spread like wildfire. In a single year, it had overtaken the largest religions across the globe. It was also around that time that it was unveiled. Through trials and tribulations, the Human had finally been born into our world. My parents then brought out an old VCR player and tape to show me the same news broadcast that so many had seen on that day. The screen flicked on with a single camera pointed down into a dark pit. A narrator explained that 100 people from the Movement had been chosen for their exemplary devotion to creating the one Human.
“These chosen 100 are the first to become one!” The narrator joyously exclaimed.
The camera zoomed in for a closer look at the putrid entity lying at the bottom of the pit. For something called “Human,” one would expect it to look more… human. The being possessed numerous misshapen mouths that were all stitched shut to stop the thing from screaming. Its arms and legs protruded from every part of its body, all of them violently shaking as if sick. Its skin was colored like mucus and was thin enough to see through. While composed of 100 people, the intestines of it looked far from human. And while its mouth was permanently shut, it still managed to breathe somehow. It was the one sound that anyone could make out from the Human. A high-pitched inhale, followed by deep thunderous coughing. Then there was the eye… that fucking eye. The Human possessed a single, monstrous eye. It was bloodshot, milky, and held its gaze on whatever was moving within sight. To this day, that damnable eye still haunts my dreams. My parents removed the tape and placed a new one into the old VCR. The new tape explained what had happened after the Human’s unveiling. According to it, the governments of the world held a gathering to discuss the monstrosity that was broadcast around the world. It was unanimously decided that all governments globally would denounce the movement and creation of the Human. Once it was made known that this was the intention of every government in every country, the movement declared war. Not on the countries of the world, but on humanity itself. Thanks to the movement’s enormous and loyal following, they began subjugating countries one by one. In a single year, the movement had total control over the entire planet. My parents once again removed the tape and continued explaining the truth to me. Things didn’t change much after the movement rose to power, but one new law was decreed by the movement.
“On the day of your 60th birthday, you will be selected to join the true Human!” Those were the words my parents spoke to me while grinning ear to ear.
I remained silent. They stared at me with their detestable smiles as if expecting me to rejoice in this new knowledge. I said nothing to them. I never spoke with them the same after that. I despised them for telling me the truth. I despised them for thinking I could handle the truth. I wanted nothing to do with them anymore. So, on my eighteenth birthday, I left them. I didn’t tell them that I was leaving. I didn’t want them to know where I was. To this day, I still hate my parents. I hate them, I hate the movement, and I hate that fucking eye in that dark pit. Its single eye that cut through me like I was nothing to it. I wasn’t even there to see it, but it felt like it saw me. Why do I have to become one with something like that?! What's to stop me from just hiding from it? The movement can’t force me to join that thing if they can’t find me, right? … no. They would find me. If they could conquer the entire planet in a single year, they could find me. No place would be safe from them.
The only place they wouldn’t bother to look would be down in the pit that their Human lives in. The Human. The Human. THE HUMAN. That thing in the pit. It's just sitting down there, growing with every person added to it. It doesn’t move or do anything really. And it's not like many go near it except when people are thrown into it. Hell, the thing isn’t even well-guarded. What's to stop me from seeing it for myself? It isn’t an unheard-of thing. Everyone wants to see it, and plenty travel to pray before it anyways. It's not suspicious at all if another devout follower wants to see it. Yeah, yeah that could work. I’ll go and see that thing with my own eyes. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll give it something. A gift, from its most loyal follower.
It's here. It's really here. Down in a pit in the middle of nowhere, that's where it resides. Nobody and nothing for miles in every direction, all except for this thing. The hole seems larger than when I saw it in the video. I can’t hear its breathing for some reason, but maybe that's a good thing. Maybe I don’t have to do this, but the only way to know is to get closer. The guard railing is only a few steps away now. The closer I get, the deeper I can see into it. I grasp the railing with my two hands and edge closer. I look down. Darkness. Nothing but pitch black in there. I still can’t hear the thing either. Maybe the other side has a better angle. The hole is roughly the length of a football field in diameter, so it takes a minute to get there. Still nothing. Well shit, now what? I didn’t bring a flashlight with me.
I began walking back to where I came from when I noticed a small wooden box near the guard railing. I pick it up and flip it around to find some words covered in dirt. I rub it a bit so I can read the writing on it. “Glow Sticks”. Surely, they still wouldn’t work after sitting here for all this time. I crack one hard, and it lights up with a bright orange coloring. I toss one over the railing. It slides down the edge, and is lost in darkness. I move around to the other side and slide another down, also consumed by the pit. I pull out my “gift” that I brought along with me. The only way this works is if I see the thing. I could slide in there… that's the only way to know if it's even there. Not like the thing can move anyways. Screw it, I can’t live without knowing if it's down there or not.
I jump over the railing and slide down through the darkness. The light from the sun soon fades away, and I am only left with the cool orange light grasped firmly in my hand. The soil under my hand and legs begins to feel moist and cold as I slide deeper into the pit. Finally, I begin to see the other glow sticks at the bottom of the pit, but nothing seems to be near them. I land hard on my rear as the sliding ends. I stand up slowly, still trying to get my bearings. I look around. Nothing. Maybe it isn’t here. Maybe it never was. I step into darkness, trembling from the cold, and from fear. Then I hear it.
It's breathing. Not only that, but I can feel the wind around me being sucked toward it. Moments pass. Then the whole pit shakes several times. That must be the exhaling. I move slowly now. Each new step sounds louder than any other before it. I can see it now: beating, like a heart. I can see the blood moving through its thin skin. I take out another glow stick and throw it near the thing. It doesn't like that. It begins to turn. The legs and arms from the bottom of it kick and beat the ground in an effort to turn. That's when I see it. The inhuman eye, bigger than me. I stare at it, and it stares back. Peers into me. I can feel its gaze within my very being. It wants me.
Before I know it, the thing has come so close to me I can touch it, or rather it can touch me. I feel its arms grab hold of me, but the eye already had me. From a faraway camera, I remembered hating it. But in front of it, I'm struck with despair. When a being of such caliber peers into you, it’s hard not to tremble before it. The arms pull me in.
We were cold at first, but warmth soon falls over us. We were no longer afraid of us, so we embraced us.