A Cautionary Note for the Foot Weary Traveller

Written way back in my early 20’s (think pre 2005) this short story was originally intended as an introduction for a much longer story, but as what often happens, life got in the way and the story never continued. Instead you get this and nothing more. Enjoy.

Excerpt from the Diary of J.R Nash, fellow adventurer through Time and Space.

‘The Worlds that Are’ are both vast and numerous, their wonder and beauty are truly a marvel and for many long lives I have travelled the Gateways between these worlds, exploring each new existence with an unrivalled passion, however…

My recall of that long ago beauty is fading and madness now shadows the dark recesses of my mind.

I cannot escape it and I cannot forget.

There is a darkness waiting, lurking, stalking. It’s calling to me, eating away at my sanity like a murderous cancer, polluting my soul with its ever-increasing malevolence. The only peace left for me, before I join the suffocating confines of my grave, is that others will heed my warning and therefore be saved from the same maddened fate that I now suffer.

 I cannot tell you the tale of my decline; it is an unbearable memory that will die with me, not to be borne by another living soul.

But what I can do, in this rare moment of clarity, is to alert you of these dark places, places that haunt every existence in creation, places that lurk, that wait with a never ending patience for the unsuspecting, the unwary and the sweet innocence that dwells within the ‘Worlds that are.’ It was in such a place, that I lost myself completely and forever.

Sorrow, pain, death, fear… they all are a part of life, an integral part of our existence, yet when coupled with injustice, cruelty, insanity and evil they can create a shadow in the aethereal, one that darkens the very essence of the atmosphere, forever tainting that world with its horror.

Sometimes… just sometimes, it can leak through and stain another world, another dimension.

The pain, the madness, the never ending torment, it builds and spreads into other worlds, overlapping horror after horror; they become one, one place in many.

A place with power… dark evil power. They become alive with it, developing their own eager consciousness and an insatiable thirst for more.

I have so little time left, so please hearken well.

Beware of these places, beware these dark places, you can leave them alive but you cannot survive them. They follow you; they tear your mind a part piece by miserable piece… slowly, methodically.

There is no escape, you can never escape.

Watch for the signs, they are there to behold for those with the knowledge and the presence of mind to watch for them.

The air, you will feel it, as thick as fresh flowing blood, it coagulates, and it corrupts.

In these places the birds do not sing, they watch with a frightening intelligence, strange watchers who haunt the shadows.

And lastly the stillness, fraught with a silence so profound it echoes.

Avoid these places, run from them if you want to live, for a fate far worse than death awaits you if you enter. A fate worse than the most horrid of imaginings… A dark, dark fate…

There is so little time left to me.

‘This was the last entry in the diary of Dr. J.R. Nash; it came into my possession after his sudden disappearance many, many years ago. I have no knowledge of the incident which he mentions in this diary, but it obviously was a curse on his existence, and I have no doubt, that this is the reason for his missing status.

I do not know much of these ‘Dark Places’ but from my research I have found that they are a tear in the fabric of time and space, an overlapping of worlds, dark gateways that are all worlds, and all times. It is hard to be specific, for there is so little knowledge available and I have heeded Dr Nash’s warning and not ventured into one myself, but they ARE actual places, they do exist.

I have in fact managed to locate a Dark Place, and have observed from the safety of distance; however there was little I could learn from merely watching. What I did learn was passed to me from one who had been into the Dark and had returned. She had been changed by this experience, and though a shadow of madness hung about the edges of her aura, she had managed to keep possession of her faculties, and was quite old when I met her. It is her story that I have painstakingly researched over the past years, and while I can only guess at some of the thoughts of the participants, I believe it is a well educated guess.

 And so follows the story of Aeryn’s journey into the Darkness, as accurate and precise as I could make it under the circumstances.