Wandering in the Desert

This story was inspired by recently reading some Lovecraft stories once again, combined with somewhat of a similar experience of my own to those told here. Obviously very different, but certain similarities exist.

I believe few know of the darkness that can be made visible by the simple drink we know as alcohol.
Alcoholics, I am sure, have viewed some small portion of this, but nothing compared to the indescribable horror I have experienced.
I had, once, enjoyed a brief affair with the accursed liquor, but had since begun a opium habit that, while minor, was enough to destroy almost entirely my sensitivity to alcohol.
While I was in the midst of the early stages of my opiate exploration, I felt no desire for alcohol whatsoever, but as time grew on my wish to imbibe that drink grew too.
Not knowing yet to what effect my use of opium had changed the effectivity of alcohol on my person, I took what would once have  been a quite substantial dose of it, only to find with much disappointment that it was ineffective.
A short while later, I tried again, this time with a greater quantity, but still, nothing. Again and again I tried, with ever increasing amounts, but I profited not from my trials.
I gave it a rest at that point, whether by conscious decision or merely by a general tiredness and hopelessness at the previous trials I cannot say.
I lapsed back into my habitual use of opium, which, I thought, I preferred much over alcohol anyway.
Some fair amount of time passed, probably on the degree of four or five months, before I ventured to try again.
I had resolve, this time, that I would not underestimate the dosage. I procured a vast amount of grain alcohol and began.
A short while in I, with some degree of excitement, began to feel the effects. I drank more, and more, hoping to further this feeling, but only began to get tired and heavy.
Determined to finish the allotted amount, I continued drinking. My stomach rebelled against me but I held it down.
At this point my memory begins to fail me, fading in and out with only snapshots to aid me in remembrance; a knocked over bottle, stumbling towards my bed, intense nausea.
Despite being obviously very deep in the grasp of the ill effects of the liquor, I got none of the enjoyment I remembered once having so long ago. But ne’er could I have extrapolated from that feeling of sickness the horrors that awaited me.
I have said already that an extreme tiredness and heaviness had taken hold of me. This only grew with time until I could scare hold myself on my hands and knees and was forced to resort to sliding along on the floor, although that too was a major effort to accomplish.
I wished to climb atop my bed to sleep, but try as I might, I failed. I decided, out of there being no other option for it, to sleep on the floor beside my bed. I dragged down my pillow and blanket from my bed and attempted to fall asleep right there, leaving the candle on my bedside table to burn as long as it may.
The tiredness had now met a previously unparalleled level, and I expected to pass out nigh instantly, but found instead that I was suddenly overwhelmed with a nervous restlessness I could not explain. My body and mind longed desperately for sleep but some terrible thing held me back.
Oh, in hindsight, how dearly I wish I might’ve slept then and been spared the sight of those things. I believe at the time and in my then present state of consciousness I could not entirely comprehend their presences but thinking back on that time brings such a terror into my heart that I can barely describe.
The ceiling in front of me, as I laid on the ground in a nerve-wracking stupor, split apart and gave view into the starry sky.
But it was not our sky that I saw before me. Not our common Orion and Pisces did I see but foreign constellations that hinted at impossible creatures that brought into my mind dark memories of forgotten nightmares.
I looked to my floor around me but it was gone, as were the walls, now. All I had left was my pillow and blanket. In my much formative years I would’ve huddled under my blanket as if it were some talisman that could keep me safe from whatever laid outside, but no longer, as much as I wished dearly for something that could do that still.
I hated this new land I found myself. Nothing was strange, technically, but perhaps it was the way the warm breeze blew over me… An unsettling humidity, dampness, dankness that floated by on that wind… It chilled me to the bone despite the temperature.
I was laying on my floor as I had been, I realized. Everywhere around was gone, but the section I had been on remained. All else was sand, endless sand as far as I could see. I stood up, leaving my small section of polished wooden planks, blanket, and pillow behind, and watched them fade and dissolve into the surrounding sand.
The thought crossed my mind, then, that I must be dreaming. But dreams had no beginning or end, merely a fading in and out of consciousness into a preexisting new reality. But this had a beginning. Furthermore, I still felt the same sickness and heaviness as I had before, though it was enough less so that I was able to function in at least a partial manner.
I shivered as the same wind passed through me again, or I through it.
Nothing else to do, I began walking. The wind and strange stars were my only companions, and harsh ones they were at that.
I walked for hours, it seemed, with no change in my surroundings. Little evidence there existed that showed any progress of my walking, aside from the ever-lengthening trail of footsteps behind me.
After quite some time, though, something finally happened; just as I was beginning to debate taking a break, I saw something or someone some small distance away. I do not know how I had not seen them before this moment, unless they had suddenly fallen into this world in much the same way I had.
I let out a yell to my new companion, and began running towards him with renewed vigor. He saw me, it seemed, and turned towards me. Before he could begin coming towards me, though, some… I dare not even say creature because I feel that gives it too much of a naturalistic background… I must use the word “thing” as it is the only word that comes to me at this time to describe this monstrosity… this thing shimmered into existence right behind the man.
As I have said, it bore no similarity to anything seen before by myself, not in the slightest. To compare it to the vague image the word “monster” invokes would be folly, for it is beyond imagining. It itself is almost beyond seeing.
If some similar creature appeared in our world, it would be seen, by those who would not immediately flee and try to purge it from their minds – aye, the number would be few if at all – as some strange mutated member of the order of Octopi. But it was much more than that – it had claws, and black teeth, and sixteen eyes, and so much more my mind has mercifully forgotten.
This thing, as I said, appeared behind the man. He had barely begun turning to look at it when one of the tentacles of the beast wrapped around his body, pinning his arms to his sides, and pulled him into the blackened – whether by nature or much use, I know not – hole of a mouth it had. The man had not even a chance to scream.
I suppose I must’ve started running away at that moment. My mind was in a haze of shock and horror, and I cannot fully recall my thoughts – if I had any at all – or actions from that time.
Sometime in my running, I must’ve looked behind me, because I remember that it was no longer behind me. I do not know whether the creature had seen me at all, and I dearly hoped it had not. In any case, the creature had vanished as quickly as it had appeared, and I was glad for that, though I could not help but wonder if it may at some point detect me, as it had for that other man, and eliminate me in much the same manner.
That man. For some reason, I had a more clear picture of him in my mind than I remembered seeing at the time. He appeared in my memory much the same age as me, a Caucasian male, and he looked in that brief moment as bewildered by his surroundings as I had been. But something was odd about him, I thought. I scrutinized that memory with all the force I could muster. It began crumbling away in my mind as soon as I began doing so, but a moment before it vanished utterly, I realized what it was.
His left eye was closed. It had always been closed, the entire time I had been looking at him. I knew not why this had struck me as odd, truly, but for some reason it resonated with the sort of timbre in my mind that hinted at significance.
I lifted a hand up to my face, at first not realizing what I was doing, and saw the hand in front of me. But only half of the image that should be. The hand touched where my left eye should be, and I felt only my eyelid.
I moved my left eye, with some struggle, and felt the small bump of the anterior chamber, filled with aqueous humor, move around beneath my eyelid.
I lowered my hand, and tried to open my eyelid. It would not lift. I could feel the small muscles around the area strain against whatever curse held it shut, but it would not budge. I lifted my hand once more and gingerly began trying to manually open the lid. It felt as though it was weighed down by something, something terribly heavy, but eventually I succeeded in opening it.
I was at once in two places. Through my right eye, I saw the same dismal desert as before, but, through my left, there was a blurry haze that retreated into a scene of my room. I looked down, disoriented by the clashing images in my mind, and saw the blanket and pillow as they had been before I had collapsed into them and fallen away into this desert world.
If I thought looking down had been disorienting, it was nothing compared to the dizzying images that confronted me when I attempted movement. It appeared as though movement in either world – which was real, now? – happened in both.
I set my teeth and prepared myself to move again. I proceeded to walk in a straight line through the desert, as I had been beforehand, and only realized too late that there was a wall in my bedroom – I walked straight into it, mashing my face against the plaster-covered bricks. The air in front of me was open in the desert, but try as I might, I couldn’t even put my hand in front of myself, it just bumped, futile, against the wall in my room.
A sudden image of a mime popped into my head as my hands felt the wall in front of me and I saw them pressing against an invisible wall in the desert. I laughed a little to myself, but the action made me suddenly ill. I sat down in both worlds until my stomach ceased its heaving, then stood up again, my legs shaking. They calmed their quivering and I, focusing on my bedroom-eye, walked towards the door.
Navigation was incredibly difficult, similar to the stumbling that ensues after a long night of drinking. Nevertheless, I made my way through the door and into my living room. I collapsed onto the couch that was there, and was struck by another humorous realization as I saw I was sitting on air in the desert.
The desert was flat and virtually endless, as I have said before. After resting on the couch for some time, I decided to attempt to do something. I was hungry, ravenously so, now, and took it into my mind to make some toast.
I walked into the small room I had as a kitchen, and began the very well-known process of making toast.
I began eating it once it was finished, and felt my stomach mellow further, though not completely. A thread – or dozens of threads – of nausea wove itself through me in all I did, complemented by the drunken disorientation I mentioned before. I said it must’ve been due to seeing and navigating two worlds at once, and I am, indeed, sure this played some part of it, but in my physical motions I was completely, utterly, drunk.
I sat on the couch for some time, trying to relax and calm myself from everything I had seen and still was seeing. A thought popped into my mind at some point; while I had been asleep in the “real” world, I had still been moving in the desert world. The only difference had been that my eyes – or eye – was closed.
With no small amount of effort, I closed my left eye again – the same force that had wanted to keep it closed in the first place now seemed to wish to keep it open.
Now fully in the desert world, I stood up and began walking around, further than I was sure my floors extended and beyond where the walls of my house be.
Opening my left eye again – it seemed that every time, the effort required lessened -, I found that I was still sitting on the couch, with no small amount of excitement. This meant I could focus my movement in one world or… the other.
This train of thought stopped briefly at the station of my mind and I barely glimpsed the potential depth of it.
If I could block out the world I had always known, I would be able to block out the desert world, no? Still sitting on the couch, I tried to close my right eye, but it refused to shut. I tried forcing it down as I had done for opening the left, but it would not budge. I realized with a shock that I didn’t remember blinking the entire time I had been there.
The ground shuddered under me… No, it did not shudder. The sand shifted and flowed out in waves from some epicenter I did not see, the force of which tried to knock me over. I scrambled to gather my footing once again and instinctively began running in the same direction as the retreating waves, only looking behind me once I was some small distance away.
That same thing as before stood behind me. I cannot say that it was looking at me, because each of its sixteen-odd eyes looked in a different direction but I had no doubt that its focus was centered on me. The tremendous metabolism of its hulking body required frequent feeding, or perhaps it merely enjoyed slaughtering confused explorers of this land, or perhaps this was its… function in this world, whatever that could mean.
I began running once again, accidentally leaving both of my eyes open and hitting the wall again. No time to spare for nursing wounds, I closed my left eye – easier and easier to do – and began sprinting as fast as I could, the sand giving way beneath my feet and just barely giving enough of a footing to push off to the next step.
I looked over my shoulder. The thing was gone. I stopped, a spray of sand flying in front of me, and looked around for it.
I felt the slight breeze touch my hair a moment before the deep ripple of sand came to me and knocked me over onto my hands and knees on the sand. I looked upwards in terror, knowing already what I would see.
That creature towered above me, close enough that I could feel a hellish heat radiating from its body. I scrambled back on my hands and feet, starting to turn and regain my footing and run again, knowing the whole time that it was all utter futility – and it grabbed me in its tremendous claws of bone and blood and razor. I saw and felt myself being lifted upwards towards its never-satisfied maw…
And opened my left eye. I do not know whether it was purposeful or not, but that small action the instant before it swallowed my weak body was all that left me here to recount my tale; I was brought into consciousness once again in my old world right before it ended my life in that other world. The pain was… strange. I felt it, truly, but only for a moment, perhaps only until that “consciousness” had been extinguished. But even then, it had felt odd and detached from my true body.
I was left sprawled out in front of the wall I had run into so shortly before, rubbing my nose which had been bleeding, and thinking I did not wish to drink again.

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One thought on “Wandering in the Desert

  1. […] suppose I should’ve done some [probably shorter] snippet about this at the beginning of the previous post. Oh well. Perhaps that’s for the best, because if it had been “[probably […]

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