My God, Chapter 9

[Editor’s note: found this post from September of 2016. Posting what I had. Still figuring out the names.]

[Previous Chapter]

Zeke met up with me at a bar in downtown Cedar and we drank for a while. This was, in his words, a prerequisite for meeting one’s advisor’s god. We then did shots of a horrible liquor made from a boiled Europan fish.

That was a requirement for meeting my advisor’s god.

We stumbled out of the bar, made our way through the transfer booth, and walked out somewhere cold, dark, and windy. We found ourselves standing on a dark plain, a pitch-black cliff bordering it on one side, the transfer booth the sole feature of this lifeless world. In the base of the cliff, a short walk away was an opening, a spot where the cliff cracked and opened a fissure into itself.

“Herge is a weird fuck. Don’t let him get to you,” Zeke stage-whispered, then pushed me in the direction of the fissure. “See you back home!”

I threw Zeke a rude gesture and then he was gone. I’m alone on the plain. A bright green moon shines upon the flat around me, but I doubt its light reaches too far into the mountain. I push a button on the watch Jamie gave me and an iridescent mist puffs out, then transitions to a region above my head, illuminating the area in my vicinity.

“What’s the worst that could happen,” I say to no one in particular and started off in the direction of the fissure.

“It’s just the godlike entity who shares a common origin and purpose as one of the stranger professors in the University, probably one of the stranger people in the entire sim, big deal.”

I got to the fissure and walked through it, a long natural passage of stone that disappeared into the mountain. The floor sloped down ever so slightly. The illuminating fog above me showed cracks in the walls, but nothing else. No plants, no insects, not even moisture seemed to survive in this world. The place was dry and dead. The walls closed in and widened at random, though on average the path was always wide enough to admit just three or four people walking abreast. I don’t think it was ever that busy here.

After a few minutes I walked out into an open area. The illumination fog couldn’t reach the ceiling, or any walls beyond the one I just walked through. I was standing on a wide platform or an outcropping. The edge was sharp and I approached it cautiously.

I looked around, but could see no way forward. The ledge was the end of the road, the path had simply terminated in thin air.

There was no set time for this appointment, so I sat down on the edge, feet dangling over the abyss, and looked around.

 

A swipe of the finger across the face of the watch increased the intensity of the illuminating fog. The cavern’s ceiling came into view and showed itself to be rather boring-looking. No stalactites, not a single bat, the world continued its bleak and boring existence.

There was a far wall, directly opposite me, but it dropped away and faded into the darkness. The bottom, if there was one, was far beyond the reach of my light-source.

Cave of wonders this wasn’t. At home, if someone created a setting like this, it meant they didn’t care or weren’t trying. This would have been a cave where one didn’t expect visitors to linger, a flyover country, the unfinished or never-started level of a game.

There was always purpose to building. The shrine Jamie took us to see was austere, but even that had more personality. It looked like someone actually put in effort into the spartan design, the simple contours that blocked the sunlight in just the right ways, conveying a sense of peace and simplicity. I sensed none of that here.

The god sense was still something I was learning to hear and recognize. It now whispered in my ear, a faint urging.

I turned down the illumination fog to its earlier brightness and watched the walls and the ceiling disappear once again into the void. I closed my eyes.

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