Something rises in his chest. There is a numbing in his mind, a deep dark nothingness that promises to take him.
It is placid, a vacuum. Bare surroundings, even a bare body. His soul is calm and laying there, for a moment, for a fleeting part of a second he sees it, the end of his journey. The finale of his studies.
Then suddenly, like a rock echoing off the edge of the cave, or a trickle of drop that filters from the dark doom, there is a sound. A resounding thump in the dark, a sound made of his own heart and he jolts upright with a start.
The lights flicker, dulling to a mere glow.
A frown mars his face. His cold gaze crinkles in distaste. For a moment he is content to stare at the ceiling, wallowing in his own self-pity. The dungeons are cold this time of the night. A chill coursing through the air that becomes unbearable. His silken robes shift when he stands, and with another glimpse at the papers scattered on the floor, he leaves.
‘There is an old legend, retold among the aristocrats, under the starry gloom of night, sometimes hidden under the ancient paintings of gargoyles, with their dark beady eyes staring back at them. The legends speak of Mana, a feeling so prolific and profound that it leaves every being breathless. It is a mere feeling; it is what they describe it as, a passing of the alive soul into the very heavens.
It is also a sin so astute, that the offender is left into a loop. An eternal punishment, a ceaseless void.’
He can’t help but snicker at the description in the book. There is a crisp snap of leather, and he leans back on his chair.
It boggles his mind how people consider scientific progress as miracles. Perhaps they can’t understand, or their meager minds cannot encompass the possibilities his people toy with.
He wonders if there will be a tale of the dungeon hidden beneath the sturdy walls of his castle. If the machines, flickering and beeping there will make them wonder, even for a moment, what they can do. What a man can truly achieve.
But they’ve always been small men, with little minds, occupying the colossal offices. To his greatest displeasure, heading them is but a child, dressed in his silken robes. Sitting fragile and docile on the glittering throne, a throne that should’ve been his. They made the laws, none of which make sense. Not in the bigger scheme of life.
His brow furrows, a bitter taste residing in his mouth. He’ll be the one, he had decided years ago, to prove them wrong, to show them the possibilities they were denying, the possibilities science can enfold.
Once, he thinks getting up hastily, once he is successful in this ordeal, once he finds the fragile balance, once he hits the jackpot of that equation, the human world will not be the one as it was before.
In the dimly lit dungeon, his steps hasten to the humongous capsule. His writing is scrawny, scrawled into bits and pieces. His hands work hastily.
There is only one formula, one equation to click this all together.
The world has come far, and somehow it has gone back in its customs. Somehow along with the tidings of time, they had gone back to the shackles of the ancient empires.
Somewhere along the line, the delicate balance, of democracy, of freedom had shattered. Now they were left with much knowledge, but basic laws prevented them from fulfilling its prospects.
They had come far, there had been whispers that one of their ancestors had started this era. One of the royal ancestors had tempered with the delicate threads of space.
One of them had traversed the future, only to abolish the world as they once knew it. It was the reason the king’s family was hailed as sovereign.
It is simple math. The one thing that has always remained constant, in the rich history of this Earth is the fear of a man. Fear of the unknown, a fear of the sovereign, a fear of the almighty.
With this success, he will instill that effluence into his peers. With this research, he’ll achieve the heights of glory no man in this world had ever known.
He will take the place of the king that made this empire.
He will be the one to rule this land.
He will be the supreme, he will be the One.
His scribbles become frantic, his eyes widen, veins bulging in his neck.
He is close, so very close to this mystery. Like a hand grasping the thick edges of the curtains, waiting for a flick to blow them back.
Suddenly he halts.
He stares at the page in front of him.
Before he knows it his feet are rushing towards the master board.
Can his failure only be the result of this minute parallel?
He clicks the button.
His system lights up. Gleaming and shining.
He stares at the electricity crackling in the capsule. His orbs twinkle, his smile turning borderline maniac.
The rays slither across the floor, neon, gleaming.
His hand reaches out.
There is oblivion that surrounds him.
The machines churn. His masterpiece trembles to a start.
Then there is quiet
A whisper, like the flutter of the wind.
Something rises in his chest. This time there is no sound.
For a while, he is divulged into nihilism. For a while, he remains like that. Still, unconscious, delved into the pitch dark. At the crease of the world. At the border of their dimension.
Then there is a rush. His heart pulsates in his chest and he gasps, stumbling forward. He drops to his knees. There is precipitation, drops of salty water that dribble down his chin, and he heaves, trying to pace himself. Trying to stay alive.
His hands clutch the dirt, and it snaps his consciousness back to his surroundings.
Dirt, mud, right beneath his skin.
His head shoots up.
There are buildings, the remains of which he had seen in his time. Those rusted decays, overgrown with mold, yellow in their essence, with cracks shaking up their very foundations.
They stand there, tall and miraculous in their glory. Shining, and gleaming in the diffused rays of the sun.
The air is clean, cleaner than the murk they have in his time, and if he tilts his head back he can see the twinkles of the stars, stretching across the sky.
It is a magnificent scene. The rainbow hues of the setting sun and the moon, a small curve, shimmering beyond his grasp, in the embrace of thousands of the stars, glittering in their home.
A glorious scene, fit for his glorious beginning.
He smiles. His eyes widen, a sickness overtaking his features. His hands finger the syringe.
He couldn’t have brought a knife.
He was not a murderer. It was for a glorious cause. For a better empire.
He takes his time, walking along the cobblestone, strolling along the paths, his lips are curved into a satisfied smile. A smile that barely contained his pride.
He had done his research. He knows where the revolution had begun. He knows of the man that started this all.
All he needs to do is to annihilate him, and the world as they once knew it will fall into his hands.
It will be his line that will take up the throne.
The building he arrives at is pathetic. A miserable structure of red stone, barely holding onto its own seams. The insides are dusty, cobwebs residing in the walls as if it has not seen human life in many moons.
He knows that it is not the case.
He moves into the shadows.
In the last hall, there is a movement that catches his gaze, a small flutter of the rag, that could’ve once been a curtain, and his hands flicker to the drug in his pocket.
His steps are quiet, measured, and his hands’ strain, flexed against the pump of the syringe.
He sees a shadow before him, a little later a hunched figure appears, scribbling furiously at a paper.
There is something about that situation, about the papers scattered about, a capsule gleaming before him that causes a sense of deja vu, but he is consumed. Consumed by his ambition, by his greed, and by his years of struggle that he doesn’t pay it much mind.
He rushes forward, the thin needle flashes in the neon before it is embedded in the wrinkled neck of his victim.
It is then, that he sees the eyes staring back at him in shock.
Those eyes. He knows them. He knows them well. They’re his eyes.
His hands quiver and he stumbles away from the crumpling man.
How? He doesn’t know. He had calculated, he had formulated the plan to perfection. He knew everything, everything about his target. In the end, somehow, he knows nothing.
He feels his body shaking. His heart dropping to his knees and a gloom beginning to overtake his mind.
He has yearned for this feeling before in his life. He has worked hard for this, this feeling of the thousand condensed dimensions. Of the fulfillment of the laws of physics, and of the results of the great theories. But now there is only fear, dark and wholesome that grips his chest.
He gasps, withers, but there is nothing he can do.
The last thing he sees is a tear, anguished and doleful that crawls down that man’s face.
“It always,” the voice, his voice, croaks, “It always ends like this.”
His heart drops.
Then there is quiet.
There is a clang and he wakes. He is old, his skin is wrinkled, sagging.
He is in the same room, with the papers scattered around him.
He startles, stumbling, looking about.
There was one parallel that he didn’t think of.
One loop that he had overlooked because of its sheer insanity. But all of this, the theories, the warping of dimension, it was all maniac, to begin with. Then why not that single loop.
He rushes towards his notes. There is no time, but at least he knows how he is fated to die. He can still prevent-
There is a bang, he feels the wetness of his own blood.
In the shattered shards of glass, he sees his own eyes, years younger, staring at him in shock.
A tear, desolate and dolorous forms in his orbs.
In that second, his mind is a whirlwind, showing his memories he had never known existed.
There is one thing he’s sure of.
“It always,” he croaks, his voice is old, dying, “It always ends like this.”
He withers and shivers, floating in the condensed dimension.
He screams and no voice comes out, he laments but in the vacuum, there is no one to heed his cries. Just him and the eternal loop, this eternal void.
It is the third century of their new era. The world is aphotic, foul. A gloomy piece of land now seldom inhabited. In the murky hills beyond the lease of the great empire, there stands a mountain sole and tall. Some say that you can see a mansion, standing steep in those hills. So ancient and desolate that it collapses in on itself.
And in its bleak windows, you can see two orbs, maniac, and grey, staring out helplessly into the desolate shadows below.