The night was preternaturally silent and void of its usual disturbances. We’d walked a fair distance from Cnossos and were yet to hear the fluttering wings of an owl swooping down towards an unsuspecting rodent, or the eerie cry of a jackal loitering around the desert in search of a decomposing carcass. There was no moon, so we had to make do with what little light came from the stars.
We attempted to follow the path of the most powerful electromagnetic current. At times I felt like we were going around in circles, probably because most of the subterranean waters which mapped out magnetic lines proceeded in exaggerated zigzag courses. Every so often I would drop to my knees and determine if we were still on course with the aid of a pendulum. I did this by holding the gadget directly above the path in question, waiting for the familiar gyration, and then counting the number of revolutions it traced before coming to a halt. The existence of water was marked by thirty revolutions, a milestone which was also the rate for qualities which you and your peers would consider highly disparate: the cardinal direction of West; the colour green; the marker of age; the moon; the sense of sound; and the element of hydrogen.
Speaking of elements we had to ensure that fire, water, air and earth, and the qualities of hot, cold, wet and dry were all present in some form or another for the experiment to have any sort of chance at succeeding. Their rotation would be facilitated by a light source other than the sun. I say this because our sun is the motive force behind the world of matter alone. A venture of this sort called for the heat of a much more formidable planetary body, the heavenly light of Sopdet, or Sirius. Hers was of an ethereal kind that could accelerate the motive force behind element rotation and spark an interdimensional portal between physical and psychoneotic matter, something which our sun cannot do.
We stopped in what we took to be a virgin cut of desert. We marked out a circle with some pebbles and lay down to rest beside one another in the enclosed space, ensuring that our heads and outstretched hands pointed south and our feet north. Then we relaxed and entered a hypnotic trance, directing our energies towards the region of the solar plexus that so typified ka projection across to other places and into other living things. The energy proliferated quickly, diffusing out of our limbs and gathering like a ball of wool in our abdominal regions. We had to remain in a state of heavy concentration yet resist fragmentation. It was difficult, even for two people who had experienced projection innumerable times before. We weren’t allowed to push ourselves over the edge, or let ourselves be pushed either. Only light from the star’s heliacal rising could infuse us with enough power to break the interdimensional threshold.
Soon we were floating. There was nothing but a whirling sensation as we spun in circles, going faster and faster with each revolution. We sank lower and lower into the infernal regions, closer and closer to death. A rumbling noise came from somewhere below us as the ground gave way. We were dropping, and fast. We splashed into an ocean of violent water. The current into which we fell was strong, stronger than I thought it would be. There was no way I could navigating through it, let alone garner some kind of control over it. I wasn’t even sure if Talos was with still with me, or if an adverse current had carried him someplace else. The noise was now thunderous like a snow storm, like the white noise that came through the television when an analog receiver lost its signal. It blunted my receptive senses, my intuition. Before long the infernal waters formed into a mouth, the mouth morphed into a set of lips, and the lips opened wide to reveal a flickering tongue. I was sucked into this gaping tear, deep into the funnel of darkness. Then there was nothing. I felt, heard, saw nothing.
The first sensation I became conscious of when I awoke was the foul smell; the air was permeated with the putrid stench of urine. There must have been a cesspit nearby. Jerking my head up, I studied the surrounds. It appeared that I was the subterranean someplace, probably a grotto; somebody had covered its walls with pieces of woollen cloth in an attempt to render the place homely. There were urns, jars and other utensils splayed onto the ground, some of which were engraved with beautiful geometrical motifs, including one with which I was quite familiar–the flower-of-life. Some were intact, others smashed beyond recognition. Next to those were human remains; skulls, bones, decomposing carcasses.
Talos, I thought. Where’s Talos? The last I remember were our kas floating upwards as we readied ourselves for projection into the psychoneotic world. Was Talos still with me, around me? Pardon the pun, but was he in me? I couldn’t sense or detect anything, within or without, inside or out.
I tried to speak. I couldn’t. The most I managed was a small croak, as if my vocal cords had been surgically removed with a scalpel. There was a lantern glowing in the distance, so I decided to play detective and investigate. I staggered to my feet and stumbled towards the source of light. The first thing that came to my attention was my height. I was a colossus in stature, nearly as tall as the ceiling. Strange, very strange. I peered down and that’s when I nearly had a coronary. My body was scaly, covered in crumpled folds of skin and my feet terminated in serrated talons.
Perhaps the strangest thing of all was that I had a phallus. Yes, you heard it, a phallus. How could I have a phallus? It was prominent and hung quite low between my legs. Stranger still is that it was endowed with movement; I could move it and not just partially either. I had full control of it like I did my arms or legs. My hands darted straight up and groped around my head. It was somewhat enlarged, or better to say deformed. My snout was bulbous, much wider than what is accustomed for a human. There were small, hornlike protrusions growing out from my temples.
I screamed, but even that came out as a strange bellowing noise. I tried to keep calm, telling myself that it was merely a night terror and I would soon awake drenched in my own sweat. It had to be. I could not, should not, would not have become a monster, a chance freak of the illimitable imagination. Phenomena such as this didn’t just manifest from an attempt at astral projection or even a failed one at that. There was something far more sinister at work here.
Before long I was overwhelmed with pang of hunger which stirred deep in pit of my stomach. The unconscious urge seemed to proliferate, to grow within me in quite the same manner that sexual tension builds up when you haven’t pleasured yourself in days or weeks even. It threatened to possess my entire being because all I could think of was eating. I needed to satisfy my carnal desire, to find my ambrosia. And I knew exactly what I wanted; human flesh.
My eyesight was extraordinarily sharp and transcended the limited spectrum of light frequencies delineating human vision. In fact, it appeared I encompassed the ability to see in longer wavelengths, in infrared. The colour red was my sincerest ally, my lifelong interpreter. I saw, felt, heard, tasted, smelt its many sides, its innumerable faces. It could be fire, heat, the east, youth, the sun, movement, violence or anger. It could be one or two, or the sum of these things, the vital force we call life. Life, or red, resonated from all living bodies.
There were two living humans, a male and a female, amongst the cadavers and other severed body parts that were littered and putrefying on the ground. They both had long, wavy hair and lay huddled behind a clump of rocks, whispering to one another in a language I didn’t know and couldn’t understand. In one of them I made out the contours of the seat of life; the beating heart. They were both shuddering, trying desperately to obstruct my view by hiding behind a wall of discoloured and misshapen bodies. No doubt some had worms in them. I wasn’t really interested in those. Only warm, blood-nourished living flesh would do. Only red.
I let out a spine-chilling ululation and lunged towards the pair, clawing through the rotting heap on the ground. The humans didn’t have any time to react, to scream or even flinch. They didn’t stand much of a chance either. I seized the male by the neck, lifting him one to two cubits off the ground. He writhed and slavered against me, swinging his legs wildly in the air. Our eyes met. His fear was intense, urgent, acute. Before I could smother him, something or someone crashed onto my back. A sharp pain exploded from my shoulder as nails pierced my skin. It was the young woman. She’d adopted an altogether more proactive approach to the situation; she was trying to play saviour and heroine. I reached behind, clamped my hand around her head and squeezed. Her scream was cut short as the cranial bones snapped. I relinquished my grip and her limp body crashed onto the ground.
The struggle was beginning to excite me sexually. It was reminiscent of the manner in which the greatest African predator, the lioness, might toy with a newborn calf that had become separated from its mother before strangling it to death. My phallus pointed towards the ceiling, proud and purpled. I wanted to relieve myself, to beat off with a dozen or so strokes, but any premature release would blunt the growing vortex of excitement. I tightened my grip on the man’s neck. He rasped for breath, desperate to peel my fingers off his throat and loosen the stranglehold. His face was rapidly draining of colour; his will to resist waning. In a matter of seconds I would have my meal, if that.
What ensued next was completely unprecedented. The man attacked me with a weapon, a sharp rock which he’d kept well concealed in his woollen clothes. I lurched back to avoid the counterattack but it was too late. It ended up grazing me just under the jaw. Blood welled from the searing wound. My phallus sprang into action, knocking the weapon from the man’s grasp. I lunged forward and bit into his jugular vein with my serrated teeth. The saline taste of blood sent a powerful electric shock coursing through my body.
Now was the moment of my glory. Now was the time to deliver the final blow, to severe the thinning cord which still connected this hopeless being to its life force. It was a moment which never came. Before I could recover my wits enough to finish what I’d started, everything began to pixelate, to gyrate, to dematerialise. Through no volition of my own, I was sucked back into the whirling vortex from whence I’d come. The whirling vortex tapered into a funnel of darkness and spat me out at the place of the infernal waters. Then I lost consciousness.
I awoke on the desert sands, shivering. Talos was still with me. He was curled on his side, dribbling spit out of the corner of his mouth and mumbling to himself. How long had we been travelling for? I presumed it would have been about twenty to thirty minutes seeing that the heliacal rising of ethereal Sirius lasted no longer than that. The first light of dawn must have zapped our kas back into our physical bodies.
“What happened?” Talos mumbled.
“What do you think happened? We screwed it up,” I said.
“Did you feel the power of its urges?” said Talos. “It had no control over its urges whatsoever.”
“So you were there,” I said. “Literally there. In the flesh there.”
“Yeah, I was with you the whole time,” he said. “Beside you, actually.”
“What was that Talos? Call it what you will, but it was anything but projection to the materia prima.”
“It felt like we went back in time.”
“Forward in time then?”
“Nope,” I said. “How can something like that have ever existed, or come to exist in the future? How credulous of you Talos.” I was surprised at the irony in my own voice.
“Why not?” he asked. “Anything is possible, isn’t it? I learnt that from you Potinija.”
“I don’t think it’s that.”
“Your thoughts for a pendulum then?” Talos smiled.
“I think we tapped into a fantasy of yours,” I said. “One that you’ve been moping on for years.”
“No,” he said.
“Definitely something a man like you would think about Talos.”
His face went scarlet. “You’re wrong.”
“Colours don’t lie.”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” he insisted.
“Well I think you do,” I said, scrambling to my feet. “I’m just glad I came out of that before the big crunch. That was awful.”