Uncharted Frontier EZine Issue 14, page 1
Uncharted Frontier EZine Issue 14
Copyright 2014 Allan Kaspar
Table of Contents
Merlin: The Mirror and the Monster pt 2 by Richard Lawrence
A Collection of Poetry by David Rutter
Ben Franklin: Time Traveler by Allan Kaspar
Zarathustra’s Bildungsroman by Christopher Ketcham
Merlin: The Mirror and the Monster (pt. 2)
By Richard Lawrence
For those readers who are interested in reading the first part of this story, you may find it in our website archives inside the October 2013 issue. We hope you enjoy the latest in Merlin’s fantastic journey!
Merlin was pensive, no, wrong word, not pensive. Scared, yes that was it, terrified from the tips of his hairs to the soles of his shoes. He had stood up to his father, a being of awesome strength and power; he had stood up to demi-gods and monsters. Creatures of the wild, of legend and of nightmare and never once, not once had he felt a moment of doubt.
He could be immortal if he wanted, he had the power to make gods and demons bow to him, he could rip up mountains by their roots, or paint the sky lilac, simply for his own amusement. There was nothing he couldn’t do, if he just put his mind to it.
But this, this Cthulhu, he knew nothing about it, his father knew nothing about it, there was nothing in even the most obscure writings, nothing in the muttering of madmen or in the dreams of ghosts and ghouls. Nothing, absolutely nothing. How could that be?
His father had the knowledge of ages, he was there when the heavens and earth were created, how could he know nothing? Merlin felt lost, isolated, alone. He was scared, but he needed to know, it was the only way out. He had to face his fears.
He knew he had escaped through blind luck, he knew that the beast was not awake, that it had simply reacted in its sleep. If it woke, my god, if it woke it could storm the houses of the holy, tear down the godhead, the alpha and omega. It would lay waste to the cosmos without a second thought. From what he sensed it was so far beyond good and evil that the terms lost all meaning.
It was power incarnate, amoral to the nth degree. If something, anything stood in its way, it would be obliterated, not out of anger or fury but simply because it was in its way. It would take no more notice than a human treading on an ant and would have exactly the same emotional response, which is to say, none.
Merlin shivered, this being took no notice of gods. The fear crept up his spine like an icy hand.
Merlin looked up, there were his comfortable surroundings, his tower, the tapestries and furs keeping it warm, the fire, crackling away, his books and scrolls and there, on the table, his mirror, the gilt frame, fancifully carved, the brilliant surface, sitting, as if nothing had happened, as if it weren’t the cause of all his torment.
Merlin grabbed it with a snarl of anger and threw it, as hard as he could, against the wall, it bounced off, undamaged. He picked it up again and threw it into the fire. It sat there, mocking him, undamaged. He grabbed it and quickly dropped it again, it was red hot!! He left it on the floor, cooling, he had done his work too well, he couldn’t damage it.
He sat down on the sofa and started to think, deeper and harder than he had ever done. He had to destroy this thing, or if not destroy it; at least contain it so it couldn’t become a menace. But he had no information; he needed to know more about it. That meant the mirror and, of course, Alice.
He went back to the mirror, it was cool now and took it back to his table, propping it against a candlestick so he could sit and still look into it.
He sat down. “Alice,” he said “Are you there, Alice?”
“Alice!” he commanded.
He heard a far-away giggle, the sound of footsteps and, suddenly, the girls’ blonde head poked around the corner of the mirror.
“Merlin,” she said excitedly, “I have been having so much fun, there is so much to see here.”
“I need your help.”
Alice nodded and sat down on the sofa next to him. He glanced to his side, no, of course she wasn’t there, she was in the mirror, Alice saw him and giggled again. Merlin just shook his head, smiling to himself.
“Do you remember the beast in the southern ice?”
Her eyes clouded and she nodded her head, sadly.
“I need to find out more about it, will you help?”
“It could be dangerous.”
“Apart from visiting, the only way is to view deep time and that will push the mirror and your mind to its limits, there are things you are not ready to see.”
Merlin paused. Was this important, he wondered, then nodded.
Out loud, Merlin replied “I understand, but it is something I have to do.”
Alice just nodded, a little sadly “It will take time to go back that far, you command, I will guide.“
Merlin nodded. He expanded the mirror slightly, so he had a better window to look through, calmed his mind and commanded the mirror to start looking back in time.
Alice sat on the edge of the frame, using her will to push the view back, Merlin added his strength and will, the mirror started reeling time backwards, faster and faster.
He watched forests growing in reverse, then disappearing under sheets of ice, he saw humans and the old ones, huddling around fires in their caves. Back, further and further, it was warmer now and vast herds of creatures, unknown to him, thundered around the plains, humans tracking and hunting them. He sensed millions of years had passed and something felt wrong, he shrugged it off.
Suddenly, more ice, more forests and jungles, colder now, stranger creatures and, the ever-present human, still hunting them. Ice again, deeper jungles and, my god, giant lizards, huge monsters, fighting and tearing at each other. And there, on an isolated island, a beautiful city of, what? Humans again. No this was wrong, had to be wrong, humans were not that old.
But the mirror was merciless, the giant lizards got smaller and smaller. More ice, new creatures, strange and unbelievable, crawling back into the seas, the atmosphere changed and became poison, only plants now, primitive, ferns and grasses and ...
No, this was completely wrong, it could not be. There was a dome, a massive glass dome and inside, humans, mixing with the old ones and others, a tiny, hairy one and a massive, huge jawed beast of a human. All human, all different types. Where none should be, they could not exist here. Merlin’s mind reeled.
Back and further back the mirror went, the atmosphere changed again, the planet was a dusty ball under a primitive sky, no plants, no animals just an emerald green sea. Merlin did his best to ignore the humans in their domed cities.
Then, thank god, the humans vanished. What was that? Strange mobile cones of, what looked like, wet, gray leather, the tips of the cones bristling with tentacles and sensors. Merlin had a frisson of fear, there was a moment of recognition, these were very similar to the beast, smaller and less threatening, but very, very similar.
Still time went back, the edges of the mirror were starting the cloud over, Alice was straining hard to maintain the movement and even Merlin was feeling the drain on his resources, he had never felt so tired.
Suddenly, on a ball of blasted, pockmarked rock, streaming with rivers of molten lava, under a primeval, lightning blasted sky, the image stabilised.
“We are here for the start,” said Alice.
Slamming into the land from a direction that couldn’t be determined, impressing itself onto the dimension, was the beast, Cthulhu, in its’ full glory, monstrous and... Merlin couldn’t believe it, the creatu
Eventually, after an eon or so, it settled down, determined to make the most of its prison. Merlin could almost hear it even though the mirror was silent. Cthulhu started to create smaller versions of itself, to act as workers. They built it a palace, the very building Merlin had seen in the southern ice, odd angles, corners where there should be none, unformed shadows and harsh, glaring light. In the centre a large pool filled with a poisonous liquid, not water, thick, viscous and poisonous. Cthulhu slid into it, immersed himself with what seemed to Merlin to be a sigh of contentment.
The small slaves built farms, dug rivers and built seas. Seeding the seas with parts of themselves. These parts grew into the first creatures. Those from which all animals come. But, they needed more. Cthulhu was in his palace and already starting to slow down and sleep, his creatures took to ruling the planet, carving out their own little kingdoms. But, from slaves to rulers, they now needed something to rule and decided to create their own creatures.
Working together, they designed their slaves, two arms, two legs, head and brain. They wanted big and strong as gladiators, strong workers, clever house slaves, nimble farmers. The atmosphere was wrong, so they built domes for the creatures to live in, they sensed, in future time, the air would be compatible for these creatures and they could adapt to anything ...
Merlin was rigid with shock, he had recognised the old ones and, there were humans there, men like himself, designed and created by monsters to be house slaves, of no more use or worth than a pet cat ...
He sat back on his sofa, sweat streaming down his face, Alice was panting on the mirror, which had gone back to just being a mirror.
He looked at her and she looked back “Is that what you needed to hide?” Merlin asked
“That was part of it; the rest is for another time”
Merlin looked pensive.
“What do I do now? The creature can’t be destroyed, I would only wake it, actually, anything I do would wake it, that is something that is to be avoided, at all costs!”
“It will wake eventually,” she said “but, that will be so far in the future, millions and millions of years, mankind may be able to do something about it by then.”
“So, we need to, what, hide it? Make sure no one can find it?”
“It will have to do,” she agreed, “Anything we do to physically move it, or change its’ surroundings will awaken it.”
“Alice, you have my thanks, please, go and have some fun.”
Alice grinned at him and scampered off, back into the mirror, her energy and love of life renewed.
Merlin shut the mirror down and prepared himself some supper. He needed to think and the best way was, yes, sleeping. With that thought, he went to bed.
His dreams were strange. He was standing by a ring of stones, with Bran, trying to explain why they were there. Bran kept looking around claiming he couldn’t see them, Merlin kept pointing at them and trying to explain, but Bran kept saying he couldn’t see them ...
Merlin woke. His mind was an absolute genius. He knew what he needed to do. A shield, subtle and un-noticed, an optical illusion that would mean people couldn’t see it, it needed to be anchored to the beasts’ castle so it would always be there, but he needed a physical barrier as well. Hmm, a land of ice, that could work.
So, he had a plan, make it rain over the castle and cover it in sheets of ice, as thick as he could make it, then anchor the spell to the building. Even if men make it that far, they will ignore the mountain of ice and the creature within.
Finally, he had a plan. He reached for the mirror to start the process. This was going to take time, but the only place men would ever see the thing is in their dreams and nightmares. It would have to do.
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