Forgotten Sepia Photograph

Contributor: E.S. Wynn

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These caves go on forever.

Be seated among the brethren, the memory of an absent light breathes, speaks in eldritch whispers which presuppose that God is not dead.

Be seated. We are at rest.

I avoid the caverns that scream, the caverns that lurk, the caverns that step through the darkness, hunting, waiting just beyond reach, waiting like sharks until a stumble, a blind groping. When they come, they come with teeth. They come to swallow. I flirt with the death therein, touch it, dance away.

I walk the dusty caverns. I pick the depths that open without footsteps, that offer unpolished stone and a gathering of shadows. On and on, these caverns roam, deeper and deeper, dropping into vistas, cities unlike anything on the surface, the sunlit structures that crumble with the slightest glance, prodding touch. There is more to see and understand in the depths than any one man could paw through in a lifetime. There is more in the depths than one mind could hope to hold, but all the cities hold the same statues, the same heroes. I give myself a glance at each, move on.

Occasionally, I find a box shuffled away in a crack, a fissure in the stone walls, and my hope surges. Most are empty. None of them hold water. None of them hold the water I need. None of them bring the manna I hunger for.

In the dark, I shape stones as I walk, drop them when they dull. In my mind, I draw pictures of caverns as they might progress, as they might meander, drop them when they turn to dust at the touch of shadow. Still I walk, still I hope, study, create, ignore the voices that whisper louder and louder with each passing day: you are a fool. Die, fool.

Die, fool!

Alone, I carve my wooden pocket-wand. I shape it as my soul tells me to, cut it and bind it and burn it and etch it until there is nothing left but the wand I see in my mind. Chaos lives here, it whispers to me, and I know that the void which echoes in its voice is the darkness I must rise to avoid. Chaos lives here, it whispers, and I know that the void in its voice is the womb of creation, that birth lies in the hands of annihilation. All around me, the caverns yawn, open. To them, this is ancient knowledge. To them, it is a realization long past.

To me, the past is just beginning. The now is my forgotten sepia photograph.

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E.S. Wynn is the author of over thirty books and chief editor of Thunderune Publishing. Find out more by visiting
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